Believe it or not, it wasn't the grand allure of the luxurious Queen Mary ocean liner that prompted me to stay there recently. Nor was it the many historically fascinating facts attributed to its name.
No, the reason I went there, pure and simple, was because of the many rumors I had heard regarding the ship being haunted.
On a beautiful October morning, myself and my assistant, the lovely Ms. Anthropy, went for a drive from San Diego to Long Beach. Once we arrived and checked in, I must admit that I was immediately impressed not only by the size of the ship (it has an overall length of 1,019 feet, a height of 181 feet, and weighs roughly 81,237 tons) but also by its elegance. All the rooms and features, though slightly modernized, were essentially unchanged from the ship's glory days.
After a quick lunch, it was off to exploring for the both of us. The first part of the ship we chose to observe was the lower deck and engine rooms. For it was there in the engine room, in 1966, where a 18-year-old engineer by the name of John Pedder was crushed to death by a water-tight door during a fire drill.
Down in the darkened bowels of the ship, my eyes were focused not only on the massive equipment used to run such a vessel, but on every corner and crevice.
As is the case with every haunted site, apparitions can appear in the forms of roving shadows, transparent bodies, and just about anything out of the ordinary. I was looking out for them all. One fact that caught my attention was that although the ship was a world-renowned tourist attraction with over 400 rooms, not a soul was present in the bowels of the ship. Not even staff. And while I cannot recall exactly how long we were down there, it was definitely a few hours.
After we had looked over every possible angle of the engine room, we then went upstairs to the Promenade deck. It was here that we had the pleasure of taking a behind-the-scenes tour. During the tour, we were able to go to places on the ship that were blocked off from public view.
The tour was quite informative regarding the ship's history. Some of the many facts we picked up: During World War II, the Queen Mary was painted grey and converted to a troopship, carrying soldiers from New Zealand and Australia to Britain. Many movies were filmed on board, such as 1972's The Poseidon Adventure and 1979's S.O.S. Titanic. After the Queen Mary was officially retired in 1967, it was purchased by the city of Long Beach. All in all, roughly 50 people had died on the ship.
The tour guide took us to two of the most haunted sites on board: cabin B340, which is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a person who was murdered there, and the children's nursery, where people have reported hearing the phantom sounds of children playing.
After the tour, we took the liberty of exploring the rest of the ship. First came the deck. Walking to and from both sides, I really didn't notice anything except the breathtaking view of the city of Long Beach and architecture that could definitely rival the Titanic in terms of magnificence. Having dinner at the Promenade Cafe, we decided to do the rest of the exploring that night below deck – and on the witching hour, no less.
When the witching hour came, we left our room and started at the lowest point we were allowed. Level C. Walking the long halls, I couldn't help but notice how eerily similar the halls of the Queen Mary looked to Stanley Kubrick's movie The Shining. And just like the Engine room, not one soul was present, staff included.
As we walked, Ms. Anthropy would frequently notice cold pockets of air that couldn't be understood by either of us because the weather outside was warm. Knowing that there were several reports from past guests of seeing people dressed in 1930s attire, we both kept our eyes open. Unfortunately, neither of us witnessed any such spirits below deck.
Hours later, we both decided to call it a night. Inside the privacy of our room, as both of us carried on with our nightly rituals, something happened that I could not easily explain.
While I was in the bathroom, I heard Ms. Anthropy whisper quietly "Oh, thank you." When I came out to see who she was talking to, she responded with awe.
"Did you not just touch me on the shoulder?" she asked.
When I told her that it could not have possibly been me, she looked up strangely and then back at me. That was a very odd reaction indeed coming from her because she usually regards herself a supreme skeptic. As a result, perhaps – just perhaps – she's like me now. A believer.
As daylight came the next morning, we duly packed all our things and said our goodbyes to the Queen Mary. And while usually our trips home from searching for the paranormal are spent quite reserved, this time we had plenty to talk about.