Author Topic: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021  (Read 1241 times)

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Offline Rob Lightbody

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Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:22 AM »
Long-term forum member Alex Tarry has just enjoyed a stay on QE2 Dubai and kindly offered to write us a review of his experience.

Because of the number of talking points, and the amount of information given, this is a separate topic.  I will add Alex's photos as replies to this post.

I would like to personally thank Alex for reaching out to us before and during his visit, and taking the time to write the review.  He will answer any questions posted when he can.



This was our seventh stay on the ship as a hotel, now outnumbering our five voyages on her in service, but in our world it’s a case of ‘any excuse’ and we’ll be back on board!

The area around QE2 is planned to be a huge new residential district, with the ship and marina as its centrepiece, but so far only a small section, by the ship has been built.  As our Uber approached, we could eventually see the glorious QE2, shimmering in the heat, we were so glad to be back...

The museum in the old cruise terminal was screened off, but the section containing the library books, ship models and seating area remained and the Aquitania bell was there, front and centre, to greet us as usual.  By far the best aspect was our welcome, both Peter Warwick and several long-standing employees, including her former hotel manager, visiting as a guest, greeted us by name, welcomed us ‘home’ and explained that we were now ‘family’…wonderful!  It was clear from the start, that the ship was quiet, it’s the very hot summer season in Dubai, Covid is still doing its thing and the ship is still undergoing conversion work.  This was reflected in the price, well under £100 per night, including breakfast, I got the impression that it was a fine line between closing to focus on the work vs staying open, I was glad they chose to stay open!

We were shown to cabin 8102 on Sun Deck, on the port side, just behind the captain’s cabin and as we soon learned the former Chief Engineer’s cabin, which gave us a nice feeling, having sat at John Hanvey’s table in 2006 as we sailed to Longyearbyaen.  We also chatted to Paul Yeoman as we disembarked for the last time in 2008 after our last voyage on 22 October 2008, after we’d crossed the Atlantic on her for her 806th and final time.  We often recall John's tales from his wife Wendy, from home each night at dinner, and him stating you ‘can’t rush a lady’ when enquiring about her maximum speed run out of Clydebank on her 40th anniversary in 2007!

Every time we step on board we feel the same excitement we used to in Southampton, we tap her hull as we enter and that old ‘QE2 smell’ is very much still there as you walk into the Midships Lobby, past the red Cunard sign on your right.

The cabins have been re-worked since they first opened and are now furnished to a much higher standard, new bathrooms, bespoke carpets, more stylish furnishings and higher quality, but no real nod to her history or a nautical theme, although her original artwork is still in the corridors and lobbies.  We tried to access the outside area below the bridge, the door was next to our room, but it was locked.  In all of our visits it’s been a bit unclear whether we are ‘allowed’ onto the boat deck, so I called reception to find out.   I was then shown to a section of the boat deck I could use, the starboard side between the QG lounge door and bridge…it meant I could see the outside of the ship and impressive Dubai skyline.  The rooms work well, crucially have great air conditioning, excellent lighting and are very comfortable, however some nautical art, history book or original artefacts would have been great.

On walking around the ship it was clear that a lot of work is going on, and that she’s currently very quiet, just a handful of people onboard as far as I encountered.  A lot of areas are closed, presumably for refurb, including the Yacht Club, which was firmly closed off, as was the library and book shop area.  It was a joy to see the Queens bust back in the Queens room and there is hope that more of her artefacts from the terminal museum will creep back on board, as well as talk that the royal portraits may be returned to their original locations on D stair, Boat Deck, fingers crossed…

The only area operating on board was the Lido, which we enjoyed, hosting a friend for our first breakfast on board, to whom I gave a brief tour of the ship.  Entering on Deck Five with him, we saw the car lift, complete with Rolls Royce for the first time, brilliant!  A section of Deck Five is now open, complete with a preserved inside cabin, other cabin doors in the area were wide open, I didn’t go in, but could glimpse interiors, neither preserved or restored, probably just waiting…but a nice memory of our two voyages on Deck Five….

Throughout the ship there is evidence of big money being invested, most of the lifts are brand new, I am sure all the plumbing, wiring and safety systems are state of the art and as I mentioned the whole ship is wonderfully air-conditioned and cool, in spite of it reaching 50deg at least once during our stay!  In the gym, down on Deck 7, you can touch the exposed hull plating and it’s warm, reflecting the sea outside, which is apparently 38deg!

Inside the new business centre in the Caronia restaurant is complete, but not in use, as were the newly refitted Queens Grill and bar.  The whole area around the Sun, Signal and Boat Deck around QG flows really well and although we didn’t go in it, the floorpan shows the Captains Cabin now occupies the whole front of the ship…when the outside area behind the funnel opens it will add a whole new dimension which we are looking forward to experiencing.

After a couple of nights we were given an upgrade to a Signal Deck Cabin, 8006, which overlooks the marina but has a lovely balcony with steamer chairs on it…lovely, thanks Guys!

