FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Queen Mary 2 made a dramatic dawn
entry into Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades Monday morning.
The 151,000-ton ocean liner was welcomed to its south Florida
home base by Gov. Jeb Bush, as well as 24 media-manned helicopters,
which buzzed overhead.
Thousands of spectators gathered at various points around the
port, Port Everglades officials said; welcome banners hung from the
balconies of the condos lining the port's channel, and on the sand,
the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau lay a
carpet that said "Fort Lauderdale Welcomes QM2" in big letters.
"The only time I've seen this much media attention is at a
sporting event," said Micky Arison, the CEO of Cunard Line parent
company Carnival Corp. "We've never had this kind of attention for
The QM2's first set of passengers disembarked with thumbs up
signs, reporting that the voyage had been a "once-in-lifetime"
As reporters greeted the guests dockside, passengers used words
such as "magnificent" and "superb." Some expressed disappointment
at inattentive and confused service the first few days, but added
it improved towards the end of the voyage.
On Jan. 28, the QM2 departs on a two-day cruise-to-nowhere for
travel agents and media before departing Jan. 31 on an 11-day
Caribbean roundtrip. Fireworks will mark the ship's departure from
the port on both occasions.
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