Posted October 12th, 2005, 09:01 PM
In response to Ken's question about photos of QE2's original interiors on the web - I don't know if you've seen this, but the only site I know of with photos of her original interiors is this one
As for the topic of the thread itself, it would certainly be great to see QE2's interiors restored to something like their original form - though I suspect this would be very expensive. And to me, an important part of the "original QE2" identity is her original exterior appearance - of course her profile has changed significantly since 1969.
Of course, if QE2 were in her original condition then when her active service life is over, she'd make a magnificent monument to '60s modernism.
I certainly prefer her original interiors to the rather dull stuff that she has today, though I don't think I'd say it's "faux Edwardian", except maybe the Caronia Restaurant and the Queens Grill. Other areas like the Chart Room, Crystal Bar, and Mauretania Restaurant are supposed to be Deco-ish, but in reality all of her current interior design is a typically post-modern blend of different styles.
QM2 takes this to the utmost extreme - the Grand Lobby on QM2 is, to me, a decorative disaster simply because it mixes so many different styles and they just don't blend. That said, other rooms are more successful, like the Britannia Restaurant and the Queens Room - but they're still all a pastiche of some imagined "ocean liner style" that simply never existed. (A pastiche of something real is bad enough, but of something imaginary...?)
In the end though I guess it's important to remember that Cunard trade mainly on "heritage" and people simply do not expect a "heritage" ship's interiors to be done in a style which is not overtly "traditional". QE2's original interiors were magnificent, but really they were doomed to not survive. Admittedly, they were chipped away refit after refit by mostly incompetent designers hired by mostly incompetent managers during the Trafalgar House and Kvaerner eras, but even if Cunard had had good management through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, I just don't think the originals would have held up. That is not because they weren't good - in fact, they were great - but simply that I wonder whether Cunard could have survived without going all "heritage" marketing-wise. And of course for them to do that, the ship would have had to look the part. So one might argue that had Cunard been well-run, her original interiors might well have been gone more quickly than they (or at least the parts that lasted) actually were, simply for reasons of commercial survival. In 1969 it was all about differentiating her from the old liners which seemed stodgy and outdated, and indeed a "heritage" marketing strategy would probably have been a disaster then, but by the '80s clearly nostalgia value was a big draw to QE2, and how could you sell a ship like the original QE2 to people who wanted to go back in time to 1920?
So in a way, while bad management at Cunard was undoubtedly responsible for the demise of QE2's original interiors, and their replacement with stuff ranging from bland but inoffensive to positively awful, that same management incompetence might also be responsible for QE2's original interiors not having ended their days even earlier. (Remember, quite a bit of the original ship - admittedly contaminated by ill-conceived changes, but still partially intact - remained until 1994, despite the many attempts to obscure her original identity.) It's just that they'd have been replaced by something better than what they eventually were