In response to media speculation regarding the plan in the wake of the current economic climate, the company issued a press release, saying "that there is no question of QE2 being operated as a cruise liner or of her being sold to any third party whatsoever." (But if it were, Cruise Critic members have already decided a new fate for the queen.)
The statement continues: "The ultimate goal is to renovate and refurbish QE2, and for her to be the focal point of a luxury precinct, dedicated to her, that will recreate an authentic luxury ocean liner ambience and lifestyle."
QE2 is currently berthed at Port Rashid where the vessel has been since its arrival in Dubai on November 26, 2008. Nakheel has been conducting a comprehensive inventory and evaluation of the ship in its current state, and has commissioned up-to-date drawings by engineers.
Though nothing has been finalized, early proposed changes have included replacing QE2's funnel with a glass structure housing penthouse suites; creating a 500-seat theater for West End-style shows; and gutting cabins and public spaces to make room for larger rooms and apartments.
Nakheel has estimated that this initial design process will not be complete until after summer 2009. When that time comes, a full time-line for refurbishment will be released. The company intends to keep QE2 in Port Rashid until the actual refurbishment begins.
The company is also considering opening QE2 to visitors in her current condition for a short period of time before her refurbishment begins. A final decision on this is expected within the next month or so.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor