RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

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RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton Water, 2007
Name: RMS Queen Elizabeth 2
Owner: 2008–present: Nakheel Properties
1967–2008: Cunard Line
Operator: 1967–2008: Cunard Line
Port of registry: 2009–present: Port Vila 22x20px Vanuatu
1967–2008: Southampton  United Kingdom
Route: North Atlantic and Cruising
Ordered: 1964
Builder: John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland
Cost: £29,091,000 (£419 million as of 2024),[1]
Laid down: 5 July 1965
Launched: 20 September 1967
Christened: 20 September 1967
 by Queen Elizabeth II
Completed: 26 November 1968 (Sea trials commenced)
Acquired: By Nakheel, 27 November 2008
Maiden voyage: 2 May 1969
In service: 1969–2008
Out of service: 27 November 2008
Identification: Callsign GBTT (while registered in UK) IMO number: 6725418
Fate: Partly laid up in Port Rashid as of April 2010
Status: Retired since 27 November 2008
General characteristics
Type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 70,327 GT (gross tonnage)
Displacement: 48,923 (loaded)
Length: 963 ft (293.5 m)
Beam: 105 ft (32.0 m)
Height: 171 ft (52.1 m)
Draft: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Decks: 12
Installed power: 9 x 10,625 kW at 400 rpm
Propulsion: 9 MAN B&W 9-cylinder medium speed diesel electric generators. Two GEC Propulsion motors linked to 2-five bladed variable pitch propellers
Speed: 34 kn (63 km/h; 39 mph),
20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph) going astern (figures recorded during sea trials post powerplant replacement, normal service speed 28.5 knots)
Capacity: 1,777 passengers
1,892 (all berths) passengers
Crew: 1,040 officers and crew
Notes: In Dubai with an uncertain future

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the 'QE2', is a former Cunard ocean liner, now owned by Nakheel (a division of Dubai World). She was designed to primarily run a transatlantic service from Southampton, England, to New York, USA, and was named after the earlier Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth (see Name section), and served as the flagship of the line from 1969 until succeeded by RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004. Built in Clydebank, Scotland, she was considered the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners built for over four decades before the construction of the QM2.

Before she was refitted with a diesel power plant in 1986/87, QE2 was also the last oil fired passenger steamship to cross the Atlantic in scheduled liner service. During almost forty years of service, the QE2 undertook regular world cruises and latterly operated predominantly as a cruise ship, sailing out of Southampton, England. QE2 had no identical sister ship or running mate and never ran a year round weekly transatlantic express service to New York. QE2 did, however, continue the Cunard tradition of regular scheduled transatlantic crossings every year of her service life.

QE2 retired from active Cunard service on 27 November 2008, where it was planned for her to begin conversion to a floating hotel which would have seen her eventually moored at the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.[2] However, as of March 2010 she remains moored at Port Rashid awaiting an uncertain future.[3]


The ship has a gross tonnage (GT) of 70,327 tons and is 963 ft (294 m) long. She has a top speed of 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h) using her original steam turbine powerplant, which was increased to 34 knots (63 km/h) when the vessel was re-engined with a diesel electric powerplant.[4][5][6]


Concept and construction

By the mid 1960s transatlantic travel was dominated by air travel due to its speed and low cost relative to the sea route, and expansion of air travel showed no signs of slowing down. Conversely, the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were becoming increasingly expensive to operate, and both internally and externally were relics of the pre-war years. Cunard did not want to give up the business of passenger service, and so gambled $80 million on a new ocean liner to replace the original ageing Queens.[7]

Realising the decline of transatlantic trade, and the rising costs of fuel and labour, Cunard decided their new ship had to be smaller and cheaper to operate than her predecessors; the design requirements of the new ship were that she was to run at the same service speed of 28.5 knots (52.8 km/h) as the previous Queens, use half the fuel of the older ships, operate with a reduced number of staff compared to the Elizabeth and Mary, the new vessel would also be of Panamax capacity and draw seven foot less draft to allow her to enter ports that the old Queens could not, which were two major disadvantages the old Queens had over the newer generation of cruise ships.[7]

Originally designated Q4 (a previous ship design Q3 had been abandoned due to falling passenger revenues on the North Atlantic),[8] she was to be a three class liner. However, looking to the France, designs were changed to make Q4 a two class liner that could be modified into a single class cruise ship, thereby allowing the ship to ply the Atlantic during the peak summer season, as well as cruise the warmer waters during the winter.[9]

The Queen Elizabeth 2 was built by the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. Her keel was laid down on 5 July 1965, as hull number 736 in the same plot that had been used to build iconic liners such as Lusitania, Aquitania, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. She was launched and named on 20 September 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II, using the same pair of gold scissors her mother and grandmother used to launch the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, respectively.[9] On 19 November 1968 she left John Brown's fitting out berth,[10] and travelled down the River Clyde to the Firth of Clyde Dry Dock at Inchgreen, Greenock, for final trials and commissioning.[11] After sea trials in the Irish Sea a "Shakedown cruise" to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria set out on 22 April 1969.[10]

Service history

Early career

The Queen Elizabeth 2's maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York City, commenced on 2 May 1969,[10] taking 4 days, 16 hours and 35 minutes.[citation needed] However, Prince Charles was the first "civilian" passenger to board the ship,[8] on her voyage from the shipyard in Clydebank to drydock in Greenock.[citation needed] On board for the short journey was her Master Designate and first captain, William (Bil) Warwick. In 1971, she participated in the rescue of some 500 passengers from the burning French Line ship Antilles.[4][10]

On 17 May 1972, while travelling from New York to Southampton, she was the subject of a bomb threat.[8] She was searched by her crew, and the United Kingdoms Special Boat and Air Service team parachuted into the sea to conduct a search of the ship. No bomb was found, but the hoaxer was arrested by the FBI.[4] This incident went on to inspire the 1974 Richard Lester feature film Juggernaut.[citation needed]

The following year the QE2 undertook two chartered cruises through the Mediterranean to Israel in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the state's founding. One kitchen on the ship was koshered for Passover, and Jewish passengers were able to celebrate Passover on the ship.

