The Queen Mary survives COVID better than ever

I love history and knowing what happened to things of history that survive to the present day. One of the events I remember goes back to my youngest childhood years. My grandmother lived in a house on the New Jersey cliffs above the Hudson River that overlook New York Harbor. I spent many hours looking out over the river, watching the many ships that sailed by.

There were huge ocean liners, military ships, commercial liners, ferry boats and private yachts. It was a busy time, and I dreamed that one day perhaps I would be able to sail on one of the big liners. As it turned out, that was not to be, but I still was able to keep the dream alive.

As a little girl, I remember seeing the wrecked hulk of the SS Normandie. The classic liner was destroyed in an accidental fire, and the ship capsized and sank in the harbor, across the river from Grandma’s house. I have memories of seeing the ship lying on its side in the harbor and wondering what would become of the wreckage. As it turned out, attempts to refurbish the ship failed, and eventually it was scrapped – a sad ending to what had been a beautiful dream for the vessel.

Two other ships I recall seeing were the magnificent passenger liners, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary, both owned and operated by Cunard.

The Queen Elizabeth is long gone – having been retired, it was to be converted to a sea-going university. As it turned out, it was destroyed by fire and sank in 1972 during renovation in Hong Kong.

The Queen Mary, first launched in 1936, had better fortunes and in fact is seeing much success now, after having been closed to the public for the last two years. The ship has been in the California port of Long Beach for 55 years and has been a major tourist attraction for the area. There are tours of the ship, including areas that have histories of hauntings! In addition, it has all the amenities of a first-class resort – with a hotel, restaurants, bars, lounges, and other amenities.

The pandemic closed the Queen Mary, and during that time, attempts were made to handle the many repairs that needed attention. In addition to routine plumbing and electrical issues, it was determined that major renovations were needed, including structural repairs to prevent the ship from capsizing!. As it turned out, the ship was closed for a bit longer than originally projected, but now, after more than 2 years, the city says that the renovation should be completed by the end of the year and internal aesthetic projects, like painting and flooring, will be finished by early 2023.

Over the years, there have been several companies that handled the operation of the facility. At one point, the Walt Disney company had plans for an amusement park there, but that did not pan out.

The most recent lease operator, Eagle Hospitality Trust, filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on its lease. At that point, the City of Long Beach took control and actually considered sinking the ship to put an end to the issues it faced. It was estimated that would cost $190 million. At that point the city reconsidered. It was determined that if the ship were refurbished and reopened, it would pay for itself. Officials said the ship actually generates enough revenue through special events, filming opportunities and the regular attendance by tourists to cover regular maintenance.

So for people interested in seeing what a major ocean liner is like, the Queen Mary is finally open for business again.

Needless to say, it makes tourists happy, and it also makes historians happy that the liner was once again saved from demolition and its history will be maintained. It’s a look into the past at what luxury ocean travel was like.

It’s a dream I had but still haven’t been able to accomplish – but I can still dream, can’t I?!

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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