Visiting the permanently docked luxury liner The Queen Mary is a great vacation activity for anyone. There’s a lot more to do than you might expect though, and as with every other vacation activity, you can only get your time and money’s worth if you plan ahead. Here are ten things to know before you visit The Queen Mary about prices, tours, activities for different age groups and more.
1. You can stay aboard The Queen Mary in the ship’s hotel. It makes the perfect weekend getaway if you live nearby, especially if you’re looking for something romantic. The ship’s art deco design hearkens back to every Fred and Ginger movie, making it a great couples retreat. (Although, there will always be a steady stream of tourists and kids, so it may not offer the dignified movie scenario you picture.) Rates vary greatly according to the time of year, so they ask that you call to check prices. (1-877-342-0742)
2. There’s more than one tour to choose from. The Queen Mary offers a variety of tours. There’s the self-guided audio tour that I would highly recommend, this comes free with the price of admission. There’s also an escorted tour that walks you through the ship. But probably the most popular tour is the Ghosts and Legends of The Queen Mary tour. We bought a general admission ticket for $33.00 that included the Ghosts and Legends tour, the audio tour, access to the entire ship, Submarine Tour (We’ll get to that later…) and WWII tour. There are several combinations of events and tours offered at different prices. For example, just the submarine tour is about $10.00 for an adult ticket.
3. Special events may limit your access to The Queen Mary. The day we visited, there was a wedding in the ballroom that I had been counting on seeing. (For it’s appearance in my favorite X-Files episode “Triangle”.) The Queen Mary hosts a lot of weddings and anniversaries and corporate functions. The ship is huge, so you’ll always have plenty to see, but if you want to walk around the ballroom, the wedding chapel, or a specific restaurant then make sure to plan ahead by calling and asking what dates are booked.
4. Speaking of restaurants, there are plenty of restaurants onboard. There’s a casual deli, an elegant art deco lounge, and plenty of sit down dining. (Full catering too for those special events.) The variety of restaurants ensures that those visiting for just a day can grab lunch onboard so they don’t have to leave and lose their parking pass driving around to snag some fast food. Also, The Queen Mary offers so many activities that you will want to stay for as long as you can to get the most out of what you paid for your tickets. Of course, you can also pack some snacks in your purse or bag…but skip the cooler. They may frown upon that…
5. The ship is docked, but people sensitive to motion sickness can still feel the effects. If you or a member of your family gets nauseous at sea, just know that they may feel sick on The Queen Mary. Though the ship is permanently docked, you can still feel the motion of the waves as the ship rises and falls, rises and falls with the tide. If you or someone you know is really sensitive to this, I would recommend against staying in the ship’s hotel. We visited for about four hours and I did experience a minor amount of dizziness and nausea. But in all fairness, it had only been twelve hours or so since we de-boarded our plane.
6. There’s a Russian submarine docked next to The Queen Mary. It may seem like an odd pairing, but when you learn more about the history of The Queen Mary, it will all make sense. I happen to be a sucker for WWII history, so I was thrilled to see the sub. But you can also tour it if you want. However, the tour includes a lot of very tight spaces that may not be for anyone who feels claustrophobic easily. Like the Ghosts and Legends tour, there is some reenactment elements involved that may frighten little ones. Think twice before taking them on the tour and know that taking a stroller is impossible.
7. The Queen Mary is not very far from Anaheim and L.A. proper. If you’ve never been to L.A. before, the idea of driving on those famous California freeways can be intimidating. But Long Beach, where the Queen Mary is docked, is not very far from several other tourist attractions. The day we visited, we got up in our Anaheim hotel at 6:00 a.m., had breakfast, left at 7:00 and made it to The Queen Mary so early we had to walk around the parking lot and relax because we arrived before it even opened. (Getting to The Queen Mary is even easier if you have an iPhone with Goggle Maps installed.) In one day we were able to do The Queen Mary, Griffith Park, and Disney’s California Adventure. By the end of the day we were exhausted, but thrilled! If you make it all the way to Los Angeles for a vacation, you might as well put the pedal to the medal and enjoy it!
8. Prepare to pay for parking. This seems like a given nowadays, but remember to factor in the cost of parking. We paid about ten dollars for four hours. You snag a ticket on your way in and pay on your way out. It’s an easy procedure. Don’t let it stress you out, just factor in ten or twenty dollars depending on how long you want to stay.
9. Come with a camera. The Queen Mary offers countless photo opportunities. There are beautiful views of the coast, plenty of props, the bow and stern are open, you can walk right through the Captain’s and Steward’s cabins, the Engine Room and there are so many interesting nooks and crannies, interiors and exteriors, that you’ll want to snap away the whole time you’re onboard.
10. Research The Queen Mary’s showbiz connections to make your visit extra special for any film or TV fans in your family. Admittedly, my main motivation for going was the ship’s connections to film and television. One of the most intricate episodes of “The X-Files” was filmed there, full of long takes without cutting, and I wanted to walk the halls that Mulder and Scully walked. That’s not to mention all the legends of the silver screen that spent time onboard like Fred Astaire, Laurel and Hardy and so many more. If you’re into shows like “Ghost Adventures” or “Fact or Faked” (I prefer the debunking of “Fact of Faked” myself.) they’ve all been there chasing down the ship’s legendary ghost stories. Do a little bit of research before you visit The Queen Mary to unearth some showbiz connections and the visit will be just that much more special.