The momentous news that after years of closure and rumor the old ocean liner reopens was very welcome to after the ship had appeared doomed. With the departure of the last lease holder, the ship is ready to offer tours and hotels stays which is welcome news for the troubled Queen.
Launched in 1934, the former built-British ocean liner has been in Long Beach since 1967 following the end of her ocean-going career. The ship was in use as a museum, hotel, restaurant and event space before it was closed to the public in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This latest plan gained clarity from presentations and reports at a special two-hour Long Beach City council meeting in 2021, not long after the ship operators master lease was cancelled. A TV news report had speculated that at one point the City Council had looked at demolition for the aging ship, however it was clear that all options were laid out for cost analysis and demolition was not considered viable and would be incredibly expensive with little revenue side.
For the first time in 40 years the City of Long Beach was now back in charge of project Queen Mary. The Mayor and counsellors were presented with an astonish array of detailed reports and studies. A wave of clarity over the potential of the ship and adjacent properties was laid out in detail after years of rumor. The city quickly began reviewing the critical restoration the Queen Mary required, including the removal of the ship’s decaying lifeboats which were adding stress to the structure. Marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group was hired to evaluate the ship and reported that the Queen Mary needs $23 million in immediate repairs to prevent it from capsizing.
The 86-year-old ocean liner once in danger of sinking is ready to welcome the public again in a first phase of returning to her use.
The hotel reopened last month with over 200 former first-class rooms available as full suites, mini suites and deluxe staterooms in addition to the former first-class lounge, The Observation Bar and Chelsea Chowder House & Bar on promenade deck, port side, midship are now open.
The City of Long Beach had announced an annual membership program that would help fund the vessel. The membership gives the public the opportunity to directly have an impact on the preservation of the historic ship and stir up anticipation as it was being refitted. (membership or make a donation to the Long Beach Heritage site at lbheritage.org/queen-mary.)
The revival of the QUEEN MARY peeked my attention as I have a deep connection to the ship. As a child I had stood in the drizzle in Southampton watching her great bulk leave the port for the last time in 1967. It won’t be long before I will be onboard.