Cunard Line

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Cunard Line
TypeSubsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc
Predecessor(s)White Star Line
Trafalgar House
Founded1840, as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
HeadquartersSouthampton, United Kingdom, and Santa Clarita, California, United States
Area servedTransatlantic, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean and World Cruises.
Key people

Samuel Cunard (Founder)

Peter Shanks (President)
ParentCarnival Corporation & plc
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Cunard Line
TypeSubsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc
Predecessor(s)White Star Line
Trafalgar House
Founded1840, as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
HeadquartersSouthampton, United Kingdom, and Santa Clarita, California, United States
Area servedTransatlantic, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean and World Cruises.
Key people

Samuel Cunard (Founder)

Peter Shanks (President)
ParentCarnival Corporation & plc

The Cunard Line, formerly the Cunard White-Star Line, is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England, and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century.

In 1839, Canadian-born Samuel Cunard was awarded the first British transatlantic steamship mail contract, and the next year formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company to operate the line's four pioneer paddle steamers on the Liverpool–Halifax–Boston route. For most of the next 30 years, Cunard held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic voyage. However, in the 1870s Cunard fell behind its rivals, the White Star Line and the Inman Line. To meet this competition, in 1879 the firm was reorganized as Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd to raise capital.[1]

In 1902, White Star joined the American owned International Mercantile Marine Co. and the British Government provided Cunard with substantial loans and a subsidy to build two superliners needed to retain its competitive position. Mauretania held the Blue Riband from 1909 to 1929. The sinking of her sister ship Lusitania in 1915 was one of the causes of the United States' entering the First World War. In the late 1920s, Cunard faced new competition when the Germans, Italians and French built large prestige liners. Cunard was forced to suspend construction on its own new superliner because of the Great Depression. In 1934 the British Government offered Cunard loans to finish the Queen Mary and to build a second ship, the Queen Elizabeth, on the condition that Cunard merged with the then ailing White Star line to form Cunard White-Star Ltd. Cunard owned two-thirds of the new company. Cunard purchased White Star's share in 1947; the name reverted to the Cunard Line in 1950.[1]

Winston Churchill estimated that the two Queens helped to shorten the Second World War by at least a year; fundamentally due to the large troop-carrying capacities of the ships. Upon the end of the war, Cunard regained its position as the largest Atlantic passenger line. By the mid 1950s, it operated twelve ships to the United States and Canada. After 1958, transatlantic passenger ships became increasingly unprofitable because of the introduction of jet airliners. Cunard withdrew from its year round service in 1968 to concentrate on cruising and summer transatlantic voyages for vacationers. The Queens were replaced by the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), which was designed for the dual role.[2]

In 1998 Cunard was acquired by the Carnival Corporation, and accounted for 8.7% of that company's revenue in 2012.[3] and five years later QE2 was replaced on the Transatlantic runs by the Queen Mary 2 (QM2). The line also operates the Queen Victoria (QV) and the Queen Elizabeth (QE). At the moment, Cunard is the only shipping company to operate a scheduled passenger service between Europe and North America.



Early years as B&NARMSPC : 1840–1865

Britannia of 1840 (1150 GRT), the first Cunard liner built for the transatlantic service.

The British Government started operating monthly mail brigs from Falmouth, Cornwall, to New York in 1756. These ships carried few non-governmental passengers and no cargo. In 1818, the Black Ball Line opened a regularly scheduled New York–Liverpool service with clipper ships, beginning an era when American sailing packets dominated the North Atlantic saloon-passenger trade that lasted until the introduction of steamships.[1] A Committee of Parliament decided in 1836 that to become more competitive, the mail packets operated by the Post Office should be replaced by private shipping companies. The Admiralty assumed responsibility for managing the contracts.[4] Famed Arctic explorer, Admiral Sir William Edward Parry was appointed as Comptroller of Steam Machinery and Packet Service in April 1837.[5] Nova Scotians led by their young Assembly Speaker, Joseph Howe lobbied for steam service to Halifax. On his arrival in London in May 1838, Howe discussed the enterprise with fellow Nova Scotian Samuel Cunard (1787–1865), a shipowner who was also visiting London on business.[6] Cunard and Howe were associates and Howe also owed Cunard £300.[7] (£21,724 as of 2012),[8] Cunard returned to Halifax to raise capital, and Howe continued to lobby the British government.[6] The Rebellions of 1837 were ongoing and London realized that the proposed Halifax service was also important for the military.[9]

That November, Parry released a tender for North Atlantic monthly mail service to Halifax beginning in April 1839 using steamships with 300 horsepower.[9] The Great Western Steamship Company, which had opened its pioneer Bristol–New York service earlier that year, bid £45,000 for a monthly Bristol–Halifax–New York service using three ships of 450 horsepower. While British American, the other pioneer transatlantic steamship company did not submit a tender,[10] the St. George Steam Packet Company, owner of the Sirius, bid £45,000 for a monthly Cork-Halifax service[11] and £65,000 for a monthly Cork–Halifax–New York service. The Admiralty rejected both tenders because neither bid offered to begin services early enough.[12]

