Ports: L.B prepares for QMs to meet
|LONG BEACH It's a party fit for a queen. Or in this case, two queens. |
Organizers are gearing up for an anticipated crush of spectators, yachts, helicopters, parachutists, aircraft and news media expected to greet the Queen Mary 2 when the giant ocean liner enters the Long Beach harbor this week for a rendezvous with her predecessor, the Queen Mary.
The two floating behemoths, which together represent nearly 33 years of elegant oceanic crossings, are scheduled to meet at noon Thursday, when QM2 enters the Long Beach Harbor RMS Queen Mary's home since 1967 for the first time.
"This is going to be a historic event for us, not only for (ocean liner) buffs like myself, but for anybody interested in history," said Bob Maguglin of the Long Beach Area Convention and Visitor Bureau.
Organizers are using the "Royal Rendezvous" to promote tourism in Long Beach, and plan to highlight the city's changing skyline through photographs taken of the two ships greeting each other in the harbor.
The Queen Mary, a treasure trove of Art Deco elegance, completed hundreds of transatlantic crossings before permanently berthing in Long Beach in 1967, where she remains as a tourist attraction and floating museum/hotel.
The Queen Mary 2, built to be the modern era's equivalent to the Queen Mary, made her maiden voyage in January 2004. The trip this week will be the Queen Mary 2's maiden voyage to the West Coast, with the liner picking up passengers Wednesday in Los Angeles for a three-night cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.
The ship will cruise off the coast of Los Angeles overnight before returning to Long Beach Thursday.
Vantage points along the coastline and aboard the Queen Mary will allow spectators to view events highlighted by a squadron of skytyping airplanes painting greetings across the sky with letters as tall as the Empire State Building.
A 41-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter will guide the Queen Mary 2 through the breakwater opening known as Queen's Gate, and an 89-foot Long Beach Fire Department Rescue Boat
A flotilla of private boats plan to escort the Queen Mary 2 as she navigates as close to the original ship as possible. But officials are warning the yachts and pleasure boats that they can approach no closer than 1,000 feet because of tight security regulations.
The skytypers will compose two messages at 10,000 feet, the first one when the QM2 enters Queen's Gate, spelling out "Welcome Queen Mary 2," and later, "Hail to the Queens" coinciding with a whistle salute between the two ships expected to be audible for up to 10 miles.
At 12:30 p.m., a team of three parachutists will drop in from 6,000 feet after the whistle blasts.
The Queen Mary will allow free boarding between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., while numerous agencies around Long Beach are offering paid lunch cruises for those wanting a closer view of the rendezvous.
While the Queen Mary 2 is much larger, both in tonnage and passenger capacity, than her predecessor, she doesn't exactly dwarf the older ship. At 1,132 feet in length, the QM2 is 113 feet longer than the Queen Mary and about 55 feet taller from keel to funnel.
The larger ship also requires more draft, or water depth, preventing it from getting too close to the Queen Mary, which is berthed in water roughly 23 feet deep.
The big unknown Thursday is the weather, but AccuWeather predicts clear skies with highs in the mid to upper 60s.
For more information, visit www.thequeensmeet.com or call (562) 435-3511.
Win a BlackBerry device from O2 with Yahoo!. Enter now.