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Tuesdays Past and Present

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Library blog. This blog mentions the SS United States with some frequency, but I’m sure many people are curious what a typical day might be like aboard one of her Caribbean cruises. The Mariners’ Museum Library has a large collection of programs from the SS United States, which offer a glimpse into one of those days – but how does a cruise aboard the SS United States compare to a modern one? How would your average Tuesday differ from past to present? Using the below pictured program, we can compare its Tuesday in 1962 to a modern Carnival cruise line’s Tuesday in 2008, which can be viewed in its entirety HERE. Both vessels arrive at St. Thomas on their respective Tuesdays, so let’s see how they compare!

Click on the picture for a much, much better view. From The Mariners’ Museum collection.

On first inspection, the programs share some similarities: both have morning religious service followed by breakfast, a morning excursion to the island, lunch, dinner, and entertainment. However, a number of differences present themselves. First, the SS United States seems to have a much shorter program than the Carnival line. The SS United States program covers only the basic events of the day, while the Carnival program extensively lists each and every activity aboard ship by time and location. Carnival features a schedule teeming with family activities, sports, games, music and movies in large number: the SS United States program only has one movie, two cocktail hours, a swimming pool, afternoon tea and a dance.

Those seas look a bit rough for dancing. From The Mariners’ Museum collection.

The disparity on listed events indicates a very real difference between the lines: focus. The SS United States seems to have a far more adult focus than the Carnival line, and this difference can be seen in everything from the events listed to the artwork on the program itself. Cocktails, tea and a formal dance under the stars cater to a mature, urbane class of people. Even the artwork on the SS United States’ program shows well-dressed people in a formal setting. This difference can also explain the lack of events between the schedules – the more adult SS United States passengers would probably not need everything spelled out for them in their program, whereas a modern family on a cruise would need to keep the children occupied and might rely on a heavily-scheduled day. Before signing off, I would remind the reader of one final difference: the SS United States was made for transporting passengers across the Atlantic, and only later was it hastily converted into a cruise ship. A Carnival line ship, on the other hand, exists only to entertain guests on a cruise.

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