The QE2, as it is now called, arrived in Dubai on Wednesday evening, exactly 40 years from the day it first went to sea on her preliminary sea trials on Nov. 26 1968.
The ship docked at Mina Al-Rashid at around 6pm UAE time and was greeted by hundreds of cheering wellwishers waving Union Jack and UAE flags. A glittering fireworks display lit up the sky above the QE2, while the Dubai Police band played Scottish bagpipes.
The cruise ship was met by a group of dignitaries from state owned conglomerate Dubai World and real estate unit Nakheel, including Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and Nakheel CEO Chris O’Donnell.
The QE2 was accompanied into port by a flotilla of more than 60 local yachts, boats and leisure-craft, led by MY Dubai – the mega-yacht owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – and Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster.
In the sky above the flotilla, one of Emirates’ new Airbus A380 superjumbos made several passes. Joining the A380 in the sky was several Royal Naval helicopters welcoming the QE2.
Passengers are to spend Wednesday night aboard the QE2 for an exclusive party and then disembark next, for the very last time, after which the QE2 not be a cruise any more. QE2 Will yet enter into an other colorful life of entertainment and hospitality as yet an other remarkable vanture of Dubai a floating hotel that will be docked on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah, one of three palm-shaped islands Nakheel is building off Dubai’s coast.
Schumacher the QE2 would be positioned at the end of a 300m long T-shaped pier and this will be off the trunk of the Palm. It might take 3 years to actually make it ready as a hotel though.
QE2 would be transformed into a hotel with a theatre and restaurant, and alongside the QE2 there would be a mixed developments, including a museum of the QE2 and restaurants, as well as retail and residential areas.
The ship’s iconic funnel, the subject of controversy in the UK, would be removed. one of the plans for the funnel was to make it the centrepiece at the entry to the QE2 precinct to be built on the trunk of the Palm.
On Thursday, the official flag changing ceremony will take place on board the QE2 when current owner Cunard will formally hand over the ship to Dubai’s gient developer Nakheel.
The QE2 was purchased last year by Dubai World and Nakheel has already commenced construction on the luxury marina development on the Palm Jumeirah.
The QE2 left Southampton in the UK on Nov. 11 on her final journey, a 16-night cruise via Lisbon, Rome and Alexandria to reach Dubai. The Duke of Edinburgh attended the farewell at Southampton Port, joined by hundreds of well-wishers.
Her overall passenger manifest totals 2.5 million passengers. When the ship is moored at the very tip of the palm-shaped island, it will be converted into a first-class floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination.