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Transatlantic first timer questions


steve4031
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At the risk of answering questions that have already been answered, I will offer my experience. I have sailed both ways, and lately find westbound best suits my needs. 

 

Taking the train from London Waterloo to Southampton central is easy and relatively inexpensive. I have done it with two suitcases and a briefcase, with no issue. Taxi's are plentiful and inexpensive in Southampton. 

 

On thing you might consider is using sentluggage.com to send a large bag with formal clothes directly to the ship. It is collected a couple of weeks before you sail, and you will next see it in your stateroom or suite. And by all means plan on dressing up Queen Mary is a dress up liner. You can then have a smaller bag for travel before the crossing

 

Like others suggest you might consider flying into Amsterdam, Paris or Brussels to take the Eurostar to London St. Pancras International. The AMS train is relatively low speed til it reaches Brussels and then becomes high speed. You can also fly into London and the next day take Eurostar to Paris for lunch and then back to London for Dinner. Two rides, Two world class cities in one day. 

 

I would also recommend you arrive either in London or Southampton the day before your trip. Trying to do Amsterdam to St. Pancras, taking a taxi across London to London Waterloo and then on to Southampton the same day put you at risk of missing the boat. I usually go to London for a few days, and then go to Southampton the day of sailing. The ride is about 1 1/2 hours and trains run every half hour. 

 

A Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2 is a once in a life time experience, but you will find, one time is not enough. Enjoy

 

 

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Wow!!  Lots a great feed back.  I am grateful for your efforts.  Those pictures really got me going.  I like the idea of staying in the Hilton Double tree since I am a Hilton Diamond member.  

 

I am an experienced Amtrak traveler and would be very comfortable with riding Amtrak from Chicago, my home town, to New York City.  I have ridden this train dozens of times.  Adding it to a crossing would be awesome.  I met someone who was traveling from Seattle to NYC on Amtrak who was doing a crossing in the winter.  It was fascinating hearing about his plans.   

 

All but one of my cruises have been in the Caribbean on Carnival.  I did a Baltic's Cruise on NCL's Sun.  That was a great cruise.  The Sun was probably the oldest ship I have been on, and I enjoyed it's nooks and crannies.   We had an inside cabin on this short interior hallway that made it very private.  

 

I have not experienced rough seas.  On the Caribbean cruises I enjoyed the gentle motion as we crossed the gulf current.   The Baltic's cruise was also smooth sailing.  Beautiful weather each day.  

 

So I know my first Crossing will be an entirely new, exciting experience.  I appreciate your patience with my newbie questions.  One thing that I did do was review the dress codes and I will plan accordingly so that I can enjoy the ambience.  

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In 2013 we traveled from PHL to San Diego via Amtrak, boarded the Celebrity Infinity and sailed through the Panama Canal to FLL, stayed in her to Harwich.  Traveled to London for two nights, staying in the Doubletree Victoria Station on points.  Took the Cunard transfer to Southampton to board the QE for a four night cruise.  After that we flew to Venice for twelve night on Silhouette.  I think you can walk to the coach station from the hotel, but streets an traffic patterns were confusing.  At the hotel you could book a shuttle to the station.  As we are two older ladies, we did that.  It stopped at several hotels.  We were going to do that again last year prior to a westbound crossing, but COVID happened...  EM

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14 hours ago, steve4031 said:

Wow!!  Lots a great feed back.  I am grateful for your efforts.  Those pictures really got me going.  I like the idea of staying in the Hilton Double tree since I am a Hilton Diamond member.  

 

I am an experienced Amtrak traveler and would be very comfortable with riding Amtrak from Chicago, my home town, to New York City.  I have ridden this train dozens of times.  Adding it to a crossing would be awesome.  I met someone who was traveling from Seattle to NYC on Amtrak who was doing a crossing in the winter.  It was fascinating hearing about his plans.   

 

All but one of my cruises have been in the Caribbean on Carnival.  I did a Baltic's Cruise on NCL's Sun.  That was a great cruise.  The Sun was probably the oldest ship I have been on, and I enjoyed it's nooks and crannies.   We had an inside cabin on this short interior hallway that made it very private.  

 

I have not experienced rough seas.  On the Caribbean cruises I enjoyed the gentle motion as we crossed the gulf current.   The Baltic's cruise was also smooth sailing.  Beautiful weather each day.  

 

So I know my first Crossing will be an entirely new, exciting experience.  I appreciate your patience with my newbie questions.  One thing that I did do was review the dress codes and I will plan accordingly so that I can enjoy the ambience.  

Do you get a cabin onboard the train or are you sitting in a seat for 24 hours?

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I see many past passengers mentioning the Cunard chartered bus from Victoria Coach Station to Southampton. Honestly, that will cost several times more than one of the scheduled  London to Southampton busses. And two years ago left my sister waiting for the delayed Cunard bus in the pigeon filled station for hours. Of course the Cunard bus avoids the stops at Winchester and Southampton University before arriving at the main Soton bus station and you'll have to get a taxi to the pier. 

 

Another mode of travel, and quite nice is using one of the car and driver services such as Smith's for Airport. 

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8 hours ago, ace2542 said:

Do you get a cabin onboard the train or are you sitting in a seat for 24 hours?

 

There used to be compartments on the NY-CHI run, the Lakeshore Limited or the Broadway Limited. Not sure about nowadays.  It seems the perfect way to begin a crossing on QM2.  Doing it the other way (QM2 to Amtrak) would be a very rude shock to the system.   When we finally get around to doing LA to Berlin via train and ship (Paramount to Uffe in what we imagined might have been the footsteps of Marlene Dietrich) we will definitely be going East.        

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Our Cunard transfer took us directly to the pier.

 

On Amtrak long distance you travel coach, roomette, or bedroom.  We had a bedroom.  It makes an inside cabin look really spacious, but still is a great experience.  EM

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:34 PM, 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?

It was a personal comment and I missed out two words. Our TAs are always after a few weeks stay either in the US or on a cruise and so I will repeat, 'Lack of jet lag for me'.

As an aside, it applies to all who have been in the US for a while, whether on holiday or as a resident, irrespective of any prior jet lag incurred  by travelling west.

 

 

I will also add, when flying west, we are rarely inconvenienced by jet lag, even on the US west coast. A day, maybe two of slight weariness and that's it.

Travelling east is a totally different scenario and it can take me ten days to recover from a few weeks on the east coast, never mind the west.

Edited by Victoria2
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On 1/15/2021 at 4:00 AM, steve4031 said:

Wow!!  Lots a great feed back.  I am grateful for your efforts.  Those pictures really got me going.  I like the idea of staying in the Hilton Double tree since I am a Hilton Diamond member.  

 

I am an experienced Amtrak traveler and would be very comfortable with riding Amtrak from Chicago, my home town, to New York City.  I have ridden this train dozens of times.  Adding it to a crossing would be awesome.  I met someone who was traveling from Seattle to NYC on Amtrak who was doing a crossing in the winter.  It was fascinating hearing about his plans.   

 

All but one of my cruises have been in the Caribbean on Carnival.  I did a Baltic's Cruise on NCL's Sun.  That was a great cruise.  The Sun was probably the oldest ship I have been on, and I enjoyed it's nooks and crannies.   We had an inside cabin on this short interior hallway that made it very private.  

 

I have not experienced rough seas.  On the Caribbean cruises I enjoyed the gentle motion as we crossed the gulf current.   The Baltic's cruise was also smooth sailing.  Beautiful weather each day.  

 

So I know my first Crossing will be an entirely new, exciting experience.  I appreciate your patience with my newbie questions.  One thing that I did do was review the dress codes and I will plan accordingly so that I can enjoy the ambience.  

Forget Hilton Doubletree, book Hilton Ageas Exec Floor for the usual lounge for evening drinks and nibbles.  Also tea/coffee (express etc) and soft drinks 24/7

Doubletree is old, tired, past it’s best and no exec floor/lounge.. Ageas is crisp, clean and more modern.  Also the surrounding area and views are better at the Ageas. Consider the Cruise/Stay/Transfer package. 

https://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/hilton-at-the-ageas-bowl-southampton-SOUAGHI/about/park-and-stay.html

 

 

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On 1/14/2021 at 11:34 PM, 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?

