American Export Lines

The Last Ocean Liners


 

American Export Lines From their introduction throughout the 1950s, the sister ships Constitution and Independence were very popular and successful on their "Sunlane" route from New York to Algeciras (6 days), Cannes & Genoa (8 days) and Naples (9 days). During the peak summer months they supported a three week round trip express service, whereas at other times stopovers were lengthened and a selection of rewarding ports like Casablanca, Tenerife, Madeira and Palma were added to make a slightly longer, more cruise-like voyage.

American Export Lines Constitution and Independence were the first large American ocean liners built for the Mediterranean trade. Each class was afforded a dining room, lounge and bar. First class and Cabin class each had their own outdoor pool, with First class also featuring card and writing rooms and a Pool Cafe. They were well maintained and sleek, yet without exaggerated luxury.

American Export Lines American Export Lines' publicity department was always busy keeping the twins in the limelight. President Truman as well as Hollywood stars like Greta Garbo, Cary Grant and Gina Lollobrigida sailed on the trendy ocean liners, along with cardinals, bishops and Moroccan and Arabian royalty. The Constitution even transported actress Grace Kelly and 90 guests to the principality of Monaco for her royal wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956. The message was clear that these ocean liners were preferred by fashionable and influential people.

American Export Lines Fifty-five additional First class staterooms on two decks and an enclosed Solarium were added in 1959 and in the following year their hulls were repainted from black to white to emphasize their cruising status.

American Export Lines After applying to the government, American Export Lines finally received their third ocean liner in 1960. Atlantic was a former Mariner-class freighter converted to a "luxurious tourist class" liner, with the largest swimming pool at sea. The ship was given a thorough refit, and generally had the same amenities but was considered inferior to the much larger twins. Atlantic was originally routed from New York to Israel via Spain, Italy and Greece, but soon adopted the traditional "Sunlane" route of her fleetmates.

"On a Sunlane cruise in the Mediterranean, you see a new city every day, enjoy American comfort every night. In the relaxed American atmosphere, you make new friends as you swim, dance, enjoy festive shipboard life. Your life aboard ship includes all the comforts you're accustomed to ..."

American Export Lines In 1964, the American Export Lines was bought by Jakob Isbrandtsen and for several years was known as American Export Isbrandtsen Lines. When patronage began to fall off in the mid-1960s, the line voyage itineraries were all reworked as "Sunlane Cruises" and they were usually booked round trip, but yet could still be sold as two one-way crossings. By also cruising from New York to the Caribbean in the off season they were able to delay the withdrawal of the Constitution, Independence and Atlantic until the late 1960s.


Sample minimum one-way fares from New York to Cannes: First class $422; Cabin class $317; Tourist class $253; Fares are per person in U.S. dollars as of spring 1969.


Continue to the ships below ...



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Constitution - 1951 - American Export Lines
Constitution American Export Lines
Built: 1951 by Bethlehem Steel, Quincy MA, USA Gross tons: 30293 Length: 683ft (208m) Width: 89ft (27m) Draft: 30ft (9m) Speed: 23kn Power: 55000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 504 First 330 Cabin 254 Tourist End of service: Laid up 1968; sold 1974
 

Independence - 1951 - American Export Lines
Independence American Export Lines
Built: 1951 by Bethlehem Steel, Quincy MA, USA Gross tons: 30293 Length: 683ft (208m) Width: 89ft (27m) Draft: 30ft (9m) Speed: 23kn Power: 55000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 504 First 330 Cabin 254 Tourist End of service: Laid up 1969; sold 1974
 

Atlantic - 1953 - American Export Lines
Atlantic American Export Lines
Built: 1953 by Sun SB & DD Co, Chester PA, USA Gross tons: 14138 Length: 564ft (172m) Width: 76ft (23m) Draft: 26ft (8m) Speed: 20kn Power: 20000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines single screw Passengers: 840 One-class End of service: Laid up 1967; sold 1971