Ocean Liners

Ocean Liners: Getting there is half the fun!

Images of four ocean liners from the RIBA Collections

Prior to the arrival of the “jet age” and, in particular, the commercial success of the Boeing 707 “airliner” ocean liners were the dominant mode of transport between continents not only carrying passengers but freight and mail. Today only Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (QM2) continues that line’s advertising slogan of “Getting there is half the fun!” Indeed the QM2 is now the sole ship in service as an ocean liner albeit not exclusively as she is also used as a cruise ship.

Ocean liners and cruise ships are actually different types of vessels. Ocean liners have regular ocean going routes and being built for the open oceans tend to be stronger, faster and sleeker. In comparison cruise ships tend to be much boxier being largely designed to cruise around the calmer sailing conditions of sheltered waters.

Only a handful of ocean liners now survive, including the SS Great Britain (1843), RMS Queen Mary (1934), SS United States (1951), SS Queen Elizabeth 2 or QE2 (1967) as well as a couple, MV Astoria (built as the Stockholm, 1946) and MS Marco Polo (1964), now plying their trade as cruise liners.

Illustrated here are a number of photographs and drawings of ocean liners from the RIBA Collections including several with interior designs by renowned architects including those for the RMS Queen Elizabeth by the designer of the RIBA headquarters, George Grey Wornum.

Feature by Jonathan Makepeace.

SS Normandie
Ocean Liners

SS Normandie

Click on the image above to go to the Normandie gallery.

RMS Orion & RMS Orcades II
Ocean Liners

Orion & Orcades II

Click on the image above to got to go to the Orion & Orcades gallery.

SS Oriana
Ocean Liners

SS Oriana

Click on the image above to go to the Oriana gallery.

105767 items
RIBA3489-61Ospedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital), Piazza SS Annunziata, Florence: the loggia

 
RIBA3490-61Oxford University Museum, Parks Road, Oxford

 
RIBA3491-61Temple of Neptune (or Hera II), Paestum


RIBA3492-61Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome, under construction

 
RIBA3493-61Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens: the west facade

 
RIBA3496-61Salisbury Cathedral: the west front


RIBA3498-61City Library, Stockholm

 
RIBA3501-62Head office for insurance firm Willis Faber and Dumas Limited, Ipswich, Suffolk: Princes Street facade

 
RIBA3502-62Winchester Cathedral: the nave vault


RIBA3503-62Larkin Building, 680 Seneca Street, Buffalo, New York

 
RIBA3504-62Tithe barn at Place Farm, Tisbury, Wiltshire

 
RIBA3507-62Stansted Airport, Essex, at night


RIBA3509-62Europa Building, London Airport: the passenger handling concourse

 
RIBA3510-62Europa Building, London Airport: passenger handling building

 
RIBA3511-62The town of Chaux: perspective view


RIBA3513-62Cottages, Cherhill, Wiltshire

 
RIBA3514-62Balfron Tower, Rowlett Street, Poplar, London

 
RIBA3515-62All Saints Church, Icklingham, Suffolk


RIBA3516-62Historic Churches Preservation Trust exhibition held in Charing Cross Underground Station, London, July 15-August 5, 1957

 
RIBA3517-62The Bank of England and the statue of the Duke of Wellington, Threadneedle Street, City of London

 
RIBA3518-62Penguin Pool, London Zoo, Regent's Park, London


RIBA3519-62Philharmonie, Berlin

 
RIBA3520-62Torre Velasca, Milan

 
RIBA3523-62State Library, Berlin: entrance area and staircase up to reading room


RIBA3526-63Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

 
RIBA3527-63View of roofs with wind towers ('badgirs') in Yazd

 
RIBA3528-63Central shopping precinct, Coventry


RIBA3530-63Cafe de Unie, Rotterdam

 
RIBA3531-63Houses, Erasmuslaan, Utrecht

 
RIBA3532-63Housing on Justus van Effenstraat, Rotterdam


RIBA3533-63Town Hall, Hilversum

 
RIBA3534-63Town Hall, Hilversum

 
RIBA3535-63Town Hall, Hilversum