The ship that doesn’t sail
The ‘Grand Old Lady’ sits so comfortably in the sun at Long Beach near Los Angeles, having been retired to live in California. She sits in grandeur waiting for visitors to ‘sleep’ on her in her present form of a hotel, rather than set sail across the North Atlantic Ocean in the golden age of travel with the glitz and glamour of yesterday carrying passengers from 1936 to 1967.
Steeped in so much history and intrigue, the ship is said to be haunted and is rated as one of the top ten most haunted places on earth. But whoever is haunting the ship is haunting in luxury! From the maple wood panels that fill the ship to the impressive 347 staterooms, including 9 suites, this such an iconic ship.
Each stateroom is unique with its own personality and offers a glimpse into what transatlantic travel was like during the 30s, 40s and 50s. It is more than an hotel; it is an experience.
Sadly, the British sold the Queen Mary to the Americans who are making a good job of looking after this special part of British history. There is still on-going work to keep the ship pristine and in good condition and some areas may be out of bounds because of restoration work.
The ambience is of luxury and of bygone days in the era of the Titanic or the Mauritania ships that were pioneers in the world of cruising before our new hi-tech, Wi-Fi filled towns on the sea were built.
This character filled ship has restaurants and cafes, the Promenade Café opens daily for breakfast and lunch and, also the Royal Sunday Brunch. The Observation Bar features drink and appetizer specials plus a happy hour and this bar has a Great Gatsby ambience with jazz music and visitors dressing in forties style clothes.
There are two other restaurants, the Chelsea Chowder House and Bar is up market and an extremely well-appointed area and there is also the Sir Winston restaurant for fine dining. The Grand Salon boasts an impressive mural that tracked the ships progress, as she went across the Atlantic. If you are wanting to get married on the Queen Mary this can be arranged by the attentive organisers. Many weddings or renewal of vows are done on this lovely vessel in the Grand Salon.
A Lego ship is created in one of the reception rooms, measuring 26ft, weighing over 600lbs and made from 250,000 Lego bricks. It is amazing and even if you are not a Lego fan this will certainly ‘float your boat’.
The tours which are called First Class passports on the Queen Mary include Historic Exhibits, The Engine Room, The Shipyard, Ship Model Gallery and in the Heritage Room, their finest hours – Winston Churchill & Queen Mary Exhibition, Glory Days Historical Tour, Steam & Steel Tour and Queen Mary 4-D Theatre.
The cost of the tour is $40 but it isn’t very disabled friendly. There are lifts to the floors and wheelchair access to some interesting areas on this floating museum, but some places are inaccessible for some disabled people.
We stayed overnight prior to our cruise from Los Angeles and did the tour plus had a meal in the evening on board. For breakfast we decided to go to Long Beach Shoreline Village close to downtown Long Beach on the free shuttle bus which stops outside the car park of the Queen Mary complex.
You can either walk around the interesting board walk area or go downtown across the bridge which goes over the freeway and visit the shops. There is a lovely harbour and marina with shops and restaurants for breakfast or lunch. A longer walk would take you to the beach, but we didn’t have the time to explore too far as we were going on our cruise trip at mid-day.
It was a pleasure to experience this ‘sleeping beauty’ of a ship and wander around the decks that once played host to Winston Churchill, Joan Collins, Bob Hope and Clark Gable, the famous stars of stage and screen who enjoyed the hospitality of this lovely ship.
The halcyon days of bygone years are ‘wrapped up’ in this floating hotel/museum set in Long Beach. The Queen Mary will ‘sit in the sun’ for many years and the history and ghost stories will be told to the tourists that visit.
This wonderful part of British History and workmanship is a treasure we should all be proud of.