Dubai: Prepare to be mesmerised tonight as the UAE bids farewell to 2011 and welcomes the New Year in timeless elegance on board the Queen Elizabth 2 (QE2) in Port Rashid.
The ultra-luxury ship is opening its doors once again to its royal patrons three years after it docked in Dubai in 2008. The black-tie event was billed as an invitation-only soiree although some tickets went on general sale.Royalty, dignitaries, celebrities and VIPs, are expected to attend from 8pm until 3am.
"Her historic decks will once more come alive with a glittering event for the famous and the fabulous, reliving her glamorous days as one of the most loved cruise ships in the world," QE2 spokesperson Leili Gerami said.
Expected to grace tonight's event are Nadine Coyle, Liam Cunningham, Lindsay Lohan, Pamela Anderson, Nick Moran, Lady Victoria Hervey, and Alan Lamb. Sports icons Cristiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer will be on board, while there are rumours Indian actor Salman Khan is also on the guest list.
Last week, some tickets were made available to the general public for Dh3,000. Organisers said virtually all of them sold out within three days. The evening is expected to be packed with performances from Drury Lane and the Gypsies amongst others.
Gourmet food and magnificent fireworks displays also await the 1,000 guests.
Formerly the flagship of the Cunard Line for almost 40 years, the QE2 is billed as one of the ‘fastest and grandest passenger vessels ever built'. She has served 2.5 million guests, often helping those badly in need at sea. The sheer glory she has gained is a story in itself, according to the organisers, a story which will continue to be written in Dubai tonight.
"She sailed through waters with dignity to finally drop anchor here in her new home, Dubai, where she has another lease of life doing what she does best, being hostess to the great and the good," Gerami said.
"It is fitting that the UAE and this astonishing vessel should together celebrate four decades of history together looking forward to new adventures and new experiences."
The world's leading event organisers are intent on writing a new chapter in the famous boat's history now that it has moved to Dubai.
Among tonight's guests are several experts who will help decide where the ship will travel in the future, according to James Magee, co-founder of Global Event Management.
"We have organisers and event planners coming from more than 30 countries to the event and meeting us in January to plan the next five years," he said.
The future looks bright, Magee noted, as enquiries to stay at QE2, now a floating hotel, have already flooded in even before the official launch.
The long life of a world famous vessel
Queen Elizabeth 2 has sailed over 5.6 million nautical miles. She boasts of having crossed the Atlantic 803 times and of having completed World Cruises 25 times since her maiden voyage in 1969. Weighing more than 70 tonnes and stretching 963 feet long, the QE2 withstood a 95 foot wave when it encountered Hurricane Luis at sea in 1995.