Image: Flickr/Trey Ratcliff
What’s going on at the docked Queen Mary? Plenty – and it’s all coming from long-deceased guests who never checked out, according to reports. Visitors report thumps, childish giggles, and heart-stopping apparitions.
Read on for a history of the ship, info on the annual Dark Harbor attraction, plus loads of spine-chilling ghost sighting tales to keep you up at night.
Long Beach, CA is home to creepy haunt, hotel and carnival Dark Harbor aboard the famous Queen Mary. What’s the story behind this mystery ship and its haunted reputation? Read on…and shiver.
Why is the Queen Mary Haunted?
When the Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage in 1936, she was the second largest cruise liner in the world, with almost twice the tonnage of the Titanic. Famous personalities from American actors to British royals were often seen enjoying its first class amenities while crossing the Atlantic from Southampton, UK to New York City.
The ship also saw service during World War II, but reverted to a passenger ship until 1967. The ship sailed to Long Beach, California, where it’s been a combination museum, hotel and tourist attraction ever since, with over 1.5 million visitors per year.
But all hasn’t all been smooth sailing aboard the Queen Mary. Crew are said to have seen 49 deaths onboard the vessel during its years of operation – including those of innocent children.
And while tragic all by themselves, the stories don’t end there.
A (Very) Extended Stay: Ghosts Roam the Queen Mary
The chilling part? Some of these visitors are said to have never checked out. The ghosts of the Queen Mary are so famous, signs have actually been installed within the ship to point out where ghosts have reportedly been spotted.
So, what are some of these stories that would make this ship one of the world’s foremost haunted attractions? Let’s take a hair-raising peek into the unearthly goings-on aboard the bloody Queen Mary.
The Grey Ghost
In World War II, the ship was painted grey as camouflage, and due to that and the fact it held the world record for speed at sea, it was nicknamed The Grey Ghost.
To avoid torpedoes, it sailed in a zig zag pattern, and once sliced through an escort warship that went off course, sinking it rapidly and drowning 338 of her 439 sailors.
Forty years later, a television crew accidentally left an audio recorder running overnight in the exact location where the collision happened – the tape played back sounds of pounding hands on a metal hull and noises of drowning sailors.
The Crushed Crewman
In 1966, a young seaman named John Peddar was crushed to death in the depths of Engine Room #13 during a drill. To this day, visitors report sightings of a young man in coveralls wandering around.
One story goes that a visitor felt something brush across his face while visiting the room, and later his wife noticed a streak of engine grease on his face. You’ll find dozens of such stories, with ethereal touches that have left their impression on frightened (and thrilled) visitors year after year.
According to insiders, there have been several reports of ghosts in the first class now-empty swimming pools aboard the ship, including bathers in 1930s era swimsuits. Visitors say they can sometimes hear the sounds of splashing, and many have seen wet footprints on the tile.
In the second class pool (long since converted into a theater), a little girl named Jackie is said to have drowned, and visitors can sometimes hear her calling piteously for her mother.
They’ve also heard Jackie’s innocent laughter and singing in the first class pool and have witnessed her shadowy form clutching a tattered teddy bear.
Little Spirits in the Playroom
The ship includes a children’s playroom and nursery, where visitors may hear children laughing and playing. In 1991, one passenger on a guided tour heard the sounds, but could only see the usual toys, games and books on the display. Then the doorknob began rattling, and the terrified tourist heard the sound of the door being kicked.
The woman quickly went to catch up with the rest of the tour group, but felt her purse and shirt constantly being tugged along the way. It seems someone needed a play companion.
A much darker spirit is that of a little infant named Leigh, who tragically died a few hours after birth (though not without the doctors trying in vain to save his innocent life.) Some ship guests can still hear the last wails of the baby while passing what was once the third-class playroom.
The Woman in White
A “regular” ghost seems to reside in the ship’s first class lounge – a beautiful woman in a white evening gown is often seen dancing alone within the shadows.
On one tour, a little girl, who had never heard of the sighting, kept pointing and asking about a “woman in white.” Nobody else saw the apparition, but the girl insisted she was there, and continued watching it dance.
A Lonely But Playful Girl
In 2000, a hotel service member was vacuuming the carpet in the Exhibit Hall when the temperature suddenly dropped. Turning around, he saw a little girl sucking her thumb and floating in the air.
The child then stretched her arms out, as if wanting to be picked up. Her eyes appeared to be glowing. Terrified, the crew member fled and reported the incident.
A few weeks later, while leaving the Grand Salon on R Deck, another cleaning crew member was pushing his mop and bucket. The bucket suddenly jammed, so the worker checked to see what was stopping the wheels. He felt a presence, and turned around to see a little girl in a white dress and white hat sucking her thumb.
As with the other sighting, the ghostly child was floating in mid-air and oddly, appeared to have no legs beneath her wispy gown. She floated away into the Grand Salon, where the doors had mysteriously shut (they were normally kept open). The doors swung out so powerfully, they knocked the employee to the floor. As he struggled to get back up, the worker heard the girl’s chillingly playful laughter recede in the distance.
The next day the worker checked the (open) doors, and realized they were much too heavy to be swung shut by one person.
Cabin B340 has had so much paranormal activity, it’s now closed for rentals. Previously, guests sleeping in the room were awakened in the night by lights turning on and off, water gushing suddenly from faucets, and covers being pulled off the beds. Other guests have heard an angry voice saying “Get out!”
There are two famous stories involving this cabin. The first is that in 1948 it was used as a holding cell for a deranged man who had been threatening his family. When the family visited later, the man flew into an inexplicable rage and murdered his 5-year old-daughter.
The second story involves a crew member who was murdered in the room in 1937; guests say that his ghost still resides there.
The Piano Player
One evening, a mother and daughter staying aboard the Queen Mary for the night were waiting for a friend to join them. The night wore on, until at at close to midnight, the daughter decided to sit at the lobby’sgrand piano, which had been constructed especially for the Queen Mary in the 1930’s.
The lid on the keyboard was down, but suddenly a tinkling, eerie melody emerged from beneath it.
Both the daughter and mother heard the spooky tune. The two wisely decided to wait for their friend on deck instead.
The Dark Harbor Haunt
Many people would list the Queen Mary as among the top world destinations for hauntings. To celebrate, the ship puts on a frightful Halloween bash every year. It features 7 mazes and attractions, as well as a complex for live entertainment, food and cocktails.
To enter the haunt, visitors must first pass through a 220 foot long, fog-shrouded tunnel of shipping containers containing ghouls and monsters. They then emerge at “Hell’s Bells Tower,” a 33-foot tower made of shipping containers and which shoots flames into the night sky.
Throughout the mazes, pyrotechnical and other spooky special effects keep visitors spooked and their skin crawling. Such attractions include “Containment” where the ship’s infirmary gets a bit sick, “Submerged” where it feels like you’re sinking (the ship almost sunk once due to a rogue wave on choppy seas), and “The Village of the Damned” where creatures attempt to make you their permanent residents.
The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is not to be missed for hardcore Halloween fans. Get more info here – and remember: don’t visit any area of the ship alone after midnight!