The 50th anniversary of the revered Cunard liner QE2 is to be marked next month by a special voyage of her near namesake, Queen Elizabeth.
During five specially-themed days during a 17-night cruise to Venice, guests will be treated to gala menus inspired by the liner, and talks from special guests who each have their personal connections with QE2.
Themes include Moving in Royal Circles, looking back at the 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 – 20 September 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.
Captain Ian McNaught, QE2’s last master, will be among the speakers. He 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; further than any passenger ship – ever! This remarkable ship 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.”
Other guests include Commodore Ron Warwick who served as QE2’s Captain for 13 years; social hostess Maureen Ryan who served on board 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.
Cunard Line’s vice president, Angus Struthers, said: This Mediterranean cruise is perfectly timed to pay tribute to QE2’s launch and naming by HM Queen Elizabeth 50 years ago.
“When QE2 came into service in the 1960s, many critics said she wouldn’t last a decade in the age of the jet but her unique design as a dual-purpose ship meant that she was versatile enough to operate both as a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship. Given how famous and loved she was, we felt this was a great opportunity to pay tribute to this Cunarder’s remarkable life.”
The voyage departs from Southampton on September 8.
PICTURE: That’s me on the bridge wing in mid-Atlantic with QE2’s last master, Captain Ian McNaught