'Welcome home QE2': famous liner makes final voyage to Port Rashid before opening as hotel

Social media accounts named 'qe2dubai' launched as ship ready for final phase of restoration before opening as hotel, museum and entertainment destination

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 29 MARCH 2018. The Queen Elizabeth 2 at her moorings in Rashid Port. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Johan Dennehy. Section: National.
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Iconic ocean liner QE2 has made her final voyage back to Port Rashid after undergoing ship to hotel conversion work at Dubai Drydocks World.

A new Instagram page titled “qe2dubai” posted a photograph on Thursday of people holding a "welcome home QE2" sign at the port with the famous ship in the background.

The post said the Cunard Line's former flagship had undergone "deep cleaning and paint retouch" and was now ready for the final phase of her restoration.

Earlier on Thursday, Instagram posts from workers at the drydock facility showed the ship being pulled back to her home at the old cruise terminal by tugs as she can no longer sail under her own power.

According to the QE2 Story website, the vessel has been repainted while in drydock, anchor chains taken off and her propellers removed. New livery - Queen Elizabeth 2 – written in Arabic and English has also been affixed to the ship. On the stern, Dubai's distinctive tourism logo can be seen along with Port Rashid underneath Queen Elizabeth 2.

Social media channels for the ship were launched in the past few days ahead of her imminent rebirth as a floating hotel, entertainment and heritage destination.

"From casual and fine dining, to grand theatres and nightclubs — she will have a selection of 12 diverse venues to uncover at her prime location in Dubai's Mina Rashid," a post on the qe2dubai Instagram feed reads. The post shows a revamped Yacht Club, one of the most popular entertainment venues when the liner ruled the seas. There is also a Facebook page.

Hotel guests and visitors will enter the ship from the terminal, which has been turned into a maritime museum featuring artworks from the ship, and it’s believed the two propellers will also be displayed here.

The liner entered drydock on March 20. According to trade journal, Cruise Arabia and Africa, an official at the facility referred to the work as a "shower and a shave". But it seems the rejuvenation over the past few days is more substantial than that.

The latest updates follow a series of developments over the past few years pointing to the relaunch of the ship as a floating hotel. The National visited Port Rashid last September as the ship celebrated the 50th anniversary of its launch. Signs stating 'Queen Elizabeth 2, hotel main entrance' had been erected, the lifeboats had been removed and the ship had been cleaned.

In February, a new website — qe2.com — was launched, promising a new take on hospitality for Dubai and it also advertised for staff.

The hotel’s operators, PCFC Hotels, have not yet made any formal announcement on the work or when it will open. But it’s now believed that the final touches are being made to the interiors, staff are hired and are ready to board the ship.

The developments over the past few months represent the endgame for QE2 after ten years of uncertainty. Dubai bought the ship in 2007 but the recession scuppered plans to turn her into a floating hotel. But now a new era awaits.


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Famed ocean liner QE2 moves to Dubai drydock for 'ship to hotel' conversion work