Live coverage of the QE2 arrival in Dubai

Tom Arnold reports live from Dubai as world famous ocean liner arrives in emirate.
Live coverage of the QE2 arrival in Dubai
By Tom Arnold and Dylan Bowman
Wed 26 Nov 2008 02:24 PM

18.50 UAE time:Well it has been a long and emotional day, one I'm likely to remember for the rest of my life.

It is now time for me to sign off and leave the passengers to their exclusive party on the ship this evening.

Tomorrow they will disembark, for the last time, after which the QE2 will transformed into a floating hotel that will be docked on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah.

18.40:A glittering fireworks display lights up the sky above the QE2, sparking the subdued crowds back into life.

The Dubai Police band, still blowing on their bagpipes, march up the red carpet and onto the cruise ship.

18.25:The welcoming party of dignitaries dressed in UAE national dress and suits are walking up the gangway and entering the ship.

The feverish excitement of the crowds has died down somewhat and now everybody seems to be waiting for the much-anticipated fireworks to begin. 18.18:The gangway has been lowered and several members of the crew in glistening white uniforms have come onto the dock to secure the gangway.

Two helicopters are circling above the cruise ship and the spotlights continue illuminate the ship. 18.00:The QE2 has literally just docked at Port Rashid and an official welcoming party is in position on the red carpet.

After circumnavigating the world 25 times, crossing the Atlantic Ocean 800 times and carrying 2.5 million passengers in 40 years the QE2 has docked for the last time.

It is a very emotional occasion. To see such an iconic vessel dock for the last time - this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

17.55:The red carpet has been rolled out in readiness for the QE2's arrival as the cruise ship is now only a few hundred metres from the dock.

The Dubai Police band has struck up a tune - playing Scottish bagpipes - accompanied by a group of drummers.

Spotlights fall on the QE2 and the excitement among the crowds on the dock and on the cruise ship is now at fever pitch.

17.45: It's party mood on the dock as the QE2 is tugged into port. Passengers on the QE2 are also in high spirits, with the deck of the cruise ship lined with people waving flags and taking pics.

17.28:Spotted the cheering crowds - a few hundred people waving Union Jack and UAE flags standing by the port. The QE2 is making its way slowly into port. 17.25:Finally back on solid ground. The QE2 has just let out an enormous bellowing sound from its horn as it comes into port. 17.13:We are just about to dock at Port Rashid. We have been greeted by a few people and lots of container boxes and fork lift trucks, maybe the cheering crowds are stuck in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road.

The QE2 has stopped about a kilometre out to sea, I hope it hasn't run out of fuel.

17.10 :I've been told there are 1,800 passengers on board the QE2, no word on Beatrice yet though.

16.43:We are now around 45 minutes from Port Rashid. I've been told when we arrive the QE2 will be met by a royal party and Dubai Police band. The fireworks come later.

16.32: The casualties are mounting up! I've just been downstairs to check out the swanky cabins on our boat and found a prostrate photographer lying on one of the beds - and he even works for a yachting magazine.

All those months of sea training I was put through at Arabian Business are really paying off. 16.20:We are now just cruising in alongside the QE2 with the rest of the flotilla.

Things are calming down here on the media boat. The poor guy that threw up has cleaned his shoes off and the deck hands have cleared up the rest of the mess.

There are some very rowdy yachts around us though - think I've found out where those 70,000 bottles of champagne have disappeared to. 16.17:Have just been told we will not be allowed on board the QE2 - very disappointed. 16.13:The A380 has just made another pass overhead - think it might be lost. 16.10:Trying to find out whether Beatrice Muller is on board the QE2. The 89-year-old from New Jersey has been living on the ship for the past 14 years, paying around 3,500 pounds ($5,362) a month for the privilege.

16.06:At last, someone has thrown up on deck - think it's one of the reporters from Gulf News, but don't quote me on that! 16.05:Another odd fact I've just overheard - in 2001 the QE2 sailed into Lisbon with a 19-metre long finback whale impaled on her bow. Look out Sammy the whale shark, here we come!

16.00: We are now just 200 metres from the QE2 as she makes her way towards Port Rashid. People are waving from the QE2 - there are hundreds of Union Jack flags on display.

15.55: There are 65 people on board the VIP boat. The guests include members of the royal family, but unfortunately no film stars!

15.52:The water is now getting very choppy. A few people are looking a bit queezy. Hope it's not the food!

In 1995, Southampton officials criticised food hygiene on board, threatening legal action after inspecting the ship's Queen's Grill. 15.50:We are almost alongside the QE2. The old girl looks fantastic for 40! She looks majestic.

The A380 has just flown overhead and is coming back around for another pass.

There are dozens of small vessels dotted all around. The next boat over is the VIP boat - I’ll try and find out if there are any celebs on board.

15.40: Spoke briefly to the project director on Palm Jumeirah, Johann Schumacher, about what Nakheel has in store for the QE2.

Schumacher said the refit would take two to three years, but would be dependent on the condition of the ship.

As for the funnel, Schumacher confirmed rumours Nakheel does plan to cut it off.

He said one of the plans for the funnel was to make it the centrepiece at the entry to the QE2 precinct to be built on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah. 15.35:I overheard from someone that in excess of 70,000 bottles of champagne are drunk every year on average on the QE2 - but we're not getting any! 15.30:I've just spotted the QE2 in the distance with smoke billowing from her funnel. She is surrounded by small yachts and an enormous A380 flying overhead! 15.20:We are continuing to make our way out towards the flotilla that will meet the QE2 upon its arrival in Dubai.

We can now see a few small yachts out of the cabin windows and in the distance behind us is the Burj Al Arab.

There is still an air of excitement and anticipation on board. The water has begun to get a bit choppy and the boat is rocking around a bit - not good for those of us without sea legs!

14.30:We have just set off from the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) Mina Seyahi Dubai to greet the QE2 upon its arrival in Dubai. The atmosphere is electric.

Myself and a large proportion of the media are on board the Dubai Magic, a 140-foot splendid white motor sailing yacht, enjoying some snacks and beverages as we make our way out to join a flotilla of more than 60 vessels that will great the QE2.

There is not a cloud in the sky - perfect weather for the occasion.

Tom Arnold reports live at the arrival of the QE2 in Dubai.

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