NEW YORK — The three Cunard Queen ships — the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and the new Queen Victoria — are expected to meet in the waters off Lower Manhattan on the evening of Jan. 13, with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop and fireworks celebrating the once-in-a-lifetime event.

The Queen Victoria was christened Dec. 10 in Southampton, England, by the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Parker Bowles, who is married to Prince Charles). The ship embarks Jan. 6 on a three-month around-the-world cruise, including a trans-Atlantic crossing with the QE2.

After Victoria and the QE2 arrive in New York, they will rendezvous with the QM2, which homeports in Brooklyn. The meeting of the three grand ships should be quite a sight, all lit up and twinkling in the winter darkness of New York Harbor. Fireworks are scheduled for 7 p.m.

The public will be able to view the spectacle from the parks and open spaces ringing Lower Manhattan, including Battery Park on Manhattan's southern shore; and Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park, located just south of the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

If you're willing to pay for your viewing privileges, there are a couple of options. A special four-hour cruise scheduled for Jan. 13 departs South Street Seaport's Pier 16 at 4 p.m., returning at 8 p.m., aboard the Zephyr. Tickets are $125, including cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Reservations required. The cruise is sponsored by the South Street Seaport Museum; details, call 212-748-8786.

The Ritz-Carlton New York in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan is offering an "Anchors Aweigh" package starting at $585 per couple with a nonrefundable three-day advance payment. The price includes breakfast in bed and a seafood tasting for two; all the rooms offered with this package have telescopes and harbor views for prime viewing of the ships. Details at or 800-241-3333.

The Queen Elizabeth 2 is expected to be retired from service later in 2008. Cunard is building a new Queen Elizabeth for a 2010 launching.

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