The RMS Queen Mary has a history as majestic as her namesake. Launched in 1934 by Queen Mary herself (the actual Queen consort of the UK & wife to King George V), the RMS Queen Mary (Royal Mail Ship) embarked on 1,000 North Atlantic crossings from the port of Liverpool between 1936 to 1967. So it’s a little surprising that her final resting place is in Long Beach, California.
Long Beach, California paid the sum of $3.45m (£1.2m) to purchase the RMS Queen Mary, beating out competing bids from Japanese scrap merchants. The original intentions were to turn the ocean liner partially into Jacques Cousteau’s new Living Sea Museum and partially a hotel with restaurant venues. The Living Sea Museum proved unpopular (the fish kept dying) but from 1972 to 1980, it was proved successful as a hotel. By the end of 1980 though, it was clear the logistics in operation required changes due to dropping profit margins. The changes, however, turned into a huge financial struggle (Disney even acquired the Queen Mary at some point) and in 1992, Hotel Queen Mary closed its doors. But obviously that wasn’t the final chapter, otherwise this blog post wouldn’t exist. Under new ownership in 1993, the Queen Mary Hotel re-opened.
Several friends and I, sans husbands, embarked on a short, girls-only roadtrip and chose to stay on the Queen Mary for several nights. We knew it was going to have a few weird, unexplainable quirks based on what we read online… but when we pulled up around midnight, we had no idea just how quirky it would be!
The RMS Queen Mary has an extensive history replete with many ghost stories. As one of the largest (and fastest) ocean liners in the world during the time of WWII, she was outfitted as a troopship, therefore she has seen her fair share of death. She carried as many as 15,000 soldiers in a single voyage. During wartime, she was nicknamed the “Grey Ghost”.
Morning light, a welcome relief to a somewhat sleepless night since we were admittedly scared that first night. Especially since the radio kept switching on. A sane person would assume it was a malfunction, but get a gaggle of girls together (no matter how old) in a reportedly haunted room and we’ll assume the worst.
We had signed up to do one of the Queen Mary’s ghost tours, the Paranormal Walk, which is the only one that operates during week nights. The tour started at 8:15pm and for a week night, it was surprisingly full. We didn’t mind at all, figuring it lowered our chances of being spooked. 😉
The room in the bottom right of this picture was formerly a small suite but because it had such a high level of paranormal activity, it was gutted and is now just a stopping point on the ghost tour.
The tour took us through sections of the ship that is not often accessed by the general public. The bottom right black and white photo is of the Queen Mary embarking on her final voyage (to Long Beach).
The most haunted section of the ship is said to be this pool room that has not been in use for years. It’s said to be haunted by a little girl named Jackie who drowned in the second class swimming pool. The changing room of the pool area is also purported to be haunted by a young woman named Sara who was murdered there.
The third class nursery is haunted by a man who has been looking for his missing child.
Photos on display of how the Queen Mary was once outfitted.
Antique exercise bike, very similar to some of the ones I’ve seen in the fitness centers of modern day hotels.
When the RMS Queen Mary was used as a troopship, this is how it was able to accommodate so many soldiers.
The US Coast Guard required the removal of 3 out of 4 propellers that powered the RMS Queen Mary. This was done to settle the dispute of whether union jobs would be land-based or maritime. With the removal of the propellers and her engine rooms gutted, she could then be classified as a building. This last remaining propeller is 20 feet wide and weighs 35 tons.
Antique luggages on display… one of which husband has a copy of sitting in our storage at home….
After our 2 hour tour of the Paranormal Walk, my girl friends and I stayed up until midnight exploring the rest of the Queen Mary and searching for the Churchill Suite (he is said to occasionally make an appearance in the suite he often stayed in when he was alive). Ghost tours are interesting but the real reason husband and I love visiting old places is for the history! I would actually rather not have any haunted experiences, thank you very much.
Did we experience anything odd while staying aboard the Queen Mary? Yes. A faulty or haunted radio, my roomie hearing my laughter when I wasn’t around, a neighbor who decided loud phone calls at 5am were acceptable, and dozens of seagulls flocking to our portal window –which may have been because we were tossing them seeds…. Those were quirky enough experiences for me! I am more than okay to have missed seeing Churchill smoking a cigar in my room. 😉
Paranormal Tour on the RMS Queen Mary Overview
- Address: 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802
- Fees: $44/person
- Time Length: 2+ hours
- Usage: Moderate
- Things to note:
- Visitors will be climbing stairs in dark/dim areas.
- Pets allowed: No