by Rob Lightbody
2016 was a year of change for many of us, and that extends to the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) which has been languishing in Dubai since her arrival in November 2008. The first significant external changes were made to the ship, should we be concerned, or supportive?
Signs of Hope for QE2
Between 2013 and 2015 she had sat visibly deteriorating in the industrial docks facility while oil tanker workers used her lovely Midships Lobby as their access route onto their adjacent tanker.QE2 in Dubai on Feb 22, 2014. Photo © Hythe Shipshape on Flickr – used with permission.
However, things have started to look up in the past 18 months or so, and whilst there is still much uncertainty, we have seen some good news for QE2 at last.
By summer 2015, she had been moved to her best position yet – alongside the original Cruise terminal which she herself inaugurated on her maiden call to Dubai in March 1997. Work had recommenced on board, and a new team was in charge. What remains unclear, however, is the size and expertise of the team.
First big changes in her appearance in Dubai
Between May and August 2016, we witnessed QE2’s lifeboats and tenders all being lowered from the ship and placed on the dock. This was the first time since her arrival in Dubai that they’d all been removed at once. We were not overly concerned and assumed they’d be put back at some point, maybe after the hotel conversion was completed.
However, by September we saw that they had also cut off all her lifeboat davits. This significantly and permanently altered the appearance of the ship, and dramatically altered her famous boat deck forever. It’s worth noting however, that these were not the original davits installed in 1968, but during the ship’s 1987 rebuild.Both photos © Gary Butcher, used with permission
Memories of QE2’s Boat Deck as was.
For the first 15 years of her life, QE2’s lifeboat davits were painted grey. This, combined with the khaki colour of the boat deck superstructure, made the boats appear to float over the deck and helped give the ship a lower more modern profile and sleek lines.The lifeboats appear to float over the deck. 1982. © Cunard, with permission December 2007. Sunshine and the lifeboats’ shade in Zeebrugge © Rob Lightbody
In 2011 when I spent 3 days aboard the ship in Dubai, I walked those decks once again, with the lifeboats above protecting my bald head from the beating sun. In the evening, I sat under them gazing at the Dubai skyline, the hulls of the boats reflecting the light back down onto the teak deck. These are memories that her 2.5 million passengers will share with me.Dubai, April 2011. Light reflects down from the tenders’ hulls in Dubai © Rob Lightbody
Good reasons to remove them?
Whether we agree with what they’ve done or not, let’s try to put ourselves in their shoes and try to imagine why they’ve altered QE2 like this.
Michael Gallagher, Cunard’s Historian and QE2 expert, suggested immediately the news broke, that many of the rooms on the upper decks would now have vastly improved views. in fact, he informed us that Cunard had only been unable to add more balcony suites than they did, due to their views being blocked by the boats.
When trying to think of other reasons why they’d do this, I asked former Chief Engineer John Chillingworth if there was a technical reason. Maybe the old and cracked aluminium superstructure was the problem? John knew the ship inside and out, and had thoroughly inspected the ship in late 2012. He said there was no technical reason – and his QE2 Hotel conversion plan had been to retain them.
When QE2 entered service, she had more open deck space than any other ship in the world. Although it was reduced somewhat over the years, she still had lots of open deck space when she ended service in Dubai. However her boat deck was narrow, especially when passing the davits and their motors. Transatlantic joggers will remember this. This fact, combined with the outdoor lifestyle of Dubai nightlife, is assumed to be their main reason.
The conflict between practicalities and preservation.
So, I can imagine good reasons why they’ve done this, but the problem is that historic objects which are worth preserving are, by their very nature, not very practical objects. This is why most of us drive modern cars and not characterful old ones, and purpose built hotels tend to be rectangular with many identical rooms. Those of us who enjoy classic cars will say that the very enjoyment sometimes comes from how difficult they are to deal with! To attempt to make something more practical, can remove the whole reason you were preserving it in the first place. People upgrading historic old buildings know to be careful to preserve original features and retain character.
Doing it Right – SS RotterdamPhoto © Rob Lightbody
Having stayed aboard on a few occasions, I believe the wonderful SS Rotterdam hotel sets a benchmark on how to do a hotel-ship correctly. She shows just how good the final product can be, while keeping the spirit of the original ship largely intact. Many of the lessons can be applied to QE2 to retain the charms of a ship with the comforts of a modern hotel.
- Enlarged modern passenger accommodation, but with original furniture where possible.
- Engine rooms intact for viewing.
- The exterior completely unaltered and restored.
- Public spaces carefully altered, re-purposed or re-instated.
I have reached out to the team which is currently in charge of the project to redevelop QE2, but they did not wish to comment except to confirm work is ongoing, and they don’t wish to say anything “at this early stage”.
