The Attraction.

Creating the Queen Mary experience for visitors.

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We believe that the Queen Mary must be primarily a permanent exhibit on the design, construction and history of one specific ocean liner – arguably the greatest ocean liner of the twentieth century. It naturally incorporates an attraction, a hotel and catering business and might also include a high- end live entertainment center and art deco reproduction merchandise showcase. We believe that the property, not the ship should be the target for major routinely changing venues. This is why we recommend installing:

  • a high caliber live entertainment venue in the "dome" with routinely changing "acts";

  • an exhibit hall for major traveling exhibits -- on property, but off the ship -- of the caliber of the recent Van Gogh exhibit held in Los Angeles ; and


  • a large convention hotel on property with an ambitious program of major conferences and convention.

The "soft program" aboard the ship, by which we mean daily activities, events, menus, and entertainment programs, can and should change routinely – perhaps with the season. But we reject the concept of developing a series of special effect "rides" and even "exhibits" aboard the ship. We believe that they become an impediment to seeing, appreciating and interacting with the Queen Mary itself. No ersatz, special effects "ride" or "exhibit" should ever be allowed to obscure the beauty of the ship as built - and restored. 

We believe that a multiple tour program designed to work in conjunction with a more authentic "ship walk" (or self-guided tour route) could significantly enhance the visitor's experience of visiting the Queen Mary.

In designing our multiple tour program for the Queen Mary we considered a number of factors, including the need for distinct, non overlapping tour routes and distinct thematic foci for each tour:

  • Distinct routes permit multiple tours to run simultaneously with minimal logistic problems, since the groups aren't competing for the same space.
  • Thematic uniqueness means each tour covers not only physically different space, but functional aspects of the great liner unique to that tour. In other words, you really haven’t seen the ship until you’ve taken all of the guided tours.

Other important considerations include:

  • Minimizing the intrusion of the tour program on the hotel operation.
  • Minimizing the intrusion of the tours on banqueting and catering services.
  • Providing educational and cultural content in an entertaining and refreshing manner. As a tax exempt entity the ship has the responsibility to provide both educational and cultural experiences.
  • Designing the self-guided portion of the tour to entertain visitors in the times between their guided tours.
  • Using and showing original objects and amenities in their original locations whenever possible and as close to their original functions as possible.

The role of the Visitor Information Center

For a multiple tour program to work, visitors must first have some overall orientation to the ship, some idea of what the tour program includes, and what can be seen on each of the guided tours. In other words they need to know what they will be missing if they don’t take all of the tours.

For greatest dramatic effect the Visitors Information Center should NOT be a new construction that is aboard the ship. Walking into a gutted and rebuilt facility in the hull tells visitors that they are visiting what remains of the Queen Mary. We believe the Visitor Information Center is best housed in a facility, possibly resembling the Ocean Terminal where the Queen Mary docked in Southampton, located adjacent to the ship. It would serve to house the facilities to orient and educate tourists as well as provide the means for physical access to the upper decks of the ship.

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Proposed position of a terminal-like building near the ship. The example here is inspired by Southampton's "Ocean Terminal", but a totally new design may also be appropriate, built to serve as a Visitor Information Center and incorporating new retail space and state of the art business meeting rooms.

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Sideview of proposed building

The displays in the Visitor Information Center educate the visitors on the chronology of the ship, her significance and the role played by her in twentieth century history.

Below is a possible floor plan for each level of this new building.

QM Wharf


Four views of the original Ocean Terminal in Southampton.

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The Ocean Terminal in Southampton seen from the South Side, and a waiting room inside.

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Two more interior views .

Embarkation Hall, the uppermost level of the Visitor Information Center, would house displays on the tour program itself. Their purpose is to encourage tourists to want to take all of the tours. Ticket booths and tour initiation areas as well as snacks and souvenirs would also be available here.

The Guided Tours

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Proposed tours shown in a sideview of the ship. Click on this image to expand it to full size.

We see three major and distinct guided tour routes. Each has its own theme and focus and each covers physical areas of the ship that are distinct.

alt2e.jpg (1752 bytes)     Tour A – First Class Passenger Accommodations – "The Only Way to Cross"

This tour provides an in depth look at the amenities available to first class passengers whilst the ship was at sea.

Tourists gather at their scheduled tour time in the embarkation hall of the Ocean Terminal/Visitor Information Center and move onto the Queen Mary at Promenade Deck via the forward boarding tower. The tour begins in the enclosed promenade then moves into the main hall.

Moving through the forward circle of shops and other amenities with a knowledgeable guide, the group stops for a film/video presentation in the original first class lecture room. Once regaining the main hall the group moves through the "golden circle" of lounges that epitomized the glamour that was the pre-war Queen Mary.

