Yenra : Travel : Queen Mary 2 : Biggest and most luxurious passenger liner passes sea trials

Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line's flagship Queen Mary 2 returned from the sea for the first time today having completed her sea trials with flying colours. The largest, longest, tallest, widest, and at - $780-million - the most expensive passenger liner ever built underwent four days of rigorous testing of her power, maneuverability and vibration levels off the Brittany coast. The successful trials put QM2 right on schedule for her January 12 Maiden Voyage from Southampton, England, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

According to Captain Ronald Warwick, master-designate, Queen Mary 2, "The sea trials for Queen Mary 2 have been a tremendous success. It was great to finally take her out to the open ocean, where she belongs."

Another observer on board during sea trials, the ship's naval architect Stephen Payne, was also jubilant: "For a first builder's sea trial, the performance of Queen Mary 2, being a prototype ship, exceeded expectations in all respects."

Destined to become the defining luxury ocean liner for the 21st century, QM2 will offer 15 transatlantic crossings in her inaugural year as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Prices for six-day crossings begin at $1,499 per person, double occupancy. The vessel also introduces 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.

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 features sweeping staircases, expansive promenades and luxurious accommodations for 2,620 passengers; nearly three-quarters of which have private balconies. World-famous chef Daniel Boulud is the ship's culinary consultant. Facilities include 10 dining venues, including the only shipboard restaurant by celebrity chef Todd English, 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.

The ship also features a Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar, several other elegant bars 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.

A special highlight of the QM2's inaugural schedule will be its maiden eastbound crossing from New York on April 25 as both Queen Mary 2 and QE2 will sail in tandem. This day will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port together since March 1940.

Cunard has operated the most famous ocean liners in the world since 1840. Cunard vessels have a classic British heritage and include QE2 and Caronia. In 2004 the line welcomes Queen Mary 2, destined to recapture the glamour of the original Queen Mary, currently a hotel and attraction in Long Beach, CA. In 2005, another newbuild, Queen Victoria, joins the fleet.