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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 13:28 GMT
Super liner sails into Southampton
The Queen Mary 2 arrives in Southampton
The Queen Mary 2 arrived in Southampton in fog and rain
The world's biggest passenger liner, the Queen Mary 2, has sailed into her home port of Southampton.

The 550m luxury liner took about two-and-a-half hours to make her way through busy Southampton Water in fog and rain, sailing past the city at about 1150 GMT.

She then docked at about 1300 GMT, watched by big crowds.

Despite the murky conditions, thousands of people lined the vessel's route from where she first became visible, at Ryde on the Isle of Wight and at Gosport, near Portsmouth.

The 150,000-tonne ship was surrounded by a flotilla of about 100 boats as she made her way to the Cunard terminal at Southampton docks.

Maiden voyage

The ship's captain, Commodore Ronald Warwick, was the son of the first man to captain the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) 30 years ago.

He said: "We know that the eyes of the world were on us as we arrived here today and we just all wanted it to go perfectly, which it has done."

Queen Mary 2 (QM2), the first new transatlantic liner for a generation, will by named by the Queen on 8 January.

A luxury grand double suite on the Queen Mary 2
The massive vessel has 1,310 cabins
She will eventually take over the Southampton to New York route from the QE2.

Her naming ceremony is expected to be low key, following last month's tragedy when 15 people died after a gangway collapsed while the liner was in dry dock at her shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France.

It was from there that she set out for the UK on the 22 December, having been handed over to her new owners, Cunard.

For her maiden voyage in January, the 1,132ft (345 metres) ship will take 2,620 passengers and 1,253 crew on a sell-out two-week cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The ship has 1,310 cabins - including four royal suites and six penthouses - 2,000 bathrooms and 3,000 telephones.

Her fog-horn has been taken from her predecessor, the Queen Mary 1, which left Southampton 36 years ago.

Attractions for passengers include five swimming pools, an art gallery and even a planetarium.

Crowds greet the QM2 as she sails into Southampton
Thousands lined the vessel's route into Southampton Water
It took French engineering group Alstom two years to build, using 1,500 kilometres of welding to connect the 300,000 pieces of steel that make up the hull.

The liner was then fitted with 2,500 kilometres of electric cable, 250,000 square metres of carpets and decorated with 250 tons of paint.

The accident in November came when families and friends of workers building the ship were visiting it.

Alongside the 15 deaths, 32 people, including children, were hurt in the accident.

French prosecutors have opened a judicial investigation into "involuntary homicide and injuries" - a standard legal move to determine criminal liability.



The BBC's Robert Hall
"She's billed as a vessel of superlatives"

In pictures: Queen Mary 2 arrives
26 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery
Super liner heads for home
22 Dec 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Doubt over ship naming date
18 Nov 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Mourners pay tribute to QM2 dead
17 Nov 03  |  Europe
QM2: The ultimate luxury liner
15 Nov 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
World's biggest liner ready to sail
13 Nov 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Port gets ready for QM2
03 Oct 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset

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