“We’ve curated a seamless and unforgettable journey that blends old-world sophistication with a new level in hospitality. We are still making history!” Queen Elizabeth 2
The legendary ocean liner the Queen Elizabeth 2, more commonly known as the QE2, is now a floating hotel and museum docked in Mina Rashid, Dubai. Passengers, as guests are still referred too, can step aboard this nostalgic vessel, once the grand dame of the Cunard fleet, to enjoy a taste of British maritime history.
The iconic cruise ship, once the darling of the rich and famous, was a magnet for pop stars, presidents and royalty in her heyday. Following her arrival at her final permanent resting place back in 2008 the ship has undergone a ten year restoration project. It certainly offers guests an experience like no other as the first floating hotel in the region, passengers can follow in the footsteps of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II on board her namesake and on which she and her family have sailed.
Take a step back in time and a glimpse into history as you wander through the endless corridors and once opulent public areas, there’s plenty of restored original features like the ballroom and casino (preserved but not operating due to regional restrictions) combined with the latest technology to meet the expectations of the modern traveller.
There are 224 rooms and suites of varying sizes and grandeur. We stayed in a sea view standard room with original port-holes, a cozy cabin that was surprisingly more spacious than expected with an extremely comfortable king-size bed. The room had a dressing room, bathroom with bath and shower, a large TV, seating and plenty of storage. Complimentary water and tea/coffee making facilities were provided.
There are eight restaurants and bars (open to both in-house guests and visitors) as well as a theatre, lounge, spa, gym, indoor pool and Dubai duty free. The Pavilion, an alfresco venue, located on the aft deck offers a Meditternean menu accompanied by fine wines and cocktails that’s open daily for lunch and dinner as well as Friday Brunch.
Located mid-ship on the quarter deck is all-day dining restaurant Lido and The Chart Room. Lido io open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers the Culinary World Cruise Series and the family-friendly QE2 Friday Brunch. The Chart Room is the place to experience a traditional English afternoon tea (must be booked at least 24 hours in advance). The bar has a nautical feel with the original glass route-map still in place and chart draws with old world-maps used by former captains of the QE2.
The QE2’s original Yacht Club has been restored to its former décor complete with its original bar and its outdoor terrace, open during the cooler months, offering amazing views of Dubai’s skyline. The Golden Lion is a smoky traditional British pub retaining a 70’s vibe, this is the spot to grab a draught beer, watch some live sport and have a game of pool and darts. The pub, the oldest in Dubai, is adorned with commemorative shields from the QE2’s ports of call. Looking for a quick bite? Check out Q Café in the QE2 hotel terminal. The Queen’s Grill is currently closed until 15th December 2019
The upper deck is home to The Grand Lounge, a cabaret style venue with a lot of old-school red velvet, a stage and dance floor. The entertainment programme includes musicals, comedy shows, dinner dances and discos – click HERE for more information. Theatre by QE2 presents a varied schedule of entertainment managed by Outside The Box Events. Peter Pan will be showing for pantomime season from 13th – 24th December – click HERE for more information. The Crystal Bar, located next to the theatre, serves beverages and snacks and as the only licensed theatre in Dubai drinks are permitted in the auditorium.
The QE2 spa is a boutique wellness centre offering a range of treatments including a variety of massages, facials and specialised treatments for men – click HERE to see the spa menu. The original 9-metre indoor swimming pool has been brought back to life on Deck 7 along with a gym featuring a selection of cardio equipment and free weights. Bikes are available to hire to explore the surrounding area on two wheels.
The Dubai Duty Free shopping arcade is located on the upper boat deck for those looking for regional souvenirs, QE2 branded merchandise, electronic goods, chocolate and luxury goods. Tax free goods (including cigarettes, beverages, skin care, make-up and perfume) bought on board can be collected at the airport by international travellers.
Heritage tours are available on a daily basis where passengers can learn about the history of the ship. The guided tour starts at the QE2 Heritage Exhibition then takes passengers through the ship’s original rooms, viewing artifacts and offering glimpses of the accommodation. In her lifetime, the QE2 completed 25 tours around the world, sailing 6 million nautical miles on 1,400 voyages and entertained almost 2.5 million passengers (she also served as a troopship in the Falkland War of 1982). The iconic ship’s maiden voyage was in May 1969 so it’s 50th anniversary this year, she was retired from service in 2008 after 39 years at sea.
Royalist and cruise enthusiasts can rejoice at the repurposing of the QE2, the ship has undergone extensive refurbishment since its arrival in the UAE and the ongoing project is now concentrating on the final two decks. Personally, I was a little underwhelmed as I expected it to be more polished but there’s no denying the ship’s history and it was an interesting place to visit.
The Nitty Gritty
Queen Elizabeth 2, Mina Rashid, P.O. Box 6769, Dubai, UAE
Check-out: 12 noon
Telephone: (+971) 04 526 8888
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The Not so Good…..
Fuel smell in our cabin
Some areas still in need of tlc (carpets are marked, fixtures and fittings chipped and discoloured)
The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2019. All rights reserved. Additional photos used with courtesy of www.qe2.com/www.theqode.com