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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. Too pricey for me. We separate the Broadway week from the cruise. For the past four years, we've done a week of shows, followed by a trip on the QM2 (usually back and forth across the North Atlantic to Southampton, this year was a 1 week cruise to Halifax and overnight in Boston on July 4.) This is still cheaper than the Broadway cruises.
  2. As others have mentioned, using one's own TA often provides extra perks like OBC or gratuities. Doing so also puts someone on your side should there be a dispute with the line. I think it's policy (and perhaps law in the US) that the line will not directly offer any promotions or pricing that is not also available through a travel agent. Because of a difficult situation on a group cruise recently, I demurred on using the agency on the current cruise (especially awkward as the host just popped in to the office when I was booking) and left it with Cunard initially. Upon my return last week, I transferred it to my usual TA. Following her instructions, it took a simple email to Cunard with the details of the booking and the new agent's info. It took a day (or less).
  3. Thanks for the update! (We'll have a chance to find out ourselves next May when we're doing Princess Grill crossings)
  4. As for drinks, there are a couple of quirks with Cunard. - Drinks are available in two sizes. Small (uses UK measure) and Large (US shot, roughly twice as much) - They charge for your mixer (like tonic in a G&T) Their drinks package is more restrictive than Celebrity. (If your drink is more than the limit in your plan, you pay the regular price less 20%, rather than the net difference. You also must sign the tabs for each bar bill and then it's credited back overnight) Also, not all drinks are available in all bars. (The pub has a larger beer selection, but there are more types of gin in the Commodore Club and Chart Room)
  5. I'll let others answere your questions about the gym and spa. (A couple of weeks ago, we went to the gym for the first time in six trips on the QM2 - it was our muster station!) Dinner options (besides Britannia and King's Court) are: - Alternative dining in the Veranda Steakhouse. ($40) Pretty much what you'd expect. Good steaks, some seafood. Lots of side dish options. Their gimmick is they ask you to select your steak knife from an assortment brought to your table. - Alternative dining in the Lido. ($20) A really excellent option. It's white tablecloth service. They have five themes which typically run 3 days or so, so you'll likely have two of them. They don't announce the themes in advance; you must wait until you board to call a reservation number and find out. The themes are Coriander/Indian, Bamboo/Asian, Smokehouse/American classics, Piazza/Italian, Aztec/Mexican. We've enjoyed Coriander and Bamboo before - both were excellent, but I give a slight edge to the Indian. Lunch options (besides Britannia and King's Court) - Pub Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub - an excellent pub lunch (Fish & Chips, Cottage Pie, Chicken Tikka, Ploughman's Lunch) No extra charge. It's very popular and there's a rush for seats when service starts. Come back about 45 minutes later and plenty of seats will open up with lots of time left for service. - Small bites in the Carinthia Lounge (although only QM2, I think) - adjacent to King's Court, they offer small plates of things like mushroom crepes, buffalo chicken roll, salade niçoise, and small panninis. We often grab something here if we'll be going to Afternoon Tea. Also - Afternoon Tea. Most memorably served on silver trays with classical music in Queen's Room, but also served in King's Court (and the Grill's Lounge for grill passengers) Three rounds, finger sandwiches, pastries, scones and clotted cream. - Room Service
  6. One more consideration for your timing and time spent at the airport, some airlines will only accept luggage for check-in X hours before departure. Also, some airline lounges restrict a visit to a maximum length.
  7. The ferry is great, but you'll likely have luggage. (If you can store it easily nearby, then less of an issue). Alternatively, but not really cheaply, arrange for a car to pick you up, keep your luggage, and take you to the sights you want to catch and ultimately drop you off at the airport. There should be no problem with time. I believe there are many options through Viator and the like. If you want to minimize your time waiting aboard and getting through customs (and thus, maximize your time in NY) you should select self-debarkation, if possible. If not, find (and tip) a porter to whisk you and your bags through the express line.
