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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 20:31 GMT

Business: The Company File

Cunard plans world's largest liner - the QM2

A traditional look for the liner whose whistle will be audible 10 miles away

Cunard says its new superliner, likely to be called the Queen Mary 2, will be the largest passenger ship ever built.

[ image: The Titanic love story has helped cruising's popularity]
The Titanic love story has helped cruising's popularity
American owned Cunard says that the vessel will mark the start of a new golden age of cruise liners.

It will be given a "sleek and majestic" look similar to the same company's existing flagship vessel, the QE2.

The cruise industry has been buoyant in the past few years - with the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic unexpectedly proving to be a good advert for luxury holidays aboard the ocean wave.

Cunard, which operates the QE2, said the new liner, to be known as the QM2, would be in service by 2003.

Cunard is now owned by Carnival Corporation, which bought it from Kvaerner, who in turn had snapped it up from Trafalgar House.

The QM2 would be 1,100ft long, will carry 2,500 guests and is reported to be likely to cost £300m.

Queen Mary a tourist attraction

Cunard will announce soon which of five shipyards will get the building contract. The company has already ruled out the UK, leaving German and Italian yards likely to be favourite.

A further, important, decision on whether the vessel will sail under the UK flag, can also be expected soon.

UK deputy prime minister John Prescott has recently met company executives to push the case for the vessel to be British registered.

[ image: Liners are getting larger - the Grand Princess is twice the Titanic's size]
Liners are getting larger - the Grand Princess is twice the Titanic's size
The firm has said it would have a British master and officers, and, like the QE2, have Southampton as its home port.

Cunard president Larry Pimentel gave the details on Monday of the vessel which replaces the original Queen Mary liner, now a tourist attraction in California.

He said it would be longer than three footballs fields "with grand staircases and expansive promenades, a pub with its own on-board micro-brewery and a giant single funnel painted in Cunard red-and-black colours and towering 20 storeys above the ship's keel.

"She will be the most famous ship in the world even before she takes to the seas. The level of interest is beyond our wildest imagination," he said.

Complete details of the new ship will be announced in the next few months.

Mr Pimentel added: "We will build a unique liner that fosters the tradition and legacy of British seagoing excellence.

"Maritime architects, marine historians and interior designers have been hard at work developing the form and style of the ship and completing detailed plans and drawings for her creation."

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