The Sea Views online exhibition, curated by British Photographer & Filmmaker Mary McCartney, features never-before-seen imagery from the Cunard archive together with photograph submissions from the public. It captures everything, from Hollywood stars of stage and screen to passengers’ treasured moments, while illustrating changes in styles across fashion, food and interior design since the 1920s.

Hundreds of Cunard passengers worldwide, including from America, Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK, submitted over a thousand of their personal highlights aboard Cunard’s ships. Their images show various moments, from families emigrating to new continents to milestone anniversaries or unexpected passenger encounters.

The exhibition can be viewed on Cunard’s website. 

Centennial anniversary of world voyage

Cunard explained that the display marks two milestones in Cunard’s history, the first being that over 100 years ago it became the first cruise line to introduce on board photographers. The second, that this year marks the centennial anniversary of the first ever round the world voyage on Cunard’s ship, Laconia. The ship departed November 21, 1922 on a 130-day voyage, arriving back in New York on March 30, 1923 after calling at 22 ports.

McCartney commented, ‘It was a joy to dig deep into the archives and discover never-before-seen photographs that capture the essence of Cunard’s signature moments, showcasing the glamour, elegance, and adventures families and friends shared together.’ 

She added that ‘It was not just about showcasing the history, but also celebrating the millions of travellers who have embarked on unforgettable voyages across the globe. As I went through the archives and read the stories submitted by passengers from all corners of the world, I was struck by the strong sense of community and connection that Cunard has fostered over the years. It was an honour to bring those stories to life through the exhibition.’ 

History and exhibition highlights

Mandela sailed on Queen Elizabeth 2’s 1998 passage between Durban and Cape Town, South Africa, and in the ship’s visitor book, wrote, ‘Travelling on QE2 was an unforgettable honour and a pleasure.’ Taylor regularly travelled with Cunard and her producer husband Mike Todd, as did Crosby who it is alleged was often found in the dark room on board Queen Mary, speaking with photographers.

Troops walking on board Queen Mary in 1940 in Sydney can be seen, the ship deployed there during the Second World War to carry troops to Europe. Another photo from the 1940s shows Winston Churchill operating Queen Elizabeth’s controls with signature cigar in hand, alongside cdre J.G.P. Bisset.

Prominent passengers Phyllis Calvert and husband Peter Murray-Hill, both actors, with their daughter, Auriol, facing press photographers on the Queen Mary’s boat deck are a further addition. 

Submited by passengers 

One former passenger shared a selection of images taken by their grandfather who worked on board former Cunard vessels Aquitania and later Carmania. The snap chosen for the exhibition shows cowboy movie star Tom Mix riding his horse Tony down the gangway on a trip to England.

A photo sent by another passenger was taken on board Queen Mary in June 1964, as he and his sister and their mother emigrated to the US where he would be reunited with his father.

The first ever Blue Note Jazz-themed transatlantic cruise on Queen Mary 2 in 2015 also numbers among the images.