Samuel Cunard - First Atlantic Cruises

Until Samuel Cunard came along, ships to the US were one-off runs to carry certain groups of people. In 1839, Samual Cunard set up a regular run to bring people and mail back and forth.

This was really the first time that average people could just watch a schedule and decide when they wanted to make that voyage. By 1840 he had four ships making the trips back and forth. Remember that at the time navigation was very challenging. Even so, where the Jamestown ships took several months to get between London and Virginia in the 1600s, the Cunard ship took a mere 14 days between London and Boston. The first ship to do this was the Brittania, measuring 200' by 32'.

These ships were quickly embraced by people on both coasts. Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens rode on this in 1842, and wrote about his trip. He called his tiny cabin a "coffin" and the main saloon was a tiny wooden room with a stove at one end to huddle around for warmth. They even get into a storm, and the ship is tossed nearly sideways several times.

The Brittania could hold 115 passengers in these tiny rooms. I can't find any record of how much a fare cost - but it was something that an author could afford for a "pleasure cruise" with his wife. They weren't going as immigrants - they could afford to do this just for a visit.

Cruising Tips and Information Main Page