Orient Bound President Lines

I was browsing through some of my old National Geographic Magazines the other day and came across one dated September 1956, when I would have been just a baby.

I find that the adverts in these old magazines are as interesting as the articles. Here is an advert for American President Lines and their Trans-Pacific Cruises aboard S.S.President Cleveland and S.S. President Wilson.


The advert talks about gay shipboard parties from a time when ‘gay’ just meant joyful.

The church behind the balloons is the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Manila which I visited last year.

Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

This was the golden era for ocean liners. These ships could hold 379 first class passengers and 200 in economy. They were looked after by a crew of 352.

SS President Cleveland

The service ended in 1973 and both vessels were sold to Mr. C.Y.Tung of Orient Overseas Line (now OOCL), Hong Kong. C.Y Tung was the father of C.H. Tung, the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong after the handover to China.

S.S. President Cleveland was briefly renamed Oriental President before being scrapped in 1974 in Kaoshiung, Taiwan.

SS President Wilson

The S.S.President Wilson was renamed Oriental Empress and spent most of her remaining years laid up in Hong Kong where she was run aground by Typhoon Ellen in 1983. She was sold for scrap in 1984.

She is featured on this 1970 Qatari stamp but it is doubtful if she ever visited Qatar which was a bit of a backwater in those days.