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Queen Mary

RMS Queen Mary Docked at Long Beach Harbor

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queen mary docked in long beach

Queen Mary in Long Beach Harbor

©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
  • Hours: Open daily
  • Reservations: Not required for general admission but needed for some special activities. Buy tickets in advance for easy entry
  • Cost: Admission charged, parking fee extra
  • Location: Downtown Long Beach
  • How Long: Allow a few hours
  • Best Time to Visit:: Sunny days are nicer, but any time is fine

The original cruise liner RMS Queen Mary, built in 1937 made her 516th and final voyage to Long Beach, California on December 9, 1967. Queen Mary rests in the Long Beach harbor, converted into a hotel and tourist attraction. Guides' voices echo in the now-empty engine room, where 27 boilers once generated 160,000 horsepower. She's been in Long Beach longer than she sailed the oceans, and the ship has become an icon for its home city.

Visiting Queen Mary

While not so big and sleek as today's mega-cruise liners, the Queen Mary is an elegant reminder of a bygone era. There are several options for visiting the Queen Mary:

  • Self-guided tours take visitors over the 1020-foot-long Queen Mary, from the engine room to the wheelhouse. It's least expensive, but the tour route is poorly marked and the big ship can be quite intimidating when toured on your own.
  • Daily guided tours explore the glorious past of Queen Mary, from the luxurious dining room to the indoor fresh water swimming pool.
  • The Ghosts and Legends of the Queen Mary tour dramatizes paranormal and historic events aboard the ship. Evening tours include haunted explorations and midnight ghost tours led by paranormal experts.
  • Every Halloween, the Queen Mary is home to Shipwreck, an event they bill as a "Terrorfest."

The Scorpion, a Foxtrot-class Russian submarine, is moored just below the Queen Mary's bow. A tour of the cramped quarters and military conditions (78 crew shared 2 showers and 3 toilets) provides an interesting contrast to the Queen Mary in size and luxury.

Queen Mary Review and Rating

A few years ago, the Queen Mary was a fun place to visit, clean and well-organized with a lot of renovations going on.

Unfortunately, in May, 2011, we found the Queen Mary somewhat ill-kept and the visitor experience disorganized. We were given a ticket for the self-guided tour, but not told that the audio tour was included. No staff members were around to help with directions and we wandered aimlessly for quite while before realizing that we needed to go upstairs to start the tour. After that, route signs were extraordinarily poor or missing altogether. Sadly, we soon gave up and left.

If you decide to visit, a guided tour is a better idea - it will help you understand what you're seeing and you won't have to worry about getting lost.

While the visitor experience could use some improvement, the Queen Mary history is fascinating - and in places, she still shows a hint of her former glamor. A visit may be best for those who are interested in her history or in the glamor of bygone days before airplanes usurped the ocean liner as a means of trans-oceanic travel. Otherwise, it's a bit far from any other Los Angeles-area attractions to make it worth your time.

Hotel Queen Mary

You can also sleep in the former staterooms at the Hotel Queen Mary, imagining yourself on a transatlantic journey along with Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and others. The smaller rooms are reasonably priced, but somewhat dark and cramped. For a taste of the luxury of a bygone era, splurge on a Deluxe Stateroom or a Royalty Suite. And don't be fooled like I was: the fluorescent lights that now seem outdated in the rooms were as modern as could be when the Queen Mary was first built.

Brief History of the Queen Mary

Bigger, faster and more powerful than her predecessor the ship Titanic, the RMS Queen Mary had a long career that included 1,001 successful Atlantic crossings. Built at the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde, Scotland in 1937, the Queen Mary held the record for the fastest-ever North Atlantic crossing, and for three years she carried the rich and famous across the Atlantic in great luxury. During World War II, she carried troops and afterward, she ferried war brides and children to the United States and Canada before returning to service as a transatlantic cruise ship.

In 1967, when her owner Cunard sold the Queen Mary for $3.45 million and she made her 516th and final voyage to Long Beach, California on December 9, 1967. her boilers were removed, she was permanently docked and has been here ever since.

Getting to the Queen Mary in Long Beach

Queen Mary
1126 Queens Hwy
Long Beach, CA
(562) 435-3511
Website
Take I-710 south into Long Beach and follow the signs to the Queen Mary. From downtown Long Beach, you can take the Aquabus to the Queen Mary.

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