Sail away with QE2 in Dubai
Little did Enid Parker imagine that a childhood story would come to life years later, at the magnificent Queen Elizabeth 2
As a child, one of my favourite books was The Queen Elizabeth Family by Enid Blyton. About a couple who embark on a cruise on the Queen Elizabeth, a famous ocean liner named after British Royalty, with their three kids in tow, it was part of the popular Caravan Family series. I was so enchanted by this story that for the first time in my life, I experienced a strong desire to set foot on a huge ship like the QE (the only seafaring experience I'd had till then was the dhows and little boats on Dubai creek, and a rather sickly ferry ride between France and England on a family trip to Europe), and enjoy all the on-board adventures that the Caravan Family kids, Belinda, Mike and Ann, had on their journey from England to New York. Blyton's colourful descriptions of life at sea - including the delicious sounding food served at meal times on board - played a huge role in this yearning to set sail.
Upon doing some research years later, I realised the original Queen Elizabeth (launched in 1938) and her sister ship the Queen Mary, were eventually replaced by the smaller, more economical Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, which was run by Cunard as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship till 2008.
Something happened last week that brought back vivid memories of Blyton's classic from 1951 and made me want to get my 'sea legs' once more. I visited the Queen Elizabeth 2, the retired ocean liner now a floating hotel docked permanently at the Mina Rashid Marina in Dubai. Also finding out it was recently 50 years since its maiden voyage, I was mesmerised by the experience; here I was, on a great big ship at last! The only difference from my dream being, we didn't actually set sail.
Still, exploring this huge craft (including a redundant casino, complete with colourful slot machines that you could almost hear going 'ching ching') and enjoying a meal on board with some exceptionally cheerful service were enough to put a smile on my face, that I don't think is going anywhere for the rest of the week. My phone camera was put to good use capturing images of our QE2 outing, but I don't think any photographs can compare to the joy I felt at actually being on board. I definitely want to read The Queen Elizabeth Family again. And maybe someday, set sail on a huge, magnificent ship like the QE2.