Today we talk about Kris’ family overnight stay on The Queen Mary with her daughters for her birthday! If you listened to our April 8, 2019 “Ahoy There Queen Mary!” episode, you’ll know Kym and her fiancé stayed in the Eisenhower Suite. While Kym had no overt experiences with ghosts, she did feel a heightened sense of awareness of the presence of certain, ah, energies in the historic room. So Kris and Kym compare notes as Kris recounts their adventures, starting with the Aquarium of the Pacific, eating a great lunch at Louisiana Charlie’s in Shoreline Village, and finally checking into – and “sleeping” overnight on – the legendary Queen Mary ship. So. Exciting. And yes. There was a ghost sighting.
But FIRST! Shoutout to Venture Pal daypack! A few episodes ago Kym shared about her awesome daypack that she uses when she takes her dogs for walks in our local regional park. So her gift to Kris was…TADA!…a Venture Pal daypack to use for her trip! Kris was really excited to see how much she could pack in the nifty backpack, and, let’s just say all the essentials fit: toiletries, night clothes, shoes, change of clothes, and coffee pot. Yes. Because Kris also listened to “Ahoy There Queen Mary!” (ahem) she already knew her stateroom didn’t come with a coffee pot. The Venture Pal daypack had more than enough space for everything she needed. Many thanks to Kym for the awesome birthday present. If you’re interested in buying one for yourself, check out all the lovely colors to choose from here.
First stop was Aquarium of the Pacific (discounted tickets highly recommended!) where Kris and the girls pet rays, fed Lorakeets, squeed at the otters, and Hayley made a new friend in the tank walkthrough.
Once checked into the Queen Mary, Kris and the kids walked the stateroom hallway alllll the way down to room A171. If you view the Queen Mary Hotel website, all the photos show staterooms with inviting wood paneled walls, built-ins and all the vintage ship vibes you could ask for. Unfortunately, the “family room” A171 – which was quite large with two queen beds – doesn’t resemble those photos in the least. Those paneled rooms probably cost about a hundred bucks more a night, so ‘s’all good. It did come with two working portholes with a drop-dead gorgeous view of Long Beach city and harbor. While the room was quite in need of TLC (and more outlets), it wasn’t all that bad. It wasn’t a true 1930’s stateroom on the Queen Mary experience, but the beds were passable and the bathroom was cute. The ghost lady was nice too.
The day was spent exploring the ship, and pretty much every door Kris came across, she tried to open. And if it opened, Kris went in, snoo…checking out wherever they were (the most favorite spot was the Verandah Grill event room. We aren’t sure they were supposed to be in there, but hey, THE DOOR WAS UNLOCKED!). Even spending all afternoon walking around the mid-renovation decks (and getting lost more than once), they still weren’t able to see everything there was to see. Probably the creepiest point on their self-guided exploration was the Isolation Ward. And the best part of their adventure? Watching the sunset together. Absolutely beautiful.
Probably the most enticing part of staying on The Queen Mary is the history. There is no other hotel in the world with the legendary stories that The Queen Mary has. Originally a luxury cruise ship, she then transformed into the fastest World War II troop ship ever (the enemies could never get her in range to shoot her down), back to a luxury liner, and then as a tourist attraction in Long Beach harbor since the late 60’s. For a great recap of her history and some really poignant personal stories, a must-see on the ship is the film in the small viewing room on the Promenade Deck between the shops and the Observation Lounge. Bring kleenex. And a sweater. There’s a lot of goodness in that documentary and worth sitting for the entire thing (though it is on a loop, so you can go back any time). Also worth checking out is the ship model gallery and The Shipyard room which houses the world’s largest Lego® model of the Queen Mary. Complete with tiny Lego® passengers. No. Not Lego® Batman. Kris would have paid more money to see a tiny Batman somewhere on board that thing. Someone has to make that happen.