They clearly have an epic challenge on their hands with QE2, the scale of the project is the reason nobody’s succeeded with QE2 in Dubai so far. I do wish them well and I still hope to one day stay on Hotel QE2, I just hope they manage to balance the practicalities of running a modern hotel in Dubai, with their treatment of what is still arguably the most famous ship in the world. After 9 years, however, I’m afraid I won’t be holding my breath.
I am interested to hear your comments below, or on our forum. Were they right to remove the davits? Do you think we will see a Hotel QE2 open in Dubai?
Rob Lightbody created The QE2 Story Forum in 2009. Its members have created the 2017 QE2 calendar which is out now, and are organising a major QE2 Conference in Clydebank for the 50th anniversary of her launch there.
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About The Author
- Paul Ritchens January 20, 2017
Having sailed on Qe2 ,stayed on the original queen Mary and also on Rotterdam , I would say that ss Rotterdam is certainly the best model to follow . It is superb .
- Robert Klein January 20, 2017
I do not believe in a QE2 hotel in Dubai. One of the reasons Rotterdam is quite popular is also in a large part thanks to the fact she is in a place where she is historicly connected to. I think. QE2 has no single true bond with that place. I really feel that a project of this scale and historic significance can only be carried out in the UK or US. Money is not the most important thing imo, connection is.
- Clive Harvey January 20, 2017
Firstly, let me say that I have never been a great QE2 fan. I sailed on her once and whilst I had a memorable voyage the ship failed to exercise any magic for me. That said, I appreciate the fact that she was a significant liner and one that many though worthy of preservation. I wholly agree that if you are going to embark on the preservation of anything of ‘historic’ value and interest then there is a certain responsibility to maintain the item in such a way that it retains its original look and feel – otherwise why bother? I do drive a classic car (and have no desire for a modern one) I also live in a period house (and don’t wish to live in a modern one). The car has, by necessity had to have certain mechanical modifications to ensure that I can keep driving it and the house has modern bathrooms and kitchen, so that I can comfortably live in it. We do have to make compromises sometimes! When it comes to the preservation of a former ocean liner one expects that there will have to be changes in order to make it a viable proposition as hotel, museum, conference centre etc but when the vessel being preserved has a particularly iconic external appearance, such as both Rotterdam and the QE2 then one has a ‘responsibility’ to retain that appearance. Again, otherwise, why bother? So yes, I think that QE2’s davits and boats should be reinstated.
- anthony nicholas January 20, 2017
As always, the real problem here continues to be a complete radio silence from those in authority. That said…
Perhaps keeping the boats and davits on one side of the ship would have worked for maritime enthusiasts, while removing those on the other does, indeed, create more welcome open deck lounging space, as Rob states in this piece. Best of both worlds?
I’m cautiously optimistic; more so than for many years. Remedial work on any scale has to be seen as a positive sign, though of course the current intent-and the result- is unknown and that, as such, will continue to generate unease.
Opening up the ship is all well and fine but first- please, please- let’s open up the lines of communication?
- David Osborne January 20, 2017
Being an optimist, the Carnival 10 years clause of QE2 not being allowed to operate as a cruiseship will lapse soon. Perhaps she will sail again next year. I’m sure the sales would rocket.
- Mark Thompson January 20, 2017
Some very good comments, especially regarding the need for the ship to be located, as with the Rotterdam, at a port or at least country with which it is associated.
Why are the current owners so secretive?
- Kenneth Eden January 21, 2017
Que sera, sera
- Justin Higner January 22, 2017
As a ship lover and and artist, I think the ship should, in case of nay other issues, be moved to Scotland and to Glasgow as a museum, hotel, and attraction. I wish her the best, though. Whatever prolongs her life, preserves the overall character and reflecting her long history, and makes her viable is whats ultimately best. Success for her anywhere in the world is good news. I’m cautiously optimistic.
- Clive Harvey January 23, 2017
Presumably, had there been someone with the money, vision and initiative in Scotland, and that the city of Glasgow were willing and able to make a valuable area of water front property available, then the QE2 would already be operating in a static role right there. Rotterdam keeps on being cited as a perfect example of just how to preserve a redundant ocean liner but one must never lose sight of the fact that she is also a perfect example of why not to get involved with such a complex and money-gobbling venture.
- Shawn Dake January 23, 2017
Keeping in mind the original, now long-since-failed, plans for her in Dubai and the seeming insensitivity to historic preservation or even well-formulated plans for the ship, I personally do not hold out much hope for any kind of acceptable conversion to hotel for the lovely QE2. So much is the pity. The removal of the lifeboats and attendant equipment certainly points to an ill-advised start to any refurbishment in a static role.
- Rob Lightbody January 24, 2017
Part of the reason she’s not on the Clyde, is the same reason she’s not anywhere else remotely suitable. *She was never put up for sale*. This meant nobody got a chance to put together a proposition for her, before she was so far away that it would cost tens of millions simply to retrieve her.
- Gavin Rashbrook January 24, 2017
Im sorry to say she looks derelict without her lifeboats and davits like a house with no windows. when i see her like this the united states comes to mind im wondering what parts of her will dissapear next.