Cunard, who was back in Halifax, unfortunately did not know of the tender until after the deadline.[10] He returned to London and started negotiations with Admiral Parry, who was Cunard's good friend from when Parry was a young officer stationed in Halifax 20 years earlier. Cunard offered Parry a fortnightly service beginning in May 1840. While Cunard did not then own a steamship, he had been an investor in an earlier steamship venture, the Royal William, and owned coal mines in Nova Scotia.[6] Cunard's major backer was Robert Napier, who was the Royal Navy's supplier of steam engines.[10] He also had the strong backing of Nova Scotian political leaders at the time when London needed to rebuild support in British North America after the rebellion.[9]

Europa of 1848 (1850 GRT). This is one of the earliest known photos of an Atlantic steamship

Over Great Western's protests,[13] in May 1839 Parry accepted Cunard's tender of £55,000 for a three-ship Liverpool–Halifax service with an extension to Boston and a supplementary service to Montreal.[6] The annual subsidy was later raised £81,000 to add a fourth ship[14] and departures from Liverpool were to be monthly during the winter and fortnightly for the rest of the year.[1] Parliament investigated Great Western's complaints, and upheld the Admiralty's decision.[12] Napier and Cunard recruited other investors including businessmen James Donaldson, Sir George Burns, and David MacIver. In May 1840, just before the first ship was ready, they formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (B&NARMSPC) with initial capital of £270,000, later increased to £300,000.(£21,239,138 as of 2012),[8] Cunard supplied £55,000.[6] Burns supervised ship construction, McIver was responsible for day to day operations, and Cunard was the "first among equals' in the management structure. When MacIver died in 1845, his younger brother Charles assumed his responsibilities for the next 35 years.[10] (For more detail of the first investors in the Cunard Line and also the early life of Charles Maciver, see Liverpool Nautical Research Society's Second Merseyside Maritime History pp 33–37 1991.)

In May 1840 the coastal paddle steamer Unicorn made the company's first voyage to Halifax[15] to begin the supplementary service to Montreal. Two months later the first of the four ocean-going steamers of the Britannia Class, departed Liverpool, arriving in Halifax after 12 days and 10 hours, averaging 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h), before proceeding to Boston. During 1840–41, mean Liverpool–Halifax times for the quartet were 13 days 6 hours to Halifax and 11 days 4 hours homeward. Two larger ships were quickly ordered, one to replace the Columbia, which sank at Seal Island, Nova Scotia in 1843 without loss of life. By 1845, steamship lines led by Cunard carried more saloon passengers than the sailing packets.[1] Three years later, the British Government increased the annual subsidy to £156,000 so that Cunard could double its frequency.[14] Four additional wooden paddlers were ordered and alternate sailings were direct to New York instead of the Halifax-Boston route. The sailing packet lines were now reduced to the immigrant trade.[1]

From the beginning Cunard's ships used the line's distinctive red funnel with two or three narrow black bands and black top. It appears that Robert Napier was responsible for this feature. His shipyard in Glasgow used this combination previously in 1830 on Thomas Assheton Smith's private steam yacht "Menai". The renovation of her model by Glasgow Museum of Transport revealed that she had vermilion funnels with black bands and black top.[16]

Cunard's reputation for safety was one of the significant factors in the firm's early success.[2] Both the first two transatlantic lines failed after major accidents. 'British and American' collapsed after the President foundered in a gale and Great Western after Great Britain stranded because of a navigation error.[1] Cunard's orders to his masters were, "Your ship is loaded, take her; speed is nothing, follow your own road, deliver her safe, bring her back safe - safety is all that is required."[2] In particular, it was Charles MacIver's constant inspections that was responsible for the firm's safety discipline.[10]

A captain waves aboard a Cunard Line vessel.

In 1850 the American Collins Line and the British Inman Line started new Atlantic steamship services. The American Government supplied Collins with a large annual subsidy to operate four wooden paddlers that were superior to Cunard's best.[14] Inman showed that iron-hulled, screw propelled steamers of modest speed could be profitable without subsidy. Inman also became the first steamship line to carry steerage passengers. Both of the newcomers suffered major disasters in 1854.[1] The next year, Cunard put pressure on Collins by commissioning its first iron-hulled paddler, the Persia, which won the Blue Riband with a Liverpool–New York voyage of 9 days 16 hours, averaging 13.11 knots (24.28 km/h).[17]

During the Crimean War Cunard supplied 11 ships for war service. Every British North Atlantic route was suspended until 1856 except Cunard's Liverpool-Halifax-Boston service. While Collins' fortunes improved because of the lack of competition during the war, it collapsed in 1858 after the loss of two additional steamers. Cunard emerged as the leading carrier of saloon passengers and in 1862 commissioned the Scotia, the last paddle steamer to win the Blue Riband. Inman carried more passengers because of its success in the immigrant trade. To compete, in May 1863 Cunard started a secondary Liverpool-New York service with iron-hulled screw steamers that catered for steerage passengers. Beginning with the China, the line also replaced the last three wooden paddlers on the New York mail service with iron screw steamers that only carried saloon passengers.[1]

