There are many things to do in LA and most people hit up the usual tourist traps first – the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, the Star Tours – but not us. Being the gigantic ship nerds we were, we had two great historic titans in our LA must-see list. His was the USS Iowa, but mine was the grand old lady the RMS Queen Mary.
Her Majesty is docked in Long Beach, right next to the dome that used to house the Spruce Goose. It’s no longer there, but QM has another companion now – a captured Russian nuclear submarine. You can’t go on it and I’m sure it’s an interesting story as to how it got there, but we moved on to the main attraction; being one of the world’s most iconic ocean liners.
First impressions lived up to expectations – she’s a gigantic vessel, a truly magnificent sight to behold. Larger than the Titanic, you can’t help but think of that ill-fated ship when you behold Mary. I could easily imagine all those first, second and third class passengers being ferried across the Atlantic in the glorious age of the luxury ocean liner. She was owned by the Cunard Line and plied the seas between the 30s and the 60s, before going on display as a museum and hotel in the 70s.
We were unable to join a tour due to time restrictions, but there are a variety to choose from. Having a reputation for being haunted, the ghost tours looked especially interesting. Once on board however, I was happy we hadn’t visited for one of those – the ship is distinctly spooky!
Yes, there remains the bones of the grand old lady she once was with gorgeous Art Deco design throughout, but the empty passenger corridors gave me a distinctly creepy feeling. Perhaps it was all the wood panelling, but it I definitely felt the presence of the thousands of souls that have been aboard her before.
You can even stay on the QM – there are rooms available just like a hotel. I don’t think I could honestly!
Making our way up to the top deck, we practised our promenading whilst taking in the views of the nearby cruise ship dock, the Mary’s modern equivalent. I wonder which ship would be more comfortable in its heyday?
There’s a lot of history to sink your teeth into here and a well-stocked gift shop too. If you’re a history aficionado or just like big ships (or both like me!), a visit to the Queen Mary when in LA is definitely worth the drive from the hustle of the main drag. You might even meet a few ghosts from the past.
Have you ever visited a historic ship?