Posted in England

Southampton, England – Queen Elizabeth 2

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The 963-foot long Queen Elizabeth 2 of Britain’s Cunard Line remains my favorite “modern” liner and I’m still upset that nothing has been done with the ship since her retirement and subsequent mooring at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2008.  For years, I wrote to Cunard requesting the annual cruise brochures and once had quite a large collection of deck plans, postcards, pins, and other memorabilia from the ship.  Alas, I left it all back in America when I moved to Southeast Asia a decade ago so it’s all gone now.  All that I have of the ship now are a couple of postcards and a keychain.

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I purchased the postcard pictured above while in Southampton, England, in late May 2003 – the only time I ever saw the QE2 in person.  I had journeyed to London in order to attend two events – a pair of stadium shows by American rocker Bruce Springsteen and a Royal Geographical Society gala marking the 50th anniversary of the ascent of Mount Everest (those in attendance included Sir John Hunt, Sir Edmund Hillary, the sons of Tenzig Norgay and, oh yes, Their Majesties Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip – a rare “black-tie” occasion for your’s truly).  I had a day off one morning so I hopped on a southbound train early enough to have breakfast outside of the old Cunard-White Star Line offices.  A harbor cruise took me to the quay used by RMS Titanic in 1912 and the Pilgrims bound for America in the Mayflower long before that.  We also rounded the QE2 a couple of times.  What struck me most about the ship was how well-protected she was; numerous Zodiac boats darted around the liner, loaded with Royal Marines packing submachine guns.  We even saw military divers in the water inspecting her hull.

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This second card pictures Queen Elizabeth 2 in one of Norway’s wonderful fjords (Stavenger, perhaps?).  It was sent to me by a friend who sailed aboard her in late 2005 and reached me here in Thailand some months later.  Unusually, the QE2, built starting in 1965 and sailing on her maiden voyage in May 1969, never held the “RMS” (Royal Mail Ship) designation held by so many other Cunarders.  Instead, she had the prefix “SS”, and later “MV” or “MS” in official documents.  A few years ago, ship fans were horrified by reports that her original port of registration – Southampton – was painted over while dockside in Dubai.  Currently, she is registered in a so-called port of convenience:  Port Vila, Vanuatu, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean!

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A great number of stamps have been issued over the years portraying the QE2, the first as part of a set issued by Great Britain in 1969.  I particularly like this one marking her first visit to the mid-Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha in 1979 which shows her original funnel prior to her 1986/87 conversion from steam power to diesel.

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