A Royal and Tasty Time Aboard the Queen Mary
I came for the legendary Sunday brunch and ended up staying for breakfast. I didn’t originally plan it that way, but after filling my gullet on an incredible assortment of seafood, salad, meat dishes and some serious desserts, I needed a nap. And what better place to rest than on a ship, gently rocking with the tides? And if the vessel you are relaxing on happens to be one of the most famous in the history of ocean travel, then it’s icing on the cake.
My getaway to the historic, 1930s Queen Mary began on a recent Sunday when a friend and I showed up for the popular champagne brunch. As one of Southern California’s best brunches, this nautical-themed feast takes guests on a worldwide culinary adventure with more than 50 unique dishes from around the globe. From made-to-order omelets, pancakes, and eggs Benedict to Mexican fajitas, carne asada tacos and meatball soup, from Asian inspired ribs and noodles to garden salads, fresh seafood, decadent desserts, and bottomless champagne, this brunch has something for every taste bud.
And when it comes to atmosphere, the Queen’s brunch has plenty. Located in the 80-year-old ship’s elegant and graceful Grand Salon, the dining experience, complemented by a live harpist, has “the air of a royal soiree and is anything but typical.”
After about 90 minutes at the buffet, devouring numerous plates of fresh crab legs, smoked salmon, ahi tuna, oysters on the half shell, shrimp, imported cheeses, carved turkey, Chinese barbecue ribs, soup and chocolate cheesecake, I made my out of the Grand Salon and into the ship’s luxurious main lobby, near the bow, where I checked into my cabin.
Located on B deck, near the stern, the room was cozy, charming and oozed with history. To get there, I walked down a level of stairs, past the ship’s fitness center, and then strolled nearly the entire length of the 1,019-ft-long ship to room 491.
Like the rest of the 346 original first-class staterooms aboard the ship, my cabin featured original artwork from the boat’s heyday, as well as authentic Art Deco built-ins for additional storage. Known as the “ship of woods,” many of the original staterooms are adorned with rich wood paneling from all over the world. While every stateroom is unique, they all offer a glimpse into what transatlantic travel was like during the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.
My room came with a firm king bed, large flat screen TV, a half-tub with shower, wireless Internet, and two porthole windows looking out to the city of Long Beach across the bay. The room also came with the Queen Mary’s incredible history.
Since she first took to the water on her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, in Southampton, England, the ship was an instant star. 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 ship set a new standard in transatlantic travel, which the rich and famous considered as the only civilized way to travel.
While taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship, I learned about the ship’s glory days on the high seas. For three years after her maiden voyage, she was the ocean’s most royal liner, carrying Hollywood celebrities like Bob Hope and Clark Gable, royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and dignitaries like Winston Churchill. And speaking of Sir Winston, my tour visited the room he occupied while sailing aboard.
During her time at sea, the Queen Mary also carried WWII troops and had a bounty put on her by Nazi Germany. After WWII, the ship was retrofitted and put back into civilian service until its last voyage in October 1967, which led her to her final docking station in Long Beach, where she has been since.
For more information on the Queen Mary Sunday champagne brunch, call (877) 342-0738 or visit: www.queenmary.com. For more information on staying aboard the ship and on current specials, call (877) 342-0742 or visit the website.
Greg Aragon is a travel writer from Glendale. For the past 12 years he has authored “Greg’s Getaway,” a popular travel column which has taken him to more than 21 countries in search of exciting destinations, people, food, drink and culture. You can follow more of Greg’s travels at www.Travelingboy.com