Cunard (/ˈkjnɑːrd/) is a British shipping and cruise line based at Carnival House at Southampton, England, operated by Carnival UK and owned by Carnival Corporation & plc.[1] Since 2011, Cunard and its three ships have been registered in Hamilton, Bermuda.[2][3]

TypeSubsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc
IndustryShipping, transportation
Founded1840; 183 years ago (1840) (as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company)
HeadquartersCarnival House, Southampton, United Kingdom
Area served
Transatlantic, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean and World Cruises.
Key people
  • Simon Palethorpe (President)
  • David Dingle (Chairman)
ProductsTransatlantic crossings, world voyages, leisure cruises
ParentCarnival Corporation & plc
Share of the Cunard Steam-Ship Company, issued 1909

In 1839, 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 in Glasgow with shipowner Sir George Burns together with Robert Napier, the famous Scottish steamship engine designer and builder, 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 reorganised as the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd, to raise capital.[4]

In 1902, White Star joined the American-owned International Mercantile Marine Co. In response, the British Government provided Cunard with substantial loans and a subsidy to build two superliners needed to retain Britain's competitive position. Mauretania held the Blue Riband from 1909 to 1929. Her running mate, Lusitania, was torpedoed in 1915 during the First World War.

In 1919, Cunard relocated its British homeport from Liverpool to Southampton,[5] to better cater for travellers from London.[5] 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 Queen Mary and to build a second ship, Queen Elizabeth, on the condition that Cunard merged with the then ailing White Star Line to form Cunard-White Star Line. 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.[4]

Upon the end of the Second World War, Cunard regained its position as the largest Atlantic passenger line. By the mid-1950s, it operated 12 ships to the United States and Canada. After 1958, transatlantic passenger ships became increasingly unprofitable because of the introduction of jet airliners. Cunard undertook a brief foray into air travel via the "Cunard Eagle" and "BOAC Cunard" airlines, but withdrew from the airline market in 1966. Cunard withdrew from its year-round service in 1968 to concentrate on cruising and summer transatlantic voyages for holiday makers. The Queens were replaced by Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), which was designed for the dual role.[6]

In 1998, Cunard was acquired by the Carnival Corporation, and accounted for 8.7% of that company's revenue in 2012.[7] In 2004, QE2 was replaced on the transatlantic runs by Queen Mary 2 (QM2). The line also operates Queen Victoria (QV) and Queen Elizabeth (QE). As of 2022, Cunard is the only shipping company to operate a scheduled passenger service between Europe and North America.

In 2017, Cunard announced a fourth ship would join its fleet.[8] This was initially scheduled for 2022 but delayed until 2024 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ship has since been named Queen Anne.[9]


Early years: 1840–1850Edit

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.[4] 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.[10] The famed Arctic explorer Admiral Sir William Edward Parry was appointed as Comptroller of Steam Machinery and Packet Service in April 1837.[11] 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 his fellow Nova Scotian Samuel Cunard (1787–1865), a shipowner who was also visiting London on business.[12] Cunard and Howe were associates and Howe also owed Cunard £300[13] (equivalent to £28,737 in 2021).[14] Cunard returned to Halifax to raise capital, and Howe continued to lobby the British government.[12] The Rebellions of 1837–1838 were ongoing and London realised that the proposed Halifax service was also important for the military.[15]

That November, Parry released a tender for North Atlantic monthly mail service to Halifax beginning in April 1839 using steamships with 300 horsepower.[15] 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,[16] the St. George Steam Packet Company, owner of Sirius, bid £45,000 for a monthly Cork–Halifax service[17] 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.[18]

Cunard, who was back in Halifax, unfortunately did not know of the tender until after the deadline.[16] 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, Royal William, and owned coal mines in Nova Scotia.[12] Cunard's major backer was Robert Napier whose Robert Napier and Sons was the Royal Navy's supplier of steam engines.[16] 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.[15]

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

Over Great Western's protests,[19] 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.[12] The annual subsidy was later raised £81,000 to add a fourth ship[20] and departures from Liverpool were to be monthly during the winter and fortnightly for the rest of the year.[4] Parliament investigated Great Western's complaints, and upheld the Admiralty's decision.[18] 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 (£28,817,746 in 2021).[14] Cunard supplied £55,000.[12] Burns supervised ship construction, MacIver 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.[16] (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[21] to begin the supplementary service to Montreal. Two months later the first of the four ocean-going steamers of the Britannia Class, departed Liverpool. By coincidence, the steamer's departure had patriotic significance on both sides of the Atlantic: she was named Britannia, and sailed on 4 July.[22] Even on her maiden voyage, however, her performance indicated that the new era she heralded would be much more beneficial for Britain than the US. At a time when the typical packet ship might take several weeks to cross the Atlantic, Britannia reached Halifax in 12 days and 10 hours, averaging 8.5 knots (15.7 km/h), before proceeding to Boston. Such relatively brisk crossings quickly became the norm for the Cunard Line: 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.[4] Three years later, the British Government increased the annual subsidy to £156,000 so that Cunard could double its frequency.[20] 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.[4]

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.[23] The line also adopted a naming convention that utilised words ending in "IA".[24]

Cunard's reputation for safety was one of the significant factors in the firm's early success.[6] Both of the first transatlantic lines failed after major accidents: the British and American line collapsed after the President foundered in a gale, and the Great Western Steamship Company failed after Great Britain stranded because of a navigation error.[4] 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."[6] In particular, Charles MacIver's constant inspections were responsible for the firm's safety discipline.[16]

New Competition: 1850–1879Edit

Cunard Line, from New York to Liverpool, from 1875

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,[20] as they demonstrated with three Blue Riband-winning voyages between 1850 and 1854.[22] Meanwhile, 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.[4][22] The next year, Cunard put pressure on Collins by commissioning its first iron-hulled paddler, Persia. That pressure may well have been a factor in a second major disaster suffered by the Collins Line, the loss of its steamer Pacific. Pacific sailed out of Liverpool just a few days before Persia was due to depart on her maiden voyage, and was never seen again; it was widely assumed at the time that the captain had pushed his ship to the limit to stay ahead of the new Cunarder, and had likely collided with an iceberg during what was a particularly severe winter in the North Atlantic.[22] A few months later Persia inflicted a further blow to the Collins Line, regaining the Blue Riband with a Liverpool–New York voyage of 9 days 16 hours, averaging 13.11 knots (24.28 km/h).[25]

Persia of 1856 (3,300 GRT)

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 its subsidy for carrying mail across the Atlantic was reduced by the US Congress.[22] Cunard emerged as the leading carrier of saloon passengers and in 1862 commissioned 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 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.[4]

When Cunard died in 1865, the equally conservative Charles MacIver assumed Cunard's role.[16] The firm retained its reluctance about change and was overtaken by competitors that more quickly adopted new technology.[20] In 1866 Inman started to build screw propelled express liners that matched Cunard's premier unit, Scotia. Cunard responded with its first high speed screw propellered steamer, 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 Cunard lagged behind both of its rivals. Throughout the 1870s Cunard passage times were longer than either White Star or Inman.[4]

Cunard Line offices in New York City

In 1867 responsibility for mail contracts was transferred back to the Post Office and opened for bid. Cunard, 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 Cunard went to Inman. Cunard continued to receive a £80,000 subsidy (equivalent to £7,536,133 in 2021),[14] 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.[18]

The Panic of 1873 started a five-year shipping depression that strained the finances of all of the Atlantic competitors.[4] 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.[18] 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.[26]

Cunard Steamship Company Ltd: 1879–1934Edit

House flag used by Cunard Line
A captain waves aboard a Cunard Line vessel in 1901

To raise additional capital, in 1879 the privately held British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was reorganised as a public stock corporation, the Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd.[4] Under Cunard's new chairman, John Burns (1839–1900), son of one of the firm's original founders,[16] 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 screw record-breakers. In 1893 Cunard countered with two even faster Blue Riband winners, Campania and Lucania, capable of 21.8 knots (40.4 km/h).[20]

Etruria of 1885 (7,700 GRT)
Campania of 1893 (12,900 GRT)

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.[4] 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.[25] Rather than match the new German speedsters, White Star – a rival which Cunard line would merge with – commissioned four very profitable Big Four ocean liners of more moderate speed for its secondary Liverpool–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.[4] Negotiators approached Cunard's management in late 1901 and early 1902, but did not succeed in drawing the Cunard Line into IMM, then being formed with support of financier J. P. Morgan.[27]

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 (equivalent to £286 million in 2021),[14] 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 1903 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.[4]

Carpathia of 1903 (13,555 GRT) became famous for rescuing the survivors of the sinking of Titanic

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, 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.[6]

In 1916 Cunard Line completed its European headquarters in Liverpool, moving in on 12 June of that year.[28] The grand neo-Classical Cunard Building was the third of Liverpool's Three Graces. The headquarters were used by Cunard until the 1960s.[29]

Aquitania of 1914 (45,650 GRT) served in both World Wars

Due to First World War losses, Cunard began a post-war rebuilding programme including eleven intermediate liners. It acquired the former Hapag Imperator (renamed Berengaria) to replace the lost Lusitania as the running mate for Mauretania and Aquitania, and Southampton replaced Liverpool as the British destination for the three-ship express service. By 1926 Cunard's fleet was larger than before the war, and White Star was in decline, having been sold by IMM.[4]

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.[4] 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.[25] In 1930 Cunard ordered an 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 Number 534" was halted in 1931 because of the economic conditions.[6]

Cunard-White Star Ltd: 1934–1949Edit

Cunard-White Star Logo
Queen Mary of 1936 (80,700 GRT) in New York (c. 1960)

In 1934, both the Cunard Line and the White Star Line were experiencing financial difficulties. David Kirkwood, MP for Clydebank where the unfinished Hull Number 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.[30] The government offered Cunard a loan of £3 million to complete Hull Number 534 and an additional £5 million to build a second ship, if Cunard merged with White Star.[6]

The merger took place on 10 May 1934, creating Cunard-White Star Limited. The merger was accomplished with Cunard owning about two-thirds of the capital.[4] 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 ex-Cunard liner Mauretania and the ex-White Star liners Olympic and Homeric. In 1936 the ex-White Star Majestic was sold when Hull Number 534, now named Queen Mary, replaced her in the express mail service.[6] Queen Mary reached 30.99 knots (57.39 km/h) on her 1938 Blue Riband voyage.[25] Cunard-White Star started construction on Queen Elizabeth, and a smaller ship, the second Mauretania, joined the fleet and could also be used on the Atlantic run when one of the Queens was in drydock.[4] The ex-Cunard liner Berengaria was sold for scrap in 1938 after a series of fires.[6]

Queen Elizabeth of 1939 (83,650 GRT)

During the Second World War the Queens carried over two million servicemen and were credited by Churchill as helping to shorten the war by a year.[6] All four of the large Cunard-White Star express liners, the two Queens, Aquitania and Mauretania survived, but many of the secondary ships were lost. Both Lancastria and Laconia were sunk with heavy loss of life.[4]

In 1947 Cunard purchased White Star's interest, and by 1949 the company had dropped the White Star name and was renamed "Cunard Line".[31] Also in 1947 the company commissioned five freighters and two cargo liners. Caronia, was completed in 1949 as a permanent cruise liner and Aquitania was retired the next year.[4]

Disruption by airliners, Cunard Eagle and BOAC-Cunard: (1950–1968)Edit

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 four new 22,000-GRT intermediate liners for the Canadian route and the Liverpool–New York route. The last White Star motor ship, Britannic of 1930, remained in service until 1960.[6]

The introduction of jet airliners in 1958 heralded major change for the ocean liner industry. 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 lend Cunard the majority of the liner's cost.[32] However, some Cunard stockholders questioned the plan at the June 1961 board meeting because transatlantic flights were gaining in popularity.[33] By 1963 the plan had been changed to a dual-purpose 55,000 GRT ship designed to cruise in the off-season.[34] The new vessel design was known as Q4.[35] Ultimately, this ship came into service in 1969 as the 70,300 GRT Queen Elizabeth 2.[6]

Cunard attempted to address the challenge presented by jet airliners by diversifying its business into air travel. In March 1960, Cunard bought a 60% shareholding in British Eagle, an independent (non-government owned) airline, for £30 million, and changed its name to Cunard Eagle Airways. The support from this new shareholder enabled Cunard Eagle to become the first British independent airline to operate pure jet airliners, as a result of a £6 million order for two new Boeing 707–420 passenger aircraft.[36] The order had been placed (including an option on a third aircraft) in expectation of being granted traffic rights for transatlantic scheduled services.[36][37][38][39] The airline took delivery of its first Bristol Britannia aircraft on 5 April 1960 (on lease from Cubana).[40] Cunard hoped to capture a significant share of the 1 million people that crossed the Atlantic by air in 1960. This was the first time more passengers chose to make their transatlantic crossing by air than sea.[41] In June 1961, Cunard Eagle became the first independent airline in the UK to be awarded a licence by the newly constituted Air Transport Licensing Board (ATLB)[42][43] to operate a scheduled service on the prime Heathrow – New York JFK route, but the licence was revoked in November 1961 after main competitor, state-owned BOAC, appealed to Aviation Minister Peter Thorneycroft.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52] On 5 May 1962, the airline's first 707 inaugurated scheduled jet services from London Heathrow to Bermuda and Nassau. The new jet service – marketed as the Cunarder Jet in the UK and as the Londoner in the western hemisphere[53] – replaced the earlier Britannia operation on this route. Cunard Eagle succeeded in extending this service to Miami despite the loss of its original transatlantic scheduled licence and BOAC's claim that there was insufficient traffic to warrant a direct service from the UK. A load factor of 56% was achieved at the outset. Inauguration of the first British through-plane service between London and Miami also helped Cunard Eagle increase utilisation of its 707s.[49][54]

