Ship History


RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                                       RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH 2

The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is one of the most illustrious ships ever built. She has loyally served as a floating ambassador for Britain for over 40 years and draws huge crowds wherever she goes. She is truly a British Icon and is the longest serving Cunard flagship and indeed Cunard ship. Sadly on the 18th June 2007 it was announced by Cunard Line and Carnival Corporation & PLC that she would be retired from service in November 2008 and would be preserved in Dubai as a hotel, museum, and retail & entertainment destination at a specially built pier at The Palm Jumeirah in honoured retirement. So 2008 will be her final season before the world famous and legendary QE2 bids farewell for the last time and sails from Southampton and Britain's shores bound for retirement in Dubai never to return.

She was built by the famous John Brown & Co. (Clydebank) Ltd shipyard on the River Clyde that had built her predecessors the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and she was launched in 1967 by HM Queen Elizabeth II. However she didn’t have the easiest of introductions and her early years were plagued with difficulties. However she has improved with age and by the 1980s had build up a strong reputation as one of the finest cruise liners in the world. In 1982 she, like her predecessors, was called up into military service as a troopship during the Falklands War. The QE2 also uniquely developed a partnership with another transatlantic legend, the supersonic Concorde of British Airways, from 1983 until the retirement of the airliner in 2003. However Cunard Line’s travel partnership with British Airways still continues to the present day with both the QE2 and the new RMS Queen Mary 2.

Today the legendary QE2, as she is affectionately known, is a world famous maritime icon and national treasure. Since her introduction she has been the flagship of the British merchant fleet. During her long career she has broken many records and is renowned for her World Cruises as the RMS Empress of Britain was in the 1930s. In September 2005 she became Cunard’s longest serving ship, surpassing the RMS Scythia (1921 to 1957). She also single-handedly continued the tradition of the transatlantic ocean liner for 30 years until this mantle was handed on to the new RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004. The QE2 is a true maritime icon and ocean going legend. Never has a ship so justly deserved the title “The Most Famous Ocean Liner in the World”.

Design and Construction (1958 – 1969):

At the beginning of the 1960s, the quest for the North Atlantic did not stand between ships alone. The passenger airliner had since the end of World War II developed at a rapid pace, and was now swiftly conquering the globe. In spite of this, many ship owners were not worried. 'Flying is but a fad. There will always be passengers for ships like the Queens.' A director of the Cunard Line uttered these words in October 1958. Although time would prove him wrong, Cunard still saw business on the North Atlantic as profitable, and was planning to build a new vessel to replace the old Queen Mary to work alongside the Queen Elizabeth.

By December 1958 the question of a replacement for Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth had arisen. Originally the plan had been to build two new liners with the help of Government subsidies. A Government committee, under Lord Chandos, was set up to examine the economic viability of this. The result was that the Government provided a grant of £18 million towards the building of one 75,000 ton vessel, known as the 'Q3 Project', to be ready for service in 1966. These plans were for a ship with classic lines and divided in three classes, intended for the transatlantic trade alone. There was opposition to the plan as more and more passengers were crossing the Atlantic by air and the operating costs of such large liners were rising and could not be offset by fare increases. By 1965, 95 percent of those who crossed the Atlantic chose to do so by air. To launch a new ship for this route would be financial suicide.

In 1963 the scheme was cancelled. A new “Q4 project” was created to build a slightly smaller liner which could traverse the Panama and Suez canals and would primarily be used for cruising. Thus was born the story of the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. Cunard decided that the new ship would represent the 'New Britain' and therefore, they wanted lots of changes. This new vessel would not be divided into three classes, but in two – first and tourist – and the differences between these would be minor. The ship would be constructed so the two classes easily could be transformed into one for cruising arrangements; the ship would serve on the North Atlantic during summer and spend the winter months cruising in warmer waters.

The Q4 contract was awarded to John Brown & Co., Clydebank, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. They were the same company that had built and launched other great liners such as the two Cunard Queens and the Lusitania. On 5th July 1965, the keel was laid on the same slipway that had once housed the Queen Mary during her construction. And like the Queen Mary, this new ship did not get a name until the day of her launch. She was simply known as 'John Brown number 736'. While in the progress of breaking new grounds, Cunard was discussing to give the latest addition to their fleet a less traditional name. While names as 'Great Britain', 'William Shakespeare', 'Winston Churchill' and 'London' were mentioned, others opted for a more traditional name such as 'Britannia', 'Mauretania' or 'Queen Mary 2'.

"I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her."

Words of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Launch Ceremony, 20th September 1967.

In the end, a decision was finally made. The ship was launched by HM Queen Elizabeth II on the 20th September 1967, and the ship was named RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (the 2 denoting the second ship of that name and honouring the old RMS Queen Elizabeth). HM The Queen used the same pair of golden scissors as had been used on the launch of the previous Cunard Queens, and released the bottle of champagne and smashed it against the bow of the Cunard Line’s new flagship. Just before the launch ceremony the Queen had been handed a sealed envelope with the proposed name of the new liner. However she refused the envelope and named the ship Queen Elizabeth 2. The intended name in the envelope was Queen Elizabeth! The Queen, the first reigning British monarch to launch a liner, had used her intuition to name the ship. Moments later, the great ship was afloat in the River Clyde, from then on popularly known as the QE2. Two days later, Queen Mary left New York harbour for her final transatlantic crossing. The new QE2 was towed to her fitting out berth and work proceeded swiftly on the new Cunard flagship. It was unmistakeable that her design differed a lot from previous Cunarders, and this was certainly evident when one looked at her lone funnel. While in the process of breaking new grounds, it had been decided that the QE2's funnel would not be painted in the famous Cunard orange and black colours. Instead, it was painted white.After the launch ceremony Sir Basil Smallpiece consulted the Queen's Private Secretary and together they decided that "the Second" would be written with "2" rather than "II" to denote that the Queen Elizabeth 2 was the second ship of that name.

"I particularly welcome the opportunity you have given me to launch this splendid successor to those two famous Cunarders Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. I suppose these two ships were better known and loved, both in peace and war, by all of us living in these islands, than any other merchantman in our history. I have always had a special affection for them because they were named after my grandmother and my mother, and it does not seem so very long ago that I was present with my sister when my mother launched the Queen Elizabeth.

Every great enterprise has an element of risk and uncertainty about it, and I am sure no one can predict the future career of the new Cunarder. I am equally certain that, in the experienced and capable hands of the Cunard company, she will stand the best chance of a happy and profitable lifetime.

We have all read, with a touch of nostalgia, that the name of John Brown is to disappear from the list of great shipbuilders. However, this does not mean that the very special skill and spirit of this yard will be lost to Clydeside or to British shipbuilding. In wishing the Queen Elizabeth the Second a long life and good fortune on all her voyages, I add my best wishes for success and prosperity to the new consortium of Clydeside shipbuilders."

Post Launch Speech by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 20th September 1967

In November 1968, the QE2 went through her sea trials. These couldn’t have turned out much worse. The ship suffered from serious problems with her turbines, and was forced to return to her builders for immediate reparations. Cunard refused delivery. Reparations were made, but soon other problems emerged and once again Cunard refused to take over the QE2. It is reasonable to assume that John Brown and Co. actually lost money in building the third Queen, and Cunard lost more money when they were forced to cancel the scheduled maiden voyage, which was booked solid.

The Early Cunard Line Years (1969 – 1982):

But at last, in mid April 1969, the QE2 officially joined the Cunard fleet and departed from Southampton on a mini-cruise to the Canary Islands. The ship is then honoured with a visit by HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit at Southampton. She then departs Southampton bound for New York on her maiden voyage on the 2nd May 1969. Upon arrival in New York harbour, the QE2 received what now seems to be the last gala welcoming of a ship in New York. The interest was enormous, and all those who had the previous Queens still in memory wanted to catch a glimpse of their successor. But had Cunard been right to launch a new ship in these for ocean liners uncertain times? Only time would tell. Time did tell. But at first, thing didn’t look at all bright. The last of the great Atlantic liners started to disappear one by one. By the end of 1969, the Blue Riband-champion United States was taken out of service and the last ship ever built for transatlantic crossings only – the France – was laid up in 1974. The two Italian liners Michelangelo and Raffaello went the following year, and there were rumours that the QE2 would be sent to the scrappers before her tenth birthday. Fortunately, this would not be the case. There were enough people who wanted the QE2 in service to secure the financial support.

The first dramatic incident of the ship's career occurred in January 1971. Whilst cruising in the Caribbean it received an SOS call from the French liner Antilles. It had run aground near Mustique and leaking fuel oil had caught fire inside the ship. By the time the QE2 arrived the French ship was an inferno. The passengers had already been taken ashore to Mustique in the lifeboats. The passengers boarded the QE2, and two other French ships that had come to assist, during the night. The Antilles capsized and sank the next day and the passengers were landed in Barbados.

Then whilst QE2 was travelling from New York to Southampton, on the 17th May 1972, the captain received a message that there was a bomb on board and that it was timed to go off during the voyage. A search by crew members proved fruitless so a bomb disposal unit was flown out and parachuted into the sea close to the ship. The incident turned out to be a hoax but the FBI succeeded in arresting the culprit. The bomb disposal teams were awarded the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct. By 1974 the cruising business had expanded and the QE2 was operating profitably. On 1 April that year, whilst on a cruise from New York to San Juan, a technical fault caused the propulsion machinery to shut down. The ship was disabled and it was not until 3 April that the Sea Venture, a Flagship Cruises vessel, arrived to assist. The passengers were transferred and tugs were hired to tow the QE2 back to Bermuda. Subsequent repairs meant that the Easter cruise had to be cancelled.  In 1975, Cunard sent their flagship on her first world cruise a journey of 38,000 miles and a total of 3,965 passengers. On this world cruise the ship made its first transit of the Panama Canal and breaks two records - she becomes the largest ship to travel through the Canal, and pays the highest toll for the transit. She also completes her first million miles at sea while sailing between Antigua and Boston. In 1978 she visited Australia and New Zealand for the first time. In 1980 she made her first transit of the Suez Canal. In 1982 she made her maiden visit to Philadelphia as part of the city’s tricentennial celebrations. These years were to prove that the QE2 would survive after all and was destined to become a legend.  

The Falklands War: The QE2 goes to War (1982):

Although connected with the two previous Cunard Queens by name, there were many things that made the QE2 different from her older sisters. No one ever thought that the new Queen would ever come to serve her country in times of war. Modern warfare seemed to manage quite good without requisitioning merchant vessels and instead using aeroplanes for transport. But in 1982 something happened that proved that this was not the case. In April, Argentinean troops landed on the shores of the Falkland Islands. These islands, which lie in the South Atlantic off the coast of South America, are a British colony and Argentina had for many years claimed ownership of these isles because of their geographic location. Now, their patience was exhausted and they wanted 'their' islands back. The British were not prepared to give up one of the Empire’s last colonies and had to send military force into the area at once. A war was a very real threat and possibility.

However, the British Government quickly faced a serious problem. There were no friendly airstrips within a thousand miles of the Falklands. Any transport would have to be done by sea. Things would have to be done like in the old days – by requisitioning ships from the country’s merchant fleet. The Admiralty soon decided to go with two great liners, both capable of carrying thousands of troops each. These were the QE2 and the P&O Line’s Canberra.

The British government requisitioned QE2 for service as a troop transport vessel. Conversion work began immediately with the addition of helicopter flight decks and a modern communications system. On May 12 Britain’s 5th infantry brigade boarded her and set off for South Georgia. The ship arrived on May 27, disembarked the troops and then embarked the survivors of the HMS Ardent. Since British intelligence had learned that the Argentineans were using air reconnaissance to try and locate QE2, it left the same day.

However, the name that was written on the bows of the QE2 would protect her from immediate danger. If the ship bearing the monarch’s name was sunk, this would be very embarrassing for the British government. So the real dangerous task would be given to the Canberra. The QE2 was sent to South Georgia, about 1,500 miles (2,250 km) from Argentina. There her troops were transported to the Canberra, which would then carry them into the war zone. Nevertheless, the QE2 had served her country when she was needed, and this had secured her name in the history of the ocean liners.

The Final Years as a Steamship (1982 – 1986):

The QE2 arrived safely back in England on June 11 and was welcomed home by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. The QE2 received the following message from HM The Queen Mother from on board the Royal Yacht.

"Captain P. Jackson

I am pleased to welcome you back as Queen Elizabeth 2 returns to home waters, after your tour of duty in the South Atlantic. The exploits of your own ship's company and the deeds of valour of those who served in Antelope, Coventry and Ardent have been acclaimed throughout the land, and I am proud to add my personal tribute.

Elizabeth Regina, Queen Mother"

Captain Jackson immediately replied as follows:

"Please convey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, our thanks for her kind message. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 is proud to have been of service to Her Majesty's Forces.

Jackson. Master QE2."

