I am an avid biography reader, particularly old Hollywood movie star biographies. One thing most of the subjects of these biographies have in common is that they would travel from America to Europe on board the Queen Mary. Launched in 1936, she was the “grandest ocean liner ever built” and transported mail as well as movie stars between New York and Southampton, England.
I have heard about and seen pictures of this monarch of the sea for so long, that she felt like a myth, like all those long dead stars, not really real. Hence why as I drove up to the quay in Long Beach I had tears in my eyes.
It was vintage immersion heaven for me.
She was only used for three years before World War II broke out and she was drafted into service, carrying troops. But after the war, she resumed elegant service and was a passenger ship until 1967.
I had the opportunity to be hosted on board and to try out the tours. I was given a small room, but one that had all the original fittings, an art deco heater and the taps for hot or cold sea water that were no longer working unfortunately.
Apparently this would have been a third class room, situated at the front of the ship, so passengers would have had a lot of movement, but it was still rather salubrious for third class!
I did the aptly named “Glory Days” tour with our host James (pictured below left). It was informative and fun and the best part was viewing the old Ballroom in the middle of the ship. It was so beautiful, imagining the swing bands and the old dears waltzing away in their furs.
Speaking of ghosts, I would give the eponymous tour a miss. I could imagine the spirits holding their heads in shame at the loud, badly decorated decidedly unscary experience. I was gutted that it goes into the old swimming pool, so you can’t see it in its glory, but even in the dark it’s gorgeous, I would have loved to see it up close.
The whole ship is one big art deco wonder, the peaceful long corridors, the staircase, the beautiful lifts. I couldn’t get enough of walking around, breathing in the smell of it, caressing the walls. In fact, I am sure people thought I was a little crazy, whispering “I love you” to her a bit too often.
To find out about how you can stay on board the Queen Mary, visit their website for all the decolicious details!