Last Weekend, Dan and I headed to Long Beach to tour The Queen Mary, with our German friend, Niklas. Thank You to Niklas for treating us to the "First Class Passport", which included two guided tours; Ghosts and Legends of The Queen Mary and Glory Days.
We arrived early on a Sunday morning, just prior to the first tours. Arriving early, we didn't experience large crowds, but the tour groups were definitely getting larger later in the day. Here are some shots that we took on the upper decks, prior to our first tour.
The Miss American Starlet Pageant (aka California Toddlers and Tiaras) was happening on the ship. Lots of hairspray, tulle and fake lashes.
The Queen Mary was decked out for the holidays. Here are some snaps that we took while walking around the interiors.
The Queen Mary started out as a luxury passenger liner in the Cunard Line and had her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. In the summer of 1939, she was painted battleship grey and was used to transport troops. She was converted back into a passenger liner after the war.
The ship is filled with nods to her service in WW2, including a room of propaganda posters.
Unfortunately, The Queen Mary has had many onboard deaths during its years of service.
With all of these deaths, "Ghost Sightings" are part of The Queen Mary lore. All over the ship, they have notes were these sightings are supposed to have taken place. Like at this piano...
I think it's more interesting to note that Liberace was a frequent traveler on The Queen Mary and would play this piano for the second class passengers.
I don't believe in ghosts. Personally, I think all of the "ghost sighting" stuff is silly. However, that doesn't mean that it isn't fun to hear the stories. Our first guided tour was the Ghosts and Legends of the Queen Mary Tour.
I'm a complete mess when it comes to haunted houses and theme parks. It's not because I'm scared, but I can't handle being startled and jumpy. Although the Ghost and Legends tour has loads of special effects and dim lighting, it does not have any jumpy moments. The guides really play up the whole "last chance to bail if you're scared" spiel. It's not scary at all, but it is a disappointment.
The focus is so much on making it "scary" and using special effects, that you don't have a decent chance to see the very cool and interesting rooms that are highlighted on the tour. In particular, the First Class Swimming Pool and the Boiler Room. We were left wondering why they bothered trying to make these "scary", we wanted to get a good look with the lights on. It's a let-down. It would be so much better if they combined the tour of these areas with the Glory Days Tour and cut out the cheesy ghost theme. I could have done without the corny "you made it out alive" jokes, in favor of a serious tour of the ship. Go ahead and keep the ghost sighting signs for people that like that sort of thing and ditch the ghost tour.
The Glory Days Historical Tour was awesome. This tour focused on the design and function of the ship.
Here is the First Class Travel Office, where passengers could make shore travel arrangements.
Equipment from the First Class Gymnasium.
A new business on the First Class Shopping Promenade.
The current Queen Mary Royal Wedding Chapel, not it's original function.
Art showing various woods used on The Queen Mary. This is not a complete list, but it's interesting to note that several of species of wood are now extinct.
First Class Nursery, with many original toys.
Our tour guide explaining a very rare photograph showing The Queen Mary, The Queen Elizabeth and The Normandie in New York.
The First Class Smoking Room, the only room on the ship with a wood burning fireplace.
The Queen Mary was always in a competition to break speed records for transatlantic crossings. In its early years, the competition between The Queen Mary and The Normandie ( a French liner) was fierce, with the two liners swapping records, but eventually The Queen Mary won the record and held on to it for many years.
Winston Churchill stayed in this suite and we were told that he used the bathtub, filling it with dirt, to plan the Invasion of Normandy.
When The Queen Mary was purchased by the City of Long Beach, it was decommissioned and turned into a hotel. You won't get to cruise, but you can still stay aboard.
We ended our afternoon with cocktails at the Art Deco themed Observation Bar. Originally exclusive to first class passengers, drinking here was like time traveling to another era.
We didn't do it, but as a separate admission, The Queen Mary has a holiday themed event called Chill. It includes ice skating, ice sculptures, a North Pole Village, et...basically an explosion of Christmas!
My big tips for visiting The Queen Mary are to arrive early and budget. Make sure to look at their official website prior to arriving and look over your ticket options. There are several choices, some bundling multiple tours or special exhibits into a single package. It can get pricy. Our "First Class Passports" were $36.00 each and parking was $20.00. This was a basic fare, as there were many other things that we could have added on. It can add up quickly! Make sure to explore your options, figure out what fits your needs, and then look for discounts.
The Queen Mary is an amazing piece of history that we are lucky to have docked in Los Angeles. I've visited several times and each visit brings a new perspective.