Cunard Steamship Company Ltd : 1865–1897

Etruria of 1885 (7,700 GRT)

When Cunard died in 1865, the equally conservative Charles MacIver assumed Cunard's role.[10] The firm retained its reluctance about change and was overtaken by competitors that more quickly adopted new technology.[14] In 1866 Inman started to build screw propelled express liners that matched B&NARMSPC's premier unit, the Scotia. The B&NARMSPC responded with its first high speed screw propellered steamer, the Russia which was followed by two larger editions. In 1871 both companies faced a new rival when the White Star Line commissioned the Oceanic and her five sisters. The new White Star record-breakers were especially economical because of their use of compound engines. White Star also set new standards for comfort by placing the dining saloon midships and doubling the size of cabins. Inman rebuilt its express fleet to the new standard, but B&NARMSPC lagged behind both of its rivals. Throughout the 1870s B&NARMSPC passage times were longer than either White Star or Inman.[1]

In 1867 responsibility for mail contracts was transferred back to the Post Office and opened for bid. B&NARMSPC, Inman and the German Norddeutscher Lloyd were each awarded one of the three weekly New York mail services. The fortnightly route to Halifax formerly held by B&NARMSPC went to Inman. B&NARMSPC continued to receive a £80,000 subsidy (£5,165,840 as of 2012),[8] while NDL and Inman were paid sea postage. Two years later the service was rebid and B&NARMSPC was awarded a seven-year contract for two weekly New York mail services at £70,000 per annum. Inman was awarded a seven-year contract for the third weekly New York service at £35,000 per year.[12]

Campania of 1893, (12,900 GRT)

The Panic of 1873 started a five-year shipping depression that strained the finances of all of the Atlantic competitors.[1] In 1876 the mail contracts expired and the Post Office ended both B&NARMSPC's and Inman's subsidies. The new contracts were paid on the basis of weight, at a rate substantially higher than paid by the United States Post Office.[12] Cunard's weekly New York mail sailings were reduced to one and White Star was awarded the third mail sailing. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday a liner from one of the three firms departed Liverpool with the mail for New York.[18]

To raise additional capital, in 1879 the privately-held British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (B&NARMSPC) was reorganized as a public stock corporation, the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd.[1] Under Cunard's new chairman, John Burns (1839–1900), son of one of the firm's original founders,[10] Cunard commissioned four steel-hulled express liners beginning with Servia of 1881, the first passenger liner with electric lighting throughout. In 1884, Cunard purchased the almost new Blue Riband winner Oregon from the Guion Line when that firm defaulted on payments to the shipyard. That year, Cunard also commissioned the record-breakers Umbria and Etruria capable of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h). Starting in 1887, Cunard's newly won leadership on the North Atlantic was threatened when Inman and then White Star responded with twin propellered record-breakers. In 1893 Cunard countered with two even faster Blue Riband winners, the Campania and the Lucania, capable of 21.8 knots (40.4 km/h).[14]

Transition to Cunard White Star : 1897–1929

Crest of the 1921 Cunard liner Laconia

No sooner had Cunard re-established its supremacy than new rivals emerged. Beginning in the late 1860s several German firms commissioned liners that were almost as fast as the British mail steamers from Liverpool.[1] In 1897 Kaiser Wilhelm der Große of Norddeutscher Lloyd raised the Blue Riband to 22.3 knots (41.3 km/h), and was followed by a succession of German record-breakers.[17] Rather than match the new German speedsters, White Star - a rival which Cunard line would acquire later - commissioned four very profitable Celtic-class liners of more moderate speed for its secondary Livepool-New York service. In 1902 White Star joined the well-capitalized American combine, the International Mercantile Marine Co. (IMM), which owned the American Line, including the old Inman Line, and other lines. IMM also had trade agreements with Hamburg–America and Norddeutscher Lloyd.[1]

RMS Carpathia of 1901 (13,555 GRT) became famous for rescuing the survivors of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

This was the Dreadnought era and British prestige was at stake. The British Government provided Cunard with an annual subsidy of £150,000 plus a low interest loan of £2.5 million (£199 million as of 2012),[8] to pay for the construction of the two superliners, the Blue Riband winners Lusitania and Mauretania, capable of 26.0 knots (48.2 km/h). In 1904 the firm started a Fiume–New York service with calls at Italian ports and Gibraltar. The next year Cunard commissioned two ships to compete directly with the Celtic-class liners on the secondary Liverpool-New York route. In 1911 Cunard entered the St Lawrence trade by purchasing the Thompson line, and absorbed the Royal line five years later.[1]

Berengaria of 1913 (51,950 GRT), originally Hapag's Imperator, was acquired by Cunard in 1921 to join Mauretania and Aquitania in the three-ship express service.

