Queen Elizabeth 2 Final Call To Los Angeles, Vision of the Seas & Carnival Pride
This review is written by Amy Blume with photos from Patricia Dempsey.

March 30th, 2008, was the end of an era for me.  It was the last time I would see Queen Elizabeth 2 in Los Angeles.  It was hard to believe that day a love affair which had started twenty-five years ago wasn't over.  In truth, I would see her again as an ocean going vessel in June, but then she would be retired to become a hotel in Dubai.  No one knows like a Southern Californian native how hard it is to preserve an old ocean liner, and so it was with a trepidatious combination of worry and hope that we send her to retire.  The morning started out in an unusual way.  Patsy and I had decided before Lizzie's retirement was announced that we would have her visit around the time that Lizzie called into Los Angeles.  Unable to resist the lure of seeing her in her element, we booked a cruise on Vision of the Seas, which would arrive in port with the Queen that morning.  So it was at five in the morning, far too early to rise on the last day of your cruise, Patsy and I hung precariously from our aft balcony of Vision trying to catch a glimpse of our lovely liner.  It was at five-thirty I finally spotted her.  She was headed straight for Angel's Gate from the southeast (we were coming in fron nearly due south) and there
was no mistaking that shape for anything else on the ocean.  Her funnel was not lit, but the long lines and tiered after decks were clearly illuminated and we were struck again by her classic shape that has now become an anathema to modern ship design.  It wasn't until she had passed the lighthouse into the breakwater that dawn began to touch the sky.  After a quick breakfast in the Windjammer Patsy and I slipped under the ropes closing off the forward section of deck 10,
Vision's highest deck, when we were closer so we could see Lizzie as she turned past Land's End and into the main channel.  The day was starting out almost as if a veil was lifting over the hills of San Pedro, and I couldn't help feel as though we were watching a funeral procession.  QE2 was tying up her ropes at berth 92 by the time it was light enough for us to get decent pictures, but what photographs they are.  We decided to use Patsy's for this piece since hers came out better than mine.  It was wonderful to pass her on our port side and watch the workers on her gloriously sharp bow, not to mention some passengers, glance across to our comparitively "ducky" ship.

Despite our initial disapppointment she hadn't followed us in and turned before docking, we had a "money shot" as we pulled round into berth 93, making it worth the cost of the week-long cruise and Patsy's airfare.  To capture a ship dead-on from the waterlne is one of a ship geeks' ideal shots.  The arc of your favorite ships' bow almost seeming to hover over your head is magical.  Harder to get and therefore more fascinating to see is one of these: a photo of a ship dead-on from above.  As we slid into place near Lizzie, dawn became morning and my spirits lifted with the mist.  Patsy and I ran aft taking more and more photos of the lovely ship as the angles changed with our movement into the dock.  It was a beautiful SoCal day and the Queen was here and she was lovely.

And she was parked round the corner so that when Patsy and I returned to our aft balcony, camera batteries already exhausted from the morning's activites,  Lizzie was right there.  I had not seen a lovelier view from a balcony since, well since I was in with Lizzie on QM2 in Fort Lauderdale!

We disembarked from our beloved Ducky (if you've ever seen a Vision class in person you'll know why we fondly call her that), found our luggage then my beloved Jason was waiting outside the terminal.

