The Cunard Line - History & Fleet Review
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The Cunard Line - History & Fleet Review

The Cunard shipping company was founded by Canadian businessman, Samuel Cunard, with the launch of the Royal Mail ship RMS Brittania for his British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1840. The company did not become known by the name of Cunard until it became the Cunard Steamship Company Ltd in 1879, fourteen years after the death of it’s founder.

COMPANY HISTORY 

The Cunard shipping company was founded by Canadian businessman, Samuel Cunard, with the launch of the Royal Mail ship RMS Brittania for his British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1840. The company did not become known by the name of Cunard until it became the Cunard Steamship Company Ltd in 1879, fourteen years after the death of it’s founder.

Cunard merged with the White Star Line, notorious for being the owners of the ill fated Titanic, in 1934 where the two companies were jointly known as the Cunard White Star Ltd until 1950, when the Cunard Line came into it’s own.

During it’s history Cunard has owned some of the world’s most iconic ships, including such maritime legends as the Acadia, The Caledonia, The Lusitania, The Mauritania and the Q.E.2.

The company is also reknowned for pioneering many of the cruise industry’s world firsts, such as being the first company to offer en suite cabins ( on board the Campania in 1893) the first company to use electricity (on board the Servia in 1881) the first company to have steam turbine engines (on board the Carmania in 1905) the first company to install a swimming pool on deck  (on board the Aquitania in 1914) the first company to operate a regular, year round, scheduled, transatlantic, passenger service, which it still runs to this day, the first company to offer round the world cruises (on board the Laconia in 1923) and for being the first and only ocean liner in the world (Queen Mary II ) to allow pets aboard their vessels. 

Today the Cunard Line is owned by the Carnival Corporation of California, U.S.A, the world’s largest cruise line company, which has it’s U.K subsidiary company, Carnival U.K, headquarted at Carnival House in Southampton. Carnival House opened in 2009 and is also the U.K headquarters of P+O Cruises, P+O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises and Yachts of Seabourn.

Cunard’s original headquarters were situated along the city of Liverpool’s waterfront in one of the Grade II Listed, UNESCO World Heritage Sites known as the Three Graces. The building - Image top right of this page -  which was completed in 1917, still goes by the name of the Cunard Building although Cunard vacated the premises some time in the 1960’s, when it moved from Liverpool to Trafalgar House in London, before eventually moving on to Southampton in 1998.

However, due to Cunard’s high end, luxury vessels which are synonomous for upholding the traditional British values and traditions of excellence within the ocean liner industry, Carnival insisted in keeping the auspicious name of Cunard Line upon the company’s three remaining vessels, the Queen Victoria, The Queen Mary II and the Queen Elisabeth.

                                                             CUNARD FLEET REVIEW 2012

Cunard is reknowned for keeping the grand traditions of transatlantic, ocean liner travel alive by way of the luxury interiors of their vessels, the strict adherence of dress codes both on deck and in their dining rooms, the use of silver service, Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood China in their dining rooms, having professional English nannies supervising children, for having professional librarians in attendence in their libraries, for providing top rate entertainment which includes world reknowned academics performing specialist lectures, onboard theatres which produce lavish, West End style productions, headline cabaret acts and specialist workshops and tutorials.

These vessels also uphold the old naval tradition of numbering their cabins with even numbers on their port sides and uneven numbers on their starboard sides.

Cunard’s fleet of three vessels, all of which were built between 2002 and 2010, makes it the world's youngest passenger fleet.

Despite the Cunard Line being the epitomy of all things British, other than upholding the tradition of having their 'Queen' ships named by members of the British royal family, all three vessels are registered in the Bahamas, all onboard currency is in U.S Dollars and most of their staff are non British, which is a shame for non British passengers who especially want to experience a true blue British waiter or steward complete with plummy, Oxbridge* accent. 

Due to the vessels Bahaman registry, all three ships can accommodate onboard wedding ceremonies, which are performed either by the ship's captain or first officer.  

Subsequently, after one hundred and seventy years, Cunard ships now fly the Bahaman flag instead of the Union Jack or red ensign.

  

R.M.S QUEEN MARY II

Ocean liner - 148,528 tonnes.

Built at Chantiers de l’Atlantique Shipyard in San Nazaire, France, in twenty four months.

Carries 1,254 crew and 3,090 passengers.

Launched July 4th 2002.

Queen Mary II is a designated Royal Mail Ship and is the largest ocean liner ever built by gross tonnage. Queen Mary II operates regular, scheduled, transatlantic crossings between Southampton in England and New York in the U.S.A as well as one annual round the world cruise. She is the only passenger ship in the world which carries livestock in the form of passenger’s pets. 

Queen Mary II, as her name suggests, is the second Cunard ocean liner to have this name.The first R.M.S Queen Mary was named after Mary of Teck, the queen consort to King George V.

Queen Mary II can boast seventeen decks, twelve of which are passenger decks, a wrap around promenade deck, twenty two elevators, fourteen lounges, a full scale planetarium with a thirty eight foot wide, domed roof, a six deck high, atrium lobby, a casino, a theatre, a nightclub, a grand ballroom, three outdoor swimming pools, two indoor swimming pools, eight whirlpools, a sauna, a gym, a spa, a library, an exhibition centre of Cunard memorabilia, an education centre, dedicated children’s play areas, a video arcade, a smoking lounge, fourteen bars, ten dining rooms, fourteen lounges, a winter garden, a golfing fairway, several extensive sunbathing areas, a multitude of shops and twelve kennels for pets.

The ship has one thousand, three hundred and ten cabins which offer six accommodation grades from premium to standard, which includes thirty, wheelchair accessible cabins, but no single cabins.

Onboard cuisine is of the highest quality, served in the most lavish of surroundings all delivered by way of the highest service. All types of beers, wines, spirits and champagnes are available, all dining rooms have ocean view windows and grill class restaurants boast silver flatware, Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood China.

Onboard entertainment is of the highest calibre, often performed or produced by headline artistes.

Live entertainment consists of bands, duos, soloists, comedians, dance troups, cabaret acts and comedians along with theatre and West End style productions.

Interesting features of the vessel include it’s seven foot high Tyfon whistle, which was originally used on the first R.M.S Queen Mary (1936 - 1967). The whistle was converted from steam to electricity and can now be heard over ten miles away, but not by passengers situated directly below it.

The vessel is powered by the world’s first ever four pod propulsion system, enabling it to cruise at speeds of over thirty knots, it is also capable of sailing backwards faster than some cruise liners can sail forwards.

Due to the Queen Mary II’s wide berth, she is unable to traverse the Panama Canal.  

M.S QUEEN VICTORIA

Vista class, resort ship – 90,000 tonnes.

Built at Fincantieri Navali Shipyard in Trieste, Italy in nineteen months.

Carries 1001 crew and 2,172 passengers.

Launched January 15th 2007.

The Queen Victoria is a resort, cruise ship, which, due to her classic décor, has been based on an ocean liner. She operates cruises all over the world, including one annual round the world voyage, for the British and American market. 

Despite Queen Victoria having had more attributions to her name than any other monarch, the M.S Queen Victoria is only the second vessel to take her name. The first was the P.S Queen Victoria (1838 - 1853).  

The Queen Victoria boasts sixteen decks, twelve of which are passenger decks, twelve elevators, a promenade deck, an observation lounge, a Winter garden, two outdoor swimming pools, five whirlpools, designated children’s play areas, a library with six thousand books, a casino, a smoking lounge, a nightclub, a champagne bar, a lido bar, a Parisienne style café, a one thousand square foot ballroom, a shopping arcade with seven shops, one of which is a Harrod’s, seven reataurants, thirteen bars, a health club, a spa, a gym and a sauna.

The Queen Victoria has one thousand and seven cabins which have eight types of accommodation with thrityone different price tags. Twenty of these cabins are wheelchair accessible but there are no single cabins.

The vessel is reknowned for it’s very classic Victorian and Edwardian style décor which has an endless array of teak panelling, wrought iron balustrades, crystal chandeliers and brass ware.

