Although touched by tragedy, the world's largest, longest, tallest, widest, most expensive passenger ship will make a queen-sized debut on Jan. 8.
The $780 million Queen Mary 2 will be officially named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at a regal ceremony in Southampton, England. Accompanying the queen will be His Royal Highness, Prince Philip.
Pamela Conover, president of Cunard Line, notes that ''the queen honored Cunard by launching our current flagship [Queen Elizabeth 2] in 1967." As did the QE2, the 2,620-passenger QM2 will make trans-Atlantic journeys. The first (long sold out) crossing will be on Jan. 12, from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
On Nov. 15, four days after the ship completed its second successful sea trial, 15 people were killed in St. Nazaire, France, when a crowded gangway leading to the luxury liner collapsed.
The Queen Mary 2 is 1,138 feet long and 238 feet high -- as tall as a 21-story building. It will have the first planetarium at sea, largest waterborne ballroom, largest floating library, and largest wine collection at sea, as well as a Canyon Ranch spa, 10 dining venues, five swimming pools, and a children's facility that comes fully equipped with British nannies.
Six-day trans-Atlantic crossings begin at $1,589. 800-7-CUNARD, www.cunard.com.