The history of the luxury cruise liner, the Queen Mary has taken many twists over the decades since her inception in 1929, when the Cunard Line began construction on what they called Job #534. But they had grand ideas for Job #534 and needed a name that fit their aspirations and settled on the Queen Victoria. Being good Englishmen, they approached King George V for his blessing to name the ship after “England’s greatest queen.” According to legend, George V responded: “My wife will be delighted.” Wanting to keep their reputations and heads intact, the men quickly agreed. And that was that. The Queen Mary sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage in 1936 to the cheers of the crowds, including the ship’s namesake, Queen Mary herself.
For three years, the Queen Mary was the last word in luxury. She carried the likes of Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable and even set a speed record that she held for fourteen years. But in 1939, the Queen Mary was stripped of her glamour and painted a neutral gray color, reborn as a transport vessel for World War II. Due to her unusual stealth, speed, and color, the Queen Mary earned the nickname, “Grey Ghost,” appearing and disappearing without a trace. The Queen Mary carried thousands of passengers during the war and again set a record, this time for the most people on a ship: 16, 683.
But the story of the Grey Ghost would not be complete without the many mysteries and tragedies surrounding her many voyages. On one voyage, carrying 10,000 soldiers through enemy waters, she collided with her escort vessel, the HMS Curacoa, slicing it in half and leaving almost 300 men to drown. This and other tragedies on the ship have led to the Queen Mary becoming “haunted.” Despite being completely refitted for luxury in 1947 following the war, her days out at sea were over by 1967, when she was sold to a company in California. She now spends her days as a floating hotel where tourists pay to spend the night in her haunted quarters. The Queen Mary is commonly known today as one of the most haunted places in America with visitors reporting strange and unusual happenings within her luxurious rooms.
Written by Kimberly Kuntz
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