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Who Owns Cunard Cruise Line


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Tildy Arthur



Welcome to the fascinating world of Cunard Cruise Line, where luxury and grandeur meet the open sea. With a rich history dating back to the 19th century, Cunard has become synonymous with elegance and prestige in the cruise industry. From its iconic fleet to its renowned maritime legacy, Cunard continues to captivate travelers seeking a refined and unforgettable vacation experience.


In this article, we will delve into the ownership of Cunard Cruise Line and explore the journey that has shaped its present state. From its humble beginnings to its current standing as a leading luxury cruise brand, we will uncover the key players behind the scenes, the mergers and acquisitions that have occurred, and the individuals and corporations who have had a stake in shaping the company’s destiny.


Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser, an aspiring traveler, or simply a curious reader, join us as we unravel the mysteries of Cunard Cruise Line ownership. Get ready to embark on a voyage of discovery as we set sail into the depths of this prestigious cruise line’s history.


Background of Cunard Cruise Line

The history of Cunard Cruise Line can be traced back to the early 19th century when Sir Samuel Cunard, a Canadian-born British entrepreneur, founded the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 1839. This pioneering venture aimed to provide regular steamship service between Britain and North America, revolutionizing the way people traveled across the Atlantic.


Cunard’s vision was realized in 1840 when the company’s first steamship, the RMS Britannia, embarked on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston. This marked the beginning of a new era in ocean travel, as the steamships offered a faster, more reliable, and more comfortable mode of transportation compared to traditional sailing vessels.


Over the years, Cunard expanded its fleet and its reach, establishing itself as a global leader in transatlantic travel. The company’s ships became renowned for their opulence, impeccable service, and prestigious clientele. Legendary vessels such as the RMS Queen Mary and the RMS Queen Elizabeth earned Cunard a reputation for providing the epitome of luxury cruising.


Despite facing challenges like the advent of air travel, Cunard persevered, adapting to the changing times and evolving passenger preferences. In the late 20th century, the company shifted its focus from traditional transatlantic crossings to luxury cruises, offering passengers the opportunity to explore a variety of destinations around the world.


Today, Cunard Cruise Line continues to uphold its legacy of elegance and sophistication. Its flagship Queen Mary 2, along with the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, embody the grandeur of ocean liners from a bygone era. With a commitment to personalized service, unforgettable experiences, and the finest amenities, Cunard remains a prestigious choice for discerning travelers seeking a luxurious and enriching cruise experience.


Cunard Cruise Line Ownership History

Throughout its long and storied history, Cunard Cruise Line has seen various changes in ownership, reflecting the dynamic nature of the cruise industry. From its early beginnings as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company to its present-day status as a subsidiary of a larger conglomerate, the company’s ownership has shifted hands multiple times.


In 1849, the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company merged with its main competitor, the Cunard Line, to form the Cunard Steamship Company. Under this new ownership structure, the company continued to dominate the transatlantic passenger market, enjoying considerable success and growth throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.


However, in 1934, faced with mounting financial pressures due to the Great Depression and increased competition, Cunard Steamship Company found itself in need of support. As a result, the British government stepped in and provided financial assistance, effectively nationalizing the company.


For several decades, Cunard operated as a state-owned corporation, with the British government playing a significant role in its management and decision-making processes. During this time, the company focused on modernizing its fleet and expanding its offerings to include not only transatlantic crossings but also luxury cruises to various destinations around the world.


In 1998, a major turning point occurred in Cunard’s ownership history when the company was acquired by Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise company. This move marked a new chapter for Cunard as it became a part of a larger portfolio of cruise brands, which included Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Holland America Line, among others.


Under the umbrella of Carnival Corporation & plc, Cunard Cruise Line has continued to thrive and maintain its unique identity. While the company operates independently and retains its distinct brand characteristics, it benefits from the resources and synergies provided by its parent company.


Today, Carnival Corporation & plc is a global powerhouse in the cruise industry, with a portfolio of well-known brands. However, Cunard Cruise Line, with its rich heritage and commitment to luxury and tradition, remains a cherished and iconic part of the Carnival family.


Current Ownership of Cunard Cruise Line

In the present day, Cunard Cruise Line is owned by Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise company. Carnival Corporation & plc acquired Cunard in 1998, marking a significant milestone in the company’s ownership history. This move allowed Cunard to benefit from the resources, global reach, and industry expertise of its parent company.


Carnival Corporation & plc, headquartered in Miami, Florida, operates a diverse portfolio of cruise brands, encompassing different market segments and cruising styles. With a presence in various regions around the world, Carnival Corporation & plc serves millions of passengers each year, providing unforgettable vacation experiences across its fleet of ships.


