Timeframe: How the QE2 got a new lease of life as a floating hotel in Dubai

It's been five years since the world-famous ship was transformed

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On April 18, 2018, a new chapter began for the world-famous QE2. After more than 1,400 voyages and years of rumours about her fate, she opened her doors to a new generation of guests as a floating hotel at Dubai’s Port Rashid.

At the time, Hamza Mustafa, chief executive of PCFC Hotels, which owns and developed the vessel, said: “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.”

When PCFC Hotels brought the QE2 to Dubai in 2008, the initial plan for the 70,000-tonne vessel, which saved it from the scrapyard, was to restore her as a 500-room floating hotel on Palm Jumeirah. It was expected that the ship would undergo a significant refit, restoring the QE2’s original interior decor and fittings. And once complete, it would feature shops, restaurants, cafes and a museum showing the history of the ship.

When the 2008 financial crisis scuppered these plans, what followed was years of rumour, conjecture and indecision.

In 2009, the QE2 was supposed to have travelled to South Africa in time for the World Cup the following year. It never happened. Another plan reported in 2013 was for the QE2 to become a hotel in either Hong Kong or Singapore. However, this also turned out to be an empty announcement. Other plans to take the ship back to Scotland never came to fruition and reports she was to be scrapped refused to go away.

However, plans to transform her into a hotel finally came to fruition six years ago. The ship now features a gym and indoor pool, and a theatre that regularly attracts international names.

In 2022 it was announced that Accor Hotels had taken over the management of QE2 Hotel with plans to further refurbish and enhance the ship.

The QE2 was built in the famed shipyards of John Brown in Clydebank, Scotland. The liner was launched on September 20, 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II and took her maiden voyage in 1969.

It would go on to become the Cunard Line’s flagship for more than 30 years, succeeded by the Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

When the QE2 was bought by Dubai World in 1997, it had completed more than 800 Atlantic crossings and had carried 2.5 million passengers.

The 293.5m vessel had also been used as a troop carrier by the UK during the Falklands War.

The ship could accommodate 1,892 passengers and 1,040 crew and could reach a top speed of 34 knots after being converted from steam to diesel in the 1980s — faster than many modern ships.

During its long career, it also attracted celebrities such as Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and Buzz Aldrin.

Updated: April 14, 2023, 6:01 PM