Not to be outdone, both White Star and Hamburg–America each ordered a trio of superliners. The White Star Olympic-class liners at 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h) and the Hapag Imperator-class liners at 22.5 knots (41.7 km/h) were larger and more luxurious than the Cunarders, but not as fast. Cunard also ordered a new ship, the Aquitania, capable of 24.0 knots (44.4 km/h), to complete the Liverpool mail fleet. Events prevented the expected competition between the three sets of superliners. White Star's Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, both White Star's Britannic and Cunard's Lusitania were war losses, and the three Hapag super-liners were handed over to the Allied powers as war reparations.[2]

In 1917 Cunard Line completed its European headquarters in Liverpool. The grand neo-Classical Cunard Building was the third of Liverpool's Three Graces. The headquarters were used by Cunard until the 1960s.[19]

Due to First World War losses, Cunard began a post-war rebuilding programme included eleven intermediate liners; Southampton replaced Liverpool as the British destination for the three-ship express service; and Cunard acquired the former Hapag Imperator (renamed the Berengaria) to replace the lost Lusitania as the running mate for Mauretania and Aquitania. By 1926 Cunard's fleet was larger than before the war, and White Star was in decline, having been sold by IMM.[1]

Cunard White-Star line to Cunard line : 1929–1971

Aquitania of 1914 (45,650 GRT).

Despite the dramatic reduction in North Atlantic passengers caused by the shipping depression beginning in 1929, the Germans, Italians and the French commissioned new "ships of state" prestige liners.[1] The German Bremen took the Blue Riband at 27.8 knots (51.5 km/h) in 1933, the Italian Rex recorded 28.9 knots (53.5 km/h) on a westbound voyage the same year, and the French Normandie crossed the Atlantic in just under four days at 30.58 knots (56.63 km/h) in 1937.[17] In 1930 Cunard ordered a 80,000 ton liner that was to be the first of two record-breakers fast enough to fit into a two-ship weekly Southampton-New York service. Work on hull 534 was halted in 1931 because of the economic conditions.[2]

By 1934 the White Star Line was failing and the British Government was concerned about potential job losses. David Kirkwood, MP for Clydebank where the unfinished hull 534 had been sitting idle for two and a half years, made a passionate plea in the House of Commons for funding to finish the ship and restart the dormant British economy.[20] The government offered Cunard a loan of £3 million to complete hull 534 and an additional £5 million to build the second ship, if Cunard merged with White Star.[2] The merger was accomplished by forming a new company, Cunard White Star, Ltd with Cunard owning about two-thirds of the capital.[1]

Due to the surplus tonnage of the new combined Cunard White Star fleet many of the older liners were sent to the scrapyard, these included the Mauretania and the ex-White Star liners Olympic and Homeric. In 1936, the ex-White Star Majestic was sold when hull 534, now named Queen Mary, replaced her in the express mail service.[2] Queen Mary reached 30.99 knots (57.39 km/h) on her 1938 Blue Riband voyage.[17] Cunard started construction on the Queen Elizabeth, and a smaller ship, the second Mauretania, joined the fleet and which also could be used on the Atlantic run when one of the Queens was in drydock for overhaul.[1] Berengaria was sold for scrap in 1938 after a series of fires.[2]

Queen Mary of 1936 (80,700 GRT) in retirement at Long Beach, California as a floating museum/hotel ship.

During 1939–45 the Queens carried over two million servicemen and were credited by Churchill as helping to shorten the war by a year.[2] All four of the large Cunard express liners, the two Queens, Aquitania and Mauretania survived, but many of the secondary ships were lost. Both the Lancastria and Laconia were sunk with heavy loss of life.[1]

In 1947 Cunard purchased White Star's interest, and the company dropped the White Star name and was renamed to Cunard Line. The same year, the company commissioned five freighters and two cargo liners. The Caronia, was completed in 1949 as a permanent cruise liner and the Aquitania was retired the next year.[1] Cunard was in an especially good position to take advantage of the increase in North Atlantic travel during the 1950s and the Queens were a major generator of US currency for Great Britain. Cunard's slogan, "Getting there is half the fun", was specifically aimed at the tourist trade. Beginning in 1954, Cunard took delivery of a quartet of new 22,000-GRT intermediate liners for the Canadian route and the Liverpool- New York route. The last White Star motor ship, the Britannic of 1930, remained in service until 1960.[2]

In 1960, a government appointed committee recommended the construction of project Q3, a conventional 75,000 GRT liner to replace Queen Mary. Under the plan, the government would loan Cunard the majority of the liner's cost.[21] However, some Cunard stockholders questioned the plan at the June 1961 board meeting because trans-Atlantic flights were gaining in popularity.[22] By 1963, the plan had been changed to a dual purpose 55,000 GRT ship that was designed to cruise in the off season.[23] Ultimately, this ship came into service in 1969 as the 70,300 GRT Queen Elizabeth 2.[2]

The Caronia and Carinthia laid up in Southampton.

