The Duke of Edinburgh will today join in celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the luxury cruise liner, Queen Mary 2, which will be making a rare arrival at its home port alongside its two sister ships.
The Queen Mary 2 was named by the Queen and Prince Philip in January 2004 when it became the flagship of the Cunard fleet.
The ship will sail into Southampton for the occasion accompanied by the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria making the Hampshire port the only place in the world to have hosted the "Three Queens" three times. Source: PA.
The celebrations will begin with an early morning birthday salute on the ships' whistles and end with a firework display as the liners depart in convoy.
Angus Struthers, Cunard's marketing director, said: "We're delighted to have the Three Queens come together in our home port, Southampton, to mark the first 10 years of the grandest ocean liner ever built - Queen Mary 2.
"Southampton is where Queen Mary 2 was named by Her Majesty The Queen in 2004 and Southampton has been the main UK departure point for Cunard's crossings to New York since 1919.
"So it is fitting that it is in Southampton that we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Queen Mary 2, which has become almost synonymous with Transatlantic voyages, and we are honoured that HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will be visiting this magnificent ship in celebration of this milestone."
During his visit, Prince Philip will meet staff in the ship's grand lobby before being given a tour of the crew areas including seeing crew training and visiting the staff bar where he will meet some of the workers.
He will then visit the bridge where he will sound the ship's whistle and sign the visitor's book. A reception will then be held in the Queen's Room where Prince Philip will unveil a new portrait of the ship and stand for a formal photograph with the current and former captains of the ship. He will then attend a private lunch on-board.
Since 2004, Queen Mary 2 has undertaken a total of 419 voyages including over 200 Transatlantic crossings, called at 182 ports in 60 countries and carried more than 1.3 million guests.
Best summer 2014 cruise holidays
Prince Philip parties on the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton
There's no better time to enjoy the Med than during summer and if you want more time to explore the sights on land than at sea then a P&O Cruises' Mediterranean Fly-cruise (from £829) is for you. A seven-day holiday takes in six iconic European destinations (Venice, Ajaccio and Dubrovnik are just a few) and allows you to fly from your local airport directly to your first port of call before setting sail to somewhere new the next day. The cruises are perfect if you're a first-timer or travelling with children. What's more, you can spend extra time on land with the 'cruise and stay' option. Just add a hotel stay where you're planning to join or leave ship Ventura.
It's no secret that the Galapagos Islands are a photographer's dream but why leave it to the professionals? On a Sanctuary Retreats Galapagos Photo Safari (23 to 30 August 2014) with Natural World Safaris, you can discover the intriguing wildlife and learn how to make the most of your camera skills on a cruise hosted by award-winning photographer Jonathan R. Green. From albatrosses to sea lions, pelicans to iguanas, cormorants, flamingos and whales, there's an abundance of wildlife to capture on camera while on board MV Eclipse. The holiday includes flights, all meals, accommodation, transfers, excursions and workshops from £4,675 per person.
For a truly special summer cruise in Europe, look no further than the 12-night Venice Simplon Orient Express, French Riviera and Adriatic Cruise from Imagine Cruising. The 12-night journey starts in style with a two-day train ride on the Venice Simplon Orient Express from London to Venice, before a luxury night's stay in Venice and three nights in Lake Garda. The journey continues with a seven-night cruise onboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, with ports of call including Korcula, Heraklion, Rhodes, Kusadasi and finally Athens. Departing on 22 June 2014, the trip starts from £3,599 per person and includes the Orients Express journey, return flights, hotel stays, a full-board cruise and all international transfers.
On an eight-day Circle Kyushu cruise on Princess Cruises' Princess Sun (from 1,459 per person with Travelbag), you'll get to see the wonders of Japan and South Korea. Experience the healing geothermal waters and spas of Beppu, visit Usuki Castle Ruins and meet some 1,500 wild macaque monkeys at Mt. Takasaki Monkey Park. Flights leave from Heathrow with Qatar Airways and the holiday includes one night pre-cruise hotel accommodation in Osaka. Book before 28 February and receive a free balcony upgrade, up to $200 per couple towards a shore excursion and a free formal photograph and frame.
With temperatures ranging from 18C to 24C during the summer, the Canary Islands offer warm weather and plenty more for an unforgettable cruise holiday. Discover the majestic volcanic crater of Tenerife’s Mount Teide, spend time in pretty La Palma and explore the black sand and stark landscapes of Lanzarote. P&O Cruises offers a Madeira, Canaries & Portugal holiday, taking in Madeira, La Palma, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Lisbon over 12 nights from £949 per person on a 23 June 2014 departure.
A summer cruise doesn't have to mean a hot and sunny one. If you're looking for adventure, spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife, you'll love The Mighty Fine Company's Spitsbergen: Kingdom of the Polar Bear cruise. The Norwegian island offers glaciers and majestic snow-capped mountains, taking travellers to otherworldly shores where the magnificent polar bears outnumber human inhabitants and the lovely long days of the Midnight Sun make wildlife watching a pure delight. There are July and August departures, with prices from £4,004 per person including flights and full-board accommodation on MS Fram.
Throughout summer 2014, Thomson Celebration will sail around the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea from the port of Marmaris, Turkey. The Aegean & the Holy Land itinerary offers the chance to visit the awe-inspiring cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, seeing some of the world’s most impressive shrines and monuments, along with the Garden of Gethsemane, the Wailing Wall and the Dead Sea. The seven-night cruise costs from £729 per person and visits Ashdod (for Jerusalem and Bethlehem), Larnaca, Cyprus; and Alanya, Turkey.
This summer, SeaDream Yacht Club is operating its first-ever cruise from the UK with a Dover to Dover itinerary taking in the Baltic and Norwegian Fjords. The 112-guest SeaDream I will explore the summer yachting ports of Northern Europe, including overnight stays in popular cities, with exclusive berthing privileges afforded only a mega-yacht. Travellers will enjoy docking up the Neva River by the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Stockholm’s historic Gamla Stan and anchoring steps from Tallin, Estonia’s 'Old Town' in the inner pond. The 14-night sailing departs on 16 August 2014 and costs from £5,468 per person.
2014 marks 100 years since the start of World War I and Shearings' Battlefields Commemorative Cruise allows you to discover the history of the World Wars over 10 days on a river cruise along the Rhine and Dutch and Belgian Waterways. The trip includes visits to Ypres, Cologne and Antwerp. Departures are available from May to July and cost from £1,099 per person including accommodation, plus there are options to travel by air and rail.
Travel by air, sea and train on Jetline Cruise's West to East Coast USA holiday. You'll fly to San Francisco and board an Amtrak train to Chicago and travel to New York before boarding the Cunard Queen Mary 2 for a seven-night translatlantic sailing to Southampton. The three-night train adventure takes in Sacramento, Salt Lake City, the US Rockies, Indiana, Ohio, Cleveland and Buffalo. The package costs £2,299 per person for a 16-night cruise departing on 4 June 2014.