Brochure boasts of the perfect refit

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The Independent Online
The QE2 sails serenely in calm waters, her cabins immaculate, her passengers chatting amiably to the captain. Ah, if only it were so, writes Will Bennett.

That was how Cunard had intended the £30m refit of the liner to work out, and that is how it is portrayed in a glossy brochure just published.

It is lavish with praise for all involved, rich in irony and according to Lloyd's List, the publishers, was written long before the refit brought embarrassment to the shipping line. Under the heading "Fitted out for luxury" the brochure boasts: "Southampton-based Trimline has comprehensively refitted the bathrooms in all 936 passenger cabins."

Those selfsame teams flew home yesterday for Christmas in England leaving newly recruited American workmen to finish the job. In the meantime some passengers have had to swill out their lavatories with water from ice buckets.

The brochure continues: "The single largest area involved in the refit has been the Lido deck . . . this has become a dedicated alternative dining spot with a purpose-built buffet and adjoining preparation kitchen."

The Lido is unfinished, a dining spot that was neither dedicated nor alternative.

The Lloyd's List writers also hinted at some of the QE2's troubles to come with uncanny accuracy. The brochure says: "The need to co-ordinate the ordering and supply of materials and fittings for about 350 different items per cabin has tested Trimline's project management capabilities to the full."

A spokesman for Lloyd's List said: "This was something we put together last summer and work on it finished about a month ago . . . there wasn't much we could do about it at this stage." The brochure proves that at least journalists manage to meet their deadlines.