A Brief History
On January 12, 2004, the RMS Queen Mary 2, flagship of the Cunard Line, left port on its maiden voyage after having been christened 4 days earlier by Queen Elizabeth II. Built at a cost of $900 million (£460 million) to eventually replace the aging RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, that price equated to approximately $300,000 for every one of the 2,620 passenger berths. The luxury liner also carries over 1,200 crew members.
The second ocean liner to be named after the wife of King George V, the QM2 is massive at 1,132 feet long by about 147 feet wide. She displaces over 75,000 tons (148,000 gross tons) and can motor along at 30 knots. Although a British project, she was built in France.
At the time of her construction, she was the largest passenger ship afloat, until 2 years later in 2006, when an even bigger ship, Royal Caribbean’s MS Freedom of the Seas, was built. Although the younger ship can hold up to 3,634 passengers and 1,300 crew, she is 20 feet shorter and 5 feet narrower than the QM2. The Freedom of the Seas, however, is a cruise ship and not an ocean liner like the RMS Queen Mary 2.
H&H Notes: Ocean liners such as the RMS Queen Mary 2 are built with the rougher waters of the open ocean in mind. They have more storage room for food, water and fuel than cruise ships such as the MS Freedom of the Seas. As an ocean liner, the Queen is also made of thicker and sturdier steel than the Freedom which is not built to cover long distances of travel quickly but instead is meant to dock at ports regularly, and chugs along at 10 knots slower than the Queen.
The MS Freedom of the Seas did not carry the distinction of being the largest passenger ship for long. In 2009 and 2010, Royal Caribbean introduced its two Oasis-class ships, the MS Oasis of the Seas and the MS Allure of the Seas. These two cruise vessels can carry over 6,000 passengers and approximately 2,400 crew members. At approximately 1,187 feet long and up to 198 feet wide, they are also larger in size than even the RMS Queen Mary 2.
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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.
You can also watch a video version of this article on YouTube.