Cruise Industry

Inside the restoration of QE2’s Royal Promenade retail area

When PCFC Hotels, the new operators of QE2 as the floating hotel QE2 Dubai, needed to find a partner to help them bring her Royal Promenade back to life, it was a daunting challenge.

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Queen Elizabeth 2 sailed more than 1,400 cruises during her half-century career as an ocean liner on the trans-Atlantic service and cruise ship operating world cruises and grand voyages around the globe.

She travelled more than six million nautical miles and carried more than 2.5-million passengers during that time. The ship is therefore a monument to maritime engineering and craftsmanship.

So when PCFC Hotels, the new operators of the ship as the floating hotel QE2 Dubai, needed to find a partner to help them bring her Royal Promenade back to life, it was a daunting challenge.

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qe2 is now a floating hotel in dubai, permanently docked in port rashid

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“We understand that this is a ship that matters to people,” says Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels. “She wasn’t only a marvel of modern engineering, but was also a symbol of national pride and evokes important memories for former guests and crew. So we wanted to stay as close as possible to her design and look and feel when launched in 1969.”

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QE2 Dubai contracted the store makers from umdasch to help in this endeavor. They manufactured the equipment for the 400 square meter retail space on Royal Promenade on the Boat Deck, above the Grand Lounge, while Retail Concepts Design came up with the design for the space.

During the conception of the five stores, including the first ever Dubai Duty Free on a cruise ship, special attention was paid to the history of the vessel.

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Brass elements, sumptuous carpets and mirror mosaics have been used to take visitors back to the art-deco heyday of the ’60s, when over 70,000 bottles of champagne were consumed on board each year.

The solid wood furniture and illuminated, high-gloss glass showcases present assortments such as perfumery, tobacco, spirits and co and meet the royal demands of the namesake and godmother Queen Elizabeth II.

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the royal promenade sits on the deck above the huge grand lounge

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Elements to reflect her new home have also been incorporated though, such as the Arab Mashrabia patterns in the wood paneling on the shopping deck, which was made by umdasch.

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“We are pleased to be part of this special project. Shopfitting on a ship is in itself an interesting topic – if it is then even the opportunity to work on the QE2, then it’s especially exciting,” says Michael Ripfl, Sales Director Global / Travel Retail at umdasch Premium Retail.

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Opened with a soft launch in April last year, and fully opened in October, QE2 Dubai is permanently docked in Port Rashid, the primary cruise port of the UAE.

It has been fully restored to its Cunard days, and is operated as a living museum, according to Mustafa.

“We have been very careful to honour her legacy by retaining as many of her original furnishings and fittings as possible,” he says. “We don’t want the ship to feel brand new, we want it to feel well-maintained and restored, but we want it to also look and feel like an ocean liner that crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times.”

QE2 has several restaurants and bars and amenities including its own spa, theatre, fitness centre and indoor pool (originally the sole domain of first class).

There are also 224 suites and guest rooms, with views of the harbor and cruise terminal, or the Dubai skyline. Those specifically interested can also gain interesting insights into the history of the legendary ship on the “Heritage Tour”, a guide through an exhibition with a tour of the original rooms (coming soon).

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