Luxury liners and cruising the high seas, on the whole, simply isn't like it once was. Of course, nothing is. But once upon a time cruise ships were glorious to look at instead of the behemoth top heavy monstrosities that they are today.
The following three Cunard Lines menus all date from 1954 and I found all three, along with several others, in a trash can following an elderly woman's death. Her family loaded up the can with all of the ephemera from her trip to Europe and I was just as quickly there to retrieve it.
Of the three, my favorite is the Queen Mary because I have photos of my Scottish grandmother on board in the mid-50s and a few decades later I was able to walk around the ship in Long Beach, California. Last year my friend's husband filmed an episode of a tv show aboard the old beauty
Click on any image to see it larger.
R.M.S. Queen Mary - June 21, 1954 - Farewell Dinner - artist: C. E. Turner
R.M.S. Queen Mary...sailed the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line (then Cunard White Star Line). Built by John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland, she was designed to be the first of Cunard's planned two-ship weekly express service from Southampton to Cherbourg to New York, in answer to the mainland European superliners of the late 1920s and early 1930s. After their release from World War II troop transport duties, Queen Mary and her running mate RMS Queen Elizabeth commenced this two-ship service and continued it for two decades until Queen Mary's retirement in 1967. The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is permanently berthed in Long Beach, California serving as a museum ship and hotel. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
R.M.S. Ascania - April 17, 1954 - Farewell Dinner - artist: unknown
Ascania was the fifth of Cunard's six "A" liners. Although she was launched late in 1923, her completion was delayed and she did not make her maiden voyage, from London to Montreal, until 22 May 1925.
She remained on that route until 1939 when, like all the "A" liners, she was requisitioned as an armed merchant cruiser. She was later converted into an infantry landing ship and took part in the invasion of Sicily and the landing at Anzio in 1943. The only "A" liner to return to Cunard service after the war, she ran on an austerity service from Liverpool to Halifax from 1947 to 1949, and after a 1950 refitting was placed on Cunard's Liverpool-Montreal service. Ascania again saw service as a troop carrier during the 1956 Suez crisis before being broken up in 1957. (SOURCE: Haws' Merchant Fleets; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway.)
Britannia - June 18, 1954 - Luncheon - artist: C. E. Turner
The 'Britannia', a wooden paddle steamer of 1150 tons, was the first of four ships with which Samuel Cunard began the first regular Atlantic steamship line. In this spirited impression by the noted British marine artist, C. E. Turner she is leaving Liverpool on her maiden voyage, July 45h 1840." (SOURCE: back of menu)
To read about the founder of the Cunard Lines, Samuel Cunard, click here.