In May of 2011 the Queen Mary celebrated the 75th anniversary of her maiden voyage. If you can’t afford to sail on the Queen Mary 2, try the Queen Mary at Long Beach, California and relive the glamour days of steamship travel without ever leaving the dock.
The Queen Mary made her maiden voyage in 1936 from England to France and then on to New York. She was owned by the Cunard Steamship Company. It was the way the rich and royal crossed the Atlantic in style in both directions. During World War II the ship was fitted out to carry troops and one time carried even carried German prisoners of war. Then in the 1950s she again returned to hosting regular travelers. In 1954 a young Queen Elizabeth, with the Queen Mother on board, returned to England after a visit to the United States via the Queen Mary.
As times changed the aging Queen Mary was eventually put up for sale. In 1967 the city of Long Beach purchased her and docked her as a tourist attraction. You can take a self-guided tour with or without audio. You can even have your picture taken as you board. For an overnight stay suites or small cabins are available and you can dine at one of several restaurants and enjoy drinks at one of the bars or lounges. They are decorated in the 1930’s-style art and decor. Strolling about the decks one can only imagine what it must have been like to travel across the Atlantic in luxury in a bygone era when movie stars, millionaires and royalty mingled along the ship’s rails.
Some of the interior scenes from the 1972 movie “The Poseidon Adventure” were filmed on the Queen Mary. In 1997 the exhibit “Titanic: The Expedition” made its West Coast debut aboard the ship. The Queen Mary also has her share of ghost sightings and paranormal activity.
In February of 2006 the modern luxury liner, Queen Mary 2, stopped in Long Beach. The younger ship sounded her horns for a grand old lady of the sea. Queen Mary 2, part of the Cunard ships, is the only ship offering a transatlantic cruise schedule each year. She entered service in 2004.
I may never be able to take the Queen Mary 2 to England, but at least I have toured the Queen Mary and sensed the spirit of her past. Long live the Queen!