Falklands War

File:QE2colour jm.jpg
Berthed in Malaga Spain 1982

In May 1982 the ship took part in the Falklands War, carrying 3,000 troops and 650 volunteer crew to the south Atlantic. She was refitted in Southampton in preparation for war service, including the installation of three helicopter pads, the transformation of public lounges into dormitories, fuel pipes ran through the ship down to the engine room to allow for refuelling at sea, and the covering of carpets with 2,000 sheets of hardboard. Over 650 Cunard crewmembers volunteered for the voyage to look after the 3,000 members of the Fifth Infantry Brigade, which the ship transported to South Georgia. During the voyage the ship was blacked out and the radar switched off in order to avoid detection, steaming on without modern aids.[4][12]

The QE2 returned to the UK in June 1982, where she was greeted in Southampton Water by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. Peter Jackson, the captain of the QE2 responded to the Queen Mother's welcome: "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."[12] The ship underwent conversion back to passenger service, with her funnel being painted in the traditional Cunard orange-red with black stripes, but her hull painted an unconventional light pebble grey.[8] This colour proved unpopular with passengers,[8] as well as difficult to maintain and so the hull reverted to traditional colours in 1983.[4] Later that year, QE2 was fitted with a magrodome over her Quarter Deck pool.

Diesel era

In 1986/87 QE2 underwent one of her most significant refurbishments when she was converted from Steam Power to Diesel.[4] Nine MAN B&W diesel electric engines, new propellers (and new equipment to capture heat expelled by the engines) were fitted. The passenger accommodation was also modernised.[4]

On 7 August 1992, the hull was extensively damaged when she ran aground south of Cuttyhunk Island near Martha's Vineyard, while returning from a five day cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia along the east coast of the United States and Canada. A combination of her speed, an uncharted shoal and underestimating the increase in the ship's draft due to the effect of squat led to the ship's hull scraping rocks on the ocean floor. The accident resulted in the passengers disembarking earlier than scheduled at nearby Newport, Rhode Island and the ship being taken out of service while repairs were made in drydock. Several days later, divers found red paint on previously uncharted rocks in the vicinity of where the ship was said to have hit bottom.[13][14]

Project Lifestyle

By the mid 1990s it was decided that QE2 was due for a new look and in 1994 the ship was given a multi million pound refurbishment in Hamburg[4] code named Project Lifestyle.[8] QE2 emerged from the refit having every major public room refurbished.[8] She also appeared for the first time with a Royal Blue hull.[4] It was during this refit that the Heritage Trail was added to QE2. This saw valuable items of Cunard heritage placed about the ship to form a guided, or self guided, tour.[8]

In 1995, she encountered a freak wave, estimated at 90 ft (27 m), caused by Hurricane Luis in the North Atlantic Ocean.[15] One year later, during her twentieth world cruise, she completed her four millionth mile. The ship had sailed the equivalent of 185 times around the planet.[16]

The QE2 celebrated the 30th anniversary of her maiden voyage in Southampton in 1999. In three decades she had 1,159 voyages, sailed 4,648,050 nautical miles (5,347,018 mi, 8,605,209 km) and carried over two million passengers.[17]

Later years

Following the 1998 acquisition of Cunard Line by Carnival Corporation, in 1999 QE2 was given a $30 million dollar refurbishment which included refreshing various public rooms,[8] and a new colour palette in the passenger cabins. The Royal Promenade, which formerly housed upscale shops like Burberry, H. Stern and Aquascutum, were replaced by a more typical array of cruise ship boutiques selling fragrances, watches and logo items. This refit also included a complete hull strip (back to the bare metal) and the ship was repainted in the traditional Cunard colours of matte black with a white superstructure.[4]

File:QE2 WEB.jpg
Leaving Sydney 18 February 2004

In 2004, she was taken off the traditional "transatlantic" route, which was assigned to Cunard's new flagship, the Queen Mary 2. However, the QE2 still undertook an annual world cruise and regular trips around the Mediterranean. By this time, she lacked the amenities to rival newer larger cruise ships, but she still had unique features such as her 6000-book library,[18] ballrooms, and hospital.[19] QE2 retained her title of the fastest cruise ship afloat with fuel economy while travelling at her maximum cruising speed [20] at 49.5ft[21] (15m[22]) to the gallon,[23] meaning that per passenger, the QE2 is actually more efficient than travelling by most modern cars[24].

