Originally posted Jan 12, 2017
Visiting the retired, permanently moored RMS Queen Mary is an experience in itself. You don’t have to experience ghost activity to feel the history on board. They offer awesome tour packs where you can see the engine rooms, one of the exposed propellers, and the rumored haunted “Vortex” near the dilapidated—but beautiful—pool. I’ve been fortunate to visit several times and even stay overnight a few years ago. I will give you a tour and then explain my experience. You can decide if the place is really haunted or not.
The ship in general is a fantastic place to visit with so much history to explore. For Titanic enthusiasts, it’s a must-visit. As part of the White Star Line, this so closely resembles Titanic, that you will find yourself doing double-takes as you pass the promenade deck, the dining room, and even the inner room halls. Not only does it resemble the famous iceberg-disabled ship, many movies, and TV shows have been filmed on the Queen Mary so you might find the place familiar as you step on board, which adds to the mystique. The Queen Mary has graced the sets of movies like Titanic II, Pearl Harbor, Aviator, The Natural, The 13th Floor, and television series such as The Search for the Next Elvira, Moonlight, Murder She Wrote, Unsolved Mysteries, and Quantum Leap. They also have historical exhibits that run for a short time. If you are into the royals and fashion, you might enjoy the pricey but beautiful exhibit on now, “Diana: Legacy of a Princess” where you can see many of her iconic dresses in person. They also have other royal history and some of the clothes from the current monarch. For military buffs, the QM played a big part in the WWII effort as a transport ship for Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Per Wikipedia,
In the WWII conversion, the ship’s hull, superstructure and funnels were painted navy grey. As a result of her new color, and in combination with her great speed, she became known as the “Grey Ghost.”
As far as hauntings on the ship, there have been many reported. No wonder, since at least 49 crew and passengers are known to have died during the Queen Mary‘s service as a luxury liner.
In the engine room, our tour guide told us of one such haunting. Although somewhat “set-up” by and ominous number 13, the guide recalled a sailor was crushed by this water-tight door. They aren’t clear on the “why”, but it’s attributed to him either playing chicken or going back to grab something in an emergency. The ship’s underground system of working tunnels is certainly creepy, but as for ghosts? Who knows?
Another creepy location on the ship is the ominous 1st Class Pool. Those horror buffs out there will swear it was the pool in the movie Ghostship, but it’s not.
Still, the effect of the once-beautiful place being in complete disrepair sent a chill up my spine. Pardon the dim pictures because of lack of light and the fact that we could not explore the place fully because most of the pool was closed due to safety regulations. The most haunted place in the pool area is purported to be what they call the “Vortex” located in the pool showers.I took a picture standing right in the middle of the “Vortex” although warned by the tour guide, “It may not come out, or your phone might die.” He said reports of this happening are frequent and that several people have found light spots or “ghost” images in their photos. I played along, and it was fun to imagine, but as you can see, that did not happen. My picture is clear of “ghosties” and I didn’t feel anything but the same creepiness you feel when entering any derelict structure.
So, if I didn’t feel anything in the most haunted part of the ship, what did I feel? I had two experiences that will stay with me forever.
First, when we were walking through the bowels of the ship, I kept feeling like someone was behind me. I was the last one in the tour at that time. I kept looking behind me and would catch just a shadow or a blur. Not really anything tangible, but enough to creep you out. This was before the tour guide told us about the crewman of hatch 13 that was crushed there. It creeped me out, but only because I kept feeling the presence the entire time we were in the down below.
When we went into this particularly dark part of the ship, standing at the doorway into the place, I became nauseous. The boat is moored, so there is no movement to make me sick. I stepped into the huge room and felt like someone had given me a push into the room. Again, I was the last one in and no one was behind me. My nausea grew and I wasn’t able to even step forward to where the rest of the tour was. My husband asked if I was okay and I nodded, motioning him on so he look at the mechanics of the ship. As my stomachache grew, my attention was drawn to a door up high looking over us. The door was open, and light shone through from an unseen bulb, but it wasn’t anywhere anyone would be. However, in my periphery, I saw someone standing there. I looked up and nothing was there. It kind of creeped me out, but after the “sighting”(?) I felt fine again and was able to enjoy the rest of the tour without incident. In the pictures (Again I apologize for poor light shots.) the large shot is the massive room we entered. There are light spots, but I doubt they were ghost proof because it was so dusty in the room. In the second shot, you can see the room where I felt the presence standing. Doesn’t appear that I caught anything on film. However, a few people who have seen the shot wonder if I did catch a ghost. The head is higher than a normal human would stand. Is the partial shot of a mustached man a spirit? Or is it just a pipe and a trick of sight? I still don’t know what I believe about the picture, but I do know a male presence was following me during this part of the tour. Was a ghost or spirit following me through the crew hatches to cause menace? Or was he guiding me to make sure I stayed safe? Or was it merely making its self known to mark its territory?
My second experience happened in our suite. We stayed in the Eisenhower Suite. If anyone knows me, they know I am so not a history—especially political—buff. If I know history, it’s usually fashion or something I’ve had to research for a book. I knew nothing about Eisenhower nor did I have an impression of the president before I stayed there. The suite was beautiful. It felt luxurious to have not only a quite sizable bedroom (for a ship) and bathroom, but also another servants quarters where I could lay out my stuff and put on my makeup. Probably the posh-est place I’ve stayed, not counting the inconvenience of the bathroom on a ship. (We kept stubbing our toes on the raised bathroom entry and in the shower, the tub was so circular, you had to stand with one foot in front of the other like walking tight rope while washing.) Laying down in the fresh clean sheets with my husband next to me, I thought there couldn’t be any place more comfortable.
Unfortunately, the night of sleep was not as good as we planned. Beyond the sounds of the ship (Pipes creaking and pounding, the movement of others, and various sounds we were unused to.) I found my sleep state to hover on the “almost awake” state. During this night, I kept hearing the tinkling of a dog’s tags and the light pressure of a small dog hoping on the bed. It was so real to me, I woke and looked down at the foot of the bed several times, sure it had actually happened. I haven’t had a dog since I was a child and I haven’t felt that dog jumping on the bed thing since then, but it was unmistakable. The next morning, I related the story to my husband and he agreed, he had been kept in REM sleep for what seemed like all night. Although he had the same trouble sleeping, he did not feel or hear the dog. After telling a few people of my experience—and not connecting it at all with Eisenhower and his dogs—my friends started a discussion about his dogs and which one might have been alive when he traveled on the Queen Mary in 1946. The connection is interesting.
I don’t know if Eisenhower even boarded with a dog on his voyage, but it certainly makes sense. All I know is that it was a small-type dog like a Terrier. But what did I really experience? Was it the ghost or imprint of one of the President’s dogs? Or was it someone else’s dog that perished onboard? Or perhaps for the skeptic, it’s more believable that I had a kernel of a memory from years ago about Eisenhower having a dog that I didn’t remember…and my brain caused me to “dream” of this fact in my unconscious state?
Whether you visit the Queen Mary to experience it’s greatness or to attend the annual “Dark Harbor” Halloween event, this is a haunted locale you can’t miss. I would advise to come for the tours, but not to stay overnight, unless you don’t mind little sleep.
Have you been to a haunted locale? Tell us about it.