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A visit to Queen Mary in Long Beach……

November 2, 2011

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Updates

Hello All

After a business trip to North America I found myself with a day to spare prior to boarding a flight home to England. A good excuse to go and pay my first visit to Queen Mary in Long Beach, California – and I am so glad I did. It was fascinating – and a story best told in pictures……..

Open Decks…you can really get a sense of what she must have been like from the wide open spaces and from the famous three red funnels. The funnels are so dominant when compared to our current fleet.

The Bridge …I found this fascinating. On the Queen Mary 2 Bridge we have carpets, tea and coffee facilities, heaps of technology, comfy chairs and enclosed bridge wings. Here on the Queen Mary – you slide back a heavy wooden door and move into a very sparse bridge. The controls are marvelous and just as you would expect them to be – gleaming with brass. It must have been freezing in those days – no wonder we see so many pictures of the officers in their thick coats.

Just behind the bridge are the senior officer cabins. Here I am sitting at the Captain’s desk, As I sat there I could not help thinking of the responsibility our Captains had in those days – in many ways the same responsibilities today but with so much less technology and information to guide them.

Engine Room… some of the areas down below are very well preserved. Just look at all the brass instruments – difficult o imagine the noise and steam that the crew had to put up with.

Propeller…there is one area where they have cut through the hull and you can see one of the original props in its rightful place.

Strange gym machines …very different top what you find today in Canyon Ranch on Queen Mary 2 – have a look at the rowing machine.

Beautiful cabins…here I am in a First Class cabin – and it is wonderful to be surrounded by so much polished wood. You can get a real sense of what it must have been like – this particular cabin had a small maid’s quarters.

Feeling at home in the bathrooms…in the UK there is a very famous bathroom manufacturer called ‘Shanks’ – or these days ‘Armitage Shanks’. The Shanks factory was based at Barrhead in Scotland and was started in the late 1800’s – going on to be one of the most famous bathroom names in the world. The Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and even QE2 was fitted out with many ‘Shanks’ baths, basins and toilets. So I thought it would be fun to share a picture of a ‘Shanks’ basin in a first class cabin on Queen Mary.

Actually – it was more than fun – it was quite an emotional and proud moment for me. It was one of my ancestors who started ‘Shanks’ in Barrhead in 1865 and my father  spent his whole career there and went on to be Chairman of the company. So I feel that as a Cunarder today I am able to have some personal links to the past – the past of two famous brands, two brands that serve customers in very different but invaluable ways.

The Verandah Restaurant…I was very pleased to be able to see this, it was the inspiration behind the new and very popular Verandah Restaurant on our new Queen Elizabeth. I was able to look at the original artwork. The artist had to renew some of the artwork – and in doing so left a very small but interesting signature mark of a small mouse – you can see it below.

Crows Nest..I am not sure if that is the right name for it but on the forward deck there is a look-out post. I am told that it was often used – and that as the ship would heave from side to side it must have been a very uncomfortable place to be – the crew on that watch certainly earned their keep.

Main first class dining room…here you can really get a sense of the scale of the public rooms and wonderful art deco designs. I was able to see one of the most famous pieces of Cunard art showing the transatlantic route. We have carefully copied this piece of art for the new Queen Elizabeth – but here I was looking at the real thing.

I found out that many if not all of the beautiful mirrors on board were made with a gentle pink tint of the glass. This was so that when guests looked at themselves – whilst feeling somewhat seasick and looking somewhat green – they saw themselves with a healthy pink glow on their cheeks – marvelous.

I was shown around the ship by the Captain and by a wonderful chap by the name of Everette Hoard. Everette has been associated with the ship for over 30 years and manages a very good memorabilia store on board Queen Mary. He is also one of the foremost collectors of Cunard memorabilia. I was struck by how proud he – and colleagues – are at being associated with such a historic ship. That is the same sense of pride that all of us lucky to be associated with the brand feel today. Everette asked me to sign his prized visitor’s book – and I was very happy to do so. Well done to Everette and all of those involved in Queen Mary – not last the city of Long Beach – for all they do to keep the spirit of Queen Mary so alive still today.

The Queen Mary is run as a hotel and conference centre. If you find yourself with time to spare in Los Angeles then it is well worth this trip down memory lane. I left enthused that – yet again – I had experienced another part of our proud history and determined to do everything I can with my colleagues to ensure the continued success of Cunard Line.

