Farewell Queen Elizabeth 2|
History is quick to note the beginning of an era. Spaceflight? Yuri Gagarin, transoceanic flight? Charles Lindberg, Atlantic crossings? Christopher Columbus (arguably). But what about the end of a truly significant era in human history? Today, the last purpose-built ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, retired from service. Built in 1969 and having made 806 ocean crossings and sailed 5.9 million nautical miles, QE2 left her homeport of Southampton, Britain this morning for the last time.
One million poppies dropped from two Tiger Moth aircraft commemorate QE2.
Why is this significant? Because although few of us alive today realize it, for thousands of years passenger ships were the one and only way people and their possesions traveled long distances in the world. Passenger shipping is as old as the Egyptian empire. Yet, as these history-making vessels leave our familiar surroundings they barely get a footnote in the news of the world today.
Cunard Line commemorated QE2 today with a visit to the vessel by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband to Queen Elizabeth herself. Onboard, he and the ship's officers observed two minutes of silence. Is there a more fitting tribute to the end of an era than silence?
During her many years of service, Queen Elizabeth 2 was the flagship for Cunard Line, the world's oldest passenger shipping company in constant service since 1839, primarily transporting passengers between America and the United Kingdom. She was built as a replacement for the liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth which were becoming less popular and too expensive to operate.
While it is true that transoceanic air travel had already become widely accepted when QE2 was built, there were still plenty of people who preferred ship crossings to aircraft simply because it was what they were used to. By 2001, however, the ship was sailing as many pleasure cruises as it was ocean crossings as the era of jet travel dominated. In that year, Cunard decided to build the Queen Mary 2, today's fastest and safest passenger vessel, and the new mothership for Cunard.
QE2 has a gross tonnage of 70,327 tons and boasts a top speed of 32.5 knots, just a touch faster than Queen Mary 2. Both of these ships would leave any modern cruise ships in the fog as most of those average about 22 knots on a good day. QE2 could make the trip between Southampton and New York City in 4 days, 16 hours and 35 minutes. Most modern cruise ships make the trip in about 10 days although they could make it in seven days if they tried.
On her final entrance to Southampton she had 1700 passengers and 1000 crewmembers aboard. She was briefly stuck upon the famous Brambles Turn, a shallow sandbank near the entrance to the harbor. It required five tug boats to get her loose again. The dear lady just did not want to say goodbye. Neither did Beatrice Muller, aged 89, who has lived onboard the ship as a "permanent passenger" for the last 14 years, at a cost of some $6000 per month.
The ship departed on her final voyage today, destination Dubai. She has been sold to the Nakheel Company and will be permanently moored and run as a hotel behind the Palm Jumeirah, part of the extensive island development in Dubai known as "Dubai World."
On a final note, yet another equally significant passenger vessel left service in the last month - the Delta Queen Steamboat. Steamboats opened up America by plying the nation's rivers from New Orleans to Chicago, St Louis, Cincinnatti and more. Before the railroads, paddlewheel steamboats were the number one method of commerce in America. Yet again, barely a blip as the last one disappears - possibly forever (stay tuned).
new feature articles
Oasis of the Seas Ship Review
CruiseMates sums up Oasis of the Seas in our standard ship review format so you can see how she measures up to the rest of the cruise world fleet.
Latest Cruise Blog Update!
Cruise Insider Updates: Cruise ships are still sailing full, and cruise lines are still optimistic about the future
Ruby Princess Debuts
The newest jewel, Ruby Princess, receives a ceremonial welcome worthy of her name in Fort Lauderdale.
Introducing Celebrity Solstice
The first brand new class of ship to debut in several years is to be christened this Friday.
Reader Contributed Cruise Reviews!
We have thousands of cruise reviews written by people like you. This week's review:
Holland America Line Eurodam by acpitbull2
This is our experience during Holland Eurodam's Inaugural Season. The first of their "Signature Class Ships,"
-- 1000's of Reader Reviews here!
- - We also wants articles by aspiring travel writers. Get More information.
Read about CruiseMates
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"