Archive for the ‘Queen Elizabeth2’ Category

The QE2 Story 2017 Calendar is now on sale. Members of the QE2 Story Forum are submitting their best photographs for the monthly photo contest every year, from which 12 winners are chosen for the calendar.

There are two choices on sales, a premium calendar and a standard calendar.

Click here to go to the QE2 Story website for more details and prices or click on one of the images below to go directly to the online shop.

These calendars make a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone who sailed and loved the QE2 or who is interested in ocean liners. Be quick to get 25% off on 8th and 9th December 2016 – Use Code 5THDAY15 at checkout!

The QE2 Story Premium Calendar – Click on image to orderimg9

The QE2 Story Standard Calendar – Click on image to order



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… and raise a glass to David Bowie who lost his battle against cancer this week. He was a musician and artist who was a trailblazer for musical trends and pop fashion, reinventing himself and his music over  many decades.  He published his latest and last album “Blackstar” on January 8, 2016 –  his 69th birthday – 2 days before his passing.

Like many artists, David Bowie was suffering from fear of flying, so the only way to cross the Atlantic for his overseas concerts was by sea.

David Bowie on QE2 – Getty Images, Photo Credit Theo Wargo

The first time Bowie toured the US in 1972, he crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth 2, departing Southampton on September 10, 1972 and arriving in New York on September 17. He returned via sea again on the Royal Hellenic Mail Ship Ellinis on December 10. He later sailed on other famous liners such as the SS Canberra, SS France or SS Oronsay.

On one occasion he turned up for dinner in his colourful Ziggy Stardust costume. It must have been quite a sight for his fellow diners.


David Bowie in Ziggy Stardust costume on QE2 1972,  Photo Credit Mick Rock


He travelled with George Underwood and his wife  who recalls that Bowie wouldn’t come out of his cabin after that. He said, “They were all looking at me.” I said, “What do you expect?”

In 2002 he opted again for the QE2 for his North America tour. He disembarked at Pier 62 in New York on July 26, 2002.

Getty Images has some great shots of David Bowie on the QE2 which you can view here.

Recognize some familiar faces from the QE2?

David Bowie on QE2 Bridge

David Bowie on QE2 Bridge

David Bowie was one of the prominent GQ Men of the Year. In the inteview originally published in the QG Magazine in 2002 he talks about his QE2 experience.

Quote from QG Magazine 2002 Interview:

What’s the best thing about travelling on the QE2?

Well, right now, at this moment, I’ve got my phobia about flying back again. I’m coping with it to a certain extent. I flew the whole of Europe. We flew. But I just can’t face that transatlantic trip. I don’t want to be on a place going over the Atlantic. I got my phobia before 11 September – it started when my baby was born.

What’s it like being on the ship, though? Is it fun?

Oh, I love it. It’s like this hotel, only at sea. But bigger. I mean, you cannot believe how big the Queen Elizabeth is. It’s bigger than this hotel. It’s got five restaurants, two cinemas, two or three theatres. Gym. Swimming pools. Shopping malls. I mean, it’s just beyond… There’s about 1,800 passengers. But there’s also about 1,800 crew to look after you. I’ve never been on a Caribbean cruise but I get the impression that it’s a bit Club Med and a lot of party nights, and all that stuff. But the QE2 isn’t like that. People who go across the Atlantic go for very different reasons. I think a lot of people bring books with them, and they’re quieter, more academic. I’ve bumped into writers, musicians, painters, politicians and, on the last trip, John Cleese. I wanted to see what it was like to be adrift for seven days. It’s a challenge, because you know you’re not going to stop off at any exotic locations.

And so a normal day for you on the QE2 would consist of what exactly?

I sleep in and try to get up at around seven. Then I order a quick breakfast or muesli or porridge, or whatever. Then I normally go and jog round the desk, which is like a fifth of a mile, and so you do a few rounds of that. Then I do some regular aerobic lifting. And then in the afternoon I’ll just lounge around reading. I usually take an enormous number of book with me. I’m quite happy… I can read all day long and float between two or three books at the same time. And then I go down and choose which restaurant I’m going to have lunch in. I tend to ask for solo sitting, because I can take a book with me for lunch. But then at dinner I usually see who else is around on board, and who’s on my table, and kind of stick with it.

