Fall cruise recalls plight of Jewish refugees on Voyage of the Damned

The 1939 sailing of the German ship the St. Louis -- popularized in the book and movie “Voyage of the Damned” -- was a painful precursor to the Holocaust. Now, 75 years later, a November cruise will recall some of that ill-fated trip.

The hopes of the 937 Jewish refugees who boarded the St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany, to flee Hitler’s Nazi regime were dashed when their plan to land in Cuba and await transport to the U.S. was denied. The U.S. also didn’t allow them to enter, and the ship was sent back to Europe.

Some of those refugees will share their stories on a November cruise dedicated to telling people about the doomed voyage. The 14-day sailing starts in New York City and ends in Miami.

“We will breathe life into history by using this unique cruise experience aboard the Crystal Serenity to trace the voyage of the SS St. Louis in a deeply respectful and meaningful way,” Ruth Kalish said in a statement. Kalish produced a recent film about the voyage called “Complicity: The Untold Story of Why the Roosevelt Administration Denied Safe Haven to Refugees.”

Kalish and filmmaker Robert Krakow will be guests on the cruise organized by the SS St. Louis Legacy Project, a nonprofit organization that champions human rights and immigration issues, and Protravel International. Passengers will see photos and artifacts from the original journey. “Complicit” will be shown, and the play “The Trial of Franklin D. Roosevelt” will be performed during the cruise.

It leaves New York City and stops in Baltimore; Norfolk, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Grand Turk, Island; Willemstad, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba before ending in Miami.


When: The cruise runs Nov. 5-19.

Price: Cabins range from $4,710 to $13,950 per person, plus $705 in taxes. It includes the cost of the cruise and special events aboard ship. Airfare to New York City and from Miami is extra.

Info: Protravel International Sherman Oaks, (800) 785-1944
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