Until 1958, the majority of travelers across the North Atlantic went by sea. That was the busiest year ever for the ocean liners, carrying over a million passengers, but it was also the year of the first transatlantic jet service. By 1959, the airlines claimed two-thirds of the market with over 1.5 million passengers, while the shipping companies' share declined to less than 5% within a decade.
Travel by ocean liners had boomed after World War II, as new more comfortable ships were turned out by the world's shipyards. For example, there was United States Lines' record-breaking United States, dashing from New York to England and France in less than five days; Costa Line's trend-setting Eugenio C (above) connecting Italy with Brazil and Argentina; and the stalwart Tahitien of Messageries Maritimes, whose far ranging two-month voyages from Marseille to Australia linked the French islands to the home country.
The era was all but over by the early 1970s. The Suez Canal was closed by war from 1967 to 1975, disrupting sea routes worldwide. New Boeing 747's spanned all the oceans, making air travel more affordable. Containerships were making passenger and cargo combination ships obsolete and then the price of fuel oil jumped from US$35 to US$95 per ton.
So herein we look back at the ships and sailing schedules in 1966, to embark on 113 notable liners of 30 shipping lines calling at nearly 300 ports on more than 1,600 voyages. Come along. It's sailing hour, so let's enjoy a fascinating journey back into the not-so-distant past when ocean liners could take you almost anywhere!
Discover the last ocean liners on the North Atlantic, to Africa & Latin America and on Australia, Far East & Around-the-World services. Search sample sailing schedules from January to December of 1966 which can be filtered by ship, line, month, route and port. As well, you can rank all of the ships by size, speed, year built and more.
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Here are some of our favorite books about the last ocean liners by William H. Miller, the celebrated maritime author and historian known as
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Sources of website content include shipping line literature such as brochures, post cards and magazine ads. Descriptions, routes and specifications of vessels are as of 1966 unless stated otherwise. Sailing schedules are from 1966 editions and fares are from 1969 editions of International Shipline Guide.