By Stephanie Raygoza
Union Jack flags fluttered in the air as spectators witnessed maritime history when the Queen Mary met its sister cruise liner, the Queen Victoria, for the first time last Thursday.
The Cunard “Royal Rendezvous,” presented by the company that built the ships, provided free entrance to attendees. Those aboard the Queen Mary witnessed, for only the second time in history, a modern queen visiting its docked sister ship.
Visitors filled the Queen Mary’s Promenade Deck as claps of fireworks marked the occasion while the sister ships exchanged a series of whistle salutes. The event provided music, drinks from the ship’s Observation Bar and access to shops and restaurants for all on board.
Queen Victoria, the third-largest Cunard cruise liner built, made the stop to Long Beach as part of its Americas Season debut, which continues through late March and embarks on a 15-day Panama Canal voyage. Queen Victoria is set to return to the West Coast in early 2012.
The event was also in conjunction with the upcoming celebration of the Queen Mary’s 75th anniversary maiden voyage from Southampton, England.
“I thought it would be pretty cool to see Queen Victoria, and it’s a historic event,” said Long Beach resident Sandra Gutierrez, who brought along her husband and children. “She’s gorgeous and beautiful.”
The first rendezvous took place in February 2006, when Queen Mary II, on its maiden call to Los Angeles, met its namesake.
The Queen Mary served as a Cunard liner for more than 30 years and hallmarked the golden age of ocean travel. The ship served as a troopship during World War II and Royal Mail ship with the British Royal Mail service. Retired in 1967, the ship now serves as a hotel, museum and tourist attraction.
Amy Lindow, who has boarded the Queen Mary II as part of a transatlantic voyage, said she’s been a fan of ocean liners since she was 16.
“I think it’s neat the way they try to perpetuate the legacy of these great ships,” said Lindow. “It’s such a great part of history.”