Guest blogger, international traveler and marketing guru Kristin Zern is taking over the reins of my blog this week to write about her experience aboard the Queen Mary. She writes as follows:
I have always been passionate about the history of WWII, an event that totally transformed our civilization. Those times were both thrilling and terrifying. Among other things, women smashed old barriers, becoming soldiers and officers in the WAACS, WAVES and WASPS, many piloting planes built by Rosie the Riveter to their wartime destinations.
We have visited amazing sites including Britain’s Imperial War Museum, Churchill’s War Room deep beneath London and airfields including the spectacular Duxford museum as well lonely forgotten fields where America’s B17 Flying Fortresses and Britain’s Lancaster bombers took off on harrowing journeys to repay Germany for the London Blitz.
So when I had the opportunity to visit Long Beach, I knew we had to stay aboard the majestic Queen Mary that was turned into a hotel, conference center and tourist destination in 1971 by the City of Long Beach, which had won it at auction for $3.45 million. Today the hotel is managed by the Wyndham Hospitality Group.
Thankfully, the Queen Mary has never renovated away her rich history. The cabins are very comfortable but they remain virtually unchanged since her 1936 launch. Only the flat screen TV’s and Wi-Fi let you know you are actually in 2016. The keen sense of history remains. The cabins walls are the original light burled woods, the original fans are on the walls (not in use), the flush toilet handle is the original, the closet and door knobs are made from Bakelite, a popular proto-plastic of the 1930’s. The portholes are high and hard to see out of if you are as short as I am. And by today’s hotel standards the cabins are relatively compact. But their history is enormous.
The Queen Mary normally symbolizes the pinnacle of glamour and luxury. But between 1940 and 1947, she was painted gray and drafted as a troop transporter. This was the period I found most fascinating. Throughout the ship there are films, exhibits and lectures on the many people that have sailed her. That includes Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Minsters, and the greatest stars of stage and screen. But for me, nothing about the ship was as moving as the video of a war bride, one of 1600 who were transported to New York to meet their American husbands after long wartime separations.
I’ve had the joy of staying at many of the world’s great destinations and venues, but none quite matched the grandeur of this magnificent Queen.
My thanks go to the City of Long Beach for having the vision to carry this immense cultural treasure from the past into the future.