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Posts posted by 3rdGenCunarder

  1. Sunday, July 14

    Foggy morning with light rain on and off. Disappointing for “scenic sailing” into Glacier Bay. I watched from my balcony but went up to the Terrace when we reached the first glacier. The weather cleared a little and I took some pictures. Not a lot of people out on the decks. Lots were inside lounges with seats near windows. Because people spent all day claiming their window tables at the buffet, it was impossible to get a table at lunch. I did take-out. I always tip my steward/stewardess because of all the buffet plates I take to my room.

    I didn’t see much wildlife. A few otters, a few eagles far away. No seals. No whales, but that isn’t surprising so far up the fjord. I heard a few were seen early this morning, so maybe this afternoon we’ll get some sightings.

    Everybody carries on about how great Glacier Bay is. I don’t see that it’s so special. Yes, we get a park ranger who does a narration. But how much of it does anyone remember? I’m looking forward to Hubbard Glacier tomorrow. It’s huge, a long wall of blue ice. And it’s an active glacier, calving frequently. I hope we get good weather. We’ve been without a signal in Glacier Bay so I haven’t had a chance to check yet. I fear it will be more of the same. There seems to be a big blobby weather system stuck over Alaska.

    Correction: Cunard is not a cookie desert. I found some at tea at the buffet. I rarely go to the buffet for tea, so this was a surprise.

    Jazz! It was Big Band night in the Queens Room, combining the Queens Room orchestra with the theater band. But they don’t need 2 pianists or 2 drummers or extra guitarists. So those musicians play jazz sets, sometimes in Commodore Club, sometimes in the pub. Tonight it was the pub. People who wanted to listen sat where the band was. People who wanted to talk sat in the other sections, so there were no distractions. I wish they would do this more often. These guys are great and they played a nice variety of songs. What can I say, they had me at Cole Porter!

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  2. Saturday, July 13

    Dreary. That sums up today’s weather. They knew what they were doing when they handed out the ponchos. It rained most of the morning, while we were sailing to Icy Strait Point. The rain got lighter in the afternoon, but didn’t stop until around 6, and even then it was misty.

    My stewardess earned a tip. She found a pair of small slippers. She said she had to hunt around for them, which is why it took so long. Same thing on QV last fall. And QA didn’t have any at all. Why doesn’t Cunard recognize that some of us have small feet???

    Whale watches didn’t do well today. Some went out into rough water, but didn’t stay long. Most stayed in calmer protected water. If it’s rough, whales will seek the calmer bay areas because it’s just easier to get a breath of air without being splashed by waves. We did see a few humpbacks, but no deep dives so no tail display. Nobody I spoke to saw orcas up close. My boat didn’t even see them from a distance. The crew took us to where they’re usually seen, but nobody was performing. Disappointing for people doing this for the first time.

    A couple at my table saw a group of whales near the ship. From the video he took, I’d guess they were juveniles because the best description I can give is that they were frolicking. Possibly the best whale sighting of the day.

    I’m noticing something I saw on Queen Victoria last fall. The buffet gets more interesting food (often international) than the dining rooms do. My tour got back around 6, and I didn’t feel like changing for dinner. The buffet was having a German dinner. Oooh, I love German food. There were several sausages, veal meatballs, pork schnitzel, potato pancakes, sauerkraut with caraway seeds. Yummy!

    Since most people were at dinner or getting ready for dinner when I got back to the ship, it was quiet. I checked out the launderette. Yay! An available machine. But instructions were a mess. Fancy electronic machines. The instructions show how to make choices on the touchscreen. But these machines don’t have a touchscreen with icons. There’s a knob that you turn to scroll through the choices and the screen shows what you’ve selected. I selected what I wanted, but it changed the program. So I had to cancel and try again. It took 3 tries to get it to do what I wanted.

    I had dinner while the clothes were washing and returned just as the cycle finished. As I was loading a dryer, a couple came in. She looked in the machine she’d used and didn’t see her clothes. Not in the dryers, not in any laundry basket. She stormed out, angry that someone took her clothes. I’m willing to bet she had used a launderette on a different floor.

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  3. On 7/13/2024 at 4:58 PM, newbie202020 said:

    Thanks so much @3rdGenCunarder for your great reviews. I'm going to be on the QE shortly and would appreciate your help with a few questions, if you have time.


