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Day One:

Driving as much as the Port of Southampton’s Mayflower Terminal and catching first glimpse on the white-and-black hulled Queen Mary 2, the most significant, longest, tallest, heaviest, and many expensive ship ever built, evoked considerable excitement and awe. Docked to port with a 50-degree, 54.25′ north latitude and 001-degree, 25.70′ west longitude and facing a 116.4-degree compass heading, the 17-decked leviathan, which has a 1,132-foot length and 148-foot width, featured a gross weight of 151,400 tons and towered higher than the buildings having its balcony-lined fa├žade, eclipsing it which consists of 236.2-foot height. Its draft extended 33.10 feet under the water line. The floating metropolis, complete using its staterooms, restaurants, shopping arcades, libraries, theaters, and planetariums, would bridge, in six days, the European and North American continents, the same in hours for the duration with the aerial crossing by 747-400, itself then your world’s largest commercial airliner. But the oceanic crossing would yield civility, refinement, rejuvenation, emotional repair, and return towards the slower, but more elegant era of steam ship travel-a trip, I would soon discover, would create a search to the maritime good reputation for the past that had created the technology in the present.

Unlike the proliferation of contemporary cruise ships making use of their comparatively lower speeds and greater-volume, square-geometry hulls, the Queen Mary 2 was designed being a next-generation successor on the 35-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 and, therefore, must offer a similar year-round, passenger-carrying capabilities, predominately within the rough North Atlantic, having a design which sacrificed revenue-producing volume and minimize construction costs with the traditional luxury cruise ship for the required safety, speed, and stability on the ocean liner. Resultantly, it featured a similar v-shaped hull configuration characteristic with the long distinct its Cunard predecessors, made of thicker steel which carried a 40-percent greater cost than others of conventional cruise lines. Designed by Stephen Payne, whose inspirations with the bow had come on the Queen Elizabeth 2 along with the brake wall through the Normandie, it turned out the first quadruple-screw North Atlantic ocean liner considering that the France of 1962. Payne himself, a naval architect born and raised in London, was involved with the Carnival Holiday, Carnival Fantasy, and Rotterdam VI projects. The latter, incorporating an altered Statendam hull, had featured a less “boxy” hull shape as opposed to traditional cruiseship, but had still been considerably removed the full liner design.

Intended for your primary Southampton-New York route, it incorporated dimensional restrictions dictated through the United States port, including a funnel height which cleared the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by only ten feet as well as an overall length which exceeded the 1,100-foot pier with the Port of New York by 34 feet.

Constructed by Alstom Chantiers de l’Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France, which have also built the Normandie, and designated hull G32 with the shipyard, it ended up the first Cunard liner ever constructed outside on the United Kingdom and, like Concorde, the earth’s fastest and hitherto only supersonic airliner, had become the second British-French collaborative transportation project created for trans-Atlantic service, although via vastly different, otherwise opposite, modes.

Its interior offered unparalleled space and comfort. Of the 17 decks, the very first four were for machinery, storage, plus the 1,254-strong crew; 13 were for that 2,620 passengers; and eight contained balcony staterooms. Notable features included a Grand Lobby, the Royal Court Theatre, the Illuminations Theatre and Planetarium, the ConneXions Internet Center, the Queen’s Ballroom, a Winter Garden, nine major restaurants, 11 bars and lounges, an 8,000-volume library and bookstore, an Oxford University lecture program, performances from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, five pools, sports venues, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a pavilion of shops, along with a discotheque. These appointments would constitute my “home” to the next six days.

Symbolically reflected by its smaller QE2 predecessor berthed a significant distance looking at the bow with the Queen Elizabeth 2 Terminal, the Queen Mary 2 represented a two-fold gross weight increase over its earlier-generation counterpart and, indeed, traced its lineage returning to a long path of Cunard vessels that had spanned a 165-year period. I somehow sensed that this imminent crossing won’t only be a trip of distance, but money in time.

Gently vibrating at its spine, the behemoth laterally separated itself beneath from the berth below the metallic overcast at 1810, local time.

Unlike the common engine-propeller shaft technology of older-generation ships, the Queen Mary 2 was powered instead by four aft, hull underside-mounted Rolls Royce Mermaid electric-motor pods, each weighing 260 tons and containing four fixed-pitch, 9,900-pound, metal blades, and collectively producing 115,328 horsepower. The forward, outboard pair was fixed and provided forward and astern propulsion, as the aft, inboard pair featured 360-degree azimuth capability and provided both propulsion and steering, obviating the need with the rudder. The advanced-technology system reduced both complexity and weight and increased internal hull volume by reducing the traditional engine configuration’s associated equipment.

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