Author Topic: In your opinion what was QE2's "final nail in the coffin" with Cunard?  (Read 748 times)

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Offline ThomasPixel

The aluminium was causing problems right from the word go, pretty much.  Patches are in evidence in photos from very early in her career.  Major works were carried out in 1987.  However by taking her off the scheduled transatlantic, and slowing her down, they'd hugely reduced the strains on it.   It sounds dramatic and fatal, but I don't think it was.    There are other things that she couldn't do that she would need to at some point - e.g. advanced sewage treatment etc.

On another note, as a hotel, I believe the aluminium is no problem.  The ship isn't moving, isn't flexing, so different, easier treatments are possible - "QE2 London" had a very nice plan to permanently fix it.

I would argue that the Aluminium was still a significant problem, even when off the transatlantic and mostly running at slower speeds. There were plenty of occasions where she went through rough weather (such as in the Bay of Biscay and sometimes did so at her past transatlantic speeds 28 to 30 knots) and my dad, in particular, remembers seeing one hole/split in the Aluminium superstructure on one of those cruises. Significant strain did still occur enough but not as often. The occasional transatlantics not helping either.

Out of curiosity, what was QE2 London's permanent fix for the Aluminium problems? Will Dubai adopt the fix, I wonder? Also, does Aluminium corrode like untreated steel does in salty sea air? Or does it behave differently? I wonder about that aspect too, looking into the very long term future (decades).

Ah yes, the replacement/major upgrade of the sewage treatment plant (mainly to do with what level of treatment waste got prior to discharge back into the sea if I'm right in saying?).
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline Malcolm

Had no idea that the Seven Deck pool was reconstructed.

Ditto - that would explain why it wasn't rebuilt as a pool

Offline Malcolm

I think QE2's days were numbered as soon as Princess Cruises took over management in 2005. The boss there, Peter Ratcliffe, had a huge dislike for old ships.

I think that it's far more simple than that - her days were numbered from the day she was conceived. As a major liner she filled her role as queen of the seas admirably in 1971 but, by 2010, she was old. If she hadn't once have been considered the most luxurious passenger ship afloat then she wouldn't even have lasted into this millennium.

She was designed and originally built in the 60's. Standards then were quite different; expectations were much lower and staffing was cheaper. In the 70's those cabins on Five Deck would have been quite acceptable but, as the ship headed towards the 80's, Cunard was finding it increasingly difficult to fill them. Compare a bottom grade cabin on QE or Vicky with an M7 - do either QE or Vicky have any cabins that have bunks?

Almost every cabin on both QE and Vicky has a balcony. The only balconies on QE2 were not in the most stable of positions. Nothing could be done to give QE2 more balconies.

The number of staff that were required to do anything on QE2 was much higher than on her sisters. QE2 was designed to have a cabin steward who looked after a few cabins. The steward's job was to service, turn down, provide room service, etc. On the newer ships everything is arranged centrally - the staffing costs are less but you don't get the feeling of belonging, you don't feel that your cabin steward knows who you are.

Those are just three of the examples of things that made QE2 obsolete. When you start considering that she was less accessible (try navigating a wheelchair around her for a couple of weeks and you'll be amazed how complicated it is), used more water and fuel, needed more tugs, etc it's amazing that she even lasted to 2008.

The last nail in her coffin? I think it was Cunard finding someone who would pay a lot of money for her when her value to Cunard was little more than the name and her scrap value. I was very sorry to see her go but sailing on her at the end was more to see what she had been rather than what she had become :)

Offline Peter Mugridge

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In the 70's those cabins on Five Deck would have been quite acceptable but, as the ship headed towards the 80's, Cunard was finding it increasingly difficult to fill them.)

Just curious... is that why I didn't have any problem getting exactly what I wanted when I booked in 2002?

( My specification to the agent was "portside, near the bow" with the intention of getting the full effect of the speed and maybe the occasional washing machine effect; the agent got us cabin 5050 within minutes. )
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"

Offline ThomasPixel

Ditto - that would explain why it wasn't rebuilt as a pool

It was rebuilt as a pool as I swam in it in the couple of years after, and it's present in Rob's 2011 QE2 visit photos albeit empty but surrounded with the gym equipment.
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline ThomasPixel

Sorry to nit-pick Malcom but QE2 had no "sisters" but "running mates". I know from my Mum's experience on QE2 that disabled access was not anywhere near enough indicative of QE2's age and attitudes when she was designed unfortunately. My Mum used her own mobility scooter on QE2 in 2007 and 2008 approx. Although more recent ships, particularly the new ones, are much more friendly in this regard they still suffer from being ships in certain areas (heavy oak doors, or heavy sprung doors to deal with the weather and the doors with the lips/steps) and not much if anything can be done about this in this regard, unfortunately.

Thomas
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline Malcolm

Just curious... is that why I didn't have any problem getting exactly what I wanted when I booked in 2002?

Possibly - although that might depend on what you wanted! I'm going on comments made by a then Captain in the late 90's who said that they had some of the most expensive accommodation at sea but that they also had some of the cheapest. He then went on to talk about the problems of filling so many cabins. Actually, it was the mid range cabins that were hard to sell - the very cheap and very expensive went without much effort.

Offline Malcolm

It was rebuilt as a pool as I swam in it in the couple of years after, and it's present in Rob's 2011 QE2 visit photos albeit empty but surrounded with the gym equipment.

You're quite right - I've swum in it more than once. I was getting it mixed up with the Six Deck pool that was rebuilt as a spa.

Offline Malcolm

My Mum used her own mobility scooter on QE2

As did mine. I also spent a month pushing a wheelchair on the Final WC because my husband broke his leg. There was hardly anywhere (was the Funnel Bar an exception?  ??? ) that wasn't accessible but the route you had to use could be very convoluted. Think about getting to the theatre balcony or the Britannia Grill!

... they still suffer from being ships in certain areas (heavy oak doors, or heavy sprung doors to deal with the weather and the doors with the lips/steps) and not much if anything can be done about this in this regard, unfortunately.

BUT those areas are few and far between. You don't have anywhere like the access onto Boat Deck along the side of the ship where the ramps to get over those lips are so steep that it's almost impossible to get a chair up them and scooters ran the risk of grounding as they went over the apex!

Offline ThomasPixel

Indeed the routes around newer ships (such as QM2 from my experience) are far less convoluted and the ramps inside the ships up to the doors are not too steep anymore as you've said. The high sprung doors and any heavy doors to the outside decks are still an issue though if the mobility scooter or wheelchair user is on their own unlike the lifts for example which are easy to use in comparison in that position.
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline ThomasPixel

Michael - I was wondering with QE2's sale, did Dubai approach Cunard out of the blue during 2006 or did Cunard tender (for lack of a better word) for her sale and retirement/scrapping? Did Cunard put out feelers to potential buyers (because of Princess management and upcoming SOLAS among many other reasons already talked about)?

Thomas
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline Michael Gallagher

In June 2006 Cunard appointed a shipbroker to tout QE2 about in the Far East. The company was keen to guage interest and possible value of any sale. So Cunard instigated proceedings!

While I have no proof of this it is my personal belief that former P&O Board Member Sir John Parker (who sat on the Carnival Corporation and Dubai World Boards at this time) connected Carnival with Dubai. Dubai were keen to get something after failing to secure Norway. And when told QE2 would cost them $100 million and they didn't blink Carnival jumped at them. Complete surprise to get QE2's book value with no negotiations.
« Last Edit: Sep 11, 2017, 02:53 PM by Michael Gallagher »

Offline ThomasPixel

That's interesting to know, particularly Carnival and Dubai World having a mutual connection at the time!
First travelled on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last stepped foot and travelled on QE2 in July 2008.

Offline cunardqueen

Changed days when Trafalgar House wanted to buy QE2. As Nigel Broakes said we couldnt buy QE2 we had to buy Cunard !
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Malcolm

The high sprung doors and any heavy doors to the outside decks are still an issue though if the mobility scooter or wheelchair user is on their own unlike the lifts for example which are easy to use in comparison in that position.

My mother took her scooter on both Vicky and QE and I don't remember her ever having a problem (although that doesn't mean that she neither had any problems not that she could get everywhere ::) )

Offline Oceanic

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I really don't think there was a definitive "final nail" regarding QE2 and Cunard, just a series of ever mounting problems that accumulated overtime. The deterioration of the Aluminium was most likely one of Cunard's largest causes for concern; I know first hand that 40+ Year old Aluminum isn't easy to work with/repair, the stuff is impossible to patch as effectively as steel and becomes severely weakened as the years mount, and that's just my experience from working with classic cars, I can't imagine the problems blown up to QE2's scale. And although I love her as much as the next person by 08' she felt, for lack of a better term, "old hat" despite the numerous renovations she had little to offer when compared with modern cruise ships to the average consumer looking for a holiday at sea, and Carnival, being Carnival took note. Furthermore despite QE2 not needing to meet all of the new SOLAS regulations (As mentioned by Rob) she still would have needed an expensive refit to meet the heightened expectations. 

