Considered the most haunted cruise ship in the world, the RMS Queen Mary is reportedly home to over 150 ghosts. During her decades of service both as an ocean liner and as a troopship in WWII, she carried more than three million passengers across the Atlantic. Have some of them never left?
According to the Queen Mary‘s passenger logbooks, 47 passengers have died on board. However, many more servicemen reportedly also met their ends on the ship.
Archivist Bill Winberg told the Los Angeles Times in 1988 that during her service in WWII “…there was a burial at sea every four hours. There also are stories of soldiers who would literally jump ship as the Queen Mary left New York and who knows how many of these people drowned or made it to shore.”
Whether or not you believe in ghosts (I put myself in the camp of “interested skeptics”), many visitors to the ship have reported unexplained noises, apparitions, disembodied voices, and more creepy phenomena.
Time Magazine even named the Queen Mary as one of the top 10 most haunted places in the world!
The Queen Mary, built in 1936 as a luxury ocean liner and the flagship of the Cunard Line, now has a permanent home in Long Beach, California since her retirement in 1967. The ship currently serves as a hotel and museum, hosting about 1.5 million visitors each year.
Note: The Queen Mary is currently (temporarily) closed due to the pandemic. I’m providing the following information as entertainment, as well as for inspiration to plan future travel.
RMS Queen Mary’s most famous ghosts
Over the years, thousands of visitors and staff have reported seeing apparitions, hearing unexplained noises, or experiencing other potentially paranormal phenomena.
Beginning in the early 1990s, ghost hunter and psychic medium Peter James spent many years conducting tours of the ship and allegedly communicating with its spirits.
Through his investigations, James was able to associate names with several of the entities. However, most don’t line up with actual known deaths aboard the ship.
Some of the spirits that reportedly haunt the ship include a “lady in white”, a former crewmember who disappears into thin air, and various playful children.
Let’s take a look at some of the most often encountered ghosts on this haunted cruise ship!
The entity sometimes called “Half Latch Harry” lurks in corridors and elevators near the engine room. Visitors to the area known as Shaft Alley sometimes report being followed by a bearded man in work overalls who disappears near door 13.
Other visitors to the area claim to hear unexplained banging on pipes, seeing greasy handprints appear on the walls, and even unseen hands grabbing their clothing or bags.
Could this be the ghost of a former crew member? In July 1966, a tragic accident resulted in the death of one of the ship’s firemen. Eighteen-year-old John Pedder was crushed between a watertight door and its frame. The door number? Thirteen.
Years after Pedder’s death, a tour guide on the Queen Mary reportedly felt an eerie presence behind her. As she turned around to see a young man standing there, the figure suddenly disappeared before her eyes.
Despite not knowing about Pedder’s story, the guide picked him out of a photo lineup as the man she had seen.
Although the fact that Pedder died in this area is well-documented, no one is sure of the cause. People have speculated that it was due to a game of “chicken” gone wrong, murder by his fellow crew, or just a freak accident. No witnesses ever came forward, so it remains a mystery.
A spirit known as “Dana” is a young girl who supposedly roams the halls of the Queen Mary. Visitors also report Dana haunting the archive and cargo areas of the ship, playing and hiding behind storage crates.
According to legend, a family of four occupying room B-474 met their end when the father strangled his wife and one of the children and left their lifeless bodies on the bed.
He then shot his remaining daughter in the bathroom, and took his own life. Many believe that daughter is Dana, who continues to haunt the ship to this day.
Is the awful story of the murder-suicide true? If it is, there’s certainly no record of it.
But the little lost spirit known as Dana may be the source of other ghostly goings-on. In the area that used to house the second-class pool, she heartbreakingly cries out for her mother.
The Woman by the Pool
One of the full-bodied apparitions that famously haunts the ship is The Woman by the Pool.
Adult-sized wet footprints and puddles sometimes appear along the edge of the first-class pool or near the changing room, announcing the imminent appearance of this specter.
Visitors describe the spirit as a woman in her late 20s or early 30s, wearing a 1930s-style swimsuit. The identity of this ghost remains a mystery, but she’s certainly enjoyed many refreshing swims over the past century, though the pool no longer contains any water.
The ghost known as John Henry may have been a member of the Queen Mary’s original construction crew in the 1930s. However, some think he was actually a young wannabe-sailor who lied about his age to get a job aboard the luxury ship.
Most believers do agree that the man perished in or near one of the ship’s boiler rooms, but the cause of his death is a matter of debate.
Although the area was later transformed into a dressing room for performers at the Boiler Room Stage, visitors to the former boiler room sometimes hear unexplained tapping and clanging on the wall. Some even claim spying a shadowy figure hanging out in the location, or a mysterious face peering down at them from a hole in the ceiling.
The spirit of John Henry is notorious for touching visitors, and he seems to like women more than men. Tales of unexplained pushing and grabbing of male guests are common. But some ladies report feeling a gentle hand brushing their cheek or hair. Creepy!
