She’s called the most haunted ship on the ocean, and long after the final traveler disembarked from her decks, she is now a tourist attraction of the highest caliber. Not only can you learn the history of this iconic ship while visiting her, but you can also experience the haunted happenings that have been rumored to occur on the vessel. 90 years after her maiden voyage, the Queen Mary sits off the dock in Long Beach and welcomes visitors to this day. Let’s explore her storied past and the tales of ghostly voyagers who never made it home. 

Legend says the name of the vessel was originally meant to be that of Queen Victoria, but when the financiers of the ship spoke to King George, they said they planned to name it for “the greatest Queen in British history.” The King replied, cheekily, “My wife, Queen Mary, will be delighted you are naming the ship after her.” and thus the name was decided by the White Star Line.


You may recognize the company that built the Queen Mary from the cultural zeitgeist surrounding the dark fate of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The White Star Line was an established and respectable company at the beginning of the 20th century, but the tragedies of both the Titanic and Brittanic made it necessary for them to merge with another company and become the Cunard-White Star Line. It was under their guidance that the Queen Mary was commissioned, with her maiden voyage across the Atlantic ocean in 1936.

The fate of the newly merged company depended on the success of the Mary, who was outfitted with the latest technologies not only for safety (she had plenty of lifeboats, just in case) but also for luxury and the wealthy passengers who booked cabins on the ship. It featured on-board swimming pools, kennels for the passengers’ dogs, beautiful and opulent dining rooms, and more to keep the passengers as content as possible on the month-long journey across the ocean. It even featured a staffed nursery and an on-board hospital, again; just in case. Voyagers felt at ease on the ship and appreciated the attention to detail in making each of them feel comfortable and safe. 

She could have been used for these extravagant trips across the waters of the Atlantic for her entire career, however fate would have a different path in mind for the RMS Queen Mary. At the outbreak of World War II, the ship was requisitioned by the British government, who used the ship to ferry soldiers. During this time, due to a new paint job, the ship was known as the “Grey Ghost.” The British government felt that the liner’s speed and remarkable agility would make it much harder for German U-boats to damage her, and they were right. A bounty was placed on the ship by the Axis powers, offering $250,000 to any submarine who could sink her. 

During this time, the boat was stripped of her elegant furnishings and made to hold thousands and thousands of passengers more than her original capacity of 2200. Throughout the duration of the war, she would carry a total 810,000 troops across multiple trips. The living conditions during this time were abysmal, with several soldiers passing of heat exhaustion with the lack of ventilation and the huge number of troops on the ship at any given time. 

It’s estimated that at least 47 people died on the ship during her tour of duty. The majority passed from natural causes, but two tragedies stick out among the rest. One young crew member was killed during a safety drill when one of the water-tight doors closed on him. Another unfortunate incident saw a man die from drinking what he believed was gin, but turned out to actually be cleaning fluid. Rumors fly about other deaths on the ship, including an unverified report of a chef being locked in an oven one night and cooked alive. There is no record of this death, however. The Mary is also said to be responsible for over 300 deaths during the war, including one tragic event when she struck the smaller ship, the HMS Curacao. The Queen Mary was unable to stop and rescue the crew, lest she put the soldiers on the ship in more danger. Many crew members died instantly, and still others died of hypothermia after being forced into the cold ocean waters. 

After her time serving the military and the end of the war, the RMS Queen Mary would undergo an extensive renovation. Gone were the military cots and austeur furnishings and the fine china and golden decor returned. She would relaunch as a luxury vessel again in 1947, with just as much comfort and elegance as she was known for before the war. Unfortunately, the advent of airplane travel cut the time of traveling across the ocean from a month to mere hours, and the popularity of ocean liners began to decline swiftly. In 1967, the Mary would embark on her final cruise, docking in Long Beach, California, where she is still moored to this day. 

Today, the ship is a destination for any tourist looking to experience a little bit of the luxury experienced during the height of the ocean liner popularity. She features three world-class restaurants and welcomes guests to stay in a floating hotel, just like passengers would have during her voyages. It’s a popular wedding and event venue, and welcomes visitors on tours daily. A new life and adventure for the aging Queen Mary continues, but many guests aboard have reported ghostly and unexplained phenomena on board. It’s estimated by tour guides that nearly 150 ghost sightings have been reported over the years, with many focused around the tragic deaths experienced on board the ship. 

One room on the Queen Mary, Stateroom B340, is considered by staff to be so haunted, many of them refuse to even enter the room. One of the rumors about this room is that a third-class passenger traveling in 1947 died under mysterious circumstances during one of its voyages. Ghostly reports only increased after its transformation into a hotel when the stateroom was combined with two others to offer a larger accommodation for hotel guests. Reports say guests have had their bedsheets ripped off in the middle of the night, some awaken to see a dark figure looming over them, and even the current captain refuses to enter Stateroom B340. Today, you can rent out the room for a night if you’re feeling brave enough. 

Three other paranormal hotspots have been reported, including the old first-class swimming pool where ghostly children are said to play, the boiler room, and of course the doorway where the unfortunate crew member was crushed to death. Legends say he appears to guests wearing blue overalls and may mistake him for another member of the modern day crew. Sometimes, he asks guests if they’ve seen his wrench, but when they turn away from the young man, he disappears into thin air. More reported activity is located throughout the ship, including the smell of perfume and cigars in dining halls, and ghostly wet footprints surrounding the decommissioned second-class swimming pool. 

Today, the ship is a huge tourist attraction and still floats peacefully in the Long Beach Harbor. Would you be brave enough to stay in the haunted Stateroom B340? Would you visit the door that took the life of a crew member? Some even claim to see ghostly bodies in the surrounding waters, maybe echos of those lost on the HMS Curacao. The haunting history of the RMS Queen Mary is alive today, and those wishing to experience the ghostly stories can book a haunted tour or one of their various seance events. Regardless of its ghostly inhabitants, the Queen Mary is an opulent marvel of the days of ocean liners and an echo of the tragedies of WWII. 

Discover more from GHOSTLANDIA

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading