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All Aboard the QE2

On the 10th anniversary of the famous ocean liner’s final voyage, we look back at life on board the elegant vessel

Magnum Photographers

Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Bruce Davidson The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE-2). Southampton, UK. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson Sunbather. The Queen Elizabeth 2. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson The Queen Elizabeth 2. New York City, USA. 1998. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson Swimming pool. The Queen Elizabeth 2. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE-2). Southampton, UK. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson A View of the Queen Elizabeth 2 from the prowl of the ship, as she passes the World Trade Center and lower Manhattan, New York City. USA. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Bruce Davidson The Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise liner, commonly known as QE2. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Peter Marlow The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) sailing from Southampton UK via Cherbourg in France to New York. Cruising across the Atlantic. (Photographs taken while Peter Marlow was an official photographer on the (...)
Bruce Davidson The QE-2 passes the Statue of Liberty. New York City, USA. 1996. © Bruce Davidson | Magnum Photos

“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her,” declared Queen Elizabeth II on September 20, 1967, at the launch of the iconic liner at John Brown’s shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. With a view to appealing to the leisure market, the 58,000-ton ship boasted five restaurants, three swimming pools, beauty salons, a grand ballroom and the largest cinema and library at sea. Holidaying tourists, the military and celebrities alike have all been aboard; Nelson Mandela, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor spent time on the ship, and 3000 British soldiers were housed on board in 1982, during the Falklands War. In June 2007, it was announced that the QE2 – as it had come to be known – was to become a floating hotel, stationed permanently at Port Mina Rashid in Dubai. At the time of her final voyage from Southampton on November 11, 2008, the QE2 had held around 2.5 million passengers, traveled nearly six million miles and circled the world a total of 25 times.

In 1996, Bruce Davidson traveled on the Queen Elizabeth 2’s popular course, Southampton to New York, where he captured the glamor of life aboard, the crew mooring the ship in with ropes after a voyage, and guests at a dinner party, where the table is complete with a sculpted ice swan. Peter Marlow was the chief photographer on the QE2 for three months in 1976, a position he held prior to his joining Magnum ten years later, in 1986. The images he took during this period offer a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of passengers as they ate, exercised and sunbathed during their journeys across the Atlantic Ocean on one of the most esteemed ships in history.