Time travel: by ship from Mallorca to New York

From June 2022, it will travel from Mallorca to New York. the United Airlines airline will then offer direct flights. It is not the first time that the island has been connected to the US metropolis: around 90 years ago drove ships between Mallorca and the USAeven if not initially as part of a regular connection.

The symbol of arrival: the Statue of Liberty. DM

In the early 30s, the US shipping company left Export Steamship Corporation four of their six ships commute between the Mediterranean and the United States. The “Excambion”, the “Exeter”, the “Exochorda” and the “Excalibur” made it between 1932 and 1936 in Palma de Mallorca several times stop. At this time the Italian ships “Cosulich Line” and “Vulcania” were guests on Mallorca before continuing to New York.

The “Constitution” was considered to be one of the most modern ships of its time. Here she can be seen in Palma in 1966. | PHOTO: DM

With the Outbreak of the Spanish Civil War In that year the ship connection ended. After the end of the war in 1939, shipping across the Atlantic increased again. An Israeli, an American and an Italian shipping company operated the route Palma – New York at the time.

Die „Leonardo da Vinci“ in Palma.

Made in Germany

From 1953, the Zim Israel Navigation Company took over the operation the Mediterranean ports and the east coast of the USA on. The shipping company’s ships first came to Palma at the end of 1957, and then regularly. Two of the nine ships in the fleet headed for Mallorca: the “Zion” and the “Israel” each offered space for 323 passengers. They were built in German shipyards and were part of the reparation payments, which Germany made to Israel after the Second World War had to. From New York the route led to Halifax, a port city in Canada. With further stops we went to Palma. The Mallorcan local media always reported on the “Lion” and the “Israel”when they anchored off the island. They came for the last time in early 1961.

The “Michelangelo” also regularly anchored off Mallorca’s coast. Manuel Aguilera placeholder image

Italian ship art

The Italian shipping company Societá de Navigazione also operated between Italy and the United States. From the 1950s onwards the ships came who survived the Second World War without damage, back to Palma. These were mainly the “Conte Biancamano”, the “Vulcania” and the “Saturnia”. In the 1960s, Società de Navigazione bought three new ships. The “Leonardo da Vinci”, the “Michelangelo” and the “Raffaello” always attracted a large number of onlookers when they visited the port of Palma.

The “Leonardo da Vinci” had her maiden voyage in 1960, she was in Palma for the first time on March 6, 1962. The magnificent ship had a displacement of 33,340 tons and could carry 1,326 passengers promote. The “Michelangelo” and the “Raffaello” were conceived as sister ships for long stretches across the Atlantic and were considered highly modern for the time in terms of their design and size. A special feature were the chimneys, which were built in such a way that the smoke did not move onto the decks. the 1,775 passengers could get into three different classes log in. Both ships were 275 meters long and the maximum cruising speed was 26.5 knots. The ships were powered by gas turbines.

the “Michelangelo” left in May 1965 in operation, the “Raffaello” two months later. The “Michelangelo” reached Mallorca as the first of the two, am 8. September 1966. The date was then from the government on “Day of Tourism” been declared. The “Michelangelo” was then the 200th ship to cross the Atlantic, and the arrival was celebrated with great celebration. The “Raffaello” followed eleven days later.

Funded by the state

The Export Steamship Company became meanwhile the American Export Lines, it resumed traffic in the Mediterranean area from the beginning of the 1950s. The “Independence”, the “Constitution” and “Constitution” were regulars in Palma a few years later the “Atlantic”. The US authorities had financed 50 percent of the construction of the ships, since in an emergency they could be converted for military purposes for the transport of troops in a very short time. They were also powered by gas turbines, which generated speeds of up to 26 knots. The ships were 208 meters long, up to 27.2 meters wide and displaced 23,719 tons of water. Up to 1,000 passengers fit on board.

The “Independence” set sail for the first time on February 11, 1951 and set out for Mallorca. After a 53 day cruise she reached the port of Palma on March 27th. From April 12th she ran regularly between New York, Gibraltar, Naples and Genoa. The “Constitution” was used on the same route from June 25th. She first came to the island on March 19, 1956.

Little by little, the shipping company expanded the route plan, and the ships made cruises to Madeira, Algeciras, Palermo, Casablanca and other ports. More and more of them were Palma. Late 50s and reinforced the ships anchored in the 1960s in front of Palma. In 1960 they got a new coat of paint: the previously black outer skin was painted over in white. In this year the “Atlantic” also took off on the Mallorca route. The ship, built in 1953, has been sailing regularly since 1958.

The competition in the air

From the 1960s onwards, air traffic increased and the ships lost passengers to the competition in the air. Zim Line sold its ships in the mid-1960s, American Export Lines ceased the Atlantic crossings in 1967. A year later, the shipping company converted the “Independence”, which from then on only served a class of passengers. The “Constitution” came to Mallorca for the last time on August 18, 1968, and the “Independence” on October 1st.

In 1975, the Italian shipping company was over, it could no longer compensate for the losses. The company had tried to save the day by offering cruises instead of the simple passenger service. But that didn’t help either. The “Raffaello” made last stop on February 28, 1975 in Majorcan waters, the “Michelangelo” on May 16 and the “Leonardo da Vinci” on August 31. Since then there has been no direct connection to New York.


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