A landmark of Long Beach, California and preserved tribute to luxury travel in a bygone era, the historic Queen Mary ocean liner has closed to undergo what the city calls “critical repairs” necessary to preserve the historic ship.

Built by Britain's Cunard line in 1936, the luxury ocean liner spent years entertaining posh guests from both sides of the Atlantic — and even spent some time serving the war effort in World War II — before it was retired to Long Beach in 1967. It has since served as both a tourist attraction and hotel to those wishing to experience the ship's glory years as an ocean liner. 

After enduring years of deferred maintenance, the ship now needs more than $5 million in immediate repairs. 

The ship's lifeboats have deteriorated to the point that it has put stress on the shell of the vessel, and the city said engineers found that was putting cracks in the ship’s support system. Among the critical repairs to be made, the lifeboats will be removed and preserved with the hope the city can find museums or non-profits interested in restoring them.

Top things to do in California that no one has told you about yet 

How the Queen Mary ended up in Long Beach

The Queen Mary completed 1,001 transatlantic trips during her time on the seas, transporting posh guests like Hollywood celebrities, royalty and political dignitaries, even during World War II, carrying troops across the seas. 

When the Cunard Line built the ship in the early 1930s, it reportedly spared no expense. According to the Queen Mary's website, when it launched on its maiden voyage, it "boasted five dining areas and lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, a grand ballroom, a squash court and even a small hospital."

Inspired by the Art Deco design of the 1920s and 30s, the ship's name became synonymous with luxury transatlantic travel, shepherding big names like Bob Hope, Clark Gable, and Winston Churchill across the seas between 1936 and 1966.

As the golden years of air travel hit, ocean liners began to fall out of favor. In 1966, the Queen Mary took her last sailing. 

In 1967, the ship was moored at Long Beach in California. Since then, it’s become an iconic landmark of Long Beach. The ship entertains both day visitors touring the historic vessel and overnight guests staying in one of its 367 restored staterooms. 

Upper Deck and Lifeboats on the Queen Mary Seaport
Lifeboats on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. © PictureNet/Getty Images

When will the Queen Mary reopen?

After the previous owners gave up the lease in bankruptcy, the city of Long Beach took control of the parked-vessel-landmark-turned-hotel in June 2021. 

As part of that, the city conducted an evaluation of all the repairs the vessel needed. 

“It is our responsibility to preserve the Queen Mary and ensure this historic landmark is properly cared for,”  Robert Garcia, mayor of Long Beach, said.  “Now that the city has full oversight and control of the Queen, it’s important we make the critical repairs needed.” 

The city does not have an exact timeline for how long the first phase in repairs will take or when the vessel may open back up to tourists again. It is hopeful that if the repairs go smoothly, visitors will be welcomed back aboard the historic ocean liner in late 2022.

You may also like:
Explore the Sierra Nevada on this 600-mile trail launching in California
See California’s incredible redwoods from this new sky walk
A practical guide to trekking California's John Muir Trail

Explore related stories

High angle view of a man looking at Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach, Clatsop county, Oregon, USA.

Tips & Advice

Portland and beyond: 8 of the best places to visit in Oregon

Apr 17, 2024 • 6 min read