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Cruise Ship Workers


Before airplanes, people relied on water transportation as a means of traveling from one continent to another. The earliest ships were made of wood and used sails or oars to propel them through the water. They were replaced in the early 19th century with the steamship, which was invented by Robert Fulton, an American engineer. The first steamship's boilers heated seawater into steam; this was very economical, though it was necessary to stop the engines often to remove salt deposits. In the 20th century, ships turned to coal burning engines for power, and later oil burning engines.

North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, more commonly known as the Cunard Line, built the first luxury ocean liner, the Mauretania, in 1907. It was 790 feet in length and able to carry up to 2,000 passengers. Such vessels had ballrooms, libraries, beauty parlors, and numerous dining rooms. First-class passengers had comfortable accommodations that were set apart from other passengers. Those paying the lowest fares, often called steerage, had small, cramped quarters. At this time, no matter what class fare was paid, everyone had a common priority—to travel from one continent to another. The invention of airplanes changed all this drastically. As a result, airlines affected, if not created, the cruise line industry as we know it today. It was faster, and more convenient, to travel by air; soon, most transcontinental travel was done by plane. However, people still turned to ocean travel as a vacation alternative. The Cunard Line offered customers water travel from New York to Europe on their ships, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, combined with travel by jet on the return leg of the trip.

By the 1980s all water travel on cruise lines was for leisure, rather than as transportation. This decade marked tremendous growth for the cruise industry. Cruise lines built bigger, more opulent ships, added exotic ports of call, and gave more choices regarding destination and length of travel. Today, there are cruises to fit just about every interest, taste, and budget. Many times, passengers can take advantage of air and cruise fare packages, along with a pre- or post-cruise land excursion.