Cunard Line’s new Queen Mary 2, the largest liner ever, entered the water for the first time today as she was floated from her building dock to a finishing basin at the Alstom Chantiers shipyard here. This milestone signifies the final stages of construction for the $800-million liner prior to her maiden voyage on January 12, 2004.

To celebrate the event, more than 350 guests were invited to don hard hats and preview the ship. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. According to the leading cruise industry trade journal, Cruise Week, “The word is that a lot of jaded reporters came away awestruck. It may live up to hype: the greatest ocean liner ever built.”

Travel agents were equally astounded. “I don’t think I have ever been so impressed by a passenger liner before,” stated Michael Wilson, managing director of the UK’s Bolsover Cruise Club, “It's nice to see Cunard moving ahead of the game.”

When she 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. 

QM2 will also feature 10 different dining venues, including the only shipboard restaurant by celebrity chef Todd English; a champagne bar; several other elegant lounges and showrooms; a two-story theatre; a casino; five indoor and outdoor swimming pools; hot tubs; boutiques; a pet kennel, and a children’s facility, complete with British nannies. 

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 maritime 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 her inaugural year, QM2 will sail 15 transatlantic crossings as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, QE2, as Cunard’s transatlantic liner. Her maiden westbound crossing from Southampton, England, to New York will depart on April 16. Her 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.

See the photos here!
March 21, 2003
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 entered the water for the first time as she was floated from her building dock to a finishing basin at the Alstom Chantiers shipyard. 

See the photos here!