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Some Notable Early Cruise Ships from Miami

Pioneers of the Cruise Industry from 1954 to 1972


Cruise ships at old Port of Miami docks in 1963

The Early Years: Passenger ships sailing from the old Port of Miami (ABOVE) in the 1950's and early 1960's were built for practical transportation and repurposed as cruise ships. Simple as they were by today's standards, they were popular in their own limited way. Starting from the top at Pier 1 in this 1963 view are ss Yarmouth; then at Pier 2 is ss Florida; next on the far side of Pier 3 is ss Jerusalem and on the near side are ss Evangeline (left) and ss Bahama Star. ss Ariadne was not in port, but would normally have been at Pier 3. Note Biscayne Boulevard in the lower left corner and the Miami Herald building between the two causeways.

The Car Ferries: During the transition to contemporary cruising, modern European car ferries served as cruise ships of a sort. The era started with mv Bilu in 1964 and mv Nili in 1965. In 1966, ms Sunward took over sailing from the new port on Dodge Island. With her stern to the causeway below is the mv Freeport.

The New Generation: Left to right on a Saturday in this early 1970's scene (BELOW) at the new passenger terminals on Dodge Island are Norwegian Caribbean Lines' ms Skyward, ms Starward and ms Southward, Commodore's ms Boheme, Royal Caribbean's ms Song of Norway and either ms Nordic Prince or ms Sun Viking. Carnival Cruise Lines' tss Mardi Gras was not in service yet. The ships and the Miami skyline have all grown enormously since then!

Cruise ships at new Port of Miami on Dodge Island in the early-1970s