Davie Bowie has left us, and we believe him when he says:

i don't know where I am going

The music world for sure is more boring without him.

R.I.P. Major Tom!

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For the past 5 years, I have been to Dubai at the end of November for the Rugby Sevens and this year was no difference. It has become a routine to check on QE2 during the stay.

QE2 was moved a couple of times, from the cruise terminal to a berth in the customs area in Port Rashid, then into dry docks from January 17 to February 3, 2013. Her present location is Berth 8 alongside the dry docks pretty much in cold lay-up.

QE2 in Berth 8 alongside the dry docks

QE2 in Berth 8 alongside the dry docks

Throughout the year the media fed news of big plans and great changes which turned cold as soon as they were published. As has been the case since her arrival in Dubai, the owners are stalling on information as to how and when QE2 will be transformed into a hotel, and where her final destination will be.

End of October, Costco was named as the ship yard that will transform her into a hotel.

The verdict on the winner of the design contest is still out and will hopefully be announced, as advised on the QE2 Heritage Hotel website, mid-December.

Dubai Drydocks World have a full order book. While I was visiting DW made an announcement that they signed a letter of intend to build a series of the world’s largest jack-up rigs between 2014 and 2016. The docks are full and there was an abundance of oil tankers, ships, rigs and platforms in and outside the docks. Such was the situation when I was visiting. Views were obstructed from every corner of the docks and security guards pretty much interfered every time I took out the camera. Luck wasn’t on my side this year as I couldn’t take a good clear shot.

Photography in the entire area is forbidden, security guards do not respond overly friendly to the sight of photo cameras or video equipment. I found a few photo spots which would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for an oil tanker that was in the way. Weather conditions were hazy which is the normal condition in Dubai.

We first drove to the Southern side where the guards spotted us and asked us to leave immediately. I thought it was wise to retreat and just snapped one blurry shot taken from the car ….


The next couple of photos are taken from North Beach Road still under construction. We were the only people who clearly didn’t belong into the construction area so it was only a matter of time until security asked us to move on.DSC_6784




Looking at the close-ups you can see that some of the staterooms are occupied by crew: Doors are open and there is laundry and security vests hanging on the balcony. There is no smoke coming out of the stack.


I left Dubai on an early morning flight when it was still very dark. The plane made a long turn and we got a good view of the dry docks which were lit up. QE2 however was completely dark and there were no lights visible. She looked very much abandoned. I wonder if the current maintenance crew will put up a little Christmas tree, a nice gesture from the old crew in the past years. Somehow, I don’t think so.

Posts on previous visits to Dubai. Check out the photos, they show how well she looked when she was properly maintained, compared to her current state.

Dubai Visit 2009
Dubai Visit 2010
Dubai Visit 2011

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Image courtesy Marc-Antoine Bombail

In the recent weeks, new speculations about QE2’s future arose, triggered by an article in the Daily Mail about the alleged sale to a Chinese investor and the possibility of her being scrapped in China. The rumour was further fuelled by the departure of V-Ship’s crew who maintained the ship since her arrival in Dubai 4 years ago and their replacement by a smaller Chinese crew.  The Daily Mail article spread quickly as other newspapers copied the article and various ship lover online discussion boards became busy with enthusiasts bemoaning the possibility that the liner could be scrapped and saying the ship should be returned to the UK.

In a rather unusual move for Cunard, the company issued a dementi on their Facebook site whereas  Istithmar, the owner of QE2 was unavailable for comments as usual.

Cunard Facebook Post 24 December 2012:

We have noted the messages of understandable concern with regards to the recent article in the Daily Mail with reference to QE2. We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation – one of a number of stories and rumours as we have seen over recent months. Our best advice would be to ignore the story.

Best regards,

Cunard Line

In the meantime a British Consortium presented Dubai with plans to bring the QE2 to London. Apparently the bid has been rejected by the owners, however, the campaign to bring her home to the UK has gathered momentum in form of a petition to the UK Government to support the efforts to save the QE2.

