March 4, 2014
The three then will set sail that evening in formation -- the first time QM2 has led the fleet out of Southampton.
The focus will shift when QM2 sails into Liverpool on Sunday, May 24, and makes its first overnight stay in the city, berthed in sight of the Cunard Building -- the line's headquarters for 128 years until 1967.
Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will join the ship May 25, and the entire fleet will line up on the Mersey. More than a million people saw QE2 sail into Liverpool for the first time in July 1990.
Then, on July 4, 2015 -- 175 years to the day after Cunard's first scheduled ship, Britannia, departed for New York -- QM2 will set sail from Liverpool to New York. This will be the first time since January 1968 that a Cunard ship has departed from Liverpool for America.
The 10-night crossing from Liverpool will call on Halifax and Boston just, like Britannia did, and will conclude July 14 in New York.
Next year is studded with anniversaries for Cunard: May 7, 2015, will mark 100 years since the Cunard flagship Lusitania was torpedoed while en-route from New York to Liverpool. Queen Victoria will honour the anniversary with a seven-night cruise calling on Cobh (formerly Queenstown) on May 7, 2015, 100 years to the day since Lusitania was lost. A special service ashore will be held, to which all passengers on Queen Victoria will be invited, in addition to a number of other tributes that will be made that day.
David Dingle, CEO of Cunard, says: "Cunard history reads like no other. For so long the heartbeats of Cunard and Britain have been as one, and we intend to celebrate this landmark anniversary in grand style. These special voyages have been planned over many months to commemorate key dates in the company's history with all who wish to be part of Cunard's special and unique heritage. We look forward to delivering this year of spectacle and celebration to the many people who share the pride we feel in Cunard's ongoing success on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond."
--By Adam Coulter, UK Editor