The QE2's horn blowing as she sailed out of Southampton on her Last Voyage
(Courtesy of the "Daily Echo")
On July 15, 2007 the flagship of the Cunard shipping line, the very "British" Queen, the QE2 made her last voyage to Crete on her final cruise to Creteby calling for a day in the outer anchorage of the port of Agios Nikolaos, Lasithi, in the Gulf of Mirabello, also referred to as Mirambelou or Merembellou.
It was a perfect day , weatherwise for the hundreds of passengers who were ferried ship-to-shore on a number of hired tenders including tender No 12 from the QE2 itself to the quayside in the port of Agios Nikolaos.
Observers believe that the Queen Elizabeth 2 anchored offshore in the waters of the Gulf of Mirabello, (Mirambelou/Merembellou) as a security measure rather than the more obvious suggestion that the water was not deep enough alongside the quays which has welcomed a number of large modern cruise ships in the past few years.
The QE2 left Southampton on July 8 taking in the ports of call of Malaga and Messina before arriving in sunny Crete. The QE2 departed Agios Nikolaos to Piraeus (for Athens), Marmaris, Valletta and Gibraltar before sailing home to Southampton.
"I lived in Southampton for 32 years and this ship was a big part of my life for that time. I moved back to Scotland 3 years ago and didn't think I'd see the QE2 again so it was with the greatest thrill and surprise that I looked out from my (Agios Nikolaos) hotel balcony and there it was! I just couldn't believe what I was seeing."
BiC thanks Linda for giving us kind permission to use her picture.
This will not be the last time QE2 visits Greece however as there are several more cruises during the rest of 2007 calling at Corfu and Rhodes.
In June 2007, the Cunard Line announced the sad news for ship aficionados of the sale of QE2 to Istithmar, the investment arm of the United Arab Emirates owned, 'Dubai World' organisation in October 2008 for US$100 million (75 million Euros). The new owners will turn the legendary liner into a deluxe tourist destination at the unique real estate and tourist development built, known as The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. This development, also owned by Dubai World, is the largest man-made island in the world today. It is being developed by another company in the group, Nakheel.
QE2 was delivered to Dubai World in November 2008, where the vessel has been refurbished. From 2009, the transformed QE2 whas been berthed at a specially-constructed pier as a luxury floating hotel.
The ship, which was launched by Her Majesty The Queen in September 1967. With 40+ years of service, the QE2 was the longest-serving ship in Cunard's long history. Since she came into service in 1969, she undertook 25 world cruises, crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World calls QE2 "one of the wonders of the maritime world" and sees the ship becoming one of the must-see experiences of Dubai and of the Middle East. With lots of 'TLC', it looks under Istithmar company's refurbishment of the QE2 has been to re-create the ship's original interior décor and fittings with the addition of an onboard museum to celebrate the rich and colourful history of the floating queen.
Before all that happened, cruise liner fans with deep pockets dug deep to book four farewell voyages in 2008 - the British Isles voyage and two Transatlantic Crossings (bidding farewell to New York) and the QE2's final voyage to Dubai.
As to cost - the 10 day "British Isles" Farewell Cruise started at US$2,455 for a grade A stateroom, while a Grand Suite set back a wealthy passenger the sum of or US$5,695. As for the final voyage of all, consider how aficiandos paid double those fares for the priviledge to sail for the last time in the grande old dame.
The Cunard Line still boats two queens after the QE2 ended her long service with the line. They are Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria, the latter being launched on December 10, 2007 to carry on the 160 years of Cunard Line tradition. That tradition boasts the most famous cruise liners in the world. Cunard is also one of the world's most well known brand names with a classic British heritage. Sadly the line is no longer British owned but by an American parent company - Carnival Lines. Cunard is listed on the London Stock Exchange and trades under the name of Carnival plc (LSE:CCL).
It was just so special when Agios Nikolaos and Crete paid farewell to the QE2 having graced Crete's shores for the last time, for one glorious day on July 15, 2007.