Best Regards


  1. Chris & Margaret Rose says:

    Hi Peter,
    As a little boy my parents took me to Southampton to see one of the Queen Mary sailings from the Ocean Terminal.
    Subsequently we took our two boys to Long Beach to visit, tour and enjoy Sunday Brunch on the Queen Mary.
    As you say in your blog, the pure sense of grandeur is awesome on her.
    Having sailed on Queen Elizabeth some of the likenesses are incredible!
    Great blog, many thanks
    Very best regards

  2. Kenneth Eden says:

    Dear Peter

    During my sailing out from San Pedro aboard the QUEEN VICTORIA, as this new marvel from Cunard Line made her way to sea, the QUEEN MARY was visible aport, her Cunard red stacks shining in the afternoon sun, snow capped peaks miles beyond.

    I have not visited the QUEEN MARY, however, I have seen countless photo essays, and your photos are wonderful, full of life and vitality. I would like to mention that you have captured scenes and sites that I had not seen before; outside entry to Verandah Grill, the mouse-signature, and the prop shot. Marvelous. This is a classic example of why such ships need preserving, to teach, to share their history.

    Keep up your slendid work with Cunard, you are a true asset to the line.


  3. David Burgess says:

    Of course, we could easily have a very similar facility here in Southampton, a Cunarder offering cabins providing pre-cruise accommodation as well as a visitor attraction / conference centre etc

    Hmm, now where on earth would we get hold of an old Cunarder for this purpose ???

    Clue; five letters D—-I

  4. Kenneth Eden says:

    HAH…..and what a perfect place for the old Cunarder, than Southampton. Imagine the packages, QUEEN MARY 2 and the “hotel” at Southampton, pre or post cruise! That could be the place for weddings, then, honeymoon on one of the new QUEENS! Its all too wonderful to think about.
    Now, where in the world is that old Cunarder – did somebody lose her?

    I like the clue – lets play a game of fill in the blanks!! LOL

  5. Fred Giese says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this wonderful blog. Have visited Queen Mary numerous times and enjoyed great meals aboard her in the restaurant. Will be in Anaheim for convention January 7 – 11, 2012 and specifically purchased air tickets for Saturday, so myself and my friends can have Sunday brunch on the Queen Mary. Even though I never had the opportunity to sail on her, my parents did and always spoke about the class she had. I have a book concerning her last cruise from Southampton to Long Beach and reread it every once in a while.

    We had the privilege to sail on a segment of Queen Mary 2 world cruise this past winter from Hong Kong to Dubai and especially enjoyed all the history concerning Cunard that was displayed throughout the ship. Fabulous tribute to the grand liners of the past.

    Still have and always will have a love affair with the QEII. Would be a dream come true if she was honored in Southampton liked Queen Mary is in Long Beach. She could provide a perfect opportunity for pre cruise and post cruise holidays, or just a getaway for a special occasion.

    Thanks for all the interesting blogs that you post.

  6. Roger Waterfall says:

    Good idea about that old Cunarder returning to the UK David
    BUT to Cunards spiritual home of LIVERPOOL!

    Great Blog Peter, I have visited Queen Mary twice. The first time she was being very well run, everything ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’. The second time she had changed hands and looked rather sorry for herself.
    It is good to see from your photos that everything seems to be back up to the expected standard.

    Is the Grey Goose, Howard Hughes aircraft, still next to her in Long Beach?

  7. sheila hedderick says:

    Hi Peter, I too visited Queen Mary back in 1990 and so started my love of all things Cunard, I have travelled on QE2,QM2,QV and QE and look forward to more voyages. I also agree with the comment from David Burgess after seeing QE2 in Dubai, what a waste….. sheila

  8. Peter Shanks says:

    Roger – the bubble buidling that used to house the ‘Grey Goose’ is still there , but is now used as a cruise terminal. I am not sure where the plane has gone. Thanks all for your responses on my Queen Mary visit. Best Regards. Peter

  9. Kenneth Eden says:

    Just a few ramblings on my part. Notice the Carnival cruise ship aft of the QUEEN MARY – how ’bout those excercise machines – believe it or not, those were similar to the ones I used on the SS FRANCE in the 1970′s! Liverpool, nice idea, however to capitalize on any ships success with other cruises departing the UK on a seriously regular basis, the port of Southampton is better suited – I know, I know, Liverpool is the oft forgetten port city. The train for sightseeing in to London is a short trip from Southampton.

    Incidently, the QUEN MARY recently underwent a MAJOR multi-million$ rennovation, and thusly, she sould sparkle.

    The QE2 deserves to retire to the UK. Maybe Carnival would like to do the honors?

  10. Hi Peter:

    Thank you for your great report & photos from Queen Mary.