But really, when all is said and done, Carnival was the one pulling the strings, QE2's clock was ticking from the moment Cunard was purchased.   
"Some Profound Text Goes Here"

Offline Greg Rudd

One would argue that 2008 was the right time seeing the condition that the Canberra was in back in 1997 before withdraw.

Offline Oceanic

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One would argue that 2008 was the right time seeing the condition that the Canberra was in back in 1997 before withdraw.
Oh I agree, had QE2 stayed in service after 08' she would have seen further dramatic drops
in her passenger base. Ultimately she was saved from the embarrassment that faces older ships, and if Dubai pulls through she will have a new purpose worthy of her.
"Some Profound Text Goes Here"

Offline Greg Rudd

The poibt is the QE2 would have have had to have had a major dry docking in 08/09 to get her back into survey. It was often said post 09 Dubai drydocking she was in better nick than she was in 07/8

Offline Michael Gallagher

And we haven't factored in the possibility of a catastrophic failure of an ageing system that would have required immediate major repairs. Cunard would have been forced to make a decision: repair or retire.

Offline Oceanic

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Very true, QE2 was going to need serious and expensive work sooner or later, and Carnival wasn't prepared to take the gamble of keeping her in service under the threat of serious malfunction due to her age. From a corporate point of view I don't blame them.
"Some Profound Text Goes Here"

Offline Michael Gallagher

Here is what said of Scythia - one of Cunard's longest-serving vessels at 36 years - when she was finally retired: "Elderly, pokey relic that was gasping her last. Mercifully soon to be scrapped and not a moment too soon".

Would we have wanted that to be the final opinion of QE2?

Offline Twynkle

Here is what said of Scythia - one of Cunard's longest-serving vessels at 36 years - when she was finally retired: "Elderly, pokey relic that was gasping her last. Mercifully soon to be scrapped and not a moment too soon".

Would we have wanted that to be the final opinion of QE2?

Hello Michael,
NO - absolutely, certainly definitely Not!

It's the word relic that makes for difficult reading...
Elderly - that could be dignified and respected...perhaps?
Pokey -  not far off quirky, and this was one of QE2's best assets!
Relic - this sounds 'worthless', uncomfortably close to a Wreck
(have to say this is what can easily be identified with at times ;) )
Rosie.

I's a great question - What would you have wanted to be the final opinion of QE2?


QE2 has been waiting alongside in Dubai for very nearly  whole years... she seriously needs to be earning her keep....

Offline cunardqueen

Quote
Pokey -  not far off quirky, and this was one of QE2's best assets!   

Hmm An inside single cabin away down deep on Five deck...it felt like another country when using those tiny stairwells to get down there...  ;) ;)
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Hmm An inside single cabin away down deep on Five deck...it felt like another country when using those tiny stairwells to get down there...  ;) ;)

I had one of those in 2007 and absolutely loved it.

Offline Trevor Casey

I had one of those in 2007 and absolutely loved it.
Hmm An inside single cabin away down deep on Five deck...it felt like another country when using those tiny stairwells to get down there...  ;) ;)
Wish I could have had the "QE2 Experience"!
Forum Member since March 3rd, 2017

Offline Malcolm

One would argue that 2008 was the right time seeing the condition that the Canberra was in back in 1997 before withdraw.

I regret that the closest I ever got to Canberra was seeing her, from a distance, in Gibraltar. I wish I had seen her insides. Didn't she have things like cabins that weren't en-suite? That would be a major no-no for most passengers post-1980.

Offline Malcolm

Pokey -  not far off quirky, and this was one of QE2's best assets!

I agree :) Those corridors and cabins on Five Deck were/are incredible. The way cabins were fitted in to give as many cabins with portholes as possible; the way all the beds run from bow to stern; the way not an inch of space is wasted in the entire plan. BUT would you chose to sleep in a cabin that measured about 7 by 6, had bunk beds and where there wasn't room for both of you to stand up at the same time? QE2 had at least one cabin like that - I've seen it!

