When my Uber driver dropped me off at the Queen Mary’s parking lot in Long Beach he shuddered and declared that he would not want to stay the night there.
Not because the ship didn’t look inviting (it does) or because he was afraid of being on the water. No, he was nervous because the Queen Mary is known as one of the most haunted hotels anywhere.
This didn’t deter me. I first visited the Queen Mary in Long Beach many years ago and loved the vibe of history, glamour, and mystery on this ship.
Ever since I had been wanting to return but somehow never managed to fit it into my itinerary. But on my recent trip to Southern California this finally changed – even better, I wasn’t only visiting for a couple of hours as a day guest but was staying overnight!
And staying overnight meant that it was the perfect opportunity to take part in the nightly Paranormal Walk Tour. As soon as I saw it on the list of offered tours I booked it even though it was a bit pricey.
So what was it like? What do you see and do on the Paranormal Walk Tour on the Queen Mary? Is it worth the money?
Some general info about my Paranormal Walk Review
I do a lot of research when planning my trips so I know how hard it can be to get detailed information. However, I also like to have a bit of a surprise left when I get there (or you might as well stay home).
To help you with my review no matter which camp you fall in I will split this review into two parts,
The first part gives a general overview of the Paranormal Walk Tour and what to expect but doesn’t contain many spoilers.
In the second part I will share quite a number of photos and information about what you actually see during the tour.
Just skip ahead to my final thoughts if you would rather not know all the details ahead of time!
The Queen Mary and its haunted history
The Queen Mary was originally built in the 1930s to serve as a Royal Mail Ship and ocean liner.
During her active duty, the ship served both as a regular passenger vessel and a troop transporter. Many famous people, from Winston Churchill to Queen Elizabeth II and from Audrey Hepburn to Bing Crosby, traveled across the ocean on her.
Not surprisingly, there is a deep sense of history on the ship. And it is equally little surprise that the ship has seen its fair share of drama and tragedy.
With drama and tragedy, ghosts and eerie events are not far behind. Consequently, the Queen Mary has featured in many documentaries about supernatural phenomena.
Since 1976 the Queen Mary is anchored in Long Beach and serves both as a hotel and a local attraction during the day.
What is the Paranormal Walk Tour?
There are various tours offered on the Queen Mary. Most take place during the day and focus on either technology, history, or the supernatural. At $25 (including ship admission) these one hour tours aren’t too much of an investment.
However, the ship also offers a Paranormal Tour in the evening for $55 (plus tax). This two hour walk visits areas that are not open to the general public and you hear all kinds of ghost stories and historical events.
How do I sign up for the Paranormal Walk Tour?
Though you could probably sign up on the day if there is any availability the Paranormal Walk Tours do sell out.
I recommend you pre-book your tour as soon as you know when you want to go. Booking is easy on the offical website for the Queen Mary.
How scary is the Paranormal Walk Tour?
I did not find the tour scary at all. I guess if you are nervous about ghosts (like my Uber driver) it may not be for you (I definitely would not go on a zombie tour) but you would likely know that beforehand.
Other than this it isn’t scary at all. At least on my visit the tour group was fairly big which does not lend itself to an eerie atmosphere.
Is the Paranormal Walk Tour appropriate for children?
It will depend on your child. Like mentioned above I did not think the tour scary so unless you child is quite sensitive or very young it should not be a problem.
However, I would think that most kids under the age of about 12 or 14 would find the tour fairly boring.
Unless your child has a specific interest in the Queen Mary or supernatural phenomena I would not recommend it.
Where do I check in for the Paranormal Walk Tour on the day?
I found the instructions in my email a bit confusing but it is actually very simple:
1. Get to the Queen Mary in Long Beach
While the Queen Mary can be reached easily by public transport from LA, I wouldn’t recommend taking the trip at night. And “night” comes early in Southern California – one of the things first-time visitors are often surprised by!
I would either drive there or take an Uber. Or even better do as I did and spend the night on board the ship. That way you can enjoy a tasty cocktail or two and really soak up the vibe of the ship at night.
2. Go to the first tower and check in at the bottom
Just show your ticket/inform them you are there for the Paranormal Walk Tour and they will send you to the elevators.
3. Make your way to the Promenade Deck
The Promenade Deck is on Elevator Level 4. If you get off at the wrong deck just take steps either up or down as needed.
4. Go to the Tour Center
If you get to the ship early to look around just check in at the Tour Center about 15 minutes before the start of your tour.
You will find the Tour Center not too far from the Observation Bar (it is clearly signposted).
5. Check in at the Tour Center
Check in at the Tour Center window. They will cross your name off a list and give you a wristband.
This wristband is quite important as it will be checked about a gazillion times during the tour to make sure no non-tour-guests sneak into the restricted rooms.
6. Wait for the start of your tour
Is the Paranormal Walk Tour physically challenging?
There is nothing difficult about the tour per se. However, it does take about two hours and you will walk along long hallways and go up and down steep steps.
It may not be for you if walking or steps are difficult for you.
What happens during the Paranormal Walk Tour?
An engaging tour guide will lead you around the ship and tell you about various ghostly encounters/reported sightings as well as some more about the history of the Queen Mary.
All in all, the tour takes about two hours. However, there is a 15 minute break about halfway through so the total time is closer to 2.5 hours.
This stop takes place at the Observation Bar. It is enough time to get a cocktail (though possibly not for sipping it leisurely) and/or to use the bathroom.
Do I have to buy something at the Observation Bar?
No. It is a cool bar with a great atmosphere but there is no need to get a drink if you don’t want one.
I decided to get myself a cocktail after the tour to enjoy it without having to rush.
If you do want to get a drink and enjoy sweet, fruity cocktails I can recommend the Missionary’s Downfall (bacardi superior, peach, lime, pineapple, honey, mint).
This is the only bathroom break during the tour. There are various bathrooms on the ship and you could probably go quickly and catch up if necessary but I recommend visiting the bathroom prior to the tour (there is a bathroom close to the Tour Center).
How many people are in the group?
Our tour group had 32 guests and I would assume that is about the limit. With that number it was still possible to see everything fairly well but it probably didn’t allow for a very spooky atmosphere to develop.
Is the Paranormal Walk Tour worth the price?
This will largely depend on what you expect of this tour.
The tour is well done and our tour guide did a very good job. You will visit various areas you would not be able to see without the tour, e.g. the bridge or the captain’s quarters.
During the tour other guests tend to attach themselves to the group. However, when one of the restricted rooms was visited our tour guide checked both wristbands and number of guests to make sure noone sneaked in.
So you really couldn’t see everything without the tour. Of course many of the places we visited are easily accessible for everyone.
To me, the tour was worth its money. It was educational and had some cool stories. I especially enjoyed seeing various off-limits rooms.
UPDATE GREY GHOST PROJECT
While writing this review I saw on the Queen Mary website that they are offering something called Grey Ghost Project. I do not remember seeing this when I was planning my trip (bummer) or I would have probably booked it.
At $125 it is pricey (I already thought the Paranormal Walk not cheap) but “you will join one of our resident rsearchers on their quest to document evidence of the paranormal onboard in some of the most supernaturally active locations” sounds fascinating!
Definitely a reason for me to return to the Queen Mary in the future!
So what do you see on this tour? – Spoilers ahead
I will give a short run-down of the main areas I remember. My brain is like a sieve so that basically means the areas I took pictures of. If you are planning to visit the Queen Mary soon you may want to skip right down to the Conclusion so not to get spoiled.
Also please note that the tour may change from day to day. What I saw may not be what you will see. Still, I would assume that my review will give you a fair idea of what to expect.
The Bridge of Queen Mary
Pretty much at the beginning you visit the Bridge of the Queen Mary as well as the – quite dark – map room.
Here you will hear about the ghostly specter of a former captain who can’t get over the fact that he never won the speed record for crossing the Atlantic.
Next up are the former quarters of the captain and officers. Sadly, parts of the Queen Mary are not in great shape so you will see buckets for collecting rain water etc. But this just adds to the overall spookiness.
Not everything on the Paranormal Walk Tour is spooky though.
The dayroom of the captain for example was the room where the captain would have cocktails with his most illustrious guests.
Considering all the famous people that have traveled on Queen Mary it is fascinating to think who all has been in this room. A real history lesson!
Similarly, the former nightclub isn’t so much about ghosts (though maybe I have just forgotten the story told) but about all the famous people that once spent their time here.
I did wish there had been furniture in this room or at least a replica of what it used to look like with waiters, musicians, furniture etc.
Spookily empty it was difficult to imagine what it would have felt like in its heyday.
Still, the murals were impressive and I loved the engraved glass wall.
For me, the Queens Room was a highlight of the tour. This was the offical lounge for the first class passengers.
It did embody luxury and a weird mix of different styles (notice the distinctive carpet!).
It also reminded me quite a bit of the Queens Room on my Canaries cruise on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. I guess Cunard ship styles don’t change that much!
The colored lights in the above picture aren’t ghostly specter but just spotlights – I think. They do look fairly spooky though.
