The Queen Mary, the grandest ocean liner ever built, has played many roles in her illustrious career. During the 1930s, she was hostess to the world's rich and famous; Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, David Niven, Mary Pickford, just to name a few. During her heyday, many considered her the only civilized way to travel. With the outbreak of World War II, the Queen Mary was transformed into a troopship overnight. By the end of the war, "The Grey Ghost," as she was fondly called, had carried more than 800,000 troops, traveled more than 600,000 miles and played a significant role in virtually every major Allied campaign. In February 1946 she began her "Bride and Baby Voyages" and transported more than 22,000 war brides and their children to the United States and Canada. She even set a standing record for the most passengers carried in one crossing - more than 16,000 troops and crew!
People sensitive to spirits may be creeped out - - perhaps best not to take young kids because of this.
Hallways are narrow and can cause claustrophobia.
My family loved our tour of the iconic Queen Mary, and although we had only slated a few hours to explore her passageways, decks, and boughs, we wished we had given ourselves a bit more time to see what she held in store.
Because we were short on time, we opted for a self-guided tour of the boat, following a map with ship highlights that led us through various important historic and prominent locations on the ship including the engine room (which my three girls found creepy), numerous ballrooms (which my girls loved imagining the scenes for), and recreated rooms that housed staff, crew, and even soldiers during the ship's service in WWII. We learned a ton of interesting facts about the ship's history through this self-guided discovery, although the majority of the information was conveyed on written signage.
I hope to return to the ship and follow along on a guided tour as there are many that suite the needs of a variety of families. The "Her Finest Hour" tour seems especially interesting as it follows the Queen Mary's role in WWII with specific activities that keep kids interested at many stops along the way.
In addition to tours (including ghostly and paranormal tours if your kiddos are brave-- we aren't!), the ship features numerous dining options, the working hotel where you can spend the night onboard, and special event opportunities. This travel-weary momma was ever so happy to find a Starbucks on the ship; it may not be original, but the caffeine pick-me-up was helpful during a long vacation. :)
- Parking for the Queen Mary is not cheap. Be sure to make the most of your visit by seeing and doing all that is in the area to maximize your parking fee.
- Bring an umbrella stroller. There are plenty of spaces where kids will happily climb inside to take a load off, and you can easily pick the stroller up while climbing sets of stairs. The entire boat is not accessible, so a heavy or large stroller is not recommended.
- Scared of ghosts? We were pleasantly relieved to see that the paranormal activity onboard isn't overstated. If you aren't interested in these facts, avoiding the tours will mostly suffice.
- Need a toddler-friendly break from touring? The model boatyard now features a LEGO replica of the Queen Mary and kids can even play in some LEGOs to try to recreate their own. Hurray!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary admission onboard the Queen Mary for the purpose of this tour. I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.
I toured this boat as a teenager, and just recently went back with my four kids. We didn't go inside, but enjoyed the majesty from the outside. There was a submarine, and a cruise ship to look at as well. There is a little vintage village that would be great for photo ops there, not sure what it is for, we went on a Sunday so maybe it wasn't open. We had fun and were there about an hour before they charged for parking.
Wow. For less than surrounding hotels we got to stay in a piece of history. Huge rooms with vintage fixtures, portholes for windows, and the kids got their own room! You would have thought we were on a cruise ! We toured the boat, relaxed on the chairs on the top deck, the tour of the engine room was amazing - I usually am not that interested in things like that. The radio room was very interesting also, and the man working there let the boys try out his equipment. Definitely want to go back !
I was honestly surprised at the beauty we found hidden inside this beautiful ship. We took a special tour with Commodore Everette who has his own special love of the Queen Mary after having served on her for many years.
Walking tours with audio headsets are available as well as special tours, which feature WW2 History, the Glory Days, and Ghost Tours. After our introduction to the ship by the Commodore, we took the WW2 Tour, which I will expand on in a moment. Our one disappointment was not getting to see the indoor swimming pool.
Our kids were with us, ages 13, 11, 7, and 5. The older boys listened with interest and found the tour engaging, although they were incredibly tired from walking all over the ship for about 2 ½ hours. The 7 and 5 year olds did not pay much attention but they found interest in looking in the windows at old rooms, looking over the edge of the ship, and lying on the floor during the tour. (yes, those kids were ours) For the most part, the railings are safe for kids, as long as they don’t climb up on them. A self-guided audio tour is probably the best bet for parents with young kids.
Our private tour with the Commodore took us to all the usual locations of the audio tour. We saw the first class dining room with it’s elegant paintings, we observed the sweep of the promenade deck, and heard stories of the boat being tossed by the waves and almost sweeping over the bow. The ship is filled with beautiful wood paneling from exquisite and rare woods from all over the world. It makes the inside rooms rather dark, but they seem full of stories from all the history that took place there. My favorite room to see was the Grand Salon which had an incredible map of the Atlantic Ocean on it’s western wall. There was a silver ship floating on the map so that while on a cruise, guests could visually see where on the Atlantic they were. An historic GPS! On Sundays guests can enjoy a brunch served in the Grand Salon.
We got to see inside one of the hotel suites and were impressed with the modern conveniences (TV, showers, etc.) but with the historic elements still in place (wood paneling, old fans not in use, and hot salt water faucets… although they don’t work anymore).
We joined the WW2 Tour with about 15 other tourists. The guide infused some corny humor that had some of us laughing, and he filled his tour with stories from the Queen Mary’s service during WW2. Most interesting were the stories he related of soldiers who were crowded onto the ship (16,000 of them on a ship that was built for 3,000) and found places to sleep under stairs or even in the drained pool. The ship served a very important function of bringing soldiers to Europe and was instrumental in turning the tide of the war.
Our best souvenirs we took from our visit (there are plenty of retail shops on board!) were 2 books filled with photos and maps from historical times. My kids might argue that they like the floating bathtub toy ships the best.
Bottom line: Visiting the Queen Mary is an impressive way to step back into history to see an incredible ship. It’s honestly hard not to think of the Titanic when you visit although QM was much bigger and built 20 years later. It is definitely worth a visit!
Special thanks to Commodore Everette for sharing his love of the Queen Mary and his stories with us. We were given complimentary tours for the purpose of sharing our experience. We were not asked to present a particular point of view and all opinions are our own.
My family has stayed on this ship every year for the past 3 years during President's Day weekend (Sat-Mon) to attend the Scottish Festival (my girls dance in a competition ages 6-9 now, but since they were 3 and 6).
If you are visiting for only one day there is a cost associated with parking and touring the ship. Guided tours are extra. Younger kids really won't be interested in much on the ship so I think 6 years and up is appropriate and the older the better. My 6 and 9 year old love to explore the ship and my 9 year old is especially fascinated wanting to read and learn all about the history. Keep in mind there is a LOT of walking involved. The ship is somewhat stroller friendly. There are elevators, but there are also many areas with only stairs and narrow walkways. It is an old ship afterall.
If you Stay Overnight:
Rooms: this is an old cruise ship and the rooms are not standard size hotel rooms. They are cruise ship size with variations. I have always only stayed in the deluxe room with a king size bed. Both my girls and I can sleep in it. If a 4th person comes (my husband and sister have switched off) we bring in a sleeping/camping pad and sleeping bag for floor.
This is an old ship and there are some new amenities such as beds and bedding, flat screen TVs, etc., but they also kept some original pieces in the rooms and bathrooms, which makes for a fun stay. There is cable TV with Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.This may have been a luxury cruise liner back in the day, but now it is somewhat run down, which I actually love! It's quirky and unique. The art deco style and woodworking is one-of-a-kind.
The cost is not cheap and it is a tourist attraction. I equate it to the Winchester House. Lots of random and endless hallways and corridors to explore really make it so much fun in my mind. I feel like a kid on that ship.
If you are going to spend the money you might as well pay extra and get an outside room with a porthole. Dockside is not as nice a view as looking at downtown Long Beach. The inside rooms have no windows and are VERY small.
Restaurants are okay, nothing special. Make sure to check the hours since some of the eateries are not open all day.
Decent food for all palates, most family friendly, children’s menu and nice view of Downtown Long Beach.
Explore, explore, explore
Next door is a cold war era Russian submarine called the Scorpion that can be toured for a fee.
unless you are going for a specific event, book during a non-event. We specifically stay there for the Scottish games and so do ALL the people involved, which means there are bagpipes and drums playing everywhere so you will hear them a lot! I expect this, but I have seen unsuspecting people spend the night not realizing this event is happening and the hotel staff does not warn the customers when booking, which means they are not happy campers at all.
