Britain has given the world many great ocean liners, including the Titanic (although it hit an iceberg) and the QE2 and Britain is still a great seafaring nation - last year, more than 1.2 million Brits went on ocean cruises last year, the highest of any nation in Europe, whilst this year it looks set to increase to 1.32 million.
Cunard adds 'Queen Victoria' to its fleet
By Richard Gray
The ship honours Queen Victoria, Britain's longest-serving, and possibly greatest-ever, monarch. The Victorian Era lasted from 1837 to 1901 when Britain straddled the globe
With an on-board theatre, personal butlers in the best suites, a two-storey library and more than £1 million of art on the walls, she is the ship expected to put the class back into ocean voyages.
The luxury cruise-line operator Cunard has taken possession of the newest addition to its fleet - the £300 million Queen Victoria.
In a handover ceremony at Fincantieri shipyard near Venice, the Italian flag was lowered and replaced with the Red Ensign of Britain's merchant navy.
The 90,000-ton ship will now undergo final preparations before sailing to Southampton where she will be named by the Duchess of Cornwall, before embarking on her maiden voyage.
Although smaller than her 150,000-ton sister, the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Victoria will be the jewel of the Cunard fleet by offering passengers the most exclusive cruises yet.
The British Merchant Navy's Red Ensign will proudly fly from the Queen Victoria
Fares for the grandest suites - with palatial marble bathrooms, balconies and 24-hour butler service - stretch to £210,000 per person on a world cruise. Those willing to pay the premium will have access to an entire deck exclusively for the elite passengers.
"We have tried to capture the grand style and decor that people associate with liners of the past but with modern amenities," said Carol Marlow, Cunard's managing director.
"People come on voyages looking for a very authentic experience that will take them back to the golden days of ocean travel. That is what we hope we are giving them."
At 1,000ft in length and with 18 decks, the Queen Victoria is the second largest of the "three Queens of the sea" that will sail the world's oceans before the Queen Elizabeth 2 is retired next November. In January, all three will be brought together for the first time in New York.
Work on the ship began two years ago with up to 3,000 people employed on her at a time. When she leaves her floating dock, the ship will be capable of a maximum speed of 23.7 knots.
When full, the liner will host 2,000 guests with 1,000 crew. Passengers are expected to drink 352,000 bottles of champagne each year while also enjoying two outside swimming pools, seven restaurants and a ballroom.
Tickets for the maiden cruise - a 10-day voyage around the Christmas markets of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Hamburg and Zeebrugge - were sold out within hours of going on sale last year.
More than 1.2 million Britons went on ocean cruises last year while this year, that number increased to 1.35 million.
Bill Gibbons, the director of the Passenger Shipping Association, said: "The Queen Victoria is one of the few ocean liners that differentiates between exclusive 'grill class' and standard class passengers with private areas. It is these experiences that are making cruises more popular."
Britannia Oceanview Stateroom
Queen's Grill Stateroom
Royal Court Theatre