The ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary, is as famous for her haunted history as she is for her past maritime career. This former transatlantic passenger ship has been permanently docked in Long Beach, CA, since her retirement in 1967. She is a hotel and museum but, according to visitors and staff, some of her former crew and passengers have never left. The ghostly history of the hauntings aboard the Queen Mary is a lasting part of her legacy and the focus of her year-round twilight tours.
A brief summary of her history sets the scene. Queen Mary was a luxurious ocean liner built by John Brown & Co. Ltd. In Clydebank, Glasgow, and owned by the Cunard-White Star Line. Her maiden voyage departed Southampton for New York City on May 27, 1936. Soon, the world’s rich and famous, from entertainers to government leaders, were crossing the Atlantic aboard the fastest ocean liner in the world. The upper-class clientele considered her to be the civilized way to travel. First-class passengers included Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Sir Winston Churchill.
The ship’s commercial crossings ended in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. She was transformed to carry troops overseas. Because of her new color and her speed, she became known as the “Gray Ghost.” By the end of the war, approximately 800,000 troops and 22,000 war brides and their children had made the voyage between Europe and North America aboard this ship. Her pre-war passenger liner luxury was restored and her cruises resumed in 1947 until her retirement after a distinguished career that had lasted 31 years.
According to the ship’s history, 49 deaths among passengers and crew occurred on board. Further paranormal investigations indicate that, as a hotel, she is haunted by a minimum of 130 spirits. One of the most active areas where ghosts have a history of haunting aboard the Queen Mary is near the First and Second Class swimming pools. The one in First Class has several female ghosts.
The pool in Second Class is haunted by an elderly woman and a little girl. The woman is said to be in her 60s or 70s and dressed in black and white. The little girl, whose name is Jackie, allegedly drowned while on a transatlantic crossing. Unlike the female ghosts in First Class, hotel workers have said the little girl shows up in other places on board the ship as well as the pool area in Second Class. Employees have heard the little girl splashing in the pool, giggling, and have seen wet footprints belonging to a small child from the pool to the changing room.
Certain cabins are said to have paranormal activity. Winston Churchill’s stateroom does not have any ghosts but some visitors claim they can still smell cigar smoke. Cabin B340 is not rented due to having its own ghost of one of the ship’s pursers who was murdered. Visitors have reported seeing faucets turn off and on by themselves and bed linens being tossed around the room. The Queen’s Salon and the First Class suites also have their own ghosts.
The hauntings are not reserved just for First and Second Class. The engine room of the Queen Mary is the site for the ghost of one of the crew members, John Pedder. There are different versions of the story but they have the same ending. Pedder was trapped and crushed when “Door No. 13,” a watertight door in “Shaft Alley,” closed. The old kitchen was another spot where one of the documented deaths took place. According to reports, World War II troops murdered the cook. The ship’s morgue is also subject to paranormal activity.
Whether curious visitors take the ghost reports seriously or enjoy a Halloween story any time of year, the paranormal tours offer historical and ghostly information. The recommended minimum age is for those who are at least 16 years old. Visitors are encouraged to bring cameras and any handheld investigatory equipment including digital voice recorders. Parts of the ship are not easily accessible due to her historical nature.
History tours, without the ghosts, are available daily as well. These focus on the ship, her construction, her service during and after World War II, and her speed records. She was awarded a trophy, known as the Blue Riband, for her speed in 1936 and 1938, averaging 30 knots and 31 knots respectively. It is the twilight tours that include the ghostly history and hauntings aboard the Queen Mary.
By Cynthia Collins
Top Photo credit: David Jones – Creative Commons License
Photo of Atlantic Map in Royal Salon by: Florian Boyd – Creative Commons license