International Maritime Organization No: 9241061

Port of Registry: Southampton, England

Length:  1,131 feet, 3 inches - 345.03 metres

Beam:  131 feet - 40 metres

Beam at Bridge wings:  147 feet 6 inches - 45 metres

Draft:  32 feet, 6 inches - 9.95 metres

Height from keel to funnel:  236 feet 2 inches - 72 metres
The overall height of the vessel is limited by an ability to pass under New York's Verazano Narrows Bridge, which has a clearance of 215 feet (66 metres).
Estimated Gross Registered Tonnage:  ± 150,000 tons.

Maximum speed: 30 knots, equal to 34.5 mph or  55 km/h
The Queen Elizabeth 2 will not be completely outclassed, her sleeker design allows her a capability of exceeding 32 knots.  The record for the fastest liner is held by the United States which could manage an amazing 43 knots - that's 53,329 tons moving at 50 miles an hour!
Stabilisers:  Two sets

Passengers:  2620

Crew:  ±1250


Cunard began the design process by calling upon the senior naval architect Stephen Payne, of the Carnival Corporation's London office as lead designer; Gerry Ellis, a former chief officer of the Queen Elizabeth 2 to serve as project coordinator; and Andrew Collier of Tillberg Design as project manager of the vessel's interior designs.  Ellis, who now serves as Cunard's manager of New Builds & Special Projects, brings a wealth of knowledge to the company in a variety of aspects.  In fact, he originally joined Cunard to assist with itinerary planning for their vessels.  Remaining ashore for the last five years, he has been able to shed light on this area from a navigator's, as well as a captain's point of view.  Citing safety as his number one priority, Ellis had been focusing on itinerary planning, in addition to port operations for the line when he was approached about what was then known as Project Queen Mary.

Melding Payne's naval architecture skills with Ellis' navigational experience, the pair embarked on a project that would differ from a conventional cruise vessel in many ways.

Aside from her sheer size, the Queen Mary 2 will not be your average cruise vessel making stops throughout the Eastern and Western Caribbean.  Since she will be performing trans-Atlantic crossings, possibly in harsh weather conditions, some adjustments needed to be made.  The perils of the North Atlantic (especially in wintertime) are numerous, accordingly Payne designed the vessel with her lifeboats 88 ft. (27 m) above the water instead of the SOLAS recommended 49 ft. (15 m).  SOLAS made this exception because of the condition of service that the Queen Mary 2 is intended for.  According to Ellis, a SOLAS clause states that if a vessel will be traveling in poor weather, lifeboats can be secured at a higher level than the usual 49 ft. (15 m).  This clause, coupled with Lloyd's Register's assistance, was the focal point of a meeting in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Coast Guard, who after mulling Cunard's reasoning opted to waive the conventional lifeboat height requirement.

Payne and Ellis took into consideration the North Atlantic weather conditions in their decision to not add any balconies to the forward area of the ship.  She will have decks in other areas, since the vessel will be suited for both warm and cold weather cruising.  In fact, five swimming pools will be built into the Queen Mary 2, not to mention the addition of 5,000 deck chairs spread throughout the vessel.

Steadfast on ensuring that the Queen Mary 2 exceeds all safety requirements, the technical team opted to use 37 lifeboats instead of the escape chutes that some operators are now choosing to implement citing that they are easier to operate and maintain on a daily basis.  Manufacturers being considered to supply the vessel with the lifeboats are Schat-Harding, Greben, Fast Marine, and Mulder & Ruke.

It is estimated that Queen Mary 2 will be 10% larger than Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, which currently holds the cruise industry's distinction as the largest operating vessel.  Contributing to the Queen Mary 2's ability to move at such high speeds, despite its large size and strength will be its specialised hull design.  This streamlined, speedboat-like profile will be an expensive undertaking, but well worth the cost to Cunard, as it is longer, thinner, deeper and hydrodynamically smooth providing the vessel with the utmost strength and speed.

The innovative hull, which bears much similarity to the Queen Elizabeth 2's, also requires thicker and therefore heavier steel.  The vessel will also have a sharp bow and a hybrid stern.  This specialised stern, will literally round out the conventional square shaped stern for better hydrodynamic efficiency.  Melding a rounded into the square-shape stern was developed in response to the rough seas that the Queen Mary 2 may experience in a North Atlantic Winter.


With a 415 by 63 metre (1,352 by 205 feet) dry dock and 62 metre (200 feet) high gantry cranes capable of lifting up to 750 tonnes, the French-English company Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard at Saint-Nazaire, France will build the new liner.  The shipyard has more than 4,000 employees who work from 6:45 in the morning until 10 at night at the facility.

However, it is entirely another matter to construct a purpose-built transatlantic liner. From the architect's plans to the nature of the steel plating that forms the skin of the hull, a liner differs in most details from the sorts of ships that have been built in the last three decades.  Nonetheless, Alstom’s officers are confident that their company represents the best choice for Cunard".


Some 4,000 sub-contractors also work on the site, a number that is expected to double within six months.  Alstom Marine's order books now include 12 cruise ships (plus two options and a letter of intent), four high-speed ferries, two patrol frigates and three tugs.

Although the first steel for the vessel is not expected to be cut until January 2002, the yard already has the electrical production lists in hand and is ready to negotiate with potential suppliers.


