A Visit To The Queen Mary Hotel In Long Beach, CA.

 

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Queen Mary Hotel - Long Beach California.

Photos Courtesy of The Queen Mary Hotel.

The Queen Mary Hotel - Long Beach California - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel

 

The Elegant Corridors onboard the Queen Mary - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel.

 

One of the elegant staterooms on board the Queen Mary (please note that there are many different cabin configurations available. This is a sampling.) - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel.

 

Lounge - Bar On Board the Queen Mary - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel.

 

Main Lobby - Reception Area - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel

 

Main Dining Room / Ballroom Used for Wedding and Special Events - Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel

 

 

The Forward Deck of the Queen Mary Copyright: The Queen Mary Hotel

 

 

Queen Mary Hotel Review

       
In April of 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California.  Visiting this ship was on my bucket-list of things to do and I was NOT disappointed. Just to make sure I avoid any confusion - this was a visit to Cunard Line's ex. Queen Mary from 1930 (not the 2006 built Queen Mary 2 currently actively sailing from New York). The older Queen Mary, sailed from New York to Southampton  as a great transatlantic liner and also served during World War II as a troop ship. After her troopship duty was over, she reverted to her New York England route, until she was retired in 1967. In 1967, she was sold to the City of Long Beach for conversion to a waterfront hotel and attraction center.

 

In April, I had a business meeting in San Diego and said, I need to make the trip to Long Beach to visit the Queen Mary. The ship is located in an industrial portion of the Port of Long Beach but only about 2 miles away from the fashionable city of Long Beach, California. As I drove up to the ship, the 3 massive funnels emerged first then entire ship began to emerge. I was amazed by the exterior grandeur and profile of the ship which has been preserved from her sailing days. She is unlike anything that is sailing today.

After taking about 75 exterior pictures, we proceeded to the main entrance where we were greeted by a valet and bell boys in Cunard uniform of the day. I boarded the ship and entered into the main lobby and reception area. Stepping onboard was like stepping back in time. The deep wood paneling lining all of the walls, patterned rugs and classic lighting were reminiscent of yesteryear.

After checking in, we proceeded to our family stateroom. The stateroom was large but mainly untouched from her 1967 days. The furniture was all wood and nicely polished. The stateroom had 2 port holes, an oscillating fan mounted to the wall and vent pipes to exchange air in the stateroom. In addition the bathroom was extremely large but many of the fixtures also dated back to her last days of active sailing. Everything was very functionality but dated by today's standards. (It should be noted that there are some cabins which have been modernized, as well, so you should designate your cabin preference at the time of booking).
 

 

The immense length of the ship is evident when you stand at the end of the passenger stateroom corridor and see the sheer of the ship as the hallway fades from view. Sheer is the curve of the ship upward as you look toward the bow and stern and is a characteristic found primarily is classic transatlantic liners.

 

After getting settled, we headed to the one of the Queen Mary's high-end restaurants and enjoyed one of the best American meals I have had to date. There are a number of modest size establishments on board offering American cuisine and seafood dishes.  In addition, there is a coffee shop onboard, ideal for an afternoon snack or quick breakfast.

 

As the sun set, I headed on deck to explore the ship. On deck, I was amazed to see the massive red and black funnels illuminate under spotlights. Moving forward on the ship, we were able explore the bridge and even go out on the bow of the ship under the massive cranes used to load cargo and automobiles destined for England or the US. Moving toward the stern of the ship, the back decks were spacious and tiered to the cruiser stern.

 

Inside there is a gift shop, a bar and lounge also decorated from the era, a museum featuring 15-20 feet long models and cross sections of ocean liners from yesteryear; and a library.

 

Wanting to learn and see more, I took the Queen Mary self guided tour and enjoyed seeing the multi-level Grand Ballroom - which is used for large weddings and special receptions. This room served as the main dining room when the ship was actively sailing. The room is multiple stories high and has a beautiful mural located at the far end of the room. It is truly an elegant setting. There is a smaller ballroom also available for modest receptions.

The Guided tour also takes you deep into the engine room where you can reach out and touch the boilers, engines and electronics. In addition, there was a boxed shaped room built onto the stern of the ship which allows you to view the ship's propeller underneath the ship. I found this part of the tour amazing. I also visited the first class smoking room with it's vaulted ceilings and fire place.

 

The ship's bridge is open 7 X 24 and is part of the guided audio tour, the ship's bridge controls are described in detail. The ship's working radio room is open to the public as well as the officer quarters and more. The tour also brought visitors to quarantine area where passengers who were thought to be sick were confined.

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The Queen Mary also has rotating attractions. The months surrounding my visit, A Princess Diana exhibit was featured.  Princess Diana Attraction showcased photography and artifacts from the life of Princess Diana. An IMAX theater has been built into the stern section of the ship. The Princess Diana attraction and IMAX theater admissions are available at an additional cost.

