The Ugly Ships of Today


Jamie Bryant

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Aug 30, 2003
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In today's world ships are far too 'cubic'. Bows and sterns are getting shorter, hulls are becoming shorter than the cabin decks they carry etc. I think that archictects of today and the future, which I hope to be part of, can borrow certain aesthetic qualities from Titanic and her sisters. Qualities like a long bow and stern, an impressive hull in terms of proportion, open bridge wings, a vertical bow (even if they are illegal) etc. Cruise liners are just too 'blocky' and well white!
J.B
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Jamie, I moved this topic to the Other Ships And Shipwrecks folder where this discussion would be more appropriate. Overall, I don't think you'll find a lot of people who disagree with your contention that a lot of the cruise ships out there are pretty ugly. I certainly wouldn't.
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However, I would point out that form is often dictated by function so you might want to contact a shipbuilder or any one of the shipping lines to find out why they do things this way.
 

Jim Kalafus

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They do it this way because it allows for the maximum amount of usable interior space. It never ceases to amaze me when I am on a ship with 3500 other people and there is no sense of crowding. Having been on more pre-1990 liners than I'd care to remember I am NOT a fan of what all but the best cabins on the classic style liners were like. The new ships are, stylistically, an acquired taste but are infinitely more comfortable than the sleek- but-cramped superliners of old. Spend 14 days in a 90' square inside cabin and you'll better understand
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No matter HOW elegant the dining room or lounge was, coming back to that miserable foretaste of hell just never improved.
 

Bryan Ricks

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I had posted my observations on this matter on another forum once and was chastised for my blasphemy...so I'll give it another shot--I'm a slow learner.

The looks that we now consider classic and long to go back to were actually dictated by the function of the ships of that era.

Numerous stacks were needed to vent the copious smoke from the coal fired furnaces.

Distinctive masts were a hold over for auxillary sails, and later as a fulcrum for cargo booms. Also, aerial support for the wireless antenna

Well decks minimized the impact of waves into the superstructure.

Long bows allowed for ample cargo space and area for loading/unloading mail and other cargo.

Structural supports in the superstructure made it difficult to maintain a direct lengthwise corridor, so the promenade was enclosed for access in all weather.

Plus many other examples

Don't get me wrong. I love the old ships and also miss the classic definition of a passenger ship. However, what we identify as classic lines was actually nothing more than a response to 'optimized design architecture'. What we don't like about the new cruise ships is a response to 'optimized design archtecture'.

I wonder if many decades down the road someone will post about how ships nowadays just don't look have the romantic lines of the old Carnival ships.

Bryan
 

Jim Kalafus

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Well put, Bryan. To which I might add that many of the now-beloved classic era ships were described, in their day, as being "ugly" and resembling "A block of flats" by those, for instance, who prefered the long sleek Inman style to the newer Ballin-trio look.

Myself, I'd rather travel on something boxy and not have to deal with the cramped misery of small, bathroom free, cabins- but then I am old enough to remember small, bathroom free cabins
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I choose comfort over external beauty every time.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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There is a lot to be said for having elbow room to spare, especially when paying for the priviledge of going out to sea on a modern cruise ship. My career was spent entirely on warships with pride of place going to weapons, sensors, and an overpowered propulsion plant to get the vessel where it was needed. Accomadation for such incidentals as the crew was definately an afterthought, but at least they paid me to make the trip.

If I'm the one forking over the cash instead of recieving it, I want the "goodies" that go along with the deal.
 

Noel F. Jones

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Perhaps the solution to the affronted observer's dilemma lies in the anecdote about the English arts polymath William Morris (1834-1896) who, when asked why he spent so much time writing and dining in the restaurant of the Eiffel Tower, responded testily "this is the only place in Paris from where I can't see the poxy erection".

Perhaps I traduce his phraseology somewhat.

Noel
 

Jim Kalafus

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I think that your warship accomodation was probably a cut above the minimum fare cabins on the old, now EXTREMELY old, budget liners.

Was asked, recently, if I would travel in one of the 9'X10' First Class insides aboard Normandie just for the experience of being aboard her. The answer was a hearty "No." I would not, in fact, even cross in Deauville or Trouville if time travel became an option. Experiencing the real life Normandie could not possibly measure up to her posthumous reputation (same is true of the Titanic) and actually being there amid the drunken, loud, whiny passengers, and dying winter garden birds, documented in her preserved Night Watch books would have to be a major let down.

I think the only way we will see a return to the long bows of old is if a way of making the space within them cost effective can be devised. Michael, I know you are aware of what a bow cabin can be like in a rough sea but, Jamie, one of the reasons the long tapered bow is no longer used is that the area within it will be MORE space filled with cabins no one wants to rent (if they can avoid it) because of the exaggerated sense of motion which, even in a calm sea, is always present in the forward extremities. Was recently in the furthest cabin forward on a voyage, and for only the second time aboard ship, in a lifetime, started to feel quite queasy at one point. Can't imagine what that room would have done to someone aboard a ship for the first time! When people NEEDED to cross by ship, and had no choice in the matter, such cabins ended up the realm of the Second and Third classes- now, in an era where people are only aboard ship by choice, there is little sense in creating cabins space which will only foster ill will among the clients.

