Queen Elizabeth 2: Changes Afloat for This Vaunted Cruise Ship?

March 29, 2012

(11:50 a.m. EDT) -- Is Queen Elizabeth 2, perhaps the most celebrated cruise ship in the world, heading for a new home in Asia?

The former Cunard luxury liner has been anchored in Dubai's Port Rashid since it retired in November 2008. First the current owners, Istithmar World, planned to turn the vessel into a floating hotel. Those plans were postponed because of economic woes not only in Dubai, but worldwide.

Then, on this past New Year's Eve, the ship debuted as a luxury party space. Guests paid up to $1,633 for a VIP ticket to the event, which included entertainment by the Gipsy Kings, invited celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and an elaborate 10-minute firework display. (A promotional video from the event, produced by Global Events Management, can be seen here).

Since then, QE2 has received numerous requests for high-end events, including celebrity birthday parties, said Leili Gerami of Lege Solutions, which manages the ship's social calendar. So how much does it cost to book QE2 for your personal blowout? Gerami wouldn't give a figure, stating only that "it's not cheap."

"We're very selective on which events we would allow," she said. "It needs to be on par with the status of the ship."

A Macau-based events firm, Universal Events Management, created an Internet stir earlier this month when it released a press release stating that it had received the rights to represent QE2 in other locales, including Macau and Atlantic City. "Our aim is to make Macau the permanent home of the QE2," company president Charles Greco said in the release.

But Gerami shot down that statement, telling Cruise Critic that it wasn't true and that Universal Events Management had no right to represent the ship in any fashion. "They are doing it themselves, without being in a position to do so," she said.

Contacted by e-mail, Greco said he couldn't comment on the release, as the project was still in negotiations.

Although QE2 has remained docked in Dubai, it's been kept in good condition. Istithmar World keeps a regular crew of 40 on the ship, Gerami said.

In its heyday, QE2 was considered the height of luxury, but compared with today's glitzy mega-ships, some of the interior cabins (particularly those with twin beds) might seem outdated. While those who love the ship would never want iconic details -- such as the red funnel -- destroyed, a refit that preserves QE2's history could be successful, says Chris Frame, author of "QE2: A Photographic Journey."

"QE2 could be a very successful hotel if she was located well, marketed well and restored /converted in a manner that correctly reflects all that is great about the ship."

--by Chris Gray Faust, Cruise Critic Contributor