By Denise Ortuno Neil
Although the calendar assures us that summer is on its way out, the desert temperatures beg to differ. A simple albeit temporary reprieve is to take a little jaunt out of town to a cooler climate. The mountains, the beach or perhaps a day on a ship would be nice, a really big ship. Just so happens that you can spend the day on such a ship, a ship with royalty too.
The Queen Mary in Long Beach California is quite the long standing, or floating, Southern California attraction which has been entertaining and enthralling millions of tourists (over a million a year) for decades. The ship was built in the 1930’s and had her maiden voyage in 1936. Part of Cunard Line of ocean liners, The Queen Mary was at the pinnacle of floating luxury, with numerous dining and entertainment areas, a ballroom and even a convenient and compact hospital. The visual appointments were stunning rivaling the finest of ships.
The Queen Mary was an active passenger ocean liner until World War II broke out when she was enlisted into duty as a troopship. She transformed, as her former glorious beauty was shrouded in grey to make her military journeys less conspicuous and her interior embellishments also vanished. For this reason she was called, The Grey Ghost. Her efforts in the war were valiant as she was the fastest and most immense troopship around, able to transport up to 16,000 troops
After the war, she regained her former adornments and went back to the high seas as the luxury ocean liner that she was meant to be. For over 20 years The Queen Mary played host to celebrities, dignitaries and royalty, until her final voyage in 1967 that brought her to Long Beach California, where she has been ever since and has reinvented herself as a first class attraction and water bound luxury hotel.
Not only is The Queen Mary a destination on her own, but there is an added bonus to visit the glorious ship, now there is a Princess on board.
The Princess Diana: Legacy of a Princess Royal Exhibit has been on display since June 2012. The expansive exhibit is the first of its kind and has over 2,000 items that took 30years to accumulate. The treasures include items of the beloved Princess plus other memorabilia from the Windsor monarchy. Incased dresses worn by Princess Diana grace the sprawling gallery as well as heirlooms, personal accessories and photos which add to the priceless collection. The exhibit also includes a Tea Room and Gift Boutique, perfect for purchasing royal souvenirs.
The exhibit is a collaborative effort between the Queen Mary and the Pink Ribbons Crusade (www.dianadresses.org) organization, which is a non-profit advocacy group for breast cancer awareness comprised completely of volunteers. The on loan traveling exhibit worth over $4 million is a dynamic fundraiser for the charity which donates the proceeds to the local area in which the exhibit resides. The proceeds derived from the Queen Mary will be distributed to Long Beach and Orange County areas.
Taking a trip to The Queen Mary and visiting the Princess Diana exhibit during this time of year has certain significance as it marks the 16th anniversary of her death. The untimely passing of the Princess and her companion Dodi Fayed took place on August 31st, 1997 in Paris, France. She was only 36 years old. The highly regarded and loved Princess was a beacon of charity throughout world, devoting her time to those suffering from AIDS.
The void she left behind impacted the world, but with her exhibit at The Queen Mary, a part of her has come back to life. Tours of the exhibit are given daily, and tickets vary, depending on what kind of experience that you’re looking for. The Queen Mary offers a Princess Diana package which includes a one night stay in one of their staterooms plus two tour tickets, or you can have the Afternoon Lite Tea with Diana deal where traditional tea is served with all the royal trimmings. But if all you want is the tour, they will certainly accommodate you as well.
The Queen Mary has a multitude of other tours available besides the Princess Diana exhibit, including the Dark Harbor Nights, which is a collection of frightful Halloween inspired nights starting in October.
However, if you’re in the mood to connect with royalty, then the Princess Diana exhibit is the way to go. It’s an opportunity to spend a fun day out of the heat with a Princess and a Queen.
For more information on The Queen Mary and tickets visit www.queenmary.com