The History of Cruise Ships: Then and Now

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Cruising Starts to Evolve: The Prinzessin Victoria Luise

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For several decades, cruising was restricted to the aristocracy of Europe and was not a commercial endeavor. But the cruise of the German ship Augusta Victoria in the Mediterranean and the Near East at the beginning of 1891 popularized cruising to a wider market. Less than 10 years later, the world saw the construction of first vessel built exclusively for luxury cruising…

The Prinzessin Victoria Luise, seen above, was designed by Albert Ballin, general manager of Hamburg-America Line in Germany. The company’s successful early voyages, prior to the construction of the Prinzessin Victoria Luise, were extended cruises that included well-planned excursions ashore to ports-of-call along the routes. These were popular, but hard to plan with existing ships…

They were originally constructed as ocean liners that offered few amenities and restricted access to deck space, things that were a real hindrance during long stretches at sea. Ballin’s design for the Prinzessin Victoria Luise was revolutionary. It was targeted toward wealthy travelers and designed to look more like a private yacht than any of her commercial counterparts. She had a short career, only sailing for five years before crashing on a West Indian cruise. But it set the standard for all the cruise ships that followed…


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