British cruise line Cunard is celebrating a century’s worth of ‘luxury, magic, history and memories’ by launching a new exhibition curated by Paul McCartney’s renowned photographer daughter Mary McCartney.
Billed as a ‘culmination of the century’s rich history’, the digital exhibition blends never-before-seen images from Cunard’s photography archive with photos submitted by past and present guests of its cruise liners.
Highlights include black-and-white images of Hollywood royalty who have cruised with Cunard, including Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby and Rita Hayworth, pictures that showcase the dramatic change in styles across fashion, food and interior design since the 1920s, and eye-opening shots from the Second World War.
Named ‘Sea Views’, the exhibition has been commissioned to celebrate two milestones in the cruise line’s history.
The first is that over 100 years ago, Cunard introduced onboard photography to capture special moments during its voyages. The second is that 2023 is the centenary of the completion of Cunard’s first round-the-world sailing – the liner’s Laconia vessel departed New York on November 21, 1922, on a 130-day voyage and arrived back on March 30, 1923, after calling at 22 ports around the globe.
British cruise line Cunard is celebrating a century’s worth of ‘luxury, magic, history and memories’ by launching an exhibition of archive pictures curated by Paul McCartney’s renowned photographer daughter Mary McCartney. This undated picture shows vehicles on the dock beside Cunard’s Scythia II
Couples dancing and dining in the Verandah Grill on board Cunard’s Queen Mary in the 1950s
This undated archive picture shows Elizabeth Taylor travelling with Cunard. The actress regularly toured with the cruise line along with her late husband
Hundreds of Cunard passengers from all over the world, including America, Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK, submitted over a thousand of their personal snapshots from Cunard’s voyages to appear in the exhibition.
Telling ‘magical stories from the 1920s to present day’, the images depict a series of fascinating moments from families emigrating to new continents to milestone anniversaries and unexpected guest encounters.
Former passenger Barry Robins shared a picture of himself and his sister Lynne Robins aboard the Queen Mary in June of 1964. They were emigrating to the USA along with their mother to be reunited with their father, and had a ‘wonderful time onboard’, Cunard reveals.
Peter Fittock, from Thurso, Scotland, shared a selection of images that had been captured by his grandfather, Jasper Harold Fittock, who was a ‘Pantryman/Steward’ onboard the Aquitania and later the Carmania. The photograph featured in the exhibition shows Western movie star Tom Mix riding his horse Tony down the gangway of a Cunard ship on a trip to England.
This shot, captured circa the 1950s/1960s, shows a couple playing a game on the deck of Cunard’s Mauretania
LEFT: Submitted by a member of the public, this picture shows a passenger strolling through the library on board Queen Mary 2 in 2020. RIGHT: This undated picture shows Harry Lillis Crosby, known to the world as Bing Crosby, on Queen Mary
This intriguing archive picture shows Edna Meech, who was a Senior Telephonist on board Cunard’s Caronia. It was captured in 1950
This colourful shot, which is undated, shows children blowing out the candles at a birthday party on Cunard’s Queen Mary
Shedding more light on the photos of showbusiness stars that feature in the exhibition, Cunard notes that Bing Crosby – whose real name was Harry Lillis Crosby – was a regular on-board the Queen Mary, and was often found in the darkroom on board the ship chatting with photographers.
The luxury cruise line adds that Elizabeth Taylor – pictured in the exhibition cradling a white dog on the deck of a Cunard ship – regularly travelled with Cunard alongside her producer husband, Mike Todd.
Another shot shows actors and married couple Phyllis Calvert and Peter Murray-Hill with their daughter, Auriol, facing press photographers on the Queen Mary’s boat deck.
Other standout pictures selected by filmmaker and photographer Mary to appear in the exhibition include a picture of troops walking on board Cunard’s Queen Mary in Sydney in 1940 – the ship had been deployed during WWII to carry troops to Europe.
A Cunard passenger catches a hoop during a deck game in this undated shot, with the ship’s funnel pictured in the background
This undated picture shows guests lining up to watch a boxing match that was taking place on a Cunard vessel
This shot, which is undated, shows passengers relaxing by the pool on Cunard’s Queen Mary
Pictured is Commodore Sir Ivan Thompson waving from the wing of the bridge of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 1964
A picture of troops walking on board Cunard’s Queen Mary in Sydney in 1940 – the ship had been deployed during WWII to carry troops to Europe
LEFT: This undated picture shows the actress Rita Hayworth on board a Cunard vessel. RIGHT: This picture shows a musician on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 for the first-ever Blue Note Jazz-themed transatlantic cruise in 2015
This shot, captured in 2022, shows a Cunard crew member on the deck of a ship as the sun sets
In a different shot in the exhibition, captured in the 1940s, Sir Winston Churchill can be seen alongside Commodore J.G.P. Bisset operating the controls of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth with a cigar in hand.
Another shows Nelson Mandela sailing on Queen Elizabeth 2’s 1998 passage between the South African cities of Durban and Cape Town. Cunard notes that in the ship’s visitor book, he wrote: ‘Travelling on QE2 was an unforgettable honour and a pleasure.’
Then there’s the picture of the first-ever Blue Note Jazz-themed transatlantic cruise on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which took place in 2015.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel sailing on Queen Elizabeth 2’s 1998 passage between the South African cities of Durban and Cape Town
In this picture, captured in the 1940s, Sir Winston Churchill can be seen alongside Commodore J.G.P. Bisset operating the controls of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth with a cigar in hand
A couple plays a deck game with a Cunard member of staff in this undated archive snapshot
Pictured are a group of European ‘war brides’ and their children travelling from England to the U.S on Cunard’s Queen Mary in 1946, waiting to be reunited with their American husbands. Queen Mary made 13 voyages carrying 20,000 brides who met and married their husbands while they were serving across the Atlantic, with the liner reuniting the couples in America
A couple play a game of chess on Cunard’s Caronia II in this undated archive picture
LEFT: Pictured is Tom Gamble, a classical guitarist who was invited on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 as a guest artist. RIGHT: This picture, dating back to the 1950s, shows a passenger catching a rope hoop on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth
This holiday snapshot shows guests enjoying a 10-day Caribbean cruise in October 1988
Captured in 2008, this picture shows passengers on the final Atlantic crossing of Cunard’s since-retired Queen Elizabeth II
It’s thought that this picture shows the ‘crossing the line’ ceremony – in which a vessel crosses over the equator – on Cunard’s RMS Caronia in 1962
Pictured is Western movie star Tom Mix riding his horse Tony down the gangway of a Cunard ship on a trip to England
Actors Phyllis Calvert and Peter Murray-Hill with their daughter, Auriol, facing press photographers on Queen Mary’s boat deck
Mary McCartney says: ‘Curating the Sea Views Exhibition for Cunard has been a fulfilling project for me as a photographer and filmmaker. It was a joy to dig deep into the archives and discover never-before-seen photographs that capture the essence of Cunard’s signature moments, showcasing the glamour, elegance, and adventures families and friends shared together.
‘It was not just about showcasing the history, but also celebrating the millions of travellers who have embarked on unforgettable voyages across the globe.
‘As I went through the archives and read the stories submitted by passengers from all corners of the world, I was struck by the strong sense of community and connection that Cunard has fostered over the years. It was an honour to bring those stories to life through the exhibition.’
The centennial ‘Sea Views’ digital exhibition is available to view on www.cunard.com/seaviews from March 2.