10 Things to See on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California
The RMS Queen Mary has been permanently docked in Long Beach, California since 1967. Before that, beginning in 1936, she primarily sailed the seas as an ocean liner carrying passengers between France and New York and also as a troopship carrying soldiers in World War II.
Today, the Queen Mary is a working hotel and tourist attraction with gift shops, restaurants, rotating exhibits, and various seasonal activities like ice skating or Halloween haunted houses. Visitors can choose to stay aboard the historic vessel or simply stop in for a tour. Various tours are available including historical tours and haunted tours.
During our visit, we arrived too early for our “Paranormal Shipwalk” tour, and ended up with quite a few hours to spend on our own checking out the ship. I’ll definitely be posting about our haunted tour soon, but I wanted to share ten things that we found interesting, beautiful, or creepy as we explored the Queen Mary.
10 Things to See Aboard the Queen Mary:
1. The First Class Drawing Room, now a gift shop.
What could be so interesting about a gift shop? It ain’t the keychains and postcards. So hear me out… I found this room so interesting because it illustrates how the ship has been changed to accommodate its modern tourists instead of passengers. The gift shop is full of knick-knacks and is mostly boring, but this used to be an elegant room for the first class passengers. It was once the first class drawing room and held tables, chairs, and sofas with plush blue carpeting and blue drapes.
You can get a glimpse of its former glory on one wall of the gift shop. There stands an original wall, complete with painting, marble fireplace, and the welcome addition of an original table and chair. To make it even more interesting, you’ll also find a photo of Winston Churchill sitting in this very spot in front of the fireplace. His office on board? This very room.
We watched as most visitors completely overlooked this area, too busy looking at magnets and t-shirts. Don’t make that mistake!
2. The Propeller
Talk about mood lighting! This room was specially built to give visitors a chance to see one of the massive propellers that once put the Queen Mary into motion. As if the huge propeller isn’t ominous enough, given it’s size (and the fact that we’ve all seen the damage a propeller can do in Titanic), it’s lit with eerie blue lighting.
Photos just don’t do this area justice. It’s pretty, but creepy a the same time and bigger than you think it would be.
3. The Engine Room
We ventured into the engine room with no guide, no audio tour, no nothing, and, since we were there towards the end of the day, there were no other visitors in sight. I will admit that I panicked just a bit. I’m sure there’s actually order to the walkways, but it seemed like they were everywhere, with pipes, dials, controls, and all sorts of gizmos and gadgets every which way (that’s “every which-a-way” if you’re from Mississippi, just so you know).
The pipes and everything weren’t just on the sides of us, but also on different levels. Just surrounded by important-looking ship stuff. And I felt closed in and confused more so than interested in anything’s purpose. You know that feeling when you’re lost in a maze (or a department store) and your heart just drops? It was like that. Mark was busy checking everything out and had no problem navigating through the area.
I calmed down a bit when I realized the guided stops had numbers on the equipment. Plus, we got to spin the captain’s wheel, so that’s a plus.
The engine room is definitely impressive and will be fascinating to anyone who enjoys ships or learning about how things work. We did venture back into the engine room on a guided tour, and it was not quite as daunting. I can follow a crowd and listen to information with no problem.
4. The Boiler Rooms
Okay, so you know in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry enters the Weasley’s small-looking tent and it’s like a massive mansion on the inside? Same with the boiler rooms. They are MASSIVE. Cavernous. I don’t know how these rooms even fit on this ship. I suppose it made me realize just how enormous the whole ship must be.
The boilers were taken out when the ship dry-docked in Long Beach, and each boiler went out through one of the ship’s funnels. During our tour, we were treated to some of the “renovations” of the boiler rooms. They’re being turned into a haunted attraction, which I actually hate. I don’t like special effects. I think it takes away from the history and the fact that the ship is reportedly ACTUALLY haunted. Did I not mention that? Oh yeah, it’s super haunted.
I would much rather marvel at the actual ship and it’s history, even if that includes real ghosts, than pay for some cheap thrills.
5. The First Class Pool
The first class pool seems to be done entirely in tile from what we could see. The pool, the floor, the stairs, the columns, and the walls all appeared to be tile. It’s BEAUTIFUL, but no one can actually go into the room to see it. Renovations and changes of the ship below the pool area have made the pool and all its tile settle, causing cracks and instability.
