Sunday, 29 June 2014

Famous Hauntings: RMS Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary is an ocean liner that sailed across the North Atlantic from 1936 until 1967 for the Cunard Line.  She was retired from service and left Southampton, England on 31st October 1967, arriving at her new home of Long Beach, California where she remains moored.  The ship is on the National Register of Historic Places.
RMS Queen Mary docked in Long Beach (Wikipedia)

History of the ship

The Queen Mary was built in the John Brown & Company Shipbuilding and Engineering shipyard on the River Clyde at Clydebank in Scotland.  Work began in 1930, was halted in 1931 due to the Great Depression and was completed in 1934, along with her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth.  The ship was named for Mary, consort of King George V.

The Queen Mary sailed her maiden voyage from Southampton on 27th May 1936, headed for New York.  On board facilities included two indoor swimming pools, beauty salons, a music studio, outdoor paddle tennis courts and dog kennels.  To keep the children occupied, there were nurseries, a library and a lecture hall.  The largest room was the first class main dining room, or grand salon, which was three stories high while the cabin class swimming pool was two decks in height.  She was the first ocean liner to have her own Jewish prayer room – proof of anti-racism at the time of Nazi Germany.

War record

Late August 1939 saw the Queen Mary returning from New York to Southampton with a battlecruiser escort, HMS Hood.  This was in light of the growing tensions that would lead to the outbreak of World War II.  In March 1940, the Queen Mary, along with the Queen Elizabeth and the Normandie, the three largest cruise liners in the world, were forced to sit idle due to the war. 

New York 1945 (Wikipedia)
It was decided to use them for troopships but during the outfitting, the Normandie was destroyed by fire.  Queen Mary was sent to Sydney, Australia where she brought Australian and New Zealand soldiers back to the UK.  Incidentally, at this time, her superstructure and funnels were painted navy grey to help camouflage her and she was given the nickname the Grey Ghost.

During a voyage in 1942, the ship accidentally sank one of her escorts, the light cruiser HMS Curacoa with the loss of 239 lives.  Later that year, she carried 16,082 American soldiers from New York to the UK, a standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one ship.  During the voyage, she was hit with a 92 ft. wave that nearly capsized her and calculations later estimated that she rolled 52 degrees and had she gone 3 degrees further, she would have capsized.  This incident was said to be the inspiration for the story The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico that was later made into a film.

Post War

The Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service between 1946-47 and with her sister ship, continued to dominate the transatlantic passenger trade in the 1940s and 1950s.  Passenger numbers began to drop with the first transatlantic jet crossing but through the 1960s both ships still averaged 1000 passengers per journey.  However, by 1965, the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss and both ships were forced to retire and sold off. 

When she retired, the Queen Mary had carried 2,112,000 passengers and sailed for 3,792,227 miles in her years of service, completing her 1,000th crossing of the North Atlantic to reach her new home.


The Queen Mary is now operated as a hotel and since the 1980s, there have been a score of reports of hauntings and strange happenings.  The floating hotel and museum that the ship now is has been called one of the most haunted places in the world with some estimates around 150 different ghosts on board.

The First Class Swimming Pool is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two women who both drowned in it at different times.  One dates from the 1930s while the other from the 1960s.  Ghostly wet footprints are often reported around the pool and the sounds of splashing water have been heard even though the pool is empty.  The dressing rooms associated with the pool have often been reported to have strange, negative vibes and be a portal for ghostly visitors to travel from one dimension to another.

A young girl nicknamed Jackie has been seen playing hide and seek in the area originally the second-class pool and singing nursery songs. 

The engine room is a particularly busy spot in ghostly terms.  It was used for the filming of The Poseidon Adventure film and at least two men have been killed by one single door in the room.  Door 13 has been said to have been crushed to death two men, the most recent in 1966 when an 18-year-old working on the crew was killed by it.  His ghost, in blue coveralls and with a beard, has been seen walking along Shaft Alley before vanishing through Door 13.

Grand Salon (Wikipedia)
The Queen’s Salon, the first class lounge, has the ghost of a young woman in a white evening gown who is seen dancing in the corner of the room.

A tall, dark haired man in 1930s style clothing has been seen in the first-class staterooms who may or may not be connected with reports of water running, lights turning on and off and phones ringing when no one is on the other end. 

In the third class children’s nursery, a baby crying is heard, believed to be an infant boy who died just after birth on the ship.

Across the ship, there have been reports of disembodied screams, phantom footsteps, sound and smells with no explanation and voices in empty rooms.


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