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Long-retired cruise ship United States may sail once again

The cruise ship United States isn't one anyone has heard much about — until now.

Crystal Cruises announced last week that it would rebuild and restore the historic American-made liner that on its 1952 maiden voyage captured the transatlantic speed record for large ships. The ship traveled roughly 40 mph and made the crossing from New York Harbor to Cornwall, England, in three days, 10 hours, 40 minutes.

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As the Jet Age ushered in the era of transatlantic flights, the ship became less popular. It was retired in 1969 and has been docked on the Delaware River in Philadelphia since then.

The monthly upkeep cost became too expensive for the conservancy that oversees it. In fact, the ship was slated to be scrapped and recycled at one point.

Enter Crystal. Using private funds, the cruise line plans to "extensively" rebuild the ship and create 400 luxury suites, each about 350 square feet, a statement says. The maximum number of passengers would be 800.

Some of its original design -- the Promenade and Navajo Lounge -- will be retained. And Crystal says it will work with the SS United States Conservancy to accomplish the renovation.

The ship will sail the classic transatlantic route from New York City to England as well as embark on round-the-world itineraries.

Crystal says its plans to have a feasibility study on the ship's rebuilding by year's end.

Crystal, known for its luxury line, launched Crystal Yacht Cruises last year and will start Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Luxury Air service by March.

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