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MarkBearSF

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Everything posted by MarkBearSF

  1. I feel safe on the subways. The crime rate is ridiculously low. They're convenient as heck and run 24 hours. Maybe a little grime from the past 100 years or so. But they run.
  2. I believe part of the confusion may be because the special section on the opposite side of the alternative dining section on King's Court on the QM2 (The Chef's Galley?) is casual dress code. (I must admot I'm unclear on the details for that option)
  3. I suspect it's something like - because there is more competition in the US with other brands which offer it (notably Celebrity) and also due to the fact that there are different legal strictures and customs around cruise contracts, commitments, deposits and promises between the US and elsewhere. Perhaps they do it in the US because they must and limit it to there because they can. ...and, of course, nothing is free and included has a price. somewhere.
  4. Glad to help. Enjoy! A couple of other notes - Detergent is free of charge and supplied in the laundrettes Also - I just noticed that you're from NZ. I believe Princess, like others, tends to send their older, more tired ships down to the Australia & New Zealand markets. If your experience is with the Sea Princess and the like, you may find the QM2 a stylish step up. (Although she isn't much younger). And, since the original question elsewhere was from someone taking the Queen Elizabeth, I didn't mention it, but the QM2 has Illuminations, which is a lecture hall, planetarium, and movie theater (in addition to the showroom and the ballroom/second stage) - something no other ship has.
  5. Someone asked a similar question on a different social platform last week and here were my replies (After the first, I decided to add the second) Realize that this was in a Princess group. Hope it's helpful. Of course the key difference is Cunard proudly maintains many traditional aspects of the classic cruise experience including enforced dress codes and fixed dining with two seatings in Britannia. Beyond that, the service attitude is a bit more low key than Princess, but with generally high levels of training. I found the food to be roughly comparable, but of course, this is the most subjective aspect of the experience. Always available items are comparable, but on Cunard, you must request them or ask help from the server who may suggest them, whereas they are clearly printed on the menu on Princess. On sea days, Cunard reigns the seas. World class lecturers, many activities. (and the QM2, being purpose-built for crossings has extra interior space). Whereas Princess has a sorry set of bookshelves in the corner on most ships, Cunard has extensive libraries aboard, with professional librarians. Cunard's live entertainment is more oriented to classical musicians and performances than Princess (there's lots of live music throughout the ships) but Princess is tops these days with production shows. Personally, we love Cunard (there is no experience we've found to rival a North Atlantic crossing on the QM2) and are comfortable with the more formal atmosphere. However, we find the level of quality on Princess in service, food, and general product to be roughly equivalent at the Britannia level, if a bit different. (And since Princess has a very California to mid-American attitude, this San Franciscan from the Midwest feels right at home) And, since we can pop onto cheap little cruises a short cab ride away from home, they're extra appealing. (But they generally feed our need to cruise in between Cunard trips.) - - - More comparisons - There's more activity in the activities in many cases on Princess - Although we're not big buffet fans, we find Princess buffet a bit superior to Cunard, especially in the hours of service. - Cunard offers breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms even on port days. At breakfast, the extensive menu has many options for Brits like beans, grilled tomatoes, non-crisp bacon (American-style is called "streaky bacon) Unlike Princess, there are no daily breakfast specials. - Pub lunches are available every day at no extra charge in the Golden Lion Pub (as opposed to once or twice during a Princess cruise - they also serve for enough time to accommodate a couple of seatings) and the Afternoon Tea is NOT to be missed. - If it's a factor to you, I think Princess still uses fresh water in the pools, but Cunard like most lines, uses seawater. and the pool and deck areas are more extensive on Princess ships. (But Cunard has real promenade decks, with teak on the QM2) - There is no equivalent to Movies Under the Stars on Cunard. - Whereas many Princess ships are getting fast internet and non-timed packages, Cunard is still first generation with expensive by-the-minute pricing. Princess has apps and onboard technology but Cunard has nothing like them. (Don't even think about Medallions)
  6. Which is surprising. French Onion Soup is one of the easiest, most economical soups to make. (And with the steam kettles they use, there's little risk in burning the onions)
  7. In general, I'd feel optimistic. The Lyric always had pretty generous leg room before the HP remodel, ATG actually decreased seats to turn it into Hogwars (and they very generous in their restoration of the Hudson).
