Once the grandest ocean liner in the world the 1,000 foot long, 81,000 ton Royal Mail Ship Queen Mary was built to capture the Blue Riband, (the record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean with the highest average speed). Launched in 1934 she took the record at an average speed of over 3o knots, before losing it to the French liner Normandie. Queen Mary retook and held both the Eastbound and Westbound records from 1938 until 1955 with average speeds of 31 knots, (35 mph).
The interior of the Queen is magnificently art deco. If you are interested in that style, or if you are interested in interior design at all, you will love wandering around the passenger areas, and don’t miss the magnificent bar towards the ship’s bow. Snacks and drinks are not so expensive in there.
During WWII the Queen Mary was painted grey, had all of her luxury fittings taken out and was used as a troop ship on the Atlantic run, carrying 15,000 troops at a time from the USA to England. She was so fast that she sailed alone, apart from one escort cruiser. Tragically, in October 1942, she ran down her escort HMS Curacao, cutting her in half without the huge Queen Mary feeling more than a slight shudder. Because the Queen Mary was forbidden to stop to render assistance some 240 of the Curacao’s crew lost their lives.
The Queen’s huge engineering spaces are fascinating. Even for those who don’t have an engineering background it gives you a view back into another age, when men were men and computerisation hadn’t even been thought of.
Some of the machinery is on a huge scale.
The Queen Mary is now at Long Beach in California and a stop to visit her makes a good day on any Californian road trip. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. If you like history, ships, engineering, or spooky ghostly stuff you will love to spend a day on the Queen Mary. Just visiting the propeller pool was spooky enough for me.
The Queen Mary is also a floating hotel with magnificent art deco staterooms. A midweek special isn’t very expensive. Booking on-line at http://www.queenmary.com/stay-aboard/stay-aboard/