The world famous liner QE2, which has been moored in Dubai since 2008, is reportedly to be sold for scrap to a Chinese firm.
UK media said on Monday that plans to turn it into a floating hotel have been abandoned.
In July, owner Istithmar said it planned to relaunch the iconic QE2 as a 300-room luxury floating hotel, as part of plans to transform its current home at Port Rashid.
The 293m-long vessel was bought from Cunard for around $100m in June 2007 by the Dubai-based investment company.
But UK media have reported that a Chinese crew of 20 has boarded the ship, leading to fears that it is to be sold for scrap.
The report comes a month after a British consortium proposed moving the QE2 to London and converting it into a floating hotel outside the O2 Arena.
Roger Murray of QE2 London told the newspaper: “We have been told the ship is going to be put into a dry dock before being taken to an unknown destination in the Far East.
“That is a tragedy because it almost certainly means the QE2 is being sold as scrap. Our investors were going to give £20m for the ship itself plus £60m for renovation and the cost of bringing the ship back to Britain.
“But the ship could raise as much as £20m as dead weight scrap and the Chinese cash would be immediate.”
QE2 online discussion boards have been busy over the past 24 hours, with enthusiasts bemoaning the possibility that the liner could be scrapped and saying the ship should be returned to the UK.
The QE2 was launched in 1969 by the Queen, making its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It was operated for nearly 30 years by Cunard, and was used to carry troops to the south Atlantic during the Falklands War.
It was retired in 2008 and made its last voyage to Dubai that year.