In the 1920s and 30s the quickest way to travel comfortably from Europe to the Far East was via Canada, by sea and rail. The Canadian Pacific Steamship Company offered a "one-stop shopping" facility comprising transatlantic and trans-Pacific shipping lines, linked by the Canadian Pacific Railway, with coordinated timetables throughout. In order to gain a competitive advantage, in 1930/31 CPS introduced two fast new luxury liners on the Pacific and Atlantic services. These were aimed at reducing the journey time from the UK to Japan by two days, and providing passengers with the best quality ships available.
Launched in 1930, and introduced the following year, the new liner for the Atlantic was the 42,350-ton Empress of Britain (II). This fabulous ship, nicknamed "Mayfair at Sea", was perhaps the most luxurious large passenger ship that ever sailed, especially on her annual world cruises, when capacity was especially reduced by 35 percent. Empress of Britain had a relatively short life, being tragically lost to U-boat torpedoes in 1940.
The new ship introduced on the Pacific service in 1930 was the 26,032-ton Empress of Japan (II), later to become Empress of Scotland. Though not sister ships, the two new White Empresses were 'cousins', sharing a similar three-funnel profile and livery. They also had in common the distinction of being the fastest, most luxurious liners on their respective routes. Canadian Pacific did envisage sister ships for both of these vessels, but these never materialised due to the depression. In contrast to Empress of Britain's short, albeit glamorous life, Empress of Japan went on to have a long, distinguished, and eventful career.
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