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Author Topic: Visiting QE2  (Read 3795 times)

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Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Visiting QE2
« on: Dec 31, 2011, 03:32 PM »
Some years ago, not sure when exactly, my sister Pia had the (to me) extraordinary idea that she would go and visit QE2, just to see her and greet her, without actually embarking on a voyage.

So she checked the QE2 timetable and her own diary and found that there happened to be a day when her own business in New York and QE2's day there coincided. Taking a taxi to Manhattan, she went to see her, as close as she could get, and enjoyed the moment.

It was quite a few years later, after the sale of QE2 had already been announced, that this memory came back to me, and I realised that I would be in Belgium at a time when QE2 would be spending 15 December 2007 in Zeebrugge, within easy reach of Brussels itself. So, I suggested to a friend that we might make a day of it, and we set out together in the morning.

It was clear, beautiful, frosty weather, absolutely ideal for a day out and lots of photos. I even bought a new camera for the event!

When we arrived in Zeebrugge, QE2 turned out to be quite difficult to find. The port is big and, it being a Saturday, not many people were on duty. We kept seeing tantalising views of her funnel, but it took quite a while until we had located the right approach to her berth. We parked the car and I walked up to the gate.

"Your ship ID?". Of course. No problem. I always (even now) carry my most recent QE2 ID card with me (on this occasion, it was for the Svalbard voyage in June 2006) and took it out as though I had been ready to do so since leaving the ship earlier in the morning. "Can my friend come with me?". No ship ID, no access. So, I told her I would be back soon and walked in, like any passenger wanting to change her clothes before venturing out for a second tour. At the same time, my heart was racing and my feet were dying to perform the most intricate high-leaping jig!

I was wise enough not to try the QE2 security -- not wanting to be deported after I had only just gained access! And so, I walked around, looked at her from all possible angles, enjoyed the hum of the engines and watched the passengers come and go between the ship and their excursion buses. It was hard enough to tear myself away and return to my waiting friend.

She had meanwhile scouted out the surrounding area and had found a great vantage point where photographers were gathering, and which would be well suited to watching QE2 sail away later in the evening.

And so, we drove off, had a delicious lunch and took a walk around a nature reserve in the area, under the freezing but clear blue sky.

As dusk began to fall, we were back with the ship, and my access card got me in once more. The tugs were gathering, passengers were returning, some walking alongside the ship taking pictures, and I even chatted with a few of them. Darkness fell, and her lights glowed warmly. The last passengers embarked, and preparations for sailaway began. This is when the security guards on board noticed me. "Are you a passenger?", they asked me. "No, sadly not this time", I had to be honest. And they told me they were still waiting for one last passenger to embark, so that they could pull up the gangway. This is when I should have suggested to them to test my ID card!

I decided that it was no longer fair (if ever it was!) to keep my friend waiting and returned to the gate, where the security man should have wondered why I was walking out again... but he asked no questions. We took up our position at the vantage point, chatted with the other photographers, even exchanged e-mail addresses with one of them who had a particularly good camera, and waited.

Aurora, which had also spent that day in Zeebrugge, left first. Then QE2 turned, showed us all her sides, and majestically made for the harbour exit. At which stage, she blew her whistle -- and I almost jumped for joy!

My friend was remarkably patient to put up with all this behaviour :) .

When we returned to the car, we found the harbour gate locked, and the car inside. It took quite a bit of phoning and pleading until someone came and opened it for us, with a warning that we should not have parked right by the security gate!

My friend had the brilliant idea that we should make for the coast and see whether we could find the lights of the QE2 sailing out -- so we raced to the coast road and did indeed catch a final glimpse of her, lights ablaze, sailing back towards Southampton with all her lucky passengers...

The photos of the day are here :

