President Wilson is a relatively obscure ocean liner, familiar only to the people who sailed on her and avid liner enthusiasts.
Although designed to serve as a troopship during World War II, President Wilson wasn’t launched (at Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Alameda, California) until 24 November 1947, more than two years after the war’s conclusion. While still officially owned by the US Maritime Commission, the liner was leased to American President Lines, which placed her into transpacific service in 1948.
In the film above, we see President Wilson at her finest moment, carrying passengers on a world cruise at some point in the 1950s. The MGM production, titled Departure, provides a slick yet relatively bland rundown of the people and places prospective customers can expect to encounter during an American Presidents Line global voyage. The film’s narrator, incidentally, is Olan Soule, a familiar American character actor whose extensive resume included a 1977 appearance on The Love Boat.
As for President Wilson, she was sold on 27 April 1973 to Oceanic Cruise Development (operated by the notorious C.Y. Tung Group, of Queen Elizabeth fire infamy) and renamed Oriental Empress. After several years of cruising she was laid up at Hong Kong and, eventually, scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1984.
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