FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Three Queens

Posted in England, Southampton by folkestonejack on June 5, 2012

The final day of the extended jubilee bank holiday weekend began with an ever so slightly bonkers plan to watch Cunard’s nod to the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Cunard had scheduled their three cruise liners (Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria) so that they would arrive in Southampton in formation for the first time ever. Unfortunately, the expected arrival time for the three ships to reach the port was around dawn!

Queen Mary 2 heads into port, followed by Queen Victoria

With a few hours sleep completed I found myself wandering down to the Red Funnel terminal at Southampton to board a ferry going out to meet the three ships at 4.30am.

A surprising number of people had turned up for the trip and many hundreds more had gathered around Mayflower Park to watch the unusual meeting. Our ferry, the Red Osprey, departed on time and headed out towards Netley where we met the first of the ships approaching port. There was a vivid red sunrise over Netley which wasn’t much help to us on the path we were taking, but if anyone was on the opposute side of the estuary at Hythe or Calshot this morning they should have got a spectacular backdrop to their photos.

A plethora of small boats awaits the sail-by from Queen Mary 2

After all three ships had made their way in, accompanied by firetugs and a plethora of small boats, we followed them in to port. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria had taken up a bow-to-bow position close to City Terminal with the Queen Mary 2 approaching from the distance to pass both ships in turn (whilst displaying a newly unfurled banner with the message “Congratulations Ma’am”).

Queen Mary 2 passes Queen Victoria

Queen Mary 2 swings out after passing the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria

Queen Mary 2 heads away from her sister ships

The police boats had a job to clear the path of the small ships eager to get the best shots as the Queen Mary 2 made her pass by, before swinging out and on to Ocean Terminal. In the course of this, the three ships gave sufficient blasts of their horns to wake the dead (let alone the inhabitants of the city). An unusual way to start the day but certainly well worth the early morning wake-up call.

Queen Mary 2 heads towards Ocean Terminal, watched by the passengers of the Red Osprey

After the Queen Mary 2 had made her pass the two remaining ships separated from their bow-to-bow embrace. Our ferry returned to port around 7.30am and I disembarked from the ferry to grab a few more hours of much needed sleep!