Cunard has played host to hundreds of thousands of guests during its 180 year history, and not all of them were the two-legged kind.


Cunard ships have always carried animals on board. Some worked for their passage, such as Britannia’s three cats finding the ship’s vermin most delightful. More exotic travellers have included an elephant, a raccoon and a monkey. Some have even hitched a lift across the Atlantic, including one sparrow who forgot to disembark at Southampton and landed in New York.


The most pampered passengers of all were the pet dogs of the rich and famous. It is stated that pedigree Chow Choonam Brilliantine used to enjoy a lunch of raw eggs while sailing on the Aquitania in 1925, after being bought by Mrs Earl Hoover of Chicago for a sum that apparently broke all canine records.

The photograph below from the archives shows three aristocrat champion Afghan hounds owned by Dr Byson M. Unkary, a Canadian surgeon. They were previous cargo when they sailed for New York aboard Queen Elizabeth. Valued at £2,500, they were the winners of many awards but thankfully were unperturbed when the Pekingese decided to pose with them.

This photograph below was found from an old Cunard staff magazine, and was taken during a Mauretania voyage in 1917. It shows Captain Rostron’s cat and her kittens, who got a lot of attention on board from staff and guests alike.


Dogs and cats you may well expect, but in 1963 on board Pavia, there was a very special guest that required a cold shower every hour during the day. Three-year-old Jimmy was a hippopotamus making his way from Naples to Chester Zoo: he travelled on deck with an awning over his cage to protect him from the sun.

Cunard has safely transported many famous faces over the decades. Even Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog have been known to sail across the Atlantic over recent decades, as has Pudsey, former winner of Britain’s Got Talent, who happily performed for guests on Queen Mary 2.


Transatlantic travellers


Dogs and cats continue to travel in style across the Atlantic on board Queen Mary 2. There are 24 kennels, lots of space to play and a dedicated owner’s lounge.


So as not to cause any homesickness, British dogs find familiarity with a lamppost taken from the Cunard building in Liverpool and dogs from the USA naturally enjoy a New York City fire hydrant! 

On board with Cunard