LONDON — The queen named a luxury British cruise ship the Queen Elizabeth in a lavish ceremony Monday, blessing the vessel to launch it on its maiden voyage.
Hundreds of guests gathered by the quayside in southern England's port city Southampton, the home port of Cunard's 92,000-tonne ocean liner. Patriotic tunes like "Land of Hope and Glory" were played, and the ceremony was completed as a large bottle of white wine was smashed against the bow of the ship.
"May God bless her and all who sail in her," Queen Elizabeth II said.
British monarchs have launched seven merchant ships bearing royal names since the Queen Mary in 1934. The newest vessel is the third named Queen Elizabeth.
The QE, nearly 300 meters (1,000 feet) long, has 16 decks and boasts a capacity of over 2,000 passengers. It will embark on its maiden voyage to Portugal and the Canary Islands on Tuesday. Tickets for the two-week trip were snapped up almost as soon as they went on sale in April.
The liner features art deco interiors harking back to the great age of ocean liners in the 1930s, and a theater seating more than 800 where passengers can watch West End-style shows.
The luxury facilities come with a price tag to match – fares for the first voyage begin from 1,489 pounds ($2,365) per person for an inside-facing room, to 15,799 pounds ($25,085) each for a grand suite.