Not the best service (this is a city run hotel)
Check in very slow on event day, rooms not ready as guranteed at four pm
Wi-Fi is not free
No coffee makers /microwaves/ refrigerators in room. You can pay $15 (per night) for a refrigerator. My kids are always hungry so I always bring a small cooler with snacks such as carrot sticks, yogurts, waters etc and just keep it filled with ice in my room.
BE VERY CAREFUL with children walking this ship especially the decks. On our last visit I witnessed a small child, quickly, crawl under a railing! It scared me to death and luckily the parents acted fast and grabbed him right away. There are many places for small children to drop off. Don’t leave them for a second.
Exploring, exploring, exploring! This is exciting for kids and hey I get excited about it, too! We love to explore the rooms and learn about the history of the ship. You have pretty much free reign of the ship if you are staying on it. Our favorites are the engine room, isolation ward, and the WWII history.
Travel Tip #1: I have found deals on Expedia and Priceline before (although sometimes they are non-refundable so make sure to read the fine print)
Travel Tip #2: It's worth mentioning again to double-check events being held on the ship during your stay if you are looking for a quiet time.
GHOST ALERT: There is ghost talk on the ship everywhere, which is part of the allure for many people. My oldest LOVES to read the ghost folklore and sightings and my 6 year old sort of loves it too; HOWEVER, they were both freaked out this year in our room when going to sleep. No matter how much I told them ghosts are not real; KIDS BELIEVE! :) Keep that in mind.
This is such a great experience! My kids were fascinated at the sight of a boat! They have so many things for everyone to do. We didn't know where to start. I love going here during the holidays because it has a different theme to it. I would recommend this to friends.
I really liked the Queen Mary Museum. It is a nice place to go with a kid. The ship is very big and it takes half a day to go around it. So be prepared to walk a lot. Be aware that the upper dock is very high from the water. So watch after your kids.
There is a self-guided audio tour. Although, small kids would not enjoy it too much. The view from the ship is awesome! In fact we were sitting on the deck and just looking at the harbor. There is also a exhibition “Ghost Ship” with lots of spooky effects.
This is more of a history buffs dream! I had fun when I was younger and visited this with grandma and grandpa. Over time they have changed it and sometimes have different happenings that make it a great nostalgic place to visit. Your toddler may find that this is a great ship to explore, it is simple and older now then the more modernized ships.
This was definitely nothing special - we had wanted to go for years and were really looking forward to it. We did the two haunted tours and no one in our party ( 16, 11, & 12 year old girls, my husband and me) were particularly impressed. The tours were a bit repetitive, and although one tour guide was funny and entertaining, the other was boring and dry as a bone. Probably the luck of the draw. The Queen Mary is also a bit run down and dingy, which surprised us a bit. My husband is a history buff, and even he was a bit let down. Probably the most entertaining part of the visit was the honest-to-goodenss ghost hunters in our tour groups, complete with special cameras and plans to spend the night in a "haunted room." Sadly, our group did not even get a glimpse of a ghostly presence....
My husband and I went to Los Angeles with our son, Caleb, when he was 10 months old. We decided to tour the Queen Mary as well as the submarine next to it. It was a lot of fun going from room to room and exploring on our own. We also took a guided tour and learned more about the ship. My favorite part was the map of the ship that told us what all the different rooms were for when it was in use. Surprisingly, our baby did great and was kept busy looking at everything we were. The ship is stroller accessible in most areas. I would recommend taking older kids in the future though, since there aren't too many hands on things for the little ones to do.
The submarine next door was really neat! It is not stroller accessible, so don't take little ones on it that can't walk and explore. When going through the sub, you get to explore the different rooms, see where the sailors sleep, see the equipment used on subs, and jump through the small openings going from one part to the other. :)
There is a lot for couples, a spa, shows, etc, and not a whole lot to interest young kids. We did have a special event to attend for the Champagne Sunday Brunch and the children's buffet was nice. Not someplace we'd have gone on our own, but we did enjoy ourselves.
The Queen Mary is one of the old luxury cruise liners, which has a storied history. Queen Mary first carried wealthy passengers transcontinental as one of the first "cruise" ships. Then, she carried troops during the war. It is a beautiful and amazing ship, kept in great condition and lots of historical detail. Its also rumored to be haunted.