The Transatlantic Liner

Cunard Line is famous for its fleet of transatlantic liners

Many people get confused about the definition of a transatlantic liner. A transatlantic liner is an ocean liner which is designed to undertake the transatlantic crossing.

The transatlantic crossing refers to a passage of the North Atlantic Ocean. The first true transatlantic liner was the Great Western, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Great Western entered service in 1838. Cunard’s first transatlantic liner was the Britannia of 1840. She was the first ship to offer a regular scheduled transatlantic service.

All transatlantic liners (and indeed all ocean liners) share certain traits that make them unique and different to cruise ships.

Ocean Liner vs. Cruise Ship

Ocean Liners are designed to undertake a line voyage, between point A and point B across a large expanse of open ocean (such as the transatlantic crossing between North America and Europe). Because of this, the ships designed as Ocean Liners have certain traits. The video below explains this in detail:


QE2 was the last of the transatlantic liners in service for much of her life, but since her retirement in 2008, Cunard’s QM2 is the last true transatlantic liner in service.