CUNARD’S legendary cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 has been sold to Dubai World in a $100m deal which will see the ship transformed into a floating hotel and leisure centre.
The QE2, which is 40 years old this year, is due to be delivered to Dubai World in November next year and, following a refurbishment to recreate the ship’s original interior, it will be moored at a purpose built pier at the man made island of Palm Jumeirah.
Cunard president and managing director, Carol Marlow, denied yesterday that new Solas regulations coming into force in 2010 had anything to do with the sale of the vessel. She described the new Solas regulations not being a “show stopper” as far as the QE2 was concerned.
However, industry insiders said that any necessary costly refurbishment to ensure compliance with Solas 2010 is bound to have had an impact when considering a possible sale.
Solas rule changes will affect not only the design of new ships, but safety procedures on board as well regulations requiring the use of non-combustible materials.
The demise of the classic cruiseships of yesteryear is being widely predicted as the costs of making the necessary changes prove prohibitive for many companies.
The QE2 was purchased by Istithmar, which is Dubai World’s investment arm and wholly owned by the Dubai government.
Financing aside, Ms Marlow said that strict criteria had to be met for a sale of the QE2 which would guarantee the future of the vessel, maintain the ship in first rate condition and preserve its history and heritage.
According to Dubai World chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, “QE2 is without a doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today. I am delighted we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, the Palm Jumeirah. QE2 at the Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must see experiences of Dubai and the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination.”
The ship was launched in September 1967 and is the longest serving ship in Cunard’s 168 year history, having carried more than 2.5m passengers and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times. It will set sail on its farewell voyage to Dubai on November 11 next year.