As QM2 is an ocean liner (not a cruise ship), she was designed with a high freeboard (the height between the waterline and upper deck of the ship) to withstand rough seas and adverse conditions encountered in the open ocean, and has a large facilities to store fuel and supplies. Launched in 2004, QM2 was built to cross the Atlantic ocean and travel the world; she has a maximum speed of 29.62 knots (34.09 mph) and a cruising speed of 26 knots (30 mph). QM2 is driven by four propeller "pods" which are actually outside of the hull of the ship. The two forward pods are fixed in place while the aft pods are able to turn 360 degrees in order to steer - she does not need a rudder and can fully maneuver in port without the aid of a tug.
A closeup view of the propeller pods
Equipped with over 1,300 cabins, she was built with many more balconies than her predecessor, the Queen Elizabeth 2; the Queen Mary 2 has 955 balconies, QE2 had only 32. The demand for balcony cabins has increased in the past decade - everyone wants a balcony (myself included!). She is a "post-panamax" ship, meaning she is too large to travel through the Panama Canal; she must circumnavigate South America in order to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific. As Queen Mary 2 is too large to dock in many ports, passengers are ferried to and from the ship in built tenders, which can also be used as lifeboats.
Queen Mary 2 comes to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal in Boston a few times a year, and we always make the trip see her. In 2008, we saw her in person for the first time - she arrived on a sunny, Sunday morning and we were able to see her approach from the outer harbor.
The boys were amazed by her size - the only other passenger ship they had seen prior to 2008 was QE2. We look forward to seeing her again this summer when she visits on July 4th!
Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the beginning of a transatlantic voyage!
Here is a video of the first time the boys saw her in Boston Harbor: