Three queens and a million people

By | Category: Travel news
Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Today Liverpool will see the three queens of the Cunard fleet all meet in Liverpool. That three ships, Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth are meeting in one port is rare but not unusual. That one million people are expected to line the quaysides to see the three ships is.

If one million people attend, it means that it will be in the top forty of the most visited attractions in the UK this year. The difference is that Canterbury Cathedral gets roughly the same number of visitors but spread over a whole year. It is ten times the number of people that will visit Culloden and Hatfield House and twice the number that will visit the Imperial War Museum. More people will make the journey to the Mersey than visit such popular attractions as the Eden Project in Cornwall, the National Railway Museum in York, Whipsnade or Edinburgh Zoo’s, Tower Bridge or Titanic Belfast.

And all this is really in just two days. It is to celebrate the 175th birthday of the Cunard Line

From that point of view surely this is the biggest visitor spectacle of the year, yet how many people knew it was happening?

Liverpudlians and Merseysiders did but that was about it.

The Cunard Line was based in Liverpool for many years so that might explain some of the enthusiasm. Samuel Cunard started his business there in 1840 and ships in the pre-queens age like the Mauritania and Lusitania frequently held the Blue Riband award for the fastest Atlantic crossing. But it was the era of the two queens, Mary and Elizabeth that cemented the affection of the Cunard Line. With astonishing elegance and service during WWII, both ships are around today. Queen Mary is a floating hotel in California and the wreck of Queen Elizabeth is in Hong Kong harbour having been used as a setting for a James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun in the 1970’s. Their successor, QE2, is in Dubai where she may be turned into another floating hotel.

In an age when we expect to pay to have a day out with an admission fee in excess of a fiver, this free event will just cost transport costs. And because the three ships are slightly larger than most things, they will be easily seen from many vantage points so people don’t need to be crammed into small areas of the city or on the other side of the Mersey.

As Queen Mary 2 entered the Mersey yesterday, tweets abounded with ideas of the best position to see the ships. In front of the Liver building it made this one large building seem a little small in comparison. New Brighton looks a good spot when the other two enter the port today but all three will be pirouetting in the Mersey before a light show tonight.

For more about the 175th anniversary, click here.

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