New Cunard flagship QM2 to sail in January 2004


The largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive passenger ship in history will set sail on its inaugural voyage on January 12, 2004, cruise operator Cunard Line has announced.

The Queen Mary 2 (QM2), the new flagship of Cunard and the British merchant fleet, will leave Cunard's homeport, Southampton on that date and arrive 14 days later to an expected tumultuous welcome in Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

"Sailaway Fares" for the maiden crossing start from £2,099 ($3,119) per person. QM2's first year will see the ship sail 17 transatlantic crossings as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister QE2 as Cunard's transatlantic carrier.

The new liner's maiden westbound crossing of the Atlantic from Southampton to New York will depart on April 16. Her maiden eastbound crossing will be similarly historic for Cunard as both QM2 and QE2 will depart New York on April 25 for the six-day voyage together.

The day in New York will also be the first time that two Cunard Queens will be berthed in the port together since March 1940. QM2 transatlantic 'Sailaway Fares' start from £999 per person.

The year will also see QM2 offer nine Caribbean cruises, a voyage to Rio and back, five European cruises and two taking in Canada and the East Coast of America. These cruises range from four-to-14 days with 'Sailaway Fares' starting from £449 per person.

Bookings will open on August 1. 'Sailaway Fares' offer savings of 20 per cent on selected categories.

"Ever since we announced our intention to build Queen Mary 2, we have been inundated with requests from thousands of people wanting to know where and when the new liner would sail in her maiden year," said Pamela Conover, Cunard's president and chief operating officer.

"I am delighted to be able to reveal her first year's itineraries with the release of the first QM2 brochure. I would advise all those wanting to sail on QM2 in what will be a truly historic year to book early to avoid disappointment."