QE2 Preparing for Final U.S. Visit and Trans-Atlantic Voyage

October 14, 2008
It's farewell forever to the United States for Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). This Thursday morning, the storied ocean liner will make its last call in America when it stops at New York's Westside Terminal. The ship will then embark on its 806th and final trans-Atlantic cruise, accompanied on the ocean crossing to Southampton by fleetmate Queen Mary 2 (QM2).

QE2 is set to become a floating hotel in Dubai this November.

Festivities have been planned to celebrate the last hoorah in New York, and thousands of onlookers are expected to gather to bid adieu to QE2. Planning on going to the historic New York event? Send your pictures to dan@cruisecritic.com -- we'll publish them!

For the early morning arrival (the ship is scheduled to dock in Manhattan at 7 a.m.), QE2 will fly the traditional maritime Paying Off Pennant, which signifies a vessel's length of service to the fleet.

There will be a slew of events during the day, but details have yet to be revealed.

At 5 p.m., FDNY Fireboats and the U.S. Coast Guard -- along with a flotilla of pleasure craft --will escort QE2 and QM2 during sailaway.

At 5:30 p.m., FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums will be on hand at the Battery Park City Promenade (State and Pearl Streets) to provide a royal send off for QE2.

QE2 and QM2 will rendezvous near The Statue of Liberty at 6:10 p.m. before heading across the Atlantic in tandem.

The best spots for viewing include Battery Park, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, The Esplanade and Hudson River Park. For a full schedule, as well as directions to the prime viewing locations, check out cunard.com/rendezvous.

So what's next for QE2?

After arriving in Southampton on October 22, QE2 will sail three final European cruises before retiring to Dubai. So while it's bon voyage for the ship in the U.S., Cunard fans still have a number of chances to get a final look at QE2 in action. The vessel will sail two cruises roundtrip from Southampton, including a five-night Western Europe cruise and a15-night Mediterranean cruise. For its final voyage, QE2 will cruise for 16 nights from Southampton to Dubai, where it will be transformed into a floating luxury hotel.

-- by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor