|Posted on Sun 26 Dec 2004 (46929 reads)|
Cunard had its beginnings in 1838 when Canadian shipping magnate Samuel Cunard, along with engineer Robert Napier, and businessmen James Donaldson, George Burns, and David MacIver formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. The company successfully bid on the rights to run a transatlantic shipping company between England and America. Later, it would change its name to Cunard Steamships Limited becoming the greatest name in ocean travel in history.
In 1840 the company's first steamship, the Britannia, sailed from Liverpool to Boston marking the beginning of regular passenger and cargo service. Cunard faced many competitors from Britain, the United States and Germany but survived them all. This was mainly due to a great focus on safety. Cunard ships were usually not the largest or the fastest but they were the most reliable and the safest. The prosperous company eventually absorbed Canadian Northern Steamships Limited as well as Cunard's principal competition, the White Star Line, owners of the ill-fated RMS Titanic.
For more than a century and a half, Cunard dominated the Atlantic passenger trade and was one of the world's most important companies. Its ships played important roles in the development of the world economy, and also participated in all of Britain's major wars from Crimea to the Falklands War (where Cunard's container ship, Atlantic Conveyor was sunk by an Exocet missile).
The line began to decline in the 1950s, however, as speedy air travel began to replace ships as the main transporters of passengers and mail across the Atlantic. For much of the late 20th century, and the first few years of the 21st century, the line's only vessel making transatlantic crossings was the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (also known as the QE2). In 2004 the QE2 was retired from transatlantic service and replaced by the RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2).
In 1998, Cunard became one of a number of lines owned by Carnival Corporation.
The company has operated some of the world's most famous liners including:
RMS Alaunia - launched 9 June 1913, sunk by mine 19 October 1916
RMS Albania - bought by Cunard 1911, sold 1912
RMS Albania - launched 17 April 1920, sold 1930
RMS Antonia - launched 1921, sold to Admiralty 1942
RMS Ascania - bought by Cunard 1911, sunk 1918
RMS Ascania - launched 1923, maiden voyage 1925, sold for scrap 1956
RMS Britannia - first transatlantic passenger service in 1840
RMS Caronia - the "Green Goddess" entered service 1949, sold in 1968
RMS Carpathia - entered service 1903, rescued Titanic survivors in 1912
RMS Laconia - entered service 1912, sunk by U-boat in 1917
RMS Laconia - entered service 1922, sunk by U-boat in 1942
RMS Lancastria - entered service 1922 as the Tyrrhenia, sunk by bombing in 1940
RMS Lusitania - entered service 1906, sunk by U-boat in 1915
RMS Majestic - entered service 1934
RMS Mauretania - entered service 1907
RMS Queen Elizabeth - entered service 1940, retired 1968
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 -- entered service 1969
RMS Queen Mary - entered service 1936, retired 1967
RMS Queen Mary 2 - entered service 2004
RMS Queen Victoria - expected to enter service 2007
Some of the "firsts" accomplished by Cunard include:
First transatlantic passenger service (Britannia, 1840)
First passenger ship to be lit by electricity (Servia, 1881)
First twin-screw ocean liner (Campania, 1893)
First gymnasium and health centre aboard a ship (Franconia, 1911)
Largest passenger ship (until 1996) (Queen Elizabeth, 1940)
Largest passenger ship (Queen Mary 2, 2004)
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