The Queen Mary Hotel is said to be haunted with deceased military and former passengers which have been seen roaming the halls. Unfortunately during my visit, I did not witness any of this paranormal behavior, but there are guided tours to closed off sections of the ship and abandoned cabins where ghosts are said to be active.

 

In you are unable to stay on the Queen Mary, I would recommend taking one of the many tours available to explore the historic vessel and step back in time.

 

Visiting the Queen Mary was an excellent experience for a ship lover like myself. Visitors should be aware that visiting the Queen Mary is much like visiting Colonia Williamsburg - in the sense that you are visiting the ship for the experience. The accommodations are clean comfortable and spacious. Some staterooms are more modern than others, so be sure to designate your stateroom type at the time of booking. The hotel operators have tried to keep the onboard experience as authentic as possible. There are portions of the ship which are closed to the public but overall, a large portion of the ship is accessible to all. As with anything as large as the Queen Mary, the ship is in relatively good condition but there are  areas which do need some attention. Overall the experience was great. I had the opportunity to speak with a number of other hotel passengers  and they all were enjoying their onboard experience and many were repeat visitors.

 


Postcard Queen Mary 1933 Cunard White Star Line

Queen Mary - Cunard White Star Line Postcard

 


Queen Mary History - Courtesy of  QueenMary.com

OUR STORY – A TRIP ACROSS TIME

"Today we come to the happy task of sending on her way the stateliest ship now in being. It has been the nation’s will that she should be completed, and today we can send her forth no longer a number on the books, but a ship with a name in the world, alive with beauty, energy and strength! May her life among great waters spread friendship among the nations!"
– King George V on the Queen Mary launch

The Queen Mary’s creation and launch was nothing if not extraordinary and her story is rich with history, elegance and grandeur. From the time her construction began in 1930 in Clydebank, Scotland, the Queen Mary was destined to stand in a class all her own. Despite suffering economic setbacks during the Great Depression, which stalled construction on the ship for several years, Cunard Line spared no expense on building the Queen Mary – which was originally known as job #534.

 

THE LEGEND BEHIND THE NAME

Legend has it that the board of directors at Cunard had decided to name the ship the Queen Victoria, which would have been in keeping with the tradition of Cunard ships having the "ia" suffix (Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengeria). As per protocol, legend states that the Cunard directors went to ask King George his blessing of the ship's proposed name saying, "We have decided to name our new ship after England's greatest Queen," meaning Queen Victoria, the King's Grandmother. Upon which the King is reported to have stated, "My wife (Queen Mary) will be delighted that you are naming the ship after her."

 

THE MAIDEN VOYAGE OF THE QUEEN MARY

On May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary departed from Southampton, England embarking on her maiden voyage. She boasted five dining areas and lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, a grand ballroom, a squash court and even a small hospital. The Queen Mary had set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel, which the rich and famous considered as the only civilized way to travel. She quickly seized the hearts and imaginations of the public on both sides of the Atlantic, representing the spirit of an era known for its elegance, class and style.

 

FROM THE HEIGHT OF LUXURY TO WWII

For three years after her maiden voyage, the Queen Mary was the grandest ocean liner in the world carrying Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope and Clark Gable, royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and dignitaries like Winston Churchill. During this time she even set a new speed record, which she held for 14 years. But when the Queen Mary docked in New York in September 1939 that would be the last time she would carry civilian passengers for many years.

As World War II started, the Queen Mary's transformation into a troopship had begun. She was painted a camouflaged grey color and stripped of her luxurious amenities. Dubbed the "Grey Ghost" because of her stealth and stark color, the Queen Mary was the largest and fastest troopship to sail, capable of transporting as many as 16,000 troops at 30 knots. After the end of WWII, the Queen Mary began a 10-month retrofitting process, which would return the ship to her original glory. On July 21, 1947, the Queen Mary resumed regular passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean, and continued to do so for nearly two more decades.

 

THE LAST GREAT CRUISE

The increasing popularity of air travel helped signal the end of an era for the Queen Mary. By 1965 the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss and they decided to retire and sell the legendary Queen Mary. On October 31, 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her final cruise, arriving in Long Beach, California, on December 9, 1967. She has called Southern California her home ever since. The Queen Mary is now a floating Hotel, Attraction and Event & Wedding Venue, home to three world-class restaurants and an icon in Southern California.


Queen Mary 1933 Cunard Line Maiden New York Arrival

Queen Mary Hotel Stats

Overall Length 1,019.5 Feet
Gross Tonnage 61,237 Gross Tons
Constructed By John Brown & Co., LTD., Clydebank, Scotland
Maiden Voyage May 27, 1936
Maximum Beam 118 Feet
Passengers 1,957
Cruising Speed 28.5 Knots
Draft 39.5 Feet
Transatlantic Crossing 1,001 Crossings