If you were to ask anyone – maritime aficionado or not – to name a ship, there’s a good chance they would answer “The QE2”. Despite her not sailing the ocean waves for five years, her legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the public and now she’s set for a spectacular, albeit, all together more stationary come back.
The Queen Elizabeth 2, to give the historic vessel her full title, is set to return to the seas once more in October, bound for China, where she will live out her days as a luxury floating hotel. The iconic vessel will undergo a $60 million refit in a Chinese shipyard, after which she will emerge as an all-suite, 400-room hotel.
After being retired by her owners Cunard following her final cruise with the line in 2008, the ship spent close to five years in a Dubai shipyard, after being purchased by state investment company Istithmar World for $100 million. Her future always remained uncertain, with initial plans for her to serve as a hotel in Dubai, the notion of a possible return to her spiritual home of Liverpool floated and worrying reports of her being sold for scrap also doing the rounds.
Now however, her future has finally been confirmed following the announcement and though she’s not taking to the waves permanently, she will set sail for China, stopping in Singapore and Hong Kong en route to the Chinese shipyard where she will be converted.
Chairman of shipyard operator Drydocks World said that the ship is currently being upgraded in Dubai to ensure that she is fully seaworthy for the planned October 18 sailing.
The QE2 has a long and varied history, making her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in May 1969, taking part in the Falklands War in 1982, being converted from steam to diesel and undergoing a number of extensive refurbishments.
By Simon Brotherton