EU-Britain-QE2Voyage 1stLd-Writethru 11-11

QE2 sets sail in last voyage

Britain’s most famous cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, sailed out into the English channel Tuesday on its last voyage.

Thousands gathered at the port in Southampton on England’s south coast to wave goodbye to the 70,000 ton ship as it sailed to a new life as a luxury hotel in Dubai.

Fireworks lit up the night sky and dozens of smaller boats bobbed in the water as the ship sailed away with its 2,700 customers and crew.

But the departure was less dignified than it should have been — on a windy morning, the liner ran aground on sand banks by the nearby island of the Isle of Wight and had to be refloated with the help of five tug boats and a favorable evening tide.


Captain Ian McNaught described the ship as "a symbol of British excellence for 40 years."

Queen Elizabeth II launched the QE2 in 1967. It has traveled around 6 million miles, making more than 800 trans-Atlantic crossings and carrying 2.5 million passengers.

In 1982, it was requisitioned as a troop carrier for the Falklands War that Britain fought against Argentina.

Last year, its owner Cunard said it was selling the QE2 to the Dubai World Company for 50 million pounds (then $100 million). The company, which manages projects for the government in Dubai, plans turn it into a floating hotel and tourist attraction.

What To Read Next
Get Local