City aims to reopen rooms, restaurants and retail aboard the Queen Mary this spring
Three years after the ship closed to the public, Long Beach has plans to reopen portions of the Queen Mary this spring, with the rest of the historic ocean liner reopening in the following months, according to a city official who oversees the ship.
“We are looking at a phased reopening, but that initial reopening phase in spring is expected to include hotel rooms, retail, some full-service food offerings, tours and event spaces,” said Johnny Vallejo, Long Beach’s deputy economic development director. “And then the remaining rooms, restaurants and other services will be phased in over the summer months.”
The Queen Mary shuttered amid the pandemic in March 2020, and since then, it’s remained almost entirely closed to the public, except for a limited number of tours offered last year, while the city worked on millions of dollars of crucial repairs.
The Queen Mary, which has been a fixture in Long Beach since 1967, fell into disrepair after years of neglect by private operators overseen by the city. After the last operator, Urban Commons, filed for bankruptcy, Long Beach was left on the hook to pay for the millions of dollars in work the ship urgently needed.
A report by the marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group said the Queen Mary needed $23 million in pressing work just to stay “viable,” and the engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol said last year that long-term costs could range from $150 million to $500 million to maintain the ship.
A full accounting of the millions of dollars spent so far wasn’t immediately available, but Public Works Director Eric Lopez said his crews have found ways to make repairs “faster and cheaper” than anticipated.
Lopez and Vallejo made their comments Thursday at a meeting of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism in the city.
CVB President and CEO Steve Goodling said he’d been part of a behind-the-scenes tour from Lopez that showed off some of the innovative repairs, such as using a shoreside generator and running power lines to the ship instead of paying millions to install a new shipboard one.
Lopez said it’s been a monumental task to get the Queen Mary this close to fully reopening.
“Johnny and I got a lot of white hair over this, but I am really really appreciative of where we’re at right now and how much work it took to get here,” he said.
Vallejo told the hoteliers gathered for the CVB’s meeting that the ship’s reopening will undoubtedly boost their businesses. The city, he said, has been getting daily inquiries about when the Queen Mary will reopen, and the limited number of tours the city offered last year filled up within hours, if not minutes.
“We feel very confident that there’s a lot of pent-up demand for the ship, and we’re anxious to facilitate that,” Vallejo said.
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