This year marks the 50th anniversary of Cunard's retired Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner, and the company plans to celebrate with a special cruise aboard its newer Queen Elizabeth.
"This mediterranean cruise is perfectly timed to pay tribute to QE2's launch and naming by HRH Queen Elizabeth II 50 years ago," said Angus Struthers, Vice President, Cunard, in a press release. "When QE2 came into service in the 1960s, many critics said she wouldn't last a decade in the age of the jet, but her unique design as a dual-purpose ship meant that she was versatile enough to operate both as a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship.
"Given how famous and loved she was, we felt this was a great opportunity to pay tribute to this Cunarder's remarkable life onboard our newest ship, Queen Elizabeth; herself designed to offer a perfect luxury cruise holiday."
The Queen Elizabeth will sail from Southampton on September 8, 2017, on an extensive 17-night cruise honoring the company's longest serving ocean liner. The modern vessel will visit Venice, Sicily and Corfu along the way.
Onboard festivities will feature five theme days, each with their own QE2-inspired menus, special guest lectures, daily program facts, former passenger get-togethers and quizzes.
Such days include "Moving in Royal Circles," focusing on the connection between the QE2 and the Royal Family. "The Falklands" will look at the vessel's use as a troop ship in 1982, and "Triumph of a Great Tradition" will explore its career and Cunard's firsts. Meanwhile, "World Flagship" will showcase the ship's 26 world cruises before "QE2 Day" highlights a ball as well as a retrospective in the Royal Court Theatre.
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Captain Ian McNaught, QE2's last Master will be among the special guests scheduled onboard for the Insights Speaker program.
He said, in the press release, "This voyage is a significant and timely tribute to the world's best-loved ship. QE2 remains the longest serving express liner in history. She carried 2.5 million passengers over 5.6 million miles; that's further than any passenger ship - ever! This remarkable ship sailed alone on the North Atlantic for most of her career. She carried the Cunard tradition from the bygone era of the ocean liner and sustained it into the 21st century. The QE2 carried Royalty, celebrities and served in the Falklands War."
He added, "What I remember most as her Master, were the passengers. Everyday people who saved up to experience life onboard the world's best-loved ship. Many came back time and time again. That is a tribute to the countless people who served as QE2's crew, each one making the experience special and memorable. QE2 has been gone for nearly a decade now, however, on her 50th anniversary the memory of her is strong. It is very fitting to be acknowledging the QE2's remarkable career here onboard Queen Elizabeth."
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Other guests consist of Commodore R. W. Warwick, QE2 social hostess Maureen Ryan and maritime historian Chris Frame.
Although the QE2, itself laid up in Dubai, is not along the route, there remains some hope that the ship will see a second life in some capacity. It was originally taken out of service in 2008 and acquired for conversion into a hotel, not unlike the line's other Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. However, nothing has yet become of the vessel as she remains permanently moored for the time being.
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