'Queen Mary' afforded luxurious makeover

Long Beach's venerable Queen Mary cruise ship, now a tourist attraction and hotel, is getting a makeover.

Repairs to the city-owned ship have been delayed because of financial difficulties, but Long Beach, California officials now believe the ship is getting its long overdue upgrades under a new management company.

The city turned over management to Delaware North, a New York hospitality and food service company, in September.

Company officials say their strategy is to restore the ship to much of its Art Deco splendour while incorporating modern-day amenities.

For example, as it begins to remodel the 314 staterooms, the company has refurbished the original portholes and bathtubs - including knobs for hot and cold salt water - but also added flat-screen televisions, hairdriers and iPod docking stations.

General manager of the ship Uwe Roggenthien declined to say how much Delaware North has spent on the ship, but the lease operator that hired Delaware North signed an agreement with the city of Long Beach to invest more than $US5 million ($NZ7 million).

The renovations are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The ship was built in 1934, dubbed the fastest and most luxurious cruise ship in the world.

On the seas, it hosted celebrities and royalty, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor and Bob Hope.

During World War 2, the ship was known as the Grey Ghost when it transported soldiers to the European front.


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