Designed to allow Cunard to compete against the larger and more luxurious RMS Olympic and SS Imperator and Vaterland, the RMS Aquitania was born. When the Aquitania was launched, Cunard had the advantage of both speed with the Lusitania and Mauritania, and the size and grandeur of the Aquitania. Slower than her two counterparts, the ship made up in terms of luxury and amenities.
The only ocean liner ship to have survived both world wars, the RMS Aquitania was the last operating four funneled passenger liner.
During WWI, the ship served as an armed merchant cruiser, then troop transport ship, and finally hospital ship providing much needed help in the Dardanelles campaign. In WWII, the ship transported soldiers to and from Canada.
Regarded as one of the most classic looking liners, the ship was nicknamed "Ship Beautiful" by her passengers throughout the 1920's.
Largest and Most Luxurious of Cunard
At roughly the same size as the RMS Olympic, the Aquitania was by far the largest Cunard steamer through WWI. This allowed Cunard to compete with White Star and Hamburg America in terms of large plush vessels.
After WWI, the Aquitania was joined by the new RMS Berengaria, formerly SS Imperator of Germany. During the 1920's, the ship was immensely popular and almost always sailed as a profitable ship.
After the Cunard White Star Merger of 1934, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were ordered to replace the aging British fleet. since Aquitania was the newest and in best condition, it was decided that she would remain sailing until the Queen Elizabeth could replace her. With the other four funneled liners retired throughout the 1930's, the Aquitania sailed on, until WWII broke out.
Aquitania During WWI and WWII
The Aquitania sailed in both World Wars, the only true ocean liner to do so. Launched right before the onset of WWI, the Aquitania like many other ships, did not see much civilian service before being requisitioned for the war efforts. At first, armed to sail as an armed merchant cruiser, it was deemed too expensive to have her sail. The ship was transitioned to a troopship and carried soldiers to the different battle fronts around the world. Soon after, it was decided that hospital ships were needed, the Aquitania joined the Brittanic in healing and returning wounded soldiers home in WWI.
During WWII, the ship had been set to retire, but the British Admiralty again decided to utilize the ship as a troop transport, the Aquitania was back at it, serving as a troop transport. Sailing mostly between Britain and Canada, the ship ended up surviving the war and continued to sail for Cunard, making the ship the longest serving Cunard liner, until 2004 when the RMS Queen Elizabeth II surpassed that record.
Throughout the entire career of the RMS Aquitania, the ship personified the perfection of pre-WWI naval architecture and design, aptly allowing the ship to transcend multiple generations of maritime tradition.