Within ten years of the introduction of jet airliners in 1958, most of the conventional Atlantic liners were gone. Mauretania was retired in 1965, the Queen Mary and Caronia in 1967, and the Queen Elizabeth in 1968. Two of the new intermediate liners were sold by 1970 and the other two were converted to cruise ships.[2] Cunard tried operating scheduled air services to North America, the Caribbean and South America by forming BOAC-Cunard Ltd in 1962 with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, but this venture lasted only until 1966.[24]

Trafalgar House years : 1971–1998

By 1971, when the line was purchased by the conglomerate Trafalgar House, Cunard operated cargo and passenger ships, hotels and resorts. Its cargo fleet consisted of 42 ships in service, with 20 on order. The flagship of the passenger fleet was the two-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2. The fleet also included the remaining two intermediate liners from the 1950s, plus two purpose-built cruise ships on order. Trafalgar acquired two additional cruise ships and disposed of the intermediate liners and most of the cargo fleet.[25] During the Falklands War, the QE2 and the Cunard Countess were chartered as troopships[26] while Cunard's container ship Atlantic Conveyor was sunk by an Exocet missile.[27]

Queen Elizabeth 2 of 1969 (70,300 GRT), at Trondheim, Norway, in 2006.

Cunard acquired the Norwegian America Line in 1983, with two classic ocean liner/cruise ships.[28] Also in 1983, the Trafalgar attempted a hostile takeover of P&O, another large passenger and cargo shipping line, which was formed the same year as Cunard. P&O objected and forced the issue to the British Monopolies and Mergers Commission. In their filing, P&O was critical of Trafalgar's management of Cunard and their failure to correct QE2's mechanical problems.[29] In 1984, the Commission ruled in favor of the merger, but Trafalgar decided against proceeding.[30] In 1988, Cunard acquired Ellerman Lines and its small fleet of cargo vessels, organizing the business as Cunard-Ellerman, however, only a few years later, Cunard decided to abandon the cargo business and focus solely on cruise ships. Cunard's cargo fleet was sold off between 1989 and 1991, with a single container ship, the second Atlantic Conveyor, remaining under Cunard ownership until 1996. In 1994 Cunard purchased the rights to the name of the Royal Viking Line and its Royal Viking Sun. The rest of Royal Viking Line's fleet stayed with the line's owner, Norwegian Cruise Line.[31]

By the mid 1990s Cunard was ailing. The company was embarrassed in late 1994 when the QE2 experienced numerous defects during the first voyage of the season because of unfinished renovation work. Claims from passengers cost the company US$13 million. After Cunard reported a US$25 million loss in 1995, Trafalgar assigned a new CEO to the line, who concluded that the company had management issues. In 1996 the Norwegian conglomerate Kværner acquired Trafalgar House, and attempted to sell Cunard. When there were no takers, Kværner made substantial investments to turn around the company's tarnished reputation.[32]

Carnival : 1998 - till date

Queen Mary 2 of 2004 (148,528 GT) at Hamburg, 2006.
Queen Victoria of 2007 (90,049 GT)

In 1998 Cunard was sold to the cruise line conglomerate Carnival Corporation for US$500 million.[33] The next year Carnival acquired the remaining stock for US$205 million.[34] Each of Carnival's cruise lines is positioned to appeal to a different market, and Carnival was interested in rebuilding Cunard as a luxury brand trading on its British traditions. Under the slogan "Advancing Civilization Since 1840," Cunard's advertising campaign sought to emphasize the elegance and mystique of ocean travel.[35] Only the QE2 and Caronia continued under the Cunard brand and the company started Project Queen Mary to build a new ocean liner/cruise ship for the transatlantic route.[36]

By 2001 Carnival was the largest cruise company, followed by Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess Cruises, which had recently demerged from its parent P&O. When Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess agreed to merge, Carnival countered with a hostile takeover bid for P&O Princess. Carnival rejected the idea of selling Cunard to resolve antitrust issues with the acquisition.[37] European and U.S. regulators approved the merger without requiring Cunard's sale.[38] After the merger was completed, Carnival moved Cunard's headquarters to the offices of Princess Cruises in Santa Clarita, California so that administrative, financial and technology services could be combined.[39]

With the opening of Carnival House in Southampton in 2009,[40] executive control of Cunard Line was subsequently transferred from Carnival Corporation in the United States, to Carnival UK, the primary operating company of Carnival plc. As the UK listed holding company of the group, Carnival plc now has executive control of all Carnival Group activities in the UK, with all UK based brands, including Cunard, being headquartered in offices at Carnival House.

