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November 28, 2005


Even well-traveled, seasoned cruisers are awestruck with Cunard Line's world-renowned Queen Mary 2 luxury ship, which began service in 2004. It is the largest, most expensive cruise ship afloat today, costing an estimated $800 million to build. The ship is an amazing 1,132 feet long and 14 stories tall, capable of holding 2,620 passengers.

As you would expect, the QM2 is full of surprises. During a recent cruise between London and New York, one of our resident cruise experts enjoyed a complimentary tour of the ship's bridge, where the ship's steering and navigation are controlled.

It was a fascinating display of technological prowess, including the following highlights:

The ship's advanced radar can identify objects 12 nautical miles away. Crew members are still used as lookouts, however, since some objects - including wooden ships - might not appear on radar.

The QM2 is capable of traveling completely on autopilot. The captain is not needed to steer the ship or make navigation decisions unless problems arise, although ship protocol requires the captain to be on deck at virtually all times.

In the event danger is spotted, such as an iceberg, the QM2 can stop and change/reverse its course in les than one mile. For a ship this size, the captain says this is like "stopping on a dime."

Speaking of icebergs, the captain often mirrors the route of the ill-fated Titanic. This route can be challenging late in the sailing season toward year's end, but is usually not problematic during other times. In the event of any concerns, the QM2 switches to a southerly route, traveling in warmer waters.

No one has ever fallen off the QM2 deck into the North Atlantic but, if it did happen, the captain would quickly deploy a small jetty and a specially trained SWAT team of rescuers to pick you up, then rendezvous back with the QM2. Just to be safe, the First Mate quipped, passengers should drink no more than one bottle of wine prior to a moonlight deck stroll.

Click here for QM2 sailings and specials.

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