The Golden Age Of Cruise: What Did Cruising Look Like 175 Years Ago?

March 27, 2015

You may or may not have heard that Cunard Cruise Line are celebrating their 175th Anniversary this year (have you sent them a card yet?)

175 years since Sir Samuel Cunard  first sailed to America in the first  Britannia.

175 years since the face of cruising was changed forever.

175 years since the foundations were laid for one of the most enduring of  cruising legacies.

In honour of the occasion the team reached out to Cunard and asked them to open their archives so we could take you on a journey through the years…

Old Cunard Ship

Perhaps the biggest change in cruising has been with the ships themselves. What do you think cruisers back then would say if they saw some of today’s mega ships?

Also, as a side note, how amazing would it be to turn up for your cruise in horse drawn carriage?

Cunard lounge

Everyone knows that modern cruise ships are luxurious but wow! If you didn’t know better you wouldn’t even know you’re on a ship here would you?

Third class cruising

Thankfully today cruising is an a affordable holiday and anyone boarding can look forward to first class luxury but it’s still interesting to see how some people cruised ‘back in the day’.

Lounge on lusitania

Perhaps what’s most interesting about these images is that whilst so much about cruising has changed, how much of it still remains the same.  If we added some colour to this picture of a lounge on the Lusitania it wouldn’t look out of place on any one of Cunard’s current fleet!

Formal Dining On Cunard

Dinner with Cunard

Cunard have always been famous for their dress codes

Dress codes may have changed (or declined according to some) but we don’t think any of the people pictured here would look out of place on any one of Cunards current ships.


Cunard shuffleboard

Woman playing tennis on a cruise ship

Do you think deck games fallen out of favour in recent years? Most cruise ships (or at least the ones with real wooden decks) will still have shuffleboard and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth also offers croquet, lawn tennis and bowls but do people ever play? Is the only difference between the people in these pictures and yourself the fashions or have deck games gone the way of the dodo?

Did You Know? QM2 Fun Facts…

  • The Queen Mary 2 (at 1130 feet) is five times longer than Cunard’s first ship the Britannia (230 feet)
  • She’s twice as long as the Washington monument is tall; 147 feet longer than the Eiffel Tower; more than 3 1/2 times bigger than Big Ben; as long as 36 London double decker buses and only 117 feet shorter than the Empire State Building!
  • Over 300,000 peices of steel were cut and welded into blocks for use during her construction
  • Her hull alone weighs 50,000 tonnes – The same as 330 blue whales!
  • 7,000 boxes of strawberries are used each and every year on-board
  • All of the on-board baking uses up 8,000 industrial size flour bags every year
  • 90 tonnes of pineapples are used each year

breakfast in bed on a cruise

Breakfast in bed anyone? Room service is one thing but someone serving it to us in bed?

Yes please!

Cunard kids club

Moving forward in time slightly you can see cruising with kids hasn’t changed much. It’s true that the more modern cruise ships might have computers and what not for teenagers but a kids birthday party will always be a kids birthday party!


It looks like it doesn’t matter what generation of cruising we look at; shuffleboard remains a firm favourite on sea days. Are modern ships missing out by not including it?

Cunard balloon party

Did You Know: From the 1920’s to the 1960’s Cunard hosted a popular balloon dance on every voyage! Waltzing through balloons – Did you ever attend one of these parties? Should they bring them back?

Cunard buffet

The golden age of cruising

So how does cruising in a bygone area strike you? Are you feeling nostalgic? Well the good news is you don’t need to be!

Having 175 years of tradition behind them means Cunard have been able to perfect everything that has always made a cruise such a special occasion.

If you want to learn more about Cunard you can see more here

Have we made you feel nostalgic? Do today’s mega ships have some lessons to learn from the past?

Let us know in the comments below…