The most famous passenger ship of the 20th century, Queen Elizabeth 2, is all set to begin its new life. But this time as a luxury floating hotel. The 70,000-ton steamship cannot set to sea again but it can operate as an upmarket accommodation, tourist and dining attraction and museum centre at Mina Rashid on the Dubai waterfront. In November 2008, the Cunard steamship is named after the original Queen Elizabeth liner and affectionately known as the QE2 was retired after its service of four decades. The ship was no longer able to sail so it was decommissioned and sold to Dubai World to be converted into a floating hotel.
After its sale, the financial problems stalled the original plans and the ship was idle for several years. Later on the new management, new funding, and extensive work on the QE2 has apparently paid off. For the first soft opening on 18 April, the visitors will be able to avail themselves of a selection of restored staterooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, and the QE2 Heritage Exhibition on the quayside which showcases the history and career of the liner and the 2.5 million passengers who sailed on the ship during 1400 voyages.
Queen Elizabeth 2 was the last of the Atlantic liners which dominated the travel between Europe and America before the planes overtook. It cruised at an easy 28.5-knots, the QE2 cost US$80 million to build at the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, when it was first launched in 1967. It was designed not only to earn money but as a showcase of British engineering and innovation as well. It has the new technologies that included an aerodynamic smokestack to keep fumes away from passengers and a revolutionary aluminium superstructure welded to the steel hull. The QE2 was using half the fuel as used by its predecessors.
The interior was thoroughly space age with modern materials which replaced the use of wood and velvet with steel, aluminium and plastic. It also had a forward observation complete with a bright red plastic instrument panel like something from Star Trek. The most dynamic tech for QE2 happened in 1982 when it was requisitioned during the Falklands War as a troop transport. Not only it was converted to carry 3000 combat troops but engineers also found ways to install huge helipads on the light aluminium superstructure by setting them over the swimming pools. The speed and agility of the QE2 were also considered to keep her safe.
Now under the Dubai Port’s management, Customs and Free Zones Corporation through PCFC Hotels, the QE2 still displays a famous collection of art and memorabilia and retains much of its original character in the public areas as well. Available restaurants include the Chart Room, a traditional English pub, all day dining rooms, a cabaret lounge, and a new interpretation of the ship’s old Yacht Club. Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels said, “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 grand launch of the QE2 is expected to happen in October 2018.