Having recently completed sea trials, the 150'000 tonne vessel which is 345 metres (1'150 feet) long, 41 metres wide and stands as high as a 23-story building, will call in to Palma during a 24-day Grand Jewels of Iberia cruise which starts and ends in New York and includes Southampton, Vigo, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Marseille, Cadiz and Lisbon. The liner will be able to accommodate some 2'600 passengers and 1'250 crew members, and the power it generates would be enough to provide electricity for a city of about 300'000 residents. The ship will include a 1'000-seat theatre, a planetarium, a fitness centre, a ballroom, five swimming pools, 2'000 bathrooms, a Canyon Ranch Spa, a basketball court, book shop, virtual-reality golf course and drive-in movie, 3'000 telephones, 4'500 steps, a kennel and hundreds of works of art. The new crown jewel of its fleet has cost Cunard, owned by US cruise group Carnival, £550 million. The cruise liner - expected to be in use for some 40 years - is scheduled to be delivered to Cunard in December, and then to make its first trip from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on January 12, 2004. Aesthetically, the ship will resemble its famed predecessors, the Queen Mary and the two Queen Elizabeth liners, with a 74-metre-high chimney stack and a tapered bow well-suited for Atlantic navigation. However, it will only cross the ocean about 20 times a year, with the rest of its schedule focused on luxury cruises in other parts of the world. Cunard's success depends on the latter - a market which attracts some 10 million clients a year, 80 percent of whom are American, and which has developed despite travel fears in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. For those looking to experience the maiden voyage of the QM2, prices range from 3'100 euros for an interior cabin without a view, to 41'200 euros for a 209-square-metre duplex. In April, the QM2 will make her maiden 6-day voyage eastbound Transatlantic crossing in tandem with her royal sister QE2.
It will be an historic event as it will be the first time the two Queens have greeted each other in the North Atlantic since the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary in 1967.
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