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Rejected concepts for the 1987 refit

Created on April 26th 2010, by Rob Lightbody

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Sleeker, more efficient, yet more sumptions,
1987 should see Cunard's flagship even more enviably
Queen of the Seas - a ship for the 21st century.

QE2 Hotel Operation - A New Look

A ship which reflects the future, and the past

Modern design & British Heritage

In the mid-80s, it had become apparent that QE2 would need to be re-engined and a mega-refit would be required to extend her life. 

Options were considered, and eventually a highly-advanced, expensive technical solution was found, and a date chosen for the work - October 1986 to April 1987.  You can read more information about the technical aspects here, however the "hotel"-side of QE2 needed attention too, and Cunard asked AGP (Architects Group Practice) to come up with some inital concepts for what could be done. 

As you can see below, most of these were not carried out, but some elements of the ideas were carried through and, indeed, AGP went on to carry out the hotel refit work on QE2 in 1986-7.  The concepts below were drawn up between 1984 and 1985.


The main reason for the changes was to make more money from the ship and her passengers, and to boost the first class capacity and facilities, for which there was great demand.  With the new technical plant Cunard would essentially have a brand new ocean liner for the 21st century... here was a plan to make her interiors match.

External Changes

QE2 would have received a new, redesigned funnel; a new mast and a redesigned forward superstructure. For more details of the reasons behind these changes, read on.


Modern Profile

A redesigned funnel

A new mast


Several proposals were developed for increasing the number of deluxe cabins on board and generally lifting the whole first-class experience on board.  A unique environment for the first class traveller. 


From the moment they step on board, the passenger should feel a unique sense of identity.

Deluxe / Penthouse passengers accessed their area via the Midships Lobby, D Stairway and the Queens Grill Lounge but that was to change with these passengers being redirected from the Midships Lobby to the underused A Stairway which (together with the two lifts) was to be completely upgraded to a very high standard.

Upon arrival at Boat Deck level a new First Class Lobby, featuring a new Concierge Desk and small feature lift serving the Penthouses above, would be found.  

The upgraded A stairway with new light feature filling the stairwell which (seen as a safety concern at the time).

The new concierge desk on boat deck at A stairway
with the glass lift serving the penthouses above.

New Restaurant  

The Upper Deck Tables of the World Kitchen would be replaced with a new exclusive Queens Grill / First Class Restaurant with the forward structure of the ship being modified and provided with new windows to provide view over the bow and front of ship.  This would become "the most lavish and exciting dining room afloat".

New Lounge and Bar

To accompany the new restaurant a new Cocktail Bar would be built above it on Boat Deck in the space of the Officers Wardroom.  This multi-functional space would feature a new bar and cocktail area plus a separate lounge for relaxing or private functions. Larger windows for view forward would be provided.

New Cabins  

Eight new Penthouses (with balconies) would be built (four on each side of the new Boat Deck lobby) in the area occupied by Officers Cabins - although they would be raised up to sports deck level. The balconies would be clearly evident in the amended superstructure at Boat Deck level.  The radio room would be relocated to aft of the bridge.

The existing Queens Grill would be replaced with 11 good-sized cabins equal in standing to the Penthouse Suites.  A further six Penthouse Suites were to be constructed in the space aft of the existing Penthouse block on Signal Deck.  

The above scheme involving the new restaurant, lounge and bar and new cabins would have involved the creation of 23 new first class cabins.   This scheme would also require the centralization of Queens Grill and Tables of the World Kitchen facilities into the Quarter Deck Columbia Kitchen together with an upgrade of facilities in that facility.  

Alternative Proposal  

An alternative scheme to the new restaurant and bar would involve the creation of eight new first class cabins in the Upper Deck Tables of the World Kitchen and five new cabins in the Boat Deck Officers Wardroom – all with view forward.

The adoption of this scheme together with other planned cabin additions would provide 25 or 27 new first class cabins. If a new restaurant and bar was not created then the existing Queens Grill, Queens Grill Lounge and Queens Grill Kitchen would require “extensive” refurbishment and upgrading.    


New Observation Area

This new area above the Penthouses and Bridge would feature a fair-weather observation platform and a glass-walled astronomical observatory. Access would be obtained via the new feature lift from Boat Deck A Stairway, the mast well and new stairs from Boat Deck up above the Bridge.  This area would also incorporate the new mast design.        

New Golf Facilities  

The deck area aft of the Double Down Room would feature a nine-hole golf putting pitch and a new golf simulator. This area would benefit from the decking over and partial glazing of the Boat Deck above.


Double Room

Various major alterations were deemed to be imperative to this room.  The circular staircase would be removed and the stage relocated to its space with two new staircases surrounding the new stage area which would be rotating and surmounted by a crystal type glass canopy which could be front or back lit.

The forward part of the room would be tiered and the upper level would be lined with heavy curtains so the shops could be screened off during performances.  The shops were considered a problem since they intruded on the cabaret atmosphere of the evening.
A new stage sound and light Control Room would be built at Boat Deck level.  

Queens Room  

Work to the Queens Room Promenades.  

