Big send-off party planned on Princes Parade

AT least something is coming home. 

Cunard’s flagsgip Queen Elizabeth is sailing into Liverpool next week for a one day music and confetti bonanza on Princes Parade. 

She will be breezing over from Belfast on the morning tide next Monday, July 23, to mark the 80th anniversary of the launch of Cunard’s second Mauretania at Cammell Laird’s, in Birkenhead, on July 28,1938. 

A special sail away show will take place on the cruise berth, at Princes Dock, beginning at 4.30pm and going on until 6pm when she actually sets sail. Spectators can enjoy a variety of musical performances including award-winning opera singer Joanne Dennis. This will be followed by a confetti show as the ship sails back out to the Irish Sea, Dublin bound, and then to Guernsey before returning to Southampton - her real, rather than “spiritual” home on Friday 27 July. 

For spectators wishing to come along to the sail away show, “all are welcome", say organisers. A viewing area will be at Princes Parade which is set to be transformed in the next two years with the construction of a permanent and rather flashier cruise berth and the relocation of the Isle of Man Ferries terminal.

Mauretania Launch 2
The Mauretania launch in Birkenhead, 1939

A Cunard visit is still seen as quite a big deal in Liverpool’s cruise season, as the company was founded in Liverpool in 1839, merging with another shipping giant, White Star, a century later. 

The second Mauretania was the first ship to be built for the newly formed company. She was the largest ship ever to be built in an English shipyard at the time. 

Launches at Cammell Laird’s during those years drew tens of thousands of people eager to witness these immense constructions plunging into the water for the first time. It was also in the day when, for millions of European emigrants, Liverpool was the last place in the Old World they would ever see as they took their chances in the new one.  

We’re incredibly proud of our maritime heritage and our strong connection to Cunard.

As with many passenger ships Mauretania’s maiden voyage was to New York, in 1939. But shortly The vessel served as a troop-ship during World War II and continued in service until 1965 when she was broken up in Scotland.

It took Cunard nearly 130 years to move out of Liverpool. Aviation meant the transatlantic passenger freight game was up for shipping companies so Cunard evolved into the cruise game and moved to the far-more-convenient Southampton. Their former head office on the waterfront is now, of course, Uncle Joe and Liverpool City Council’s main HQ. 

Queen Elizabeth Liverpool
Queen Elizabeth docked in Liverpool - she'll return on Monday 23rd July

Earlier in the day on Monday 23 July, Queen Elizabeth’s call and the anniversary will be marked by a special service at Liverpool Parish Church led by the Rector of Liverpool the Revd Dr Crispin Pailing. In the congregation will be civic dignitaries, including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Master of Queen Elizabeth Captain Aseem Hashmi and other Cunard representatives.  

Head of Cruise & Maritime Operations at Cruise Liverpool, Peter Murney said: 

"To have Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth visiting us on the anniversary of the Second Mauritania launching at Cammell Laird shipyard is extremely special for us. We’re incredibly proud of our maritime heritage and our strong connection to Cunard. 

"This Cruise season is in full swing and we couldn’t be happier to be able to welcome thousands of passengers and crew to our beautiful city. The sail away show for Queen Elizabeth is one you won’t want to miss."  

Vice President of Marketing at Cunard, Angus Struthers, said: “This will be Queen Elizabeth’s seventh visit to the Mersey. We are immensely proud that her return to Liverpool gives us the opportunity to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the launch of our second Mauretania from Cammell Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead. It promises to be another great day for Cunard in our spiritual home.”

Admission is by ticket only and a small number are still available by emailing or calling 0151 625 0503. The service starts at 1100.