Queen Mary Long Beach
Depending on your experience with Long Beach, it will call to mind one of two things:
- The majestic Queen Mary, former world class ocean liner, current heritage icon; or
- The majestic Snoop Dogg, former world class rapper, current Katy Perry back up singer.
On this visit to Long Beach, we’re checking out Queen Mary. As much as we love Snoop Dogg, he’s a bit hard to pin down (particularly when his marijuana love gets him turned away from performing in countries we’re in).
The construction of the Queen Mary began in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1930. Construction was stalled for several years during the Great Depression. Despite the economic setbacks of the time, she was completed and left Southampton, England, for her maiden voyage on 27 May 1936.
There’s a delightful story around the ship’s naming. Apparently with ship naming conventions, Cunard ships had a tradition of being named with ia as a suffix – Mauretania, Aquitania, Berengeria — and the ship had been intended to be named Queen Victoria.
When the directors asked King George for his blessing of the ship’s name, they explained to him it was going to be named after the greatest queen, but left off the fact they were referring to his grandmother. Instead, he assumed they were talking about his wife, Queen Mary, and told them how delighted she would be to have it named after her.
For years royalties and celebrities stayed aboard this luxury liner. But when World War 11 started, the ship was repainted with camouflage colours and transformed into a troopship, nicknamed The Grey Ghost. After the war, she was returned to her former glory and cruised for another two decades. Her final cruise was in October 1967, and she docked at Long Beach in December 1967.
The former ocean liner is a diverse tourist attraction these days, offering drinks at the deck bar, Sunday brunches, exhibits like Diana: Legacy of a Princess and Bob Hope: American Treasure, and a variety of tours. It’s also a hotel, and you can also state in one of 346 original first class staterooms and suites.
As we’re only around for an afternoon, we choose the Ghosts and Legends Tour. While it is not particularly scary, it is hilarious. The tour guide is theatrical and over the top, and I can barely understand her American accent (sorry American readers, I have as much trouble with your accents as you do with my Aussie one!). But she has a definite tone of seriousness and urgency to her tour.
Our small group is taken on a tour of the underbelly of the ship. We check out the boiler room where the temperatures were sweltering and many emergencies happened. My favourite part of the tour is in the old swimming pool. There’s always something creepy about abandoned swimming pools, and it feels freezing this far down into the ship.
Our guide tells us that people are regularly seen swimming in the pool… despite no water being in it. I giggle at the thought of ghosts, and we get water flicked up on us as we walk past the empty pool.
At one point of our tour, our guide seems slightly exasperated with our little group for not running quickly enough with the “emergency” of flood water that is supposedly careening down the hallway. In fairness to our group, one elderly gentleman does have a walking frame!
After our tour, we settle in for a drink at the authentic 1930s Observation Bar. It’s beautiful and quiet, and we relax with a Pimms Cup. After a quick peruse around the boat and the beautiful sunshine, we’re back on our way.
We’re hoping for a trip back in 2016 – there’s a science center and museum planned which I’m really excited about. And it would be lovely to stay overnight onboard!
NB: I double checked the Queen Mary website for information about the tour we did and saw this note: PLEASE NOTE: Ghosts and Legends is currently down for repair. We will substitute ANY tour for Ghosts and Legends while it is down. Thank you for your understanding.
Hours: MON-THURS 11AM – 6PM, FRI-SUN 11AM – 9PM and takes approximately 35 minutes
Pricing: Available as part of any of our tour packages – The Queen Mary Passport, or the First-Class Haunted Passport. Groups of 15 or more may call 562-499-1623 for discounted group rates.
Parking: $15 (Subject to change based on Special Event schedule here.)
Map: The Queen Mary can get confusing. Download our map and bring it with you!