Celebration Of Maiden Voyage Includes Winston Churchill’s Great Grandson
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
The decks no longer have royalty and celebrities – or soldiers on their way to war – walking on them.
Although the great grandson of Winston Churchill strolled on them recently.
Randolph Churchill was part of the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary, one time queen of the seas, which now sits permanently berthed in Long Beach, CA.
I sure hope I look this good at 80.
The Queen Mary may no longer transport people and troops across the Atlantic, and she may look somewhat dated when sitting next to today’s tall and massive all-white cruise ships, but she retains a stately glory that makes her a piece of high-seas history.
Today, the Queen Mary is an attraction in Los Angeles and her staterooms are hotel rooms. Several events are hosted on her throughout the year (New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day are two of them), there are exhibitions of Princess Diana and now the artwork and belongings of Winston Churchill and there’s a weekly a Sunday champagne brunch in her first-class dining room.
On May 27, she turned 80 – her first voyage was out of England on that date in 1936 – and the ship’s executives brought in some of her past passengers, including war brides and World War II servicemen. While the Queen Mary was a luxurious ocean liner, she really earned her reputation transporting a whopping 800,000 allied soldiers across the Atlantic to fight Hitler in World War II.
And brought them back to America after the war.
BBC has produced a documentary on the history of the ship, which will air in America in August. It’s already been seen in Britain, and overnight ratings were higher than the ship’s 12 decks.
As opposed to today’s cruise ships, the Queen Mary was an open-ocean liner that made just one stop at a port, in Cherbourg, France. It was England to America (New York City) in the days before air travel. Now, cruise ships are as much about ports of call as they are about being on the water.
The Queen Mary may not travel anywhere anymore, but you can travel to Long Beach and see, board and explore her. At $27 it’s not cheap, but that does include one of the tours, and PubClub.com highly recommends the Glory Days Historical Tour.
If you’re lucky, as your guide you’ll get Commodore Everett Hoard, who serves as honorary captain of the Queen. He speaks glowingly of her, as if he sailed her himself all those years across the Atlantic.
The funniest story about the ship is how she got her name.
Cunard wanted to name her the Queen Victoria, and when the head of the cruise line went to King George to ask permission, he said “we have decided to name our new ship after England’s greatest queen,” meaning Queen Victoria, the King’s grandmother.
To which King George replied, “my wife (Queen Mary) will be delighted that you are naming the ship after her!”
“So Queen Mary it is,” the head of Cunard no doubt said to himself.
Queen Mary Long Beach Facts, Figures, Social Media & Address
• Length: 1,019.5 feet (about the same as today’s cruise ships)
• Decks: 12 (today’s liners have 16-18)
• Portholes: 2,000
• Top Speed: 33 mph (appx.; today’s cruise ships top out at around 28)
• Website: www.queenmary.com
• Twitter: @TheQueenMary
• Phone: (877) 342-0738
• Address: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA