Cunard, the heritage British cruise line, has been celebrating a major milestone: 175 years of sailing across the Atlantic—all in the height of style and sophistication. In the 19th century, the company, which was founded by Sir Samuel Cunard, began by ferrying passengers and cargo between the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, Cunard, which is owned by Carnival Corporation, has three beautiful ships— Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria—and calls on ports across the globe.
Some fun stats for history junkies: On February 5, 1840, Cunard’s first ship, Britannia, set sail on a transatlantic voyage from Southampton, England, carrying 115 first-class passengers, 86 crew, 600 tons of coal, chickens, and loads of mail. Just two years later, they were carrying famous folks like Charles Dickens, who sailed with his wife to America. On March 3, 1870, the Abyssinia was launched—and this was the first Cunard ship to be outfitted with bathrooms. In 1874, there were some other major firsts at sea: the first library, the first smoking room, and the first lounge for women, all introduced on Bothnia. During World War II, the Queen Mary actually served as a troop ship.
Over the decades, the line has drawn stars and royalty to its decks. Here, dug up from the Cunard archives, are vintage shots of passengers on various ships.
Hey, it’s always a treat to sail first class. Here, diners mingle in their formal wear on the Queen Elizabeth, which sailed from 1938-1968. Today, travelers can still bring their tuxes and formal dresses, should they wish.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis never sailed on the Queen Mary but she visited the ship with Robert Kennedy on March 17, 1965 to wish bon voyage to former British Ambassador Lord Harlech, who was close friends with President Kennedy.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor and The Duchess of Windsor sailed several times on Queen Elizabeth from 1946 to 1953. They would bring up to 150 monogrammed Louis Vuitton pieces of luggage on board.