Jet lag is invariably worse flying eastbound 

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On 1/14/2021 at 10:00 PM, steve4031 said:

Wow!!  Lots a great feed back.  I am grateful for your efforts.  Those pictures really got me going.  I like the idea of staying in the Hilton Double tree since I am a Hilton Diamond member.  

steve4031,

I would agree with Port Royal, that if you are going to spend the eve of sailing in Southampton, the Hilton Ageas Bowl is the place to stay. However, if you do stay in London, and take the Cunard bus, The Hilton DT Victoria station is very convenient. There is a great place right behind the hotel to get fish and chips, called Hardcore Lobster and More.

IMG_6772.thumb.JPG.443f61a0654155ec463f27eccf1946f5.JPG

 

One other point to consider, if you fly over from Chicago on United in Business/First, you will have access to the Polaris Lounge at ORD. This is a huge step-up from the United Club and includes a complimentary restaurant and top-shelf liquors and wines.

IMG_6099.thumb.JPG.3038e2c97a6481cfbfe9667e88dcf866.JPG

 

IMG_1571.thumb.JPG.9b1af9f1e5b604bfbd05799c5e18fbc6.JPG

 

Jack

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When I sailed eastbound in 2013 my travel agent didnt mention the Cunard transfers so I went through the trouble of making my own plans ahead of my sailing. I chose the bus to London over train because it was cheaper. While onboard I made friends with two ladies who told me about the Cunard transfers. So I signed up for the bus to St Pancras rail station because that is where I had to catch the train to Mansfield. (the bus I originally reserved would take me to Victoria Station and I woujld then have to make my way to St. Pancras) For these reasons I jumped at the chance of the Cunard transfer which cost $75.00  It was a small bus, full. Okay, nothing special but it got me where I needed to go.  I havent decided what I will do this time (Jan 2022)  I have to admit the Cunard transfer was very convenient.  If I had to connect to one of the airports I can see where the Cunard transfers would be much easier. Picked up my luggage and the bus was waiting at the curb. No taxis needed.        My 2013 sailing eastbound was in early January. It was cold on deck with a few snow showers but there was only one night that I would call rough.  Smooth sailing all other times.  I never thought about the time change at 12 noon.  I sat next to a man on the bus to London who travels for business and has such a hard time with jet lag that he always travels by ocean liner.  He didnt say if he traveled back the same way but I have heard that jetlag is more of a problem eastward and that has been my experience traveling to California. No problems going west, coming back I'm knocked out for at least a week. I had no problem with jetlag sailing east.

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5 hours ago, IB2 said:

Jet lag is invariably worse flying eastbound 

 

Interesting.  I'm the opposite.  Flying eastbound, I go to bed for a couple of hours after lunch, get up late afternoon and from that point on I'm on local time, no problem.  Westbound, when I get home I'm wide awake at 3 or 4 in the morning and that goes on for at least a week until I finally adjust to local time. 

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I haven't flown into/out of other cities, but Cunard did not have any problems with booking me a flight out of London 3 days after the ship arrived after my first TA, nor with moving my flight to London a day and a half earlier on my second. I've found the agents incredibly helpful. 

 

(Third is now booked for April 2022 - it was supposed to have been Sept 2020, but, well...) 

 

Highly recommend the balcony cabin - I've done both obstructed (on 8) and sheltered (on 6), and loved both of them. 8 had more light, though (glass-fronted, despite the life boat hanging outside.) 

 

Although I know that the standard is to move the clocks forward at noon on an EB, they were moved at midnight on the one that I did back in 2018 - I don't know why, but it worked for me!  

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I appreciate the feedback and experiences that all of you have shared.  I looked up the Hilton in Southampton and it appears that it is more convenient if you are driving than if you took a bus or train from London to Southampton.  

 

Questions:   What are the temperatures like on a crossing during July and August?

 

What did you pay for business class using Cunard air?

