The Traveling Steve's

Fourth of July weekend – part Two

Woke up early aboard the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, as is normal when you gain 3 hours time coming from the East Coast the night before.DSC02905 As we were in the Eisenhower Suite, we had two separate bathrooms to shower up, which made it nice.

 

The facilities seem a bit dated by todays standards, but fortunately they left the original bath faucets in place for show.DSC02904 DSC02907

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the original bath faucet knobs are no longer operational, there are DSC029104 of them in the tub area: One each for Hot and Cold Salt water, and one each for Hot and Cold Freshwater.  A newer working shower and bath fixture was installed in the tub today, but it’s cool to imagine (no pun intended) how welcoming a hot bath would be on a cold Trans-Atlantic voyage back in it’s sailing days. There are also (now not operational) call buttons by the faucet knobs; one to summon your Steward and one for your Stewardess.  You can almost hear the requests of ‘Jeeves, please draw me a nice salt water bubble bath!’ from the  glorious and glamour days of yore.

After showering, Dos and I had the buffet breakfast in the Promenade Cafe, which is loaded appropriately on the Promenade Deck, one floor up from us.  Our Suite was in an ideal location on ‘Main Deck’, mid-ship, which made it convenient to many of the public rooms one level up.  We’ve stayed on the ship before, but I’m always amazed when looking down the long halls of the passenger corridors.  As the ship is over 1,000 feet long and made for Trans-Atlantic sailings (vs cruises of today), you can actually see the hallway curved slightly upwards at the end and downward in the middle, due to the give-and-take required of such a large and fast-moving ocean vessel.

The Carnival Inspiration was docked next to us, DSC02924so we walked off the ship and could see passengers both coming and going from the ship.  The ‘dome’ next to the Queen Mary (which previously held the Spruce Goose plane years ago) is now an embarkation/debarkation point for cruise ship passengers.  It has probably the longest gangway I’ve seen for a cruise ship.  While we couldn’t go in the Dome, it direly needs a bath; IMG_3531at least a few whacks with a pressure washer.  It’s not going to happen though, with the water shortage in California right now.

Just across the parking lot from the Queen Mary and Carnival ships, are a small village of Alpine looking stores, which unfortunately are all abandoned now.  I can’t say I remember what they used to be, although I do remember the cool architecture of the buildings.  Hopefully someone will invest and re-open these, especially since there are regular sailings by Carnival out of Long Beach.

We walked around the port area by the Queen Mary Hotel enjoying the beautiful and (compared to Florida) humid-free weather. Here is a photo of the ship, showing off it’s sharp-edged bow, graceful lines, funnels , and elaborate rigging.

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Directly in front of the Queen is Russian submarine Scorpion attraction, which was closed while we were there.  I had toured the submarine years ago (also permanently docked) and it’s quite claustrophobic and cramped, as you can imagine, as space being such a premium. Here is another pic of the submarine as seen from the Queen Mary looking down.

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Back on the ship, we walked around a bit before we took the included (as a hotel guest) self-guided audio tour.  We had done this previously, but it’s always nice to explore the nooks and crannies of this massive and historic vessel. Here are some pics of the different areas of the ship:

First up is a view of the bow looking down and forward, and below that is us down below at the bow of the ship.  No heliport pad in those days, but lots of rigging; huge crows nest – I can’t imagine climbing those roped ladders now, much less sailing across a stormy Atlantic.  If you look down at the first picture to the left, you can see weaponry left over from the ship’s combat days during World War 2.

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The hotel special events crew was already busy setting up for the Fourth of July festivities which would occur tomorrow, however for now the ship was quite quiet.

We had a late lunch in the Promenade Cafe, where we had a delicious salmon dish.  The Promenade Cafe is a very long room that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual setting.  The tables are arranged along the walls of the ship so you can view beautiful Long Beach harbor out the port holes.

After lunch we continued our self-guided tour and went down to the engine room, rumored to be haunted. DSC02971DSC02969 DSC02968 While we didn’t see any ghosts, the place is quite creepy, deep below the water line.  It’s amazing how massive this space is, which today’s cruise passengers would never see due to insurance and safety regulations.

One really cool thing to see was one of the ships propellers, which while still attached to the ship, was encased in a specially built underwater ‘room’ where you could look down and see the HUGE propeller.  DSC02539You actually walk a few steps along the walk way off the ship, thru the hull, to see the propeller still attached to the ship.

We love staying aboard and exploring the Queen Mary!  While a bit before our cruising, rather ‘crossing’ time, it’s a wonderful piece of history of the days of yore of TransAtlantic crossing (vs today’s cruising) that has largely been replaced by the airplane.  Yes, there are still regular crossings on the Queen Mary 2 and other Cunard ships, but for the most part the crossings these days are mainly repositioning voyages between the US and Europe, of which we’ve I’ve done three, and Dos has been on two with me.

Just using some imagination, (and assisted my the many photographs/posters all over the ship of celebrities, nobility etc) and you are transported back to a time when getting there was half the fun!  Compare that to the quick flights of today when everyone’s in a hurry.

The Queen Mary sailed on and off from 1936 until 1968, when she sailed into Long Beach to be permanently docked as a Hotel and tourist attraction.  You can read the history of the ship on Wikipedia or the hotel’s own web site.  During World War 2, she was actually converted to a troop ship, and fortunately was never sunk, although Hitler had put a $250k bounty on anyone that could sink her.  After the war, she transported thousands of soldiers and their ‘war brides’ back home.  On the ships self-guided tour, you can view sample war-time accommodations of the troops, as well as photos, and other memorabilia of that era.

You can also view the more glamorous days on the Queen Mary, before and after the war, when movie stars, celebrities, royalty and regular folk sailed aboard in one of three classes.  The tour shows sample room mock-ups of each class’s accommodations, as well as dining room setups as enjoyed by each separate class.  There are models of the ship showing the ship layout by class, and while all looked comfortable, First Class truly was ‘First Class’ and offered the utmost space and luxury of its day.

One thing I kept saying to Dos was how large the ship feels, even among today’s mega-liners.  I think part of it is the use of space; back then they didn’t push every square inch of space into cabins or revenue space, and there was plenty of wide open areas for strolling, wide hallways, deck space etc.  The bow of the ship is especially impressive due to the huge crows nest and rigging, plus the razor sharp bow in the front of the ship; important for barreling across the North Atlantic seas year-round.  Compare the front of the ship to today’s cruise ships; totally different design out of necessity – crossing vs cruising.

If you’ve ever crossed the North Atlantic sea, you know how rough it can be.  I’ve only done one northbound crossing (and two more gentle southbound crossings), but the northbound can be quite scary when the seas are rough.  The sailing we took was aboard Celebrity in September 2011, which is not the middle of the winter when it would be cold and icy (i.e. Titanic weather), but even then it was quite foggy at night, and I remember the ships fog horn going off every two minutes one night, making for a restless night.  I also remember going to the huge theater after dinner one night and maybe 50 people were in the 800 passenger theater!  It was so rough the poor lady singer had to sit down as she was tossed about on stage with the rough weather.  She was a trooper though, and still did her show – incredible talent, but felt bad for her the night she had to perform.

Considering the Queen Mary did 1001 Trans-Atlantic crossings in all kinds of weather, one can readily understand how the dining room went thru thousands of broken dishes every year as they were tossed about!  I kept thinking of our room; the Eisenhower Suite,DSC02906 how many parties and guests must have been entertained there over the years.  Once again I say, Oh if those walls could talk!

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Enough for now – we’ve walked for miles and it’s time for a quick nap!

And later for the next post  . . . dinner is served!

 

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