CRUISE ship enthusiasts believe Fremantle could provide a new home for the world’s most famous ship, the QE2, after her planned Dubai refit and move to Cape Town fell through.
The former Cunard Line vessel was sold to Nakheel Properties, which is owned by Istithmar World, in 2008 for $100 million.
It was expected to be refurbished and berthed permanently at the Palm Jumeirah as a luxury floating hotel and tourist destination in Dubai, but because of the global financial crisis, the QE2 has remained at Port Rashid.
No confirmed destination for the QE2’s retirement and reopening has been announced, which has some cruise ship enthusiasts hoping Fremantle might be considered.
Author of The QE2 Story and QE2: A Photographic Journey Chris Frame said members of the QE2 Story forum had been debating a list of possible locations for the QE2. He said Fremantle was a viable option because it was a large enough city to offer local support, but not so large that its other attractions would overshadow the QE2.
He said Fremantle had a good climate, a strong heritage link that would suit the QE2, was already a waterside tourist destination and had a large working port, as well as entertainment infrastructure to appeal to visitors.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said he thought there would be “strong” support from the community to have the QE2 based in Fremantle.
“If the ship could be in Fremantle at the same time as the ISAF 2011 Sailing Championships, then it could be used as a floating hotel, adding much-needed rooms during this time,” he said.
Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Nolin said the QE2 could create jobs and would be great for business and tourism in Fremantle.
Fremantle Ports spokeswoman Jeanette Murray said the port would have to assess whether there was a suitable berth available for a permanent floating hotel within Fremantle’s inner harbour because the vessel would need to be outside of the port operational area.
An Istithmar World spokesman said there were “a number of options being considered for QE2,” but none of those options currently involved it leaving Dubai.
However, Rob Lightbody, who runs the QE2 Story website, said although it was unlikely that the QE2 would move to Fremantle, that did not mean it was impossible.
“If there are no practical issues, for example depth of harbour, suitable dock, blocking harbour traffic... then it could be a great solution,” he said.
Mr Lightbody said ports in Japan and Singapore could be considered.