Cruise History: CARIBBEAN ATLANTIC LINE… the SS TRADEWIND… One of the many companies that tried West Coast cruising Acapulco from the 1940s into the early 1960s that didn’t make it. Princess Cruises was the first company to corner the West Coast market for cruises to Mexico.
Caribbean Atlantic was formed in 1954 with head-quarters at Southern Building, Washington, DC. The company acquired Alaska Steamship Line’s SS Aleutian, reconditioned her, painted her white, registered her in Liberia and renamed her SS Tradewind.
A brochure issued by the company described her as “. . .your delightful cruise liner’ and went on to entice potential passengers with the information that Tradewind provided a ballroom, a forward observation room and an intimate club lounge with private bar. An expansive Lido Sun Deck, wide promenades, swimming pool and shuffleboard courts completed the amenities, all of which could only lead to ‘a full program of entrainment featuring dancing, sports, games, parties, activities for young and old alike.”
Luncehon menu on the Tradewind…
Tradewind departed in January 1955 on her first series of cruises out of Miami to the Caribbean. Late spring, summer and early autumn saw her under-taking seven-day and nine-day cruises out of Washington DC, Savannah and Richmond to Bermuda, Nassau and/or Havana. Seven-day cruises began at $110 and nine-day cruises at $150.
13-Days to Acapulco round-trip from San Diego… $295
All staterooms were outside, but only the best had private facilities. When Tradewind departed on a ten-day cruise on 25 September, a crowd of 8,000 came down to bid bon voyage to the first ocean-going vessel to depart from Richmond. Cruise ships called at New York, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These were the major ports. Leaving from Richmond was very unusual… as can be seen by the very large crowd.
A bon voyage crowd of 8,000 wishes Tradewind well as she departs from Richmond, Virginia, on September 25, 1955.
On 25 November 1955, Tradewind left Washington for Ensenada, sailing west via the Panama Canal. Passengers completed their ‘cruise’ to Los Angeles by complimentary transportation provided by Caribbean Cruise Lines. By disembarking her passengers at a foreign port so close to the American mainland, Caribbean Atlantic circumvented the Jones Act of 1920, an act that prohibited foreign-flagged vessels from engaging in the coastal trade Tradewind then made her way to San Diego, whence she departed for a thirteen-day cruise to Acapulco at fares from $295.
Fares for the Acapulco Cruise… most of the rooms didn’t have private baths and the ship wasn’t air-conditioned. American passengers lines had been building new ships and USA passenger demands were high in the mid-1950s. Older ships like this didn’t meet the expectations of the cruising public in the states.
Upon her return to San Diego on January 3rd, Tradewind continued, without passengers, to San Francisco, where she would be ready for a cruise to Havana. Again, complimentary transportation to Miami was provided by Caribbean Cruise Lines. Although a series of five-day cruises from Miami to Havana and Nassau was planned for February and March 1956, together with a summer program out of Washington, Tradewind never carried them out.
The Tradewind never met the January sailing from California but was impounded there for outstanding debts totaling $550,000. She was apparently subsequently sold at auction to Boston Metals, and later in 1956 was resold to Belgian ship breakers.
The Tradewind history:
William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1906. 6,361 gross tons; 416 X 50 ft (127 X 15 m); triple expansion engines; twin screw; 17 knots; approxi-mately 240 passengers. Launched 21/3/1906 as Mexico (New York & Cuba Mail). 1929 Aleutian (Alaska Steamship) (se page 22). 1953 Chartered to Hawaiian-Pacific, 1954 Tradewind (Caribbean Atlantic Line). FV 1/1955 Miami-Caribbean. FV 4/6/1955 Washington, DC-Bermuda and Nassau. FV 25/9/1955 Richmond-Havana and Nassau. FV 25/11/1955 Washington, DC-Ensenada. FV 21/12/1955 San Diego-Acapulco-San Diego, arriving 3/1/1955. 7/1/1956 San Francisco-Havana, arriving 29/1. 1956 Scrapped in Belgium.