I grew up hearing about the RMS Queen Mary, a British passenger ship with an aura about her not unlike the RMS Titanic (but without the disaster tales). On my last visit to California, I promised myself I would make a trip to Long Beach and climb aboard. Why? After years of reading and writing about the ship, I wanted to see her for myself and to visit the first stop on The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.
For $29.95 I bought a “First Class Passport” for a day on the ship which included a self-guided audio tour and a behind the scenes tour of the Queen Mary on the “Glory Days” tour. (Although also included in the First Class Passport ticket, I ran out of time and never made it on the “Ghosts and Legends” tour or on the adjacent Russian submarine, the Scorpion.) The next day, my friend and I drove to Long Beach, parked, and walked toward the ship looming before us.
She is big. Longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, the Queen Mary is 1019.5 feet in length. She is tall. From her keel to her smokestack, the Queen Mary is 181 feet high, 49 feet above the water line. She is big enough that during her hey day she carried as many as 1,957 passengers on her 12 decks. For five days in September 1954, my mom and her friend, Rusty and Kit, were two of them.
The Queen Mary is also elegant. The tour took us to the ship’s ballroom and through the art deco bar. We peeked in at a first class cabin, now a hotel room.
After the tour, we wandered on deck, looking for the location where one of Rusty’s photos was taken.
We explored the souvenir shops, ate lunch in the Tea Room, and took the self-guided audio tour, finally finding a replica of a tourist or third class cabin, the cabin in which Rusty and Kit stayed during their 5 days aboard the ship.
If you go, allow yourself plenty of time to explore and to discover. You might even want to spend the night. And if you want to know more about what it was like to travel on the Queen Mary in 1954, read the book, The Tucker – Tyler Adventure.
Trip taken July 2013.