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Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Tuesday, 12 October 2010 08:19 UK
Cruise ship highlights on the Solent

Southampton is one of the country's busiest deep-water ports and is able to accommodate some of the world's biggest container vessels and most prestigious passenger cruise liners.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth is the latest Cunard vessel based in Southampton

Cunard's new Queen Elizabeth cruise ship was named by the Queen in Southampton on Monday, 11 October.

The Italian-built, 92,000-tonne, 964ft (294m) long vessel joins two other "queens" in the Cunard fleet - the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and the Queen Victoria.

Vantage points

There are some excellent vantage points around Southampton for ship-spotting.

Weston Shore and Mayflower Park, Hythe Marina and Calshot Castle at the mouth of Southampton Water are recommended places to witness the arrival and departure of the cruise ships.

The best places to catch sightings of the ships from the Isle of Wight are Cowes seafront and Ryde Esplanade.

Shipping movements

The following external websites track the latest movements of the cruise ships around Southampton and along the Solent.

Webcams

Tour the world with the cruise liners by clicking on these links to webcams onboard the ships. Also see live pictures of Southampton docks.

QE2 Farewell

Fireworks farewell to the QE2

In November 2008, Southampton said an emotional farewell to the iconic liner when it retired after more than 40 years of service. The cruise ship sailed to Dubai to be converted into a floating hotel accompanied by fireworks and a Harrier flypast.

Thousands of people lined the shores of Southampton Water, many with memories of working, travelling or just seeing the famous ship over four decades.

It is now planned to move the ship to Cape Town, South Africa, to become a hotel in time for the 2010 football World Cup.

History
Queen Mary in 1936
The Queen Mary leaving Southampton on its maiden voyage in 1936

The docks have brought prosperity to the city since 1843, when the area now known as the Eastern Docks was opened.

Western Docks opened in 1932. It is the largest single dock expansion scheme in the port's history - providing the country's largest dry-dock.

In the 1930s Southampton handled nearly half of the UK's ocean-going passenger traffic and millions of tons of cargo.

The south coast port has remained the prime port for cruise ships in the country, with P&O and Cunard making Southampton their European home port.

P&O Cruises expect 2009 to be one of the biggest years for passenger cruising, anticipating just under a million passengers - double the volumes experienced in 2005.

Cruise shipping is worth £202 million to the local economy.

During the World War II the port was chosen as the chief supply and troop movement centre for the American army.

Hundreds of landing craft were assembled in the city's Western Docks.

Titanic set sail on her fateful maiden voyage from Southampton in April 1912. The cruise ship famously hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic with the loss of 1523 lives.





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