A rendering of a possible reconstruction of the lecture room, by Jeff Taylor.

From the main lounge the group goes via the internal route to the long gallery and then to the first class smoking room, and then returns via the ballroom and the starboard gallery to the main lounge. From here it returns to the main hall. (If any of these restored facilities is in use during the tour, it is avoided by use of the lobbies and exterior enclosed promenades.)

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From the main hall the group descends the grand staircase to Main deck where the restored tourist bureau and a suite are visited. Again down the grand staircase to A deck where the purser's desk is viewed as well the back office where the Queen Mary's original safe was kept and a portion of the original Queen Mary telephone exchange (originally located on B deck) is displayed as well as a sweeping view of the passageways.

A portion of the original Queen Mary Telephone Exchange -- relocated from B deck.

From here the group moves down to B deck where the restored barber shop and first class beauty salon are visited. The tour group walks down to "R" deck -- formerly "C" deck -- where the first class swimming pool is viewed from the balcony level, then the restored Turkish Baths and finally the great first class dining room and a reconstructed private dining room.  Tour A exits at "R" deck and the group returns to the Ocean Terminal/Visitor Information Center. Between tours, visitors might return to the ship and shop on Promenade deck and lunch in the new visitors' restaurants on Sun Deck as well as view self-guided areas on both Sun and Sports Deck.

alt2f.jpg (1744 bytes)    Tour B – Third Class Passenger and Crew Working Areas - "Down the Burma Road"    

Tourists gather at their scheduled tour time in the embarkation hall of the Ocean Terminal/Visitor Information Center and move onto the Queen Mary at Promenade Deck via the forward boarding tower. The tour moves forward though the port side of the enclosed promenade down to Main Deck via the exterior stairway, and enters the Third Class main entrance. From here they visit the Garden Lounge, then go down the third class staircase to A deck and see the smoking room and the bow and forecastle areas.

Re-entering the ship via the smoking room, the group continues down the hall to B deck where they visit the third class playroom and view the synagogue. Entering the cinema they stop for a video presentation on these areas and aspects of the ship. Moving forward they penetrate the crew areas and visit the seamen’s accommodations in the bow. Moving down to "R" deck via the staircase in the crew area they tour the mail-handling facilities and then go past the re-installed original fire station. They then return to the third class entrance and visit the third class dining room.

Moving down to current "C" deck via the third class staircase they view a section of reconstructed third class cabins on the starboard forward section of the ship and then cross through the great sliding doors that separated third class from the crew areas – and onto the Working Alley.

The group visits the reconstructed third class and kosher kitchens, leading greasers' mess and dining room – then crosses the hall and briefly views the adjacent first class pool at the basin level and returns to the working alley to visit the trimmers' dining room (possibly housing the reconstructed hospital displays?) and the print shop.

The groups descends to current "D" deck and exits the ship via the entrance to the proposed contemporary working alley in the forward port side of the ship and returns to the Ocean Terminal/Visitor Information Center. Between tours, visitors might return to the ship and shop on Promenade deck and lunch in the new visitors' restaurants on Sun Deck as well as view self guided areas on both Sun and Sports Deck.

alt2g.jpg (1757 bytes)    Tour C – The Lower Decks and Power Train 

Tourists gather at their scheduled tour time in the embarkation hall of the Ocean Terminal or Visitor Information Center and proceed to wharf level. The group enters the Queen Mary via the tourist class dining room entrance (towards the bow of the ship) at current “R” deck. On boarding the group is escorted left and moves forward past the restored Fire Alert Station to an open area between the hatches for Holds # 1 and 2.This work area with capstan equipment serves as an orientation center for this tour. A seven-minute audiovisual presentation on the design, building and use of the power train follows. 

The group then enters a large elevator that is inserted into the shaft of Hold # 1 and is carried down to the “tank top” level of Hold # 1. With their guide providing an interesting explanation the group views Hold # 1 and moves aft (through a pair of new watertight doors set into the bulkhead and into the large and majestic Hold # 2.Here they learn about how cars were lowered into the ship, how many could be transported and what other cargo was typically carried on this and other great liners. Proceeding aft they stop in the gutted but stabilized water softening plant and boiler rooms 1 and 2. Here they see a large screen video presentation on the conversion and gutting of the great liner.

From here the group walks along the lowest deck to the simulated forward turbo generator room and boiler rooms 3 and 4. (Robin Jacobs' reconstructed area with his narrative tour).

Boiler Room ModelBoiler Room Model
Robin Jacobs' model of the proposed reconstruction of a boiler room - a project endorsed by RMS Foundation. The left photo shows the boilers seen from the front of the ship, with the smoke uptakes going up to the funnel. The right picture is a close-up of the boilers (boiler room #4).

Pictures are copyright of Fogbank Industrial Arts

Proceeding aft into what was once the aft turbo generator room, boiler room #5 and forward engine room, they view either a new power plant of the QM reconstructed in what today is a modern "exhibit hall", OR if a new working power plant is not placed aboard the Queen Mary in the current "exhibit hall" area, an enclosed walkway could be created on the starboard side of the ship on the lowest level of the exhibit hall. It would be used to link the reconstructed/simulated power train components with the surviving original components, thus avoiding breaking the mood of the tour by the movement through a modern brightly lit "exhibit hall". An existing door on the lowest level of the exhibit hall provides access to the original aft engine room. Here a knowledgeable guide points out the features and functions of the equipment. 

The group then proceeds though shaft alley near where John Pedder was crushed to death and allegedly his ghost is sometimes seen - and up the escalator to the emergency steering area. They next move forward again on the port side and view the propeller in the underwater box. The group is escorted into a gift shop area on D deck that serves as the termination point for this tour. The gift shop’s focus is on the engineering and mechanical aspects of the Queen Mary and other great liners.

alt2h.jpg (1751 bytes)     The Ship Walk – or Self Guided Tour Areas

The new purpose of the revamped ship walk is to offer access to interesting areas that are not on the three guided tour routes. These exhibit areas will be manned with knowledgeable docents. In addition to educating visitors, the ship walk provides for entertaining places to visit and see between guided tours.

We see the following areas open to visitors as part of the self-guided ship walk:

A Deck – The Third Class Smoking Room - restored to serve as a lounge and reserved for daytime visitors with steward service. A beverage, (tea, coffee, juice), and a pastry are complimentary with the full fare admission ticket.

Main Deck – Forecastle Area – this area can be visited on a self-guided basis as well as seen with a knowledgeable guide on Tour B.

Promenade Deck

  • Original First Class Enclosed Promenade on Prom Deck. – deck chair beverage service
  • Main Hall and related shops:
  • Three original shops - as functioning shops
  • Drawing Room as a reproduction shop for fine furnishings and art
  • Library as a bookstore gift shop
  • Children’s playroom as a showcase toy store for reproductions of period children’s toys.
  • Music studio as an exhibit area with a grand piano on view.
  • Observation Bar as a bar.
  • Writing Room – as a working writing room, with stationary sales and pens. A place to get letters and post cards officially stamped and posted from the QM.
  • Radio Telephone Room – an exhibit area where you can also send a telegram, fax or e-mail from the QM.

Sun Deck

  • Deck chair beverage service
  • Verandah – open-air lunch, and in the evening a night club, the Starlight Club.
  • Verandah Grill – premier restaurant on the ship with a focus on food from the great liners.
  • Restored Gymnasium – exhibit with docents
  • Squash Court – in working order – viewing from Sports Deck observation platform.
  • Restored original Radio Room - original equipment put back in working order - exhibit with docents.
  • Sun Deck Café and Lounge – coffee shop for hotel guests and visitors – replacing Prom Café.

Sports Deck

  • Kennels – with docent present, souvenirs available for sale.
  • Triple Tennis courts – available for use.
  • Officers' quarters.
  • Top of Houses.
  • Wheelhouse and map rooms.
  • Amateur short-wave radio club in former water tank room.
  • Top of Wheelhouse – Compass platform .

Specialty Tours/Programs

In addition to the regularly scheduled program of tours and the self-guided areas, specialty programs would be run as required. These might include;

  • The Grey Ghost – the QM in W.W.II. A knowledgeable tour guide would explain how various areas of the ship were used in W.W.II. Photo exhibits, models and drawings of this use of the ship would be in the Visitor Information Center in Ocean Terminal.
  • Murder Mystery Dinners – an evening of intrigue and mystery determining exactly who amongst the dinner guests murdered the first officer of the Queen Mary.
  • An Evening With… – a series of high-end entertainments in the Main Lounge. Performers whose lives and art might be recreated include famous former passengers such as Marlene Dietrich, Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, John Barrymore, etc.
  • Psychic Tours of the QM – not phony ghosts tours – but the real thing and only at night!

Related articles from the Retained Riches, Lost Glories and Hidden Treasures areas series of articles are available on this site:

Proposed Tour A related areas:

Proposed Tour B related areas:

Proposed Tour C related areas:

Proposed Self Guided Areas:

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