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MarkBearSF

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Everything posted by MarkBearSF

  1. MarkBearSF

    Embarkation Day Lunch QM2

    Baby steps. Not actually on the menu, and they don't list the actual items. But getting closer...
  2. MarkBearSF

    Cab recommendations in SFO

    You might want to download a taxi app we use, called Flywheel. It's used by most cab companies (except for Yellow which has their own). Works like Uber. You pre-register a credit card and when you need a cab, request on on the app. It will find one and you can track its progress and arrival time. Payment is handled by the app. We use it all the time.
  3. One reason I would eat as early as is comfortable for you is that King's Court is also a disembarkation assembly area. Starting around 9:00, passengers will start camping out and taking their rollaboard suitcases which really clogs things up.
  4. MarkBearSF

    Favorite upscale nyc restaurant

    Have you eaten downstairs in the Bar Room at the 21 Club? Clubby and it would be convenient for one. They may serve at the bar as well. Especially convenient to Broadway theaters on 50-54th St (Circle on the Square, Gershwin, Winter Garden, Broadway, August Wilson, Neil Simon, Studio 54)
  5. MarkBearSF

    New York

    Thanks for the correction!
  6. MarkBearSF

    NY Pier Upgrades

    According to this article, NY is about to undertake some major work on the Brooklyn and Manhattan cruise ports. I didn't see anything about improving the Red Hook terminal itself, but one can hope.... https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/20144-new-york-cruise-gearing-up-capital-projects.html?fbclid=IwAR01ZNN5MRU24FS7uh_USNP96la6rM15xHQnHQrHDFXRaXqZJl8irsnzWzw
  7. MarkBearSF

    NY Pier Upgrades

    According to this article, NY is about to undertake some major work on the Brooklyn and Manhattan cruise ports. I didn't see anything about improving the Red Hook terminal itself, but one can hope.... https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/20144-new-york-cruise-gearing-up-capital-projects.html?fbclid=IwAR01ZNN5MRU24FS7uh_USNP96la6rM15xHQnHQrHDFXRaXqZJl8irsnzWzw
  8. MarkBearSF

    New York

    There are a number of threads on the topic of transportation to JFK from Red Hook. Cunard does not sell transfers in advance. There will be Cunard shuttles offered for, I believe $50 per passenger. If you have an early flight, these are the first passengers to disembark, after self-disembark passengers who take their own luggage offboard. This is pretty much the most expensive option - but if you have onboard credit to burn or want the simplest option, it might be best for you. There are many cabs available outside the terminal. Black town cars & limos as well. Taxicabs will be metered, ask the price in advance for others. Our personal favorite in most cases is a hired car like Dial7 or Carmel. (Google for the websites and app info) Fast, reliable, and not much more than cabs and possibly Uber/Lyft. You can get a quote and/or prepay in advance. Call or use the app to summon them when you clear customs. Uber & Lyft (I think Lyft) is also available. Personally, we prefer professional drivers mentioned in the previous two options. (Of course, this is a personal opinion and I know that others prefer to use them) FYI - Although there are no bridges or tunnel tolls between Red Hook and JFK, for other routes like Newark, tolls will be added to the rate for taxis and rideshare apps, but should be included in fixed price quotes from car services and limos.
  9. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    Here's a real good rundown on all the new shows coming to Broadway this year. (He starts with the many plays this season - his discussion of upcoming musicals begins about half way down.) https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/anticipated-new-york-theater-2019-1171596?fbclid=IwAR3zuQzBzapWLmiUkpW5MulAVXk9tgdllW6TFU6Cyq3HqjBXZ044nOXc9uM
  10. MarkBearSF

    NY Pier Upgrades

    I think that the QM2 is pretty much fated to stay in Brooklyn, no matter what. Although, I dearly miss docking in Manhattan for the more convenient access to Manhattan hotels and sights. (We always combine a visit with our cruises) And that wonderful view as the morning sunlight streams down the canyons of the crosstown streets of Manhattan. I suspect that she's still too long to permanently dock in Manhattan, regardless of the pier length. It seems most of their concerns for piers 90-92 are for NCL and Carnival ships which currently dock there.
  11. MarkBearSF

    NY Pier Upgrades

    My issues with Red Hook is primarily that there is too little seating in the tiny area outside of the security checkpoint and that the room for Platinum, Diamond, and Grills is too tiny. And that it's as welcoming as a warehouse.
  12. MarkBearSF

