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Latest reports on the fate of Queen Elizabeth 2 indicate that the former iconic Cunarder is still heading for China.
But instead of taking to the high seas again on a voyage to a recycling yard there, as was reported a month ago, the latest proposal is that the ship will become a floating luxury hotel.
No precise destination for QE2 has been announced. However, rising speculation points to ports such as Shanghai or Hong Kong.
The deal marks the latest twist in the fate of the ship since it arrived in Dubai on November 26, 2009, after being bought by the state investment company Istithmar two years earlier.
Plans to berth it permanently at the Palm Jumeirah complex as a tourist attraction did not proceed and the chosen site was used for a hotel development. Instead the vessel has been berthed at Port Rashid where the interior has been meticulously maintained since it arrived there.
Eleven days ago the liner was moved to Drydocks World Dubai to undertake classification checks prior to being altered for its planned new role. It will also undergo full checks of seaworthiness, its hull, machinery and other systems. There is no firm timetable for QE2's departure to the east, which could take up to three months.
Although no estimated costs have been quoted, it has been stated that it will cost quite a lot to get the more than 45-year old veteran that made two visits to Port Chalmers, ready for sea.
QE2 will be converted into a five-star hotel with 500 rooms. Other features will include a shopping mall, restaurants and a maritime museum. The ship will still be owned by a Dubai government, maritime holding company, but will be managed by the Oceanic group, a Singapore-based maritime company involved with the renovations.
Since it arrived at Dubai the fate of QE2 has been the subject of intense speculation, with officials, until now, avoiding answering questions.
The cruise ship season has now passed the halfway mark since it commenced on October 28, 2012.
Up to yesterday there had been 42 calls at Port Chalmers and four to Dunedin. By the time the season closes on April 5, the upper harbour will have had a further five visits, with 36 scheduled for Port Chalmers. Next month is another busy one with 17 calls listed for Port Chalmers, including newcomer Carnival Spirit. Of the five visits to Dunedin, three will be from the maiden-calling Caledonian Sky.
Looking a little further ahead to March, Oceania Cruises' largest visitor, Marina, built in 2011, will be making its first visit. And Saga Holidays' Saga Ruby will be making its third and final visit. Dating from 1973, the ship is on its last round-the-world cruise, and will be retired.
Last year more than 20 Chinese-built container ships and bulk-lumber type vessels visited this harbour. This year their presence has also been noticed with calls by the same class of container ships, Hansa Altenburg and Wellington Strait, both on return visits.
And of the same basic bulk/lumber design are Great Ocean, Nord Hong Kong and Greenery Sea, all 179.90m-long vessels built at different yards. All have five cargo holds but Greenery Sea differs from the other two as twin hatch covers are fitted on all of its holds.
Earlier this month, Great Ocean, completed in November, 2011, unloaded at Ravensbourne, then loaded logs at Port Chalmers. Nord Hong Kong,which was delivered a month earlier, made its second visit to Dunedin last week, again to load logs.
Greenery Sea is a younger 22,402gt vessel that flies the flag of Panama and a visitor to Ravensbourne last week. The vessel, completed on June 2012, was built at Jiangsu by the Nantong Changqingsha shipyard. The ship is registered to the ownership of Green Sea Shipping S. A. and is managed by Parakou Shipping Ltd, both of Hong Kong.