Laudable Lodging: The Queen Mary
When I picked up my husband at the John Wayne Airport to whisk him away on a long weekend trip in Southern California, I was driving a white (rental) Dodge Challenger. It should have been a DeLorean (but they don’t rent those at LAX). You see, we were about to go…back in time. (Cue music!)
Ok maybe turn off the Back to the Future music. Huey Lewis and the News doesn’t really fit my intended soundtrack. Sorry about that. Here’s something more fitting.
We were on our way to spend the night aboard The Queen Mary, a classic ocean-liner turned hotel. Words cannot express how excited I was about this. I mean, it’s an historic cruise ship. Those are all of my favorite things.
Why Choose the Queen Mary
Location: The Queen Mary is ‘docked’ in Long Beach, California. Long Beach is a port city–thousands of cruise passengers pass through Long Beach every weekend–so it makes sense in context. Though I have to say, to see such a thing in, say, Tulsa would also be pretty awesome. Awesomely impossible, but still.
Purpose of Visit: While the Queen Mary is the logical choice for anyone embarking upon a traditional cruise (on a still-sailing cruise ship) I was in town for a different (and I maintain better) reason: I was on my way to Catalina Island. And what better way to prepare for a trip to an island than by spending a night on board a ship? Completely logical. And I love logic. I also love boats and ships and all other forms of water-faring vessels.
Value-Added: It’s a ship. Turned into a hotel. And it is haunted. Does there need to be more?
Ok maybe there needs to be more.
In addition to being an entirely unique lodging experience, there are also things to do ‘on board’. There are several restaurants (only one of which I visited and which, sadly, I cannot recommend), two bars (only one of which I visited and which, happily, I can strongly recommend) and a bevy of tours available–including a tour that features some of the ship’s ghostly inhabitants.
While I was only staying for the night, I completely intended to ‘disembark’ at some point and check out Long Beach proper. But that didn’t happen. I blame the Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge. I mean, it was right there, down the hall from my room. And it was awesome in its classic-ness. And it was a bar.
Before, during, and after my too-many gin drinks, I walked (and then maybe staggered) about the ship, taking photos (sadly, with my iPhone; this was a last minute trip and I did not have my real camera. This made me sad, but did not make me give up my self-guided photo tour). The Queen Mary is any photo-crazed traveler’s dream; the views of the ship and the views from the ship are stunning. Combine the two together and you get…porthole-framed skylines!
Perhaps my favorite part of The Queen Mary (yes, even more than the bar) was the room. Er, cabin. Cabin? Yes, I suppose it was a cabin. I was honestly a little concerned about staying on board an old ship–after all, I’ve been in some really tiny rooms on new ships. But the Queen Mary was clearly built in a different time–a time when space was not at a premium. My room was more spacious than I even required, and featured not one but three closets. (Was there something about having a lot of closets that screamed ‘classy’ in the 1930s?) It was also decorated in a way befitting times-long-past (minus the mini fridge); it really felt a lot like staying in a museum. Oh and did I mention–there’s also a museum on board?
If you’d like to read more about the history behind The Queen Mary, check out their website–it does a far better job that I would explaining exactly why this is such a unique and educational experience. And if you’re in town but don’t want to spend the night, that’s ok too–they offer tours of the ship, and the bars and restaurants are open to the public. But personally, I’d spend the night. While I didn’t see any spirits roaming the decks, there were quite a few in those gin drinks.
Disclosure: I was offered a media rate aboard the Queen Mary in exchange for any possible coverage I might choose to provide. However, all thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.