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85 Years of History

The History of Dorset Queen

1938 – Built & Launched

Dorset Queen was built by Noble & Sons in Scotland in 1938, named ‘Gay Queen’ and spent her first 2 years cruising the Kyles of Bute & Loch Striven.

1940 – Requisitioned by The Royal Navy

In 1940 she was requisitioned by The Royal Navy for war duties and is believed to have taken part in the Dunkirk rescue missions.

1945 – Return to Scotland

After the war ended, she returned to Rothesay to her former life as a passenger vessel.

1963 – US Naval Base Duty

In 1963 Gay Queen was once again used for military purposes, operating at the US Navy Base in Holy Loch.

1990 – First appearance in Poole Harbour

In the 1990’s she was renamed ‘Alice Marie’ and operated services from Poole Quay to Wareham and Brownsea Island.

2005 – A fresh start in Cornwall

In 2005 Alice Marie moved to Falmouth to operate as a St Mawes Ferry named ‘Queen of the Fal’.

2008 – Restored by Dorset Cruises

Dorset Cruises purchased a very tired Queen in 2008 and after lovingly restoring her to her former glory, we renamed her ‘Dorset Queen’.

2017 – Hosted the World’s first Gin Cruise

Dorset Queen became National News in 2017 when we launched the World’s first Gin Cruise.

2018 – Became a National Historic Ship

Dorset Queen celebrated her 80th anniversary in 2018 and was presented with her UK National Historic Ships’ Certificate.

2019 – Triple Winner at BH Star Awards

Dorset Queen became a triple award winner at the 2019 BH Star Awards, including ‘Corporate Venue’, ‘Event of the Year’ and ‘Transport’ categories.

2019 – Winner of Lux Global Hospitality Awards

Dorset Cruises were voted ‘Best Charter Company’ in the South of England.

2019 – Winner of Dorset Business Awards

Dorset Cruises won Dorset Business Awards – Investment in Dorset Award.

2020 – Historic Ships Ensign

Dorset Queen was awarded the prestigious ‘Historic Ships’ ensign flag in January 2020.

She is now only vessel on the South Coast with a warrant to fly a ‘defaced ensign’.

2020 – Closed Down by the Covid-19 Pandemic

Dorset Cruises, along with the rest of the UK’s Hospitality Industry, was forced to close down during the Worldwide Coronavirus Outbreak.

2020 – Corporate Hospitality Venue Winner

Despite the awards ceremony being cancelled due to the pandemic, Dorset Cruises won ‘Best Corporate Hospitality Venue’ award at BH Stars 2020.

The trophy was presented on Poole Quay at 2 metres distance from the sponsor.

2021 – Phoenix from the Ashes

Monday 21st June 2021 saw Dorset Queen returning back to service after 16 months of painful Lockdowns and Restrictions.

2022 – Black & Gold

2022 saw us relaunch Dorset Queen under our new company colours of black and gold, in preparation to celebrate her 85th anniversary in 2023.

National Historic Ship

Dorset Queen was built in Scotland in 1938 and spent her first 2 years cruising the Kyles of Bute and Loch Striven.

She was originally named ‘May Queen II’, but the Board of Trade rejected this title, leading to a last minute change and her being launched as ‘Gay Queen’.

When World War II broke out Gay Queen was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and is believed to have been a volunteer boat in the Dunkirk rescue missions.

After the war she returned to Rothesay, Scotland to take passengers on sightseeing trips, staying there until the 1960’s.

Her next port of call was the US Naval Base in Holy Loch, before her first journey to Poole in the late 80’s to operate for Greenslade Pleasure Boats.

Then owner, Rusty Greenslade named her ‘Alice Marie’ after his granddaughter and used her as a Wareham River Cruiser for many years until his retirement.

Greenslades’ sold ‘Alice Marie’ in 2005 to Newman’s Cruises in Falmouth and she then became known as ‘Queen of the Fal’.

Dorset Cruises purchased a very tired Queen in 2008 and after lovingly restoring her to her former glory we renamed her ‘Dorset Queen’.

Dorset Queen is now the only vintage motor yacht on the South Coast of England and a proud member of the UK Historic Ships’ Register.