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10 May, 2006

The Queen Mary



Above is a photo of the Long Beach skyline across Queensway Bay which I took from the Promenade Deck of the Queen Mary. The city is currently enjoying a resurgence, lots of commercial and residential developments going on.

In the foreground on the left is Rainbow Harbor, site of the Aquarium of the Pacific and a new entertainment center called The Pike, named after the city's famous beach attraction of the 1920s. To the right is Shoreline Drive which is the annual route of the Toyota Grand Prix. In the background is downtown Long Beach, with high rises lining Ocean Boulevard and trendy restaurants dotting Pine Avenue.

Though I've lived in Los Angeles for many years, I've only visited the Queen Mary a handful of times. My most memorable visit was back in the early 1990s, when our office was honored with a company banquet in the Main Ballroom. On other visits, I dined at the ship's award winning Sir Winston's and Chelsea restaurants.

The Queen Mary was the most luxurious ocean liner of its era, the favorite of royalty and notable personalities from the time it set sail in 1936. She has made more than 1,000 transatlantic crossings, and at 1,109 feet is 130 feet longer than the Titanic. During World War II the ship was painted a drab gray color and was nicknamed the Gray Ghost. She transported so many American troops to Europe that Hitler offered a large reward to any of his generals who can sink her.

She was restored after the war, but by then flying has become the favorite mode of transportation across the Atlantic. In 1967, she made her final voyage to Long Beach, where she is now permanently moored as a floating hotel and tourist attraction.

Today most of the Queen Mary's decks are accessible to visitors for walking tours, and though her seams are a bit frayed at the edges, seeing her in all her Art Deco glory is like being frozen in time. Sailing across the Atlantic during her heyday must have been breathtaking.

There is, however, a dark side to this magnificent ship: it is supposedly haunted. During our visit, we took the Ghosts and Legends tour that included the areas with the most hauntings.

There's the first class indoor pool which is allegedly a portal between this world and the afterlife. There is the cavernous boiler room, 36 feet below sea level where a young crew member met an untimely death. There is the bow of the ship, allegedly haunted by the lost souls of the HMS CuraƧoa, the Queen Mary's escort ship during the war which lost 338 crew members when it collided with the ocean liner and got cut in half.

Do I believe in ghosts? I'm quite the agnostic when it comes to the paranormal. What about you? There is a live web cam focused on the Queen Mary's first class indoor pool 24/7. Check it out here, if you dare.

posted at 10:19 PM by City Muse

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