Southampton’s former liner Queen Elizabeth 2 is set to be sliced in two as part of her conversion into a floating hotel in Dubai it can be revealed.
Plans are now being drawn up which would see QE2 cut in half and a 100ft-long extension, providing extra accommodation and entertainment facilities, inserted to lengthen the vessel.
In Southampton there was a furious reaction to leaked reports from the Middle East about QE2’s future with one former passenger describing the plan as “horrifying’’. Another said they would rather see the ship scrapped.
Demands are also growing for the names Queen Elizabeth 2 and Southampton to be removed from the liner following the conversion as their continued use would be an “insult’’ to the Queen and the city, which was the ship’s home for nearly 40 years.
Watch QE2's send off from Southampton.
QE2 Enterprises, the company set up to operate the ship as a tourist attraction in the oil rich emirate, is coy when it comes to confirming or denying details of the conversion work, which is expected to take at least two years.
Although a dramatic procedure, the lengthening of vessels by cutting them in half and then adding an extra mid-section, has become increasingly common in the world’s shipyards.
If the plan to lengthen QE2 is given the go-ahead it is likely the ship will return to Europe where much of the work will be undertaken at the Lloyd Werf yard in Bremerhaven, Germany.
Hampshire author and maritime historian, Mick Lindsay, a former traveller on QE2 said: “I’m just speechless – although I’ve always had serious misgivings about what might happen to her once she was in Dubai.
“The new owners said how proud they were to own QE2 but this just shows their complete and utter disrespect for the liner that was once the most famous in the world. My concern for the ship becomes deeper and deeper the more I hear.’’ Terry Yarwood, who was part of a consortium of local businessmen who wanted to buy QE2 and keep her in Southampton, and a regular passenger on QE2 when the liner was part of the Cunard fleet said: “It would be absolutely appalling if this was to happen. I wanted to keep her in Southampton as part of our heritage but if they did cut the ship in half I think I would rather have seen her go for scrap.
“The liner will be unrecognisable if all these changes take place so the name, Queen Elizabeth 2 and that of Southampton should be removed from her hull. I think if these names were kept it would be an insult to the Queen and Southampton.’’ QE2’s final departure from Southampton, in November last year, was one of the city’s most memorable events. Hundreds of yachts, boats and pleasure craft followed the liner into the Solent and thousands of sightseers crammed vantage points along the coastline.
QE2 Enterprises has confirmed that once the ship was been transformed into a hotel it will have a private members’ club, shops selling British products, West End and Broadway-style shows and its exclusive dining room, the Queen’s Grill. On board there will be more than 200 hotel rooms, a museum, spa and health club, and a choice of restaurants.