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  • Pamela Froman

Step into another time…and stay at the Queen Mary

When you plan a vacation it's always nice to find yourself in a completely different atmosphere, with plenty to do and see. And that's just what you'll get when you explore Long Beach 's Queen Mary.


The Queen Mary is a former cruise and war ship. It has a lush history and is especially famous for being haunted. By all measures RMS Queen Mary is truly "titanic." Bigger, faster and more powerful than her predecessor the Titanic, Queen Mary lived a long life that included 1,001 successful Atlantic crossings. Built at the John Brown shipyard on the Clyde, Scotland , in 1937, the Queen Mary held the record for the fastest-ever North Atlantic crossing, and for three years she carried the rich and famous across the Atlantic in great luxury. She was also called the Grey Ghost during her years as a World War II transport ship.


Now Queen Mary rests in the Long Beach harbor, converted into a hotel and tourist attraction. The Queen Mary offers several different room options which cover a range of prices from $119 for an inside cabin and up. Service there is immaculate. When I arrived I was immediately ushered into a comfortable suite called the Eisenhower. The room offered two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a view of the stunning beach harbor. The price for a room like this is $660 a night.


You literally feel transported to another world while on the anchored ship. But to get to know the ship's reputation first hand, it is a must to go on one of the many haunting attractions offered aboard, and explore the oh so scary parts of the ship as well as sampling some of the wonderful restaurants aboard.


The Chelsea Restaurant was the first one that I visited, and the atmosphere and food was both elegant and tasty. Some of the menu options are free range chicken, topped with crab meat and asparagus with a sun dried tomato basil sauce ($24.50), salmon macadamia, Atlantic salmon coated with a macadamia crust with a chardonnay citrus sauce ($24.50), and Australian lobster tail, a baked 10 oz. Australian lobster tail with black pepper linguini, champagne sauce and sturgeon caviar ($47). All of the food I sampled was exquisite.


If you prefer a lounge or a bar then the Observation Bar is for you. Once the original First Class Lounge, the chic Art Deco Observation Bar is the perfect place to relax, meet friends or simply enjoy the sunset and panoramic views. The Observation Bar is open nightly until 2 a.m. (Wed. - Sat.) There are also a plethora of souvenir shops aboard.


You can do a self guided walking tour and explore the different parts of the ship that are open to the public. But the haunting tours are definitely the best attraction on the ship. There are several options, depending on which day you arrive, and how long you plan to stay. The Dinner with the Spirits tour was the attraction I investigated which combined both food and hauntings.


The first part of the tour was dinner at the fabulous Sir Winston's. Lobster bisque and a choice of steak, chicken or salmon were the scrumptious menu choices with a chocolate or raspberry cake for dessert. During dinner our host, a self-proclaimed psychic Erika, introduced herself and told a little bit about herself. Apparently, she explained to us, she had had a near death experience which afterwards had made her sensitive to spiritual vibrations. What that would mean we would soon find out.


With dinner over we proceeded onto the tour. The first room we visited was the indoor pool. This pool had originally been used by both 3rd and 1st class guests. There had been another pool originally for 2nd class guests, but that one had been dismantled. Our host began to call out for our first ghost. She was a little girl named Jackie, said Erika. "She likes to make the lights flicker," she said. And sure enough, while waiting patiently in the room, the lights did flicker. Was Jackie in the room with us? Only she knows!


Erika then led us into a small room that used to be a changing room. She told us "There are shadow people here." What was a shadow person? She said she didn't really know, but they were there. And neither did I! So our group stood within the small changing booths in the complete dark. What we were looking for, once our eyes adjusted to the dark, was a movement of pitch black over our eyes. If that happened, explained Erika, we were actually seeing a shadow person. Unfortunately, no shadow people decided to visit me that night.


But the next part of the tour was creepiest. Erika led us down 3 narrow flights of stairs into the cargo room, which was 40 feet below the sea line. As we stood there quietly, we heard a reoccurring noise, which almost felt like words. Could it have been a ghost? Well, there was no other explanation, unless our group had an invisible stowaway. But hey, if Disneyland 's haunted mansion offers an astral stowaway, then I suppose so can a tour from the Queen Mary!


Emerging from the cargo room, we proceeded to the engine room. There, said Erika, a young man named John had been crushed to death by the heavy door as it closed on him. Apparently John liked our attention because while we were watching, much to our wonderment, a small furnace door in the back of the room began to open of its own accord. It was slow, but you could definitely see the activity.


After that show we left the engine room to explore the Queen Mary's most haunted cabin room. We all gathered in quietly, as Erika proceeded to call out to whoever might have been there. No taps occurred but then one of our group explained that he could smell old bandages. And lo and behold, Erika explained, this room had once been used as a hospital room.


So does this mean the Queen Mary is haunted? Come check it out yourself, and make your own decisions. Either way, with many attractions aboard, it is a fun escape for the whole family. To make a reservation or find more information on the Queen Mary, visit www.queenmary.com.

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