Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe they walk among us and sometimes interact with us?
In a recent blog, Taking Cairo to the Queen, I promised to tell my ghost story on my first venue tour of the Queen Mary. As I mentioned, Beth Bowman was our ever faithful tour guide the first time we toured the ships facilities. She took us all over the ship, showing us the different spaces to hold events. The ballrooms were magnificent and the ship held so much history. It was truly amazing! Then, as an added treat, she took us into the infamous pool room. I was so excited to see it!
I had been to the Queen Mary as a child. We went on a tour – it might have been junior high school, the details are fuzzy. What I do remember is the feeling it gave me to be on the ship. The moment I stepped on the ship, I was filled with excitement, happiness, and a desire to peek into the cracks and look behind closed doors. It’s an excitement that is hard to explain. It’s not quite the same as the excitement you get when you do something new, although I’m sure that’s part of it. It’s an more of an overwhelming excitement – like it’s happening *to* me, as opposed it being caused by me. I call it Disneyland excitement. I just can’t help but to smile and be giddy!
Stepping on to the ship as an adult was no different. I had that same excitement and the same intense happiness. It really makes sense if you think about it; so many wonderful and exciting things have happened on the ship over the years! From being a luxury cruise ship filled with celebrities and the wealthy to becoming the Grey Ghost during war time and housing Winston Churchill; the ship is filled with a rich history and more stories than one might ever learn in a lifetime.
So, Beth tells us she’s going to take us into the pool room. My heart leaps just thinking about it. I had seen photos of it but really hadn’t read about all of the hauntings on the ship yet. Beth had gone into a few of the routine stories that they tell people on the ship but really hadn’t gone into depth about the pool room. She explained that it was part of the haunted tour and that there were normally special effects when people came through here – everything from fog and smoke, to water in the pool and the wet foot prints of a small girl who drowned in the pool. A reenactment of sorts.
We step inside the pool room and the hallway leading in is very dark – blackness everywhere. I suppose they keep it dark for the ghost tour. Upon entering the room, the musty smell of the ship wafted up through my nostrils. There are two floors in the pool room, the bottom floor is level with the pool and has space for lounge chairs, etc. The upper floor has a place to walk around the entire pool and is open through to the bottom to watch the happenings inside the pool. We entered on the upper floor. My eyes were drawn to the ceiling in an instant. It was so beautiful! The entire ceiling was covered in alabaster shells. Simply amazing!
As I walked forward into the upper walkway, I looked to my left as we passed the grand bi-level staircase that led down to the pool’s entrance. On the landing, halfway between the upper and lower floor, there was a very handsome black man with one of the prettiest smiles I had ever seen. He was wearing a 1930s or 1940s ship uniform, like the staff would wear back when the ship was a luxury cruise liner. He seemed very friendly, as everyone who worked on the ship had been thus far. As I walked past one of the many columns in the room (set there to hold each level up inside the ship), I decided I should turn back again and wave hello. I stepped past the column, turned back to look where the man was and POOF! He was gone. Literally gone. No sign of him. There was no way for him to have left so quickly, in the two seconds it took me to pass by the column. The stair cases are steep and there are several steps leading both up and down.
Thinking he must have been a current employee of the ship, I said to Beth “Wow, it’s neat that the employees wear the original uniforms that they had on the ship.”
Beth looked at me blank faced and confused. She replied, “We haven’t worn ship-style uniforms in more than 10 years. Everyone wears suits now.”
My eyes got wide. I asked her if she had just seen the man that was there on the landing a moment ago? She blinked and looked at me with a blank stare. The gals accompanying me on the tour did the same. I asked them had they seen the man? In unison, “nope, no one”.
A light bulb went off and a smile spread across my face. I had seen a ghost! A real-life, plain as can be, walking, smiling ghost!
That was the first time I saw a ghost on the ship, but it wasn’t the last. Stay tuned for more ghost stories…