Dubai does glam tourism like few other cities. There’s a mall with a ski slope blanketed in faux snow, an 18-acre flower garden with 45 million blooms, and the world’s tallest performing fountain. This year, we add to the list the world’s most famous retired cruise liner, newly remade as a permanently moored hotel.
Still getting up to speed after a limited launch last month, the Queen Elizabeth 2 hotel will see an official grand opening in October, with 224 thoroughly remodeled and modernized rooms and suites, more than a dozen bars and restaurants, a shopping promenade, and a movie theater.
After 39 years of transatlantic service, the 963-foot-long Queen Elizabeth 2 steamed into Mina Rashid in 2008 and embarked on a 10-year, on-again/off-again renovation. The project mimics the hotel transformation of the RMS Queen Mary, which sailed on the Cunard Line between 1936 and 1967 (minus a stint as an Allied troop carrier during World War II). Permanently stationed in Long Beach, California, that famous ship is now a 355-room tourist resort and museum.
QE2 hotel booking is open now, with standard rooms coming in under the AED700 mark (about US$190), so despite its regal reputation, Dubai’s floating Parent Trap is no rival to the Burj al Arab Jumeirah. Only five dining venues are presently open, including the Golden Lion pub, the topside Yacht Club, and, when you’re in the mood for a good Beef Wellington, the posh Queens Grill, once frequented by the ship’s royal namesake. If you want the full QE2 effect, you’ll have to wait until October. >> Next: The Best Cruise Lines You’ve Never Heard Of