The Blue Riband was an accolade presented to the ocean liner, which crossed the North Atlantic Ocean in regular service, that achieved the fastest recorded average speed during a westbound crossing from Europe to America.
The average speed of the ship’s crossing was used to calculate the record, because ships use different passages to transit the Atlantic. This allowed for the accolade to be claimed by liners from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, despite the different distances between those locations.
While the more challenging westbound crossing is credited with the Blue Riband (ships must sail against the Gulf Stream), ocean liners operating on the eastbound crossing are also noted as record breakers. Ocean liners from 1935 were eligible to be awarded the Hales Trophy. The rules for the Hales Trophy allow the award to be won by any type of sea going passenger vessel for a crossing in either direction. Cunard famously refused the Hales Trophy for Queen Mary.
There were 35 transatlantic liners that captured the Blue Riband. Cunard was the most regular holder of the award. Queen Mary was the last Cunard ship to hold the award, losing it in 1952 to the SS United States, which holds the record to this day.