Cunard Line
Overview
 
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House
Carnival House
Carnival House is a landmark office building in the city of Southampton, Hampshire, England. It is a purpose-built headquarters for Carnival UK, the United Kingdom based holding company of the Carnival Group...

 in Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, 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
Samuel Cunard
Sir Samuel Cunard, 1st Baronet was a British shipping magnate, born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, who founded the Cunard Line...

 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.
Encyclopedia
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House
Carnival House
Carnival House is a landmark office building in the city of Southampton, Hampshire, England. It is a purpose-built headquarters for Carnival UK, the United Kingdom based holding company of the Carnival Group...

 in Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, 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
Samuel Cunard
Sir Samuel Cunard, 1st Baronet was a British shipping magnate, born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, who founded the Cunard Line...

 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
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 for the fastest Atlantic voyage. However, in the 1870s Cunard fell behind its rivals, the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

 and the Inman Line
Inman Line
The Inman Line which operated from 1850 until its 1893 absorption into American Line, was one of the three largest 19th century British passenger shipping companies on the North Atlantic, along with the White Star Line and Cunard Line...

. To meet this competition, in 1879 the firm was reorganized as Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd to raise capital.

In 1902, White Star joined the American owned International Mercantile Marine Co.
International Mercantile Marine Co.
The International Mercantile Marine Co., originally the International Navigation Co., was a trust formed in the early twentieth century as an attempt by J.P. Morgan to monopolize the shipping trade. The end result was heavy losses for Morgan....

 and the British Government provided Cunard with substantial loans and a subsidy to build two superliners
Superliner (passenger ship)
A superliner is an ocean liner of over 10,000 gross tons. The term was coined in the late 19th century, when ocean liners were rapidly increasing in size and speed...

 needed to retain its competitive position. Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

 held the Blue Riband from 1909 to 1929. The sinking of her sister ship Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

 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
RMS Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line...

 and to build a second ship, the Queen Elizabeth
RMS Queen Elizabeth
RMS Queen Elizabeth was an ocean liner operated by the Cunard Line. Plying with her running mate Queen Mary as a luxury liner between Southampton, UK and New York City, USA via Cherbourg, France, she was also contracted for over twenty years to carry the Royal Mail as the second half of the two...

, 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.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 estimated that the two Queens helped to shorten the Second World War by at least a year. 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 airliner
Jet airliner
A jet airliner is an airliner that is powered by jet engines. This term is sometimes contracted to jetliner or jet.In contrast to today's relatively fuel-efficient, turbofan-powered air travel, first generation jet airliner travel was noisy and fuel inefficient...

s. 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
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2
Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the QE2, is an ocean liner that was operated by Cunard from 1969 to 2008. Following her retirement from cruising, she is now owned by Istithmar...

 (QE2), which was designed for the dual role. In 1998 Cunard was acquired by the Carnival Corporation and five years later QE2 was replaced on the Transatlantic runs by the Queen Mary 2
RMS Queen Mary 2
RMS Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic ocean liner. She was the first major ocean liner built since in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the Cunard Line....

 (QM2). The line also operates the Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria is a cruise ship in the Cunard Line fleet, named after Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria is the running mate to Queen Mary 2, and the new Queen Elizabeth. Until November 2008, she also operated alongside Queen Elizabeth 2...

 (QV) and the Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth is a Signature class cruise ship operated by Cunard Line. She is the second largest ship to be built by Cunard, exceeded only by the QM2 and she is running mate to the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2...

 (QE). At the moment, Cunard is the only shipping company to operate a scheduled passenger service between Europe and North America.

1840–65

The British Government started operating monthly mail brigs from Falmouth, England 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. 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
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 assumed responsibility for managing the contracts. Famed Arctic explorer, Admiral Sir William Edward Parry
William Edward Parry
Sir William Edward Parry was an English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer, who in 1827 attempted one of the earliest expeditions to the North Pole...

 was appointed as Comptroller of Steam Machinery and Packet Service in April 1837. Nova Scotians led by their young Assembly Speaker, Joseph Howe
Joseph Howe
Joseph Howe, PC was a Nova Scotian journalist, politician, and public servant. He is one of Nova Scotia's greatest and best-loved politicians...

 lobbied for steam service to Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

. 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. Cunard and Howe were associates and Howe also owed Cunard £300. (£ as of ), Cunard returned to Halifax to raise capital, and Howe continued to lobby the British government. The Rebellions of 1837
Rebellions of 1837
The Rebellions of 1837 were a pair of Canadian armed uprisings that occurred in 1837 and 1838 in response to frustrations in political reform. A key shared goal was the allowance of responsible government, which was eventually achieved in the incident's aftermath.-Rebellions:The rebellions started...

 were ongoing and London realized that the proposed Halifax service was also important for the military.

That November, Parry released a tender for North Atlantic monthly mail service to Halifax beginning in April 1839 using steamships with 300 horsepower. The Great Western Steamship Company
Great Western Steamship Company
The Great Western Steam Ship Company operated the first regular transatlantic steamer service from 1838 until 1846. Related to the Great Western Railway, the company's directors expected their new enterprise to achieve the position that was ultimately secured by the Cunard Line...

, 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
British and American Steam Navigation Company
The British and American Steam Navigation Company was a pre-Cunard steamship line that operated a regular transatlantic service from 1839 to 1841. Before its first purpose-built Atlantic liner, the British Queen was completed, British and American chartered the Sirius for two voyages in 1838 to...

, the other pioneer transatlantic steamship company did not submit a tender, the St. George Steam Packet Company, owner of the Sirius
SS Sirius (1837)
The Sirius was a side-wheel wooden-hulled steamship built in 1837 for the London-Cork route operated by the St George Steam Packet Company. The next year, she opened transatlantic steam passenger service when she was chartered for two voyages by the British and American Steam Navigation Company...

, bid £45,000 for a monthly Cork-Halifax service 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.

Cunard, who was back in Halifax, did not know of the tender until after the deadline. 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
SS Royal William
SS Royal William was a Canadian steamship that is sometimes credited with achieving the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to be made almost entirely under steam power, using sails only during periods of boiler maintenance, though the British-built Dutch-owned Curaçao crossed in 1827.The...

, and owned coal mines in Nova Scotia. Cunard's major backer was Robert Napier
Robert Napier (engineer)
Robert Napier was a Scottish engineer, and is often called "The Father of Clyde Shipbuilding."-Early life:Robert Napier was born in Dumbarton at the height of the Industrial Revolution, to James and Jean Napier...

, who was the Royal Navy's supplier of steam engines. 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.
Over Great Western's protests, 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. The annual subsidy was later raised £81,000 to add a fourth ship and departures from Liverpool were to be monthly during the winter and fortnightly for the rest of the year. Parliament investigated Great Western's complaints, and upheld the Admiralty's decision. 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 with initial capital of £270,000, later increased to £300,000.(£ as of ), Cunard supplied £55,000. 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. (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
Paddle steamer
A paddle steamer is a steamship or riverboat, powered by a steam engine, using paddle wheels to propel it through the water. In antiquity, Paddle wheelers followed the development of poles, oars and sails, where the first uses were wheelers driven by animals or humans...

 Unicorn made the company's first voyage to Halifax 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 (16.7 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
Seal Island, Nova Scotia
Seal Island is an island on the outermost extreme of Southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, and is the southernmost point of land of Nova Scotia. It is located in Municipalité Argyle Municipality in Yarmouth County. It is approximately 2.7 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. It is the biggest of a group of...

 in 1843 without loss of life. By 1845, steamship lines led by Cunard carried more saloon passengers than the sailing packets. Three years later, the British Government increased the annual subsidy to £156,000 so that Cunard could double its frequency. 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.

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.

Cunard's reputation for safety was one of the significant factors in the firm's early success. Both the first two transatlantic lines failed after major accidents. British and American collapsed after the President
SS President
SS President was a British passenger liner that was the largest ship in the world when she was commissioned in 1840, and the first steamship to founder on the transatlantic run when she was lost at sea with all 136 on board in March 1841....

 foundered in a gale and Great Western after Great Britain
SS Great Britain
SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first...

 stranded because of a navigation error. 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." In particular, it was Charles MacIver's constant inspections that was responsible for the firm's safety discipline.

In 1850 the American Collins Line
Collins Line
The Collins Line is the common name for the American shipping company started by Israel Collins and then built up by his son Edward Knight Collins...

 and the British Inman Line
Inman Line
The Inman Line which operated from 1850 until its 1893 absorption into American Line, was one of the three largest 19th century British passenger shipping companies on the North Atlantic, along with the White Star Line and Cunard 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. 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. The next year, Cunard put pressure on Collins by commissioning its first iron-hulled paddler, the Persia
RMS Persia
Persia was a British passenger liner operated by the Cunard Line that won the Blue Riband in 1856 for the fastest westbound transatlantic voyage. She was the first Atlantic record breaker constructed of iron and was the largest ship in the world at the time of her launch...

, which won the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 with a Liverpool–New York voyage of 9 days 16 hours, averaging 13.11 knots (25.7 km/h).

During the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 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
RMS Scotia
Scotia was a British passenger liner operated by the Cunard Line that won the Blue Riband in 1863 for the fastest westbound transatlantic voyage. She was the last ocean going paddle steamer and as late as 1874 she made Cunard's second fastest voyage. Laid up in 1876, Scotia was converted to a...

, 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.

1865–97

When Cunard died in 1865, the equally conservative Charles MacIver assumed Cunard's role. The firm retained its reluctance about change and was overtaken by competitors that more quickly adopted new technology. In 1866 Inman started to build screw propelled express liners that matched Cunard's premier unit, the Scota. Cunard 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
RMS Oceanic (1870)
RMS Oceanic was the White Star Line's first liner and an important turning point in passenger liner design.-Design and construction:Oceanic was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and was launched on 27 August 1870, arriving in Liverpool for her maiden voyage on 26 February 1871...

 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 Cunard lagged behind both of its rivals. Throughout the 1870s Cunard passage times were longer than either White Star or Inman.

In 1867 responsibility for mail contracts was transferred back to the Post Office and opened for bid. Cunard, Inman and the German Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutsche Lloyd was a German shipping company. It was founded by Hermann Henrich Meier and Eduard Crüsemann in Bremen on February 20, 1857. It developed into one of the most important German shipping companies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was instrumental in the economic...

 were each awarded one of the three weekly New York mail services. The fortnightly route to Halifax formerly held by Cunard went to Inman. Cunard continued to receive a £80,000 subsidy (£ as of ), while NDL and Inman were paid sea postage. Two years later the service was rebid and Cunard 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.

The Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879, and even longer in some countries. The depression was known as the Great Depression until the 1930s, but is now known as the Long Depression...

 started a five-year shipping depression that strained the finances of all of the Atlantic competitors. In 1876 the mail contracts expired and the Post Office ended both Cunard'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. 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.

To raise additional capital, in 1879 the privately-held British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was reorganized as a public stock corporation, the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd. Under Cunard's new chairman, John Burns (1839–1900), son of one of the firm's original founders, 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
SS Oregon (1883)
The Oregon was a record breaking British passenger liner that won the Blue Riband for the Guion Line as the fastest liner on the Atlantic in 1884. She was sold to the Cunard Line after a few voyages and continued to improve her passage times for her new owner...

 from the Guion Line
Guion Line
The Liverpool and Great Western Steamship Company, known commonly as the Guion Line, was a British passenger service that operated the Liverpool-Queenstown-New York route from 1866 to 1894. While incorporated in Great Britain, 52% of the company's capital was from the American firm, Williams and...

 when that firm defaulted on payments to the shipyard. That year, Cunard also commissioned the record-breakers Umbria
RMS Umbria
RMS Umbria and her sister ship RMS Etruria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Umbria was built by John Elder & Co at Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The “Umbria” and her sister “Etruria” were record breakers. They were the largest liners then in service and they plied...

 and Etruria
RMS Etruria
RMS Etruria and her sister ship RMS Umbria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Etruria was built by John Elder & Co of Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The Etruria and her sister Umbria, by the standards of the time, were record breakers. They were the largest liners...

 capable of 19.5 knots (38.2 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
RMS Campania
RMS Campania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 8 September 1891....

 and the Lucania
RMS Lucania
RMS Lucania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 2 February 1893....

, capable of 21.8 knots (42.7 km/h).

1897–1929

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. In 1897 of Norddeutscher Lloyd raised the Blue Riband to 22.3 knots (43.7 km/h), and was followed by a succession of German record-breakers. Rather than match the new German speedsters, White Star commissioned four very profitable Celtic
RMS Celtic (1901)
RMS Celtic was an ocean liner owned by the White Star Line. The first ship larger than the in gross tonnage, Celtic was the first of a quartet of ships over 20,000 tons, dubbed The Big Four....

-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.
International Mercantile Marine Co.
The International Mercantile Marine Co., originally the International Navigation Co., was a trust formed in the early twentieth century as an attempt by J.P. Morgan to monopolize the shipping trade. The end result was heavy losses for Morgan....

 (IMM), which owned the American Line
American Line
The American Line was a shipping company based in Philadelphia that was founded in 1871. It began as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, although the railroad got out of the shipping business soon after founding the company...

, including the old Inman Line, and other lines. IMM also had trade agreements with Hamburg–America
Hamburg America Line
The Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft was a transatlantic shipping enterprise established in Hamburg, Germany during...

 and Norddeutscher Lloyd.

This was the Dreadnought
HMS Dreadnought (1906)
HMS Dreadnought was a battleship of the British Royal Navy that revolutionised naval power. Her entry into service in 1906 represented such a marked advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of...

 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 (£ as of ), to pay for the construction of the two superliners, the Blue Riband winners
Lusitania
RMS Lusitania
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New...

 and
Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

, capable of 26 knots (51 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.

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 (42.1 km/h) and the Hapag Imperator-class liners at 22.5 knots (44.1 km/h) were larger and more luxurious than the Cunarders, but not as fast. Cunard also ordered a new ship, the Aquitania
RMS Aquitania
RMS Aquitania was a Cunard Line ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland. She was launched on 21 April 1913 and sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1914...

, capable of 24 knots (47 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.

In 1917 Cunard Line completed its European headquarters in Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

. The grand neo-Classical Cunard Building
Cunard Building
The Cunard Building is a Grade II* listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited at the Pier Head and along with the neighbouring Liver Building and Port of Liverpool Building is one of Liverpool's Three Graces, which line the city's waterfront...

 was the third of Liverpool's
Three Graces
Pier Head
The Pier Head is a riverside location in the city centre of Liverpool, England. It is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was inscribed in 2004....

. The headquarters were used by Cunard until the 1960s.

Due to First World War losses, Cunard began a post-war rebuilding programme included eleven intermediate liners; Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 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.

1929–71

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. The German
Bremen
SS Bremen (1929)
The SS Bremen was a German-built ocean liner constructed for the Norddeutscher Lloyd line to work the transatlantic sea route. The Bremen was notable for her bulbous bow construction, high-speed engines, and low, streamlined profile. At the time of her construction, she and her sister ship were...

 took the Blue Riband at 27.8 knots (54.5 km/h) in 1933, the Italian
Rex
SS Rex
The SS Rex was an Italian ocean liner launched in 1931. It held the westbound Blue Riband between 1933 and 1935. Originally built for the Navigazione Generale Italiana as the SS Guglielmo Marconi, its state-ordered merger with the Lloyd Sabaudo line meant that the ship sailed for the newly created...

 recorded 28.9 knots (56.6 km/h) on a westbound voyage the same year, and the French
Normandie
SS Normandie
SS Normandie was an ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat; she is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built.Her novel...

 crossed the Atlantic in just under four days at 30.58 knots (59.9 km/h) in 1937. 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.

By 1934 the White Star Line was failing and the British Government was concerned about potential job losses. David Kirkwood
David Kirkwood
David Kirkwood, 1st Baron Kirkwood, PC was a socialist from the East End of Glasgow, Scotland, viewed as a leading figure of the Red Clydeside era.Kirkwood was educated at Parkhead Public School and was trained as an engineer....

, 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. 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. The merger was accomplished by forming a new company, Cunard White Star, Ltd with Cunard owning about two-thirds of the capital.

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
RMS Olympic
RMS Olympic was the lead ship of the Olympic-class ocean liners built for the White Star Line, which also included Titanic and Britannic...

 and
Homeric. In 1936, the ex-White Star Majestic was sold when hull 534, now named Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary
RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line...

, replaced her in the express mail service.
Queen Mary reached 30.99 knots (60.7 km/h) on her 1938 Blue Riband voyage. Cunard started construction on the Queen Elizabeth
RMS Queen Elizabeth
RMS Queen Elizabeth was an ocean liner operated by the Cunard Line. Plying with her running mate Queen Mary as a luxury liner between Southampton, UK and New York City, USA via Cherbourg, France, she was also contracted for over twenty years to carry the Royal Mail as the second half of the two...

, and a smaller ship, the second
Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1938)
RMS Mauretania was launched on 28 July 1938 at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead, England and was completed in May 1939. A successor to RMS Mauretania , the second Mauretania was the first ship built for the newly formed Cunard White Star company following the merger in April 1934 of the Cunard...

, joined the fleet and which also could be used on the Atlantic run when one of the Queens was in drydock for overhaul.
Berengaria was sold for scrap in 1938 after a series of fires.

During 1939–45 the Queens carried over two million servicemen and were credited by Churchill as helping to shorten the war by a year. 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 and were sunk with heavy loss of life.

In 1947 Cunard purchased White Star's interest, and the company dropped the White Star name, and the company commissioned five freighters and two cargo liner
Cargo liner
A Cargo liner is a type of merchant ship which carried general cargo and often passengers. They became common just after the middle of the nineteenth century, and eventually gave way to container ships and other more specialized carriers in the latter half of the twentieth...

s. The
Caronia
RMS Caronia
RMS Caronia was a passenger ship of the Cunard Line . Launched on 30 October 1947, she served with Cunard until 1967. She was nicknamed the "Green Goddess" by the people of Liverpool because her livery resembled that of the local trams, also known as "Green Goddesses". She is credited as one of...

, was completed in 1949 as a permanent cruise liner and the
Aquitania was retired the next year. 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
RMS Britannic (1929)
RMS Britannic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line, the company's third ship to bear the name. She was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. She was launched on 6 August 1929. Like her running mate , Britannic was a motorship powered by diesel engines. She measured 26,943 gross tons and was ...

 of 1930, remained in service until 1960.

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. However, some Cunard stockholders questioned the plan at the June 1961 board meeting because trans-Atlantic flights were gaining in popularity. By 1963, the plan had been changed to a dual purpose 55,000 GRT ship that was designed to cruise in the off season. Ultimately, this ship came into service in 1969 as the 70,300 GRT Queen Elizabeth 2
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2
Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the QE2, is an ocean liner that was operated by Cunard from 1969 to 2008. Following her retirement from cruising, she is now owned by Istithmar...

.

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. 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
British Overseas Airways Corporation
The British Overseas Airways Corporation was the British state airline from 1939 until 1946 and the long-haul British state airline from 1946 to 1974. The company started life with a merger between Imperial Airways Ltd. and British Airways Ltd...

, but this venture lasted only until 1966.

Trafalgar House Years

By 1971, when the line was purchased by the conglomerate Trafalgar House
Trafalgar House (company)
Trafalgar House Public Limited Company was a British conglomerate with interests in property investment, property development, engineering, construction, shipping, hotels, energy and publishing...

, 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. During the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, the
QE2 and the Cunard Countess were chartered as troopships while Cunard's container ship Atlantic Conveyor
Atlantic Conveyor
The Atlantic Conveyor was a British merchant navy ship, registered in Liverpool, that was requisitioned during the Falklands War and sunk on 25 May 1982 after being hit by two Argentine Exocet missiles, killing 12 sailors...

was sunk by an Exocet
Exocet
The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Hundreds were fired in combat during the 1980s.-Etymology:...

 missile.

Cunard acquired the Norwegian America Line
Norwegian America Line
Norwegian America Line , was a cruise ship line, originally an operator of passenger and cargo ships. Founded in 1910, the company ran a regular transatlantic service between Norway and the United States, and later to East Africa as well....

 in 1983, with two classic ocean liner/cruise ships. Also in 1983, the Trafalgar attempted a hostile takeover of P&O
Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which is usually known as P&O, is a British shipping and logistics company which dated from the early 19th century. Following its sale in March 2006 to Dubai Ports World for £3.9 billion, it became a subsidiary of DP World; however, the 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. In 1984, the Commission ruled in favor of the merger, but Trafalgar decided against proceeding. In 1988, Cunard acquired Ellerman Lines
Ellerman Lines
Ellerman Lines was a cargo and passenger shipping company that operated from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. It was founded in the late nineteenth century, and continued to expand with the acquisition of smaller shipping lines until it became one of the largest shipping...

 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
Atlantic Conveyor
The Atlantic Conveyor was a British merchant navy ship, registered in Liverpool, that was requisitioned during the Falklands War and sunk on 25 May 1982 after being hit by two Argentine Exocet missiles, killing 12 sailors...

, remaining under Cunard ownership until 1996. In 1994 Cunard purchased the rights to the name of the Royal Viking Line
Royal Viking Line
The Royal Viking Line was an upmarket cruise line that operated from 1972 until 1998. The company was the brain child of Warren Titus and had its headquarters at One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.- History :...

 and its Royal Viking Sun. The rest of Royal Viking Line's fleet stayed with the line's owner, Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is a company operating cruise ships, headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida. It began operations in 1966 under the name Norwegian Caribbean Line. The company is best known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, which means that there are no set times or...

.

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
Kværner
Kværner was a Norway-based engineering and construction services company in existence between 1853 and 2005 when it was merged with Aker ASA. The Kværner name was used in the subsidiary Aker Kværner until April 3, 2008 when it changed name to Aker Solutions. Kværner re-emerged on 6...

 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.

Carnival

In 1998 Cunard was sold to the cruise line conglomerate Carnival Corporation
Carnival Corporation & plc
Carnival Corporation & plc , is a American-British Company, and the world's largest cruise ship operator. It is a dual listed company, with headquarters at Carnival Place in the Miami suburb of Doral, Florida, USA, and at Carnival House in Southampton, England, UK...

 for US$500 million. The next year Carnival acquired the remaining stock for US$205 million. 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. 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.

By 2001 Carnival was the largest cruise company, followed by Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a Norwegian / American company based in Miami, Florida. It is the world's second-largest cruise line operator, after Carnival Corporation & PLC. As of March 2009, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd...

 and P&O Princess
P&O Princess Cruises PLC
P&O Princess Cruises plc was a shipping company that existed between 2000 and 2003, operating the P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, A'Rosa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Ocean Village branded cruise lines...

, 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. European and U.S. regulators approved the merger without requiring Cunard's sale. After the merger was completed, Carnival moved Cunard's headquarters to the offices of Princess Cruises in Santa Clarita, California
Santa Clarita, California
Santa Clarita is the fourth largest city in Los Angeles County, California, United States and the twenty-fourth largest city in the state of California. The 2010 US Census reported the city's population grew 16.7% from the year 2000 to 176,320 residents. It is located about northwest of downtown...

 so that administrative, financial and technology services could be combined.

With the opening of Carnival House
Carnival House
Carnival House is a landmark office building in the city of Southampton, Hampshire, England. It is a purpose-built headquarters for Carnival UK, the United Kingdom based holding company of the Carnival Group...

 in Southampton in 2009, 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
RMS Queen Mary 2
RMS Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic ocean liner. She was the first major ocean liner built since in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the Cunard Line....

.
Caronia was sold and QE2 continued to cruise until she was retired in 2008. In 2007 Cunard added a large cruise ship, Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria
MS Queen Victoria is a cruise ship in the Cunard Line fleet, named after Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria is the running mate to Queen Mary 2, and the new Queen Elizabeth. Until November 2008, she also operated alongside Queen Elizabeth 2...

. She is not a sister for the
QM2, being ordered by Carnival as a Vista class cruise ship for the Holland America Line
Holland America Line
The Holland America Line is a cruise shipping company. It was founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-America Steamship Company , a shipping and passenger line. Headquartered in Rotterdam and providing service to the Americas, it became known as 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
MS Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth is a Signature class cruise ship operated by Cunard Line. She is the second largest ship to be built by Cunard, exceeded only by the QM2 and she is running mate to the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2...

 in 2010.

On December 1, 2011 the
QM2 will change vessel registry to Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is the territory's financial centre and a major port and tourist destination.-Geography:...

. This marks the first time in the 171-year history of the company that it will have no ships registered within the United Kingdom.
  • The Halifax Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
    Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
    The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a Canadian maritime museum located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a member institution of the Nova Scotia Museum and is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts...

     has a special display on the Cunard Line and a statute of Samuel Cunard is at the nearby waterfront.

Fleet

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

1840–1865

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type Tonnage Notes
Unicorn 1836 1840–1846 wood-paddler 650 GRT coastal steamer purchased for Montreal service, sold 1846
Britannia  1840 1840–1849 wood-paddler 1,150 GRT Eastbound record holder, sold to North German Navy 1849
Acadia  1840 1840–1849 wood-paddler 1,150 GRT sold to North German Navy 1849
Caledonia  1840 1840–1850 wood-paddler 1,150 GRT sold to Spanish Navy 1850
Columbia  1841 1841–1843 wood-paddler 1,150 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, wrecked 1843 without loss of life
Hibernia  1843 1843–1850 wood-paddler 1,400 GRT Eastbound record holder, sold to Spanish Navy 1850
Cambria  1845 1845–1860 wood-paddler 1,400 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold to Italian owners 1860
America
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1848 1848–1863 wood-paddler 1,850 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1863 and converted to sail
Niagara
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1848 1848–1866 wood-paddler 1,850 GRT sold 1866 and converted to sail
Europa
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1848 1848–1867 wood-paddler 1,850 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1867
Canada
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1848 1848–1866 wood-paddler 1,850 GRT Eastbound record holder, sold 1866 and converted to sail
Asia
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1850 1850–1868 wood-paddler 2,250 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1868
Africa
RMS America Class
The America class was the replacement for the Britannia class, the Cunard Line's initial fleet of wooden paddle steamers. Entering service starting in 1848, these six vessels permitted Cunard to double its schedule to weekly departures from Liverpool, with alternating sailings to New York. The...

 
1850 1850–1868 wood-paddler 2,250 GRT sold 1868
Arabia 1852 1852–1864 wood-paddler 2,400 GRT sold 1864 and converted to sail
Andes 1852 1852–1859 iron-screw 1,400 GRT sold to Spanish Government 1859
Alps 1853 1853–1859 iron-screw 1,400 GRT sold to Spanish Government 1859
Jura 1854 1854–1860 iron-screw 2,200 GRT sold to Allan Line 1860
Etna 1855 1855–1860 iron-screw 2,200 GRT sold to Inman Line 1860
Persia
RMS Persia
Persia was a British passenger liner operated by the Cunard Line that won the Blue Riband in 1856 for the fastest westbound transatlantic voyage. She was the first Atlantic record breaker constructed of iron and was the largest ship in the world at the time of her launch...

 
1856 1856–1869 iron-paddler 3,300 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, taken out of service 1868 and scrapped 1872
Australian 1857 1860–1876 iron-screw 2,700 GRT built for other owners, sold 1876
China 1862 1862–1880 iron-screw 2,550 GRT sold to Spanish owners 1880
Scotia
RMS Scotia
Scotia was a British passenger liner operated by the Cunard Line that won the Blue Riband in 1863 for the fastest westbound transatlantic voyage. She was the last ocean going paddle steamer and as late as 1874 she made Cunard's second fastest voyage. Laid up in 1876, Scotia was converted to a...

 
1862 1864–1878 iron-paddler 3,850 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1878 and converted to cable layer
Cuba 1864 1865–1876 iron-screw 2,700 GRT sold 1876 and converted to sail
Java 1865 1865–1879 iron-screw 2,700 GRT sold 1879 and converted to sail

1865–1897

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type Tonnage Notes
Russia 1867 1867–1880 express 2,950 GRT sold to Red Star Line 1880
Siberia 1867 1867–1880 intermediate 2,550 GRT sold to Spanish owners 1880
Samaria 1868 1868–1892 intermediate 2,550 GRT sold 1892
Batavia 1870 1870–1884 intermediate 2,550 GRT traded in for Oregon 1884
Abyssinia
SS Abyssinia
The Abyssinia was a British mail liner originally operated by the Cunard Line on the Liverpool–New York route. She later served the Guion Line on the same route and the Canadian Pacific Line in the Pacific...

 
1870 1870–1880 express 3,250 GRT sold to Guion Line 1880
Algeria 1870 1870–1881 express 3,250 GRT sold to Red Star Line 1881
Parthia 1870 1870–1884 intermediate 3,150 GRT traded in for Oregon 1884, scrapped 1955
Bothnia 1874 1874–1898 express 4,550 GRT sold 1898
Scythia 1875 1875–1899 express 4,550 GRT sold 1899
Gallia 1879 1879–1897 express 4,800 GRT sold to Beaver Line 1899
Cathalonia 1881 1881–1901 intermediate 4,850 GRT sold 1901
Cephalonia 1882 1882–1900 intermediate 5,500 GRT sold to Russian Navy 1900, sunk Port Authur
Pavonia 1882 1882–1900 intermediate 5,500 GRT sold 1900
Servia
SS Servia
SS Servia was a 2-funnel ocean liner built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland, for the Cunard Line. She had four decks and a promenade deck. At the time of her launching in 1 March 1881 it was the second largest of all ships in the world at 515 feet long and 52.1 feet wide, after SS...

 
1881 1881–1902 express 7,400 GRT first steel liner to New York, scrapped 1902
Aurania 1883 1883–1905 express 7,250 GRT sold 1905
Oregon
SS Oregon (1883)
The Oregon was a record breaking British passenger liner that won the Blue Riband for the Guion Line as the fastest liner on the Atlantic in 1884. She was sold to the Cunard Line after a few voyages and continued to improve her passage times for her new owner...

 
1883 1884–1886 express 7,400 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, built for Guion Line, purchased by Cunard 1884, sank 1886 without loss of life
Umbria
RMS Umbria
RMS Umbria and her sister ship RMS Etruria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Umbria was built by John Elder & Co at Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The “Umbria” and her sister “Etruria” were record breakers. They were the largest liners then in service and they plied...

 
1884 1884–1910 express 7,700 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1910
Etruria
RMS Etruria
RMS Etruria and her sister ship RMS Umbria were the last two Cunarders that were fitted with auxiliary sails. RMS Etruria was built by John Elder & Co of Glasgow, Scotland in 1884. The Etruria and her sister Umbria, by the standards of the time, were record breakers. They were the largest liners...

 
1884 1884–1910 express 7,700 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1910
Campania
RMS Campania
RMS Campania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 8 September 1891....

 
1893 1893–1914 express 12,900 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold to Royal Navy 1914 and converted to aircraft carrier
Lucania
RMS Lucania
RMS Lucania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 2 February 1893....

 
1893 1893–1909 express 12,900 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, scrapped after fire 1909

1897–1929

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type Tonnage Notes
Ultonia 1899 1899–1917 intermediate 10,400 GRT sunk by submarine 1917
Ivernia
SS Ivernia
SS Ivernia was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Line, built by the company Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson of Newcastle upon Tyne, England and launched in 1899. The Ivernia was one of Cunard's intermediate ships, that catered to the vast immigrant trade. Her sistership was SS Saxonia...

 
1900 1900–1917 intermediate 14,250 GRT sunk by submarine 1917
1900 1900–1925 intermediate 14,250 GRT sold 1925
1903 1903–1918 intermediate 13,600 GRT rescued survivors from Titanic, sunk by submarine 1918
1905 1905–1932 intermediate 19,650 GRT scrapped 1932
1905 1905–1932 intermediate 19,650 GRT scrapped 1932
1907 1907–1915 express 31,550 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sunk by submarine 1915
1907 1907–1934 express 31,950 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, scrapped 1934
Franconia 1911 1911–1916 intermediate 18,100 GRT sunk by submarine 1916
1900 1911–1912 intermediate 7,650 GRT built for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sold 1912
Ascania 1911 1911–1918 intermediate 9,100 GRT wrecked 1918
1912 1912–1917 intermediate 18,100 GRT sunk by submarine 1917
1913 1913–1918 intermediate 13,400 GRT sunk by submarine 1918
1913 1913–1916 intermediate 13,400 GRT sunk by mine 1916
1914 1914–1950 express 45,650 GRT scrapped 1950
1914 1914–1921 intermediate 15,700 GRT built for other owners, acquired by Cunard 1914, sold 1921
Aurania 1916 1916–1918 intermediate 13,400 GRT sunk by submarine 1918
Albania 1920 1920–1930 intermediate 12,750 GRT sold to Libera Triestina 1930
1913 1921–1938 express 51,950 GRT built by Hapag as Imperator, purchased by Cunard 1921, sold for scrap 1938
1921 1921–1958 intermediate 19,700 GRT scrapped 1958
Samaria 1922 1922–1955 intermediate 19,700 GRT scrapped 1955
1922 1922–1942 intermediate 19,700 GRT sunk by submarine 1942
1922 1922–1942 intermediate 13,900 GRT sold to Admiralty 1942
Austonia 1922 1922–1942 intermediate 13,900 GRT sold to Admiralty 1942
1922 1922–1940 intermediate 16,250 GRT sunk by bombing 1940
Franconia 1923 1923–1956 intermediate 20,200 GRT scrapped 1956
1924 1924–1942 intermediate 14,000 GRT sold to Admiralty 1942
1925 1925–1940 cruise 20,200 GRT sunk by submarine 1940
Ascania 1925 1925–1956 intermediate 14,000 GRT scrapped 1956
Alaunia 1925 1925–1942 intermediate 14,000 GRT sold to Admiralty 1942

1929–present

See also: White Star Line's Olympic
RMS Olympic
RMS Olympic was the lead ship of the Olympic-class ocean liners built for the White Star Line, which also included Titanic and Britannic...

