In our Summer issue, SEARCH will be highlighting The Queen Mary in our #OceanLife Faceoff as one of the best ocean-themed places to visit. As a teaser, we were offered a chance to tour The Queen Mary and it’s newly-opened “most haunted” room, B340. Below, our correspondent, Linda Whitaker, shares her experience on the ship.
The Queen Mary
by Linda Whitaker
I was led down a steel walkway suspended over deep darkness, lit only by the faint glimmer of a flashlight and the occasional glow of a cell phone, into the musty depths of the Queen Mary’s boiler room. Our guide, paranormal explorer Matthew Schulz, narrated the experiences of previous adventurers in this hotspot of paranormal activity; tugs on clothing, touches on skin, with no apparent source for these sensations. Hearing the stories is chilling and a series of goosebumps ran down my arms. At length, Matthew paused our walk at the ironically signposted “Safe Room”. Inside, an arcane array of electrical equipment to record communications from the other world was arranged on the table. Our group entered the darkened room, the door was closed and the spirits were called. Matthew’s invitation to those spirits, and their responses, was recorded. Listening to the playback left me uncertain, but it just might have been “Mary” I heard in response to his posed question, “Can you tell me what ship we are on? What Queen are we on?” We pelted our guide with questions: “Is this real? Are those spirits talking?” With a shrug of the shoulders, Matthew ended our tour with a philosophical, “we’ll never really know” and handed our group off to the Commodore, a thirty-seven-year veteran of the ship.
A brisk walk along B Deck led us to the infamous Room B340 where the stage was set, complete with crystal ball, tarot deck, and Ouija board. The Commodore’s tales of B340 were eerie and its reputation was such that the room, until recently, has been unoccupied and out of use for years. But new guests are in luck! The newly renovated space is now available to the public and you can book your own stay in the haunted B340. During its earlier years of occupancy, sleeping guests awakened to find the covers flown back and figures of people standing alongside the bed. Housekeeping reports include making up the room, only to return moments later to tousled spreads and sheets and everything in disarray. Our group, while exploring the dimly lit room, complained of vertigo and headaches and the stalwart Commodore confessed his own extreme discomfort. “I would never spend a night in this cabin,” he added.
Our last adventure that evening led us to a glimpse of the gorgeous art deco 1st class passenger swimming pool, where wet footprints abruptly ending have been reported, in spite of the pool having been drained for decades. A few steps away, we stopped in front of polished elevator doors where the reflection of an elegant “Woman In White” has been seen by some. Strolling down a long walkway resplendent in bird’s-eye maple paneling and carpet reminiscent of a more elegant era, we are told of an image, seen by many, of a 7-8 year old girl nicknamed “Jackie”, her arms outstretched, reaching up as if asking to be lifted and comforted. As our tour concluded, I believe we were all looking for a bit of comfort!
The history of this ship is fascinating. Walking up to the Queen Mary one is immediately struck by the immensity, its dominance in the harbor. It is so PRESENT! How does something like that even float – let alone remain seaworthy after 82 years? Although I can’t begin to understand the engineering feat, I did, after stepping into its beautifully preserved entry and touring her decks, understand her allure. The ship beckons you to explore. Yes, you can feel her.
Commissioned in 1936, the Queen Mary was a state-of-the-art luxury cruising vessel, one of the grandest ocean liners ever built. During World War II, with resources being scarce, she was retrofitted as a troop ship, nicknamed the “Grey Ghost”, and began service to the allied forces. After her return to civilian life, in the late 1940’s, she again spent a number of years in the luxury liner industry, but travel was a changing landscape and more and more people took to the air. The Queen Mary was tired, weathered, and no longer in demand. In 1967, finding a resting place in Long Beach, California, she’s become an iconic landmark that everyone should attempt to see.
Fortunately, not only is the Queen Mary still with us, and perhaps still hosting a number of passengers from the past, but she also offers a myriad of experiences for Los Angeles visitors and locals alike. There are so many ways to experience the Queen Mary. You must give one a try! Oh, and if you see the little girl in the hallway? Give her a hug from me.
The Queen Mary offers:
- Historical Tours – For the history buffs.
- Haunted Encounter Tours – This tour highlights stories of famous hauntings.
- Ghosts & Legends Tours – Special effect enhance this tour experience.
- 4-D Special Effects Theater – Sight, sound, aroma and wind to enhance your experience.
- Paranormal Ship Walk – Be prepared, I’m told if the activity is hot, you may spend hours at this experience.
- Dining with the Spirits – Dining, followed by the Paranormal Ship Walk.
- Dark Harbor – Annual Halloween Event where spooky mazes of horror are staged onboard and in areas immediately adjacent to the ship. The event runs from late September through the end of October. A sneak peek at the “Kitchen of Horror” maze leads me to believe a return visit is in order.
- More information on events here: http://www.queenmary.com