UNITED FRUIT COMPANY steamships - GREAT WHITE FLEET
The United Fruit Company was an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit (primarily bananas), grown on Latin American plantations, and sold in the United States and Europe. The company was formed in 1899, from the merger of Minor C. Keith's banana-trading concerns with Andrew W. Preston's Boston Fruit Company. It flourished in the early and mid-20th century, and it came to control vast territories and transportation networks in Central America, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Ecuador, and the West Indies. Though it competed with the Standard Fruit Company (later Dole Food Company) for dominance in the international banana trade, it maintained a virtual monopoly in certain regions, some of which came to be called banana republics, such as Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala.
United Fruit had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political development of several Latin American countries. Critics often accused it of exploitative neocolonialism, and described it as the archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the banana republics. After a period of financial decline, United Fruit was merged with Eli M. Black's AMK in 1970, to become the United Brands Company. In 1984, Carl Lindner, Jr. transformed United Brands into the present-day Chiquita Brands International.
The United Fruit Company Steamship Service provided passenger and cargo ship services under the name of the “Great White Fleet” for over 100 years. The ships were painted white to reflect the tropical sun and help keep the temperature of the bananas lower, hence the name.
These ships were originally intended only for carrying cargo. United Fruit soon discovered that it could make more profit by adding passengers. Each ship carried an average of 35,000 bunches of bananas and 50-100 passengers. These cargo-liners, known today as the “banana boats”, were instrumental in helping to establish what is popularly known today as the Banana Republics throughout the Caribbean, and Central and South America. They had a huge impact on the beginning of tourism to these areas.
United Fruit claimed their ships were built especially for luxurious tropical travel. Most cruises were 2 – 4 weeks and went from the U.S. to the Caribbean and Panama Canal, then Central and South America. Their cruise tagline was, “Where the Pirates Hid their Gold” and they promised romance at sea as you explored the coasts where pirates buried their treasures and performed adventurous deeds centuries ago.
Scherbak Ship Models collects all materials related to most popular cargo-passenger ships of United Fruit Company: Cartago class (5000 toners), Calamares class (Elite three), Ulua class, Veragua class (mail boats). We also build models of these charming steamships.
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