QE2 sold as a floating hotel

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The Independent Online

Cunard liner QE2 is to cease ocean cruises and become a luxury floating hotel, it was announced today.

The 70,000-tonne vessel, launched by the Queen in 1967, is to be sold to the Dubai World company in a £50 million deal.

The famous ship will be delivered to Dubai World in November next year and will be berthed, from 2009, at a specially-constructed pier at The Palm Jumeirah development in Dubai.

The Palm development is the world's largest man-made island, where luxury properties - owned by a galaxy of stars - stretch out into the Persian Gulf off the shore of Dubai.

Dubai World, whose investment arm Istithmar has made the purchase of the QE2, already owns shipping company P&O.

Istithmar said its refurbishment programme will aim to recreate QE2's original interior decor and fittings. QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will also include a museum celebrating the rich history of the ship.

Cunard president and managing director Carol Marlow said today: "We are delighted that, when her legendary career as an ocean liner ends, there will continue to be a permanent home for her that will enable future generations to continue to experience fully both the ship and her history."

Dubai World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said: "QE2 is without a doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today.

"I am delighted we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, The Palm Jumeirah.

"QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must-see experiences of Dubai and of the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination.

"Dubai is a maritime nation and we understand the rich heritage of QE2. She is coming to a home where she will be cherished."

Built at the John Brown Shipyard on the Clyde in Scotland, the QE2 came into service in 1969 and is the longest-serving ship in Cunard's 168-year history.

It was the company's flagship until the 150,000-tonne Queen Mary 2 (QM2) replaced it in 2004, although the QE2 has carried on cruising.

Since 1969, the QE2 has undertaken 25 world cruises, has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and has carried more than 2.5 million passengers.

In 1982, the vessel was requisitioned for the Falklands War as a troop ship. She set sail on May 12 that year and arrived safely back in Southampton on June 11.

Both the QE2 and QM2 are successors to two famous Cunard vessels - the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.

Launched in 1936, the Queen Mary ceased service in 1967 and is now a floating hotel and museum at Long Beach, California.

The 84,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth was in service from 1940 to 1968 and caught fire and was scrapped in Hong Kong harbour in 1975.