Queen Victoria makes a splash in Sydney

Other News Materials 23 February 2008 09:20 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- The arrival of the world's newest liner drew thousands of spectators to Sydney Harbour on Saturday.

A one-night-stand in Australia's biggest city signals the halfway point in the maiden round-the-world voyage of the 90,000-ton Queen Victoria.

Many of those on the waterfront for a first glimpse of the Queen Victoria will be back on Sunday to witness the happy coincidence of the two-month-old ship passing a fellow Cunard ship, the 43-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2, which is on its final circumnavigation before being tied up in Dubai to be refurbished into a luxury hotel.

The Queen Victoria, at 293 metres, is the same length as the ship it was built to replace. It comes in Cunard's standard blue-and-red livery and will swap whistle-blasts with the QE2 as it leaves the world's most majestic harbour for Brisbane.

The QE2 will berth in Sydney for the 29th and final time. Its first visit was in 1978, six years before it stopped in Bremerhaven, Germany, to have its engines converted from steam to diesel-electric.

The QE2 is Cunard's longest-serving ship, having clocked up a record 5 million nautical miles.

The last time Cunard liners named after British monarchs were in Sydney together was 12 months ago when the Queen Mary 2 and the QE2 drew a welcoming party of hundreds of thousands of people.

So many people made a beeline for the harbour that the city was in gridlock the whole day. The chaos was amplified by a pile up on the Harbour Bridge caused by a motorist watching the luxury liners rather than the road.

The 151,000-ton QM2, the largest moving object ever to visit Australia, was then halfway through its maiden round-the-world voyage. At 23 storeys and 345 metres, it was too big to dock at the berths set aside for cruise liners in Circular Quay next to the famous bridge and tied up at a naval yard instead.

Before the QM2 and the QE2 met in Sydney, the last time two Cunard queens were together in the harbour was April 9, 1941, when during their war service as troopships the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth met in the waterway.

They were too big for any of the berths available at that time and had to ride at anchor. The Queen Mary was launched in 1934 and ended her days as a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.

The Queen Elizabeth, which from 1938 to 1961 was the largest ocean liner in the world, was retired in 1968. Four years later in Hong Kong, the 83,000-ton vessel caught fire and capsized.