Today, you can walk up to the glass doors on the second level of the pool room and look down over a partial area of the pool. Special lights are used to make the pool seem full of water and give it a sense of life, but no water can actually be put into the pool due to the structural issues.
I was thoroughly disappointed to not be able to go inside the pool room. It is gorgeous, even if you can only peek inside. We’d love to see it in use again one day.
6. The Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge
If you want to feel like you’ve stepped right into the 1930’s, the Observation Bar will deliver that sense right away. Formerly the first class lounge, the area still has all of its Art-Deco flair.
I feel certain that many of the celebrities that voyaged on the Queen Mary sat in this very lounge, a list which includes Audrey Hepburn, Clark Gable, and Bob Hope. You may be interested to know that Scarlett Johansson actually sang in this lounge for a scene in the 2009 film He’s Just Not That Into You.
We chose a two-person table in the corner of the lounge to just sit and enjoy the ambiance of the room. Even with modern TV’s and people in current clothing, it was easy to imagine this bar as it would have been in the 30’s. I kept looking from table to table wondering what the people were talking about and what their stories were, thinking that the conversations, flirtatious glances and giggles probably haven’t changed that much over the years.
The bar serves alcohol, obviously, but also water and soft drinks and has a small menu. After a tiring day of sight-seeing, we were happy to have water, Diet Coke, and nachos while we people-watched and listened to a bit of karaoke.
7. The First Class Playroom
While walking to the Observation Bar, we passed by the first class playroom, and I stopped dead in my tracks. First off, antique dolls are creepy, but it was interesting to see what the “rich kids” would have played with back then. Today, I feel like it would be more along the lines of an arcade.
I appreciate the simpleness of the toys and have fond memories of playing with wooden blocks and puzzles as a kid. But, this behind-glass, staged room definitely did not help the creep-factor of the solemn-looking dolls, the worn, discolored toys, and the poor elephant chair with its hat falling off.
I did like the Peter Rabbit puzzle. I love that little bugger and his hijinks.
8. The Travel Agent’s Office and Period Fitness Room Equipment
The age of smartphones and the internet has truly spoiled us. Honestly, I’ve never booked a trip without the use of the internet, so I can’t even pretend to know what it was like to deal only with travel agents with no real way to do your own research or price comparisons.
When we walked up to the travel agent’s office on the Queen Mary, my first reaction was, “Why would they need this?” And Mark, my genius husband says, “So they can make plans for wherever they’re going.” So, as you sail across the ocean, you visit the travel agent and make further travel plans for when you debark at your destination. Makes total sense. I get it. And the office is SO cute and retro-looking!
I suppose it’s the same as visiting the excursion desk aboard cruise ships today, or the desk where you book future cruises.
We still have fitness rooms on ships, and even though the one on the Queen Mary has been updated with modern equipment, there are two display windows featuring examples of fitness equipment that would have graced the original room.
9. Displays Throughout the Ship
As you’re wandering the ship, be sure to stop and look at the various displays. From ship models to original china from the dining rooms, there’s a good bit to see in display windows and cases.
10. The View of Long Beach at Sunset
While aboard the Queen Mary, you’ll most likely end up on the outer decks enjoying the weather and the view. We just so happened to step out at sunset and watched the city of Long Beach come alive with lights. From the kaleidoscope lights from the far-off ferris wheel, to the colors changing beyond the clouds, to the flock of birds that seemed to be dancing in the sky, it was a sight to behold.
BONUS: A Resident Ghost
Some of you will hate this idea. That’s fine! Don’t go looking for a ghost. Chances are, you’ll be fine and won’t see one thing out of the ordinary.
For the rest of you, it is an intriguing idea, huh? This beautiful yet creepy old ship seems like such a great place for a specter to make an appearance. There are tons of stories from visitors and employees confirming that the ship truly is haunted, so keep a lookout as you walk those halls and stairwells!
Have you ever toured a ship? Is the Queen Mary on your list to see? Have you toured the Queen Mary before? We’d love to hear from you, so leave us a message in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and three fur babies. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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