Posted by: cruise2 | 9 February, 2016

Crystal Examines the s.s. United States

by Kevin Griffin writing for

Crystal Cruises, a unit of Hong Kong-based Genting International, announced last Thursday that it was considering acquiring the former United States Lines flagship United States to re-engine, convert and run as an upmarket cruise ship with a reputation. It has appointed retired US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Tim Sullivan to head a task force to examine whether  S.S. United States can be brought into compliance with the latest standards, and returned to ocean service.

The liner, once the fastest in the world, has been idle since 1969. During the announcement, which was made at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York, Crystal committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking this study, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Crystal Cruises announced that it was partnering with the s.s. United States Conservancy in a plan to produce a sophisticated luxury cruise liner from the 1952-built ship. Here is how she would compare with Crystal’s existing fleet if converted into a 60,000-ton cruise ship:

One can see where Crystal might foresee United States coming in by comparing her to Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 with a passenger space ratio of 76.5 tons per lower berth and the new Seven Seas Explorer, which will come in at 73. Of course, Crystal’s three newly announced newbuildings will far surpass all of this with 1,000 passengers on a 100,000-ton ship giving a passenger space ratio of 100!

The new ss United States (Artist impression courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The new ss United States (Artist impression courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The executive director of the s.s. United States Conservancy, Susan Gibbs, is the granddaughter of the great ship’s designer, William Francis Gibbs. But this is not the first time that Genting International has owned this ship. Genting through Norwegian Cruise Line, which it then controlled, owned the ship between 2003 and 2010, when it sold her to the Conservancy.
At the time, none of Norwegian’s feasibility studies had found an economical way to reactivate the ship.

The proposed United States by Crystal Cruises would be transformed into an 800-guest- vessel featuring 400 luxurious suites of about 350 square feet each, with dining, entertainment, spa and other luxury guest amenities that are true to the ship’s storied history. Features such as the Promenade and the Navajo Lounge would be retained, while a new power plant would allow her to take the title of fastest cruise ship in the world.

Crystal will examine different itineraries for the 60,000-ton vessel, including not only traditional Transatlantic voyages from New York and cruises from key US ports, but also international voyages around the globe as part of the line’s World Cruise program.

S.S.United States was launched in 1952 and captured the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage, a record that stands to this day.  She is the largest passenger ship ever designed and built in America. Before her retirement in 1969, she had transported four US presidents, assorted royalty, many of Hollywood’s golden era stars and a million other passengers.

She was designed as part of a Pentagon programme that stipulated she could quickly be converted into a troopship capable of carrying 15,000 troops in the event of war. Her 240,000 shaft horsepower plant could take her 10,000 nautical miles, almost half way round the world, without refuelling.

In October 2015, the s.s. United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors announced that the persistent challenge of covering the vessel’s monthly expenses had compelled them to explore a potential sale of the ship to be responsibly recycled.  This news resulted in the public support that allowed the Conservancy to raise additional funds to continue its preservation efforts and pursue negotiations with potential investors and partners.

The Conservancy will continue to expand its collections as it advances its mission of educating the public about the S,S, United States. Under the plan, the organisation would work with Crystal to establish shipboard displays and other educational programs.  Planning is also underway for a land-based museum.


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