India/UK – In the wake of a stuttering last-minute bid to return the world-renowned Queen Elizabeth II (QE2) to British shores as a ‘five-star floating hotel’, the ocean liner could be sold to Indian scrap yards, according to a report in Arabian Business.
The 70 000-tonne vessel went into retirement in 2008 and was sold to Istithmar, part of the state conglomerate Dubai World, for a grand total of Â£63 million (Euro 78 million). Originally moored in a commercial port, plans were unveiled to convert the QE2 into a 1000-room luxury hotel right next to the man-made Palm Jumeirah island; however, the global financial crisis undermined this exotic scheme.
The ocean liner was moved to the less scenic location of Port Rashid where it has remained for the last five years, running up bills of Â£650 000 per month (Euro 800 000). After many failed attempts to accommodate the QE2, its official re-launch began in late 2011 when a New Year’s Eve party was hosted aboard the liner with more than 1000 guests enjoying a fireworks display and music.
Reportedly, weddings, parties and gala receptions soon followed, but then there developed what has been described as a ‘ludicrous battle’ between various Dubai entities over how best to capitalise on the ship’s renown and to finance the immense monthly repair and maintenance bills required to keep it operational. Eager to bring the vessel home, a British consortium bid Â£70 million (Euro 85.8 million) – but has so far proved unsuccessful. This recent recovery attempt was backed by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
According to members of the consortium, the ocean liner is now scheduled to be ‘put into a dry dock before being taken to an unknown destination in the Far East’, the Daily Mail newspaper has reported. It has been suggested that the vessel could raise millions for scrapping – although British interests suggest such an end for the vessel would represent ‘a tragedy’.