By Shane McGinley
DP World, Istithmar want cruise liner to be centrepiece of tourism development at Port Rashid
Dubai is to relaunch the iconic QE2 cruise liner as a 300-room luxury floating hotel, as part of plans to transform its current home at Port Rashid into the emirate’s newest tourist attraction, it was announced on Monday.
The 293m long vessel was bought from Cunard for around US$100m in June 2007 by Istithmar, an investment company owned by the government of Dubai.
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.
The cruise terminal at Dubai’s Port Rashid is now set to become the liner’s permanent home and it will be converted into a 300-room luxury hotel, with the terminal developed to include a maritime museum. The refurbishment work is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Neither Istithmar nor DP World, which runs Port Rashid, gave details on how much the redevelopment of QE2 and the shipping terminal would cost, or who would provide financing.
According to Bloomberg, Istithmar is currently in talks with three hoteliers, including Jumeirah Group, to manage the property.
“The vessel is truly iconic and has a huge following around the world. Our vision is to enhance the facilities on board but retain the very strong sense of history that is a fundamental part of her attraction,” HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of Istithmar World, said in a statement.
“Together with the planned Maritime Museum, it reinforces Port Rashid and Dubai’s status as a leading cruise and maritime tourism destination. We are excited about the potential for Port Rashid to further develop as a tourist destination in its own right,” added Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director of DP World for the UAE Region.
The 44-year old vessel has remained moored at Port Rashid since October 2011, but it was resurrected as a hospitality venue last year when it played host to a red carpet New Year’s Eve party with minor celebrities, fireworks and entertainment.
Organisers claimed the party would mark a “new lease of life” for the vessel since it was retired in 2008, making its last commercial voyage from Southampton to Dubai.
It 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.
Dubai’s Port Rashid has seen a rapid rise in business from the cruise industry and hosted 108 ships with 396,554 passengers in 2011.
In the first six months of 2012, 71 vessels with 275,000 tourists have moored in Dubai, with this set to rise to 145 cruise ships and 500,000 passengers by 2015, according to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), DP World’s strategic partner.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Hmm...who want's to stay in a hotel in Port Rashid? Cruise passengers already come with their own cabin. In my opionion the idea to have QE2 docked to Palm Jumeirah would generate more attention (and guests).
They don't know what there doing
They son't know what there doing....
Like everything else ruined by Dubai.
Agreed...the hotel operators will probably say the same thing. Soon we will be reading an "updated" version of this story with the QE2 being located somewhere besides Port Rashid.
There were major, prohibitively costly, reasons for not berthing QE2 at the Palm... all of which should have been known before Isthithmar even bought the thing, but joined-up-thinking was not a feature of Dubai World in those days.
I see no evidence that the thinking quality has really improved - that misused word "iconic" still features in every statement.
If I had a Dirham for every time S bin S had said something was "iconic" or "most unique", I'd be able to buy the QE2 myself (except I wouldn''t buy it of course...)
Just wait until they punch holes in the hull to use for windows and call it an underwater suite!
Henry's kind of right - the reason it's not going to be at The Palm is because the water is too shallow and they would have to do more dredging to be able to locate it there. Didn't think about that when they bought it.