April 17, 2018
(2:55 p.m. GMT) -- Iconic liner Queen Elizabeth 2 -- better known as QE2 -- is ready to reopen as a hotel in Dubai, 10 years after Cunard sold off the ship.
The 48-year-old ship has been completely refurbished and will reopen tomorrow in a "soft opening," with certain parts of the ship opening before a grand opening in October.
It has taken 10 years for the project to materialize, with QE2 languishing in Dubai's Port Rashid during that time.
The chief executive of PCFC Hotels, Hamza Mustafa, said: "To finally open the QE2 is a dream come true for my team and I. It is one of Dubai's most highly anticipated projects and we know that a lot of people are going to be very excited to see her for the first time, or to step back on board the vessel that created so many wonderful memories during her 40 years at sea.
"We have dedicated more than 2.7 million man-hours into transforming this legendary ocean liner into the multi-faceted tourist destination that she is today."
The ship made its final voyage in 2008 to Dubai after 39 years of service with the intention of swiftly becoming a luxury hotel. The global financial crisis, which severely affected Dubai, then hit and all plans were shelved. In 2012 a consortium -- QE2 London -- was formed to buy the ship back from Dubai and moor it opposite the O2 Centre and alongside ExCeL in the Docklands area of London. The following year, a Singapore-based consortium agreed to buy it and turn it into a floating hotel in Hong Kong harbor, but this too fell through.
Last year, work finally began on restoring the ship to its former glory.
While cabins have been fully modernized, public rooms have kept QE2's most famous design features, including period furniture, paintings and memorabilia.
Five of the ship's original restaurants and bars, which have kept their names and original decor, will be open from tomorrow. These include The Chart Room lounge and bar; The Golden Lion pub; The Pavilion, a family restaurant; Lido, the hotel's all-day-dining restaurant; The Grand Lounge, a cabaret-style lounge; and the Yacht Club, to take traditional afternoon tea.
The ship's top restaurant is The Queens Grill which offers a refined selection of British fine-dining dishes as well as a tasting menu that recreates a classic selection of dishes from 1969.
Eight others drinking and eating venues will reopen in phases until October.
Adjacent to the hotel lobby is the QE2 Exhibition, an interactive museum that showcases the QE2 when the ship was a pioneer in design, technology and lifestyle.
QE2 will have 13 room types and suite categories available to book, including two Royal Suites named after the Queen's mother and grandmother.
Cruise Critic members are speculating that the opening was timed to coincide with the arrival and that QM2 will be delivering memorabilia to the ship.
QE2 is one of the most famous ocean liners in the world, launched in May 1969 the ship sailed for 39 years as the most luxurious ocean liner in the world. QE2 saw service in the Falklands as a troop carrier and in total completed 1,400 cruises, sailing nearly 6 million nautical miles.
--by Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, UK