175 Anniversary Crossing

Historical occasions in Halifax, Boston and New York.

Queen Mary 2 left Liverpool on the same date as our first ship, Britannia - 4 July, crossed to Halifax, Sir Samuel’s home town, and headed south to Boston before New York greeted our flagship as only New York can. Each port included many celebrations to mark the 175th Anniversary of Cunard. 

Friday 10 July, Halifax

We marked this milestone occasion in a special outdoor ceremony, which included local dignitaries, port officials and key members of the Halifax community. As a key component of the anniversary celebration ceremony, a public area of the future waterfront development was named for Cunard. Rhapsody Quintet, who are also members of Symphony Nova Scotia performed during the event.

Cunard joined together with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to create the first annual “Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity,” which was awarded to James D. Irving, Canadian industrialist. This prize event will take place every year aboard Queen Mary 2 and recognise a different recipient who exemplifies the world-changing vision, courage and creativity shown by Samuel Cunard throughout his life.

We celebrated the re-opening of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’s Cunard exhibition, as well as the launch of a new Samuel Cunard retrospective exhibit, showcasing the company founder’s impact on global business, transportation and world events.

Upon departure, the Royal Canadian Navy signalled farewell to Queen Mary 2 from the Frigate HMCS Montreal as Royal Canadian Sea Cadets fired salute from the shore. The cadets, ages 12-18, are part of a youth organisation cosponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces and the civilian Navy League of Canada.

Sunday 12 July, Boston

Early morning on 12 July, Queen Mary 2 sailed into Boston,Massachusetts, the company’s first port of call in the U.S. and the home of its first North American headquarters. 

Here we conducted a special dedication ceremony to launch thenewly renovated Cunard Building with the presentation of the Servia ship model by Cunard. The model, built in 1881, was brought over on Queen Mary 2 from the Science Museum in England and placed in the front entrance of the former NorthAmerican Cunard headquarters at 120 State Street.

Additional festivities in Boston included, Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game at Fenway Park — and fireworks marked Queen Mary2’s evening departure as she set off towards New York City for the final leg of her 175th Anniversary tour.

Tuesday 14 July, New York

Although not a port of call in the original Crossing made by Britannia, New York has been Cunard’s North American home port for over a century. The arrival of the great Cunard ocean liner was marked by a flotilla of historic ships and Coastguard vessels, including the Mary A Whalen, an oil tanker; the Eric R Thornton, tug boat; John J Harvey Fireboat; Nantucket Lightship, and the Pegasus Tug after she passed under the Verrazano Bridge and berthed alongside the Red Hook Terminal.

Captain Kevin Oprey again joined in the celebration to ring the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Viewing from Battery Park, the public was treated to a theatrical light and music show on Queen Mary 2 while the ship paused in lower Manhattan harbour in front of the Statue of Liberty.

175 Anniversary Celebrations Highlights


The history

When the Britannia swung out of Coburg dock in Liverpool on 4th July 1840, one of the world’s greatest fleets was born. Her crossing of the Atlantic in a fortnight marked a revolution in communication in an era when mail and newspaper could take six weeks to reach their destination. Samuel Cunard himself was on board with his daughter as Britannia set sail across the Atlantic towards Canada and the US.

One passenger summed up her maiden crossing: ‘Despite the spartan aspect of the voyage, the saving of time and the reliability of arrival augurs well for steamed-propelled trans-Atlantic vessels.

The little wooden paddle steamer, capable of speeding at nine knots was soon joined by her sister ships Acadia, Caledonia and Columbia on the Atlantic run.

Did you know

The Britannia carried 115 first class passengers, 89 crew, 600 tons of coal, the Atlantic mail, chickens, a cow to provide fresh milk and three cats to keep down rats.

The Boston Cup was presented by the city to first welcome Britannia. Now it is always carried by our current flagship.


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