queen mary 2 - cunard line - www.shipparade.com cruise ship review

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This photo  Cunard Line

When Samuel Cunard proudly watched his paddle steamer Britannia set sail for the New World from Liverpool for the first time on July 4th, 1840, he could not have imagined that his last name would grace a liner that is more than 100 times larger than Britannia . The brand new Queen Mary 2 is larger, longer, wider and higher than any other passenger ship ever built en was designed to operate on cruises as well as transatlantic voyages between New York and Southampton. 

Ever since Cunard announced on March 9, 2000 that the French yard of Chantiers de l'Atlantique would be building a new Queen, the cruise line's publicity machine ran at full speed, culminating in the much publicized maiden arrival of Queen Mary 2 in her homeport of Southampton on December 26, 2003.  Every news bulletin in Europe and the United States paid attention to what was referred to as the start of a new era in ocean travel. On January 8, 2004, HM Queen Elizabeth officially named the new ship in a ceremony that emphasized Cunard's British heritage. 

But exactly how British is Queen Mary 2? Being a part of US-based Carnival Corporation since 2000, Cunard Line is now run from Florida. Even though Queen Mary 2 is registered in Southampton and has a predominantly British complement of officers, she is the product of the world's biggest cruise company and has been designed to cater for a largely American following. With this in mind, I traveled to Southampton on a bleak Saturday in January, excited about the prospect of spending a night on board Queen Mary 2

Suddenly, there she was: the largest passenger ship in the world. She looked glorious,  almost invincible. Her black hull and bright red funnel paying homage to the liners of yesteryear and with a crowd of onlookers lining the quayside. Being greeted to the Queen Elizabeth II terminal  by uniformed bellboys, I immediately knew I was in for what could best be described as "A Night to remember".

On the next pages of this QM2 ShipTour, you will find many photos and a rundown of most of Queen Mary 2's stateroom categories and public areas. So join me on my voyage of discovery as we try to find out if Queen Mary 2 is "just" a very large cruise ship, or if she indeed qualifies for the more glamorous term of "Ocean Liner". 

Samuel Cunard

Cruise Line: Cunard Line
Year built: 2004
Price tag: US$ 780 million
Yard: Chantiers de l'Atlantique, St. Nazaire, France
Yard number: G32
Gross Tonnage: 151,400
Length: 1,132 ft / 345.0 m
Beam: 135,0 ft / 41.0 m
Passengers (norm.): 2,514
Passengers (max): 3,000
Crew: 1,254
Service speed: 29.3 knots
Flag: United Kingdom
Homeport: Southampton

 

All photos (except title photo) and text: 2004 Bart de Boer - www.ShipParade.com. All rights reserved. Title photo courtesy of Cunard Line.

First published on January 31st, 2004

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