At the end of her 2005 world cruise, certain pieces of her artwork were damaged when some crew members who had become inebriated at an on-board crew party, went on a vandalism rampage through the public areas of the ship. A unique tapestry of Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned for the launch of the ship, was thrown overboard. Further, an oil painting of the QE2 and two other tapestries were damaged, along with a part of the entertainment area and a lifeboat. The crew members involved were dismissed from service, with charges pending.[25]

On 5 November 2004 the QE2 became Cunard's longest serving express liner, surpassing the RMS Aquitania's 35 years,[16] while on 4 September 2005, during a call to the port of Sydney, Nova Scotia, QE2 became the longest serving Cunarder ever, surpassing the RMS Scythia's record.[26]

File:QE2 Sydney1.jpg
QE2 berthed in Sydney, 2007

On 20 February 2007 the QE2, while on her annual world cruise, met her running mate and successor flagship QM2 (herself on her maiden world cruise) in Sydney Harbour, Australia.[27][28][29] This was the first time two Cunard Queens had been together in Sydney since the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth served as troop ships in 1941.[30]


On 18 June 2007 it was unexpectedly announced by Cunard that QE2 had been purchased by the Dubai investment company Istithmar for $100 million.

In a ceremonial display before her retirement, the QE2 met the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2 near the Statue of Liberty in New York City harbour on 13 January 2008, with a celebratory fireworks display; the QE2 and QV had made a tandem crossing of the Atlantic for the meet. This marked the first time three Cunard Queens had been present in the same location (Cunard stated this would be the last time these three particular ships would meet, due to the impending retirement of the QE2.[31] However, due to a change in the QE2's schedule, the three ships met again in Southampton on 22 April 2008).

QE2 shared the harbour at Zeebrugge with Queen Victoria on 19 July 2008, where the two Cunarders exchanged whistle blasts.[32]

Last visit to the Clyde.

On 3 October 2008, QE2 set off from Cork for Douglas Bay on her farewell tour of the British Isles, before heading for Liverpool. She left Liverpool and arrived in Belfast on 4 October 2008, before moving to Greenock the next day (The ship's height with funnel makes it impossible to pass under the Erskine Bridge so Clydebank is not reachable). There she was escorted by HMS Manchester and visited by MV Balmoral. The farewell was viewed by large crowds and concluded with a firework display.[11][33][34] QE2 then sailed around Scotland to the Firth of Forth on 7 October 2008, where she anchored in the shadow of the Forth Bridge. The next day, following an RAF flypast, she left amidst a flotilla of small craft to head to Newcastle upon Tyne, before returning to Southampton.

File:QE2-South Queensferry.jpg
Farewell to the Forth

QE2 completed her final Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton in tandem with her successor, QM2. The two liners departed New York on 16 October and arrived in Southampton on 22 October. This marked the end of QE2's trans Atlantic voyages.[35]

Final Cunard voyage
Southampton – 11 November 2008
File:Queen Elizabeth 2.jpg
QE2 in Dubai with Cunard titles removed from her superstructure.

On her final arrival into Southampton, QE2 (on 11 November 2008, with 1,700 passengers and 1,000 crew on board) ran aground in the Solent at the Southampton Water entrance at 5.26am. BBC reported "Cunard has confirmed it touched the bottom at the Brambles Turn sandbank (sandback) near Calshot, Southampton Water, with three tugs attached to her stern (0530 GMT). A fourth tug secured a line to the ship's bow."[36] Solent Coastguard stated: "Five tugs were sent out to assist her getting off the sandbank, and she was pulled off just before 6.10am. She had been re floated and was under way under her own power and heading back to her berth in Southampton. She had only partially gone aground, and the tugs pulled her off."[37][38]

Once safely back at her berth, preparations continued for her farewell celebrations. These were led by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who toured the ship at great length. He visited areas of interest including the Engine Control Room. He also met with current and former crew members.[39] During this time, divers were sent down to inspect the hull for any possible damage caused by the vessel's earlier mishap – none was found.

The QE2 left Southampton Docks for the final time at 1915 GMT on 11 November 2008, to begin her farewell voyage by the name of "QE2's Final Voyage" .[40]. Her ownership passed to Nakheel Properties, a company of Dubai World, on 26 November.[41][42] The decommissioning of the ship was particularly poignant for the QE2's only permanent resident, Beatrice Muller, aged 89, who lived on board in retirement for fourteen years, at a cost of some £3,500 (~€4300, ~$5400) per month.[43]

At the time of her retirement QE2 had sailed nearly six million miles, carried 2.5 million passengers and completed 806 trans Atlantic crossings.[44]

Nakheel and QE2 in Dubai

Her final voyage from Southampton to Dubai began on 11 November 2008, arriving on 26 November in a flotilla of 120 smaller vessels,[45] led by MY Dubai, the personal yacht of Sheikh Mohammed, ruler of Dubai,[46] in time for her official handover the following day.

She was greeted with a fly-past from an Emirates Airbus A380 jet and a huge fireworks display, while thousands of people gathered at the Mina Rashid, waving the flags of Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Since her arrival in Dubai QE2 has remained moored at Port Rashid. Shortly after her final passengers were disembarked, she was moved forward to the cargo area of the port, to free up the passenger terminal for other cruise vessels.[3]

She was expected to be refurbished and berthed permanently at the Palm Jumeirah as a "a luxury floating hotel, retail, museum and entertainment destination."[2] The refurbishment planned to see the QE2 transformed into a tourist destination in Dubai,[47] however due to the Global Economic Crisis QE2 has remained moored at Port Rashid awaiting a decision on her future.

At present, QE2 remains an ocean going vessel, and as such, Ronald Warwick (former Captain of QE2, QM2 and a retired Commodore of the Cunard Line) has been employed by V-Ships (who are managing QE2 during her de-fit) as the vessel's legal master.[48]

It was anticipated that the QE2 would be moved to the Dubai Drydocks sometime in 2009 to begin a series of far-reaching refurbishments which will result in her being converted into a floating hotel however, as of 2010 no confirmed destination for the QE2's retirement and reopening has been announced.

