QE2 sets sail on last world cruise


LONDON – One of the world’s most famous cruise ships — the Queen Elizabeth 2 – set sail Sunday on its final global voyage before being turned into a floating hotel, media reported.

The vessel left with a fireworks send-off from the southern English port city of Southampton for her last winter trip, the domestic Press Association news agency said.

Her sister ship, the recently-named Queen Victoria, set off on her first world cruise at the same time. Both ships will travel in tandem across the north Atlantic Ocean to New York.

US cruise operator Carnival sold the QE2 for about 50 million pounds (67 million euros, 99 million dollars) in November last year to Istithmar, the investment arm of state-owned tourism company Dubai World.

On return from her final world cruise in April, she will be refurbished and turned into a five-star hotel at a specially-constructed pier on the world’s largest man-made island, The Palm Jumeirah.

Launched by her namesake in September 1967, the QE2 is previous owner Cunard’s longest-serving ship. The 963-feet (294-metre) long ship weighs 70,000 tonnes and can carry up to 1,778 passengers and more than 1,000 crew.

She has travelled 5.5 million nautical miles — the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back 13 times — undertaken 25 world cruises, crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times, and carried more than two million passengers.