My favourite would have to be that of my Great Grandfather, the greyhound Lusitania. Some of the photos he took of her are amazing, but for family and privacy reasons, im sorry I can't post them. I will however me happy to describe them
Second favourite would be a toss up between Berengaria and Aquitania, as he described the wonders of them in some of the greatest detail.
I think mine is Aquitania. Maybe due to the fact she had such a long and venerable career and developed such a personality as she was designed in the Edwrdian era, making it into 1950.
As for ugly - I think thats a bit unfair. She wasnt called ''The Ship Beautiful'' for nothing. (Although she did look her best in that very first year of her life with original bridge and wheelhouse windows).
I think the QE2 (in 1969) was a design ahead of her time.
I don't deny that Aquitania was a great ship in many ways, not only her exceptional career. It's just that I've never understood "The Ship Beautiful" monicker. I half wonder if Cunard made it up ;-). To my eye, she compares extremely unfavourably to the Olympic class. I think part of it is not having the raised forepeak in front of the welldeck on Olympic. This makes her superstructure look top heavy from the front. And I think the deckhouses on the stern ruin the rear view too (I'll admit that Britannic also had this - but then she had bigger aesthetic issues with the gantry davits!).
Hey, it's all subjective anyway isn't it? I saw the QE2 at Southampton a few weeks ago, and I was extremely impressed - especially comparing her with the floating apartment block called Aurora!
I am really surprised the number of books that never allude to the "fact" that Aquitania was basically a copy of Olympic. Although she was an enlarged version of the Lusitania in some ways, her design was obviously heavily influenced by Olympic. A simple look at her specifications and interior features will attest to that.
I think the "Ship Beautiful" title comes more from her interior than the outside. Although she was a decent looking ship, she had a boxy, cluttered appearance that pales when compared to Olympic. (Many ship authors ignore Olympic and talk about Aquitania)
Aquitania's passenger accommodations endeared her to a generation of travelers. She regularly beat Olympic and other large ships in passenger carryings, so there must have been something there. (I will admit this even though Olympic is my favorite ship)
Queen Mary, I think... She just completely revolutionized liners; her and the Normandie were both way ahead of their times. Ever since I saw the QM in Long Beach, she has been one of my favorites. She's just so massive, and so regal looking (especially when you see her orange funnels from the freeway)... She's also, in my opinion, proportioned perfectly (except for her stern, which looks much too small and smashed for such a big ship...)
My second favorite liner would be the Lusitania... She had a great interior (much better than Mauretania's), and a great life (until she was torpedoed, of course)... However, I dislike her exterior; how her four funnels were pushed up forward, leaving the back part empty... And I'm with Greg; the Lusitania and Mauretania's sterns were very awkward-looking.
I am not sure the QM revolutionized liner design. She was very much a transitional ship, a compromise between the new era of art deco and old style traditionalism. This applied to both the interior and outside of the ship. She was criticized as being simply an overgrown Aquitania. (Not that any of this detracts from the QM as one of the great ships of all time)
The powerplant in the QM was also not very innovative for the time, certainly not like in the case of the Lusitania and Mauretania 30 years earlier.
The Normandie could probably be called a revolutionary liner. Changes were made to the QE's design in response to the Normandie.
Her record speaks for itself, her fame ultimate. And, however she took a licking (spare anchor dislodged, promenade windows shattered, and the teak rails of her monkey island meant disarry) on her *November* Maiden Voyage...she would prove her worthiness
near maiden journeys end. Her last full day at sea, MAURETANIA 1 made a record run...six hundred twenty-four miles.
Not to mention MAURETANIA 1 held the Blue Ribband for twenty-two of her twenty-eight years' service.
BTW, Robert as for her outward appearances...refer to the classic photograph
courtesy of the Science Musem, South Kensington, London. TURBINA rests along MAURETANIA 1's starboard broadside. Personaly, the photograph conveys a well-proportioned design... eager to embattle the mighty North Atlantic.
Then again you must consider the government subsidy which predicated an *adequate* economy. If her comforts fell short of the competitors...her speed compensated far and above the others.
I only wish it were CUNARD'S fabled predessor, moored permanently. . . Long Beach, CA. USA.
Mauretania is my #1 too Michael- and it has been hard to defend that choice over the years to my Titanic-loving pals. Her record is amazing and matchless, her interior woodwork superb, and if ever a ship could be said to have a personality, anybody who ever served aboard her, or travelled on her seemed to agree she had a lucky, noble, well-loved, and positive "feel" about her. Reading about the day she went to the breakers- it seemed all of England mourned. She should have been saved somehow. I wonder if any bits of her exist. Once I was lucky enough to get an invitation to the officers' wardroom aboard QE2- the Aquitania's bell is there and some lovely ship paintings including our "Maury". The crew got almost misty when pointing her out-she is still legend. I love the print at night of her off Cherbourg-it has pride of place in my boatroom. There are several newsreels of her at http://www.britishpathe.com (just type in ocean liners in the search box)- yep, she was a grand old gal and had one of the most elegant and graceful silhouettes on the North Atlantic.
I am most fortunate to have obtained some wonderful items marking MAURETAINIA 1's career.
Word of mouth led to me to a second-hand clothing basement in Reno, NV. The proprietor had some leftover paper things, from whence he collected steamship memorabilia. I must have overwhelmed him with my enthusiasm. It was like a dream, my 30 mile drive home to Carson City that day, I kept glancing over to the passenger seat, reconfirming that I had just aquired a handful of precious things. An OLYMPIC dinner menu and original photo (SEE: Hawley's site), a NORMANDIE menu, a 1913 1st class listing of WHITE STAR, noting MS. Goldsmith and Frankie Jr. (The
chart on reverse, with daily runs penciled in would send a chill down your spine...enroute to NY, they took a *hard left* about mid-ocean).
By far the most special item was a delicate piece of yellowed paper, a basic CUNARD document, notations penned (fountain) in...weather conditions, daily runs...
...MAURETAINIA '07. Upon my follow-up research with the NY TIMES, and CUNARD ARCHIVES, it is an original, from the bridge (Not the printed type handed out to passengers) abstract from the return-half of her maiden crossing.
The gentleman had three of them, slightly glued to a mount. He asked.."Would you like one of these?" . . . "Who me?" As he started to pull the delicate treasure from it's mount, I pleaded, would it be okay if I did that.
Michael A. Cundiff
(They truly know when your heart is in it ;-)