Kids Guide to the RMS Queen Mary

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The RMS Queen Mary has held a special spot in our Family’s history since my Husband and I got married at the Long Beach Aquarium 10 years ago.  This beautiful ship is in the background of many of our wedding photos, so we thought it would be a perfect place to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

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The Queen Mary was built in the 1930s to be a luxury way to travel to and from England.  It was modeled after the Titanic which is why it looks so similar.  The ship played an influential role in WW2 transporting troops and coined the name “The Gray Ghost” since it was painted gray for camouflage and virtually undetectable.  After being transformed back into a luxury ship, she sailed for a number of years before being acquired by Long Beach in the late 1960s to be turned into a hotel and tourist attraction.

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When I told people that we were staying overnight at the Queen Mary, the number one response I got was, “Isn’t it haunted?”  Luckily, I didn’t know too many of the ghost story folklore, so I was able to enjoy our overnight stay untriggered (I am the biggest scaredy cat!).  More about it’s haunted history later!

We checked into our rooms after hours around 8:00 and we had the entire ship to explore!  The girls loved exploring the original corridors and historical staircases.  We found our way to the top of the ship and even crashed a wedding!  This was my favorite part of our entire stay because we got to experience the ship with zero crowds.  The photo above was in the model ship room where the tours met during the day.  The girls loved looking at everything at their leisure.

The next morning, we woke up early to explore the ship before the tours started for the day.  Our room had a working porthole and it was so peaceful to wake up to the sound of the tide and seagulls.  There were several fun photo spots throughout the ship!

We had the “Grand Passport” tour package which included The Glory Days Historical Tour, the Haunted Encounters tour, the Princess Diana exhibit, Winston Churchill war exhibit, and a 4-D Movie (on the day we went you could choose either Shark or Queen Mary).  Officer James was our tour guide for the Glory Days Historical tour and if you have the chance to tour with him, take it!  He has been with the Queen Mary for 14 years and kept the girls attention throughout the entire tour.  I was honestly super scared of the Haunted Encounters tour, especially since I heard that our tour guide Sean was known to be one of the spookiest.  The Haunted Encounters tour is NOT the same as the tours with special effects, and it is not meant to be scary at all.  I am pleased to say that Sean did not scare the girls (or me!) at all and did a great job about talking about the ghost folklore that the ship is known for.  There was one part of the the tour where you are taken through part of a maze that is used during Halloween during their haunted house season, but neither of the girls were afraid to walk through.

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A little note about tour packages.  Adult Admission to the boat is $32, and each tour is $10.  The Princess Diana exhibit is $10, and the 4D movie is $6, so with the Grand Passport, you are getting a $68 value for $45.  If you were to choose just one tour, I would definitely recommend the Glory Days History tour.  Since we took the tours after we explored the ship the night before, it gave me a whole new appreciation for this gorgeous ship.  I’m glad we chose to do the Haunted Encounters tour AFTER we stayed overnight, because I’m that type of person who will scare super easily.  Another thing to note that since this is a real ship from the 1930s, the walkways and staircases are narrow and not super stroller friendly.  If you can avoid bringing a stroller, I would leave it at home.  The girls loved being able to wander free by foot, and they were welcomed to sit on the carpet or floor during the tour presentations.

If you want to explore the ship for FREE (meaning, no $32 entry!), the Queen Mary offers “Free after 6” (blackout days apply).  This allows you to roam around the ship at your leisure.  There are 2 restaurants on board which offer fine dining as well as a historical Observation Bar which is seen in many Hollywood movies.  On top of getting in for Free after 6, your parking is also complimentary if you dine at one of their restaurants or spend at least $20 at the bar.  We ate ate the Promenade for lunch and the food was delicious!  The ambiance was perfect with the beautiful harbor views.

This was definitely a trip to remember!  The girls thought it was so special that they got to spend overnight on a real boat.  If you are looking for a summer getaway, the Queen Mary is a great choice.  With the blazing summer temperatures, the ship offers a wonderful climate controlled atmosphere away from the sun.  I would definitely recommend a hotel stay if you’d like to get the full Queen Mary experience.  Here is an approximate price breakdown:

  • a hotel stay for our family of 4 was about $250 after taxes and fees
  • if we did not stay at the hotel, it would have cost $32 per adult and $25 for kids 4-11.  My youngest was free since she is under 4.  It would have been $89 just to set foot on the ship to explore, so it isn’t much more to stay the night to take advantage of exploring the ship late at night and early in the morning before the crowds come.
  • our tour package was $45 per adult and a little cheaper for kids.  Each tour is about $10, so you can definitely choose which one you’d like to do.  However, if you’re paying $32 to come aboard the ship, and $10 for one tour, I would rather pay the extra $3 to experience all the tours the ship has to offer.
  • Another option is to stay at at the hotel, which also includes the $32 entrance fee.  This also allows you to buy the tour packages a la carte.  (So for our family, if we just wanted to do the Glory Days Tour and explore the ship, we would have paid about $250 for the hotel stay, and just $30 for the tour.
  • If you just want to explore the ship, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the “Free after 6” days.  This allows you to roam around the ship without a guide.  If you don’t eat at one of their restaurants, parking is around $20.  Parking is complimentary if you grab dinner or drinks on the ship.  This is a GREAT option for those who want a fun dinner out or a family evening activity.

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I documented our entire stay over on our instagram account http://www.instagram.com/LittleGrayThread under the “Queen Mary” highlights.  We are extremely thankful for this opportunity to review this beautiful ship!  Our stay and tours was hosted by the Queen Mary, but all reviews and opinions are my own.

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