Is the QE2 heading to Cape Town?
More sad news about the Old Lady of the Seas.



The Virginian-Pilot published two full pages with this marvelous story written by my wife Deborah, it's the best way to end this blog.

Thank you for reading.

It has been a great journey in great company.

The QE2 and all of you.

Enjoy it!

I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second,
“May God bless her and all who sail in her.”
Queen Elizabeth II, 20 September 1967

Dear friends,

You asked what a trip aboard QE2, the “grande dame” of liners, was really like, so I thought I’d sit down and put some thoughts on paper. Forgive the tardiness of this letter. I needed some distance between me and the ship to put it all into perspective.

Day one: The alarm buzzed at 6:45 a.m. and … just kidding! But I do want to give you a bit of background. We boarded QE2 on Oct.16, the start of what was to be her “Farewell Trans-Atlantic Crossing” from New York City to Southampton, England. For me, this would be the return journey my grandparents had begun more than 80 years before. On Sept. 30, 1921, four members of my family left their Welsh valley for a one-way ticket to America. One of them, just 3½ years old at the time, was my father. Another legendary liner, Aquitania, carried them safely into New York Harbor and to a new life. I never did ask my father if he had any memory of it.

Despite my own sentimental notions and the lure of QE2, I must admit that I was apprehensive about spending six days and five nights afloat, captive inside a steel hull. The claustrophobia set in as soon as we embarked. Everything looked so, well, airtight. And dispensers of antibacterial soap were everywhere. “Never touch the railings!” one American warned me. I told my son, Tâm, “Don’t put your hands in your mouth for the entire trip!” Funny how the fear of germs can wipe out any notion of luxury.

I wasn’t prepared for my first impressions, either. I had read that QE2 had been updated a few times since 1967, and while any ’60s interior looked positively modern today, the ship was awash in a wave of ’80s mauve and teal, without any particular style or glamour. But a big surprise was just around the corner. A few weeks before sailing, my husband had created an Internet blog about the crossing. It was chock-full of ocean liner history and imagery, and someone in Cunard’s PR office was impressed enough to bump us all the way up to Signal Deck, otherwise known as first class. Goodbye, antibacterial; hello, goose down!

Now, Signal Deck was entirely gold and white, like a grandmother’s French provincial bedroom. The stateroom was gold, too, but with black accents. Not opulent, but classic, with a private deck and three chairs. The sliding-glass door could be opened any time of day or night; no fear of claustrophobia here. Within minutes, Tâm began to jump up and down on the double beds and wave the two plastic Union Jacks he received at embarkation. I let him jump just long enough to take a photo. He can show it to his children someday: “Here’s Daddy being goofy on a famous old ocean liner!”

Midway down the hall on this lofty deck was a tiny stainless steel galley. This was the purser station, and the staff was properly aproned in black and white, straight out of an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre.” The galley smelled slightly of coffee and chocolate, a hint of things to come. Then just before getting under way, as they say, a perky purser with an elfin face appeared in the doorway: “After you’ve unpacked, just leave your cases where they are, and when you return from dinner they’ll have magically disappeared!” Sweet. It might be best to stop right here and tell you that my favorite British expression in the world is “to be looked after.” Sailing on QE2 is, as you might expect, the ultimate being-looked-after experience. The difference between supreme service and basic, this trip taught me, is not the amount of time spent taking care of you, it’s the special way it’s done that makes you feel as if you were the only one to have ever been cared for on the ship, the only one to have slept in the bed, the only one to have had an egg white for breakfast, the only one to have had hot Belgian cocoa brought to your room at midnight. Oh, and by the way, in the ’70s, one of our pursers used to serve the crooner Dean Martin and his family hot chocolate every night. “They were ever so lovely,” she said.

So, how did we spend our days? Let’s just say they were full of shuffleboard games on a very windy deck, liner-paraphernalia shopping, yummy food, wonderful readings in the library and very British “Enrichment Lecture Programs” in the theater, on topics such as “Famous QE2 Celebrity Guests” and “The Diana I Remember and What Really Happened.” But I would rather tell you about the moments when, little by little, I fell in love with QE2. The first one happened on the third day at about 5 o’clock, when we sailed over Titanic’s resting place. We all looked down and, of course, didn’t see anything, but we felt as if we had.

The second was on the very last day, when Queen Mary 2, which had been sailing in tandem with QE2, left us to follow another course. Each ship shot a series of hornblasts to form a nautical last goodbye. QE2’s blast sounded hoarser, more elegant, as if the sound had come from a loving mother’s voice before slipping off to tend her garden, while her teen daughter jets off to party at Piccadilly Circus.

While these group events were lovely, mistyeyed affairs, there was one more private experience that trumped all others. For the first two days onboard, Tâm had avoided “the nursery.” Having attended U.K. schools, he was aware that in the British definition, a nursery doesn’t just mean a place for the diapered, crib-bound crowd – but nevertheless he avoided this children’s space like the plague. And it didn’t help that the previous day I had read in the literature that there was a “youth chill-out” room on the ship, only to learn that it had been closed for this trip, being the last go and all, and with so few children aboard. His hope of countless shipboard hours of Wii activity was gone, not to mention that the rite of passage to these “youth activities” began at age 8 – exactly the age he had just become. So, all in all, he was, in a word he loves to say, glum. Then, during dinner on the third night, between the salad and the entree, he agreed that I could escort him up to the Sun Deck and to the dreaded nursery. Too many hours of adult pursuits had beaten him down. The nursery entrance was charmingly placed between the QE2 kennels and the off-limits area where the officers live. When the door opened I couldn’t believe my eyes. This part of the ship had obviously never been touched. It appeared to be a perfectly preserved play area from the early years. The sea-life paintings on the wall were a bit yellowed, and the walls were festooned with dusty British flags. For Tâm it was a trip down memory lane, and a replica of his old play-group schoolroom in Wales. The little plastic cars you
ride in, the sandbox, the puzzles, the snack table – everything was there. He stepped on a skateboard and realized he didn’t need to push. QE2 whizzed him from starboard to port side like magic! He was hooked. I signed him in. The two child-minders said they’d “look after him” and to enjoy the evening. It’s noteworthy to say that the North Atlantic is not a body of water for pleasure-cruisers. It had been rough seas all day and increasingly so during the night. When I lived in the U.K., I learned about wind speed while listening to the midnight sea forecasts on Irish radio. I knew gale force 8 was close to 50 mph. This particular night, QE2 was listing quite a bit from side to side, as only she could do. The newer liners are fitted with large stabilizers for a smoother ride. Still, as we wobbled up to collect Tâm from the nursery, I was thinking how cozy the ship felt – and suddenly realized there was no place I would rather be. From a bird’s-eye view, we were just a pinpoint of light in this vast ocean. Insignificant. It was awe-inspiring to have this feeling of utter and complete safety in such a situation, especially when everything had seemed so very foreign at the start. The grand QE2 was no longer a ship to me; she was a humble home that I had the honor of sharing. We rang the nursery bell, and the child-minder greeted us in a whisper. A slumbering baby was just being lifted from her crib by her ship’s officer father. And then I spotted Tâm, still wearing his tie, jacket and vest, snuggled in one of the vintage Naugahyde bean bags. Next to him was a young girl in a pink, petticoated party dress. The remake of “The Parent Trap” (Remember how the parents fell in love on the QE2?) was playing in the old VHS player. No plasma here, just a box-style, 19-inch set.

The remainder of our evenings ended like this one, calm and secure. And soon the time came for us to disembark. As is tradition, the crew docks QE2 in Southampton during the wee hours, and when you awake, you find you’re not moving anymore. But your body still feels like it is. A nice take-away from the journey of a lifetime.

Deborah Withey was the former deputy managing editor for presentation and joint ventures at The Virginian-Pilot. She now lives and works from her studio in Wales, United Kingdom. Reach her at cheesepicklesstudio@gmail.com



The Sunday Mirror reports:
One of the giant anchors from the QE2 cruise liner is to be returned to Southampton as a gift from its new owners, the Dubai royal family. The announcement was made during the official handover of the ship, which is to be turned into a luxury floating hotel. Doug Morrison, Southampton's port director, said: "One of the Queen Elizabeth 2's anchors is a fitting memento of this beloved, historic ship and one that will be welcome in Southampton." A search is now under way for the best position to display the anchor.


AME Info has a brief video of the hand over ceremony.

Watch it here.

Nakheel's projects are estimated to be worth $80 billion.

Upon completion Nakheel's waterfront projects will have added more than 1,000km of shoreline to Dubai's coastline.

Nakheel's Dubai portfolio includes Nakheel Harbour & Tower, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Deira, The World, Waterfront, The Universe, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Park, Jumeirah Heights, The Gardens, Discovery Gardens, Ibn Battuta Mall, Al Furjan, International City, and Dragon Mart.

Picture buy PA.



Arabian Business Tom Arnold reported live as the QE2 arrived to Dubai:

18.50 UAE time: Well it has been a long and emotional day, one I'm likely to remember for the rest of my life.

It is now time for me to sign off and leave the passengers to their exclusive party on the ship this evening.

Tomorrow they will disembark, for the last time, after which the QE2 will transformed into a floating hotel that will be docked on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah.

18.40: A glittering fireworks display lights up the sky above the QE2, sparking the subdued crowds back into life.

The Dubai Police band, still blowing on their bagpipes, march up the red carpet and onto the cruise ship.

18.25: The welcoming party of dignitaries dressed in UAE national dress and suits are walking up the gangway and entering the ship.

The feverish excitement of the crowds has died down somewhat and now everybody seems to be waiting for the much-anticipated fireworks to begin.

18.18: The gangway has been lowered and several members of the crew in glistening white uniforms have come onto the dock to secure the gangway.

Two helicopters are circling above the cruise ship and the spotlights continue illuminate the ship.

18.00: The QE2 has literally just docked at Port Rashid and an official welcoming party is in position on the red carpet.

After circumnavigating the world 25 times, crossing the Atlantic Ocean 800 times and carrying 2.5 million passengers in 40 years the QE2 has docked for the last time.

It is a very emotional occasion. To see such an iconic vessel dock for the last time - this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

17.55: The red carpet has been rolled out in readiness for the QE2's arrival as the cruise ship is now only a few hundred metres from the dock.

The Dubai Police band has struck up a tune - playing Scottish bagpipes - accompanied by a group of drummers.

Spotlights fall on the QE2 and the excitement among the crowds on the dock and on the cruise ship is now at fever pitch.

17.45: It's party mood on the dock as the QE2 is tugged into port. Passengers on the QE2 are also in high spirits, with the deck of the cruise ship lined with people waving flags and taking pics.

17.28: Spotted the cheering crowds - a few hundred people waving Union Jack and UAE flags standing by the port. The QE2 is making its way slowly into port.

17.25: Finally back on solid ground. The QE2 has just let out an enormous bellowing sound from its horn as it comes into port.

17.13: We are just about to dock at Port Rashid. We have been greeted by a few people and lots of container boxes and fork lift trucks, maybe the cheering crowds are stuck in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The QE2 has stopped about a kilometre out to sea, I hope it hasn't run out of fuel.

17.10: I've been told there are 1,800 passengers on board the QE2, no word on Beatrice yet though.

16.43: We are now around 45 minutes from Port Rashid. I've been told when we arrive the QE2 will be met by a royal party and Dubai Police band. The fireworks come later.

16.32: The casualties are mounting up! I've just been downstairs to check out the swanky cabins on our boat and found a prostrate photographer lying on one of the beds - and he even works for a yachting magazine.

All those months of sea training I was put through at Arabian Business are really paying off.

16.20: We are now just cruising in alongside the QE2 with the rest of the flotilla.

Things are calming down here on the media boat. The poor guy that threw up has cleaned his shoes off and the deck hands have cleared up the rest of the mess.

There are some very rowdy yachts around us though - think I've found out where those 70,000 bottles of champagne have disappeared to.

16.17: Have just been told we will not be allowed on board the QE2 - very disappointed.

16.13: The A380 has just made another pass overhead - think it might be lost.

16.10: Trying to find out whether Beatrice Muller is on board the QE2. The 89-year-old from New Jersey has been living on the ship for the past 14 years, paying around 3,500 pounds ($5,362) a month for the privilege.

16.06: At last, someone has thrown up on deck - think it's one of the reporters from Gulf News, but don't quote me on that!

16.05: Another odd fact I've just overheard - in 2001 the QE2 sailed into Lisbon with a 19-metre long finback whale impaled on her bow. Look out Sammy the whale shark, here we come!

16.00: We are now just 200 metres from the QE2 as she makes her way towards Port Rashid. People are waving from the QE2 - there are hundreds of Union Jack flags on display.

15.55: There are 65 people on board the VIP boat. The guests include members of the royal family, but unfortunately no film stars!

15.52: The water is now getting very choppy. A few people are looking a bit queezy. Hope it's not the food!

In 1995, Southampton officials criticised food hygiene on board, threatening legal action after inspecting the ship's Queen's Grill.

15.50: We are almost alongside the QE2. The old girl looks fantastic for 40! She looks majestic.

The A380 has just flown overhead and is coming back around for another pass.

There are dozens of small vessels dotted all around. The next boat over is the VIP boat - I’ll try and find out if there are any celebs on board.

15.40: Spoke briefly to the project director on Palm Jumeirah, Johann Schumacher, about what Nakheel has in store for the QE2.

Schumacher said the refit would take two to three years, but would be dependent on the condition of the ship.

As for the funnel, Schumacher confirmed rumours Nakheel does plan to cut it off.

He said one of the plans for the funnel was to make it the centrepiece at the entry to the QE2 precinct to be built on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah.

15.35: I overheard from someone that in excess of 70,000 bottles of champagne are drunk every year on average on the QE2 - but we're not getting any!

15.30: I've just spotted the QE2 in the distance with smoke billowing from her funnel. She is surrounded by small yachts and an enormous A380 flying overhead!

15.20: We are continuing to make our way out towards the flotilla that will meet the QE2 upon its arrival in Dubai.

We can now see a few small yachts out of the cabin windows and in the distance behind us is the Burj Al Arab.

There is still an air of excitement and anticipation on board. The water has begun to get a bit choppy and the boat is rocking around a bit - not good for those of us without sea legs!

14.30: We have just set off from the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) Mina Seyahi Dubai to greet the QE2 upon its arrival in Dubai. The atmosphere is electric.

Myself and a large proportion of the media are on board the Dubai Magic, a 140-foot splendid white motor sailing yacht, enjoying some snacks and beverages as we make our way out to join a flotilla of more than 60 vessels that will great the QE2.

There is not a cloud in the sky - perfect weather for the occasion.

(Picture by AP)


The BBC reports about the QE2 arrival to Dubai:

The QE2 has arrived in its new home of Dubai where the ship will be turned into a floating hotel.

A flotilla and Airbus A380 superjumbo flypast met the luxury liner - sold for £50m to the United Arab Emirates.

As it docked in Dubai passengers waved from the decks and some hung banners and flags from the side of the ship.

The QE2's last entry into the city in the morning was delayed after it ran aground on the Bramble Bank in the Solent.

AP says that more than 60 naval vessels and private boats, led by a mega-yacht owned by Dubai's ruler, met the 70,000 ton ship in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. 

In the city's Rashid port, the legendary cruise ship was greeted by Dubai Police's marching band and fireworks.

Watch here a BBC video of the arrival.

Picture by Marwan Naamani / AFP/Getty Images.



Philip Silvey has here a great collection of pictures of the QE2 in her last visit to Southampton.



Watch here a magnificent fireworks, last night in Southampton.

Video by Keith Buddie, and great picture by Dennis.


The last view of the Grand Dame of the Seas for the Soutampton QE2 fans.

Pictures by Tim Poultney.


Great last night pictures by Gillian Moy,


London Times readers are not happy with the final destination of the QE2:

British pride is unfortunately often sold to the highest bidder!!

Maddison, london, england

It's just a boat for Heavan's sake.

Doris, Wigan,

How sad that she will end up so for from home.

R Leasure, Vidor, Texas, USA

I have to agree. It would be better if she were sunk. She is a British ship and should remain a British ship. This is disgraceful.

KDP, Lompoc, CA, USA

British pride sold to the highest bidder. Better that she were sunk.

C. Heathcote, Tonbridge,


The Guardian's Mak Tran reports about yesterday's events:

It was hardly the most regal moment in the QE2's glittering career when the luxury ocean liner ran into a sandbank off Southampton yesterday, as it headed for its home port before a final voyage which will see metamorphosise into a floating hotel in Dubai.

Fortunately the embarrassment was fleeting, and the ship docked just 25 minutes late at the port, where the Duke of Edinburgh led the farewell ceremonies.

A Cunard spokesman said the ship had been pulled off the sandbank quite easily. "No one on board has been injured. A lot of people will have been in bed when it happened and not have noticed."

The QE2's final departure from British shores was accompanied by solemnity and fireworks. To mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the first world war, a Tiger Moth plane dropped 1m poppies on the 70,000-tonne liner, which was a hospital ship during the 1982 Falklands war.

After the two-minute silence, Prince Philip met long-serving staff as well as the former captains of HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry, ships lost in the Falklands campaign. He also stood on the aft decks of the QE2 to watch a Harrier jet fly-past.

Last night a flotilla accompanied the ship as it left Southampton for its final voyage. Passengers snapped up tickets, with the highest-priced berths going for more than £28,000.


Glorious pictures from last night final sendoff.


Yesterday, at 5:30am the Grand Dame of the Seas had a bumpy weakup when beached Southampton with the 2,700 passengers and crew who had just enjoyed a 12-night Mediterranean cruise.

It seems that force seven winds contributed to her grounding.

But as you know many on board joked that it was her reluctance to go without a fight.

First picture: the early morning drama.

Second picture: the Duke of Edinburgh shocked by a blast from the ship's fog horn as he was leaving after his visit to the QE2 in Southampton docks.

Oh dear!


Max Kingsley-Jones reports:

A flypast by an Emirates Airbus A380 is planned as part of celebrations to mark the arrival of the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 at its new home in Dubai later this month.

The QE2 left Southampton, UK, on her last voyage yesterday. She is due to arrive in Dubai after a passage through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal on 26 November where she will eventually be preserved as an attraction alongside a specially constructed dock at the Palm Jumeirah island

According to Emirates, a major event is planned to celebrate her arrival in Dubai. When she arrives at the Gulf port, she will be greeted by a flotilla of boats and ships led by the world's largest yacht, the Dubai, owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Topping off the arrival celebrations will be a flypast by one of Emirates' newly-delivered A380s.

The ceremony echoes that for the RMS Queen Mary off the coast of California 40 years ago as she steamed towards her new home at Long Beach in December 1967. The ship was greeted by a DC-9 flown from the nearby Douglas Aircraft plant, which dropped red and white carnations on her decks.