Harland & Wolff









Cunard Ships:



Life Onboard the QE2


Floating Hotel Resort

It is a collective story, flowing from naval architects, engineers and specialist designers. One can begin with the first sketch plans; the gradual evolving of a specification to meet exactly the demands of the marketing of the ship. On the Cunard side, Dan Wallace , naval architect, and Tom Kameem , Technical Director, led design teams concerned with presenting the chosen shipbuilder with a hull and engine specification.

In turn the decorative design team had been assembled to transform bare steel spaces into a floating hotel resort. “Floating hotel” smacks of a favourite cliché; ironically it had greater relevance today than it did in the 1930's when it was coined. QE2 is not so much in competition with the air, which is transportation, but more with land-based resort hotels, which are holiday and leisure centres.

Co-ordination of design was undertaken by James Gardner and Dennis Lennon . Mr. Gardner's concern was the shaping of the superstructure, single mast structure, and the funnel, into an aesthetic unity. Mr. Lennon had charge of all internal design coordination with an eminent design team. QE2 is a resort that floats and moves; but she is basically a ship and there has been no attempt to seek to forget that the sea is beyond the ship's sides.

The design team consisted of Jon Bannenberg, Misha Black, Stefan Buzas and Alan Irvine , Crosby , Fletcher , Forbes , Davis Hicks , Michael Inchbald , Jo Patrick , Gaby Schreiber , Elizabeth White and Tony Hinton and students of the Royal College of Art.

Lord Queensbury was consultant on tableware and Messrs Tabb, Haslehurst were technical co-ordinators between owners, builders and sub-contractors. All that was produced in sketch form, in models, in replicas of sections of rooms (including a complete range of sample cabins, fitted to the last detail, which were built in the shipyard) had to be disciplined into finished drawings, to enable the principal decorative contractors and hundreds of sub-contractors to begin physical work on the hull.

In fact, if one counts all the sub-contractors concerned with the hull itself, with the main and auxiliary machinery, with furnishing and decoration, there emerges the astonishing total of over 500 firms, front all parts of the British Isles. QE2 is a notable shop-window for British design, which will be “on show” throughout the world.

Such a design and operational concept cannot be accomplished without the very best workmanship, logically reflected in the contract price of £25,427,000 , itself subject to escalation to cover increases in wage rates and costs of material during the building period. Coincidental with the building of QE2, the financial improvement in the position of the Cunard Group was such that the Company was able in 1968 to forego part of the extra loan negotiated with the Board of Trade as additional to the loan of £17,600,000 obtained in 1964 under the terms of the shipbuilding credit scheme, then available to all British ship owners. There was therefore no question of a direct constructional subsidy; the Cunard Company was entirely responsible for meeting the full cost of QE2.

The Safe Ship

Before beginning to describe QE2's many advanced features, in navigational aids, in the use of a shipboard computer In propelling and auxiliary machinery, in air-conditioning, in communications external and Internal, and in the hotel concept of her accommodation, it is well to make mention of safely. QE2 has the highest safely standards obtainable. The structure is built from incombustible materials throughout, and an elaborate sprinkler system also has been fitted, Before the keel was laid, there

were consultations with the Board of Trade, Lloyd's, and American maritime and health authorities, the aim being that the ship should meet till existing safer - v regulations. And going further, anticipate future requirements. At the heart of the ship is a safety control centre, constantly manned, and linked with every section, from bridge to cold pantry, from engine room to theatre. QE2 is divided into 15 watertight compartments.

Radar, navigation and echo sounding equipment is duplicated. There is also a satellite navigation system, making the ship independent of local weather conditions, for she can draw navigation information from satellite now in orbit.

All the refinements introduced into QE2 have a practical purpose. They arc not gimmicks. For instance, the docking and undocking of a ship of this size is aided by bow thrusters, devices with a sideways pushing action to make manoeuvring easier and speedier.

Functional funnel

The exterior of QE2 is well balanced, without sacrifice of the functional. This is particularly true of the funnel, or stack as it is sometimes called. Wind tunnel tests at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington proved that a conventional funnel of elliptical design would have to be very tall if the exhaust gasses and smoke were to flow clear of open docks. The results of months of tests called for a funnel in three parts - a boiler uptake of narrow diameter surrounded by a large air outlet vent, and a wind scoop mounted on the fan house, covering the fresh air intake.

