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  • Writer's pictureJason Leppert

Queen Mary Restoration Efforts Are Good for Cruising

PHOTO: A fading Queen Mary permanently docked in Long Beach, California. (photo by Jason Leppert)

Cunard Line’s original Queen Mary from 1934 is currently in sorry shape.

At least the classic ocean liner still exists—permanently moored in Long Beach, California—safe from the scrap yards since its 1967 retirement.

But it is in desperate need of around $289 million in repairs. Thankfully, initial help is on the way, benefiting modern cruise travel in the process.

According to the Long Beach Post, the early Cunarder is now being repainted for the first time in more than 15 years to restore its original colors, long since faded. The work is anticipated to take approximately eight months as some 240,000 square feet of the vessel are resurfaced. Most recognizably different will be the hue of the smokestacks when completed, but also a much darker gray hull is also likely.

The current project also encompasses exterior corrosion treatment to remove oxidization and stem further rust. The solution is Maxon CRS, an environmentally-friendly coating. The plan is to eventually move the restoration to the ship’s interior as well.

The Queen’s inside certainly requires attention since the $289 million worth of work would need to extend to structural endeavors warding off potential hull collapse and flooding.

Of course, leaseholder Urban Commons has dreams that exceed mere restoration efforts. It has revealed a $250 million master plan to redevelop the entire area surrounding the ship to be dubbed Queen Mary Island.

For years, the land has been a bit of a hodgepodge with the adjacent Spruce Goose dome serving in part as a cruise ship terminal. Now facility is destined exclusively for cruising as Carnival Cruise Line improves on its infrastructure and Queen Mary Island is set to become a world-class entertainment, dining and retail complex.

In fact, the island environment calls for “a distinctive shipyard/industrial aesthetic,” according to Urban Commons’ press release, with elements paying homage to Queen Mary’s British and Californian history.

There have been many failed attempts at redeveloping the area previously, including former owner Disney once considering an ocean-based theme park that eventually received new life as Tokyo DisneySea in Japan. So, only time will tell if all of this will actually be completed.

Provided it happens, the future looks very bright for this Long Beach destination as well as cruising overall. In much the same way as “The Love Boat” television show propelled the cruise industry to where it is today, the Queen Mary also sustains great interest in it.

It’s truly a unique historical relic.

Most ships once retired don’t have a future other than the breakers where they are scrapped for their raw materials. Cunard’s more recent Queen Elizabeth 2 and United States Lines’ SS United States are rare exceptions that remain moored, but they have hardly received the museum treatment as they wither even further away.

Thus, it’s important to maintain the Queen Mary for years to come to represent the cruise industry’s past and provide a taste of the experience at sea. Especially with its close proximity to departing Carnival ships immediately nearby, the ship should be well kept as a good show for the health of the industry overall.

In fact, I wonder as Carnival surely prepares to retire some of its older operating cruise ships if the line would ever consider docking one of them permanently alongside the Queen Mary to be a shoreside sampler of modern cruise life juxtaposed against the classic.

It could be a wonderful promotional tool if, say, the aging Carnival Fantasy was made available as a hotel updated with the brand’s latest accommodations, activities, dining and entertainment to get people interested in a longer cruise vacation.

In either case, at least the Queen Mary serves that purpose today and hopefully for many more tomorrows.

This post first appeared on TravelPulse.



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