QM2 is floated out
Cunard Line's new Queen Mary 2, the largest liner ever, entered the water for the first time today as it was floated from her building dock to a finishing basin at Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France This milestone signifies the final stages of construction for the $800-million liner prior to its maiden voyage on January 12, 2004.
To celebrate the event, more than 350 guests were invited to don hard hats and preview the ship.
When it enters service, Cunard's new flagship will be the longest, tallest, widest and most expensive passenger liner ever built. QM2 features sweeping staircases, expansive promenades, luxurious staterooms and suites that are among the most lavish at sea; nearly three-quarters of accommodations have private balconies. Facilities include the only Canyon Ranch SpaClub at sea, the world's first planetarium at sea, the largest ballroom at sea, the largest library at sea, and the largest wine collection at sea.
During the shipyard festivities, Cunard observed a traditional "Mast Stepping Ceremony." Pamela Conover, president of Cunard Line, and Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Cunard's parent Carnival Corporation, donned welders' vests and masks to solder two English pounds and a two-euro coin into place at the base of the ship's forward mast. The custom of placing coins under the step of the mast when a ship is being built had its origin with the ancient Romans and is believed to ensure safe passage of a vessel's passengers and crew.
In its inaugural year, QM2 will sail 15 transatlantic crossings as its takes over the role currently operated by sister ship, QE2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Her maiden westbound crossing from Southampton, England, to New York will depart on April 16. The maiden east-bound crossing will be historic for Cunard as both QM2 and QE2 will depart New York on April 25 together. The day in New York will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port together since March 1940. The vessel will also introduce a series of Caribbean cruises from New York and Fort Lauderdale; a voyage to Rio de Janeiro and back, timed for Carnival; five European itineraries and two fall foliage cruises to ports in Canada and New England.