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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Majestic Queen Mary tour and Hawaiian food in Long Beach, California

A foggy morning loomed over Long Beach, CA, as the sun tried its best to break through the marine layer. In order to get our day started, coffee was definitely needed to awaken our weary eyes. Midship Marketplace is located on the port side of the Promenade Deck. They served Starbucks coffee products along with pastries, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, and more. Decorative accents like colors, design themes, and use of the Greek key pattern on the counter and floor tile pay homage to the former Midships Bar and Lounge located in this very space. Iced Caramel Macchiato, Mocha Frappuccino, strawberry danish, and blueberry muffin were on the menu for our light breakfast. We sat at a table right outside on the Promenade Deck and watch as the fog continued to roll in on the port side.

After breakfast, it was time to take a walk outside on the Sun Deck. The marine layer was starting to burn off and the Long Beach skyline began to appear along with the marina, Parker’s Lighthouse, and the Long Beach Convention Center with its oceanic mural of the Pacific Ocean. Juvenile sea gulls were taking in the view as well from the handrails. It was time to head back to the room for a little rest before our ship tour.

Commodore Everette Hoard led our ship tour of the Queen Mary. The construction of the Queen Mary started in December 1930 at John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. After a delayed construction, due to the Great Depression, the R.M.S. Queen Mary launched on her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. She became the most popular Atlantic liner of the late 1930s from Southampton, England to New York with a stop in Cherbourg, France. The ship was stocked with 50,000 pounds of meat, 20,000 pounds of poultry, 17,000 pounds of fish, 9,000 pounds of bacon and ham, 2,000 pounds of sausage, 14,500 bottles of wine, 20,000 bottles of beer, 6,000 gallons of draught, 4,000 pounds of coffee and tea, 25,000 packages of cigarettes, 5,000 cigars, 21,000 tablecloths, 91,000 napkins, 16,000 pieces of cutlery, 200,000 pieces of crockery, and 100,000 pieces of china and glassware.

In March 1940, the Queen Mary was drafted as a troopship sailing around the globe delivering supplies and men during the course of World War II. Her service lasted six long years. In July 1947, the Queen Mary resumed passenger service along with the Queen Elizabeth.

By the late 1960s, transatlantic liners were showing a great decline in passengers due to the increasing popularity of jet travel for intercontinental transportation. In May 1967, Cunard Lines announced that the Queen Mary would be retired and sold. The City of Long Beach submitted the highest bid of $3,450,000. She made her final 39-day journey from Southampton, England and arrived in Long Beach, CA on December 9, 1967. Construction began to convert the passenger liner into a floating hotel, tourist attraction, and a special events venue. The Queen Mary opened to the public in May 1971.

On the Promenade Deck, above the Centerline Boutique, is a decorative Frieze; a highly sculpted band, plaster reinforced and pressure-wax treated to make it look like it was sculpted from ivory. It is just one of the modern examples of the Art Deco style found on the Queen Mary. The shop on the starboard side was the First Class Drawing Room, which was a favorite of Winston Churchill. As you make your way towards the bow, the Observation Lounge and Cocktail Bar’s semi-circular room “rounds” out the Promenade Deck with its Maple Cluster and Cedermah (naturally occurring every 150 years or so when Cedar and Mahogany trees cross-pollinate) panels and modern styled ornamented balustrade. A few films have been shot here like “Being John Malkovich” and “The Aviator” to name a few.

The Queens Salon, formerly the First Class Main Lounge, is one of the most beautiful and regal rooms you’ll ever see. This room is three decks high and was once filled with large overstuffed chairs and couches. During the day, this lounge was the entertainment center for the First Class with music concerts, movies, games, and just socializing. Peached tinted mirrors were used here to help with the “green” of seasickness by reflecting a healthy, beautiful complexion. At night, the couches and chairs were pushed to the sides of the room, and the carpet rolled up to uncover the hardwood floor of the ballroom where “formal nights” were born. Another handful of movies were shot here as well like “Godfather II” and “The Natural” to name a few.

Fun facts about the Queen Mary:
  • The Queen Mary is 1,019.5 feet long, 118 feet wide, and 185 feet high containing 12 decks.
  • First Class: 22 suites, 328 staterooms, and 18 public rooms accommodating 815 first class passengers
  • Second Class: 303 staterooms and 9 public rooms accommodating 787 second class passengers
  • Third Class: 309 staterooms and 6 public rooms accommodating 573 third class passengers
  • She weighs 81,237 gross tons and made of high tensile steel plating held together by 10 million rivets.
  • She carried approximately 2000 passengers and 1200 crewmembers.

On the Sun Deck, the Verandah Grill was the most exclusive room in the Queen Mary. Reserved for first class passengers only, it was the most famous restaurant and nightclub on the North Atlantic. Reservations were mandatory and would be booked solid months in advance. There was also an upcharge of one pound or 5 dollars for this special ala carte meal. At midnight, the tables and chairs were moved to the side to make room for the “Starlight Roof” nightclub.

The “R” Deck is the location of the Grand Salon, the largest room on the Queen Mary and currently home to the Champagne Brunch every Sunday. The walls are adorned with exotic Brazilian Peroba wood cut in three different ways with dados of Maple Burr from Canada. A decorative map of North Atlantic displays the routes that the ship would take. The ship icons were operated by an electrically operated pulley. On modern cruise ships, this is all computerized and can be viewed on the ship-board monitors and in your cabin on the television.

My mom has had a fascination with the Royal Family and pretty much anything British since she was in middle school. We watched Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Monty Python on PBS, and saw the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana live on TV. She even named me, Chelsea, after a city in England and means a “port of ships”. Diana: Legacy of a Princess exhibit was a must-see for us. Even though, Princess Diana left us too soon, she has left a legacy of memories and inspiration for people all around the world. She was a fairy tale princess with her charm, compassion, timeless beauty, and classic style. The exhibit is setup in chronological order from the Royal Family’s House of Windsor with George V and Mary of Teck to Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge with their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Dresses, accessories, memorabilia, letters, news stories, and more are on exhibit here. You can easily spend a good hour or two here.

You can’t leave the Queen Mary without souvenirs! The shops on the Promenade Deck have a great selection to choose from. They even have specialty foods like MBars, cuddly items like a bell boy teddy bears, or collectibles like lapel pins. After shopping, we headed back to the room to pack up and “disembark” for lunch.

Since we were surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, we were craving Hawaiian food. A few miles inland is Poke Etc. It’s located in the Ralphs shopping center on the corner of Cherry Avenue and Carson Street. They have more than just poke, they have plate lunches like kalua pig, lau lau, shoyu chicken, and more.

Kama’aina Plate ($10.95) is a combo plate with kalua pig, lau lau, a scoop of rice with a sprinkle of furikake, and choice of poke. The kalua pig had a good porky flavor and was seasoned properly with just salt. The lau lau was pretty good too with pork, pork fat, butterfish, and steamed in ti leaves. The Limu Ahi Poke was one of the most authentic pokes I’ve had on the mainland with limu (ogo), green onions, onions, sesame oil, and shoyu. No avocados, no mangos, no pineapples, just da kine simple stuff! Onolicious to da max! The only thing that was missing was a scoop of mac salad. Rating: 4.5/5

We also got a half pound of Limu Tako (octopus) Poke. The tako was sliced thick enough for the flavors to penetrate the meat. Again, just basic and authentic. Onolicious! Rating: 5/5

After lunch, we headed back home. A wonderful weekend in Long Beach had come to an end, but can’t wait until next time!

To view more photos, please visit OC Food Diva’s Facebook page.

For more information:
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802, United States
+1.877.342.0738 (information), +1.877.342.0742 (reservations)

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