- Lucy January 25, 2017
Of course the ship is for sale now, and was for sale in 2008. Most things in the world are, if the price is right. Your £100,000 house would be, if I offered £50 million for it, for example!
The point is that no one rushed in 2008 to beat the offer from Dubai and no one has come forward since, except for the odd fantasist with no money!
It was bought in the heat of the moment, at the top of a financial bubble that no one, and especially no one in Dubai ever thought would end, but it did, immediately after purchase and it went from being an asset to a liability overnight.
People complain of “radio silence”, but it is unrealistic to expect a commercial company to reveal its plans before they are ready. Try e-mailing a hotel chain and ask them where they are planning to open next, or a car company and ask them what their new model, to be launched in 2 years time, will look like and see what the response is. Such information is commercially sensitive.
People expect it to be a perfectly preserved museum piece. Most government owned museums have had to be free of charge in the UK for last 15 years, and the result is a 50% increase in visitor numbers.
Few tourists to Dubai would be interested in paying to look at a redundant ship from the late 1960’s/1980s/1990s, depending on which refit applied to the area in which they were touring.
In a country with so called 7 star hotels with amazing high floor views over the Gulf, there is no market for tourists to stay in scruffy little cabins in, the bowels of a ship, that were last refurbished over 20 years ago.
So it is hardly surprising that the likely plan is to refurbish the best suites at the top of the ship, remove the redundant lifeboats and try to create some view over the port from the rooms.
It’s what happens to redundant buildings when they are re-purposed. Battersea Power station for example, or the Baltic Flour Mill, people cannot live in a power station, or view works of art in a mill without some serious conversion work.
The QE2 is not in Clydebank because it is an unsuitable area. The local paper reported last November that 1 in 4 children in the area were living in poverty. Neighbouring Glasgow and North Ayrshire are worse.
John Brown’s shipyard was acquired by a Local and National Government partnership over 13 years ago, and seemingly every year since 2002 there has some announcement planning permissions and of major redevelopments, the last one being March 2016. Almost a year on, what building work has happened? Why is no commercial developer interested?
The truth is that the QE2 is scrap, just like the USS United States. It’s worn out, it’s old fashioned and unsuitable for the modern world, however because of the purchase price paid in 2008, Dubai have to try to recoup some of their investment, rather than face an enormous write-off.
People ask why Cunard and it’s parent company are disinterested, but the ship is their past, they are trading successfully with their modern ships. Why should they care, anymore than you do about the car or house you once owned?
- Clive Harvey January 25, 2017
Hard-hitting truths, Lucy. Sadly, for many the truth hurts.
- Rob Lightbody January 25, 2017
I agree with most of Lucy’s comment , but would like to make the following replies.
Yes, she obviously was for sale or they wouldn’t have sold her to Dubai, however Cunard had publicly said she had a few years left, and the announcement of the Dubai deal was that she was already sold. So nobody else put together a deal. When the Dubai problems became apparent, as I said above, she was expensively far awy to retrieve.
The sale price seemed ridiculously high for an old worn out ship, BUT I have been advised that the value of the brand name and appearance of QE2 in 2008 was very substantial. It costs a huge amount of money to create a new brand with a reputation like that. It wasn’t just about the hunk of old metal.
She shouldn’t be considered a potential museum, but a hotel, like the SS Rotterdam is first and foremost. In the right place (crucially) she could have made money in this role.
Nobody reasonable expects perfect preservation. Rotterdam was very drastically altered for her hotel role. But she still looks the same from the outside.
Yes its very sad to say the whole area around where QE2 was born is now very poor. In fact its heart-breaking for me because I used to go and meet my dad after work at John Browns as late as the 1990s and it was still bustling. This is one of the reasons we were desparate to take our big QE2 conference there in September, and why its so exciting to be bringing some big maritime names back there once again.
What I believe could have worked and been profitable is QE2 either in New York, Southampton or Liverpool, converted like Rotterdam, backed by Cunard. She was a true icon.
- D Welsh January 25, 2017
Alas- this ship is stuck in the wrong place…period.
Yes she is iconic…yes, beloved, yes had a glorious career though I respectfully submit to Rob that while he feels she is the most famous… uh-uh… that distinction goes to QM…chopped up though her innards are.
The Brits blew it… Cunard blew it (as did her corp. parent) but what to do with a ship that I consider a vessel of transitional design: both modern and sleek and decidedly old fashioned.
Yes- one of the last great blue-water liners… but, oddly, a ship that while beloved, off the mark for hard core preservation.
So.. what to do? My sense: she belongs back in England. The boats and davits could be replaced…
- Lucy January 26, 2017
Cunard didn’t “blow it”, (and what on earth has it got to do with “the Brits” as Cunard is American owned?)
In 2008, Cunard had a 40 year old ship, that had last been refurbished 14 years prior to that, which had become a bit of misfit. It was designed as an ocean liner, to blast across the Atlantic to the tastes and expectations of the 1960s. The jet age glamour came and went. Transatlantic liners came and went, seemingly for good, but then suddenly Butlins style holidays and package tour holidays altered to being afloat, onto something called cruise ships, and a seemingly unstoppable demand for ever bigger, better and more glamorous new cruise ships arrived, with ever more impressive or surprising features.
Unfortunately as the QE2 had been designed in the era of the manual typewriter and for a totally different purpose, and whilst it was re-purposed as a cruise ship out of necessity, it had none of the features that the rivals had, and whilst it traded on perceived glamour, it was a bit like that dusty old country house hotel, where you would gladly exchange some of the faded glamour for a gym and a decent swimming pool and a modern bathroom.
It is a bit like driving a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow from 1968 now, whilst still pretending that it is the best car in the world, when everyone knows that a something like a new Kia is better is almost every respect.
Yes, there was a market for, shall we call them “classic cruises”? With no disrespect to them, or their business model intended, or to their customers, may I call it the Fred. Olsen market? The “Last of the Summer Wine” market, if you like. And it’s not a sustainable market. The Ipad generation will not be content with a manual typewriter, when they reach Norman Clegg’s and Nora Batty’s age.
Cunard cannot turn their Silver Shadow into something which will beat a new Mercedes S Class with yet another refurbishment, whatever they do, because it is impossible to add all those expected balcony cabins, and all the other features that the Mercedes customers expected and received.
Even if they could, would it be commercially sensible to refit a 40 year old ship once again? Even the engines by now were over 20 years old.
(A point seemingly lost on people who witter endlessly about subsequent damage done to these engines. Note to the witterers – it doesn’t matter, no one is going to power a ship with 30 year old engines. “Sorry about yet another power cut, but the engines are 30 years old and we cannot get the parts….”)
It was not as if Cunard’s parent company was short of money, and, say this quietly, but sister line Holland America had more modern, but still elegant and luxury ships, so it was hardly surprising that a new ship had to be commissioned.
What to do with the QE2? Keep it as a “classic ship”, (code for “tatty and worn out”)? Perhaps Mr. Olsen would be interested in it? Perhaps a bit big for him, and perhaps the cost of the refurbishments required would put him off? Scrap value was probably £20 million at best.
And then these chaps from Dubai come along, with money burning a hole in their pocket. Seemingly there was more building work of a ritzy, glitzy nature going on there, than everywhere else in the world put together.
They have a plan about creating something on the sea, and every celebrity etc in the world will be falling over themselves to buy into this development. The “money no object” types, and the QE2 would do nicely as a centrepiece. How does £60 odd million (allegedly) sound Mr. Ariston?
What does he do? Look for better offers? Likely? Keep the ship and hope the chaps from the desert repeat or increase their offer next year? Or perhaps sell it to Mr. Olsen in a few years? Or hope that scrap triples in price?
And lets remind ourselves what happened by 2009 in Dubai and the rest of the world. That was a once in a lifetime offer. Ariston called that one perfectly. Imagine if he hadn’t. World recession, bookings through the floor, £40 million loss (scrap value versus Dubai offer).
Please can we also not pretend that Southampton or Liverpool would have been a suitable location for the QE2. Look at a booking consolidator website at hotel prices for next week and for August. In Southampton next week, prices range from £40 to £100. In August £55 to £185. Even in August £100 a night buys you a 4 star hotel. Next week, £40 buys you a budget chain hotel, not a room above a pub, or some dirty B&B with a scary owner.
Liverpool is even cheaper. The same week in August as I searched for Southampton at the Malmaison is £46. The Malmaison no less! I don’t think anyone sees a Malmaison as a budget or a tatty hotel. In Liverpool, it is a purpose built hotel right next to the Liver Building. Hardly a rubbish location is it? Yet they can only get £46 for it, midweek, in August, for a double room!
How exactly could anyone refurbish the QE2 to the Malmaison standard, sort out the 50 year old plumbing, tanks, find a use for all the space that is necessary on a ship but isn’t in a hotel, and see a return on investment for £46 per night? Imagine that conversation with the bank or venture capitalists! Expect them to throw you into the Mersey!
Please don’t say that people would pay more because it was the QE2. I accept that a few of the active members from Mr Lightbody’s website forum would, but there are not enough of them.
- Kenneth Eden January 26, 2017
The dry heat may have helped preserve her in some way, Sand blasting? Good paint can camouflage the pock marks.
Static attraction, well, not many places want any ship tied up eating up valuable water front real estate, regardless of tax fees. Next to the INTREPID might work, Hotel?, look at the decades of fraught and despair the QUEEN MARY has been plagued with in Long Beach, despite so many good interventions, YET she keeps on surviving. Scrapping? Nothing else to add there.
