All on board for a magical history trip! A synonym for luxury, now a new show is spreading some secrets from the heyday of QE2
- Three-part documentary follows the transformation of QE2 into a five-star hotel
- CEO Hamza Mustafa shares an insight into the renovation process of the ship
When Peter Warwick first boarded QE2 in 1987, it sparked a lasting love affair. “I told my mom that I would work on board one day,” he recalls.
“She said I shouldn’t be so ridiculous. But the ship fascinated me. ‘
Peter was as good as his word. In 1995 he joined the crew, which is the appeal of the famous liner that he now works for her again and organizes heritage tours at her new home in the Mina Rashid harbor in Dubai, where she opened as a hotel two years ago .
A new three-part Channel 5 documentary, QE2: The World’s Most Luxurious Hotel, follows her transformation into a five-star hotel that retains the cachet of its glory days on the ocean wave.
Built by Cunard, the QE2 was the company’s flagship. She was not named after our reigning monarch, but was Cunard’s second ship, named after her mother, the wife of King George VI, hence her titular number instead of the Roman numeral.
A new three-part Channel 5 documentary follows the transformation of QE2 into a five-star hotel. Picture: the QE2 in Dubai
However, it was Queen Elizabeth II who launched her on Clydebank in 1967, and after her first trip to New York in 1969, she became synonymous with luxury, with 11 boutiques including an affiliate of Harrods.
When she retired in 2008, she had carried 2.5 million passengers. The Dubai government bought her for £ 50 million and renovations started in 2015.
It was an ambitious project, says Hamza Mustafa, CEO of QE2. “People want to celebrate what the ship was, so it’s this ongoing battle between the future and the past. Do I stick with what she is famous for, or do I go for new concepts? ‘
The compromise meant replicating intricate details such as the relief porcelain as the plumbing, wiring and air conditioning were overhauled. The latter was vital in a city where temperatures routinely rise above 40 ° C on a boat designed for the breezy mid-Atlantic.
“It was the most difficult challenge we faced,” said Hamza. “We had to quadruple the original 1960s air conditioning capacity.”
One of the biggest gambles was relaunching The Queens Grill, the high-class dining area where no request was denied.
In the ships’ heyday, everyone from the Queen to Nelson Mandela dined at The Queens Grill. Pictured: The Queen last visited her in 2008
“There is a story that one of the passengers said they would like to have an elephant,” says Peter. They were asked, “Do you want African or Indian? “I’m sure it’s not true, but it gives you an idea of the distance they would cover. ‘
In its heyday, everyone from the Queen to Nelson Mandela dined.
Peter witnessed Elton John ringing the ivory and even turned Millvina Dean, who was the youngest passenger on board the Titanic at two months old when he sank in 1912, around the famous dance floor.
“At that time it was my job to dance ballroom dancing with the single ladies,” he says. “It was a tough job, but we did it!
“Whatever happened in the world, the moment you stepped on board, you were in this bubble,” he adds. “There is an atmosphere around QE2 that defines romance.”
Millvina Dean remembers feeling like you were in a bubble when you got on board. Pictured: Ship workers at Clydebank test the new liner’s luxury pool
QE2: the world’s most luxurious hotel, Friday, 9pm, channel 5.