The worlds most expensive passenger ship, the £540 million Queen Mary 2, steamed off first along the Solent from her Southampton berth this evening.
She passed within sight of the moored QE2 ... which within minutes cast off and followed her down the Channel.
It was a fantastic sight, said one eyewitness tonight after seeing the two Cunard giants in close proximity.
The liners had been in their home port for only the second time together.
The Queen Mary 2 had returned home from a six-month Caribbean season and the QE2 had come back from her 23rd world cruise.
The QM2 , flagship of the British merchant fleet, saluted the former flagship QE2 as she sailed past tonight on the start of a transatlantic crossing.
She was followed soon afterwards by the QE2, which was heading off for the Mediterranean.
The Queen Mary 2 at 151,400 tons is the biggest liner, the longest at 1,132 feet (342 metres), the tallest at 236 feet (72 metres) and the widest at 135 feet ( 41 metres).
She is the fastest and arguably the most famous passenger ship in the world today.
The QE2 is longest serving Cunard flagship a role she relinquished to Queen Mary 2 in May 2004.
The QE2 also this year becomes the longest serving Cunard liner, overtaking the 36 years six months of Scythia (1921 1957).
The liner was launched by the Queen in 1967 and was the last passenger ship to be built on the Clyde.
A report in New York today said that from next year both liners will be berthing at new facilities under construction in Brooklyn, instead of at the traditional docks on the west side of Manhattan island."
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