So, fit the grand old gal out, a refit would cost untold amounts of money, yet, rebuild and re-sail her. She needn’t be called “queen” .
Not long ago the ROTTERDAM was renamed REMBRANDT, not much came of it, but, an attempt was made. Why not for QE2? Of course, a rebuild may entail massive altering to her exterior, new cabins, suites, balconies and a riot of who knows what.
Then again…….fit her out in the shell she now has, capitalize on her legendary liner self, capture he legendary heritage, and make her a suitable true liner competitor.
I for one would sail her in a heartbeat.
- Kenneth Eden January 27, 2017
What ships have you, Lucy, actually sailed? What is your favorite cruis line, port(s) and ship? Do you like formal, or casual, are you a good tipper?????
When the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 was built the entire purpose of the ship was to be constructed as a dual purpose ship, liner on the Atlantic, cruise ship in other waters. DUAL PURPOSE, I heard that for the first few years while I sailed the ship. And good for her role she was, excellent, in fact. She sailed very very full, save for the recession of the 1980’s, when several ships were withdrawn from other cruise lines, or some cruise lines went out of business, while others consolidated and some weer retired. Many ships and cruise lines were gone in a poof back in the 1970’s, oil was the culprit then.
- D Welsh January 27, 2017
I said the “Brits blew it” because QE2 was/is a decidedly British icon…created by Brits for a steamship line steeped in history. No one knew that the Arison’s would eventually become the mega-monster cruise company they presently are- gobbling up such lines as Cunard and Holland America for instance. But saving this ship from the shores of Alang? Carnival could care less…I submit perhaps, Britons might have.
WOW…such passion from those who profess to know about ships. As I stated earlier…QE2 was a liner that from her inception, fit her dual roles just fine, Yes…she was a vehicle of her day and for sure… afforded the type of high quality travel that so many came to expect of such a vessel. As mentioned, she was what referred to as a ship of transition. Once transatlantic travel by ship was passe…she continued with her 2nd life..well somewhat anyway.
Ultimately… the bottom line rules…and is the reality of anyone in business.
Thing is this: is she truly a vessel worthy of true historic preservation?
Should we argue that she is the last of the last…etc etc and thus should be preserved so as to present the
experience, feel, smell of travel in her?
She is not Queen Mary… that ship screams of history and deserves to be visited…
Purists have already griped about what was done to that great ship…but I submit…she still feels like she could put to sea…and walking her halls, decks, and staying on a ship the Winston Churchill sailed in speaks volumes.
Alas… the fate of QE2 is a complete crap shoot.
An example of a pricey object that historians will debate about for some time. (See the arguments over the SS United States)
Is there a kind of historical maritime obligation to preserve this particular ship?
Fortunately the folks in Long Beach envisioned the potential for QM…at least she is still intact.
I have my doubts about QE2… if only because she just may not attract visitors who will care that much for her role in nautical history.
- Brett Bachmann January 28, 2017
The responses to this post are indicative of different emotions and views. However, with lifeboats removed, it paints a gloomy picture.The time that has since passed, is gone. And I would imagine, general public interest as well ?
- Kenneth Eden January 28, 2017
Interesting, to say Carnival could care less…assuming the care was not warm and fuzzy for the QE2, well, Cunard dumped the QUEEN ELIZABETH with a non-competition clause that proved a failure, since the ship was sold, sailed and sank. Don’t even think of competing with the Q2, although, a university at sea was hardly fair competition,. There are two examples of two former Cunarders that sailed and were popular with Sitmar.
Having the QE2 sit in Dubai, not Dubai’s fault, she could have been stuck someplace else, is proof that she was not to sail by anyone in any guise or role to compete with the QUEEN MARY 2. The QM2 may be the “last of the last”, however, that sentiment was accorded to the QE2 and lamented, and poof , along comes Mary.
- D Welsh January 28, 2017
Yes… and yes: that Cunard (Carnival) had plans for the QM2 all along was a given: such a project was years in the making…leaving QE2 to fend for herself so to speak.
But again…this all really has to do with… what? the leftover emotions of “fans” of a ship that played out her usefulness? We all know any vessel…from the moment a keel is laid down ( or shop-floor assembled) she has a given lifespan…and, with luck and damned good marketing, becomes a commercial success. For sure she played her role- but very few ever really foresee the day she gets dragged up the beaches and gutted/destroyed…I can’t help but see the images of France/Norway…
So…again I state simply… she was important in her day… but just short of majorly important to historically preserve. Yeah… if she could have found a home better suited for as a floating “building” (such as the QM is classified as) fine… unless a really rich entrepreneur steps up… well you know the rest.
Anyway… if perhaps just for the sake that she still looks like an ocean-going ship….that alone would arguably demand preservation… for all one need do is look at today’s mega-monster floating cities and voila:
SAVE our SHIP comes to mind.
Allure of the Seas is a massive building that happens to float… oh.. and has a bow thrown in for good measure.
Does anyone ever stop and think- do I need an amusement park built into my ship as normal?
If I want water-slides and such I’ll go to 6 Flaggs.
Now I can hear the hard-core cruisers out there howling…. this guy has NO idea about today’s demanding public…Glitz/glitter Pa-Zazzzzz and… keep me from even knowing I’m on a ship seems to be what the cruise market desires. Your vacation merely (happens) to float… and move from one place to another.
OK- when asked, paradoxically, what is their best times on these 14 deck :”ships”…
answer: days at sea… not in port.
- Sean Sparks January 28, 2017
I have read everyone’s remarks with great interest especially Lucy’s but I won’t digress or make a huge statement so I will be very brief.
As much as everyone has a view and the only real that stands out is the fact she is in the wrong location but it’s Dubai that bought her so it’s Dubai that has the say but,
My grandfather worked for Cunard for 51 years, my father worked for Cunard for 12 years, I’ve worked for Cunard since I was 18 and I’ll be 52 this year so obviously Cunard is in my blood and my passion for the company and it’s brand is immense, I even have the Cunard Lion as a tattoo on my arm but,
When I last went onboard the QE2 on the 8 November 2008 which was her final departure from Southampton bound for Dubai I kissed her on her hull as I walked of and yes I actually did kiss her as I did with her bottom whilst in dry dock in Bremerhaven but,
It was then that I fully realised that her time was up, she was old, out dated, narrow with low ceilings, huge amount of plumbing issues and compared to more modern cruise ships an absolute pain as to loading stores and baggage, this gave me great comfort to be honest and it made her final departure a more pleasant experience knowing that I had finally realised her time was up and with new tonnage within the Cunard fleet the QE2 was out dated and just didn’t fit in with image of the then Cunard Line who wanted the most modern and youngest cruise fleet so QE2 was no more and I appreciate that but,
I’m not holding my hopes for her future though and i have already got a picture of her in my head on the beach at Alang, I find it makes me feel better rather than wake up one day totally unprepared to find out she is being scrapped.
Lucy may be a bit harsh but the truth often is!
- D Welsh January 29, 2017
My college roomie’s father and grandpa…were shipfitters… and worked on the QM. There role: carpenters…and I recall the stories how meticulous they were in fitting all that beautiful wood aboard. Yes… those were clearly the days of building those great ships. Yes- it instills all kinds of memories…an reading your comments reinforced the fact that, as I
mentioned earlier, the moment ship goes down the ways… or perhaps its “float-out” the clock starts ticking. Yours is another excellent example of been there-done that- with the brutal reality of a ship’s fate tucked away on some distant shore. (Sadly Alang?)
That said… Dubai will realize they probably made a mistake… we all know what the end looks like.
Bravo to you for sharing your experiences.
- Kenneth Eden January 30, 2017
Sean Sparks I really, really enjoyed your sentiments and enlightenment on Cunard from your very own perspective. I sailed the QE2 during her inaugural season and sailed many times, along with sailings in CUNARD AMBASSADOR, both COUNTESS and Cunard/ NAC/ SAGAFJORD and VISTAFJORD, even the DYNASTY, QUEEN MARY 2, QUEEN VICTORIA, not yet sailed QUEEN ELIZABETH. My diamond status is enviable to say the least.
One may wish to consider what Chandris Cruises accomplished back in the day, when there were very few new builds, to take an old ship, modernize her and sail her SS “The VICTORIA”, an old relic gussied up and pretty much in a old-way state inside, her Waikiki Dining Room was I was told totally intact from her old says with Inres Line, as the MV VICTORIA,again, an old relic that Incres rebuilt. and Chandris enlivened.
Such a rebuild could happen with QE2, she could ply the Atlantic and offer a cruise with a more halcyon aura, and not compete openly for the grandeur of the new QM2.
- Kenneth Barton February 1, 2017
Stick a fork in her. She’s done.
- Lucy February 2, 2017
No it couldn’t, Kenneth Ede. That is the point. Look at Mr Lightbody’s site with regard to the former Saga Ruby ship. No buyers.
You reference Mr Sparks’ comments. He says that the QE2’s time “was up”. He has worked for Cunard for most of his life. Believe him!
Have you ever restored a classic E-Type Jaguar? The restoration alone costs more (on a car that you already own), than buying a new F-Type from Jaguar, and the F-Type has features that had not been invented when the E-Type was new.
At least with a classic car, they don’t have to pass the same MOT, emissions and crash legislation than a new car does.
With a ship the SOLAS regulations apply to all, and post Costa Concordia, they were tightened.
It would be cheaper to build a new QE2 replica, than to refurbish the QE2, because there is nothing worth saving. Everything is dated and worn out, as some of it is 50 years old.
Even then, you would struggle, and have to make many changes just to comply with SOLAS and all the other current legislative requirements.
And crucially, having done that, you still would not have a ship that has the same luxury, features or space as the QM2 and you would have to charge the same fares or more, because of the cost of the refurbishment.
