Thousands of well-wishers gathered to farewell the world’s most famous ocean liner, Cunard Line’s QE2, on her final departure from her homeport of Southampton yesterday (Tuesday November 11).

After 39 years of service, which have seen QE2 sail 5.9 million nautical miles, complete 806 transatlantic crossings, carry more than 2.5 million guests, undertake 25 world cruises and answer her country’s call during the Falklands Campaign, QE2 sailed from Southampton on her final voyage to Dubai where she will become a first class hotel and entertainment centre.

In a farewell address, her Master, Captain Ian McNaught, said the QE2 had strived to serve Southampton and her country with flair and fortitude for 40 years.

"But now her sea days are done and she passes on to a new life in a new home. We wish her well,” Capt McNaught said.

"On behalf of QE2 I bid Southampton farewell and thank you for all the affection you have shown to her in all these years. Southampton I salute you."

As part of the farewell celebrations, a million poppies were dropped over the ship from a Tiger Moth to commemorate Remembrance Day, mark QE2’s role in the Falklands, and note the fact that her final departure was on November 11.

This was followed by a flypast of a Harrier, which hovered and bowed to QE2 approximately 150-metres off her stern.

A highlight of the day was a farewell visit by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, making his seventh visit to the most famous ship in the world. During the visit, His Royal Highness observed the two-minutes’ silence at 1100 hours prior to meeting crew members who went down to the Falklands on the ship.

After leaving her berth, QE2 sailed to Mayflower Park where she remained for a period while a message from her Master, Captain Ian McNaught, was broadcast on a specially-erected screen in the park. Following a spectacular firework display, QE2 made her way downriver with her whistle blasting, accompanied by a large flotilla of well-wishers.