If you are a UK resident and wish to support the petition, you can do so by going to the e-petition website and completing the form. The e-petition will close on 07/04/2013 at 10:15 UK time.  Click here for the e-petition. Only UK residents can sign, however, any support to spread the word is highly welcome.  Note added 12 Jan 2013: The e-petition this post was originally referring to was taken down because it didn’t meet requirements apparently. I updated this post with the link to another e-petition.

For more information on the current situation of the QE2 in Dubai and the plans for bringing her to London, I recommend the following two sites:

The QE2 Story Forum: Click here for the most recent updates and discussion on QE2 London
Maritime Matters: QE2 in London 2013

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How time flies – it’s been 3 years since the QE2 arrived in Dubai. Read my post about her arrival in 2008 here…

After a period of much speculation about her fate, reports  of atrocious acts of cutting her in half, removing her iconic funnel or being loaned to Capetown for the World Soccer Games,  she has now settled into a waiting role while her owners are deliberating what to do with her.  Nakheel seem to be taking really good care of her, she appears well looked after. Check out the DVD ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on The QE2 Story website  – with photos and videos taken onboard in Dubai this year.

Here’s a shot from this morning when I passed Port Rashid – she looks grand and glorious as ever and ready to sail. If only!

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Just a quick post – a three-part feature on the memories of those who were involved in the construction of the QE2, produced by STVScottland.

Part 1
A special feature on the memories of those who attended the launch of the QE2 in 1967.


Part 2
A special feature on the memories of those who built the QE2 in John Brown’s Shipyard on  the Clyde.

Part 3
A special feature on the memories of shipfitters working on the QE2, plus others who make up her rich history.

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QE2 1969003

The sea trials in 1968 turned out to be quite a disaster, due to serious trouble with the turbines she had to return to the shipyard and Cunard refused to take delivery. As a result, Cunard had to cancel the scheduled maiden voyage. The interest in the new liner was extraordinary: Thousands of well-wisher were cheering on departure in Southampton; and she had a triumphant arrival in New York on May 7, 1969.  Media from around the world was covering the event – everyone wanted to have a glimpse of the new ocean liner with ‘that funny funnel’ which didn’t necessarily please every Cunard hardliner.I added 4 video clips from British Pathe to my video collection

QE2 Maiden Voyage Southampton-New York
News Reel with original commentary

QE2 leaving Southampton 2 May1969

QE2 arriving in New York 7 May1969

 QE2 arriving in Southampton in March 1969

 HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philipp visiting QE2 in 1969

Even back then commemorative postcards and stamps were popular and a must have for many Maiden Voyage passengers. I guess, little has changed since then.

Postcard with QE2 postal stamp and onboard maiden voyage stamps. Unfortunately, the date of the postal stamp is off.

I’ve always been fascinated by QE2’s 1969 outfit which has become the focus of my own collection.  Here are some scans of original black and white photos, more  will be posted soon.

 Left to Right: D Butterworth, Chief Radio Officer, J B Morton, Deputy Hotel Manager, J Smith, Hotel Manager,
Captain W E Warwick, Master, Captain G Smith, Staff Captain

Theatre Bar

 Upper Deck Library

I  soon will be adding more colour photos which are scans from vintage 35mm Kodak Ektachrome slides. They were taken in December 1969 inNew York. They just need a little TLC to take that tired and worn look off them.

QE2 in New York, December 1969


For those who are interested in other aspects of the 1969 I recommend to check out the following 2 pages on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 website:

As someone who loves dining and wining, I wondered what might have been on the menu during the maiden voyage. I did find a ‘Specimen Suggested Dinner Menu during the Maiden Voyage to New York’ which was served in the Columbia Restaurant. Still looking out for original dinner menus from the first crossing, if someone is willing to part with one, please contact me.

The Columbia Restaurant in 1969: Hidden by the large napkins, you can see the Snow Flake pattern china.

A wonderful areal shot of QE2 in her first year of service. 

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