In 1840, Sir Samuel Cunard founded the trans-Atlantic steamship service by sailing aboard Britannia. This was the start of the legacy of the Cunard Line now hitting its 174 birthday. The Britannia and her sister ships, the Persia and the Andes offered a regular Atlantic steamship service and were the true pioneers of cruising as it is known today.
Since the first scheduled services began running across the Atlantic at a speed of 9 knots, transatlantic crossings have remained an almost exclusive Cunard specialty. Of course, the speed has risen considerably to 30 knots per hour as has the size of the ships.
As a wooden paddle steamer, Britannia’s hull had a length of 207 feet and accommodated 115 passengers. Compared to the Cunard fleet of the 21st century, the entire Britannia could be fit into any of the main restaurants. The Queen Victoria has a passenger capacity of 2,014, the Queen Mary II holds 2620 and the Queen Elizabeth accommodates 2092.
The three Queens are due to make their appearance together for a full blown festivity marking the 175th Anniversary of Cunard’s operation. Cunard has always had a strong and special connection to Liverpool, since the company was based out of this city for 50 years from the years 1917 to 1967. It has always served as a source of pride for the community and the ships will be docked near the Cunard building in Liverpool.
The tentative date for the meet up is on May 24th, 2015, with the first ship to arrive being the Queen Mary II, which is considered to be the flagship of the company. The two sisters, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, will follow the next day and for the first time ever; the three will be together in Liverpool on the Mersey.
Only two other times have the three ladies have previously been seen together. They met in the New York Harbour in January 2011 and again in Southampton in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.
The Queen Mary II plans on recreating the legacy behind this classic voyage on the 15th of July from Liverpool to New York City with stopovers in areas such as Boston and Halifax. This is exactly 175 years to the day that Samuel Cunard launched his famous shipping line with Cunard’s first trans-Atlantic crossing.
Excitement has been filled through the city ever since the event has been announced, with the mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson claiming that “To have the three Cunard Queens back in their spiritual home on our beautiful waterfront will be nothing short of majestic. It is particularly fitting given our plans to bring the Cunard Building back into use as a Cruise Liner Terminal, so I am absolutely delighted by this news. Liverpool is once again making its mark as a great maritime destination”.
Although this is a brilliant event, this isn’t the first time that a Cunard ship has returned to the roost of their original home port. The Queen Elizabeth II made her first visit in 1990 and attracted an enormous crowd and fanfare. The Cunard Queens have made 15 visits to Liverpool and always with an affectionate and wholehearted welcome by the locals.
However, this event in Liverpool is one to mark on your calenders. The celebration is bound to live long in the memories of all who witness it.
More details on this are expected to be released in the upcoming months, and this is something that every cruise fan and history buff should begin planning real soon.
Written by Veronica Shine