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Queen Mary 2 

There was a time when Cunard Line built the biggest ships in the world like Mauretania (1907) and Queen Elizabeth (1940). Then, the heyday of the oceanliner vanished and the time of the cruiseships came. Cunard sailed with mostly highrated, moderate ships, and in the eighties the company used four different funnels on their ships and a lot of different namestyles. In 1999, Cunard went back to their roots and all ships but two were transferred. Vistafjord became Caronia and the announcement of the building of a giant transatlantic liner, codename 'project Queen Mary' excited the shipping world.

The ship was launched in march 2003 at Chantiers de L'atlantique under yardnumber G32 as the biggest, longest and most expensive liner built untill then. This wharf was selected becaue of their knowledge of building oceanliners in the past, ships like Normandie and Norway. She was really designed like an oceanliner, with a strenghtened hull for North-Atlantic voyaging and a longer forward deck including even a breakwater when seas get really rough. Also, her speed is very high, 29,3 knots, also especially required for liner-voyages where time is still (although less then with former liners) an issue. Cruiseships do not have these features. Queen Mary 2 was measured at 148.258 tons and with a lenght of 345,03 meters she was the first ship to exeed the lenght of Norway, the cruiseship that held that record for 43 years. Her width is 41 meters and her draft 9,95 meters. Although her size would asume more, Queen Mary 2 can only accomedate 3090 passengers and 1250 crewmembers, a very low number especially compared with ships of equal size like the Voyager-class of Royal Caribbean. These ships are somewhat smaller, but can carry 3844 passengers. Also, she was the first ship built for transatlantic voyaging in 30 years. Her introduction was sadly overshadowed when a gangway collapsed during a day when wharfworkers and their families visited the ship. In this accident 15 people died, and the ship was nicknamed 'Bloody Mary'.
On the 8th of january 2004 the ship was named Queen Mary 2 by Queen Elizabeth II at Southampton after the companies most well-known ship to date, not after an old English Queen. Note to her name is also that there already was a ship named Queen Mary under British registration, although this was just a small restaurant ship in the center of London. This is also given as a reason why there is a '2' behind the name. The celebrations of that day were still big, with music and fireworks and so on, but yet smaller than planned because of the tragic day in France, just a few months earlier.
Her first voyage started from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale on the 12th of january and on this voyage at least three times a bombwarning was made. Her first crossing from New York to Southampton started on the 25th of april 2004 in tandem with Queen Elizabeth 2. In summer, QM2 sails transatlantic linevoyages like the Cunard-liners of the past and the rest of the year she undertakes worldwide cruises. Where a lot of people never expected that Queen Elizabeth 2 would not be the last transatlantic liner ever, I think Queen Mary 2 also will not be the last right now.

In the first years the Queen Mary 2 was in service, a busload of books had already been written about her and for a modern passengership that is unique. But we all expected this enormous publicity that Cunard created with the introduction of this modern classic ship. She gave a new boost to liner-enthousiasm around the world. For example, in Rotterdam some 200.000 people watched the ship when she arrived in Holland for the first time. Already at four in the morning the quays around the cruiseterminal were filled with hundreds of people. The big Erasmusbridge had to be closed for all traffic for a few hours and a trafficjam occupied the city that day. Her visit was one of the most popular events in the whole country in 2004 by means of visiternumbers.

Another milestone in the carreer of the worlds newest oceanliner happended on the 23rd of february of 2009, when QM2 met the first Queen Mary at Long Beach, California. It was an impressive sight, two of the worlds most well-known oceanliners berthed together for a few hours. Because this meeting was widely announced worldwide, the ships were accompanied by a large fleet of small ships and lots of spectators on the shores. 
Nice to know, there is a story that tells that the name Queen Mary for these famous liners wasn't planned by Cunard at all. It was meant to be 'Victoria' in Cunard Line tradition. When permission for this royal name was asked in the thirties, they made the mistake to ask or the name of the new ship could be that of the biggest queen England ever had. King George was gladly surprised and responded that his wife would be delighted. So, the name of the ship became Queen Mary and that of her near sister Queen Elizabeth. But of course, this was only a story... The true story is that Cunard-liners were called 'queens of the oceans' and because of this, the line wanted to have some true queens so they named their biggest ships after Mary and Elizabeth.
With the introduction of Freedom Of The Seas in 2006, Royal Caribbean International once again was the owner of the biggest ship in the world, surpassing QM2 with a little less then 10.000 tons. And they did not keep it just like that, because they introduced the massive Oasis Of The Seas in 2009, with the gigantic tonnage of 220.000. When you think about this, comparing the Carnival Destiny of 100.000 tonns in 1996 with this monster introduced just 13 years later we can only say we see the biggest passengerships ever in our time. An evolution that is still growing fast.
 
 
QM2's tenth birthday, as it was called, was of course attended by her sisters, after a tandem sailing with all three Cunard-offsprings from Lisbon, Portugal. They arrived at Southampton at the 15th of may 2014, just ten years after the fresh teenager's first arrival from New York, which had been in tandem with Queen Elizabeth 2. Queen Elizabeth (the ship, that is) and Queen Victoria arrived first and when big sis came in, they sang 'Happy Birthday' through their horns. Some people later stated that Queen Mary 2 almost looked like an AIDA ship afterwards, with a big smile across her bow. But I wasn't there myself to double-check that.  

The first picture shows her preparing to depart from Rotterdam after her first visit to this city in july 2004. The second picture shows her off Maassluis in 2009, followed by the thirth picture again showing her in Rotterdam in 2004. Hereby she is accompanied by the 1925-built paddlewheel Rhine-steamer De Majesteit. This translates in English to 'The Majesty' so it's a great companion to the Queen. Pictures 4 and 5 show her leaving Rotterdam again in the end of may 2010.

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