A Moving Reunion with the Big U
On July 14, the Conservancy was delighted to host a special "Blue Riband anniversary" tour of the SS United States for former passengers, crew, and their families. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all our guests and talking about their individual relationships with the ship.
Today, we're delighted to share the story of one of those former passengers, Liz Waters. As the winner of our recent Blue Riband Month social media contest, Liz was invited (along with her mother, Ingrid Royle) to join this exclusive tour.
As an 11-month-old infant, she joined her mother and father on a westbound voyage from Bremerhaven to New York — leaving Germany to begin a new life in the United States. While all of Liz's memories of her journey are second-hand, she has an amazing story to tell.
On her way to her new home in America, Liz took her first steps aboard America's Flagship. Needless to say, the opportunity to step foot on the vessel again decades later was a deeply emotional experience.
Liz Waters and her mother, Ingrid Royle, aboard the SS United States.
"My mom and I felt enormously privileged and excited about being able to board her again 55 years later," she said. "Even though I was so young, I still feel a strong connection to her. She is deserving of restoration and preservation because her journey is not over yet."
Photograph taken by Liz Waters during her tour of the SS United States.
Liz Waters also reflected on taking her first steps aboard America's Flagship:
"Every time it seemed like I would fall, the ship would rise up to catch me and keep me upright," she said. "Probably why I love being on the water to this day. I got my sea legs from the Big U!"
During her journey, Liz Waters and her mother both fell ill, due to severe dehydration. Fortunately, the ship's doctors and crew were very responsive and did an excellent job nursing them both back to health.
Asked about exhibits she'd like to see on board a redeveloped SS United States, Liz commented that she'd like to hear more from other passengers like her.
"She carried many other immigrants that, like us, were hoping for a better life with better opportunities," she said. "There are so many others with fascinating stories of their journey to America from Europe.
"The speed records and celebrities speak for themselves, but it's the personal stories of passengers that make her alive."
The SS United States has created unforgettable memories for countless former passengers and crew. We can save this magnificent vessel for future generations, but we need your help.
Do you have memories of your time aboard America’s Flagship? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.