Cruising wasn’t always about midnight buffets, on-board amusement park rides, and ships the size of cities. There was a time when many cruise ships served a purely functional purpose: carrying mail or ferrying immigrants to new lives in the United States. Cruising eventually evolved into a playground for the super wealthy before becoming the mass market vacation venue (22 million global passengers last year) we know and love today.
Cunard Cruise Line has been there through it all. 175 years ago this year, Cunard’s first cruise ship, the Britannia, crossed the Atlantic, beginning a cruising tradition that continues today (with some changes; Cunard’s ships are far larger and more luxurious than the old Britannia).
“Cunard changed the face of ocean travel,” Cunard historian
Michael Gallagher tells Yahoo Travel from London. He says with that first cruise in 1840, Cunard ships became the first to establish a regular timetable for crossing the Atlantic from England to the United States. Says Gallagher: “Every one of the 175 years since then, Cunard ships have crossed the Atlantic in peace and war without fail.”
In honor of its 175th anniversary, Cunard is sharing with Yahoo Travel its amazing photo archives. These amazing photos may make you long for cruising’s glamorous heyday. Or they may give you a special appreciation for the cruising amenities we enjoy today, which are a far cry from the spartan nature of early cruise ships (why, for instance, did the first ships have cows on board)?
Either way, it’s an amazing look at cruising in all its old-school glory.