Cunard Line is to build a new Queen Elizabeth liner, which will enter service in autumn 2010.

The cruise operator has signed a €500 million agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the 2,092-passenger ocean liner.

The vessel, which is the second largest ship Cunard has had built, will bring the Queen collection back up to three after the Queen Elizabeth 2 leaves the fleet in November 2008. Queen Elizabeth will be the sister ship of Queen Victoria, which sets sail in December, and Queen Mary 2.

Cunard president and managing director Carol Marlow said: “The decision to build another ship for the Cunard Line has been taken as a result of the strong booking response to the new Queen Victoria.”

Queen Elizabeth will be based in Southampton, and a brochure featuring itineraries is due in early 2009.