Shopping Arcade  

The shops would be extended aft to create a shopping mall based on a New Orleans theme featuring an ice cream bar, soda fountain and beverage bar.  The existing shops would be re-designed in the same theme.

Double Down bar / piano bar

Double down bar is used mainly by officers because its dark, small, uninteresting and difficult to find.  The bar and external area aft would be combined to form a new Piano Bar and redone in a Colonial style featuring a folding screen to enable private functions.


Tour Office and Video Games Room  

Combined and transformed into a Conference Room.   (shown in diagram above) 

Midships Lobby  

The ship has no true reception area, and first view is the dark midships lobby which is unwelcoming. 

The area above on One Deck (occupied by the Harrods Shop) would be incorporated into the Midships Lobby with the removal of Harrods to Boat Deck and the construction of a Florist surrounding a new glass and mirrored dome above the Lobby below. The dome would be glazed in a neo-classical style. A new Concierge Desk would be able to rotate to face either gangway or D Stairway.        


Theatre Bar  

Extremely popular, so why re-do it?  Because its the location on a main circulation route that makes it popular. 
The Bar would be redone in a Manhattan or London Piano Bar or Wine Bar style with a new raised podium for the piano, the relocation of the dance floor away from the D Stairway entrance and the inclusion of fixed and movable seating.

One Deck Swimming Pool  

Two schemes were proposed for this area:

  • An enclosed Neapolitan style, Centre serving food and drink. This would be achieved by slightly extending the Quarter Deck above allowing the space below to be glazed in. A central feature would be achieved by cutting away the aft bulkhead around the Quarter Deck swimming pool tank to create a window looking into that pool.

  • Relocating the stairs between One and Quarter Decks to create space around the bar and provision of a new children’s pool as well as extend the existing food and drink bars.

Two Deck General  


A new two-level Reception Desk and separate Pursers Office would be part of a new layout which would be furnished like a study with timber panelling and leather furniture.  

Travel Facility  

This facility forward on Two Deck would be relocated to the Aft Lobby on Two Deck and replace the Barclays Bank facility.

Finance Office / forward lobby

The existing Finance Office located in the Forward Lobby on Two Deck would be relocated to Two Deck aft at G Stairway.

Two schemes were considered for the forward space:

  • A new Officers Wardroom should the existing one be given over to the use of first class passengers.

  • A new ‘Navigation Area’ featuring a mock-up Bridge with simulators and film of life in the Engine Room together with a new Arts and Crafts Workshop for passengers.  


The passenger stairways had not received any work since QE2’s introduction and new safety rules in regard to the height of the balustrades were impending so the stairways would be upgraded with emphasis on A, D and G Stairways where new safety features incorporating new lighting would be included to fill the wells in these staircases.   (see image of A-stairway above)

Three Deck Telephone Exchange  

The updating of the telephone system to a fully automated one would make the existing exchange redundant so two schemes were proposed:

  • The creation of four inside cabins.

  • This space and the four cabins below on Four Deck combined into a two-storey Teenage recreation area featuring a chute, moving walkway, video games and sound and light effects - all creating a mini 'future world' similar to that at Disney Land.  This should provide hours of supervised entertainment for early to mid-teens.

Five Deck

A new style of cabin would replace those in two areas of Five Deck.


Two schemes were proposed:  

  • Four inside cabins on Five Deck near to C Stairway would be incorporated into a new two-level (Five and Six Deck) hospital facility including a Passenger Consultation Room.  

  • A re-design of the existing Six Deck Facility (with no Passenger Consultation Room).



The existing structure would be realigned and the equipment would be renewed.  

One Deck Crew Facilities  

The new layout would provide for a new Quiet Room and Gymnasium while the Crew Messes would be upgraded and the Crew Cinema refurbished.


  • The complete replacement of the telephone system and the inclusion of new direct-dial telephones in each cabin

  • The renewal of the air-conditioning and chilled water plants.

  • The renewal of the forward cranes.

  • The complete upgrading of the public address system

  • The replacement of the entire sound and light system.


While the proposals submitted by AGP were exciting and would have resulted in new QE2 and a new ‘QE2 experience’ the vast majority of them were not developed further and those that were, were scaled down.  

 Those that did materialise during the re-engining included:  

  • The creation of eight (instead of six) new Penthouse Suites on Signal Deck.

  • The addition of new twin staircases, a new stage and tiered seating in the Double Room.

  • The extension of the Shopping Arcade.

  • The re-doing of the Double Down Room (to a Yacht Club concept rather than a Colonial one).

  •  The amendment of the One Deck Swimming Pool to include two new whirlpools and a children’s paddling pool.

  • Work was undertaken in the Bureau and Finance Departments on board.

  • A new telephone system was incorporated with new direct-dial telephones in each passenger cabin.

  • The Laundry was rebuilt.

  • The One Deck Crew Facilities were upgraded.

  • The inclusion of a golf simulator.

Indeed as the design process for the hotel side developed other new concepts were proposed but not initiated and these included:  

  • an all-weather observatory

  • the swimming pool under the Magrodome being given a hydraulic floor so it could be used as a paddling pool or dance floor.

  • the installation of escalators to the Kitchen below the Tables of the World to improve service in the aft section of the restaurant.


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