As someone who writes about luxury travel, the Queen Mary has always fascinated me. These days, every billionaire and multi-millionaire flies around in a Gulfstream private jet; it’s the ultimate in luxury travel. But before private jets, heck before commercial airline travel, a luxury ocean liner was the ultimate in luxury travel for the super rich of that time.
Luxury Travel by Ship
Did you know that on a ship like the Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio-level Third Class passage would cost about $1,000 in today’s money, but one of the First Class staterooms like Rose and her family traveled in, would cost more than $100,000. When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, Third Class cabins sold for about $2,500 and First Class would have cost you close to $10,000 on that same sailing. The prices are extreme, comparable to the cost of flying private today.
The Queen Mary
One of the world’s great ocean liners (ships specifically designed to carry passengers back and forth across the Atlantic) the Queen Mary was the epitome of luxury travel when she took her first trip across the Atlantic in 1936. Sadly, the coming of World War II a few years later ended the ship’s luxury travel service and started a very important period of troop transport. The ship’s large capacity, 16,000 troops compared with only 2,140 passengers, allowed it to move enture army divisions in a single voyage. By the time the war ended in 1945, airplanes had become the travel choice for the super rich and the era of the luxury liner had passed.
The ship continued offering transoceanic cruises and also started doing cruise ship circuits until she was retired in 1967. Her final cruise was to the city of Long Beach, who had purchased her to create a harborside hotel and entertainment complex. The ship, permanently moored to the dock, became a hotel but the surrounding entertainment complex (at one time to be developed by Disney) never really materialized. A stay at the Queen Mary Hotel allows you to have a truly immersive experience recalling the ship’s former glory days.
The Duke of Edinburgh Suite
The ship offers a range of accommodation from basic cabins to large suites. Sadly, most of the suites have been renovated over the years and lack a lot of the original, period details. One suite that retains a lot of originality is the Duke of Edinburgh suite, named for one of the ship’s more famous frequent travelers. You can watch a tour of the suite in the embedded video in this article.
Visiting the Ship
As of the writing of this article (July 2022), the ship (both the hotel and all public attractions) is currently closed for renovations with officials hoping to reopen to the public in the fall of 2022. You can park near the ship to take photos or you can walk there if you’re exploring the Long Beach seafront, which includes the Shoreline Village entertainment area.
Read more of Freddy Sherman’s take on travel on his Go World Travel Blog. You can also follow more of his adventures on his blog at luxuryfred.com, on his @luxuryfred Instagram feed and on his popular YouTube channel.