Final QE2 voyage nearly ends in disaster

One of the world's most famous cruise ships, the Queen Elizabeth 2, briefly ran aground today before arriving in its home port for the last time, its owners said.

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The 70,000-ton vessel ran onto a sandbank as it approached Southampton on England's south coast, where it was paying its final call before heading to Dubai where it will become a floating hotel.

VIDEO: QE2 saluted for last voyage

Two tugs helped by the rising tide managed to re-float it, and the ship eventually arrived in port 15 minutes behind schedule but still in time to take part in commemorations for the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Caught in the Brambles

“She touched a sandbank called Brambles but with the tide rising she was able to get away,” said Eric Flounders, a spokesman for the QE2's owners Cunard.

“We are not aware at this stage of any damage to the vessel and everything is proceeding today as planned. We don't know exactly what happened for the vessel to get stuck,” he added.

The ship came to a halt at around 5.30am (1630 AEDT), and was eventually pulled off the sandbank at around 6.10am.

“She didn't want to come in,” said pensioner Shirley Newcombe, who was on her 10th voyage aboard the QE2.

“That's the opinion of quite a few of us on board. She doesn't want to go to Dubai and we don't want her to go.”

Flowery welcome

When the vessel eventually arrived in Southampton, one million poppies were dropped on it to mark the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, and the ship's final day docked at Southampton.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip joined invited guests and crew members on board the ship to observe a two-minute silence at 11.00am to mark the Armistice anniversary.

Middle East retirement

It will be seen off on its final voyage this evening with a fireworks display, and is set to arrive in Dubai on November 26.

US cruise operator Carnival sold the QE2 for about 50 million pounds ($A117 million) in November last year to Istithmar, the investment arm of state-owned tourism company Dubai World.

After being refurbished the vessel will be turned into a five-star hotel at a specially constructed pier on the world's

largest man-made island, The Palm Jumeirah.

Launched by her namesake in September 1967, the QE2 is Cunard's longest-serving ship. The 294-metre long ship can carry up to 1,778 passengers and more than 1,000 crew.

She has travelled 5.5 million nautical miles — the equivalent of travelling to the moon and back 13 times — undertaken 25 world cruises, crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and carried more than two million passengers.