QE2 Photo-Gallery
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The introduction of the de Havilland Comet in 1952 (the year I was born) heralded the arrival of the jet-age on the Atlantic but it was the Boeing 707 that revolutionised Transatlantic travel in 1958. Nevertheless, even against this back-drop, Cunard set about creating a third great Liner to join, and then replace, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. However, this project, dubbed "Q3", was eventually scrapped in 1961 and Cunard began designing an altogether different solution.

When the new Cunard Liner was launched by The Queen in September 1967, there was much speculation as to the name, which was a secret; but when Her Majesty spoke, she named the ship "Queen Elizabeth the Second", unwittingly sparking a controversy.

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20th September 1967: The launching of Queen Elizabeth 2

So by the time the new 29 million "QE2" made her debut, she was a Queen alone - as she would remain for 35 years. However, it was an inauspicious debut, marred by delays and engineering problems quickly pounced-upon by the critical Press. Her maiden voyage was postponed and Cunard refused to accept her until April 1969. Indeed, even once in service, many traditionalists were slow to accept her as the "The World's Finest Ship", as Cunard's publicity described her.

Her sleek and sweeping profile as she appeared in April 1969 - see also "The Changing Faces of QE2" here >>


Queen Elizabeth 2 (1969)
65,863 grt; length 963ft; speed 28.5 knots;
Passengers: 564(First) 1,441(Tourist) 1,400 one-class for cruising

Revolutionary in style and design, QE2 was initially conceived as a 3-class Liner (for the Atlantic summer season) and as a one-class luxury cruise ship in winter but the 3-classes were simplified into 2 during construction.

She was much faster than other cruise ships because, like her predecessors, she had to make the North Atlantic crossing in 5 days. But unlike her predecessors, QE2 would also be able to traverse the Panama Canal - just!


Her interiors were as revolutionary as her exterior; gone was the "Odeon-style" of the 30's, 40's and 50's and in was a new, modern look intended to appeal to the new generation of ocean traveller. A brilliant design team was assembled, led by James Gardner and Dennis Lennon and it was their use of bright colours and new materials such as stainless steel, plastic and formica that produced a look that was distinctly "chic". Unfortunately, at the time some traditionalists described her as "cheap".

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A brilliant Cutaway drawing in a copy (which I bought when I was just 17) of the Illustrated London News - May 1969

The change from 3-classes to 2 resulted in a number of advantages; one was the merging of both the main 2nd & 3rd-class lounges on adjacent decks, creating "The Double Room", with an open gallery and stainless-steel & glass spiral staircase; at 20,000 sq ft, one of the largest rooms afloat.

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The Double Room by Jon Bannenberg
(Cunard publicity photo)
Oscar Nemon's bust of
HM Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen's Room by Michael Inchbald
(my photos above and left)

Below the Double Room was the 1st-class Lounge, "The Queen's Room". In a space almost square, Michael Inchbald had produced a stunning room of elegant proportions and a triumph of design.

Her main restaurants, designed by Dennis Lennon in colourful modern style, were described as "bright and gay"(!) in Cunard's publicity material of the day. However, it was Dennis Lennon's sumptuous "Grill Room" that has survived to this day as almost identical to the day it was unveiled.


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The Britannia Restaurant
designed by Dennis Lennon
The Columbia Restaurant
(Cunard publicity photos)
The Grill Room
also by Dennis Lennon

1970 Menu Cover In her Restaurants though, the 3-class concept still survived; for Transatlantic-class there was the "Britannia Restaurant" while First-class had the "Columbia Restaurant"; the food was the same in both but there was also the deluxe "Grill Room" for that discerning few!
(Left) A 1970 1st-class Menu: Lunch Menu >> Dinner Menu >> NOTE: a glass of wine in 1970 would have cost you 10p!

QE2 was seldom out of the news. In January 1971, she rescued the survivors of the burning French Liner "Antilles" off Mustique in the Caribbean; in May 1972, she was even the subject of a bomb hoax, requiring a bomb-disposal team to parachute to her in mid-Atlantic; and in 1974, she broke down off Bermuda and had to transfer her passengers to the "Sea Venture". Show Picture Full Size
(Above right) QE2 in the Channel in 1972, showing-off her beautifully stepped stern and still with her 1st-class Sports Deck on top

But although QE2 was making a modest profit for Cunard, the company was still struggling and in 1971, Cunard was taken-over by Trafalgar House Investments who, aware that there was a market for ultra-de-luxe cruise passengers now seeking even higher standards, including private balconies,

Show Picture Full Size had a block of 20 Penthouses installed in 1972 in place of her 1st-class Sports Deck. Later in 1977, as part of yet another reconfiguration and refit, 2 new "Duplex" Apartments were installed and named the "Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth Suites". Show Picture Full Size
(Above) 20 prefabricated Penthouses being fitted in 1972 and (Right) The Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth Suites being added in 1977

To cater for the culinary tastes of these new passengers, the exclusive "Queen's Grill" took the place of the 1st-class night club, the "736 Club", and extensions to the Galley resulted in the sorry loss of the forward Observation Lounge, the "Look-Out Bar". See more detail at "The Changing Faces of QE2" >>

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The new Queen's Grill
designed by Dennis Lennon
The "lost" Look Out Bar
now an extension to the galley!

The Falklands War 1982

Show Picture Full Size P&O's liner Canberra had already sailed with the Task Force a week after the invasion of the Falklands in March but it was amidst great publicity that QE2, the flagship of the British Merchant Marine, was requisitioned in May, embarking 3,000 troops & 650 volunteers for the hazardous 7,500 miles to the South Atlantic. Her conversion to troopship took all of 7 days!

She was hastily converted by slicing-off her stern wind-breaks and fitting helicopter landing pads fore and aft. However, rather than sailing directly for the Falklands, she transferred her troops to Canberra in relative safety off South Georgia, which had earlier been retaken from the Argentinians.
(right) At anchor in Cumberland Bay, South Georgia, QE2 transfers troops and supplies to Canberra
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Show Picture Full Size QE2 returned to the UK from South Georgia in June 1982, with the survivors of HMS Ardent, HMS Coventry & HMS Antelope, which had been lost so dramatically to the Argentinian air-attacks. The War was not yet over but QE2 was greeted by the Press as if it were! Even HM The Queen Mother was there aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia! See on-board photo's of HMRY Britannia here >>


Reinstated after the Falkands War, QE2 for the first time with a Cunard-red funnel and her hull in "cruising" grey.


After QE2's much celebrated return from the Falklands, I took John to Southampton to see her following her refit. He had never seen a liner before and had dismissed any idea of a cruise, thinking it would be just like a cross-channel ferry, but for longer!

Show Picture Full Size However, when we arrived at the dockside (this was in the days when port security would still allow you get that close), he gazed up at the enormous sight in front of him, awestruck, and said simply, "When are we going on it?"

By the following month of October 1982, when we visited Southampton again, we had booked our first cruise!

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QE2 in cruising-grey
Southampton, October 1982
At Dusk QE2 prepares to sail for Malaga
Southampton, October 1982

NB The full collection of photos from around the ship in 1983-84 can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

Western Mediterranean
on board 2nd - 8th October 1983

View the complete Log of this cruise >>


Show Picture Full Size All Aboard for our First Cruise!
It was dark when we boarded in Naples and all we saw was the illuminated stern of QE2 before being bustled into the check-in queue, where we discovered our cabin number had been changed!
Just along the corridor on One-deck was our cabin & we realised we had been upgraded to First-class! (left) The Midships Lobby & (right) Our F-grade Cabin 2053 Show Picture Full Size

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The impressive Queen's Room
understated elegance by Michael Inchbald
The First-class Columbia Restaurant
(seating 500) & its entrance from D-stairway

Show Picture Full Size We had already become well-acquainted with excellent cuisine in various land-based restaurants and after the build-up to the climax of the food on board, we were surprised to find that it was by no means exceptional. But by any standards, it was very, very good; and there was lots of it, plus efficient, pleasant service and an indescribable atmosphere of high-living! Show First Night Dinner Menu
Oscar Nemon's bust of
HM Queen Elizabeth II
Souvenir Menus: Luncheon Menu >> & Typical Dinner Menu >> Our Dinner Menu
on the first night