In 2004, the 36-year-old QE2 was replaced on the North Atlantic by Queen Mary 2. Caronia was sold and QE2 continued to cruise until she was retired in 2008. In 2007 Cunard added a large cruise ship, Queen Victoria. She is not a sister for the QM2, being ordered by Carnival as a Vista class cruise ship for the Holland America Line. To reinforce Cunard traditions, the QV has a small museum on board. Cunard commissioned a second Vista class cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth in 2010.[41]

As of December 1, 2011 all three Cunard ships in service had changed vessel registry to Hamilton, Bermuda.[42] This marks the first time in the 171-year history of the company that it will have no ships registered within the United Kingdom.[43]


The Cunard fleet, all built for Cunard unless otherwise indicated, consisted of the following ships in order of acquisition:[1]


ShipBuiltIn service for CunardTypeTonnageNotes
Unicorn18361840–1846wood-paddler650 GRTcoastal steamer purchased for Montreal service, sold 1846
Britannia18401840–1849wood-paddler1,150 GRTEastbound record holder, sold to North German Navy 1849
Acadia18401840–1849wood-paddler1,150 GRTsold to North German Navy 1849
Caledonia18401840–1850wood-paddler1,150 GRTsold to Spanish Navy 1850
Columbia18411841–1843wood-paddler1,150 GRTBlue Riband, wrecked 1843 without loss of life
Hibernia18431843–1850wood-paddler1,400 GRTEastbound record holder, sold to Spanish Navy 1850
Cambria18451845–1860wood-paddler1,400 GRTBlue Riband, sold to Italian owners 1860
America18481848–1863wood-paddler1,850 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1863 and converted to sail
Niagara18481848–1866wood-paddler1,850 GRTsold 1866 and converted to sail
Europa18481848–1867wood-paddler1,850 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1867
Canada18481848–1866wood-paddler1,850 GRTEastbound record holder, sold 1866 and converted to sail
Asia18501850–1868wood-paddler2,250 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1868
Africa18501850–1868wood-paddler2,250 GRTsold 1868
Arabia18521852–1864wood-paddler2,400 GRTsold 1864 and converted to sail
Andes18521852–1859iron-screw1,400 GRTsold to Spanish Government 1859
Alps18531853–1859iron-screw1,400 GRTsold to Spanish Government 1859
Jura18541854–1860iron-screw2,200 GRTsold to Allan Line 1860
Etna18551855–1860iron-screw2,200 GRTsold to Inman Line 1860
Persia18561856–1869iron-paddler3,300 GRTBlue Riband, taken out of service 1868 and scrapped 1872
Australian18571860–1876iron-screw2,700 GRTbuilt for other owners, sold 1876
China18621862–1880iron-screw2,550 GRTsold to Spanish owners 1880
Scotia18621864–1878iron-paddler3,850 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1878 and converted to cable layer
Cuba18641865–1876iron-screw2,700 GRTsold 1876 and converted to sail
Java18651865–1878iron-screw2,700 GRTsold 1878 to Red Star Line, and renamed "Zeeland"


ShipBuiltIn service for CunardTypeTonnageNotes
Russia18671867–1880express2,950 GRTsold to Red Star Line 1880
Siberia18671867–1880intermediate2,550 GRTsold to Spanish owners 1880
Samaria18681868–1892intermediate2,550 GRTsold 1892
Batavia18701870–1884intermediate2,550 GRTtraded in for Oregon 1884
Abyssinia18701870–1880express3,250 GRTsold to Guion Line 1880
Algeria18701870–1881express3,250 GRTsold to Red Star Line 1881
Parthia18701870–1884intermediate3,150 GRTtraded in for Oregon 1884, scrapped 1955
Bothnia18741874–1898express4,550 GRTsold 1898
Scythia18751875–1899express4,550 GRTsold 1899
Gallia18791879–1897express4,800 GRTsold to Beaver Line 1899
Catalonia18811881–1901intermediate4,850 GRTsold 1901
Cephalonia18821882–1900intermediate5,500 GRTsold to Russian Navy 1900, sunk Port Authur
Pavonia18821882–1900intermediate5,500 GRTsold 1900
Servia18811881–1902express7,400 GRTfirst steel liner to New York, scrapped 1902
Aurania18831883–1905express7,250 GRTsold 1905
Oregon18831884–1886express7,400 GRTBlue Riband, built for Guion Line, purchased by Cunard 1884, sank 1886 without loss of life
Umbria18841884–1910express7,700 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1910
Etruria18841884–1910express7,700 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1910
Campania18931893–1914express12,900 GRTBlue Riband, sold to Royal Navy 1914 and converted to aircraft carrier
Lucania18931893–1909express12,900 GRTBlue Riband, scrapped after fire 1909


