The Last Ocean Liners

An Exhibition of Great Worldwide Passenger Ships Serving in 1966

ss Eugenio C at speed.

Until 1958, the majority of North Atlantic travelers went by sea. That was the busiest year ever for the ocean liners, carrying nearly 1.2 million passengers, but it was also the year of the first commercial transatlantic jet flight. Within a year, the airlines claimed almost two-thirds of the market with 1.5 million passengers, while the shipping companies' share would decline 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 ocean liners were all but gone by the early 1970s. The Suez Canal was closed by war from 1967 to 1975, disrupting sea routes worldwide and raising operating costs. 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.

Here we look back at the ships and sailing schedules in 1966. It's the twilight of the ocean liner era as we embark on 134 notable liners from 36 shipping lines calling at 312 ports on 1,884 voyages. Come along. It's sailing hour. So let's enjoy a fascinating journey into the past when ocean liners could take you almost anywhere!

Discover the last great ocean liners on the North Atlantic, to Africa & Latin America and on Australia, Far East & Around-the-World services. Search the sailing schedules from January to December of 1966 which can be filtered by ship, line, month, route and port. Rank & compare the ships by size, speed, year built and more.

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