Updated Queen Mary floating hotel partially reopens

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla catapulted the British royal family to the top of news this month.

But another “royal” has people talking in Southern California: the Queen Mary. The retired transatlantic cruise ship-turned-hotel, named after King Charles’ great-grandmother, reopened 100 staterooms for guests last weekend after being shuttered since the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020.

“Response to the reopening has been overwhelming. Reservations for the first week sold out quickly,” Jeff Nolte, the director of sales and marketing for the Queen Mary, told me during my one-night preopening stay. 

The Chelsea Chowder House and the Observatory Bar are reopened, and the rest of the ship’s public areas and its remaining 240-plus rooms and suites will be, as well, on June 8, when Nolte said the city of Long Beach will celebrate the venerable hotel’s grand reopening.

The front desk of the Queen Mary features a portrait of the queen herself.

Known for its stylish art deco interior and sleek nautical lines, the Queen Mary first crossed the Atlantic from Europe to the U.S. in 1936. It’s been moored here in Long Beach since 1967, when the city purchased the retired British ship from Cunard at auction and turned it into a floating hotel and historical attraction.

During the pandemic the hotel was shuttered, and the company that managed it for the city went into bankruptcy. Despite calls to abandon the ship, Long Beach decided to take over operations in 2021 and has pumped about $7 million into upgrades and improvements, Nolte said.

The Queen Mary’s popular historical, paranormal and educational tours resumed in April. Nolte said most tours have since been at or near capacity. 

“The entire staff is excited to be welcoming guests,” Nolte said. “A visit or an overnight stay on the Queen Mary is an experience, an opportunity to find out what life was like aboard a 1936 ocean liner. There’s nothing else like it the world.”

New bedding and bath products

Improvements include new beds in guestrooms, which have crisp, white comforters and royal blue pillows and bed skirts. New bath towels and British bath products from Gilchrist & Soames have been added in bathrooms, which also have been updated. 

The staff, many of whom are long-time employees, have carefully polished the luxurious wood paneling that covers walls throughout the ship. 

The lights of Long Beach viewed through a stateroom porthole on the Queen Mary.

Public areas also have been spruced up. The teak decking around the hotel has been resurfaced. 

A series of electrical and maintenance upgrades have included new boilers, bilge pumps and an emergency generator.

WiFi worked fine for me. There are no USB ports, so guests should remember to pack their plug adapters; there is no shortage of electrical outlets.

What remains unchanged on the Queen Mary is the feeling of stepping back into the glory days of ocean travel.
I was charmed by the ship from the moment I first glimpsed its iconic, candy red smokestacks and sleek black exterior on my preopening visit. 

During my overnight in a luxuriously appointed stateroom, I walked its narrow, dark paneled hallways and peered through my starboard portholes at the radiant lights of Long Beach across the bay. 

In the classy art deco bar at the bow of the ship, it’s easy to imagine yourself among the first-class patrons in long gowns and tuxedoes sharing frothy cocktails. 

Room rates range from $169 to $400 a night depending on the room and the date. The ship has rooms for meetings, banquets and weddings. Travel agent commissions will be paid on bookings after the grand opening June 8, according to Nolte.

Source: Read Full Article