Even though I’d like to say my life is all hiking and mountaineering, it is not. Sometimes, I’m forced to branch out and do other things – like explore strange or “haunted” spots. In all of these adventures, I’m accompanied by my best and original adventure partner, my fiancé @losadventura. One of our first adventures is topical for this time of year – our trip to the Queen Mary and our paranormal “investigation” on the ship. If you were to ask me which tourist attraction in Southern California is the most unknown to the general public, I would say without a doubt, the Queen Mary – even though at 1,019 feet long and 181 feet high, she is near impossible to hide.
Facts: The Queen Mary is an ocean liner out of the golden age of sea travel. Built in 1936, she was designed to ferry passengers from Europe to New York City. From 1936 to 1939, she transported passengers along Atlantic Ocean; but when World War II broke out, she was converted into a troop transport ship, and transported soldiers – including a record 16,082 American troops from New York to the United Kingdom in one trip – a record that still stands to this day. After the war, she again carried passengers until 1967, until she was retired from service. Upon her retirement, she was bought by a private company and sailed to Long Beach, where she sits moored today. Over the last forty plus years, she has been owned by a number of companies, and been used for a variety of things. Perhaps because of the numerous changes in ownership; or perhaps because she is moored in the port of Long Beach, the Queen Mary is not something that has been as well-known as many other Southern California tourist attractions. As a matter of fact, when I suggested visiting the Queen Mary to @losadventura, she mentioned that she was excited to go, because she had never been – even though she was a native Southern Californian!
While the Queen Mary is an obscure destination for many, the Queen Mary is popular destination for ghost hunters, ghost aficionados, and members of the general public seeking a good scare. Since its mooring in Long Beach in 1968, the Queen Mary has been rumored to be one of the top three haunted destinations in Southern California (the other two being the Whaley House in San Diego, and the Mission Inn in Riverside). In terms of facts, during the ship’s tenure as a passenger liner, it is true that forty-nine people died aboard the ship over a thirty year period. And, it is worth noting that during World War II, the Queen Mary also collided with another ship, the HMS Curacoa, which caused over two hundred people to die. Finally, in terms of complete disclosure, no one knows how many soldiers died on the Queen Mary during the war. But, if you do the math, that’s around 300 people that died in or around the ship in a 78 year period, or roughly, 3.84 deaths per year that the ship has been in existence. These numbers sound even less impressive when you realize that during the war alone, the ship transported 756,429 soldiers! Despite a track record of massive deaths, the Queen Mary is constantly rated as not just one of the most haunted destinations in Southern California, but as one of the Top 10 Haunted Places in the United States.
The Ship/Hotel: Since we are B-Grade Horror Movie experts, and generally curious people, @losadventura and I decided to head up to the Queen Mary to see if we could find any evidence of ghosts, ghouls, zombies, vampires, or anything supernatural at all. In order to get the full experience, we decided to go on the Paranormal Investigation Tour. As these tours are only offered Friday-Sunday at 11 P.M., and run between 2-3 hours in length, we decided to double down on trying to see ghosts, and also got a room for the night at the hotel which comprises a majority of the ship today.
Although I had no trouble obtaining reservations for either the tour or the hotel online, the first thing I learned upon check-in was that if I truly wanted to see ghosts in my hotel room, I should have called the hotel personally. The reason for this is that the hotel on the ship has a list of “haunted” rooms. I am not kidding. The concierge showed me a list of rooms that have been deemed “haunted” either by: a) hotel guests; or b) hotel staff; or c) both. While some of the reasons on the list seemed flimsy to me (“room had eerie cold spots), other rooms on the list had more ominous “verified” phenomena (moving fixtures; evil voices). However, the point being, if you are into possibly experiencing a haunted hotel room with purported bona fide ghosts, the hotel is ready to accommodate your needs – provided you call ahead, because these rooms are the most popular, and not available to random internet bookings such as myself, or walk up guests. As we had a normal room, all I’m going to say about it is that it was cool to stay on a classic ocean liner – but nothing supernatural was in the room.
The Tour: After we checked in to our room, and found no ghosts, we walked the ship in the waning hours of the day. While we had a great time exploring the Queen Mary – and I think that this is where the ship shines, in allowing access to a bulk of its areas – we again found no ghosts. By the time 11 p.m. rolled around, I think we were not only ready to see a ghost – or anything – we were almost expecting it. After a brief introduction to the tour – what it was, and what we would be doing, we were lead down to the engine room portion of the ship. The first “haunted” area? Compartment 13, a watertight compartment door where a crewman had been crushed. While engine rooms are inherently scary; and there are still many strange noises down there despite the engines being removed, nothing visited our group as we cajoled the ghost – or his friends. From there, we continued on, into the area where the steam boilers for the ship used to exist.
Now, a word about scope. The Queen Mary is a large ship, and when I describe it to people without photos, I always reference the movie Titanic – because that is the size we are talking about. The boiler rooms are huge, cavernous things, and most of all they are dark and creepy. We were told that one of the crewmen – a large, unpleasant man with a beard – was basically boiled alive at one point during the ship’s tenure by some of the superheated steam being vented upon him; and of course, we were told that he still lingers there today. After being told this we were led into a very dark room where we were told to wait and look for things. During this time, I could see shadows playing on the walls outside where we were. These shadows looked like people walking around, which was a bit of an impossibility, as this is a closed area of the ship (especially at night), and because all of our group was in the room. Was this evidence of ghosts?!??! Possibly – or evidence of some really good trick lighting. The verdict was out on that occurrence to me – even though it convinced most of the group.
But what was strange was what happened to @losadventura. From the engine room on, she had been engaged in a running dialogue with any supernatural entities that were present – or not present. While I’m not going to get into what she was saying, what I will say was that she was “trash talking” the ghosts. Real paranormal investigators may debate whether such an idea is a good one or not; but that was her approach to seeing ghosts. Shortly after the shadows passed by, she leaped into me and yelled that I needed to stop brushing my beard against her face to freak her out. There were two problems with this comment: a) at the time I did not have a beard; and b) I did not do anything to freak her out. While I am a real practical joker, and I would have liked to have done something, this time, I did nothing. Correspondingly, this left the rest of the group believing that the only way something could have happened to her in the room was if the dead bearded crewman had come up and done that. (Cue dramatic music: dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnn!).
While the guide and the group were convinced, and @losadventura was convinced, I don’t know. What I will say from a factual standpoint is that the situation was unexpected, and as she was standing right next to me, I do know that no one snuck up on her. Other than that – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions (supernatural or otherwise). From there, we went to the First Class Swimming Pool, which given its state of disrepair was decidedly creepy. But, despite our best efforts, we did not see – or hear anything. At that point, after three hours, the tour was over, and we were left to leave – or in our case, return to our rooms.
If I am being honest, I am not sure we encountered anything supernatural at all on the tour. Having said that, the tour was an epic time, and one that I would recommend. It was a great way to learn about the boat; and an even better way to get to see portions of the boat that are normally off limits to the public (I particularly enjoyed seeing the pool area; even without ghosts). If you’re interested in history; and seeing portions of an old ship, this experience is for you – and if you’ve got even a passing interest in ghosts, who knows what you’ll see or not see – or what will follow you home depending on what you believe. (Ticket Information here).