qe2dubai.jpgHopes are rising that two grand old ocean liners may find new homes and new lives.
QE2, which has languished at a lonely quayside in Dubai (above) since November 2008, was originally bought from Cunard for $100 million and new owners Nakheel prepared lavish designs to convert the liner into a hotel.
The economic downturn and the financial crash which hit Dubai put paid to those plans, and a rescue operation to send the ship to Cape Town ended up going nowhere.
Now the port of Fremantle, in Western Australia may put in a bid to obtain QE2 in time for the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in December 2011.
Author Chris Frame, a member of the QE2 Story internet forum, said Fremantle would make an ideal home for the vessel. “It is already a waterside tourist destination, has a large working port, and an entertainment infrastructure to appeal to visitors.”
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt believes there would be strong support from the local community. “If the ship could be in Fremantle at the same time as the sailing championships, then it could be used as a floating hotel.”
A spokesman for the current owners, who have been under pressure to sell to relieve Dubai’s debt problems, said there were “a number of options being considered for QE2,” but added that none of them involved the ship leaving Dubai.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, a group of enthusiasts is celebrating a deal to buy the SS United States, which still holds the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing.
The ship, which set the record on her maiden voyage in 1952, was bought by Norwegian Cruise Line in 2003, but plans to restore her were put on the stocks when the company was re-structured.
In a move which wil be worth millions in publicity on the eve of the launch of Norwegian Epic, NCL announced the had rejected an offer of $6 million to have her scrapped, and instead have agreed to sell the ship to the SS United States Conservancy for half that amount.
The deal still faces hurdles before the ship can be restored and opened to the public. The preservationists have not yet raised all the funds required, and there are fears that the hull is contaminated by toxic chemicals which will have to be removed.