ONE of Southampton’s finest cruise ships has made its first-ever call to a European port.

Heads turned when Cunard’s Queen Victoria made its maiden call at St Raphael on the Cote d’Azur.

The ship was a week into her voyage from Southampton, carrying 2,000 passengers and almost as many crew.

She had already called at Cartagena and Barcelona in Spain before arriving at St Raphael – a first for the Cunard fleet.

Captain Peter Philpott, master of the 90,000 ton Queen Victoria, said: “'It's a privilege to bring Queen Victoria into a new port for the first time and to be in command of the first Cunard ship ever to sail into St Raphael makes the call particularly special.

“The Cote d'Azur is one of the most beautiful and most celebrated coastlines in the Mediterranean - it's almost synonymous with summer holidays. I hope that this maiden visit proves to have been a joy for our passengers on board - it feels like we are the biggest yacht in this delightful bay - and for those along the shoreline who watched the ship arrive and set sail.”

After spending a day at anchor, Queen Victoria sailed east towards Florence, Alghero in Sardinia, Gibraltar and La Coruna in Spain before returning to the UK on Sunday 10 August.