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  1. Not quite an "inaugural cruise" but I did sail on QM2 right after she came out of a major refit in 2016. Major changes were made to the layout of the buffet and the grills dining rooms so even the crew members that were on before the refit had to learn the new arrangements. On the first day I didn't have hand or bath towels until after diner - and that was in a suite. Now imagine an entire crew being new to a ship. Even is they all served on other ships in the fleet there are bound to be some service glitches as they learn and settle into a new environment. Unless something goes very wrong you won't have the cruise from hell but you will experience some service problems. And you will forever have bragging rights to having been on a maiden voyage.
  2. The US Public Health Service requires that any shellfish must be previously frozen before it can be served on a cruise ship. Freezing greatly affects the texture so frozen oysters would only be suitable for recipes like fried oysters or stir fried dishes. (This doesn't concern oysters but my last experience with ordering caviar in PG was disappointing as it was pasteurized. It does preserve shelf live but high heat is a terrible thing to do to delicate fish eggs.)
  3. That is really further dumbing down. A couple of years ago there was a very active thread regarding "jacket optional" on QV Med cruises. The arguments for jacket optional usually cited the hot climate. But on an Alaska curise? Sweltering heat and humidity can scarcely be the excuse.
  4. When QM2 leaves Southampton to head west for New York... because she's coming for me!
  5. In one word, yes. The fare was perfectly acceptable to the OP when he booked. If he can negotiate some perk then more power to him. If I buy an evening dress at full price, than two months later the same dress is now heavily discounted, the store isn't going to refund the difference. This kind of thing happens all the time in US retailing. I can choose to buy it now. Or I can choose to wait for a deal and risk that my size is sold out. We make choices based on our tolerance for risk and how badly we want something.
  6. Just to play Devil's Advocate here, you are asking to have it both ways. You want Cunard to maintain your advantage of best stateroom selection and priority for dinner seating. Yet you want the lower price paid by those who have to take a category guarantee and are way down on the dining priority list. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for anything. Yes, prices can go down but they might go up or your opportunities become limited. We had recent posts here where one saw a voyage "disappear" because it sold out. Another poster - a scooter user - booked a standard cabin late as no HC rooms were available. She then wrote a long dissertation on how difficult is was to cope.
  7. If we are expected to carry our own metal straws, perhaps next we will need to carry our own knives and forks as that would the save on the detergent and energy used in the commercial washing and sanitization process. I just got a package from an online retailer. It came in a padded plastic bubble envelope. I'd estimate that the plastic in that envelope would make at least 100 plastic straws. Yet few will be willing to give up their fast and convenient "a" dot com shipping.
  8. Thank you for your comments on both the good and the bad. If you generally prefer ships that carry less than 1,000 passengers then QM2 was not the best choice in hindsight. The level of service doesn't reach that of Seaborne or Regent but then neither do the fares. If I'm accustomed to staying in an ultra-luxury hotel then a property marketed to business travelers will be disappointing.
  9. Whatever Cunard does in the next refit won't please everyone. When the 2016 refit was discussed here some missed the Winter Garden specifically because few events happened there so it was a quiet place to read and others even preferred the old King's Court. The deck 7 and Grill refits were focus group tested but I don't know about this round since it is not a "gut it out" refit like the last one. (The deck 13 staterooms were also added at that time.) The spa is definitely overdue for a refresher as it's essentially unchanged since the ship went into service. Canyon Ranch rolled out its "Mareel" concept so it's hard market their services as new when the surroundings look unchanged. As for the Grills tubs - whatever they do somebody won't be pleased. Jucuzzis are a selling point for some and others just like to soak in a tub. Decor is in the eye of the beholder. The last go-around was supposedly inspired on the original fittings of the first Queen Mary.
  10. Unidentified "they" pushing for an unattainable "it"? In the US Forbes magazine is considered a mainstream business magazine but recently ran this article that included a video produced by a major enrivonmental activist group. Cruise Ship Pollution Is Causing Serious Health And Environmental Problems
  11. Unless somebody on board asks the current captain how long he will be on board, it isn't possible to know who will be in charge for your sailing. Cunard stopped publishing the schedules of the senior officers a couple of years ago, citing privacy and security concerns.
  12. An animal that cannot get out of the way of a massive moving object is doing its species a favor by removing itself from the gene pool. Sounds like a back-door approach by environmental zealots to ban cruise ships in certain areas by increments: Making it increasingly difficult for them to operate. First it was low sulfur fuel as "reasonable accommodation". Now it's speed restrictions as "protection". They will push and push until they get what they want and once they get it, the "it" will never be enough.
  13. Depends on your priority: getting the best stateroom selection or getting the best price. In the past we have had some posts where a passenger bemoaned early booking because OBC was offered closer to sailing date. Book early to secure the stateroom that you want. Book late if you want to gamble on a lower price vs. risk of the ship selling out or prices going up.
  14. We're not allowed to mention travel agents here. Discounts when booking with a TA usually come from their foregoing some commission or ability to monitor price drops. If you want to book tomorrow morning it's too late for us to help you. Normally we recommend monitoring pricing and signing for email promotions from the line and/or from online TAs. But you have two big constraints that blow out all the conventional methods: 1) kennel space and 2) being tied to a specific sailing. You are right in that if you try to cancel and rebook for a lower price your old booking will go into cyberspace and anyone on the kennel waiting list can pounce on it. (It stinks but people who need kennel space or an HC stateroom usually have to pay full freight.) You said that there is a discounted fare but with a non-refundable deposit so how likely is it that you will need to cancel it? Emigrating is something entirely different from a vacation so I would think that you know that you definately are sailing and specifically on that date. What is your risk tolerance? Are you concerned you might have to push back your departure?
  15. Nobody here has reported of being upgraded for only one segment of a longer voyage.
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