Britain’s 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.

Queen Elizabeth II had a guided tour of the Italian-built ship, which is operated by the British-US Cunard Line, before the naming ceremony in the port of Southampton in southern England.

“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth. May God bless her and all who sail in her,” the queen, dressed in a teal green hat and coat, said as she named the vessel.

She then pressed a button to send a bottle of Rothschild white wine — traditionally used by Cunard instead of champagne — crashing into the front of the ship as it blew its horns.

The Queen Elizabeth is 964 feet (294 metres) long and can carry 2,068 passengers and 996 crew. She joins the Queen Mary 2 (QM 2) and the Queen Victoria in the Cunard fleet, being second in size only to the QM2.

“All of us at Cunard feel a great sense of pride in our new ship and today’s ceremony,” Cunard president Peter Shanks said.

“This pride stems from the continuation of our distinguished heritage and, of course, from the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.”

The Queen Elizabeth sets off on its maiden voyage to Portugal, the Canary Islands and Madeira, on Tuesday, with tickets costing 15,799 pounds (18,071 euros, 25,204 dollars) for a grand suite.

The current queen’s mother launched the first ocean liner to bear the name Queen Elizabeth in 1938. In 1967, the queen launched the QE2, which remained in Cunard service until two years ago.

The ship, which was named in a ceremony October 11, is the second largest ship built by Cunard, the company which operated the iconic QE2 and the original Queen Elizabeth, which was for 56 years the largest passenger liner in the world.

Cunard says that the new Queen Elizabeth pays tribute to her predecessors through the inclusion of original pieces from both ships and an art-deco style, as well as themed balls in the ship’s ballroom, occasional supper clubs under the stars in the “Garden Lounge” and afternoon tea with fresh scones.

However, the ship also includes some modern touches, such as a computer centre, an arcade housing designer brands and a 13,000 square foot (1,208 square meter) spa which includes a hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite.

Dining options range from haute cuisine in the Verandah Grill to informal chatter in the Golden Lion Pub and bars also range from elegant cocktails in the Commodore Club to poolside tipples at the Pavilion Pool.

Source AFP - Follow the Queen Elizabeth on her bridge webcam