    You mentioned that the thermal spa pass was still 2 hours pass only. I thought I read that once onboard, you can get a full voyage (10 day) all day pass for around $199 total. I'm confused that you're only getting 2 hours. Do you know how much the full voyage pass is?


    Also, would you know if the Verandah prices are cheaper onboard with these pop up promos? Thanks very much and hope you're enjoying the trip.


    Sorry if I was confusing. There is a full voyage pass and for this 11 day cruise it's $199. They SAY they are limiting group size by asking people to sign up for specific 2-hour slots. But they don't seem to be enforcing it. The first sea day there were 12 people in the pool area and another 4 on the heated loungers. That didn't seem like a small group size. I asked and they said the limit is 10. 


    Today I had signed up for 2-4 but I went at 1 and nobody said anything about it. 


    Popups are $35. On this cruise we have Coriander, Frontier, and Bamboo. 

  4. On 7/13/2024 at 5:59 PM, NE John said:

    On our June 21 voyage, we had only ~450 Gold and higher WC members on board a full ship so there are lots of newbies. What a great introduction to Cunard!

    I hope Lucia is the in charge of the Grills lounge. She and her staff are welcoming. 
    You have two glaciers on your itinerary so that’s special. Best of luck with the weather. 



    Lucia is wonderful!

  5. 6 minutes ago, rakkor said:


    Was it not the orientation meeting for the Red tops? I stumbled upon it in the Garden room on Victoria last year and it looked to be very informative. I'm sure many more seasoned cruisers could do with a refresher course on what's available and how to get connected given the steady stream of people at the concierge's desk early on in the cruise.



    It may have been for new passengers. Not a bad idea. I don't recall seeing anything about the wifi/internet  there. That is a definite need, and not for just an hour. There should be a help desk for the first day. The queue at the purser was very long the first day. Lots of people holding their phones and looking confused.

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  6. Friday, July 12, 2024

    Still hadn’t met my steward, which is unusual. After breakfast, as I got back to my cabin, my stewardess, Lucy, was just going in to make the bed. So I got to meet her briefly.

    I wanted to go to the library to get something to read, pick up the newspaper, maybe have a look in the shops. From the second level of the Queens Room, I could see tables arranged all around the dance floor. What was this? I went downstairs to check it out. It was some kind of expo of things you can do (and pay for!) on the ship. The popup restaurants, Verandah (the steakhouse), wine packages, photographers, some shop merch, spa products, etc. I’ve never seen this before. I wonder if purchases are down and they’re trying to stimulate spending?

    I went up to the Grills Lounge, which is lovely, with its wall of windows looking out on the terrace and beyond to the sea. It’s very windy today—part of that is because we’re cranking along at 21 knots—so I sat inside instead of being on the terrace. Unlike Queen Anne, where there never seemed to be lounge service, here they’re open from 10 AM to 11 PM. A mid-morning latte may be my sea day routine.

    I had my WC diamond lunch in Verandah. Very good, except for dessert. I love their Bramley apple tart. But this one had come out of the freezer. It was cold in the middle, so they obviously hadn’t nuked it long enough. I expected that to be freshly baked, not prebaked and loaded frozen. Tsk! But no, it didn’t “ruin my cruise” or even my lunch for that matter.

    Gala night! The theme is “ice white” in honor of the glaciers we’ll be seeing. But glaciers are blue! (You’ve probably all read my complaint about this) So I wore a long aqua skirt and a white top with silver trim. Blue beneath, white above, just like a glacier. Although if I had really wanted to be accurate, I’d have smeared some dirt on the shoulders, as the top of a glacier, viewed from above, has streaks of gray/brown from the rocks it has accumulated on its travels.

    When I returned to my cabin, there was a gift from Cunard. A plastic rain poncho. Oh dear, that doesn’t bode well for the weather tomorrow… A more pleasant surprise was a second bottle of the Australian fizz from World Club.

    I am fairly tidy when I travel. But I tend to just kick off the shoes into the closet area. When I came back from dinner, I saw that Lucy had tidied my shoes into a neat row (remember, the clothes area is open, no doors, so my tidiness or lack thereof is visible). And the fleece that I had tossed onto the sofa was hanging on the back of a chair. She is not supposed to be my butler, so now I feel I must be extra tidy so as to not take up too much of her time on that when she should use it to Hoover—I’ve seen a few small sequins from the previous occupant.

    After QA, QE seems small. But she's still my favorite and I'm happy to be "home."