The vessel will be powered by four Wärtsilä common rail diesel engines from the Finnish marine power systems supplier.  Common rail technology uses an electronically controlled method to inject the precise amount of fuel at exactly the right time resulting in greater engine operating efficiency and virtually eliminating smoke emissions.

Direct water injection reduces nitrous oxide emissions by spraying water into the combustion chamber to cool it down immediately prior to injecting the fuel.  Cooling down the chamber reduces nitrous oxide formation which occurs at high temperatures.  This method reduces nitrous oxide emission value to the same level as gas turbine engines.

They will be supplemented by two gas turbines. All six engines will produce electricity through two switchboards as needed for propulsion enabling the ship to move at a top speed of approximately 30.5 knots.  While Cunard has confirmed that the Wärtsilä smokeless engines will be implemented aboard the vessel, they have yet to choose a supplier for the gas turbines.  According to Gerry Ellis, the gas turbine decision basically comes down to Rolls-Royce or General Electric, both have formidable reputations in the marine industry.  Rolls-Royce’s turbines are renowned for their high power, despite small size; GE for tremendous reliability in naval applications.  Ellis however would only say that if Rolls-Royce was chosen for the job, then the vessel would more than likely house Rolls-Royce-owned Brown Brothers stabilizers and Kamewa thrusters.

With a total output of 118 megaWatts, the power plant will develop an estimated 157,000 horsepower.  High-pressure, superheated steam produced from exhaust gas is used to power steam a turbine generator set.

Celebrity Cruises Millennium, also from the Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard, is the world's first gas turbine powered liner.  She is powered by General Electric's highly-successful, well-proven LM2500+ aero-derivative gas turbines.  They are directly derived from the CF6 family of commercial aircraft engines and the TF39 military engine.   The CF6 type are used on DC-10, MD-11, A300, 747 and 767 aircraft.   The TF39 military engine is employed on the U.S. Air Force's Galaxy C-5A/B transport aircraft.

The gas turbine-based system will power the electric motors of the MerMaid  propulsion system developed by Alstom and Kamewa of Sweden.  The configuration will also provide for all on board power requirements such as ventilation systems, power to light cabins, etc.

The engineering, gas turbine packaging and system integration will probably be handled by S&S Energy Products, a General Electric power systems business and a GE Marine Engines systems supplier.

Increasing pressure on the shipping industry to be cleaner and greener has given a boost to a system that offers over 80% reduction in exhaust emissions.  The combined gas turbine and steam turbine generated electric drive system (COGES) not only reduces emissions, it also has less components, lowering installation and operating costs.

It has taken the cruise industry almost 10 years to introduce gas turbines. One of the reasons for the slow start was not the technology, rather the crew training that was perceived to be required.  Basically few marine engineers had the knowledge or experience of turbines.  The training was not just for the crews but also for the Class Surveyors who will be inspecting the new technology.

Also the world wide service and maintenance support was not as comprehensive as for diesel engines.  The higher tech repair facilities were also another concern, but this is rather irrelevant when it's possible to carry a whole spare turbine in less space than most of the spares required for a diesel engine or even fly a complete replacement unit out by air-freight.

The advantages of gas turbine power systems include; less maintenance, fast complete unit change over, less weight, faster start-up with only minutes from cold to full load and they can also operate with a wide range of fuels with little alteration.

Carnival Corporation recently announced that it has entered into a working partnership with the Finnish engine manufacturer, Wartsila NSD, to develop a smokeless diesel-electric propulsion system for cruise ships.  Samuel Cunard's first ship, the 1840 paddle steamer Britannia was a fifth of the length of the proposed Queen Mary 2.  The new passenger liner's engines will develop almost two thousand times the power of its earliest predecessor.


Four podded propulsion units of 20 megawatts each; two fixed and two azimuthing through 360°.  They incorporate an electric AC motor, located inside the propeller pod, which directly drives a fixed-pitch propeller, with highly skewed blades for low noise and vibration, which can be reduced further by an optional air injection system.

The contract for the supply of the MerMaid podded propulsion units was awarded to Rolls-Royce AB of Kristinehamn, Sweden on the 10th of May, 2001 for delivery in December, 2002.  They will provide propulsion and steering for the ship.  These bulb-shaped electrical outboard engines (the largest of ever to be built), will enable the liner to reach speeds of around 30 knots with dramatically reduced exhaust emissions and less engine noise and vibration. 

The Kamewa/Alstom Mermaid range, introduced in February 1998, currently covers power ratings from 5 megawatts to 25 megawatts.  Projects are in progress to develop single units rated at 50 megawatts and complete installations of 250 megawatts.

With azipod propulsion there are no shaft lines, internal electric propulsion motors, rudders and rudder machinery, nor are transversal stern thrusters needed.  Weight is saved and space is available for other advantageous use, such as added passenger capacity.  In addition, the Azipod propulsion system improves the ship's fuel efficiency.

The podded propulsion units are currently being fitted to Carnival Spirit, the 82,000-ton cruise ship under construction in the Kvaerner Masa yard at Helsinki, Finland.   The US$375 million, 2,100-passenger ship is scheduled to enter service in early 2001.


The Mermaid system was chosen primarily because it enhances maneuverability in tight harbour areas and offers higher levels of efficiency than traditional propulsion systems.   Micky Arison (right), chairman of Cunard's parent company, states that all of its future new buildings will have podded propulsion systems.

This page is part of the Distinguished Ocean Liners, Past and Future web site of

Return to the Ship Index or the Museum's Home page