Latest estimates put the number of spectators crowding the banks of the Mersey to see Cunard’s spectacular Three Queens event on Monday at an astonishing 1.3 million.
The throng certainly looked impressive from my viewpoint on board flagship Queen Mary 2 as we headed to the mouth of the river to greet Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, and then followed them to the Pier Head.
Thousands swarmed across the beaches at Crosby and New Brighton, and they were scores deep in front of Liverpool’s Three Graces – the Liver Building, Cunard Building, and Port Authority HQ – and across the other side in Birkenhead.
They witnessed a spectacular triple pirouette as the ships performed their own version of Riverdance and turned to return down-river. As the manoeuvre was completed, the nine jets of the Red Arrows flashed overhead trailing red white and blue smoke.
At a civic dinner on board QM2 the previous evening, Cunard was granted the Freedom of the City to mark the company’s 175-year association with Liverpool, which began when the paddle steamer RMS Britannia left for Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston, Massachusetts, on July 4 1840. Queen Mary 2 will re-enact the voyage next month.
A light show projected on the Three Graces and fireworks displays on Sunday and Monday were part of the celebrations. Queen Victoria, last to leave on Tuesday, laid on an extra treat by spinning round 360 degrees in the centre of the river.
Passengers travelled from around the world to be on board the Cunard ships for the event – many are returning to America on board QM2 this week.
NORWEGIAN Cruise Lines has bowed to passenger pressure and lifted a ban on takeaway food aboard its ships.
The restriction on guests taking meals from buffet restaurants to their cabins was imposed after recently-appointed president and CEO Frank Del Rio was dismayed at the sight of empty plates littering corridors, and spillages on the carpets.
Passengers were suspicious because the ban was imposed shortly after a $7.95 charge was introduced for room service.
Announcing the change, the company’s Andy Stuart said the timing was coincidental, and added: “Obviously this was an emotive issue. We did not realise how important it was for so many of our guests to enjoy meals at their own convenience in their stateroom.”
PICTURE: Christopher Ison/Cunard