NEW YORK - British queens typically don't retire to Dubai, but the Queen Elizabeth 2, arguably the world's most famous ocean liner, has never been typical.
The 40-year-old Cunard ship sailed out of New York harbor for the last time this week accompanied by the far larger Queen Mary 2 en route to Dubai where she will live out her years as a hotel.
"She will always be remembered as the best loved ship in the world and we are delighted that she will be cherished by future generations of travelers at her new home in Dubai," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line.
"Her mantle as flagship of the British merchant fleet has proudly been bestowed upon Queen Mary 2, a ship recognized as the grandest ocean liner ever built and surely destined to continue Cunard's legacy," she added.
The QE2, which bridged the period between the heyday of opulent luxury liners like the Queen Mary and the more recent trend toward bigger, more democratic megaships, has carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
Among them were Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope and Paul Newman and British royalty including Queen Elizabeth II, her son Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. Many of those on board for the final trip were veteran QE2 passengers.
The QE2, which also served as a hospital ship transporting injured troops during the 1982 Falkland War, will complete service in November.
The Queen Mary has enjoyed a similar "afterlife" as a hotel and tourist attraction based in Long Beach, California.
Cunard expects to debut yet another Queen in 2010 when the Queen Elizabeth is slated for completion.
SS Norway (12 times) '85 - '97; Radiance OS 06/01; Island Princess 11/04, Grand Princess 11/04/05, Golden Princess 7/21/06, Golden Princess 2/24/07, Explorer of the Seas 12/23/07, Island Princess 11/15/08