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History

A ROYAL LEGACY

The world’s most celebrated ocean liner

A striking hallmark of the Cunard legacy, the QE2 follows in the footsteps of Lusitania and the Queen Mary. No ship symbolises the eminence and ingenuity of maritime engineering and craftsmanship as much as the QE2 - a paragon of design, innovation and speed.

The unveiling

September 20, 1967 - Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and 30,000 spectators arrive at John Brown’s shipyard on Clydebank for the launch of what, until then, had been known in the shipyard as Hull No 736. To Cunard, she was code-named Q4. It was the Queen herself who christened the liner:

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

With the ceremonial shattering of a bottle of Australian wine against the huge bow, the ship began her first journey into the water.

Ruling open waters

"The only thing QE2 has in common with other ships is that she floats.”

A chapter in the era of The Beatles and man’s first landing on the moon, of pop art and psychedelia, the QE2, as she was known, became a symbol of modern elegance and engineering. Her career as a transatlantic liner between Southampton, UK and New York lasted over 39 years.

Sleek and handsome, she was a recognised style icon illustrating the renaissance of British design in the 60s. Her exterior resembled a yacht more than a typical passenger ship; her steel and aluminium body housed interiors, made with materials such as Formica and glass reinforced plastic. She was smaller than her predecessors in length, breadth, draft and tonnage, making her nimble enough to pass through the Panama and Suez Canals. Nine engines gave her speed and power that were incomparable for her time. She cruised at a speed of 28.5 knots on average, with a top speed of 34 knots, making her transatlantic journeys in a total of five days – a journey she made 812 times.

Patrons of the QE2 included the likes of Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor, Buzz Aldrin and David Bowie. Throughout her sailing career, the QE2 was the darling of the rich and famous.

Long live the QE2

In her lifetime, the QE2 would complete 1,400 voyages, sail some 6 million nautical miles and entertain almost 2.5 million passengers. She would serve as a troopship in the Falkland War of 1982. She would complete 25 tours around the world and, after 39 years, retiring in 2008 to join Dubai as a prized and prestigious attraction.

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