A DAZZLING firework display will light up Southampton's night sky signalling the departure of the legendary Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth 2 on her Silver Jubilee round-the-world voyage next week.

Every year for the past quarter of a century QE2, pictured, has traditionally set sail from Southampton to all corners of the globe before returning back to her home port.

In the last 25 years, in just these voyages alone, QE2 will have travelled well in excess of 600,000 miles, further than the return trip from earth to the moon and back.

QE2's world cruise has become an established part of the shipping industry and many of the same passengers return time and time again to the liner for the voyage as she leaves the chill of a British winter behind in her wake and heads for the sun.

According to the Cunard brochure passengers could pay anything from £18,519 for a berth in an inside cabin right up to £132,999 each for the liner's ultra luxury suites for the 108 night voyage that will visit 40 ports in 23 different countries.

This year QE2 will be joined by her huge sister ship, Queen Mary 2 which will be undertaking her maiden world cruise during which the two Cunard Queens will meet up on February 20 in Sydney, Australia.

The first firework is due to soar into the air over Southampton's Eastern Docks at about 4.45pm next Tuesday, January 2 just a few minutes before QE2 moves away from her berth and sets a westward course out across the Atlantic to New York. On Monday, January 15 QE2 will transit the Panama Canal into the Pacific where she will visit Hawaii, French Polynesia, Tongo, Fiji and New Zealand before arriving in Australia.

After Sydney amongst the calls QE2 will make includes Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, the Seychelles, South Africa and then north up the west of Africa to Madeira which will be her last stop before arriving in Southampton on Saturday, April 21.

QM2 wil begin her 75 night voyage from Florida down the east coast of South America to round Cape Horn on Tuesday, January 23 and then out across the Pacific to New Zealand, Australia and the Far East before India, the Middle East and Europe to arrive in Southampton on Monday, March 26.