October 11, 2009
Friends have been telling my husband and me for years that we should take a cruise. When we tell them we are highly susceptible to motion sickness — a ride on a fast elevator can make us ill — they brush aside our protestations with, "But the ships are so huge; you'll never feel a thing."
We don't believe them.
So we never had been on a cruise ship — until a bright idea occurred to us while planning a recent trip to Long Beach, Calif. There, the Queen Mary, one of the most storied ocean liners of the 20th century, has been docked for more than 40 years, and it takes paying guests to stay overnight in its staterooms.
Best of all, it doesn't move. Whatsoever.
Voila! A cruise fit for landlubbers. We booked it.
Arriving there around 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, we spent the next 20 hours cruising not over waters to places on a map but across decades to points on a timeline.
Here are a few highlights.
•The ship/hotel's lobby, other public places and deluxe staterooms (where we paid $149 for a night's stay) are lined in warm, burnished wood paneling, creating a sense of history and luxury.
•In the generously sized first-class stateroom and its less-generously sized private bath, certain fixtures lend a quaint air and give a glimpse into amenities enjoyed by the rich passengers who occupied such staterooms. Chief among them: Air ventilation comes from a rudimentary round swiveling vent with three settings: "SHUT," "WARMER" and "COOLER"; the handle to flush the toilet comes straight out of the wall about shoulder high and consists of a round pedal labeled "Shanks PUSH"; and the bathtub has four handles, labeled "Hot salt," "Hot fresh," "Cold fresh" and "Cold salt." Alas, the salt handles don't work.
•The high point was an hour's sojourn in the ship's lushly appointed Observatory Bar, where we sipped drinks, nibbled on hors d'oeuvres, gazed out at the harbor and watched as the late afternoon sun set the room aglow.
All that, and not a hint of seasickness on the horizon.
More information: queenmary.com, 800-437-2934
—Pam Becker, Tribune Newspapers
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