At a glance
5 things to love:
The Queen Mary, often thought of as a sister ship to the infamous Titanic, was actually built a few decades later than the Titanic (1936 vs 1912), and is almost twice her size (81k vs 43k tons).
Perhaps the most important stat, however, is the number of successful transatlantic voyages. While Queen Mary completed over 1000 journeys across the Atlantic, the Titanic, sadly, never did.
In 1967, The Queen Mary completed her 1,001st trans-Atlantic voyage and came to rest at the port of Long Beach, where she sits today.
Queen Mary serves as a relic of the past, as a reportedly haunted site, as a fun event venue and, yes, as a full-fledged hotel.
A ship with such evocative history, careful restoration, and impeccable upkeep over the last 50+ years in Long Beach, there are just so many reasons to LOVE The Queen Mary Hotel.
Walking around the ship, you will be immediately transported to another era by its art-deco grace and style. For those intrigued by the story of the Titanic and old cruise liners, visiting Queen Mary is must
The bourgeoisie atmosphere of Queen Mary’s interior, with its dark shiny woods, brass finishings, and historical artifacts will satisfy your desire for classical elegance and to connect with history.
The Queen Mary Hotel itself offers the chance to stay in one of the ship’s original staterooms, just like cruise passengers did when they checked in decades ago.
And up on deck, you will marvel at the lovely views of Long Beach Harbor and the sheer size of this massive ship. And you will start to get a feel for its complicated past.
Did you know?
Queen Mary was commissioned by Cunard and built by a British shipbuilder, John Brown & Company, on the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow Scotland.
The same company actually built the R.M.S. Lusitania decades earlier, which was famously sunk by German U-boats in 1915 near the start of World War I.
A bit of history
The Queen Mary has a storied past that has been well documented and preserved to this day.
In her prime days as a luxury cruise liner before WWII, she was known for accommodating royalty, world leaders, business elites and Hollywood stars across the Atlantic.
For 15 years until 1952, Queen Mary held the Blue Riband, an unofficial distinction of being the world’s fastest ship across the Atlantic (she could do it in just 4 days!)
World War II era
However in 1939, when World War II broke out, Queen Mary went into service of the war effort. She was painted grey and became a troop ship capable of transporting mass amounts of troops, up to 15,000 soldiers at a time.
During the war time she was dubbed the “Grey Ghost”.
Unfortunately, a serious accident happened at sea in October 1942 near Ireland when Queen Mary collided with a friendly escort ship, the H.M.S. Curacoa.
Queen Mary reportedly cut through the much smaller ship like a knife through butter, and over 300 British soldiers ended up losing their lives that fateful day.
It took about a year after the end of WWII to restore Queen Mary back to her glory as a luxury passenger cruise liner, along with a few upgrades like air-conditioning.
She continued making trans-Atlantic voyages from 1947 – 1967, but the increasing reliability and affordability of air travel spelled the eventual end of Queen Mary’s service in the cruise industry.
In 1967 she made her final voyage to Long Beach, CA and she has been docked in port here ever since.
With such a long history, in passenger service and in war service, Queen Mary has also seen her share of tragedy over the years.
Queen Mary has been described as one of the most haunted places on Earth, with reported sightings of over 150 spirits.
The engine room, in particular, has been associated with numerous ghost sightings, possibly due to the fact that Door #13 has on two occasions crushed innocent men to death.
This history is, interestingly, not something The Queen Mary shies away from. In fact, you will find ghost sighting placards all over the ship, with interesting tales of the ship’s history.
Reported paranormal phenomena include hearing doors slam, knocks, squeals, temperature changes, apparitions, and other strange unexplained events.
Things to love about The Queen Mary
💜 The Best Lounge in Town
The Queen Mary has one of the greatest bars in southern California, the Observation Bar, which has beautiful views of Long Beach Harbor.
The mural above the bar is original, and the Observation Bar gleefully retains its original art-deco style and 1930’s retro glow.
You can grab decent bar food like chicken wings and potato skins while you lounge, but the big draw besides the authentic 1930’s style is the lovely view of the harbor and downtown Long Beach.
Other dining options
- For a fine dining experience, you can get prime steak and seafood at Sir Winston’s.
- For a casual, up-scale meal, try Chelsea Chowder House.
- For a quick snack, ice cream or coffee try the Midship Marketplace
- There is vibrant nightlife in nearby downtown Long Beach
💜 Ship Tours and Exhibits
A great thing about Queen Mary is that you can still tour a large majority of the ship, and they have excellent on-board exhibits that occasionally rotate so there is always fresh content.
