Cunard's Southampton flagship, Queen Mary 2 is to be at the centre of a spectacular firework display as part of celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of her entering service.
Tomorrow evening a fusillade of celebratory fireworks will soar into the night sky over the city's docks as QM2 departs on her eighth world cruise, when she and another Cunard vessel, Queen Elizabeth, set sail from the port.
Spectators wanting to watch the display, which begins at 8pm, will be able to watch the fireworks from Town Quay or from the other side of Southampton Water at Hythe.
Since her royal naming by the Queen on January 8, 2004, QM2 has undertaken a total of 419 voyages including more than 200 transatlantic crossings and called at 182 ports in 60 countries.
Since becoming Cunard's flagship on completion of her maiden transatlantic crossings in May 2004, QM2 has remained unchallenged as the world's largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive ocean liner ever built and the most famous and fastest passenger ship in operation today.
The major 10th anniversary celebrations will begin on May 9, this year when all three ships of the Cunard fleet arrive together in their homeport of Southampton and sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will salute the flagship's first ten years.
The day will feature special sail-pasts, a celebratory lunch and a spectacular send-off of fireworks display as all three ships set sail together from Southampton that evening, with QM2 leading the way.
On that day, QM2 will begin the first of two special commemorative crossings to, and then from, New York to underline her role as the only passenger ship in the world maintaining a scheduled service across the Atlantic, something a Cunard ship has done since 1840. At 1,132 feet in length QM2 would be taller, if stood on her stern, than the tallest building in Europe, the Shard in London, and would be more than three times the height of St Paul's Cathedral.
Her 151,400 gross tonnage is the equivalent of nearly 19,000 London buses, and she boasts over four times as many rooms as the capital's famous hotel, the Dorchester.
She took a million hours to design, eight million hours to build and the one thousand miles of welding used to hold this amazing liner together would stretch from London to Moscow. In her first decade of service QM2 has sailed the equivalent of three times to the moon and back.
She's carried in excess of 1.3 million guests, enough to fill Westminster Abbey 651 times.
As well as human passengers, over 2,000 dogs have travelled on QM2, five times as many as in Battersea Dogs Home. Over the past decade the crew have served over 58 million meals, sufficient to feed the combined population of Hong Kong, Sydney, Cape Town and New York for an entire weekend.
The 21.9 million cups of tea served on board to date would fill an Olympic swimming pool three times over, and if the 2.7 million scones baked on board were stacked on top of each other, they'd reach 80 miles in height. Cunard's passengers have listened to almost 8,000 guest lectures, the equivalent of nearly a year's continuous radio broadcastAngus Struthers, Cunard's marketing director, said: “Since entering service in 2004, QM2 has attracted awards, accolades and admiration as the greatest ocean liner ever built for a decade and we intend to mark her first ten years of service in style.”
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