Haunted Lodgings: R.M.S. Queen Mary (Ghosts)

R.M.S. Queen Mary

The previous entry provided history pertaining directly to the Queen Mary as a whole. History can play an important factor in the stories of haunted locations, so it’s important to know history because it can give insight as to why a particular area is experiencing haunting. It also provides a great window into the past because you can understand what other things that might have been going on at that time which may have resulted in spooks and specters.

Unfortunately, some of the more tragic events that have happened aboard this stately ship have sparked questions as to whether the ship bears the scars of those who perished between her iron walls…

Perhaps one of the greatest contributing reasons spirits are tied to the Queen Mary are the number of deaths associated with the ship, both on and off– there are 4 recorded births and 49 recorded deaths (16 crew, 2 General Infantry and 31 passengers) on the Queen Mary in addition to the 331 deaths from the Curacoa (Ker-a-sow). Part of me wonders if the close proximity to iron prevents those spirits from leaving the ship and finding peace. That, however, does not explain the haunting EVPs that have been recorded in the ship’s bow area.

The Bow Area

For episode 3, season 1 of the television program Unsolved Mysteries (which first aired on October 26, 1988), a paranormal investigation of the ship was conducted. In that investigation, one of the investigators, Mr. William Roll, having heard disembodied voices in the bow area, placed a voice activated tape recorder in that area of the ship. The recording was uneventful until the early morning hours when, for two minutes, you could hear sounds like metal tearing, water rushing and men crying out for help. This investigator is not the only person who has gone on record saying he has heard these sounds.

In 1967, when the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, she was assigned a crew who would look after her. Marine engineer John Smith was one of the first people to work aboard the ship, and he claims to have heard unusual sounds in that section of the ship. Unsolved Mysteries interviewed Smith on their broadcast and he is quoted as having said:

“It sounded like there had been a rupture of the ship’s hull. It was frightful. I went up to the extreme bow section of the ship. The sound was there, but there was no water and nothing to cause it. I don’t believe in supernatural things, but in all my experiences as a marine engineer, I’d never seen anything like this.”

Years later, Smith found and read an article about the Queen Mary’s October 2, 1942 collision with the Curacoa– the sounds finally made sense to Smith:

“After I read that article, I was so shook up and so overwhelmed, the very area where I heard that mysterious water rushing was the exact same area that was damaged when the ship hit the Curacoa. I said, ‘This is what it would have sounded and felt like if I had been in that compartment at the time.’ But I knew it couldn’t be. That was 30 years earlier.”

Similar reports of sounds coming from the bow area of the ship have been reported over the years. Each person claims to have experienced the same sequence of the sounds– bending metal followed by the rush of water and the cries of men. Could these be the voices of the 331 sailors from the Curacoa who perished in the tragic October 1942 accident?

Sadly, the Curacoa sailors aren’t the only sailors to have lost their lives aboard the Queen Mary. History has recorded the death of another sailor aboard the ship who many claim has never left.

Watertight Door #13

Except for a routine fire drill, July 10, 1966 should have been an uneventful day. What should have been routine turned into tragedy when 18 year old crew member, John Pedder, was crushed to death in watertight door #13. Whether it was an accident or just crew members trying to make a game of “chicken” out of a routine fire drill varies with each account of the incident… but the end always results in Pedder’s death in what’s referred to as “Shaft Alley”, which is part of the engine room.

Prior to his death, there was nothing out of the ordinary in Shaft Alley. It wasn’t until after the accident people began to report a man fitting Pedder’s description pacing this area of the ship. He always disappears beside watertight door #13. Nancy Anne, who formerly worked as the lead guide aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, recalls an experience she had with Pedder’s ghost on Unsolved Mysteries:

“I was working in the capacity of a lead guide, which meant my job was to close down the tour route and make sure that there weren’t any stragglers behind. And I don’t know why I turned around, but I turned around and standing right behind me on the step was a man. He had on blue overalls and they were dirty. When I stepped aside to let him go by, he was gone. He wasn’t there. I don’t necessarily believe any other ghost stories that other people have come up with. I only know what I saw, and I only believe what I saw with my own eyes.”

Anne’s experience is not the only recorded experience with Pedder aboard the Queen Mary. Those who see Pedder always describe him the same– a young man wearing blue coveralls covered in grease.

It’s not surprising to hear that one couple’s experience on August 13, 1991 left them with grease on their face (as opposed to egg) after the husband jokingly asked Pedder’s ghost if he would like to join them. The man and his wife chortled as they passed through watertight door #13 and up the stairs. The feeling of being watched was pervasive and the couple turned back to look at the doorway. The husband felt something brush across his face. They turned back around and went outside where the wife noticed a spot of grease on her husband’s face exactly where he’d felt something brush against it when the couple had turned around to see if they were being followed. Being that the ship is no longer in operation, the area is kept fairly clean and free of grease. Neither the husband nor his wife had grease anywhere else on their person. It seems as though the ghost of John Pedder took them up on their offer.

