MAURETANIA completed her Government work by May 1919 and, following restoration to her pre war condition, was returned to Cunard service. A major change at this time was the substitution of Southampton in place of Liverpool as her home port. She left on her first peacetime crossing on 6 March 1920 and, following a call at Cherbourg, arrived in New York having averaged 21 knots for the voyage. Unfortunately her age was beginning to tell and in particular her turbines were showing signs of wear and tear following the years of arduous service. MAURETANIA’S average speeds continued to drop (as low as 17.8 knots on one occasion) but once again help came from an unexpected source.
A fire broke out as she lay alongside in Southampton on 25 July 1921 and only the heroic efforts of the Fire Brigade prevented more serious damage to the vessel. As it was there was extensive damage to many first class cabins and the first class dining room and Cunard decided to have her repaired at her builder’s yard. Whilst she was out of service the company also decided to take the opportunity to convert her machinery to oil burning. Thousands of spectators lined the banks of the Tyne to watch MAURETANIA return to her birthplace and the same spectacle occurred when she left six months later in March 1922.
She returned to Southampton with a new lease of life. Sailing with more passengers and fewer crew MAURETANIA often managed to average 25 knots. In 1923 she undertook her first cruise, of several weeks duration, around the Mediterranean carrying some of the world’s richest people. Also in 1923 Cunard decided that it was time for a major overhaul of her turbine machinery which was begun in Southampton but finished in Cherbourg because of labour problems. When she returned to service in May 1924 she picked up where she had left off, crossing the Atlantic with great regularity and little fuss.
The inevitable finally happened in 1929 when a younger, faster ship captured the Blue Riband. The German liner “Bremen”, on her maiden voyage, took the record for a westbound crossing at 27.83 knots followed by the eastbound at 27.92 knots. The “Bremen” had the advantage of an extra 32,000 hp and the latest hull form technology. However MAURETANIA was not going to give up her record easily and set out for New York in August 1929 to try her best. She averaged 26.9 knots