Source AP ©

Passenger liner Queen Elizabeth to float

A EUR 500 million (US$700 million) deal to build a new 2,092 passenger liner to be named Queen Elizabeth for Cunard Line, a unit of Carnival Corp., was signed in Italy.

The 92,000-ton liner will be the second-largest Cunard has ever had built. The cruise ship will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard with delivery expected in the fall of 2010.

Fincantieri,Italy's state-owned shipbuilder , is currently completing the Queen Victoria, a 90,000-ton, 2,000-passenger liner for Cunard, which is set for delivery at the end of November.

"This agreement confirms our global leadership in a sector with strong growth prospects," Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono said in a statement.

The order brings to 16 the number of ships on order at Fincantieri's shipyards, corresponding to a market share of 40 percent. The Italian shipbuilder has built 41 cruise ships since 1990.

Cunard, which operates the Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2, said it made the order in response to strong bookings for its third ocean liner, Queen Victoria. The new liner will maintain three ships under the Cunard flag after the Queen Elizabeth 2 is taken out of service in November 2008, the company said.

"We are delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has given her blessing to our calling this new Cunarder 'Queen Elizabeth,"' Carol Marlow, president of the Cunard Line, said in a statement.

The agreement is subject to approval by Carnival's board of directors. Design details and initial itineraries will be announced later.

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