Crystal Scraps Plans For S.S. United States

by Daniel McCarthy

The S.S. United States in New York in 1964.

The S.S. United States, the historic luxury ocean liner built in 1952 for United States Lines, will not have a second life on the sea, as its planned renovation by Crystal Cruises has “proven insurmountable.”  

Last February, Crystal Cruises said it would spend almost $800 million to renovate the ship and have it re-enter service as part of its fleet by 2018.  

However, after a six-month evaluation—and $1 million in costs—Crystal has decided to abandon the project, explaining that converting a 1950s ocean liner into one that is up to date with today’s regulations is too large of a task for the luxury vacation company.  

“Unfortunately, the hurdles that would face us when trying to bring a 65-year-old vessel up to modern safety, design and international regulatory compliance have proven just too great to clear in both a technically and commercially responsible manner,” Crystal President and CEO Edie Rodriguez said in a statement. 

In its heyday in 1952 the ship was the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic, setting the record at 3 days, 10 hours, and 40 minutes.  

For a time it was owned by Norwegian Cruise Line, which eventually also gave up its plan to restore her. 

The S.S. United States Conservancy purchased the ship with the assistance of major philanthropic donations. It is now left without a partner.   

“The Conservancy is deeply grateful to Crystal Cruises for recognizing the SS United States’ historic importance and for working so hard on the ship’s behalf,” said the Conservancy’s executive director, Susan Gibbs.  

The Conversancy will now look for another partner to help return the ship to sea; Crystal will donate $350,000 toward the preservation fees (reportedly $800,000 annually) for the remainder of the year.  

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