The Queen Elizabeth 2 was a luxury cruise liner launched in 1967.
When it completed its maiden voyage in 1969, the QE2 was a marvel of modern cruising and design.
The ship was retired in 2008 and later turned into a luxury hotel in Dubai.
Named for Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship is remembered as one of the most luxurious ships to ever sail the sea.
The ship was launched on September 20, 1967, by Queen Elizabeth herself, and it completed her maiden voyage the following year.
Here's a look back at what the Queen Elizabeth 2 looked like when it first launched and during its heyday during the 1960s and '70s.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 was a British ocean liner and cruise ship that set new standards in luxury travel.
The Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2, was launched on September 20, 1967. It cost £30 million, or $36.5 million, to build, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.
"There are no ships like it today, quite frankly," Andy Dinsdale, a former cruise director on the QE2, told Condé Nast Travel in 2021. "She was the fastest ship of her type in the world at that time. You look at the ships nowadays, they're all sky rises on ship bases. The QE2 was sleek, she was slim. She was made to cut through the ocean waves and she did it beautifully — fast and elegantly."
While flying was becoming an increasingly popular way to travel, cruising was still a way to cross the Atlantic for many people.
The ship was built by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Scotland, for the Cunard Line.
It measured 963 feet long, which is 80 feet longer than the infamous Titanic that sailed in 1912. The QE2 weighed 65,863 tons and was fitted to carry 2,000 passengers.
The ship was named after Queen Elizabeth II, who attended its launch.
In the photo above, Queen Elizabeth II and John Rannie, the managing director of the Clydebank shipyard, can be seen attending the launch of the Queen Elizabeth 2.
Roughly 30,000 spectators attended the ceremony and a bottle of Australian wine was smashed against the ship's bow.
The ship completed her full maiden voyage in May 1969, after her maiden voyage in December 1968 was cut short due to turbine trouble.
For her maiden voyage, the QE2 sailed between Southampton, England, and New York. The voyage lasted about four days.
Designed by Dennis Lennon, the ship's interiors were perfectly in keeping with the funky, modern design styles of the 1960s.
The photo above shows the interior of the Queen's Room, a large reception and dining area, on the QE2 in 1969.
The room featured carpeting and modernist furnishings that epitomized style and luxury at the time, which appeared inspired by the aesthetic of the jet and space age, The RIBA Journal reported.
Cruise liners like the QE2 set a new standard for luxury travel.
Above, passengers converse in the VIP lounge aboard the QE2 luxury liner in 1969.
The ship had a number of different dining rooms, which were seated according to which class ticket a passenger held, according to Condé Naste Travel. Afternoon tea took place each day with white-glove service, or guests could enjoy a cocktail at the piano bar.
The ship also offered guests the opportunity to attend classical music or jazz orchestra performances, take ballroom-dance classes, or attend lectures given by prominent filmmakers.
There were multiple restaurants on board the QE2, including the Britannia Restaurant, which is still on board the ship today, and the Columbia Restaurant.
It was also typical for people to dress in suits, cocktail dresses, and gowns to eat dinner — something you rarely see on cruise ships today.
A photo of a recent menu that recreated the one served during the maiden voyage of the QE2 showed that guests dined on dishes like pan-seared scallops, fois gras parfait, halibut, and lamb.
Many celebrities sailed on the QE2 during the height of its fame.
Actress Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Richard Burton sailed aboard the ship in 1970.
Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Fisher, Jane Seymour, and Meryl Streep are just a few other notable celebrities who have sailed on the QE2, according to Cunard.
By the 1970s, many of the modernist, space-age-inspired furnishings of '60s were replaced with simpler styles.
In 1972, the QE2 was refitted for the first time, and many of the original interior-design elements were removed.
"In its original condition, which only lasted for three years, it was one of the great unsung masterpieces of the post-war era," Bruce Peter, a professor of design history at the Glasgow School of Art, told The RIBA Journal in 2018.
The cabins were still luxurious and spacious, but not as striking as they were when the ship first launched.
In the photo above, an employee makes the bed of one of the ship's cabins in 1975.
In the early 1970s, some of the ship's lounge areas were turned into restaurants and a casino in order to be more lucrative for the ship's owners.
As The RIBA Journal reported, "wear and tear" was another reason for the ship's redesign, thanks to years of cigarette smoke and the natural deterioration of the furnishings due to the thousands of passengers that sailed the ship during its first three years at sea.
In 1975, the QE2 set sail from Southampton on her first world cruise.
The ship sailed 38,000 miles and visited 23 ports in 92 days. The QE2 would go on to complete 25 world cruises during her career.
While the ship looks drastically different than many modern, luxury cruise lines of today, it still gave its passengers plenty of space to lounge, relax, and soak up the sun.
The photo above shows the original pool deck aboard the QE2. The original pool, where aqua aerobics classes once took place, is still there today.
In April 1982, the QE2 was briefly used as a troopship to carry members of the British military to the Falkland Islands during the war with Argentina.
The ship sailed to South Georgia with 3,000 troops aboard, and it arrived back in Southampton in June 1982.
Throughout her life as an operating cruise liner, the QE2 traveled more than 6 million miles and carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
The ship was officially retired and sold in 2008.
In 2018, after millions of dollars was spent refurbishing and restoring the ship to its former glory, the QE2 opened as a luxury hotel in Dubai.
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