Queen Mary 2 - The Grandest Of Them All

Posted February 13th, 2012

Queen Mary 2, affectionately known as QM2, is a transatlantic ocean liner, and the first major ocean liner built since Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the Cunard Line.

The construction of QM2 took place in the French shipyard, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, the same shipyard that built other famous liners like Normandie and France, not to mention more contemporary vessels like Coral Princess and Celebrity Millennium.

QM2 was built in record time and was delivered to Carnival Corporation, who bought Cunard Line from the Norwegian Kvaerner group in 1998, just prior to Christmas in 2003.

At the time of her construction in 2003, QM2 was the longest, widest and tallest passenger ship ever built, and with her 151,400 gross register tons (GRT), she was also the largest.

She no longer holds this distinction as Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas now holds this title. However, QM2 rmains the largest ocean liner (as opposed to cruise ship) ever built.


Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2 was christened with the ultimate hype and fanfare on January 8, 2004, by Queen Elizabeth II, and 4 days later she embarked on her maiden voyage. She was intended primarily to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and was therefore designed differently from many other passenger ships.

The ship's final cost was approximately US$300,000 per berth, nearly double that of many contemporary cruise ships. This was due to the size of the ship and her unique design which reduced the economies of scale achieved with other Carnival ships.

Costs were also increased by the high quality of materials and she required 40% more steel than a standard cruise ship.

She has a maximum speed of just over 30 knots (56km/h) and a cruising speed of 26 knots (48km/h), making her much faster than contemporary cruise ships.

Instead of the diesel-electric configuration found on many ships, Queen Mary 2 uses a CODLAG configuration (combined diesel-electric and gas) in order to achieve her maximum speed.

This uses additional gas turbines to augment the power given by the diesel generators on board, and allow the ship to reach a higher speed.


QM2's facilities include 15 restaurants and bars, 5 swimming pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theatre and the first planetarium at sea.

There are also kennels on board, as well as a nursery. Queen Mary 2 is one of the few ships afloat today to have remnants of a class system on board, most prominently seen in her dining options, which is dictated by which 'class' of accommodation passengers choose to travel in.

Most passengers (around 85%) are in Britannia class, and therefore dine in the main restaurant. But, passengers can choose to upgrade to a 'junior suite' (and dine in the "Princess Grill") or a suite (and dine in the "Queen's Grill).

Those in the latter 2 categories are grouped together by Cunard as "Grill Passengers" and they are permitted to use the "Queen's Grill Lounge" and a private outdoor area on deck 11 with its own whirlpool. However, all other public areas can be used by all passengers.

Facts

  • Queen Mary 2 has the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) title conferred on her, as a gesture to Cunard's history, by Royal Mail when she entered service in 2004 on the Southampton to New York route
  • More than 5000 commissioned works of art are visible in the Queen Mary 2's public rooms, corridors, staterooms and lobbies, having been created by 128 artists from 16 different countries
  • During the 2004 Olympics, QM2 sailed to Athens and docked at Piraeus for 2 weeks to be used as a floating hotel. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, former US President George H.W. Bush and the US Olympic men's basketball team stayed on board.
  • Other famous passengers have included John Cleese, Rod Stewart and Donald Trump
  • One 2005 transatlantic crossing saw QM2 carry, in a locked steamer trunk, the first US copy of J.K. Rowling's book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, autographed by the author.
  • On 5 June 2012, Queen Mary 2 will meet up with Cunard's Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in Southampton to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

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