Among the last vessels built for transatlantic passenger trade, Saxonia was launched in 1954 and revived a name previously used for a Cunard liner built in 1905. Saxonia was placed on the Britain - Canada route along with three near-identical sisters.
The ship was refitted in 1962 and given another Cunard name from earlier in the century, Carmania. As Carmania, the vessel continued service on the Rotterdam - Southampton - Canada route for several years, and cruised in the Caribbean and Mediterranean in the winter months.
During 1968, difficulties with US fire regulations resulted in cancellation of a winter cruise from Port Everglades. Cunard made some minor modifications to the ship before the next sailing in January 1969. On a later cruise the vessel ran aground on a sandbank off San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. Three months after returning to service the ship collided with the Soviet cruiser Frunze, but damage to both vessels was minor.
After the introduction of Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, Carmania was placed solely on the cruise trade, until she was laid up at Southampton in 1971. In August 1973 she was bought by the Soviet Union-based Black Sea Shipping Company and renamed after Leonid Sobinov