The Great Destinations Radio Show enjoys finding unusual places for you to stay. And if you enjoying the glamour of the halcyon days of ocean cruising, but want to try it without setting sail, then this could be the place for you.
We spoke with Everette Hoard, the Commodore of The Queen Mary. She’s permanently docked in the city of Long Beach in California, near Los Angeles. And she’s been there since being retired from ocean service in 1967.
“She’s truly the ship of the last century,” says Everette, who clearly loves the vessel. If I owned a business I’d want to have a man like Everette at the helm. His passion and enthusiasm for the ship punctuates every sentence. He tells me that his wife calls the boat ‘the other woman.’
“The Queen Mary carries a remarkable legacy of her 31 years at sea, in war and peace, fairweather and foul,” Everette enthuses. The boat will never sail again – she was permanently disabled as part of the purchase agreement with the Cunard line. I guess that they don’t want competition.
The Queen Mary was known as a vessel fitted to the height of luxury and during her subsequent refit as a floating hotel, all 346 staterooms in the first class areas were retained. The ship is panelled with 56 different species of rare wood from all over the British Empire. People expect to see art deco design and that has been maintained. “It is one of the largest collections of art deco in one spot in the world,” says Everette.
I asked him how your stay would differ from a high-end hotel on land. “Well it is eighty years old and is afloat in salt water, so it will have a different feeling.” The Queen Mary’s four restaurants are famous for their champagne Sunday brunches and they love special events. “We have a Scots’ New Year’s Eve as well as art deco festivals where everybody dresses in beautiful period clothing,” says Everette.
They have ghost events too, where guests could experience the ‘unseen guests.’ “There’s something about Mary – she’s a little haunted,” Everett laughed. So does Everett believe in spirits? “I suppose I do after hanging around the ship for 35 years,” he says, adding, “Queen Mary is like any other town or city – people were born here and have died here.”
I asked Everett if he’s experienced anything strange. “I have heard people speak on one occasion. I’ve had one touch me and I’ve heard them breathe.” He recalls one experience clearly. “It was just after the 75th anniversary of the ship and at nine o’clock in the morning I heard a voice whisper, “I’m so cold. I’m so very, very cold.”
For most guests, this unique floating hotel is a one or two night stay when they visit Southern California. They also host about 250 weddings each year. It remains a ship that people retain a close affinity with throughout their lives, and maybe even afterwards!
There’s more information at QueenMary.com.
Listen to my full conversation with Everette here: