Britain's Queen Elizabeth II names huge new liner

11th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's queen named a giant new luxury cruise liner the Queen Elizabeth on Monday, christening the 92,000-tonne vessel by smashing a bottle of white wine across the bow.

Queen Elizabeth II had a guided tour of the Italian-built ship, which is operated by the British-US Cunard Line, before the naming ceremony in the port of Southampton in southern England.

"I name this ship Queen Elizabeth. May God bless her and all who sail in her," the queen, dressed in a teal green hat and coat, said as she named the vessel.

She then pressed a button to send a bottle of Rothschild white wine -- tradtionally used by Cunard instead of champagne -- crashing into the front of the ship as it blew its horns.

The Queen Elizabeth is 964 feet (294 metres) long and can carry 2,068 passengers and 996 crew. She joins the Queen Mary 2 (QM 2) and the Queen Victoria in the Cunard fleet, being second in size only to the QM2.

"All of us at Cunard feel a great sense of pride in our new ship and today's ceremony," Cunard president Peter Shanks said.

"This pride stems from the continuation of our distinguished heritage and, of course, from the presence of Her Majesty the Queen."

The Queen Elizabeth sets off on its maiden voyage to Portugal, the Canary Islands and Madeira, on Tuesday, with tickets costing 15,799 pounds (18,071 euros, 25,204 dollars) for a grand suite.

The current queen's mother launched the first ocean liner to bear the name Queen Elizabeth in 1938. In 1967, the queen launched the QE2, which remained in Cunard service until two years ago.

© 2010 AFP

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