And this mirror also doesn’t show a ghost but just me concentrating on taking pictures.
Still, you could imagine ghostly couples dancing to silent music deep in the night, similar to Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion.
I believe there is a white lady that has been seen twirling around on the dance floor. But at 9 pm no ghosts were present.
Short Break at Observation Bar
This was about the halfway point of our tour and time for a short break.
As mentioned above you can make a quick stop at the bathroom or enjoy a drink. If you have time either before or after the tour I would get a cocktail then and enjoy your drink.
However, if not you should definitely check out the bar during the break (there is also an outside area). The Observation Bar was my favorite place on the Queen Mary.
After passing several long hallways and various staircases we came to the “Deadly Steps”.
Apparently, this staircase was built at the wrong angle and in choppy waters turned into a death trap (or at least a safety hazard).
Luckily, with the Queen Mary anchored at Long Beach it was not difficult to conquer theses steps safely.
Queen Mary’s most haunted room – Room B340
Next there was some confusion with a room that had a door that would not unlock. I am not sure if that is part of the regular spiel or if indeed the way was barred (by a ghostly force?).
Either way our next major stop was room B 340 which is supposedly the most haunted room on the ship.
According to the guide, they tried to rent it out a couple of years ago at a premium price but guests were a bit overwhelmed by their experience.
True or not – who knows?
Looking around the room it seemed fairly ordinary and not too different from my own room on the Queen Mary (A 205).
Well, I had the smallest interior category so this one was nicer – it did have a large walk-in-closet, portholes and a sitting area but it was still fairly similar.
They had also outfit the room with a Quija board and crystals to make it more themed.
As the room is fairly small only half of the group got to go inside for a couple of minutes while the rest waited their turn.
Pro-Tip: Our tour guide chose one of the guests to unlock the door to B 340. If this is something that appeals to you, you can up your chances to be chosen by dressing in a Halloween/goth style (or by just being really into the experience).
Now there were no ghostly apparitions in the minute (the guide timed it) we were inside the room. On the other hand – if I was a ghost I probably also wouldn’t appear if 16 people are squeezed into the room.
The next stop was the isolation ward. Somehow I fell down at the job and hardly took any pictures here.
However, I did visit it earlier in the evening before the tour (it is open to the public). While it was interesting to hear some more stories and background information during the tour, it was actually spookier going there with just a couple of other nervous visitors at dusk than with a large organized group.
So if you are looking for some goosebumps try to visit the isolation ward prior to your tour on your own. Watch your steps though as it is pretty dark!
Here you will also find a list of all the people (passengers and crew) that have died on board the Queen Mary.
Some of those are connected to (ghost) stories you will hear during the tour.
The final stop was slightly disappointing as you are not allowed to enter the pool area. This was however noted on the website prior to booking.
Apparently, due to the saltwater in the pool it is one of the main vortexes for paranormal activitiy on the Queen Mary.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to see much of the pool through the windows. It is even harder to take a picture so I apologize for the blurriness.
I was a bit disappointed however we were told that the pool area is not safe. And as much as I would have liked a closer look I really didn’t want to fall through the rotting floor and end up an extra ghost on the Queen Mary!
End of Tour
Our tour ended around 10:30 pm. There was still time to get a cocktail at the Observation Bar before turning in (or heading home)
Final Thoughts about the Paranormal Walk on Queen Mary
All in all I had a great time on this tour. It can be challenging to find fun but safe evening activities as a solo traveler but the Queen Mary’s Paranormal Tour is perfect when traveling alone.
The main drawback was that the tour was not as spooky/eerie as I had expected. Moving in a largish group doesn’t lend itself to apparitions or even to just feeling creeped out.
The new (at least to me) Grey Ghost Project sounds like it might have been an even better choice for me.
But I definitely do not regret taking the Paranormal Walk Tour. It was very well done and engaging, we got to see various areas that are not usually accessible, and learned a lot of history about the ship and its ghosts.
I do highly recommend combining the Paranormal Walk with an overnight stay on the Queen Mary.
Not only won’t you have to worry about getting home at night but walking around the long hallways on your own is eerier than the tour can ever be.
You may wonder: Did I see any ghosts?
Well, no, but something did happen during my stay that has only happened once before to me on my recent travels.
I have spent a fair number of nights in hotels in the last couple of years and the Bodmin Jail Hotel (which must have ghosts if ghosts do indeed exist) and the Queen Mary are the only hotels in which my phone constantly reset to my European time zone!
Strange coincidence or ghostly mischief? Who knows?