Book Review: QE2 A 50th Anniversary Celebration

QE2 A 50th Anniversary Celebration

Chris Frame, Rachelle Cross

Fifty years ago, the last British built transatlantic liner was launched. Christened by HM The Queen on September 20, 1967, the 963 foot-long vessel was named Queen Elizabeth 2. By the end of that same day, she was already known by her famous nickname: QE2. Fast, smart, and sleek, QE2 sailed more than 5.6 million miles and carried more than 2.5 million passengers during a magnificent 39 1/2 year career. Put simply, she carried more people further than any ship before her and remains the longest-serving express liner in history. Through words penned by passionate QE2 travelers and with tribute stories from captains, crew, and guests, a wide selection of carefully selected photographs bring this wonderful ship to life. 

I received this substantial hard bounded book a while ago,  for various reasons I could not get to post this review until now.  How apt it should have arrived on my desk just following the news that the former QE2 was reawakening in Dubai.

In April 2018 it was reported, in UK’s Independent, “After almost four decades of service, both illustrious and embarrassing, she was moored, forlorn, at a dock in Dubai. But finally the QE2 is to open as a floating hotel.

PCFC Hotels, owned by the Dubai government, has announced a “soft opening” of the next chapter of the cruise ship’s extraordinary tale. Cabins described as “small but beautifully designed” are available for under AED700 (£135), including breakfast, on the opening night: 18 April 2018.”


Close to the back of the book, a chapter aptly named The Long Sleep covers that last day arriving in Dubai in 2008, a ship with an uncertain future.

I was glad to see a page dedicated to Rob Lightbody founder of The QE2 Story Forum, who has worked tirelessly to keep the ships’ memory alive and who has kept focus on her condition and use in Dubai, and celebrated her in Scotland.

Working backward through the book, the same way history moves away from us, Frame and Cross included many images and great coverage of the QE2’s life after flagship status after the QM2 joined the fleet.

The authors give in-depth coverage to her new owners, Carnival Corporation and tradition of the Heritage Trail.

Jumping much further back in time, a chapter The Transplant describes her major refit 1of 986-87 in Germany when the troubled steam turbines were removed replaced by a new diesel plant which needed a larger funnel to accommodate the exhausts.

Post Falkland war colours included the distinctive Cunard red with black bands on the funnel and pebble gray hull to signify her military service, however this scheme proved hard to maintain and quickly became rust streaked resulting in her hull being returned to federal grey.

QE2 with helipad returning from military service from a chapter detailing her wartime service.

We follow her refits, such as this 1972 addition of forward prefab units.

Chapter Four, Ships have been Boring long enough, a line taken from a Cunard marketing brochure details the haltering progress in early construction, with delays and budget overruns, strikes, and changes to the design.

Early funnel designs are show in chapter three, A Great Gamble.

The book QE2 A 50th Anniversary Celebration begins with a forward by Captain Ian McNaught, and introduction by Dr. Stephen Payne OBE, Key QE2 specifications, the machines and machinery specs, and a seven page timeline, then followed by 15 chapters of well researched and descriptive text by Frame and Cross illustrated by hundreds of black and white and colour photographs, an afterword by Commodore John Burton-Hall and so much more. For a QE2 lover, this is the book, made all the stronger for excellent contributions of many QE2 luminaries and in particular with the knowledge and photo collection of historian Michael Gallagher.

History Press Dec 2017

192 pages, 9.77 x 9, cloth bound ISABN: 9780750970280

Chris Frame

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