PortCities London

Passengers and the port

The last days

The growth of air travel

New developments in airline technology in the 1950s and 1960s brought down the cost of long-distance travel by air. Millions who had crossed the oceans on liners could now afford to do so on aircraft.

Collection of ephemera associated with the Union-Castle Line.
View full size imageUnion-Castle Line ephemera. © NMM
The shipping lines responded by stressing how enjoyable sea travel was compared to a flight in cramped conditions.

However, for those who simply wanted to get from A to B, air travel proved a far more practical and attractive option.

By the end of the 1960s, most of the long-distance liner services had ended.


More people now travel in and out of London than ever before, but very few do so by sea. The hundreds of aircraft crossing the skies of London each day have replaced the huge liners that once sailed into the port.


Travelling by sea for pleasure

The 'Viceroy of India' (1929) cruising in Northern waters.
View full size imageThe Viceroy of India (1929) cruising in Northern waters. © NMM

If ordinary long-distance travel by sea has almost disappeared in the age of passenger jets, travel for pleasure has become a boom industry.

Many shipping lines had a long tradition of running pleasure trips for the wealthy.

Since the 1960s, pleasure cruises have become much more affordable for millions of people.

The cruise liner Seabourn Pride on the Thames.
View full size imageThe cruise liner Seabourn Pride on the Thames. © NMM
London will never again see the likes of the Dominion Monarch or the Mauretania, but luxury cruise liners can occasionally be seen on the Thames.



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