The year was 1967. The British Prime Minister was Harold Wilson, Milton Keynes had just become a new town, the UK applied to join the European Union, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched at Clydebank. Fifty years later, in 2017, the Prime Minister is Theresa May, Hull is this year’s City of Culture, the UK is planning to leave the EU, and QE2 sits gathering dust in Dubai.
This year marks the 50th anniversary since Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched on the Clyde in Scotland. 200 QE2 enthusiasts, loyal crew members, and maritime experts will gather in Clydebank Town Hall on 22nd September to celebrate the 50th anniversary since the Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched. But what made the QE2 so special?
At the time of her launch, the QE2, named by Her Majesty The Queen, was at the cutting edge of modern British engineering and design. QE2 was built to replace the ageing Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary liners of the 1930s. Cunard knew demand for transatlantic ocean travel was being threatened by the increase in international air travel, which meant travellers could reach New York in hours, not days. With this in mind, Cunard’s new flagship was built to be multi-functional.
Cutting through the heavy swells of the North Atlantic with ease, she was primarily an ocean liner – it’s what Cunard were (and still are) best know for – but QE2 was also built with cruising duties in mind. She had an abundance of open-deck space, perfect for relaxing in exotic destinations around the world, as well as spacious public venues.
With her flared bow and profile, she handled storms and rough seas extremely well, but you knew you were on a ship. She underwent so many cosmetic changes in her career with Cunard, but seemed to get better with age. That is until she left the Cunard fleet in 2008, with visions of turning the ageing ship into a luxury hotel in Dubai.
Almost 10 years since arriving in Dubai, the ship has sat dormant, waiting to receive love. Her current owners have slowly let the ship deteriorate in the harsh, humid climates of the United Arab Emirates.
For over 30 years, and sailing more than 6 million miles, the QE2 captured the hearts of all who sailed on her, and she still has a very loyal following. Countless passengers describe that they felt as if they were returning home each time they embarked Queen Elizabeth 2.
Cruise Capital’s Contributing Writer, Anthony Marshall, who first sailed on the QE2 in 1998, explained: “Having sailed on her 5 times, there was a great air of familiarity. Each time I sailed, the moment I embarked was a feeling of being welcomed home. I felt at home and was always spellbound by her charm. Ask any enthusiast who has sailed on QE2 and they will more or less say the same thing, there was an enchanting feeling on board that is quite indescribable.”
With so many loyal and loving followers around the world, many of whom had the pleasure of working and sailed on her, The QE2 Event, organsied by The QE2 Story, is the perfect way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary since Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched on the Clyde.
The event will host many notable expert speakers, including Brian Price, who spent 21 years as cruise director on the QE2, Captain Nick Bates, and Scott Clegg, former Project Manager at Dubai World.
Lynda Bradford, Secretary of the QE2 Story, said: “I originate from Clydebank and lived there in 1967 when the QE2 was launched. I am very proud to be working with my colleagues from The QE2 Story, to bring this important conference to Clydebank. I am looking forward to listening to the fantastic range of speakers telling the ship’s story from her origins in Clydebank to decommissioning in Dubai. But I am most looking forward to sharing QE2 memories and celebrating the ship’s 50th anniversary.”
“I am looking forward to the privilege of sharing in a piece of maritime history by celebrating QE2’s Golden Anniversary on the very home soil where she was built,” said John Little, Treasurer of The QE2 Story. “It will be a unique opportunity to hear and meet those who worked on her construction and aboard the liner over her 41 years in service.”
Although she’s still around gathering desert dust in Dubai, she will probably never sail the seas in which she rightfully reigned over for so many years. A true icon of travel and the last of the Great liners built in Scotland. There will never be another ship quite like the QE2.
Cruise Capital are official sponsors of the QE2 50th Anniversary Conference. For more information about the event, and to book tickets, visit qe2event.com.