The celebrated ship is now enjoying a happy retirement, reinvented as a luxury hotel and permanently moored in Dubai.
We stayed the night...
On becoming a widow, she sold their homes and belongings and took up permanent residence on the prestigious ship, sailing the world’s oceans until the pride of the Cunard Line was decommissioned nine years later.
The sleek vessel - 20m longer than the Titanic - is now permanently moored in Dubai’s Port Rashid after developer Nakheel invested millions in 2008 to spare her from the salvage yard for a new lease of life as a floating four-star hotel 10 years later.
At one time, the cheapest ticket from Southampton to New York - the QE2’s route 812 times before competitive trans-Atlantic flights forced Cunard to refit her as a global voyager - would cost a teacher the equivalent of three months wages.
Today, there are 447 rooms and suites available with entry level cabins starting at just AED223 per night (based on a two-guest, June 1 stay), rising to AED 2673 if you aspire the Royal Suite surrounds heyday famous guests Joan Collins or Rod Stewart most likely indulged.
The tour follows the footsteps of 25 captains, including a fascinating stop on the bridge with the helm and others instruments fixed in original operating state behind perspex. Several other areas remain in an enchanting, time-frozen state.
While British affiliation with the QE2 remains strong, the demographic of guests during our stay suggested the iconic ship’s worldwide appeal persists.
During 39 years of service the liner clocked up 6m nautical miles - about 25 circuits of the planet - hosting 2.5m-plus passengers on 1,419 voyages, including a 1982 Falklands War troop-carrying mission.
The ceremony was screened around the ship, including the Queen’s Room where a themed buffet lunch was given added authenticity by a piper and drummers.
That palpable royal connection was also present in more sombre fashion following the passing of the late monarch when a book of condolence brought Britons flocking to pay their respects on board.
Shows in the ship’s theatre have introduced many others to the QE2, but there’s something special about staying overnight and observing the waves through a porthole or from the generous balcony attached to accommodation options such as a Captain’s Room (from AED466).
Views are either toward Bur Dubai and Downtown Dubai or the sea, taking in Maritime City, the working port, adjacent super yachts and Gulf waters beyond.
Ferghal Purcell joined the current ‘crew’ as General Manager in December 2021, embracing the specific challenges of positioning the city’s only floating hotel in the global eye, at a time when tourism was emerging from a pandemic.
“The hotel had recently reopened to guests after a prolonged period of closure and, as a result, had to adapt to a new operating environment,” he recalls.
Ferghal confirms his objectives have evolved as he has developed better understanding of the ship, recognising a “complex entity and the role of showcasing its history and heritage is as important as developing new F&B initiatives”.
“Running a floating hotel such as the QE2 comes with specific challenges that are unique, as the property is based on water and moored in an area that will determine its business segmentation,” he explains.
“The issues of property maintenance are unparalleled as it involves developing a knowledge of the impact on the vessel due to its exposure to salt water and harsh marine environments.
“Never before have I received thrice daily reports on the wind and tide, both of which impact my gangways which control the access to the ship.”
There’s also a gym and an indoor pool available on a lower deck in which to work it all off again.
“The QE2 has a mix of guests from various backgrounds and nationalities,” continues Ferghal.
“While many visitors are tourists and travelers from abroad, the ship has also become a popular destination for residents of Dubai who are looking for a staycation or weekend getaway.”
The GM and says during the last year the QE2 has undergone ‘significant changes”, since hotel group Accor took over, not least with the address now accessible through various booking platforms and channels to a wider range of travelers.
That includes former crew and passengers seeking to “relive their memories of the ship”.
“It absolutely maintains the link with the royal family (and) now that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has passed there is an even greater desire to experience her association with the QE2.
“It has become a moral responsibility to preserve the history and heritage of this iconic vessel for generations to come, and we are working hard and continuing to showcase her life’s journey.”
CHECK-in is at 3pm, check-out is at noon - and be sure to visit the mini-museum beside the ship
FIND the QE2 at Mina Rashid, Bur Dubai - call on 971-600-500-400
VISIT all.accor.com and search QE2 Dubai for room options and availability or go directly to www.qe2.com