Jack gets me to talk about my one night stay on the Queen Mary earlier this year. Wonderful old ship, fun ghost tour and an experience I’ll keep with me for a long, long time. And yes, my straw hat makes another appearance.
As a man who writes about the paranormal (with a strong leaning towards ghosts) and has had a profound experience with the paranormal (an old hotel, alone, Barcelona, future blog), I couldn’t resist the chance to spend one night aboard the famed Queen Mary during a recent trip to Long Beach, CA. I won’t go into the history of this magnificent ship here, but there are plenty of places to bone up on it. And there is an equal, if not greater, number of places on the web to view the various hauntings aboard the retired vessel. Just You Tube away and you can spend a perfect, quiet evening creeping yourself out. Here’s one of the most compelling ones out there, showing diaphanous white figures moving about a corridor.
Despite its title as one of the most haunted places in the US, I went aboard, alone, with little expectations. I wanted to tour the ship during the daytime on my own, have a nice dinner in one of their fine restaurants, and take a paranormal walking tour that night. It was the perfect ending to a long week in California. My first impression when I pulled my car into the lot was that this ship is huge! We’re talking making-whales-look-like-teeny-ants huge. Because of its age, for some reason, I wasn’t expecting something quite as grand or as wonderfully preserved.
The weather all week had been overcast and drizzly, so I was happy to finally see blue, and dry, skies. I checked into my room, quickly dropped my bags onto the bed and headed back out into the sun so I could walk the various decks.
Before I go further, I need to say that my room was at the end of a very long corridor, and for my stay, I believe I was the only person checked in for that section of the deck. OK, that was a bit unsettling, even more so when I realized it was one of the very same corridors that people have experienced sounds of footsteps, voices and even fully body apparitions.
OK, back to my day and night. I made a quick stop to the coctail bar for a drink and something to eat, then spent the next three hours walking in and out of every corner of the ship open to the public. If I was ever going to describe a location as stately, this is the place. You can feel the weight of history in every nook and cranny of the Queen Mary. The energy of the millions of lives that have come and gone aboard her wooden decks lingers like heavy smoke. That’s not to say that I had any odd ‘psychic’ feelings. I actually felt very much at home and enjoyed learning about the ship’s past. At one point, I purchased my ticket for the paranormal walking tour of the ship that went from 8-10pm. I wanted to make sure I was wide awake for the tour, so I took a nap, had a nice dinner looking out at the bay, and waited midship for the tour to begin.
Now the fun begins! We had a crowd of about 20 people ranging in age from about 14 to 70, and an almost even mix of males to females (for all you satistic hounds out there). Our tour was given by two men. One, who led the tour and did most of the talking, and the other whose job was to walk behind the crowd so no one got lost. He was also there to escort people off the tour if they got so frightened, they couldn’t take another step. The man was built like Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still and looked kinda like those doctors from the Twilight Zone episode where the woman wants to be beautiful, which we find out is looking like some sort of phantom human/pig hybrid. I thought, OK, they’ve already gotten people spooked and we haven’t even taken our first step. Bravo!
We walked down into the bowels of the ship. We’re talking 30 feet below the water. It’s cold, dark as hell and otherworldly. Our first stop is one of the mechanical rooms where a sailor was supposedly crushed to death by a steel door. The tour guide pulls out metal divining rods and says this is how the spirits like to communicate. After a bit of coaxing, he gets the rods to move when he asks certain questions. He even asked it if it could point to anyone it might want to visit in their room that night. Wouldn’t you know it pointed right at me? And I was hanging in the back talking to Twilight Zone guy, well out of the line of sight. We walked into another part of the room and stayed silent for a while. Odd sounds and banging started chirping up from different corners of the room.
The guides seemed surprised by the level of activity here and commented that they hadn’t heard it this lively in months. As most of the crowd was paying attention to a little maglight they had brought (to see if a ghost would turn it on), I kept my attention to the top level of the room, which was where I thought most of the noises were emanating from. I saw a flash of shapeless, almost see-through brown zip across the ceiling. Assuming it was my eyes playing tricks on me, I kept it to myself. That was until Twilight Zone leaned into me and said, “Did you just see something race across there?” Before I could answer, the woman in front of me said, “It was kinda brown, right?” I agreed. That was my first chill of the night.
Next stop was the place everyone was itching to see. The famous pool. People have seen and heard the spirit of a little girl and an older woman here. (On a side note, an episode of the original Charlie’s Angels was filmed here, before the pool was shut down for good). The atmosphere in the pool area was heavy and I kept waiting to hear a little girl’s voice call out from the beyond. That was not to happen.
After the pool, we went to the changing area, which is said to contain a vortex to the other side. I stood on the vortex and only felt slightly claustrophobic because the area itself is cramped with a very low ceiling. Nothing fun to report there.We ended the tour by going to a purpotedly haunted room where no one is allowed to stay. I only felt a bit of sadness in the room. Maybe it was because it looked so desperately alone, like an outcast. After the tour, everyone was encouraged to explore further. The ship itself is open 24 hours a day, so anyone can come on board and poke around. I decided to hit the hay and hope the ghost from the defunct mechanical room would find someone else to haunt. As I said earlier, I’ve already had a ghostly encounter in a hotel room, and I don’t wish to repeat it. I did wake up very early the next day and walked the ship again, this time without anyone else about. I figured if I was going to see a ghost, this was the perfect time. Sadly, it was not to be, but not from lack of trying. I spent almost 2 hours skulking about and sitting in dark rooms. I came up with nada. As I checked out and got into my rental car, I thought, Did I really witness a ghost in the mechanical room? I’m still not sure. Maybe I did. That’s enough for now. How many of you have been on the Queen Mary? Did you take one of the ghost tours? Come on and share your experience so we can all sleep with the light on. For more on the paranormal, here’s a link to Forest of Shadows.