My grandmother used to visit us on Sundays when I was a little girl. She told us all about her cruise ship travels. She always seemed to be sailing here or there. She went everywhere except Egypt. She said that was too dusty. But a friend of hers went there. She went to the Orient, Hong Kong, and Thailand. It reminds me of the cruise ship itinerary I see posted right now on Cunard’s website for Queen Mary 2. I wish I were on it. But I can imagine what that would cost in today’s dollars.

Leave a reply

_ If the passenger records before 1960 are in the public domain, how do I access them? Are they online on a special website? Are they in a special library collection? Are they perhaps in Southampton? Do I write somebody? If so, what is the address? Who is the librarian?

Leave a reply

_ I was trying to find out when my now deceased grandmother, Doris Lappe, sailed on Cunard ships before 1975. She discussed her cruises often, but I was a little girl and didn’t bother to write anything down. Cunard says that due to privacy concerns they can’t help. But when do privacy concerns end, and the genealogy and historical research begin? I know I’ve seen passenger records for the Lusitania for its final voyage on May 1, 1915.

I also wonder if there’s a dispute here between British and American law.

Leave a reply

_ On May 1, 1915 at the Cunard Pier in New York — not in Brooklyn — the ship that the passengers boarded was vastly different from the ship passengers board today. There were no shopping arcades. Nor did you have the internet or a Canyon Ranch spa. The library was more like a lady’s reading and writing room where m’lady did her correspondence, not a place next to the spa that grabs your attention with illuminated bookcases. Of course the Lusitania didn’t have an onboard planetarium. Nor was there a deck 12 pet area next door to a swimming pool with a retractable roof!

That brings it down to the fact that the Lusitania was smaller and didn’t have room for as many passengers. And the segregation between the first class passengers like Vanderbilt and the passengers in steerage below the decks was total and complete. They didn’t even see each other. Now the only segregation is for meals in the Britannia Dining Room or the Queen’s and Princess Grills. Some of the dining venues are common to both: the King’s Court and Todd English.

The differences in the two Cunard ships — with almost one hundred years in between — reflects the changes in society during that century.

Leave a reply

_ The QM2 still insists on formal nights when all the ladies are supposed to wear dresses and the gents tuxedos. They emphasize this to the point that they stock formal wear onboard at the shops. Supposedly slacks for ladies are frowned upon as are shorts, tennis shoes, and other casual attire. Those folks who don’t bother to take an extra suitcase to carry all the otherwise unused clothes are out of luck when they show up at the Britannia Dining Room or heavens forbid the Queen’s Grill or the Princess Grill, which are even fancier dining options.

This reminds me of how everybody in the first class section aboard the Lusitania on May 1, 1915 just naturally dressed up. Since World War I was not over, women’s fashion hadn’t yet been revolutionized in the Roaring 20’s, ladies still dressed in accordance with Edwardian norms. No woman would dare to show her legs in public!

But look what happened to all the fancy ladies and gents on the Lusitania! When the torpedo hit, many of them had to jump into the water and get all those expensive clothes wet. The lucky ones found lifeboats. The others had to cling to planks for hours. I bet they never wore fancy clothes on cruise ships again.

Leave a reply

_ The Queen Mary II, the transatlantic oceanliner, thrives and survives on nostalgia for the British past. It harkens back to the golden age of ocean liners in the early to mid-twentieth century when Britain ruled the waves and the British Empire still existed. It still has a dress code on formal nights and has a white-gloved service for high tea. One of the recent lectures aboard the ship was given by a British lord who was for forty years the head of the military. The Queen christened the ship in 2003, and there’s a museum onboard.

Leave a reply

_ It’s been almost one hundred years since the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland in the Irish Sea on May 7, 1915. One hundred years ago Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty partially responsible for the fiasco, helping to preside over a Britain that ruled the world and presided over a vast empire. 10 Downing Street was the place where world affairs were decided and debated.

Now in 2012 Britain is a far different place. The empire has disappeared. 10 Downing Street has been replaced by the White House in Washington, D.C. Winston Churchill is just a memory.

Leave a reply

One hundred years ago when passengers boarded the Lusitania on May 1, 1915, London was the most important city in the world. The Great War and World War II changed all that. Now New York is the place to be. This shift in attitudes seems to be reflected in the postings on Facebook during the Queen Mary II interactive cruise sponsorted by Cunard. Many are Englishmen who get a thrill from visiting the Big Apple. They are amazed at all the glowing, glittering lights at night, the world class shopping, and the tall skyscrapers, taller than any others in the world.

When the QM II enters a European port all the surrounding buildings seem to be smaller. But New York overwhelms even the largest passenger liner ever to cross the North Atlantic.

Leave a reply

_ Tomorrow Queen Mary II starts a virtual Transatlantic cruise from New York to Southampton. If there had been such capability almost one hundred years ago on May 1, 1915, German terrorists couldn’t have sneaked aboard with their bombs. And the captain of the U-Boat who sank the ship couldn’t have gotten away with it as people broadcast messages by email and videos were being sent back and forth to shore. He wouldn’t have been captured before he got away. And the notoriety of the deed would have been much more public. Broadcast around the world on TV as it were, the Great War would probably have ended right then in a draw as it was destined to end four years later in Paris after thousands more were dead.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s also worth more than one thousand lives.

Leave a reply

_ Halifax received all sorts of letters from British aristocrats in April, 1939 advising him to continue the policy of appeasement. Maybe the working class had turned against Hitler since his invasion of Czechloslovakia in March, but the upper classes thought that fighting him would aid only Jews and Communists. They thought Britain and Europe was better without either of them, so they applauded Hitler’s efforts to drive them out of his newly conquered territory.

Leave a reply