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6 minutes ago, steve4031 said:

I appreciate the feedback and experiences that all of you have shared.  I looked up the Hilton in Southampton and it appears that it is more convenient if you are driving than if you took a bus or train from London to Southampton.  

 

Questions:   What are the temperatures like on a crossing during July and August?

 

What did you pay for business class using Cunard air?

Think one can use the private taxi service advertised on a cruise package (from hotel to port/port hotel) as a station (coach or train) to hotel/hotel to port cruise package. 

Ask the hotel direct as this is a specific hotel offer not a Group one.

 

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1 hour ago, steve4031 said:

...

 

Questions:   What are the temperatures like on a crossing during July and August?

 

...

That far north, the sea water temperatures in July -August are likely to be  mid-50’s(F) to low 60’s - and that will have a strong effect on the air temps.  Of course, on a sunny day, out of the breeze, you will be plenty warm on deck.

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Having crossed the Pond on QM2 ten times, it will be no surprise to learn that the weather and the time of year, seem to have nothing to do with each other. It's the Atlantic Ocean.

 

On a November crossing we were able to sit outside on our balcony, and in August, on another crossing, we couldn't see 50yds for a couple of days. There are no guarantees.

 

Having stated that, on balance, we have had better weather on summer trips and even dined outside at the Boardwalk Cafe when it's open.

 

Thankfully, when inside on QM2, it really doesn't matter about the weather outside.

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7 hours ago, BigMac1953 said:

Having crossed the Pond on QM2 ten times, it will be no surprise to learn that the weather and the time of year, seem to have nothing to do with each other. It's the Atlantic Ocean.

 

'''

 

Thankfully, when inside on QM2, it really doesn't matter about the weather outside.

Yes -- when you consider the conditions Leif Ericson's  party had to put up with on their open longship cruise from Greenland to Vinland.   It is always nice to have a dry below-decks refuge when the Atlantic starts acting like the Atlantic.

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I am looking at doing this trip in July/August of 2022.  I started looking at prices for the July 29th departure from Southampton.  I observed that a sheltered balcony, which is listed as about 20 square feet larger than a regular balcony, is almost 1,000 dollars cheaper.  Does sheltered mean blocked by a life boat? 

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20 minutes ago, steve4031 said:

I am looking at doing this trip in July/August of 2022.  I started looking at prices for the July 29th departure from Southampton.  I observed that a sheltered balcony, which is listed as about 20 square feet larger than a regular balcony, is almost 1,000 dollars cheaper.  Does sheltered mean blocked by a life boat? 

No, in essence it’s part of the ship’s steel hull with a large hole cut in it.  Unable to fully see the sea view whilst sitting, best to utilise a couple of cushions for the balcony chair to raise one’s buttocks..  Personal opinion only, tried once, hated it, never again, depressing, like being in a square tin can. But some actually love them.  Prefer a glass fronted balcony.

Addition.  If there was only a choice between sheltered or outside, I’d go for the outside, as there are many places about the ship with loungers to take in the views, wrapped up or not.

 

Edited by PORT ROYAL
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Sheltered balconies have the advantage of being lower than the glass balconies - and are also 'sheltered' from boisterous weather. 

On our 2017 round trip, there was a tropical storm remnant with force 11 winds. The winds were bow on most of the time, and our balcony was calm.

We tend to pick midships, deck 5 for crossings.

We did have 8003, a glass fronted balcony, that was nice for a port intensive New England/Canada cruise. That was a nice location, only two doors from the Library and one deck from the Commodore Club.

Many deck 8 balconies are obstructed by lifeboats or tenders - see the sticky "What do the Obstructed Views look like?" toward the top of this forum.

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The pictures of the balconies are helpful.  Thank you.  The sheltered Balcony reminds me of the Cove balcony I had on the Carnival Dream.  Based on the probability of experiencing rough seas at some point during the crossing a lower cabin would be more stable IMHO.  I suspect in extreme conditions the crew takes steps to prevent access to the balcony like Carnival does.  

 

Please forgive me for the Carnival references.  I know the service and product are way different than Cunard. My experiences with cabin location on the Dream could help me understand the location of these cabins on the QM2.  

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