Queen Mary 2
Cunard's latest flagship Queen Mary 2 was the largest passenger ship afloat at 151,400grt approx until the debut of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas in 2006.  She was a feat of modern shipbuilding techniques.  Taking just eighteen months from keel laying to delivery, she arrived in her home port of Southampton on the 26th December 2003 amid wind and rain which didn't deter the crowds, although they weren't as large as Cunard had anticipated.  People have complained she wasn't built in Britain but she is an truly international effort, including workmen from the UK.  Her arrival had been delayed a few days after an accident at St. Nazaire shipyard in France when a gang plank collapsed on the 15th November 2003 which killed fifteen people.  She made a brief trip out on New Year's Eve but was back well in time for her naming ceremony on the 8th January 2004 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who made a rare break into her holiday to perform it, despite recovering from a knee operation she'd undergone a few weeks previously.  Her maiden voyage on the 12th January to Fort Lauderdale was delayed an hour due to excess baggage.  On the 25th April she met her fleet mate, Queen Elizabeth 2, in New York for a tandem crossing.  After fireworks to send them off on the Hudson River, they arrived in Southampton at first light on the 1st May, QE2 first.  Then the Boston Cup was handed over at lunchtime to QM2 signalling she was now the flagship.

The following photos were taken on the 7th January 2004.  Security was very tight and we even had some police on the ferry coming back.
For a video of her arrival, in port and maiden voyage click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 7th January 2004 & 1st April 2006
Not to be reproduced without permission