Despite being a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, Cunard Cruise Line operates independently and maintains its unique brand identity. The company’s commitment to luxury, impeccable service, and timeless elegance remains unwavering, distinguishing it from other cruise lines within the Carnival portfolio.


Under the current ownership structure, Cunard continues to operate its iconic fleet of ships, including the majestic Queen Mary 2, the elegant Queen Victoria, and the sophisticated Queen Elizabeth. Each vessel represents the epitome of luxury and offers passengers a refined and unforgettable cruise experience.


While Cunard Cruise Line benefits from the support and resources of its parent company, it retains its distinct personality and heritage. The company’s commitment to delivering exceptional service, curated itineraries, and a refined onboard experience remains at the forefront of its operations.


Cunard continues to be a sought-after choice for travelers seeking a sophisticated and luxurious cruising experience. With its classic ocean liner ambiance, attention to detail, and impeccable hospitality, Cunard Cruise Line stands as a testament to the enduring allure of traditional luxury travel.


As part of the Carnival Corporation & plc family, Cunard Cruise Line is able to leverage the industry expertise, extensive network, and economies of scale that come with being part of a larger cruise conglomerate. This allows the company to continuously innovate and elevate the guest experience, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of the luxury cruise market.


Major Shareholders of Cunard Cruise Line

Cunard Cruise Line, as a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, has a complex ownership structure with diverse shareholders. However, the ultimate majority shareholder of Cunard Cruise Line is Carnival Corporation & plc itself. With its headquarters in Miami, Florida, Carnival Corporation & plc holds the controlling interest and exerts significant influence over the strategic direction and operations of Cunard.


As a publicly traded company, Carnival Corporation & plc also has a dispersed ownership structure, with shares held by institutional investors, mutual funds, and individual shareholders. The exact distribution of ownership among these entities may vary over time.


One of the key aspects of Carnival Corporation & plc’s ownership structure is its dual-listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE). This allows shareholders to trade Carnival Corporation & plc shares on either exchange, increasing the company’s visibility and providing opportunities for investors across different markets to own a stake in the company.


Considering the size and global nature of Carnival Corporation & plc, it’s difficult to identify individual shareholders or specific entities with significant ownership stakes in Cunard Cruise Line. Rather, the ownership structure of Carnival Corporation & plc is composed of a wide range of institutional investors and mutual funds, both in the United States and internationally.


These institutional investors may include pension funds, asset management firms, and other financial institutions. It is also worth noting that individual shareholders, including retail investors, may hold shares in Carnival Corporation & plc, indirectly owning a portion of Cunard Cruise Line.


While specific details about the ownership percentages of Cunard Cruise Line under the Carnival Corporation & plc umbrella are not publicly disclosed, it is clear that Carnival Corporation & plc holds the controlling interest, effectively making it the major shareholder.


As a result of Carnival Corporation & plc’s ownership, Cunard Cruise Line benefits from the financial backing, operational support, and synergies that come with being part of a global cruise conglomerate. This ensures its continued success and allows for investments in fleet modernization, onboard amenities, and cutting-edge technology.


Overall, while the precise ownership breakdown of Cunard Cruise Line may not be readily available, it is evident that Carnival Corporation & plc is the controlling entity, guiding the strategic direction and growth of this prestigious cruise line.



Cunard Cruise Line’s ownership journey has been a fascinating one, shaped by a rich history and the ever-evolving landscape of the cruise industry. From its humble beginnings as a transatlantic steamship company to its current status as a luxury cruise line under the ownership of Carnival Corporation & plc, Cunard has remained a symbol of elegance and sophistication.


Under the ownership of Carnival Corporation & plc, Cunard Cruise Line has been able to thrive and adapt to the changing needs and preferences of modern travelers. While Cunard maintains its unique brand identity and commitment to luxury, it benefits from the synergies, resources, and global reach of its parent company.


The major shareholders of Cunard Cruise Line are the institutional investors and mutual funds that hold shares in Carnival Corporation & plc, which ultimately controls the majority stake in Cunard. However, the specific ownership breakdown of Cunard within Carnival Corporation & plc is not publicly disclosed.


What is clear is that Cunard Cruise Line continues to offer a refined and unforgettable cruise experience, with its flagship ships, such as the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth, embodying the grandeur and opulence of ocean liners from a bygone era.


Through its commitment to personalized service, meticulously curated itineraries, and attention to detail, Cunard remains a top choice for discerning travelers seeking a luxury cruise experience. As part of the Carnival Corporation & plc family, Cunard is poised to continue its legacy of excellence and innovation in the cruise industry.


Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or an aspiring traveler, embarking on a Cunard cruise is a journey that promises unforgettable memories, breathtaking destinations, and the exquisite blend of modern comfort and timeless elegance. So, set sail with Cunard Cruise Line and experience the magic of luxury cruising at its finest.