    We first stayed on board her in 1976 when the hotel was a Hyatt. Our experience then was “magical” and we were privileged to dine at Sir Winston’s Restaurant, where I had my first taste of Cherries Jubilee. We stayed for 2 nts. and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

    Then in December 2009, we (my husband & I) returned for another stay on Queen Mary before boarding a cruise at San Pedro and it was still as fabulous as ever. We surveyed the new installation of flooring and carpet in the massive lower Ballroom and re-visited many of the old haunts from 1976.

    Congratulations to the new owners of Queen Mary for a job well done.

    Freda Cureton

  11. John & Joan Smith says:

    Thanks for the great photos Peter. We have visted QM1 three times in the last 5 years when in transit for QE2 or QM2.Long Beach is one of the best seaside spots in California & is a perfect US location for the ‘Old lady’. Always have lunch in their restaurant & always have their famous fish & chips meal which is near on the best we have ever eaten.Inexpensive by normal restaurant prices at around US$17.The gift shops onboard are fascinating & offer a wide range of merchandise at reasonable prices. DVD’S available too. We are going back again in 2012. Just back from an overseas trip & we heard on the grapevine that the QE2 is soon doing one last voyage from Dubai via the Mediterranean to Southampton. Any truth in the rumour? We did 15 voyages on her including the last world cruise sectors. She meant so much to so many folk – a home away from home.

  12. Beryl Moss says:

    a very interesting blog with fantastic photos. Have not been to Long Beach to visit this grand old lady of the sea but it brings back childhood memories of watching her sail from Southampton never thinking that one day I would also be priviledged to sail on a Cunard Queen. Now this has become a reality with several voyages on the current three Queens and looking forward to our 2012 cruises on both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. If the QE2 rumour is true it would be fantastic to see her again in Southampton and agree with the previous comments that she should remain in her home port of Southampton as a hotel and Visitor Centre.

  13. Andrew says:

    I love the Queen Mary. Whilst the public areas are all in relatively good condition, I’m concerned that there are so many parts of this great ship that are not being properly looked after. Would it not be wonderful to see this ship fully restored to its original glory?

  14. Mike says:

    I try to get down to the Queen Mary when ever I am in LA. Its such an amazing place to visit where you are able to step back in time. I agree that the ship could benefit from having many of its lost and important public rooms brought back and the ones that remain properly restored. And many of the original artifacts need better preservation. What an amazing experience it would be to see more of the ship as it would have looked on her maiden voyage, rather than after so many remodels and additions.

  15. Dan says:

    Great blog Peter, thank you. My wife and I live in Orange County and booked a crossing on the Queen Mary 2 the year of her launch. During my planning of the trip, I thought it would be great to spend a night on the Queen Mary, as we were leaving from LAX and then on to New York for 2 days before the crossing. It was a great way to bridge the times of both great ships and really get a sense of their character, as well as as true a guest experience as possible for both eras. We walked the decks, ate in the restaurant, stayed in a great cabin and then on to New York. (On a side note, my uncle served in WW2 and went to Europe on the Queen Mary when it was commissioned for troop transport)

    I lived in Europe for 5 years, have traveled extensively and have many great experiences throughout the world. That said, I’ll go wherever the Queen Mary 2 goes. That’s how she’s changed our view of travel. Thank you Cunard!

  16. Angela says:

    Spruce Goose the famous Hughes Flying Boat Airplane was moved to Mcminnville Oregon back in 1993 as a Tourist Attraction

  17. Kurt Von Wolfrom says:

    Long Beach is my hometown, and I will be visiting this coming weekend.I will take pictures,and post them on my facebook & twitter accounts my twitter is @theklb9 Thank you Mr. Shanks for taking the time to visit the great ship, and my hometown I hope you enjoyed your stay.

  18. John & Joan Smith says:

    A dear Cunard cruising friend of ours,a long term Long Beach resident told us that the Spruce Goose was moved to Oregon under big controversy.It was allegedly packed up & moved in the very early hours one morning without any prior knowledge or reason given to Long Beach authorities. She told us that local residents were furious over the transfer.

  19. Charles Jackson says:

    We stayed for two nights on Queen Mary in 1997 in a first class stateroom as illustrated in your blog.
    We were fascinated by the taps on the bathtub two of which which were disconnected for obvious reasons.
    You had the coice of hot seawater, cold seawater, fresh hot water and cold seawater whilst crossing the North Atlantic. The shower was absolutely fantastic, gushing out an absolute torrent of water. A very memorable experience

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