As everyone knows by now, 2015 is the 175th anniversary of Cunard or British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company as it was originally called. Since returning from the world cruises on the 3rd May, we’ve had all three ships in Southampton, the sinking of the Lusitania centenary commemoration and all the ships in the Mersey with a flypast from the Red Arrows en route to a display in Blackpool. Next up in the true anniversary of the 4th July, the day Britannia set sail from Liverpool. The recreation of this crossing begins in Southampton 2 days before with a thank you to the city they have used for over 100 years. Some wrongly believe Cunard only started calling at Southampton in 1967 when they moved their head office out of Liverpool but the connection with the city goes back to 1911 with Albania, Ausonia and Ascania. They ships loaded cargo at Tilbury then sailed to Southampton for the passengers before continuing onto Quebec and Montreal. The first ship arrived on the 2nd May 1911 – exactly 58 years before their most famous ship, and first registered in the port, QE2, sailed on her maiden voyage. The relationship was cemented in 1919 when Cunard decided to base some of their ships on the south coast for the New York run and they’ve been here ever since.
So the celebrations begin in earnest with a 25 minute display by the Red Arrows at 3.05pm, while Mary herself will be docked in City Terminal, only the 7th time she’s been alongside. Other big ships dock there but none have that presence Mary has. It truly is a sight to behold and I’m excited to see her there again.
I missed the 1st October 2010 as my mother was in hospital. It was the first time Mary had been starboard there and they turned her on the spot instead of going to the Upper Swinging Ground where I’d have been able to see her from my mum’s side room. Grrr!
Mary will set sail for Liverpool at 6pm where she arrives early on the 4th then heads across the Atlantic to Halifax, Boston and then New York after 10.30pm fireworks.
So while Cunard says thank you to Southampton, I say a resounding thank you back and long may the association last! Roll on July!!!!
PS, does anyone else think it ironic P&O’s new flagship, Britannia, is in Southampton on the 4th July?