After a quick run home and a quick return, this time with my mother Carolyn and sister Karla in tow, we arrived in San Pedro again to see the Queen gleaming in the perfect 70F sunshine.  We decided to begin our stalking with the traditional harbor cruise aboard Fiesta!  I was very excited to take Patsy aboard Fiesta this first time and what a wonderful work of art to get to sail past!  I will let Patsy's photos speak for themselves.
We decided that being able to hear Lizzie's whistle close up was more important than getting the view from Ports O'Call.  We also reasoned that since she was pointed up-channel she would have to pass us to turn around into the basin, or at the very least wait until Vision left and pivot in 93.  At 5pm Vision blasted and began backing out of her dock.  We got off Fiesta, fighting the crowds, and had to race over to the World Cruise observation area, bursting with excitement at the possibility of a blast-fest with the QE2.  By the time we arrived Vision had straightened so we ran to the Lane Victory to watch, highly anticipating the magic moment where she would salute the Last Call Queen, even out of courtesy for a rival cruise line, since it would be the only time they would be in together but we waited in vain.  Vision was silent as she passed, making no special tribute to the grand liner and only blasting again when she reached Port O'Call.
Disappointed with our former captain, who had misbehaved with regards blasting on our cruise as well, we now began to look for fireboats arriving for Lizzie's imminent departure.  This would be the first time I had seen her leave Los Angeles in the daytime and I hoped the city would do SOMETHING to celebrate the millions of visitors (and countless millions in tourist bucks) she had brought to the city since her maiden visit 33 years earlier.  A few moments later her tugs began to pull her out to the sound of bagpipes.  She blasted many times and I admit that the mournful, mellow note of that lovely sound undid me.  It was with tears that I watched her pulled away from Los Angeles for that last time and it was shock when we realized she wasn't coming towards us!  For a moment we couldn't believe it.  She was being pulled around and was facing us, looming over as if moving to the basin to turn, when the forward tug changed position from starboard and began to pull her in the same direction.

She was being dragged backwards!  Too stunned to move for the moment we finally gathered ourselves and raced to the car.  To Land's End we sped, doing the chase with my Queen for the last time but surreally with her moving that way past Ports O'Call and many observers including Peter Knego and Martin Cox of Maritime Matters who were also perplexed by this behavior.  Later it was reported Captain Perkins had told a passengers they could have made the turn, leaving about 30 meters between her and the Ever Uranus container ship.  But as they were late after waiting for Vision he suggested to the pilot they should reverse out.  The Queen late?  She can make up time in the blink of an eye.  With so many different versions but all blaming the container ship we wondered if they were covering up something else.  From our point of view next to 93 there was nothing in the way and we've seen her make that turn a dozen times or more.  Regardless when we parked with the other cars at Land's End and made our way to the rocks it was a little comical to see her backing down the channel, even though she does have one of the most beautiful sterns of any ship still afloat.  As she came toward us Carnival Pride was fresh out of Long Beach and Vision was on the way to meet her.

Note the rust along Lizzie's waterline.  Cunard should be sanctioned for allowing the ship to appear that way at any time.  I've never seen another ship with a waterline like that and I've seen a lot of ships on all types of cruises.  I could only hope the folks in Dubai do not allow maintenance to slip in this way.  It is still no excuse for a top-dollar ship to appear that way.
She sailed past and we waved to all those lucky enough to be onboard as Patsy, with Karla's help, managed to stay upright on the rocks.  The little boat Spirit followed her out, one man holding a sign with a drawing on which proclaimed his love for the 60s liner and everyone had fun yelling over at the little boat.  It was with great aplomb that the QE2 blasted us again, something she rarely did at Land's End in the past, being that she usually left so late at night.  Also down at Land's End were several liner enthusiasts.  It was really meaningful to get to see her leave surrounded by people who loved her.  It was old home week for me, the only person who was missing was my father who passed away in 2006.  It was because of my dad that I stood out on the rocks that day and it was with a heavy heart I stood there without him saying goodbye to our favorite ship.
As Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed towards the lighthouse we could not resist the temptation to chase her another time so we jumped back in the car and made our way to Cabrillo Pier.  The Queen was past the lighthouse by the time we made it and was sailing out towards Catalina Island.  We watched her become smaller and smaller as she headed east, knowing that she was on her way to make her last transit of the Panama Canal, whose proportions had determined QE2's width and length so many years ago.
Waves crashed on the breakwater and wind blew in our faces and the Queen surged out to sea as the sun began to fall into the west.  Goodbye from Los Angeles, I thought to her, and wished as I had as a five year old, when she'd sailed into the January night, that she'd come back.

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© Words Amy Blume & Photos Patricia Dempsey 30th March 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission