Queen Elizabeth 2 to open as a floating hotel in Dubai

The Queen Elizabeth 2 is docked in Port Rashid in Dubai. (Photo supplied)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Queen Elizabeth 2 to open as a floating hotel in Dubai

DUBAI: The Queen Elizabeth 2, a world-famous cruise liner with a history spanning five decades, is set to partially open as a floating hotel in Dubai on Wednesday.
PCFC Hotels — part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation — has reinvented the vessel into a 13-deck hotel complete with 13 restaurants and lounges.
The ship been restored to her former glory — maintaining interior design features such as period furniture, paintings and famous memorabilia. The original porthole windows add a maritime feel to the modernized guest rooms and many of the restaurants have retained the same names.
Adjacent to the hotel lobby is the QE2 Exhibition — an interactive museum that showcases what the QE2 was like during the 1960s.
From smaller cabin-style standard rooms, starting at 17m², to the 76m² royal suites, the QE2 will offer a selection of 13 room and suite categories for passengers to experience.
The gem in the hotel’s crown are the two royal suites named after the Queen’s mother and grandmother. These suites offer a private veranda, conservatory and dining room, as well as a luxurious bedroom.
Visitors will also be able to dine in the ship’s original restaurants including The Chart Room — a sophisticated and historical lounge; The Golden Lion — a traditional English restaurant; The Pavilion — a family restaurant with an expansive terrace overlooking the marina; Lido — the hotel’s all-day-dining restaurant; The Grand Lounge — a cabaret-style lounge with a weekly entertainment program; and the Yacht Club.
The hotel’s signature restaurant is The Queens Grill which offers a selection of British fine-dining dishes as well as a tasting menu that recreates a classic selection of dishes from 1969.
Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels, commented: “To finally open the QE2 is a dream come true for my team and I… We have dedicated more than 2.7 million man-hours into transforming this legendary ocean liner into the multi-faceted tourist destination that she is today.”
The grand launch of the QE2 will take place in October 2018.


Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

Updated 21 September 2018
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Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

DUBROVNIK, Croatia: Marc van Bloemen has lived in the old town of Dubrovnik, a Croatian citadel widely praised as the jewel of the Adriatic, for decades, since he was a child. He says it used to be a privilege. Now it’s a nightmare.
Crowds of tourists clog the entrances to the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. People bump into each other on the famous limestone-paved Stradun, the pedestrian street lined with medieval churches and palaces, as fans of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” search for the locations where it was filmed.
Dubrovnik is a prime example of the effects of mass tourism, a global phenomenon in which the increase in people traveling means standout sites — particularly small ones — get overwhelmed by crowds. As the numbers of visitors keeps rising, local authorities are looking for ways to keep the throngs from killing off the town’s charm.
“It’s beyond belief, it’s like living in the middle of Disneyland,” says van Bloemen from his house overlooking the bustling Old Harbor in the shadows of the stone city walls.
On a typical day there are about eight cruise ships visiting this town of 2,500 people, each dumping some 2,000 tourists into the streets. He recalls one day when 13 ships anchored here.
“We feel sorry for ourselves, but also for them (the tourists) because they can’t feel the town anymore because they are knocking into other tourists,” he said. “It’s chaos, the whole thing is chaos.”
The problem is hurting Dubrovnik’s reputation. UNESCO warned last year that the city’s world heritage title was at risk because of the surge in tourist numbers.
The popular Discoverer travel blog recently wrote that a visit to the historic town “is a highlight of any Croatian vacation, but the crowds that pack its narrow streets and passageways don’t make for a quality visitor experience.”
It said that the extra attention the city gets from being a filming location for “Game of Thrones” combines with the cruise ship arrivals to create “a problem of epic proportions.”
It advises travelers to visit other quaint old towns nearby: “Instead of trying to be one of the lucky ones who gets a ticket to Dubrovnik’s sites, try the delightful town of Ohrid in nearby Macedonia.”
In 2017, local authorities announced a “Respect the City” plan that limits the number of tourists from cruise ships to a maximum of 4,000 at any one time during the day. The plan still has to be implemented, however.
“We are aware of the crowds,” said Romana Vlasic, the head of the town’s tourist board.
But while on the one hand she pledged to curb the number of visitors, Vlasic noted with some satisfaction that this season in Dubrovnik “is really good with a slight increase in numbers.” The success of the Croatian national soccer team at this summer’s World Cup, where it reached the final, helped bring new tourists new tourists.
Vlasic said that over 800,000 tourists visited Dubrovnik since the start of the year, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. Overnight stays were up 4 percent to 3 million.
The cruise ships pay the city harbor docking fees, but the local businesses get very little money from the visitors, who have all-inclusive packages on board the ship and spend very little on local restaurants or shops.
Krunoslav Djuricic, who plays his electric guitar at Pile, one of the two main entrances of Dubrovnik’s walled city, sees the crowds pass by him all day and believes that “mass tourism might not be what we really need.”
The tourists disembarking from the cruise ships have only a few hours to visit the city, meaning they often rush around to see the sites and take selfies to post to social media.
“We have crowds of people who are simply running,” Djuricic says. “Where are these people running to?“