Nakheel, the owner of the QE2, has confirmed the cruise liner will be moved to Cape Town in South Africa to become a hotel in time for the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
Nakheel, which owns a share in the South African port, said the ship would berthed in Cape Town for 18 months.
A spokesman for the Dubai-based property developer said: “It has been our intention for some time to provide a short term opportunity to enjoy QE2 as a stationary hotel in her current condition before refurbishment begins.
“It is clear that Cape Town provides the best opportunity for us to open QE2 to visitors as quickly as possible.
“In addition, the forthcoming 2010 Football World Cup makes a sensible business case for moving her there.”
The Cunard ship was bought by Dubai World for $100m in 2007. However Nakheel, one of the main shareholders in the government-owned conglomerate, has been severely hit by the Dubai property crash.
It is currently embarking on a radical cost-cutting spree which has included slashing staff, cancelling projects and scaling back existing projects as it battles for survival. It also needs to refinance upcoming loan commitments, including a $3.5bn Islamic bond which matures in December.
(Left: QE2 - the original “vision” to berth the ship at the Palm Jumeirah)
Nakheel had planned to “usher in the next exciting chapter of her rich and dignified life”, including building a 6,000 sq yd spa complex, and replacing the ship’s funnel with a glass structure to house penthouse suites.
The ship was expected to be moved to South Africa under its own power, but the sale contract with Cunard meant it could not carry passengers as a cruise ship.
The QE2 will now go to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, where there is a shortage of hotel rooms.
Situated between Robben Island and Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront faces onto Cape Town’s harbour and is one of the city’s most visited tourist sites, and includes a string of hotels, restaurants, shops and a marina.