Liverpool certainly knows how to welcome a cruise ship. There’s a party atmosphere at the dock whenever a ship is in town, with people from across the city making the trip to see the latest visitor from the high seas. Reasons vary, some have worked on the ships, some have been passengers and some are just plain curious. The arrival of the three Cunard Queens, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria on Bank Holiday Monday was clearly going to be a very special party. As big cruise ship fans, we decided to make the most of the occasion and join the fun.
We live near the coast, so our Three Queens weekend started very early on Sunday morning, as we stood on a soggy sand dune peering out into the wet and misty Mersey in the hope of seeing Queen Mary 2 approaching from the Irish Sea. No chance. We couldn’t even see where the beach ended and the sea began. We were no wiser than if we’d stayed in bed, just wetter. We headed home to watch events unfold on Twitter.
We did, however, visit Liverpool that afternoon to have a good look at QM2 and a wander along Pier Head, enjoying the atmosphere, street theatre and amazing buildings.
Everything was set up for the evening’s Amazing Graces light show and fireworks, which we returned to see at 10pm, after another stroll past QM2, beautifully lit up for her evening on the town.
The light show started a little late but there was a justifiable air of expectation among the waiting crowds. It was 30 amazing minutes, as images representing the maritime history of Liverpool and Cunard were projected onto the Three Graces. Wow, what a show.
The main question for the big reunion on Monday was where to watch from? We decided to head to New Brighton, on the other side of the Mersey, for the best views of the three ships meeting up and their sail in formation down the river, infront of the spectacular skyline of Liverpool. Arriving in plenty of time we enjoyed a hot coffee and a stroll around the area. We’d not been ‘over the water’ for many years and had forgotten how spectacular the views were.
At 10.45am, as planned, QM2 left her berth in Liverpool and sailed up the Mersey towards us.
We could just see the two sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria waiting out at sea. We then had a rather cold and breezy wait for the three to pal up, entertained by a lively band of drummers.
When the three Queens finally began their sail in formation towards the Three Graces we kept up with them for a while, following the crowd along the promenade towards Birkenhead. What a great atmosphere. The houses along the river were bedecked with flags, people had set up marquees on the grass and the deck chairs and barbecues were out. Everyone was in party mood.
Eventually the sun came out. Tired and hungry, we sat on a wall, broke out the butties and watched in the glorious sunshine as the three Queens carried on their way along the Mersey, to line up opposite the Three Graces – The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.
We didn’t get up close and personal with the manoeuvres, hear the music or be under the flight path of the Red Arrows, but we’d had a magnificent view of the proceedings up to that point and got another fabulous view of QM2 as she left Liverpool….
….and of Queen Elizabeth as she took QM2’s place at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
With the show over and no chance of a ‘ferry cross the Mersey’, we trudged wearily to Birkenhead for the ‘train under the Mersey’ and so back home, feeling privileged to have been part of a very special day.