History of Carnival Corp’s CUNARD LINE… when “Getting There WAS Half The Fun”!

Cruise and Liner History – History of The Cunard Line…

The great Cunard Liner – the RMS Queen Mary – the most famous of them all!

“Getting there USE to be half the fun” – Cunard Line is another Carnival Corp (Micky Arinson brand).  There is hardly anything English about it.  I sailed last year in Grill Class aboard the Queen Victoria from Southampton to New York.  It was a third rate experience and proved that Cunard Line is nothing but a memory!

Today’s (Carnival Corp) Cunard Line service – from a review on Cruise Critic – click to enlarge…


Cunard Line was the gold standard for transatlantic ocean liner cruising.  Cunard is now owned by Carnival Corp and run out of a suburb in Los Angeles.  The ships no longer fly the British flag and the crew is multi-national. The Cunard name has been synonymous with leadership in ocean liners and transatlantic travel, a tradition that now is sadly history.


As its current company tag-line conveys, throughout history, Cunard has operated “The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World™.” The first company to take passengers on regularly scheduled transatlantic departures, Cunard has built and continuously reinforced a reputation as an ocean liner pioneer. Today, it remains a transatlantic cruise leader, operating the world-famous Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 vessels.

Founder: Sir Samuel Cunard

Canadian entrepreneur Sir Samuel Cunard (1787-1865) founded the British and North American Steam Packet Company (later named Cunard Line) in 1839, when he and several colleagues won a bid to carry the British Royal Mail to the U.S. and Canada. Cunard, who had a reputation for being a savvy and diplomatic businessman, was inducted into the American Society of Travel Agents Travel Hall of Fame for his role in helping to develop transatlantic travel.

The Evolution of Cruising

In 1840, Cunard Line introduced four steamships making weekly transatlantic voyages with passengers and cargo. By 1881, the company introduced its first ocean liner intended solely for passenger travel. In the late 1940s, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth began transatlantic voyages and in 1949, Cunard introduced the first vessel akin to modern cruise ships. By the 1950s, Cunard had 12 ocean liners in service. In the following decades, Cunard continued to add features and enhance the luxury of its liners, leading to today’s top-of-the-line cruising experience.

Cunard Firsts

Cunard built its legacy in part through many famous firsts. For example, in 1881, Cunard introduced the first ship to be lighted by electricity. Cunard’s Mauretania, in 1907, was the first ship to offer multiroom suites. In 1934, the Queen Mary became the first merchant ship to be launched by a member of the Royal family. And the Queen Elizabeth 2 was the first (and still is the only) ship to sail 5 million nautical miles.

Highlights of a few great Cunard fleet of Ocean Liners from the past:


Debuting in 1948, the Caronia was one of the first Cunarders to be built with cruising in mind from the start. From the start, she was very popular and profitable for most of her eighteen years. She was popularly known as the “Green Goddess” because, for a time, she was painted four different pale shades of this colour, which did not include her traditional red-and-black funnel (incidentally, the Carmania also wore this colour scheme for a time).

Becoming too expensive to operate, she ended Cunard service in 1967. After a series of ill-fated operators and name changes, she was on her way to the breakers in Taiwan when she ran aground and broke up at Guam in the summer of 1974.


These four ships were built in the 50’s for the Cunard Canadian service. Each was 608 feet long and drew 21,947 GRT when built. By 1962, the Carinthia was the only one of the four remaining on the route. In 1968, both the Carinthia and the Sylvania were sold to the Italian line SITMAR and renamed first Fairland then Fairsea (Carinthia) and Fairwind (Sylvania). Both were extensively modernised. The Fairsea had another major refit in 1984, including the replacement of the public rooms on the boat deck. When SITMAR was bought by P&O in 1988, the ships returned to British hands. The Carinthia/Fairsea became known as the the Fair Princess and the Sylvania was renamed Dawn Princess.

The Dawn Princess was later sold to went to a German company and is now the Albatros, while the Fair Princess replaced the Fairstar in year-round budget cruises for the Australian market. She was sold again, this time to Asian interests, and is now known as the China Sea Discoverer.

The other two ships, the Ivernia and Saxonia were renamed in the ‘sixties, the Ivernia became the Franconia, and the Saxonia became the Carmania. Both were painted in Caronia green. They continued to cruise with Cunard until 1972, when they were both sold to Russian interests. The Franconia was renamed Fedor Shalyapin and the the Carmania became the Leonid Sobinov. After some years of cruising to Australia, both were laid up. The Leonid Sobinov was broken up in India in 1999.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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