<>  The Story of Cunard Line
Established 1840


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RMS Britannia (1840) to RMS Queen Victoria (2007) and Beyond

The Cunard Line was founded in 1840 by Sir Samuel Cunard as the British & North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company to operate regular steamship sailings across the Atlantic for the carriage of passengers and the Royal Mails. The line was founded on the basis of a successful tender for the carriage of British royal mails made by Sir Samuel Cunard in 1838, and the first regular voyages between Liverpool and Boston were begun in the summer of 1840. Since then Cunard Line has become one of the most famous British shipping lines and its ships still sail its traditional transatlantic route today in the 21st century thus enabling passengers to continue to enjoy and relive the Golden Age of Ocean Travel.

The first ships of Cunard Line, of which the best known is the Britannia, were wooden paddle steamers which made the transatlantic crossing in an average time of 15 days. The first iron Cunarder was the Persia, commissioned in 1856. As the transatlantic trade developed, the Cunard ships increased in both size and numbers, the line always retaining its position as the foremost transatlantic passenger service against whatever opposition offered.

Many famous ships have sailed under its house flag, of which the best known in their day were the Umbria (1884), the Campania (1893), the Mauretania & Lusitania (1907) and the famous Cunard Queens - RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth. These two Cunard Queens are now generally considered to be the greatest ocean liners ever built. Its ships also have giving sterling service through both war and peace and the two Cunard Queens are often credited with taking two years off the length of the Second World War. The Aquitania had the remarkable distinction of serving in both the First and Second World Wars. The QE2 also has seen war service during the Falklands War.

In 1911 Cunard Line took over Brocklebank Line and Anchor Line. The two companies were merged to form Anchor-Brocklebank Limited. In 1916 Cunard Line took over Commonwealth & Dominion Line (Port Line). Port Line ships were given the Cunard funnel colours but otherwise the company continued to operate independently. In 1934 prior to the construction of the Cunard Queens, Cunard Line merged with its great rival , White Star Line, thus forming a single company to build and operate the magnificent Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The ships of the merged companies continued to fly both house flags until 1957 when Cunard purchased the remaining shares in White Star Line. Cunard Line then disposed of the remaining former White Star Line ships and by 1958 the renowned White Star Line ceased to exist. In 1937 Commonwealth & Dominion Line officially became Port Line Ltd.

Following the Second World War, during which most Cunard liners served as troopships and armed merchant cruisers, after a brief heyday in the 1950s and early 1960s when the two Cunard Queens ruled supreme on the North Atlantic, the competition of air travel led to a marked and rapid reduction in sea passenger traffic. The ocean liners were diverted from their traditional line voyage trade and undertook cruising. In the end the two Cunard Queens were sold and by 1969, Cunard Line was a shadow of its former self with just one ship in the top division - the much smaller RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. After a tricky start to life she has now become legendary British icon and is renowned for her World Cruises and until 2004 single handedly continued the tradition of the transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York.

The transatlantic ocean liner began to decline in the 1950s as speedy air travel began to replace ocean liners as the main carriers of passengers and mail across the Atlantic. Cunard tried to address this by forming BOAC-Cunard Ltd in 1962 with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to operate scheduled air services to North America, the Caribbean and South America. It was dissolved in 1966 as BOAC took control and Cunard relinquished its involvement in air travel.

In 1962, a management company, Cunard Line Ltd., was formed. To become more self-sufficient, in the next two years Cunard formed its own insurance company and created a handling company, Cunard Stevedoring Ltd. In 1964, Cunard bought the H.E. Moss and Company Tankers Ltd., entering it in the tanker trade. Cargo operations responded well, buoying the company towards profitability. The company began shipping containerized packages in 1966, which required a significant investment in facilities and new ships. It subsequently became a partner in the multinational consortiums Atlantic Container Lines Ltd. and, through the Port Line, Associated Container Transportation.

In 1968 Cunard-Brocklebank Ltd was created to pool the cargo services of the two companies. In 1970 the activities of Cunard Line's subsidiary companies (Cunard-Brocklebank, Port Line, Moss Tankers and Offshore Marine) were coordinated by the formation of Cunard Cargo Shipping Services Ltd. At this time there was still a need for cargo shipping and this company focussed on this trade. By the early 1970s container shipping was taking over the cargo business and gradually Cunard Line's cargo subsidiares were discontinued. Port Line ceased to exist in 1978. In 1968 Cunard Line moved its headquarters from the Cunard Building in Liverpool to Southampton where it has remained ever since.

