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CUNARD
QUEEN
ELIZABETH 2
WHY QE2 WAS  SOLD

CUNARD PRESIDENT CAROL
MARLOW COMMENTS ON THE
SALE OF QE2 TO DUBAI WORLD

By Richard H. Wagner
           On 18 June, Cunard announced that QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 had
    been sold to Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, a wholly-
    owned company of the Government of Dubai, reportedly for $100
    million.  The ship will be delivered to Dubai in the Persian Gulf in
    November 2008.   From 2009, she will be berthed at a specially-
    constructed pier at The Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest man-made
    island, to create a luxury floating hotel, retail and entertainment
    destination.
           Nine days later, Cunard put on sale a series of farewell final
    voyages on QE2 that will take place in the Fall of 2008.  The voyage that
    will take the ship from Southampton, England, to Dubai sold out in 36
    minutes.  A few minutes later, the final transatlantic crossings were sold
    out.   Shortly thereafter, the remaining voyages were sold out,
    demonstrating the tremendous affection the public has for this ship.  
    With such popularity, the question arises why is this ship leaving
    service?  Cunard President Carol Marlow provided some answers.
           QE2 was built in the late 1960s and there has been considerable
    speculation for some time that the ship would not have been able to
    comply with the new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations that
    come into effect in 2010.  However, Marlow indicated that the new
    regulations would not have been an obstacle to keeping the ship in
    service.  “I’m assured by people who know these things that we [didn’t]
    find any show-stoppers.”  Indeed, even the wood that decorates the ship
    was not seen as an insurmountable obstacle.  “The wood is actually quite
    thin and it is my understanding that wood [would not] have been an
    issue.”
           Another theory that has been put forward is that QE2 is going out
    of service because at the end of 2007 Cunard will be placing a new ship
    in service, QUEEN VICTORIA.  Again, Marlow dismisses that theory.  
    “She wasn’t built as a replacement for QE2.  That wasn’t the purpose of
    her.”  Rather, QUEEN VICTORIA was built to compliment QUEEN
    MARY 2.  Cunard wanted a ship that could go into ports that the deeper
    draft QM2 cannot, transit the Panama Canal which the huge QM2
    cannot and do itineraries that do not require the high speed of QM2.
           Yet another theory that has been mooted is that hard-hearted
    corporate villains at Cunard’s parent, Carnival Corporation, failed to
    recognize the special nature of this ship.  However, Marlow related the
    following incident concerning Carnival’s Chairman Micky Arison.  “He
    went on one of his other brands of ship [on a voyage] up the coast from
    New York.  The ship called in Halifax, they had their call and they went
    on.  He then decided a few months later that he ought to go on QE2 for
    a few days.  Funnily enough, the ship was going up the coast up to
    Halifax.  He thought, well, I’ll do the trip again and so, off he went.  He
    was up on the bridge with Commodore Ron Warwick when they came
    into Halifax and looking out he saw there were people everywhere.  He
    said to Ron, ‘What’s going on?  There must be something happening
    here today.”
             “Ron Warwick said: ‘Yes, Micky, there is something happening
    today.”
             “What is that?”
             “QE2 is coming in.’ And he was just stunned.”  According to
    Marlow, this is one of the factors that convinced Arison to build a new
    ocean liner, QUEEN MARY 2, which would carry QE2's legacy well
    into the 21st Century.  “He loves to hear about the ships and he gets
    tears in his eyes when you are telling him about the different things that
    have happened.”
           What then was the reason for the sale of QE2?  “I was dreading the
    day when I would have to stand up and say the ship is going to be
    broken up.  I felt, I can’t do it, I felt terrible about it.  While we were
    very keen to run the ship as long as we possibly could - - she is terribly
    popular and she runs very well - - in the back of our minds, we had to
    think one day she would be retired.  So, we were very keen to have
    offers from ports that she could go to  that would preserve her.  
    Delightfully, we received an offer - - we received several offers as you
    can imagine, but one that was a serious offer - - [from a port] that could
    actually look after this wonderful vessel, could maintain her and preserve
    her for future generations and keep her in the condition that we felt was
    appropriate - - first class condition.  These people will do that, they have
    a great respect for the ship, they have a great respect for the history.  
    She will be the most historic item there and she will have a wonderful
    place there.  I am absolutely delighted that we managed to find this home
    for her.”
             “People say to me couldn’t you have kept her running another
    few years?  Well, yes, we could have but we would have had no
    guarantee that we would have a situation like this where she could be
    placed where she would be so well looked after.  It was a very difficult
    decision to make but at the end of the day, you can’t turn down
    something that is going to preserve this wonderful ship for generations to
    come.”             
QE2 in Barbados with Costa Classica
in the distance.
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