Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

All aboard the QE2: New bridge tour puts visitors in the captain’s seat

It’s the first time the famous ocean liner has opened its bridge to the public in its 52-year history

Once reserved for senior crew and VVIPs – David Bowie and Nelson Mandela are among those who have walked the hallowed deck – Queen Elizabeth 2 has opened its bridge to the public for the first time in 52 years.

The famous ocean liner, now permanently docked at Dubai’s Port Rashid, where it operates as a floating hotel, restaurant and museum, launched its Bridge Tour on Thursday, February 20.

“Back in the day, the bridge of the ship was a place that no one really got to go to - not even those in service. In fact, there were only three reasons you ever got called to the bridge: for a meeting with a captain or a senior officer, to receive an award, or to get a telling off,” explains Peter Warwick, the tour manager onboard the QE2.

Heritage tours of the ship are already available, but the Bridge Tours differ by going into detail about nautical facts, while giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the commanding station of the ship and its old maritime equipment.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Feb 20 – 2020 :- Different control panels in the Wheelhouse at the QE 2 in Dubai. QE2 recently launched Bridge tour for the public. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Lifestyle. Story by Janice Rodrigues
Different control panels in the Wheelhouse at the QE 2 in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

The one-hour tour starts at the main lobby, where customers are greeted by their tour guide and given a basic rundown of the history of the ship. They are then led through notable areas, before being taken up to the main bridge.

The wheel house, which contains the steering mechanism of the ship, is the first area on the bridge to be explored. Besides getting an in-depth look at the captain’s wheel, the room features radars, the telegraph (a system used for communication between the bridge and the engineers in the control room), bow thruster controls and a gyro compass. In short, it’s a history buff’s dream. “If you visit the bridge of modern ships, you’ll find everything looking quite different – things are much more modern now, more electronic,” says Warwick.

He also points out various devices, such as the inclinometer, a device used to point and measure the angles of the earth’s surface. “If that goes over 30, then you’re probably having very rough weather,” he says. “In fact, on September 7, 1995, we were hit by a wave around 40 feet, and water engulfed the bow of the ship and flooded the bridge. It was terribly frightening. I was there at the time, and thought we were going to drown.”

The tour then moves captain’s day room - bare-bones quarters once used to “save the captain making a trip to his quarters if he was busy”, before heading to the flag room, complete with its original sewing machine. This room was exclusive used to create or fix flags that were being flown on board the QE2.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Feb 20 – 2020 :- View of the Captain’s Sea Cabin at the QE 2 in Dubai. QE2 recently launched Bridge tour for the public. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Lifestyle. Story by Janice Rodrigues
View of the captain’s day room. Pawan Singh / The National

Visitors get a further glimpse of life out at sea with the chart room and a private meeting room, before heading to the outdoor decks (there are two: port-side and starboard-side), all the while hearing trivia about former staff and famous guests.

The tour also gives visitors a rare glimpse into ship’s control rooms, which are still operating today. The area, which has to be manned by two people at all time, monitors water levels and electricity to ensure everything is in, well, ship shape.

An hour flies by, with the excursion ending in the ship’s lobby. For Warwick, the launch of the tour is another spectacular reason that the ship is keeping history alive. “Had I flown here last year to find a neon hotel, I would have flown straight back to London. For me, personally, it's history in the making.”

Updated: February 21, 2020 10:14 AM

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