The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, and the Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, will be present at a high profile Handover Ceremony in Venice on Saturday, November 24 when Cunard takes delivery of the new ocean liner, Queen Victoria.

The ceremony, to take place on board the new 90,000-ton vessel at the Fincantieri Marghera shipyard, marks the completion of a ship noted for striking interiors on a par with the "floating palaces" of the twenties and thirties.

Just after 11:00 am, following speeches by Romano Prodi, the Prime Minister of Italy, and Jim Fitzpatrick, MP, Under Secretary of State, Department for Transport, the Italian flag will be ceremonially lowered and the Red Ensign raised. And so another magnificent Cunard liner will enter the Register of British Shipping.

The event, attended by an invited audience, will be given a British emphasis by the presence of the Band of the Scots Guards, flown out specially to perform on board throughout the day.

"This ceremony to mark the completion of the ship, and our acceptance of delivery, is just the first of a number of significant events over the next few weeks - including the ship's official naming by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, in Southampton on Monday, December 10," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. "I'm certain the British will take this truly magnificent ship to their hearts, as they have all the Cunard Queens."

Queen Victoria is due to leave the shipyard on November 30, and sail to Southampton - where she will berth at the City Cruise Terminal at 9:30 am on Friday December 7.

She will depart on her Maiden Voyage, to a splendid firework display, at 5:00 pm on Tuesday December 11.About Queen Victoria
The 90,000-ton Queen Victoria will offer the very best of the heritage and traditions of Cunard Line, along with all modern day luxuries including some exciting innovations. These will include the first traditional West End-style private boxes at sea in the Royal Court Theatre, the first Cunardia museum exhibit at sea, housing Cunard artifacts and memorabilia along with the first two-storey library at sea featuring an elegant spiral staircase. The ship will also feature the line's celebrated Queens Grill and Princess Grill accommodations and dining, further enhanced on Queen Victoria with an exclusive deck terrace and an al fresco dining option.

From the outside, her distinctive black and red livery will hint at the sophistication that differentiates a Cunard liner. This will be most evident in the ship's adherence to liner traditions of the past, with elegant public rooms, many on a grand scale, featuring rich wood paneling, intricate mosaics and gleaming chandeliers. There will also be a grand, colonial-style conservatory complete with a retractable glass roof.

As well as being the second largest Cunarder ever built, Queen Victoria's arrival is particularly noteworthy as it will mark the first time that three Cunard Queens have been in service together in the company's 168-year history (she joins the world's grandest liner, Queen Mary 2 and the world's most famous and best-loved liner, QE2).