Queen Elizabeth 2 will mark 36 years of service on Monday, May 2 when she arrives in her homeport of Southampton - 36 years to the day that she left the same port for New York on her 1969 Maiden Voyage. And what a 36 years they have been!
A special Birthday party will be held on board to honor the ship. Special guests will include nine former and current Captains and John Whitworth OBE, now 80 years old, who was the Managing Director of Cunard Line at the time of QE2's introduction and who was instrumental in the ship's construction.
A Record Unlike Any Other
She has sailed more than 5.3 million nautical miles - that's more than any ship in history and is equivalent to traveling to the moon and back over 11 times. She has carried nearly three million passengers - many of them returning again and again to their second home. Her arrival in Southampton on 2 May will be her 641st visit there and mark the completion of her 1,374th voyage. It will be her 4,856th port call. She has sailed at an average speed of 24.75 knots over the last 36 years.
QE2 can sail backwards faster than most cruise ships can sail forwards and one gallon of fuel moves her 49.5 feet! She has made 795 Atlantic crossings and completed 23 full World Voyages. In that time she has been commanded by 23 Captains.
A History Unlike Any Other
QE2 was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967 and was the last passenger ship to be built on the Clyde. For the last 36 years QE2 has been the most famous passenger liner in the world and yet when she was introduced city analysts claimed that the age of the liner was dead and that QE2 would be mothballed within six months. How wrong they were!
She was one of the star attractions when she led the Tall Ships into New York Harbor for the Statue of Liberty's centenary celebrations in 1986; over one million sightseers flocked to see her when she called at Liverpool for the first time during Cunard's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1990 and she was at the head of the flotilla reviewed by the Queen on the 50th Anniversary of 'D' Day in 1994. This year she will play a key role in the Trafalgar Commemorations in June.
However, QE2's history has not only been one of sedate cruises, ecstatic welcomes and luxury living. In 1982, she was requisitioned by the Government for service in the Falklands Campaign - and so joined the ranks of the great Cunarders called upon to serve the country in times of conflict.
In fact QE2 goes from great things to greater and many sailings this year - her second season of European cruises - are already sold out.
Longest Serving Cunarder
2005 is a special year for QE2. On September 4, she becomes the longest serving Cunarder ever when she passes the 36 years 4 months and 2 days' record of Scythia , which sailed from 1921 to 1957.
QE2 was also the Cunard flagship for longer than any other from 1969 until she handed over the role to Queen Mary 2 last year, and in November last year she became the longest serving Cunard express liner when she passed the 35 years 6 months and 1 day record previously set by Aquitania which served Cunard Line, in peace and in war, from May 1914 to December 1949.
For more information about Cunard, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or go to www.cunard.com
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