The most commonly recorded spirit on the Queen Mary, “Jacqueline Torin” or “Jackie” interacts with visitors in the first- and second-class pool areas.
This extroverted spirit is uncommonly playful with visitors, answering questions, laughing, and even singing songs when prompted. She often plaintively asks for her parents or her teddy bear.
Jackie’s ghost reportedly is also the source of splashing and giggling sounds coming from the first-class pool. Little wet footsteps made by invisible feet appear, heading in the direction of the locker room.
Did Jackie tragically drown in the second-class pool? Many believe she did, but no record exists of anyone drowning in a pool on the ship.
The Lady in White
Guests on ghost tours often recount stories of seeing a beautiful young woman in a white, 1930’s-style evening gown. Dancing in a corner of the Queen’s Cellar (formerly the first-class lounge), she’ll disappear before your eyes if you dare to approach her.
Others spot her standing by the piano in the lobby, the very same piano that reportedly used to entertain passengers in the lounge. Perhaps after listening to her fill of music from a bygone era, the Lady in White wanders down the hallway to the elevators, where she vanishes.
No one knows the true identity of this music-loving spirit. But unlike some of the more tragic ghosts on the ship, she appears to always enjoy herself. Maybe she’s a former passenger, returned to the ship to replay happy memories for all eternity?
Haunted Locations around the Queen Mary
In addition to haunted locations around the ship that believers attribute to a specific spirit or two, there’s one spot that’s just notoriously scary. Would you dare to venture near the most haunted room on the ship?
Many guest rooms on the Queen Mary have a history of hauntings. But of all the twelve decks on the ship, B deck seems to have the most reports of paranormal activity. The scariest room on all of B deck is undoubtedly B340.
Guests and staff often report strange noises, footsteps and phantom knocks on the door. But more terrifying are the stories of clothes hangers and furniture moving on their own, and faucets and lights turning on and off by an unseen hand. Some guests even report feeling the touch of a ghostly presence, or blankets being ripped off the bed in the middle of the night!
B340 was so notorious that hotel management closed the room in the mid-1980s and gutted it of all its furnishings. For thirty years, Room B340 remained off-limits to guests. But still, people staying in adjacent rooms reported unusual noises and even apparitions disappearing through their guest room walls…into Room B340.
Why so much ghostly activity in this particular room? One story says that a staff member was murdered in the room, but I haven’t found any evidence that this actually happened. Interestingly, the room is near the first class pool, an area notable for ghostly activity. Could Room B340 be a vortex or portal?
If you want to find out for yourself, Room B340 is now welcoming overnight guests again (well, maybe not quite welcoming).
You may also enjoy: The Historic (and Haunted) Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston
Visiting the Queen Mary
Whether you’re a fan of all things ghostly, a cruise ship enthusiast, or a history buff, consider visiting RMS Queen Mary if you’re planning to be in the Los Angeles area. The ship is 17.6 miles (28.3km) from LAX, and just 4.4 miles (7km) from Long Beach Airport.
The ship features a hotel, a shopping arcade, and three restaurants. A variety of tours and events take place each day.
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Ghost Tours of the Queen Mary
If you’re planning to visit during daylight hours, the Queen Mary offers daily hour-long ghost tours called Haunted Encounters. Tours are available from 11:30 AM until 6:30 PM, and run on the half-hour (hours may sometimes vary).
For the ultimate spooky experience, after-dark visitors have a variety of ghostly nighttime activities including a paranormal ship walk or a group dining experience followed by a haunted history tour.
Visitors with mobility challenges should be aware that some areas of the ship are inaccessible, and tours may include lots of stairs.
You can pre-purchase tickets before your visit from the ship’s ticket office.
Staying aboard the Queen Mary
Paranormal enthusiasts won’t want to miss a chance to stay overnight on the Queen Mary. The hotel features 347 original staterooms and suites, all located in the first-class section of the ship. Art Deco rooms range from Standard Staterooms with portholes (they actually open!) to full suites with separate living and sleeping areas and a breakfast nook.
If you’re planning a cruise that begins or ends in LA, Carnival’s cruise port is literally next door! Los Angeles World Cruise Center is also less than eight miles from the hotel, making it the perfect choice for your pre-or post-cruise accommodation.
Click here to check prices and availability for the Queen Mary Hotel.
You may also enjoy: The Story of the First Cruise Ship: SS Prinzessin Victoria Luise
Requesting a stay in Room B340
Want to stay in the most haunted room on the Queen Mary? Since reopening in April 2018, Room B340 (now part of a two-room suite) comes complete with Ouija boards, tarot cards, and a crystal ball.
If you’re brave enough to stay the night, you can request the room by booking directly through the hotel. Not quite so brave? Don’t worry, guests won’t end up in the scariest room on the ship unless they specifically request it.
Have you ever toured the Queen Mary? Would you consider staying overnight on a haunted cruise ship? Let me know in the comments below!
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