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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 11:57 GMT
Luxury cruiser takes to the water
Queen Victoria interior

A new 300m cruise ship, which could replace the QE2, has taken to the water in an official floating ceremony.

Queen Victoria was floated off the Italian coast, where the 16-deck, 90,000-tonne, super cruiser was built for Southampton-based Cunard.

The ship's maiden voyage is planned for December when it will join the Queen Mary 2 and QE2 in the firm's fleet.

The cruise ship, tipped to replace the 40-year-old QE2, will hold a theatre, a museum and a two-storey library.

Queen Victoria has been built at the Fincantieri shipyard, near Venice.

QE2 decommissioned

Two coins, a gold Queen Victoria sovereign and a Euro, were welded under the mast of the vessel for good luck before the ship was floated.

Carol Marlow, managing director of Cunard, said: "Cunard came into being at the very beginning of the Victorian era - Queen Victoria had been on the throne for only three years when Samuel Cunard's first ship set sail.

"And there followed, throughout her reign, a huge expansion in the Cunard fleet until, by the end of it, the company was the pre-eminent force in British shipping."

The firm have said they are considering the decommissioning of the QE2, which has carried two million passengers across five million miles.

Queen Victoria will depart from its Southampton home on a 10-night tour of Northern Europe on 11 December.

Work begins on 'new QE2' vessel
19 May 06 |  Hampshire
300m liner's luxuries announced
16 Feb 06 |  Hampshire
Second liner launch for QM2 port
16 Mar 04 |  Hampshire/Dorset

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