After being closed to the public for over two and a half years, visitors will be welcomed back aboard the Queen Mary for limited tours of the ship’s Promenade Deck following the completion of some critical repairs.
“These preservation efforts showcase the significant progress we’ve made to ensure the Queen Mary remains a community staple and renowned international attraction for generations to come,” Department of Economic Development Director Bo Martinez said in a statement.
The free guided tours begin Thursday. Registration is available online on a first-come, first-served basis. A historical docent will guide each tour and explain the ship’s storied history, including its spookier elements. Guests also will watch a short video inside Heritage Hall outlining the work being done to the ship this year.
While the one-hour tours will include walk-throughs of amenity areas, including the Promenade Shops, Observation Bar, Queen Salon and Royal Salon, among others, none of the amenities will be serving customers, city spokesperson Kevin Lee confirmed. The ship also does not currently have operable guest bathrooms on board, but facilities are available off the ship, he said.
The hotel, restaurants, bar and other amenities cannot reopen for service until the installation of new boilers and heat exchangers is complete, which will allow for cooking, cleaning, sanitizing and other hospitality amenities, according to the city announcement. The boiler and heat exchanger installations are slated to be completed early next year.
“We look forward to soon reopening the historic Queen Mary Hotel and welcoming guests back to enjoy an overnight stay or experience scenic shoreline views, refreshments and dining at one of our world-class restaurants,” John Taffin, Evolution Hospitality general manager, said in a statement.
Evolution was awarded a five-year contract in June to plan for the reopening and manage the ship’s hotel, attractions, parking, retail and food and beverage services.
After more than 40 years of leasing out the ship to a string of failed operators, the city assumed full control of the vessel in June 2021 after the most recent operator, Urban Commons, gave up its lease in bankruptcy court. Since then, the city has worked toward the completion of $5 million worth of safety repairs aboard the aging vessel.
In May, 20 of the ship’s 22 dilapidated lifeboats were removed because they were a safety hazard and put too much stress on the structure. The city demolished 14 of the lifeboats, while others were kept for historical preservation.
Improvements to the ship’s bulkheads to improve structural stability have been completed, and work on bilge pump systems to prevent flooding is underway. All bilge pump platforms have been installed, and the system is expected to be operational early next year, according to the announcement.
A new emergency generator is also being installed.
Along with safety, preservation and restoration is a top priority for the city. Painting, lighting replacement and upgrades, and flooring and railing refurbishment are among the work being done to enhance the ship, according to the announcement. This work is ongoing.
Marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group last year said the Queen Mary would need $23 million in urgent work to stay “viable” over the next two years, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars of repairs identified in a 2016 survey. While the city paid for current repairs using its Tidelands Fund, officials hope the ship’s net revenue and revenue generated from associated leases and special events will pay for future repairs, city spokesperson Jennifer De Prez said in a Dec. 7 email.
The ship closed to the public in March 2020 at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and remained closed while the city identified the most crucial repairs and began upgrading ocean liner. The ship was initially slated to partially reopen in October but was delayed due to ongoing repairs.
“The Queen Mary has been an icon of our Long Beach shoreline for 55 years,” 1st District Councilmember Mary Zendejas said in a statement. “We remain dedicated in our efforts to preserve the ship’s history and structural safety. I look forward to welcoming the community back on board!”