In recent years there have been many ownership changes to Cunard Line. In 1971 it was bought by Trafalgar House Investments Ltd, a company with interests in property, civil engineering, hotel ownership, house building and investments. Trafalgar House acquired the Cunard group of shipping and leisure companies in 1971. Cunard operated cargo and passenger ships, hotels and resorts. At that time it had forty-two cargo ships in service, with fourteen more under construction; and three passenger ships, with two more under construction. But twelve years later the cargo fleet had shrunk to eighteen, half of which were by then container ships. The size of the passenger fleet had remained constant. In 1989 Trafalgar House withdrew Cunard from the cargo shipping industry and sold off all its freighters.

Trafalgar House also owned hotels and resorts including the Ritz Hotel, Stafford Hotel and Dukes Hotel in London, the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC and various hotels in Barbados and St Lucia. These were formed by Trafalgar House into Cunard Hotels & Resorts in order to use the prestige of the Cunard brand to market these hotels and resorts owned by Trafalgar House. The Ritz Hotel in London was acquired in 1976 and sold in 1995. The Stafford Hotel in London was acquired in 1985 and sold in 1995. The Dukes Hotel in London was acquired in 1988. Trafalgar House was bought by Kvaerner in 1996.

However Cunard turned adversity to its advantage in 1983 by re-entering into partnership with air travel by chartering Concorde – the ultimate in jet aircraft – from British Airways (the successor to the British Overseas Airways Corporation - BOAC) for the first time as part of a QE2 Concorde package. Later Concorde was chartered to take passengers to join QE2 during her annual World Cruise; Concorde’s record-breaking flights to Hong Kong, Cape Town and Sydney in 1985 were all when she was chartered by Cunard. Since then Concorde and the QE2 have enjoyed a close relationship with passengers having the option of sailing one way on the QE2 to New York and returning on Concorde.

Sadly on the 10th April 2003 this unique partnership of two 1960s icons came to an end when British Airways announced the retirement of Concorde in October 2003. But even today Cunard has a close partnership with British Airways for fly cruises.

In 1987 the Ellerman Lines division of the Ellerman Group was taken over by Cunard (Trafalgar House) to become Cunard-Ellerman Ltd. The company operated routes between Australia and West Asia, the USA and Europe, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Cunard later sold their Ellerman interests along with Cunard-Brocklebank Ltd to Andrew Weir (Bank Line) Ltd of Glasgow in 1991. However the Cunard-Ellerman containers interests was sold to P&O in 1991. 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.

Cunard acquired the Norwegian America Line in 1983, with two classic ocean liners - Sagafjord and Vistafjord. Also in 1983 Trafalgar House attempted to take over P&O but after much opposition eventually in 1984 decided not to proceed. In 1986
Cunard acquired Sea Goddess Cruises, which included the luxury yachts Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II. In 1994 Cunard purchased the rights to the name of the Royal Viking Line and its Royal Viking Sun cruise ship. The rest of Royal Viking Line's fleet stayed with the line's owner, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). In 1995, Cunard once again looked at the mass market and decided to increase its presence in that market by entering into an arrangement to market and run three ships owned by Crown Cruise Line.

In 1996 Cunard was acquired by the Norwegian company, Knaevner. Finally in 1998 it was bought by Carnival Corporation, the American cruise giant set up by Ted Arison.
Soon after acquiring Cunard, Carnival transferred the Sea Goddess yachts to Carnival's The Yachts of Seabourn subsidiary, which specialized in small-ship luxury cruising.  The Royal Viking Sun was also transferred to Seabourn, where she was somewhat out of place, and then after a refit it was decided to transfer her to Carnival's Holland America Line subsidiary where she became the Prinsendam. Carnival disposed of the remaining assets and marketing arrangements that Cunard had. Thus Cunard re-emerged with a very clear traditional British identity. In 2003 Carnival Corporation merged with the British cruise giant, P&O Princess Cruises PLC, to form a dual listed company as Carnival Corporation and PLC headquartered in both London and Miami. This merger created the largest cruise company in the world. Since becoming part of the Carnival Corporation & PLC cruise empire Cunard Line has been enjoying something of a revival and rebirth. However it is still headquartered in Southampton.

