Waiting to Check In to the Queen Mary

We arrived around 2 p.m. and decided there was no harm in trying to check in two hours early. We explained this to the doorman and he waved us through. Unfortunately, one of the two elevators wasn't working, and the other elevator was slowwww. (Until it was fixed later that evening, we did several unexpected rounds on the stairmaster. I'm impressed someone would fix it late on a Saturday, though.)

Aside: You know how some people sneeze when they're in the sun? Well, I get a little sunburnt and it gives me a full-on cold. After sleeping and drizzling all day, I'm typing this with what feels like stretched, raw skin (that looks pretty normal), hoping the prescription-strength cold meds from last time send me to Wellville soon, mouth-breathing with disgust. I mention this so if the typed portion stops suddenly or becomes unusually incoherent, you'll know why.

The woman we saw at check-in on the third floor ("A" deck) was very nice and told us we could have a room now - port side. "Um, is that facing the harbour?" No, she shook her head sadly, but if we could wait an hour, she could set us up with a harbour view. "Still a deluxe king?" Yes. Okay, we'd wait. Harbour view!

We requested an H-view when making the reservations a few weeks ago (see how long I can keep a secret?), but the website is explicit that this isn't guaranteed. Both views cost the same, and the parking lot (and Port of Long Beach) view isn't bad, but harbour view really is the way to go. I found it interesting that rooms aren't assigned in advance (as they are at Disney World), or maybe ours was but she was wiggling around that to accommodate an early check-in. (I was impressed that would do that, and that she would seem so happy to do so. Hospitality - love it!)

She said she would "comp" us while we waited and we could explore the ship with the self-guided tour. (So note this: if your stay includes any fee-based tours, like ours included the Russian submarine parked next door, in theory you will be taking them between check-in at four and closing time at six, or else taking them the next day.) We practically skipped into the adjacent lobby bar; harbour view! Harbour view! A few peeks through the portholes/windows there, and we were up to the Main Deck, passing a guided tour group, and up again to the Promenade deck, which would soon be our favourite.

As we wandered for that hour, we already knew we'd be back again someday. "I could walk around this deck ten more times and still not soak it all in!" (For the fitness conscious, four loops around the Sun Deck, one deck up, is a mile.)

There was the bell:

The Ship's Bell

There were also pressed pennies! (Here is the first machine you see, on the port side. A little further down, walking east, are two more, but those had to wait until we had more change.)

Pressed Penny Machine

There were 1000 of these Victoria scales made, and 50 have been placed in California. This is #250. We saw #1?? and #7?? in Balboa a couple of days later.

Scale 250

(It isn't operational. I think I should still get a ribbon of bravery for hopping on. Well, putting part of a toe on.)

A wedding was getting ready in the chapel. Later we would pass trendy, well-dressed people hoofing across the parking lot with enormous gifts in both arms. I do wonder what this woman in the red dress brought.

Outside the Royal Wedding Chapel

The wedding was also to have jumbo doves. Do the doves come back after being released?

Slave Doves

The ship has a few of the (now removed from UK service) classic red British phoneboxes. You can see one over Mike's right shoulder here, on the port side of the promenade deck as you leave the covered area. It is empty and locked.

Mike, Stern (not Mike)

The view of Long Beach is great.

Fluffy Long Beach

The lifeboats, some of which do not appear to be seaworthy at all, seem to have been painted "shut" to the moorings.

Starboard Side

We didn't see the lifeboat demo, but here's a photo of a sign near where it takes place.


Two of the engine ventilation room-things have been converted to fast food places. (I learned this online.) I didn't notice the (supposedly long-closed) one on the port side, but here is the starboard side one, definitely closed and not appearing to be operational any time soon. Mike, still wanting to try a funnel cake at this point, makes the appropriate face.

There Will Be No Funnel Cake

Happy again:

Mike, Smokestack

The bridge you cross over:

Queensway Bridge

The bow:

The Bow

The less-exciting port view:

Port View

A model of the Queen Mary plowing through the Curacao - very sad. The only positive thing to come of this disaster is that I now know how to pronounce "Curacao." If I ever start drinking blue drinks again, I won't be thinking about the blue kuh-rah-ko at all.

Queen Mary Meets the Curacao

This display of menus over the decades made me think about how the "classy, wealthy" foods of lamb's kidneys and ox tongues (shown here as regular luncheon fare) surely have their roots in poorer times, when using every part of the animal was the frugal way to be. That, or they're elite because they're relatively rare (only two kidneys per lamb, only one tongue per ox - I hope.) Or maybe they're just delicious.

Menus over the Decades

This hardwood display (cropped so you don't have to look at my reflected purple-shirted gut) is original and neat. It shows all of the different hardwoods used on the ship.

A Selection of Hardwoods

There are several displays throughout the ship, such as this one showing galley tools:

Objects from the Galley

Or what you'd need if on the Sun deck:

Touristing on Deck

Or the how the ship could accommodate your kosher needs:

Meat Cups and Milk Cups

(I understand permanently separating dairy and meat, but is there a true need for a meat cup? Not a bowl, but a cup?)

The business center was under renovation, but the ad/display was cool:

Business Center Display

We slipped down a few decks and to the end (stern side) of the ship to look at the timeline and some models. We had to explain that we were waiting to check in, as apparently waving the little map the clerk gave us was not enough. Eventually the guard seemed to decide that we wouldn't make this stuff up, and we were allowed in. We only breezed through, as the hour was almost up, but we did take in the anchor:

Painted Anchor

(Another victim of White Paint Overload, but my restoration criticisms will be otherwise rare.)

The hour now past, we went to the car for our bags (yes, plural - snacks and bev and magazines  compromised my "always pack super-light" inclinations) and returned to check in at a little past three. There were a few couples ahead of us. I heard one clerk say they weren't too busy tonight as she checked in a man without a reservation. We got the same clerk, and when I asked about the Russian sub voucher she said, "you get allll the vouchers!" Oh?

So, as part of our Winter package ($169 on a Saturday) that was only advertised as including the Russian sub tour ($10 at the gate), we also got the Ghosts & Legends tour (always included), Behind the Scenes tour (you can have it or the WW II tour for $7 more with regular admission), World War II tour (see previous), and the Haunted Encounters tour ($3 more with regular admission, seems to preclude getting the last two tours). We also got a free breakfast for two which we could have in the Promenade Cafe or - wait for it - via Room Service.


And now, to see our deluxe stateroom with the king bed (just one notch down from a "Royalty Suite")...

20 March 2008 |


 We built a house. 

 Rabbits tolerate us. 

  We play modern board games.  

 I hunt the dead.