Once docked work immediately began on refitting her for commercial service. As if to honour tradition, Cunard now decided to repaint the ship's funnel in the traditional Cunard colours but her hull was painted grey. The ship is honoured by a visit from HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother before her re-entry into service. The following years went by, with the QE2 sailing on her regular schedule – transatlantic crossings in the summer and cruises during the winter. In 1983 Cunard inaugurates the combined QE2 and Concorde package on the transatlantic crossing whereby you can travel one way on the QE2 and return on Concorde, thus combining two 1960s transatlantic legends. This unique travel package continued until 2003 when Concorde was retired from service. In 1985 Cunard chartered Concorde to take passengers out to Sydney, to join the QE2 and Sagafjord - both in port together. The Concorde trip broke the record in 17 hours, 3 minutes and 45 seconds. QE2, the Red Arrows and Concorde photographed at the same time in the English Channel. But during these years in the early 1980s, the problems with her turbine engines once again began to surface.

By 1986, Cunard decided that she would be refitted with diesel engines to save the company £12 million a year in fuel costs. That year HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the ship in Southampton to mark the 50th anniversary of the RMS Queen Mary’s maiden voyage in 1936. The QE2 also participates in the centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty. But then she leaves New York for the last time as a steamship and undertakes Cunard’s last crossing of the Atlantic under steam, ending a 146 year tradition. QE2’s steam turbines had taken her a total of 2,622,858 miles - the equivalent of 120 times around the world. This major overhaul was done from November 1986 to April 1987 at the Lloyd-Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. Nine diesel electric engines, new propellers and equipment to capture heat expelled by the engines were fitted. Public rooms and passenger accommodations were also extensively refurbished. The work cost Cunard more than twice the amount it had cost to build the QE2. This may sound foolish by the Cunard Line to accept, but estimates showed that to build a new ship with similar capacity and speed would have cost the company even more.

The QE2 Reborn & the Final Years as a Transatlantic Liner (1986 – 2004):

The following year, in 1987, the QE2 was back in service, not only with a brand new set of engines, but also sporting a new funnel of different design, the new stack being wider than the previous one. The refit seemed to have been exactly what the Queen needed. She was now both faster and more efficient than ever before. Her relaunch into service was marked by a visit from HRH Princess Diana and a flypast by Concorde. Later that year, she won The Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. She also had a new livery of black hull and traditional Cunard funnel colours. This went down very well with her passengers and the public. In 1988 HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the ship again and lunches on board to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her launching the RMS Queen Elizabeth in 1938. In her speech she said:

"Throughout the years that followed the Queen Elizabeth was a symbol of so much pride in our country. For me and for many who travelled in her it was a sad day in November 1968 when the Queen Elizabeth sailed from Southampton for the last time, leaving a legacy of memories. I am sure it is a name that will live on in history, just like the Golden Hind, Victory and Cutty Sark. Like her predecessor the Queen Elizabeth 2 is a fine ambassador for this country."

Speech of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother during a special luncheon in 1988 on board the QE2 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of her launching the RMS Queen Elizabeth in 1938.

In 1989 she was chartered by a consortium of Japanese companies for 72 days to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the city of Yokohama. The following year she again is chartered by the Japanese. 1990 was another momentous year for the QE2 as she completing her fastest diesel crossing in 4 days, 6 hours and 57 minutes at an average speed of 30.16 knots. That year the ship also set out on a Round Britain cruise to celebrate 150 years of Cunard and is greeted by 60,000 people on her maiden arrival at Cobh, Ireland. Charles Haughley, the Taoseach, boarded for lunch to mark the event. Later an estimated 1,000,000 people greet her maiden arrival in Liverpool and the QE2 goes home to the Clyde for the first time since her construction. The QE2 also participates in the Royal Review of Cunard and Royal Navy ships at Spithead by HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. Afterwards HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh transfer to the QE2 via the Royal Barge. Thus the Queen becomes the first reigning monarch to sail on a commercial liner with passengers. Captain Ronald Warwick temporarily assumes command and becomes the first Cunard Master to captain the same ship as his father (Commodore W.E. Warwick was the QE2’s first captain). Also in 1990 the QE2 completed her 500th scheduled crossing of the Atlantic. In 1992 Margaret Thatcher boards the QE2 for a special lunch commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Falklands War.  By this time the QE2 was a true legend and taking part in many historic events and breaking more records than any previous Cunard ship.

Up until now, it seemed that the QE2 would live through a long career with no mishaps (if one does not count her turbine problems). But in August 1992, she had her taste of bad luck as well. While cruising in the Vineyard Sound off the coast of Massachusetts she ran aground, and damaged large parts of her keel and bow. Passengers were evacuated, and the QE2 were forced to go into dry dock for repairs costing Cunard Line great amounts of money. An investigation was soon underway. How could the QE2 have run aground in waters known to be deep enough for her? The answer came after serious investigation. The conclusion had been drawn and it was the so-called 'squat-effect' that was to blame. This phenomenon is created when larger vessels travel through water at higher speed. The shape and speed of the ship pushes the surrounding water away, literally digging a hole in the water for the ship. What was discovered during the QE2 investigation was that this effect was greatly increased while travelling at higher speeds, which the QE2 was doing at the moment of the grounding. The amount of water pushed away was simply larger than expected, and thereby the ship also had a lesser depth of water to sail in. After this unnecessary and expensive accident, the QE2 was returned to service.

In 1994 the QE2 led a flotilla of ships commemorating the 50th Anniversary of D Day, and is reviewed by HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (as well as other world leaders) from on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. The ship also sails past the Normandy beaches and Dame Vera Lynn and Bob Hope are just some of the notable personalities on board.

However, in December 1994, Cunard took the opportunity to let her go through an extensive refit. Much work was made to renovate the relatively old ship, and bring her up to date on passenger comfort and safety regulations. HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York is guest of honour at lunch on board in Southampton to mark its return to service. Controversially the ship sails to New York with the workmen still on board. 

In 1994 as part of this refit two royal portraits were relocated onto the QE2. One was the royal portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (painted when she was still Queen), painted by Sir Oswald Birley, which had hung in the Main Lounge of the RMS Queen Elizabeth was moved on board the QE2. It had been unveiled on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth on the 28th July 1948 by HM Queen Elizabeth when she paid a royal visit to the liner in Southampton with HM King George VI and HRH Princess Margaret Rose. That day Her Majesty also presented the ship with her personal standard which was framed and hung in the Main Restaurant on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth. Since the retirement of the RMS Queen Elizabeth in 1968, the picture had been given on permanent loan to Southampton City Council and had been displayed until 1994 in the Mayor's Parlour.

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The Royal Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth by Sir Oswald Birley

(This painting originally was displayed in the Main Lounge on board the RMS Queen Elizabeth)

The Royal Portrait of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh by Edward Halliday.

(This painting originally was displayed in the Main Lounge on board the RMS Caronia)

The other portrait moved onto the QE2 was that of HM Queen Elizabeth II when, as Princess Elizabeth, she had married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN. This painting was done by Edward Halliday. The painting, mounted in a contemporary, specially carved frame, showed them arm-in-arm as the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and had been originally hung in the Main Lounge on board the RMS Caronia since her entry into service in 1949. Again when the RMS Caronia, famously known as the Green Goddess, had been retired from service in 1967, the painting also was handed by Cunard Line on permanent loan to Southampton City Council and had been displayed until 1994 above the magnficient stairway in the Southampton Civic Centre.  Today the two paintings continue to hang on board the QE2 either side of the forward main stairwell between the Upper and Quarter Decks.

1995 was yet another momentous year for the QE2; she made her first call at Plymouth as part of the VE Day 50th Anniversary commemoration. Later she leaves New York for Southampton on her 1000th voyage, having sailed 3.8 million miles and carried 1.7 million passengers. Also that year HRH Princess Anne, the Princess Royal lunches on board in Edinburgh. Then the QE2 leads the Tall Ships out of the Firth of Forth and stars in a special episode of Coronation Street. In mid 1995 QE2 made a historic voyage - her 1000th! She was greeted by tens of thousands of people when she arrived after this voyage. Later that year QE2 did an around UK Voyage arriving in the port of her berth, Clydebank. Again, tens of thousands of people lined the shores. QE2 then went on to arrive in Liverpool for the first time, with again, tens of thousands of people lined the shores and docks - for every vantage point to see the ship.

On the 11th September 1995 during a westbound transatlantic crossing the QE2 encountered Hurricane Luis and got hit by a 95 ft wave. On the 2nd January 1996 she logged 4 million miles at sea.

In 1996 Cunard Line changed ownership when Trafalgar House was bought by the Norwegian company Kvaerner. That year she began her 20th World Cruise from New York, a voyage covering 53,000 miles and 38 ports on 4 continents. In November / December 1996, another, yet not so extensive, refit was made at the A&P shipyard in Southampton. The Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed out of Southampton December 12, 1996 after her overhaul and refit at the A&P dry-dock. Over the previous three weeks, one thousand people worked to complete the refit work to specification and on schedule.

The $18-million contract included work in passenger areas and maintenance behind the scenes. Cunard had by now invested more than 10 times the building cost of QE2, including a massive re-engineering in 1987 and a major interior redesign in 1994 to ensure she would remain the most prestigious ship in the world. This time, significant upgradings in passenger areas include the Princess Grill and the largest of the five restaurants, the Mauretania.

Also in 1996, QE2’s transatlantic crossing time was extended from five to six days and arrival and departure times in Southampton and New York were changed to 8 am and 5 pm, respectively, to accommodate transfers between the ship and passengers’ homes. In 1997 there was a reduction in the number of transatlantic crossings, from 24 to 18, and an increase in the number of days spent on cruises from 120 days in 1996 to 148 days. Also in 1997 the QE2 marked the 75th anniversary of the first World Cruise (by Cunard’s Laconia in 1922) with her own World Cruise departure from New York and celebrates the 30th anniversary of her launch by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1998 the QE2 welcomed yet another famous passenger on board when South African President Nelson Mandela (accompanied by his future wife Graca Machel) sails from Durban to Cape Town. A Gala Dinner for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is held on board in Cape Town. Mandela writes in the QE2’s visitors book “Travelling on the QE2 was an unforgettable honour and pleasure”. That year she also visits the Orkney Islands and Malta for the first time. In May 1998 Cunard was bought by the American cruise giant, Carnival Corporation.

In 1999 the QE2 celebrated the 30th anniversary of her first transatlantic crossing with a special birthday party in Southampton. In 30 years the QE2 has made 1,159 voyages, sailed 4,648,050 nautical miles and carried over 2 million passengers. That year the ship was again the recipient of a massive refurbishment. The refit took place at Lloyd Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, from November 12 to December 11, 1999. From the Grand Lounge and the Queens Room to the renowned restaurants and the Golden Lion Pub, there are new furnishings, draperies, carpeting and woodworking throughout the famous liner. In addition, Harrods, the London-based luxury department store opened its first boutique at sea aboard QE2.

"The QE2 is our flagship vessel, she embodies the essence of British heritage and all that is Cunard," said Deborah Nathansohn, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Cunard Line. "With more than 160 years of tradition it is important that we retain that all-but-vanished experience that defines luxury ocean travel. We are preserving a piece of history that is the foundation for what has become the explosive growth of the cruise market."

In April 2000 Cunard announces that the QE2 will sail four transatlantic voyages out of Boston rather than New York in 2000. On the 20th September 2001 in the aftermath of the terrible terrorist attacks on New York, the QE2 and Caronia are diverted from New York to Boston due to the World Trade Centre terrorist attack on 11th September 2001.

On the 7th January 2002 the QE2 docked in New York and became the first scheduled passenger vessel to resume calling at the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal since the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. As it passed the site of the former World Trade Centre the liner stopped and sounded 3 blasts on its whistle in tribute to those who tragically lost their lives in the attack. Later a special luncheon was held on board to honour those New York hoteliers and restaurant owners who generously contributed to the city’s relief efforts following the attack. On the 26th April 2002 the Queen Elizabeth 2 departs Fort Lauderdale bound for Southampton carrying a special cargo – the whistle from the 2nd funnel of the famous preserved RMS Queen Mary. This whistle will be installed on the new RMS Queen Mary 2 alongside a replica. Thus the new Queen Mary 2 will have the same voice as the old Queen Mary.

On the 13th May 2002 Cunard announce that the 2003 season will be the QE2’s last on the transatlantic crossings route from Southampton to New York.  After the Queen Mary 2 enters service in 2004 she will take over the transatlantic route and the QE2 will be based in Southampton offering cruises for the UK market and will continue to sail on the annual World Cruise. On the 18th May 2002 the QE2 arrives in Southampton with her special cargo – the whistle from the RMS Queen Mary which is destined for use on the new RMS Queen Mary 2. On the 14th June 2002 a special lunch is hosted on board the QE2 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Falklands war attended by the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sir Rex Hunt (Falklands Governor at the time), Captain Peter Jackson, and Falklands veteran Simon Weston. Other celebrities attending include Barbara Windsor, Robert Kilroy-Silk (Kilroy show), Michael Buerk (newsreader), Sir Jimmy Savile and Alan Whitaker. On the 27th June 2002 the QE2 carries another special cargo – the new Luxury Maybach limousine motorcar (Maybach is part of the Daimler-Chrysler Group) from Southampton bound for its premiere and unveiling in America.

Even today the QE2 continues to break yet more records and continues to be a living legend. On the 22nd August 2002 the QE2 broke another record when she achieved 5 million miles at sea which is the most mileage of any ship in history. On the 5th January 2003 the QE2 departs New York on a World Cruise that marks her 21st circumnavigation of the world. On the 16th October 2003 the QE2 and Concorde paired for the last time as a package on the New York route. Due to the impending retirement of Concorde by British Airways the 16th October 2003 represented the last occasion when the QE2 and Concorde package was available, thus ended the unique partnership of two great transatlantic legends – Concorde and the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. On the 24th October 2003 the two British icons met for the last time as Concorde G-BOAG flew over the QE2 on the Atlantic for the final time on its final transatlantic flight BA 002 from New York JFK to London Heathrow Airport. The Master of the QE2 Captain Ray Heath, sent the following message to the Captain Mike Bannister on Concorde G-BOAG:

"From one British icon to another: QE2 and Concorde have been an improbable, unique and successful transatlantic partnership for the past 20 years. We are sorry to see you go."

Words of Captain Ray Heath (Master of the QE2) to the Captain Mike Bannister on Concorde G-BOAG on the 24th October 2003 as the Concorde made its final transatlantic flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow.

The Age of the Two Cunard Queens (2004 – 2007):

In 2002 Cunard had announced that 2003/4 will be the QE2’s last season on the transatlantic service however before this, one last epic event in the story of the Atlantic Ferry would take place. On the 19th April 2004 the Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed from Southampton Docks on her final Transatlantic Crossing Westbound voyage prior to handing over to the new RMS Queen Mary 2. This voyage was designed so that the QE2 could meet up with the Queen Mary 2 in New York ready for a special tandem crossing back to Southampton. It is this tandem crossing that would mark an epic new phase in the story of the Atlantic Ferry as never before had two Cunard Queens sailed the Atlantic in tandem. When the RMS Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York to join the QE2 this marked the first time since the Second World War that two Cunard Queens had been seen in New York together. Thus on the 25th April 2004 history was made as the QE2 departed New York at 16:45 on her final Transatlantic Crossing Eastbound for Southampton escorting the new RMS Queen Mary 2 back to Southampton together, on the 1st May 2004 the QE2 arrives in Southampton at 07:00 in tandem with the Queen Mary 2. VSOE provides a special British Pullman boat train for passengers of the QE2 and Queen Mary 2 to take them back to London Victoria after their historic tandem crossing from New York.

Thus the QE2’s reign on the North Atlantic transatlantic crossing ended in glorious style with her handing the route to the new Queen Mary 2. Once both ships arrived in Southampton a special handover ceremony was held as the QE2 hands over to the new RMS Queen Mary 2 the status of flagship of Cunard Line and at 3pm the QE2 departed Southampton bound for a mini refit in Bremerhaven, Germany in preparation for a new career as a Southampton based cruise ship and also concentrating on the QE2’s renowned World Cruises. The QE2 remarkably was Cunard’s longest serving flagship until she handed this status to the new RMS Queen Mary 2 having held this status from 1969 till 2004. The 1st May 2004 also marked an epic moment in the history of the QE2 and her new partner the RMS Queen Mary 2 and indeed in the history of the port of Southampton. It was on this day that Southampton once again saw two Cunard Queens in port for the first time since the days of the old RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth.

On the 12th November 2004 the QE2 reached yet another epic milestone in her illustrious history as she becomes Cunard Line’s longest serving express liner after 35 years 6 months and three days afloat. Thus smashing the record previously held by the venerable RMS Aquitania which served from May 1914 to December 1949. On the 16th April 2005 the QE2 meets the Queen Mary 2 for only the second time in Southampton when the Queen Mary 2 passes her berthed at the QEII Terminal while bound for New York. On the 2nd May 2005 the QE2 celebrates the 36th Anniversary of her maiden voyage.

On the 28th June 2005 the QE2 participates in another epic event, the International Fleet Review in the Solent as part of the SeaBritain2005 celebrations for Trafalgar 200 and the Bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson. This event marked the largest gathering of merchant and naval ships in British waters since the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in 1977. HM Queen Elizabeth II and the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh reviewed the vast fleet from on board HMS Endurance.

On the 4th September 2005 yet another remarkable milestone is passed in the history of the legendary QE2 as she becomes Cunard Line’s longest serving ship after surpassing the previous record of 36 years 4 months and 2 days. Thus smashing the record set by the Scythia which served from 1921 to 1957.

On the 18th November 2005 Cunard Line confirmed to the Daily Echo newspaper in Southampton, that the legendary QE2 will be refurbished in Spring 2006 to meet the new SOLAS 2010 safety requirements and therefore will continue in service for at least another 10 years. The ship is outstandingly popular and it is not uncommon for it to be nearly impossible to get berths on board for love or money. A consortium in Southampton is being set up to work up plans and put together finance to eventually preserve the QE2 in the city when the time comes for her to be retired. The consortium is headed by Terry Yarwood and welcomed the statement that Cunard will keep her in service for many years to come. However they stated that they would continue with their consortium so as to be ready for the day when the QE2 is eventually retired from service. Soon discussions are to be held with the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore whether they would be supportive of plans to save the QE2 for Southampton and the UK.

On the 3rd January 2006 the legendary QE2 departs Southampton on yet another of her renowned World Cruises via New York, Fort Lauderdale, Willemstad (Curacao), Panama Canal, Acapulco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, American Samoa, Fiji, Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Bali, Keelung (Taipei), Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Phuket, Colombo, Cochin, Mumbai (Bombay), Dubai, Suez Canal, Alexandria, Piraeus (Athens), Civitavecchia (Rome), Valencia, Lisbon and finally Southampton where she arrives on the 23rd April 2006. During this one she makes her maiden call at Shanghai in China on the 10th March 2006.

On Tuesday 11th April 2006 the British Government (Department for Transport) and Cunard Line reported that an unspecified  security threat had been received about the QE2 as she sailed on her World Cruise. This World Cruise had started on the 3rd January 2006 in Southampton. As a precaution security around the world famous ship had been stepped up as she passed through the Middle East and police boats escorted her through the Suez Canal. On Wednesday 12th April 2006 she docked as scheduled in Alexandria in Egypt but with tight security and a police guard. She is to continue on her World Cruise as planned and her next port of call is Kusadasi in Turkey. The Department of Transport reported that it was aware of "some information concerning the security of the QE2." The DfT went on to say "We are in contact with Cunard Line and are continuing to monitor the situation carefully." Cunard Line reported that there was no cause for alarm but they were taking the threat very seriously and that UK, USA and Egyptian security authorities were being kept fully informed. The QE2 is due to return to Southampton at the end of her World Cruise on the 23rd April 2006.

The 23rd April 2006 marked another notable occasion in the life of the two Cunard Queens when once again they were together in their homeport of Southampton.

This St George’s Day also was a notable occasion for the Port of Southampton as it was the first occasion since the 1960s that 5 cruise liners were in port together. In addition to the QE2 (berth 105 Western Docks), Queen Mary 2 (QEII Terminal Berth 38/9 Eastern Docks) being in port there was also the Oceana (Mayflower Cruise Terminal Berth 106 Western Docks), Saga Ruby and Saga Rose (both berthed at the City Cruise Terminal in Western Docks). In late morning the QE2 left her berth in Western Docks and sailed out past the Queen Mary 2 exchanging blasts on their whistles as the QE2 sailed to Bremerhaven for a refit. She will return to service on the 8th May 2006. This occasion also marked the first time that the two Saga sisters (former Sagafjord and Vistafjord now reunited in the Saga Cruises fleet) were in port in Southampton together.

The Departures were as follows:

11:30 – 12:30 QE2 departs Western Docks bound for refit in Bremerhaven, Germany.

17:00 Oceana departs the Mayflower Cruise Terminal in Western Docks bound on a cruise to the Canary Islands.

17:00 Saga Rose departs the City Cruise Terminal in Western Docks bound on a cruise to Egypt.

18:00 Queen Mary 2 departs from the QEII Terminal in Eastern Docks on a transatlantic voyage to New York.

18:30 Saga Ruby departs the City Cruise Terminal in Western Docks bound on a cruise to the Atlantic Isles.

Her 40th Anniversary Year (2007):

The QE2 is renowned for her legendary World Cruises and is considered by many to be the Grande Dame of World Cruising having undertaken more of them than any other ship afloat. However in 2007 she will depart Southampton on 2nd January 2007 on one of her most special World Cruises to date which is destined to make history. For in 2007 she will be departing on her Silver Jubilee World Cruise marking her 25th circumnavigation of the world. This World Cruise is also special for two other reasons. 2007 is the 85th Anniversary of the first World Cruise made by the Laconia back in 1922/1923. Also 2007 will see the RMS Queen Mary 2 making her Maiden World Cruise and the two Cunard Queens are set to meet up twice during their simultaneous World Cruises on the 10th January 2007 in Fort Lauderdale and on the 20th February 2007 in Sydney. The latter occasion is also special as it is the first time two Cunard Queens will have been in Sydney since the wartime visits of the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in 1941 and 1942 during their troopship duties in the Second World War.

20th February 2007: The Meeting of the Two Cunard Queens "The Royal Rendezvous"(Sydney, Australia)


Thus the QE2 helped to induct the new RMS Queen Mary 2 into the tradition of world cruises like she did on the transatlantic crossing in 2004. The QE2 arrived back in Southampton after her momentous Silver Jubilee World Cruise and two “Meeting of the Queens” on the 21st April 2007.

On the 10th June 2007, a special luncheon for Falklands Veterans was held on board the QE2 while she was docked in Southampton to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands War. In 1982 the QE2 had arrived in Southampton on the 11th June with survivors of the HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry that had been sunk during the conflict.

On the 18th June 2007 there was the shock announcement that an agreement had been reached to sell the QE2 to Dubai World (a holding company of the Dubai Royal Family and the Dubai Government) for £50 million for use as a hotel, museum and retail & entertainment destination at a specially built pier at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai from 2009. The Palm Jumeirah is a "Palm Island" being built off Dubai, one of three along with one in the form of a map of the World! This is said to be the 8th Wonder of the World. This means that the QE2 will be retired from service with Cunard Line at the end of her current booked cruise programme in November 2008. Sadly it seems that Britain has been denied the opportunity to even bid for the QE2. There bidding process for potential buyers of the ship, Dubai simply approached Cunard behind the scenes and a deal was made, thus denying Britain the opportunity to even bid for the ship alongside Dubai's bid.  This is a great shame that the QE2 was sold in this way without a fair bidding process. In the late 1960s Britain lost the Queen Mary because we submitted a bid for the ship but it was unsuccessful. Sadly this time we have lost the QE2 not because our bid was unsuccessful but because Britain was not even given the opportunity to bid for the ship. Shame, but instead she will go to Dubai.

Of course this is very disappointing for Britain as the QE2's home country and her British supporters, like it was in the late 1960s when the Queen Mary was retired. However Cunard Line have to accept the deal that is best for them as a business. So seeing it from their perspective the QE2's sale to Dubai probably was inevitable as the United Arab Emirates has a huge amount of money and has an available berth, resources and facilities to acquire and look after the QE2. While Britain and the British interests, despite their love for the ship, did not. Also it is probably good for Cunard Line and Carnival from a business perspective as the QE2 would become a permanent advert in Dubai for Cunard Line and the Carnival Corporation & PLC group and will help to open up this new wealthy market for them. Similarly the sale of the Queen Mary in the late 1960s to Long Beach in California gave Cunard Line a permanent advert in the United States and so from a business perspective surely helped to retain and grow their American market. Also both America and Dubai have a strong fondness of all things British so maybe they wanted a bit of Britain for themselves in the form of the Queen Mary and QE2 respectively. Dubai is in many ways the new California. Finally there is the obvious, both places are immensely wealthy and could afford to purchase these ships when they were retired from service and then pay to keep them maintained as floating hotels and tourist attractions. Disappointing I know for British fans of these two British maritime icons but sadly it may be inevitable, money talks and that is how business works.

Her World Cruise partnering the new Queen Victoria in 2008 will be her final World Cruise. Her final roundtrip Southampton cruise will be the "Mediterranean Odyssey" cruise departing Southampton on the 27th October 2008 and returning to Southampton on the 11th November 2008. Following this the QE2 will depart Britain's shores for the final time on the "QE2 Final Voyage" one-way voyage bound for her new home in Dubai. After a brief refurbishment at Dubai Drydocks, returning some of her interiors to their original splendour, she will be installed at a special jetty in the Palm Jumeirah and her permanent new home ready for opening in 2009. She, as well as being a hotel, will also feature a museum celebrating her long and rich history and thus become a tourism, retail and entertainment destination at The Palm Jumeirah. Thus future generations will be able to continue to visit the QE2 and enjoy the legacy and rich history at her new home in Dubai.

"Queen Elizabeth 2, the most famous ship in the world, will be leaving the Cunard fleet in autumn 2008. QE2 has sailed the world's seas for almost 40 years, and has travelled over 5 million miles in the process; that is further than any other ship in history. She is the longest serving ship in Cunard's 168-year history, and she has outlasted all other transatlantic liners.

After such an illustrious career, we feel that the time will be right for her to leave the fleet next year. However, she will not disappear. She has been purchased by Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World and a wholly owned company of the Government of Dubai. She will be delivered to Dubai in November 2008, where she will cease her role as an ocean going passenger vessel, and be refurbished and adapted to become a luxury floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination at The Palm Jumeirah.We think it very important that QE2 should end her ocean going career with dignity. We are, therefore, very pleased to have secured a permanent home for her that will enable future generations to continue to experience fully both the ship and her history.

This is clearly going to be an emotional farewell. QE2 was launched by Her Majesty The Queen in September 1967, forty years ago this year, and since she came into service in 1969, she has carried over 2 million passengers, undertaken 25 World Cruises, and crossed the Atlantic over 800 times. And like many of her Cunard predecessors she has been a major attraction at ports around the world. She will remain with the fleet until 11th November 2008, when she will leave her homeport of Southampton for the last time, to commence her final voyage to Dubai."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line) on the 18th June 2007 when the shock announcement was made saying that the QE2 would be retired from service in 2008 and was to be sold to Dubai as a hotel and museum.

"The QE2 is without doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today. I am delighted that we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, The Palm Jumeirah. The QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must-see experiences of Dubai and of the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination. Dubai is a maritime nation and we understand the rich heritage of the QE2. She is coming to a home where she will be cherished. "

Words of Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayen (Chairman of Dubai World) on the 18th June 2007 when the shock announcement was made saying that the QE2 would be retired from service in 2008 and was to be sold to Dubai as a hotel and museum.

On the 25th June 2008, in light of the impending retirement of the QE2, Cunard Line announced a series of changes to the ship's final season of cruises following her final World Cruise in tandem with the Queen Victoria. These changes to her cruise programme for 2008 are to ensure that the QE2 had a proper farewell series of voyages. Her Farewell Voyages are as follows:

The QE2 Farewell Voyages

30th September 2008 "Farewell to the British Isles":

The QE2 will sail from Southampton on a "Farewell to the British Isles" voyage. The 10-night voyage will include maiden calls to Dublin and Belfast and a call to the Clyde (Greenock) where she was built, as well as calls at Cobh, Liverpool (Cunard's ancestral home), Edinburgh (South Queensferry) and Newcastle. This enables the QE2 to say farewell to the UK and her home country.

10th October 2008 "Final New York Arrival Crossing":

The QE2 will sail from Southampton in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2 on a final tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to New York, USA. The 6-night crossing will end in New York on the 16th October. This voyage will go down in history as only the second ever tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to be undertaken. The first, of course, was the tandem crossing from Southampton to New York undertaken by the QE2 and Queen Victoria earlier in 2008 while on the first leg of their tandem World Cruises. This enables the QE2 to say farewell to New York, her North American homeport for many years.

16th October 2008 "Farewell to America Crossing":

The QE2 will depart New York, again in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2, bound for Southampton. Thus she will depart from New York and America for the final time, never to return. This will be the QE2's 806th and final transatlantic crossing and both ships will arrive in Southampton on the 22nd October.

22nd October 2008 "Autumn Getaway":

This is a roundtrip cruise from Southampton calling at Bilbao, La Rochelle and Guernsey (Channel Islands).

27th October 2008 "Mediterranean Odyssey":

This is her final roundtrip Southampton cruise calling at Lisbon, Sardinia, Naples, Messina, Dubrovnik, Zakinthos, Piraeus, Gibraltar and Vigo before returning to Southampton.

11th November 2008 "QE2's Final Voyage":

Sadly the QE2 then sails on her final voyage bound for Dubai and thus leaves the shores of the UK forever. It will be the end of an era as she sails from Southampton for the final time bound for Dubai calling at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Civitavecchia, Naples, Malta, Alexandria before transiting the Suez Canal before arrival in Dubai on the 27th November 2008 and the end of her seagoing career.

So Cunard Line announced the Farewell Voyages for the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. Clearly there will be huge crowds at each of her ports of call on these final voyages and Cunard Line are giving this British icon a fitting and surely emotional farewell.

"These voyages will mark the historic departure of the QE2 from the Cunard fleet, in a very special way. The QE2 is a much loved vessel and we wanted to give her many loyal fans a chance to say goodbye, as well as give those to have never had the opportunity to sail aboard her the chance to do just that in her last season with Cunard."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line) on the 25th June 2007 when announcing the QE2's Farewell Voyages in 2008 before her retirement from service and preservation in Dubai.

On the 15th September 2007 the QE2 marks another momentous milestone in her long career when she sets sail from Southampton on a special "40th Anniversary Celebration" cruise around the British Isles to celebrate the QE2's 40th birthday. Before setting sail from Southampton on the 15th September 2007 a farewell lunch was hosted on board for 350 invited guests. Notable guests included the former British Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher and her daughter Carol Thatcher.  Carol Thatcher then boarded the ship for its special cruise round Britain. Then the QE2 sets sail at 1700 and was played off from the quayside by the Band of the Royal Marines and then was escorted down Southampton Water by two tugs firing water jets. On the 16th September 2007 at 1100 she arrived off Flamborough Head and moved in close to the Yorkshire Coast including Scarborough, Whitby, Hartlepool and Sunderland to enable the crowds to follow her progress up to the River Tyne. Then on the 17th September 2007 she made her remarkable and spectacular maiden call at Newcastle upon Tyne (Tyne Commission Quay). However due to strong winds and poor weather she had to make four attempts to get up the River Tyne and eventually arrived 2 hours late. She was escorted up the River Tyne by a flotilla of boats and a concerto of Northumbrian pipes to the accompanyment of daytime fireworks. As the ship progresses up the river the Tyne was turned into a virtual red carpet by using aqua flares. The 17th September was also notable as it was the 100th anniversary of the Mauretania's departure from the Tyne on her first sea trials. This is one of many anniveraries being marked by the QE2 on this special Round Britain voyage.

On the 18th September 2007 she called at the Firth of Forth and welcomed the Lord Provost of Edinburgh on board. Then she continued her voyage round the top of Scotland to reach the River Clyde on the 20th September 2007 (40 years to the day of her launch back in 1967). Berthed at Greenock a celebratory lunch was held on board the QE2 including as guests of honour 100 workers who helped build the ship. Then the guests of honour and the QE2's passengers were treated to a special 25 minute long display by the Red Arrows over the River Clyde. The exact moment of her launch, 1428, was marked by the sounding of the QE2's whistle and a recording of HM Queen Elizabeth II launching the ship back in 1967 was played over the ship's tannoy.

After departing her birthplace on the River Clyde she sailed to Liverpool where she arrived on the 21st September 2007. Thus becoming the third cruise ship to berth at the new cruise terminal. The arrival of the QE2 also marked the official opening ceremony of the new cruise terminal by HRH The Duke of Kent as the City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Liverpool is Cunard's spiritual home where the company was based from 1839 to 1967. After the opening ceremony for the new cruise terminal, VIPs and other dignitaries came on board the QE2 for a celebratory lunch. The afternoon climaxed with a magnificent Cunard QE2 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert which was held at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and attended by the QE2's passengers and local dignatories. The concert starred, soprano Lesley Garrett, Scottish tenor Nicky Spence, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, the Liverpool Cathedral Choir and the Band of the Scots Guards. It was a truly remarkable concert full of patriotic and popular music that stirred the emotions on this historic occasion. Tributes were paid to the legendary QE2 by regular passengers, Sir Jimmy Savile and Carol Thatcher. Sir Jimmy Savile had boarded the ship in Scarborough from a pleasure steamer. That evening there was a spectacular mid river firework display in honour of the QE2.

"Today together we have celebrated the long and extraordinary life of a great ocean liner. An ocean liner which was conceived and planned here in Liverpool. So far the QE2 has visited Liverpool 8 times. The next time, the 9th time, will be her last. After that she will not pass this way again."

Speech of Captain Ian McNaught at the QE2 40th Anniversary Celebration Concert at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
21st September 2007.

On the 22nd September the voyage also marked the 40th anniversary of the Queen Mary's final departure from New York back in 1967. On the QE2's final day at sea on the 22nd September 2007, en route back to Southampton, activities on board marked the last sailing of the Queen Mary and after dinner the QE2 passed her newer sister Queen Mary 2 outbound from Southampton to New York. This historic occasion marked the first time two Cunard Queens had passed at sea since the Queen Mary passed the Queen Elizabeth for the final time in mid Atlantic nearly 40 years before on the 25th September 1967. Passengers crowded the decks of both ships to watch this historic sight.  Finally the QE2 arrived back in Southampton on the 23rd September 2007 after her historic and memorable voyage round Britain.

The Farewell Season (2008):

On the 6th January 2008 the QE2 is set to make history once again as she departs Southampton on her World Cruise "South America, Pacific and Orient Odyssey" in tandem with the new Queen Victoria. For the first time in almost 10 years the QE2 will concentrate on South America and the Pacific during her World Cruise. The Queen Victoria will be making her Maiden World Cruise and the two ships will also be making the first ever westbound tandem transatlantic crossing to New York. Repeating the role she played when the RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004 and 2007 (in inducting that ship into the transatlantic service and World Cruises), the QE2 will be inducting the Queen Victoria on her first transatlantic crossing to New York and Maiden World Cruise. The two ships will arrive in New York together on the 13th January 2008. The Queen Mary 2 will also be in New York on that day having arrived from a Connoisseur's Caribbean cruise. It is likely that in New York the QE2 and the Queen Victoria will meet the Queen Mary 2 in a maritime first the Three Cunard Queens will be together for the first and maybe last time.

On the 13th January 2008 New York witnessed maritime history as fireworks and fanfare marked the first and only meeting of the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2 and the new Queen Victoria. The regal fleet departed at 6.30 pm and Queen Mary 2 will depart from her American home port, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, while the QE2 will depart from Pier 92 and Queen Victoria will depart from Pier 88 both at the Manhatten "New York Cruise Terminal". Then the three mighty Queens will rendezvous and sail past the Statue of Liberty during a spectacular fireworks celebration at around 7pm. This is the first time in Cunard's long history that three Queens have been in service at the same time and with the QE2 retiring in November 2008 it will be the only time they will be in service together. It was truly maritime history in the making.

"This is a historic occasion for Cunard and New York, marking the only time that the three ships will be together ever! More history will be made as our grande dame QE2 departs on her 26th and final World Cruise and the Queen Victoria will depart on her maiden World Cruise."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

The Queen Mary 2 meanwhile departs on the 13th January 2008 on another Connoisseur's Caribbean cruise. While from there the two Cunard Queens then sail in tandem to Fort Lauderdale where they arrive together on the 15th January 2008. From there they take different routes before reuniting in Sydney on the 24th February 2008 in a spectacular "Meeting of the Queens" similar to the occasion when the QE2 and RMS Queen Mary 2 arrived in Sydney in February 2007. The QE2 returns to Southampton after her epic World Cruise on the 18th April 2008. Thus two Cunard Queens are to make epic simultaneous World Cruises once again in 2008! Sadly in light of the announcement on the 18th June 2007, that the QE2 will be retired from service in 2008, this will be her 26th and final World Cruise.

On the 22nd April 2008 a remarkable and historic sight not seen in Southampton before and one that will never be repeated again will take place when all three Cunard liners are in port together.This once in a lifetime event will bring together the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth 2 for a unique event on the Southampton waterfront.At about 5.30pm the QM2 leaves her berth at the QEII Terminal in Eastern Docks and travels astern to a position close to her sister ships when all three bows will be pointing down Southampton Water. Originally the ships' timetable of voyages meant many Southampton people were disappointed they would be denied this one-off sight, but last minute changes to QE2's schedule has resulted in the city having the unique opportunity of seeing the three Queens together. Earlier this year, in January, the three Cunard ships did all meet up on the same day in New York in what was then thought to be a unique occasion but now, unexpectedly, Southampton will also have the opportunity to witness this dramatic sight. On the day, QM2 will be at Cunard's normal berth in the Eastern Docks, Queen Victoria will be at the City Cruise Terminal, next door to Mayflower Park, while QE2 will be further up the Western Docks at berth 105.
All three ships will sound their whistles in salute before Queen Mary 2 departs on her first transatlantic crossing of 2008 (her 81st crossing) followed by Queen Victoria embarking on her first voyage to Iberia and the Canaries. After both QM2 and Queen Victoria leave the docks, QE2 will remain in port for the following nine days undergoing a maintenance period and refit in preparation for the final part of her cruise programme. QE2 is expected to remain alongside 105 berth until April 27 when she leaves on a cruise to Spain and the Canary Islands.

"We are delighted that this unexpected opportunity for Southampton to host our three ocean liners arose after we took the recent decision to have QE2’s scheduled 2008 refit in her homeport. We would like as many people as possible to witness this historic spectacle”.