Due to the 2008 Global Recession, fears have been sparked that QE2's refurbishment and hotel conversion will not take place, and that the ship may be resold.[49][50] These rumours have since resulted in owners, Nakheel, issuing a series of press releases stating that plans for QE2's conversion are ongoing, with no intention to sell.[51][52] However, since arriving in Dubai the only visible exterior change to QE2 is the painting out of the Cunard titles from the ship's superstructure.

QE2 was joined in Mina Rashid by QM2 on Saturday, 21 March 2009 while QM2 visited Dubai as part of her 2009 World Cruise.[53] She was joined once again by the QV on Sunday, 29 March 2009 as a part of her 2009 World Cruise.

In April 2009, an alleged concept model of the post refurbished Hotel QE2 was shown for sale on an online auction website.[54] The model depicts a much altered QE2.[55]

In June 2009, the Southampton Daily Echo reported that QE2 would return to the UK[56] as an operating Cruise Ship. However, on 20 July 2009 the current owners Nakheel confirmed rumours that QE2 will reposition to Cape Town for use as a floating Hotel.

On 24 June 2009, QE2 made her first journey after nearly eight months of inactivity since the liner arrived in Dubai. She manoeuvered under her own power into the Dubai Drydocks for inspection and hull repainting before her (then planned) voyage to Cape Town's V&A Waterfront to serve there as a floating hotel for the FIFA World Cup 2010 and beyond.[57]

Proposed Cape Town hotel

On 10 July 2009, it was revealed that QE2 may sail to Cape Town, South Africa to become a floating hotel (for use primarily during the 2010 FIFA World Cup), in a Dubai World sponsored venture at the V&A Waterfront.[58][59][60] This was confirmed by Nakheel on 20 July 2009.[61]

In preparation for this expected voyage the ship was placed into the Dubai Dry-dock and underwent an extensive exterior refurbishment. During this refit, the ship's underwater hull was repainted and inspected.[56][62]

Shortly after her refit, QE2 was registered under the flag of Vanuatu, and Port Vila (her new home port) was painted on her stern, replacing Southampton.[63]

QE2 returned to Port Rashid where it was anticipated she would soon sail for Cape Town.[64] The arrival of QE2 in Cape Town was expected to create many local jobs [65] including Hotel staff, restaurant staff, chefs, cleaners and shop attendants, all being sourced from the local workforce,[66] however at present the vessel remains moored in Dubai amid a cloud of uncertainty regarding her future. Then, in January 2010, it was confirmed she would not be brought to Cape Town.[67]

Sale and relocation speculation

In early 2010, due to the continued poor financial performance of Nakheel, there has been much media speculation that QE2, along with other assets owned by Istithmar, Nakheel's private-equity arm, will be sold in order to raise capital. Despite this sale speculation, a number of alternative locations for QE2 have been cited including London, Singapore,[68] Japan[68] and Fremantle,[69][68] the latter showing interest in using QE2 as a hotel for the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in December 2011.[69] However as at June 2010 Nakheel's official statement regarding QE2 is that "a number of options being considered for QE2".[69][68]

Current situation

QE2 is currently berthed at Port Mina Rashid in Dubai.[70] She is maintained in a seaworthy condition and generates her own power. Each of her nine diesel generators are turned over and used to power the ship. A live-in crew of approximately 50 people maintain QE2 to a high standard.[71] Activities include painting, maintenance, cabin checks and overhauls of machinery. Nakheel are considering future plans for QE2 which may involve the ship sailing to an alternative location under her own power.[70]


QE2 in Southampton, 1976, with her original white funnel
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QE2's long bow was typical to ocean liners
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QE2 on the River Clyde, for the celebration of 40 years in service


Like both the Normandie and France, the QE2 has a flared stem and clean forecastle. One innovation that made her distinct from all other ships (until the QM2 was launched) is her funnel, which bears at its base an upward turned wind scoop that uses the forward motion of the ship to push air directly up the flanks of the funnel to catch the exhaust and disperse it far above the aft passenger decks.[72] What was controversial at the time was that Cunard decided not to paint the funnel with the line's distinctive colour and pattern, something that had been done on all merchant vessels since the first Cunard ship, the RMS Britannia, sailed in 1840. Instead the funnel was painted white and black, with the Cunard orange-red appearing only on the inside of the wind scoop. This practice ended in 1983 when the QE2 returned from service in the Falklands War, and the funnel has been painted in Cunard traditional colours (orange and black), with black horizontal bands (known as "hands") ever since. The original pencil-like funnel was replaced in 1986 with a more robust one, when the ship was converted from steam to diesel power.

Large amounts of aluminium were used in the framing and cladding of the QE2's superstructure. This decision was designed to save weight, reducing the draft of the ship and lowering the fuel consumption, but it also posed the possibility of corrosion problems that can occur with joining the dissimilar metals together, so a jointing compound was coated between the steel and aluminium surfaces to prevent this happening. The low melting point of aluminium caused concern when the QE2 was serving as a troop ship during the Falklands War: some feared that if the ship were struck by a missile, as was HMS Sheffield, her upper decks would collapse quickly due to fire, thereby causing greater casualties.

In 1972, the first penthouse suites were added in an aluminium structure on Signal Deck and Sports Deck (now "Sun Deck"), behind the ship's bridge, and in 1977 this structure was expanded to include more suites with balconies, making the QE2 one of the first ships to offer private terraces to passengers since the Normandie in the 1930s.

