QE2 arrives to repair memories of the `voyage from hell'

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The Independent Online
The last time the QE2 set sail after a refit, the swimming-pool was full of rubbish, the theatre was stacked with mattresses and a room called The Lido was a builder's yard, writes Charlie Bain. Today the Cunard liner is due in Southampton for a pounds 12m refurbishment, the first since the "voyage from hell" two years ago. That time, contractors missed their deadline and work continued en route to New York, resulting in massive compensation claims.

But now the A&P Appledore repair company says it can do the work by 12 December - it will have 1,000 pairs of hands working round the clock to finish the job before a three-night cruise, after which the ship will return to Southampton to start a world trip. "We've put in a very realistic programme of work this time," a spokesman for Cunard said yesterday, "and there are very heavy penalties for contractors who don't complete on time." But everything was running far from smoothly yesterday: the ship was due in dry dock in the early evening but was delayed after a crew member had a suspected heart attack. He was flown to hospital and was said to be in a stable condition last night.

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