What I write here, I am simply tossing out for your consideration.  This is an account of my own experience accompanied by photographs.  Both are open for whatever interpretation you care to give them.

The Queen Mary, the Cunard luxury liner that cruised the North Atlantic from 1936 to 1967, is now dry-docked in the harbor at Long Beach, California. She is a hotel, a conference center, a museum, and a “genuine haunted ship” (with her own paranormal research center).

It is said that the ship is home to about 150 separate ghosts, though I fail to see how anyone could actually ascertain that. But that factoid does add to the ambience of the ship. Actually, the ghosts legends have been turned into an on-board “Attraction,” complete with special effects and dramatic re-enactments of the hauntings. It is oh-so-Hollywood and has spoiled the place for real ghost-hunters who need peace and quiet to “feel the presences.”

Even though I am not a ghost-hunter or psychic, personally, I don’t care for the Attraction much either. There’s so much to be said about engaging the imagination and scaring yourself silly with a good old fashion ghost story —which is what I think happened to me a few years ago when I took one of the ship’s old “Ghost Tours” (before they made it an Attraction).

These tours (sans special effects and weird music) were simply a tour guide taking guests to all the supposedly haunted areas of the ship. There are certain areas of the ship where the hauntings are particularly pronounced. For example, we were taken to Cabin B340, which is no longer rented out by the hotel, because the cabin is subject to frequent poltergeist activity. When our group was toured through, I didn’t observe or feel anything unusual.

Another place of ghostly activity is the First Class Swimming Pool. It has been empty of water for more than 30 years, yet women and children in 1930’s bathing attire are frequently seen and heard around the pool. While we were taking the tour, we stood on the balcony overlooking the pool, in the dark, while the guide shared the spooky stories. (If you go to this image of the pool, you can see the railing where we standing). One of my friends, who is a photographer, had her camera with her. For some inexplicable reason, the flash unit on her camera unscrewed itself and fell from her camera over the railing and onto the deck of the pool. As you can see from the image that is quite a drop. The guide fetched her flash and amazingly it was not broken. Maybe she didn’t screw the attachment on properly? Maybe something broke its fall? We amused ourselves by speculating on the notion that a playful spirit was having fun with us.

However, the mood changed for me when we entered the Engine Room. The Engine Room had been completely gutted and was simply a huge empty space with a catwalk over it. During our tour, the guide stopped us on the catwalk and began to explain some of the history of this area. For example, during World War II, the Queen Mary had been used as a transport ship. It collided at sea with another ship resulting in the deaths of over 300 people. It is said that the ghosts of the dead sailors can be heard screaming in this area. Also, in the early 1960’s a young engine room technician had been crushed to death by the closing of a water-proof door. It is said that he is frequently seen walking to and fro on the catwalks in this area. As the guide was explaining this too us, I felt myself becoming more and more anxious. Perhaps it was just the power of suggestion, being in a dark creepy room hearing tales of gruesome deaths. All I knew is that I needed to get out of there fast and the guide was just taking too long!

Shortly after this the tour ended, but I still felt disconcerted and anxious. We left the ship, and proceeded to the Skorpion, an old Soviet Foxtrot submarine, also a museum, dry-docked and adjacent to the Queen Mary. (See the photo above). We started the self-guided tour of the craft, but shortly after we entered, I became overwhelmed with anxiety and had to leave the vessel. Did an entity follow me from the Queen Mary or was I merely having a claustrophobic episode caused by being on a very tiny submarine with a lot of tourists?

On another trip to the Queen Mary, just this past year, I and several friends went to Sunday Brunch in the Queen Mary’s Grand Salon, another reportedly haunted area. A “White Lady” is often seen dancing by herself when the Salon is empty. I brought my camera this time and took several pictures. Most of the pictures in the Grand Salon had orbs floating about. Below you will see some of the better one where I have circled the orbs in red. You might explain the orbs as pixilated dust particles or reflections from all the glass and brass; however, in the picture with the harpist at the far right you will see a beautiful brilliant blue-white orb—that just doesn’t look like dust or light.

So, a haunted ship, a tourist trap, overactive imaginations???— I leave it up to you to decide.

Happy Halloween, one and all!

Images and text: Lori Gloyd (c) 2006, revised 2007