And everywhere you go, on every deck, you will see original features in the Art Deco style: lighting fixtures, wood paneling, railings, etched glass, molded metal door handles, all harkening back to the days when the cost of first class passage equaled the price of a new home. Many fixtures and displays have plaques (and sometimes photos showing original use), which are totally Instagram-worthy and totally worth searching out. In fact, probably THE MOST picture-posing 5-star spot on the ship has to be in the Verandah Grill where murals painted by Doris Zinkeisen are still displayed (the largest one, “Entertainment,” is featured below).
If you’re a history buff, architecture geek, or just enjoy master craftsmanship, bring a good camera and capture the elegance and beauty of another era (Kris just had her iPhone…good enough to provide all these shots, so we accept). For some glory-days photos, check this link out.
And of course, after retiring to bed, Kris and the girls were sidelined by a spectral visitor in the middle of the night. The story is worth the listen, so if you want to know all about the ghost of room A171, you’ll have to hear it in our podcast episode! Let’s just say when two teenagers agree on something, you need to take it seriously. And Kris’ teenagers agreed they each saw a ghost in their stateroom (at different times), so you decide. We’re going with “yup, highly likely!”.
The next day Kris and the girls (tiredly) ended their trip with a very expensive – but very good – breakfast in the needing-a-carpet-renovation-stat Promenade Cafe. Before heading home they decided to take the Haunted Encounters tour. Their guide was funny and knowledgable (if a bit scruffy), and provided some interesting facts and historical insight, recounting many of the well-known ghost stories making the paranormal rounds (Door-13 crewman, Jackie in the pool, Winston Churchill, Room B340, etc.) as well as some Kris hadn’t heard before (the lady in white in the third class lounge, the stairs of death in third class (Poor poor people. Tsk.), screams heard near the tippy-pointy front of the ship (know by experts and most of the population on Earth as the bow) (creep factor: 20/10 btw), oh, and the hall of death. Yeah, that’s the narrow passage you walk through as you enter the Revenant Room for the Aidan Sinclair show “Illusions of the Passed” where you can see photo after photo after photo of the people who have died on the Queen Mary. Hint: There’s a lot. Kris asked if the Eisenhower room was haunted (if the Churchill suite is, why wouldn’t the Eisenhower be?) but there was no definitive answer. If you want to find out for yourself, be our guest. WE won’t pay for it, and technically you’d be the Queen Mary’s guest…but..anyway…nevermind.
Even with the shortcomings of the actual room Kris stayed in, both Kym and Kris HIGHLY recommend staying on the Queen Mary. The ship is in need of some serious (and mechanically necessary) repairs that go beyond cosmetic facelifting, but if you can set aside your expectations of what you think your room should look like (again, if you pay discount you get discount, eh Expedia?), and can overlook some of the surface flaws – if you truly think about the ship and where she has been, what she’s done, WHO she has transported both as luxury liner and warship, it’s a no-brainer. Look underneath, look past (literally and figuratively) and allow the magic and majesty of what the Queen Mary was and still is to set in. Stay in a barebones room if you have to, or splurge for the wood paneling and built ins. Lug a cooler of snacks, or be a big spender in Sir Winston’s or the Promenade Cafe or the on-board Starbucks (they’re expensive everywhere, tbh)…whatever your budget, it’s worth it. You don’t even have to believe in ghosts. But if you DO, and you REALLY want to find a ghost with a professional, there’s a tour for THAT, with real paranormal investigating (oh hai…a bit of friendly advice: If you’re staying on the ship overnight to do your own investigation in your stateroom, the family in the room next to you can hear you talking, opening your bag of chips and generally be paranormal investigating assholes. The walls are paper thin. Be chill.)
Kris will definitely go back again. And maybe this time drop the Benjamins for the wood paneling.
Oh. Don’t forget your coffee pot. AND a fan. You know, small portholes.
Oh yeah…almost forgot. The weird high pitched sound Kris and the girls heard in their room after Hayley saw the ghost, THIS is the what Kris was trying to describe.
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