In 2004 a new Cunard Queen was built the huge RMS Queen Mary 2 which has taken over the transatlantic service from the legendary QE2. Now Cunard has two legendary Queens once more. Remarkably that is not the end of the story another Queen was built and was named the Queen Victoria. She debuted in 2007 and gave Cunard Line a fleet of three Cunard Queens for the very first time. However this era of Three Cunard Queens didn't last long as the legendary QE2 was retired from service in November 2008 and sailed to well deserved retirement as a hotel ship and museum in Dubai at The Palm Jumeirah.

With the retirement of the legendary QE2 in November 2008, Cunard Line entered a new era with a modern two ship fleet consisting of the RMS Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria. For the first time there was no ship in the fleet with a direct link to the original iconic Cunard Queens - RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. It was truly the dawn of a new age for Cunard Line.

Today the success and stablity of Cunard Line looks more secure than it has been for decades as it heads into a new Golden Age in the 21st century. Long may this British institution continue to endure.



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


The 1,154-ton paddle steamer Britannia, and three near sisterships, 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.


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


Eleven Cunard ships are requisitioned for the Crimean War.


The famous Persia built as the company’s first iron-hulled transatlantic vessel.


Samuel Cunard created a Baronet in recognition of the Company’s service in the Crimean War.


The China enters service - the company’s first propeller-driven ship. Admiralty permission required to use the ship to carry the Royal Mail as the Mail Contract stipulates ‘paddle steamers’.


Sir Samuel Cunard dies on 28 April at the age of 78.


The Servia enters service; Cunard’s first steel vessel, the first ship in the world to be lighted with electricity, and the first vessel Cunard intended to rely solely on passenger revenue.

1906 / 1907:

The liners Lusitania and Mauretania launched. The latter holds the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing for 22 years.


On 15 April the Carpathia rescues all the survivors from White Star’s Titanic.


The Aquitania launched; the first Cunarder with an indoor swimming pool.


The First World War interrupts Cunard’s fleet development as Cunard called into active service. Cunard carries over one million troops and ten million tons of cargo for the war cause. 22 ships - including the Lusitania - lost.


The Cunard Building in Liverpool, the company’s Head Office until the 1960s, completed.


Cunard awarded the German liner, Imperator, by the British Government to compensate for the loss of Lusitania. The vessel renamed Berengaria.

1920s / 1930s:

The heyday of transatlantic shipping, when Cunard’s slogan “Getting there is half the fun!” becomes a household phrase.


The Laconia undertook the first-ever world cruise.


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


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


Mauretania (II) enters service.

Cunard ships 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 guests, from film stars and diplomats to businessmen and tourists.


Cunard’s first cruise ship, the Caronia, enters service. She is known as the ‘Green Goddess’ because of the colour of her hull.


12 liners in service, carrying one third of all passengers crossing the Atlantic.


The first jet airliner crosses the Atlantic. Air crossings continue to gain passengers at the expense of the great liners. It is in this year when, for the first time, more people cross the Atlantic by air than by sea.


The Queen Elizabeth 2 launched by Her Majesty the Queen.


Maiden voyage of Queen Elizabeth 2, now the only ship offering a scheduled transatlantic service.


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


First world cruise of QE2.


Cunard Countess launched.


Cunard Princess launched.


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


Cunard purchases top-rated Sagafjord and Vistafjord, from 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 biggest charterer of Concorde in the world.


Cunard acquires luxury Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II vessels, bringing the fleet back to seven ships - the largest number for 25 years.

A six-month £110 million re-engining and refurbishment programme on the QE2, the largest such refit in the history of the merchant marine, undertaken and successfully completed in 1987. HRH the Princess of Wales boards on the ship’s return to Southampton.

In May Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother boards QE2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Queen Mary’s maiden voyage.


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


Cunard celebrates its 150th anniversary. QE2 sent on special Round Britain voyage including her first call at Liverpool and her first return to the Clyde since her launch and which culminates in a rare Spithead Review with Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, going on board.


Cunard Princess chartered to the US Government for use in the Gulf War as a ‘rest and recuperation centre.’


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.


Cunard enters into a joint venture agreement with Crown Cruise Line involving Crown Dynasty, Crown Jewel and Crown Monarch.

QE2 becomes the first ever ship to be awarded Five Stars by the RAC.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, HRH Prince Edward lunches on board QE2 as she sails out of Southampton.


