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Jack E Dawson

Lessons Learned by a Newbie

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[FONT=Helvetica]My wife and I just completed the May 8th – 15thEast to West Crossing on the QM2. It was an amazing time. I thought it might be useful to share some of our experiencesand thoughts from this trip, especially for those who might be taking theirfirst ever cruise or their first ever voyage on the QM2. This was our firstever voyage on any cruise ship. We spent two years planning the trip incelebration of our 40th wedding anniversary. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]WHAT WE DID RIGHT[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Chose the QM2[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – While we’ve never been on any other ship,the QM2 was exactly what we were looking for at this point in our lives andexactly the environment we wanted to celebrate this special occasion. The QM2felt brand new. The ship, its crew and the onboard experiences offered exceededall of our expectations.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Cruise Critic Cunard Board[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – We spent the last two years reading postsand asking questions on the Cunard Board. It’s probably impossible not to havea great time on a QM2 voyage but the insights and advise we received from thosewho generously post on Cruise Critic allowed us to make the very most out ofour time on the ship. We were able to avoid a lot of rookie mistakes.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Britannia Club[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – This was our hardest decision but for us itturned out to be the right decision. Having no set dining time made ourafternoon activities a lot more relaxing. The Britannia Club dining also had anadditional page of dishes that were available every night if the dailyBritannia menu failed to excite. I ate off of this page twice and also on two occasions I added the seared scallopsfrom the Club menu to the fish of the day on the Britannia menu. Club levelalso guarantees an unobstructed balcony view. Our room, 12022, was an excellentlocation. There are other minor benefits to Britannia Club. Because of a salegoing on at the time of our booking, it cost us about $800 more to be in theClub level, well worth it to us.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica][U]East to West Crossing[/U] - Without that extra night's sleep on five of the nights we never would have made it. AN East to West crossing is 10 hours longer than the reverse course. That's an extra half day on this wonderful ship.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Cunard Coach[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – Staying in London at the Victoria DoubleTree by Hilton and taking Cunard bus to Southampton made for a relaxing way toget to Southampton. The hotel is two blocks (4-minute walk) from the busstation. Once there the service took control of our bags all the way to ourstate room. We also felt that if there was heavy traffic or a breakdown, theQM2 might grant us a little extra time before departing because we were using aCunard service. We probably could have saved a little money arranging our owntransportation but again, we were looking for a stress free holiday.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Port Side[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – Booking a room on port (sunny) side of ship is a must, especiallywith an early May crossing. We were fortunate to have had nice weather all buttwo days and really enjoyed our balcony. A glass of wine on the balcony beforedinner became a regular part of our routine.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Bring Wine[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – We brought 4 bottles of wine on board. We bought them at a winestore one block from the Double Tree in London. This saved us roughly $150. Wedrank the wine on our balcony and while sitting in the deck chairs on the PromenadeDeck.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Table for 6[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – We were lucky to have great tablemates. There was a couple fromAustralia, a single from London and a British single now living in Phoenix.With 6 people it was easy to carry on a table conversation and avoid awkward silencesthat might occur with a table of 4. [/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Canyon Ranch Spa[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – We saved generally about 40% takingadvantage of the daily specials from the Canyon Ranch Spa. For example, my wifehad an 80-minute full body massage including hot stones for the Friday dailyspecial price of $149. The normal cost was $280. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]WHAT WE DID WRONG[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Bag Size[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – Because we were traveling through Spain the week before departingon the QM2, we choose to travel with 4 carry-on bags that we didn’t have tocheck with the airlines. Our fear was thatthe airlines might lose our bags and all of our evening/formal wear. Draggingthese four bags around and finding places for them in the overhead storage binswas a pain in the butt. Next time we will just pack two large bags and take ourchances with the airlines. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]WHAT WE DID RIGHT THAT WAS WRONG[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Power Strip[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – We brought along a power strip to give us extra 110V outlets onthe ship. Not necessary, there were 4 110V outlets in our cabin. More thanenough.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]WHAT WE DID WRONG THAT WAS RIGHT[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Changing Tables[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – Somehow we misunderstood and thought thatour Britannia Club table was only assigned to us for dinner. So each morning ataround 9:15AM we would mosey into the Britannia restaurant and ask the maitred' for a table for two by a window and each morning that is what we got.Because we are not morning people, a table for two worked out perfectly for us.[/FONT]
[U][FONT=Helvetica]Dress Code[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – The hot tubs on the Deck 8 Terrace (Stern) is a great place torelax. However, getting there can be a challenge. Cunard dress code says thatone should wear proper clothes over your bathing suit to and from the pool. Ifneeded there are changing rooms at the pools. However, we chose to only whereour bath robes over our swim suits. This was a lot easier and avoided dampclothes on the trip back to the cabin. We would then take the hallway on Deck11 (we were on Deck 12 which does not run the length of the ship) all the wayback to the D Elevators and drop down to Deck 7 as there is no direct access toDeck 8 Terrace from Deck 8 except through the Verandah Restaurant. On the portside of the ship near elevator bank D Deck 7 is a hidden stairway that leads upto Deck 8 Terrace. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]AVOID THE CUE[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]I once had a boss tell me that what was wrong with me was that Ididn't like doing reports. To which I replied, "it gets worse, I don'tlike standing in lines either."[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Here is how to take the Q out of the QM2. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Afternoon tea and the Planetarium – Wait till mid-cruise to startgoing. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Lunch in the Golden Lion - Wait till 2'ish for lunch (try London Pridebeer)[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Breakfast in either the Britannia or King's Court - Get there after9:10AM[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Doing laps on the Promenade Deck - Noon till 1:30PM it is relativelyempty[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Evening Shows in the Royal Court Theater - Get there at 8:15PM.Upper level right side first row. Enjoy the relaxing room and have a drink fromtheir bar service. [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Laundry Room – Noon[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]
[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]THINGS THAT SURPRISED US[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]The crew works very very hard and represents more than 50 countries.They are very bright, well informed and genuinely friendly. They take greatpride in their work and were a huge part in making our crossing so special.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]The ship is alive with music from noon on.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]A lot of the passengers are great dancers. If you are not, still getout on the dance floor. We only had one couple criticize us. In their defense, we (actually me) are really bad.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]The Royal Theater singers are extremely talented.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Despite the endless bashing on CC, we loved the complimentary bottleof Prosecco.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]SUGGESTIONS[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Have an assigned direction for passengers doing laps on the PromenadeDeck. About 95% went counter-clockwise but for some reason there were always afew going the opposite direction and making it difficult for the rest.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]There was no Irish music. Maybe offer that in the Golden Lion after10:00PM[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica] [/FONT]

[FONT=Helvetica]The hot tubs on Deck 8 Terrace (stern) are not hot, in fact they arejust warm. This is a great spot to relax and watch the world ocean goby.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]
[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]We will always treasure our crossing on the QM2. It was everything we had [/FONT][FONT=Helvetica]imagined and more. A special thanks to Miss Victoria Kiss. We look forward to our next adventure on this great ship.[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]
[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]Harold Green[/FONT]
[FONT=Helvetica]aka Jack Dawson[/FONT]

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Thanks Jack for a great review. All points noted, especially the laundry as we will be travelling pre and post cruise so I am sure I will be there on the first day!

You have made me really, really look forward to our cruise (QEII) but still have to wait 7 months.

So happy you had a great holiday to celebrate such an important milestone in your life.

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Thank for the review. You did a lot right for a first timer. So are you hooked on ocean voyages now?

One question. You mentioned prosecco. Did you get prosecco or Pol Acker?

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Thank you for your insights! That was great for a newbie cruiser.


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Jack E Dawson,

Excellent report, thank you for taking the time to post, and for bringing back memories of my first crossing on QM2 :) .

With best wishes for your next time on board!

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Well thought out review. Excellent for newbies (and not bad for those of us who have a few crossings under our belts!).

Glad you enjoyed it. Are you hooked on cruising yet:D

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Dear 3rdGenCunarder
I had to go back and look at the pictures we took and sure enough, it was Pol Acker that was left in our stateroom. We thought it was very good and really appreciated such a nice gift.
There is NO DOUBT that we will take more cruises (2019???). Hopefully we can get some of our friends to come with us as well. At this point we will probably stay on Cunard but will continue to use the real-world posting Cruise Critic for insight and guidance.

Harold

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[quote name='Jack E Dawson']Dear 3rdGenCunarder
I had to go back and look at the pictures we took and sure enough, it was Pol Acker that was left in our stateroom. We thought it was very good and really appreciated such a nice gift.
There is NO DOUBT that we will take more cruises (2019???). Hopefully we can get some of our friends to come with us as well. At this point we will probably stay on Cunard but will continue to use the real-world posting Cruise Critic for insight and guidance.

Harold[/quote]

Oh well, I had hoped they'd gone for something more to my liking.

Many years ago, friends wanted to cruise for their anniversary and asked us to sail with them because we were experienced cruisers. We got them hooked, and enjoyed many cruises with them. So, yes, share the addiction!!

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What a delight to read such a detailed and positive review. Thanks for taking the time to do it. I'm sure you will be back to enjoy more Cunard voyages.

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Thank you for taking the time to post your review. Even those of us who are experienced Cunard cruisers could learn tidbits from post.

Ricki

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[quote name='Trinnyessex']Thanks for a very informative review . We are sailing 4/8 to New York and this will be our first time .[/QUOTE]
Hope you enjoy it. We will be on the same crossing. We did an Eastbound TA in 2015 and were back on Mary for the cruise to the Caribbean for Christmas and New Year 2015. We love the ship.

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Thank you for your detailed review Harold. It was a pleasure to visualize this beautiful ship that we are about to embark on again for the first time in 8 years.

Jonathan

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Liked your style Jack.

My only revise would have been the timing in the laundrette.

I've always thought around 6.15 pm for normal or 15 minutes before the opening time for an emergency.

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[quote name='Jack E Dawson'][U][FONT=Helvetica]Dress Code[/FONT][/U][FONT=Helvetica] – The hot tubs on the Deck 8 Terrace (Stern) is a great place torelax. However, getting there can be a challenge. Cunard dress code says thatone should wear proper clothes over your bathing suit to and from the pool. Ifneeded there are changing rooms at the pools. However, we chose to only whereour bath robes over our swim suits. This was a lot easier and avoided dampclothes on the trip back to the cabin. We would then take the hallway on Deck11 (we were on Deck 12 which does not run the length of the ship) all the wayback to the D Elevators and drop down to Deck 7 as there is no direct access toDeck 8 Terrace from Deck 8 except through the Verandah Restaurant. On the portside of the ship near elevator bank D Deck 7 is a hidden stairway that leads upto Deck 8 Terrace.[/FONT][/quote]

So glad you addressed this issue. Does the same idea apply when going to the gym? Wear regular clothes and change in the dressing rooms?

Your brilliant review is perfect for a newbie like me!

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Sorry, didn't do the gym but we did power walk the promenade deck every day but once and felt very comfortable going down in gym type clothing.

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Thanks Jack for a very informative review my wife and I who are first time cruisers will be traveling on QM2 in November westbound and hope to put some of your travel hints tips to good use. best wishes

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Appreciate your tips...doing our first QM2 westbound on July 21. We have done over 50 cruises, but this one has us a little worried and intimidated about the dress code for evenings;p. So I keep reading everything available to reduce our anxiety! Don't want to be judged or delegated to the brig.....

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Thank you Harold, this is really helpful, we are going on our first cruise in September on the QE. The trouble you have taken to write this review has possibly saved us the embarrassment of doing something silly and has certainly saved us wasting time in unnecessary queues.

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What a very thoughtful and relevant review! It reminded us of our first cruise and it was on QM2 as well so thank you for bringing back those special memories. Your review has a lot of good information that I am sure lots of others will appreciate, both those new to Cunard and to those of us who have done a few cruises on Cunard. And now you realize how addictive cruising is and how special Cunard is as well!:)

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Denn1,
I'm sure you and your wife will enjoy your voyage on the QM2. If you don't mind, I would like to share one other thought regarding your time on the ship. When we first told our family and friends about our Trans-Atlantic (TA) crossing plans, almost everyone had the same reaction, "what will you do all day with no ports". This kind of spooked us. Fortunately it was about that time we discovered CruiseCritic. There were a number of threads that addressed this concern and even went to the trouble of posting the daily activity newspapers from their past TA voyages on the QM2. This was extremely helpful. However, without realizing it, the pendulum swung too far the other way. As we start listing all the activities we wanted to do, we began to overstuff the burrito. Had we continued down this course we would have spent our seven days running from one activity to another and not really relaxing and enjoying each other's company and the opportunity to appreciate where we were. The first morning we finished breakfast, went for a 40 minute power walk on the Promenade Deck, then sat for an hour in the deck chairs. In the Afternoons we would hit the Deck 8 Terrace hot tub for an hour. This became our daily routine with the exception of one day when we had gale force winds. We limited ourselves to one indoor activity (speaker, demonstration, etc.) in the morning and one in the afternoon. This schedule worked great for us. However, everyone is different. We saw folks who filled their days with non-stop organized activities and were perfectly happy. So I guess my point is, it's not a race to check off as many boxes as possible. Set your own pace, be flexible and enjoy.

Harold

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Thanks again Harold Ive printed both your reviews off so my wife and I can read them at our leisure, We're also on deck twelve and would like to hear your comments on that deck. Dennis

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Denn1,

We liked being on Deck-12 and especially liked our cabinlocation 12.022. It was south facing (E-W TA) and far enough forward as toavoid hearing the live band at the pool but far enough back so as to have minimal pitchingas the QM2 road the swells. Initially we were concerned that being so high upwould exaggerate the ships roll. At 100’+ above the water, every degree of rollwould equal about 2’ of movement. We had no problem with either pitch or rollmotion. Fortunately, we had only one day of bad weather with Force 8 (galeforce) winds and very high seas but even on this day the motion was never anissue. This is what defines an ocean liner over a cruise ship. Deck-12 is now under the new Deck-13 but we never heard any noise fromthe folks above. Also be aware that Deck-12 cabins run less than half thelength of the ship so there is no direct access to Elevator Bank C or D. Notonly was this never a problem but I think it also made Deck-12 a little be lesstraveled and quieter. Direct access to the indoor pool area is a niceconvenience. If you are in the A2 category I would recommend cabins 12.020through 12.028. If you are in A1 I would recommend 12.030 through 12.040.

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Hi Harold, Thanks for the information on deck 12 very informative we have already booked the cabin 12009 and realy looking forward to the cruise and hoping to put the good information given to practice. Dennis.

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Denn1,
Hope you pick up this reply. You mentioned above that you were on a Nov. TA on the QM2. Would be very interested on your experience and how accurate or beneficial my comments/observation were.
Hope you experience was as great as that of my wife's and mine.

Harold (aka Jack)

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I didn't catch this thread the first time but wanted to post to say how much I enjoyed reading it and how helpful it is for those sailing the QM2 for the first time.

Keith

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[quote name='3rdGenCunarder']Oh well, I had hoped they'd gone for something more to my liking.

Many years ago, friends wanted to cruise for their anniversary and asked us to sail with them because we were experienced cruisers. We got them hooked, and enjoyed many cruises with them. So, yes, share the addiction!![/QUOTE]I'm also a cunard newbie travelling next year. I'm also hoping to do a TA cruise 2019 so your post is really useful.

We are thinking December 2019 TA and debating whether to do East/ West or vice versa. We plan to have a few days in New York before travelling home to the UK

Are there benefits to one or the other TA crossings in December, east/west or west/east, with regard to length of time on board for example?

So glad you enjoyed the cunard experience.

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Brilliant review. Well laid out, entertaining and informative!


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[quote name='corporate services']Sorry to hear that someone criticized your dancing - good, bad or indifferent everyone is entitled to hit the floor and have fun, it's not a competition.[/quote]No, it is not competition. However, everyone should be aware of and practice basic [URL="http://dance-pizazz.com/10-rules-of-etiquette-you-should-know-for-ballroom-dancing/"]ballroom etiquette[/URL]/rules, particularly with regard to floorcraft, so that your dancing (good, bad or indifferent) does not prevent others on the floor from enjoying their dancing experience. For inexperienced ballroom dancers, where you locate on the floor is more important than how well you dance.

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[quote name='Aspidestra99']I'm also a cunard newbie travelling next year. I'm also hoping to do a TA cruise 2019 so your post is really useful.

We are thinking December 2019 TA and debating whether to do East/ West or vice versa. We plan to have a few days in New York before travelling home to the UK

Are there benefits to one or the other TA crossings in December, east/west or west/east, with regard to length of time on board for example?

So glad you enjoyed the cunard experience.

Sent from my SM-G950F using [URL="http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=76452"]Forums mobile app[/URL][/quote]

In your case, WB makes sense, because it will allow you to enjoy your time in NY without the effects of jet lag. The only other reason to choose WB (assuming no other constraints) is for the extra hour of sleep each night.

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Thank you for your excellent review, which I somehow missed in it's original posting life.

We're in 13018 in two weeks' time, and have never been that high before on the QM, so your remarks on your Deck 12 cabin (particularly during the gale) have been of great help!

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Lovely review. Also for not so newbies or first time TA.
How mean for someone to comment about your dancing skills. I can't dance and don't enjoy it, but on the ships I make an effort for my wife.
Stephen Hawkins would dance better than I, but if someone would say something, i would spike their afternoon Earl Grey.... 😉

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[quote name='riclop']Thanks for the lessons.[/QUOTE]Hi Alc13. I must admit although I've flown to New York before I'd not considered the advantage of cruising there when it comes to jet lag.

Thanks for the advice.

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