Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, July 09, 2013
The ship, which was sold to the UAE government conglomerate Dubai World for £64 million in 2008, is currently moored in Port Rashid, but will soon head to China – under its own steam – to be turned into luxury accommodation.
Its owners said the ship has already undergone a number of inspections and upgrades, and it is hoped it will be able to leave Dubai on October 18, stopping at Singapore and Hong Kong before arriving at an undisclosed Chinese shipyard.
Memorabilia will be removed and stored for the refit, but will be returned to the ship once the transformation is complete.
The ship’s final destination is still unknown, but it is thought both Singapore and Hong Kong are possible locations.
After purchasing the ship from Cunard, Dubai World had hoped to transform the ship into a lavishly-appointed 1000-room hotel, but the global financial crisis saw the proposal shelved. In July last year new plans for a 300-room hotel, which would see many of the ship’s original features maintained, were revealed.
In November, a British consortium proposed moving the QE2 to London and converting it into a floating hotel outside the O2 Arena – a move that could have created up to 2,000 jobs – but a month later rumours began circulating that the ship was to be sold for scrap.
The latest deal, a joint venture announced in January, involves the Oceanic Group, based in Singapore. The firm will rent the ship from Dubai World for around $1 million (£670,000) a year, with the option to buy it outright for around $35 million (£23.5m) after 10 years.
“The Queen Elizabeth 2 is starting the next exciting journey of her long and illustrious career," said Mr Daniel Chui, managing director of Oceanic Group, when the deal was announced.
“Our vision is for [the ship] to become a landmark cultural and tourist attraction – a beacon of luxury, glamour, quality and tradition - in the heart of a leading Asian city that shares her rich maritime heritage and is prepared to give this very special ship the prominent waterfront home she deserves."
The renovation will see a maritime museum, a shopping mall, and several restaurants fitted, he added.
The QE2 was launched in 1969 by the Queen, making its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It was operated for nearly 40 years by Cunard, and was used to carry troops to the south Atlantic during the Falklands War.