The QE2 held Cunard back from becoming a “totally luxury fleet”, Carnival UK chief commercial officer Peter Shanks has admitted.

The comments came just days after the iconic ship arrived in its new home in Dubai, where it is being converted in a floating hotel.

Shanks said agents could now sell Cunard as a pure luxury brand.

“The QE2 held us back in many ways as a brand. We could not say a certain cabin on deck five [of the QE2] was luxury. Now it is a totally luxury fleet, with consistent product.”

He admitted the brand could not rely on its quality alone to survive the tough period ahead, and said its version of the “Harrods sale” had been brought forward by several months to boost bookings.