An estimated crowd of 20,000 people lined Liverpool’s Mersey river to give Cunard’s Queen Victoria a rousing send-off.
This was the first overnight call made by a Cunard ship in the company’s ‘spiritual home’ in nearly 50 years.
Queen Victoria’s overnight stay on 30 May celebrated the 100th year to the day of the maiden voyage ofAquitania, acclaimed as the most striking four-funnelled liner ever constructed. Known as the ‘ship beautiful’, Aquitania had sailed from the same Liverpool berth on 30 May 1914.
Queen Victoria‘s two-day stay began with spectacular entertainment. Fly-board champion Jay St John entertained passengers and onlookers with a 50 feet jump up in the air propelled by two water jets attached to his feet, exchanging salutes with the Cunard Commodore at the ship’s bow.
A full day of visits and special events on board to mark the Aquitania anniversary culminated with a dazzling fireworks display against the backdrop of Liverpool’s Unesco World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City. This included the illuminated Cunard Building, headquarters of the company for over 50 years until 1967.
Celebrations continued on 31 May with huge crowds gathering along the waterfront as Queen Victoriaprepared to depart. A quayside performance by local opera singer Danielle Thomas brought the visit to an emotional climax as the ship sailed at 4pm to waves and cheers from the 20,000-strong crowd.
Cunard will mark its 175th anniversary in 2015 and all three Cunard Queens will sail together on the Mersey for the first ever time on 25 May 2015 as part of the company’s year of celebration.
Commodore of the Cunard fleet and Master of Queen Victoria Christopher Rynd said: “Having now had the privilege of bringing of all three ships of the current Cunard fleet into Liverpool I can say that the overnight visit and the send-off given by the people of that great city to Queen Victoria was truly first class and will live long in the memory. I am looking forward to 2015 and our 175th anniversary celebrations when all three Cunard ships will gather on the Mersey.”