by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com
For more than a century now the non-stop Southampton to New York sea route has been the principal way for the wealthy and the famous to travel to the new world on the most opulent and famous ships in the world.
SS Norway, formerly SS France
The legacy of ships such as the 45.324-ton Olympic, 45,647-ton Aquitania, 80.774-ton Queen Mary, 83,423-ton Normandie, 83,673-ton Queen Elizabeth, 53,290-ton United States, 66,343-ton France and 70,327-ton Queen Elizabeth 2 is still to-day upheld by Cunard Line’s 148,528-ton Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever built.
Southampton first came to the fore over Liverpool in 1907, when the White Star Line moved its New York express service to the southern port, opening new offices in Canute Road. The port’s first coup had come about as early as 1843, when the Admiralty had moved its famous fleet of mail-carrying “Falmouth packets” to Southampton.
In 1909, Cunard had experimented with the Welsh port of Fishguard, with trains carrying passengers and mail from the 31,938-ton Mauretania and 31,550-ton Lusitania to London’s Paddington Station in four and three-quarter hours. Cunard was still operating its Liverpool-New York express service via Fishguard when Titanic was lost in April 1912.
It was not until 1919 that Cunard Line moved its own New York express service to Southampton, and by the 1920s, both Cunard and White Star had mail contracts to supply weekly services between Southampton and New York. These arrangements had White Star Line ships leaving on Wednesdays and Cunard Line ships on Saturdays.
Queen Elizabeth in Southampton
The two companies merged in 1934 into Cunard-White Star Line, the company that in turn introduced the first Queen, the Queen Mary, in 1936. Sailings still continued from Liverpool however and it was not until 1967 that all Cunard Transatlantic sailings were finally scheduled from Southampton, just as ocean liners were disappearing from the seas.
Now for 2014, Cunard Line has scheduled ten crossings for Southampton to New York. New in 2014 will be calls at Halifax, home city of the line’s founder, Samuel Cunard, on two 8-day crossings scheduled for June 5 from Southampton to New York and August 27 from New York to Southampton.
Recently, with the delivery of a number of new ships from north European shipyards, the route has seen a resurgence in sailings by large, new ships. Starting with the 155,873-ton Norwegian Epic in June 24, 2010, for example, Norwegian Cruise Line has been sailing its biggest and newest ships non-stop from Southampton to New York.
This year it was the 144,017-ton Norwegian Breakaway on April 30. Next year it will be the turn of her sister Norwegian Getaway, scheduled to leave Southampton for New York on a 10-night non-stop crossing on January 16.
Southampton also occasionally benefits from one of the other Queens positioning to or from a world cruise. For example, the 90,901-ton Queen Elizabeth sails non-stop (8 nights) from Southampton to New York on January 10, 2014, and for passengers bound for the US west coast she continues on to San Francisco.
The 90,049-ton Queen Victoria will also make a crossing from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale via Ponta Delgada on January 2.
Quantum of The Seas
In the non-stop category for 2014, by far the most interesting ship is Royal Caribbean’s new 167,000-ton Quantum of the Seas, first of a new class of ship that can carry 4,180 passengers.
She departs Southampton on an 8-night non-stop crossing for New York on November 2, 2014.
Royal Caribbean has been using Southampton as its main UK cruise port since 2007, when it first based its 137,276-ton Navigator of the Seas there.
For those who have the time to spare there are also Southampton to New York sailings that make calls en route. Among these in 2014 will be the 77,499-ton Dawn Princess on July 12, which takes 11 nights sailing via Ireland and Boston, the 113,561-ton Ruby Princess on September 8, taking 14 nights via Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland and the 30,277-ton Insignia on October 2, taking 15 nights via Ireland, Canada and New England.
The 73,899-ton Hamburg-Sud vessel Rio Madeira
And for those heading towards Florida, the world’s largest cruise ship, the 225,282-ton Oasis of the Seas, departs Southampton on October 15 for a 12-night passage to Fort Lauderdale making one stop in Vigo on her return from a drydocking in Rotterdam.
But most unusual of all Southampton-New York crossings is a cargo-passenger service that runs non-stop from Southampton to New York every four weeks year-round.
The 73,899-ton Hamburg-Sud vessel Rio Madeira takes eight days to reach New York and has just one double Owners Cabin and a single cabin, limiting her to three passengers to travel along with her 5,905 twenty-foot equivalent containers!Her next sailing is due to leave Southampton on Sunday, December 8.