Hairs rose on the back of my neck. I rested a warm hand to the nape of it as I cautiously twisted sideways in the chair. The thick, burgundy curtains shivered as if a sudden breeze had blown through the air. But I was sitting on a lone chair, on a stage, in a ballroom of an old cruise ship. How silly of me to think that a breeze could have blown through. My mom snapped a typical picture of me before I jumped from the stage.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
The brochures had said the Queen Mary, located in Long Beach, California, was haunted. I shook this off as a myth. I was too excited to see the grandeur and eloquence of a ship to the likeness of the Titanic to believe such a thing. Having been constructed in 1930 in Scotland, I wanted to see the components and the history of such a fine means of transportation. Tour guides stated that the ship was once a passenger liner; carrying celebrities of the time such as Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth. It was later turned into a troopship and carried throngs of European brides and children to the United States and Canada in 1946.
I was intrigued by these tidbits of history, but wanted to know if the ship truly was haunted; proving myself wrong. While waiting in line to enter the holding room for the Haunted Encounters Tour, I glanced through the brochure some more. The Queen Mary has 12 Decks, can hold up to 1,957 passengers, has more than 2,000 portholes, and arrived in Long Beach at 10:00 a.m., December 9, 1967. Interesting! As I read more in depth facts, I realized it was time to take the tour. I steadied myself and walked through the door.
Generally speaking, I am scared out of my wits when ghosts are mentioned. But something about this tour made me want to experience the paranormal. We shuffled from the tiny room into the swimming pool area. This is where a third class girl met her untimely death, the guide explained, by sliding down the banister and breaking her neck. She is said to wander the nursery and pool in search of her mom. I was slightly freaked out but was up for more, at this point, since no sightings had yet to be seen.
We continued on to the engine room, where it is supposed, that a crew member was crushed to death by Door 13 in 1966. The guide said that knocking can be heard. I was mildly convinced, but as the guide began to tell us that this door had been filmed in parts of the Poseidon Adventure, faint knocking began. The noise rose as we all gasped. The tour guide quickly calmed us down; ushering us to the upper decks of the ship.
Arriving at the Queen’s Salon, an expansive, first class lounge, was exciting. I loved the artwork and grandiose appeal. It is thought that the Woman in White can be seen dancing alone in any corner of the room as if with a partner. Everyone felt a presence of some sort while on that tour. The little boy next to me felt fear. The elderly lady behind me felt awestruck. My dad, well, he still felt skeptical. But I . . . I felt at peace with the knowledge of unexplained happenings around the ship and in daily life. Experiencing the literal history of the Queen Mary has made me realize this: We are all surrounded by ghosts of the past, whether we like it or not.
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