Fun Cruising Facts: Animals Of Cunard
When Britannia set off on that first voyage in 1840, she had three resident cats whose job it was to keep rats at bay – passengers were forbidden to feed them in case the cats lost their appetite for rats. More importantly, in those pre-refrigeration days there was an unfortunate cow placed in a harness on deck in order to provide fresh milk throughout the crossing. The cow would be slaughtered on the last day – a blessing for the animal itself (cows are poor sailors) and an excellent marketing ploy for Cunard as the last meal would consist of fresh beef. And, having endured what would probably have been an uncomfortable fortnight, passengers would at least disembark having had an enjoyable last dinner and it would be that memory of their Cunard experience they would perhaps choose to remember rather than the agonies of the voyage itself!
Over the last 175 years celebrity pets have travelled Cunard and some would cause as much of a stir as any celebrity passenger travelling.
Mr Ramshaw was a 22-year old eagle who made at least 21 crossings in the 1920s and 1930s. He would be accommodated near the butcher’s shop which would supply him with chicken heads. Rin-Tin-Tin, the star of 36 silent films, was a regular on Berengaria and despite having a first class ticket his keeper would remain with the canine star on the tourist class deck throughout the trip. The stars of the ‘Miracle rider’ series, Mix and Tony, were regular first class travellers and Tony was fitted with special rubber shoes to stop him slipping about the decks. Buddy, the first guide dog to be trained by Frank Morris the founder of The Seeing Eye, a free passage on Tuscania. More recently Pudsey, winner of Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 would perform for passengers on Queen Mary 2.
26 kennels in two tiers were built on Queen Mary. Each had a removable teak floor, skylight, hot and cold running water and central heating. After the Duke of Windsor remarked it was a shame there was no lamp post beside the Kennels one was duly incorporated and Cunard went one step further by also adding a fire hydrant for American pooches on QE2. Today 12 kennels are provided on Queen Mary 2 and these berths are booked for months in advance. Originally it was the butcher who would be responsible for walking the dogs but this role transferred to the onboard Bellboys in later years.
Characters from The Muppets have also sailed across the Atlantic several times over recent decades - including Kermit, Miss Piggy, Waldorf and Statler and even Animal, the frenzied monster drummer!
- 25th February 2015
- Louise Hopper