The new owners of the Queen Elizabeth 2 have released the first images of the newly renovated ship, which will open its doors to the public as a floating hotel on April 18.
PCFC Hotels – part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation – has completed a long-awaited refurbishment of the legendary vessel and described it as "the latest must-see tourism destination in a city renowned for its world-class attractions".
The world-famous cruise liner, which has a history spanning five decades, is now docked permanently at Mina Rashid, where its dining, accommodation and entertainment attractions will be unveiled. Its opening marks the first phase – a "soft opening" – of several stages in which segments of the liner will be opened and released "for a unique experience capturing all that was grand about her 40 years of service".
In this first phase, from Wednesday, the ship will be welcoming passengers on board to experience a selection of its 224 modernised rooms and suites, and five of the planned 13 restaurants and bars, and to explore its history in the adjacent QE2 Heritage Exhibition.
The QE2 was built in Clydebank, Scotland, and was once the world's most famous cruise liner, built for the Cunard Line and used for 25 world cruises and more than 800 transatlantic crossings between 1969 to 2008. When it arrived in Dubai, though, despite being bought for a reported US$100m (Dh367.3m), renovations were initially stalled because of the financial crisis.
Hamza Mustafa, chief executive of PCFC Hotels, said: "To finally open the QE2 is a dream come true for my team and I. It is one of Dubai's most highly anticipated projects and we know that 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.
"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 has been an honour to work on this wonderful project and to help ensure that our lovely lady lives up to her new slogan: still making history.”
The 13-deck hotel has seen some of the original features retained, including period furniture, paintings and famous memorabilia. The original porthole windows retain a maritime feel to guest rooms, and a number of the original restaurants have retained the same names and decor as the ship's former years.
Adjacent to the hotel lobby is the QE2 Exhibition – an interactive museum that showcases the QE2 during the 1960s when it was a pioneer in design, technology and lifestyle – words often used to describe the city it resides in today.
From small "cabin" style standard rooms starting at 17 square metres, to the 76-square-metre Royal Suites once belonging to the Queen herself – the QE2 will offer a selection of 13 room and suite categories.
The two Royal Suites, named after the Queen’s mother and grandmother, offer a private veranda, conservatory and dining room in addition to a luxurious bedroom. Personalised amenities are included for passengers, who can book the suite by invitation only.
During the soft launch of the QE2, passengers can experience some of the ship's original restaurants including The Chart Room, a historical lounge and bar; The Golden Lion, a traditional English pub and now potentially one of Dubai's oldest; The Pavilion, a family restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the marina; Lido, the hotel's all-day-dining restaurant; The Grand Lounge, a cabaret-style lounge with a weekly entertainment programme; and the Yacht Club, a chic rendition of the former venue as well as a unique take on the traditional afternoon tea.
The hotel’s signature restaurant is The Queen's Grill, which offers a refined selection of British fine-dining dishes as well as a tasting menu that recreates a classic selection of dishes from 1969.
The QE2 is also now home to a number of unique event and meeting room spaces, most notably The Queen's Room – a ballroom unlike any other in the city.
The grand launch of the QE2 will take place in October. Rooms are currently on sale from Dh829.50, including taxes and breakfast.