Cunard gives Queen Mary 2 the go-ahead

The fabled Cunard Line has signed a letter of intent to build its super-liner Queen Mary 2 at a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The liner is expected to be launched in the last quarter of 2003. Once launched, Queen Mary 2 will (naturally) fly the British flag, with her homeport in Southampton, England.

The shipyard, Alstom Chantiers de L’Atlantique, employs over 4,000 workers and has a long record of delivering ships of unusual size and style. Recent projects at the yard produced large ships for the coastal cruising trade, but is an entirely different job to build a transatlantic liner. From the architect’s plans to the nature of the steel on the hull, a liner is much different from the sorts of ships that have been built in the 30 years.

QM2 will measure over 1,130 feet in length, just 117 feet shorter than the Empire State Building is tall. The ship will rise nearly 21 stories in height from keel to masthead, with a gross registered tonnage of nearly 150,000 tons.

QM2 is expected to carry just 2,800 guests, a very small complement for a ship of this size. A guest-to-crew ratio of about 2-to-1 should provide guests with some fine service. An agreement with the City Long Beach, California (which operates the floating hotel Queen Mary) has cleared the decks for Cunard Line to use the name Queen Mary 2 for its new liner.