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prondis_in_kenya/sets/72157603462363986/

~~~~~~~

It seems to me that Pia and I were not the only ones to visit QE2. If you were lucky enough to have been able to do so, it would be lovely to read your story too  :D !

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #1 on: Aug 19, 2013, 08:44 PM »
Talking today about QE2's near miss with the Pride of Kent, reminded me of this posting, which is about the day following that (fortunately) non-incident.

Knowing that, in this excellent Forum, I am by far not the only one who visited QE2 even when not able to embark, I would love to read your stories too :) ...

Offline Chris Frame

Visiting QE2
« Reply #2 on: Aug 22, 2013, 03:38 PM »
Hello Isabelle,

Can you imagine it but the first time I saw QE2 without having a voyage booked aboard (or going aboard for a day in the port) was 2007.

She visited Sydney for the Royal Rendezvous with QM2.

I had just sailed in aboard QM2 but was very excited to see QE2. Rachelle was too.  So we stayed a night in Sydney for the spectacle.

We made our way from QM2 to the hotel we were staying at that night as QE2 was not due in until the early evening.

Alas, after an early early morning to witness QM2's maiden Sydney arrival we fell asleep!!

But fortunately we awoke just in time to RUN to the Sydney Opera House. When we arrived, QE2 was just making her way through the heads and we had (amazingly given there were approx 2,000,000 people on the harbour!!) an amazing view.

Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjnU1D2v

Well she was just amazing. I was happy to see her, the event and atmosphere was unbelievable. Unlike anything I have seen before. QE2 was an absolute star, a celebrity. Everyone adored her, everyone wanted the best vantage point to see her. What a day.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #3 on: Aug 22, 2013, 05:46 PM »
Great memories, Chris! And great photos too.

I love this one in particular :


Big One's Gone by Chris Frame, on Flickr

The big one's gone, but the pretty one remains! For a while, she did, at least :) . And people were prepared to pay just to see her.

Online Twynkle

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #4 on: Aug 23, 2013, 07:46 AM »
... At which stage, she blew her whistle -- and I almost jumped for joy!...

Isabelle
Always - I did!
And would still jump for joy if only....
It was 'long time jumping' throughout the Fjords, such was that magnificent echo!
You have written a beautiful account - Thank you.
Rosie
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Chris Frame

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #5 on: Aug 23, 2013, 03:06 PM »
Loved that one too! It was awesome!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #6 on: Oct 14, 2015, 12:45 PM »
Here is a wonderful account (with photographs) of a group of school children from Hythe visiting QE2 on 13 October 1990, as part of the British Shipping Month -- twenty-five years ago.

http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/heritage/news/13844105.Students_on_board_for_lesson_on_ship/

Great of the Daily Echo to be remembering the event!

I wonder what has become of them... whether any of them are now shipping enthusiasts or even professionals as a result?

Offline June Ingram

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Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #7 on: Oct 14, 2015, 03:53 PM »
Thanks, Isabelle, for posting the link to the marvelous article.  Yes, it was very good of The Daily Echo to remember such a momentous event.  I bet there are students for whom the trip to visit QE2 led to a liking for ships and perhaps even a career.  The children in the photo do look like they are really enjoying their visit, especially visiting the bridge !   :)
QE2 - the ship for all of time, a ship of timeless beauty !

Offline Louis De Sousa

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Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #8 on: Oct 25, 2015, 09:29 AM »
I was onboard for this one

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #9 on: Oct 25, 2015, 05:36 PM »
I was onboard for this one

What are your memories of the visit? Did you get to meet the children?

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #10 on: Feb 22, 2016, 12:08 PM »
Read here about a very special visit which Lachlan enjoyed in Melbourne :

https://www.theqe2story.com/forum/index.php/topic,3002.msg77814.html#msg77814

Online cunardqueen

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #11 on: Feb 22, 2016, 02:08 PM »
Being able to visit QE2 over the years as a visitor was always a great honour. It also allowed at times the rare chance to enter via the crew gangway and see a bit of QE2 not normally viewable.

Being able to have my parents and sister onboard on the final call into Greenock was especially memorable......Not least because of a very rushed Dinner among other things..
The last photo shows my parents who l took on a 2 night trip the year before and my sister who totally got the QE2 thing with friends Angie and June who l met onboard in 1988 and again unexpectedly on a cruise in 2007  and not forgetting Mr QE2, and the joys of an incabin party.

Its something over the years l could never thank "them "enough for !! ;)

There was always a quiet smile when on sailing day the voice voice over the tannoy said "Would all passengers not sailing please proceed ashore as the gangway is about to be landed" the context changed over the years but thats the one l remember..
But one thing for sure, As a visitor on QE2 you were always very well looked after.
