‘QE2’s arrival in Dubai is not the end for the most famous liner in the world but a new beginning,’ remarked Ursprunger. Currently berthed in Port Rashid where she arrived on November 26, QE2 will eventually be moved to the nearby Drydocks World repair yard to undergo an extensive refurbishment estimated to take two to three years, Ursprunger revealed.
All public areas will be rebuilt as will all cabins and suites. The makeover will take the philosophy of the original design combined with modern standards, said Ursprunger. This will result in 200 hotel rooms of 50sq mtr plus 110 apartments ranging from 80 to 250sq mtr. The engine room will be stripped out and a 500-seat theatre created staging West End shows and film premieres. Leisure facilities will also include a 5,000sq mtr indoor/outdoor health and wellness centre. Celebrity chef Michel Roux will mastermind the menus of the five restaurants on board and others shoreside. The bridge, captain’s cabin and Princess Grill will be kept as is, forming part of a heritage trail that visitors can follow. ‘I am sorry to be vague about the completion date but this is a complicated project which also needs major complementary land-based infrastructure alongside where the liner will be finally accommodated, none of which is built today,' Ursprunger said.
The QE2 Precinct, as the Nakheel executive referred to it, will be the flagship attraction at Palm Jumeriah and will comprise the ship itself moored at a berth accessible via a 40ft gangway, ‘giving visitors the feel of entering an ocean-going passenger liner’. Shoreside facilities will include luxury restaurants, retail outlets, a cultural and heritage centre, a maritime museum with large display of Cunard memorabilia taken from on board, an art gallery and amphitheatre for outdoor concerts.
Ursprunger told Seatrade Insider he was unable to disclose more information about plans on the hotel and leisure side as ‘this is a ship we are using and we first need to see if our visions can actually be realised’. Repair yard engineers are now conducting structural surveys. ‘It is difficult to accurately predict the cost of the project until substantial assessment has taken place. What we are going to do will ensure the ship is functional for another 50 years and will involve replacing all plumbing, accommodation, wiring, etc.,’ Ursprunger added.
The funnel will be removed from the ship and restored to become the central display of a new maritime museum located at the QE2 Precinct. An exact replica will be built to go on the liner. A luxury apartment will be created inside the replica making the funnel the most famous address in the Middle East, said Ursprunger. ‘They say a soul of a ship is represented by the people who sail in her. We hope under her new look QE2 will continue to provide experiences for many more years to come,’ he concluded.(Published by Seatrade on 15 December 2008)