Only a year after leaving the Cunard fleet for a new life as a luxury hotel in Dubai, the QE2 may have to be sold.
The ship was bought for $100 million in 2007 by Nakheel, a specialist property subsidiary of state-run Dubai World, and has been berthed in Dubai since arriving there in November 2008.
But Dubai World has run into trouble. Shares on international markets have plummeted worldwide today as the company, crippled by its $59 billion debt, has asked lenders for a six-month period of grace on repayment of loans.
Although neighbouring Abu Dhabi has come up with a partial rescue package, a restructuring team from Deloitte has been called in and is likely, according to both The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph newspapers, to recommend that some of Dubai World's high-profile assets, which include the QE2 and Scotland's Turnberry golf course, are sold off.
These recommendations, The Guardian says, are expected to take 'at least another week', so complex are the debts.
Over the course of the year, little of the planned work has been carried out on QE2 to convert the vessel to a luxury hotel. The ship has been re-flagged and has spent some time in dry dock for work on the hull but there is no evidence that refurbishment has started on the interiors, which, according to announcements made a year ago by Nakheel, were due to be converted into luxury suites and fine dining outlets.
The ship was supposed to sail for South Africa next year -- for the FIFA World Cup -- but plans have not been confirmed by Nakheel and no statement about the ship's future was available from the company at the time of writing.
We'll keep you posted as soon as there are developments.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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