Friday, March 07, 2008

farewell to the queen

The queen of the seas. That's how I'll always think of her. The QE2 made her final visit to Tasmania this year and I drove down to the waterfront to take a last look at her.

Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) was named after the earlier Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth. She was the flagship of the line until 2004. When she was built in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1969 it looked as though she would be the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners.

Who could have guessed that liners would not only survive but would become bigger and bigger until they now look like floating cities.

But the QE2 still has the old-world styling of the traditional ocean liner, a little like a wedding cake in appearance. And the discreetly lettered name Cunard on the side of the vessel still has gives one a little thrill.

On her many visits to my home town, the ship brought back a welcome whiff of the old days of ocean travel. Two of my uncles travelled on the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary during the war, when their phenomenal speed made them the only troopships that could out-run German submarines and surface raiders.

We shall not see her like again. Modern liners look like office buildings turned on their side, and lack the prestige of "the Queens." She will be retired from active service in late 2008, to become a floating hotel in Dubai.

It was just a pity that modern security requirements meant that the townspeople of Hobart could not get close to the ship for a last look. I remember on previous visits one could stroll down the dockside and look right into the ship through open doorways and hatches.

To get a good photograph of the ship we needed to drive to the top of a hill in South Hobart and look back at the Derwent river.

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