The First Class Swimming Pool

Long ago, in what has since been converted into a theater, there was allegedly a young girl who drown in the second class swimming pool. While there are no sightings of a little girl’s ghost in the area of the second class pool, there are quite a few sightings of a girl in the area of the first class pool. It’s not difficult to make the leap that, seeing her pool closed, the ghost of young Jackie Korin (or Torin) found her way to bigger and better waters.

Jackie, as the ghostly child is called, loves to splash and play around in the pool. As far as anyone knows, she’s your average fun-loving child. She also loves to sing. Current tour guide, Erika Frost, of the Ghosts and Legends tours aboard the Queen Mary has occasionally been able to coax young Jackie into singing a song for passing ghost tours. While the sound could be made by anyone in the echo-y room, there have been dozens of other reported sightings of a child’s ghost in the first class pool area.

Unsolved Mysteries interviewed maintenance supervisor Kathy Love who described the following incident in the pool area, which was also witnessed by a co-worker:

“We came into the pool and I heard giggling. The sound of a little girl playing in the area. And at that point, I noticed there was splashing. The splashing stopped, the giggling continued, and we observed the wet footprints of a small child walking across into the locker room. I know that I saw what I saw. I’m not sure exactly why I saw it. But I know it was there.”

Jackie’s ghost isn’t the only specter who enjoys a dip in the pool. There have been reports of an older women in a 1950’s or 1960’s era bathing suit. Rumors from articles I’ve read online also indicate the older woman to have been a victim of drowning aboard the ship, but in the first class swimming pool. While not as active as the ghost of young Jackie, the older woman’s ghost has been reported on a few occasions. Lead guide Nancy Anne shared this experience with Unsolved Mysteries:

“One day I was standing on the stairs of the pool, and out of the corner of my right eye I saw a woman, probably in her 60s or 70s, in black and white. So I went down the stairs and around the pillar, expecting to find her standing there, and she wasn’t anywhere to be found. It was only a matter of seconds… she couldn’t have gone anywhere.”

Besides the splashing sounds, singing and mysterious footprints, other employees have had odd experiences in this area. Some have seen an older woman walking around the pool deck. Others have seen a little girl clutching a teddy bear. One of the ship’s nightwatchmen was on his rounds, alone, checking the pool area when he was given a playful shove into the pool. Evidence suggests that the first class swimming pool is among the most haunted areas aboard the Queen Mary.

If you’re scared by the stories I’ve already told, you might want to skip the rest of this article– or skip down to the “other stories” section– because here’s where I delve into some of the creepier stories.

RMS Queen Mary at Night

The RMS Queen Mary at Night.

First Class Swimming Pool Changing Rooms

The changing rooms are located in an area off the balcony which overlooks the first class swimming pool. It is in this area that the murder of a young woman named Sara allegedly happened. Sara was in the changing rooms when she was attacked and slain.

There have been numerous reports of odd happenings in this area of the ship. Shadows have been reported in this area. Moving shadows. There have also been reports of sobbing– possibly that of poor, murdered Sara whose spirit has yet to find peace after her brutal death. Some paranormal investigators claim the changing rooms are the location for a “vortex” or “portal” which spirits use to travel to the ship… whether or not that’s true, I’ll leave for you to decide.

In the winter of 2008 the American Paranormal Research Association (APRA) conducted an Investigation of the R.M.S. Queen Mary’s First Class Pool. They recorded the following footage which has been shared on YouTube. Again, I warn you of the creepy factor.

(If you skipped the video, it showed footage collected during an EMF sweep of the changing area. In it, off to the right side, you can see what appears to be the visage of a young woman sitting in one of the changing room stalls. Unfortunately, what appears to be a girl wasn’t noticed at the time of the investigation… Now, I do know that around Halloween I’ve heard the Queen Mary uses props for haunted “mazes”. That does not look like a prop to me.)

Cabin B340

Cabin B340 is the alleged location of another vicious murder aboard the Queen Mary. From what I’ve read, there has been a lot of poltergeist activity related to this room– so much activity and so many requests by guests for new rooms that they’ve since sealed off the room, removed the cabin number and they do not under any circumstances rent this room out to guests.

The ghost of this room does not like guests and has been known to get so upset by the presence of guests that he tells them to “get out”. Other guests who stayed in the room were awakened in the middle of the night by lights turning on and off, water being turned on and off or the covers being pulled off the bed as they slept.

