Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

QE2 arrives at new home in Dubai


The QE2 arrives in Dubai

The world-famous QE2 has arrived in its new home of Dubai where it will be turned into a floating hotel.

A flotilla and Airbus A380 superjumbo flypast met the luxury liner - sold for 50m to the United Arab Emirates.

QE2 left its home port of Southampton for the last time earlier this month on a final two-week cruise following four decades of service.

As it docked in Dubai passengers waved from the decks and some hung banners and flags from the side of the ship.

The BBC has learned that controversial plans for the ship include slicing off the giant red funnel and placing it on the waterfront as an entrance, once the QE2 becomes a hotel.

In its place will be a four-deck smoked glass penthouse, in the shape of the funnel but with a swimming pool. The idea is to make it the most exclusive hotel room in Dubai.

Inside, every cabin will be ripped out and replaced with new, larger bedrooms that meet the latest standards.

The Palm, Dubai
QE2 will be the centrepiece of the luxury palm island

The ship's engines will be taken out, with the space used to create a new entertainment venue, and its casino is expected to be scrapped in line with Dubai's anti-gambling laws.

Real estate developer Nakheel has bought the liner and plans to make it the centrepiece of Palm Jumeirah, the palm-shaped fronds of reclaimed land and beach on the Dubai waterfront.

The new-look vessel is expected to have 200 hotel rooms and 130 residential apartments and is set to open in 2010.

Manfred Ursprunger, the chief executive of QE2 Enterprises at Nakheel Hotels, said: "Life begins at 40.

"This is not an end, it is merely the beginning for the QE2. There are few vessels in the world that have this kind of future.

"She will be in the best possible hands. We will recreate the experience of being on board an ocean liner for many more people.

'Pull her apart'

"Visitors will be proud to come to Dubai to see her. We have planned a unique tribute to a maritime icon.

"Even down to crossing a gangway to get on board, we want to give guests the experience of walking on to the QE2 and seeing what the great days of transatlantic ocean liners were really like.

"We have to pull her apart and rebuild her to make her viable as an entertainment venue for at least the next 50 years."

Tens of thousands of people lined Southampton Water to see the 70,000-tonne ship leave UK waters for the last time on 11 November.

The QE2's last entry into the city in the morning was delayed after it ran aground on the Bramble Bank in the Solent.

During its life, the ship has served as a troop ship in the Falklands War in 1982, been around the world 25 times and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times.

It has carried more than 2.5 million passengers including kings and queens, prime ministers and presidents, astronauts and countless international celebrities.

QE2's predecessor, Queen Mary, has been a floating hotel at Long Beach in California since 1967.

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