Former Cunard flagship QE2 is to be converted into a floating hotel in Dubai.
The future of the vessel has been in doubt since being acquired for £64 million in 2007.
But plans have now emerged for the ship to become a 300-room floating hotel fitted with original furnishings. It is expected to open within 18 months at the Emirate’s Port Rashid.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of the company that bought the ship, said it realised visitors wanted to see the QE2 as it originally looked, so no major changes are planned as part of the conversion.
Original plans to completely overhaul the iconic vessel as a luxury hotel were scrapped when Dubai’s economy tumbled into crisis.
Officials had been reluctant to address questions about the ship’s future, even as it sat unused and suggestions swirled that it could be moved to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup or even sold for scrap.
Last New Year’s Eve an event planning company hosted a black-tie party onboard that included live music, fireworks and a laser light show.
That was the first time the ship had a large group of guests since it pulled into port.
Sultan bin Sulayem dismissed concerns about the cost of converting the QE2 into a working hotel, although he declined to say who was paying.
Neither Istithmar nor the city-state’s port operator DP World, which he also chairs, are paying for the project, he said.
The Queen launched QE2 in 1967. It has made at least 26 round-the-world voyages since entering service in 1969.
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