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The Scandinavian America Line was founded in 1898, when the DFDS (Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskap - The United Steamship Company) acquired the Thingvalla Line. The Thingvalla Line was a long established passenger service line between Copenhagen and New York, and was then continued under the new name "Scandinavian America Line". With the accession of this line, immediate steps were taken by the DFDS to put the transatlantic passenger service, both for tourists and emigrants, on the highest plane of efficiency. The Thingvalla Line ships were slow, small and ageing, and they suffered several setbacks due to accidents and disasters. The DFDS soon found it necessary to modernize the fleet by ordering new ships. 3 new twin screw steamers were ordered and launched during the next few years to relieve the aging Thingvalla Line fleet. They were the S/S Oscar II, S/S Hellig Olav and the S/S United States. After the modernization of the fleet the route between Scandinavia and America became profitable for many years.

A map showing the westward route and connections for emigrants traveling with the Scandinavian America Line steamships Their westbound route started off at Copenhagen calling at Kristiania (Oslo) and Kristiansand before crossing the Atlantic going north of Scotland on way to New York. The eastbound route started from the company's dock, foot of 17th Street, Hoboken, N. J. The route from New York was also north of Scotland, and the first port of call was Kristiansand, where passengers, baggage and mail were landed. Then up the Kristiania Fjord to Kristiania (Oslo), the capital of Norway, where sufficient time was spent to permit passengers from America short visits to see the city, and where tourists going to the North Cape or on one of the popular Fjord cruises were disembarked. From Kristiania the steamers made an overnight run to Copenhagen, Denmark, the home port.

As the new Scandinavian America Line continued the old service of conveying emigrants between Scandinavian ports and North America, they were all the time in sharp competition with the German and British lines. However, it is obvious that it was more convenient for many Swedes, and for Norwegian emigrants living in the surrounding districts of Kristiania, or in the southern parts of Norway, to travel directly from Kristiania or Kristiansand to New York, rather than going via Germany or Britain. Another advantage was of course, that the crew and customs on board were Scandinavian. In addition to the Scandinavians, the line also attracted passenger from the Baltic countries.

The navigating officers of the line were selected men of wide experience in ocean passenger service. The chief stewards and their forces were Scandinavians, but all of them could speak English fluently. They had all been thoroughly schooled in the idea of service which distinguished the line. All the steamers of the line were equipped with every safety appliance of their time, and were furnished with life preservers and life boats far in excess of the largest number of passengers and crew carried at any time. All the steamers of the line were lighted throughout by electricity, and in season the staterooms and saloons were heated by steam. Every steamer was equipped with wireless telegraphy, with double sets of operators, one of whom was always on duty. A newspaper containing the latest world news, received by Marconi wireless, was regularly published on board the ships. Well equipped libraries of books in several languages, with a separate library for each class were also available.

There was no steerage on the ships, as they operated with a third class. The third class staterooms, all of which were spacious, and well ventilated, were comfortably furnished with iron beds, springs, mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets, wash-stands, mirrors, towels, soap and water. They were also supplied with fresh drinking water, and kept in order by stewards and stewardesses. They could accommodate two, four and six passengers, enabling whole families to keep together. Meals were served by uniformed waiters in clean dining rooms at tables set with clean linen and porcelain tableware, and the food was of good quality, cooked in the palatable Scandinavian style, served plentifully, and with a wide variety in the menus. Ample deck space for open air promenading and exercise was reserved for the third class passengers. Ladies' saloon, well furnished comfortable smoking rooms, barber shops and many baths were a few of the conveniences furnished to those traveling in third class. The services of a physician and nurse, and the facilities of a well equipped hospital and dispensary were at the service of passengers. The same standards of courtesy and cleanliness that made traveling in the first and second cabins were also found in third class. Women and children traveling alone were in the care of a special matron and stewardesses.

The Scandinavian America Line met some serious competition with the introduction of the Swedish American Line in November 1914, and the Norwegian America Line in 1917. Both lines offered a direct service from their respective countries to New York. The next setback was the difficulties in passenger conveyance caused by WW1, and the new immigration quotas were introduced in 1921. In 1935 the line was not any longer found to be profitable and the service was discontinued.

More about the line:
Survivors of the S/S Norge - This article was transcribed and submitted by Debbie Dahl-Cole. Source: The Alexandria Post - Alexandria, Minnesota Date: Thursday 21 July 1904

The Sinking of the Norge - This article was first printed in the Budstikken, May 2005. The Budstikken is a publication of the Valdres Samband. The article was transcribed for this site by Jo Anne Saddler, and is reprinted here with kind permission of Valdres Samband and Dan Hovland

The S/S Norge disaster - newspaper reports - The New York Times July 4 - 6. Transcribed by Jo Anne Sadler 2006. This is the story of the sinking of the Norge as reported day by day in the press. The ship went down on June 28th 1904, and by July 4th the news were all over the front pages of the mayor newspapers. Jo Anne Sadler has transcribed the reports from The New York Times spanning from July 4th to July 6th. The same stories were also printed in the Norwegian newspapers.

A burial at sea on board the S/S Oscar II in 1911 - snapshots taken by Peder Georg Christian Pedersen in 1911, when he sailed as an officer on the S/S Oscar II. Pedersen served on the Scandinavian America Line steamships from 1902 till 1920, and became the master of the S/S C. F. Tietgen. The pictures were provided by Karsten Egeblad, one of Pedersen's descendants. The text to the pictures are in Pedersen's own words.

Junior Marine Engineer on Frederik VIII, 1923-25 - This is part of William Elmgreen's (1902-1990) autobiography. He was born in Denmark, and grew up in Lemvig, Jutland. In 1923 he became a Junior Marine Engineer on the Scandinavian America Line steamship "Frederick VIII", and sailed on her till 1925. This otherwise unpublished autobiography was submitted by John Elmgreen, Sydney, Australia, 2008

Pictures from the S/S Dwinsk (ex. C. F. Tietgen) - Snapshots taken by Heinrich (Henry) Ioganowitsch Arnowitz during 1917 on a convoy from Halifax to Great Britain.

Look for pictures, or upload pictures to the Scandinavian America Line picture gallery

Fleet list:
 TypeName of ship  SortYear Built   SortConstruction Shipyard   SortTonnage (burthen)   Sort
  S/SC. F. Tietgen1897 Harland & Wolff 8 173 gross 
  S/SFrederik VIII1913 AG Vulcan 11 850 gross 
  S/SHekla (2)1884 Scott & Co 3 258 gross 
  S/SHellig Olav1902 Alexander Stephen & Sons 10 085 gross 
  S/SIsland1882 Burmeister & Wain 2 844 gross 
  S/SNorge1881 Alexander Stephen & Sons 3 310 gross 
  S/SOscar II1901 Alexander Stephen & Sons 9 975 gross 
  S/SThingvalla1873 Burmeister & Wain 2 524 gross 
  S/SUnited States1903 Alexander Stephen & Sons 10 101 gross 

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Some companies may have had additional ships in their fleets to those mentioned above. They might not have been included if the ships were not engaged in the conveyance of emigrants. Some ships mentioned in the fleet lists may have been chartered from other companies, see the ship's description and history for more details.

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A selection of articles dedicated to help you in your genealogy search for your Norwegian ancestors. Transcripts and pictures of historic documents in connection with the ships and emigration. Also including articles about Pioneers & Norwegian Settlements Around the World
Articles about selected ships ships and special events in their history. Descriptions of some of the great maritime disasters involving emigrant ships, like the wrecking of the steamer Atlantic of the White Star Line, sinking of the ocean liner Empress of Ireland and the Thingvalla line steamer Norge disaster. Check this section if you have an interest in shipwrecks.
This section contains articles describing the transatlantic voyage, the condition of the steerage accommodations and the experience of an ocean travel on an emigrant ship. You will find in-depth studies concerning the emigration process, statistics and facts, and information about the immigration processing centers line Castle Garden and Ellis Island.
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