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Mersey Ferries will forever be connected to our wonderful friend Gerry Marsden and his 1964 hit song ‘Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’, but did you know that during the swinging Merseybeat era another, now-legendary, Fab Four were first associated with the ferries?

Mersey Ferries Meets Merseybeat: Riverboat Shuffle Cruises

Over 60 years ago, on 25 August 1961, 6 July 1962, 10 August 1962 and 28 September 1962, The Beatles performed as part of the Cavern’s ‘Riverboat Shuffle’ cruises on the Royal Iris ferry, also known as the ‘Fish & Chip Boat’ thanks to the popular and fashionable on-board fish & chip saloon! The band, who hadn’t quite reached the height of their fame at the time of the Shuffle gigs, twice played support to the popular clarinettist, Acker Bilk who had the well-known jazz hit “Stranger On the Shore”.

On the third show, in August 1962, Johnny Kid & The Pirates were the top billing, and The Beatles were again second. A Manchester instrumental band, ‘Pete Maclaine & The Dakotas’ were also on the bill.

For the final show in September 1962, The Beatles were finally the headline act, supported by ‘Lee Castle & The Barons’. For this final show on the ferry the Fab Four were also joined by their new drummer Ringo Starr who had officially joined the band in the summer of 1962, replacing Pete Best.

The Riverboat Shuffle Cruises set off from the Pier Head terminal, now known as ‘Liverpool Gerry Marsden Ferry Terminal’ and cruised the River Mersey, while an assortment of acts entertained the passengers who danced the night away on the ferry’s very own dancefloor.

This image to the right shows Paul McCartney and John Lennon playing during a Riverboat Shuffle Cruise. Reflecting on the moment from many years ago famous photographer Mike McCartney, brother of Sir Paul McCartney, who took this amazing shot said, “Those were the days! Our kid & his mates practising their music, supporting Acker Bilk on a packed ‘Royal Iris Riverboat Shuffle’ & me practising photography, trying to get a decent shot in the crowd with my twin lens Rollei Magic camera… Magic days!”

Photograph copyright: Mike McCartney.

Tony Booth Promotional Posters

This promotional poster for the Riverboat Shuffle Cruises was designed by well-known Liverpool commercial artist, Tony Booth and advertises The Beatles’ first ever gig on the ferry in 1961.

In the 1960s Tony worked around the corner from the Cavern Club and close to The Beatles’ Manager Brian Epstein’s office. From the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Tony helped to promote many of the big Merseybeat events with his highly distinguishable, hand-painted gig posters

Dazzle Ferry 

Did you know that our incredible Dazzle Ferry was created by Sir Peter Blake, as part of the First World War commemorations. Sir Peter Blake also designed The Beatles’ famous ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album cover?

The Dazzle Ferry’s eye-catching design is in honour of the patterns that were first used on vessels in World War One. They worked by ‘baffling the eye’ and making the ships difficult to target. Each ship’s pattern used unique colour and monochrome designs – to avoid making classes of vessels recognisable to enemy U-boats and aircraft.

The Dazzle Ferry, called ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle’, is unique as it’s the only operating dazzle ship in the UK.

Hop on board a River Explorer Cruise to experience a trip on the colourful Dazzle Ferry or the Royal Iris with it’s traditional red, white and black colours and learn more about our connections to The Beatles.



The Beatles Experience...

Beatles Tribute Cruises

As part of our Evening Cruise programme, music lovers and Beatles fans alike will get a major kick out of our Beatles Tribute Cruises. On this fun-filled cruise, enjoy a fantastic performance by a local Beatles cover band The Paperback Writers. Our 2024 Evening Cruise programme will be announced soon.

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River Cruise & The Beatles Story

Head to The Beatles Story Museum and immerse yourself in the lives and journey of the Fab Four with authentic memorabilia and replicas of key locations. Enjoy this attraction in conjunction with Mersey Ferries with our River Cruise and Beatles Story ticket. 

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River Explorer Cruise

Sail along the River Mersey on a 50-minute River Explorer Cruise and discover more about The Beatles connections with Mersey Ferries. You will also learn about the rich history of Liverpool and Wirral's waterfronts, whilst you take in their breathtaking views. 

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The Perfect Day Trip Blog

Tourists in our own city! Check out our blog post all about our River Cruise and Beatles Story combo ticket. Find out more about our visit to two Liverpool attractions, The Beatles Story Museum and the River Explorer Cruise.

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