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About MarkBearSF

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    San Francisco, CA
  • Interests
    Broadway, Cruising
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Cunard, HAL, Princess. AMA
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    TA crossings & Europe

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  1. I want to second the Amazon luggage labels from Highwind. They are so convenient and reusable (So their already reasonable price becomes dirt cheap with reuse) Note, there are two sizes. The larger one (Princess & HAL) fits all cruise lines, they also offer narrower ones (Royal Caribbean, I think) that are best for Cunard. But either ones are fine. They're great We'll never go back to boarding day origami or packing tape lamination. They've become a standard Bon Voyage gift for us and everyone loves them! xhttps://www.amazon.com/Cruise-Luggage-Holder-Seal-Steel/dp/B01E4SQNLS?ref_=ast_slp_dp&th=1&psc=1
  2. I believe as far as Queen's Grill Suites go (which was the OPs grade) the person wishes to be on all-QG deck 9, perhaps near the Concierge. Deck 8 is fabulous. No noise that we've experienced from Deck 7 below on three trips. (If you're obstructed view, hopefully you're in one with a not-very-obstructed view.) You're right near Elevator Bank C, which takes you right to the Britannia Restaurant, the Chart Room, and the Golden Lion Pub. (And the D elevators to the Queen's Room.) Also near the Deck 8 Pool and Hot Tubs. We try to book one of the cabins near the rescue craft (8043-8050) and stairway B and we've also stayed all the way forward on 8001.
  3. Hi guys! I wish I could answer, but we're not spa people and didn't visit it. ...and a Happy New Year!
  4. According to a post elsewhere, the QM2 has turned around and is returning to Halifax for yet another medical evacuation. The passenger who provided this info also said that a helicopter evacuation is planned. And that the ship is in a blizzard. My hopes are for the health of the evacuee and all others - but I'm wondering... Isn't the next trip from Southampton the kick off of the World Cruise? I'd imagine that they'll have problems making up all this time and there are likely to be some very angry World Cruisers when she finally pulls into Southampton. (And I hope and assume that any pressure resulting from a delay such as this [assuming there is one] would never result in compromising the health and safety of any of the patients aboard in the future. Luckily, I have no reason to think this would not be the case)
  5. A Facebook post mentioned there was a medical evacuation.
  6. If your home currency is USD, then its only one bad conversion rate, not two. (And I only do it in exceptional situations and with small amounts.)
  7. Did you do air throgh Cunard, or just a transfer?
  8. I almost always leave the tip line empty. The auto gratuity is generous. (As a matter of fact on Princess and HAL, they've stopped bringing the chit for signature and there's no opportunity to add a tip) However, for bar staff that have come to know my preferences or are outstanding in some way, I'll add an occasional $5 extra tip. Likewise, on Princess and HAL, I'll slip a $5 bill to the server. Again, not always. But every 3-4 drink orders to favorites.
  9. I usually get $100 of local currency more-or-less for one-time visit ports if we're going on our own for lunch or whatever. Obviously, if there's an arrangement for a tour or something else that must be paid in local currency, I'll take that into account. If I need more, I charge or go to an ATM. If we're just on an excursion, I'll deal with the lousy ship exchange rate for a $10-20 for tips, a drink, etc for the two of us. At the end, I'll usually exchange the stray amounts at home, but if we're traveling onward and don't want to deal with odds and ends of leftover currency, I'll use the ships exchange rate (or if it's just stray coins, I'll donate them near the Purser's)
  10. It could be really handy if Cunard offered an option in New York something like a new Celebrity program. They have started offering an "Extend Your Stay" option at Port Everglades, FL for people with late flights or other arrangements. For $79 ea, guests will be given special luggage tags the night before. That morning, they vacate their cabins by 9 AM as usual. They also need to claim their luggage and pass through customs as usual. However, after that, the bags are taken to a secured area, and once the ship is cleared, the passengers can reboard. Although their cabin is gone, the can enjoy the pool, public rooms and restaurants and bars until muster. The price covers the (standard) beverage package, so most drinks are included. (They can pay with a credit card for non-covered drinks or other purchases) I'd much rather have a few hours to have lunch in the Pub and simply sit in the Chart Room with a drink rather than in a JFK lounge. What do you think? https://www.cruisecritic.com/news/4920/
  11. Sorry. I'm no longer on board, so I'm unable to post a photo. We don't usually order room service so I didn't look for a menu. They DO update the full QG menu in the cabin daily - and your QG meals can be served in the cabin.
  12. We never had a problem finding a meal we enjoyed at lunch. That said, however, I recall that the lunch menu was the same (or mostly so) as the menu in Britannia and no published ala carte menu items. If memory serves, the daily offerings were Starters - about 4 soups, salads and starters. Plus a Canyon Ranch Selection (healthy spa choice) and another featured Selection. There were always a couple of salads. Main - a sandwich of the day (sometimes a burger), and about 4 other options including pasta, plus a Canyon Ranch option. Dessert - About 4 choices, including a low-sugar choice, also ice cream and a Canyon Ranch choice. There was usually at least one typically English choice like Sticky Toffee Pudding, Spotted Dick, or a Banoffee tart. ...so basically 5-6 choices throughout. Sandwiches, salads and pasta? Sure. But a variety of other options too I heartily recommend the Pub Lunch (your friend dismissed it to her detriment) and have enjoyed the extra-charge Veranda Steakhouse lunch with a group on a recent cruise. Among the excellent choices is, yes, the Cunarder Burger. While my husband finds buffets trying and tiring, we also enjoy the small bites in the comfortable Carinthia Lounge especially handy when planning a later Afternoon Tea. Of course, these choices are available to all aboard, so are not QG-specific options, but I mention them as alternatives to the QG lunch, if one finds it tiresome or limited. We did not. Also, you will be presented with the next days menus in your cabin, so you can review and make decisions in advance. All QG meals can be served in your suite, and also, if you have any special requests any day, it should be able to be accommodated. By the way, my husband is allergic to ocean white fish (no issues with shellfish or salmon) and was presented with the menus in advance for any notes. I'm sensitive to lactose and was served a delicious soy ice cream.