ShipBuiltIn service for CunardTypeTonnageNotes
Ultonia18991899–1917intermediate10,400 GRTsunk by submarine 1917
Ivernia19001900–1917intermediate14,250 GRTsunk by submarine 1917
Saxonia19001900–1925intermediate14,250 GRTsold 1925
Carpathia19031903–1918intermediate13,600 GRTrescued survivors from Titanic, sunk by submarine 1918
Slavonia19031903–1909intermediate10,606 GRTwrecked 1909
Caronia19051905–1932intermediate19,650 GRTscrapped 1932
Carmania19051905–1932intermediate19,650 GRTscrapped 1932
Lusitania19071907–1915express31,550 GRTBlue Riband, sunk by submarine 1915
Mauretania19071907–1934express31,950 GRTBlue Riband, scrapped 1934
Franconia19111911–1916intermediate18,100 GRTsunk by submarine 1916
Albania19001911–1912intermediate7,650 GRTbuilt for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sold 1912
Ausonia19091911–1918intermediate7,907 GRTbuilt for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sunk by submarine 1918
Ascania19111911–1918intermediate9,100 GRTwrecked 1918
Laconia19121912–1917intermediate18,100 GRTsunk by submarine 1917
Andania19131913–1918intermediate13,400 GRTsunk by submarine 1918
Alaunia19131913–1916intermediate13,400 GRTsunk by mine 1916
Aquitania19141914–1950express45,650 GRTscrapped 1950
Orduna19141914–1921intermediate15,700 GRTbuilt for other owners, acquired by Cunard 1914, sold 1921
Aurania19161916–1918intermediate13,400 GRTsunk by submarine 1918
Royal George19161916-? ? ?served on the Liverpool to New York route
Albania19201920–1930intermediate12,750 GRTsold to Libera Triestina 1930
Berengaria19131921–1938express51,950 GRTbuilt by Hapag as Imperator, purchased by Cunard 1921, sold for scrap 1938
Scythia19211921–1958intermediate19,700 GRTscrapped 1958
Samaria19221922–1955intermediate19,700 GRTscrapped 1955
Laconia19221922–1942intermediate19,700 GRTsunk by submarine 1942
Antonia19221922–1942intermediate13,900 GRTsold to Admiralty 1942
Austonia19221922–1942intermediate13,900 GRTsold to Admiralty 1942
Lancastria19221922–1940intermediate16,250 GRTsunk by bombing 1940
Franconia19231923–1956intermediate20,200 GRTscrapped 1956
Aurania19241924–1942intermediate14,000 GRTsold to Admiralty 1942
Carinthia19251925–1940cruise20,200 GRTsunk by submarine 1940
Ascania19251925–1956intermediate14,000 GRTscrapped 1956
Alaunia19251925–1942intermediate14,000 GRTsold to Admiralty 1942


See also: White Star Line's Olympic, Homeric, Majestic, Doric, Laurentic, Britannic and Georgic

ShipBuiltIn service for CunardTypeTonnageNotes
Queen Mary19361936–1967express80,750 GRTBlue Riband, sold 1967, now a stationary hotel ship
Mauretania19391939–1965express37,750 GRTscrapped 1965
Queen Elizabeth19401946–1968express83,650 GRTWWII troopship 1940-1945, sold 1968, destroyed by fire 1972
Media19471947–1961cargo liner13,350 GRTsold to Cogedar Line 1961
Parthia19471947–1961cargo liner13,350 GRTsold to P&O 1961
Caronia19491949–1968cruise34,200 GRTsold 1968, wrecked 1974
Britannic19291950–1960intermediate26,943 GRTbuilt for White Star Line, scrapped 1960
Georgic19321950–1956intermediate27,759 GRTbuilt for White Star Line, scrapped 1956
21,637 GRT
21,370 GRT
Sold to the Black Sea Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973
21,800 GRTSold to the Far Eastern Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973
Carinthia19561956–1968intermediate21,800 GRTsold to Sitmar Line 1968
Sylvania19571957–1968intermediate21,800 GRTsold to Sitmar Line 1968
Queen Elizabeth 219691969–2008express70,300 GRTsold 2008, laid up in Port Rashid
Cunard Adventurer19711971–1977cruise14,150 GRTsold to Norwegian Cruise Line 1977
Cunard Ambassador19721972–1974cruise14,150 GRTsold after fire 1974 to C. Clausen and converted to a cattle carrier
Cunard Countess19751976–1996cruise17,500 GRTsold to Awani Cruise Line 1996
Cunard Princess19751977–1995cruise17,500 GRTsold to MSC Cruises 1995
Sagafjord19651983–1997cruise24,500 GRTbuilt for Norwegian America Line, sold to Saga Cruises 1997
cruise24,300 GRTbuilt for Norwegian America Line, sold to Saga Cruises 2004
Sea Goddess I19841986–1998cruise4,333 GRTBuilt for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998
Sea Goddess II19851986–1998cruise4,333 GRTBuilt for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998
Royal Viking Sun19881994–1999cruise37,850 GRTbuilt for Royal Viking Line, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1999
Queen Mary 220042004–presentexpress148,528 GT[44][45]in service
Queen Victoria20072007–presentcruise90,049 GTin service
Queen Elizabeth20102010–presentcruise90,901 GTin service

