PACK your bags, we’re leaving – and we’re going to live like Queens.

If we head off now, we can book into a three-day stay in a royal suite onboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) for the princely sum of around £1050 between two. We’ll have to fly to Dubai first, because that’s where the seafaring palace, now a hotel and attraction, has been docked since 2008. Once there, we can take in the period furniture, paintings and memorabilia that have been preserved by its current owners, attend its 500-seat theatre, enjoy its restaurants and nightlife venues, or relax at its spa.

Port Rashid is a long way from the Scottish waters where the vessel was launched on September 20, 1967. So how did this Clydebuilt liner end up berthed in the United Arab Emirates?

Tens of thousands of people turned out to watch the ship’s launch at John Brown’s yard in Clydebank, where the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth had also been built. When Cunard ordered the ship, shipbuilding on the Clyde was in decline and more and more people were turning to air travel over ocean voyages. But the QE2 was designed to do things the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth could not, entering ports that were beyond them and travelling the Panama Canal to enable round-the-world cruising and there was a sense of optimism and excitement about what that would mean.

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The QE2 also floated a new style of sea travel, offering only one class on a world cruise and boasting a modern, contemporary interior using of-the-minute materials like plastic laminate and aluminium that separated it from the Art Deco style of its predecessors. There was investment in on-board leisure facilities too, including four swimming pools and a retail offering to allow flush passengers to lighten their wallets on the go.

“The only thing QE2 has in common with other ships is that she floats,” according to adverts of the time. The ship became a byword for luxury and style.

John Brown’s won the construction contract after a tendering process that saw them go up against Harland and Wolff in Belfast. Both yards were renowned, with the quality of the Bankies’ output respected worldwide. But the win came at a loss – the £30million bid wasn’t an earner for the yard, which had amalgamated with four other local concerns – Fairfields in Govan, Alexander Stephen at Linthouse, and Charles Connell and Yarrows at Scotstoun – to form Upper Clyde Shipbuilders within one year of the launch.

In contrast with that rapid pace of change, the QE2 would become a Cunard mainstay, carrying millions of passengers including Nelson Mandela, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as the company’s longest-serving ship.

Its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York took four days, 16 hours and 35 minutes and it completed its 20th world cruise by 1996 – when the eventual retirement of the vessel was a dot on the horizon. That came in 2008, almost 30 years after the QE2’s most remarkable period – its requisitioning as a troop carrier for the Falklands War. As many as 3000 soldiers boarded the liner for transport to the South Atlantic territory in May 1982, including battalions of Scots Guards, Welsh Guards and Gurkhas. They were catered-for by an army of Cunard staff including cooks and waiters who volunteered for the service.

The 70,000-tonne ship was transformed for the duty, losing its grand pianos, casino tables and soft furnishings as its passengers changed. The plush internal carpeting was covered over with wooden planking to keep it safe from the soldiers’ boots and one quarter of its length was reinforced with steel plating. Meanwhile, flight desks now topped swimming pools and an anti-magnetic coil was added as protection against mines. When it returned to Southampton Sound one month later, it took teams nine weeks to restore the craft for its return to passenger service.

Another makeover followed after Cunard Line was purchased by Carnival Corporation in 1998, with the luxury label boutiques of the QE2’s Royal Promenade replaced with more generic fare and the cabins refurbished. It became the first merchant ship to complete more than five million nautical miles at sea in 2002 but its sailing days were numbered and it was slated for retirement in November 2008.

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The move was in part the result of new health and safety regulations that would have required extensive changes in order to keep the vessel on open waters.

The new owners behind the floating hotel plan were Dubai-owned Istithmar and large crowds again turned out for the famous ship during its farewell tour in 2008 which brought it back to Scotland, but not Clydebank, with the Erskine Bridge making that impossible.

Dubai leader Sheikh Mohammad sent his private yacht to to lead the flotilla that accompanied the QE2 into Port Rashid in 2008, when the plan was to keep it at the famous Palm Jumeirah. But the financial crash scuppered that and it was later expected that it would be sent to Cape Town in South Africa instead, something that ultimately proved false, as did the suggestion that it may return to Liverpool or be scrapped in China. A Boris Johnson-backed bid for its return to London proved fruitless, as did a call from Inverclyde Council leader Steven McCabe for the Scottish and UK Government to buy it.

The 13-deck QE2 finally opened as a floating hotel in April 2018 with 224 rooms and 10 different restaurants.

Guests are guaranteed sun and year-round warm temperatures – so it really is a world away from the banks of the Clyde. Even so, it remains a beacon of Scottish shipbuilding excellence.