NEW YORK --The Queen Mary 2 steamed up New York harbor, executed a deft 180-degree pirouette and slipped through thick Saturday morning fog to a pier in Red Hook, on the Brooklyn side of Buttermilk Channel.
The pre-dawn arrival of the world's largest ocean liner signaled the formal opening of the new Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, a $52 million facility the city hopes will bolster a luxury cruise industry that has lost business in recent years to a rival port in Bayonne, N.J.
The city also is renovating its longtime cruise pier on Manhattan's Upper West Side, but Brooklyn is the designated "home port" in New York for the QM2, its sister, Queen Elizabeth 2, and several other ships also owned by Carnival Cruises Inc.
"Diversifying our economy is an integral part of our economic development strategy, and investing in growing sectors like tourism and the cruise industry is one of the best ways we can achieve that," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
Following its Herculean ballet maneuver at the mouth of Buttermilk Channel, a narrow tidal strait between Brooklyn and Governor's Island, the 1,132-foot ship waited for more than an hour before sliding into Pier 12, a one-time coffee wharf in Red Hook, an old maritime neighborhood that has fallen into economic decline.
As it waited to dock, the vessel was enveloped in a thick, London-quality fog that burned off as the sun rose. Local residents gathered to watch the mooring process from outside the terminal where strict security precautions were in effect.
The arrival was the first of 11 this year for the QM2, the only liner in regular trans-Atlantic service. It came on the second anniversary of the ship's inaugural visit to New York in 2004 and the 94th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
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