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Transatlantic first timer questions


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Greetings,

 

I have been reading posts on here for several years.  A crossing on Cunard is on my bucket lists.  I have established that I will book either an outside view or balcony in the Britianna class and that I will use Cunard's air.  I found threads on here that helped me make those determinations.  My questions:

 

1.  How does one usually get from Southhampton to London or vice versa?   I am a rail enthusiast and would probably take the train if it is not too difficult to get to the cruise terminal.  

 

2.  I understand that westbound crossings are considered better than eastbound because of the extra hour gained each day.   Does this advantage outweigh the experience of leaving New York in the daylight?

 

3.  I would be traveling during the summer.  One of the pleasures of a crossing is experiencing rough seas.  I understand that it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen on a certain cruise, but does a summer crossing mean that there is less of an opportunity of experiencing rough seas?  

 

Is it possible to use Cunard's air to travel to/from a city in Europe before or after a crossing?  For example, I arrive in Southhampton, take the train to London.  Spend a day or two in London, and then take the Eurostar to Amsterdam and then fly home.  (Please note that I have visited all of these cities before to do the museums, so I would primarily be doing this to ride the Eurostar because this would be a route I have not ridden.  )

 

Thank you for your assistance.  

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1 hour ago, steve4031 said:

Greetings,

 

I have been reading posts on here for several years.  A crossing on Cunard is on my bucket lists.  I have established that I will book either an outside view or balcony in the Britannia class and that I will use Cunard's air.  I found threads on here that helped me make those determinations.  My questions:

 

1.  How does one usually get from Southampton to London or vice versa?   I am a rail enthusiast and would probably take the train if it is not too difficult to get to the cruise terminal.

 

 Direct train with SWR to London Waterloo takes around 90 mins.
Or travel from SOU to LON via Westbury and you get to try the new GWR IET Hitachi Class 800 express trains to London Paddngton. Check on GWR for connection timings.
Taxi from ship to SOU railway station is 5-10 minutes.

 

2.  I understand that westbound crossings are considered better than eastbound because of the extra hour gained each day.   Does this advantage outweigh the experience of leaving New York in the daylight?
This has to be your own choice really as there are pros and cons 
really depends on your final itinerary :)

 

3.  I would be traveling during the summer.  One of the pleasures of a crossing is experiencing rough seas.  I understand that it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen on a certain cruise, but does a summer crossing mean that there is less of an opportunity of experiencing rough seas?  
In high summer you can get days of fog in the mid Atlantic  - be warned

 

Is it possible to use Cunard's air to travel to/from a city in Europe before or after a crossing?  For example, I arrive in Southampton, take the train to London.  Spend a day or two in London, and then take the Eurostar to Amsterdam and then fly home.  (Please note that I have visited all of these cities before to do the museums, so I would primarily be doing this to ride the Eurostar because this would be a route I have not ridden.  )

You will have to ask Cunard's ''air dept.'' to see if you can fly in or out of a euro city rather than London, or simply arrange your own flights to suit your itinerary and buy a cruise only fare. 



Some answers above to your Q's 

Best value cabins can be dependant on the voyage sales - worth shopping around
A sheltered balcony on a TA is fun

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As a rail travel enthusiast it pains me to have to suggest not taking the train from Southampton to London unless you are travelling with a very small amount of luggage. Sadly, the convenient boat trains are long gone. The railway station is a short distance from the Ocean Terminal, which is used for most of the Queen Mary 2 crossings. Taxis have always been readily available and it costs about £5, although it may be more since our last trip. The trains serving Southampton are configured for people who travel with nothing more than an umbrella and a briefcase. The last train we took had only one small luggage rack and that was in just one of the three coaches.

 

Cunard books coach service from the pier to various destinations. This is what we have booked for the past few trips.  I don't want to put you off train travel in general, though, because once we have taken the coach to our first destination all our travel throughout Britain is by rail.

 

As to a rough crossing, my experience is that some rough seas can be expected in any month, but it is more likely outside of summer. The QM2 is the most stable ship we have ever sailed in, but it will bounce in a rough sea.

 

Unless the rules have changed, Cunard does not extend any perks to frequent passengers of other cruise lines, even those owned by Carnival.

 

 

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Another possible advantage of westbound is that storms tend to be eastbound.  So if you are unlucky enough to go through one, it is better to be going in the opposite direction and you'll be rid of it sooner rather than ride along with the storm.

 

As you say, westbound gives you 25 hour days.  I find eastbound is irritating because they change the clocks at noon.  Just when you think of going for lunch at noon, all of a sudden it's one o'clock, you haven't had lunch and afternoon tea and dinner are looming.

 

If you do sail into Southampton, there is a Cunard bus direct to Heathrow, for example.  Can't imagine taking the train for the same trip, no matter how much I love trains.

 

You could do the reverse:  fly into Paris or Amsterdam, take the Eurostar to London, spend a couple of days then train it down to Southampton.  By which time, you will be over the jetlag and ready to enjoy QM2 to the full.

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We have done both eastbound (once) and westbound (twice). Coming from england I actually prefer the eastbound. We flew to ny and spend a few days there then sailed home. Hours difference is done at lunchtime (12 goes to 1pm). Nice going under bridge in daylight. Nice having extra hours sleep on westbound but flights back home are overnight so end up with jetlag. But as you live in usa you would have to factor in flights. Flights to ny are mostly early morning. Don't know if this helps.

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2 hours ago, steve4031 said:

Greetings,

 

I have been reading posts on here for several years.  A crossing on Cunard is on my bucket lists.  I have established that I will book either an outside view or balcony in the Britianna class and that I will use Cunard's air.  I found threads on here that helped me make those determinations.  My questions:

 

1.  How does one usually get from Southhampton to London or vice versa?   I am a rail enthusiast and would probably take the train if it is not too difficult to get to the cruise terminal.  

 

In addition to this forum, check in the ports of call forum . https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/148-british-isleswestern-europe/ 

 

Quote

2.  I understand that westbound crossings are considered better than eastbound because of the extra hour gained each day.   Does this advantage outweigh the experience of leaving New York in the daylight?

 

We've done round trip sailings, so we get to enjoy both the sail out and sail in.

 

Quote

 

3.  I would be traveling during the summer.  One of the pleasures of a crossing is experiencing rough seas.  I understand that it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen on a certain cruise, but does a summer crossing mean that there is less of an opportunity of experiencing rough seas?  

 

There will be some sort of weather [even bright sunny days are weather 🙂 ]. Summer is also known as North Atlantic Hurricane season [May-November]. QM2 was designed with rough weather in mind, and has a reserve of speed to re route around the rough patches most of the time.

 

Quote

Is it possible to use Cunard's air to travel to/from a city in Europe before or after a crossing?  For example, I arrive in Southhampton, take the train to London.  Spend a day or two in London, and then take the Eurostar to Amsterdam and then fly home.  (Please note that I have visited all of these cities before to do the museums, so I would primarily be doing this to ride the Eurostar because this would be a route I have not ridden.  )

I cannot directly help with the air portion [we drive to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal].

There have been postings indicating that Cunard is flexible with their arrangements -  both before and after the cruise.

Quote

 

Thank you for your assistance.  

 

Edited by TheOldBear
typos
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My opinion, which may or may not be applicable to your preferences, is that westbound is preferable. I have done both and the sail-out from New York in the afternoon is pretty grand (we were on QE at the Manhattan terminal, which made it even better), but the deciding factors for me are (a) time changes while I'm asleep and not at lunch, and (b) meeting weather systems head-on and getting through them in a day (or so) as opposed to traveling in the same direction they are.

 

I have booked airfares through Cunard on several occasions and they are remarkably flexible in scheduling. I have not flown to the Continent prior to a crossing, but they have accommodated me flying into Dublin and Edinburgh well in advance of the trip (I had business in both places).

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Thank you for the information about the trains and the suggestion to use bus transfers.  I would have one larger bag with wheels(a spinner) and a smaller bag attached to it.  I think the determining factor for mode of transit is the location of my hotel in London.  

 

After reading the suggestions I am now leaning towards a westbound crossing. The ultimate deciding factor will be the dates of travel though. If I want to travel on certain dates, and eastbound works better I would do eastbound.  I can always do a the other direction on another trip.  I suspect I will like this and want to do it more than once.  

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2 hours ago, steve4031 said:

I just came up with another rookie question.  I have several cruises on carnival.  Would this lead to any extra benefits on a Cunard cruise?   

You would surely note that every aspect of your cruise was several notches superior to your previous experiences - I suppose getting an upgrade is a benefit.

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11 minutes ago, steve4031 said:

Thank you for the information about the trains and the suggestion to use bus transfers.  I would have one larger bag with wheels(a spinner) and a smaller bag attached to it.  I think the determining factor for mode of transit is the location of my hotel in London.  

 

After reading the suggestions I am now leaning towards a westbound crossing. The ultimate deciding factor will be the dates of travel though. If I want to travel on certain dates, and eastbound works better I would do eastbound.  I can always do a the other direction on another trip.  I suspect I will like this and want to do it more than once.  

I suspect that you will like this too. As many here will testify, crossings are addictive  My wife and I made our first crossing ten years ago as a once in a lifetime extravagance to celebrate a special anniversary. But hardly a year has gone by when we haven't made the journey both ways, with a few weeks in Europe in between. We can't wait for the pandemic to pass so we can sail again.

 

You asked about rough seas in the summer. We've had summer crossings when the ocean was like pond water, and others when we've had days when the the sea was more than a little ebullient. QM2 handles the Atlantic better than any other passenger ship, so should you experience rough seas, you'll probably be able to enjoy them without much in the way of ill effects.

 

Traveling with only two bags you should be all right on the train, although it can be challenging. You may find it a bit easier if you get a first class ticket. Look for Advance Fares which can be quite reasonable. We prefer to travel by train rather than by bus, but the Cunard bus from Victoria is certainly a good possibility. Lately, we've had more luggage in tow than we should, so we've hired a car from Southampton to London.

 

Westbound gives you an extra hour, and because the clock won't jump ahead at noon, you won't feel rushed to have lunch. If you get up early, the entrance to New York harbor in the wee small hours of the morning is spectacular. On the other hand, leaving New York is spectacular in its own right—far more so than the departure from Southampton—and the journey under the Verrazano Bridge is not to be missed. 

 

However you do it, have a wonderful crossing!

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5 hours ago, steve4031 said:

Greetings,

 

I have been reading posts on here for several years.  A crossing on Cunard is on my bucket lists.  I have established that I will book either an outside view or balcony in the Britianna class and that I will use Cunard's air.  I found threads on here that helped me make those determinations.  My questions:

 

1.  How does one usually get from Southhampton to London or vice versa?   I am a rail enthusiast and would probably take the train if it is not too difficult to get to the cruise terminal.  

 

2.  I understand that westbound crossings are considered better than eastbound because of the extra hour gained each day.   Does this advantage outweigh the experience of leaving New York in the daylight?

 

3.  I would be traveling during the summer.  One of the pleasures of a crossing is experiencing rough seas.  I understand that it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen on a certain cruise, but does a summer crossing mean that there is less of an opportunity of experiencing rough seas?  

 

Is it possible to use Cunard's air to travel to/from a city in Europe before or after a crossing?  For example, I arrive in Southhampton, take the train to London.  Spend a day or two in London, and then take the Eurostar to Amsterdam and then fly home.  (Please note that I have visited all of these cities before to do the museums, so I would primarily be doing this to ride the Eurostar because this would be a route I have not ridden.  )

 

Thank you for your assistance.  

1.  It is a short taxi ride from Southampton station to the cruise terminal.  At cruise time the trains disgorge batches of passengers all heading for the cruise, and if you get talking to someone it is sensible to share a taxi.  If you have a lot of baggage, travel first class - it doesn’t usually cost that much more (booked in Advance).

 

2.  The principal reason people prefer westbound is the drama of the arrival in New York.  There is nothing dramatic about arriving in Southampton in the dark.  The extra hour isn’t a big issue (except making it easier to digest all the food) - westbound tends to favour night owls as you will be staying up later each night; eastbound favours morning birds.  Eastbound is a lot less windy on deck as you are following the prevailing wind.  All things being equal, eastbound starts off sunnier and warmer whereas westbound the weather tends to improve as you cross.  Eastbound you tend to follow the weather systems whereas westbound you cut through them, with more likelihood of variety.

 

3.  Yes, summer is much less likely to be very rough.

 

no idea about the air travel.

Edited by IB2
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7 hours ago, steve4031 said:

1.  How does one usually get from Southhampton to London or vice versa?  

 

2.  I understand that westbound crossings are considered better than eastbound because of the extra hour gained each day.   Does this advantage outweigh the experience of leaving New York in the daylight?

 

3.  I would be traveling during the summer.  One of the pleasures of a crossing is experiencing rough seas.  I understand that it is impossible to predict exactly what would happen on a certain cruise, but does a summer crossing mean that there is less of an opportunity of experiencing rough seas?  

 

1. Yes, it's a bit more of a hassle, but I would strongly counsel taking the train from to/from Southampton. It's just more old school.  Like crossing the Atlantic by sea.  Both are much more fun.

 

2. As a native NYer, I prefer Eastbound.  It's just the way I am wired. I want to get on a ship and sail under the Verrezano bridge to Europe (!!).  I love disembarkingin Southampton with no jet lag and have all of the UK/Europe waiting for me.  Westbound (while the longer days are very welcome indeed) is just anti-climatic.  Yes, the arrival into NY harbor is spectacular, but as an American, you are home, so how much fun is that vs arriving in Europe?  Also, those eastbound overnight flights to Europe can be brutal.  On an eastbound, you get off in Southampton with an amazing attitude of "Look, no jet lag!".

 

3.  I also love rough seas. Go as late in the year as possible for greatest likelihood, although nothing is guaranteed.  Currently booked on a late October '21 crossing and hoping for some late season hurricane or such to store up the seas.  Have done a couple of December crossings and its now my favorite time.

 

If you are not already considering it, I might suggest you take the train from Chicago to NY to connect with QM2. That way you can have the distinction of going all the way from Chicago to London (or Paris or..) without setting foot on a plane. One trip in the coming years I plan on doing LA to Berlin via NY and Hamburg in the same manner, like an old school movie star.  

 

No matter what you choose, your crossing will be fantastic.  The elements you are asking about are just all subjective gradations of truly wonderful experience.  Happy sailing!  

 

   

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I will answer your first 2 questions for you.

 

Number 1. Usually by private car transfer or train to Southampton. If you go down the day beforehand there are a number of good hotels in Southampton. If you get a private car transfer via Cunard on the day I believe they will wait for you if they booked it. If you do it yourself you don't have such protection.

 

Number 2. The ship leaves new york in the daytime under the Verrazzano-Narrows_Bridge. It is a very good thing to see the ship sail past the statue of liberty and out into the ocean. However on the westbound any thought you have of seeing the ship sailing into New York might not come to pass. We have missed it before and to see if you have to be up very early. They will NOT make an announcement that the ship is sailing into Brooklyn. You may miss it. You might wake up and the ship has docked already.

Edited by ace2542
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39 minutes ago, ClipperinSFO said:

If you are not already considering it, I might suggest you take the train from Chicago to NY to connect with QM2

That could be a very long train ride and perhaps very slow ride. It once took me 7 hours from St Louis to Kansas City on Amtrack and I thought it would take about 3 or 4 at most. And if he takes the train and there is a problem Cunard will not wait for him.

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5 hours ago, Victoria2 said:

The main advantage of an eastbound crossing can be summed up in four words.

 

Lack of jet lag!

 

Eh?  Short of doing a round trip, there are four possible combinations:  a U.S. resident sailing east or west, a British resident sailing east or west.  All have to fly out or fly home.  Which one, pray, avoids jetlag?

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1 hour ago, Fairgarth said:

 

Eh?  Short of doing a round trip, there are four possible combinations:  a U.S. resident sailing east or west, a British resident sailing east or west.  All have to fly out or fly home.  Which one, pray, avoids jetlag?

Well said, but perhaps the question to ask is this: "Would you rather have jet lag on your first day abroad or your first day back home?" I'd prefer to take to my bed at home where I could recover in peace and mourn the return of reality.  

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Steve4031,

A couple of thoughts that haven't been mentioned in the excellent responses above. 

TAKE THE THE CUNARD BUS FROM LONDON TO SOUTHAMPTON

We have made 2 crossings on the QM2, both westbound. In both cases we arrived a week early and spent some time in Europe. In 2017 it was Spain and in 2018 it was Scotland (by train - marvelous). By the time we boarded the QM2 the jet lag had worn off and we had adjusted to local time. Arriving London, after our touring, we stayed at the Hilton Double Tree at Victoria Station. This hotel is just 4 blocks from the bus station where the Cunard bus departs from. There is also a wine store 1 block from the hotel. This was important to us because Cunard allows you to bring as much wine and spirits as you want onboard. We walked to the bus station, stopping at the wine store, with our 3 roller bags and 2 back packs. We had sent all of our formal ware ahead to the London Hilton Double Tree so that we didn't have to take it on the plane or on our touring. Once we got to the bus station, we turned our bags over to the Cunard folks and didn't have to worry about it again until we got to our cabin on the QM2 where they were waiting for us. On both of our trips the Cunard bus was clean, new and had a very nice bathroom. The travel time from London to the terminal was about 2hours and 30 minutes. I think the cost for the bus was around $50-$60 per person. One of the nice things about the Cunard bus is that the ship won't leave without you in case you are delayed. Peace of mind.

ON A SUMMER WESTBOUND CROSSING IT WILL BE DAYLIGHT WHEN YOU ENTER NYC

On June 30th of this year, the sun will rise at 5:28AM in NYC. Typically you will pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at around 5:45AM but it varies. On both our crossings the Captain announced the time during the noon announcement the day before. The best place to watch the passing under the bridge is from the observation area on top of the new Deck 13 cabins. If you do the westbound crossing you will want to be sure to reserve a port-side cabin. Once you pass under the bridge it take 15-20 minutes to get to the Statue of Liberty. This gives you time to get back to your cabin and enjoy the Statue of Liberty with a hot mug of coffee/tea from your balcony. Below are a few pictures as we entered NYC on May 13, 2017.

 

Jack

(fellow Chicagoan)

IMG_7248.thumb.JPG.9f70be5871a778f99de5c794c7c4d21a.JPG

 

IMG_7252.thumb.JPG.fa41f18c3e0cb96c478aa4e7a9e2f2a0.JPG

 

IMG_7255.thumb.JPG.a147f11cdaa6503f3d90db05eb23bc67.JPG

 

IMG_7263.thumb.JPG.ff41742da3d9c0670c4f4d3e1e087e31.JPG

 

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Hi, 

 

I greatly enjoy transatlantic crossings on Cunard ships. Over the years, I have done six Cunard crossings (four westbound and two eastbound): QE2, 1984 (WB); QE2, 2001 (WB); QE2, 2003 (EB); QM2, 2014 (WB); QV, 2015 (EB); and QM2, 2019 (WB). Also, I am booked on the QM2 for April 2022 (WB).

 

As an American, I personally prefer WB crossings. I like getting the long flight out of the way at the beginning of the trip and not having jet lag when I return home after the crossing. Also, I really enjoy the 25 hour days. It is great sleeping an extra hour most days.

 

For crossings, I recommend a sheltered balcony stateroom. I like having a balcony that is protected from the wind. 

 

The sea days on Cunard are excellent. I enjoy attending interesting lectures in Illuminations and afternoon tea in the Queens Room. There are an incredible number of activities each day.

 

The QM2 is a spectacular and wonderful ship. In addition to the two crossings, I have taken five cruises on this ship (including a short World Cruise segment from Hong Kong to Singapore in 2017). 

 

I usually use the Cunard bus transfers between London and Southampton. This is a very convenient service. I have boarded the bus at the Victoria Coach Station many times and never had a problem.

 

The passengers on Cunard crossings always seem to be particularly interesting. I really enjoy meeting people and discussing ships and travel.  

 

I highly recommend a transatlantic crossing on the QM2.

 

Chuck

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2 hours ago, ace2542 said:

That could be a very long train ride and perhaps very slow ride. It once took me 7 hours from St Louis to Kansas City on Amtrack and I thought it would take about 3 or 4 at most. And if he takes the train and there is a problem Cunard will not wait for him.

 

It is probably around 24 hrs from CHI-NYC, and I would not propose arriving the day of departure, but rather the day before just to account for any delays.    

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Thanks for posting the questions.  We are also first time Cunarders and first time Transatlantic crossers and very much looking forward to our crossing (hopefully) in September, 2021.

 

We are currently in a starboard side Britannia Club balcony.  We have checked the box and hope to receive an upgrade, and also hope to switch to a port-side cabin.   I know  they are currently limiting occupancy due to Covid, but hopefully more cabins will be opened up as the situation improves.  We shall have to see.

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