This appeared on: http://www.ttglive.com/home
Thursday, October 30, 2008
A typical comment from passengers on the final Transatlantic crossing of the QE2 last week would have been: “She's dilapidated chic, dear, and that's the way we like her.”
In a fortnight the most famous liner in the world will set sail for the last time out of Southampton and on to Dubai, where she's been sold for £50 million and will become a luxury hotel and conference centre.
Like the end of Concorde, the decision to sell the liner, used by 2.5 million passengers and thousands of troops who were transported to the Falklands, will attract much comment when she goes on November 11.
So is it right to sell the 41 year-old icon? Should she have been saved for the nation and turned into a museum? Or should her then owner Cunard have just kept her going for as long as they could? And at the end of the day is anyone bothered?
The answer to the last question is easy. Yes! Millions turned out when she made her farewell tour around the UK last month, escorted by hundreds of small vessels. Nearly 4,000 packed Liverpool Cathedral for an emotional flag-waving farewell concert.
But the reality is that no one has the money to turn her into a floating museum to stay here, and in the current climate which hotel chain would want to buy her?
Onboard her public rooms are grand and elegant, but her bedrooms are beginning to look tired and would soon be in need of major refurbishment.
Cunard admits the QE2 could have carried on for several more years, but Cunard president Carol Marlow argues the offer from Dubai of £50 million was simply too good to turn down and in pure economic terms it was probably the right thing to do. It seems that prudence over passion has prevailed. Dubai has promised to look after the liner, the fastest in the world, and moor her on The Palm.
And here the next row is about to begin. If reports are true, then her famous red funnel will come off and be replaced with a glass one with a number of new decks added for apartments. Anyone who has visited Dubai will be well aware they like it modern and grand, so major change is in store. We have been promised a museum to honour the great liner but we will just have to wait and see.
Cunard is left trying to persuade the QE2's army of fans to turn to the Queen Victoria and the Queen Mary 2. Some have sailed on the QE2 scores of times and one woman has lived onboard for 14 years. Many say they will not use Cunard’s other ships, but they most probably will, as they relish the reputedly much higher quality of service Cunard offers onboard compared to its rivals.
Like the end of many icons in the past the debate will rage for years. But at least this one will, in some form, still be around for the world to admire, with, I imagine, a stunning new look thanks to her Dubai owners.
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