  8. Final report. - Hadestown. The best! An astonishing work. The music was so unique and perfect. (It's the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with the backstory of Hades & Persephone, told from a 30s-ish New Orleans blues joint) The staging and pictures that Rachel Chavkin composes on stage are breathtaking and the performances by the "adults" Andre deShields (Tony Winner) as Hermes, Patrick Page as Hades, Amber Grey as Persephone are excellent. - Frankie and Johnny and the Clair de Lune. Excellent performances (Audra McDonald - duh!) in a classic play. Sales never caught fire and it's closing early despite great reviews and word-of-mouth. - Moulin Rouge. Over the top. A spectacular spectacular from the moment you arrive in the velvet-covered theatre. The plot is perhaps a bit simpler than the movie, but still paper thin. There's not a lot of chemistry between the two leads, but it ulitmately doesn't make a lot of difference. (Aaron Tveit has a beautiful voice) Danny Burstein is having the time of his life playing the cabaret owner and is marvelous. The music is the same type of mash-up as in the movie and some of the key tunes are retained (Lady Marmalade, Roxanne, Your Song) and lots of new ones are added. The flash will make a lot of fans, but may alienate others. WARNING - the sets and staging make a LOT of seats limited and obstructed view. Pay close attention to the seating charts when buying tickets for this one.
  9. I just came from talking to him. We're booked for the QV Panama Canal transit in 2021.
  10. My report was a reflection of the net experience as I found it on this trip. And for my experience over various times was fine. Not great. Not significanly improved from what I remember from the past two years. Fine.
  11. Re: Internet speed-up. I haven't noticed a significant change. (Of course, I never felt it was as dismal as others have reported through the years. I suspect it's a matter of expectations and I never expected it to be quick). I also suspect that the new technology has moved the problem to another segment, since, at a minimum, the considerations are: WiFi access, WiFi speed, WiFi congestion, router speeds, router congestion, satellite link speed, and satellite link congestion. Not that the improvement is necessarily in vain though, since for ultimate improvement, all the pieces will need to be up to snuff. ...and, of course, this is another one of those issues where reports often vary by individual experience and other variables.
  12. Yes, I didn't hear it today (but I swear I heard it earlier) Oh well.
  13. capegirl, if there are no tables for two available at this this time, I'd recommend checking with the Maitre d' to get on a waiting list. (I assume this is for early seating. There are usually tables at late seating available. And if not now, I'd expect them to open up after the first night.)
  14. The only one, I believe, was a last minute shuttle to see the fireworks. (Which, considering the inevitable traffic jams and crowds is something I would NOT recommend - assuming that you've seen fireworks before at some time in your life)
  15. What a wonderful day in Boston. It started with the Customs and Immigration processing in the Queen's Room. Since we were on the first excursion, the Old Town Trolley Tour, we were first off and they marched us through the process and onto the buses in record time. The tour was excellent. The guide was knowledgeable and entertaining and the tour covered the major sights (except for the North End, where tour buses are prohibited - but we walked there later). The weather was beautiful, if a little hot, but there was a nice breeze through the open side wndows. The tour took 90 minutes and dumped us off at Quincy Market/Fanueil Hall. After extricating ourselves from the crowded tourist hell of that area (the "Fisherman's Wharf" of Boston) we stopped for a drink at the historic Green Dragon Inn, where some of the founding fathers planned the revolution. We then walked the short (slow - not because of crowds, but because Steve moves slowly and needs to take frequent breaks) stroll down Hanover Street to the North End, past Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry (mmm, cannoli) to the the Paul Revere statue, across from which is Lucia Ristorante which was recommended by a friend with deep roots in the city. I ordered the Braciolettine alla Calabrese. (veal rolled & stuffed with Prosciutto & Mozzarella, peppers, mushrooms, onions in a spicy pomodoro sauce) A BIG portion. Once I was almost full, I said I'll just focus on the "good parts." Twenty minutes later, I was down to about ten penne and a few sage leaves. Then it was some sage and a bit of sauce. And a half slice of bread. I left them with no bread, a clean bowl, and three sage leaves. A quick cab ride, and we were back on the ship. Dinner was good, but sparsely attended (All aboard is 1:30 AM). At 10:15, I went to the sun deck on Deck 13 to watch the live broadcast of the Boston Pops concert and fireworks on a big screen. The weather was perfect Just in time for the 1812 Overture with cannons. And then the fireworks. While you couldn't see the real low fireworks, there was a real good view of the upper 80% of the display. At the same time they played a live broadcast of the show on a big TV screen, complete with the accompanying music. Yes, and there WAS a metal bar across the glass on the side of the ship that cut across the view. I told myself that it's just like seeing a show from the front row of the mezzanine in a theater with the railing in the way. A nice end to a wonderful day in Boston. I hope everyone had a Happy Fourth of July. (Even of that date has no particular meaning where you're from)
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