OVERVIEW: QE2 was the world’s most
famous ship. Built in 1969 by the Upper Clyde
Shipbuilders (formerly John Brown’s) in Scotland,
the ship left Cunard's service on November 26, 2008
to become a hotel at Dubi World. During her career,
QE2 was a symbol of modern luxury and service.
She was used in films and in television programs,
participated in ship reviews on both sides of the
Atlantic, carried troops in the Falklands War, came to
the aid of distressed ships and sailors, carried royalty,
movie stars and other celebrities, and sailed over six
Designed as a two class ship, the class distinction
disappeared gradually over the years. While ones
restaurant assignment was still dictated by ones cabin
category until the end, any passenger could by that
time essentially go anywhere in the public areas of
the ship. However, the remnants of the class system
still produced some oddities here and there. For
example, not all of the elevators stopped on all of the
Although to the modern eye, QE2 may look like a
traditional ship, that was not what her designers
intended. In the 1960s, the traditional ocean liners
the public considered the old ocean liners passé and
they were not selling. With QE2, Cunard decided to
make a radical departure from the past. “Ships have
been boring long enough” was the advertising slogan
for the new ship. QE2 was “Cunard’s new
spaceship.” Accordingly, her exterior incorporated
curving lines unknown on traditional ships and her
interior reflected ultra modern 1960s’ design
principles. According to the ship’s interior designer
Dennis Lennon: "What we have tried to create is a
setting for the world's best party." In other words,
to “make people feel they were on a great ship
enjoying a unique adventure.”
QE2 evolved constantly over the next 40 years,
constantly adapting to her times. Somewhat
ironically given Cunard’s initial marketing concept,
the interior design style evolved from the Swinging
60s toward the refined, elegant style of her
predecessors. New rooms were added and old rooms
were completely re-designed. A by-product of this
was an increase in her gross tonnage from
approximately 66,000 tons to over 70,000 tons.
These changes were mostly made in a series of refits
in various drydocks, the most significant being in
1972, 1977, 1987, 1990 and 1994.
The ship evolved technologically as well. The ship
began life at a steam turbine driven ship. These
engines were a consistent source of trouble, often
breaking down at inconvenient moments. In 1987,
Cunard made a bold move and replaced the original
engines with a diesel electric system. Not only was
this system much more reliable but it gave the ship a
top speed of over 33 knots making her the fastest
passenger ship in active service. Less radical moves
included changes in radar, navigational, and
communications equipment as the technology
The fact that QE2 was able to evolve - - and thus
remain a viable operation for four decades - - says
much about the excellence of the original design. It
provided a framework that allowed the ship to adapt.
It also says much for the people at Cunard and on
board who ran the ship. QE2 started life in troubled
times for passenger ships and for a considerable part
of her career was living on the knife’s edge
financially. Yet, the company continued to invest in
her and those on board kept going beyond their job
descriptions to make her work.
At the end of her career, QE2 remained an
impressive ship. Not as large as QUEEN MARY 2
or today’s mega-cruise ships and lacking many of the
facilities of those ships, QE2 offered a unique
atmosphere. Much of this had to do with history. In
later years, there were many exhibits and references
on board to Cunard’s nearly 170-year history. But
more importantly, there was QE2’s own history of
service in peace and war, bringing enjoyment to
millions of people - - an icon of the second half of the
QE2 TOUR AND
Open Decks.........................................................Page Two
Spa and Indoor Sports Facilities ........................Page Three
Entertainment Venues (Major Public Rooms) .....Page Four
Bars and Lounges ................................................Page Five
Library, Shops and Other Areas...........................Page Six
Behind the Scenes...............................................Page Nine
Pier 90 in New York decorated for a sailing of QE2
in the 1990s. The balloons would be released as the
ship proceeded down the North River (i.e. the lower
Hudson River) towards the sea.
Passengers arriving on QE2 were greeted by stewards and
waiters in the Midships Lobby on Two Deck. Originally,
the Midships Lobby was the entrance for first class guests
with transatlantic class passengers entering by G stairway
near the stern. However, for many years now, Midships
has been the entrance for all passengers.
Above: The Pursers Office in 2008.
Below: The Pursers Office in an earlier incarnation.
Prior to QE2, the standard design on ocean liners called for
a semi-enclosed promenade on either side of the ship.
QE2's designers opted to include this space within the
interior of the public rooms. This made the public areas on
Quarter Deck and Upper Deck more spacious and allowed
for excellent views of the sea from the interior public
The Midships Lobby was the first place passengers see when
entering the ship and it has undergone many changes.
Originally, it was ultra-modern with black leather walls and
bright green upholstery on the benches. Today, all that
remains of the space-age design is the center pillar and
Above: A silver model of QE2 in the Midships Lobby.
Below left: The Midships Lobby after the 1990 refit
Below: The Midships Lobby in 2008. The mural by Peter
Sutton depicting Cunard's history was added in 1994.
The art work on QE2 was quite varied, much of it with
a nautical and/or historical element.
Left: A portrait of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother,
which was originally on the ship that bore her name
QUEEN ELIZABETH and which came to QE2 in 1994.
In the distance is a suit of samurai armour. QE2 was
very popular in Japan and was on charter in the City of
Yokohama for part of 1989.
Above: Some of the modernistic original artwork for
QE2 on A stairway.
Right: A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince
Phillip that was originally on Cunard's CARONIA. The
painting as well as the wood paneling was added to
QE2 in 1994.
In 1994, Cunard commissioned New York artist
Giancarlo Impiglia to paint a series of murals for QE2.
(Click here for story).
QE2 was a floating treasure trove of nautical memorabilia. Left: A figure head of Britannia carved by sculptor
Charles Moore that originally stood in the Britannia (later Mauretania) Restaurant. Above: A sculpture "Spirit
of the Atlantic" from the second Cunard liner to be called MAURETANIA. Above right: There were numerous
ship models on QE2. This one is of Cunard's CARONIA, known as "The Green Goddess." Below left: A
collection of photographs taken by Ocean Pictures of passengers, celebrities and visitors to Cunard Ships.
Below center: Artifacts from the QUEEN MARY. Below right: A collection of items from or realting to Cunard
ships bequeathed to the line by Peter Radmore.
Above: A series of three tapestries designed by Helen Banynina Hernmarck
depicting the launch of QE2 in 1967. Unfortunately, they have been severely
damaged by vandals. For many years, they were an elegant addition to the
Quarter Deck landing of D stairway just outside of the Columbia restaurant
(above right). However, in 1994, as part of an ill-considered scheme to
transform the Columbia Restaurant into the Mauretania Restaurant they were
removed to the top of the E stairway on Boat Deck and replaced by a giant
model of the first MAURETANIA (right). The model remains in that location
despite the fact that the Mauretania Restaurant was returned to its original
site in 1996.