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QE2 to become a floating hotel in the Far East
Southampton's most famous liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, is to be converted into a five star luxury hotel in the Far East.
The elaborate refurbishment will see the grand dame of the sea fitted with some 500 rooms, a shopping mall stocking the finest UK and European brands and three Michelin-starred restaurants.
Daniel Chui, managing director of Oceanic Group, which is helping to convert the ship, said the QE2 would become a ''beacon of luxury, glamour, quality and tradition'', and will be given the ''prominent waterfront home she deserves''.
The deal marks the latest twist in the fate of QE2, which left Southampton for the last time in November, 2008, when she was acquired by Dubai's state investment company, Istithmar World at the height of the city-state's economic power.
However ambitious plans to turn her into an international tourist attraction in Dubai were abandoned when the recession bit deeper into the local economy.
It is expected that the vessel, which was based in Southampton for almost 40 years, will undergo a period of dry-docking in China in preparation for her conversion into a floating hotel.
QE2 now seems set to begin operating as a hotel, with 500 rooms and 100 luxury suites, later this year.
New designs include an onboard maritime museum displaying QE2 memorabilia, convention and meeting facilities and a QE2 cafe offering meals similar to those served during cruises.
Mr Chui added: ''A number of Asian cities have expressed interest in securing this historic attraction.
''We have firmed up with an international tourist city in the Far East as her first destination.
''Our vision for the Queen Elizabeth 2 is to become a landmark cultural and tourist attraction - a beacon of luxury, glamour, quality and tradition - in the heart of a leading Asian city that shares her rich maritime heritage and is prepared to give this very special ship the prominent waterfront home she deserves.
''We are impressed that the chosen city shares our passion for preserving the history and reputation of this great ship that has journeyed more than six million miles, and holds a special place in the collective memory of the two-and-a-half million passengers that have sailed on her during nearly 40 years of service.
''Rest assured the upgrade process will respect and safeguard the immense heritage embodied in her fine lines and luxurious fittings.''
Ironically, if QE2 does end her days in Hong Kong, she will be following in the wake of her famous predecessor, the original Queen Elizabeth, another Southampton liner, which caught fire and capsized in the former British colony in 1972.
The Daily Echo previously reported how a British consortium were hoping to bring the ship back to Britain and moor her in the Thames as an exclusive hotel in London.