The mast performs the dual function of carrying navigation lights, and a look-out position, as well as serving m an exhaust vent for the kitchens. The functional shapes a these structures were such that reproduction of the traditional Cunard livery of red funnel and three black band with a black top, would have looked absurd. Hence the name Cunard appears in red on a white ground, on the superstructure; the interior of the wind scoop is painted red, and the familiar dark hull is broken, as it always has been in Cunard ships, by a narrow white line above the boot-topping.

The bridge itself is an interesting structure architecturally because the glass-enclosed wheelhouse juts out cantilever fashion, giving wide views in all directions. The layout of instruments on the bridge, principally in the wheelhouse, echoes the advanced thinking that that went into the planning of the main control centre.

The eyes of the ship are on the bridge. From clear view screens, really sophisticated windscreen wipers, to automatic pilot and Decca navigator, the bridge has been planned and equipped to give every possible aid to the captain, and to the officer; and members of the ship's company who will man the bridge day and night.

Observation platform

To the passenger the bridge of a ship always has a sacrosanct area; but in QE2 the passenger in fact has a good a view of an approach to harbour as the officers; of the watch, for high in the ship on the Signal Deck, on top of the wheelhouse, is an observation platform giving splendid views over the bows.

From this vantage point, passengers are able to watch the changing skyline as the ship moves into harbour. There is also a remarkable view of the whole superstructure of QE2. Above, the mast structure; aft, the remarkable funnel, the long lines; of launches and lifeboats, headed by two boats painted a brilliant red – these are the accident boats. The cruise launches are cabin cruisers in their own right. They are 40 feet in length, and are capable of carrying 80 passengers ashore in comfort and shelter.

Aft, the terraces of the lido docks descend to the stern, where the big open sports areas and the two open-air swimming pools are located. Immediately before the funnel is a specially recessed and sheltered deck area for sunbathers who have had their swim in the pool and are seeking a change of deck. Further aft is the children's own self~ contained world of open deck, enclosed playroom and cinema, and a crèche for the very young. This whole deck has been named the Sports Deck, for it includes the largest open deck in the ship.

Stabilisers and air-conditioning

QE2 is designed primarily m a classless ship, with none of the rigid three-class configuration of the “ Queens ”. However, market research in Britain , the United States , and Canada , clearly indicated that substantial demand existed for a two, class structure on the North Atlantic the demand primarily centred on the holiday season, from mid-spring to autumn. It was also judged that the growing cruise market on both sides of the Atlantic could sustain a two-class operation at certain times of the year-for example, a lengthy cruise to the West Indies - and at other times the ship could be operated profitably as a one-class cruise ship, with all passengers having the run of the ship, the use of the four swimming pools and the splendid range of public rooms.

In considering the ship as a whole, in terms of maximum provision of comfort, two important features spring to mind. Stabilisers have long proved their worth in damping down rolling. QE2's two sets of Denny Brown stabilisers are capable of reducing a roll of twenty degrees to as little as three degrees. The ship is probably the most extensively air-conditioned liner ever built. The Carrier-Winsor system includes 19 miles of aluminium ducting; the hurt of the system is in one location, rather than scattered about the ship as it has bean in the past. Half a million cubic feet of air a minute will be distributed throughout the ship to achieve completely comfortable conditions~ during periods of high humidity the equipment is capable of removing 110 tons of water from the ship's air every day.

The boat Deck begins with another area of open deck space, also giving good views ahead. Enter the main superstructure, and there is the first of the main public rooms, aptly called the 736 Club, after QE2's shipyard number of 736 by which she was known until the Queen named and launched her. The 736 Club was designed by Stefan Blazes , his aim the creation of the atmosphere of a night club, in which careful lighting is a major decorative consideration. The lighting provides for a variety of moods. Fully recessed spots over the whole area can be dimmed at will. Fluorescent pelmet lights along the windows, the perimeter of the room, and also in a raised ceiling, create a contrasting effect of in direct and reflected light. The raised ceiling also contains a battery of coloured lights for use when cabaret artists take the floor. A particularly beautiful veneer was chosen by Stelan Bunsand and Alan Iryine , consisting of Indian laurel for the bulkheads. The upholstery is tan-coloured leather as a foil to the warmth of a blue green carpet. The club room is one of several night spots.

(Isle Of Wight 1996)



  © TPD Turner 2001-2006