Cunard, the British cruise line, made its inaugural trans-Atlantic voyage in the summer of 1840, ferrying passengers from Liverpool, England, to Boston aboard the Britannia, the first ship the company built for its first fleet, all paddleboat steamers. This summer, in honor of its 175th anniversary, Cunard plans to recreate that original voyage, but this time on the Queen Mary 2, one of its modern ocean liners.
The ship will be filled with historians and entertainers to help transport passengers back in time. Parties, dinners, performances and lectures are to take place throughout the voyage and at port in Liverpool; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Boston, including a historical tribute presented by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; a Red, Black and Gold Ball; and guest speakers like Bill Miller, a maritime historian, Chris Crowe of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Stephen Payne, a designer of the Queen Mary 2.
The trip, which begins July 4, wraps up in New York, a bonus leg not included in the original voyage, with even more celebrating. But festivities officially begin May 25, when all three of Cunard’s queens — the Mary 2, the Victoria and the Elizabeth — meet in Liverpool on the Mersey River for a “Royal Rendezvous,” followed by celebratory concerts at the city’s Anglican Cathedral and other events.
And on May 7, Cunard will observe a more somber anniversary, that of the sinking of its passenger ship the Lusitania, during World War I. Passengers aboard the seven-night cruise that begins May 3 in Southampton will be able to stop in Cobh, a small town on the south coast of Ireland, close to where the ship was attacked by a German U-boat 100 years ago to the day. They will also be able to attend a ceremony in the city honoring the Lusitania’s crew and passengers and visit the Cobh Heritage Center’s exhibition about the ship’s tragic end.