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It’s been almost a decade since the ocean
liner Queen Elizabeth 2 left Cunard Line
service. Sold to Dubai for a staggering
$133m, her final voyage to the UAE in
November 2008 sold out in just 30 minutes.
By the time she arrived, QE2 had sailed
5.6 million nautical miles, the equivalent
of more than 13 round trips to the moon.
During her nearly 40-year career, she
carried 2.5 million passengers, including
Queen Elizabeth herself, David Bowie,
Ringo Starr and Princess Diana.
It was expected that soon after her
arrival in Dubai she would become a
floating hotel. Plans for a lavish refit
included talk of replacing the ship’s
funnel with a glass penthouse suite, and
basing the ship at Palm Jumeirah Island,
a playground for the rich and famous.
But QE2’s arrival coincided with the
global economic crisis, which saw many
large-scale projects worldwide postponed
or cancelled. This meant a long period of
uncertainty for the iconic liner, which has
sat idle for much of the last decade.
Rumours of Rebirth
The rebirth of QE2 as a floating hotel had
been a long-held dream for many, with
campaigns mounted to return her to
Scotland or London.
But in late 2017 it became clear that
work was well underway aboard the ship
in Dubai. Occasional images shared by
construction workers on social media
offered glimpses of the slow but steady
refurbishment of passenger cabins and
public areas, with new carpeting, wall
coverings, lighting and soft furnishings
installed throughout the ship.
In March 2018, QE2 was moved to
Dubai Drydocks where a flurry of activity
took place. The most noticeable change
was the repainting of the ship from top to
bottom: QE2 now sports a royal-blue hull,
reminiscent of the colour scheme applied
between 1994 and 1999, while the Cunard
colours of red and black have been smartly
retained on her iconic funnel.
Other works included the removal of
the ship’s propellers and the sealing up
of underwater openings (such as bow
thruster doors) that are no longer
required in the ship’s static role.
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CRUISE WITH CONFIDENCE
A grand dame reborn
Queen Elizabeth 2 has ascended the throne again –
this time as a floating hotel, writes Chris Frame.
Relaunching the Queen
QE2’s new life wasn’t officially confirmed
until April when a ‘soft launch’ of the
ship was announced for April 18. The
opening date coincided with Queen Mary
2’s annual visit to Dubai, allowing the
QM2’s passengers the opportunity to be
among the first guests to visit the QE2
in nearly ten years.
Operated by Dubai-owned PCFC Hotels,
QE2 will be opened in stages. The first
offers five dining and entertainment
venues, including the Yacht Club nightclub,
Golden Lion Pub and Chart Room Bar. The
Lido and The Pavilion dining venues are
also open, and have been extended out
onto the aft open deck, offering expansive
views of the newly built marina complex.
A number of cabins and suites have
been refurbished to provide the latest
amenities. Additions include flat screen
televisions, in-room coffee machines and
queen-size beds. However, classic features
have been retained, including the ship’s
authentic porthole windows.
“To finally open the QE2 is a dream
come true... and we know a lot of people
are going to be very excited to see her for
the first time, or to step back on board the
vessel that created so many wonderful
memories during her 40 years at sea,” said
Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels.
“We have dedicated more than 2.7
million man hours into transforming this
legendary ocean liner into the multi-
faceted tourist destination that she is
today and I am very proud to reintroduce
her to the world as she embarks on the
next stage of her celebrated journey.”
It is expected that the full QE2
conversion project will be completed
by October 2018.
home in Dubai.
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