\Crossing on SS Normandie: Paris to New York Between the Wars

The Ship
Art Deco and Cities
The Package


Normandie, the most glamorous, the most fashionable, the most modern ship crossing the ocean, came to epitomize the golden age of luxury sea travel, a period spanning the late 1920s and the 1930s. More than just a ship, Normandie provided a tangible link between the opposite coats of the Atlantic.

The luxury liner industry helped to shape the culture of travel in the 1920s and the 1930s. Tourism emerged as a new genre of travel, travel-as-entertainment. As a result, advertising and other media were irrevocably changed by the forces of commercialism. Further implications of change included and impact on New York City, specifically in the form of the Art Deco movement. Normandie embodied the artistic style of the period as well as showcasing the work of many artists of the day.

Once it embarked, Normandie ceased to be but a boat, instead casting itself as a platform for the realization, albeit indiscriminately so, of the innumerable goals that Atlantic crossing was intended to fulfill. Unfortunately, at sea, crew and gender dynamics continued unencumbered, while class distinction flourished. Even so, passengers were drawn to the allure of the constant presence of celebrity that offered to sea travel both glamour and fascination.

In the context of the 1920s and 1930s, Normandie emerged as a symbol of modernity and glamour, a beacon of hope and a proxy of the elite living experience for everyone else. Film stars and Hollywood itself, through the medium of movies, cast cruise liners as alluring and exciting, adding to their mystique and their appeal, Normandie’s in particular.

Normandie’s very existence inspired future generations of both ship travel and cruise lines, modernizing design, decoration, and decadence. The last truly great ship of its kind, Normandie’s tragic end nevertheless left a lasting legacy.

    The Team