When Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria arrives in Liverpool on Friday (May 30), it will be celebrating history as well as making a little bit of history itself.
Queen Victoria will be in Liverpool to mark the departure exactly 100 years earlier, on May 30, 1914, of Aquitania, one of the most famous and beloved ships in Cunard history. Queen Victoria will remain overnight, thus making the first overnight call in Cunard’s “spiritual” home of Liverpool by a Cunard passenger ship since Franconia in January 1968 – almost 50 years ago.
The historic overnight Liverpool port of call will take place during Queen Victoria’s 13-night Around the British Isles cruise which departs Southampton on May 23. The cruise will also call at Edinburgh (from New Haven – a maiden call), Invergordon, Kirkwall (maiden call), Glasgow (from Greenock), Dublin, Cobh (Ireland) and St. Peter Port (Guernsey) before returning to Southampton on June 5.
Activities planned to celebrate this unique call will include local opera singer Danielle Thomas performing both during the afternoon on May 30 and for Queen Victoria’s May 31 departure, and also a Civic Reception and Dinner on board before late-evening fireworks will cap another day of Mersey maritime history.
Aquitania – a Cunard legend that became known as the “Ship Beautiful” – is considered one of the most beautiful liners ever built and certainly the most beautiful four-funnelled liner ever constructed. It became one of the longest-serving Cunarders in history (36 years), sailed more miles than any other (three million), and was the only major liner to serve in both World Wars. In fact, Sir Winston Churchill credited it and the two Cunard Queens (the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth) with shortening the Second World War by a year. Aquitania’s length of Cunard service and miles sailed were both only surpassed by QE2.
“Each visit by a Cunard ship to the Mersey marks a new milestone for both Cunard and the City of Liverpool, our spiritual home,” said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line. “This call by Queen Victoria is special though – the departure of Aquitania exactly 100 years ago is something to celebrate and we intend to do that in true Cunard style on the actual day of the anniversary.”
Dingle continued, “Both Cunard and Liverpool have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to – especially with the 2015 celebrations we have announced in the city to mark our 175th anniversary.”
Also noteworthy, Queen Victoria will have called at Greenock on the Clyde the previous day, on May 29, and this also has a close connection with Aquitania as it was built at the famous John Brown Shipyard on the Clyde.
An earlier Cunard ship, Lusitania, will be remembered for its loss in the First World War when Queen Victoria arrives in Cobh, as is becoming the custom when Cunard ships call there.