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Another 'Biggest' Ship, but Sized for Nostalgia

November 19, 2000

Cunard Line, which runs the world's best-known cruise ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, is building a super-luxurious vessel in France that will be the biggest afloat. In homage to the 1936-vintage Queen Mary, long docked in Long Beach as a tourist attraction, the new ship will be called the Queen Mary 2. It is expected to sail in late 2003.

Details of the design were released this month. At 150,000 tons, the $780-million ocean liner will be larger than the current biggest ship, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas (142,000 tons), which took to the seas last month. But Queen Mary 2 will carry fewer passengers (2,620 versus 3,114).

Bucking the trend of huge "floating hotels" on which every inch is crammed with distractions, the Queen Mary 2 will offer a nostalgic wraparound Promenade Deck with steamer chairs; a three-deck-high dining room with a sweeping central staircase; and accommodations that include five two-level duplex apartments--each more than 1,650 square feet, with two-story glass walls and its own fitness room and butler.

Other unusual touches include an on-board planetarium and a ship's whistle that is a replica of the original Queen Mary's bell.

The tariff for all this luxury hasn't been set, Cunard officials said. But industry observers said the Queen Mary 2 is aimed at affluent, aging baby boomers nostalgic for old-style cruising. The ship is expected to ply the transatlantic route in the summer; the winter schedule isn't set. Cunard's parent company is Carnival Corp., the world's biggest cruise company.

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