QE2’s Final Farewell to Southampton yesterday was marked by festivities, fireworks and moving tributes. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made his seventh and final visit to the most famous ship in the world. While onboard, His Royal Highness observed two minutes of silence at 11:00am prior to meeting crew members who served on the ship to the Falklands. His Royal Highness then toured the vessel, including the Wardroom, Bridge, Engine Control Room and Hospital, before attending a reception in the Queens Room.
One million poppies were dropped over the ship from Tiger Moth aircrafts to commemorate Remembrance Day, mark QE2’s role in the Falklands and note the ship’s final farewell. This was followed by a flypast of a Harrier jet which hovered and bowed to QE2 approximately 500-feet off her stern.
After leaving her berth, QE2 sailed to Mayflower Park where she remained for a period while a message from her Master, Captain Ian McNaught, was broadcast on a specially-erected screen in the park. McNaught’s remarks featured a tribute to Southampton and he said that QE2 had strived to serve the city and her country with flair and fortitude for 40 years. Following a spectacular firework display, QE2 made her way downriver with her whistle blasting, accompanied by a large flotilla of well-wishers.
During QE2’s many years in service to Cunard, the iconic ocean liner has sailed 5.9 million nautical miles, completed 806 transatlantic crossings, carried over 2.5 million guests, undertaken 25 World Cruises and answered her country’s call during the Falklands Campaign. Her new home will be in Dubai where she will become a first class hotel and entertainment centre.
As QE2 leaves the Cunard fleet, the company’s flagship Queen Mary 2 – the largest and grandest ocean liner in the world – spearheads the revival of the Golden Age of Ocean Travel by continuing to offer the regular transatlantic service started by Cunard in 1840. In addition, Queen Victoria, which entered service in December 2007, has redefined “style” on the high seas and offers Cunard’s historic European routes. Along with Queen Mary 2, she also continues the tradition of World Cruises that Cunard began in1922. Cunard wil now become the youngest fleet in the cruise industry and is poised to continue this distinction upon the debut of the company’s new ship, Queen Elizabeth, in 2010.