Note: The first part of the article about the the history of the RMS Queen Mary can be found here: Queen Mary.
Also, before I share the haunted RMS Queen Mary, I want to make two things clear. First, these are not all the reported ghosts that roam the RMS Queen Mary – to go into all of the ghost stories, it would take years, if not longer, so I’m only going to mention a couple of them. Second, these are my thoughts about some of the hauntings – I’m not saying that I can explain everything that happens in the old ship, but I do have a couple ideas in regards to events that happened during the tour that evening.
I was among the first to arrive for the tour. Growing up, I had read a number of books about the ghosts that reportedly haunt the retired liner and after watching the episode of Unsolved Mysteries that featured the RMS Queen Mary and its ghosts, I wanted to visit the ship. As I was waiting, I noticed the couple who was staying in the room across the hall from mine standing there. The couple introduced themselves as Bob and Sherry – they were from Virginia and at the time they were doing a haunted tour of the southwestern United States.
We compared notes of various places we both had visited and when they discovered I was from Pennsylvania, they shared some of their experiences from Gettysburg and the Eastern State Penitentiary. Our conversation was interrupted when the tour guide arrived dressed as a captain.
The tour started like any other tour with the guide telling us that many visitors have had heard mysterious noises and shadows throughout the ship. As the tour went on, I noticed there were a lot of strange banging noises in the lower portions of the ship. The vast majority of them sounded distant and I started to ignore them.
The guide continued to tell us that shadows were commonly spotted by those staying on the RMS Queen Mary, especially in the hallways and also in the underbelly of the ship. Something I noted and Bob and Sherry also mentioned was the length of the halls creates an optical illusion. We actually tried this and if a person is standing at one end of the ship and another person crosses the halls at a point over halfway the length of the ship, only the legs of the person walking can be seen. This is due to the center of the ship being lower than the bow and stern. While this does not exclude all sightings, it is enough to question this particular encounter. Also, the underbelly of the ship is filled with so many shadows that, if only caught out of the edge of the vision, can be mistaken for something else.
Despite our theory, our tour did experience a strange shadow. When we stopped at Watertight Door Number 13, the guide related the stories of John Pedder and John McKenzie who were both killed by the watertight door. Legend states that John McKenzie was murdered at this spot in 1942. McKenzie was hated by his fellow crew members. According to legend they held him by the arms and allowed him to be crushed to death by the door. John Pedder was just eighteen when he was caught and crushed by the door during a drill that happened in 1966. The ghost of a young, bearded man in overalls has been spotted roaming the area.
The tour guide finished telling us about the story of the two Johns and the group started moving toward the next stop when one of the ladies near the front of the group let out a scream of shock and disbelief, bringing our tour to an instant halt. She claimed she watched a black shadow – she described it as a flat, oval shadow the size of a basketball – slide across the floor in front of her. The group took a couple minutes to explore the area in search of the shadowy figure or a cause for the shadow, but we found nothing out of the ordinary. Although we found nothing, the lady’s reaction told us she did see something.
The tour included a stop at the First-Class Swimming Pool, which is said to be the most haunted spot on the ship. While in the pool area I saw something that I have dismissed as an interesting optical illusion due to the poor lighting of the room.
Our guide had us standing on the steps leading down to the pool while he was telling us about the legend of a person named Jackie and the history of the swimming pools that had been aboard the ship. Jackie had drowned in the Second-Class Swimming Pool, but when it was destroyed during one of the many renovations, her spirit seemed to take up residence in the area of the First-Class Swimming Pool.
As we were standing there, a greenish ball of light seemed to appear on the balcony directly in front of the doorway. I could see the light in the edge of my vision, but only when I was not looking directly at the spot where I thought the light was at.
After the tour was over, I was talking with Bob and Sherry and when I mentioned it, they said they had seen a light coming from the locker room entrance on the pool balcony. They agreed that it was not paranormal, but a trick of the poor lighting in the First-Class Swimming Pool.
At this point of the tour, I had dismissed the majority of the noises as having a logical source, but there was one noise I could not explain on the tour. We arrived at the Forward Cargo Hold which was used for rope storage and our tour guide began telling us about the incident when the RMS Queen Mary collided with the HMS Curacoa. The sound of men crying out for help, strange bangs, and the sound of rushing water have been reported in the area. As we were standing there listening to his story there was again the sound of metal on metal in the distance, but this time it sounded a lot closer than before.
Bob, who was standing roughly three feet to my right, asked about the cause of the banging noises. Our tour guide gave a nervous laugh and answered that maybe one of the victims of the HMS Curacoa was trying to get our attention. Bob laughed as he replied that they were going to have to do better than that. Before our guide could respond a loud noise echoed in the room. The noise, one I would compare to the sound of a metal wrench being dropped on the metal floor, sounded like it happened between Bob and myself, startling the entire group. There was nothing physically there to cause the noise we heard.
The tour guide summed it up well with his response of, “Now that was interesting.” Oddly, this was the only point in the tour I had a sense of unease. When we entered the room, it was much warmer than the rest of the ship and it had a “icky feeling in the air” which reminded me of a humid day. While this in itself is not paranormal and most likely had an explanation, it made the room very uncomfortable for those of us on the tour. This, with the mysterious banging sound, I was definitely ready to get out of this part of the ship.
We finished the tour after making a couple stops at other haunted locations, including the infamous B340, which is supposed to be the most haunted spot on the ship. Nothing out of the ordinary happened while we were there. Nor did anything happen on the two stairwells that are reportedly haunted.
We finished the tour and I walked back to my room with Bob and Sherry. We stood in the hall and quietly compared notes about the tour. At some point along the way, Sherry thought she had heard the sound of piano music. The two of them were among the first to enter the Queen’s Salon and as they entered, Sherry thought she heard faint music, but when nobody else said anything, she dismissed it as her imagination.
We finally called it a night, knowing her majesty gave me enough to think about and wonder on. When I left the next morning I knew if I was ever in Long Beach, California again, I knew where I would be staying. I continue to look forward to the next time I can revisit the historical, mysterious, RMS Queen Mary.