River ballet will see Three Queens dance together on River Mersey for 175th anniversary

While Liverpool’s streets were the focus for the public spectaculars of 2014, this year is all about the city’s most important highway – the River Mersey.

Plans are being made for six weeks of waterborne festivities which are expected to draw more than a million people to the Mersey waterfront between May and July.

The season of events will be bookended by two major weekends to mark the 175th anniversary of Cunard and its first transatlantic crossing from Liverpool to North America in 1840.

And we can reveal Cunard’s Three Queens will have a ‘Royal Rendezvous’ in the river in May, while in July the flagship Queen Mary 2 will replicate that voyage from 175 years ago.

The International Mersey River Festival will bring the waterfront alive between June 5-7. This three-day event will include Tall Ships, Royal and merchant navy vessels, and there’s even discussion about a Northern Boat Show which could see world class sailing and power boats head for the Mersey.

‘A most spectacular gathering’

Cunard’s three Queens will sail up the Mersey in a “series of carefully choreographed ship movements” when they appear together in a Royal Rendezvous in Liverpool.

The company is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year with what it is describing as “the world’s most spectacular gathering” of its three Queens – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria – ever seen.

May’s event will see the liners sailing in the river from Crosby as far as Tranmere.
The exact details of the event are still being kept under wraps.

But Cunard revealed today that the complex marine operations plan is well underway, being prepared by a team including the Commodore of the Cunard Fleet, Captain Christopher Rynd, Captain Steve Gallimore, the Port of Liverpool Harbour Master, and Captain Chris Booker, chairman of Liverpool Pilotage Association and senior river pilot for the event.

Specially-created computer programmes for the Mersey Pilots’ sophisticated simulator are being used to plot the positions of the ships and their manoeuvres.

Captain Booker said: “Our river simulator, and the input we are receiving from the Cunard Captains, is invaluable in helping us plan and prepare for this event. It promises to be a once in a lifetime experience for everyone involved and spectating on May 25.”

The three ships will arrive in the Mersey at different times over the late May bank holiday weekend, as part of special anniversary voyages and carrying around 6,000 passengers from 28 countries between them.

Commodore Rynd said: “With the unique backdrop of Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront, and the capacity on both sides of the Mersey to accommodate tens of thousands of spectators, I believe this will be a most spectacular gathering of the Three Queens. I’m excited by the prospect of bringing the Fleet to its spiritual home and I’m impressed by the level of engagement and collaboration between the partners involved and required to make it all possible.”

And Captain Gallimore added: “The planning is at a very advanced stage and the sight of the Cunard Queens together in close proximity off Pier Head and elsewhere in the river will create a lasting impression for spectators and those seeing TV coverage.”

In July, the Queen Mary 2 will return to mark the actual anniversary of the first transatlantic voyage of a Cunard liner, the Britannia, which sailed out of the Mersey on July 4, 1840 for Nova Scotia.

Press Release courtesy of Liverpool Echo

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