Our Visit Aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA
During our trip to California, we decided to head out to Long Beach where we would spend the day aboard the RMS Queen Mary. What was originally intended to be a 2 hour max experience turned into a full 7 hour day of tours, art and exploration. We quickly found ourselves becoming completely immersed in the luxury and beauty of the Queen Mary and took our time to take in its size and rich history.
The Queen Mary houses over 300 rooms, event spaces, restaurants, bars, gift shops and it currently serves as a full service guest hotel. Although not open to the public, there is even a first class swimming pool. Everywhere I turned I was awestruck by the detail and craftsmanship that still decorates most of the ship. Many of the lights, the floor and even ceiling are original – even after so many years operating as a war time ship.
Larger than the Titanic, this 1019 feet long ship was built in the 1930’s and designed in the Art Deco style. It was used as an ocean liner for 14 years carrying the world’s most famous celebrities & elitists until it was later converted into a powerful World War II asset. As WWII began, it received a new camouflaged grey paint job and its amentias were completely disposed of. The Queen Mary was the fastest (at 30 knots or 35 MPH) and the largest war time ship to set sail and was capable of outrunning both fleets and torpedoes, hence gaining the nickname the “Grey Ghost.” At one point in time, the ship was transporting as many as 16,000 troops at once as well as harboring POW’s in bow.
After the end of WWII, it was transformed back into an ocean liner where it resumed regular passenger service for almost 20 more years. As air travel became increasingly popular by the mid 1960’s, there wasn’t as much of a demand for ship travel which ulitmately led to the Queen Mary's retirement. Then in 1965 it went up for auction and was sold to the city of Long Beach California for $3 million - making it's final voyage from England where it still stands today.
The Queen Mary has several tours and packages available if ghosts aren’t your thing – many of which are dedicated to artifacts, history and art. Would we have known how long we would be spending, we probably would have taken each tour! As long as you purchase a ticket for a guided tour/attraction (or if you're an overnight guest) you have full access to the entire ship and the exhibits they have on display. Unfortunately if don't want to take a tour or see the attractions you won't be allowed on the ship without a ticket.
Since I was a kid I’ve heard countless stories about the ghosts that still call this ship home, so personally it was a no-brainer; we would take one of the ghost tours. We took the Ghost and Legends tour which was about an hour and a half long and it took us through some of the most notoriously haunted spots on the ship. Along with the retelling of ghost stories and legends, our tour guide also made sure to sprinkle in bits of historic facts into these stories. We were guided through various spots that normal guests don't have access to. One of which was the bow of ship. The best part about being led into the bow was walking through the haunted house attraction they still have set up from Halloween.
The bow of the shipped was used to house POW's captured during WWII. They would shove as many bodies as they could into this small compact space and leave them in complete darkness. These terrible living conditions led to illness and disease and many didn't survive the trip. Moans of pain and shouting can still be heard echoing throughout the bow.
We also had the opportunity to visit one of the event spaces which is primarily used for wedding receptions and other various events. We were told of a women seen frequently by employees wondering the floor or sitting quickly in one of the chairs. According to our guide, her presence is so strong she is able to hold conversations and the employees have no idea she isn't a living person.
We led through the halls and staircases and would be stopped occasionally by our guide to give us some additional information about these various locations. It was a very interesting tour and our tour guide was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and was able to answer any questions we had.
After our tour, we were starving and decided to grab some lunch at the Promenade Cafe. We had a beautiful view of the ocean from our table. Once our bellies were full, we decided to (slowly) walk around and explore it's more than 7 floors and see what interesting things we could find.
The tour ticket we purchased gave use access to the engine room where one of the most active spirits dwells. Once we descended the stairs into the engine room, we really began to understand the absolute power this ship has. Aside from having 2 separate engines rooms, it also houses 27 boilers. We were the only people in the engine room so we were able to take our time and go on our side mission of ghost hunting.
One of the most famous and active ghosts is believed to be that of fireman John Pedder. He was crushed to death by watertight "Door 13" in the area of the ship known as "Shaft Alley." These watertight doors would be activated during emergencies and would seal of certain sections to avoid the ship from sinking. Our tour guide told us the legend of the death and haunting of John Pedder. Crew members would hop back and forth between the doorways as many times as they could before the door would completely shut. John Pedder tried one too many times and was crushed by the door. A man with a beard is sometimes seen near or around this door wearing blue overalls. He can also be seen walking down the alley and disappearing at Door 13. He is also referred to as "Half Hatch Harry" but that is just a nickname he was given.
I shot several videos in this area because we were hearing a lot of pipe clanging (which we later found out wasn't a normal sound). The strangest thing that occurred happened to my husband. He swears he saw someone wearing overalls come out of nowhere and follow us up the stairs out of the engine room. I didn't see anything and I thought it might have been his mind playing tricks on him, but we'll never know.
After our improntu ghost hunt, we took it one floor at a time and made sure to explore every section of the ship. From wood to leather paneling, Art Deco light fixtures and signage its amazing that many of these have survived the test of time. Over 50 different types of wood were used for the wall panelings and the walls are decorated with the original artwork.
Sir Winston Churchill was a frequent traveler aboard the Queen Mary and spent much of his time reading in the First Class Drawing room. He was on the ship so often he even had his own room that is available to book and is aptly named the Winston Churchill suite.
Once we had our fill of the interior, we grabbed a glass of wine from the wine bar and headed to the deck. We viewed various historic exhibits and artifacts that were set up and by this point we were pretty exhausted. The sun was beginning to set so we grabbed our self a table so we could slowly enjoy our wine. The weather was amazing and the view was even better.
If you're into art and history and you ever find yourself in southern California then I highly suggest taking a trip to explore the Queen Mary. If you do plan on visiting, be sure to check out the various tours and exhibits offered here because they do change and they will rotate new ones in. If you're looking for something fun to do in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check the Queen Mary out - it's an absolute must see.