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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 17:41 GMT
QE2 departs on final world trip
The QE2 at Southampton
The QE2 has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times

The world-famous QE2 passenger liner has departed on her final world trip before being decommissioned and turned into a floating hotel in Dubai.

A firework display marked the departure of the Cunard vessel from her home port of Southampton.

The 40-year-old liner left in tandem with the firm's latest addition, Queen Victoria, which was departing on her maiden world cruise.

The ships will travel together across the Atlantic to New York.

It will be QE2's 802nd transatlantic trip, before she travels on to South America, the Pacific region and the Far East.

Some passengers have paid up to 48,000 for the full three-month voyage.

The new 300m Queen Victoria was named by the Duchess of Cornwall in December and will eventually replace the QE2 on regular transatlantic crossings.

Call at Sydney

The former flagship of the Cunard line, the QE2 has broken records, transported troops and hosted royalty during her 40 years at sea.

She was bought by Dubai for $100m (50.5m) in 2007 and will be turned into a hotel off the Gulf emirate's man-made islands in 2009.

During her final long-distance trip, she will make her final call at Sydney, 30 years to the day after her first call at the port on 24 February 1978.

Queen Victoria arriving in Southampton
The Queen Victoria was named by the Duchess of Cornwall

The 70,000-tonne vessel is still one of the largest passenger ships afloat, with a top speed of 32.5 knots, and can carry as many as 1,778 passengers and more than 1,000 crew.

Built at the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde in Scotland, she was officially launched by the Queen in September 1967.

Cunard said the Queen Victoria was the company's most luxurious liner yet, although not as large as the its third "queen", Queen Mary 2.

Queen Victoria sailed on her maiden voyage last month, a 10-day trip around northern Europe.

She boasts seven restaurants, three swimming pools, a 6,000-book library and a casino.

Both the QE2 and Queen Victoria will return to Southampton in April.



SEE ALSO
Camilla names new Cunard 'queen'
10 Dec 07 |  Hampshire
In pictures: The QE2 through the ages
21 Sep 07 |  In Pictures
QE2 sets off on birthday cruise
15 Sep 07 |  England
QE2 set to become floating hotel
18 Jun 07 |  Business
Work begins on 'new QE2' vessel
19 May 06 |  Hampshire

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