  13. I would love to do QG again, and if I'm still around for a while, probably will. However, in the current calculus of cost, Britannia is most often best for us right now. And our next RT crossing in May/June will be in PG (It was booked last summer, long before this one came up). Technically, it wasn't our first time in QG on Cunard. In 1997 and '99, we were upgraded from Caronia on the QE2. It was lovely both times. (This was back in the days of the "good caviar" - also as a topping for shirred eggs at breakfast - and the silver trumpets with the small sorbet balls between courses as a palette cleanser). And then in 2008 on our farewell voyage on her, we enjoyed Caronia. We need Business or First class on most of our flights, but are comfortable in the MDR on Cunard.
  14. I just posted my review in the reviews section. Here it is. Just before Christmas we returned to the Queen Mary 2, doing our very favorite itinerary, a Westbound Crossing. As this was a somewhat last-minute “live for today” splurge, we booked into the Queens Grill experience. Yes, we’ve enjoyed trips on the QM2 six times before and have done eight crossings (counting roundtrips as two) with more scheduled in May 2020 and 2021. Yes indeed, we love the ship and always feel like we’re returning home when we board. This time was no exception and it was great seeing many of our favorite staff - not surprisingly, mostly in the bars. But all of these trips were in Britannia class. (Mostly sheltered balconies on Deck 5 or not-too-obstructed ones on Deck 8). We feel at home in those cabins (I know exactly where to put our three large bags) and have enjoyed our meals in the most beautiful dining room on the seas, the Britannia Restaurant. The Queens Grill category was a wonderful step up from our usual experience. The standard QG “suites” are spacious and comfortable, with a bar and sitting area, a roomy walk-in closet and a bathroom spacious enough for two with deep whirlpool tub and shower. We were looked after by a cabin steward and butler. (The butler was mostly another steward, but was available should we want to host a party in our suite or make similar arrangements.) As usual on the QM2, they were impeccable. Seemingly magically slipping in to tidy our cabin as we left for breakfast or pre-dinner drinks. The Queens Grill was a wonderful experience. We loved having our table for two for all meals, including breakfast and lunch. (Especially breakfast. We prefer to be served, and I’ve always felt that morning is a time for routine - it was great having our waiter know that my husband wants coffee and tomato juice and I want pineapple juice and water, no coffee) The basic menu was mostly the same as in Britannia, but the galley in the grills serves roughly 200 versus 2000. I suspect that some portions may be slightly larger. Additionally, there is a second menu of “A la Carte Items” including such items as Tempura Prawns for a starter and main courses like Beef Wellington, Lobster Thermador, and Rack of Lamb. They also encourage off-menu ordering (with advance notice at lunch or earlier) Osman, the excellent Maitre d’ was always asking us if we wanted anything including caviar. I’m not a fan, but my husband is. He tried it one night and it’s not like the “old caviar” and was missing the “pop” - both textural and the expected burst of flavor. So he ordered it only once, but we saw the telltale toast racks flying around the dining room to other tables, nightly. For my birthday, we arranged for a starter of a large plate of chilled shellfish - prawns, lobster, crab. scallops and mussels. Our main course was an impeccable Beef Wellington, carved tableside and dessert was Crepes Suzette, flamed tableside as well. In fact, there was often a regular traffic jam of carts near our table, as a couple of nearby tables were regularly ordering specials - and they love setting things on fire up there! Service was impeccable also in the Grills Lounge across from the Grill. This also was where Afternoon Tea was served. The items seemed slightly superior to the offerings in the Queens Room (especially the clotted cream) and it was a relief to avoid the mad “Black Friday rush” as the doors open there. (Although the Queen’s Room is breathtaking with the chandeliers, string quartet and parade of liveried servers.) I also loved the Concierge Lounge which, like the Grills Lounge, is available for both Queens and Princess Grill accommodations. The concierge was able to take care of pretty much everything that the Purser’s Desk staff can handle, (plus excursions and planetarium tickets). Plus coffee, tea, and small snacks - including Afternoon Tea items. When the WiFi access point outside our cabin stopped working four days into the crossing, I found it convenient to take my laptop down the hall to take advantage of the speedy WiFi available there AND the comfy chairs. Of course, we spent time in our usual haunts. Commodore Club for the LGBT get-togethers and some quiet cocktails in the evening, Before dinner we split our time between our favorite Chart Room Bar (especially on formal gala evenings) and the Grills Lounge. And although lunch in the Queens Grill was delicious, we DID need to do the excellent Pub Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub once. And, of course, we attended some excellent presentations by world-class lecturers in Illuminations. But wait there’s more (there’s always more on the QM2) - I made a whopping $35 playing blackjack in a couple of brief visits! Yes, it WAS a wonderful experience. Is it like flying, where once you’ve flown First Class, it’d hard to go back to Coach? Well, there’s a BIIIIG difference between aircraft coach seating and QM2 Britannia cabins. We loved QG, but just booked Britannia cabin 8050 for a roundtrip crossing in 2021. There’s appropriate value in ALL of the categories, but “plain old Britannia” cabins and dining is very fine indeed. I’m already counting the days until our next crossings this coming May.
  15. I find it's interesting that plug-in facilities are so sparse on the East Coast. I wish there was more explanation of why the QM2 often doesn't use it and what modifications would need to be made to fix the problem - including supporting the Princess ships and others coming in the future.
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