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"Live from" Queen Elizabeth to the Mediterannean! My First Cunard Experience

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Hi guys! Sarah here!

 

So this is going to be my second trip report I've written thus far and I'm very exxited to get started! :) Since I had so much fun writing my last one, I was very much looking foreward to this! My last trip report was done on my voyage to Alaska on the m.s. Volendam earlier this year. If you'd like to check it out, you can find it right HERE .

 

For those who do not know, my style of "Live from" reports are a little different than others you may find. I've actually picked this up from reading report after report on DISBoards, where such ridiculously detailed reports are actually quite common! I thought that over here, a "Live from" was the most accurate description of what I could call it since it will include as much detail and pictures as one would if they were right on board! As I like to call it, this will be in a sense, a Not-So-Live-From as opposed to your typical "Live from" report log, since I will be writing this from the comfort of my own home. ^^

 

This journey will include a full report (with so many details, by the time we're done, it's like you were right there with us :D) on our flights, 3 full days in Rome and 12 night "Greek Isles and Holy Land Explorer" cruise on the Queen Elizabeth.

 

Alright, so let's get started!

 

P.S. Just a heads up, if I saw, ate it or touched it, I took a picture of it. Apparently, quite a few anticipate my food pictures LOL.

 

 

Introduction:

 

Embarking on this journey would include me (17), my younger sister (15) (who shall henceforth be referred to as Sis), Mom (50) and Dad (51). My older brother (20) would not be joining us on this trip due to midterms and what not at his university. ): Sad, right?

 

We are a relatively youngish(?) family of 5 from Vancouver, Canada whose ethnic backgrounds come from Hong Kong (Mom) and Malaysia (Dad). The three kids though were all born in Vancouver, and are therefore extremely Americanized. :)

 

I am currently attending my last year of highschool and am looking forward to my upcoming years in university. My sister and I actually had to miss 12 or so school days for this trip. We both do alright academically, so we were pretty sure we wouldn't have too much trouble catching up with our school work upon return.

 

Also, another thing about me, I'm a foodie. When I cruise, food is a big deal for me. It's one major factor that plays a big role in how I choose my preffered cruise lines. (Though I'm kind of weird. I have a really childish taste, but very strict in judgement when it comes to higher end food :p)

 

 

Travel History:

 

Upon disembarking to Queen Elizabeth, I will have completed my 8th cruise. This will have been my sister's 6th and my parent's 12th(?) cruise. This 12 night cruise would be our longest cruise yet! (We normally only do 7 night ones) This trip would be my sister and my second time in Europe, and first time in Rome. Mom and Dad had been there before, but it was a port of call so it was extremely rushed. This would also be a first time for all of us on Cunard!

 

We've actually been frequent travellers since 1996, when my dad managed to get a job at Air Canada. Since then, he's worked his way up to being a baggage agent whose job no longer entails him running around outside near dangerous planes that all the new guys have to do. He now works comfortably indoors at a customer service desk area ^^. Anyways, since his aquisition of Air Canada employee status, he's been given a benefit that every member of the company receives. The ability to fly "standy-by". That's where you (and your immediate family) can get on any flight free of charge (+tax) if there is space on the aircraft. It's great, but that also leaves you with the possibility of also not getting on. That's why they check online on their special website that tells you how many seats are available in business/economy. If the flight looks wide open, you go try to get on. This is why flying stand-by leaves us with only the possibility of bringing carry-on luggage. That meant for those 17 days, we'd have to fit all of our things into one small rolling bag and one backpack. All I can tell you is, it wasn't easy. (Not to mention any souvenirs we'd buy atferward)

 

 

The Plan:

 

Our itinerary of our cruise looked like this:

 

11008051614_f84cac6964_b.jpg

 

We were initially somewhat concerned about whether or not Haifa would still be one of the ports of call, after hearing about all the trouble stirring in Syria. My parents are quite religious, so they were actually very much anticipating their visit to Jerusalem. The only actual excursion we booked was the one in Isreal, since we were concerned about how safe it'd be to wander around on our own there. Our family is typically the type who runs around on our own and is more likely to hire local tours, as opposed to the ship excursions. My parents said that'll change once they get old though LOL.

