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Cunard: The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World
The Most Famous Ocean
Liners In The World.
TM Luxury Cruises
Call for Cunard Cruise Line Reservations:  Toll Free:  844-442-7847
Queen Mary 2 (QM2)
Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)
Queen Victoria
(coming soon!)

History of the Famous Cunard Line

The Cunard line has the longest and most fascinating history of any cruise line in the world.  Culminating with the Queen Mary 2, Cunard has provided the world with some of the most luxurious and historic sailing and cruising ships ever to sail.


Cunard Cruise Line History

  • 1839 Samuel Cunard establishes the British and North American Steam Packet Company - known as the Cunard Line - principally to carry the Royal Mail to Canada and the USA.


  • 1840 The 1,154-ton paddle steamer Britannia, and three near sister ships, Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia, enter service. These vessels make the Atlantic voyage in 14 days at 8.5 knots and maintain weekly departures from Liverpool.


  • 1852 Cunard's first iron-hulled, screw-driven vessel, the Andes, is introduced but not used in the transatlantic service.


  • 1854 Eleven Cunard ships are requisitioned for the Crimean War.


  • 1856 The famous Persia is built, the company's first iron-hulled transatlantic vessel.


  • 1859 Samuel Cunard is created a Baronet in recognition of the company's service in the Crimean War.


  • 1862 China enters service - the company's first propeller-driven ship. Admiralty permission is required to use the ship to carry the Royal mail as the Mail contract stipulated "paddle steamers".


  • 1865 Sir Samuel Cunard dies on April 28 aged 78.


  • 1881 Servia enters service - Cunard's first steel vessel and also the first ship in the world to be lighted with electricity. She is the first vessel Cunard intended to rely solely on passenger revenue.


  • 1893 The 12,950-ton Campania is the first twin-screwed Cunarder.


  • 1905 The first steam turbine-driven Cunard ship, the Carmania, is built, opening a new era in sea propulsion.


  • 1906/7 Liners Lusitania and Mauretania are launched. The latter holds the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing for 22 years.


  • 1912 On April 15 the Carpathia rescues all the survivors from White Star's Titanic.


  • 1913 The Aquitania is launched - the first Cunarder with an indoor swimming pool and regarded to this day as perhaps one of the finest liners ever built.


  • 1914 The First World War interrupts Cunard's fleet development as the company is called into active service. Cunard carries more than one million troops and ten million tons of cargo for the war cause. 22 ships - including the Lusitania - are lost.


  • 1917 The Cunard Building in Liverpool, the comany's Head Offioce until the late 1960s, is completed.
  • Cunard is awarded the German liner, Imperator, by the British Government to compensate for the loss of Lusitania. The vessel is renamed Berengaria.


  • 1920s and 1930s The heyday of transatlantic shipping, when Cunard's slogan "Getting there is half the fun!" becomes a household phrase.


  • 1922 The Laconia undertakes the first-ever world cruise.


  • 1934 The 80,744-ton Queen Mary is launched and after entering service in 1936 soon gains the Ble Riband. The Queen Mary is the first merchant vessel to be launched by a member of the Royal family (Her Majesty Queen Mary).


  • 1938 The Queen Elizabeth - the largest liner ever built - is launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, now the Queen Mother.


  • 1939 Mauretania (II) is launched.
  • Cunard ships are requisitioned once more for war. The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth carry between them over 1.5 million troops - Churchill remarks that the two ships helped shorten the war in Europe by at least a year.


  • Late 1940s The Queens begin their transatlantic shuttle, carrying tens of thousands of passengers, from film stars and diplomats to businessmen and tourists.


  • 1949 Cunard's first cruise ship, the Caronia, enters service. She is known as 'The Millionaires' Ship' because of the passengers she carries and also as the 'Green Goddess' because of the colour of her hull.


  • 1950s Twelve liners in service, carrying one third of all passengers crossing the Atlantic.


  • 1959 First jet crosses the Atlantic. Air crossings continue to gain passengers at the expense of the great liners. It was this year when, for the first time, more people crossed the Atlantic by air rather than by sea.


  • 1967 The Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched by Her Majesty the Queen.


  • 1969 Maiden voyage of Queen Elizabeth 2


  • 1971 Cunard Steamship Company is taken over by Trafalgar House PLC after an independent existence of 131 years.


  • 1975 First world cruise of QE2.


  • 1976 Cunard Countess is launched.


  • 1977 Cunard Princess is launched.


  • 1982 Queen Elizabeth 2 is requisitioned by British Government for Falkland Islands campaign. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, welcomes the ship home. Cunard Countess is also chartered for use in the Islands.


  • 1983 Cunard purchases top-rated Sagafjord and Vistafjord, from the Norwegian America Cruises, to bring the fleet to five vessels.
  • Cunard charters Concorde for the first time, thus making use of the company's greatest competitor on the Atlantic, the jet aircraft. Cunard becomes the largest charterer of Concorde in the world.


  • 1986 Cunard acquires luxury Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II vessels, bringing the fleet back to seven ship - the largest number for 25 years
  • A six-month 110 million pound re-engining and refurbishment programme on the QE2, the largest such refit in the history of the merchant marine, is undertaken and successfully completed in 1987. HRH the Princess of Wales boards the ship on her return to Southampton.
  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, boards the QE2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Queen Mary's maiden voyage.


  • 1988 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, boards QE2 for the third time - celebrating the launch of the Queen Elizabeth 50 years earlier.


  • 1990 Cunard celebrates its 150th anniversay of transatlantic travel. The QE2 is sent on special Round Britain cruise which culminated in a rare Spithead Review and Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, go on board.


  • 1991 Cunard Princess is chartered to the US Government for use in the Gulf Conflict as a 'rest and recuperation centre'.


  • 1992 Margaret Thatcher boards QE2 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Falklands War.
  • HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince Edward attend an overnight 'Royal Ball' on QE2 to raise money for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.


  • 1993 Cunard enters into a long term joint venture agreement with Crown Cruise Line. Two Crown ships are already in service (Crown Jewel and Crown Monarch) with a third (Crown Dynasty) about to be delivered. The Cunard fleet now has 10 ships and the deal sees the number of berths Cunard offers increase by 40% to over 7,000.
  • QE2 becomes the first ever ship to be awarded Five Stars by RAC.
  • To celebrate the 40th anniversay of the Queen's Coronation, HRH Prince Edward lunches on board QE2 as she sails out of Southampton.


  • 1994
  • April - Cunard launches 'Cruise Miles', the first frequent passenger awards programme in the industry.
  • May - QE2 celebrates her 25th year of service.
  • June - QE2 and Vistafjord take part in the 'D' Day Flotilla.
  • July - Cunard purchases the world's highest rated cruise ship, the Royal Viking Sun, for $170 million. Cunard now has six of the world's top 11 cruise ships. Three distinct brands of Cunard cruising are introduced: Cunard Queen Elizabeth; Cunard Royal Viking and Cunard Crown.
  • November - Vistafjord undergoes a 10 million pound refit and refurbishment.
  • December - QE2 completes her 30 million pound refit which sees dramatic changes to the interior and launches the ship into the next century.

  • 1995 May - Cunard Princess and Crown Jewel leave the Cunard fleet to enter service elsewhere under new ownership.
  • Crown Dynasty is taken on a long-term charter making her effectively a Cunard ship.


  • 1996
  • Trafalgar House, parent company of Cunard, is bought by Norwegian business group Kvaerner for 850 million pounds.
  • September - The three-star Cunard Countess is sold to new Far East Line, Awani Cruises of Indonesia, for 18 million pounds as Cunard concentrates on five-star cruising.
  • October - The Sagafjord is sold for 30 milion dollars to Saha Holidays.

  • 1997 March - Cunard Dynasty is chartered to Florida-based Majesty Cruise Line.


  • 1998 Cunard becomes part of the Carnival Corporation empire and is merged with Seabourn Cruises


  • 1999 The Cunard Sun becomes the Seabourn Sun.  The Cunard Goddess I and Goddess II become the Seabourn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II.   Seabourn proceeds to sell the Sun to Holland America


  • 2002 Seabourn proceeds to sell the Sun to Holland America to become the Prinsendam and the Goddesses I and II to SeaDream Yacht Club, which does a multi-million to become the SeaDream I and SeaDream II


  • 2004 January - Cunard breaks all the records by introducing the longest, largest, tallest, widest cruise ship ever built the Queen Mary 2.


  • 2004 March -  Cunard Caronia is sold, leaving Cunard with two ships the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) and the Queen Mary 2.


  • 2004 Cunard announces the building of a new ship, to be named the Queen Victoria an 1800 passenger ship under construction at the shipyards at Fincantieri, Italy, the same ship yard which built the Queen Mary 2 (QM2).


  • 2004-2005 Cunard Line is uncoupled from its merger with Seabourn Cruise line.   Seabourn renames itself "The Yachts of Seabourn" and sails only its three original ships - the Seabourn Legend, Seabourn Spirit, and Seabourn Pride.  Cunard retains the Queen Mary II (QMII) and Queen Elizabeth II (QEII).   Cunard moves its headquarters and reservations center to Valencia, California, where it is partnered instead with Princess Cruises, a different sister-line under Carnival Holdings Corporation.  Cunard management is subrogated to Princess Cruises Management, which takes over all decisions regarding product placement, marketing, pricing and inventory control, agency contracts, reservations system used, stateroom category allocation and definition, and even cruise itineraries.   Cunard Cruises effectively becomes Princess Cruises higher-end product.  Cunard is now treated as a premium market product (like Princess Cruises, instead of a luxury product, like Seabourn Cruises).


  • 2007 Anticipated introduction and launch of the Cunard Queen Victoria. Luxury Cruises
Call for Cunard Line Reservations:  844-442-7847
Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)

Cunard The Most Famous Ocean Liners In The World. TM


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