The S.S. Constitution was a passenger ship owned by American Export Lines and had a very glamour career.
- She was commissioned in 1951, sailing on the New York-Genoa-Naples and Gibraltar route to Europe.
- The Constitution was a sister ship to the SS Independence.
- The ships were two of the world’s most famous, popular, and innovative ocean liners, following World War 2.
- They were symbols of American maritime design and construction. They were big, fast, and very comfortable.
Beginning her career in 1951, the Constitution was a new kind of ship for a new kind of traveler.
- Far less intimidating than pre-war ships like the French Line’s Ile de France or Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, the ship was conceived with glamorous informality in mind.
- Unlike European steamship lines, American companies realized that indecipherable French menus and starchy staff had become off-putting to passengers.
- The owners of the new vessel, American Export Lines, meant to give their clientele a new, less demanding, kind of elegance.
Grace Kelly sailed to Europe on the S.S. Constitution on a pre-marriage cruise that turned into a major media coup.
The Constitution was seen in several episodes of the television situation comedy I Love Lucy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, starting with episode 140, “Bon Voyage,” which first aired 1 December 1955.
Lucy Ricardo missed the sailing of the ship and had to be ferried by air to the ship by helicopter.
- The ship also played a prominent role in the 1957 film, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr. Location – the pool on the Lido Deck.
- Following service on American Export’s “Sunlane” cruises to Europe in the 50s and 60s, the two ships sailed for American Hawaii Cruises for many years in the 80s and 90s; because they were US ships with US crews, they were able to cruise the Islands without sailing to a foreign port.
It was decommissioned in 1995 and, while under tow to be scrapped in 1997, sank 700 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands.