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cougaraz

Live from QM2 - Dec 22, 2018 - Caribbean Celebration

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Although I don’t see a lot of live updates on the Cunard section of this board, I think they are fun and I generally enjoy writing mine, so I will get started on this one.

 

About Us

 

My name is Scott, I am 40 and my wife, Melissa, 41 and I live in Southern California.  I am an active duty military officer and she is an accountant.  We are cruising for a much-needed vacation at the end of a very busy and eventful year and to celebrate Melissa’s recent completion of her MBA.  We are seasoned travelers, both at sea and via other means.  Generally, we like a mixture of relaxation and adventure.  We traveled on the 2015/2016 iteration of this same cruise and had a fabulous time.  Although our Southern California winters aren’t anything to strike fear in the heart, we are looking forward to some warm sunshine on Caribbean beaches.

 

The Plan

 

We are already deep into the packing process as this week will bring work through Thursday evening, so we had to take advantage of the weekend.  Melissa is pretty much ready to go and I will be in a similar position tomorrow evening.  We will fly to New York on Friday, planning to spend the night in a hotel and enjoy a steak dinner at one of our favorite NY restaurants, Keens!

 

Saturday we will get in a little light tourist activity in the morning in Manhattan (weather permitting) before taking a car to Brooklyn to board.  We will be staying in a Britannia balcony very similar to our last trip on this cruise.  If you run into us, ask us about how we got the most unlikely and fortuitous upgrade from an inside to a balcony three years ago.

 

We are very excited and looking forward to this trip.  We’ve even been boning up on our quiz knowledge so we can at least answer a few questions this voyage!

 

I am happy to endeavor to answer any questions that anyone has for me as we travel.

Edited by cougaraz

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I love live blogs and they seem quite infrequent. Our cruise in on 10 January on QM2 so really interested to hear what you think. - especially of the food, daytime activities (we have loads of sea days on our trip), how the new steakhouse is and how dressy things are in the evenings - so pretty much everything apart from the entertainment.

 

Hope the packing goes well 🙂

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We did the Nov 25 cruise to the Caribbean on QM2. We had a great time and were lucky to have great weather and calm seas.

They were decorating the ship for Christmas, and the tree in the atrium is outstanding.

 

Have a great cruise.

 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, SATELLITECRUISER said:

We did the Nov 25 cruise to the Caribbean on QM2. We had a great time and were lucky to have great weather and calm seas.

They were decorating the ship for Christmas, and the tree in the atrium is outstanding.

 

Have a great cruise.

 

 

 

Thank you!  Excitement is building.  We are about 95% packed, electronics are charged and all the paperwork has been checked.  Just need to finish the last two days of work and then get moving.

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21 hours ago, cougaraz said:

Thank you!  Excitement is building.  We are about 95% packed, electronics are charged and all the paperwork has been checked.  Just need to finish the last two days of work and then get moving.

 

Don’t forget your power adapter. In the washroom, my electric toothbrush and my husband’s shaver can’t plug in. We encountered this in our first Cunard cruise and forgot to bring the power adapter in the second QM2 cruise.

Edited by CruiseLady88

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Good morning from New York City!

 

It was a bit of an adventure to get here, with some airline complications and yesterday's big storm on the East Coast, but we made it. Overall, the travel day was prolonged, but not bad. 

 

The quick back story is that a major airline mistake (committed weeks ago) had us fly from San Diego to Phoenix on Southwest, claim our bags, recheck and then fly American to JFK. Grossly inefficient, but effective. Our PHX to JFK flight was delayed leaving due to a Ground Delay program from the FAA to ease traffic, but we took off only about an hour late. Unfortunately having crossed the whole country, we got forced into a weather holding pattern and couldn't land due to low ceilings. Thankfully, the clouds broke and we arrived, along with all our luggage at JFK. It was then about an hour black car ride to our hotel near Herald Square. 

 

After check in we headed to the legendary Keens Steakhouse. I can say that after years of visits, it has not lost its charm. They have a warm atmosphere, amazing food and fabulous service. After a fabulous meal, we were more than ready for bed and nine hours later the sun finally woke us up. 

 

This morning's plan is some breakfast, a little touring, perhaps some light retail therapy and then head to the ship this afternoon. 

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Welcome to NYC - The Big Apple and Bon Voyage later in the day from Redhook on the QM2.

 

Yes we to enjoy Keens but favor Old Homestead on the West Side of Manhattan.

 

Really enjoyed your photos of food and tourist trak thru NYC streets.

 

We saw the QM2 come in this morning and she is ready for your boarding dockside. So enjoy the Sail away. Sorry for not giving you better weather but you do have the Nip of Christmas weather in the air. Enjoy a warming cocktail to take the chill away.

 

Will be watching your departure from our land side balcony...

 

Bon Voyage !!!!

 

Edited by BklynBoy8

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We had the easiest transition from our hotel to the ship I could ever plan. We checked out, borrowed a stapler to secure luggage tags, met our car, drove to the terminal, checked in, boarded straight away with no waiting and made it to our stateroom in one hour and twenty minutes. It was a smooth a silk every step of the way. Lots of smiling faces at each turn. 

 

After we dropped our backpacks, it was off to the Kings Court for lunch. I will go into much greater detail on food as the trip progresses, but my initial impression was that the selection was varied, the meals were hot and my choices were delicious. 

 

We returned from lunch to find all our bags and are just finishing unpacking. I estimated 30 minutes, but with two of us dancing around each other and pausing to hang our Christmas decorations it actually took 45 minutes to finish the job. So, the work is done, now we relax for 12 days. 

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Just saw you pass under the VZ Bridge in all her glitter by the shoreline.

 

Bon Voyage Queen Mary 2!

Edited by BklynBoy8

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Thanks for the updates. Just out of curiosity, what time did you arrive at QM2??

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5 hours ago, CruiseLady88 said:

Which taxi company you used to the terminal from your hotel? Do you need to pre-book?

We took a black car from Carmel Limo and we did pre-book.  Gave us piece of mind to know the driver would be waiting and that our fare was locked in.

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Sunday 23 December at Sea (Off the Coast of North Carolina)

It is cloudy and mild as we sail South East off the coast of North Carolina and pleasantly warmer than yesterday evening when we departed from New York.  The seas are gentle and induce just enough movement on the ship to provide a whispered reminder that we are in fact at sea.  On a more personal note, they have a sleep-inducing effect on me that far exceeds anything that modern medicine has been able to develop.  After all of my years at sea, the gentle rocking of a ship is like a cradle beckoning for a nap or a good night’s sleep.

Since I last posted, we have been having a great time and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  We have sought to strike a balance between resting and enjoying all that is available onboard. 

Sail away last night found us in Sir Samuel’s sipping a flat white in complete and total solitude.  Absent the wait staff, there was not another soul in sight.  Melissa and I were discussing how a cruise can seem like a bit of busman’s holiday for a Navy man, but I actually don’t feel that way at all.  I was tranquil and relaxed with a warm beverage, the love of my life and my primary concern being whether or not I would need a snack before dinner.  Meanwhile, the professionals working were no doubt concerned about the weather, the traffic, a night transit of a busy harbor and the myriad requirements to take a great ship out to sea.  We did eventually venture out and enjoyed a brisk sojourn on deck to watch the harbor as we made our way out toward the Verrazano Narrows.  Upon reflection, that snack did seem like a good idea so we visited the Kings Court and procured some cheese, crackers and cured meats.  It was just the ticket to ensure we made it to dinner in good condition.

We dressed for the evening and then went to the Golden Lion for a drink while listening to the lovely piano and vocalist duet.  To be fair, most of the music they sang was released before we were born, but the tunes were nice and they didn’t overwhelm the bar.  We stayed for Wipeout Trivia and after a very hot start, got the first six right, we cooled off and ultimately wagered it all only to lose and end up with nothing.  Oh well, we play to have fun and learn a little, we don’t take ourselves or our trivia too seriously. 

We proceeded to late sitting dinner and found our table easily enough.  Although it will seat 6, there were only four of us last night.  We were joined by a couple from New York who are veteran cruisers.  We enjoyed the conversation and are very happy to not have had any challenges with out table mates.  It is always a bit of gamble, we love to meet new people and that is part of the fun of traveling, but poor dinner companions could certainly make for a long cruise.  If the other two seats remain empty tonight, we will have a date night as our companions will be heading to the Steakhouse tonight for dinner. 

Overall, the dinner experience was excellent.  Our waiters were efficient and friendly, but in typical Cunard fashion, not chatty.  Perhaps my only substantial complaint of the cruise thus far was the wine service last night.  We ended up with a beautiful bottle of Chilean Carmenere, but I thought the menu to order to service time was unacceptably long.  The wine steward was friendly, but I would prefer a little more efficiency so that I am sipping my wine as early in the meal as possible.  The food was delicious and between the two of us, I think Melissa and I hit 7 for 8 on menu choices.  My appetizer was the warm asparagus and a poached egg with hollandaise, next I had a beet and lettuce salad that was frankly a little disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, and the vinaigrette was nice, but it was just lettuce and beet slices, no imagination and nothing to commend it.  My main was the beef sirloin with a nice potato rosti. The meal rounded out with the angel food cake and some petit fours.  I think that Melissa was more adventurous in her choices and rewarded with a great meal.  She had the asparagus soup and then grilled peach appetizer, which was far and away the most fascinating dish offered last night.  Her main was the lamb en croute and she finished with the crumble.  All told, a great meal, well served and enjoyed with good companions.  I had read here about a reduction in course offerings, but could find no evidence of such on the menu.  Multiple appetizers, soups, salads a broad selection of mains were available.  Food is extremely subjective, but thus far I am happy and impressed.

After dinner, we went to the show, which isn’t generally a high priority for us, but we ended up really enjoying the evening.  In the wake of an illness to the headliner, the cobbled together a variety show featuring the vocalists and dancers from the house company, the musical director Jeff Hughes playing the piano, a ballet dancer and then the cruise director’s staff performing the 12 Days of Christmas.  All in it was pleasant, well executed and entertaining.  After the show, we did the most absurd of absurd things, we went to the Kings Court for a quick late-night bite.  Honestly, it was literally just a bite, but I think that the time change, lots of travel and us finally entering true relaxation mode after a very challenging year has manifested in a healthy appetite.  After that, we were off the dream land and had a VERY deep sleep, rocked in the arms of the ocean.

This morning, we actually set an alarm, to facilitate breakfast, booking of an excursion for St. Kitts, claiming of planetarium tickets and to attend a lecture.  Dining room breakfast was as anticipated, very good, professionally served and thoroughly enjoyed.  I had the full-English program and loved it.  While a large plate, the actual portions of the various elements were quite petite.  I should also add that I found the black pudding to be especially tasty.  I don’t shy away from the more adventurous side of eating and have to say that I find a good blood sausage hard to pass up. 

Our post-breakfast missions were all accomplished successfully, we will go to the planetarium at 1:30, we are booked on the train excursion in St. Kitts and we attended the lecture on Christopher Columbus.  While I am not sure the question of whether he was a hero or a villain was actually answered, the talk was interesting and explored some aspects I had not heard before.  Post-lecture, Melissa opted for a nap and I headed out on my own voyage of exploration.  I spent a good amount of time exploring the ship and knocked out about 45 minutes of walking around the promenade.  I can say unreservedly that the ship is in FANTASTIC condition.  The refresh of the Kings Court is a major upgrade, preservation and cleanliness are meticulous and the enduring effort toward maintenance is reflected in the excellent state of the vessel.  Most importantly, hand washing stations are now installed on deck seven at the major entrances to the buffet.  Mildly disturbing are the large percentage of passengers who pass them by.  Personally, I much prefer them to the sanitizer and am happy to have them available.  Of course, she is 15 years old and you can notice that work is ongoing and she is aging, but that is not a bad thing.  To be frank, things aren’t cool until the new wears off and this ship is showing the grand character of a vessel that has been at sea and plied the Atlantic for so many years.  The Christmas decorations are fantastic and add a festive air to the whole ship.

I have typed this while enjoying a couple of Asian dumplings from the buffet and now will go reclaim my wife from her nap and head to the planetarium.  Thankfully, I do not suffer from the rare genetic bone disorder that would prevent me from being able to pronounce the ‘T’ in planetarium.

That’s it for now, see you tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                             

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Pictures are coming, but given the rather slow internet and the fact that CruiseCritic no longer supports TapaTalk, I will wait until we are in port.

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