  8. Handy info to know, since I often avoid front row mezz since there is often little leg room in those bulkhead seats (I'm looking at you, Shubert!).
  9. We didn't do one this summer, but in 2017 and 2018, we received two allotments of internet time for our B2B crossings each year. We booked both from the US as single 16 and 14 night voyages. I'm not aware of the policy having changed since then. (As mentioned above, for World Club level trip calculations, each voyage counted as only one trip because they were booked that way)
  10. Agreed - thanks for the comparison. We had a somewhat problematic S. America cruise on the Infinity in 2015 and am happy to read more positive reports on the line. Jack - We have a great love of the QM2 and crossings in particular, but also enjoy cruises on her US-based competitors Celebrity, Princess, and HAL. Each line has its own personality, strengths and weaknesses, but we've been most satisfied with those lines.
  11. Agree with the above. Although gala nights certainly were formal (up there with the way cruises "used to be" on most lines) but, yes the "extra glam of a crossing" was missing and the pre-dinner sparkle was a little less luxe in the Commodore Club, As to the count - 3 for each crossing and probably 2 for the cruise. This year, it was a 7 day itinerary which allowed for Cunard's usual allotment of 2 nights for cruises. A previous poster mentioned that for her trip, last year, there was one, but that year's voyage was also shorter, I believe.
  12. Too pricey for me. We separate the Broadway week from the cruise. For the past four years, we've done a week of shows, followed by a trip on the QM2 (usually back and forth across the North Atlantic to Southampton, this year was a 1 week cruise to Halifax and overnight in Boston on July 4.) This is still cheaper than the Broadway cruises.
  13. As others have mentioned, using one's own TA often provides extra perks like OBC or gratuities. Doing so also puts someone on your side should there be a dispute with the line. I think it's policy (and perhaps law in the US) that the line will not directly offer any promotions or pricing that is not also available through a travel agent. Because of a difficult situation on a group cruise recently, I demurred on using the agency on the current cruise (especially awkward as the host just popped in to the office when I was booking) and left it with Cunard initially. Upon my return last week, I transferred it to my usual TA. Following her instructions, it took a simple email to Cunard with the details of the booking and the new agent's info. It took a day (or less).
  14. Thanks for the update! (We'll have a chance to find out ourselves next May when we're doing Princess Grill crossings)
  15. As for drinks, there are a couple of quirks with Cunard. - Drinks are available in two sizes. Small (uses UK measure) and Large (US shot, roughly twice as much) - They charge for your mixer (like tonic in a G&T) Their drinks package is more restrictive than Celebrity. (If your drink is more than the limit in your plan, you pay the regular price less 20%, rather than the net difference. You also must sign the tabs for each bar bill and then it's credited back overnight) Also, not all drinks are available in all bars. (The pub has a larger beer selection, but there are more types of gin in the Commodore Club and Chart Room)
  16. I'll let others answere your questions about the gym and spa. (A couple of weeks ago, we went to the gym for the first time in six trips on the QM2 - it was our muster station!) Dinner options (besides Britannia and King's Court) are: - Alternative dining in the Veranda Steakhouse. ($40) Pretty much what you'd expect. Good steaks, some seafood. Lots of side dish options. Their gimmick is they ask you to select your steak knife from an assortment brought to your table. - Alternative dining in the Lido. ($20) A really excellent option. It's white tablecloth service. They have five themes which typically run 3 days or so, so you'll likely have two of them. They don't announce the themes in advance; you must wait until you board to call a reservation number and find out. The themes are Coriander/Indian, Bamboo/Asian, Smokehouse/American classics, Piazza/Italian, Aztec/Mexican. We've enjoyed Coriander and Bamboo before - both were excellent, but I give a slight edge to the Indian. Lunch options (besides Britannia and King's Court) - Pub Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub - an excellent pub lunch (Fish & Chips, Cottage Pie, Chicken Tikka, Ploughman's Lunch) No extra charge. It's very popular and there's a rush for seats when service starts. Come back about 45 minutes later and plenty of seats will open up with lots of time left for service. - Small bites in the Carinthia Lounge (although only QM2, I think) - adjacent to King's Court, they offer small plates of things like mushroom crepes, buffalo chicken roll, salade niçoise, and small panninis. We often grab something here if we'll be going to Afternoon Tea. Also - Afternoon Tea. Most memorably served on silver trays with classical music in Queen's Room, but also served in King's Court (and the Grill's Lounge for grill passengers) Three rounds, finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and clotted cream. - Room Service
  17. One more consideration for your timing and time spent at the airport, some airlines will only accept luggage for check-in X hours before departure. Also, some airline lounges restrict a visit to a maximum length.
