Crowds have gathered to watch the largest ship ever to visit Melbourne dock at Station Pier after cruising around Australia for almost three weeks.
The Queen Mary 2 passed through the heads in the early hours of this morning and shortly before 9am, passengers were preparing to disembark from the ship.
The luxury $800 million liner is on its maiden voyage to Melbourne and at twice the length of the MCG and as tall as a 23-storey building, it is the biggest of its kind to dock here. It will stay just one day before continuing on its inaugural trip around the country at a maximum speed of 55km/h.
- Review: On board the Queen Mary 2
The 151,000-tonne ship, which has 2482 passengers aboard including 1169 Australians, caused headlines when it sailed into Sydney for the first time on February 14 with a 'Marry Me Jess' banner plastered on the side that was later revealed to be a marketing stunt.
As part of a 108-day world cruise, it is spending 28 days in Australian waters, travelling from Fremantle in Western Australia and around the coast, stopping at ports including Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin before returning to Perth and on to Sydney on March 7.
Frank, a passenger on the Queen Mary, told radio station 3AW the ship had circumnavigated Australia — stopping at Brisbane, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Darwin, Fremantle and Adelaide — since departing Sydney about 18 days ago.
Speaking on his mobile phone, Frank said passengers had been offered a wide choice of day tours in and around Melbourne.
Victoria's Ports minister Denis Napthine described the ship's arrival as a financial coup, saying passengers would spend $1 million (or about $400 each) while in Melbourne today.
Dr Napthine also said 18 containers full of Victorian produce were being loaded onto the ship and would keep passengers "well looked after".
The Queen Mary II is almost twice the size of the original Queen Mary and has a crew of 1200 catering to the needs of up to 2600 passengers.
Other Queen Mary 2 facts:
- There are more than 50 nationalities among the 1200 crew
- The ship's teak wrap-around Promenade Deck is almost 600m long
- The Queen Mary 2 signs near the funnel are the largest illuminated ship name signs in maritime history stretching 22 metres long and 2.4 metres high
- Queen Mary 2's library is the largest at sea with more than 8000 hardbacks, 500 paperbacks & 200 audio books
- The ship has three 23-tonne anchors
- Almost 16,000 meals are consumed onboard each day
- Nearly a quarter of a million corks are popped on wine and champagne bottles aboard the ship each year. If lined up, these would stretch to the top of Mt Everest
- 344 bottles of champagne are consumed on board each day