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    Thursday, July 11, Embarkation

    Embarkation was easy. I stayed in the hotel that’s right above the cruise terminal. They offer room-to ship bellman service, which I love. The bellmen even carry little staplers so they can help you attach your print-at-home luggage tags.

    Last time I did this cruise, the cruise industry was in restart mode. For a cruise out of Vancouver, we had to have our passports and boarding passes, as usual. But then there were the added steps of proof of negative Covid test, vaccination cards, and an app called ArriveCAN. Two years later, we’ve moved on and it’s easy. The whole process took less than 20 minutes and because of the size of the place, more of it was spent walking than actually doing anything.

    I had asked the day before and was told check in starts 11-ish. They use a large space that’s at street level, but not near the street. You have to walk along the pier to get to check-in. There are people with signs that say “all cruise passengers.” That’s all the signs say, no arrow. So I guess you have to ask directions. I knew where to go, so “11-ish” I walked to the appropriate area and got in the queue where we had to show boarding passes to be allowed into the check-in queue. They were honoring priority check-in, so I got right to a desk, where my passport and boarding pass were checked. I was given my key card, which is unusual.  I’m used to finding it in an envelope outside my cabin.

    Then walk walk down a hallway to an escalator and walk walk walk to security. For once, I did NOT get behind the people who forget to empty pockets, put cell phones into the bin, etc. So that was quick. Then walk walk walk to US Immigration. Although we’re still in Canada, it’s easier for Immigration to process people in Vancouver rather than have agents (yes agents, not kiosks) in the various small towns in Alaska that the ships visit. That took less than a minute. And then walk walk walk to the folding chairs where we would wait to board. 

    Boarding started a little after noon, so not bad. And now I know why they give you your card key on the pier. Cabins aren’t ready, so they tell you to go to your emergency muster station to check in before going to the buffet for lunch. Instead, I went to my cabin to drop off my carry-ons. Lunch in the grills wouldn’t start until 1:00, so I thought I may as well do the muster station thing. At least I got there from my cabin. Doing it on the way in may get it out of the way, but people learn nothing about their route. The TV in the cabin plays the instruction video endlessly, but now that we don’t do the full muster drill, most people don’t think about the route they might have to take.

    After that, I went to the spa to book the thermal suite pass. They’re still requiring people to sign up for 2-hour sessions. So I will have to look at my tours and see what the best times are.

    After lunch, I found my luggage waiting for me. I unpacked, reveling in all the space! Queen Anne had too little space for all my frocks—and I’m traveling alone. Princess Grill QE has about 6 feet of clothes pole, plus a closet with shelves. It’s sort of a walk-through closet. No doors, you walk past the closet area on the way into the bathroom. And there are drawers in the nightstands for the little bits and pieces like chargers, nono bag (stuff you can’t have in carry-on on a plane), first aid kit (which seems to have more in it each time I travel). I don't always travel in grills and don't always travel on Cunard, so I get confused about amenities. I think my PG cabin on QA had an umbrella. I know it had wooly blankets. Neither provided this time. 

    Embarkation bottle is an Australian fizz. I like it. DiBortoli Willowglen from NSW.  I suppose there will be raised eyebrows about the  screw cap, but I’m delighted. That means I can close the bottle and have more on later days.




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  8. Not sure if I should ask this here or Alaska cruises. I'm in Vancouver (had a lovely day), staying at the Pan Pacific. I have a view of the commercial port and train tracks from my window, so looking SSW (I think). In the distance, I can see one mountain that is taller than any other. It's covered with snow. What is it? It's driving me crazy because I've tried to figure it out using googlemaps but I can't. 

  9. Two years ago, I took a taxi from the pier to the airport. Something large disembarked its passengers faster than my ship did and I was in the taxi queue for almost an hour. At that time, the taxis went into the underground garage and picked up near the door. I think they still do that. I'm in Vancouver now, leaving tomorrow, and by 7 AM I saw the taxis lined up in the street waiting their turn to go into the garage to pick up passengers. 


    Can your father climb into a bus? A ship transfer to the airport would load fairly close to the doors and involve much less standing than waiting for a taxi.

  10. 13 hours ago, TouchstoneFeste said:

    You might want to check how many big ships will be in port that day  to judge the competition, so to speak. 


    Over on the British Isles/Western Europe forum, this topic is covered extensively,  and one piece of advice I've seen repeatedly is to book the taxi through the hotel the night before,  perhaps as you check in.


    All that said,  taxis are plentiful, and the rides are short. 


    I don't know if other hotels do this, but Premier Inn West Quay has a phone in the lobby that connects directly to a taxi service. I usually call and make my booking early on the morning of departure.

  11. I'm Diamond and the last two times at Southampton I was waved right in. The person looking at passes just saw Priority and didn't say anything about the time. There were people lined up outside the building waiting to check in. I guess they were non-priority who arrived early. I don't know if/how the staff consider assigned times or if it's just queue in the order you got to the terminal. Last time I was very early because my Uber showed up a half hour early. The only passengers in the terminal were the grills, diamonds, and platinums. The non-priority seats were empty. 


    It's a long time since we sailed with friends who aren't platinum or diamond, so I don't know how they would handle non-priority traveling with priority passengers.  

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  12. 23 hours ago, david,Mississauga said:


    Yes, I recommend waiting until check-in.  It takes only a few seconds.  For two cruises  we have taken pictures (with our small digital camera; we don't have a smartphone) then put the pictures on our computer, then uploaded them.  The first time the Cunard site immediately rejected the pictures so we took them again.  As I said earlier they were deemed not good enough at check-in and the clerk took new ones.  I wasted our time trying this on the next cruise with the same result.


    A few days ago I did the on-line check-in and skipped over the part about uploading photos. The wording gives the impression you have to do that but you do not.


    I don't bother to do the photo. I've tried in the past and the website has accepted the photo but the check-in staff took a new one anyway. As others have said, it's just a few seconds. 


    Another point in favor of a paper boarding pass is it won't crack if you drop it on the floor of the terminal. (Some are just hard concrete floors) And it's just one more thing to juggle while you've got your hands busy with carry-on and your passport.

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  13. 51 minutes ago, exlondoner said:

    About 20 years ago, it was also slang among the young for rubbish. I don’t whether it is still used thus.


    Yes it is. Don't remember where I heard it.

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  14. 57 minutes ago, moses0 said:

    I was on QV  and then QM2 recently. Although my favorite  ship is QM2  QV is lovely ship. Of all the Cunard ships I have found the staff on QV are the most friendly. However there were a number of newbies among the crew that did not seem to know the ropes. 

    Food was good on QV better on QM2.  Afternoon tea better experience this time on QV. Nice to see new couches and carpets on QM2 they were sorley needed. Might be time for a bit of a refresh for QV.  Sail any Cunard ship I'm sure you will enjoy it.


    I think we're going to see more than the usual number of new crew members because so many experienced crew were plucked from three existing ships to be part of the staff on QA.

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  15. 59 minutes ago, sambamama said:

    No one has mentioned the huge benefit of having Global Entry.  Global Entry gets you right to the front of the line for customs when you disembark.  And having a redcap take your luggage usually gets you to the front of the line of whatever line you are in.  I've had TSA Precheck and Global Entry for years, and it has been wonderful!  The $5 I spend for the redcap is well worth the 30 minutes I save waiting in line.  And boy does Global Entry save you time in the  Miami Airport, the worst place to come back from in the US I've been to!!!  I've hear Mobile Passport (which is free) helps as well.  I think getting Club Orange speeds up embarking ( I don't bother as I am 4 star, and I already have priority!)


    That's my experience, too, both global entry and porters. The Global Entry scanners are amazing! Coming back from London recently (at Newark), I walked up to the Global Entry kiosk, took off my glasses (as required), and when I looked up from making sure they were in my purse, not the floor, I saw "proceed to agent." I didn't think I had even looked at the camera properly and it had already scanned my face and ok'd me to move on to the next step. 


    I'm with @WisRiver on the shuttle question. I had the same Embassy Suites shuttle experience and now take Uber to the port. 




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  16. I love the Vista design. I've sailed 3 of HAL's 4 Vistas (Zuiderdam is my favorite of those) and both QE and QV. 


    I agree with @Ocean_Liner_Traveller, that Cunard took a good starting point and made it even better. I like QE's decor a bit more than QV's--something in my heart said "home" the moment I stepped on QE--but both are elegant and comfortable. The library, with its circular staircase and LOTS of books makes you want to find a book and start reading. The Commodore Club with its forward view is my favorite spot for a cocktail. 


    And to answer the question in the title, because she's a Cunarder!

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  17. On 7/3/2024 at 1:12 PM, terrydtx said:

    Again you lost your credibility, I seriously doubt you were told this as it has not been required in over 10 years by HAL, maybe you should have done some pre cruise research on dressing for dinner. Did you ever go into battle without doing some research as an Army 1SG? BTW wearing shorts are never allowed in the MDR at night and not in the smart casual dress code. 




    Disclaimer: I have not read through all five pages of posts. But I need to respond to this post because this comment (boldfaced text) was my first thought after I read the opening thread. OP posted two minutes after joining Cruise Critic. So many times we see an unhappy review as a first-time post. Usually they're one-hit wonders, so thank you, @Cruiser Sean for coming back to clarify some points. 


    If you had come here before your cruise to ask questions like "how hard is it to get a table for 4 in open dining?" you would have had clearer expectations. I don't know why you were told that a suit or tux was required, unless it was his first day on the job with bad or no training. 


    Frankly, I'm surprised you chose Volendam for a cruise with two children. Aside from the kids' place (Club HAL?) and two small pools, there isn't a lot for kids on a small ship like Volendam. Again, research on the ship would have helped, and your daughters would have been happier.


    As for the casino, spa, and excursions, you got stuck in the finger-pointing. As has been explained, they're outside vendors and the front desk has no control over them. The front desk staff were not blowing you off--issues with vendors have to be resolved with them individually. 


    I'm a pretty low-key cruiser. I don't do spa treatments and I don't gamble (and have no expectation of free drinks), so I can't speak to those issues. I do take shore excursions and have had mixed results. I agree that they need to be open more. Or, failing that, have their own "contact us" function on the Navigator. I understand that you were angry that the front desk couldn't cancel (and credit) shore excursions for you within 48 hours. But they told you the truth. They can't do that. I know that it took longer than you wanted, but shore excursions did respond to the issue of your daughter's injury and credit you for the cancellation, even though they didn't have to per the rules. 


    I'm sorry you were unhappy with HAL. Sometimes you try a line that's new to you and it doesn't work out (been there, etc). Best to move on with a line that will serve your needs.

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  18. According to the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska calendar, on July 27 QE is at RRA (2 other ships that day). Lucky little Zaandam gets the Broadway dock.  On September 13, QE gets RRF (3 other big ships that day).


    Cruise Ship Schedule Calendar Combined Ports (claalaska.com)


    I think the tenders go to the ferry dock or the marina, which isn't a long ride. It will probably take longer to load and unload the tenders than the actual ride. 

  19. 19 hours ago, FrigidRock said:

    Hi QE Alaskans 🐧 We have a QE Alaskan cruise coming up and just got an email that Skagway will now be a tender disembarkation due to mudslides.  I have a non-cruise excursion booked at 9am and am worried about getting off the ship on time.  Has any recent QE Skagway dockings been via tender and have there been any issues getting off the ship and into town quickly?


    9 AM sounds like it could be tight, especially since They will probably prioritize passengers who have an excursion booked through Cunard. Have you been given an arrival time? 


    You might go to the Alaska port of call board and ask there what tendering is like. Your answer may not be specific to Cunard, but you can get an idea of how long the tender ride is likely to be. 

  20. 2 hours ago, Planning to cruise said:

    Just saying thats how I found it. 


    I agree that the new system is much better for hygiene.


    Also glad to hear that there are now 2 servers per station.  That will have speeded things.  Clearly they have realised that the one in early days was insufficient at busy times and to get back up.


    As for the nickname. It wasnt meant to suggest that it is a canteen.  It was a strange name change from what was the Lido or Kings Court.  The direct translation is worker, and foodhall could be canteen.




    I believe that Cunard want to give the impressing that the chefs are artisans.


    I think the name is pretentious, but the food was good. I had breakfast there on mornings when I had early tours. No problem finding what I wanted once I learned my way around. At lunch I was happy with the soups and the salad bar. 

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  21. 12 minutes ago, SLC1954 said:

    If you have unused non-refundable credit, you can get it moved to the crew tip pool otherwise it goes back to corporate hq. There is a form to fill out at guest services, and they are most grateful when you ask to do this.


    How far ahead of the end of the cruise must you do that? Another thing to do with non-refundable credit is to give it to "on deck for a cause."

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  22. 2 hours ago, Winifred 22 said:

    This bizarre. I have priced up a QA in August I am tracking and again no single supplement. I never checked and just assumed the price was with solo discount but my July cruise which still has availability  is quoting a single occupancy rate. Seems some extra dynamic pricing going on. 


    When you say no single supplement, are you saying a single will pay only half of the double fare? I've never seen Cunard be that generous.

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