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Three Queen cruise ships line up for landmark photo

Three Queen cruise ships line up for landmark photo
Three Queen cruise ships line up for landmark photo
James Morgan

For the first time ever, the three Cunard Queens have been photographed together. And to line up the Queen Mary 2 with her sister ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria took months of meticulous planning.

The three cruise ships sailed in formation from Lisbon to the United Kingdom to celebrate Queen Mary 2’s 10th anniversary in Southampton on Friday, May 9.

"Most of the work in this type of photography is actually in the preparation beforehand,” said photographer James Morgan. “You don’t just happen to go up in a helicopter and take a great shot. Months of preparation go into planning these things for that moment.”

Morgan did take to the skies in a helicopter to capture iconic shots of the three ships sailing abreast of one another. Serving as centerpiece of the shoot was Queen Mary 2, the only ocean liner in service today and still the fastest passenger ship afloat 10 years after being named by Her Majesty the Queen in 2004.

Since entering service, the Queen Mary 2 has sailed 1.5 million nautical miles on over 400 voyages including 213 Transatlantic Crossings. The ship measures an impressive 1,132 feet in length and stands 236.2 feet in height. She weights a massive 150,000 gross tons.

Queen Mary 2 has called at 182 ports in 60 countries and carried more than 1.3 million guests.

“This is the first time all three Queens of the Cunard fleet have been seen together anywhere outside Southampton or New York and the first time these magnificent ships have been seen together at sea,” David Dingle, CEO of Cunard Lines, said in a news release.

To capture the landmark photo, Morgan worked with the captains and crew of the three ships to coordinate down to the last detail how the photo shoot would happen. It took about an hour for the three ships to sail out of Lisbon to the site of the shoot. For that to happen, all shipping in the area had to be totally cleared so the three Queens would have the necessary safety for such a technical maneuver.

“It’s all about orchestrating the maneuver in advance,” James said. “When you are dealing with the largest ocean liner in the world, you can’t sit in a helicopter asking if it can go left a bit or right a bit because it doesn’t work like that. A three-ship formation like this has to be finely coordinated and choreographed ahead of time. It’s not like directing traffic – this is more like ship ballet.”

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