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david,Mississauga

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About david,Mississauga

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    Mississauga, Canada
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    Transatlantic

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  1. I am grateful that Carnival bought Cunard. Whilst there are many changes (downgrading in my mind) that I regret, I always think the positive: that without Carnival – or another saviour – I wouldn’t be enjoying the current Cunard fleet. Without Carnival, it is possible that I would not have been able to have a crossing on the QE2 as late as 2008, almost 40 years since its first voyage. There have been some positive changes since our earlier Cunard voyages in the 1970s and 80s. A brochure issued at the time of our first Cunard crossing in 1973 mentioned: there are no violins on the QE2. There was always at least one classical performer, but no string orchestra or harpist or pianist at tea time. We had a long gap in our ocean travels, so I’m not sure if it was under Carnival that this civilised addition to tea time was added, but certainly I am pleased that it has continued. The current Cunard ships offer a much wider range of entertainment. There is something for all tastes. I am not pleased with the “dumbing down” of dress standards, but it hasn’t been as bad as on other lines. (I don’t need to be reminded that the standard of dress has changed everywhere; I am well aware of that.) We noticed on a Holland America cruise a few years ago that even on formal/gala nights the dress standards were quite shabby in comparison with Cunard. I give an extra thank you to Carnival for allowing Dr. Stephen Payne to design the Queen Mary 2 his way. Of course there are some aspects of this fine ship that most of us do not appreciate, but overall it is a great ship.
  2. I have read that transfers to or from a Cunard booked flight were included in the charge of the air fare. The transfer charge is for flights booked independently. Has there been a change in this policy? Regarding having to specify a flight, I have taken many transfers from Southampton to Gatwick. We were not flying from Gatwick the same day, but staying at our favourite hotel in the area. Cunard has insisted on knowing what flight we are taking. The TA said this is so the passenger doesn't book the transfer for a flight that is too early. Generally Cunard has said that the transfers should be booked only for flights leaving after 1:00 p.m. So we pick a flight at random and enter that to keep them happy. One time we did not indicate a "phantom" flight and the tour office would not issue our transfer vouchers until we did so. So I found a flight to some European airport that I had never heard of and we got our vouchers. For inbound flights and transfers to the ship, Cunard probably wants to know the flight so passengers can be met at the exit of the customs hall. I know people who have made up a flight number and time in order to complete the booking of the transfer and showed up at the meeting point. I have yet to do this, but am considering it for EWR to Red Hook for my next crossing. On the U.S. booking site it is easy to add the transfer to the booking. No flight detail is requested. A TA should be able to do the same.
  3. I'm sorry to hear that there has been downgrading since our 10-day Alaska cruise in June. I have refreshed my memory by looking at some menus. For dinner (in Britannia) there were eight appetisers which includes starters, salads and soups. I noticed a few years ago Cunard started putting these together instead of separately, perhaps to discourage people from ordering a starter, then a salad, then a soup. But that did not deter a friend we were travelling with or others from ordering as much as they wanted. Each night there were eight main courses, two of which were listed under "Signature Entrées" and the other six under "Entrées". There were seven desserts, one of which was always a cheese plate. The after-dinner petit fours were reasonably varied. There were always delicious chocolates, not the foil-wrapped ones we get at the exit. Perhaps they were all consumed by the Alaska passengers. I am certainly one of the guilty! Afternoon tea was generally excellent, although some of the finger sandwiches were soggy. Perhaps they had been in the fridge or freezer which is regrettable. When the warm scones were passed around all was forgiven. As to production shows, these are not my cup of tea so I can't comment. After late-sitting dinner, our entertainment was to listen to the strings, harp or piano - with or without a drink.
  4. The 21-day round trip was showing as sold out a few weeks ago, although every now and then a few staterooms become available. There is ample accommodation available if booked as two segments. In Princess Grill, for example, there is currently only one stateroom available for the 21-day trip but 23 available for the 14-day e/b crossing. There were 10 available for the 7-day w/b crossing when I checked a week ago. As a point of interest there was a considerable difference in fare for at least some categories between booking it as two voyages as opposed to the one voyage. We originally booked a sheltered balcony for the 14-day e/b and decided two months later to book the 7-day w/b. By booking it as two separate crossings we saved Can.$1200 each. Other categories, however, were more expensive to book as two voyages.
  5. On our last arrival in Southampton, almost two years ago, there was a sign at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal saying "to the trains" (sigh). The high-level platform and track were still there. On a P&O cruise in 1991 we were told that would be the last year of the traditional boat train service. After that there were only special charters. This is one of my favourite views of a "Cunarder" boat train. I have a jig-saw puzzle with this picture.
  6. The most recent rail service was with the Orient Express. I never took that, but I recall the disembarking passengers started out on a coach tour which would later return to the dock. The passengers would transfer from the coach to the train which had arrived from London with the embarking passengers. Long before that there were boat trains to and from London Waterloo that met most ships at the former Ocean Terminal, the Queen Elizabeth II terminal and the Western Docks such as piers 105/106, now known as the Mayflower terminal. We used boat trains to and from the ships almost every time. It was a very convenient service. Admittedly, not everyone wants to go to London. The boat trains were especially civilised going to Southampton because passengers would leave their luggage with porters at London Waterloo and not have to deal with it until it arrived in the cabin.
  7. I have used "Smiths for Airports" several times, based on the many positive comments on this forum.
  8. I can't answer all your questions as I have never booked a flight through Cunard. Economy air is never a good idea unless Business Class is horribly expensive. If we must fly economy (and only on a fairly short flight) we usually fly Porter. Like all airlines they have cut back amenities and leg-room but they still offer a glass of wine or beer and have 2+2 seating with 32-inch pitch. Unfortunately it is not pactical to take them from EWR to Québec (YQB) as there are no direct flights so they route you through Toronto. I would never fly into any city for a same-day departure. But flying into Québec the same day as boarding is not a problem because, as you know, the QM2 departs the following day about 5:00 p.m. Both times I have taken the Québec - New York voyage several dozen passengers boarded on the actual departure date. The weather was comfortable both times we took this voyage. I can't stand the heat, so my tolerance for cooler weather may be different than others. The autumn colours should be beautiful, but you will be far from shore for much of the trip. The Saguenay fjord is gorgeous, but most of it will be travelled in the dark especially northbound. There should be a few hours of daylight departing the city of Saguenay. There were some heavy seas and strong winds on both of our trips. The outside decks were closed for a full day. One time this was the day prior to reaching Halifax and the second time it was a full day between Halifax and N.Y. That time it was the edge of a hurricane that we had to pass through. Cruise ships stayed an extra night in Halifax and New York but the QM2, being a liner, just ploughed through. After all, we were continuing on to Southampton so a delay would be impractical. But I wouldn't hesitate to do this trip again. We hope to do it again in two years.
  9. I found much of that article to be amusing, namely the recommendation to tip a lot of staff in advance. Is this common amongst U.S. travellers? It isn't with those I know and I have never heard one Canadian or British passenger say they have done that. It seemed to me when "auto gratiuities" were introduced - both the daily charge and the 15% added to wine and drinks - the purpose was to look after tipping so passengers didn't have to figure out whom to tip and how much. We do, with the rarest of exceptions, give a card with a note and a modest extra tip to the stateroom and restaurant staff and occasionally to the sommelier and head-waiter. I do that because I feel they deserve it, not because I feel I should.
  10. One NY-Québec round-trip was the usual until this year and next. I also noticed the heavy discounts for these cruises this year, but there weren't a lot of staterooms available. In one case the first page for one of the voyages showed a surprisingly low rate for Princess Grill but when going to the next page they were actually sold out. There are four calls by the QM2 in Halifax this year and there will be four next year, but only two in 2021.
  11. This view of the departure is from Newswire.ca. (Photo credit: Steve Farmer for Cunard.)
  12. I had hoped to be able to travel to Halifax to view the arrival and departure of the two ships, but that didn't work out. With the two ships docked stern-to-stern I wondered about the departure, but it appears both will do a circle of the harbour. https://www.cruisehalifax.ca/schedule-of-public-viewing-locations-for-queen-elizabeth-and-queen-mary-2-departure-from-halifax/?fbclid=IwAR2E2YEu5HrCXNhNgs6nN4J7C4Cc1JiC_yd0tEzMNQcAoxZWHd9pudSyzhE The Pier 21 Webcam - see the link Hattie posted above - should provide good views.
  13. This is indeed good news to residents of Vancouver Island. It appears that those embarking in Victoria will board on the penulitmate day of the previous cruise. That will limit the number of staterooms offered because Cunard is not going to allow staterooms to be unsold for the Vancouver to Victoria portion which could be nine or more days. This will be a problem mainly with the first cruise that is offered. After that, the number of staterooms offered for passengers embarking and disembarking in Victoria could be equal on all cruises. This reminds me of an unusual situation involving a resident of Victoria whom my wife met on our recent Alaska cruise on the QE. This woman wanted to leave the ship when it called in Victoria because, not only does she live there and not need to go to Vancouver, she had a sick relative in hospital. The purser's office said she could not leave. So she got off with the other cruise passengers, took one suitcase home, visited the sick relative, then got back on board for the overnight voyage to Vancouver where she had to go back home by bus and ferry. A few other passengers did leave the ship in Victoria. I saw them going into the customs room with their luggage. This reminds me of the hard time Cunard gave me and several other passengers when we wanted to disembark the QM2 in Halifax after a crossing from Southampton. They eventually acceded to this when Canadian Immigration said there is no way Canadian passport holders can be denied disembarking at a Canadian port.
  14. On our recent Alaska cruise aboard the QE the senior officers party was held at 11:00 a.m. There was a queue to get in but it moved quickly. I asked if the bubbly was Pol Acker and was assured it was not, although neither of the two stewards knew what it was. It didn't taste as ghastly as spumante, but maybe there are some better than others. Even the dreaded "P.A." tastes a bit better some years than others. It was easy to get a glass of red or white plonk and gin and tonic was on offer. Fancy drinks could be requested and were provided. Staff circulated frequently with refills and the hors d'oeuvres were generous. We sat with some very pleasant people. I am glad we went. We passed on the wine tasting as we usually do. There was one time on the QM2 I am glad we went because one of the sommeliers wanted to prove to us that the cheapest wines on the list were quite respectable. He was right.
  15. They sometimes had on-board prices in £ but that was a long time ago on the QE2 when Cunard was a British company. But even then the prices were sometimes in U.S.$.
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