The iconic ship will cruise to Singapore and Hong Kong before heading to a shipyard in China, where it will be converted into a 400-suite hotel. The conversion will cost in the region of $90 million, and will be completed at some point next year.
Khamis Juma Buamin, chairman of Dubai shipyard operator Drydocks World, said at the press conference: “Over the last few months we have put a lot of effort and work into this project in planning and negotiation and our overall plans for the QE2 are well on track. The QE2 will be owned by a consortium of investors under a Dubai-based entity called QE2 Shipping,” he added.
The Cunard flagship was sold to Dubai-based investment vehicle, Isthimar, in 2007 for £64 million, with the intention of turning it into a floating luxury hotel in the emirate. The economic crash left the investment group unable to carry out its plans and the ship has been languishing in Dubai ever since.
In January this year Isthimar announced it would move the ship to Singapore where it would become a floating hotel.
Ownership of the vessel has now been transfered to QE2 Shipping LLC and she has been brought back into Lloyd's Register by teams from Drydocks World and Singapore's Oceanic Group, which have provided an onboard crew of 32. The ship is currently undergoing various works, including engine upgardes, to make it seaworthy.
Rob Lightbody of the QE2Story.com was dismissive of the announcement, stating: “There have been many announcements previously from Dubai that have not come about, so I continue to wait to see if something actually happens. They have not yet specified that they have an exact final location; a hotel operator; who the investors are; or Cunard approval in place for the above -- which are the things that scuppered all previous plans. There are still too many unknowns, and no independently verifiable facts."
All plans concerning the ship need approval from the previous owners, Cunard. In January, Cunard stated: "Cunard Line is pleased that Dubai are progressing their plans to develop the QE2. We ensured the ship had a very successful last year in 2008 with an appropriate send-off as she left the Cunard fleet, and it is very good news that Dubai are announcing further developments to preserve the ship for the future."
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor.