Whilst the future of the cruise industry is wildly exciting with megaships launching at an incredible rate and cutting-edge technologies making cruising more comfortable and enjoyable than ever before, we also like to celebrate the industry’s past. With this in mind, we are kicking off our Cruise Industry Heroes series, celebrating the most important figures in the history of the industry.
The first instalment of the series explores the life and achievements of Sir Samuel Cunard.
You may not be surprised to learn that Sir Sam was the man who founded Cunard Line. The line can trace its history back to Cunard venturing to the UK in 1837 to seek investors for a transatlantic steam ship mail service. After successfully attracting investment from the UK, he set up Cunard Steamships LTD.
It was another three years until the company’s first vessel, Britannia, completed a sailing from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia and on to Boston, Massachusetts. Cunard was amongst the 64 passengers aboard the maiden voyage, which was the first of many passenger and cargo services which became noted for their speed and safety.
Whilst many competitors struggled to offer a safe and profitable service, Cunard was prospering by 1843. Cunard then went on to dominate the Atlantic passenger trade, absorbing a number of competitors.
Born in 1787 in Nova Scotia, Canada to master carpenter and timber merchant, Abraham Cunard, and Margaret Murphy; Sam exhibited business skills from an early age. The prodigious Cunard was managing a general store by the age of 17 and then moved into his father’s timber store.
Succeeding in almost all of his ventures, Cunard rose to the rank of captain in the 2nd Battalion of the Halifax Regiment militia during the War of 1812. Ever the shrewd businessman, Cunard became one of the 12 businessmen who controlled the affairs of Nova Scotia. As well as diversifying his father’s business, Cunard invested heavily in land as well as conducting business in the whaling, tea importing and coal mining industries.
Before creating the Cunard Steamships LTD company, Cunard became the founding director of the Halifax Steamboat Company – building Nova Scotia’s first ever steamship, the SS Sir Charles Ogle in 1830.
In 1859, Cunard was made a baronet by Queen Victoria which he passed onto his son Sir Edward Cunard. He married Susan in 1815 (until her death in 1828) and they had nine children together. Records demonstrate he was an early pioneer of racial equality, banning any kind of racial segregation on ships connected to his name.
The Cunard Line remains one of the world’s most popular cruise lines — combining unique itineraries, modern technologies and time-tested elegance. The three current ships of the Cunard Line, Queens Mary 2, Victoria and Elizabeth, continue to provide safe and entertaining passages for hundreds of thousands of guests every year.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Ed Kohler, George Thomas, Edward Weston