 

Our pre-cruise adventure was supposed to go a little something like this:

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013: Fly out of Vancouver (YVR) to Toronto (YYZ) on either the 7, 8, or 9am flight (whichever has space) and then wait at the Toronto airport until about 9pm for the flight to Rome.

 

Yeah. That suddenly changed. After school on Monday, my dad asked my sister and I if we could pack in 2 hours. o_o Are you serious? I had had such a hectic week that week because I had to inform all of my teachers that we were leaving, cover school work, get some and not to mention that my black belt exam was that previous weekend! I hadn't even started packing either!!! D,: Well thankfully, I passed the test, broke all of my boards and got my black belt in taekwondo! (Which really took a load off of my shoulders. I had been freaking out about it for 3 weeks). Anyways, I had a busy week. So it turned out, the 7/8/9am flights for the next morning were looking more and more full. If we wanted a (pretty much) guaranteed seat, we'd have to take the 10pm flight that night. Oh my word, I hadn't even gotten to my online school homework either yet! ;___; We panicked and freaked out a little and then got ready.

 

So that morphed into:

 

Monday, November 4, 2013: Fly to Toronto

 

We'd arrive in Rome on November 6th and stay there until November 9th where we would board the ship.

 

 

Camera Equipment:

 

Since packing was so rushed, my mom forgot a lot of things (ie. toothbrush & toothpaste, comb etc.). Dad had a whole day, but somehow still managed to forget his camcorder/camera. It was first time in his whole life he forgot to bring one on vacation! So in short, the pictures and stuff I took are all we have. He did use his iPad mini to take lots of pictures and videos though.

 

For this trip, I brought my Canon EOS 60D, along with my Canon ultrasonic 50mm macro 1.4 lens, as well as my Canon ultrasonic 77mm ultra-wide zoom 17-40mm. So, my camera, big lens and little lens (:. I actually used my big zoom lens for the majority of this trip! (I used the little lens for most of the trip last time because I didn't really know how ^^"). This time, I used the point and shoot function a lot more than before, so I'd just like to say sorry if some of the pictures are blurry ^^" I haven't checked them yet. My plane just landed yesterday at 2am Vancouver time, I'm tired LOL.

 

Okay, now that that's done, let us embark on our journey to the Mediterannean!

 

 

 

*Also, please feel free to give a shout out if you're following! :)

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Did a similar Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth last year.

It'll be Great to read your up-dates on the places you've visited :)

 

SDC11140_zpsb3a32e81.jpg

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Hi Sarah, looking forward to following your travels this time, since this is your first cruise with Cunard and on QE. I read your last report and really found it interesting....you really do love your food! LOL

Edited by alibabacruisers

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hey Sarah. found my way over here from the HAL board. Looking forward to yet another fabulous thread. Any nice new handbags in the photo's? :D

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Hi, Sarah, welcome home! We really like Cunard, although we have never used it for the Med. I'm looking forward to your review.

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Sarah,

 

I am looking forward to hearing all about your adventures and seeing your wonderful pictures. Your reports will help get me ready for my voyage on QE!

 

Kathi

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Hello "Lovely serenity" - aged 17 years :)

 

I also am looking forward to hearing more from you. At this stage , I am thinking "What a mature and pleasant sounding young lady". I am also amazed (at my age of 67), that someone so young can be so fortunate to have been able to do what you have done until now - and continue to do so by cruising on a fabulous Cunard ship. It would have been unimaginable, even unthinkable for me when I was your age.

 

Please do enjoy your cruise -- but consider your good fortune as you do :)

 

I guess the pics will follow on this Forum thread ??? -- as these threads have a short lifetime, it may be better for you to post to the WWW somewhere -- a free travel Blog site??

 

Barry

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Hi Sarah,

Welcome home. Thanks for posting your review. I look forward to reading all the details!

 

Hi imacruizer!

 

Thanks for following along! ^^~ & thank you very much! Haha, I will definitely do my best!

