Coming this year: The Queen Mary’s partial reopening

Two bikers ride near ocean liner Queen Mary docked in Long Beach.
Bikers ride near Queen Mary docked in Long Beach in 2021. The 88-year-old ocean liner is undergoing extensive renovations and is set to open to public again by the end of the year.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Fans of the venerable Queen Mary who have been waiting more than two years to visit the aging Long Beach tourist attraction may not have to wait much longer.

A summer of critical repair work to the Queen Mary has set the city on track to move into the final stage of renovations, the Long Beach City Council announced in a press release Monday. Sections of the converted British ocean liner, which was closed entirely in 2020 due to the the coronavirus pandemic, are set to open to the public by the end of the year, officials said.

Recent upgrades included making safety and reinforcement repairs to the ship’s inner walls to improve stability, removing old lifeboats that stressed the ship’s support structure and initiating the installation of an automatic pump system to prevent possible flooding.


The city is currently outfitting the ship with an emergency generator and finalizing the installation of boilers and heat exchangers.

About 75% of the process — largely plumbing, mechanical and other metalwork — should be completed by the end of the year, officials said. All internal repairs should be wrapped up in early 2023, allowing the city to work on aesthetic projects, like painting and flooring.

“We are excited to see the repairs getting completed to ensure a successful preview at the end of this year,” said Eric Lopez, director of the Department of Public Works.

Over the last 50 years, Long Beach has brought in several firms — including Walt Disney Co. — to try to turn the ship into a profitable tourist attraction, with mixed results. Disney planned in 1990 to incorporate the ship into a $3-billion sea-themed amusement park but gave up the idea a few years later.

The former ocean liner turned floating hotel closed in May 2020 because of the pandemic. Several studies have estimated it needs hundreds of millions of dollars of upgrades to continue operating, including a 2021 report calling for $23 million in immediate repairs to prevent the ship from capsizing. Long Beach had considered sinking the 88-year-old ship after taking control of the vessel last year from the previous lease operators, who filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on lease agreements. But even scuttling or scrapping it could carry a $190-million price tag, officials learned.

Keeping the Queen Mary afloat has cost an estimated $6 million since the restoration project got underway earlier this year. But officials say the price tag is offset because the ship generates revenue through special events and filming opportunities, including a popular Halloween celebration.


The Queen Mary’s partial reopening was previously set for October.