Liverpool’s River Festival on the Waterfront kicked off in style with the arrival of the magnificent Queen Elizabeth cruise liner to the city.
Cunard’s latest luxury ship, which was launched in 2010, paid a visit to Liverpool’s cruise liner terminal to start the six-day festival, which runs until September 15th. The Queen Elizabeth stayed for the public to admire all day, and crowds gathered that same night to enjoy fireworks and music and to wave goodbye to the ocean liner.
Carol Thatcher, the daughter of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was one of the liner’s guests as it docked in Liverpool for the first time, renewing Cunard’s historic links with the city.
Samuel Cunard founded the Cunard Line in Liverpool in 1840, and Queen Elizabeth Captain Christopher Wells spoke to JMU Journalism about his ship’s visit to the company’s former home.
He said: “This is a maiden call for us here but we have
170 years of history. The Cunard building itself is here,
it is the centre one of the Three Graces. History and
heritage are very important to us and we pride
ourselves on maintaining those traditions.”
JMU Journalism was treated to a tour around the grand
vessel, which included a look inside the Royal Court
Theatre, where Her Majesty herself has sat in the Royal
Box and enjoyed a performance. The ship, which was
built in Italy, aims to recreate the high society living of
the 1930s and 1940s in a modern way. Cunard’s
Queen Elizabeth 2, which launched in 1967, retired to
Dubai in 2008.
Council Leader Joe Anderson said: “It is fantastic to
have the Queen Elizabeth in Liverpool for the start of
the On the Waterfront River Festival. Our city has a
proud maritime history and a visit from one of the
Cunard vessels is always extremely special. Our
waterfront is a great asset, and we are determined to
make the most of it. Attracting tourists and visitors
benefits the local economy hugely and creates jobs
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will also pay a visit on Thursday September 15th, and again there will be a fireworks display to mark the special occasion.
As part of the River Festival on the Waterfront celebrations, British soul singer Beverly Knight gave a free outdoor concert and sang some of her biggest hits on Saturday, while the Tall Ships also returned to the city at the weekend.
Liverpool is appealing against a restriction which prevents it from being a turnaround port, as guests can currently only arrive on the Mersey and not begin their ocean-bound journeys from the Pier Head. At the moment, Cunard cruises start and end in Southampton and the Hampshire port city opposes the plans for cruises to begin in Liverpool, citing the adverse impact that would have on its own business.
In 2015, a Cunard fleet may visit Liverpool for the company’s 175th birthday celebrations. Three of Cunard’s liners, the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2, could come together in the city for the first time.
Words by Helen Dodd, Website Editor Pictures by Liam Deveney, Level 2 Editor
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The Queen Elizabeth arrives in Liverpool; swimming pool deck view of the city's famous waterfront