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"Today we come to the happy task of sending on her way the stateliest ship now in being. It has been the nationís will that she should be completed, and today we can send her forth no longer a number on the books, but a ship with a name in the world, alive with beauty, energy and strength! May her life among great waters spread friendship among the nations!"  
 

 

 

 

HUMOROUS HISTORIC LEGEND:  Legend has it that the Board of Directors at Cunard had decided to name their new ship the Queen Victoria, which would have been in keeping with the tradition of Cunard ships having the "ia" suffix (Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengeria). As per protocol, legend states that the Cunard Directors went to ask King George V for his blessing of their proposed name saying, "We have decided to name our new ship after England's greatest Queen," meaning Queen Victoria, the King's Grandmother. Upon which the King is reported to have stated, "My wife (Queen Mary) will be delighted that you are naming the ship after her."

 

On May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary departed from Southampton, England embarking on her maiden voyage. She boasted five dining areas and lounges, two cocktail bars and swimming pools, a grand ballroom, a squash court, and even a small hospital. The Queen Mary instantly set a new benchmark in trans-Atlantic travel--which the rich and famous considered the only civilized way to travel. She quickly seized the hearts and imaginations of the public on both sides of the Atlantic, representing the spirit of an era known for its elegance, class, and style.

For three years after her maiden voyage, the Queen Mary was the grandest ocean liner in the world--carrying Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope and Clark Gable, royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and dignitaries like Winston Churchill and even a future American President. During that time, she also set a new speed record--one she continued to hold for 14 years. But when the Queen Mary docked in New York City in September 1939 that would be the last time she would carry civilian passengers for many years.

As World War II started, the Queen Mary's transformation into a troopship began. She was painted a camouflaged grey color and stripped of her luxurious amenities. Dubbed the "Grey Ghost" because of her stealth and stark color, the Queen Mary was the largest and fastest troopship to sail, capable of transporting as many as 16,000 troops at one time while still maintaining 30 knots. At the conclusion of WWII, the Queen Mary began a 10-month retrofitting process, which would return the ship to her original glory. On July 21, 1947, the Queen Mary resumed regular passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean and continued to crisscross those same waters for nearly two additional decades.

The increasing popularity of air travel helped signal the end of an era for the Queen Mary. By 1965, the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss so the company reluctantly decided to retire and sell the legendary Queen Mary. A bidding war occurred with Long Beach, California the ultimate winner. On October 31, 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her final cruise, arriving in Long Beach on December 9, 1967 where she has happily resided ever since. The Queen Mary is now a floating Hotel, Attraction and Event & Wedding Venue, home to three world-class restaurants as well as the DIANA:  LEGACY OF A PRINCESS exhibit, and an iconic landmark in southern California.