The iconic liner will undergo a complete refurbishment at the COSCO shipyard in China, which will see its current 990 cabins converted to 400 suites. The contractor will also refurbish the ballroom, as well as refit seven restaurants, 10 lounges, a cinema, a maritime museum displaying QE2 memorabilia, and a shopping mall.
However it is not yet clear when it will depart for China, nor where it will end up when the refurbishment is completed. Recent reports suggested it could end up in Singapore, while the official website has a backdrop of Hong Kong harbour and the line: "As a floating hotel in Asia Pacific".
Today's announcement puts an end to years of uncertainty surrounding the future of the ship.
Cunard sold its flagship to Dubai-based investment vehicle, Isthimar, in 2007 for £64 million, which had plans to turn it into a floating luxury hotel in the emirate. However, the economic crash left the investment group unable to carry out its plans and the ship has been languishing in Dubai ever since.
At one point it was feared it might be sold for scrap. It was also hoped it could return to the U.K. and be set up in an appropriate spot on the Thames as a tourist attraction.
Owners QE2 Holdings also announced that it has invited seven international interior architecture houses to take part in a competition to design the interior of the ship. The designs can be seen on the official website and are open for public review and comment from Oct 15 to Nov 15, 2013.
Mr Daniel Chui, President and Chief Executive of QE2 Holdings and Managing Director of Oceanic Group, said: “The QE2 offers more than 500,000 square feet of usable space, in a structure roughly equivalent to any five-star hotel. The ship's redevelopment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any interior design professional to create what will become one of Asia's major waterfront tourist attractions. The goal for the final design is to preserve the soul of the QE2 — many of the original furnishings and much of the décor will be incorporated -- while creating a modern luxury hotel.”
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor