Crystal Cruises continues its astonishing spending spree with the New York Times reporting this morning it has signed an option to buy the SS United States, a historic liner once considered the fastest in the world.
Crystal, which is already building new ocean ships, a submarine, and a fleet of river vessels, and using two new aircraft for air tours, will conduct a feasibility study to see if the SS United States can sail again.
It is thought it would cost up to $800 million to sail her again as a passenger vessel – almost the same as a new ship.
A makeover of the ship could cost from $700 million to $800 million, according to Crystal’s chief executive, Edie Rodriguez, potentially a little less than building something similar from scratch.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Ms. Rodriguez said of the project. But while one could argue against it “from an opportunity cost perspective,” she noted, “some things are iconic.”
In the 1950s, the liner carried 2,000 passengers on transatlantic routes.
A Philadelphia philanthropist bought the ship from NCL a few years ago, but has struggled to raise funds.
If the study is favorable, Crystal would transform the ship into an 800-passenger luxury ship that could sail a classic transatlantic route between New York and Europe.
A rendering maintains the classic silhouette of the ship, but with some decks carrying balconies, which were not present in the original design.
Biggest change: the ship’s steam engines would undoubtedly change.