More than three years since it arrived in its final port of Dubai, the storied cruise liner Queen Elizabeth 2 will soon be welcoming well-heeled guests once again _ at least for a night.
The event marks the first time the ship's government owners are throwing down the gangplank for a large group of visitors since the vessel pulled into port in November 2008.
An Emirati event planning company said Wednesday it's throwing a New Year's Eve bash on the ship, complete with live music, fireworks and a laser light show.
The company, Global Event Management, said most revelers will be invited guests, though a limited number of tickets will also go on sale.
The event's billing is quintessential Dubai. The black-tie evening is being described as "one of the most exclusive New Year celebrations in the world." Stepping aboard the ship will be "royals, dignitaries, celebrities and VIPs," the company said, though a spokeswoman wasn't yet able to say who exactly would be coming.
Prices for tickets also haven't been released.
Dubai's state-run Istithmar World bought the QE2 from the Cunard cruise line for $100 million in 2007. It originally planned to turn the luxury liner into a floating hotel docked alongside one of the city-state's manmade palm-shaped islands. Those plans were shelved when Dubai's economy tumbled into crisis.
The ship's fate has been the subject of intense speculation as it sat docked, unused, in the city's downtown Port Rashid. Officials have kept tightlipped about the ship, and reporters have been denied access.
Rob Lightbody, a QE2 enthusiast in Scotland and founder of a website devoted to the ship, is one of the few people who has been allowed onboard since its arrival in Dubai.
He said it has been frustrating to see the QE2 sit unused, so he is "extremely enthusiastic" about the party plans _ even if he doesn't expect to be invited.
"When I was on board the ship in April this year, she was in fabulous condition. But without any guests, parties, food and entertainment, she lacked the buzz that she had for 40 years on the seas," he said. "This will all return for one fabulous night, by the sounds of it."
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II herself launched the QE2 in 1967. Since it went into service in 1969, the QE2 has made at least 26 round-the-world voyages and weathered a 95-foot wave during an Atlantic hurricane.
Online: Rob Lightbody's http://www.TheQE2Story.com