Cabins and suites – Main Deck

The cabins on main deck were designed exclusively for the use of first class passengers. They consisted of individual cabins with private bathrooms. Internal doors connecting adjoining cabins allowed multiple rooms to be configured into suites as desired. (The largest suites of the Queen Mary were on main deck.) Most of the rooms were and are of a roughly L-shaped pattern allowing for the best use of the great width of the ship – i.e., the maximum number of staterooms that can be outboard cabins.

Typical cabin looking inboard (left) and outboard (right)

Cabins in the midship area were and are generally square rather than L- shaped and were routinely used as suites. They were furnished as a parlor, a dining room, one or more bedrooms, bathroom(s), including bidets in the bathrooms of a number of the larger suites, and one or more box or trunk rooms. Small single cabins with separate entries on the passageways were available for use as servants' quarters. A suite of up to 20 rooms could be configured. The suites used deck/cabin numbers as their identification. They were not given names during the in-service life of the Queen Mary. The names given them today are a marketing approach of the operator.

Bedroom of a suite Sitting-room of a suite

All of the cabins were designed in the modern style according to the Shipbuilder. No moldings or beadings are found in the woodwork, nor were there any period-style cabins or suites as were found on the SS Normandie. According to the Shipbuilder, "the charm of the rooms depends much upon the skillful selection of rare woods, fabrics and carpets." Peach glass and python-skin fabrics were featured in these special cabins.

"The stateroom furniture is constructed in hardwoods, with a large variety of specially selected face veneers suited to the setting. Bedside tables, with tops of impervious material, are incorporated in specially designed wall-breasts, which serve as the housing for the Thermo-Ref ventilating louvers and the wires to the beds-head switches, at the same time providing recesses for book shelves and the telephone – a feature of each room. An extra large wardrobe is provided for each occupant, and proper stowage is supplied for shoes and hats, the height of the wardrobe being suitable for long evening gowns. In general, two types of dressing tables are fitted, viz., a long low type for ladies’ use and a tallboy for gentlemen, the ample drawer accommodation and arrangement of mirrors being special features. Writing tables and portable folding tables are provided in most rooms; and the size of the room permitted a dressing stool, an occasional chair and two comfortable easy chairs to be installed without congestion. The comfortable aspect of the room is enhanced by an electric radiator of the safety convector type, which is fitted in a neatly designed panel or breast. In order to preserve the decorative effect, the washbasin is placed in a recess separated by a curtain from the room whenever possible, so that the incongruous appearance of this essential fitment and its accessories is entirely absent."

"Close-covered Wilton carpets, with the finest hand-made rugs superimposed, form the floor coverings, and these are laid on a base of linoleum, which of course, is washable, and thus conforms with the universal care to ensure perfect hygiene and cleanliness throughout the ship."

"Many of the bathrooms are lined with a unique synthetic material closely resembling alabaster in appearance, while others are enameled in delicate pastel shades. All are fitted with the most up-to-date appliances, and both hot and cold fresh and salt-water services are provided for the plunge and shower baths."

"Special attention has been paid to the electric equipment and lighting. Architectural strip lights or bracket fittings have been employed for the wall lights, while separate lighting is supplied for dressing tables and reading lamps. Spacious built-in fitted wardrobes are a feature in every room, and each is provided with interior illumination. Other electric fittings include a clock, plugs for heating curling irons, and an electric fire to supplement the warm-air heating when desired."

Again according to the Shipbuilder "no fewer than 26 separate styles of treatment are represented. Some are all woodwork, while others afford various combinations of woodwork, fabrics and colour paints."

History of Use

1936 – 1939 - we are unaware of any significant changes made to these facilities during this period.

1940 – 1946 - the ship was used as a troop transport during this period. The precise functions assigned to the cabins and suites on main deck during this period is currently being researched.

1947 – 1967 - the paneling and the furnishing were meticulously restored in the post war refit. Main deck continued to serve first class passengers during the entire sea life of the Queen Mary.

1968 – present - the cabins and suites on main deck were retained in total and incorporated in the hotel function. However, the commitment to run a first class hotel was ambivalent. For example:

Restoration and/or Reuse Potential

The New York Times pointed out in a review on the operation of the Queen Mary in Long Beach that it published in the 1970s the incongruity of attempting to run a first class hotel right in the middle of what was and unfortunately still is viewed as a mass tourist-attraction / theme park. The riddle hasn’t been solved by the various operators then or now.

This author spent 10 years trying to reconcile the legend of the grand Queen Mary with the theme park operational approach followed in Long Beach since it opened to the public in the 1970s. He came to the conclusion that it is a fool’s game. The Alternative Vision is a first fresh attempt to try to reconcile the various elements of the use of the Queen Mary in an in port setting.

See: Alternative Visions -  a new operational approach that captures the essence of the great ocean liner in an in-port setting.

In particular the articles on the hotel services and Club Queen Mary are relevant.

Hotel Queen Mary – creating a ship within a ship for hotel guests and Club Queen Mary members.

Club Queen Marycreating a new social center for Long Beach.


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