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Queen of the Waves Queen of the Waves
by Clint Wayne
2008-06-04 09:13:50
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Various poignant moments as you pass through life help to make you realise you are getting older, so this week's visit by the Queen to bade farewell to the QE2 before she sails off to Dubai and her final resting place hit home as I thought, “Hang-on a minute she was only launched yesterday!”

Hey! I can even remember as a kid going on school trips to Southampton dockyard and the excitement of guessing which of the great liners either the Queen Mary or the Queen Elizabeth were going to be in dock. It was always the number of funnels that gave the game away long before you reached the liner as the Queen Elizabeth had two but the Queen Mary had the superior three.

The QE2 was launched by the Queen in 1967 and was first to sign the liner's visitors book so it was quite fitting that she was also the last to sign on the 55th anniversary of her coronation. It was a historic moment back in 1967 as the Queen used the same pair of golden scissors as her mother used when she launched the Queen Elizabeth and her grand-mother launched the Queen Mary.

Also at the farewell bash was a frail looking Baroness Thatcher who requisitioned the QE2 for the Royal Navy as a troop ship during the Falklands War in 1982 and played a key role in what was probably Maggie’s finest hour. It is also worth noting that all her 650 civilian crew volunteered for the dangerous mission to the South Atlantic.

Built at the John Browns shipyard in Scotland, she was the flagship of the Cunard Line and when launched forty years ago was considered to be the last of the true beautiful ocean liners cruising majestically across the Atlantic in record times and was even the first to offer en-suite facilities and panoramic restaurant views.

Today’s modern cruise ships, although credulously luxurious, have the appearance of a floating block of flats offering the facilities of a small city with their swimming pools, theatres, shopping malls, ice-skating rinks and even rock climbing walls. The QE2 was the equivalent of the Orient Express travelling the oceans of the world with grace, style and elegance and always attracting admiring glances whenever she made port.

She had two close calls while in service the first when she was extensively damaged when running aground on rocks just south of Cuttyhunk Island, Nova Scotia, and again in 1995 when she encountered a freak 95 foot [29 metre] high wave caused by Hurricane Luis. Captain Warwick commented “that the wave was as high as the white cliffs of Dover”.

Unlike her predecessors, the Queen Mary now a tacky tourist attraction in Long Beach, California, and the Queen Elizabeth sunk in Hong Kong harbour in mysterious circumstances and a location in a James Bond film, the QE2 is to be restored to her original Sixties' decor and used as a luxury hotel on the artificial islands of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.

Her new owner Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem has promised “that she is coming to a home where she will be cherished” which is a heart-warming statement to all the travellers that have fond memories of their time spent on the Queen of the Waves.


    
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