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Queen Elizabeth makes first Long Beach visit during Queen Mary's 80th year

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth to visit Long Beach for the first time during Queen Mary's 80th year celebrations

The Queen Mary will spend at least part of her 80th birthday with a royal relative. For the first time, the modern-day Queen Elizabeth will dock aside the historic Cunard ship-turned-hotel in Long Beach next Thursday.

"The Elizabeth will berth adjacent to the Queen Mary and her arrival will begin a day-long series of events and activities to celebrate the unprecedented meeting of ships," Queen Mary's general manager John Jenkins said in an announcement Wednesday.

The luxury Cunard Line ship is expected to arrive at 7 a.m. and leave around sunset the same day, according to the statement. This year also marks the 175th year since Cunard Line's first transatlantic crossing.

The Queen Mary will be free to visitors from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 5) and will offer special tours and a bagpipe salute. (The back of the Queen Mary offers the best viewing area for visitors to watch a whistle salute between the two ships and fireworks.)

The original Queen Elizabeth was the sister ship to what has become a Southern California landmark. In their day, both Cunard ships made thousands of transatlantic crossings between England and New York.

And this isn't the first time the two ships have "met." In 2013, the Queen Elizabeth came by for a whistle salute but didn't dock.

In addition, the Queen Mary celebrates its eight decades with a new Ship Model Gallery on the Promenade Deck. The gallery will display models of many famous ships -- the Titanic, Lusitania (which was sunk 100 years ago this year), the Queen Victoria, and more -- and feature a 20-foot long model of the Queen Mary itself.

The gallery will open to the public at 12:30 p.m.

The Queen Mary was christened in Scotland in September 1934 by King George V and its namesake Queen Mary. The ship didn't make its maiden voyage until 1936. The hotel is celebrating the ship's 80 years from September 2014 until this September.


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