Monday 21 February 2011

Sydney Prepares for Royal Rendezvous with the New Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2

Sydney will host a tandem Royal arrival of two Queens for the first time when Cunard's latest ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth, makes her maiden visit to the city accompanied by her larger sister Queen Mary 2.

Midway through her inaugural 103-night world voyage, the 90,900-tonne Queen Elizabeth will meet Queen Mary 2 outside Sydney Heads before 5.30am Tuesday morning before following her sister into Sydney Harbour and berthing at the Overseas Passenger Terminal around 7am.

On her way to Garden Island Queen Mary 2 will round Fort Denison, sounding her whistle as she passes Queen Elizabeth around 6.30am.

Sydney will be the first of Queen Elizabeth's three Australian calls as she arrives from New Zealand on her inaugural world voyage.

The visits by the two ships are expected to deliver close to $3 million into the Sydney economy, with both ships carrying more than 6000 guests and crew between them.

Cunard Line's President and Managing Director Peter Shanks said the cruise line was anticipating a warm welcome from the city.

"Sydneysiders and visitors always enthusiastically welcome our liners when they visit and we hope it will continue for this historic Royal Rendezvous when our latest, Queen Elizabeth, arrives for the first time, chaperoned by her sister Queen Mary 2," Mr Shanks said.

The two liners' historic meeting in Sydney will recall an earlier Royal Rendezvous when the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth - both then World War II troopships - passed each other at Sydney Heads on April 9, 1941.

A special remembrance service, conducted with the assistance of the NSW branch of the RSL and the Australian military, and a lunch in tribute to 'Australia's Finest Generation', many of whom sailed to war on the original Cunard Queens, will be held onboard Queen Mary 2 on Wednesday.

Both ships will spend the night of February 22 in Sydney Harbour with Queen Elizabeth set to farewell her magnificent larger sister with a whistle salute at around midday the next day as she sails past her bound for Melbourne.

Having already called at Fremantle and Adelaide, Queen Mary 2 will depart for Christchurch at 5pm on February 23.

Launched in the United Kingdom by Her Majesty The Queen in October last year, Queen Elizabeth pays homage to Cunard's original Queen Elizabeth, offering famous Cunard hallmarks plus some new additions.

Her many features include more than 700 private balcony cabins, more than 10 restaurants and cafes, a two-storey library complete with leaded glass ceiling and a Games Deck including paddle tennis, croquet and bowls.

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