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What is the Queen Mary?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Queen Mary, more properly known as the RMS Queen Mary is a ship which was originally built and operated by Cunard, and named for the consort of King George V. After her retirement in 1967, the Queen Mary was moved to Long Beach, California, where the ship is used as a hotel and museum. It is also a notable paranormal attraction, although curiously ghosts did not set up residence until after the ship was moved to her permanent home.

Cunard built the Queen Mary in 1934 in Scotland, and formally launched the ship in 1936. The ship was originally designed to run the North Atlantic route, and it briefly held the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing, typically taking five days to get from London to New York and making the crossing over 1,000 times. The luxury liner was equipped with a range of amenities for passengers, including very fine passenger accommodations in First Class.

In the Second World War, the Queen Mary was commandeered for use as a troop transport. The smart white paint used on Cunard ships was replaced with a grim camouflage gray, and the ship was known as the “Gray Ghost” among soldiers and sailors. After the war, the ship was returned to Cunard, and the company repainted it and restored the interior. Eventually, the Queen Mary was phased out of the fleet in favor of newer ships.

The City of Long Beach acquired the Queen Mary expressly for the purpose of using it as a museum. Large portions of the ship were gutted to make room for museum displays, and parts of the former First Class accommodations were leased to a hotel company. The ship continues to be open to the public today, with visitors touring the museum and preserved areas of the ship such as the bridge, and people can also stay on board.

After the ship was docked in Long Beach, rumors about ghosts and paranormal activities began to swirl around the Queen Mary. Several companies offer paranormal tours of the ship, and visitors enjoy telling stories about their encounters on board.

In 2003, Cunard brought the Queen Mary 2 into service. Briefly, this successor held the title of largest cruise liner in the world, and in 2006 the two Queens met during the Queen Mary 2's world tour. The occasion was marked with an exchange of whistles and fanfare between the two ships, with the media on hand to document the event.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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