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Clocked Out: Get your sea legs with this Queen Mary hack

How to get a drink on the Queen Mary without coughing up anywhere between $20 to $55 first.

Clocked Out: Get your sea legs with this Queen Mary hack
Observation Bar selfie by the author of this column. Here, we’re enjoying (from left to right) a Weekend at the Waldorf and a Mezcal Paloma.

Anaheim may have Disneyland, but we’ve got… the Queen Mary? Both destinations are, at this point, historical landmarks in Southern California, having beckoned visitors from all over the world for more than half a century.

But like the Happiest (or priciest) Place on Earth, the Queen Mary now costs a pretty petty to set foot on — unless you plan accordingly. Admission to the recently reopened ole vessel is now $45, up from $40 in 2019. Oh, and you’ve gotta pay that even if you’re just going to the Observation Bar to grab a drink. Whaaat? I know. But I LIVE here! I know, I know.

Parking is also $10 with validation from one of the eateries or bars on board. That’s $55 before you even get your martini.

I strode right into this rude awakening last Wednesday when I decided to visit the Observation Bar for the first time. I arrived around at 4:30 p.m., just in time for happy hour, but my jaw just about came unhinged when I found out the price to board. That admission price does drop to a much more reasonable $10 after 6 p.m., but that only leaves you with just 60 minutes to take advantage of these happy hour deals: $6 well drinks, a few dollars off specialty cocktails, etc.

Sink not in despair, there is a hack that appears to work. Here’s how to avoid that pesky admission fee.

Step 1: You have to make a reservation, but the ship does not allow reservations to the Observation Bar (*eye-roll*), so you’ll have to make one at the Promenade Cafe on OpenTable, here.

Step 2: The reservation will serve as your admission. Yay! OK here’s the annoying part. Now, you must go to the Promenade Cafe and either cancel that rezzy in person or order a snack (I highly recommend the massive $12 artichoke dip). Otherwise, your card (required to make the reservation) will be charged a hefty fee.

Step 3: Now, you can head to the Observation Bar, a 1930s Art Deco Lounge that is (begrudgingly) worth the hassle of cheating the system. Oh, and don’t forget to ask for parking validation.

The Observation Bar aboard the Queen Mary is worth the visit and offers some of the best views of the city. Photo by Kat Schuster.

This workaround was kindly suggested to me by the woman working the ship’s entrance, who acknowledged that paying $45 to go to a floating happy hour was a bit exorbitant.

Planning to get shipwrecked? You could always bus it. To avoid parking (and buzzed driving) altogether, you can take a Long Beach Transit bus to the Queen Mary for $1.25. You can also take a free shuttle from the Transit Mall in Downtown.


Kat Schuster was laid off from the Long Beach Post on March 22, yet she still authors Clocked Out and serves as editor of the Watchdog without pay. Thank her for her work.


The city, which operates the ship nowadays, does knock that admission price aside a few times a week if you’re willing to time your visit to the Observation Bar:

Meet Me at the Mary - Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.

Karaoke at The OB - Wednesdays from 6 to 10 p.m.

KJAZZ Jazz and Blues night - Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m.

You can also check out the ship’s event calendar here.

During our visit, we happened to be starving so we ordered the huge $12 Spinach Artichoke Dip — it’s seriously enough to feed four people. Then, we sipped Weekend at the Waldorf, which has Bacardi Superior, lime, orange liquor and strawberry and a Mezcal Paloma. Then, of course, we did take our buzz and wander about the decks a bit.

Happy hacking, sailors.

The Observation Bar hosts happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.


P.S., I would like to formally invite you to the Long Beach Watchdog’s Pup Quiz Bar Trivia at Altar Society Brewing & Coffee Co. in Downtown this Thursday. Just smash this link here to register. It’s $10 per person to pre-register or $15 at the door. Some pretty great prizes will go to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place teams — but best of all, you’ll be quizzed by the staff and reporters of the Watchdog themselves. You’d better dust off that noodle of yours.

All proceeds will go directly into supporting what you’re reading here, Long Beach’s largest independent and worker-owned newspaper. I hope to see you there.


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