The ves­sel, ren­o­vated into float­ing ho­tel, will wel­come guests in a ‘soft open­ing,’ writes Rose­mary Be­han

The National - News - - EMIRATES NEWS -

The new own­ers of the

Queen El­iz­a­beth 2 have re­leased the first im­ages of the ren­o­vated ship, which will open its doors to­mor­row to the public as a float­ing ho­tel.

PCFC Ho­tels – part of the Dubai govern­ment’s Ports, Cus­toms and Free Zones Cor­po­ra­tion – has com­pleted a long-awaited re­fur­bish­ment of the leg­endary ves­sel and de­scribed it as “the lat­est must-see tourism des­ti­na­tion in a city renowned for its world-class at­trac­tions”.

The cruise liner, which has a his­tory span­ning five decades, is now docked per­ma­nently at Mina Rashid, where its din­ing, ac­com­mo­da­tion and en­ter­tain­ment at­trac­tions will be un­veiled.

Its open­ing marks the first phase – a “soft open­ing” – of sev­eral in which parts of the liner will be opened and re­leased “for a unique ex­pe­ri­ence cap­tur­ing all that was grand about her 40 years of ser­vice”.

In this first phase, the ship will be wel­com­ing pas­sen­gers to ex­pe­ri­ence a se­lec­tion of its 224 mod­ernised rooms and suites, as well as five of the planned 13 restau­rants and bars, and to ex­plore its his­tory in the ad­ja­cent QE2 Her­itage Ex­hi­bi­tion.

The QE2 was built in Cly­de­bank, Scot­land, and was once the world’s most fa­mous cruise liner, built for the Cu­nard Line and used for 25 world cruises and more than 800 transat­lantic cross­ings be­tween 1969 and 2008.

When it ar­rived in Dubai, de­spite be­ing bought for a re­ported US$100 mil­lion (Dh367.3m), ren­o­va­tions were stalled be­cause of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

“To fi­nally open the QE2 is a dream come true for my team and I,” said Hamza Mustafa, chief ex­ec­u­tive of PCFC Ho­tels.

“It is one of Dubai’s most highly an­tic­i­pated projects and we know that a lot of peo­ple are go­ing to be very ex­cited to see her for the first time, or to step back on board the ves­sel that cre­ated so many won­der­ful mem­o­ries dur­ing her 40 years at sea.

“We have ded­i­cated more than 2.7 mil­lion man hours into trans­form­ing this leg­endary ocean liner into the mul­ti­fac­eted tourist des­ti­na­tion that she is to­day and I am very proud to rein­tro­duce her to the world as she em­barks on the next stage of her cel­e­brated jour­ney.

“It has been an honour to work on this won­der­ful project and to help en­sure that our lovely lady lives up to her new slo­gan: ‘Still mak­ing his­tory’.”

The 13-deck ho­tel has re­tained some of the orig­i­nal fea­tures, in­clud­ing pe­riod fur­ni­ture, paint­ings and fa­mous mem­o­ra­bilia. The orig­i­nal port­hole win­dows add a mar­itime feel to guest rooms, and some of the orig­i­nal restau­rants have the same names and decor as in the ship’s for­mer years.

Ad­ja­cent to the ho­tel lobby is the QE2 Ex­hi­bi­tion, an in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum that shows the

QE2 dur­ing the 1960s when it was a pioneer in de­sign, tech­nol­ogy and life­style – words of­ten used to de­scribe the city in which it now re­sides.

From small cabin-style stan­dard rooms start­ing at 17 square me­tres, to the 76-square-me­tre Royal Suites once be­long­ing to the Queen, the QE2 will of­fer a se­lec­tion of 13 room and suite cat­e­gories.

The two Royal Suites, named af­ter the queen’s mother and grand­mother, of­fer a pri­vate ve­randa, con­ser­va­tory and din­ing room in ad­di­tion to a lux­u­ri­ous be­d­room. Pas­sen­gers can book the suite by in­vi­ta­tion only.

Dur­ing the soft launch, pas­sen­gers can ex­pe­ri­ence some of

The 13-deck ho­tel has re­tained some of the orig­i­nal fea­tures in­clud­ing pe­riod fur­ni­ture and fa­mous mem­o­ra­bilia

the ship’s orig­i­nal restau­rants in­clud­ing the Chart Room, a his­tor­i­cal lounge and bar; the Golden Lion, a tra­di­tional English pub and now prob­a­bly one of Dubai’s old­est; the Pavil­ion, a fam­ily restau­rant with a large ter­race over­look­ing the ma­rina; Lido, the ho­tel’s all-day-din­ing restau­rant; The Grand Lounge, a cabaret-style lounge with a weekly en­ter­tain­ment pro­gramme; and the Yacht Club, a chic ren­di­tion of the for­mer venue as well as a unique take on the tra­di­tional af­ter­noon tea.

The ho­tel’s sig­na­ture restau­rant is the Queen’s Grill, which of­fers British fine-din­ing dishes as well as a tast­ing menu that recre­ates a clas­sic se­lec­tion of dishes from 1969.

The QE2 is also home to sev­eral unique event and meet­ing room spa­ces, most no­tably the Queen’s Room – a ball­room un­like any other in the city. The grand launch of the

QE2 will take place in Oc­to­ber. Rooms are booking from Dh829.50, in­clud­ing taxes and break­fast.

PCFC Ho­tels

Top, a Cap­tain’s Club room with bal­cony. Above, the ren­o­vated Yacht Club restau­rant

PCFC Ho­tels

The cruise liner is docked per­ma­nently at Mina Rashid

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