QE2 celebrates her 25th year of service.

QE2 and Vistafjord take part in the ‘D’ Day Flotilla.

Crown Monarch leaves the Cunard Fleet.

Cunard purchases the world’s highest rated cruise ship, the Royal Viking Sun, for $170 million.

Vistafjord undergoes a £10 million refit and refurbishment.

QE2 completes her £30 million refit which saw dramatic changes to the interior and launches the ship into the next century.


QE2 commences her 20th World Cruise.

Cunard Princess and Crown Jewel leave the Cunard fleet.

Crown Dynasty taken by Cunard on a long-term charter.

Royal Viking Sun, Sea Goddess I, Sea Goddess II and Cunard Countess undergo a comprehensive programme of refitting and refurbishment.

QE2 completes one thousand voyages.


During her 20th World Cruise QE2 achieves her four millionth mile - the equivalent of 185 times round the world.

The Norwegian conglomerate Kvaerner acquires Trafalgar House for £904 million and assumes control of Cunard - this is the second major ownership change for Cunard in its 156 year history.

Royal Viking Sun is ‘relaunched’ in Dover after significant repairs following her grounding.

Sagafjord withdrawn from Cunard service and chartered to Transocean Cruises of Germany; subsequently sold to Saga Cruises.

Cunard Countess sold to Awani Cruises of Indonesia.

QE2 completes a £12 million refit in Southampton, the first time a UK yard had been used for 13 years.

Cunard become the first cruise line to reveal their Millennium itineraries.


QE2 commences six (instead of five) day Atlantic crossings allowing the ship to take the more leisurely route between Europe and America.

The management / charter contract of Cunard Dynasty is ended and the vessel transfers to Norwegian Cruise Line. This complete Cunard’s strategy of offering minimum five-star ships and positions the company as the top cruise line in the world.

A fund-raising event for the Red Cross, which was to have been attended by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, held on board QE2 in Southampton. Guests include Cherie Blair, Elizabeth Dole and Lord Attenborough.

Vistafjord and Sea Goddess I complete refurbishment programme.

Cunard relocates its global headquarters to Miami after being based in New York for 30 years.

Cunard’s five-ship fleet receives the highest ratings by Berlitz ‘Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships’. Four ships are ranked number one in their respective categories.

QE2 celebrates the 30th Anniversary of her launch by HM The Queen on 20 September 1967.


Nelson Mandela sails on QE2 from Durban to Cape Town - the first time a Head of State has travelled on board since HM The Queen in 1990.

In May, a Carnival Corporation-led consortium purchases Cunard from Kvaerner for $500 million and merges the company with Seabourn Cruise Line to form Cunard Line Limited.

In June the new company announces ‘Project Queen Mary’ – a proposal to build the biggest passenger liner ever.

In September Royal Viking Sun completes her refurbishment programme, followed by Sea Goddess II in October.

Also in October the company announces the reorganisation of the two fleets and the renaming of Vistafjord. The reorganisation, effective from December 1999, includes:

  • The renaming of Royal Viking Sun, Sea Goddess I and Sea Goddess II as Seabourn Sun, Seabourn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II and their transfer to the Seabourn fleet.
  • The renaming of Vistafjord as Caronia. Together with QE2, Caronia forms the basis of the ‘new’ Cunard Line fleet.

Cunard Line Limited sweeps the board in the 1999 Berlitz ’Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships’ with the top seven places being taken by either a Cunard or Seabourn ship. QE2 Grill accommodation receives the highest ratings.


On 14 April a lunch is held on board QE2 in Southampton to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the ship’s maiden transatlantic crossing (2 – 7 May 1969).

Carnival Corporation acquires the 32% of Cunard it did not already own, thus taking control of 100% of the company.

Cunard Line Limited once again triumphs in the 2000 Berlitz ’Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships’ with the top six places being taken by either a Cunard or Seabourn ship.

The fleet re-organisation takes place with major refurbishments being completed on QE2, Caronia and Seabourn Sun.

On 26 November, the Seabourn Sun arrives in Southampton.

On 10 December, the Caronia is renamed at a ceremony in Liverpool

On 16 December, the Seabourn Sun is renamed at a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale.

QE2 completes her £19.5 million refit.


On 9 March, Cunard signs letter of intent with Chantiers de l’Atlantique (France) for Queen Mary 2.

On 6 November, Cunard signs final contract for Queen Mary 2 and unveils key design details. QM2 will be the largest, longest, widest and tallest passenger ship in history and will enter service in 2004.

By the end of 2000, the $27 million programme of refurbishment of Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend is complete. All three ships received unique ‘French Balconies’.


In February Pamela Conover becomes the first woman at the helm of Cunard when she is appointed President and chief Operating Officer.

On 26 March, Seabourn announces the transfer of Seabourn Sun to Holland America Line in April 2002. Seabourn Sun to be renamed Prinsendam.

Separate management structures established for Cunard Line and Seabourn Cruise Line in the Miami Head Office.

On 13 July, Seabourn announces the sale of both Seabourn Goddess I and Seabourn Goddess II to a group of Norwegian investors.

In October Cunard announces the redeployment of Caronia to the British cruise market effective May 2002. The on board product to become British and the currency to be sterling.

QE2 undergoes further refurbishment in November / December.

On 17 December Cunard announces the construction of a 90,000-ton vessel. ‘The New Cunarder’ will enter service in January 2005 and be dedicated to the British cruise market.


On 16 January the first steel is cut to mark the formal start of construction of Queen Mary 2.

On 13 May Cunard confirms that QE2 will be removed from transatlantic service in April 2004 and will be deployed on cruise service out of Southampton. QM2 will assume the role of Cunard’s transatlantic carrier at this time.

Lady Thatcher lunches on board QE2 on 14 June to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War.

On 4 July the keel is laid for Queen Mary 2.


On 21 March Queen Mary 2 is floated out of the building dock.

On 31 March Cunard announces that ‘The New Cunarder’ will be named Queen Victoria.

On 12 July the keel is laid for Queen Victoria.

In December, Queen Mary 2 is handed over to Cunard and arrives in Southampton.


On 8 January Queen Mary 2 is named by Her Majesty the Queen.

On 12 January RMS Queen Mary 2 sails on her Maiden Voyage.

On the 5 April Cunard announce that the ship intended to be the Queen Victoria was to be instead handed to P&O Cruises to become the Arcadia. Instead a new Queen Victoria is to be ordered and enter service in 2007.

RMS Queen Mary 2 departs Southampton on 16 April on her first transatlantic crossing to New York.

On 25 April both RMS Queen Mary 2 and QE2 meet in New York – the first time that two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port since March 1940.

On 1 May both Queens arrive in Southampton – the first time two Cunard Queens have been in the company’s home port since 1967. QE2 relinquishes the title of flagship to RMS Queen Mary 2. QE2 is the longest serving Cunard flagship.

On 5 November QE2 becomes Cunard’s longest serving express liner having completed 35 years, six months and three days of service – taking the record from Aquitania.


On 28 June the QE2 participates in the International Fleet Review in the Solent as part of the SeaBritain2005 celebrations for Trafalgar 200 and the Bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. This event marked the largest gathering of merchant and naval ships in British waters since the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in 1977. HM Queen Elizabeth II and the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh reviewed the vast fleet from on board HMS Endurance.

On 4 September yet another remarkable milestone is passed in the history of the legendary QE2 as she becomes Cunard Line’s longest serving ship after surpassing the previous record of 36 years 4 months and 2 days. Thus smashing the record set by the Scythia which served from 1921 to 1957.


On the 23 February the RMS Queen Mary 2 met up with the original Queen Mary at Long Beach for the first time as she called at Long Beach in the "Royal Rendezvous" during her South America cruise from New York.

On the 6th May the keel is laid for the Queen Victoria.


On 2 January the QE2 departs Southampton on her Silver Jubilee World Cruise marking her 25th circumnavigation of the world. This World Cruise is also special because 2007 is the 85th Anniversary of the first World Cruise made by the Laconia back in 1922/1923.

On the 10 January the QE2 and RMS Queen Mary 2 depart Fort Lauderdale together on their simultaneous World Cruises after a spectacular Royal Rendezvous. This being the QE2’s Silver Jubilee World Cruise and the QM2’s Maiden World Cruise. The was the first time two Cunard Queens had ever been seen in Fort Lauderdale together.

On the 15 January the Queen Victoria is floated out of dry dock.

On the 20 February a spectacular Royal Rendezvous takes place in Sydney when the RMS Queen Mary 2 and the QE2 meet again during their epic simultaneous World Cruises. This was the first time two Cunard Queens have been in Sydney since the wartime visits of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in 1941 and 1942 during their troopship duties in the Second World War.

On the 10th June 2007, a special luncheon for Falklands Veterans was held on board the QE2 while she was docked in Southampton to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands War. In 1982 the QE2 had arrived in Southampton on the 11th June with survivors of the HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry that had been sunk during the conflict.

On the 15 September the QE2 sails from Southampton on a special “40th Birthday Cruise” around the British Isles to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her launch in 1967. This voyage was special in many ways. Her call at Newcastle upon Tyne on the 17th September marked the 100th anniversary of the Mauretania's departure from the Tyne on her first sea trials.  On the 21st September she called at Liverpool and helped officially open the new City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal at Pier Head. Her 40th Anniversary was marked by a special Cunard QE2 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert which was held at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral . That evening there was a spectacular mid river firework display in honour of the QE2. On the 22nd September the voyage also marked the 40th anniversary of the Queen Mary's final departure from New York back in 1967. On the QE2's final day at sea on the 22nd September 2007, en route back to Southampton, activities on board marked the last sailing of the Queen Mary and after dinner the QE2 passed her newer sister Queen Mary 2 outbound from Southampton to New York. This historic occasion marked the first time two Cunard Queens had passed at sea since the Queen Mary passed the Queen Elizabeth for the final time in mid Atlantic nearly 40 years before on the 25th September 1967. Passengers crowded the decks of both ships to watch this historic sight.  Finally the QE2 arrived back in Southampton on the 23rd September 2007.

On the 10 December the Queen Victoria is named by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall in a lavish ceremony at the QEII Terminal in Southampton Docks.

On the 11 December the Queen Victoria sails on her maiden voyage. For the first time ever Cunard has three Cunard Queens in service.


On 6 January the Queen Victoria will sail on her Maiden World Cruise from Southampton in tandem with the legendary QE2 in scenes reminiscent of the QE2's role in inducting the RMS Queen Mary 2 into the transatlantic service (2004) and World Cruises (2007). Both ships sailed to New York in what was the historic first ever westbound tandem transatlantic crossing to New York

On the 13 January all three Cunard Queens were in New York together – this was the first time three Cunard Queens had been in New York. From here the Queen Victoria and the QE2 sailed in tandem to Fort Lauderdale where they arrived on the 15 January before setting off on their simultaneous World Cruises. Meanwhile the Queen Mary 2 departed on a cruise to the Caribbean.

On the 24 February the Queen Victoria and QE2 meet again in Sydney while both on their simultaneous World Cruises in a spectacular “Meeting of the Queens” reminiscent of the Royal Rendezvous of the RMS Queen Mary 2 and the QE2 in 2007.

On the 18th April the QE2 returned to Southampton after her tandem World Cruise with the new Queen VictoriaSadly with the retirement of the QE2 in November 2008, this was her 26th and final World Cruise. The QE2 then embarked on a season of Farewell Cruises prior to her retirement in November 2008.

On the 30th September 2008 the QE2 sailed from Southampton on a "Farewell to the British Isles" voyage. The 10-night voyage included maiden calls to Dublin and Belfast and a call to the Clyde (Greenock) where she was built, as well as calls at Cobh, Liverpool (Cunard's ancestral home), Edinburgh (South Queensferry) and Newcastle. This historic voyage enabled the QE2 to say farewell to the UK and her home country.

On the 10th October 2008 the QE2 sailed from Southampton in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2 on a final tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to New York, USA. This voyage is the "Final New York Arrival Crossing". The 6-night crossing ended in New York on the 16th October 2008. This voyage went down in history as only the second ever tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to be undertaken. The first, of course, was the tandem crossing from Southampton to New York undertaken by the QE2 and Queen Victoria earlier in 2008 while on the first leg of their tandem World Cruises. This enabled the QE2 to say farewell to New York, her North American homeport for many years.

On the 16th October 2008
the QE2 departed New York, again in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2, bound for Southampton on her emotional "Farewell to America Crossing". Thus she departed from New York and America for the final time, never to return. This was the QE2's 806th and final transatlantic crossing and both ships arrived in Southampton on the 22nd October.

