Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Queen Elizabeth cruise ship welcomed to Southampton

Celebrations are under way in Southampton as the city welcomes its new cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth.

Cunard's new vessel arrived at its home port on Friday morning.

The ship, built in Italy, will be officially named by the Queen on Monday and will leave on its maiden voyage to the Canary Islands on Tuesday.

Elizabethan theatre productions will be staged in Guildhall Square and a Queen tribute band will play in the square on Sunday. All events are free of charge.

Archive film

QE-themed exhibitons and activities are also being held at the Maritime Museum and the Wool House and there will be a screening of the archive film of the original Queen Elizabeth and other liners at the Museum of Archaeology.

The events have been organised by Southampton City Council.

Hundreds of onlookers turned out to catch a glimpse of the vessel as she sailed up the Solent on Friday. The vessel is now moored at the city's Ocean Terminal.

It will join the other "Queens" in the Cunard fleet - the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and the Queen Victoria.

Image caption The new vessel will join the other Cunard "Queens" - Queen Mary 2 (QM2) and Queen Victoria

Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) made its last transatlantic crossing in 2008.

The new ship is the third Cunard ship to be named Queen Elizabeth.

The first was launched on the Clyde in Scotland in 1938 by the then Queen Elizabeth - who later became the Queen Mother - with the present Queen, aged 12, looking on.

The Queen launched the second Queen Elizabeth, the QE2, on the Clyde in 1967. She also named the QM2 at Southampton in 2004.

The new ship looks like its sister, Queen Victoria, but is more than a third smaller than Cunard's largest liner, the QM2.

The maiden voyage sold out in 29 minutes and 14 seconds when tickets went on sale on 1 April 2009.

The 13-night cruise sets off from Southampton at 1700 BST on Tuesday. At the helm will be Cpt Chris Wells.

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