White Star Hits Hard Times

White Star Hits Hard Times


On 5 December 1930, facing abysmal bookings, White Star Line canceled a planned 31 January 1931 New York-to-Mediterranean cruise by Laurentic (1927). Laurentic’s passengers were re-booked on Homeric (1922) for a 24 January cruise. It was, in retrospect, the beginning of the end for White Star Line.

Laurentic (1927)

Laurentic (1927)

Laurentic, only slightly over three years old, was laid up for the winter. In the spring, she would resume serving her usual Liverpool-Quebec-Montreal route.

Homeric, meanwhile, was nearing the end of her service life. On 1 June 1932, she departed New York on her final transatlantic crossing. In 1934 White Star merged with its chief rival, Cunard Line. Cunard was keen to erase all remnants of White Star and began phasing out many of the line’s vessels, including Homeric, which was originally launched in 1913 as Columbus for Norddeutscher Lloyd and ceded to Britain in 1919 as part of German war reparations.

Homeric-1922 Postcard

Homeric (1922)

After participating in the King George V Silver Jubilee fleet review in July 1935, Homeric was permanently laid up. She was broken up a few years later. Many of Homeric’s interior furnishings survive in the Rex Cinema in Stonehouse, Scotland.

As for Laurentic, she met her end in November 1940. When World War II broke out, Laurentic was converted into an auxiliary cruiser and became HMS Laurentic. She was responding to a call for help from a torpedoed ship when she herself was attacked and sunk.

Like its chief rival, Cunard Line, White Star depended on cruises to provide needed revenue during the weak winter season.

Like its chief rival, Cunard Line, White Star depended on cruises to generate revenue during the weak transatlantic winter season.


White Star wasn’t the only shipping line coping with excess capacity, outdated liners, and depressed passenger loads in 1931.

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