G-ASGC Vickers Super VC10

BOAC countered Eagle's move to establish itself as a full-fledged scheduled transatlantic competitor on its Heathrow—JFK flagship route by forming BOAC-Cunard as a new £30 million joint venture with Cunard. BOAC contributed 70% of the new company's capital and eight Boeing 707s. Cunard Eagle's long-haul scheduled operation[55] – including the two new 707s – was absorbed into BOAC-Cunard before delivery of the second 707, in June 1962.[nb 1][51][56][57][58] BOAC-Cunard leased any spare aircraft capacity to BOAC to augment the BOAC mainline fleet at peak times. As part of this deal, BOAC-Cunard also bought flying hours from BOAC for using the latter's aircraft in the event of capacity shortfalls. This maximised combined fleet use. The joint fleet use agreement did not cover Cunard Eagle's European scheduled, trooping and charter operations.[56] However, the joint venture was not successful for Cunard and lasted only until 1966, when BOAC bought out Cunard's share.[59] Cunard also sold a majority holding in the remainder of Cunard Eagle back to its founder in 1963.

Within ten years of the introduction of jet airliners in 1958, most of the conventional Atlantic liners were gone. Mauretania was retired in 1965,[60] Queen Mary and Caronia in 1967, and Queen Elizabeth in 1968. Two of the new intermediate liners were sold by 1970 and the other two were converted to cruise ships.[6] All Cunard ships flew both the Cunard and White Star Line house flags until 4 November 1968, when the last White Star ship, Nomadic was withdrawn from service. After this, the White Star flag was no longer flown and all remnants of both White Star Line and Cunard-White Star Line were retired.[61][62]

Trafalgar House years: 1971–1998Edit

Queen Elizabeth 2 of 1969 (70,300 GRT) at Trondheim, Norway, in 2008

In 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.[63] During the Falklands War, QE2 and Cunard Countess were chartered as troopships[64] while Cunard's container ship Atlantic Conveyor was sunk by an Exocet missile.[65]

Cunard acquired the Norwegian America Line in 1983, with two classic ocean liner/cruise ships.[66] Also in 1983, the Trafalgar attempted a hostile takeover of P&O, another large passenger and cargo shipping line, which was founded three years before 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 Queen Elizabeth 2's mechanical problems.[67] In 1984, the Commission ruled in favour of the merger, but Trafalgar decided against proceeding.[68] In 1988, Cunard acquired Ellerman Lines and its small fleet of cargo vessels, organising 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 1993, Cunard entered into a 10-year agreement to handle marketing, sales and reservations for the Crown Cruise Line, and its three vessels joined the Cunard fleet under the Cunard Crown banner.[69] 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.[70]

By the mid-1990s Cunard was ailing. The company was embarrassed in late 1994 when Queen Elizabeth 2 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 1995, Cunard Line introduced White Star Service to Queen Elizabeth 2 as a reference to the high standards of customer service expected of the company. The term is still today onboard its newer vessels. The company has also created the White Star Academy, an in-house programme for preparing new crew members for the service standards expected on Cunard ships.[71]

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.[72]

Carnival: from 1998–PresentEdit

Queen Mary 2 of 2004 (151,400 GT), the world's largest ocean liner, docked in Boston Harbor as part of a tour to mark Cunard's 175th anniversary in 2015

In 1998, the cruise line conglomerate Carnival Corporation acquired 62% of Cunard for US$425 million. Coincidently, it was the same percentage that Cunard owned in Cunard-White Star Line.[73] The next year Carnival acquired the remaining stock for US$205 million.[74] Ultimately, Carnival sued Kværner claiming that the ships were in worse condition than represented and Kværner agreed to refund US$50 million to Carnival.[75] Each of Carnival's cruise lines is designed 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 emphasise the elegance and mystique of ocean travel.[76] Only Queen Elizabeth 2 and Caronia continued under the Cunard brand and the company began Project Queen Mary to build a new ocean liner/cruise ship for the transatlantic route.[77]

By 2001, Carnival was the largest cruise company, followed by Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess Cruises, which had recently separated 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.[78] European and US regulators approved the merger without requiring Cunard's sale.[79] 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.[80]

Carnival House opened in Southampton in 2009,[81] and executive control of Cunard Line 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 had executive control of all Carnival Group activities in the UK, with the headquarters of all UK-based brands, including Cunard, 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 Queen Elizabeth 2 continued to cruise until she was retired in 2008. In 2007 Cunard added Queen Victoria, a cruise ship of the Vista class originally designed for Holland America Line. To reinforce Cunard traditions, Queen Victoria has a small museum on board. Cunard commissioned a second Vista class cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth, in 2010.[82]

In 2010, Cunard appointed its first female commander, Captain Inger Klein Olsen.[83] In 2011, Cunard changed the vessel registry of all three of its ships in service to Hamilton, Bermuda,[3] the first time in the 171-year history of the company that it had no ships registered in the United Kingdom.[84] The captains of ships registered in Bermuda can marry couples at sea, whereas those of UK-registered ships cannot, and weddings at sea are a lucrative market.[3]

On 25 May 2015, the three Cunard ships – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria – sailed up the Mersey into Liverpool to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Cunard. The ships performed manoeuvres, including 180-degree turns, as the Red Arrows performed a fly-past.[85] Just over a year later Queen Elizabeth returned to Liverpool under Captain Olsen to take part in the celebrations of the centenary of the Cunard Building on 2 June 2016.[83]

The White Star Line flag is raised on all current Cunard ships and the Nomadic every 15 April in memory of the Titanic disaster.[86]


Current fleetEdit

Ship Built In service Type Gross tonnage Flag Notes Image
Queen Mary 2 2003 2004–present Ocean liner 149,215 GT   Bermuda In service
Queen Victoria 2007 2007–present Cruise ship 90,049 GT   Bermuda In service
Queen Elizabeth 2010 2010–present Cruise ship 90,901 GT   Bermuda In service

Future fleetEdit

Ship Built In service Type Gross tonnage Notes Image
Queen Anne[87] Early 2024 Early 2024 Cruise ship 113,300 GT Construction at Fincantieri S.p.A., Italy;[88]
started on 11 October 2019.[89]

Former fleetEdit

The Cunard fleet, all built for Cunard unless otherwise indicated, consisted of the following ships in order of acquisition:[4]


All ships of this period had wooden hulls and paddle wheels.

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes
Unicorn 1836 1840–1845 Express 650 Coastal steamer purchased for Montreal service, sold 1846
Britannia 1840 1840–1849 Express 1,150 Eastbound record holder, sold to North German Navy 1849
Acadia 1840 1840–1849 Express 1,150 Sold to North German Navy 1849
Caledonia 1840 1840–1850 Express 1,150 Sold to Spanish Navy 1850
Columbia 1841 1840–1843 Express 1,150 Blue Riband, wrecked 1843 without loss of life
Hibernia 1843 1843–1850 Express 1,400 Eastbound record holder, sold to Spanish Navy 1850
Cambria 1845 1844–1860 Express 1,400 Blue Riband, sold to Italian owners 1860
Margaret 1839 1842–1872 Express 750 Bought from G & J Burns. Sold in 1856 for use as a coal hulk.
America 1848 1848–1866 Express 1,850 Blue Riband, sold 1863 and converted to sail, scrapped 1875
Niagara 1848 1848–1866 Express 1,850 Sold 1866 and converted to sail, wrecked 1875
Satellite 1848 1848–1902 Tender 175 Scrapped in 1902
Europa 1848 1848–1866 Express 1,850 Blue Riband, sold 1867
Canada 1848 1848–1867 Express 1,850 Eastbound record holder, sold 1866 and converted to sail, scrapped 1883
Asia 1850 1850–1867 Express 2,250 Blue Riband, sold 1868, scrapped 1883
Africa 1850 1850–1868 Express 2,250 Sold 1868


Only Arabia had a wooden hull and only Arabia, Persia, Shamrock, Jackal and Scotia had paddle wheels.

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes
Shamrock 1847 1851–1854 Intermediate 714 Sold in 1854
Arabia 1852 1852–1864 Express 2,400 Sold 1864 and converted to sail, sank 1868[90]
Andes 1852 1852–1859 Intermediate 1,400 Sold to Spanish Government 1859
Alps 1852 1852–1859 Intermediate 1,400 Sold to Spanish Government 1859
Karnak 1853 1853–1862 Intermediate 1,116 Wrecked 1862
Melita 1853 1853–1861 Intermediate 1,254 Sold 1855
Jackal 1853 1853– 1893 Tender 180 Scrapped in the 1890s
Delta 1853 1854-1899 Intermediate 645 Sold[91]
Curlew 1853 1853–1856 Intermediate 523 Wrecked 1856
Jura 1854 1854–1861 Intermediate 2,200 Sold to Allan Line 1860, wrecked off Liverpool 1864[90]
Etna 1855 1855–1860 Intermediate 2,200 Sold to Inman Line 1860, scrapped 1896[90]
Emeu 1854 1854-1858 Intermediate 1,538 Purchased from Australasian Pacific Mail in 1855. Chartered in 1857 to European & Australasian Pacific Mail, then sold to P&O in 1858. Troop transport in the Crimean War.
Persia 1856 1856–1868 Express 3,300 Blue Riband, taken out of service 1868 and scrapped 1872
Stromboli 1856 1859–1878 Intermediate 734 Wrecked 1878
Italian 1855 1855–1864 Intermediate 784 Sold 1864
Lebanon 1854 1855–1859 Intermediate 1,000 Sold 1870
Palestine 1858 1858–1870 Intermediate 1,000 Sold 1870
1857 1859–1876 Intermediate 2,700 Built for other owners, sold 1876, scrapped 1898[90]
Atlas 1860 1860–1896 Intermediate 2,393 Lengthened and re-engined in 1873, scrapped 1896[90]
Damascus 1860 1856-1860 Intermediate 1,213 Sold 1881
Kedar 1860 1860–1897 Intermediate 1,783 Scrapped 1897
Balbec 1852 1853–1884 Intermediate 1,783 Scrapped 1884
Marathon 1860 1860–1898 Intermediate 2,403 scrapped 1898
Morocco 1861 1861–1896 Intermediate 1,855 Scrapped 1896
China 1862 1862–1880 Intermediate 2,638 Sold to Spanish Government 1880
British Queen 1849 1852–1898 Intermediate 772 Scrapped 1898
Scotia 1862 1862–1878 Express 3,850 Blue Riband, sold 1878 and converted to cable layer. Wrecked 1904[90]
Hecla 1863 1860–1881 Intermediate 1,785 Sold 1881
Alpha 1863 1863–1869 Intermediate 653 Sold 1869
Sidon 1863 1861–1885 Intermediate 1,872 wrecked 1885
Corscia 1863 1863–1867 Intermediate 1,134 Sold 1868
Olympus 1863 1860–1881 Intermediate 1,794 Sold 1881
Tripoli 1863 1863–1872 Intermediate 2,057 Wrecked on Tuskar Rock, Wexford 1872
Cuba 1864 1864–1876 Express 2,700 Sold 1876 and converted to sail, wrecked 1887[90]
Aleppo 1865 1865–1909 Intermediate 2,056 Scrapped 1909[90]
Java 1865 1865–1877 Express 2,700 Sold 1878 to Red Star Line, and renamed Zeeland, lost at sea 1895[90]
Palmyra 1866 1866–1896 Intermediate 2,044 Scrapped 1896
Malta 1866 1865–1889 Intermediate 2,132 Wrecked 1899
Russia 1867 1867–1879 Express 2,950 Sold to Red Star Line 1880 and renamed Waesland. Resold and renamed Philadelphia, sank after a collision 1902[90]
Siberia 1867 1867–1880 Intermediate 2,550 Sold to Spanish owners 1880, renamed Manila, wrecked 1882[90]
Samaria 1868 1868–1902 Intermediate 2,550 Sold 1892


Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes
Batavia 1870 1870–1888 Intermediate 2,550 Traded in for Oregon 1884, scrapped 1924
Abyssinia 1870 1870–1880 Express 3,250 Sold to Guion Line 1880, destroyed by fire at sea 1891[90]
Algeria 1870 1870–1881 Express 3,250 Sold to Red Star Line 1881, scrapped 1903[90]
Parthia 1870 1870–1884 Intermediate 3,150 Traded in for Oregon 1884, scrapped 1956
Beta 1873 1874–1888 intermediate 1,070 Sold 1889
Bothnia 1874 1874–1899 Express 4,550 Sold 1896, scrapped 1899
Saragossa 1874 1874–1909 Intermediate 2,263 Sold 1880, scrapped 1909
Nantes 1874 1873–1888 Intermediate 1,473 Sank in 1886
Brest 1874 1874–1879 Intermediate 1,472 Wrecked in 1879
Cherbourg 1875 1875–1909 intermediate 1,614 Scrapped 1909
Scythia 1875 1875–1899 Express 4,550 Sold for scrap 1898[90]
Gallia 1879 1879–1897 Express 4,550 Sold to Beaver Line 1897, scrapped 1900[90]
Otter 1880 1880–1920 Tender 287 Sold 1920
Catalonia 1881 1881–1901 Intermediate 4,850 First Cunarder to include electric lights, scrapped 1901
Cephalonia 1882 1882–1900 Intermediate 5,500 Sold to Russian Navy 1900, sunk Port Arthur 1904[90] during the Russo-Japanese War
Pavonia 1882 1882–1900 Intermediate 5,500 Sold and scrapped 1900[90]
Servia 1881 1881–1902 Express 7,400 First steel liner to New York, scrapped 1902
Aurania 1883 1883–1905 Express 7,250 Sold and scrapped 1905[90]
Oregon 1883 1884–1886 Express 7,400 Blue Riband, built for Guion Line, purchased by Cunard 1884, sank 1886 without loss of life
Umbria 1884 1884–1910 Express 7,700 Blue Riband, with Etruria one of the two last Cunarders to carry sails, scrapped 1910[90]
Etruria 1884 1885–1909 Express 7,700 Blue Riband, with Umbria one of the two last Cunarders to carry sails, scrapped 1910[90]
Skirmisher 1884 1884–1945 Tender 612 Scrapped in 1947
Campania 1893 1893–1914 Express 12,900 Blue Riband, sold to Royal Navy 1914 and converted to aircraft carrier HMS Campania, sank 1918[90]
Lucania 1893 1893–1909 Express 12,900 Blue Riband, scrapped after fire 1909
Sylvania 1895 1895–1910 Cargo ship 5,598 sold in 1910
Carinthia 1895 1895–1900 Cargo ship 5,598 Used as a troop transport in the Boer War. Wrecked off Haiti in 1900
Pavia 1897 1897–1928 Cargo ship 2,945 scrapped in 1928
Tyria 1897 1897–1928 Cargo ship 2,936 sold in 1928
Cypria 1898 1898–1928 Cargo ship 2,396 scrapped in 1928
Veria 1899 1899–1915 Cargo ship 3,229 sunk by a torpedo 1915
Ultonia 1899 1898–1917 Intermediate 10,400 Sunk by SM U-53 1917
Ivernia 1900 1900–1917 Intermediate 14,250 Sunk by SM UB-47 1917
Saxonia 1900 1900–1925 Intermediate 14,250 Scrapped 1925


Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes Image
Brescia 1903 1903–1931 Cargo ship 3,225 Sold in 1931
Carpathia 1903 1903–1918 Intermediate 13,600 Rescued survivors from Titanic, later sunk by SM U-55 1918  
Slavonia 1903 1903–1909 Intermediate 10,606 Wrecked 1909  
Pannonia 1903 1903–1914 Intermediate 9,851 Chartered by Anchor Line 1914 for 4 trips, scrapped 1922
Caronia 1905 1905–1932 Intermediate 19,650 Scrapped 1932  
Carmania 1905 1905–1932 Intermediate 19,650 Scrapped 1932  
Lusitania 1907 1907–1915 Express 31,550 Blue Riband, sunk by U-20 1915  
Mauretania 1907 1907–1934 Express 31,950 Blue Riband, scrapped 1934  
Lycia 1896 1909–1917 Cargo ship 2,715 Captured by SM UC-65 and sunk by bombs 1917
Phrygia 1900 1909–1928 Cargo ship 3,352 Sold 1928
Thracia 1895 1909–1917 Cargo ship 2,891 Sunk by SM UC-69 1917
Franconia 1911 1911–1916 Intermediate 18,100 Sunk by SM UB-47 1916  
Albania 1900 1911–1912 Intermediate 7,650 Built for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sold to Bank Line 1912, scrapped 1930[90]  
Ausonia 1909 1911–1918 Intermediate 7,907 Ex-Tortona built for Thompson Line, purchased by Cunard 1911, sunk by SM U-62 30 May 1918.
Ascania 1911 1911–1918 Intermediate 9,100 Wrecked 1918
Caria 1900 1911–1915 Cargo ship 3,023 Sunk by U boat in 1915
Laconia 1912 1912–1917 Intermediate 18,100 Sunk by SM U-50 1917  
Andania 1913 1913–1918 Intermediate 13,400 Sunk by SM U-46 1918  
Alaunia 1913 1913–1916 Intermediate 13,400 Sunk by mine 1916  
Aquitania 1914 1914–1950 Express 45,650 Served in both world wars, longest serving Cunard liner until Scythia in 1956, scrapped 1950  
Orduna 1914 1914–1921 Intermediate 15,700 Built for PSN Co, acquired by Cunard 1914, returned to PSN 1921, scrapped 1951  
Volodia 1913 1915–1917 Cargo ship 5,689 Sunk SM U-93 1917
Vandalia 1912 1915–1918 Cargo ship 7,334 Sunk by U boat 1918
Vinovia 1906 1915–1917 Cargo ship 7,046 Sunk by U boat 1917
Aurania 1916 1916–1918 Intermediate 13,400 Sunk by SM UB-67 1918
Valacia 1916 1916–1933 Cargo ship 6,526 Scrapped 1932
Royal George 1907 1916–1920 Intermediate 11,142 Ex Heliopolis Served on the Liverpool to New York route. Scrapped 1922.
Justicia 1917 Never operated Intermediate 32,120 Acquired from the Holland America Line but never operated for Cunard due to a crew shortage, and was handed over to the White Star Line.
Feltria 1891 1916–1917 Intermediate 2,254 Sunk by UC-48
Flavia 1902 1916–1918 Intermediate 9,285 Sunk by U-107
Folia 1907 1916–1917 Intermediate 6,560 Sunk by U-53


Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes Image
Virgilia 1918 1919–1925 Cargo ship 5,697 Sold 1925
Vindelia 1918 1919-1919 Cargo ship 4,430 Sold to Anchor Line 1919
Verentia 1918 1919-1919 Cargo ship 4,430 Sold to Anchor Line 1919
Vitellia 1918 1919–1926 Cargo ship 5,185 Sold 1926
Vaurdulia 1917 1919–1926 Cargo ship 5,691 Sold 1929
Verbania 1918 1919–1926 Cargo ship 5,021 Sold 1926
Vennonia 1918 1919–1923 Cargo ship 4,430 Sold 1923
Vasconia 1918 1919–1927 Cargo ship 5,680 Sold to Japan 1927
Venusia 1918 1919–1926 Cargo ship 5,223 Sold 1923
Vauban 1912 1919–1922 Intermediate 10,660 Chartered from Lamport & Holt Line for six voyages, scrapped 1932[90]
Vestris 1912 1919–1922 Intermediate 10,494 Chartered from Lamport & Holt Line for six voyages, Wrecked in 1928  
Vasari 1908 1919–1921 Intermediate 8,401 Chartered from Lamport & Holt Line for seven voyages
Vellavia 1918 1919–1925 Cargo ship 5,272 Sold 1925
Albania 1920 1920–1930 Intermediate 12,750 Sold to Libera Triestina 1930 and renamed California, sunk by Fleet Air Arm Swordfish[90]
Satellite 1896 1920–1924 Tender 333 Scrapped in 1924
Berengaria 1913 1921–1938 Express 51,950 Built by Hapag as Imperator, purchased by Cunard 1921, sold for scrap 1938  
Scythia 1921 1921–1958 Intermediate 19,700 Longest serving liner until QE2 in 2005, scrapped 1958  
Cameronia 1921 1921–1924 Intermediate 16,365 Chartered from the Anchor Line  
Emperor Of India 1914 1921-1921 Intermediate 11,430 Chartered from P&O for one voyage.
Empress Of India 1907 1921-1921 Intermediate 16,992 Chartered from Canadian and Pacific line for two voyages.
Andania 1921 1921–1940 Intermediate 13,900 Sunk by UA 1940  
Samaria 1922 1922–1955 Intermediate 19,700 Scrapped 1955  
Vandyck 1921 1922–1922 Intermediate 13,234 Chartered from Lamport Holt line for 1 voyage
Laconia 1922 1922–1942 Intermediate 19,700 Sunk by U-156 1942  
Sauturnia 1910 1922–1924 Cargo liner 8,611 Chartered from Donaldson Line
Antonia 1922 1922–1942 Intermediate 13,900 Sold to Admiralty 1942, scrapped 1948[90]  
Ausonia 1922 1922–1942 Intermediate 13,900 Sold to Admiralty 1942, scrapped 1965[90]  
Lancastria 1922 1922–1940 Intermediate 16,250 Built as Tyrrhenia, sunk by bombing 1940  
Athenia 1923 1923–1935 Intermediate 13,465 Transferred to Anchor Donaldson, sunk by U-30 1939[90]  
Lotharingia 1923 1923–1933 Tender 1,256 Sold in 1933
Alsatia 1923 1923–1933 Tender 1,310 Sold in 1933
Franconia 1923 1923–1956 Intermediate 20,200 Scrapped 1956  
Aurania 1924 1924–1942 Intermediate 14,000 Sold to Admiralty 1942, scrapped 1961[90]  
Cassandra 1924 1924–1929 Cargo liner 8,135 Chartered from Donaldson Line, sold 1929, scrapped 1934[90]
Carinthia 1925 1925–1940 Ocean liner 20,200 Sunk by U-46 1940  
Letitia 1925 1925–1935 Intermediate 13,475 Transferred to Anchor Donaldson 1935  
Ascania 1925 1925–1956 Intermediate 14,000 Scrapped 1956  
Alaunia 1925 1925–1944 Intermediate 14,000 Sold to Admiralty 1944, scrapped 1957.[90]
Tuscania 1921 1926–1931 Intermediate 16,991 Chartered from the Anchor Line.
Bantria 1928 1928-1954 Cargo ship 2,402 Sold to Costa Line 1954 and renamed Giorgina Celli.
Bactria 1928 1928–1954 Cargo ship 2,407 Sold to Costa Rica 1954 and renamed Theo.
Bothnia 1928 1928–1955 Cargo ship 2,402 Sold to Panama 1955 and renamed Emily.
Bosnia 1928 1928–1939 Cargo ship 2,402 Sunk by U-47 1939.


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

Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes Image
Queen Mary 1936 1936–1967 Express 80,750 WWII troopship 1940–1945; Blue Riband, sold 1967, now a stationary hotel ship  
Mauretania 1939 1939–1965 Express 37,750 WWII troopship 1940–1945; scrapped by 1966  
Queen Elizabeth 1940 1946–1968 Express 83,650 WWII troopship 1940–1945, sold to The Queen Corporation in 1968, renamed Elizabeth; auctioned off to Tung Chao Yung in 1970, refitted as a floating university, renamed Seawise University, destroyed by fire in 1972; partially scrapped 1974–1975  
Valacia 1943 1946–1950 Cargo ship 7,052 Sold to Bristol city line 1950
Vasconia 1944 1946–1950 Cargo ship 7,058 Sold to Blue star line 1950
Media 1947 1947–1961 Passenger-cargo liner 13,350 Sold to Cogedar Line 1961, refitted as an ocean liner, renamed Flavia; sold to Virtue Shipping Company in 1969, renamed Flavian; sold to Panama, renamed Lavia in 1982, caught fire and sank in 1989 in Hong Kong Harbour during refitting and was scrapped afterwards in Taiwan[90]  
Asia 1947 1947–1963 Cargo ship 8,723 Sold to Taiwan 1963 and renamed Shirley
Brescia 1945 1947–1966 Cargo ship 3,834 Ex Hickory Isle Purchased from MOWT 1947 sold to Panama 1966 and renamed Timber One
Parthia 1947 1947–1961 Passenger-cargo liner 13,350 Sold to P&O 1961, renamed Remuera; transferred to P&O's Eastern and Australian Steamship Company in 1964, refitted as a cruise ship, renamed Aramac; scrapped in Taiwan by 1970[90]  
Britannic 1929 1949–1960 Intermediate 26,943 Built for White Star Line, scrapped 1960  
Georgic 1931 1949–1956 Intermediate 27,759 Built for White Star Line, scrapped 1956  
Caronia 1949 1949–1968 Cruise ship 34,200 Sold to Star Shipping 1968, renamed Columbia; renamed Caribia in 1969; wrecked 1974 at Apra Harbor, Guam and broke up while being towed to Taiwan to be scrapped  


Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT Notes Image
Assyria 1950 1950–1963 Cargo ship 8663 Sold to Greece as Laertis
Alsatia 1948 1951–1963 Cargo ship 7226 1951 ex Silverplane purchased from Silver Line, 1963 sold to Taiwan, renamed Union Freedom
Andria 1948 1951–1963 Cargo ship 7228 1951 ex Silverbriar purchased from Silver Line, 1963 sold to Taiwan, renamed Union Faith. Sank on 6 April 1969 after a collision and fire.
Pavia 1953 1953–1965 Cargo ship 3,411 Sold to Greece as Toula N 1965
Lycia 1954 1954–1965 Cargo ship 3,543 Served on Great Lakes trade in 1964. Sold to Greece a year later and renamed Flora N

1954 1954–1962
Canadian service
Cruise ship
Refitted as cruise ship in 1962, renamed Carmania; sold to the Black Sea Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973, renamed Leonid Sobinov, scrapped 1999  
Phrygia 1955 1955–1965 Cargo ship 3,534 Served on Cunard Great Lakes route in 1964. Sold to Panama a year later and renamed Dimitris N
1955 1955–1963
Canadian service
Cruise ship
21,800 Refitted as cruise ship in 1963, renamed Franconia; sold to the Far Eastern Shipping Company, Soviet Union 1973, renamed Fedor Shalypin; transferred to the Black Sea Shipping Company in 1980; transferred to the Odessa Cruise Company in 1992; scrapped 2004[90]  
Carinthia 1956 1956–1968 Canadian service 21,800 Sold to Sitmar Line 1968, refitted as a full-time cruise ship, renamed Fairsea; transferred to Princess Cruises, renamed Fair Princess in 1988 when Sitmar was sold to P&O; transferred to P&O Cruises Australia in 1996; sold to China Sea Cruises in 2000, renamed China Sea Discovery; scrapped 2005 or 2006  
Sylvania 1957 1957–1968 Canadian service 21,800 Sold to Sitmar Line 1968, renamed Fairwind, renamed Sitmar Fairland in 1988; transferred to Princess Cruises, renamed Dawn Princess; sold to V-Ships in 1993, renamed Albatros; sold to the Alang, India scrapyard, renamed Genoa and scrapped 2004  
Andania 1959 1959–1969 Cargo liner 7,004 Sold to Brocklebank Line in 1969
Alaunia 1960 1960–1969 Cargo liner 7,004 Sold to Brocklebank Line in 1969
Arabia 1955 1967–1969 Cargo liner 3,803 Ex-Castilian chartered from Ellerman Lines
Nordia 1961 1961–1963 Cargo ship 4,560 sold 1963
Media 1963 1963–1971 Cargo ship 5,586 Sold 1971 to Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission renamed Beroona
Parthia 1963 1963–1971 Cargo ship 5,586 Sold 1971 to Western Australian Coastal Shipping Commission renamed Wambiri
Saxonia 1963 1963–1970 Cargo ship 5,586 Sold to Brocklabank Line renamed Maharonda
Sarmania 1964 1964–1969 Cargo ship 5,837 Sold 1969 to T & J. Harrison, Liverpool renamed Scholar
Scythia 1964 1964–1969 Cargo ship 5,837 Sold 1969 to T & J. Harrison, Liverpool renamed Merchant
Ivernia 1964 1964–1970 Cargo ship 5,586 Sold 1970 to Brocklebank Line renamed Manipur
Scotia 1966 1966–1970 Cargo ship 5,837 Sold 1970 to Singapore renamed Neptune Amber