QE2's balcony accommodation was expanded for the final time during QE2's 1986/87 refurbishment in Bremerhaven. During this refit the ship was given a new fatter funnel built using panels from the original. It retained the traditional Cunard colours.

QE2's final structural changes included the reworking of the aft decks during the 1994 refit (following the removal of the Magrodome and the addition of an undercover area on Sun Deck during her 2005 refit creating a space known as Funnel Bar.


The Queen Elizabeth 2's interior configuration was laid out in a horizontal fashion, similar to the SS France, where the spaces dedicated to the two classes were spread horizontally on specific decks, in contrast to the vertical class divisions of older liners. Where the QE2 differed from the France was that the first class deck (Quarter Deck) was below the deck dedicated to tourist class (Upper Deck). Originally there were to be main lounges serving three classes, layered one atop the other, but when Cunard decided to make the ship a two class vessel, only two main lounges were needed. Instead of completely reconfiguring the Boat Deck, the ship's architects simply opened a well in the deck between what were to have been the second and third class lounges, creating a double height space known as the Double Room (now the Grand Lounge). This too was unconventional in that it designated a grander two storey space for tourist class passengers, while first class passengers gathered in the standard height Queen's Room. However, the configuration for segregated Atlantic crossings gave first class passengers the theatre balcony on Boat Deck, while tourist class used the orchestra level on Upper Deck.

Over the span of her thirty nine year sea going career, the QE2 has had a number of interior refits and alterations.

The year she came into service, 1969, was also the year of the Apollo 11 mission, when the Concorde's prototype was unveiled, and the previous year Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered. In keeping with those times, originally Cunard broke from the traditional interiors of their previous liners for the QE2, especially the Art Deco style of the previous Queens. Instead modern materials like plastic laminates, aluminium, and Plexiglas were used. Furniture was modular and abstract art was used throughout public rooms and cabins.

The Midships Lobby on Two Deck, where first class passengers boarded for transatlantic journeys and all passengers boarded for cruises, was a circular room with a sunken seating area in the centre with green leather clad banquettes, and surrounded by a chrome railing. As a kingpin to this was a flared, white, trumpet shaped, up lit column.

Another room where the QE2's advanced interior design was demonstrated was the first class lounge, the Queen's Room on Quarter Deck. This space, in colours of white and tan, featured a recessed, slotted ceiling, and indirect lighting. As well, the columns were flared in the same fashion as the one in the Midships Lobby, with recessed up lighting, and also reflecting the shape of the bases of the tables and leather shell chairs. The Theatre Bar on Upper Deck featured red chairs, red drapes, a red egg crate fibreglass screen, and even a red baby grand piano. Some more traditional materials like wood veneer were used as highlights throughout the ship, especially in passenger corridors and staterooms.

There was also an Observation Bar on Quarter Deck, a successor to its namesake, located in a similar location, on both previous Queens, which offered views through large windows over the ship's bow. This room was lost in the QE2's 1972 refit, becoming kitchen space with the forward-facing windows plated over.

In the 1994 refit almost all of the remaining original decor was replaced, with Cunard opting to reverse the original design direction of the QE2's designers and use the line's traditional ocean liners as inspiration. The green velvet and leather Midships Bar became the Art Deco inspired Chart Room, receiving an original, custom designed piano from the Queen Mary. The (by now) blue dominated Theatre Bar was transformed into the Golden Lion Pub, which mimics a traditional Edwardian pub. Some original elements were retained including the flared columns in the Queens Room and Mid-Ships Lobby which were incorporated into the reworked designs.

By the time of her retirement, the Synagogue was the only room that had remained unaltered since 1969.[73] However it was reported that during QE2's 22 October five night voyage, the Synagogue was carefully dismantled before being removed from the ship prior to her final sailing to Dubai.[74]

Artwork and artefacts

The Queen Elizabeth 2 holds pieces of artwork, as well as maritime artefacts drawn from Cunard's long history of operating merchant vessels.

In the Mauretania Restaurant sits Althea Wynne's sculpture of the White Horses of the Atlantic Ocean. There are bronze busts of both Sir Samuel Cunard (outside the Yacht Club) and Queen Elizabeth II (in the Queen's Room). The Princess Grill holds four life-size statues of human forms representing the four elements, done by sculptor Janine Janet in marine materials like shell and coral. The Chart Room's frieze was designed by Brody Nevenshwander, and depicts the words of T. S. Eliot, Sir Francis Drake, and John Masefield. The Midships Lobby holds a solid silver model of the Queen Elizabeth 2 made by Asprey of Bond Street in 1975, that was lost until a photograph was found in 1997 that led to the discovery of the model itself, and its placement on the QE2 in 1999.

In "E" stairway hangs three custom designed tapestries, commissioned from Helena Barynina Hernmarck for the ship's launch, that depict the Queen as well as the launch of the ship. These tapestries, which were originally hung in "D" Stairway, Quarter Deck, outside the Columbia Restaurant, were damaged, and one thrown overboard, in 2005, as mentioned in the Service history (above). They were originally made with golden threads however much of this was lost when they were cleaned incorrectly as part of the 1987 refit.

There are also numerous photographs, oils and pastels of members of the Royal Family throughout the vessel, and silver plaques commemorating the visits of every member of the Royal Family, as well as other dignitaries like South African president Nelson Mandela.

Amongst the artefacts on board is a set of antique Japanese armour presented to the QE2 by the Governor of Kagoshima, Japan, during her 1979 world cruise, and a Wedgwood vase presented to the ship by Lord Wedgwood.

Items from previous Cunard ships include a brass relief plaque with a fish motif from RMS Mauretania, as well as an Art Deco bas-relief titled Winged Horse and Clouds, by Norman Foster from RMS Queen Elizabeth. There is also a vast array of Cunard postcards, porcelain, flatware, boxes, linen, and Lines Bros Ltd Tri-anic model ships. One of her key pieces is a replica of the figurehead from Cunard's first ship, RMS Britannia, carved from Quebec yellow pine by Cornish sculptor Charles Moore, and presented to the ship by Lloyds of London. On Upper Deck sits the silver Boston Commemorative Cup, presented to Britannia by the City of Boston in 1840. This cup was lost for decades until being found in a pawn shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On "2" Deck is a bronze entitled Spirit of the Atlantic which was designed by Barney Seale for the second Mauretania. A large wooden plaque was presented to the QE2 by First Sea Lord Sir John Fieldhouse to commemorate the ship's service in the Falklands War.

There is also an extensive collection of large scale models of Cunard ships throughout the QE2.[75]

Most of these irreplaceable items were sold by Cunard to Nakheel when they purchased QE2.[76]

Crew accommodation

The majority of crew were accommodated in two or four berth cabins, with showers and toilets at the end of each alleyway. These are located forward and aft on decks three through six. At the time she entered service, the crew areas were a significant improvement over those aboard RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, however the ship's age and the lack of renovation during her 40 years of service (in contrast to passenger areas which were updated periodically), meant that these accommodations were considered basic by the end of her career. Officers were accommodated in single cabins with private en suite bathrooms located on Sun Deck.[8]

There were three crew bars, one named The Pig & Whistle.[40] ("The Pig" for short and a tradition aboard Cunard ships), Castaways and the Fo'c's'le Club. A fourth bar, dedicated for the officers is located at the forward end of Boat Deck. Named The Officers Wardroom this area enjoys forward facing views and is often opened to passengers for cocktail parties hosted by the senior officers.[70] The crew mess is situated at the forward end of One Deck[40] which is adjacent to the crew services office.


File:20-QE2 Re-engine.jpg
QE2 being re-engined at Bremerhaven
File:21-QE2 Re-engine.jpg
QE2's original funnel, removed while being re-engined

After the ship was launched, the QE2 was fitted out with a steam turbine powerplant utilising three Foster Wheeler E.S.D II boilers, which would provide steam for the two Brown-Pametrada turbines rated with a maximum power output figure of 110,000 shaft horsepower (normally operating at 94,000 hp) coupled to two, six-bladed, fixed-pitch propellers.

The steam powerplant had been plagued by problems from the time the ship was launched and would consume 600 tons of fuel oil every twenty four hours. The availability to source spare parts was becoming difficult due to the outdated design of her boilers and turbines. After seventeen years of service Cunard decided that the options were to either replace the Queen or re-engine her with a more efficient diesel-electric powerplant. The latter was selected, as it would allow the ship to operate for another twenty years and was a cheaper solution, and would return the Queen to service in six months, rather than waiting several years for a shipyard to design and build a new ship from the keel up.

During the ship's 1986 to 1987 refit, the steam powerplant was removed and scrapped. She then was fitted with nine German MAN L58/64 nine-cylinder, medium speed diesel engines, each weighing approximately 120 tons. Using a diesel-electric configuration, each engine drives a generator, each developing 10.5 MW of electrical power at 10,000 volts. This electrical plant, in addition to powering the ship's auxiliary and hotel services through transformers, drives the two main propulsion motors, one on each propeller shaft. These motors produced 44 MW and are of synchronous salient-pole construction, nine meters in diameter and weigh more than 400 tons each. The ships service speed of 28.5 knots (52.8 km/h) could be maintained using only seven of the diesel-electric sets. Her maximum power output with the new engine configuration running was now 130,000 hp, which is greater than the previous system's 110,000 hp. Using the same IBF-380 (Bunker 'C') fuel, the new configuration yielded a 35% fuel saving over the previous system. During the retrofit, her funnel was replaced by a wider one in order to accommodate the exhaust pipes for the nine B&W diesel engines.

Also during retrofit, the fixed pitch propellers were replaced with variable-pitch propellers. The old steam powerplant required astern turbines to move the ship backwards or stop her moving forward. The pitch of the new variable pitch blades, however, could simply be reversed, causing a reversal of propeller thrust while maintaining the same direction of propeller rotation, allowing the ship better stopping times and improved handling characteristics.

The new propellers originally were fitted with Grim Wheels, free spinning propeller blades fitted behind the main propellers with long vanes protruding from the centre hub. These were designed to recover lost propeller thrust and reduce fuel consumption by 2.5 to 3%. However, after the trial of these wheels, when the ship was drydocked, the majority of the vanes on each wheel were discovered to have broken off, and so the wheels were removed and the project abandoned.

Other machinery includes nine heat recovery boilers, coupled with two oil fired boilers to produce steam for heating fuel, domestic water, swimming pools, laundry equipment, and kitchens. Four flash evaporators and a reverse osmosis unit desalinate sea water to produce 1000 tons of fresh water daily. There is also a sanitation system and sewage disposal plant, air conditioning plant, and an electro hydraulic steering system.[77]


Form of name

File:QE2 stern 15 October 2008.jpg
QE2 stern name, October 2008
File:QE2 bow 15 October 2008.jpg
QE2 bow name, October 2008

The name of the liner as it appears on the bow and stern is the Queen Elizabeth 2, with lower case lettering and an Arabic numeral 2 as opposed to the Roman numeral II. As such, it is commonly pronounced in speech as "Queen Elizabeth Two".[78] Soon after launching, the name was shortened in common use as the QE2.[79]

Due to various historical precedents of Cunard and other ship naming practices, and other occurrences surrounding the launch ceremony and form of the name of the QE2, various accounts contradict the exact meaning of the name of the QE2, as to whether the liner is named as the second liner named Queen Elizabeth, or after the reigning monarch that named the ship, Queen Elizabeth II.