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

On the 2nd June 2008, the QE2 will receive a special royal visitor. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will visit the ship in Southampton Docks for the final time to say a fond goodbye to the legendary Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, before the ship is taken out of service to become a hotel and tourist attraction in the Middle East. For the ship and her crew the royal visit will be a historic occasion as the Queen is reunited, after a gap of 18 years, with QE2, a liner which has a special place in her affections ever since the day, now more than 40 years ago, when she officially launched the Cunarder. It was in 1967 that the Queen travelled to the John Brown shipyard on Clydebank to perform the traditional ceremony, during which she revealed the vessel's long-awaited name, then one of the best-kept secrets of the time. The Queen has visited QE2 twice since the 1967 launch; on May 1, 1969, immediately prior to the liner's maiden voyage and on July 27, 1990 to mark Cunard's 150th anniversary. This farewell visit is reminiscent of a similar visit the Queen's mother (HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) made to the RMS Queen Elizabeth prior to that ship's retirement from service on the 6th November 1968.

"We are delighted and honoured that Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to visit QE2 to wish her farewell. Her Majesty has taken a close interest in the ship over the last forty years, having launched the ship, visited twice and reviewed the ship four times, including during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of D Day. I am certain this final visit will be a memorable occasion for all involved."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

Her Majesty The Queen was initially greeted by Cunard president and managing director, Carol Marlow, who escorted the Royal party on board and into the ship's lobby where she was welcomed by QE2's last ever masters, Captain Ian MacNaught and Captain David Perkins. During her visit Her Majesty The Queen toured the vessel, meeting many crew members, some of whom have served on board since QE2 entered service in 1969 and others who went with the ship when she was requisitioned as a troop carrier in the Falklands Conflict.  In the Officers' Wardroom another small part of the liner's life came to an end when Her Majesty was invited to sign the ship's visitors' book. Hers was the first name on the first page, recalling the day of the ship's launch, and now this same signature was written on the last page. Later she attended a Reception and Lunch on board with 300 guests, including the former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher. Other notable guests included Lesley Garrett, Terry Waite, Sir Jimmy Saville, Jenny Bond and Esther Rantzen.  For the Queen it was the chance to pay a personal and affectionate tribute to the ship she launched so many years ago while at the same time to officially recognise, on behalf of the country, a liner unequalled in maritime history.

Both the newest and longest-serving female crewmembers played a role in the visit. While on the bridge, The Queen gave a signal to Cadet Jennifer Haynes, who joined QE2 in April 2008, to sound QE2’s whistle to salute Cunard’s current flagship Queen Mary 2, which was also in port on 2 June and was named by The Queen in January 2004. Queen Mary 2 responded by sounding her whistle in salute of Her Majesty’s visit. After disembarking, Her Majesty was presented with 55 red roses by QE2’s Executive Housekeeper Roz Price Evans who is the longest-serving female member of crew; this was to mark 55 years to the day since The Queen’s Coronation. The Queen also met nine QE2 Captains including Captain Peter Jackson who became Master of QE2 in 1973 and who took the ship to the Falklands in 1982.

One of the most memorable moments came when the Her Majesty unveiled a large painting by the renowned marine artist Robert Lloyd depicting QE2 taking her leave from Southampton to begin her one-way voyage to Dubai. The painting of QE2 flying her long, trailing paying-off pennant - traditionally the same length of the ship plus one foot for every year of service - would later be presented to the people of Southampton by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as a lasting reminder of the great Cunarder once the ship was retired from service in November 2008.

QE2, the most famous ship in the world, and for 35 years the flagship of the Cunard fleet, was launched by The Queen at Clydebank on 20 September 1967 – forty years ago in 2007.

Since then the ship has travelled over 5.6 million nautical miles, more than any other ship; has carried over 2.5 million guests; has completed 25 World Cruises; and has crossed the Atlantic 803 times. She leaves Cunard service in November 2008 prior to starting a new life in Dubai as a first class hotel and entertainment destination.

Her Majesty The Queen has visited QE2 twice since the launch – on 1 May 1969, immediately prior the Maiden Voyage, and on 27 July 1990 to mark Cunard Line’s 150th anniversary.

Fresh from a recent refit in Southampton, QE2 had never looked better with her distinctive Cunard livery in pristine and immaculate condition, rich woodwork was polished to perfection, while an army of white-gloved Cunard stewards glided between the 300 specially invited guests with silver salvers of champagne and canapes. So despite her advancing years, QE2 was a magnificent sight alongside her usual berth in the city's Eastern Docks. It was as if the ship knew that this was one day she had to look her best and the grand old dame of the sea carried it off with grace and distinction.

The Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has always been close to Cunard and it was in January 2004 that she came to Southampton to inaugurate another of the company's liners, this time by naming the shipping line's huge Queen Mary 2. Since she first entered service QE2, for 35 years the flagship of the Cunard fleet, has travelled more than 5.6 million miles, more than any other vessel, has carried in excess of 2.5 million passengers, has completed 25 world cruises and crossed the Atlantic 802 times.

Her Final Farewell:

Finally she begins her season of farewell cruises. It was a truly emotional time as this much loved icon sailed on its final voyages.

On the 23rd September 2008 the QE2 made her final call to Halifax, birthplace of Cunard Line founder Sir Samuel Cunard, on Sunday. Accompanied by the city’s maritime ambassador Theodore Tugboat and a traditional fireboat display, the iconic ocean liner was celebrated during her final voyage to New England and Canada, part of her Farewell Tour before completing service to Cunard in November 2008.

QE2 Captain Ian McNaught and local dignitaries, including the Honourable Lenard Goucher, Minister of Immigration, Dawn Sloane, Councillor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Lieutenant-Colonel John Woodgate, Vice President of the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association, John Langley, Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Society, Margaret WIttingham-Lamont, Missions to Seafarers, and Mark MacDonald, Chair of the Halifax Port Authority Board of Directors, gathered onboard for a reception and luncheon to mark the occasion. From Halifax, the ship went on to call at Quebec City before sailing to her homeport in Southampton, England.

On her final visit to Halifax the QE2 flew a 39 ft long Paying Off Pennant. This pennant was then presented to the Port of Halifax by Captain Ian McNaught to honour the city where Samuel Cunard was born. The pennant was accepted by John Langley (Chair of the Cunard Steamship Society) on behalf of the Port of Halifax. 

The British Isles Farewell:

E817N: British Isles Voyage

30 September 2008 - 10 October 2008

30 Sep 2008    Southampton, England                      Depart 1700

1 Oct 2008        Cherbourg, France                            (in the event this call was missed out due to bad weather)

2 Oct 2008        Cobh (Cork), Ireland                         0900 - 1800

3 Oct 2008        Liverpool, England                           1200 - 2200 (en route from Cork to Liverpool, QE2 stopped in Douglas, IoM)

4 Oct 2008        Belfast, N. Ireland                              1230 - 2300

5 Oct 2008        Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland       1200 - 2200

6 Oct 2008         Cruising the North Sea

7 Oct 2008         South Queensferry (for Edinburgh)  0800 - 1800

8 Oct 2008         Newcastle upon Tyne, England       1030 - 2200

9 Oct 2008         Cruising the North Sea

10 Oct 2008      Southampton, England                     Arrive 0700

On the 30th September 2008 the QE2 sailed from Southampton on a "Farewell to the British Isles" voyage. The 10-night voyage included maiden calls to Dublin and Belfast and a call to the Clyde (Greenock) where she was built, as well as calls at Cobh, Liverpool (Cunard's ancestral home), Edinburgh (South Queensferry) and Newcastle. This historic voyage enabled the QE2 to say farewell to the UK and her home country. She arrived in Cobh (Cork) a day early on the 2nd October 2008 having been forced to miss out the Cherbourg call due to bad weather. However she was instead able to pass Douglas Bay on the way into Liverpool.

Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line) said the following about the QE2's final visit to Liverpool:

"The QE2 was conceived and developed in Liverpool, within the walls of the magnificent Cunard Building on the Pier Head, so it is true to say that this great city and the most famous ship in the world have a very close bond. The QE2's welcome when she has visited Liverpool has been legendary and this final call will be no exception."

On route from Cobh (Cork) to Liverpool on the 3rd October 2008, the QE2 paused in Douglas Bayfor the first time. Then at 12:00 it arrived on the River Mersey and berthed at the City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal at Pier Head. It was flying its 39ft long paying off pennant. 1ft for each of its years in service. During the day all three Mersey Ferries were in service and kept busy ferrying the crowds to view the QE2 as thousands turned out to see her for the final time in Liverpool.

At 4pm the crew and passengers of the QE2 had a special farewell service at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral attended by notable dignatories including the Rt. Hon. John Prescott MP, Dame Beryl Bainbridge, Simon Weston (Falklands Veteran), Sir Jimmy Saville and Robin Woodall (former QE2 Captain). They were treated to music from soloists Natasha Marsh and Jon Cristos, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Cathedral choirs. The Band of the Welsh Guards also performed, under the baton of Musical Director Anthony Inglis. Everyone in the cathedral was handed a Union Jack to wave during the grand finale of Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and Pomp & Circumstance. A lone horn played the Last Post as the orchestra struck up with Auld Lang Syne. During the service the Paying Off Pennant was taken down from the ship and paraded down the Cathedral's central aisle and presented to the Rt. Hon. John Prescott MP who in turn presented it to the Lord Mayor of Liverpool (Councillor Steve Rotheram) as a gift to the people of Liverpool. It was a fitting celebration of the QE2's remarkable career.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool then spoke of the QE2's long connections with the City of Liverpool:

"Although Cunard left Liverpool 41 years ago, it has never really gone away. Represented still by that solid, central ediface of our world famous "Three Graces", it is woven into the very fabric of this city. Today, 40 years on, everybody knows somebody who used to work for Cunard or who still does. Wherever Cunard may be, the company's heart will always be in Liverpool. This is a celebration of the life of the most famous ship in the world, a ship that was conceived and designed here in Liverpool."

Following a magnificent fireworks display at 10pm the QE2 set sail from Liverpool for the final time, watched by thousands, never to return. Her booming whistle sounded countless times as she exchanged farewells with the tugs and the Mersey ferrries. She then continued down the River Mersey (minus her paying off pennant which remains in Liverpool) and out into the vast expanse of the Irish Sea and continued on her way on her British Isles Farewell voyage. Her next call was Belfast where she arrived on the 4th October 2008. Again thousands turned out for her maiden call here and the Red Arrows performed several flypasts over the QE2 to the delight of the crowds. On the 5th October 2008 she called at Greenock Ocean Terminal (for Glasgow) and made her final visit to the River Clyde where she was built. She proudly flew another paying off pennant which was later presented by Captain Ian McNaught (on behalf of Cunard Line) to the Deputy Provost of Clydebank (Councillor Ronnie McColl) as a gift to the people of Clydebank where she was built. Once again thousands turned out to see her as she sailed up the magnificent River Clyde for the last time. She was escorted by HMS Manchester accompanied by HMS Ark Royal and HMS Bulwark. She next called at Firth of Forth (Edinburgh) and the Red Arrows once again performed a flypast.

"The QE2 stands for all that was and remains good about Inverclyde. She is what we now call a 'design classic' and has gained iconic status. The quality of her finish is tribute to the skills of all those people who worked on her. She is Clydebuilt which means she's built to last. We are sorry to see her go and we'll never see her likes again but Inverclyde is a major cruise stop and we look forward to welcoming other vessels from around the world."

Statement by Michael McCormick (The Provost of Inverclyde) on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to Greenock and the River Clyde, 5th October 2008


The Painting of R.M.S. Mauretania leaving the River Tyne in October 1907 by T.M. Hemy

(This painting is owned by Jaap Kroese, owner of Swan Hunter, and for many years was loaned to Cunard Line and displayed on board the world famous RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. However on the 8th October 2008 on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to Newcastle upon Tyne, it was returned to its owners by Captain Ian McNaught on behalf of Cunard Line. It now in turn has been placed on loan to the Tyne & Wear Museums and is now displayed in the Discovery Museum).

Then at Newcastle upon Tyne on the 8th October 2008 she was given a magnificent welcome as she returned for her second and last visit to the River Tyne. The Swan Hunter shipyard had for many years loaned a painting of the Mauretania to Cunard Line and this had been displayed on board the QE2. The painting shows the Tyne-built Mauretania departing the River Tyne in 1907 and it was painted by T.M. Hemy. On her final visit to Newcastle it was decided that the painting should be returned. So Captain McNaught handed over the painting to Jaap Kroese (owner of Swan Hunter), who in turn passed it on loan to the Tyne & Wear Museums and their Discovery Museum. As a result the Mauretania painting will now be put on public display at the Discovery Museum for future generations to admire and in memory of the QE2. The QE2 then returned to Southampton.

This British Isles Farewell was a voyage many will never forget as a legend bowed out for the final time.

The Transatlantic Farewell:

E818N: Westbound Transatlantic Crossing

10 October 2008 - 16 October 2008 (Voyage undertaken in tandem with the Queen Mary 2)

10 Oct 2008      Southampton, England                      Depart 1700

11 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

12 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

13 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

14 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

15 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

16 Oct 2008      New York, USA                                 Arrive 0700

E818P: Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing

16 October 2008 - 22 October 2008 (Voyage undertaken in tandem with the Queen Mary 2)

16 Oct 2008      New York, USA                                 Depart 1700

17 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean        

18 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

19 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

20 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

21 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

22 Oct 2008       Southampton, England                  Arrive 0700

On the 10th October 2008
the QE2 sailed from Southampton in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2 on a final tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to New York, USA. This voyage is the "Final New York Arrival Crossing". The 6-night crossing ended in New York on the 16th October 2008. This voyage went down in history as only the second ever tandem westbound transatlantic crossing to be undertaken. The first, of course, was the tandem crossing from Southampton to New York undertaken by the QE2 and Queen Victoria earlier in 2008 while on the first leg of their tandem World Cruises. This enabled the QE2 to say farewell to New York, her North American homeport for many years.

The sun shone on QE2 as the ship welcomed a host of dignatories for a celebratory lunch, including Sir Nigel Sheinwald (the British Ambassador to the USA), Sir Alan Collins (Her Majesty's Consul General to New York), travel agents, maritime historians, past Cunard staff, media and dignitaries from the Port of New York and the Coast Guards. Speeches brought a tear to the eye, as Captain McNaught Commodore Warner and Carol Marlow told of QE2's life with Cunard Line and the baton passing on to Queen Mary 2.. The British Ambassador also paid tribute to QE2, the most famous ship in the world.

"This is the last visit that QE2 will make to New York and also the final visit that QE2 will make to America so it is doubly important and doubly poignant for us. This wonderful ship, QE2, the best loved ship in the world, has travelled nearly 6 million nautical miles. She has circumnavigated the world 25 times and she has delighted over two and a half million guests. She is still the fastest ship in the world even though she was built back in 1967 and re-engined in the 1980s. And, of course, this is her 710th call to New York. She has been a wonderful ship for us and I am so pleased that you have joined us in paying this great tribute.

It is very fitting that the final call in America for this ship is made in New York. New York has been a very important port for us at Cunard. We started coming here back in 1847 when the Hibernia came in. We changed the routing of our very historic transatlantic voyages from Liverpool to Boston to Liverpool to New York. And, we have been coming back ever since. So, it really is a wonderful occasion that we can have here in New York.

The transatlantic crossing itself has been happening with Cunard since 1840. We have been back and forth between one continent and the other and this journey has played an important part in the history of our two continents. We have brought over at Cunard over two and a half million emigrants from the Old World to the New to start a new life. We have in the 1920s and 30s and in the 50s and 60s - The Golden Age of Ocean Travel - we have brought across celebrities, luminaries, stars of stage and screen, politicians, royalty - they have all travelled with us. Of course, during the Second World War, our ships were converted to troopships and we carried troops to and from the battlefields in Europe.

We are still, I am delighted to say, travelling between our two continents and we are bringing discerning travellers to and from our great lands. And, of course, QE2 has played her part in the transatlantic history of Cunard from 1969 to 2003. In 2003, she handed over that transatlantic baton when she handed over the flagship baton to her new sister Queen Mary 2, which continues that tradition. QE2 continued to delight guests on the European trade and on her world cruises and she does still do the occasional transatlantic. The final one, which she is setting off to do this evening is her 808th so she knows the way.

We also made history back here in January this year when we had three Cunard Queens in New York Harbour for the very first time - Queen Mary 2, QE2 and Queen Victoria, our new ship. We were just delighted with how many New Yorkers came out to watch as our ships progressed one behind the other, saluting Lady Liberty and they left the harbour to skies that were a little bit grey but to a lot of fireworks, which were fabulous.

This time we have two Queens here. We have QE2 and we have Queen Mary 2, our new flagship, which has come over and escorted QE2 on her last transatlantic voyages. She is based in her new homeport in America in Brooklyn and we are delighted that she is there and we are delighted to see Marty Markowtiz here, the Borough President of Brooklyn.

I am also delighted to see so many other familiar faces around the room. .....

For the last 100 years or so, each generation has taken one ship out of all the ships of the day to their heart. In the early 20th century, it was the beautiful, wonderful, four-funnelled Mauretania. She was one of the new floating palaces, one of the first floating palaces that Cunard ever had. She was the fastest ship around - she had the Blue Riband for some 22 years. When she left Cunard's service, she went slowly up the east coast of the United Kingdom to the breaker's yard in the Firth of Forth and she was watched by thousands of people that came out to see her and pay their respects.

The next ship was really Queen Mary, the ship that King George V said was the "stateliest" of all ships. She had a wonderful life in peacetime and in war serving her country and was seen and travelled on by many, many millions. When she finally made her last trip, it was not to the breaker's yard but down to Long Beach, California where she still is today as a hotel ship and a visitor centre, she is admired by generations to come.

This last 40 years, the baton has fallen to QE2. She has become the most famous ship in the world, she is the best loved ship in the world and she is really an icon of her age. She is loved all around the world and she has done so many world cruises and I am delighted that you are here today so that we can pay tribute to this great ship on her last visit to New York and her last visit to America."

Speech at the "Queen Elizabeth 2 Farewell to America Celebration" held on board the QE2 on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to New York, 16th October 2008, by Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

"It is great for us to be able to represent the government at this important and poignant moment. For four decades, this ship has represented something rather special in our special relationship. It represents I think three things: First of all, the importance of human links between Europe and this country and particularly between the UK and this country. This ship has nurtured a huge number, millions as you say, of human relationships and has done so over the years with great distinction.

Secondly, this ship is part of our fantastically successful trade relationship. The trade and investment relationship between the UK and the US is one of the jewels in the crown of our overall relationship and a very, very important part of it is travel trade and tourism.

Lastly, that indefinable something which is part of transatlantic life which this ship expresses and that is something about transatlantic style and character and policy. I think that you have done that remarkably.

So, over the past four decades, this ship has been a very visible, distinctive, inextricable part of transatlantic life. Although I have never set foot on the ship before, it is an instantly recognisable part of that relationship. We will all miss the ship but I think it is very appropriate that it is going out to a market and a country which is incredibly important to both of us, to the United Arab Emirates. As an emerging market and a partner and an ally of both the United States and the United Kingdom, I'm sure she'll find a very happy second home."

Speech at the "Queen Elizabeth 2 Farewell to America Celebration" held on board the QE2 on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to New York, 16th October 2008, by Sir Nigel Sheinwald (British Ambassador to the USA).

"After all those facts and figures from Carol Marlow, I am just happy to be able to say that I played a very small part in this ship's tremendous history. I have been here now for over half of the ship's life and it has been a great honour, in fact a boyhood ambition realised, to finally end up as Master of this fine vessel.

Today, is a little bit of an occasion which is full of mixed emotions. Arriving in New York is always a fantastic experience, especially in the company of Commodore Warner and Queen Mary 2. But, as we leave tonight, there will be a few tears, I'm sure, shed both on the shore and inside the ship as we leave this great port for the last time.

We have had many adventures here in the Port of New York and one of them concerns a visit we did here several years ago during the July the Fourth celebrations when President Clinton very kindly gave us a sail past. After the day at anchor we came up to the berth here at Pier 90, expecting the slip to be empty. There is not a lot of space when you are attempting to fit something this big in one of these slips. As we turned the corner, there were two warships parked in our spot. So, we had to quickly move across to the other side. However, we did manage - how should I say - to lean on one of the warships as we were coming in.

At the time, I was Staff Captain. Captain Paul Wright was here and he very quickly delegated me to go and apologise to the other two ships. The British guy was alright on HMS Manchester. He offered me a stiff gin and tonic and said "Don't worry about it."

The Japanese ship where life is a little more formal perhaps was a different story. I was shown to a waiting room and the Japanese admiral would call on me when he was ready. I just sat there absolutely terrified for about ten minutes. Then the door finally opened and I was ushered in. He bowed gentlemanly-like and said "Welcome aboard my ship." I said, "I do apologise, sir, for the slight mishap this morning." "Think nothing of it, Staff Captain. It was a pleasure to be kissed by a queen."

Some of you may have noticed that we are flying a special flag today - our paying off pennant. This is a flag that a ship flies in the final days of her service to mark the years of service. We have a paying off pennant flying from the mast that is 39 feet long, that is one foot for every year of service. I have actually had six of these pennants made and we are presenting them to places which are very special to the heart of QE2 and to Cunard Line. The first pennant was presented to the Port of Halifax where Samuel Cunard was born. The next pennant went to the City of Liverpool in England last week which was where our head office was for over 100 years. Then the next pennant went to the City of Glasgow where the ship, of course, was built. This next pennant is going to be presented to the Port of New York where, as Carol says, we have been coming now for many, many years."

at the "Queen Elizabeth 2 Farewell to America Celebration" held on board the QE2 on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to New York, 16th October 2008, by Captain Ian McNaught (Master of the QE2)

Captain McNaught then presented the New York Paying Off Pennant of the QE2 to Mr Grover Sanschagrin (a retired berthing pilot who not only brought QE2 into New York many times but also beginning in 1943 piloted all of the great Atlantic liners including the earlier Cunard Queens in and out of the piers of Manhattan) who accepted it on behalf of the Port of New York.

"I have just popped over from Brooklyn where we moored Queen Mary 2 this morning. I have to say that I came into port with Captain Ian McNaught this morning. We have enjoyed a fabulous crossing of the North Atlantic. We had some lovely weather all the way across - just a little bit of a pitching motion as we started out. The ships were very close to each other all the way across. Just last evening we moved to within about a third of a mile of each other and we gave Queen Elizabeth 2 three rousing cheers and she gave them back to us. I think that was a great moment.

I am very pleased to be a part of these celebrations here today and to be aboard what has been the most famous ship in the world for the past 40 years. She has been held in affection by millions and millions of people all over the world. She has captivated countless generations of travellers over many, many years. And indeed, we are proud of her for her outstanding and heroic achievements during the Falklands Campaign of 1982.

She has resolutely carried the North Atlantic mantle for all of this time bringing the Atlantic traditions back to life with splendour and unmistakable glamour. Thanks to Queen Elizabeth 2, the Cunard brand goes hand in hand with luxury ocean travel.

I have to say ladies and gentlemen that although Queen Elizabeth 2 is retiring and we are all here to celebrate that moment here today, Cunard Line goes on. In actual fact, when the QE2 eventually leaves us, we will have the youngest fleet in the industry - Queen Mary 2 is not quite five years old and Queen Victoria, of course, is only 10 months old already being very successful all around the world. But, the greatest news is, I think, is that in 2010, a new Queen Elizabeth will be with us, named after RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was, of course, named after Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who was the consort of King George VI. So, that I think is the great news for the company. The future here is very bright."

Speech at the "Queen Elizabeth 2 Farewell to America Celebration" held on board the QE2 on the occasion of the QE2's final visit to New York, 16th October 2008, by Commodore Bernard Warner (Master of the Queen Mary 2)

Later in the afternoon crowds gathered in Battery Park to bid the ships farewell. At 5pm Queen Mary 2 left her berth at Brooklyn and made her way across the harbour, turned on a sixpence and waited for the star of the show to arrive. QE2 made her entrance at 6pm led by a spraying New York fireboat. The two Queens sounded their whistles to each other and to the substantial crowds, and as a Pipers band played Auld Lang Syne QE2 passed her young sister, and then led her out of the harbour, each Queen saluting Lady Liberty as they sailed by. The crowds watched as they glided off into the distance under the Verazzano Bridge.

On the 16th October 2008
the QE2 departed New York, again in tandem with the RMS Queen Mary 2, bound for Southampton on her emotional "Farewell to America Crossing". Thus she departed from New York and America for the final time, never to return. This was the QE2's 806th and final transatlantic crossing and both ships arrived in Southampton on the 22nd October.

Final Autumn Getaway:

E819: Autumn Getaway

22 October 2008 - 27 October 2008

22 Oct 2008    Southampton, England                      Depart 1700

23 Oct 2008    Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

24 Oct 2008     Bilbao, Spain                                     0700 - 1800

25 Oct 2008     Le Verdon, France                            0700 - 1700

26 Oct 2008     St Peter Port, Guernsey                    0900 - 1800

27 Oct 2008     Southampton, England                      Arrive 0700

She then undertook a final short round trip Southampton cruise to Spain and the Channel Islands departing on the 22nd October and returning to Southampton on the 27th October 2008.

The Final Roundtrip Cruise from Southampton:

E820: Mediterranean Odyssey

27 October 2008 - 11 November 2008

27 Oct 2008      Southampton, England                                      Depart 1700

28 Oct 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

29 Oct 2008      Lisbon, Portugal                                                 0800 - 1700

30 Oct 2008      Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

31 Oct 2008       Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy                                     1200 - 1800

1 Nov 2008        Naples, Italy                                                        0700 - 1800

2 Nov 2008        Messina, Sicily, Italy                                          0700 - 1700

3 Nov 2008        Dubrovnik, Croatia                                            0900 - 1800

4 Nov 2008        Zakinthos, Greece                                             0800 - 1800

5 Nov 2008        Piraeus (for Athens), Greece                           0600 - 1745

6 Nov 2008        Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

7 Nov 2008        Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

8 Nov 2008        Gibraltar                                                              0800 - 1400

9 Nov 2008        Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Spain    1300 - 2000

10 Nov 2008      Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

11 Nov 2008      Southampton, England                                       Arrive 0700

Then on the 27th October 2008 she set sail on her final roundtrip Southampton cruise "Mediterranean Odyssey" calling at Lisbon, Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, Dubrovnik, Piraeus, Gibraltar and finally Vigo before arrival back in Southampton for the final time on the 11th November 2008. But her ocean going career was nearly at its end, she had just one last voyage to complete.

