The Port of Cork is to erect a stage in the town as part of the event which will start at noon in Old Church cemetery where some of the victims are buried.
Cunard is sending the Queen Victoria on a special cruise to commemorate the event and the ship will have 2,300 passengers on board.
They will stop near the Old Head of Kinsale, where the liner was torpedoed by a German submarine, to lay a wreath at the spot at 5.30am.
She will dock in Cobh at 7am and the town’s deep water terminal while the Caribbean Princess, which is also on a special commemorative trip from New York to Southampton, will dock in Ringaskiddy.
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the Caribbean Princess’s 3,000 passengers will be bused to Kent Station where they will get a train to Cobh.
President Michael D Higgins will arrive in the town around lunchtime to take part in the commemorations.
He will be joined by the British ambassador Dominick Chilcott, American ambassador Kevin O’Malley and Germany’s ambassador Matthias Höpfner.
Together with the chief executive of Cunard, David Dingle, and Port of Cork chairman John Mullins, they will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the town’s Lusitania monument.
A full Naval Service guard of honour will also be in attendance with the Band of the 1st Southern Brigade and a concert orchestra.
Capt McCarthy said the event highlighted the unique opportunity from the focus of worldwide attention in Cobh and in particular the maritime opportunities.
“However the timing of the commemoration coincides with a low water tide and will unfortunately highlight the crumbling nature of many of the historic quays which were once operated by Cunard Line, White Star Line, North German Lloyd, US Lines etc. These dilapidated quays are an everyday reminder to all that view the historic town of Cobh from the water as they take harbour tours or proceed to Spike Island,” he said,
He said the quays were not owned by the port authority but the estate of a landlord who formerly lived in the town which was complicating issues.
Capt McCarthy said he had been trying, without success so far, to get them acquired by Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) so they could be restored.