Even as the hype-machine is gearing up for the launch of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, the cruise line also is laying down the foundation this weekend for its next new ship. Queen Victoria is intended for launch in April 2005.
The 85,000-ton, 1,968-passenger Queen Victoria is being built at Fincantieri's Marghera (Italy) shipyard. The keel ceremony takes place tomorrow; a prefabricated section of the keel, which serves as the base of the ship, will be lowered onto the building dock. Ultimately, the ship, when completed, will feature a covered wrap-around promenade deck, a forward-facing observation lounge, and a large Lido pool with a retractable roof. Exterior elevators with glass walls will rise ten decks high on both sides of the ship.
The Queen Victoria was originally intended to be part of Holland America's Vista class of ships but the order was transferred to Cunard by corporate parent Carnival Corp.
Speaking of new ships, Cunard steadfastly maintains that Queen Mary 2, which is being built at France's St. Nazaire, is on schedule for a January 12, 2004 inaugural. The exterior is largely in place (though not yet painted) and work is pretty much now focused on slotting in prefabricated interiors (such as staterooms) and on-site building of public spaces.