he hull to Cunard’s first post World War 2 liner was laid at the John Brown Co. in 1946. A radical departure from previous liners constructed by Cunard, the exclusive purpose of the new ship would be cruising. While many liners in the past had been built with cruising excursions in mind -- such as the Canadian Pacific liner Empress of Canada -- no liner had been built with cruising as its foremost purpose. This new liner would pioneer a market that would soon be the only money making venue for ocean going vessels.

The new vessel was to be named Caronia, a name long popular in Cunard’s history. As the first and largest ship built in the post-war period, there was much ceremony in the launch of the new vessel. On hand for the christening ceremony in October 1947 was Princess Elizabeth -- in one of her final roles before her marriage to Prince Philip. The fitting out was speedily carried out and Caronia’s maiden voyage commenced in January 1949 with the traditional voyage from Southampton to New York.

Passengers enjoy
CARONIA’s outdoor pool.
Weighing in at 34,172 tons and with an overall length of 715 feet, Caronia’s profile was distinguished by her clipper-like bow and single mast and funnel. As a purpose built cruise ship, Caronia featured extensive outdoor lido decks and was the first Cunard ship with a permanent outdoor pool. The most striking feature of the new liner was the radical departure from the traditional Cunard livery. Rather than the traditional black and white livery, Caronia was painted in a pale green livery that earned her the nickname “green goddess.”

Caronia proved to be a popular ship, often cruising to destinations in the West Indies or the Mediterranean. In 1951 she sailed on her first world cruise. A loyal following of wealthy passengers soon developed and she remained popular well into the early 1960’s, when newer and flashier cruise ships began to diminish her once glittering passenger list. Although her expensive operationing cost had kept her from ever making a profit, it was not until 1967 that the Cunard board of directors decided to remove Caronia from service, along with the famed Queen Mary. Caronia sailed her final voyage from New York to Southampton in November 1967.

Caronia would be sold several times before reentering service as Star Shipping’s Caribia. This career would be short lived as an engine room explosion effectively removed the ship from service on her second voyage for the company. Towed back to New York, the former Caronia would spend the remainder of her years laid up in New York. One final attempt to refit her for passenger trade was aborted for lack of funds, and she was eventually sold for scrape in 1974. Caronia’s final voyage would be her her most dramatic. While being towed to Taiwan a typhoon was encountered and shelter sought at Guam. When entering the harbor at Guam, high winds pushed the liner onto the breakwater. There, lashed by the fierce storm, she subsequently broke into three pieces and sank. Salvage teams quickly broke up the liner, which posed a threat to the harbor’s entrance, thus bringing an end to the famed Caronia.

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