Emirates Queen Elizabeth 2
Kamran Jebreili  /  AP
An Airbus A380 of the airline Emirates performs a fly past over the liner Queen Elizabeth 2 as she arrives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 26, to begin a new life.
updated 11/26/2008 8:00:01 PM ET 2008-11-27T01:00:01

Britain's most famous luxury cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2, arrived in Dubai on Wednesday where it will turn into a floating hotel moored off an artificial palm-shaped island.

More than 60 naval vessels and private boats, led by a mega-yacht owned by Dubai's ruler, met the 70,000 ton ship in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. In the city's Rashid port, the legendary cruise ship was greeted by a police marching band and fireworks.

In 40 years at sea, the luxury liner has traveled 6 million miles, carried 2.5 million passengers and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times.

"For QE2, we believe that life really does begin at 40," said Manfred Ursprunger, the chief executive of Nakheel's QE2 Enterprises, which is in charge of the ship's transformation.

Ursprunger said it will take two to three years to redesign the ship and make it into a hotel with dozens of rooms, several restaurants, a performance theater and a spa.

Some of the cruiser's famous quarters, like The Queen's Room, The Captain's Quarters and The Bridge will be preserved in their original form.

The ship's owner, Cunard, sold QE2 last year to state-run conglomerate Dubai World for about $100 million.

Nakheel, a Dubai-based developer and part of Dubai World, plans to dock QE2 along Dubai's artificial palm-shaped island.

Queen Elizabeth II launched the QE2 in 1967 and it went into service two years later. In 1982, it was requisitioned as a troop carrier for the Falklands War that Britain fought against Argentina.

QE2 left Southampton, U.K. on Nov. 11 for her last journey to Dubai. It sailed for 16 days to its retirement spot in the Gulf via Lisbon, Rome and the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

On Thursday, Cunard will formally handover the ship's ownership to Nakheel.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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