Offline Michael Gallagher

Cabin 4209

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Cabin 4209

Would be quite tricky for a couple to emerge together from that cabin ready for a formal evening!!  Would require great coordination!
Passionate about QE2 for over 30 years.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Michael did they ever consider knocking cabins together?
Passionate about QE2 for over 30 years.

Offline Michael Gallagher

I haven't seen plans to knock cabins together - apart from the officers cabins on Sports / Sun deck to make extra Penthouses and when they made the big suites on Two Deck - but there are several occasions during her career when cabins liked this were removed from inventory (locked up and not sold) in order to give her a passenger capacity that would enable one-sitting dining throughout. But demand - and the requirement to make as much money from her as possible would revert to two-sittings in the Britannia / Tables of the World / Mauretania Restaurant.

When I joined Cunard in 1994 a sailing was considered full if it was between 75 and 80% full. Once that was done attention would switch to sailings that had not reached 75%. Carnival changed that with their full ship mentality where every berth has to be filled regardless of price. While the latter makes more money the former system was better for the ship and crew as it meant fewer passengers travelling so less stress on crew but is also gave the Hotel Department a block of empty cabins that people could be moved to if their cabin was too noisy / too hot / flooded etc.

Offline Andy Holloway

Talking about wheelchair access reminds me of an incident at the beginning of a cruise down to the Med.

This elderly Brit couple, he in a wheelchair she as his carer boarded in S'ton, being 'savvy', so they thought, and working on their Travel Agents - outdated - advice [read Michael's post reference Carnivals 'Full ship mentality' above] they had booked the cheapest cabin on 5 Deck fwd, Port side fwd. On boarding and being escorted to their cabin they immediately complained to the Waiter escorting them that the cabin was 'too small' and not at all Wheelchair friendly'! The poor old Waiter referred them to the Guest Service Manager, [GSM] to whom they went post hast, well after having tea and cakes anyway! GSM 'empathised with them', informed them that the ship was fully booked and anyway that was the cabin they had booked! He also said that if they came to see him the following morning he might have a spare cabin from a 'no show' but couldn't guarantee anything. That evening they were further informed by their cabin stewardess that they couldn't leave the wheelchair out in the corridor but would have to accommodate it inside the cabin! They made a fuss and said that once she was off duty hey would put it outside anyway, to which the Stewardess replied that if they did then Security would remove it during their safety/security rounds as it would be constituting a hazard, in the event of an emergency.

The next morning they went to see the GSM who by chance had 2 spare cabins from 'No shows', to which he took them to see if they were acceptable. One cabin was 5 Deck aft and the other 4 deck fwd, not much better that their original cabin, but with a door that opened straight out into the corridor. Their original 5 Deck cabin was in a set of 2 down a side corridor. GSM then left them at the 4 deck cabin to talk it over and returned to his office, having told them that once they had made a decision to come and tell him and then he would arrange for housekeeping to move them. 

At approx 1110 they were using the 'E' staircase lifts to return to Reception, the inside one of the port side pair, and on arriving at 2 Deck she backed out of the lift and promptly fell backwards down the stairs onto the half landing, he followed in the wheelchair, landing on top of her!!

As luck would have it, the Dr and Nurse were just walking fwd on 2 Deck having just finished at the aft Surgery and saw the incident occur, so were able to take charge straight away and begin triage.

It turned out that the lady had suffered and bad injury to her leg and would need to be admitted to the Medical Centre. As she was her husbands carer he also had to be admitted! 

So we then had this elderly couple, both confined to wheelchairs 'living' in the Medical Centre for the rest of the cruise!!

As Security Officer it befell to me to investigate the incident and collect all relevant evidence, as such i had a fair amount of contact with the couple and the Medical Staff, who were wonderful.

But after a few days this couple were becoming a bit 'Ward weary' so The Dr and I worked out a way to at least get them ashore for some fresh air. Luckily we were calling into Malaga, which meant that the gangway would be on 5 deck and with easy access to and from the ship.
So it was that, with The Medical Centre supplying their orderly and housekeeping providing a couple of Utilities, we were able to get the couple 'ashore' in their respective wheelchairs for about an hour to sit and enjoy the views of Malaga harbour!  Firstly the 'boys' wheeled them up beyond the bow and pointed them across the harbour, while they 'jibber jabbered' away in Tagalog behind them. Then, after a suitable time lapse they moved them down aft to change the views and continued with their 'conversation'! Finally returning back onboard and returning the couple to the Medical Centre.

