Thursday, June 19, 2014
Both of these photos are labeled, "Aboard Aquitania." There are no names or dates on these two pictures, so there's nothing for me to look up about the passengers, but it was pretty easy to find information about the ship.
R.M.S. Aquitania, owned by The White Star Line, was launched in 1913, and had it's maiden voyage between England and New York in May 1914. Along with the Mauretania and Lusitania, it was one of the grand trio of White Star liners, and was known as the ship beautiful. It completed only three round trips before being taken over by the British Admiralty during World War 1. Aquitania's war service started as an armed merchant cruiser, then as a hospital ship, and finally a troop transport. After the war, it was returned to The White Star Line, and resumed passenger service on the north Atlantic run.
The 1920s was the last great age of express ocean passenger service. While the United States had begun restricting emigration, a major profit center for ocean liners, Aquitania had enough first and second class passengers, as well as mail contracts, to operate in the black. After the stock market crash of 1929, Aquitania became more of a cruise ship, taking passengers on holiday to the Mediterranean. It was quite popular with Americans and, during prohibition, became famous as a booze cruiser.
In 1940, Cunard White Star (The two companies had merged in 1934.) had planned to retire Aquitania and replace it with R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, but the second world war gave the ship a few extra years of service as a troop transport, mostly in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. After the war, Aquitania was used to transport war brides and their children to Halifax, Canada. In 1949, the ship was once again returned to it's civilian owners. Poor maintenance during the depression and the war had taken it's toll. The deck plating leaked in rough seas, some of the bulkheads were so corroded that a fist could be pushed through the metal. During a party, a piano fell through the floor. In December of 1949, Aquitania was taken out of service, and was scrapped in 1950. Aquitania was the last four stacker (smoke stacks) in regular service.