QE2 in Dubai - 2008 until 2020
Updated on May 15th 2020 by Rob Lightbody
QE2's Dubai Story
QE2 was handed to her new owners,
Dubai World owned
Istithmar, at Port Rashid Dubai on November 27th 2008 after arriving the day before at
the end of her final voyage.
It was expected that she would immediately go into Dubai Dry Dock for a 3 year radical rebuild, however the global recession had knock-on effects for Dubai's QE2 project. Dubai had bigger problems, and bigger projects to fund and finish first. It also no longer needed the hotel rooms that QE2 was intended to provide...
The plan that wasn't to be. QE2 at a dedicated part of the Palm
QE2's Dubai Story - Part 1 (2008 - 2012)
As the months passed, QE2 continued to
sit exactly where her last lucky passengers had left her, engines
still running and lights still ablaze. Cruise ships came and went, docking
near her, their passengers unaware of how significant that sleek
looking liner was.
Her former fleet-mates QM2 and QV visited during their world cruises and the new Queen Elizabeth also visited her namesake - QE2 forlornly blew blasts on her mighty whistle to them all in turn to say hello, and then to say goodbye...
What little news there was during this time, came almost exclusively from The QE2 Story through our growing network of contacts.
In summer 2009, the ship was drydocked and prepared to sail under her own power to South Africa - a plan which sadly fell through at the last minute.
For 4 years, she was maintained by an expert V-Ships crew of 40 (more when specific work was being done) who lived on board. She received essential maintenance and one of her nine giant diesel engines was always running. This provided power for lighting, air-conditioning, fire & safety systems.
Only the absence of the CUNARD logo from her sides, and the absence of passengers on her decks, told casual observers that she wasn't just visiting the port.
April 2011 - Rob Lightbody of The QE2 Story gets exclusive access to document QE2's condition.
In 2011, Rob Lightbody of TheQE2Story.com gained exclusive
access to the ship, lifting the secrecy that
had surrounded the ship for years, spending 3 days on board with access to
all areas, and extensively documented her condition.
see his photos here and
his videos here. Rob's visit hit the headlines
including being featured on BBC TV News -
QE2's Dubai Story - Part 2, the dry dock years (2013 to 2015)
In December 2012, everything changed.
were abruptly asked to leave, with her live-aboard crew given
just days notice after spending years aboard looking
These photos record the condition they left her in.
Dubai Dry Docks World, another company within the Dubai World group, took control of the ship, and a crew from Oceanic Group was placed aboard with no handover from V-ships. The ship's warm lay-up ended, and after a brief dry docking in January 2013, the ship was placed in cold lay up, afloat, within the Dry Docks facility of Port Rashid.
Ambitious plans were announced to relocate QE2 to Asia to become a floating hotel, however no firm location, operator or finances were announced, and no significant work was confirmed to have been carried out, leading us to conclude they were empty announcements. Most online disagreed with us at this stage...
In March 2015, Khamis Buamin left Dubai Dry Docks in a 'shock exit'. This made it clearer than ever that the plans noted above, would not be happening. The ship was filthy, the plans were off. Liner in Limbo, as the BBC Noted around this time.
QE2's Dubai Story Part 3 (2015 to
April 2018) -
The build up to
the Hotel finally opening
In 2015, things finally started to look more positive for QE2, and by 2016 she had been moved round to the Dubai Cruise Terminal, the very cruise terminal which which she herself inaugurated on her maiden call to Dubai in March 1997 during her world cruise. She was being washed down, and workers were seen going aboard.
August 2016 brought the surprising news that her lifeboat davits had all been cut off. We disagreed with this move, even if, as suspected, it is to improve the space on boat deck. The boats can be seen above, as can the "naked" boat deck. Rob Lightbody wrote a feature for Maritime Matters about this, published in January 2017. It also became apparent that the aft swimming pool had been removed or covered over.
Throughout 2017 we saw that work was clearly ongoing, and there was reason to be optimistic. This optimism continued in early 2018 with the launch of the hotel's website.
March 2018 and as we'd long expected would
QE2 was moved to Dry Dock for her "ship to static hotel"
work. This included closing off all underwater openings,
and removing her propellers. She returned to her permanent
berth at Cruise Terminal 1 on March 29th 2018, as shown in the
below photo courtesy of The QE2 Dubai.
The "soft opening" of QE2 Dubai Hotel was on 18th of April 2018 (only parts of the ship are open). It was now possible to visit the ship, and to stay aboard, although the experience was very, very different to when she was at sea and many areas weren't yet open.
In March 2020, when QE2 closed to the public due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Grand Opening has still not happened, and much work remained to be done, with much of the ship either being closed off, or not in use. We are happy that some of the ship is still recognisable, but also confused by much that has been done (and not done) and sad about many aspects. Despite this, quite a number of our members have now visited, or had planned to visit soon, although it has to be said to mixed reviews.
- Where exactly is QE2 today?
- QE2 Hotel section of the forum
- A comprehensive summary timeline of QE2 in Dubai