Portrait: Albert Ballin, inventor of modern cruise ship traveling

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Hamburg, Portrait

Albert Ballin

Albert Ballin

Albert Ballin was a German shipping magnate, who was the general director of the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) or Hamburg-America Line, at times the world’s largest shipping company. Being the inventor of the concept of the cruise ship, he is known as the father of modern cruise ship travel. The SS Auguste Viktoria, named after the German Empress Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, was the first modern cruise ship in the world. She sailed on May 10, 1889 from Hamburg to New York City via Southampton. Two years later, she went on the world’s first Mediterranean cruise. In 1901, Ballin built the Emigration Halls on the Hamburg island of Veddel to accommodate the many thousands of people from all over Europe who arrived at the Port of Hamburg every week to emigrate to North and South America on his company’s ships. The island is now the BallinStadt Museum.

His father was part owner of an emigration agency that arranged passages to the United States, and when he died in 1874, young Albert took over the business. He developed it into an independent shipping line, saving costs by carrying cargo on the return trip from the US. This brought him to the attention of the Hamburg America Line; the line hired him in 1886, and made him general director in 1899. Although extremely successful in developing the business, as a Jew, and only being the director, but not the owner of a company, he was not accepted by all of Hamburg society. Nevertheless, he was respected and admired by Kaiser Wilhelm II and was designated as being “hoffähig” (welcomed and acceptable at court), an honor given to few by Wilhelm. Ballin’s home in Hamburg, which currently houses the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, has a suite of rooms that were built specifically for the Kaiser, to be used when he visited Hamburg.

Albert Ballin BallinStadt © Xaver Dolores/cc-by-sa-3.0 BallinStadt © Holger.Ellgaard/cc-by-sa-4.0 © ballinstadt.de BallinStadt © GeorgHH Former Villa Ballin © Wmeinhart/cc-by-sa-3.0
<
>
Former Villa Ballin © Wmeinhart/cc-by-sa-3.0
The first modern cruise, which defined the journey not just as transport but as the actual reward, commenced on 22 January 1891, when the SS Auguste Victoria set sail to cruise the Mediterranean for six weeks. The competitors initially sniggered at Ballin, who organized and supervised the voyage personally, but the project was a huge success. In order to accommodate the growing demand, another three of the SS Auguste Victoria‘s sister ships operated as cruise liners, and in 1899 the Hamburg-America Line commissioned Blohm & Voss to construct the first purpose-built cruise ship, the Prinzessin Victoria Luise. It was the very first cruise ship, one exclusively tailored for the needs of well-to-do passengers. Ballin further expanded the fleet in 1900 when he acquired fourteen steamships from A. C. de Freitas & Co. Ballin frequently traveled on the ships in his fleet and often spoke to passengers traveling with him to find out about the ships in his fleet and what improvements to make to future Hamburg Amerika ships. Ballin would take these improvements in hand and make sure that they would be placed on both his current and future liners. Many different ship companies began to include ocean liners among their fleets, to add luxury and comfort to sea travel. Due to bad weather conditions in the winter months the transatlantic ocean liners could not operate at full capacity, and Ballin thought of a scheme to increase the occupancy by offering idle ships to travel agencies in Europe and America in the winter.

Ballin acted as mediator between the United Kingdom and the German Empire in the tense years prior to the outbreak of World War I. Terrified that he would lose his ships in the event of naval hostilities, Ballin attempted to broker a deal whereby the United Kingdom and Germany would continue to race one another in passenger liners but desist in their attempts to best one another’s naval fleets. Consequently, the outbreak of war deeply disillusioned him. Many of the Hamburg-America Line’s ships were lost or suffered considerable damage during the hostilities. Completely distraught upon hearing the news of the abdication of his benefactor and protector, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Ballin committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills two days before the armistice ended World War I. Ballin’s fears were soon to be realized; the company’s flagships, the triumvirate SS Imperator, SS Vaterland and SS Bismarck were ceded as war prizes to Great Britain and the United States. The SS Albert Ballin was named in his honor, as is the Ballindamm, a street in central Hamburg. A postage stamp was issued by the Deutsche Bundespost in 1957 in commemoration of Ballin’s 100th birthday. In the post-war years, HAPAG rebuilt its fleet and focused on cargo container transport. In 1970, the container shipping companies HAPAG and North German Lloyd (NGL) merged into Hapag-Lloyd AG to form one of the world’s biggest container shipping companies. In 2008, Hapag-Lloyd was acquired by the City of Hamburg and a group of private investors, the so-called Albert Ballin Consortium.

