24 September 2009

H.M.S. Queen Mary, Icon of 1930's Luxury Ocean Liner Travel

There really was no other way to get over the big pond in those days. My own mother as a small child crossed the Atlantic three or four times just moving from Apalachicola to Constantinople and back, then back across again to live in Paris. Ah the glamour and excitement of it!

Wall Painting Adorning the
Bakery Cafe Onboard the H.M.S. Queen Mary
Where the Children Ate Breakfast

Compared to how we travel now...seat in upright position, tray table up, carry ons stowed, seat belt fastened (for sixteen straight hours!)... it seems incredible that as a matter of necessity when traveling to Europe you would live in a lovely stateroom, shower, nap, take long walks breathing the sea air, have sumptuous dinners, touch the stars, and arrive in England without even a whiff of jet lag! Just imagine!

The H.M.S. Queen Mary
Under Sail

We had a quick business trip to LA last week, and decided to stay on the Queen Mary for the night. She was stunning as we approached; her magnificent 18 stories filled the sky. Walking into her lobby was like walking back eighty years to the very glamourous Art Deco era of the 1930's. Did we feel like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Not quite, but we did feel just a touch more regal as we strolled the promenade and took our drinks on the afterdeck watching sunset's glow.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor Strolling the
Promenade Deck of H.M.S. Queen Mary

Air Vent Aft
The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Brass Railings on the Bridge
The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Teak Railings Aft
The H.M.S. Queen Mary

The Stern of The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Speed-o-Meter on the Bridge of The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Numbered Things for Port and Starboard in the
Bridge of The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Astern The H.M.S. Queen Mary
at Night

One of Her Lifeboats Onboard The
H.M.S. Queen Mary, Never, Thankfully, Used

Brass Fittings on the Bridge of The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Another Enormous Smokestack on The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Art Deco Detailing in Hallway and Elevator of The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Silver Art Deco Banister Detail on The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Rigging for Lifeboats on The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Transatlantic Telephone Communications
Onboard The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Art Deco Fish Design Carpeting in all Staterooms
Onboard The H.M.S. Queen Mary

The Queen's Salon Onboard The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Art Deco Wall Painting Adorning the
Fireplace of the Queen's Room on The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Art Deco Restaurant on The H.M.S. Queen Mary

Life Preserver on The H.M.S. Queen Mary
Also Never Used

Was she a little touristy? Yes, but just a touch. As a national treasure, she is well preserved in her original state of splendor with her dignity completely intact.

Sleeping on the Queen Mary was so quiet...no sounds of sirens or traffic or dogs barking...just the gentle sound of the rigging tapping against the masts, and in the early morning seagulls heading out to sea for an early catch. And the moon hung over the water everywhere you looked.

And I loved the craftsmanship shown in every detail: the brass fittings, the silver railings, the mahogany polished to a high sheen, the Art Deco detailing. No detail was overlooked in this tightly constructed and shipshape vessel.

Built by John Brown & Co, Ltd, Clydebank, Scotland, H.M.S. Queen Mary was launched September 26th, 1934, by H.M. Queen Mary. Gross Tonnage is 80,733 tons. Her height reaches 180 feet. Speed exceeding 30 knots. She accomodates 2136 passengers and 1101 crew. Completed on March 24, 1936, she was the first passsenger vessel to make the Atlantic crossing in under four days. During World War II, she was put into service carrying soldiers, and was later restored to her luxury liner origins. The Queen Mary is the last great Atlantic Ocean Liner left in existence.


Kit Golson Design

for elegant, sustainable and pragmatic

Chic Provence Interior Design


  1. Planning a trip ahead of time can help lessen the stress. Researching on airfare promos will be great especially if the budget is limited, it is usually during off peak season.
    Lifestyles of Paris

  2. I have'nt been to the QM since I was a kid living in the LA area, so it was great to see this post. Love the faded fish mural!

  3. Hi Denny, I love that fish too, he has so much spunk! thanks

  4. Hi MansTouch, yes thanks for the advice. It's true, there are many things you can do to make a long flight much better. My friend Diane Dorrans Saeks has some great travel advice over on her blog, Style Saloniste. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Kit-A great post. My family and I had a transatlantic crossing when we moved back from Europe and I still remember it.

  6. I love the Queen Mary. I stayed there a few years ago with a gaggle of 9 year old girls and they stayed up all night because they thought they heard some of the legendary ghosts of the ship. I had my own room and just felt swept away in the history and beauty of it. It was like being in another era. Visiting in the daylight does not do it justice.

  7. Stafford Wife, you are so right about staying overnight to capture the complete magic and majesty of the Queen Mary. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  8. How much fun! I love that they even have the red phone booth! I can only imagine how it must felt like stepping back in time... The Duchess of Windsor is probably looking down smiling : )
    XX Kate "the NEO-trad"

  9. HI Kate! thanks for stopping, I know, I loved that phone booth. They actually had ship to shore communications in place at that time, I was surprised at just how high tech the QM was for her time.

  10. NEO-Trad, I like your site and its concept! Very nice and fun to read, thanks!

  11. When I was a VERY little girl my grandparents took me on their boat to watch the Queen Mary come to Long Beach to live! Later in life I have visited for dinner... bought a black pearl for one of the shops. Andddd even had my high school prom on the Queen!
    Lovely post!!!
    ENJOY your day!

  12. HI Fifi, thanks! I will check out your blog, have a great day too! Kit

  13. I A.DO.RE ships from the mid century. My family an I sailed to and from the States on the Liberte - not as great as the QM but very nice also- and again to Ivory Coast on a smaller ship called the Mermoz. I love that kind of travel NOT the cruise ships/floating malls around now! I'd much rather fly... Thank you for a beautiful post that took me back to those marvelous trips. (I can still smell the mixture of varnish and sea air in my mind)


I would love to hear what you think! merci!


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