A Brief History
On January 8, 2004, the largest passenger ocean liner ever built was christened the RMS Queen Mary 2. Christened by the granddaughter of Queen Mary (of Teck, consort of King George V), the current Queen Elizabeth II, the ship is named “2” after the first RMS Queen Mary (1936-1967) that served the White Star Line and then the Cunard Line before becoming a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California.
Owned by Carnival Cruise Lines and operated by Cunard Lines, the massive vessel stretches 1132 feet long and has a beam of 135 feet (waterline). Towering 236 feet above the water, the ship draws 33 feet of water and displaces almost 80,000 tonnes (metric tons), with a gross tonnage of 148, 528. Compare these numbers with the RMS Titanic, which was 882 feet 9 inches long and 92 feet 6 inches wide, displacing 52,310 tons, a fraction of the size of this modern leviathan!
Powering this mighty passenger liner are 6 mighty engines (4 x Diesel and 2 x Gas Turbine) producing 157,000 total horsepower driving 4 electric propulsion pods (instead of traditional propellers), allowing the ship to reach a top speed of 28.5-30 knots (compared to 24 kts for the Titanic). Needless to say, the lifeboat capacity of the new ship is enormous, the 24 boats capable of carrying all persons aboard the ship.
With 18 decks, 14 of which are for the 2695 passengers, the ship is crewed by 1253 officers and crew. Built in France with Finnish and American engines, the QM 2 was designed for cross Atlantic voyages, though in actual practice is used as a cruise ship between the US and the Caribbean. On the other hand, the QM 2 completed an around the world cruise in 2007, proving her capabilities. Efforts to reduce the ship’s environmental impact were designed into the ship to increase fuel efficiency, and new paint has been added to reduce friction with the sea. In 2016 “scrubbers” to clean up her exhaust emissions were added.
The QM 2 has all the fine dining, bars, cinema and entertainment you would expect from a luxury cruise ship, but a defining touch is the addition of the only sea going planetarium in the world! The interior of the mighty ship is adorned by over 5000 works of art commissioned by 128 artists. You could enjoy all this for the price of a trans-Atlantic ticket of only $800 (most economical class), a bargain by today’s (2015) standards. Our rich readers may opt for the more elegant accommodations a $4000 ticket provides.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you been on a sea cruise? (We at History and Headlines have!) Would you like to take a cruise, and if so, where would you like to take it? If you have any cruise ship stories of note, good or bad, feel free to share them with your fellow readers in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Payne, Stephen. RMS Queen Mary 2 Manual: An insight into the design, construction and operation of the world’s largest ocean liner. Haynes Publishing UK, 2013.