CUNARD'S under-construction new cruise liner Queen Victoria will take to the water for the first time next month.

The ''floating out'' ceremony for the 90,000-tonne vessel will be at the Fincantieri shipyard near Venice on January 15.

Work will then continue on the 2,000-passenger liner, which is due to be delivered to Cunard next December in time for its already sold-out maiden voyage from Southampton to northern Europe on December 11, The Queen Victoria's first world cruise will be on January 6, 2008, when the liner departs from Southampton on a 106-day voyage.

A week after the Southampton departure, Queen Victoria will join the QE2 and the Queen Mary 2 in New York - the first time that three Cunard queens have been in port together in the company's 167-year history.