As our stay went on we really enjoyed chatting to the team, who all seem to love the ship as we do.  Peter asked my wife and I if we’d like to join a tour and contribute from a past guest perspective, what a wonderful opportunity!  Peter’s tours are wonderful, entertaining, informative and fun, along with the guests, we toured the ship, sharing anecdotes from our voyages, visited the wonderfully preserved Bridge, had a glass of Champagne and canapés in the Chart Room, saw the bust in the Queens Room and listened to Peter playing the piano in the Grand Lounge, before ending in the Midships Lobby, which has a wonderful new, bespoke, compass designed carpet!  At one stage one of the visitors stated, ’this ship has soul’…I think it made Peter and my day!

In conclusion, I remain grateful to Dubai to saving the ship and continuing to believe in her and invest in her, her team are amazing, especially Peter and the team in reception, who looked after us wonderfully, very much as family.  The ship itself seems technically in excellent shape, her hull is clean, paintwork fresh and under a light coating of sandy dust (which is typical in Dubai) she looks as beautiful as ever.  However as time goes on she’s inevitably moving further away from her 2008 version of herself, you could say moving with the times, into a yet to be finalised, but hopefully fresh, relevant and sustainable hotel and venue which, in their own words will enable her to continue making history...
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021 (arriving)
« Reply #1 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:30 AM »
First photos are the view from the Uber approaching the QE2 (we all know the feeling of seeing the funnel in the distance), room 8102 (before and after) and the new deck plan
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #2 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:35 AM »
I am posting these in the order that Alex sent them to us.

Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #3 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:43 AM »
Photos of the bit of deck they were allowed to use.

« Last Edit: Aug 24, 2021, 07:36 PM by Rob Lightbody »
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #4 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:45 AM »
The Gym
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #5 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:52 AM »
1 deck corridor (carpet is custom designed, not cut to fit)

Original PG Bar door - hope it survives!  (if not, can we have it please??)

Original Cunard lift doors.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #6 on: Aug 24, 2021, 11:54 AM »
Two Deck :-

Midships Lobby & Corridor
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Online Alex Tarry

Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #7 on: Aug 24, 2021, 12:21 PM »
Thank you Rob for posting this and also to Michael for providing historical context to the rooms we stayed in and the changes which have been made to the areas around them.

As Rob said, I am more than happy to provide any insight I have or answer questions on how QE2 is now.

I think it's also fair to say the team who run and operate the ship today are not necessarily the ones who are making the decisions on how it moves forward, however their love and appreciation of the ship is clear to see...


Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #8 on: Aug 24, 2021, 12:34 PM »
A very empty Queens Room.  The big news being the the bust is back!
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #9 on: Aug 24, 2021, 12:37 PM »
Lido & Chart Room
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rod

Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #10 on: Aug 24, 2021, 03:35 PM »
Thank you Alex.
To be perfectly honest, most of it I don't recognize!

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #11 on: Aug 24, 2021, 07:38 PM »
Photos from around the entrance to the ship
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #12 on: Aug 24, 2021, 07:47 PM »
Original looking areas.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #13 on: Aug 24, 2021, 07:48 PM »
The QE2 Rolls Royce !
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Thomas Hypher

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Re: Review of stay on board QE2 Dubai, August 2021
« Reply #14 on: Aug 24, 2021, 08:33 PM »
Alex, your review pretty much sums up my experience onboard in January 2020 - we have similar opinions/thoughts on the ship as she is now.

At least for me, a number of changes to the ship are outright depressing and always will be having known the ship when she was really in her going gear and doing what she did best, and these particular changes make my blood boil to a certain extent, but by and large I came away with the impression she's in good, safe, hands overall (with, for example, the mistakes made with Queen Mary from an engineering point of view not being repeated) and the realisation that compromises have had to be made as has even happened with SS Rotterdam in her static hotel role!

It was clear to me that Dubai are dedicated to making her a success, and that Dubai have caught the "QE2 bug", and for me at least there was plenty of the QE2, including spirit, I know and am deeply fond of to go back to in the near future. My concern going forward is that this might change given different things I've seen and heard but I really hope not, although wouldn't be too surprised. Having said this, there has always been a lot of speculation around the ship in Dubai and post retirement in general so a pinch of salt seems to be wise with at least half the stuff heard through the grapevine so to speak!

I was wondering if you could confirm the library books available onboard in the new area in the second photo of the second post are her "long lost" maritime books from the old library. None of the old library books in the lobby building were from that maritime section during my visit last year but photos on Instagram seem to suggest the maritime books are in this new room. Also, where abouts is this new room and what was it before the ongoing rebuild? It seems to be on Sun or Signal Deck from what I can tell.

As an aside, I do wish Dubai would wash her down more often as she's got grubbier than ever (not withstanding the cold layup period) with the sand in the last year or so. Her funnel has also faded a lot in the intense Sun so maybe could use some TLC too...

Great to see the bust back in Queens Room!!!
« Last Edit: Aug 24, 2021, 08:38 PM by Thomas Hypher »
First sailed on QE2 in August 2003 aged 6 years old. Last sailed on QE2 in July 2008. Last saw the seagoing QE2 in person from the decks of QM2, on QE2's last Transatlantic crossing (Eastbound tandem) in October 2008. Visited QE2 in her new life, in Dubai, in January 2020 and August 2022.

 

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