Before I delve in deeper with this post, I want to clarify that this isn’t solely about the Queen Mary’s ghost tour and I don’t really delve into the stories as much as I probably should. I think the title is still fitting though since this essentially talks about the history that my friend Elena and I learned more about while checking out the ship for the first time. Whether it’s literal ghosts or figurative “ghosts of the past”, the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach is a pretty fascinating place to explore.
One of the first things we noticed after boarding the ship was a hallway full of war memorabilia and people dressed up as soldiers, pin-up girls, and other characters from the golden age of the Queen Mary. Elena and I stopped by a table where these two fellows talked about grenades and combat helmets used in World War II.
We didn’t have a lot of time to stay and chat since our ghost tour was about to start, so we headed to the meeting location and were eventually sent off with our guide and a small group to begin our trip around some of the spookier sites of the ship. One of the first stops was a room where three cleaning ladies claimed to see a woman sitting in a chair disappear right in front of them. I think it was supposed to be the longest apparition that was recorded on the ship. Didn’t see anything, but I noticed afterwards that my pictures were a little blurry. Bad photo skills or ghosts? Probably the former.
Afterwards, we were led to a hallway which I think was the longest straight hallway on the ship. You could look down it and see that it curved and wasn’t a flat walkway. The shape helped prevent the floors from snapping during heavy storms. Apparently, this level experienced a lot of activity. The guide also spoke about random unexplained phone calls coming from a room that used to be inhabited by William Churchill. Even though the ship is non-smoking, visitors sometimes complain that his room in particular smelled a lot like smoke.
A lot of the stories about ghosts on the ship may have stemmed from the fact that during World War II, the ship carried thousands of Allied soldiers and families, reaching much over its usual capacity. It was a traumatic time and there’s sure to be a lot of built up energy that developed over the years. There used to be a nursery on the ship and people still hear babies crying coming from the room or see little kids playing around.
The last spot that we saw on the tour was probably the most famous and always appears on those haunted places shows that they air on the Travel Channel: the indoor swimming pool. The pool was filled with saltwater, straight from the ocean. Each class would have their own designated time to swim, so that first class travelers wouldn’t have to mix with those in third class. During the war, the ship was drained and people would sleep in it since there wasn’t much space to sleep anywhere else. There’s supposed to be a ghost of a little girl that haunts the room and it is pretty creepy standing on the upper deck and looking down at the darkness.
We decided to check the top of the ship for a bit after the tour to get some fresh air and look at the ship’s stacks. A fun fact that I learned was that the Queen Mary has three stacks while the Titanic had four, though only three of the Titanic’s actually worked and the last was just put on to show how great the ship was compared to others. Yeah, that went well.
When we bought our tickets for the ghost package, we found out that the Ghosts & Legends attraction was closed that day. Instead, they switched it out so that we could go to the Princess Diana exhibit, a traveling exhibit that was temporarily being housed at the Queen Mary. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures inside the actual exhibit space, but it featured a lot of personal items and relics from the royal family. Maybe a good third of it was devoted to the royal lineage, while the other two-thirds focused more on the life and death of the people’s princess. I still remember when Princess Diana passed away. I was in the family room at home and the news of it came up on the TV. I was still a teenager, but it did seem to affect me a little and made me think about how unfair it was that someone with a lot of good inside could die in an accident like that.
Elena and I went to check out the Bob Hope exhibit afterwards, another room dedicated to the life of an icon. I don’t really have the same connection to Bob Hope and I don’t know too much about his life save for the fact that he was on I Love Lucy and that the Burbank Airport is named after him.
The exhibit was connected to the engine/boiler room, so we went through that a bit as well. It was a little after six already and we were in a rush to make sure we got to the submarine before everything closed at seven, so we didn’t really spend as much time as we probably could have down there, but it was cool to be surrounded by all those knobs and pipes.
After finally making our way out of the ship, we headed to the last thing that we wanted to see for the day, B-427, the Soviet submarine Scorpion. Admission into the submarine was included in the package, so we headed down the steep stairs and started out in the torpedo room.
From there, we crawled through round holes to get from room to room, checking out sights like the captain’s quarters and control rooms. It was incredibly cramped and I can’t imagine being stuffed in there (and underwater!) for so long. Ugh, it’s giving me a little anxiety just thinking about it. We exited on the other side of the submarine and I was glad to get some fresh air again.
Even though Elena and I were at the Queen Mary for several hours, we still barely scratched the surface on all the things to see. Good thing the ship doesn’t seem like it’ll be going anywhere anytime soon anyway. Wow, that sentence was kind of weird. Awkward end.