In a similar vein, the rounded cruiser or counter sterns although attractive, create dozens of oddly shaped cabins which are (nearly) impossible to prefabricate (inexpensively) and which few people, if given the choice, would want to occupy. Which is why the odd shaped stern cabins on the few remaining older liners tend to fall into the budget end of the price spectrum.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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I've just popped back to remind this thread that the passenger ships of old were true liners and, as such, (as Bryan Ricks has pointed out) had a significant cargo capacity which dictated their profiles.

Length overall was augmented by two cargo compartments forward and at least one cargo compartment aft.

The after compartment would be a lower hold accessed via a hatch trunk which probably also served the baggage room, mailroom and possibly a specie room.

The two forward hatches would serve full cargo compartments comprising lower holds and upper and lower tweendecks, with specials lockers and specie rooms.

Altogether, a liner's cargo compartmentation would necessarily entail not less than five watertight bulkheads and three stations, a significant augment of length which would be absent from the average purpose-built cruise ship of today.

An examination of specimen profiles will elicit the concomitant cargo handling gear.

A puzzling exception is the Normandie which seems to have no cargo handling gear forward. While I can understand she could go under cranes as Le Havre there was no corresponding cranage at her New York berth. Only the customary 'house fall' arrangement which still demanded on-board winches and derricks to plumb the hatches. So how was she worked?

Noel
 

Philip Bowler

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Aug 19, 2003
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I remember a long time ago, 1982, when Royal Princess was launched and was perhaps the 1st of the ugly ones. The architect defended it with that it was designed with the idea of people looking out rather than people looking in. It is probably the same today. After all, would you prefer your hotel to be nice inside or outside?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I think that your warship accomodation was probably a cut above the minimum fare cabins on the old, now EXTREMELY old, budget liners. <<

Yep. We had air conditioning.
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Seriously, while we may wax nostalgic over the features of the old liners, I don't think anyone would be willing to accept even some of the best of them today. While lavish by the standards of the day, today, with precious few exceptions, they would be considered inadaquate today and some would no doubt violate some existing regulations in regards health and comfort.

>>Michael, I know you are aware of what a bow cabin can be like in a rough sea...<<

Oh boy but I'm aware! A frigate I did temporary duty on had the bulk of the enlisted accomadation in the bow and to say that it was a lively ride in rough seas is the grandest of understatements. It was not for nothing that there were safety straps along the sides of the bunks. If you were in the second or third bunk up, that was a long fall to a steel deck cushioned only by thin linoleum tile!
 

Bryan Ricks

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A couple of years ago I took my kids on a Carnival Cruise, followed by an overnight on the Queen Mary. Although the Carnival ship was gaudy, it felt roomy and comfortable. I must say the Queen Mary was downright dark and claustrophobic.

The earlier liners tried to isolate the passengers from the sea as much as possible, especially since there wasn't much to look at in the Atlantic.

Bryan
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>The earlier liners tried to isolate the passengers from the sea as much as possible...<<

There was a good reason for that too. Sea voyages could be a terrifying experience and not just a little bit risky. Especially during the 19th century when the liners were born. The last thing passengers wanted or needed to be reminded of was the fact that they were out to sea, so as it became possible, shipping lines tried very hard for the "Grand Hotel" look was admire today.

Kind of makes you wonder why some didn't mind putting some really top heavy ships out to sea. When you have some really lively rollers like the Balin's giants or the Mauritania/Lusitania, it's rather hard to forget your out on the ocean.
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Philip Bowler

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When I was a fairly Senior Deck Officer on Royal Princess, my cabin was very low down and FORWARD of the bow wave. The motion was OK for me, but my Wife and Daughter didn't find it too good.
Nowadays they fill the outside upperdecks with passenger accommodation, and the inside lower decks with crew. That's why we are all on $250,000 a year! Only joking!
 

Robert Hauser

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Aug 18, 2005
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Hey all,

Assuming you actually wanted to get the feeling of what it was like in the old days, and were willing to undergo some discomfort, what kind of vessel would be available to a paying civilian? If I ever get to travel on a ship, I want to feel like I'm at sea and not in a giant hotel. Just curious. Rob H.
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

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Perhaps it could be possible to recreate the old liners.

Create a ship that resembles the old liners (except for the bow, so that it is not illegal). To get rid of the odd-shaped rooms at the bow and stern, reserve them for cargo only. Jim also mentioned that people who use cabins at the bow are usually affected by sea-sickness, so you could kill two bird with one stone with the cargo.

As for the center of the ship, you could keep the interior design of the new ships. With the long bow and shaped stern, the ship would look somewhat proportionate to the old liners. Funnels could be added as a decoration, and maybe they could put the rock wall inside them!
Of course, the ship would probably be about 300 feet longer than today's cruise ships.