If you have been to Long Beach, California, hopefully you did not miss the Queen Mary. There is something about this 1934 luxury ship that makes me long for a transatlantic cruise to London with hats, gloves and a maid in tow.
I have had the good fortune to visit the Queen Mary twice. The first visit was at night for dinner in Sir Winston’s restaurant. The setting is a dimly lit, elegant room and the food was very nice.
For my last visit a month ago, I went for the day version with Mike and the boys. We took a guided tour, called the first-class tour, which described what the first-class voyagers would have experienced. I could only imagine what it would have been like to have a cigar and brandy in the smoking room (well, maybe not as I don’t like smoke or brandy, but still it would have been a cool experience).
The beauty of the ship is absolutely amazing. The ship’s interior is done in the art deco style and has the most breathtaking woodwork. It is unsurpassed in quality and craftsmanship.
There is a wood design of a ship in the main entry hall, which is composed of several different woods. The ship contains veneers of 56 different woods. Why? Because there were 56 colonies in the British realm at the time the ship was built. Six of the wood veneers featured in the ship’s interior are now extinct.
The Queen Mary was ordered by Cunard-White Star Line in 1929 and completed in 1934, with its maiden voyage in May, 1936. Although it was not intended to be named the Queen Mary, after approaching the King for approval for the intended name, the King said his wife, Queen Mary, would be delighted to learn the ship was to be named after her (Cunard officials politely took the hint).
First-Class aboard the Queen Mary promised “unsurpassed service.” Whatever a passenger desired was delivered. Often suites were redecorated to fit the preferences of the passenger.
During WWII the ship carried supplies and Allied soldiers. Afterward, it went back to serving as a cruise ship, making its final voyage in 1967. At the time gas had become too expensive to run the ship. In 1967, it cost $75,000 per day for gas. It burned 5 gallons of fuel per second. Operating at a loss and the invention of jet planes combined to force the popular Queen Mary into retirement.
The Queen Mary was purchased by the City of Long Beach to serve as a tourist attraction. After its final transatlantic voyage, the Queen Mary was berthed in Long Beach in 1967. After a conversion from a sailing ship to a hotel, restaurant and museum space, the Queen Mary opened as a tourist attraction in 1971. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1993.
Although there have been financial struggles, changes in lessees, and closures through the years, the Queen Mary seems to be a vibrant, bustling attraction for visitors to the area.
There are several tours offered, and there seems to always be exhibits that switch out often. For example, a special Halloween spook house is running from September to November. Check the website early if you are planning a visit. Rooms and events seem to sell out early.
For my next visit, I want to spend the night on the ship. Of course, I want my room in the first class section! Wouldn’t that be a fun experience!