Line: Cunard Line
Star rating:4-5 star
Tonnage: 90,000 - 151,400 GRT
Passengers: 2,000 - 2,620
What's included in the price:
- All main meals
- Port taxes
- Government fees
- Room service
- English high tea
The famous Cunard line was started by Samuel Cunard in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1840. He negotiated a contract with the British government across the Atlantic to North America on a weekly basis. The mail route to America was from Liverpool to Halifax by way of Boston but this was soon changed to New York, which is still a major port for Cunard today.
Through the nineteenth century the line built bigger and faster ships but never adopted the very latest technology. When an innovation had proved itself on other ships, then Cunard would adopt it. They were very conscious of safety and could boast that they never lost a life at sea due to faulty ship or seamanship.
At the beginning of the 20th century the company received a subsidy from the British government to help build two sister ships which would be bigger and faster than any other afloat. In fact, when launched they were over one third larger and used steam turbine engines which were at that time cutting edge technology so made them the fastest liners on the Atlantic crossing. Mauretania was slightly faster than Lusitania and held the blue ribbon for the record fasted crossing of the Atlantic for 22 years, more than any liner has done since. As part of the deal with the government, Cunard had agreed that the liner could be used as troop ships during wartime. Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland during the First World War whilst carrying out that duty.
Cunard carried three classes of passengers across the Atlantic; First Class which was opulent, Second Class which was comfortable and Steerage which was very basic and how many migrants travelled from Europe to the fast expanding United States. It is paradoxical that Steerage passengers returned the most profit.
The great depression prevented the building of larger faster liners for the Atlantic run but the government came to the rescue once again. On condition that Cunard merged with its rival White Star, two new larger and faster ships were laid down. The Queen Mary was launched in 1935, quickly won the Blue Ribbon and held it for 22 years. The Queen Elizabeth was launched in 1939 and was quickly commandeered by the government as a trooper. The two ships were able to carry 10,000 men and didn’t an escort because of their speed. Winston Churchill credited the ship with have shortened the war by a year.
After the war Cunard resumed the weekly Atlantic crossing service together with several other ships. The profitability of this soon came under pressure as the number of jet liners crossing the Atlantic increased. The company saw their future in cruising and had their first purpose-built cruise ship built. The Atlantic crossing became increasingly unprofitable and the liners were taken out of service. Queen Mary was sold to the city Of Long Beach, California and has now served longer as a hotel and conference centre than as she did as an ocean liner. Queen Elizabeth was to be converted to be a floating university in Hong Kong but in a tragic accident, she was burnt out.
Cunard were wedded to the idea of cruise ships and Queen Elizabeth was built for this purpose. She was very successful and in 1982 she was requisitioned by the government and served as a trooper in the Falklands war. In 1994 she was re-engined and continued to be a profitable and highly popular cruise ship. However, in 2007 she was sold to Dubai business interests where is now a floating hotel.
In that same year the 90,000 ton Queen Victoria came into service followed in 2010 by the Queen Elizabeth. The third Cunard ship of that name. Cunard have a tight focus for their business. The sail under a British flag and have a distinct British feel to them. Their cruise ships are very distinctive and remain very popular.
Be swept away by the elegance and splendour which Cunard is famous for. You'll be entranced by lavish musical productions in the stunning Royal Court Theatre and attend formal balls where dancing to the music of an orchestra in an opulent ballroom will transport you to a more romantic era.
Each style of accommodation is matched to an elegant sea-view restaurant. Gleaming crystal, polished silver and fine china set a sophisticated tone, and as each new delicacy is unveiled, the sommelier is pleased to share his expertise with recommendations from one of the largest wine cellars afloat.
Cunard offers an unrivalled cache of luxuries and innovations on board. Lecturers, historians, famous authors and the like introduce their specialities to you at our Cunard Insights Enrichment Programme. Spoil yourself with spa treatments, browse the boutiques or enjoy the rich tradition of Cunard's libraries and more.
In the tradition of the grand liners of the past, there are several levels of accommodation, from elegant staterooms to opulent suites and grand two-storey duplexes. Whatever style of living accommodation you select, it becomes your private sanctuary. Thoughtful flourishes enhance your experience: complimentary Bon Voyage wine, bathrobe and slippers, and the wonderful nightly turndown service.