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #12 on: Feb 22, 2016, 02:31 PM »
Brilliant stories, but I particularly like Isabelle's clandestine approach to gaining access to the secure area so as to take photos.

My visit onboard QE2 in 1968 before she left Clydebank will live in my memory forever but I have told the story many times on the forum so I will not go over it again.

We sailed for the first time onboard QE2 in 1997 and the following year, we found out that QE2 was visiting South Queensferry, which is not far from where we live.  So I decided to book a day off work and Tom and I set off to see the ship.  We were amazed at how many people were in town to see the QE2 anchored beside the Forth Rail Bridge .  We were happy to see her but also felt very sad that we were not onboard. 

True to form we both had cameras to take pictures, but only Tom had the foresight to bring a telephoto lens.  After he had taken a few close up shots he gave me the telephoto lens to put on my camera, but soon regretted this, as just at that moment a helicopter flew overhead and hovered over the ship, giving me the opportunity to take this picture of the ship, with the tender in the foreground and the helicopter above. 

Happy days!



I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Online Brandon Sterkel

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #13 on: Feb 23, 2016, 01:34 AM »
So wonderful to hear all of these stories of people visiting our beloved ship!
Thank you all for sharing your stories and photos!
Can't wait to read more! :)
Queen Elizabeth 2: A 50 Year Legend!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #14 on: Apr 04, 2020, 10:25 AM »
I revisited this topic today and enjoyed reading once more the wonderful stories of visiting QE2 when not a passenger.

I particularly liked the link to the photos that Chris Frame had shared, where you can see the fantastic welcome from the small boats when she sailed into Sydney and the number of people who came to see her is a reminder of her status as an international icon.  Today ships come and go at ports but unless there is a special event the ships do not get the same attention.

 
Hello Isabelle,

Can you imagine it but the first time I saw QE2 without having a voyage booked aboard (or going aboard for a day in the port) was 2007.

She visited Sydney for the Royal Rendezvous with QM2.

I had just sailed in aboard QM2 but was very excited to see QE2. Rachelle was too.  So we stayed a night in Sydney for the spectacle.

We made our way from QM2 to the hotel we were staying at that night as QE2 was not due in until the early evening.

Alas, after an early early morning to witness QM2's maiden Sydney arrival we fell asleep!!

But fortunately we awoke just in time to RUN to the Sydney Opera House. When we arrived, QE2 was just making her way through the heads and we had (amazingly given there were approx 2,000,000 people on the harbour!!) an amazing view.

Pics here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjnU1D2v

Well she was just amazing. I was happy to see her, the event and atmosphere was unbelievable. Unlike anything I have seen before. QE2 was an absolute star, a celebrity. Everyone adored her, everyone wanted the best vantage point to see her. What a day.
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Offline Ben Zabulis

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #15 on: Oct 03, 2020, 10:17 AM »
I first visited in 1971 by virtue of a school trip, travelling all the way down from Nottingham. In those days it was possible to go aboard as part of a supervised visit. Much later (1991) I saw her again while working in Japan, she sailed into Yokohama so I went to see it happen. A few years after that (1992) I found myself living in Hong Kong and QE2 was difficult to avoid as she visited every March - part of the world cruise. I would always make the effort to pop down to the Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui to see her. A good view would always be had from the roof car park of the Ocean Terminal and it was easily accessible too. After a few more years of doing that there came the day (2004) that my visit to the Ocean Terminal roof became unnecessary. Why? Because I was boarding her !!
« Last Edit: Oct 03, 2020, 10:20 AM by Ben Zabulis »

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #16 on: Oct 03, 2020, 09:51 PM »
Wonderful memories, Ben!

Can you remember what particularly struck you about the QE2 in 1971? When you finally boarded in 2004, were there any big or small differences that you noticed? But then her interiors had been greatly changed since you first saw her... and of course many years has passed!

Offline Ben Zabulis

Re: Visiting QE2
« Reply #17 on: Oct 05, 2020, 02:49 PM »
I suppose at that time Isabelle the decoration would have been a bit more glam 60s/70s style with greater use of glass and chrome fixtures, maybe a tad brittle by today's standards. To be honest I don't remember too much about the interior design details, perhaps I was too young to appreciate the finer points of the subject. I did however buy the small guide pamphlet which contains some photos of the time and that makes for an interesting comparison. The one part of the ship that I immediately remembered from those early days was the circular Midships Lobby on Two Deck, the moment I entered in 2004 I knew I'd been here before. Just like Dr Who's Tardis, the decoration and upholstery may have changed over the decades but in essence it had remained the same - who says time travel is impossible lol !!

 

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