Queen Mary 2 arrives in U.S.

World's largest luxury liner makes first ocean crossing

— As fireboats spouted red, white and blue water, the world's largest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, completed its inaugural Atlantic crossing Thursday, arriving in New York under tight post-Sept. 11, 2001, security.

The 1,132-foot, 21-story behemoth emerged ghostlike from the fog shortly after dawn, passed with regal bearing under the Verazzano Narrows Bridge and paused to deliver a four-note baritone salute at the Statue of Liberty.

The opulent Cunard liner left Southampton, England, on April 16 with 2,600 passengers and a crew of 1,250. Battered the first two days by the North Atlantic's gale-force winds and 30-foot seas, the QM2 managed to make up lost time and arrived less than an hour behind schedule.

Escorted by a phalanx of tugs, police and Coast Guard patrol craft, it made its way up the Hudson River, past New York City's skyscrapers, to its dock.

Nearby was another icon of British transport technology -- a Concorde supersonic jet, now a museum attraction, having been retired from service.

"Until you go on the ship, you can't appreciate the grandeur of it. It exceeded my expectations," said Helen Smith of Yorkshire, England, who was traveling with her two sisters.

The $1 billion liner is three times the size of the Titanic. Among the amenities aboard the luxury liner are a two-story theater, a planetarium, chandeliers, restaurants on three levels and Art Deco styling reminiscent of 1930s ocean liners.

The price of a six-day cruise between Southampton and New York starts at $1,799 per person for an inside cabin. A suite starts at $4,699 per person.

The Queen Mary 2 will leave New York on Sunday night, rendezvousing near the Statue of Liberty with the Queen Elizabeth 2, outbound on its final trans-Atlantic run.

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