This evocative poster was a first salvo in an intense marketing effort by the French Line to regain supremacy on the North Atlantic route in the 1950s. The French had lost position to Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary and the US Lines speedy United States. In response, Charles De Gaulle’s government, besieged as well by a failing war in Algeria, committed to subsidize a new French flagship, the SS. France. The new super liner, the longest passenger ship in the world, became a symbol of national pride much like Normandie in the 1930s Depression, and firmly reestablished the French Line on the North Atlantic.
In the 1960s, shipping lines were under increasing competition from airlines, and the France wisely had a flexible design that allowed it to function as a cruise ship. France had only two passenger classes, reflecting the continuing democratization of travel and the end of third class immigrant traffic—thus the slogan “Luxury for All.” This last flowering of intercontinental ocean travel ended in 1979, when Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased the ship and re-christened her SS Norway, which made her the first superliner serving exclusively for cruises.