In the past they’ve held special exhibits on Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, WWII history, Titanic, and more. You can check out the current list of exhibits here.
And once on-board, hotel guests can always peruse the amazing shipbuilders model gallery located on the Promenade deck.
Perhaps the most popular are the Haunted Encounters Tour and the special nighttime tours like the after dark Paranormal Ship Walk.
One thing is guaranteed – with a stay on The Queen Mary, you will have ample opportunity to learn new things and be inspired by the past.
💜 Royal Sunday Brunch
Did you know The Queen Mary has an amazing Sunday Brunch, that was named the top hotel brunch in the world!? Well, it’s true.
The Royal Sunday Brunch is held in the Grand Salon and features unique dishes from around the world, including traditional western breakfast fare (omelette station, eggs benedict), southwestern items (carne asada tacos), and even Asian-style ribs.
They have a popular carving station with prime rib and, the best part, free bottomless champagne with live music entertainment!
💜 Great Location
Long Beach is located in southern California with close proximity to popular tourist spots in Los Angeles (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice), as well as Orange County (Anaheim, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach).
A multi-day vacation at the Queen Mary will allow you opportunity to explore a lot of what SoCal has to offer, whether it’s catching a Dodger Game, seeing Disneyland or Universal Studios, or catching a wave at surf capital, Huntington Beach.
About Long Beach, CA
Long Beach is located 23 miles south of LAX International Airport, and only about 28 miles southwest of Disneyland in Anaheim.
From 1902 to 1910, Long Beach was actually the fastest growing city in the US, and in 1911 the port of Long Beach was established. In the 1940’s the port was used to service the largest Navy ships.
Howard Hughes flew his famous Spruce Goose on its only flight ever over Long Beach Harbor, and the geodesic dome was built near Queen Mary to house the aircraft for decades.
Nowadays Carnival Cruise lines operates a terminal adjacent to the Queen Mary, and the dome is often used as a Hollywood stage.
Things to do near Queen Mary
In downtown Long Beach, just across the harbor, there are plenty of nice restaurants and local attractions to entertain and keep you busy.
Of note, the Aquarium of the Pacific is SoCal’s largest aquarium and the nations 4th most popular by attendance. They have over ten thousand animals and over 100 great exhibits to learn about and explore.
Nearby Aquarium Way has shopping and various popular chain restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Chilis, and P.F. Changs.
While you are there, don’t forget to cruise around Shoreline Aquatic Park and check out the Lions Lighthouse.
Sometimes it is also fun to walk around the marina and look at yachts and interesting boat names, which you can also do in this area of Long Beach harbor.
Getting around the city
Like most cities in southern California, public transportation options are not the best in Long Beach, as these are mostly driving towns.
If you are visiting from out of town and flying into LAX (23 miles away), we would strongly recommend renting a car, especially if you plan to venture away from Queen Mary on a local day trip.
It is definitely possible to plan a trip without a rental car, as there are plenty of fun things to do on-board the Queen Mary and in downtown Long Beach.
In that case, take a cab or uber ride from the airport directly to the Queen Mary, or book a ride on a shuttle service like Super Shuttle or Prime Time Shuttle. Cab rides will run about $80, but shuttles should be cheaper.
Best time of year to visit
Shanghai Nights – February
Scots Festival – February
St Patrick’s Eve – March
4th of July Celebration – July
Dark Harbor – Sep-Nov
Queen Mary Christmas – Nov-Jan
New Year’s Eve – Dec 31st
The weather in Long Beach, like most of southern California, is pretty nice all year round. Because it is a coastal city, the humidity is a buffer and the temperature doesn’t vary as much as it does inland.
Expect daily highs between 67-84 degrees and lows between 46-65 degrees pretty much any day of the year. There is often not much variance from day to day, so you could easily have 7 straight days of sunshine during your visit.
There really is no bad time of year to visit Queen Mary.
Long Beach weather in winter (Dec-Feb)
It is a little bit cooler in winter, where you should expect to wear a sweatshirt or light jacket during the day (mid-60’s), and something a little heavier at night (upper-40’s).
Winter is the wettest time in Long Beach, but it still only rains about 5-6 days per month in Jan and Feb. You will likely not see rain (but of course it is unpredictable).
There are several special events that take place at the Queen Mary during the winter that you should be aware of – if you want to partake in the event then it is a great time to visit.
However, be aware that these events (and the crowds) get pretty big…so it’s best to avoid these special events if you aren’t interested going to them.