Who is going to pay the same or more for less? Not enough people is the answer. Not enough to make it viable.
The loss making parts of All Leisure Group which went into administration last month were its cruise ship operations. Those were the parts that the Adminstrators were unable to sell off. They had been loss making for many years, according to the Adminstrators.
Is Fred. Olsen back in profit? It made a loss on its cruise ship operations in 2014.
Perhaps there is a connection between the operation of old, small ships and making a loss?
The cruise market is challenging presently, as many destinations are “off-limits”, because of political and terrorist situations. Destinations that smaller ships traditionally went to. Therefore all ships tend to go to the same destinations, as there are fewer that they can safely go to. They leave from, end at and sail identical routes, so why would you go on a ship that is older, more cramped and has less features on the same route and for the same price?
- Kenneth Eden February 2, 2017
Lucy you do seem a rather bitter one, and supposing what you think anyone would and should do with their money, it is not yours, and what anyone wishes to do with be it flush down a real toilet, rebuild a liner or house or classic car, it is quite up to them –
I did ask what ships you have sailed, or cruises, and I still ask……….
- Clive Harvey February 2, 2017
Yes Lucy, Fred Olsen Cruises is in profit. Also, largely for the reasons you stated regarding areas being off limits, is what brought about the end for Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery.
- Sean Sparks February 2, 2017
I appreciate your comments they are so brutal but totally honest as well and I applaud you for that.
There are so many reasons and you have only touched the surface but some people just don’t fully understand or grasp the reality of it all.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 or as I call her ‘my baby girl’ (because I call the Queen Mary 2 ‘my big baby girl’) will always live on in my memories as she will with many other people along with all the great liners of the past but Lucy tells it as it is and she is totally correct in everything she quotes.
- D Welsh February 2, 2017
Hey…so Lucy was trying to make a point, if a bit overly expressed- QE2 is a problematic financial sinkhole that would require more than just mega-bucks to recommission… it would require extensive TLC…and as we know that has its own costs. All one need do is look at the emotional roller-coaster we went thru when we all thought the Big U would be rescued.
Right out of the gate: people purists slammed what would become of that once great liner….why bother etc. Well…for sure it would have been super…but to what end? No company in its right mind would spend tens of millions on an emotion… Saber The Ship!
So…as sad as it sounds…those who think they know better will do what the ultimate bottom line demands.
Let’s just say Peter Knego will have to (respectively)
wait to start another DVD…
- D Welsh February 2, 2017
OOOps! TYPO- I meant…
SAVE the Ship!
(so much for auto correct)
- Kenneth Eden February 3, 2017
I sailed ROYAL ODYSSEY, one of the worst ships both in physical interior condition, engine maintenance and hotel and restaurant offerings back in the ’80’s. Another dud was SS RHAPSODY, a valiant endeavor, just awful during my sailing.
The SS FRANCE was one of those out of daters, yet, she was revived and underwent a massive rebuild, not to my liking, but, she was adored as the SS NORWAY.
So, to just slap the end of the line and insist the QE2 has no reason for a new life is ridiculous. A ship is as good as the hull, the engines and interior fittings are all changeable.
Thank you Clive for pointing out the harsh reality of Swan Hellenic and Voyages , I did read where the MINERVA was not part of the Swan Hellenic demise. And indeed, good news for Fred Olsen.
- Clive Harvey February 3, 2017
Kenneth, Minerva was indeed caught up in the Swan Hellenic demise but hey! great news today that Swan Hellenic is not dead. G Adventures, that has already bought part of the failed All Leisure Group has announced that they have also bought Swan Hellenic and Minerva and may even restart cruises later this year. Also heard that Voyager, of sister company Voyages of Discovery has probably been acquired for further service. So not all is bleak.
- Alex Naughton February 7, 2017
The QE2 is in Dubai and owned by them so it is up to them what happens to her at the end of the day. In the last year or so I did work closely with local authorities on the Clyde and with the Scottish Government to explore returning her to the Clyde. However the main issue was the lack of clarity from Dubai on whether she was available. Without indication that they would be willing to sell her nothing could proceed. But if that were to happen then yes I agree that a location to consider could be the Clyde subject to business case. As to Southampton and Liverpool locations these are out of the question as there are no berths available to take her. If she were ever returned to the UK then I feel that a scenario like Rotterdam would be very suitable as an inspiration with her becoming primarily a hotel, retail and entertainment venue with some maritime exhibition include as a secondary aspect. It may be possible but is likely to be expensive. However at present her future is in the hands of her owners.
- Darren February 9, 2017
Interesting article Rob and great to have a recent update on the current perils of this beautiful ship. Sadly, whatever the various opinions are of the lifeboats removal I’m cynical. More alarmed even of her current interior condition… Reasons being:
1) Removal of the lifeboats during 2016 shows some form of activity. What is unknown. Reading many of the reasoning mentioned it does not only highlights the fact that something during 2016 occurred (good or bad). In any event if the removal of davits/boats are reasoned for hotel conversion I think the priority is ultimately her interiors. And current condition. I’m cynical if their removal has anything to do with priority works for hotel conversion. It would be a less prioritised “to do” item.
Moving on to my second point:
2) Her interiors. Alarming to learn that her midships area has been used an access point for industrial workers accessing other ships. The “limited” photos of recent times online of her interiors paint a very sad state of internal conditions. Significantly, rot. While these photos were taken some time ago, it being realistic to accept things have fallen further into a sad state.
The fact that current guardians of this ship see more significance/priority on externals than internals I am somewhat even more concerned of what 2017 holds for this beautiful and most historic liner as what is occurring does not appear to be very practical of purported intentions which since 2008 have been very secretive in the least…..
- Neil Whitmore February 19, 2017
With the building of a new yacht marina in Dubai I would not be supprised if she was converted into a hotel and club house for the marina !
- Robert August 4, 2017
Thank you Rob any news since January?
- Steven adams August 16, 2017
Well, I hope for the best for her like many do. Could she still sail?, I’d love to see it, but otherwise a respectful conversion and Southampton back on her stern haha. Fingers crossed something good finally happens to her.
- Peter Smith August 31, 2017
This saga has gone on long enough. It is impossible to make money as a hotel ship. This best thing now would be to light up the cutting torches and take some money back from the scrap value. I believe in 2019 the ship can be sold on without penalty and it can be sold to the breaking yards in Alang, India. They have broken many large liners there including the SS Norway/France and should be able to chop up this ship with no problems.
- Hank September 1, 2017
The Rotterdam is an example of a successful hotel ship. The Queen Mary is an example of a ship that’s important enough that it is kept around through the good times and bad. It’s certainly difficult, however.
- Richard Young September 16, 2017
Bring QE2 to London and moor her adjacent to the Greenwich Maritime Museum as the National Memorial to the British Merchant Navy with museum and hotel facilities throughout the ship, with all restoration and asbestos removal being paid for by the heritage lottery fund and all work done by British workers. We preserve old castles and houses belonging to an aristocracy that don’t give a damn about this country or her people and who have handed their properties to the National Trust to avoid death duties with the public forking out for the preservation. This ship is unique and the last of her kind – a true ocean liner AND built in Britain – save her for Britain, on the Thames at Greenwich.
- Randy Lahey September 27, 2017
Yup, she must go to Alang. Where many others have died. Hallowed names like Seaway Queen, Canadian Trader, Oakglen, Canadian Venture, The Mapleglen…
- Onaroll March 17, 2018
Ever notice how many fine ships went to the bottom while under tow to the breakers? Lurline, Pasteur, Shalom, Gripsholm, Constitution, Independence, America, etc. Several large military ones as well. Hard to keep a towline on a powerless ship without steerage in a gale. Hard to keep water out of the motionless shafting glands with deactivated bilgewater removal machinery. Only the United States made an uneventful dead ship transatlantic “round trip voyage.” Unless QE2 has operating diesels I would truly fear her own loss in any overwater transfer.
- Hank March 31, 2018
It is nice to see that the QE2 is finally being refitted for hotel use. The ship just emerged fully painted and from a drydock hotel conversion. Here’s wishing them the best!
- Hank March 31, 2018
And here’s hoping I can stay on it sometime after her grand opening this year.
- Ann-Marie Flack April 19, 2018
Not one of the comments mentions the original passengers on her maiden voyage out of Southampton. That was me at 22 emigrating to Canada. I will never forget sailing up the Hudson River with the fireboats and their hoses, lots of yachts and small ships providing an escort as we passed the Statue of Liberty. At that time, there was also a trans-atlantic air race going on between the Post Officer Tower (if I remember rightly). Royal Navy Harrier “jump jets” flew over the ship. It was the most moving and exciting time. May 2, 1969 will forever remain in my memory as a very special date. I wonder how many QE2’s maiden voyage passengers are still out there?
Finally, of all the above comments that I read, Richard Young seems the most sensible. Her permanent resting place should be at Greenwich and I don’t disagree with her turning her into a hotel.
If the British government can dig up the Henry VIII’s war ship the “Mary Rose” – surely funding could be found.
- Ed Evans May 30, 2018
I have just finished reading many of these topic replies.
My personal belief is that the QE2 is scrap metal.
The cost of maintaining a moored ship would run into millions every year. You cannot compare the upkeep of a land based Hotel with a Ship. The other main issue is the location. With an average temp of 40*C year round who wants to sit out doors in that? When steel heats up it become like a furnace. This ship was built to Cruise not snooze.
- Donald Turner June 1, 2018
The Hikawa Maru, Bore, Minghua, Doulos, and SS Great Britain are also preserved. The next ship that should follow us the MV Funchal or SS United States.
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