The significant part of all emigration went into decline in1929, and the number of passengers on the ships during the winter months reached an all-time low. The Swedish American Line had however foreseen that this might happen, and in 1927 they launched their first cruise, with the ship Gripsholm, to the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem. The previously black colored boats were eventually painted white to keep it from getting too hot aboard. SAL also reduced the number of passengers, with the result that there were, on average, one crew member for every traveler.
The cruises with, mainly, wealthy American passengers became more and more frequent as the years passed by, but the regular line between Gothenburg and New York remained open until 1975. During the prohibition era in America, SAL offered “booze cruises” where the specific ship left New York, crossed the territorial border of the USA, and voila – the bars opened, to the great joy of some very thirsty American passengers.
During their last years in operation, the company focused on cruises, at least during the winter months, and the time it took between the instances when the ships returned to their home port grew longer and longer.