  18. The ferry is great, but you'll likely have luggage. (If you can store it easily nearby, then less of an issue). Alternatively, but not really cheaply, arrange for a car to pick you up, keep your luggage, and take you to the sights you want to catch and ultimately drop you off at the airport. There should be no problem with time. I believe there are many options through Viator and the like. If you want to minimize your time waiting aboard and getting through customs (and thus, maximize your time in NY) you should select self-debarkation, if possible. If not, find (and tip) a porter to whisk you and your bags through the express line.
  19. Final report. - Hadestown. The best! An astonishing work. The music was so unique and perfect. (It's the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with the backstory of Hades & Persephone, told from a 30s-ish New Orleans blues joint) The staging and pictures that Rachel Chavkin composes on stage are breathtaking and the performances by the "adults" Andre deShields (Tony Winner) as Hermes, Patrick Page as Hades, Amber Grey as Persephone are excellent. - Frankie and Johnny and the Clair de Lune. Excellent performances (Audra McDonald - duh!) in a classic play. Sales never caught fire and it's closing early despite great reviews and word-of-mouth. - Moulin Rouge. Over the top. A spectacular spectacular from the moment you arrive in the velvet-covered theatre. The plot is perhaps a bit simpler than the movie, but still paper thin. There's not a lot of chemistry between the two leads, but it ulitmately doesn't make a lot of difference. (Aaron Tveit has a beautiful voice) Danny Burstein is having the time of his life playing the cabaret owner and is marvelous. The music is the same type of mash-up as in the movie and some of the key tunes are retained (Lady Marmalade, Roxanne, Your Song) and lots of new ones are added. The flash will make a lot of fans, but may alienate others. WARNING - the sets and staging make a LOT of seats limited and obstructed view. Pay close attention to the seating charts when buying tickets for this one.
  20. I just came from talking to him. We're booked for the QV Panama Canal transit in 2021.
  21. My report was a reflection of the net experience as I found it on this trip. And for my experience over various times was fine. Not great. Not significanly improved from what I remember from the past two years. Fine.
  22. Re: Internet speed-up. I haven't noticed a significant change. (Of course, I never felt it was as dismal as others have reported through the years. I suspect it's a matter of expectations and I never expected it to be quick). I also suspect that the new technology has moved the problem to another segment, since, at a minimum, the considerations are: WiFi access, WiFi speed, WiFi congestion, router speeds, router congestion, satellite link speed, and satellite link congestion. Not that the improvement is necessarily in vain though, since for ultimate improvement, all the pieces will need to be up to snuff. ...and, of course, this is another one of those issues where reports often vary by individual experience and other variables.
  23. Yes, I didn't hear it today (but I swear I heard it earlier) Oh well.
  24. capegirl, if there are no tables for two available at this this time, I'd recommend checking with the Maitre d' to get on a waiting list. (I assume this is for early seating. There are usually tables at late seating available. And if not now, I'd expect them to open up after the first night.)
  25. The only one, I believe, was a last minute shuttle to see the fireworks. (Which, considering the inevitable traffic jams and crowds is something I would NOT recommend - assuming that you've seen fireworks before at some time in your life)
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