, Homeric, Majestic, Doric, Laurentic
SS Laurentic (1927)
The second SS Laurentic was an 18,724-ton ocean liner built in 1927 by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, for the White Star Line.She served the White Star Line from 1927 to 1936, undergoing two collisions during her career. The ship was then transformed into an auxiliary cruiser for the Royal Navy in the...

, Britannic
RMS Britannic (1929)
RMS Britannic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line, the company's third ship to bear the name. She was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast. She was launched on 6 August 1929. Like her running mate , Britannic was a motorship powered by diesel engines. She measured 26,943 gross tons and was ...

 and Georgic
Ship Built In service for Cunard Type Tonnage Notes
1936 1936–1967 express 80,750 GRT Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

, sold 1967, now a docked hotel ship
1939 1939–1965 express 37,750 GRT scrapped 1965
1940 1946–1968 express 83,650 GRT WWII troopship 1940-1945, sold 1968, destroyed by fire 1972
1947 1947–1961 cargo liner 13,350 GRT sold to Cogedar Line 1961
Parthia 1947 1947–1961 cargo liner 13,350 GRT sold to P&O 1961
1949 1949–1968 cruise 34,200 GRT sold 1968, wrecked 1974

1954 1954-1962
1962-1973
intermediate
cruise
21,637 GRT
21,370 GRT
Sold to the Black Sea Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973

1955 1955-1963
1963-1973
intermediate
cruise
21,800 GRT Sold to the Far Eastern Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973
1956 1956–1968 intermediate 21,800 GRT sold to Sitmar Line 1968
1957 1957–1968 intermediate 21,800 GRT sold to Sitmar Line 1968
1969 1969–2008 express 70,300 GRT sold 2008, laid up in Port Rashid
Cunard Adventurer 1971 1971–1977 cruise 14,150 GRT sold to Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is a company operating cruise ships, headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida. It began operations in 1966 under the name Norwegian Caribbean Line. The company is best known for its Freestyle Cruising concept, which means that there are no set times or...

 1977
Cunard Ambassador
Cunard Ambassador
MV Cunard Ambassador was a cruise ship planned as one of a class of eight ships for the charter airline Overseas National Airways. At the same time, the well-known Cunard Line was moving into the cruise market because the increasing popularity of international flights meant that its transatlantic...

1972 1972–1974 cruise 14,150 GRT sold after fire 1974 to C. Clausen and converted to a cattle carrier
Cunard Countess
Cunard Countess
Ocean Countess is a cruise ship owned by Majestic International Cruises of Greece, on long-term charter to the UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages. She was completed in 1976 as the '4-star - Premium' style Cunard Countess for Cunard Line. Cunard Countess had an almost identical sister ship Cunard...

1975 1976–1996 cruise 17,500 GRT sold to Awani Cruise Line 1996
Cunard Princess 1975 1977–1995 cruise 17,500 GRT sold to MSC Cruises 1995
1965 1983–1997 cruise 24,500 GRT built for Norwegian America Line
Norwegian America Line
Norwegian America Line , was a cruise ship line, originally an operator of passenger and cargo ships. Founded in 1910, the company ran a regular transatlantic service between Norway and the United States, and later to East Africa as well....

, sold to Saga Cruises 1997

1973 1983-1999
1999-2004
cruise 24,300 GRT built for Norwegian America Line, sold to Saga Cruises 2004
Sea Goddess I 1984 1986–1998 cruise 4,333 GRT Built for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line is a luxury cruise line headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The line operates all around the world, from short seven-day Caribbean cruises to exotic 100+ day cruises around the world...

 1998
Sea Goddess II 1985 1986–1998 cruise 4,333 GRT Built for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line is a luxury cruise line headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The line operates all around the world, from short seven-day Caribbean cruises to exotic 100+ day cruises around the world...

 1998
1988 1994–1999 cruise 37,850 GRT built for Royal Viking Line, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line
Seabourn Cruise Line is a luxury cruise line headquartered in Seattle, Washington. The line operates all around the world, from short seven-day Caribbean cruises to exotic 100+ day cruises around the world...

1999
2004 2004–present express 150,000 GT in service
2007 2007–present cruise 90,000 GT in service
2010 2010–present cruise 92,000 GT in service

External links

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