Cunard'S Queen Elizabeth 2 has become the longest serving express liner in the company's history after 35 years, six months and three days afloat.

QE2, pictured, took the record from the company's Aquitania, which served Cunard Line, in peace and war, from May 1914 to December 1949.

Southampton based QE2 entered service in May 1969 and has been the world's most famous ship ever since - as well as its fastest merchant vessel in operation.

Milestones are not new to QE2 - in August 2002 she completed more than five million nautical miles - a world record for any ship ever and the equivalent of sailing to the moon and back nine times, sailing around the world 230 times or sailing 1570 consecutive transatlantic crossings.

QE2 cost just over £29m to build but since then Cunard has spent more than 15 times that amount on refurbishing, re-engining and refitting her.

QE2 and her bigger sister Queen Mary 2 will be joined in Southampton docks by the new 90,000-ton Queen Victoria in summer 2007.