- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) | Britain’s most famous luxury cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, arrived Wednesday in Dubai, where it will be turned into a floating hotel moored off an artificial palm-shaped island.

More than 60 naval vessels and private boats, led by a mega-yacht owned by Dubai’s ruler, met the 70,000-ton ship in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. In the city’s Rashid port, the legendary cruise ship was greeted by a police marching band and fireworks.

In 40 years at sea, the luxury liner has traveled 6 million miles, carried 2.5 million passengers and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times.

“For QE2, we believe that life really does begin at 40,” said Manfred Ursprunger, chief executive of Nakheel’s QE2 Enterprises, which is in charge of the ship’s transformation.

Mr. Ursprunger said it will take two to three years to redesign the ship and make it into a hotel with rooms, restaurants, a performance theater and a spa.

Some of the cruiser’s famous quarters, like the Queen’s Room, the captain’s quarters and the bridge will be preserved in their original form.

The ship’s owner, Cunard, sold QE2 last year to state-run conglomerate Dubai World for about $100 million.

Nakheel, a Dubai-based developer and part of Dubai World, plans to moor QE2 along Dubai’s artificial palm-shaped island.

Queen Elizabeth II launched the QE2 in 1967, and it went into service two years later. In 1982, it was requisitioned as a troop carrier for the Falklands War that Britain fought against Argentina.

QE2 left Southampton, England, on Nov. 11 for her last journey. It sailed for 16 days to its retirement spot in the Gulf via Lisbon, Rome and the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

On Thursday, Cunard will formally hand over the ship’s ownership to Nakheel.

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