One charming feature of the ship is a full size, town square style, chiming, clock tower.

Cuisine served onboard the Queen Victoria is of the same high standard set by all other Cunard Line vessels, along with the usual faultless service complete with silver flatware, Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood China in it’s grill class restaurants.

Entertainment onboard Queen Victoria is generally centred around her eight hundred and thirty seater Royal Court Theatre, as well as in some of her many bars and lounges, which also provide afternoon teas.

One very unique feature of the Queen Victoria is her Danish, lady captain, Captain Inger Olsen.

The Queen Victoria has a cruising speed of eighteen knots and is capable of navigating the Panama Canal.

  

M.S QUEEN ELISABETH

Vista class, resort ship - 92,000 tonnes.

Carries 1,000 crew and 2,172 passengers.

Built at Fincantieri Navali Shipyard in Trieste, Italy in eighteen months.

Launched January 5th 2010.

The Queen Elisabeth is a resort, cruise ship which operates European, Caribbean and round Britain cruises and one annual round the world cruise, aimed at the the British and American market. 

Although Cunard have had two previous vessels by the name of Queen Elisabeth - R.M.S Queen Elisabeth 1940 - 1948 and R.M.S Queen Elisabeth II 1969 - 2008, both named after Elisabeth, queen consort to King George VI, and the naval vessel H.M.S Queen Elisabeth, 1915 - 1948, named after the Tudor Queen Elisabeth, this new M.S Queen Elisabeth is the first vessel to be named after the present queen, Elisabeth II, and the reason why the new vessel is not known as the Q.E.III.

The vessel can boast sixteen decks, twelve of which are passenger decks, a promenade deck, an open deck complete with a life size chess set, twelve elevators, a three deck high grand lobby, two outdoor swimming pools, five whirlpools, a bandstand, a spa, a gym, seven shops, including a Harrod’s, a museum, a library with over six thousand books, a theatre built in the style of an opera house complete with royal boxes, a casino, a traditional British pub, a Parisienne style café, a lido café, five retaurants, a health club, a beauty salon and a number of bars and lounges, some of which provide evening entertainment and afternoon tea.

The vessel has 1,046 cabins which offer three accommodation grades – formerly known as classes – the Queens Grill, the Princess Grill and the Britannia. These numbers also include twenty wheelchair accessible cabins, but there are no single cabins.

Cuisine onboard the Queen Elisabeth is of the same high quality that is expected upon any Cunard Line ship and the service is of the highest standard.Like her running mates, the Queen Elisabeth also boasts Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood China and silver flatware in it’s grill class restaurants.

Most of the Queen Elisabeth’s excellent entertainment can be found at the eight hundred and thirty seater Royal Court Theatre, complete with it’s private boxes and pre show drinks lounge, with some of the more lively, dance bands found performing in the ship’s bars or lounges.

In all the ship’s interior is noted by it’s high instance of art deco features, crystal chandeliers and sculpted balconies..

The Queen Elisabeth has a cruising speed of twenty three point seven knots and is capable of navigating the Panama Canal.  

 

                                CUNARD LINE 2013, ROUND THE WORLD CRUISES

Cunard’s next round the world cruises will be - www.worldcruisecentral.com/cunard-world-cruise

Queen Mary II – A 106 day voyage beginning January 10th 2013.

Queen Victoria – A 105 day voyage beginning on January 10th 2013.

Queen Elisabeth – A 91 day voyage beginning on January 6th 2013. 

Take a look around the Cunard liners here -  www.cunard.co.uk

 

Images courtesy of – R.M.S Queen Mary – Christian Bischoff, wikimedia commons.

                                  M.S Queen Elisabeth – PjotrMahh1, wikimedia commons.

                                  M.S Queen Victoria – dashers, wikimedia commons.

                                  Cunard Building – Chris Howells, wikimedia commons.

* The upper class accents of students attending Oxford or Cambridge Universities.

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Comments (1)

Interesting tips for voyages. thank you Dee Bee.

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