SAINT-NAZAIRE, France, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The world's largest and newest passenger ship, the Queen Mary 2, has left the French yards where she was built for a shakedown cruise to Spain.
The 1,300 crewmembers were busy learning its nuances Tuesday as its 150,000 tons steamed down the west coast of Europe, Deutsche Welle reported.
After its breaking-in run the Queen Mary 2 will head to its home port of Southampton, England, where Britain's Queen Elizabeth will formally name it in a ceremony Jan. 8.
The ship left the French shipbuilding port of Saint-Nazaire amid a fanfare from tens of thousands of people waving farewell.
The ship cost $826 million to build, and has room for 2,600 passengers.
At 243 feet tall, it is taller than the towers of the spires of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and at 1,130 feet long it is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall.
Initial plans had called for a more exuberant send-off, but that was toned down after an accident Nov. 15 left 15 people dead -- many of them relatives of the workers who built the ship. They fell to their deaths during a guided tour when a gangway leading to the ship from the quay collapsed.