Sat, Jan 10, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Queen names new monarch of the seas

BIGGEST EVER The Queen Mary 2 is the longest, tallest and heaviest passenger ship in the world and promises to lead luxury cruising to a new level of sophistication

THE GUARDIAN , SOUTHAMPTON

Flood lights and fireworks light up the new Cunard Liner, Queen Mary 2, after the naming ceremony in Southampton on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

The rain held off and even the champagne bottle smashed at the first attempt as Queen Elizabeth named the largest cruise liner ever built on Thursday.

The Queen Mary 2, which is the longest, heaviest and tallest passenger ship in the world, claims to take cruising into a new era with every conceivable luxury, including a planetarium on board and a ?3 million (US$5.5 million) art collection, housed in its own gallery.

In front of 2,000 guests on the dockside in Southampton, the Queen, following in the footsteps of her grandmother Queen Mary, who launched the first Queen Mary ship on Clydeside, Scotland, in 1934, uttered the traditional blessing: "I name this ship Queen Mary 2. May God bless her and all who sail in her."

The Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt, speaking in French for part of the prayers, asked for the crowd to remember the 15 people who died in November when a gang plank collapsed at the St Nazaire shipyard in western France where the ship was being built.

Cunard's director of communications, Eric Flounders, said organizers of the naming ceremony were "mindful" of the tragedy.

Before the naming, attended by the UK's deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and the UK transport secretary, Alistair Darling, the guests were entertained by the pop singer Heather Small and the opera singer Lesley Garrett, who sang Amazing Grace. The Queen and the guests then watched a film of the Queen Mary launch in 1936 and the launches of the first Queen Elizabeth, by the Queen Mother, and her own 1967 QE2 launch.

Earlier the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were given a tour of the 150,000-tonne liner, which can carry up to 2,620 passengers.

Queen Mary 2

* The "Queen Mary 2" is as long as 41 double-decker buses, or 345m, and weighs 150,000 tonnes

* Her whistle will be audible for 16km

* She has five swimming pools, a theater, a planetarium and an art gallery with a ?3 million collection

* When she arrives in New York the captain will be at eye level with the Statue of Liberty

* The engine room could light the whole of the town of Southampton, England

* There is almost one crew member for every two of her 2,620 passengers

* She will make an estimated 1,200 Atlantic crossings at a top speed of 30 knots

Source: the guardian


Aside from endless restaurants, bars, casinos and shops the ship offers an education program devised by Oxford University and a library. Prices for a six-day voyage start at ?999, but run to ?20,000 for those taking one of the vast duplex apartments.

The QM2 will leave on its maiden fare-paying passenger voyage on Monday, when it sails from Southampton, which will be its home port, to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. With 17 decks and a crew of 1,253, the QM2 is due to take over transatlantic duties from the QE2 in late April.

The two vessels will leave New York together and dock together at Southampton before the QE2 takes on other duties, including Mediterranean cruises.

A massive security operation had been launched ahead of yesterday's ceremony with divers searching the dock and the ship's keel.

The first Queen Mary is now kept in Long Beach, California, having been sold in 1967, and is used as a hotel and conference and exhibition center.

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