In 1934 the Queen Mary was named by and after Queen Mary (Mary of Teck) and in 1938 the Queen Elizabeth was named by and after Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Mother),[80] who were both at the time of the naming serving Queen consorts to a reigning King.[81] These two previous Cunarders both had capitalised bow names, as QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN MARY.

Cunard practice at the time of naming the QE2 was to re use the existing name of its former ships, for example, launching the Mauretania in 1938 after the previous Mauretania was scrapped in 1935.

The original Queen Elizabeth was still in service with Cunard when the QE2 was launched in 1967, although she was retired and sold before the QE2 entered revenue service with Cunard in 1969.

The addition of a 2 in this manner was unknown at the time, but it was not unknown for Roman numerals to denote ships in service with the same name. Two non Cunard ships were named Queen Mary II, a Clyde steamer, and Mauretania II, a Southampton steamer of Red Funnel, since the Cunard ships already had the names without Roman numerals.


As was Cunard practice at the time, the name of the liner was not to be publicly revealed until the launch. [82] Dignitaries were invited to the "Launch of Cunard Liner No. 736",[83] as no name had yet been painted on the bow.[84]

The Queen launched the ship with the words "I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second,"[85] the normal short form of address of the monarch, Elizabeth II herself.

The following day, the BBC reported the Queen had named the liner after herself,[85] with the New York Times[86] and British Times printing the name as "Queen Elizabeth II", the short form of written style of the monarch.

Before the ship had left the shipyard in 1968 the liner bore the name Queen Elizabeth 2 on her bow.[87]

1969 authorised biography

In an authorised biography of the QE2 published in 1969,[88] various explanations of events occur.

These state that, as at the launch ceremony, an envelope and card were also held in New York in case of transmission failure, and when opened the card was found to read the name Queen Elizabeth, and that the decision to add "The Second" to the name was an alteration by the Queen. The book quotes the Cunard chairman Sir Basil Smallpeice as saying "The Queen Mary [named] after her Grandmother, the Queen Elizabeth after her mother, and now this magnificent ship after herself."

Following the unexpected addition of the Second by the Queen, the book attributes the use of lower case lettering and an numeric 2 – rather than a Roman II – to the decision by Cunard to use a more modern typeface to suit the style of the 1960s. The book also surmises that the naming of the liner after the reigning monarch, in the form Queen Elizabeth II, was potentially offensive to some Scots, as the title of Queen Elizabeth II (of the United Kingdom) relates to the lineage of the throne of England (the Tudor monarch Elizabeth I having reigned only in England).

Ron Warwick, former Captain

A later account by a former captain of the QE2 Ronald W Warwick, who also is the son of William (Bil) Eldon Warwick, the ship's first captain,[89] also states that the Queen initiated the surprise move of naming the liner after herself rather than simply Queen Elizabeth as originally planned (the name being made vacant by the retirement of the current liner before the new one was commissioned). This name had been given to the Queen in a sealed envelope which she didn't open. The book, referencing his autobiography, states that the Cunard chairman Sir Basil Smallpeice was delighted with this development, it being in keeping with the previous Queen liners, and the 2 was added by Cunard for differentiation of the ship while still denoting it was named after the Queen.

Cunard website

From at least 2002 the official Cunard website stated that "The new ship is not named after the Queen but is simply the second ship to bear the name – hence the use of the Arabic 2 in her name, rather than the Roman II used by the Queen",[90][91] however, in a change in 2007 this information had been removed.[92]

Other accounts

Other later accounts repeat the position that Cunard originally intended to name the ship the Queen Elizabeth and the addition of a 2 by the Queen was a surprise to Cunard, in 1990[93] and 2008,[81] although two books by William H. Miller state that Queen Elizabeth 2 was the name agreed on before the launch[82] between Cunard officials and the Queen.[94]

Accounts that repeat the position that the QE2 was not named after the reigning monarch have been published in 1991,[80] 1999,[95] 2004,[94] 2005,[79] 2008[96] and 2008.[97] [98] In 2008 The Telegraph goes further to state the ship is named not only as the second ship named Queen Elizabeth, but is specifically named after the wife of King George VI.[99] In contradiction however, some modern accounts continue to publish that the QE2 was named after the reigning monarch, in 2001[100] and 2008.[81][101]

Post QE2 Cunard naming practice

Cunard continued the 2 suffix naming practice introduced with the QE2 with the launch of the new RMS Queen Mary 2 ocean liner in 2003, named after the previous Queen Mary, however, her planned "consort" ship will be named MS Queen Elizabeth, and not the QE3.


