Queen Mary 2 Completes Maiden Voyage – Amidst More Celebrations
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 completed its maiden voyage yesterday at Port Everglades, in Ft. Lauderdale, arriving to much pomp and circumstance. The ship, which docked at about 7:30 a.m., was greeted by Florida dignitaries, from Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison to Governor Jeb Bush. Events included an offshore water salute from tugboats and a "Fort Lauderdale Welcomes QM2" message that was written on sand in huge red and blue letters. Officials from Port Everglades report that "thousands" of locals either gathered nearby, to welcome the ship, or waved from high-rise balconies.
The day was perhaps a bit less festive for Queen Mary 2's passengers, reports a Cruise Critic correspondent who was on the voyage. That's not only because of the end of a relatively momentous (not to mention historic) crossing but also because, he writes, "disembarkation was a nightmare for all -- I finally got off at 2:00 p.m. (and we docked 6 ½ hours earlier)." He reports that the only folks allowed to disembark "early" were those passengers who booked Cunard's post-cruise packages as well as journalists.
The ship will remain at Port Everglades on-and-off for the next few days as it hosts a series of promotional events, such as a charity overnight gala, various onboard receptions, and a two-night cruise-to-nowhere for travel agents and VIPs. Queen Mary 2 officially departs on its next revenue cruise on January 31.
While no tours of the ship are offered to the public, it is possible to get a relatively up-close-and-personal view of the ship from the S.E. 17th Street Causeway. Port officials say that metered parking near this public area is available under the bridge at the southeast corner of the Fort Lauderdale Marina Marriott.