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Did a similar Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth last year.

It'll be Great to read your up-dates on the places you've visited :)

 

SDC11140_zpsb3a32e81.jpg

 

Oo, did you enjoy yourself? I hope you did ^^ Thanks for hoppin' on board with us! You look great in the photo by the way lol

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Hi Sarah, looking forward to following your travels this time, since this is your first cruise with Cunard and on QE. I read your last report and really found it interesting....you really do love your food! LOL

 

Hi alibabacruisers :)

 

Thanks a lot for following along and reading my last report! && LOL thanks! :D

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hey Sarah. found my way over here from the HAL board. Looking forward to yet another fabulous thread. Any nice new handbags in the photo's? :D

 

Hi monina01!

 

Awesome! ^^ Thanks for coming! Haha, unfortunately no. We could only bring carry-on so a handbag wasn't an option :p

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*Note: Since this report will include flights and Rome, I’m hoping that this will be able to serve as a guide to any people travelling to either Toronto for the first time, or Rome!

I hope it will also be able to help people trying to get to Civitavecchia for a cruise! (:

 

Anyways,

 

*Hits start button*

 

.

 

. .

 

. . .

 

. . . PING!

 

 

So, the excitement actually started a couple of weeks before our trip, when something awesome arrived in the mail one day. I had just come home from school and was in the middle of removing my shoes when I saw a large white package that had “CUNARD” printed on the front. I shrieked a little bit and tore it open (both mine and my parents ^^) to find none other than our pre-cruise manuals!

 

11018194936_fb2e72c379_b.jpg

 

I took a picture of it right away (yeah, that’s how long I’ve been planning to make this report LOL) and thumbed through it. I noticed that there still seemed to be no sign of itinerary change, despite the violent action that was happening in Syria. Huh. I guess we’re going to Israel then! (:

 

 

~ A couple weeks later ~

 

 

After Dad had given us the time limit of 6pm to finish (and start!!) packing our bags, we were finally all done. It was just approaching 6pm and my Dad was getting ready to pick up my mom from work and bring her back home to pack up. (She had started a bit this morning before going off to work). As Dad was leaving, my brother (already surprised that he would be losing his family earlier than anticipated) turned and asked my sister, “So, are you guys not going to even be eating dinner with me? :(” *queue guilt* My dad then proceeded to say that if he can manage to get food for us all to eat together before we leave, we can eat together. Quick like a bunny, Bro called up one of his favourite Chinese restaurants to have food prepared for pick up. Shortly after Dad left, so did Bro.

 

Around half an hour before my parents showed up, Bro arrived with some fried rice, roast duck and rice noodles + chicken/bitter melon. He even brought back a few Slurpees. Man, were they good. Mom & Dad were funny when they thought we’d only have a little bit of time to eat together. Us 3 kids scarfed down the majority of it in under 15 minutes (yeah, when no one’s around, we eat like monsters. Disgusting ones LOL.) Our parents walked in and quickly joined us.

 

Once everyone was full, we headed off to the Vancouver International Airport. Bro drove us there. We stopped the car, unloaded all of the luggage, finished with all the squishy huggie stuff and we were off. We had only half an hour left before the flight took off so we were in quite a rush.

 

Now I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I’m prone to motion sickness. Kind of ironic, huh? We travel so frequently and I get nausea on planes, boats, cars, buses, and basically anything that moves. Not so much the last two, but the first two definitely if there’s too much motion. Over the years, we’ve tried Gravol, ginger, ginger ale, and pretty much everything people have suggested, and came to the conclusion that Bonine is the best. The other ones don’t work well enough for our case. Sis gets motion sickness too; Bro grew out of it when he was around 14.

 

Anyways, as we were approaching the gate, I started to think to myself, “Hey, wouldn’t it be a bad idea to eat so much before getting on a plane in case I feel like throwing up?”, but eventually came to the conclusion that the food was delicious enough to be worth it. I would’ve rather eaten it and gotten sick, than to have not eaten it at all. (:

 

We soon got called to board and managed to score pretty good seats. We were all in economy, but I was sitting in the first row behind business. Those are the best economy seats in the plane! Sis was seated diagonally behind me and so was Dad. Mom was a row or two behind Dad.