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The Card Room
on Quarter-deck
The Midships Bar
The Tables of the World Restaurant
(The main Transatlantic-class Restaurant)

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The "Double Up"
Upper Level of the Double Room, now ringed with shops
Players Club Casino
(a sign of things to come!)
Theatre Bar
on Uppper Deck

The Queens Room and Double Room were the locations for dancing, as well as the main evening entertainment, with performances first in the Double Room and then in the Queens Room (for those having later Dinner sittings). It was the only time QE2 seemed crowded. Entertainment seemed to comprise scantily-clad dancers in feathers & sequins, some mediocre singing and the occasional "headline acts" like Tony Christie, guitarist Bert Weedon and none other than Danny LaRue!

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The Double-Down
Piano Bar
The Double-Down
& the Spiral Staircase
Corridor
on 3-deck
E-stair
the orange staircase
The Theatre
(a proper cinema screen!)

There seemed to be bars and lounges catering for many tastes, as well as a beautiful Theatre seating 530 and with an excellent cinema screen; it was also the location for talks and lectures.

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The 6-deck Pool
The Atlantic Shop
on One-deck
The One-deck Pool
& One-deck Lido
Sports Deck
(also a helicopter pad!)

QE2 also boasted 2 outdoor and 2 indoor swimming-pools as well as plenty of deck-space for sun-loungers, a well-stocked library and plenty of quiet corners in which many people just snoozed all day! And perhaps a portent of things to come, there was a casino as well as a small range of shops.

We felt we had arrived - and we knew we would "go cruising" again! View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Queen Elizabeth 2 (1983/4)
67,139 grt; length 963ft; speed 28.5 knots;
Passengers: 647(First) 1,223(Tourist) 1,740 one-class cruising

Show Picture Full Size In late 1983, work was carried out on her stern to instal 2 new high-capacity tenders, named "Alpha" & "Beta" and the Quarter-deck pool area was enclosed to create the Lido, with a new "Magrodome" sliding roof. We would get a closer look at this on our next cruise in just 8 months' time in 1984.
See these alterations in more detail at "The Changing Faces of QE2" >>


NB The full collection of photos from around the ship in 1983-84 can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

Norway - Land of the Midnight Sun
on board 14th - 26th July 1984

View the complete Log of this cruise >>


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The Q4 Night-Club
(as it was last year)
The Club Lido
(now lighter & brighter)
The Disco
& its glass dance floor
The Magrodome

The Club Lido, as it was now called, was more like a Bistro, while the enclosing of one the 2 outdoor pools created a "conservatory" area for use in less friendly weather. Unfortunately, the roof proved to be a maintenance problem and when closed, the low ceiling and water in the pool combined to make it more like a humid hothouse! Nevertheless, the "Magrodome" wasn't removed until 1994.

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The restyled Tables of the World Restaurant; until 1977, it was
the Transatlantic-class "Britannia Restaurant" (seats approx 815)
Where's the tray? The Hideaway
side entrance & quiet lounge

With no upgrade to "First-class" this time, our table-assignment was in the considerably larger Tables of the World Restaurant, so called for its 5 different zones, each with a national theme; English, French, Spanish, Italian & Oriental. The menus were similar to what we had experienced before and service, though not as attentive as in the Columbia Restaurant, it was still quite good.

The Double-Down Room, with its striking spiral staircase, remained largely unchanged from when the ship was launched but a large part of the upper level (the "Double-Up") was made into a shopping-arcade in 1972, when the original shops were converted to new "Grill-class" cabins. Show Picture Full Size

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The Queen's Grill (seating approx 100) replaced the "736 Club"
Along with the addition of the first "penthouses", The Queen's Grill (seating 100) was also added in 1972 and replaced the original "736 Club", its adjacent "Coffee Shop" becoming the Galley and the exclusive Queen's Grill Lounge to which access was reserved (& fiercely defended, as I found out when I tried to go in to take a photo!).

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G-stairway
The Hairdressing Salon
E-stairway
(see the Ship's Directories)
D-stairway
Theatre Balcony entrance
A-stairway
Tables of the World entrance

An innovative feature befitting her size was the idea of colour-coded staircases. Variety aside, they also helped you know where you were but we knew where we were! View the complete Log of this cruise >>

Queen Elizabeth 2 (1987)
66,451 grt; length 963ft; speed 28.5 knots;
Passengers: 1,766 (one-class on all sailings)

By 1987, QE2's 20-year old steam boilers were still burning heavy fuel oil which was becoming ever more costly, so Cunard decided to replace her engines with new diesel-powered machinery.

More shops and more penthouses were also installed in 1987 but the most noticeable external change was her new "chunky" funnel.
Before & After: (left) QE2's original slender funnel and (right) her new "chunky" funnel.


See these alterations in more detail at "The Changing Faces of QE2" >>


Transatlantic, New York & Bermuda
29th June - 14th July 1991

By the time we next sailed aboard QE2, Cunard was celebrating its 150th Anniversary year.

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QE2 in Bermuda
(at the new Kings Wharf Terminal)
John, Me & Andrew
(by the Ship's Photographer)
Dawn Arrival in New York
(and an unforgettable skyline)

Show Picture Full Size It had been a traumatic year of family losses for all of us and Dad was not yet ready to go back to sea but this was his treat to us instead.

The Transatlantic was what QE2 was built to do and it is an experience like no other. But to arrive in New York on the 4th of July and to have lunch at the top of the World Trade Centre would go down in the history-books! Then add a 5-day excursion to Bermuda and a return Atlantic crossing for a truly spectacular holiday.
(left) QE2 makes an impressive wake, cracking along at 29 knots on her 3,100 nautical mile course to New York

Mind you, it wasn't sunshine and blue skies all the way - we had our fair share of fog & choppy seas! >>

More On-board Pictures (below) View the complete Log of this cruise >>

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QE2 at King's Wharf
Dockyard, Bermuda
The Bridge View aft
from the Bridge Promenade
She still
looms large!
Sports Deck
& the new funnel

NB The full collection of photos from around the ship in 1991 can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

The removal of all QE2's engine machinery was a massive logistical operation and the opportunity was taken to make a few other changes and to refurbish many parts of the ship and cabins.

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The Columbia Restaurant
(& its grand entrance from "D" Stairway)
The Midships Bar
(Quarter Deck)
The Card Room
(Quarter Deck)

On Quarter Deck, the entrance to the "Columbia Restaurant" was looking quite sumptuous and the restaurant itself, though now smaller, was much as I remembered it. This was the main first-class restaurant until 1984 when Transatlantic-class and First-class were amalgamated; however, allocation of restaurant was still by reference to the grade of your cabin, and although the food was theoretically the same in both, the level of service and the attention to detail was not.

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Compared with our sailings in 1983/84, the cuisine (and service) had improved considerably.
Gala Dinner Menu >> , Chef's Dinner Menu >> , Luncheon Menu >> & 4th July Dinner Menu >>
2nd Farewell Dinner >> , 3rd Welcome Dinner >> , French Dinner >> & 3rd Farewell Dinner >>
Show Independence Day Menu Cover

The Columbia Restaurant was now smaller because, with the 1987 addition of more penthouses, there had been an increased need for "grill-class" restaurants, so a new "Princess Grill II" was created on the starboard side, out of part of the Columbia Restuarant.

The "Midships Bar" and "Card Room" had also hardly changed but in the beautiful "Queen's Room", they had replaced the iconic chairs with brown leather cubes in which the sides were so high that just drinking a cup of tea proved a major problem! The saving grace was the now-gilded bust of The Queen beautifully set in the bulkhead wall, now redecorated in light wood veneer.

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The Queen's Room
(new "cubic" chairs & the bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II)
The Club Lido
(Quarter Deck)
The Magrodome Indoor/Outdoor Centre

Aft of the "Queen's Room" was the "Club Lido" (originally the "Q4 Room") and beyond this, the "Indoor/Outdoor Centre" with its "Magrodome", fitted in 1984 just after we first travelled aboard. The adjacent "Self-Service Buffet" however, was still in two corridors on the port & starboard sides and was severely "cafeteria-like" and not very nice at all. Show Picture Full Size

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The Theatre
(Upper Deck)
The Theatre Bar
(Upper Deck)
The Mauretania Restaurant
(& an unassuming side entrance from The Hideaway)

On Upper Deck, the "Theatre" and "Theatre Bar" were much as before but in place of the previous "Tables of The World" restaurant there was a refurbished and restyled "Mauretania Restaurant". Having flirted with single-sitting dining a few years ago, this was now back to 2-sittings on cruises.

The major change was to the old "Double Room", where the iconic spiral stairway had now gone and a new twin staircase had been installed at the other end. "The Grand Lounge", as it was now called, was still the location for the evening shows and here, sight-lines had been improved somewhat by raising the floor of the outer areas. (This "new" staircase was removed in the 1994 refit to make way for a proper stage)

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The Shopping Arcade
(the upper level of
The Grand Lounge)
The Grand Lounge
(gone is famous spiral stairway in favour of a new stairway at the opposite end)
The Yacht Club
(previously the
Double Down Bar)

Aft on the lower-level, the popular "Double-Down Bar" had been replaced with the new "Yacht Club", with its glass grand piano while on the upper-level, the shops installed in 1972 had been modernised
and extended out onto what had once been a sun-deck. Frankly, since 1983 this whole section of the ship had become a cluttered mess, what with the two large tenders and all the machinery installed for the magrodome, and it would not be until the 1994 refit that it would be improved and tidied-up!
(Right) QE2's cluttered after decks. The Yacht Club looks out into the well-area below the new shops
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"E" Stairway & Lobby
(from Boat Deck down to Five Deck)
Purser's Office
(Two Deck)
"G" Stairway
(One Deck)
Corridor
(Three Deck)

Show Picture Full Size The ship's circulation spaces, for the most part, still retained their original 1969 finishes, the stairways all colour-coded so you could remember where you were! But in a more egalitarian age, the "Midships Lobby", still the first-class entrance, would soon become the main gangway for all passengers!
(left) The iconic Midships Lobby; all that's changed is the colour of the upholstery. See it in 1994 >>

QE2 would sail on through many more refits and internal alterations over the next 17 years and although I would see her many times, this was the last time we would travel on her as passengers.

"The Only Way to Cross!"

The following summer, in August 1992, QE2 was in the news yet again, suffering serious damage when she hit the bottom off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Travelling over an uncharted shoal, she was the victim of the "squat effect" whereby the greater the speed, the lower a ship runs in the water; the impact caused a 74-foot gash in her hull as well as an oil slick barely contained by booms around the stricken ship. Her passengers were evacuated & it was deeply embarrassing for Cunard.

Queen Elizabeth 2 (1994)
70,327 grt; length 963ft; speed 28.5 knots;
Passengers: approx 1,850 (one-class on all sailings)

The 1994 refit followed Cunard's acquisition of the prestige Royal Viking Line and she emerged yet again with a new look, both inside and out; she was given "go faster" stripes and her hull was painted dark royal blue, (although it was so dark you couldn't see it unless you were very close!)

Show Picture Full Size The aft Magrodome, Quarter-Deck pool and the tenders "Alpha" & "Beta" were removed to form a new Lido Cafe, Yacht Club & sun deck Add'l Photo >> while in a re-arrangement of her restaurants, the Mauretania was now where the Columbia had been and the old Mauretania was divided into a new Caronia Restaurant and adjacent Crystal Bar. Show Picture Full Size

(In a confusing twist, in 1997/98 the Mauretania & Caronia Restaurants would be switched, so that the Mauretania was back where it started and the Caronia ended up where the original Columbia Restauarant had once been! All very confusing!)

Show Picture Full Size The Midships Lobby was refurbished and made the main boarding gangway for all passengers.
Meanwhile.....

The Midships Bar was transformed into the new Chart Room and the Theatre Bar became the Golden Lion Pub! With all cabins refurbished, she was like a new ship.

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The Lido Cafe The Yacht Club The Caronia Restaurant The Crystal Bar The Chart Room Golden Lion Pub


Set to cruise for the next 10 years following the refit in 1994, with her stern "tidied-up" & even a "go-faster" stripe!


QE2 hit by "Freak Wave"
In September 1995, QE2 was on a regular westbound North Atlantic crossing and in mountainous seas, the ship's speed had to be reduced to 5 knots. During the night, she was hit by a 90ft high "Freak Wave" caused by Hurricane Luis. Although the ship did not escape undamaged, it is a measure of her excellent 1967 design that she handled such conditions with no injuries to passengers or crew; any other ship would have been devastated by such an impact. Passengers were given a "Certificate" to mark the occasion!

In 1996, Trafalgar House (which had owned Cunard since 1971) was itself taken over by Kvaerner, the Norwegian engineering and construction company. But in 1998, Cunard was then sold by Kvaerner to the international Carnival Corporation which, in an ironic move, would later merge with Cunard's old rival, P&O Princess Cruises, to become the World's largest cruise operator.

The way was now open for the building of a new ship for Cunard, a true "Ocean Liner", to sail alongside and ultimately to replace the now-aging QE2. She would be called "Queen Mary 2".

See Photo Full Size on Flickr
25th April 2004: Queen Mary 2 is joined by QE2 in New York

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Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2 Queen Mary 2
departs
Celebration Fireworks!
in front of the Statue of Liberty

On 25th April, both ships left New York to sail in tandem across the Atlantic to Southampton, their departure marked by a spectacular fireworks display. From a sightseeing boat, and in the bitterly cold night air, I watched the celebrations against the backdrop of the floodlit Statue of Liberty.

NB The full collection of photos of QE2 & QM2 in New York 2004 can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

Show Picture Full Size Cunard took delivery of the new Queen Victoria in December 2007 & in January 2008, she and QE2 sailed to New York in tandem across the Atlantic. These dramatic shots of QE2 were posted on the Internet >>

In New York, they were joined by Queen Mary 2 for more celebrations but unfortunately, this time I never got to see all 3 Queens together.

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(above) Southampton, August 2008 and one last chance to see all 3 Cunard Queens together. (Internet picture - I missed that too!)

There were hopes that QE2 would cruise on until at least 2010 but an offer of $100m from a Dubai investment company was more than she could ever expect to make for her owners, Carnival Corporation, so she will now become a hotel and tourist attraction at the famous Palm Jumeirah, a revolutionary artificial island complex in the shape of a palm-tree. Show Picture Full Size
The Palm Jumeirah isn't the only extravagant development in Dubai. Read about our visit to Dubai aboard Black Watch in 2007 >>


Southampton - The Final Farewell 2008

On Tuesday 11th November 2008, QE2 made a reluctant return to her home port for the last time, briefly running-aground on the Brambles Bank at the entrance to Southampton Water. Today was also the 90th Anniversay of Armistice Day and there were tributes to QE2 from the Royal Navy and RAF for her part in the 1982 Falklands War. Then thousands gathered for the evening celebrations.

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Sunset for QE2
Flying her paying-off pennant
Evening falls
From on-board SS Shieldhall
Preparing to cast-off
for the last time
Fireworks Farewell

Show YouTube video-clip
Video Pt.1
I was aboard SS Shieldhall to view QE2 at sunset and then to wait with dozens of boats & ferries for the fireworks off Mayflower Park. QE2's whistle booming frequently, we followed her down to Calshot before bidding our last farewell. Show YouTube video-clip
Video Pt.2

NB The full collection of photos of QE2's Final Departure Day can be viewed on my account here at Captain Martini >>

Having made 806 Atlantic crossings and having travelled more than 6 million miles in her 39-year career, Queen Elizabeth 2 arrived in Dubai on 26th November 2008. See the official Gulf News Report >>


Total Mileage aboard QE2: 13,807 n miles

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