Cunard’s three liners have gathered in Southampton to mark the start of the shipping company’s 175th anniversary celebrations.Queen Mary 2 will lead Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria in a procession down Southampton Water and the Solent from 16:30 BST.The event aims to pay homage to the city which is the fleet’s home port.Further celebrations will take place in Liverpool, where the company has its headquarters, in May and July.”For the very first time Queen Mary 2 will lead a daylight parade of Cunard’s three queens down Southampton Water and into the Solent,” said Angus Struthers, from Cunard.
The procession will pass Calshot and Lee-on-Solent, as well as Cowes and Ryde on the Isle of Wight.
The fleet is expected to reach the island’s Nab Tower at 19:30, when the ships will break formation.
Queen Elizabeth will head to Hamburg, Queen Victoria will travel to Guernsey’s St Peter Port, while Queen Mary 2 will head across the Atlantic to New York.
All three queens will sail down the Mersey in Liverpool on 25 May – an event which Cunard predicts will attract a million spectators.
They are also due to feature in celebrations in the city at the start of July, when Queen Mary 2 will replicate the line’s first transatlantic voyage.
An exhibition celebrating the liner era has also opened in Southampton to mark the anniversary.
Cunard was founded in 1840, with Sir Samuel Cunard’s mail steamship RMS Britannia beginning its transatlantic service to Halifax and Boston from Liverpool.