QE2 Dubai Hotel Project on Life Support?

February 9, 2009

The multi-million-pound transformation that would turn British ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 into a floating luxury hotel in Dubai may be faltering under souring economic conditions. The beloved ship retired from the Cunard fleet in November.

According to online publication Maritime Matters, the world's faltering economy and the subsequent decline of Dubai-area tourism may have stymied the QE2 project. Sources have indicated to Maritime Matters that Nakheel, the government-owned company that's handling QE2's transformation, may have altered or postponed the plans to convert the former cruise ship into a luxury hotel after scaling back on several major projects and slashing 500 jobs.

It's still too early to tell exactly how the QE2 project will be impacted by Nakheel's financial woes, but news of the company's struggles have led Maritime Matters and Cruise Critic members to speculate about a different fate for QE2, including a one-way ticket to the scrap yard or even a repurchase of the classic vessel by Cunard.

Following more than 40 years in service, QE2 was handed over to its new owners in Dubai at the end of November 2008, and many fans of the ship were horrified by some of the alterations planned by Nakheel. Proposed changes to QE2 as part of the project included replacing QE2's funnel with several penthouse suites; creating a new, 500-plus-seat theater for West End- and Broadway-style shows; gutting cabins and public spaces and replacing them with larger rooms and apartments; and the addition of a 5,000-square-meter spa complex -- nearly twice the size of that found on any other cruise ship.

Hopeful members on the Cruise Critic boards have already begun to weigh in on the preliminary news and the speculation surrounding it. Sea-sea is keeping "fingers crossed they could scale back the 'slice and dice' they were planning to do and keep her more in line of what they did with QM at Long Beach." Highlander0108 adds, "I suspect most of QE2's fans are somewhat relieved at hearing this news, but concerned about her ultimate fate."

Stay tuned.

Poll: If Dubai cuts QE2 loose, what should be its fate?

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor

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