The Final Voyage:


E821: Voyage to Dubai

11 November 2008 - 27 November 2008

11 Nov 2008    Southampton, England                      Depart 1930

12 Nov 2008    Cruising the Atlantic Ocean

13 Nov 2008    Lisbon, Portugal                                 0800 - 1700

14 Nov 2008    Gibraltar                                              0900 - 1700

15 Nov 2008    Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

16 Nov 2008    Cititavecchia (for Rome), Italy           0700 - 2200

17 Nov 2008     Naples, Italy                                        0700 - 1900

18 Nov 2008     Valletta, Malta                                     0900 - 1800

19 Nov 2008     Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

20 Nov 2008      Alexandria (for Cairo), Egypt           0700 - 2000

21 Nov 2008     Cruising the Mediterranean Sea

22 Nov 2008      Transiting the Suez Canal

23 Nov 2008      Cruising the Arabian Sea

24 Nov 2008      Cruising the Arabian Sea

25 Nov 2008      Cruising the Arabian Sea

26 Nov 2008      Cruising the Arabian Sea

27 Nov 2008      Dubai, United Arab Emirates           Arrive

On her final day in British waters and in her home port of Southampton on the 11th November 2008 it was a day of celebration, drama and sadness. This day was marked by a series of special events celebrating the QE2. On her final arrival into Southampton unfortunately she had a mishap. After four decades of successful entrances to her home port, on the 726th and final time she ran aground on the Brambles, a well-known sandbank in the Solent. Although she was refloated on the rising tide, and helped in by 5 tugs, everyone on board took it as evidence that the liner really did not want to leave Southampton. Even her owners Carnival UK / Cunard Line noted and remarked on this as a sign that the ship had a soul and was reluctant to leave British waters.

"She clearly does not want to leave Southampton."

Remark by Peter Shanks, Chief Commercial Officer of Carnival UK (Parent Company of Cunard Line) on hearing that the QE2 had run aground briefly on the Brambles, a well-known sandbank in the Solent on her final arrival into Southampton.

She then docked at her home berth "The QEII Terminal" in Southampton for the final time. All that day she flew her paying off pennant. This was later presented to the Mayor of Southampton by Captain Ian McNaught.

The ship that morning was honoured by a farewell visit from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. He was making his seventh visit to the most famous ship in the world. During the visit, His Royal Highness observed the two-minutes’ silence at 1100 hours prior to meeting crew members who went down to the Falklands on the ship. At 1100 hours a million poppies were dropped over the ship from a Tiger Moth to commemorate Remembrance Day (the 90th Anniversary of the end of the First World War), mark QE2’s role in the Falklands Campaign, and note the fact that her final departure is on 11 November. His Royal Highness then undertook a tour of the vessel, including visits to the Wardroom, Bridge, Engine Control Room and Hospital before attending a Reception in the Queens Room. There he presented a painting of QE2, which was unveiled by Her Majesty The Queen during her farewell visit to the ship on the 2nd June 2008, to the Mayor of Southampton, who accepted it on behalf of the city and its people. At the Reception he met long-serving staff, as well as the former Captains of HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry whose ships were lost in the Falklands Campaign and who returned to the UK on QE2. Then after lunch at 1340 hours His Royal Highness watched from the aft decks of the QE2 a flypast of a Harrier which hovered and bowed to QE2 approximately 500-feet off her stern. There was also a sail past by the RFA Mounts Bay and three patrol boats which all sounded their whistles in tribute to the QE2. The QE2 responded with her deep booming whistle.

Sadly the QE2 then sailed that evening on the 11th November 2008 on her final voyage "QE2 Final Voyage" bound for Dubai and thus leaves the shores of the UK forever. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made a final visit onboard the QE2 and led the festivities as Southampton and the UK bade this ocean legend farewell forever as she left her home shores.

"We are delighted and honoured that His Royal Highness has agreed to visit the QE2 on her last day in the UK. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has taken a close interest in the ship over the last forty years, and I am certain this will be a memorable occasion for all involved."

Words of Carol Marlow (President and Managing Director of Cunard Line)

At around 1915 she set sail from her berth and then proceeded astern to take up position off Mayflower Park. Thousands of people had come from all over the UK and the world to see her off for the last time and were crowded into vantage points along the shoreline such as Mayflower Park, Town Quay, Hythe, Fawley, Hamble, Calshot, etc. There was a spectacular fireworks display as the QE2 said farewell to the people of Southampton. A farewell message from Captain Ian McNaught was broadcast to the public via a BBC live webcast and also via the big screen in Mayflower Park.  His farewell message was as follows (full text):

"For 40 years the QE2 has been acclaimed all over the globe as a symbol of British excellence. And throughout her life, imprinted firmly on that symbol of excellence, is one word and that word is - Southampton.

QE2 belongs to Southampton, this is her home, just as it will be home to Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. She has put into her homeport more times than she has visited any other port in the world. And after every voyage this is always the port that she comes home to - Southampton. But the day has come, today, which had to come. And this time, her 726th time, is the last time. For when the QE2 sails tonight, she will not come home again. For 40 years QE2 has striven to serve Southampton and the country to her best. But now her sea days are done and she passes on to a new life in a new home.

On behalf of QE2, I bid Southampton farewell and thank you for all the affection you have shown her in all those years.

Southampton, I salute you."

QE2 Farewell Message (11th November 2008), Captain Ian McNaught

Click Here to hear the QE2 Farewell Message by Captain Ian McNaught (11th November 2008)

After the farewell message, with Rule Britannia playing out from her decks, the QE2 then proceeded down Southampton Water surrounded by a vast flotilla of small boats and excursion vessels and sounded her booming whistle many times as she went. Her mighty hoots were answered by the many boats and ships in the vast flotilla that surrounded her. At around 2000 she sailed past the QEII Terminal for the last time and briefly paused as another fireworks display took place as she said farewell to her home berth for the last time. Many Cunard Line staff and dock workers were gathered at the terminal to say their final farewell to this legendary British Icon. She then steamed off and headed down Southampton Water for the final time, her lights twinkling in the darkness and surrounded by her vast flotilla of boats and ships that were wishing her farewell. Together the procession headed out to the open sea and into the night. By 2115 she had passed down Southampton Water and was lost from view.

Cunard Line has lost its flagship, Southampton has lost a legendary name-bearer, and as with Concorde, the UK has lost a legendary ship and a British Icon from its shores never to return. Now the mantle and spirit of Cunard Line passes to its new modern generation of ships and the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and the soon to be launched Queen Elizabeth. But none of them can ever replace truly the worldwide legend and British Icon that is the QE2. She is a ship like no other and is truly embodies the title "The Most Famous Ocean Liner in the World". Farewell QE2, you will be remembered forever as a legend and British Icon and thus will always hold a very special place in the hearts of the British people and indeed people around the world. Adieu.


It was the end of an era as she sailed gracefully from Southampton for the final time bound for Dubai calling at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Civitavecchia, Naples, Malta, Alexandria before transiting the Suez Canal before arrival in Dubai on the 26th November 2008 and the end of her seagoing career. Many waved a fond farewell to her as she departed Britain's shores forever bound for her new home in the Emirate of Dubai.

The arrival of QE2 captured the hearts of individuals and organisations across Dubai as she arrived in her new home on the 26th November 2008. A massive flotilla including over 120 local yachts, boats and leisure-craft led by MY Dubai - the mega-yacht of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - and Royal Navy Frigate, HMS Lancaster, captained by Commander Rory Bryan, greeted QE2 at The World at 3pm this afternoon. The welcoming flotilla, with the UAE Navy also taking a leading role, accompanied QE2 through the Arabian Gulf to Mina Rashid.

As QE2 passed The World islands an Emirates A380 Airbus, piloted by Captain Abbas Shaban, performed a fly-past in honour of her arrival. Joining the A380 Airbus in the skies was a Royal Naval helicopter from HMS Lancaster, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Mike Currie.

"Nakheel is proud to be the custodian of such an historic treasure. Dubai, with its wealth of maritime heritage, is providing the warmest of welcomes and a new homecoming for this icon of the seas. It is fitting that QE2 will arrive at Mina Rashid, a site that has been pivotal in the growth and development of the emirate and commemorates the memory of His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of modern-day Dubai. It is also apt that refurbishment work on QE2 will take place within the Dubai Dry Dock, which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, escorted by Sheikh Rashid, inaugurated 29 years ago during her first official visit to the United Arab Emirates."

Statement by His Excellency Sultan Bin Ahmed Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai World (26th November 2008)

On arrival at Mina Rashid at 1630, QE2 was met by a royal party joined by the Dubai Police Band and traditional Arabic Ayallah performers who entertained the crowds gathered at the port, as well as passengers on board the ship. A fireworks display set against the backdrop of QE2 then followed as dusk set in.

"We are thrilled to be welcoming QE2 to Dubai today. This is one of the most anticipated events of the year and marks a new and exciting chapter in her life. For QE2, we believe that life really does begin at 40. This is not an end, it is merely the beginning for the QE2. There are few vessels in the world that have this kind of future. She will be in the best possible hands. We will recreate the experience of being on board an ocean liner for many more people. Visitors will be proud to come to Dubai to see her. We have planned a unique tribute to a maritime icon. Even down to crossing a gangway to get on board, we want to give guests the experience of walking on to the QE2 and seeing what the great days of transatlantic ocean liners were really like. We have to pull her apart and rebuild her to make her viable as an entertainment venue for at least the next 50 years.

The investment Nakheel will be making in the QE2 will ensure that she continues to be a beacon of sophistication for generations to come and maintains her rich heritage and iconic stature.

QE2 has always been synonymous with luxury, elegance and exclusivity, and these are the characteristics that we are taking as the inspiration for her future. We are proud to be the custodian of such a magnificent British icon and will utilize our resources to maintain the integrity and spirit of QE2, as envisioned by her original design team led by Dennis Lennon, and usher in the next exciting chapter of her rich and dignified life.

The areas that will be restored in the ship's interior are those that have not altered over the past 40 years. All original parts of the ship will be restored, and the funnel is not part of the original ship. The funnel is badly corroded, and it is not original. The engines are not original either. They have no historical value. It will be run like an ocean liner with a ship host and hostess, a ballroom and even ballroom dancing classes. We are creating a very authentic experience. The Queen's Room, Queen's Grill, Princess Grill, Captain's Cabin, Ward Room and Bridge will be restored to their original designs. It will take people back to the grand old days of ocean liners.

The ultimate vision is to bring the QE2 into a precinct that will boast a maritime museum, an art exhibition, business and residential components and a mega-yacht marina.We have not arrived at a budget as we have not had access to the ship while she has been sailing and we do not have a definite timescale. But whatever the cost and however long it takes we have made a commitment.We want to do this absolutely right. We have one opportunity to make this the best hospitality venue and ensure it remains there for the next 50 years.

Our plans include her transformation into an ultra-luxury floating hotel, synonymous with her rich heritage, where she'll form the centrepiece of a luxurious residential, entertainment, marina, and hotel development off the trunk of Palm Jumeirah. A heritage museum displaying artifacts from QE2 and of local maritime history as well as a West-end style theatre capable of staging the very best, full-scale West End and Broadway productions will also feature in the precinct."
Statement by Manfred Ursprunger, CEO of QE2 Enterprises, Nakheel Hotels (26th November 2008)

Nakheel has already commenced construction on the luxury marina development on Palm Jumeirah. QE2 will form the pinnacle of a palatial pier that will stretch 300 metres out from the trunk into the waters of the Arabian Gulf. However Nakheel will not operate the Queen Elizabeth 2 when the former luxury liner is transformed into a seven-star hotel in three years in 2012. Nakheel will not operate the hotel and is in talks with major hotel operators to see which will run the hotel when it is complete. Because there is more than one component to the project, they are planning to sign a contract with a luxury hotel operator, a spa operator and a theatre production operator.

"Nakheel Hotels has been preparing for this moment for some time - and today we proudly watch QE2 arrive into UAE waters and dock at Mina Rashid. We will now do all we can to protect and enhance the heritage of this iconic transatlantic liner as she joins the company of our other iconic international hotels such as Mandarin Oriental in NY, Fontainebleau in Miami, Atlantis Dubai and One & Only Los Cabos, Mexico."

Statement by Joe Sita, CEO of Nakheel Hotels (26th November 2008)

"Emirates Airline is delighted to be a part of this auspicious occasion to welcome QE2 to her new home in Dubai. We are proud that our brand new A380 aircraft will provide a tribute to an icon of the seas from an icon of the air."

Statement by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, which is arranging an A380 flypast for QE2's arrival. (26th November 2008)

Royal Navy Frigate HMS Lancaster, currently on operations in the Gulf, welcomed the opportunity to pay her respects to the QE2 on her ultimate passage. As a mark of respect, HMS Lancaster joined the legendary ocean liner for the last few miles into Dubai in remembrance of the QE2's contribution to national service in her transitional role as hospital ship and troop carrier during the 1982 Falklands campaign.