These include Queen Mary Christmas events (Dec), New Year’s Eve (Dec), Chinese New Year (Feb), and Scots Festival (Feb).
Long Beach weather in spring (Mar-May)
Spring is a great time to visit Queen Mary, with average daily highs a little warmer than winter (low 70’s) as well as daily lows (mid 50’s), naturally.
This is a slower time for special events, although The Queen Mary has a rocking party to celebrate St Patrick’s. Spring is a nice and relatively quieter time to visit for a romantic getaway.
Long Beach weather in summer (Jun-Aug)
Summer is a busy time for travel pretty much everywhere. Long Beach summer weather is generally not stifling hot, reaching an average high in the low 80’s and low in mid 60’s.
The nightlife is most vibrant in the summer in downtown Long Beach, and the nearby beaches are finally warm enough to swim somewhat comfortably (high 60’s or so).
Long Beach weather in fall (Sep-Nov)
Fall is also a really nice time to visit Long Beach. You can expect daily highs in the 70-80 range and lows in the 50-60 range.
This is when Queen Mary really transforms during the months of Sep and Oct into Dark Harbor, where they host spooky Halloween and Ghost related events and activities.
Day trips from Queen Mary
The Queen Mary is located in the south of LA county, and just to the west of Orange county. It is a great jumping off point for various attractions in southern California if you’re visiting from out of town for the first time.
Below are some of our favorite day trip recommendations.
💜 OC Beaches (~40 miles away)
Orange County has several infamous beaches that are about 1 to 1.5 hours away from Queen Mary (depending on traffic).
Insider Tip: Just be careful returning to Long Beach during rush hour traffic (from 3-6pm on weekdays) as it can add an hour or more to your drive back to the ship.
1. Newport Beach
Newport beach is one of OC’s most popular beaches, with a walkable pier, great seafood restaurants, and family-friendly beach with lifeguards.
In nearby Balboa, you will find a quaint village and a free boardwalk-style amusement park called Balboa Fun Zone with arcades and a ferris wheel overlooking Newport Harbor.
2. Huntington Beach
Huntington beach is the surf capital and is a must-see destination for surfing fans or those interested in bathing in surf culture.
There is a vibrant beach scene, volleyball courts, and a few nice beach-side restaurants. Pacific City is also a fun indoor market and shopping mall to explore.
We highly recommend having lunch at the end of Huntington pier, at Ruby’s on the Pier – a retro 50’s style diner with great views.
3. Laguna Beach
Laguna beach is known for its high-class artsy culture, with numerous galleries to peruse and a collection of very nice restaurants.
The beach is highly popular with local families, as is the adjacent tide pool area with small sea animals.
💜 Catalina Island (20 miles, 1 hour by ferry)
Catalina Island is a nice place to spend the day and is a historic place to visit in its own right. It is a local resort island that had indigenous inhabitants as far back as 8000 years.
Interestingly, a Hollywood film was shot there in the 1920’s and some bison were left behind. Well the bison have since multiplied and now this little island is home to hundreds of bison!
There are various historical landmarks in Catalina to see, or you can soak up the sun on South Beach in Avalon Bay. There are also various trails and hikes you can do on Catalina Island.
💜 Anaheim (27 miles away)
Anaheim is one of the most popular family vacation destinations because it is the home of the original Disneyland.
Visiting Disneyland, or even just hanging out at Downtown Disney, is a must for Disney lovers visiting southern California for the first time.
You can also catch a sporting event depending on the time of year with the LA Angels (baseball) or Anaheim Mighty Ducks (hockey), or a concert at the City Grove of Anaheim.
💜 Hollywood (35 miles)
There are tons of tourist attractions in Hollywood, CA including Universal Studios, the Walk of Fame, Chinese Theatre, and much more.
If this is your first trip to southern California, you may want to plan to spend a full day exploring all the iconic sights in LA and Hollywood.
Another nice place to visit in the area is Griffith Park, where you can see the Griffith Observatory or hike to the famous Hollywood sign.
There are so many reasons to love The Queen Mary. In reality, it is so much more than a hotel.
It is a ship with historical significance – it helped the allies win WWII. It is also reportedly a hotbed of paranormal activity with several unexplained phenomena.
Queen Mary is a floating museum and a relic of times past. It reminds us of the iconic Titanic-era of luxury cruising before the convenience of airplanes took over global travel.
With great restaurants, the best lounge in town, and the greatest Sunday brunch in the world, the Queen Mary is an ideal spot for your next vacation.