Ship Built In service for Cunard Type GRT/GT Notes Image
Queen Elizabeth 2 1969 1969–2008 Ocean Liner 70,300 Sold 2008, longest serving Cunarder in history; operating as a floating hotel in Dubai since April 2018[92]  
Atlantic Causeway 1969 1970–1986 Container ship 14,950 Scrapped in 1986
Atlantic Conveyor 1970 1970–1982 Container ship 14,946 Sunk in Falklands War 1982  
Cunard Adventurer 1971 1971–1977 Cruise ship 14,150 Sold to Norwegian Cruise Line 1977, renamed Sunward II, renamed Triton in 1991; auctioned in 2004 to Louis Cruises and renamed Coral; sold to a Turkish scrapping company and then to the Alang, India shipbreaking yard and scrapped in 2014  
Cunard Campaigner 1971 1971–1974 Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to the Great Eastern Shipping Co in 1974 and renamed Jag Shakti. Scrapped at Alang, India in 1997
Cunard Caravel 1971 1971–1974 Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to the Great Eastern Shipping Co in 1974 and renamed Jag Shanti. Scrapped at Alang, India in 1997
Cunard Carronade 1971 1971–1978 Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to Olympic Maritime in 1978. and renamed Olympic History.
Cunard Calamanda 1972 1972–1978 Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold in 1978 and renamed Ionian Carrier.
Cunard Ambassador 1972 1972–1974 Cruise ship 14,150 Sold after fire 1974 to C. Clausen, refitted as sheep carrier Linda Clausen; sold to Lembu Shipping Corporation and renamed Procyon, caught fire a second time in 1981 in Singapore but was repaired; sold to Qatar Transport and Marine Services; sold to Taiwanese ship breakers and scrapped in 1984 following a 1983 fire  
Cunard Carrier 1973 1973– Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to Silverdale Ltd and renamed Aeneas.
Cunard Cavalier 1973 1973–1978 Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to Olympic Maritime in 1978 and renamed Olympic Harmony. Wrecked at Port Muhammad in 1990 and scrapped at Alang in 1992.
Cunard Chietain 1973 1973– Bulk carrier 15,498 Sold to Superblue and renamed Chieftain. Resold to Great City Navigation in 1981 and renamed Great City.
Cunard Countess 1975 1976–1996 Cruise ship 17,500 Sold to Awani Cruise Line 1996, renamed Awani Dream II; transferred to Royal Olympic Cruises 1998, renamed Olympic Countess; sold to Majestic International Cruises 2004, renamed Ocean Countess, chartered to Louis Cruise Lines as Ruby during 2007; retired in 2012; caught fire in 2013 at Chalkis, Greece while laid up; sold to a Turkish scrapyard and scrapped in 2014  
Cunard Princess 1975 1977–1995 Cruise ship 17,500 Charted to StarLauro Cruises in 1995; sold to MSC Cruises in 1995, renamed Rhapsody; sold to Mano Maritime in 2009 and renamed Golden Iris. Scrapped July 2022 at Aliaga, Turkey.[93]  
Sarmania 1973 1976–1986 Reefer 8,557 Ex- Chrysantema, 1976 purchased from Paravon Shipping, Glasgow, 1986 sold to Greece renamed Capricorn. Scrapped at Alang, India in 1997
Alastia 1973 1976–1981 Reefer 7,722 1972 Ex- Edinburgh Clipper, 1976 purchased from Maritime Fruit Carriers Corp., renamed Alsatia, 1981 sold to Restis Group renamed America Freezer
Andania 1972 1976–1981 Reefer 7,689 Ex-Glasgow Clipper, 1976 purchased from Souvertur Shipping, Glasgow renamed Andania, 1981 sold to Restis Group renamed Europa Freezer. Scrapped at Alang, India in 1995
Saxonia 1973 1976–1986 Reefer 8,547 Ex- Gladiola, 1976 purchased from Adelaide Shipping, Glasgow, 1986 sold to Tondo Shipping Corp renamed Carina
Andria 1972 1976–1981 Reefer 7,722 Ex- Teesside Clipper, 1976 purchased from Maritime Island Fruit Reefers Ltd, renamed Andria, 1981 sold to Restis Group renamed Australia Freezer
Carmania 1972 1976–1986 Reefer 7,323 Ex- Orange, 1976 purchased from Chichester Shipping, Glasgow renamed Carmania, 1986 sold to Greece renamed Perseus
Scythia 1972 1976–1986 Reefer 8,557 Ex- Iris Queen, 1976 purchased from Adelaide Shipping, Glasgow, 1986 sold to Greece renamed Centaurus. Destroyed by fire in 1989
England 1964 1982–1986 Ferry 8,116 1982 purchased from DFDS, 1986 left for Jeddah as accommodation ship renamed America XIII. Sank in the Red Sea en route to Alang, India for scrapping in 1989
Sagafjord 1965 1983–1997 Ocean Liner 24,500 Built for Norwegian America Line; chartered to Transocean Tours as Gripsholm during 1996–1997; sold to Saga Cruises 1997 and renamed Saga Rose; retired in 2009, sold to a Chinese ship recycling yard and scrapped 2011–2012  
1973 1983–1999
Cruise ship 24,300 built for Norwegian America Line; operated under Norwegian America Line from 1973 to 1983, and under Cunard from 1983 to 2004, renamed Caronia in 1999; sold to Saga Cruises 2004 and renamed Saga Ruby; retired in 2014, sold to Millennium View Ltd. in 2014, renamed Oasia and planned to be refitted as a floating hotel ship in Myanmar, but this never happened; towed to the Alang shipbreaking yard and scrapped in 2017  
Atlantic Star 1967 1983–1987 Container ship 15,055 Transferred from Holland America Line
Atlantic Conveyor 1985 1985–1996 Container ship 58,438 Transferred to Atlantic Container Line  
Sea Goddess I 1984 1986–1998 Cruise ship 4,333 Built for Sea Goddess Cruises; transferred to Cunard in 1986; transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998 and renamed Seabourn Goddess I; sold to SeaDream Yacht Club in 2001 and renamed SeaDream I  
Sea Goddess II 1985 1986–1998 Cruise ship 4,333 Built for Sea Goddess Cruises, transferred to Cunard in 1986; transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1998 and renamed Seabourn Goddess II; sold to SeaDream Yacht Club in 2001 and renamed SeaDream II  
Cunard Crown Monarch 1990 1993–1994 Cruise ship 15,271 Built for Crown Cruise Line, transferred to Crown Cruise Line 1994  
Cunard Crown Jewel 1992 1993–1995 Cruise ship 19,089 Built for Crown Cruise Line, transferred to Star Cruises 1995  
Cunard Crown Dynasty 1993 1993–1997 Cruise ship 19,089 Built for Crown Cruise Line, transferred to Majesty Cruise Line 1997  
Royal Viking Sun 1988 1994–1999 Cruise ship 37,850 Built for Royal Viking Line, transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line 1999  

Cunard HotelsEdit

After Trafalgar House bought the company in 1971, Cunard operated the former company's existing hotels as Cunard-Trafalgar Hotels. In the 1980s, the chain was restyled as Cunard Hotels & Resorts, before folding in 1995.

Hotel Location Managed by Cunard Notes
London International Hotel London, England 1971–1977[94] Today London Marriott Hotel Kensington
Hotel Bristol, later Cunard Hotel Bristol London, England 1971—1984 Today Holiday Inn London Mayfair (closed)
Cunard Paradise Beach Hotel & Club Bridgetown, Barbados 1971[95]—1992[96] Closed since 1992
Cobblers Cove Hotel Speightstown, Barbados 1971[95]—1975
Montego Beach Hotel Montego Bay, Jamaica 1972[97]—1975[98]
Cunard Hotel La Toc & La Toc Suites Castries, St. Lucia 1972[99]—1992[100] Today Sandals Regency La Toc
Cunard International Hotel London, England 1973[101]—1984[102] Today Novotel London West Hotel
Cambridgeshire Hotel Cambridge, England 1974—1985 Today Cambridge Bar Hill Hotel
The Ritz Hotel, London London, England 1976[103]—1995[104] Now owned by the Ellerman Group
The Stafford London, England 1985—1995[105]
The Watergate Hotel Washington, D.C. 1986—1990
Dukes Hotel London, England 1988[105]—1994[106]
Hotel Atop the Bellevue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1989—1993 Today The Bellevue Hotel
Cunard's Plaza Club New York City 1989—1989 concierge floors of the Plaza Hotel

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ BOAC-Cunard eventually operated a fleet comprising 11 707-436/465s, two 707-336Cs and four Super VC10s


  1. ^ "Company news; Carnival to buy remaining stake in Cunard Line". The New York Times. 20 October 1999.
  2. ^ "Cruise Line 'Awaiting Further Updates' On Law". 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Jonathan Bell (21 October 2011). "Luxury cruise ship line Cunard switches to Bermuda registry | Bermuda News". Archived from the original on 9 May 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b The Nautical Gazette. 1919. p. 210.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Maxtone-Graham, John (1972). The Only Way To Cross. Collier.
  7. ^ "2012 World Wide Market Share". Cruise Market Watch. 20 November 2011.
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  • Anderson, Roy Claude (1964). White Star. Prescot: T. Stephenson & Sons Ltd. OCLC 3134809.
  • Bombail, Marc-Antoine; Gallagher, Michael (2017). Cunard: The Fleet Book. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781911268062.
  • de Kerbrech, Richard P. (2009). Ships of the White Star Line. Hersham: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7110-3366-5. OCLC 298597975.
  • Fowler Jr., William M. Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic (London: Bloomsbury), 2017. 358 pp

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