    NYC Subway Advice

    (make that a triple post)
  13. MarkBearSF

    NYC Subway Advice

    (double post - sorry)
  14. MarkBearSF

    NYC Subway Advice

    Ditto to most of the posts - It's convenient, safe, and very effective. (But not pretty) And Times Square is a great location for subway connection. (Another is a few blocks south - the Penn Station area near Macys, the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden. Although Penn Station itself is a confusing mess) I also concur with others that you should plan your trip in advance and use the maps in the stations to confirm your plans. And use the MTA website related apps. http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html http://web.mta.info/apps/ Some other bits of advice: Realize that there are express and local trains. The express trains will bypass some stations. The maps indicate which are which (black dots are local only, white dots serve both). If you're at the platform, USUALLY (exceptions during construction, especially nights and weekend) the express trains are on the centermost tracks and the locals will board on the track closest to the sides. A common mistake is mistakenly taking the A train (express) on 8th Ave when headed to the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park. It hits most midtown stops, but at Columbus Circle on 59th St, it bypasses all the Central Park stops until Harlem at 125th St. If you mess up, you can usually just exit the platform and cross over to the other direction and backtrack on a local. Trains are identified by letter or number (the differences are because the system was originally built by three different companies; there's no special meaning beyond that). Trains that share the same tracks in Manhattan are shown in the same color (but people don't identify them as "the red or blue line") They use the terminii to identify which line and direction. For instance Northbound trains will usually be identified as "uptown" or "Bronx" and Sounthbound trains as "downtown" or "Brooklyn." Speaking of construction, it's continual. Especially on nights and weekends, it's not uncommon for an express train to take over for a local for a stretch, or less commonly, close a station. The aforementioned apps and website will have the info and it will be posted on the platform. In my experience, the work seldom has affected me and was almost always on stations far from my plans in Manhattan in the middle of the night. Contrary to popular beliefs, I've always found most New Yorkers to be helpful - so ask another passenger on the platform (just don't waste their time - try to clearly ask your question without a lot of unasked opinions or dithering) http://travel.mtanyct.info/serviceadvisory/default.aspx Unfortunately, some stations (a minority) have entrances on either side of the street without a crossover, so if you're heading in one direction and enter on the wrong side of the street, you can only catch a train going the wrong way. The station entrances are marked (e.g. "uptown only") if this is the case. And if you find yourself stuck, just ride to the next stop and cross over. As earlier mentioned, most trains in Manhattan go North-South, so in general, it helps if you just head to the entrance on the correct side of the street. When boarding - first wait for people to exit. Then, quickly walk into the train and don't hesitate at the door - people are waiting behind you. True also at turnstiles, stairs and escalators - be aware that people are behind you. Don't block them. If you're visiting in the summer, be aware, the platforms get HOT. The stations aren't air conditioned, and the AC from the trains exhaust their hot air into the tunnels. Dress in layers. (Also there are steam pipes beneath many streets which can radiate heat into the stations) Take a few minutes to explore the different options for MetroCards (the payment system). You can pay ride-by-ride or get an unlimited ride card for 7 or 30 days. http://web.mta.info/nyct/fare/FaresatAGlance.htm I know this is a lot of information. Don't be daunted. It's pretty easy, once you know the basics. Personally, I find it easier than London and not quite as easy as Paris. It's extensive, 24 hours, and the best way to get around.
  15. MarkBearSF

    NYC Subway Advice

    Ditto to most of the posts - It's convenient, safe, and very effective. (But not pretty) And Times Square is a great location for subway connection. (Another is a few blocks south - the Penn Station area near Macys, the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden. Although Penn Station itself is a confusing mess) I also concur with others that you should plan your trip in advance and use the maps in the stations to confirm your plans. And use the MTA website related apps. http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html http://web.mta.info/apps/ Some other bits of advice: Realize that there are express and local trains. The express trains will bypass some stations. The maps indicate which are which (black dots are local only, white dots serve both). If you're at the platform, USUALLY (exceptions during construction, especially nights and weekend) the express trains are on the centermost tracks and the locals will board on the track closest to the sides. A common mistake is mistakenly taking the A train (express) on 8th Ave when headed to the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park. It hits most midtown stops, but at Columbus Circle on 59th St, it bypasses all the Central Park stops until Harlem at 125th St. If you mess up, you can usually just exit the platform and cross over to the other direction and backtrack on a local. Trains are identified by letter or number (the differences are because they system is was originally built by three different companies, there's no special meaning beyond that). Trains that share the same tracks in Manhattan are shown in the same color (but people don't identify them as "the red or blue line") They use the terminii to identify which line and direction. For instance Northbound trains will usually be identified as "uptown" or "Bronx" and Sounthbound trains as "downtown" or "Brooklyn." Speaking of construction, it's continual. Especially on nights and weekends, it's not uncommon for an express train to take over for a local for a stretch, or less commonly, close a station. The aforementioned apps and website will have the info and it will be posted on the platform. In my experience, the work seldom has affected my plans and was almost always on stations far from my plans in Manhattan in teh middle of the night. Contrary to popular beliefs, I've always found most New Yorkers to be helpful (just don't waste their time - try to clearly ask your question without a lot of unasked opinions or dithering) http://travel.mtanyct.info/serviceadvisory/default.aspx Unfortunately, some stations (a minority) have entrances on either side of the street without a crossover, so if you're heading in one direction and enter on the wrong side of the street, you can only catch a train going the wrong way. The station entrances are marked (e.g. "uptown only") if this is the case. And if you find yourself stuck, just ride to the next stop and cross over. As earlier mentioned, most trains in Manhattan go North-South, so in general, it helps if you just head to the entrance on the correct side of the street. When boarding - first wait for people to exit. Then, quickly walk into the train and don't hesitate at the door - people are waiting behind you. True also at turnstiles, stairs and escalators - be aware that people are behind you. Don't block them. If you're visiting in the summer, be aware, the platforms get HOT. The stations aren't air conditioned, and the AC from the trains exhaust their hot air into the tunnels. (Also there are steam pipes beneath many streets which can radiate heat into the stations) Take a few minutes to explore the different options for MetroCards (the payment system). You can pay ride-by-ride or get an unlimited ride card for 7 or 30 days. http://web.mta.info/nyct/fare/FaresatAGlance.htm I know this is a lot of information. Don't be daunted. It's pretty easy, once you know the basics. Personally, I find it easier than London and not quite as easy as Paris. It's extensive, 24 hours, and the best way to get around.
  16. MarkBearSF

    Using my complementary 2 hour internet

    Additionally, they usually offer bonus minutes if you sign up the first day. Your internet time will actually be a credit in dollars, so you'll get more free minutes.
  17. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    To continue the positive comments on "Come From Away," the tour is in its final week in San Francisco. I'm an usher at the Golden Gate Theater where it's playing. It's a joy to work the show (and not just because it's 100 minutes with no intermission). Everyone loves it and there's great gush of emotion from the audience by the end. This evening, Beverly Bass, the actual pilot, was in the audience. (I didn't seat her, but was told that she's really nice. I know that she's seen the show hundreds of times.) To reiterate - the show is highly recommended. And the tour is fully the equal of the Broadway production.
  18. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    Certainly neither Kiss Me Kate and Frankie & Johnny are "B-list" shows. However neither is selling tickets for my dates yet. (KMK is due to close a couple of weeks before - hoping for a likely extension, and F&J was just announced but no theater or ticket availability yet) I'm especially interested in Kiss Me Kate to balance the somewhat heavy nature of many of the other shows this trip. And as far as I'm concerned, it's Audra McDonald's world and we jut live in it! We're over sixty and we both loved Mean Girls too. (last year)
  19. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    I know you're on top of these things George C, but for the benefit of others on this thread, remember that TKTS has sites at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport with MUCH shorter lines than Times Square (you can also buy matinee tickets for the following day). You could hop onto the #1 subway train, for a quick ride back and forth to Lincoln Center and buy your tickets before you'd be back before getting 1/4 of the way through the line in Times Square. Also - Times Square has a much shorter line for plays only (no musicals). And, If you've bought a ticket already, you can skip the line for the rest of the week (Just bring your stub)
  20. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    ^ OOPS - Stephanie J Block
  21. MarkBearSF

    What broadway play?