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Gibbs, Charles Robert Vernon (1957). Passenger Liners of the Western Ocean: A Record of Atlantic Steam and Motor Passenger Vessels from 1838 to the Present Day. John De Graff. pp. 52–92. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Maxtone-Graham, John (1972). The Only Way To Cross. Collier. 
  3. ^ "2012 World Wide Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 2011-11-20. 
  4. ^ Parry, Ann (1963). Parry of the Arctic. London. 
  5. ^ Grant, Kay (1967). Samuel Cunard. London. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Langley, John G. (2006). Steam Lion. Nimbus. 
  7. ^ Beck, J. Murray (1984). Joseph Howe, Conservative Reformer. McGill-Queens. 
  8. ^ a b c d UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Lawrence H. Officer (2010) "What Were the UK Earnings and Prices Then?" MeasuringWorth.
  9. ^ a b c Arnell, J.C, (1986). Steam and the North Atlantic Mails. Toronto. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Fox, Stephen. Transatlantic: Samuel Cunard, Isambard Brunel and the Great Atlantic Steamships. 
  11. ^ Body, Geoffey (1971). British Paddle Steamers. Newton Abbot. 
  12. ^ a b c d Bacon, Edwin M. (1911). Manual of Ship Subsidies. 
  13. ^ Corlett, Ewan (1975). The Iron Ship: the Story of Brunel's ss Great Britain. Conway. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Fry, Henry (1896). The History of North Atlantic Steam Navigation with Some Account of Early Ships and Shipowners. London: Sampson, Low & Marston. OCLC 271397492. 
  15. ^ Ships of the Cunard Line; Dorman, Frank E.; Adlard Coles Limited; 1955
  16. ^ The National Archives, BT107/202, Beaumaris 1830 No. 24, 132'2" x 20'6" x 12'8", 138 tons.
  17. ^ a b c d Kludas, Arnold (1999). Record breakers of the North Atlantic, Blue Riband Liners 1838-1953. London: Chatham. 
  18. ^ Preble, George Henry; John Lipton Lochhead (1883). A Chronological History of the Origin and Development of Steam Navigation. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersley. OCLC 2933332. 
  19. ^ "Cunard History at a Glance". Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  20. ^ "The Red Baron of Bearsden". Milngavie Herald. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2010. 
  21. ^ "75,000-Ton Vessel to Replace Queen Mary Is Urged in Britain". New York Times. 2 June 1960. 
  22. ^ "Queen Mary Plan Draws Protests". New York Times. 15 June 1961. 
  23. ^ Horne, George (9 April 1963). "Cunard's Decision on New Liner Is Due by Board Meeting in June". New York Times. 
  24. ^ Blair, Granger (16 September 1964). "BOAC buys out Cunard's Share". New York Times. 
  25. ^ Monopolies and Mergers Commission (1984). "Appendix 3: Trafalgar House plc: composition of fleet in 1971 and 1983". Trafalgar House plc & Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company: A report on the proposed merger. pp. 77–79. 
  26. ^ "A Full Log of Sailings". New York Times. 21 November 1982. 
  27. ^ "French Missiles En Route to Argentina". New York Times. 19 November 1982. 
  28. ^ "Cunard Purchase". New York Times. 12 May 1983. 
  29. ^ Monopolies and Mergers Commission (1984). Trafalgar House plc & Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company: A report on the proposed merger. 
  30. ^ "Trafalgar bid for P&O". New York Times. 15 March 1984. 
  31. ^ McDowell, Edwin (19 October 1994). "Cruise lines sail through choppy seas". New York Times. 
  32. ^ McDowell, Edwin (6 August 1996). "Chief's Strategy for an Ailing Cruise Line". New York Times. 
  33. ^ "Carnival in $500 million deal to buy Cunard". New York Times. 4 April 1998. 
  34. ^ "Carnival to buy remaining share in Cunard". New York Times. 20 October 1999. 
  35. ^ McDowell, Edwin (19 August 1999). "Carnival's Cunard cruise line plans to spend 12.5 million to stress a touch of class". New York Times. 
  36. ^ Wakin, Daniel (19 August 2001). "Restoring the Queen's Glamour". New York Times. 
  37. ^ "Carnival may sell unit to complete takeover". New York Times. 28 May 2002. 
  38. ^ Kapner, Suzanne (25 October 2002). "End is seen in long battle for cruise line". New York Times. 
  39. ^ "Carnival to move Cunard line's operations to California". New York Times. 12 July 2004. 
  40. ^ Keith Hamilton (20 july 2009). "Carnival UK moves into new Southampton headquarters". Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  41. ^ Santos, Fernanda (4 January 2008). "Three Seafaring Queens Spend a Day in New York". New York Times. 
  42. ^
  43. ^ MacAlister, Terry (28 October 2011). "Cunard waves goodbye to Britannia after 170 years". The Guardian (London). 
  44. ^ United States Coast Guard Maritime Information Exchange, Queen Mary 2, Retrieved 2012-03-26
  45. ^ Queen Mary 2, inquiry for IMO 924106, Ships in Class (registration required). Lloyd's Register. Retrieved 19 July 2012.

External links