Flagship Queen Mary 2 sailed from the Liverpool berth up to the mouth of the Mersey at 10:45 this morning to meet her sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The three ships then sailed in close single file down the river to Liverpool's Pier Head with its iconic 'Three Graces': The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.
Queen Mary 2 slowed in the river opposite the Cunard Building – Cunard’s headquarters for nearly 50 years until 1967 – with her sister ships stopping ahead of her to create a three ship line-up watched by spectators on both sides of the river.
Just 400 metres apart, the three ships then performed a graceful 180-degree synchronised turn to starboard. At the mid-point of the turn, all three ships lay across the river, creating the spectacle of the fleet’s three bows dramatically set against the backdrop of Liverpool’s Three Graces. Queen Mary 2 then sounded ‘175’ on her ship’s whistle – first one, then seven short blasts, then five more.
With the full turn completed and the 150,000gt Queen Mary 2 now in the leading position, her two 90,000gt sisters then glided slowly towards either side to create an arrowhead formation, with the flagship just ahead of her two consort ships.
Finally, the fleet lined up three abreast across the river just 130 metres apart, as a salute to the Cunard Building and the city of Liverpool.
'It’s been a privilege to bring the Cunard fleet together on the Mersey for the first time ever to mark Cunard’s 175th anniversary year and our historic and ongoing partnership with Liverpool, our spiritual home,' said Christopher Rynd, commodore of the Cunard fleet.
'There has always been a special bond between Cunard and Liverpool and the northwest, with so many people having worked for or with Cunard over the years. There’s an emotional connection between us. Cunard is more than just a shipping line – it’s a source of pride that means so much to us and everyone associated with it. It’s a real pleasure to be able to celebrate that enduring bond between us all in such a special way today.'
Cunard director Angus Struthers added: 'All of us at Cunard have been touched by the fantastic reception the three Queens have received from the people of Liverpool and beyond today. It feels like 175 years of stories, people and history linking Cunard to the city have really come alive.'
A 90-minute programme of helicopter footage of the Queens sailing in formation, interviews and crowd reaction from the day can be seen at www.live.cunard.com or on www.cunard.co.uk.