On her maiden voyage in 1952, the S.S. United States won the Blue Riband prize for fastest Atlantic crossing by a passenger ship, crushing the previous record set by the S.S. Queen Mary. To this day she still holds this record: no other passenger liner was ever able to wrest it from her. She averaged over 35 knots speed, crossing an entire ocean.
She was essentially constructed around her massive engines. Designed for speed, her all-aluminum superstructure was at the time of her construction the largest aluminum fabrication effort ever under taken.
She's been mothballed in Philadelphia since 1996, nearly three decades since she was retired.
You see, she was too slow. The 1960s saw an explosion of air travel, all at the expense of the liners.
The S.S. United States' speed came at a fearsome cost in fuel. The fares were expensive, and passengers found that they could spend less and arrive three days earlier. And so in the space of a decade all the grand old liners were mothballed, or found themselves (like the S.S. France) renamed, re-engined (with a third the horse power) and doing permanent duty as Caribbean Cruse Ships.
Many people have tried to breathe new life into the old ships, but alas, their glory was in the trans-Atlantic crossing. They're too big (at nearly a thousand feet long), too fast, and too expensive for the only use that people will pay cash money for today: vacation cruising. Racing through the cold, grey North Atlantic has little attraction for most, especially when compared with sun and palm trees.