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QE2 Today : A Very Different QE2

Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service at a time when the jet threatened any ship that challenged it. No other vessel in history has taken on the Jet airplane with such force, and yet at the time of her retirement in November 2008 she will go down in history as the most successful Cunard Liner ever - completing a mammoth 806 trans-Atlantic crossings as well as hundreds of cruises over nearly 40 years of service. This feat would not have been possible had her original designers lacked the foresight for future changes.

When QE2 was first presented to the world, she was powered by steam turbine engines. A thin black funnel, with white cowling and 'Cunard Red' wind scoop cast a shadow over the open sports deck. The stern of the vessel was open, the water in the Quarter and One deck pools sparkled in the sunlight.  

Aboard ship, the interiors reflected all that was the 1960's. This two class vessel was not a copy of the older Queens. There were no gates separating tourist class with first class, just subtle signs. Aluminum and fiberglass were used extensively throughout the vessel. The best restaurant (the Grill) was what is now the Princess Grill, and passengers could relax in the 'Lookout' bar, the only forward facing passenger lounge aboard.

During this ships four decade life, she has undergone some massive changes. In April 1982 Queen Elizabeth 2 went to war, and lost the terraces of her Upper and Quarter decks. Once her role in the Falklands was over she was restored to her pre-war glory, but appeared with a pebble gray hull and traditional Cunard funnel. The hull colours was short lived, but to this day QE2 has kept the Cunard colours on her funnel. The addition of suites on the Signal and Sun decks, started in the early 1970's was completed by 1987 and now provides some of the most luxurious accommodations at sea.

© 1998

This additional accommodation created a need for the Queens Grill restaurant which is located in a space once occupied by 'Club 736'. To cater for the new restaurant, the 'Lookout Bar' was sacrificed for more kitchen space. 

In 1986/87 QE2 had new engines installed, thus signaling the end of Cunard Steamships, however it allowed for the ship to be more economical then ever. It also allowed for her exterior design to have another change which included the addition of a widened funnel, which has made her appearance even better giving an overall look of power and strength. With new engines, she emerged full of youth and vitality to sail vigorously into the 21st century.

Today, Queen Elizabeth 2 is complimented by the jet. For a time, Concorde and QE2 were an Atlantic institution. Her role as the primary Atlantic liner ended in 2004 with the introduction of Queen Mary 2 into service, however QE2 lived on providing cruises throughout Europe and her annual World Cruise. 
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Today, the Queen is powered by nine German built diesel electric engines. Her thin funnel is no more. Fiberglass interiors have given way to tasteful wood paneling. The top restaurant is the award winning Queens Grill, and the Princess Grill is complimented by a sister restaurant, Britannia Grill. The One deck pool sparkles alone, the Quarter Deck pool being sacrificed for what is now the Lido.

Cunard has spent over ten times the building cost on refurbishing QE2. The 1986/87 refit alone cost $100 million! In tern, QE2 is the investment that has kept Cunard alive for almost 40 years. 

QE2 will live on as a world icon in retirement at 'The Palm' - with a planned refurbishment to reinvigorate the ship bringing it to world standards in luxury and opulence. 

Long live QE2!


QE2 at Circular Quay, Sydney.

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QE2, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Circular Quay Way, Sydney, Australia, 2000