The 50th anniversary of this much-loved ship will be remembered as Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Southampton on Friday 8 September for a 17-night voyage. Departing guests will enjoy Venice’s iconic canals, mythical Mount Etna in Sicily and Corfu's leafy beauty.
Angus Struthers, Vice President, Cunard said: “This Mediterranean cruise is perfectly timed to pay tribute to QE2’s launch and naming by HRH Queen Elizabeth II 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.”
He added: “Given how famous and loved she was, we felt this was a great opportunity to pay tribute to this Cunarder’s remarkable life onboard our newest ship, Queen Elizabeth; herself designed to offer a perfect luxury cruise holiday.”
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 - 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.
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 8 September and returns 25 September. For more information please go to www.cunard.com.
Photo credit Chris Frame and Rachelle Cross