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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Famed ocean liner QE2 moves to Dubai drydock for 'ship to hotel' conversion work

Former Cunard Line flagship was towed to Dubai Drydocks World on Sunday ahead of its expected launch as a floating hotel

The QE2 has been moved to a dry dock at Port Rashid to begin expected conversion work into a hotel. Antonie Robertson / The National
The QE2 has been moved to a dry dock at Port Rashid to begin expected conversion work into a hotel. Antonie Robertson / The National

The QE2 has been moved to Dubai Drydocks World in preparation for what is believed to be her launch as a floating hotel at Port Rashid.

According to a post on the QE2 Story website, the famous ocean liner was towed to the drydock facility on Sunday by tugboats as her engines were no longer running. Photos and video of the move were also posted to the site.

Members of the website's forum expect the work to include “ship to hotel” conversion work, such as sealing underwater openings that are no longer required, making arrangements for permanent attachment to the Port Rashid dockside and a new paint job. It’s the ship’s first dry-docking since 2013 and her third while in Dubai.

It is yet unclear how long the work will take or the exact nature of it but some posts on the forum suggested a matter of weeks.

The move follows a string of developments over the past two years that point to the liner's imminent unveiling as a luxury floating hotel and museum as the crown jewel of a redeveloped Port Rashid.

In February, a new website - qe2.com - was launched promising a new take on hospitality for Dubai and it advertised for staff.

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Read more:

QE2 website launch suggests famous ocean liner will soon reopen as a Dubai hotel

In pictures: Take a tour of the QE2

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This announcement came as the Cunard Line flagship underwent a major refurbishment at Port Rashid where it has been docked since 2008. The vessel had been cleaned and the lifeboats removed and placed around the marina as a form of advertising. It is also thought that the interiors have had a complete overhaul.

The National visited the location last September as the ship celebrated the 50th anniversary of its launch. We found the old cruise terminal had been turned into a maritime museum featuring artworks from the ship, while a new gangway to access the vessel had been constructed. Signs stating "Queen Elizabeth 2, hotel main entrance" had also been erected.

However, it is unclear when any hotel will open. According to the new website, the ship is the responsibility of the Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, which is a Government of Dubai entity, while Port Rashid is operated by DP World. QE2 management or these entities have not commented on the developments.

“It's great to have a [mostly] intact QE2 still with us over 50 years after her launch, and for that we thank Dubai and wish them luck with her,” Rob Lightbody, who runs the QE2 Story, told The National in February.

“Many of our members are very keen to step aboard once more, and stay a few nights, and many will visit Dubai who otherwise wouldn't.”

The QE2 name conjures up images of a golden era of travel on the high seas.

Built by the John Brown shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland, it was launched on September 20, 1967, by Queen Elizabeth II.

It had completed more than 800 Atlantic crossings when it was sold to Dubai in 2007. The recession scuppered plans at that time to turn her into a hotel on Palm Jumeirah and it has been in Dubai ever since. But now anticipation is building ahead of its next chapter.