    If I'm not mistaken, the Fantastiks record has a big asterisk because it ended for a year or few and then picked up again (back 10-15 years ago, I believe). And "Oh Calcutta" has another of the "longest running" records... In any case, the fact remains that it's easier to keep running in a tiny, cheap, off-Broadway house than in a larger Broadway theater. Glad to see that this thread has picked up again. FYI - here are the shows we'll be seeing in June. Tootsie - got great reviews pre-broadway, with a fun score by David Yazbek (Band's Visit, Full Monty) Gary - a new play written by the performance artist, drag queen, and McArthur genius Taylor Mac, billed as a "sequel to Titus Andronicus," starring Nathan Lane and Andrea Martin King Lear - starring Glenda Jackson as Lear Hadestown - a musical retelling of the Orpheus myth, it got rave reviews off-broadway and the West End (Staged by Rachel Chavkin, who did The Great Comet) Moulin Rouge - likewise, great reports from its pre-Broadway tryout in Boston (based on the movie) Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune - just announced, A limited run revival of the play, starring Audra McDonald. ...and I've got a remaining slot which will probably be filled with one of these Kiss Me Kate - musical revival starring Kelli O'Hara (hoping it extends a few weeks so I can catch it) The Prom - a funny musical from the guy behind "The Drowsy Chaperone" a few years back. I't getting great reports but has weak box-office, so it's likely not to be running when we visit To Kill a Mockingbird - a new play by Aaron Sorkin, based upon the novel. Getting great reviews. Currently starring Jeff Daniels. The Cher Show - another bio-jukebox musical. With the wonderful Stephanie A Block as one of the Chers. But unlikely to be King Kong - a really bad musical surrounding a really great puppet. Be More Chill - a fun little musical by Joe Iconis. Popular with "the kids," it's sort of Mean Girls meets Little Shop of Horrors. (We already saw it off-Broadway last summer) Beetlejuice - got slammed by bad reviews pre-broadway Pretty Woman - Another movie adaptation, with noting to add to the movie. I'll see it on tour when it inevitably comes to SF Hilary & Clinton - a play starring Laurie Metcalf Looking forward to March and April when most of them start previews.
  22. MarkBearSF

    Independence Day Cruise to Canada

    I'm told that this getaway cruise is historically a bit more relaxed, as is the case with most of their "break" jaunts - and most years, it IS a shorter cruise (5-6 nights). However, this year, it's a full 7 day itinerary, which may shade things closer to the traditional atmosphere and dressing. In any event, I'm certain that the usual (non-crossing) 2 formal + 5 informal night practice will be in force for the cruise. I hope to see you aboard this year. You'll find my husband and myself in black dinner jacket/tux on the two gala evenings, and wearing a tie with our navy blazers on about half of the smart casual nights. We're really looking forward to this itinerary ...and it's always wonderful to return to the QM2.
  23. MarkBearSF

    White Star Luggage Changes

    We've used them in the past, with no complaints. Another advantage to dealing directly with the company is there is less opportunity for finger pointing. I'm certain that any complaints to Cunard about White Star would be quickly pointed to the shipper. (Although LuggageForward uses DHL and similar shippers, they actively work with the customer) It would be nice for Cunard to work with them to provide a WC discount code or similar.
  24. We were on the Grand Princess from SF to Mexico on December 13-23. It was a wonderful cruise with great service, good food, great company, and calm seas. One thing was very noticeable. There were large numbers of Asian cruisers, many from China (there were evidently a few tour groups). I would estimate that probably 30% of the passengers were Asian. (I'm allowing for the known bias where majority observers tend to overestimate "other" groups - the number seemed to be more like 40% to me). This is in no way a complaint nor a negative (as far as I'm concerned) merely an observation. Certainly, the fact that the ship is homeported in San Francisco and the cruise departed from there is a factor, given the large Asian population in the Bay Area. Also, I know how a group or two can affect the impressions of the passenger mix. But I was wondering if it may be an indication of the increasing interest in cruising in the Chinese market. Have any other recent cruisers (especially on the Grand) observed an uptick in Asian passengers aboard? Also, do you know... Does Princess make Chinese language Princess Patters or menus available? (I noticed that there was both a Japanese and a Chinese Cruise Staff member aboard on this sailing)
  25. MarkBearSF

    Large Proportion of Asian Cruisers on Grand?

    Interesting. As I said, my estimate may be way off. However, I believe that the cruise had a larger contingent than they're used to since they ran out of honey and another item and the Maitre d' apologized and mentioned that it was likely because the larger number of Asian passengers when he conferred with our tablemate who had food allergies and would review the next day's menu with him and design her meals. Later, I mentioned to the table that it seemed that there were more Asians aboard than on other cruises and they agreed. She and her husband are Chinese (I recall that she was originally from Hong Kong, I'm unsure about him.) We didn't further discuss it, and certainly wouldn't get into numbers. In any event, I think I answered my own question - the 10 days we were on her, there were likely a larger than usual number of Asian passengers , as is the way things go - for whatever reason, occasionally a cruise will have a different "personality." Thinking further, another factor might be how I primarily interacted with other passengers. My husband needs to use the elevator, which means that we were in continual, close contact with other elevator riders, which skews more elderly, ... (especially for short rides - we were on Deck 5, behind the Art Gallery. so lots of rides between 5,6,7) and for Chinese, likely more comfortable with Cantonese/Mandarin/... Interacting on things like elevator buttons meant that we were more likely to communicate than say, when passing in a corridor. There were a LOT of Chinese grannies on the elevators. In any event, it was a wonderful cruise and I always appreciate being in the same boat as different people from different places - which is another reason I still love living in San Francisco.
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