I’ve heard two different dates for this story– the first being 1948 and the second was in April 1937. The story behind the room is that, being the smallest room aboard the Queen Mary, B340 was used as a temporary holding cell for a deranged man who had been harassing his family. When the family visited the man, he flew into a rage and killed his 5 year old daughter. Another story suggests the ship’s purser was murdered in the room and it is his ghost who haunts the room…

I personally do not know enough about the Queen Mary at this time to confirm which story is true, whether they both happened or that both the stories are fabrications. However, since the hotel no longer rents the room out to guests, it’s safe to say they have their reasons.

Other Ghost Sightings

Some claim to have seen the ghost of Sir Winston Churchill aboard the ship.

A translucent woman dressed in 1930’s attire has been seen on the Promenade Deck near the passenger information booth.

During one tour of the ship, a transparent officer in Navy whites was seen by an entire tour group as they neared the pool area. It is possible that this could have been the ghost of Senior Second Officer William Stark, who was accidentally poisoned in 1949 when he drank from a bottle labeled gin. What Stark didn’t know was that members of the staff used the bottle to store tetrachloride.

Visitors who stay near the luxury cabins have frequently been awakened by the feeling of being watched. When they open their eyes, they find themselves staring into the large eyes of a small boy who disappears shortly thereafter.

In the area which formerly housed the infirmary, some visitors to the Queen Mary have reported seeing wounded sailors in beds.

Server Carol Leyden who was interviewed for the Unsolved Mysteries episode recounted an encounter with a mysterious woman she saw:

“I’d been here about 14 years when I first had the first experience of actually seeing what I thought to be a ghost. I was in the work area, and for some reason I picked up a cup of coffee, went out to the tables, and there was a lady sitting there. I was so fascinated by her dress. She appeared to be in a late afternoon cocktail-type dress from the 40s. She had dark hair, rolled at the sides, no makeup on, she seemed to be very pale, but I never saw her move. I left the table, went up about ten feet, turned around because I wanted to take another look, and there was nothing there.”

Closing Remarks

The Queen Mary is notoriously known for her creepy corridors and ghostly mysteries, but one thing is certain– Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you can still enjoy the grandeur of this luxury liner. Who knows, maybe you’ll experience something you just can’t explain…

Visit the Queen Mary website http://www.queenmary.com/

I was in Long Beach in October 2010 to take the Queen Mary’s Ghost and Legends tour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t posted on the ship’s website that they would be closing early to allow time to set up for their “Dark Harbor” Halloween event. Sadly, I was unable to take the tour and therefore unable to provide my own photos of the ship’s insides. I do plan on visiting the Queen Mary another time. At that point, I’ll take lots of photos. In the meantime, some of the links below offer photos of those haunted areas.

* http://www.lostliners.com/QueenMary/index.html
* http://www.ghostsource.com/hauntings/hauntings-the-queen-mary-ship.php
* “Unsolved Mysteries.” With Robert Stack. Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, Inc. Season 1, Episode 3. 26 October 1988. http://www.unsolved.com/ghost.html
* Rule, Leslie. Coast To Coast Ghosts: True Stories of Hauntings Across America. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2001. pp 120-123.
* Stephens, John Richard. A Skeleton at the Helm. New York: Metro Books, 2008. pp 10-11.


8 thoughts on “Haunted Lodgings: R.M.S. Queen Mary (Ghosts)

  1. That video is creepy as sin! Awesome! I would have been heartbroken if I was all geared up to go on the famous ghost tour, only to have it cancelled on me! Hope you get to go back soon!


  2. Yeah, it was kinda a bummer– but it gives me good reason to drive out to LA again. =)

    I’ll have to see if I can save up for Pyrate Daze 2011– I wanted to go in 2009 and stay on the ship (they had great event rates). So… maybe I’ll get to stay the night! Eee! Plus I have a stellar Pirate costume to wear! haha! =D http://www.pyratedaze.com/


  3. The Most Haunted team from England, as well as the TAPS team from Ghost Hunters have also investigated the ship in recent years. You can watch the Most Haunted episodes on You Tube, just search ‘Most Haunted Queen Mary’, and all episodes are there, in order. It’s really interesting. The M.H. team was allowed access to Room B340, where the historian for the show stayed over night with a camera rolling. You will be amazed at what happens. They show the highlights of that night in Part 1. I could never stay in that room on my own. Thanks so much for the additional, interesting info!


  4. To bad the history is a bit sketchy. B340 for those who do not know was a room made up by Disney to promote their new “Ghost ” Tours ansd is no more haunted than any other room. The actual story they told for the haunting occurred in another room on B deck at the aft of the ship.


    • I’ve noticed that when the history is “sketchy” it typically means it’s more of an urban legend than an actual haunting. When I’ve a moment, I’ll research and update the article to reflect the information you’ve provided. Thanks for the comment and also for the correction! =)


      • My pleasure..I have been researching the ship for quite a few years both its history and haunts..if you need any info..please ask. 🙂


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