Iconic British cruise liner will find new permanent home in Hong Kong or Singapore as floating hotel
The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), the iconic cruise liner bought by Dubai for US$100m in 2007, is to leave Dubai for Singapore in either August or September this year as part of preparations to convert her into a 500-room floating hotel.
Singapore-based Oceanic Group, which is managing the project, said that it would take a further three or four months to overhaul the ship’s engines and generators to allow the QE2 to make the journey to the Far East without assistance.
Daniel Chui, managing director of Oceanic Group, told Arabian Business via email that the QE2 would then travel from Singapore to China where it would undergo further renovation and refurbishment.
Discussions over the liner’s new permanent home as a floating hotel were still ongoing, Chui said, with a decision yet to be made between Singapore and Hong Kong. Chui did not indicate when the vessel’s transformation would be complete.
Plans for the project were first announced in January 2013, with Dubai-based Drydocks World taking over management of the 45-year old vessel from Dubai World's investment arm Istithmar. At the time it was stated that the ship’s new home would be an unspecified city in the Far East.
The QE2 has been moored at Dubai’s Port Rashid since October 2011.
The renovation plans will include a shopping mall, a QE2 Café offering meals similar to those served during cruises, three Michelin-starred restaurants, convention and meeting facilities and an onboard maritime museum displaying QE2 and Dubai memorabilia.
The plan is just one of several that have been floated for the QE2 since it arrived in the emirate following its purchase from UK operator Cunard in 2007.
Originally set to be refurbished as the central attraction in a maritime-themed development on Palm Jumeirah, this plan was scrapped in the wake of the financial crisis and the downturn in the Dubai property market.
In 2012, a new proposal was announced that would turn the ship into a 300-room hotel as part of a wider scheme to regenerate Port Rashid and turn it into a major tourism attraction. There was speculation that Dubai hotelier Jumeirah Group was one of the companies interested in managing the QE2 project, but the plan never surfaced.
It was also rumoured that the ship would be sold for scrap to companies in either India or China.
The QE2 was retired in 2008 and made its last voyage to Dubai that year, when it joined trophy assets such as luxury New York retailer Barneys and Cirque du Soleil in Istithmar’s portfolio.