Cunard is honouring the 50th anniversary of its longest serving ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, with a special voyage onboard the luxury cruise liner Queen Elizabeth.
The 50th anniversary of this much-loved ship will be remembered as Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Southampton on Friday, September 8 for a 17-night voyage. Departing guests will enjoy Venice’s iconic canals, mythical Mount Etna in Sicily and Corfu’s leafy beauty.
Celebrations focus on five special theme days, each of which will be accompanied by QE2 inspired menus, talks from special guests, historical snippets in the daily programme, past-passenger gatherings and QE2 quizzes.
Themes include Moving in Royal Circles which looks back at the unique and special bond between QE2 and the Royal Family; The Falklands which acknowledges the ship’s service as a troop ship in the 1982 conflict; Triumph of a Great Tradition examining the QE2’s remarkable career achievements and the long history of Cunard ‘firsts’, and World Flagship in tribute to QE2’s 26 world cruises that made her an icon in cities across the globe.
Celebrations culminate on QE2 Day – September 20, 2017 – exactly 50 years since the ship was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Events will include a QE2 ball, and a historical retrospective of the ship’s service life to be hosted in Queen Elizabeth’s 850 seat Royal Court Theatre.
As part of Cunard’s renowned and award-winning Insights Speaker programme, a number of special guests connected to QE2 will be sailing onboard. One such guest is Captain Ian McNaught, QE2’s last Master, who said: “This voyage is a significant and timely tribute to the world’s best loved ship. QE2 remains the longest serving express liner in history. She carried 2.5 million passengers over 5.6 million miles; that’s further than any passenger ship – ever! This remarkable ship sailed alone on the North Atlantic for most of her career. She carried the Cunard tradition from the bygone era of the ocean liner and sustained it into the 21st century. The QE2 carried Royalty, celebrities and served in the Falklands War.”
He added: “What I remember most as her Master, were the passengers. Everyday people who saved up to experience life onboard the world’s best loved ship. Many came back time and time again. That is a tribute to the countless people who served as QE2’s crew, each one making the experience special and memorable. QE2 has been gone for nearly a decade now, however on her 50th anniversary the memory of her is strong. It is very fitting to be acknowledging the QE2’s remarkable career here onboard Queen Elizabeth.”
Other guests include Commodore R. W. Warwick who served as QE2’s Captain for 13 years; QE2 social hostess Maureen Ryan who served onboard the original Cunard Queens as well as Queen Mary 2; and maritime historian Chris Frame, author of a series of books about QE2 and Cunard.
The voyage departs Southampton on September 8 and returns September 25.
QE2 was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 20 September 1967. The ship was the last large transatlantic liner built in the United Kingdom. During a service career of almost 40 years, the ship sailed over 5.6 million miles and carried more than 2.5 million passengers – record numbers that are yet to be broken. In 1982, QE2 was requisitioned for use in the Falklands War and sailed with 3,000 troops of the 5th Infantry Brigade. QE2 was a favourite of the Royal Family having entertained HM. The Queen, HRH. The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH. Prince Charles and HRH Princess Diana to name just a few. During the ship’s career, she sailed on 26 world cruises, carried celebrities and heads of state and attracted crowds in every port she visited.
QE2 Fun Facts
- QE2 was very fast and had a usual service speed of 28.5 knots, with a top cruising speed of 32.5 knots making her the fastest passenger ship to sail in the 21st century
- QE2 was launched by Her Majesty The Queen on 20 September 1967. The launch was celebrated in many countries of the Commonwealth
- QE2 was the longest serving flagship of the Cunard fleet and the longest serving express transatlantic liner in Cunard’s 177-year history
- QE2 was the last large express liner to be built in the United Kingdom and the final passenger ship to be constructed at the historic John Brown & Co. Clydebank
- QE2 was requisitioned as a troop ship in the 1982 Falklands War
- QE2 made 806 Transatlantic Crossings in her career
- QE2 sailed over 5.6 million miles – the furthest distance by any passenger ship – ever
- QE2 carried 2.5 million passengers
- QE2 was the first ship to carry a reigning British Monarch as a passenger in 1990
- Cunard’s first ship Britannia could have fitted into QE2’s Grand Lounge
- QE2’s anchors weighed 12.5 tons each – one now resides on QE2 mile in Southampton
- Each year QE2 used more than 3 million eggs and enough cling-film to wrap the ship many times over