Cunard’s three Queens pictured side by side at sea on way to QM2 anniversary celebrations

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These magnificent shots of Cunard’s three Queens were taken by photographer James Morgan as Queen Mary 2 headed to Southampton for her tenth anniversary celebrations.

He took to a helicopter to capture the pictures of QM2 flanked by sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth after they left Lisbon on Tuesday.

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James said: ‘Most of the work in this type of photography is actually in the preparation beforehand. 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 one moment.

‘It’s all about orchestrating the manoeuvre in advance. 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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It took the ships around an hour to sail out of Lisbon to the site of the shoot. All other shipping in the area had to be cleared to ensure total safety for the manoeuvre.

Cunard director Angus Struthers said: ‘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.’

The ships will arrive in Southampton on Friday for celebrations including a visit by Prince Philip.

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All photos copyright James Morgan/Cunard

Shipmonk has been shortlisted as best blog in the 2015 Cruise International awards. To vote, please click here (last category)

Other articles on QM2:

Crossing the Atlantic

Happy tenth birthday

I want to sail Atlantic single-handed, says QM2 captain

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