Cunard Line - company profile

Cunard Line - company profile


cunard logo 150The traditional British-American shipping company Cunard Line, based in Southampton and Santa Clarita/California, can look back on more than 180 years of corporate history. The founder of the company was the Canadian businessman Samuel Cunard, who was born in Halifax/Nova Scotia in 1787.

Statue of Sir Samuel Cunard in Halifax

Statue of Sir Samuel Cunard in Halifax


Together with well-funded partners he founded the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1838. The company was colloquially called "Cunard Line". The first ship was the Britannia.

Sir Samuel Cunard - a bronze medal

Sir Samuel Cunard - a bronze medal


Queen Victoria knighted Samuel Cunard in 1859 for his services to Britain. In Halifax Harbor, visitors are greeted by a larger-than-life statue of the city's great son and benefactor. An outline of the Britannia can also be seen there. The likeness of the company founder can be seen on board the Queen Mary 2 be admired in Sir Samuel's Café.

Queen Mary 2 - Sir Samuel's likeness

Cunard Line - originally postal services

The industrial revolution in England, which shaped social and economic conditions at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, required a functioning postal system at home and abroad. The founding of the company was based on a contract concluded with the British Admiralty for the delivery of mail overseas. The contract obliged the company to make regular trips between Liverpool in England and Boston, Halifax and Quebec in Canada. The trips were to be carried out every 14 days in summer and every four weeks in winter. The British Crown paid £81.000 a year for this service.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria


The postal service symbolically started on July 4, 1840 with the steamship Britannia. The Britannia was a 63 meter long and 10 meter wide paddle steamer that carried a maximum of 115 passengers in addition to mail. The westbound journey took 13 days and six hours. Due to the wind and current conditions, the ship only needed 11 days and three hours in an easterly direction. In the same year, the company put three more identical ships into service with the Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia.

Cunard Building in Liverpool

Cunard Building in Liverpool


By the year 1850, further new buildings were commissioned. In the course of the company's history, the company has operated 248 ships and has made a name for itself through constant innovations. A play area for children was set up on the Arabia as early as 1852. In 1881, the Servia was the first passenger ship to be fitted with electricity. The Franconia came up with the first fitness and health center on board a ship in 1911.     

The battle for the "Blue Ribbon"

Driven by the success of Cunard Line, the shipping company was soon confronted with serious competitors. At that time, freight and passenger shipping with steamships developed vehemently worldwide. The competing shipping companies were always trying to win the "Blue Ribbon" for the fastest Atlantic crossing. Initially, it was no problem for the Cunard Line to secure the "Blue Riband". Over time, however, Cunard's steamers lost this distinction. The competitors' steel ships were technically superior to the wooden Cunard ships. To make matters worse, the company's financial situation deteriorated as the conditions for the parcel service were capped at just £70.000 a year.

Queen Mary 2 - at Southampton


Queen Mary 2-in Southampton


Chimney design typical of the Cunard Line


Chimney design typical of the Cunard Line 


Cunard Steamship Company Ltd.

In order to strengthen the capital base, a stock corporation was founded in 1877, the Cunard Steamship Company Ltd. Later, between 1911 and 1916, the now financially stable company took over several British shipping companies. The acquisitions made Cunard one of the world's largest shipping companies. Milestones of this development were the commissioning of the RMS Lusitania and the RMS Mauretania. At that time they were the largest and fastest passenger ships. 

The global economic crisis brought another slump at the beginning of the 1930s. At that time the company was forced to merge with the White Star Line into Cunard-White Star Ltd. After the merger and injection of fresh capital, the project of the 80.774 GT and 310 meter long RMS Queen Mary was completed. They were followed by an even larger ship, the RMS Queen Elizabeth. Both ships were used in World War II as a troop transport and then for a while in regular service.

Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn


Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn


Queen Mary 2 - the bridge


Queen Mary 2 - the bridge 


The change to a cruise line

The advent of transatlantic air travel spelled the end of seaborne passenger and mail service. The Cunard Line could not continue with its old orientation in the long run. As a result, the company was broken up. In 1997, the American Carnival Corporation took over the parts of the shipping company that seemed useful to her. Cunard ships are revered around the world for their traditional British style, excellent service and elegant public spaces.

The current Cunard fleet

The Carnival Group runs the Cunard Line as a premium brand. Three large ships represent the British way of life. A fourth ship is built. Its completion and takeover is expected in 2024.

Queen Mary 2 

Baptism: January 8, 2004
Tonnage: 148.527 GT
Length:                      345 meters
Number of cabins: 1.310
 
Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
Queen Mary 2 - Princess Grill Restaurant
Queen Mary 2 - Golden Lion Pub
Queen Mary 2 - Introduction of the officers in the Queens Room

Queen Mary 2 is not only the flagship, but also the oldest, largest and most representative ship in the fleet. It provides regular liner services across the Atlantic west and east. Certain technical and design elements suggest this task. Outside of scheduled services, Queen Mary 2 is used for cruising around the world. 

Queen Victoria

Baptism: December 10, 2007
Tonnage: 90.000 GT
Length:                      294 meters
Number of cabins: 995
 
Queen Victoria


Queen Victoria


Queen Victoria - Grand Lobby


Queen Victoria - Grand Lobby 


Queen Elizabeth

Baptism: October 11, 2010
Tonnage: 90.900 GT
Length:                      294 meters
Number of cabins: 1.045
 
Queen Elizabeth in the port of Hamburg


Queen Elizabeth in the port of Hamburg


Queen Elizabeth - the Royal Court Theatre


Queen Elizabeth - the Royal Court Theatre 


Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth used for world travel and selected cruises in Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean.

Queen Anne – the new building project

Length:                      322 meters
Number of passengers: 2.996

 

New construction project Queen AnneNew Development Queen Anne - Rendering©Cunard Line


Queen Anne is expected to complete the Cunard Queens quartet by mid-May 2024.

Update January 2023