Monday, January 26, 2015

The Queen Mary

Kerry Hammond has been fulfilling her dreams on a magnificent ship...

It’s been a dream of mine to stay on the Queen Mary ever since I found out that it had been converted to a hotel. I love the romantic idea of traveling across the Atlantic Ocean in the 1940s aboard such a ship. I’ve watched television shows that highlighted the ship’s history and its many famous passengers. I’ve even watched a ghost hunter episode that took place recently aboard (this was a bit hokey, but still fun). 

Last month I got the chance to stay on board this historic ship while attending the Long Beach Bouchercon conference. I strolled the Promenade Deck and wondered what it was like to be a passenger way back when. I stood in my cabin and tried to imagine the gentle rock I would have felt on a voyage. I marveled at the woodwork and Art Deco d├ęcor in the dining areas and lounges. I took in all of the displays of furniture and dishware from her original travels. I shopped at the vintage gift shop on board and bought lots of goodies. I enjoyed a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks. Ok, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t part of the original list of amenities, even in first class. But that didn’t bother me. I read fiction, so I can accept certain things and still stay within the story.

The RMS Queen Mary sailed from 1936-1967 for the Cunard Line (originally the Cunard-White Star Line).  She and the RMS Queen Elizabeth were built to maintain a two ship weekly express voyage between Southampton, England and New York. Because of her speed, she was painted and used during World War II to bring Allied soldiers to England to join the war effort. Her new color and her speed earned her the nickname the “Grey Ghost.”I watched a recent clip on Sunday Morning and found out that the ship was so fast that it could outrun a torpedo, so it was useless for the Germans to even try to attack it with their submarines. It was rumored that Hitler was so mad that he offered a reward to anyone who could hit it. Clearly, no one collected.

At the end of the war, the ship was even used to take war brides across the pond. They traveled in far less cramped quarters than the soldiers. (On one voyage, she carried over 15,000 men from New York to England.) After the war, the Queen Mary was re-fitted as a passenger ship and commenced its transatlantic voyages until airplane travel took over in the late 1950s. She left Southampton for her last voyage on October 31, 1967 and sailed to Long Beach, California, where she sits today. There are several restaurants on board, a museum , and other exhibits. You could spend a 3 day weekend and never have to leave the ship. I won’t say that my room was haunted, but I will point out that I was startled awake one morning by the sound of water pouring from the faucet into my tub. When I tried to turn off the spout, it was already off. Again, I read fiction, my imagination has no limits.

A stay on the Queen Mary is highly recommended for anyone who loves the romance and history that such a place contains. If you’re a light sleeper, bring some earplugs, as the walls are very thin. It made me wonder if the sounds of the engines used to cover up the noise and lull the passengers to sleep.


  1. Wow! What a trip. Sounds like you had a lot of fun on the boat.

  2. My cousins went back and forth from the US to Greece on this ship. I was jealous then and I still am!

  3. I'm jealous too Carol. It was so much fun to stay on it while it was docked, I can't even IMAGINE what it was like when it was actually moving!

  4. I celebrated my 30th birthday on the Queen Mary! I bought all my girlfriends funny little fascinator-like hats, and we dressed up and had fancy dinner. So much fun!