Not one day goes by without someone screaming for the QE2 to be saved from Dubai’s clutches, brought back to the UK (or sent somewhere) and turned into a hotel. None of these people seem to understand the costs of that making it prohibitive to many potential investors with a 50/50 chance of failure once the novelty’s worn off within the first two years. Queen Mary in Long Beach is the perfect example of failure with everyone owning her losing money. The current owners are investing which shows commitment. The ship has been lucky to still be there all these decades later, but she’s not the Queen Mary which ploughed the Atlantic due to numerous alterations. Rotterdam cost a FORTUNE to renovate, removing the asbestos too, delaying her triumphant return to the city of her name by two years. Is she a success? Too early to tell. Check again after five years. The truth is only a minority of ship nuts want everything saved. The vast majority are more realistic. The general public don’t give a toss and the hotel business has to be aimed at them. A few ship nuts won’t turn static hotel into a profitable business. If the general public didn’t want to travel on the ship, why would they choose it over a more modern hotel?
So why don’t these ship nuts help save things which have a more realistic prospect of success? The Shieldhall earned a reprieve after a public appeal to help raise £80,000 for dry docking and keep her sailing two more years. They haven’t quite made it despite four months of trying in these difficult financial times but still plan to send her to Falmouth to complete the work. Now another is in jeopardy. Waverley is also in desperate need of funds. Both of these vessels are older than said QE2 and still sailing, enjoyed by many past and present. I have yet to set foot on Waverley but enjoyed a lovely trip on Shieldhall the day QE2 returned home for the final time. Both these (and I’m sure there are many others not in the spotlight yet) deserve our help far more than something which would no longer be sailing due to stupid SOLAS rules, will NEVER return to the UK and becoming a Dubai hotel (ruining her completely) will only delay the inevitable scrapping. Shieldhall and Waverley are the here and now – save THEM if you care about British maritime heritage!
24th May 2011: Sadly, due to more work needing to be done than first thought, Shieldhall is returning to Southampton and all future bookings cancelled until further notice. A sad day for maritime history and, as usual, most of these “Save….” people are conspicuous by their absence. Now is the time to put up or shut up. If they cared at all they would strive to save Shieldhall!