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RMS Queen Mary

The RMS Queen Mary, built during the height of transatlantic ocean travel, sailed more than a million miles and transported over 2 million guests over a career spanning 30 years.

Built by Cunard as a the bigger and more powerful of two ships, the luxury liners and sometimes cruise ships, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth reigned as a pair providing weekly express transatlantic service.

Transformed into a troop transport during WWII, the Queen Mary helped the Allied war effort immensely. Usually steaming alone using her speed to outrun the enemy the ship transported soldiers, and in 1942, the Queen Mary sailed with 16,082 passengers, the most ever.


Highlighted in several pop culture features, the Queen Mary became a noticeable icon in famous shows such as Poseidon Adventure (1972), Arrested Development (2006), The X-Files (1998), and Assault on a Queen (1966).

RMS Queen Mary steamship ocean liner
RMS Queen Mary steam ship ocean liner sailing at sea

A Powerful and Fast Queen

Capturing the Blue Riband several times throughout her career, the Queen Mary was a powerful and fast ship.

Designed after years of maintaining the Blue Riband with the venerable RMS Mauretania, Cunard set to build the worlds largest and fasted liner. The key to success - power. With steam turbines powering the four propellers, the Queen Mary out powered the rivals of the day. This brute strength allowed the ship to power through the seas ensuring passengers crossed the Atlantic in record time.

After trading record breaking crossings with the SS Normandie, the Queen Mary survived WWII with her speed and continued to serve as Cunard's flagship holding the prestigious Blue Riband, until the SS United States launched.

A Classic and Enduring Design

Cruising in the golden age of ocean liners, the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth, both of Cunard, competed against the SS Normandie of the French Line, shown to the right docked in New York before WWII. 

Split into three separate classes, each with comparably impressive accommodations, the Queen Mary was a profitable ship throughout her career providing transport to travelers of all walks of life. This was a primary advantage over other ships of the day, such as the SS Bremen and SS Normandie. 

The RMS Queen Mary, with distinctive three red funnels and aggressive prow, has become the standard of ocean liner design over the ages, maintaining popularity rivaling the RMS Titanic.

RMS Queen Mary RMS Queen Elizabeth SS Normandie docked together in NYC
RMS Queen Mary ocean liner steamship troop transport sydney WWII
Queen Mary During WWII

One of the ways the Allied Forces won WWII was the success of the troop transport ships successfully carrying allied forces between theaters. The Queen Mary carried hundreds of thousands of soldiers safely throughout the war.

Painted grey, the ship developed a nickname of the Grey Ghost, due to the ghostly sightings in the distance that appeared and disappeared as fast as an apparition.

Although the Queen Mary survived WWII and aided in the war effort tremendously, the success came with a price. In October 1942, while transporting American troops to the Western Front,  the ship collided with the Destroyer HMS Curacao sinking the vessel. The Queen was under orders to not stop due to u-boat threats, only 101 sailors survived.

In 1942, the Queen Mary sailed with 16,082 passengers, the most ever.

Visit the Queen Mary Today

Shortly after WWII, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth enjoyed more than a decade of transatlantic dominance. Between the two ships, millions of people traveled between the continents in style. A decorative map adorned the first class dining room that showed where the ship was with a miniature model showing the process of the crossing.


In the mid 1960's, Cunard began to feel the pressure from airline travel that had blossomed, and decided to decommission both Queens in order to finance the construction of the QEII and remain solvent. Bids came from everywhere, but ultimately was sold to a group in California.

Located in Long Beach, California, the Queen Mary stands as a reminder of the former grandeur of transatlantic travel. You can stay at the hotel in an old stateroom or visit the conference center or museum.

Visit here at:

RMS Queen Mary Starboard Deck ocean liner steam ship hotel
RMS Queen Mary Hotel Long Beach CA
RMS Queen Mary ocean liner steam ship hotel Long Beach CA

RMS Queen Mary Ship Facts

RMS Queen Mary Facts
81,237 GRT
Number of Decks:
Cruising Speed:
28.5 Knots (32.8 mph or 52.8 km/hr)
Max Speed:
33 Knots (38mph or 61km/h)
Port of Registry:
Maiden Voyage:
May 27, 1936
Years in Service:
Current Status:
Permanently located in Long Beach, CA as 
RMS Queen Mary Elevaton Drawing
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