THE owners of legendary Southampton cruise liner Queen Elizabeth 2 have confirmed that they are moving her to South Africa, as revealed by the Daily Echo.
Dubai firm Nakheel said that it would berth the former Cunarder at Victoria and Alfred waterfront in Cape Town to help provide accommodation during the 2010 Football World Cup.
It comes just eight months after thousands of wellwishers lined the Solent to bid farewell to the 40-year-old liner for the final time after she was sold off for £50m to become a luxury hotel in Dubai.
However, plans to convert the former Cunard liner have been torpedoed by the global recession and a slump in Dubai property prices, and she is currently lying in a deserted container berth.
Nakheel, part of the Dubai royal family’s development empire, had planned to extend QE2 by 100ft and remove her funnel as part of the development.
The company has been forced to deny consistent rumours that the troubled project could be in jeopardy, and ruled out a sale or sending her to the scrapyard.
Approach Last month the Daily Echo revealed that an approach had been made to pave the way for QE2 to make a stunning return to her home city.
Well-placed sources said that port bosses had been contacted about the possibility of a comeback by the grand old lady of the sea towards the end of the year.
A senior cruise industry figure told the Daily Echo then that there were major doubts over Nakheel’s lavish plans and said that it would not be insurmountable to return her to service.
He added that he had heard of plans to run cruises out of Dubai on QE2 and to take her to South Africa.
A spokesman for Nakheel said: “It is clear that Cape Town provides the best opportunity for us to open QE2 to visitors as quickly as possible. In addition, the forthcoming Football World Cup makes a sensible business case.”