Cunard's 175th birthday blowout: a 3-ship 'river dance' in Liverpool

Cunard's 175th birthday blowout: a 3-ship 'river dance' in Liverpool
Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will meet Monday in Liverpool, England, to celebrate the company's 175th anniversary. (Cunard Line)

On Monday, Cunard will celebrate its 175th birthday by gathering its fleet -- the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria -- in Liverpool to perform a "river dance" on the Mersey River.

Cunard describes the event in a statement as "a meticulously planned series of maneuvers" performed by the ships with the iconic red stacks.

In 1840, the first Cunard ship, the Britannia, set sail from England to America -- a route the cruise line continues to this day.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to watch the ships sail in formation to the city where Cunard made its headquarters from 1916 to 1967.

You can stream it live here from 5:30 to 7 a.m. PDT Monday (12:30 to 2 p.m. in England).

Meet the Queens

The three Cunard ships united for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebration in 2012. (Cunard Line)

This isn't the first time the three ships will get together this year. The ships converged in their homeport of Southampton, England, on May 3 for a ceremony.

Also, the Queen Mary 2 will embark on a sailing to mark the company's first trans-Atlantic crossing. It will leave Liverpool on July 4 -- the same day the Britannia set out for Halifax, Canada, and Boston in 1840.

Queen Mary 2

(Cunard Line)

Commodore Christopher Rynd, left, of the Queen Victoria, Capt. Inger Klein Thorhauge of the Queen Elizabeth and Capt. Chris Wells of the Queen Mary 2 stand on the distinctive red funnel of the QM2. Photo courtesy Cunard Line

The sister ship to the historic Queen Mary now docked in Long Beach was launched in December 2003. It is the flagship of the Cunard Line.

The original Queen Mary was named for Mary of Teck, the wife of King George V. It launched in 1936 and has been turned into a hotel and museum. The newest Queen Mary 2 has 15 restaurants and bars, swimming pools, a casino, ballroom and a planetarium. It can hold 2,620 passengers and 1,253 crew members.

Queen Elizabeth

The Art Deco decor in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth. (Cunard Line)

This ship is the baby in the current Cunard family. The Queen Elizabeth was christened by her namesake, Queen Elizabeth II, in 2010.

It's the third Cunard ship to bear the name Elizabeth. The first was launched in 1938 and -- after being pressed into service to ferry troops during World War II -- it made trans-Atlantic crossings starting in 1946. It was retired in 1968.

The Queen Elizabeth 2, a.k.a., QE2, was launched in 1967 and took its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City in 1969. It was retired in 2008 and stands as the longest serving ship in line's history.

The newest Queen Elizabeth can hold 2,068 passengers and 996 crew members.

Queen Victoria

The library on the Queen Victoria. (Cunard Line)

The ship is named for the great British monarch, Queen Victoria. Of the three, it's the smallest. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, christened the ship in 2007. And it carries a special distinction for Cunard: It's the first in the fleet to have a female captain, Inger Klein Thorhauge.

The ship can hold 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members.


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