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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz
Hotel Queen Mary
Few hotels in the world have as much history as this one. Even fewer float. Construction of the Queen Mary began during a rough patch in British history, and its launch on the 26th of September, 1934 was seen as a symbol that Britannia had put its troubles behind, and was ready to move on as one of the world's great powers and master of the sea. Decked out in the finest art deco style of the time, the Mary was the height of luxury transportation -- bigger, longer, and faster than even the ill-fated Titanic. Little did anyone know how soon the water would turn rough for this grand lady. The RMS Queen Mary's maiden voyage was in May, 1936, but by March, 1940 she had been pressed into service for Her Majesty's navy as a troop transport. Her main function was carrying the wounded to safety in America and during her lifetime crossed the Atlantic Ocean 1,001 times. She also occasionally ferried Winston Churchill to important meetings. In fact, Churchill credited the ship with ending the second World War a year early. In 1947, the Queen Mary returned to civilian service and carried passengers for 20 more years before being sold to the City of Long Beach, California. These days the ship holds 1,957 guests and 1,174 crew members -- a far cry from the 15,000 troops crammed on board during wartime. Today, as it was when it was launched, the ship fascinates both guests and admirers. In addition to hotel rooms, there are a number of restaurants, boutiques, meeting rooms and other attractions open to the public. With this much history there are bound to also be legends. Many of them amount to ghost stories. Guests, crew members and people in tour groups have all reported seeing spirits on board. Unexplained sounds have been heard by guests and recorded by television crews. The ship itself was known as "The Grey Ghost" during World War II because of its paint job and the way it skulked across the sea. It also cut another ship in half, sending more than three hundred sailors to their watery deaths.
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Liners come and Liners go, this was the best of them all.
Mal Walker - Sunday, March 13th, 2005 @ 2:01am
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