Paul Clifton reporting from The QE2
QE2's 40th Anniversary Tour
QE2 returned home to Southampton on Sunday 23 September at the end of her 40th anniversary UK tour. Our Transport Correspondent Paul Clifton, who was on board, looks back on a memorable event.
Everywhere she went, tens of thousands of people came to wave. For many, it was the last opportunity they will ever get to see the world’s most famous passenger ship.
Sailing down the Clyde was unforgettable. People lined the banks long after the sun set, waving even when QE2 was just a bright light a mile offshore.
On board, passengers put on their black ties for dinner. Dressing up is all part of the experience. Some of them had done all 25 world cruises.
Visiting The Clyde, on her 40th Anniversary Tour
“This is my 40th cruise on the liner’s 40th anniversary,” said Sir Jimmy Savile, dressed in his habitual track suit and waving at the distant shore.
“But I am glad the ship is going to Dubai. All the other great ships have become razor blades. QE2 couldn’t be allowed to be cut up for razor blades and there’s enough money in Dubai to make this a really luxurious hotel for future generations.”
“She’s tired now and it’s the right time for her to go,” said Jimmy Murray, the Maitre d’hôte in the Mauretania Restaurant. He’s been working on board since before the maiden voyage, joining the crew before she even left the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde. “Like an old auntie, she needs to retire now and take a well-earned rest.”
Gavin Black from Wimborne is a QE2 fanatic. “I’ve been on ten cruises and I’ve got five more booked before she goes to Dubai,” he said. “You step on board and you step back in time to a more elegant age.”
Paul Clifton aged three
“QE2 is getting a little old for a liner, and she is preparing to move to the next stage of her life,” said Carol Marlow, President of Cunard Line. In fact, she was made an offer from Dubai that was too good to refuse.
For me, it was a trip down memory lane. I first saw QE2 40 years ago on Clydebank. I was three years old. I had forgotten how beautiful the Clyde is. As a reporter I saw the ship’s 25th anniversary and then the 30th, so the liner has seeped into my life too.
And when she sails from Southampton for the last time in November 2008, with her paying off pennant flying, there is only one place I want to be. And that’s in the middle of the crowds on the edge of Southampton Water. I did the same when Canberra sailed away to be scrapped, and I know there won’t be a dry eye in sight.
last updated: 19/11/2008 at 16:08