Today a ceremony to mark the keel laying of Cunard Line’s new Queen Elizabeth was held at the Monfalcone shipyard of Fincantieri near Trieste, Italy. The second largest Cunarder ever built, Queen Elizabeth’s keel is the third Cunard has lain in the space of seven years. When she enters service in October 2010, she will join Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria as not only the most famous ocean liners in the world but also the youngest fleet in passenger travel.
The keel laying involves the placement in the dry dock of the first section of the ship’s hull. This section is made up of six pre-manufactured blocks, weighs 364 tons and is fitted with 104 tons of pipes, cables, insulation and other equipment.
The ceremony followed an intensive period of design and development. Fifty-three sections will be used in the construction of Queen Elizabeth and she will take to the water for the first time at her float out in December.
“We are delighted to be back here among our friends at Fincantieri so soon after we took delivery of Queen Victoria in 2007—the first Cunarder to be built in Italy—and I am sure that Queen Elizabeth will be just as popular and successful as her two sister ships,” said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. “We at Cunard are always impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone at Fincantieri, and we look forward to the next year-and-a half of working closely with them on this ship, which will be nurtured by their skill and vision and built into a vessel equal in stature to the other great Cunard liners,” she added.
Paolo Capobianco, director of Fincantieri Shipyard, said, “Our company is the heir to the Italian shipbuilding industry and the world leader in cruise ship construction and believes, as Cunard does, in the possibility and the need of actively matching tradition and innovation. Building a new liner for Cunard is a special achievement for Fincantieri and takes us right to our roots, fostering both our determination to build once again a passenger ship of high technological content and unmistakable style, reflecting the best of the industry and tailored to the needs and requirements of the ship owner.”
Queen Elizabeth will feature the unique Cunard traditions linking her with her sisters Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and their predecessors, together with all the modern day luxuries Cunard’s guests have come to expect and some exciting features that will give the vessel her own style and personality.
Named after the first Queen Elizabeth, one of Cunard’s greatest ships, the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist. From the outside, her distinctive black and red livery will hint at an experience that differentiates a Cunard liner from a modern-day cruise ship. This will be most evident in the ship’s adherence to liner traditions, with elegant double and triple height public rooms on a grand scale, luxuriously endowed with rich wood panelling, intricate mosaics, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles. Art Deco features will pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth and will allow the new ship to reflect a more civilized era of travel.
Furthermore, in addition to the extensive Cunard entertainment programme on board, Queen Elizabeth will offer some unique strands inspired by the era of the first Queen Elizabeth, such as country house parties at sea, evening piano sing-a-longs and period dancing, from traditional ballroom to the jitterbug and the jive, all within the setting of this 21st century ship.
As successor to Queen Elizabeth 2, the ship will also reflect this great liner through artworks and memorabilia and its very own “Yacht Club.”
Queen Elizabeth will also pay homage to the links that Cunard has enjoyed with royalty and the maritime world over the years with photography, memorabilia and exhibits.
Queen Elizabeth will depart on her Maiden Voyage on 12 October 2010—a voyage which sold out in a record-breaking 29 minutes 14 seconds in April 2009. This 13-night celebration will leave from Cunard’s home port of Southampton and will call at Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Lisbon, Seville (Cadiz), Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, an overnight call), La Palma (Santa Cruz de La Palma) and Madeira (Funchal).
Her Maiden Season will run from October 2010 to January 2011 and include voyages to the Western and Central Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Fares start from just $1,195 per person for the five-night 26 November 2010 Gallic Debut voyage with ports of call at Amsterdam, Zeebrugge and Le Havre; while the 13-night Iberian Discovery voyage departing 1 December 2010 features fares from $2,395 per person, with ports of call at Vigo, Lisbon, Seville, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira.
The world’s newest ocean liner will depart Southampton on 5 January 2011 on her 103-night epic Maiden World Voyage, which has just been released for sale. This will see her make 35 maiden calls, including Cunard’s first call ever at Port Denarau (Fiji). In total, Queen Elizabeth will call at 38 ports in 24 countries as she makes her way west around the globe, with maiden transits of both the Panama and Suez Canals and calls at Los Angeles, Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Lisbon. Queen Elizabeth will be in great company as her sisters will be present on several occasions during the voyage: she will sail in tandem to New York with Queen Victoria before all three Queens will meet for a Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York on 13 January 2011; and then she meets with Queen Mary 2 in Sydney and Civitavecchia and Queen Victoria again in Aruba. Full World Voyage fares aboard Queen Elizabeth start from $19,995; Queen Elizabeth’s Segment World Voyage fares start from $2,545. Fares are based per person, double occupancy.