Much fanfare as Queen Mary II stops in Hamburg
TWIG - More than half a million visitors flocked to Hamburg’s harbor to catch a glimpse of the Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest and most expensive cruise ship, during her one-day stay in the northern German city.
Large crowds cheered, tug boats blew their whistles and fireboats spouted fountains of water into the air as the 17-story ocean vessel sailed up the River Elbe from the North Sea around daybreak on Monday amidst tight security.
"So far on our European tour we haven’t experienced as warm and incredible a welcome as we have in Hamburg," said captain Ronald Warwick.
Later, an impressive fireworks display marked the imposing ocean liner’s first stop at a continental European port since its maiden voyage to New York earlier this year. The QM2 left for Southampton at about 7am Tuesday.
Police stepped up patrols during the ship’s stay in Hamburg, port officials said. Police boats kept a close eye on the liner from the water while helicopters circled above to enforce a no-fly zone set up over the port.
The ship’s 2,600 passengers were subject to stringent airport-style security checks before being allowed to reboard the ship after a day-trip to Berlin.
The QM2 entered service in January as the flagship of both the Cunard cruise line and the British merchant fleet. With a weight of 151,500 tons, a length of 1,132 feet, a height of 236 feet and a width of 135 feet, the ship is the biggest, longest, tallest and widest passenger liner ever built.
At a cost of $780 million, she is also the most expensive
passenger ship in history. The trip from New York to Southampton costs
upwards of $2,000, but passengers say they get their money’s worth on the
ship, which features a million-dollar art collection, the world’s first
floating planetarium and the largest library at sea.
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