The Cunard of today is not the Cunard of yesterday, but then again, it is. Formed in 1840 by Sir Samuel Cunard, the line provided the first regular steamship service between Europe and North America, and was one of the dominant players during the great years of steamship travel, which lasted roughly from 1905 to the mid-1960s. In 1969, long after it was clear that jet travel had replaced the liners, the company made what some considered a foolhardy move, launching Queen Elizabeth 2 and setting her on a mixed schedule, half-crossing, half-cruising. Through sheer persistence, the ship proved the critics wrong, and thrived throughout 40 years of Cunard service, even if the company endured some rough times.
Today QE2 has been retired from the Cunard fleet, departing in late 2008. Her replacement, the 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2 (QM2), is as modern as ships get, and was bigger than all the others until Royal Caribbean's giant ships came along. QM2 also pays homage to all that went before, designed with oversize grandeur and old-world formality in mind, and even a dose of blatant class structure: Some restaurants and outdoor decks are set aside specifically for suite guests only, if you please. Same story for the Queen Victoria, which is essentially a sister ship to the new Queen Elizabeth -- both are in the 90,000-ton-plus category, carrying just over 2,000 passengers. And, unlike QM2, they can transit the Panama Canal.
Note: QE was still being built at the time of this writing.
The most venerable line in the cruise industry, Cunard is a classic, providing a link to the golden age of passenger ships.
Sails to: Caribbean, New England/Canada, transatlantic (plus Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, world cruise).
Address: 24303 Town Center Dr., Suite 200, Valencia, CA 91355-0908
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