Read more on Hapag-Lloyd AG, BallinStadt and Wikipedia Albert Ballin (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Lubbock in Texas

Lubbock in Texas

[caption id="attachment_163613" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Buddy Holly Center © Billy Hathorn/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Lubbock is a city in and the county seat of Lubbock County. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado and ecologically is part of the southern end of the High Plains. Lubbock has a population of 250,000, making it the 83rd most populous city in the United States of America and the 11th most populous city in...

[ read more ]

Asmara in Eritrea

Asmara in Eritrea

[caption id="attachment_163596" align="aligncenter" width="590"] St. Joseph's Cathedral © flickr.com - David Stanley/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea. Home to a population of around 804,000 inhabitants, it sits at an elevation of 2,325 metres (7,628 ft). The city is located at the tip of an escarpment that is both the northwestern edge of the Eritrean highlands and the Great Rift Valley in neighbouring Ethiopia. Asmara is situated in Eritrea's central Maekel Region...

[ read more ]

The Dreikaiserbäder on the Baltic Sea

The Dreikaiserbäder on the Baltic Sea

[caption id="attachment_160971" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Bansin Pier © Horst schlaemma/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Heringsdorf is a municipality and a popular seaside resort town on Usedom Island in Western Pomerania. It is also known by the name Imperial Spa (German: Kaiserbad). The municipality was formed in January 2005 out of the former municipalities of Heringsdorf, Ahlbeck and Bansin. Until January 2006, the municipality was called Dreikaiserbäder, literally meaning Three Imperial Spas, a refer...

[ read more ]

Villa Hügel in Essen

Villa Hügel in Essen

[caption id="attachment_23866" align="alignleft" width="590"] © Sir James[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Villa Hügel is a mansion in Bredeney (part of the modern city of Essen) in Germany. It belonged to the Krupp family of industrialists and was built by Alfred Krupp in 1873 as a residence. More recently, the Villa Hügel has housed the offices of the Kulturstiftung Ruhr (Ruhr Cultural Foundation) as well as an art gallery and the historical archive of the Krupp family and company. An annex called the Little House (kle...

[ read more ]

Huis Doorn in Utrechtse Heuvelrug

Huis Doorn in Utrechtse Heuvelrug

[caption id="attachment_7069" align="aligncenter" width="590"] The bust of Wilhelm II, sculpted by Max Bezner © Hanseichbaum[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Huis Doorn (Doorn Manor) is a small manor house that lies outside of Doorn, a small town near Utrecht, in the Netherlands. The 15th-century house was rebuilt in the late 18th century in a conservative manner and, in the mid-19th century, a surrounding park was laid out as an English landscape garden. Baroness Ella van Heemstra (1900–1984), the mother of actress Audrey Hepburn, ...

[ read more ]

Bilbao, center for culture and politics in the Basque Country

Bilbao, center for culture and politics in the Basque Country

[caption id="attachment_153811" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Guggenheim Museum Bilbao © Ardfern[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Bilbao is a Spanish municipality, capital of the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. With a population of 353,187 it is the largest city of its autonomous community and the tenth largest in Spain. Bilbao lies within one of Spain's largest metropolitan areas; the comarca of Greater Bilbao has an estimated population of 875,552, making it the fifth most populated conurbat...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Argentina - San Salvador de Jujuy

Theme Week Argentina - San Salvador de Jujuy

[caption id="attachment_163451" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Belgrano Square and the Government Palace © Gustso/cc-by-sa-4.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]San Salvador de Jujuy, commonly known as Jujuy and locally often referred to as San Salvador, is the capital city of Jujuy Province in Argentine Northwest. It lies near the southern end of the Humahuaca Canyon where wooded hills meet the lowlands. The city lies on National Route 9 that connects La Quiaca 289 km (180 mi) with Salta 120 km (75 mi), and it is 1,525 km (948 mi) f...

[ read more ]

The Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

The Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

[caption id="attachment_168749" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Ha Long Bay © Arianos[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Hạ Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes....

[ read more ]

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
Eastham - Cape Cod National Seashore © Cholmes75/cc-by-sa-3.0
Theme Week New England – Massachusetts

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region. It is bordered by...

Massachusetts - Sunset on Cape Cod Bay © flickr.com - PapaDunes/cc-by-sa-2.0
Theme Week New England

New England is a geographical region which comprises six states of the northeastern United States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,...

Des Moines skyline at night © Shimo
Des Moines in Iowa

Des Moines is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Iowa. It is also the...

Schließen