Category Archives: German liners

Germany’s speed queens

Cover for Bremen and Europa bookA hardback book covering the design, construction and service of Norddeutscher Llloyd’s renowned speed queens, Bremen and Europa.

The story of these two historic liners comes to life in this meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated volume from  author J. Russell Willoughby. It includes nearly 300 photographs, many of which are previously unpublished

Born into a world of economic depression and political unrest, the NDL express liners Bremen and Europa were symbols of resilience in post-Great War Germany. At the time of their maiden voyages in 1929 and 1930 respectively, they were the fastest, most modern passenger ships yet built, and every day they seemed to make headlines around the globe. Both liners won the Blue Riband on their maiden voyages across the North Atlantic.

World War II

Their separate rôles in World War II are covered in detail. Bremen escaped from America but was later destroyed by fire. Europa was mainly used as an accommodation ship and was seized by the Allies after the war.

Post-war service of Europa

Europa‘s second life as French Line’s Liberté is well-documented and the book concludes with many fine examples of rare ephemera.

Out of Print

This edition is now out of print. The author has published a newer, much larger edition, which can be seen at:

This new edition is highly recommended, but is not sold by marpubs

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196 pages. £38.00 plus shipping



White Star’s largest liner

Cover for Majestic bookA hardback book covering the design, construction and service of White Star Line’s express liner Majestic.

Built by Blohm & Voss for Hamburg America, Bismarck was to have been the third of Albert Ballin’s planned trio of super liners, designed to dominate the North Atlantic .

Although launched, sadly the tragic outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 interrupted her completion, and throughout the war she lay at her builders, only half-built.

Reparations then to White Star Line as Majestic

Following the Armistice, the still-incomplete liner was ceded to White Star as reparations, and was completed by the builders. Once finished, she was renamed Majestic, and finally entered the prestigious trans-Atlantic service to New York, although she never competed for the Blue Riband.

Popular for a number of years, she generally enjoyed good passenger numbers. However, the quotas imposed on immigrants by the US authorities, coupled with Prohibition and the Great Depression, impacted on her success. Her grand interiors and immense size were redolent of an era that had passed.

With the merger of Cunard and White Star in 1934, the combined fleet was rapidly culled to effect the necessary economies to enable the new company to survive, and in 1936 it was announced that she was to be scrapped.

Conversion to HMS Caledonia

At the last minute she was sold to the British Admiralty and extensively converted into a training establishment for young seamen and artificers, as HMS Caledonia. Moored at Rosyth, she caught fire soon after the declaration of World War II and was gutted.

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206 pages plus three A3 throw-out deck plans. £42.00 plus shipping



America’s first superliner

Cover for Leviathan bookA hardback book covering the design, construction and service of America’s first superliner, Leviathan.

Built by Blohm & Voss for Hamburg America’s service to the United States, Vaterland was the second in Albert Ballin’s planned trio of liners that he intended would dominate passenger services on the North Atlantic.

Unfortunately after only seven trans-Atlantic crossings, the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 destroyed his plan.

The Great War

Trapped in New York, Vaterland was interned by the US authorities until April 1917 when, with the entry of America into the war she was seized, renamed Leviathan, and converted into a troopship. With the Armistice, she was used to repatriate GI troops until she was laid up at Hoboken.

Post-war service as Leviathan

Eventually, completely rebuilt, in 1923 she emerged as a luxury liner sailing under American colours for United States Lines. Although she often enjoyed high passenger numbers, the effects of Prohibition and immigration quotas, alongside numbing levels of Government bureaucracy, excessive levels of catering and a high crew-to-passenger ratio, meant that for much of her life she made losses. Laid up several times, she was eventually scrapped in 1938.

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262 pages. £48.00 plus shipping




Cover for Legendary Liners bookThis book represents an eclectic choice – the author’s personal favourite historic, legendary liners. The hardest part was in deciding which liners to leave out!

There have been so many famous  liners since the late Victorian era. The development of reliable, economical engines and the inclusion of a second propeller meant that liners no longer needed to be equipped with sails and associated rigging.

Interiors became ever more luxurious, menus were more inventive, safety increasingly important. Hulls became ever larger, decks more numerous. More dining rooms were added, plus cafés, gymnasiums, winter gardens, swimming pools, libraries and many other facilities designed to help passengers make the best use of their time aboard.

Final selection of Legendary Liners

Ships have been chosen from many of the companies operating around the world. The result is this fascinating page-by-page account of the most famous liners from nearly 100 years of maritime history.

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162 pages. £38.00 plus shipping



Four-Funnelled Legends

Cover for German Greyhounds bookA hardback book covering the design, construction and service of the five German four-funnelled liners. These were known as the German Greyhounds: Kaiser Wilhelm der GrosseDeutschlandKronprinz WilhelmKaiser Wilhelm II and Kroprinzessin Cecilie.

The shipping line which held the Blue Riband speed record for the North Atlantic carried the most passengers – and made the most money. European aristocracy and the American élite wanted to be seen on the best, while emigrants wanted to travel on the largest and the safest.

Germany’s Blue Riband pinnacle

By the late 1880s the two main German companies, Hamburg-America and Norddeutscher Lloyd, had begun looking for ways to make a serious challenge on the lucrative North Atlantic trade. The rivalry between the two companies encouraged both to build ever larger and faster express liners.

German Greyhounds

The competition culminated in the five greyhounds – four-funnelled express liners that were to tear across the Atlantic in a blaze of smoke, steam and glory. This book covers these five famous liners as together they brought German shipping to the forefront of maritime technology and shipping history.

The book then follows each liner through the events of the Great War, service as troopships, reparations and their eventual demise.

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174 pages. £38.00 plus shipping


Cunard’s Happy Ship

Cover for Berengaria bookA hardback book covering the design, construction and service of Cunard’s popular express liner Berengaria.

Hamburg-America’s Albert Ballin dreamed of building a trio of liners to dominate the North Atlantic. Launched in May 1912 at Blohm & Voss, Imperator was completed in April 1913. An enormous eagle was mounted on the bow to ensure that she would be longer than Cunard’s Aquitania! On her trials she had problems with her turbines and her stability and emergency work was needed before she could enter service. During her first refit in early 1914 some of the top weight was taken out to try to improve stability, and internal changes were made.

The Great War

Imperator was laid up in Hamburg in August 1914, and in April 1919 was handed over to the Americans. She was used by them, named USS Imperator, as a troopship, before being laid up in New York. Transferred to Britain as part of the war reparations in November 1921, she was allocated to Cunard.

Cunard’s Berengaria

The first commercial voyage for Cunard, as RMS Imperator, was in February 1920. She was renamed Berengaria in February 1921, after being converted to oil burning.  Although never fast enough to compete for the Blue Riband, she was always popular on the North Atlantic service. Regularly enjoying high passenger numbers, she was successful for a number of years. After a series of fires in 1938 she was laid up, and eventually was scrapped in November 1938.

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196 pages plus three A3 throw-out deck plans. £38.00 plus shipping