 

As the flight attendants helping people stuff their luggage into the overhead compartments, I noticed the woman sitting to my right (we had one seat between us) had dumped a few of her brand name bags onto the seat separating us. Curious, I thought to myself, “How does she know that there isn’t going to be anyone sitting there?” I asked my Dad afterward and he said that the chances are, she was one of those people who paid for business class, but didn’t get it because they were at capacity, and that they usually give the seats with no people around then to compensate for the fact that they were paying more. That’s funny because I didn’t care and got permission from the flight attendant to let my sister sit next to me. :D

 

There was a weird lady sitting in front of Dad who was complaining to the steward the she had paid extra and wanted a middle seat. O_o Right? Out of the 2 choices presented to her (the seat next to me and one all the way at the back), she choice the latter. Boy was Mom thrilled. She hopped right on over and sat in front of Dad!

 

I didn’t sleep much during the flight and wound up feeling extremely queasy. Once the plane landed in Toronto, I quickly made my way out of the plane. I was literally about to throw up. As we dragged our rolling bags out of the tunnel that connects the plane to the gate, I kind of.. gagged o_o” and something almost came out. Luckily I sprinted out to the gate area and sucked my first breaths of normal air in the last 5 ours. After sitting at some chairs for a little while to give Sis and my tummies some time to settle, Dad bought Sis a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino from Starbucks. She nursed it until I was ready to move again. We would have to be here for 16 hours so there was no rush anyways.

 

We walked through the very pretty mall-like Terminal 1 which basically only does Air Canada flights (since Toronto is the location of Air Canada’s main office), past this pretty display:

 

11018098205_2be4852c97_b.jpg

 

We found very nice sitting area that one would be able to sleep (pretty much the only one in the airport from what I saw) and parked ourselves there:

 

11018262004_a0ea67ca19_b.jpg

 

That’s Sis playing on her iPad to the left :D. You can also see that the place baggage scanners, metal detectors and whatnot are right next to us.

 

Something very useful about the airport is the excellent Wifi! To connect, simply click the “Toronto Pearson Airport Wifi” one, hit your internet, let the window pop up and click “Get Started!”

 

The seats are located beneath a set of escalators, making it nicely shaded. This is what’s displayed underneath the escalators:

 

11018191416_16d1e3cda4_b.jpg

 

This explains that this area is intended to be a rest area of some sort after you exit the baggage checking area and you’re in disarray.

 

We parked all of our luggage right here against this little metal railing:

 

11018265654_2261406ed4_b.jpg

 

There you can see that we travelled really light for such a long trip! All small carry-on sized rollers and one bag. I actually had a bag at the chair, so it’s not in the picture. In case you’re curious about the big red tote bag, Dad had this special suit/tuxedo holder that zips up and folds in half that he used to bring his suit and tuxedo (that I pestered him to get made until he caved :D. This was after learning that many men wear tuxedos on formal nights on CC) tailored in Shanghai. He had it in the tote bag for 2 reasons. The first being convenience, the second being that tote bags = carry-on size, his suit bag looks big, and they might not let him bring it onboard if they find it too big.

After a while and a couple of naps, my stomach felt well enough to eat, so Dad and Sis went to go buy some food and drinks from the Tim Horton’s nearby. A few Iced Capps, a Berry Smoothie, a few cups of hot water, some Timbits, 2 chicken salad sandwiches and 2 soups!

 

11018102115_0693d21197_b.jpg

 

You can even see the Tim Horton’s the right! When I said it was close, I wasn’t kidding!

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Hi, Sarah, welcome home! We really like Cunard, although we have never used it for the Med. I'm looking forward to your review.

 

Hi Vict0riann! ^^

 

Thank you! I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the place, it was so nice and sophisticated :D

 

Thanks! I'll work hard!

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Excited to continue following your QE adventures. Love all the details and look forward to the photos of meals!

 

Thank you! (: I will definitely do my best!

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