Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria will set sail this afternoon on its maiden voyage following its naming ceremony yesterday (Monday).

Thousands of guests gathered as HRH The Duchess of Cornwall officially named the new ship in the port of Southampton and later today Queen Victoria will depart on its inaugural 10 night cruise to the Christmas markets of Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Hamburg and Zeebrugge.

Cunard president and managing director Carol Marlow said: “We hope as many people as possible will join us down in Mayflower Park for this historic firework-filled, sailaway. It will be a wonderful sight”.

On January 6 2008 Queen Victoria departs on its first 106-night world cruise and will be joined by the Queen Elizabeth 2 as both ships leave Southampton for a crossing to New York.

On arrival in New York on January 13, they will meet Queen Mary 2. It will be the first time the three Queens have been together in port.