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U.S. festivities set as Queen Mary 2 celebrates 175 years of Cunard crossings

When the Queen Mary 2 sails into Boston and New York City next week, it will be met by historic ships and vessels to mark the 175th anniversary of Cunard Cruise Line's first transatlantic journey, which began July 4, 1840.

The Britannia set sail that day to cross the Atlantic from Liverpool to Canada and then on to the U.S. Now the Queen Mary 2 re-creates the voyage. It left Liverpool on Saturday amid a flourish of fireworks.

The ship is expected to arrive in Halifax, Canada, on Friday and in Boston on Sunday. Capt. Kevin Oprey of the Queen Mary 2 will throw out the first pitch of a Boston Red Sox versus New York Yankees game at Fenway Park.

At 9:45 p.m., there will be a fireworks display near Fan Pier.

The ship then sails for New York City and will arrive July 14 at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge around 5:30 a.m. and berth at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook area at 7:15 a.m.

The John J. Harvey Fireboat, built in 1931, will be there to greet the cruise ship (the fireboat will take passengers for free; check the fireboat's website for details) as well as the Nantucket Lightship floating lighthouse and other vessels ranging from tugs to oil tankers.

As part of the celebrations, the ship's captain also will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on July 14.

At 9:30 p.m., the celebration comes to a close when the Queen Mary 2 stops in front of the Statue of Liberty for a light show above the ship that will be visible from Battery Park in New York City.

The show, designed by Quantum Theatricals, will be cast over the ship, illuminating the sky and the harbor as lights dance in sync with a musical score.

The Queen Mary 2, which has been sailing since 2004, made its 200th transatlantic crossing in July 2013.

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