Queen Mary

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There is no more iconic way to spend the day in Long Beach, CA then by touring the RMS Queen Mary. Calling the shores of California home since 1967, this famed British ocean liner offers visitors a unique opportunity to enter a bygone era with the option of spending the night.

Queen Mary History

The RMS Queen Mary began her life in 1937 at a shipyard in Clyde, Scotland. It was there that she was created to be the biggest, fastest ship of her kind, a direct descendant of the RMS Titanic without the same fatal flaws. Queen Mary was tasked with the job of ferrying the rich and famous of England and New York across the Atlantic and in doing so broke the record for fastest trans-Atlantic crossing more than once. However, as the tide of British and American life turned from that of luxury to that of war in the 1940s so too did Queen Mary.

As the pace of the war with Germany rapidly increased in 1939, Queen Mary, along with the other two largest ocean liners of the day, RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Normandie, sat idle in New York harbor. Since they were unable to safely transport passengers through hostile waters, her owners at Cundard White Star thought that the U.S. was a safer heaven for the time being.

Eventually, however, Allied commanders recognized the utility of large passenger ships in the transportation of troops from the United States onto the battlefronts in Europe and commandeered the three for military use. Though Normandie was sunk during her conversion, Mary and Elizabeth were successfully redesigned as naval vessels. Mary was painted grey and earned the nickname “Grey Ghost” due to her ability to quickly, quietly, and effectively move troops from one side of the Atlantic to the other. With the fantastic capacity to hold over 15,000 troops and their equipment, both Mary and Elizabeth were instrumental in aiding the Allied forces for the rest of the war.

Once World War II was over, the task of converting Mary back to a passenger ship was begun. Lasting from approximately September 1946 to July 1947, this process also included the addition of air conditioning and an update to her berth, changing the amount of first class, cabin class, and tourist class passengers able to board at one time. Along with sister ship Queen Elizabeth, Mary dominated the trans-Atlantic passenger trade under the Cunard White Star line from that time until the popularity of airline travel changed the cruise ship industry.

Mary was retired from service in 1967. Her final voyage was begun in Southampton, circled Cape Horn, and ended in Long Beach on 9 December 1967. She has been moored in Long Beach Harbor ever since, having been transformed into a “permanent structure” through the removal of her boilers and converted into a unique museum, hotel, and restaurant that is an emblem for the coastal California city.

Queen Mary: The Main Attraction

Queen Mary offers her visitors far more than the typical naval ship and museum experience available at many other U.S. ports. Throughout the years since landing in California, Mary has been refitted as a unique tourist attraction which includes guided tours, a full service hotel, and over half a dozen different dining options.

Visitors to southern California will find that staying in Queen Mary’s refurbished staterooms transports them back in time to the era when this massive ocean liner was able to cross the Atlantic at full capacity over 1,000 times. Though small in comparison to many of the luxury cruise ships of the 20th century, Mary is an elegant and classy example of the golden age of ocean travel. Accommodations include both traditional staterooms and first class suites as well as packages which include dining, shopping, and spa services.

For travelers planning on visiting Queen Mary just for the day, there are many options for tours and exhibits within the ship herself. Admission onto the ship is free, though self-guided tours with an audio aid carry an additional cost. In addition, several exhibits surrounding everything from Mary’s role in WWII to a tribute to Princess Diana are featured within the museum halls of the vessel.

Finally, a total of nine different dining options on the Queen Mary allow travelers the ability to experience at least a slice of elegant ocean travel. This includes champagne brunches, group dining and catering options (including weddings and parties), several bars, and a traditional English tea room.

Why the Queen Mary is a Must-See

Whether you choose to stay overnight or simply tour her during the day, a chance to see the Queen Mary represents a unique and special opportunity both in the environment of Southern California as well as within the ship/museum scene. Restored to the glory of the Golden Age of ocean travel, Mary is an emblem of her era and the town that has hosted her for almost half a century.

Where to Buy Queen Mary Tickets

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Queen Mary either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. The Queen Mary is available on the Go Los Angeles Card.