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Belfast bids farewell to the QE2

The people of Belfast turned out in their thousands oto bid a fond farewell to the world famous QE2.

The luxurious liner — launched by Queen Elizabeth II — sailed into the city as part of its year-long final tour.

The Northern Ireland public got a chance to admire the prestigious liner from Queen's Road.

The occasion was enhanced further when the Red Arrows flew overhead to the delight of excited onlookers.

The vessel travelled to Belfast from Liverpool for a brief visit prior to being retired in the oil-rich state of Dubai where it will be converted into a floating hotel later this year.

Lord Mayor Tom Hartley said: “It is a sign of the outstanding reputation that Belfast has garnered as a cruise and tourist destination that such a prestigious vessel has chosen to include the city on its itinerary.”

The QE2 was the flagship of the Cunard Line for more than 30 years. She made her maiden voyage in 1969 and is considered one of the greatest Transatlantic liners of all time.

At over 70,000 tons and measuring 923 feet long, she is also one of the largest — and fastest - passengers ships ever produced.

She was the first British liner to offer en suite facilities in every cabin, high restaurants guaranteeing panoramic ocean views and was the most efficient twin-screw ship ever built.

As well as providing unrivalled luxury to her passengers, the QE2 was used to transport troops during the Falklands War. It also survived being run aground on rocks in 1992.

The new owners hope to recreate the ship's original interior decor and fittings and set up a museum on board.

Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, whose company’s investment arm Istithmar made the purchase, said: “She is coming to a home where she will be cherished.”

Belfast Telegraph

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