"She is an honoured veteran of a hard fought battle and another shining example of the versatility of our maritime fleet. Her seafaring role is now complete while that of the Royal Navy continues, and I am delighted that one of our ships was able to take this impromptu opportunity to offer a final salute. I also find it particularly fitting that the duty of escorting the Queen's namesake, fortuitously fell to HMS Lancaster given that the Queen herself is the proud holder of the title Duke of Lancaster."

Statement by Commodore Tim Lowe RN, the UK Maritime Component Commander in the Gulf region (26th November 2008)

On the 27th November 2008 at 2pm (local time) the handover ceremony took place on board the QE2 and finally ended her ocean going career. Thus a glorious era came to a close and another began as developer Nakheel officially took delivery of the QE2.  That was the moment when the contract to transfer ownership from UK shipping company Cunard was signed as the world's best-loved liner lay moored at Dubai's Mina Rashid. For nearly 40 years, the QE2 has crisscrossed the globe, the last word in seaborne glamour, speed and style. Now she was to be transformed into a floating hotel offering the ultimate in luxury at The Palm Jumeirah. Then the handover was marked symbolically by the lowering of the British Red Ensign and the Cunard flag and their replacement with those of the UAE and Dubai-based Nakheel respectively.

"The time has come for Cunard to bid farewell to its longest serving vessel. The Paying Off Pennant you see flying proudly from her mast denotes the paying off of a vessel that has sailed further than any other. And a vessel that is about to embark on an exciting new future here in Dubai where she will be enjoyed for generations to come who will marvel at the history of a great ocean liner whose record currently has no equal. We are delighted that QE2 has found a new home here in Dubai – an Emirate with such a rich maritime heritage and a great tourist destination for the world to enjoy."

Speech at the QE2 Handover Ceremony by Carol Marlow, President and Managing Director of Cunard Line (27th November 2008)

Carol Marlow then paid tribute to the QE2's crew and in particular Captain Ian McNaught, the senior officers and crew, and hotel manager John Duffy as the longest-serving four-stripe officer in the Cunard fleet. Captain Ian McNaught, the QE2's last skipper, sounded its mighty whistle on behalf of Cunard for the last time, the low bellow rolling across the waters. This final whistle salute thus signalled her departure from the Cunard fleet and arrival in her new home in Dubai.

"This is a historic day for the UAE as we at Nakheel take over the custodianship of this proud and splendid ship. As we take her gently in our hands we would like to pay tribute to all those who have served her so well since her launch forty years ago, and who have enjoyed her hospitality during the distinguished and glittering career she has had as an ocean liner. On this auspicious occasion we are deeply aware of the rich heritage that is represented by the QE2, a heritage that is both respected and complemented by our own proud history as a sea-faring nation. Without doubt, QE2 has come to a home that will cherish and protect her. Her future has been assured and it is now our responsibility that she remains a beacon of culture and luxury for many years to come in her new home on Palm Jumeirah."

Speech at the QE2 Handover Ceremony by His Excellency Sultan Bin Ahmed Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai World
(27th November 2008)

The UAE and Nakheel house flags were then raised to signal the change in ownership of QE2. Captain Ian McNaught then presented the Cunard house flags to His Excellency Sultan Bin Sulayem and QE2’s paying off pennant (which, at 39 feet long, represents the 39 years QE2 has sailed with the Cunard fleet) was presented to Captain McNaught by Carol Marlow.

The flag changing ceremony also included the ceremonial presentation of the QE2 anchor to John Duffy (the QE2's hotel manager and the longest serving officer in the Cunard fleet) from Southampton, who received it on behalf of the English port which has been home to QE2 for 39 years. Nakheel and Cunard will be honouring the town by presenting QE2’s anchor as a gift. This will join the 39ft long paying off pennant and the QE2 painting already presented to the city by Cunard Line as lasting mementos for her former homeport.

With her final voyage over her passengers had disembarked on the morning of the 27th November 2008. Now, having taken possession, Nakheel will send its engineers to assess the vessel and finalise plans for her conversion during the next three months. Nakheel have yet to announce their finalised plans for the ship. After that she will be moved to Dubai Drydocks, where her refurbishment will be undertaken. This is expected to take up to three years and once this is completed the vessel will then take pride of place at a specially built precinct at the Palm Jumeriah.

Thus the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed into honoured retirement in Dubai and will be remembered as one of the most illustrious ships ever built. The QE2 as she is affectionately known is truly a maritime icon and national treasure. She certainly is worthy of the title “The Most Famous Ocean Liner in the World”. She is unique and very special. There will never be another ship with the long career and illustrious history and passenger list as the QE2. We wish her well and hope that she has a long and happy retirement.

Click here to link to our QE2 Legacy section that records some of the mementos gifted by Cunard Line during her farewell voyages in 2008 to places in the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada that have close associations and links with the QE2 as a lasting reminder for people of this illustrious and famous ocean liner.

The Dubai Refit (2008 - 2012):

During the final months of the QE2's ocean going career many rumours circulated about her likely future in Dubai and what changes may be made to her to adapt her for her new role. However on her arrival in Dubai, things gradually became clearer. As we understand it her refurbishment may involve the following:

Nakheel are likley to recreate the experience of being on board an ocean liner for many more people. Visitors will be proud to come to Dubai to see her. They have planned a unique tribute to a maritime icon. Even down to crossing a gangway to get on board, they want to give guests the experience of walking on to the QE2 and seeing what the great days of transatlantic ocean liners were really like. It will be run like an ocean liner with a ship host and hostess, a ballroom and even ballroom dancing classes. They aim to create a very authentic experience. Being a key tourist attraction on the Palm Jumeirah and an historic vessel in its own right, the QE2 will be restored as a seven-star hotel.

However as her technical support systems (plumbing, electrical systems, air conditioning etc) are life expired, they have to pull her apart and rebuild her to make her viable as an entertainment venue for at least the next 50 years. Also as her new home is in a desert climate, her air conditioning systems will have to be substantially upgraded or replaced. Also all windows will be double-glazed to protect the interior from condensation. This therefore means extensive removal of her interiors initally to allow this work to take place. However the interiors will then be reinstated and restored. All her precious Cunard memorabilia and other artefacts will also be retained on board and will form part of a heritage tour or heritage museum about the QE2.

QE2 has always been synonymous with luxury, elegance and exclusivity, and these are the characteristics that Nakheel are taking as the inspiration for her future. They are proud to be the custodian of such a magnificent British icon and will utilize their resources to maintain the integrity and spirit of QE2, as envisioned by her original design team led by Dennis Lennon, and usher in the next exciting chapter of her rich and dignified life.

The interior will be designed in keeping with how the QE2 looked in her glory days and many of her original interior designs will be recreated. So there will be an atmosphere of old world glamour. The areas that will be restored in the ship's interior are those that have not altered over the past 40 years. All original parts of the ship will be restored, and the funnel is not part of the original ship. The funnel is badly corroded, and it is not original. The engines are not original either. They have no historical value. Key public rooms and other spaces on board that will be retained and restored to their original splendour include The Queens Room, The Queens Grill, The Princess Grill, The Midships Lobby, The Bridge, The Ward Room, The Captain's Quarters, The Engine Control Room and The Safety Control Room. These original historic rooms and spaces will then probably form part of a heritage tour.

On board there are 11 public decks on the vessel. Once refurbished, rather than the 950 cabins she has currently for her cruise passengers,
it is likely to comprise 200 hotel rooms which will all be a minimum of 50 square metres in size. Of these, around 10 per cent will be suites. In addition to the hotel rooms, there will also be 130 one-bed, two-bed and three-bed apartments for sale which will range in size from 80 square metres to 250 square metres. At maximum capacity, the ship will be able to hold 1,500 guests, including guests just visiting for dinner. Capacity for overnight guests will be between 800 and 1,000.

Other features on board will include existing five restaurants (Queens Grill, Princess Grill, Britannia Grill, Mauretania Restaurant and Caronia Restaurant) and the three-star Michelin chef Michel Roux will be in charge of the menus. But due to gambling being illegal in the United Arab Emirates, the on board Casino will be removed. It is not known what will happen to the Synagogue on board. These areas may be replaced with retail or tourism facilities.
The only floating Harrods store is likely to stay, but the onboard library containing 6,000 books may have limited commercial value. The existing Cunard Royal Spa facility on board will be retained as a 5,000 square metre indoor and outdoor wellness centre and spa.

The engine will be removed and replaced by a 500-seat luxury theatre which will host productions rivaling those in London's West End and Broadway in New York City.

The QE2 will form the centrepiece of a new precinct and pier at the Palm Jumeirah that will boast a maritime museum, an art exhibition, business and residential components and a mega-yacht marina. There will also be a heritage museum displaying artifacts from QE2 and of local maritime history.

Externally the QE2's iconic colours will remain unchanged. However the word 'Southampton' – the ship's home port for 40 years – will be removed from her stern and the name 'Dubai' painted in its place. And the distinctive red funnel, which was installed as part of her re-engining in 1986 and therefore is not original or of historical signficance, may be taken away. It is also possible that her lifeboats will be removed. However this is still unconfirmed.

So these are just some of the rumours and speculation about her future in Dubai, but Nakheel have yet to announce their formal plans as they are still finalising them. It is hoped that these will be unveiled in the next couple of months. In 40 years, the ship has had about 2.5 million guests on board, but when Nakheel are done with transforming her they expect to see more than double that number in the same period. This project is very much in line with the overall tourism strategy for Dubai, and it is thought that the outcome will attract millions of visitors not only from Europe, but also from within the Middle East. But she was sold to Dubai World for £50 million and their subsidiary Nakheel will spend considerably more than that to refurbish her for her new role. So make no mistake, at the end of the day this QE2 attraction will be a business and Nakheel's aim is to generate profits. Given such a popular brand like QE2, it is felt that they have already managed to attract a lot of attention.

Preservation in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2008 onwards):

On the 11th November 2008 the QE2 sailed from Southampton for the final time, forever leaving the shores of Britain and the land of her birth, bound for retirement and her new home in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. There she was refurbished and in 2009 opened as a hotel, retail, museum and entertainment destination alongside a purpose built jetty at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. She had been purchased by Dubai World, a Government holding company, and owner of the Palm Jumeirah.

On arrival in Dubai on the 27th November 2008, the QE2 was officially handed over to Dubai World and Nakheel (her new owners). They had appointed V Ships to oversee her refurbishment and Commodore Ronald Warwick had been appointed as owner's special representative by Dubai World to keep a close eye on the refit. So Commodore Bill Warwick had been the QE2's first Master, his son Commodore Ronald Warwick was also her penultimate Master before moving on to become first Master of the new Queen Mary 2 and he now will have a role in overseeing her refit for her new owners, Dubai World / Nakheel as she is reborn for a new life in Dubai in a static role as a hotel and museum.

The Palm Jumeirah development, launched in 2001 is the world's largest man made island stretching out into the Persian Gulf off Dubai. The Palm is the 8th Wonder of the World. The Palm Jumeirah is intended to be one of three Palm islands, the other two being Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. Now a special berth has been built on Palm Jumeirah as the permanent home for the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) where she now serves as a floating hotel and museum. Palm Jumeirah is the smallest of the three Palm Islands and is intended to be a residential and tourism destination created by Nakheel (a subsidiary of Dubai World). The three Palm Islands are the largest man made islands in the world.

Dubai is an amazing city and one of the richest in the world. Since 2002 Dubai has been experiencing one of the most amazing development phases of any city in the world as it reinvents itself on an epic scale as a premier tourism destination. Major developments include the Palm Islands and the Burj Dubai. It is also home to the iconic sail shaped Burj Al Arab hotel which is the tallest freestanding hotel in the world. Dubai is one of the 7 United Arab Emirates, established in 1971. Since that time it has seen phenomenal growth. Inspired by the vision and guidance of H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and UAE Vice President, Dubai embarked on a journey which transformed it from a trading post in the Arabian Gulf to the thriving metropolis that it is today. Often known as 'The City of Gold' or 'The City of Lights', these days it seems like it could be known as 'The City of Records'. With the first 7-star hotel, the largest man-made islands and the richest horse race in the world.

Strategically located at the crossroads of trade and commerce between East and West, Dubai is in an ideal position to service and access markets that span the Middle East, North and South Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the CIS. Moreover, Dubai occupies a time zone that gives it an unparalleled advantage in connecting markets as disparate as the Far East and the USA. Dubai enjoys truly global connectivity. Its ultra modern airport handles 13.5 million passengers to over 140 destinations annually; its deepwater port has one of the largest throughputs in the world. Dubai is currently the third largest re-export centre in the world serving a massive regional market. Dubai boasts the award-winning airline – Emirates Airlines and the world’s first seven star hotel, the Burj al Arab. Home to major sporting events including the Dubai World Cup (the world's richest horse race), the Dubai Desert Gold Classic and the Dubai Rugby Sevens, Dubai is also a leading venue for world-class business forums. In September 2003, Dubai hosted the 2003 Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.

This amazing city is now home to the world famous Queen Elizabeth 2 purchased for £50 million by Dubai World from Cunard Line. She now lies at her specially built permanent berth in the Palm Jumeirah development as a hotel and museum.

We wish her well and hope that she has a long and happy retirement.

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