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What is a Halloween celebration without scaring oneself silly? With a spring in my step, and a reluctant husband in tow, we boarded the QE2 to experience the latest haunted attraction to terrorise denizens of the historic ship, docked at Port Rashid, Dubai.

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Project Rising Star is an immersive experience that takes visitors below decks of the sprawling vessel, seemingly blurring the lines between historical fact and fiction in a yarn that is spun with aplomb.

For the sake of the review, we signed on for the Level 3 experience — deemed the most terrifying — that requires one to fill out a disclaimer form, should some catastrophe befall along the way. Those with heart problems or who are prone to anxiety are advised to sign up for the Level 1 or 2 experience, according to the organisers.

Shortly after we had signed our final reservations away, a dubious escort navigated us down to the very bowels of the ship, which he claimed has remained untouched for decades, until now.

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As the darkness settled around us below deck, the heavy silence was only interrupted by nervous giggles of fellow visitors who happened to join us for the haunting. A short back story took us into the mid-1900s, when tales of the QE2’s maiden voyage were peppered with some dark and sinister goings-on below deck. Years later, the doors had been opened for us to explore what really went on in the labyrinth.

With nothing left to do but nudge each other to step through the revolving door and enter the 15-minute experience, we walked into the unknown, allowing ourselves a few minutes for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. A long, endless corridor led us into the abyss, as we stumbled our way down.

Snatches of eerie whispers echoed around us … wait, was that a faint scream?

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Suddenly something lunged out of the dark shadows, causing us to freeze in our tracks. No scream escaped our throats, but the jumpscare was the perfect fuel to hasten our speed through the maze of dead bodies, chained prisoners and other beings from the netherworld.

Without giving too much away, the actors put on a terrifying act, never once letting their cover slip. While some scares hit harder than others, what truly gave a moment of pause was the feel of a cold steel knife (obviously fake) press up against my cheek at one point.

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“Our ambition was to create an experience which is truly chilling in a psychological sense,” Project Rising Star’s executive producer Philip Apaza had said in a statement earlier, while describing the thrilling expedition. “This experience is meant to get into your head.”

Fifteen minutes later and out on the other side, we can say that last bit had been successfully achieved.

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Don’t miss it!

Project Rising Star is open to the public and runs afternoons and evenings until November 2. Tickets start at Dh55. The Big Bus Dubai has also partnered with QE2 to bring the ‘Open Top Haunted Night Shuttle Bus’ that travels from The Dubai Mall to the QE2 on Thursday and Friday evenings from 6-9pm, with a bus departing for the QE2 every hour. This is complimentary and part of the experience.