Historical Notes on the Hamburg-American Line - Across The Atlantic 1905 Brochure
The HAMBURG-AMERICAN LINE, established on May 27, 1847, has the distinction of being the oldest of the German lines. The Company began with a capital of only $112,000, and from this insignificant beginning has grown to such magnitude, that to-day, the Company's fleet comprises 331 vessels, of which number 149 are large transatlantic steamers with a total tonnage of 764,551 tons.
The entire fleet at first consisted of three sailing vessels, of which one named the " Deutschland" was the first to make the trip from Hamburg to New York under the Company's flag. She was a square-rigged three-master of about 717 tons.
Steam power was adopted in 1855 when the first two steamships were contracted for. These entered the service in 1856 and maintained a monthly service between Europe and the United States. This new service by steam vessels proved so successful that frequent additions to the fleet became necessary, the sailing vessels were disposed of, and by 1867 the Company's service was operated by ten large transatlantic steamers: They also owned numerous smaller craft, a costly dry dock and valuable real estate holdings.
A weekly service to New York was established in 1872, and the operations of the line extended to the West Indies, Mexico and the Spanish Main. The fleet numbered twenty-five steamships.
During the last twenty-five years the greatest strides were made by the Company, a number of splendid twin-screw ships, both for the passenger as well as the freight service, being constructed, which have won for the line a worldwide reputation. New vessels constantly supplanted the old ships ; and by thus keeping their fleet up to date they can to-day boast of the fact, that in spite of the large number of ships owned, the average age of each ship is only seven years seven months.
Within recent years the growing demands of traffic encouraged the Company to extend their lines to many parts of the world, and very large additions to the fleet became necessary to maintain these numerous services. Now no less than forty-nine different services, reaching nearly every part of the globe, either direct or by connection made with other lines, are maintained ; a list of the various lines will be found on another page of this booklet. The different passenger services are also referred to more particularly on succeeding pages.
The fleetest vessel owned by the Company is the superb " Deutschland " which was put into commission in 1901. On her very first crossing she surpassed all expectations by her marvelous speed performance and holds to this day the world's record for time across the Atlantic. She has made the trip from New York to Plymouth in 5 days, 7 hours and 38 minutes, maintained an average speed of 23.51 knots per hour on a voyage across and covered in one day a distance of 601 knots-692 statute miles. Her equipments embody the utmost luxury of travel. Compare the "Deutschland" of 1847 with that of 1904—and witness the marvelous progress of marine construction.
The demand for a type of steamer specially adapted to summer and winter cruises was realized in the " Prinzessin Victorie Luise," combining the gracefulness of a yacht with the dimensions of an ocean steamer. Built expressly for the pleasure cruises of this Company, she attains the highest standards of perfection, combining elegance and comfort in the highest degree. Since the inauguration of these summer and winter cruises more than a decade ago, the line has constantly been adding new and inviting points of destination, and has profited by its wide experience in the conduct of such tours.
Last year the HAMBURG-AMERICAN LINE went another step farther by placing in commission a second cruising steamer, the "Meteor," which is also to be exclusively devoted to pleasure cruises. In this new enterprise, the chief object of the Company has been to place at the disposal of the traveling public a vessel, which, without in any way diminishing the comfort invariably offered by the HAMBURG-AMERICAN LINE to its passengers, will yet in consequence of her type of build and somewhat simpler fittings, decrease the expenses of working and maintenance, and thus enable the Company to reduce to a minimum the fares for cruises by the "Meteor."
This year the tourist business of the Company has been extended to tours on land. The well-known tourist agency of Carl Stangen, with headquarters in Berlin, was acquired by the HAMBURG-AMERICAN LINE on January 1, 1605, and with the facilities of this splendid tourist organization, the Company will be in a position to book tourists to any part of the world.
While the Company is continually building a number of vessels, there are two ships deserving special mention, the "America" and " Kaiserin Auguste Victoria." The former will enter the New York service in October, 1905, and the latter will be added to the fleet in 1906. They will be vessels of 22, 500 tons and 25,000 tons gross register, respectively, having a displacement of about 40,000 tons, and are planned to be the highest type of passenger and freight vessel ever built—great promenade decks, large cabins with lower berths only, grand combinations of suites, and in addition to the grand saloon, a perfectly equipped restaurant, a la carte.
They will also have a gymnasium, Turkish and electric baths, and last, but not least, passenger elevators, running through five decks. The speed of these ships will be about 17 knots per hour, so that leaving New York for instance on Thursdays, passengers would land in England and France on Friday, and in Hamburg on Saturday of the following week.
It is to be noted, in conclusion, that the successful development of the HAMBURG-AMERICAN LINE has been due to its own initiative and enterprise. Excepting a small subsidy temporarily received for the Eastern Mail Service, the Company has participated in no government allowances. They withdrew their subsidized mail steamers from the Eastern service about two years ago. The progress of the Company, therefore, has not been due in any degree to government assistance ; but it is the result of able, energetic and sound business management.