April 4, 2011 -
If you ever wondered what happened to the grand old QE2, have a read of this brilliant blog from Peter Shanks.
I took the opportunity to pop over to Dubai to spend 24 hours on Queen Elizabeth. I last saw her in Sydney as I wanted to say hello and see how things were going on the world voyage. It is over two years since I was last in Dubai for the emotional handover of QE2. It looks as though many of the new buildings are now finished, the Metro is finished and the city is beginning to look more like a city than a building site. The most remarkable sight is the recently opened Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. It is ridiculously enormously tall. I don’t like heights – unless I am on skis – so there is no attraction for me in going up that thing. But, well done Dubai – they clearly have been through tough economic times, but their vision of a modern city is now looking like reality.
So rather than playing with tall buildings, and after an overnight flight, I arrived at the dock just as Queen Elizabeth was making her approach. As I waited on the dock, just behind me was another ship. A beautiful, sleek, famous and striking ocean liner – the QE2. From the outside she looks exactly as we had left her two years ago – as these terrific pictures show:
Queen Elizabeth approaching QE2:
The old world meets the new world:
How tall is that building behind QE2?!
So here we were with another royal rendezvous on our hands – and what a great experience for our guests. We often talk of the experiences our guests have on a Cunard voyage. On this World Voyage they have seen Two Queens in Southampton, Three Queens in New York, Two Queens in Fort Lauderdale, Two Queens in Sydney – and today a very special rendezvous with QE2 in Dubai. Whistles went – and it was lovely for us to hear the famous QE2 whistle again.
So how is QE2 – well she looked very good from the outside. She has a small crew onboard to keep things going and I understand that she has been well kept on the inside – despite the very high temperatures in Dubai. Given the tough economic situation in Dubai – they have not yet commenced their extensive plans for the ship and we all wait to hear what lies ahead for QE2. But for today she looked magnificent.
I took this shot myself on my Blackberry as I stood on the aft deck of Queen Elizabeth with our Red Ensign flying proudly with the famous QE2 profile and funnel in the background:
I was able to spend the rest of the day with the ship’s company – hearing how the ship is doing and having a good look around. Our guests had found briefing and drills in advance of going through the Suez Canal fascinating. Those guests who were completing their sector from Hong Kong to Dubai were on their way home and I spoke with a number of them. Another 750 guests were boarding that day for the sector from Dubai to Southampton and they were looking forward to their adventure. And of course I saw many of our full world voyagers who I last saw in Sydney were in rude health and very relaxed. Of course they should be relaxed – how could you not be after spending so long on Queen Elizabeth.
Here’s a couple of chaps relaxing – I suspect their wives may have gone ashore shopping – but here they were playing English Garden Bowls on the top deck of Queen Elizabeth against a background view of QE2 and the city of Dubai. Where else can you do that……..
I mentioned ‘Three Elizabeths’ – so where was the third? Well as I was walking round the ship I paused outside our new Clarendon Fine Art Gallery. It is doing very well by the way – we have stopped Art Auctions and instead have a wonderful gallery as you might find in your local high street and we sell beautiful and popular art. We also sell the famous Black and White photographs nicely framed of many of the famous people who have travelled with us in the past. And there was our third Elizabeth. The reason I noticed was because very sadly she passed away recently – a true British Star and much loved. Here she is – taken whilst sailing on board the original Queen Elizabeth:
Yes – it is the much loved actress Elizabeth Taylor – they just don’t make them like that anymore, but we will cherish her forever and are touched that she once sailed with us.
A long way to go for 24 hours, But I managed to speak with many guests and many of the ship’s company. As I walked through the Queens Room that afternoon, one of our Entertainment Staff walked past me and said – ‘Welcome Home Peter’. Marvellous – I was actually a long way from my family home but I do always feel at home when I am on board one of our ships.
You know World Voyages – either all the way round or just on a sector – are unique ways to see the world. One of the guests said to me ‘It has been remarkable. We have been to Vietnam, to China, to India – places that we have never been and were daunted to travel to. But doing it by ship is the best of both worlds – you see the real world, so many local cultural experiences but your safe home goes round the world with you’ I thought I might use that quote in a blog one day. Oh – I just did….
President and Managing Director