The first ever pictures of Cunard's three iconic liners sailing in formation as Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria make their way to the UK
These three glamorous sisters aren't often seen together and they have never before been photographed sailing in formation.
But with the Queen Mary 2 marking her 10th anniversary, it seemed the perfect opportunity for a new set of family photos, capturing the ocean liner and her two sisters Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria sailing side by side.
The liners are all sailing in formation as they prepare to arrive together in Southampton where the 10th anniversary celebrations will be attended by the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.
While the three ships have - on rare occasions - been photographed together before, it is the first time a shoot has been undertaken to capture them all sailing together. And it took months of meticulous planning.
Photographer James Morgan took to the skies in a helicopter to capture the iconic shots of the three ships sailing abreast as they make their way from Lisbon, their last port of call before their grand entrance into Southampton.
Queen Mary 2 is on the final leg of her World Cruise and her sister ships were on hand to escort her home in style.
The birthday girl is the world's grandest ocean liner and met up with her sisters in Lisbon, Portugal, before setting sail for the UK and her birthday celebrations.
The three ships moored together certainly drew crowds as people snapped pictures of the very rare family portrait.
Images shot from rooftops in the famously hilly city show this triumvirate of sisters pulled to shore just east of Lisbon’s famous 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
The threesome last met up in June 2012, when they turned up en masse in Southampton to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a display of unity.
They also managed to synchronise diaries in January 2011, appearing together in front of the Statue of Liberty – after Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth had sailed across the Atlantic in tandem to meet their sibling alongside New York’s most fabled landmark.
Although close relations, the ships have distinct differences.
Queen Mary 2 is the matriarch of the group – and the biggest.
Launched in March 2003, she is capable of holding up to 2620 passengers, and is the largest vessel ever to have been built for Cunard.
She is also four years older than her nearest relative Queen Victoria, who was completed in January 2007, and is smaller than the QM2, with a capacity of 2014 people.
The baby of the bunch is Queen Elizabeth.
Constructed, effectively, as a replacement for her near-namesake Queen Elizabeth 2 (the QE2) – the grand dame of the seas who was retired in 2008 – she first sailed in January 2010, and is able to transport 2092 holidaymakers.
Although all three arrived in Lisbon from separate locations – the QM2 from Rome’s Civitavecchia port, Queen Victoria from Tenerife, Queen Elizabeth from Palma de Mallorca – they departed for home quite quickly so that all three will pull into Southampton on Friday for another family snapshot.
Source: Travelmail Reporter