Onboard the Queen Mary:

A Californian Ghost?



If you ever have the opportunity to stay overnight on the Queen Mary, the grandest of the old Transatlantic luxury cruise ships and currently a high-end floating hotel and tourist attraction docked in Long Beach, California, you may find yourself awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. Upon answering, you may also find yourself mystified when there’s no one on the other end…and that may mean you’ve just encountered one of the many spirits who are said to remain as permanent guests of the legendary ship, considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in the world.

The Queen Mary was at one time the be-all and end-all of luxury ocean travel. Construction on the 1000-ft long, 60,000-ton vessel was begun in 1930, and after Depression-related construction delays eventually had her maiden voyage in 1936, serving as the ultimate in luxury travel across the Atlantic until 1939.

It seems fitting that the Queen Mary would end up as a floating residence for ghosts, considering that she was herself a “ghost” at one point in her illustrious life. In 1939, she was pressed into service as a troopship in WWII, and was repainted military gray, leading to her nickname of those years as “The Grey Ghost.” During those years, she carried tens of thousands of Allied troops to and from the European. She even participated in the D-Day invasion in 1944.

After the war and before her return to civilian service, she served in a particularly poignant capacity, bringing war brides and their children to the US from Europe. She was refurbished in 1947 and resumed her former life of elegance until her retirement from the high seas in 1967. At this point she was purchased by the City of Long Beach, and refurbished as a floating hotel and museum.

Over one hundred and fifty ghosts


The Queen Mary is said to be home to over 150 ghosts. Indeed, her reputation as a haunted ship is part of her allure as a tourist attraction; every year, a convention called “Ghostfest” is held on board the ship, with lectures from psychics and mediums, ghost tours, and other themed attractions. Of course, the main attractions of the weekend are the ghosts themselves.

There have been at least 49 confirmed deaths of sailors, staff and guests combined on board the ship since its launch. The engine room, located some 50 feet below the waterline, is a particular focus of the paranormal activity on the ship. The dangerous nature of this work has always led to the occasional death, and watertight door number 13 is documented as having crushed at least two men to death during the ship’s years in service. The most recent of these came in 1966 when an 18-year-old seaman was crushed by the massive door during routine duties. His bearded, coverall-wearing spirit is seen often near the door, walking through the adjacent corridors.

Other “guests” are seen on the ship near the now-closed swimming pools, where women clad in 1930s bathing suits are heard splashing about (and leaving wet footprints behind!) There’s Jackie, the young girl clutching her teddy bear, and the elegant woman sometimes seen dancing alone in her elegant white gown in the Queen’s Salon, once the first-class lounge. Other phenomena include the sudden changes in temperature and the sounds of crying from the former children’s playroom.


If you’re looking for ghosts in California, the Queen Mary offers you a chance to meet some, and to do it in style.



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