Legendary Cruise Liner & Long Beach Landmark Is In Danger Of Sinking And Needs $23 Million In Repairs
She is an historic luxury liner, a landmark in the Los Angeles-area city of Long Beach and a point of pride and passion for many residents and especially former tour guides.
She has style and she has grace, even nearly 100 years after she first crossed the Atlantic.
But is the Queen Mary worth saving?
She is in danger of sinking. In order to save her, the city of Long Beach (which owns the ship) needs to immediately spend $23 million. And that’s only expected to last for two years. It already gave $20 million to the latest failed company that operated her and apparently did not make necessary repairs.
Back in 2017, a study showed the Queen actually needs $287 million in stern-to-keel repairs to keep her afloat. Without that, the study revealed, the hull could collapse. That would result in flooding and, well, in the terminology of ships, sink.
Since 1967, she has been a hotel and tourist attraction in Long Beach, CA. Mostly, tho, she is a financial drain on her host city as well as to several companies who have tried to make her a profitable business enterprise. The latest filed for bankruptcy protection in January.
But enough about her problems. The big question is this: is the once-mighty ship worth saving?
From an emotional standpoint, no question she is indeed. But from a financial standpoint it makes no sense.
She is a financial drain on those who get involved with her. Despite several efforts, no company has figured out exactly what to do with her. Sure, the rooms are used as a floating hotel but they are creeky and small (the bathtub, for instance, is curved up so much and so narrow that it hurts your feet to stand in it when taking a shower).
Her biggest problem to success, tho, is her location. She is across the harbor from the main “action” of Long Beach. There is also nothing else around her – no bars, restaurants, shopping, etc. Yes, there’s a free shuttle to downtown and lively Pine Ave., as well as a short ferry ride across the water, but getting to and from the Queen is simply not convenient to the main attractions of the city.
The Queen Mary, it has been proven for decades, cannot survive on her own. She needs other attractions and activities around her. If she were somehow towed across the bay into Rainbow Harbor then she might be a grand success. But even if it could be done, how much would that cost?
The emotional factor to save the ship is huge. The Queen tugs on that like a bow line in a choppy harbor, particularly for those who have worked as tour guides on her though the years.
And also for myself, who have heard those and current tour guides talk so passionately about the Queen.
On her decks have been kings and queens, celebrities and soldiers. I recall one guide telling a story of how the Queen Mary was the primary troop ship taking American solders across the Atlantic to fight the Nazis. She was so crowded, some soldiers were sleeping on the stairs and on the decks. As the guide was talking about this a veteran in the group pointed to some stairs and said, “I know; I slept right THERE.”
I can’t quite describe it or even put my finger on it but there is just something about the Queen Mary. If she were no longer in Long Beach, the city would lose a part of its personality. It would also lose its landmark, for the Queen Mary is to Long Beach was the sign is to Hollywood.
Tough call. Personally – and while it pains me to write this – I don’t think the never-ending costs are worth it. Nobody has been able to figure out quite what to do with her so she can be profitable.
As tough as it would be emotionally for the city to let go of the mental tethers, the only way to really save the Queen might be to scrap the Queen.
• The Queen Mary Is LA’s Most Overlooked Tourist Attraction