Travel Back in Time: Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away…

As part of our “travel back in time” series, here’s a look at some stunning poster designs promoting travel by ship during the early to mid 20th century. This breathtaking 1931 L’Atlantique poster by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (1901-1968) starts us off on our journey; little can beat the timeless appeal of the artwork by one of the greatest poster designers:


Whether advertising ferry services, short voyages or long distance cruising holidays, shipping companies looked to beat competition and entice people to travel the high seas with them to reach their destinations and discover new lands in luxurious comfort. Although flying took over as a more viable option for many as a quicker means of travel during the post-war jet age, cruises remained a popular choice as holidays in themselves, offering trips ashore and the opportunity to relax and unwind through the variety of on-board facilities and entertainment.

One of the world’s largest shipping companies, Hamburg-America Line (established 1847; now Hapag-Lloyd), initially offered cruises to Europe and North America before expanding its operations to cover all continents. These 1930s posters advertising the Hamburg-Amerika Linie were designed by German artist, Albert Fuss (1889-1969):

PT0507_1_m   PA0734_1_m

PT0284_1_m   PT0292_1_m

The classic 1930s Art Deco style in the use of bold text and colours is captured wonderfully in these posters promoting far-flung cruises to exotic countries and short-hop ferry rides:

PT0495_1_m   PT0073_1_m

PT0323_1_m   PT0524_1_m

PT0391_1_m   PT0290_1_m

This rare and very large poster for Cunard White Star featuring their flagship ocean liner launched in 1934, R.M.S. Queen Mary (now moored in California as a museum and hotel), with the slogan “America this year!” above the city skyline that’s almost dwarfed by the vast ship, really captures the essence of the era:


During the Second World War, many passenger cruise ships were taken over for the use of troops, supplies and other wartime services. The Normandie was one such ship: This French ocean liner was built for the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique as the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built and the most luxurious and largest ocean liner afloat at the time, rivalled only by the RMS Queen Mary. After being seized in New York by the Americans during World War Two and renamed USS Lafayette, the liner caught fire in 1942 while being converted into a troop ship and was scrapped in 1946. This 1985 printer’s proof poster commemorates 50 years since her launch:


This ocean liner, SS Roma, was built in 1926 and taken over by the Italian Navy for conversion into an aircraft carrier in 1939 for World War Two, renamed Aquila. In 1943 she was seized by the German forces and was partially sunk at Genoa by Italian two-men torpedoes in 1945. She was finally scrapped in 1951/2. The rather majestic design of this 1920s poster serves as a good reminder of the ship’s more celebrated launch years: 


After the War, advertising during the 1950s-1960s returned in glorious mid-century style technicolour promising festivities and fun on board, providing passengers a chance to fully enjoy their holiday time travelling by ship rather than by plane:

PT0529_1_m   PT0527_1_m

PT0397_1_m  PA0064_1_m

PA0732_1_m   PT0570_1_m

PT0576_1_m  PA0218_1_m


PT0531_1_m   PA0630_1_m


Click on the image links above or visit our website at for more information on this selection and to browse all our original vintage posters. For more updates, follow us on:


AntikBar is a Member of the International Vintage Poster Dealers’ Association (IVPDA), the London Art Deco Society (LADS) and The Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA).


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AntikBar is the London based gallery specialising in original vintage posters from around the world covering a variety of subjects: advertising, travel, cinema, sport, war, propaganda. In-store and online with worldwide delivery. Vintage poster auctions & exhibitions and events. Collection advice, on demand searches and poster restoration services. Visit for vintage books and graphic design primarily from the 1920s-1930s. Member of the International Vintage Poster Dealers Association (IVPDA) and the Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA). Website: - follow us on Facebook at (and Pinterest at Instagram at and Twitter at @AntikBar for more news and events updates, images and features.

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