“Welcome to the world’s only true ocean liner” – came the announcement over Queen Mary 2’s public address. Not, surprisingly, from Captain Christopher Wells but from Entertainment Director Joanna Haley.
I boarded the ship in Southampton yesterday (Sunday) for a 10-day voyage whose highlight comes next Bank Holiday weekend when all three Cunard Queens will be together in the Mersey to pay tribute to the city that was originally the company’s home.
On the way there, QM2 will be visiting Cobh – the last port of call for Titanic – Dublin, and Greenock on the Clyde – where many of Cunard’s ships were built. There’s a maiden call at the Scottish port of Oban before we arrive in Liverpool, and a visit to Guernsey on the way back to Southampton.
Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to berth at the Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal at 9.30 on Sunday morning and a gala dinner is planned for the evening. From 10.00 pm a sound and light show will be projected on Liverpool’s Three Graces – the buildings that include Cunard’s former headquarters – and from 10.30 there will be a fireworks display over the river.
On Monday morning, QM2 will slip her lines at about 9.45 and sail down the estuary to greet her two sisters, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, at the mouth of the Mersey. From about midday the three ships will sail in formation up-river towards the Liverpool Echo Arena, where they will then turn through 180 degrees. An elaborate maritime river dance may take place if weather and sea conditions allow and there will no doubt be much blowing of ships’ whistles.
Shortly after, at about 2.10, QM2 will leave Liverpool; Queen Elizabeth will berth at the terminal, and Victoria will anchor in mid-river. Another performance of the light show and a second firework display will take place on Monday evening.
There will be a special musical accompaniment to Victoria’s departure at about 4.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.
If the patriotic enthusiasm that marked QM2’s sailaway from Southampton is anything to go by, Liverpool can look forward to an emotional weekend.