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rafinmd

Crystal Serenity Los Angeles to Sydney, January 22 to March 3, 2020

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Today I dropped my large luggage off at the UPS store in preparation for a surface based circumnavigation of the globe.  This will be my second attempt at this.

 

 

bagsready.jpg

 


I've handled my luggage shipment a bit differently from usual.  While UPS will be doing most of the actual shipping of the bag I am doing one bag through Luggage Concierge, Crystal’s official partner, and the other bag through Luggage Forward, partner of Cunard and several other companies.  While UPS gets the bags to California, each of the luggage companies uses their own courier at the destination to actually deliver the bag to the ship.  If I do not get luggage that is a serious problem since there will not be a possibility of bags catching up with me until French Polynesia.    While one courier might fail I assume the possibility of both couriers failing is minuscule.

 


shipped.jpg

 


The first was in 2003 and got off to a good start until events got in the way.  The plan then was Amtrak Baltimore to Montreal, a freighter (Canmar Courage) to Belgium, a series of ferry and rail connections to Helsinki, the trans-Siberia railroad to Beijing, the Crystal Harmony to Vancouver, and train connections back to Baltimore.

 


It was going pretty much to plan until I did an email check before leaving my hotel in Moscow.  2003 was the year of the great SARS epidemic and the Harmony was deadheading back to North America immediately.  I was heading into the midst of the epidemic and my way out had disappeared.  As I made my way to Beijing my travel agent found me a flight to Vancouver that would work, but I still had a couple of days to wait in a very subdued Beijing.

 


I picked up the trip in Beijing the following year but have not yet circled the globe continuously without onward flying.  Holland America’s annual world cruise could be a very attractive option but is a bit too long for me.  As treasurer at my local fire department I must do some year end employment reports, some of which must be done physically in the fire station, so a journey that leaves the first few days is very stressful.  I also have prostate cancer which is well controlled but requires shots not much longer than 3 months apart.  My time away on this trip is about 2 weeks shorter at each end than this year’s very attractive itinerary on the HAL world cruise and just fits into the window between my cancer shots.

 

 

The itinerary for this adventure works something like this:

 


January 14-18: Amtrak from Baltimore to Long Beach
January 22 to March 3: Crystal Serenity Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia
March 6 to April 25: Queen Mary 2 Sydney to New York

 


One thing I will do each day is note the locations of both of my ships.  Today QM2 is in Southampton.  Both ships this year have multiple starting locations for their World Cruises and this is the second location for QM2 with some World Cruisers boarding a week ago in New York.  Crystal Serenity versions of the World Cruise begin in Miami (1/6) and Los Angeles (1/22) and today Serenity is in Cartegena, Colombia.

 


My blog for this trip will be the one I use for grand journeys:

 


http://morethangetaways.wordpress.com

 


I will also set up Cruise Critic threads covering the trip on the Crystal and Cunard forums for their part of the journey and the entire trip on the World Cruising forum.

 


My parting shot–if at first you don’t succeed try again even if it is 17 years later.

 


Roy

 

 

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Looking  forward  to  following  your  trip, you certainly create  some interesting  combinations of travel.

Mary  

Edited by Sea Viewer

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Wow!  I really admire your sense of adventure!

Have a great time. 

I'm looking forward to following along.

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Looking forward to following along another great adventure.

 

Nancy

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Thanks for again blogging your adventures.

Looking  forward to seeing you again next month.

Travel safely.

Edited by erewhon

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Roy, you plan the best trips ever. What adventures you’ve had!  I’ll look forward to this one. Best wishes for safe and happy travels. 

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Three cheers for you, Roy! Looking forward to your report and photos. Glad you were able to work it out.

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Wow!  What great planning!  No long airplane flights, just wonderful cruise days all in a row!

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2 hours ago, rafinmd said:

The Reform Club?

 

Roy

 

The exact location in London Phileas Fogg had 80 days to return to in order to win his wager.  I thought it appropriate. 😀

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Greetings from Club Acela in Washington DC.  So far everything has gone smoothly and I will board the Capitol Limited there in about 30 minutes.  I won't have wifi on the train so you won't hear from me until Chicago.

 

Roy

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Day Amtrak0, Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Board Amtrak Capitol Limited to Chicago

Crystal Serenity was scheduled to be in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua but tendering conditions did not permit it..  Queen Mary 2 is at sea from Lisbon to Messina, Sicily.


I was supposed to be picked up by the Airport Shuttle at 10:57 but they arrived about 10 minutes early and I was ready.  I arrived at the BWI Amtrak station about 11:15.  For the last several months they have used a temporary facility but the renovated station is now open.  It is significantly larger than the old one but still does not have wifi.  The temperature was roughly 50 (20C) but it was damp and varied from a
mist to a drizzle all day.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/newstation.jpg


My Northeast Direct train left BWI and arrived in Washington on time for all practical purposes.  


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/direct.jpg


I checked into Club Acela (the First Class lounge for Acela and sleeping car passengers) and stashed my bags.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/acela.jpg


I guess my age is showing; I accepted a booking for the Red Cap and headed out to Panera for lunch.  It was 3 stops away on the Metro and I got my typical Chicken Noodle Soup with coffee and returned to Union Station and stopped at McDonalds for an ice cream cone before returning to Club Acela.  


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/metro.jpg


I had about 30 minutes to do some work on the computer before the Red Cap found me.  A larger backpack with a zip off compartment and a carry-on size both tipped the scales at about 23 pounds.  The main compartment of the big bag stayed in a compartment in the lower level of the train while the rest of my stuff went up to my compartment.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/lowerrack.jpg


I did ok carrying my stuff from the first train to the station and probably could have done the same to the Capitol Limited as the distance was not significantly greater.  In any case, I got a ride in a golf cart to the train.  My compartment is on the second level of the train and consists of 2 seats facing each other which fold down to become a bed.  For a second person an upper berth could fold down but it would be VERY tiny for 2 people.

 

https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/roometteday.jpg


A table that folds out is just large enough for my laptop.  There is one toilet on the upper level and 3 more on the lower level.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/workarea.jpg


Our route out of Maryland mostly followed the Potomac River, crossing into West Virginia at Harpers Ferry before returning to Maryland near Cumberland.  It was getting quite dark as we crossed the Potomac.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/potomac.jpg


Until recently the Capitol Limited featured a full service dining car but recently they have gone to what they call "Flexible Dining" with a much more limited selection of meals, especially at breakfast. The dining car is still there but you go to the counter and place an order which is mostly pre-plated entrees.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/diner.jpg


My dinner was a pasta with meatballs, salad, and a kind of toffee sponge cake for desert.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/dinner14.jpg


I am trying to put the finishing touches on my post and get it ready and then headed to bed about 8:30.  Attendant Michael set up the bed when I was ready.


My parting shot is one I had hoped to use later but this seems to be the time.  I was alerted to it by a blog reader and with the sudden defeat of the Baltimore Ravens in what would be their only playoff game this is the time.  Hats off to the men and women of the Baltimore County Fire Department who originally volunteered to do whatever they could for the team when it first moved to the city.  They cleaned uniforms, made appointments, maintained the locker room and did whatever else was needed.  While their positions are now paid they started out volunteering their time out of the love of the game.  Well done.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-01-09/baltimore-fire-fighters-enjoy-being-taken-to-task-to-help-take-heat-off-ravens

 

Roy

 

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Day Amtrak1, Wednesday, January 15, 2020, Arrive Chicago


Crystal Serenity is at sea from San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua to Huatulco, Mexico.  Queen Mary 2 is at sea from Lisbon to Messina.


At night my roomette is pretty nearly the size of a twin bed.  There is about 8 inches on the corridor side but everything else is the bed.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/thebed.jpg


There is one small closet, just about wide enough to put a pair of shoes in the bottom.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/closet.jpg


I slept reasonably well but when we stopped at Toledo about 5AM things got extremely cold, and I stayed in bed another hour.  


The fog that had been in Maryland diminished but it was still cloud covered and there was no sunrise.  The continental  breakfast did not have a lot that I found attractive but I did take milk and a fruit cup back to my seat.  


We ran pretty much on schedule through South Bend, the final intermediate stop but ran into heavy freight traffic in Illinois, finally arriving in Chicago a little after 9, about 20 minutes late,


I checked into the Metropolitan Lounge, and tried going on line for a while but found the service functionally useless.  I am staying at Club Quarters on Adams Street near LaSalle.  I went over with the big pack a little after 10 and they did not have a room but stored the bag.  


I bought a transit day pas and left with the smaller bag for Panera on Michigan Avenue for lunch, and the post I had struggled helpless with in the Metropolitan Lounge loaded in about 20 seconds.  I walked back to the Club Quarters and checked in about 1.  I should be comfortable for the night.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/clubqut.jpg


I discovered a packing mistake.  I have packed camera chargers in the bags to be delivered to the ship but did not bring one with me on the train.  I returned to Panera on the "El" and stopped at a nearby camera shop.  A replacement would be about $40 and I passed on it.  I will try to save the battery as much as possible and occasionally use my IPAD where possible.  I tried the IPAD on the CTA.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/theel1.jpg


Dinner was Mac & Cheese at Panera, and the El back to the hotel.

I watched television and used the internet at the hotel until about 10:30.


https://morethangetaways.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/theel2.jpg


As a parting shot I think I'll be glad to get out of Chicago.  It will be quite cold Thursday (low teens in the morning to about mid 20's for a high) and snow is coming.  By the latest forecast I should be in New Mexico when the snow hits Friday evening.


Roy

 

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Hey Roy—it’s snowing now in Santa Fe, and when you hit Lamy (a few miles south) around 2pm tomorrow, things should be mighty white. Enjoy, and leave the driving to Amtrak and the Southwest Chief!

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24 minutes ago, CeciltheSeaSerpent said:

Hey Roy—it’s snowing now in Santa Fe, and when you hit Lamy (a few miles south) around 2pm tomorrow, things should be mighty white. Enjoy, and leave the driving to Amtrak and the Southwest Chief!

Thanks.  I was hoping to get off in Albuquerque where there's a service stop and find some wifi to post today's report (no wifi on the train).  I hope that's at a lower elevation and the weather will be more cooperative there.

 

Roy

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6 hours ago, rafinmd said:

Thanks.  I was hoping to get off in Albuquerque where there's a service stop and find some wifi to post today's report (no wifi on the train).  I hope that's at a lower elevation and the weather will be more cooperative there.

 

Roy

I am not there now (I am on Symphony!) but I live near Albuquerque, and based on my meager knowledge of the current weather forecast, my bet would be there will be little or no snow on the ground there.  I actually live east of ABQ on the other side of the Sandia Mountains, and we might get a foot of snow at my house and still have nothing in ABQ proper.  I'm not sure about wifi near the train station -- it's right in downtown, though.  Maybe you can find something nearby.

 

(I am hoping for no major snowstorms for the next 2-3 weeks so my dog-sitter will be able to reach my house!)

 

Enjoying your travel reports, as always!

 

      Nancy

 

 

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