February 17, 2015
This year we are celebrating our 175th Anniversary. Over the coming weeks, we will share our history with you in a series of blog posts. Our first post is Commodore Rynd on 175 years…
Being a Cunard Captain is something very special and being a Cunard Commodore is indeed a privilege.
Cunard ships have crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic every year, in peace and war, since 1840 without fail. That is reason enough to celebrate 175 years of service. But Cunard is about so much more when you consider such important historical achievements such as its involvement in emigration, how its very existence helped Liverpool and indeed the United States prosper and the times it has answered the call of Great Britain in war.
Celebrating its achievements at significant anniversaries has not been easy for Cunard and it was only really able to bask in deserved glory during its 150th anniversary in 1990.
It’s true a dinner was held on board Etruria in Liverpool in 1890 to mark the first 50 years. But in 1915 with war raging and Lusitania having been sunk in May there was no interest to mark 75 years. In 1940, when Queen Elizabeth – the biggest liner ever built should have entered service – war again meant the centenary came and went. And in 1965 Cunard was fighting for survival and had just started to build a ship (QE2) everyone outside the company said would be a “disaster” so limited enthusiasm for the company’s 125th anniversary!
It is perhaps important to point out that Cunard has never formally celebrated anniversaries of its founding in May 1839 choosing instead to mark the 4 July departure of Britannia. Not only did that ship inaugurate the first scheduled service across the Atlantic she changed the face of ocean travel forever and firmly connected the Old World with the New.
And that’s why 4 July is as important to Cunard as Independence Day is as important to our American friends.
In 1990 just one Cunard Queen, QE2, performed the official duties on behalf of the company. In 2015 all three Cunard Queens will represent Cunard and its triumph of a great tradition!
I and my fellow Captains are looking forward to next year’s celebrations but before they get underway I invite you to enjoy this tribute to Cunard in this series of blog posts.
Commodore Christopher Rynd