This article appeared on Southampton newspaper daily Echo at
MYSTERY surrounds an approach for legendary Southampton liner Queen Elizabeth 2 to make a stunning return to her home city.
The Daily Echo has learned from high-placed sources that port bosses have been contacted about the possibility of an astonishing comeback by the Grand Old Lady of the Sea towards the end of the year.
It comes less than eight months since she was sold off for £50m to become a luxury hotel in the desert of Dubai with thousands of well-wishers lining Southampton Water to bid her farewell.
It is likely that QE2 would have to sail to Southampton without passengers but it revives the tantalising prospect of the liner sailing with thousands of nostalgic travellers on her traditional transatlantic route to New York, where it is understood approaches have also been made by shipping agents.
Grand plans to convert the former Cunard liner into a luxury five star resort in Dubai have been torpedoed by the global recession, with QE2 now lying in a deserted container berth.
Owner Nakheel, part of the Dubai royal family’s development empire, has been forced to deny consistent rumours that the troubled project could be in jeopardy and ruled out a sale or sending her to the scrapyard.
A spokesman for Nakheel denied the company was behind any plan to send her to Southampton.
However, a senior cruise industry figure told the Daily Echo there were major doubts over Nakheel’s lavish plans and said it would not be insurmountable to return her to service. He added he had heard of plans to run cruises out of Dubai on QE2 and to take her to South Africa.
It would be relatively easy to restore the ship ready for cruising once again and would cost considerably less than Nakheel’s conversion scheme.
Currently she is home to only a skeleton crew of 36 under an eastern European captain and has just one engine running to provide power.
Port owners ABP declined to comment.