Feeling fed up with the grey skies and wet weather, I decided to treat myself to a month's subscription to the Times Archive (I always think that a dip into the collected 200 year on-line archive does the body and the spirit more good that a bottle of pills). Believing that it would be fun to read - on a regular basis - the newspaper for exactly 50 years ago I turned to May 1959 but didn't get past the front page. I spotted an advert for a "New World" cruise on board the RMS Andes which, at £278 for 22 days, seemed quite a bargain.
The Andes was built in 1939 for the Royal Mail Line and it was intended to carry both mail and passengers. The intervention of the war meant that it was converted into a troop ship and it did not become a mail and passenger ship until 1947. It was eventually converted to a dedicated cruise ship in 1960, a few months after the cruise being advertised in the 14th May 1959 issue of The Times. At the time of this "New World" cruise it had still not been converted into a full cruise ship and would have had accommodation for about 300 passengers (after conversion in 1960 the total capacity increased to 500). The Andes kept operating as a cruise ship throughout the sixties and had another refit in 1967. But by then the market had contracted and what demand remained was for the new generation of ships such as the QE2. The grand old ship was eventually sold for scrap in 1971.
£228 for 22 days seemed quite reasonable at first sight. There is a wonderful website called Measuring Worth which will carry out currency conversions to give the current equivalents of historical prices. Feeding the 1959 data into the calculator reveals that the cost of the cruise in today's prices is a mighty £3,819. Suddenly the price of my forthcoming cruise on the Arcadia seems very reasonable indeed.