Great Cunard Ocean Liners

MatthewA By MatthewA, 14th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Boats, Ships & Ferries

Cunard are one of the most famous ship building companies. Alongside White Star it was one of the foremost UK shipping companies before they merged. Whilst the White Star ships usually eclipsed the scale of Cunard's alternatives, its own were renowned for speed that often eclipsed other transatlantic liners. These were a few of their more famous ships.


The Lucania was one of Cunard's 19th century ocean liners that first sailed in 1893. Alongside its sister ship it was the largest and fastest liner afloat when it made its maiden voyage. When it sailed, it set Blue Riband records for transatlantic voyages until the new breed of German super liners, such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse, eclipsed it.


The rise of German ocean liners, such as the Kaiser-class ships, left the British liners playing catch-up. The Germans had a number of ships that set Blue Riband records, so to win back this record Cunard designed the Lusitania. To ensure the Blue Riband returned to Cunard, the company turned to Mr Parson, who had developed revolutionary turbine engines. The Parson steam turbines were fitted to the Lusitania, which ensured it could reach 25 knots. Soon after its maiden voyage the Lusitania set a record for eastbound crossings.

The ship sailed up until 1915. Then it became a target for German U-boats when it sailed to Great Britain. In that year a the liner and fired a torpedo. The impact of the torpedo ensured the flooding of the liner's hull, which went down within less than an hour. There was little time to effectively abandon the ship, so most of the passengers were lost at sea.


The Mauretania was another of the new breed of Cunard liners that sailed in 1907. It had the same turbines as the Lusitania, and at 31,938 tons was the largest ship constructed when it first sailed. Inside the ship its designers added a lavish Edwardian decor to match the German ocean liners.

Soon after its maiden voyage, the Mauretania was setting Blue Riband records as it crossed the Atlantic. In 1909, it also set a westbound record; so had a marginally greater maximum speed than the Lusitania. As it held the records until the 1920s, Mauretania was a revelation in terms of ship design and architecture. It remained a part of the Cunard fleet until the merger with White Star during the 1930s.

Queen Elizabeth 2nd

Since the merger the QE2 has probably been Cunard's most famous liner. It was constructed during a period when ocean liners were quickly declining, i.e. the 1960s, so its design was a departure from some of Cunard's previous ships. Whilst the Mauretania had four funnels, the QE2 included just the one.

The ship first sailed in 1969. Despite the downward trend in the shipping industry, with many notable ocean liners being scrapped, the QE2 sailed on. During the 1980s Argentine troops invaded the Falkland Islands, sparking the Falklands War. To send its own soldiers to the Falklands, Britain turned to the QE2 to transport thousands to the region.

The ship sailed until recent times. In 2008, Cunard parted with the liner and sold it to Istithmar. As it has not been scrapped, it remains intact today.

Those were a few of the great Cunard ocean liners that sailed. The record-breaking ships set a benchmark for ship design and architecture. They were Cunard's maritime marvels that 'ruled the waves.'


Cunard, Lusitania, Mauretainia, Ocean Liners

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author avatar MatthewA
Matthew is the author of the book Battles of the Pacific War 1941 - 1945. You can find further details at

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