Queen Elizabeth 2 1969
By December 1958 the question of a replacement for Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth had arisen. Originally the plan had been to build two new liners with the help of Government subsidies. A Government committee, under Lord Chandos, was set up to examine the economic viability of this. The result was that the Government provided a grant of £18 million towards the building of one 75,000 ton vessel, known as the 'Q3 Project', to be ready for service in 1966. There was opposition to the plan as more and more passengers were crossing the Atlantic by air and the operating costs of such large liners were rising and could not be offset by fare increases. In 1963 the scheme was altered to build a slightly smaller liner which could traverse the Panama and Suez canals and would primarily be used for cruising.
Q3 contract was awarded to John Brown & Co. and the keel was layed on July 5, 1965. The keel was launched by Queen Elizabeth II on September 20, 1967, and the ship was named Queen Elizabeth 2. The maiden voyage of QE2 was from Southampton to New York on May 2, 1969.
In 1982, with the outbreak of the Falklands War, the British government requisitioned QE2 for service as a troop transport vessel. Conversion work began immediately with the addition of helicopter flight decks and a modern communications system. On May 12 Britain’s 5th infantry brigade boarded her and set off for South Georgia. The ship arrived on May 27, disembarked the troops and then embarked the survivors of the HMS Ardent. Since British intelligence had learned that the Argentineans were using air reconnaissance to try and locate QE2, it left the same day.
QE2 arrived safely back in England on June 11 and work immediately began on refitting her for commercial service. It was decided at this time that diesel engines would be installed to save the company £12 million a year in fuel costs. This major overhaul was done from November 1986 to April 1987 at the Lloyd-Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. Nine diesel electric engines, new propellers and equipment to capture heat expelled by the engines were fitted. Public rooms and passenger accommodations were also extensively refurbished.
Approximately 10 years later - in November/December 1996 - QE2 underwent an $18-million overhaul at the A&P Shipyards in Southampton. The scope of the project included work in passenger areas and maintenance behind the scenes. Significant upgrades were made to passenger areas, including the Princess Grill and Mauretania restaurants.
Also in 1996, QE2’s transatlantic crossing time was extended from five to six days and arrival and departure times in Southampton and New York were changed to 8 am and 5 pm, respectively, to accommodate transfers between the ship and passengers’ homes.
In 1997 there was a reduction in the number of transatlantic crossings, from 24 to 18, and an increase in the number of days spent on cruises from 120 days in 1996 to 148 days.
From the Grand Lounge and the Queens Room to the renowned restaurants and the Golden Lion Pub, new furnishings, draperies, carpeting and woodworking enhanced the famous liner. In addition, Harrods - the London-based luxury department store - opened its first boutique at sea on board QE2.
In 1999, following the purchase of Cunard by the Carnival Corporation, QE2 again received a massive, multi-million dollar refurbishment. The refit took place at Lloyd-Werft, from November 12 to December 11, 1999.
Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed out of Southampton December 12, 1996 after her overhaul and refit at the A&P dry-dock. Over the previous three weeks, one thousand people worked to complete the refit work to specification and on schedule.
The $18-million contract included work in passenger areas and maintenance behind the scenes. Cunard had by now invested more than 10 times the building cost of QE2, including a massive re-engineering in 1987 and a major interior redesign in 1994 to ensure she would remain the most prestigious ship in the world.
This time, significant upgradings in passenger areas include the Princess Grill and the largest of the five restaurants, the Mauretania,. Other changes introduced included: QE2's transatlantic crossing time was extended from five to six days. While on her transatlantic schedule, port arrival and departure times in Southampton and New York were changed to smooth passenger transfers between the ship and their homes. There were consistent arrival and departure times of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, respectively. There was a reduction in the number of transatlantic crossings in 1997 from 24 to 18, and an increase in the number of days spent on cruises from 120 days in 1996 to 148 days in 1997.
In 1999, following the purchase of Cunard by Carnival Corporation, QE2 was again the recipient of a massive refurbishment. The refit took place at Lloyd Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, from November 12 to December 11, 1999. From the Grand Lounge and the Queens Room to the renowned restaurants and the Golden Lion Pub, there are new furnishings, draperies, carpeting and woodworking throughout the famous liner. In addition, Harrods, the London-based luxury department store opened its first botique at sea aboard QE2.
"The QE2 is our flagship vessel, she embodies the essence of British heritage and all that is Cunard," said Deborah Nathansohn, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for Cunard Line. "With more than 160 years of tradition it is important that we retain that all-but-vanished experience that defines luxury ocean travel. We are preserving a piece of history that is the foundation for what has become the explosive growth of the cruise market." 1999 Enhancements include:
QE2 Dining Areas
Fresh carpeting and upholstery were added to many public areas
including: the Chart Room, which also received a remodeled bar and
new shutters; the Crystal Bar, which added a new canopy entrance to
the Mauretania Restaurant; and the Quarter Deck and Upper
Deck Promenades, which added intricately-detailed archways made of
Suites and Cabins
QE2, the last of the great Cunarders built for transatlantic service, has been constantly in the eye of the world’s press for more than 30 years and is still in service today.
Return to Itinerary