On approaching S'ton the Senior Dr contacted the couple's GP, fully briefing him on events and arranged for him to be at their house when the St John's Ambulance, arranged by Cunard, dropped them off!

We sailed that evening off to New York and about 3 or 4 days into the 'trannie' i got an email from Cunard S'ton informing me that' strange as it may seem' the couple's solicitor had contacted them to say that, the couple would be suing Cunard for damages and loss of enjoyment on their cruise and that Cunard's dealing with the whole incident had been poor!!!

Needless to say that, once we had presented their Solicitor with a good proportion of 'our' evidence and our actions, together with the Dr's recommendation, in writing to S'ton, that the couple should be repatriated from Lisbon 2 days after the incident, which they had declined, due to limited Medical/Travel Insurance, the legal action was dropped.

But it showed two main points;
One being that there was a 'theory' out there that you book the lowest grade cabin that you can then once onboard make a fuss and 'normally' you would have got an upgrade by at least one deck, possibly even two or three!

The other point was that many passengers travel with either no or minimal travel insurance and when something does go wrong they are left 'stranded! Luckily in this case the ship was able to accommodate them in the Medical Centre, but had there been a major incident then the ship's capability to respond would have been severely restricted.



Offline Malcolm

Cabin 4209

They must have had two!  :o The cabin I saw had the shower room behind the main door and the bunks on the opposite side!

Offline Michael Gallagher

Another layout variation... Cabin 4161

Offline Rod

I almost hesitate to get involved in this discussion because I do not wish to ruffle any feathers, nor do I wish to insult anyone.  If I do I apologize now before I start!
These are my opinions, and mine alone.
QE2 was built because, at the time of conception, the bean counters at Cunard Line LTD., thought that they had a way to make a vast amount of money. They did. They threw everything into it that they could, to save operating costs, maintenance costs, increase crew efficiency, increase passenger satisfaction, speed up service to passengers etc etc. While still keeping the Cunard BRAND ( I capitalize because this is important!) They did their sums, got ideas from a vast amount people around the globe, both in the hotel industry and from a technical standpoint. Some of those things were small, some huge, eg aluminium superstructure.
Things did not go well from the get go as we all know. Turbine troubles.
Lets face it QE2 was state of the art!
I think that QE2 was built either 10 years too early or 10 years too late!
Over the years and various management changes it slowly went down hill. Service dropped because money to provide that service dropped, had to keep the profits up, without spending too much to do so. Other cruise lines were coming out with newer products, more "gimmicks/amenities" and all QE2 had was what was old by say....1976. Remember, once a ship is built it is very difficult to rebuild her! Very few, if any,  ships are planned/built with rebuilding in mind. Think things like Penthouse suites/ magradome, deck buffets, USPH an additional 1880 tons of A/C capacity.
Enter new management, that to be honest, had absolutely no clue as to what the Cunard "Brand " was and what their goal market was. They tried to merge the markets using the same food and same entertainment, all the time cutting costs on them.
Now bring in new ownership changes and the whole ball game changes. Some of them for the better, some for the worse.
Add to that, QE2 was getting older, had been pushed hard for the first years of her life and it was starting to show. They change itineraries so that there would be a hard push to the first port then a gentle cruise to the next couple and a hard push home. Drydockings were changed to every 2 years and refurb budgets were cut. Some refurbs were done at sea, like carpeting, curtains and upholstery. Half of the work for an annual refit was done during the 4 day call at Hong Kong. More time at sea where the money was made.
All this time QE2 was being "updated" bit by bit, to try and get the younger crowd, with more money onto the ship. But this was driving the older crowd away. Which was fine because they were dying off anyway.  Cunard name recognition was waning, even during my time at sea the name Cunard and QE2 was becoming less recognized! Then they did a big refit don't know when, after 89 trying to put the old style back. Kick out the formica etc and put wood paneling in, restore the old Cunard. Looked beautiful. But a little bit too late I feel. I also got the impression that whomever the ownership was theirs hearts were just not in it.
I think they finally said, look we have an expensive white elephant here that is going to start losing lots unless we rebuild. What do we do? You have your answer.
So, I do not think it was SOLAS, Carnival, management aluminium. I think it was an all of the above.
If you are going to drive your 1926 Rolls Royce every day for 400 miles at 50 mph, be prepared to have to put more and more money into it.

Offline Trevor Casey

Rod speaks the truth! Thank you for your input, Rod!
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