New Article: How the Great Ocean Liners Gave Us Luxury Cruise Ships

White Star’s RMS Titanic, then the biggest and most opulent ocean liner in the world, just days before her fateful maiden voyage in April 1912.

I’m excited to publish my first feature for the BBC, “The Monster Ships That Changed Travel,” revealing how the biggest transatlantic liners of all time gave rise to today’s colossal cruise ships. I did a deep dive into century-old engine technology, corporate competition between Cunard, White Star and the European lines; the onboard perks enjoyed by Gilded Age high-rollers and the legacy of the Titanic–all of which led to the invention of the world’s most luxurious “floating cities.”

The idea for the story emerged from my recent book research trip to England. In Liverpool I visited the Merseyside Maritime Museum and discovered the fascinating histories of ocean liners like Cunard’s RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania and White Star’s RMS Oceanic and RMS Titanic. Through incredible scale models, artifacts and ephemera (my favorites were the menus, showing the culinary aspirations of the early 20th century), I noticed the head-to-head race to build ever larger, faster and fancier vessels. I love stories about epic competition–and this one was no exception. Take a look!

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