Thursday, February 4, 2010

QE2 . . .

In looking back over the different subjects that I have written about over the last few months, I am surprised it has taken me this long to write about one of my favorite subjects - the Queen Elizabeth 2.

She was built at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, and was launched September 20, 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II.  Her maiden transatlantic voyage to New York was in May, 1969.  Although many refer to her as a "cruise ship", she is technically an ocean liner; she was made to tackle heavy seas, high winds and any weather the North Atlantic threw at her. 

My interest in QE2 began after watching a National Geographic special in the early 1980s called "Superliners: Twilight of an Era", which focused on an westbound transatlantic crossing in the summer of 1979.  My first real glimpse of her was in the Spring of 1987, when she was hired by a Massachusetts based computer company for a week long convention in Boston.  After seeing her up close - I knew I had to travel onboard this legendary ship.

In 1988 I booked a transatlantic voyage from Boston to Southampton for November, 1988 (it was rather inexpensive and I quickly realized why - as you can see from the photo below, which was taken while I was onboard, the weather was rather stormy!).  With the addition of another job in addition to my full time position, and with a little help from Mom and Dad, I boarded QE2 on November 21, 1988, alone, to begin the trip of a lifetime!

Traveling alone is a great way to meet people; if you have nobody else to spend time with on a trip you are forced into dining, talking and meeting people (unless you don't want to speak for a week!).  I met all types of people - some from Massachusetts, some from foreign countries, and I even got to visit the bridge and meet some of the crew on my last night aboard (that's me at the helm of QE2, with the Harrod's Christmas bear!).

Sadly, QE2 is no longer sailing.  In 2008 she was sold to a corporation in Dubai where she was to become a floating hotel, much like her predecessor, the Queen Mary, who is docked in Long Beach, California.  Due to the current economic crisis around the World, her future is uncertain.  She sits alone, docked in Dubai where she is occasionally visited by other ships including her ocean liner cousin, the Queen Mary 2  - who always exchanges horn blasts with her when visiting Dubai.

QE2 is very much a part of my life and my family's.  It was a special event to watch her leave Boston Harbor for the last time on September 18, 2008; my only wish being that she could have stayed in service long enough for my boys to experience voyage aboard.

Her day at sea before her retirement in Dubai was celebrated at Thanksgiving dinner in 2008 with a special cake (even though the people in the bakery had no idea what QE2 was - shocking to me!).

When I renovated our kitchen last year, I tried to use QE2's color scheme of red, black and white.  The walls are adorned with QE2 artwork that I had to special order from the UK, and other mementos of her time at sea - I even have a QE2 clock!

Over the last year I have joined a QE2 group on the internet - The QE2 Story, through which I have "met" many people from all over the world who share my interest in this great ship.  Photos and stories are shared, news of her current situation is exchanged and memories of QE2's illustrious years at sea are kept alive! 

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