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Queen Elizabeth 2 vs Queen Mary

The two queens lived a long life at sea and have now retired as tourist attractions. But which royal truly rules the waters?

The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) entered her final resting place in Dubai amid loud cheers in November 2008. The ship was bought by Dubai World for approximately $100 million from its previous owner, shipping company Cunard, and is now being converted into a fancy hotel at the Palm Jumeirah.

But it is not the first famous ship to be turned into a hotel.

The Queen Mary, another ship from Cunard, has been serving as a hotel in Long Beach, California, for more than 40 years. She was sold to the town for £1,230,000 ($3.45 million) after sailing at the sea for around 30 years.


The construction for the Queen Mary began in 1926, and the keel of the ship was laid down on January, 31 1931. But economic depression in the same year hit the industry and Cunard, its owner, suspended work on the ship.

The company later merged with its rival, the White Star Line, and the government loaned the new company £9.5 million. The money was used to continue work on the ship; it was launched by Queen Mary in 1934.

Queen Mary made her maiden voyage, on the Southampton-Cherbourg-New York route in 1936. The ship went on to do war service for six years, and carried a total of 765,429 military personnel and travelled over 600,000 miles during the time. Nicknamed “The Grey Ghost,” she is also remembered for transporting 12,886 G.I. brides and children.

Queen Mary started her last journey on October 31, 1967 from Southampton, and arrived at Long Beach on December 9 to begin her new role as a museum and hotel.

The QE2 has an equally colorful and fascinating history.

The keel for the ship was laid down in 1965, and she was launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1967. In fact, the Queen used the same golden scissors that her grandmother had used to launch the Queen Mary. Two years later, she sailed on her official maiden voyage to New York, and in 1975, she went on her first world cruise.

QE2 also served during the war; in 1982, she transported troops during the Falklands War.

In all, the ship has travelled over 5.6 million nautical miles, more than any other ship; she has crossed the Atlantic 803 times, carried over 2.5 million guests, and completed 25 world cruises.

She left Southampton on November 11 2008 on her final voyage, and reached Dubai on November 26. A spectacular display with fireworks marked both her departure and her arrival; one million poppies were dropped over her as she left and she was greeted in Dubai by an Emirates A380 Airbus and a flotilla of over 60 local yachts.

While the Queen Mary had 34 captains while on sea, the QE2 has had a total of 25 captains since she first sailed.

Size and capacity

The Queen Mary is a much bigger ship; she has got a gross tonnage capacity of 81,237, is 1,019.5 feet long and 181 feet tall. She can carry 1,957 passengers along with a crew of 1,174 members.

The QE2 has a 70,327 gross tonnage capacity, is 963 feet long and 171.3 feet high. The ship can hold 1,900 passengers along with a 1,015 member crew.

Current role

Queen Mary has been a museum hotel for longer than she sailed. She has been leased by several companies over the years, including Diners Club, Disney, and the RMS Foundation.

The Queen Mary hotel’s 307 original state-rooms are spread over three decks and include eight suites. The cabins are also fitted with wood paneling, art deco built-ins, original artwork and portholes.

The ship also houses boutiques, shops, a spa, a business center, a dinner theatre, a lounge and several restaurants.

Queen Mary has also starred in various movies and TV serials including “SOS Titanic”, “The Poseidon Adventure”, “Pearl Harbour”, “The Aviator”, “Arrested Development”, “The X-Files” and a Jonas Brothers music video among others.

A lot of money is also going to be pumped into the QE2. She will be extensively refurbished over the next few months before docking permanently at a specially constructed berth on the Palm Jumeirah island.

Her current owners say that in two to three years, the QE2 is going to be transformed into a luxury hotel with dozens of rooms, several restaurants, a performance theater and a spa. Some of the cruiser’s famous quarters, like the Queen’s Room, the Captain’s Quarters and the Bridge will not be altered.

The revamped vessel will also have a heritage museum displaying artefacts from the ship and from maritime history.

Celebrity guests

Both have also hosted several big names.

Some of Queen Mary’s celebrity passengers include Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, David Niven, Mary Pickford and Winston Churchill, while the QE2 has carried Nelson Mandela, Buzz Aldrin, George Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor among others.


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