Sadly the QE2 then sailed that evening on the 11th November 2008 on her final voyage "QE2 Final Voyage" bound for Dubai and thus leaves the shores of the UK forever. It was the end of an era as she sailed gracefully from Southampton for the final time bound for Dubai calling at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Civitavecchia, Naples, Malta, Alexandria before transiting the Suez Canal before arrival in Dubai on the 27th November 2008 and the end of her seagoing career. Many waved a fond farewell to her as she departed Britain's shores forever bound for her new home in the Emirate of Dubai.

Thus the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed into honoured retirement in Dubai at The Palm Jumeirah and will be remembered as one of the most illustrious ships ever built. The QE2 as she is affectionately known is truly a maritime icon and national treasure. She certainly is worthy of the title “The Most Famous Ocean Liner in the World”. She is unique and very special. There will never be another ship with the long career and illustrious history and passenger list as the QE2.


In 2009 both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria undertook their second World Cruise. Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria circumnavigated the globe during voyages of 84 and 107 days, meeting in Ft. Lauderdale for a spectacular Royal Rendezvous on the 13th January 2009. Queen Victoria circumnavigated the globe in a westbound direction departing from Southampton on the 2nd January 2009, transiting the Panama Canal and Suez Canal with calls in some of the world’s most interesting ports, including Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Shanghai, Chica; Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands and Rabual, Papua New Guinea, as well as an overnight call in Sydney Australia. Queen Victoria also called on the port city of Mormugao in Goa, on the west coast of India, which is known for its pristine beaches and Portuguese architecture; and the charming port city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia’s second oldest city. She made numerous maiden calls during her epic second World Cruise. Her journey ended in Southampton on 20th April 2009. The Queen Mary 2 departed on her second World Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, simultaneously with her sister ship Queen Victoria, on the 13th January 2009. She then set sail on a 84-day Epic Expedition to 24 ports on five continents. Included was a port call to Alexandria (for Cairo/Giza) affording visits to the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. The ship journeyed in a westward direction, sailing around South America to Los Angeles, across the Pacific to Honolulu, Hawaii. From there, stops included Pago Pago, American Samoa; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Her journey ended in Southampton on the 8th April 2009.

On the 4th September 2009 the Queen Mary 2 delivered a historic item upon her arrival in New York from Southampton. This unique item was Wedgwood's "Gift Between Nations". The unique, large scale model of the world famous Washington Monument was created by the iconic British pottery company in commemoration of their 250th Anniversary, and celebrates the long and illustrious links between the two great nations of Britain and the USA.

Following a formal presentation to Queen Mary 2's Commodore Bernard Warner in Southampton on the 29th August 2009, the masterpiece was transported on board the ship for her six day transatlantic voyage to New York. Lord Piers Wedgwood arrived with the Gift on the 29th September 2009 and will be prominently displayed in the famous Macy's Herald Square store in New York CIty later in September before its onward journey to Washington DC. It will then be the focal point of a much anticipated anniversary exhibition hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution in their magnificent building situated between the White House and the Washington Monument, and will ultimately be presented to and reside in the White House.

This special event also helped to illustrate the longstanding relationship between Cunard and Wedgwood, with an unmatched lineage of trade and commerce for the two companies across the Atlantic.

Related Websites:

Carnival Corporation & PLC

Carnival UK

Carnival Australia

The World's Leading Cruise Lines

Cunard Line (UK website)

Cunard Line (USA website)

Cunard Line (Australia website)


Veuve Cliquot Champagne

Canyon Ranch SpaClub

Todd English celebrity chef

Ocean Books

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London

Royal Astronomical Society, London

American Museum of Natural History "Hayden Planetarium"

Oxford University

Oxford University Press (OUP)


H. Stern



Waterford Crystal


Marine Art Posters

Maritime Replicas

Open: The Book

Conde Nast Traveller magazine

The New Yorker magazine

Gourmet magazine

Architectural Digest magazine

Departures magazine

Variety magazine

Royal Mail Group Ltd

Other Websites:

The Cunard Steamship Society


QE2 website



Queen Mary 2 website



Chris’ Cunard Page



The Cunard Queens


The Cunard Building, Pier Head, Liverpool

The QE2 Story discussion forum

QE2 Palm Jumeirah discussion forum

Richard Coltman's QE2 website

Richard Coltman's Queen Mary website

Richard Coltman's Elettra website

Luxury Liner Row maritime memorabilia sales

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