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  87. William H. Miller, In Picture history of the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, Courier Dover Publications 2004, ISBN 0486435091, Template:OL, p98, Google Books search (partial preview), Picture showing the QE2 bow wearing the name Queen Elizabeth 2 while having the bridge lowered into place, caption: (p99) "(this 1968 photo, opposite, top, shows the wheelhouse and bridge sections being lifted aboard", Retrieved on 14 November 2008
  88. Potter, Neil; Jack Frost (1969). Queen Elizabeth 2: The Authorised Story. Harrap. Template:OL. ISBN 0245594442. 
  89. Warwick junior is currently involved with the QE2 in Dubai and Cape Town on behalf of Nakheel. Warwick, Ronald W. (1999). QE2 - The Cunard Line Flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2 (3rd ed.). W. W. Norton and Company. Template:OL. ISBN 0393047725. "There was no question what Sir Basil and the Cunard board desired. The name was discussed with Lord Adeane, the queen's private secretary, and it was decided simply to ask that the new ship be named Queen Elizabeth, because by the time of her commissioning, both of the earlier Queens would be withdrawn from service and she could assume the name vacated by one of her predecessors ... Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II moved to the front of the launching platform and was handed an envelope by John Rannie with the name of the ship inside. This was a tradition because many years before someone purportedly had forgotten the name of a ship about to be launched. The envelope remained unopened as the queen stepped forward and uttered the words, "I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God Bless her and all who sail in her" ... Sir Basil Smallpeice was overjoyed at the sovereign's alteration of the name. (paragraph reference his autobiography ISBN 0906393108) He could not have been more delighted with having the third of the great royal Cunarders named in this manner. The decision promptly was made to style the giant liner Queen Elizabeth 2 using the numeral two to differentiate the ship from the sovereign." 
  90. "The First 30 Years". Queen Elizabeth II Ship Facts. Cunard Official Website, www.cunard.com. Archived from the original on 16 June 2002. http://web.archive.org/web/20020616200739/http://www.cunard.com/onboard/qe2/first30years.asp?Active=QE2&Sub=SF. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "1967: Launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Margaret. The new ship is not named after the Queen but is simply the second ship to bear the name - hence the use of the Arabic 2 in her name, rather than the Roman II used by the Queen" 
  91. "The First 30 Years". Queen Elizabeth II. Cunard Official Website, www.cunard.com. Archived from the original on 20 October 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20061020013452/http://www.cunard.com/onboard/default.asp?OB=QE2&Sub=sp&SubSubSection=30Years. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "1967: Launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Margaret. The new ship is not named after the Queen but is simply the second ship to bear the name - hence the use of the Arabic 2 in her name, rather than the Roman II used by the Queen" 
  92. "Sail into History". Queen Elizabeth II History. Cunard Official Website, www.cunard.com. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070311030132rn_1/www.cunard.com/OurShips/default.asp?Ship=QE2&main=int&sub=his. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "20 Sept 1967: Launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" 
  93. "QE2 ... The most famous ship in the world". Cruise Ships. Seaview Network Ltd.. http://www.seaview.co.uk/cruiselines/cunard/QE2_Homepage.html. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "It is almost 41 years since the Queen launched job number 736 at John Brown's on the Clyde and on impulse, attached the number 2 to the name of the Queen Elizabeth, much to the surprise of Cunard." 
  94. 94.0 94.1 William H. Miller, In Picture history of the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth, Courier Dover Publications 2004, ISBN 0486435091, Template:OL, p99, Google Books search (partial preview), "Queen Elizabeth II had agreed to do the naming at the ship's launch on 20 September 1967 and, in discussion with Cunard officials, agreed on Queen Elizabeth 2. The new ship was named after the previous liner, not the current queen" , Retrieved on 14 November 2008
  95. BBC (14 April 1999). "QE2 - 30 years of cruising". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/319027.stm. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "QE2 Facts: Contrary to popular belief, the vessel is not named after Queen Elizabeth II, but is the second ship to be named Queen Elizabeth - hence the use of the Arabic figure 2 rather than the Roman II." 
  96. BBC (2 June 2008). "Coronation farewell to QE2 liner". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/7430666.stm. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "Although named QE2, the ship was not named after the present Queen but rather the "2" shows that it denoted the fact the liner was the second ship named Queen Elizabeth." 
  97. Chris Frame and Rachelle Cross (August 2008). "QE2: A Photographic Journey". Book (The History Press). ISBN 9780752448039. "Cunard agreed to name ship Queen Elizabeth after the elder Cunard Liner." 
  98. Alan Hamilton (2 June 2008). "QE2: Queen bids farewell to a sovereign of the seas". The Times Online (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4045920.ece. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "There is one common misconception about the QE2 – that she is named after the Queen. In fact, she is simply the second Cunarder of that name: the ship takes the Arabic 2, the Queen the Roman II." 
  99. Jolyon Attwooll (12 November 2008). "Fifty fascinating QE2 facts". The Telegraph Online (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/3440417/Fifty-fascinating-QE2-facts.html. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "Fact 10: The QE2 was not named after the current Queen but rather after the wife of King George VI. This explains the convention of using the actual number – i.e. Queen Elizabeth 2 – rather than the Roman numerals of Queen Elizabeth II." 
  100. Matt Richardson, In The Royal Book of Lists, Dundurn Press, 2001, ISBN 0888822383, Template:OL, p70-71, Google Books search (partial preview), During the twentieth century the Cunard Shipping Line launched three famous luxury liners, each named for a different English Queen, 1. The Queen Mary, 2. The Queen Elizabeth, 3. The Queen Elizabeth 2, Retrieved on 14 November 2008
  101. Tristan Stewart-Robertson (6 October 2008). "QE2 delights home crowd as she pays final visit". The Scotsman Online (Johnston Press). http://news.scotsman.com/glasgow/QE2-delights-home-crowd-.4560399.jp. Retrieved 14 November 2008. "Jordan Beckett, seven, from Greenock, said: "It's quite big and I think there's a lot of passengers. I wish I could build a boat like that someday. It's important because it's named after the Queen."" 

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