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About SmithAlien

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Aurora, CO, USA
  • Interests
    Star Trek, Star Wars, international travel, history, aviation, piano, violin, art
  1. SmithAlien

    Back from first solo cruise

    I'm single as single can be, so I live alone and travel alone. I travel all over the world. I love it! Other than my first two cruises (where my mom and I went together), I have sailed solo, albeit only on themed cruises (specifically, Star Trek: The Cruise), where everyone has something in common (and I'm part of the global Trekkie family). I'm going on two craniofacial group cruises in the near future--on NCL Escape from NYC in November (Cher Crewz) and on Disney Fantasy in May 2019 with a craniofacial family group. So far I haven't done a normal cruise (i.e. non-themed, non-group, just regular cruise, where I know no one else) all by myself yet, but someday I will.
  2. In June 2001, my mother and I took our first cruise together (and the first cruise for either of us). We sailed on the 3-night Miami to Nassau itinerary, on Carnival Fascination. We were on Empress deck, cabin E68 (port side, next to the boarding doors used when boarding from a Jetway-style elevated gangway from the cruise terminal). Our cabin had metallic red fixtures and trim, as well as artwork of old ocean liners in it. I remember there were no balconies below the highest decks (if there were balconies that I could remember, that is), now I see that balconies have been grafted en bloc to the sides and stern of the ship. I also remember a "topless deck" around the funnel (because I saw the sign next to the ladder indicating adults only and the cowboy-saloon-style gate across the ladder); now that deck is the launch pad for a new waterslide complex topside. I still remember the 88 piano bar, the Passage to India Lounge with the big elephants guarding the doorway, the Puttin' on the Ritz, the Palace Show Lounge, and other venues, restaurants, clubs, etc. as well as the glitzy Grand Atrium with neon glass elevators and sweeping stairs. The MDRs were Sensation and Imagination. We ate in Sensation (forward MDR). The interior decor was Hollywood themed, with mannequins of Humphrey Bogart and other Hollywood stars standing or sitting about all over the Promenade deck. Light metallic purple (or lavender metallic) trim was everywhere in public areas around the Grand Atrium. I notice that Fascination has undergone multiple refits since 2001, and most recently, yet another dry dock refit this year, with the addition of new eateries and venues. I know Fascination is based in San Juan now and does a much longer (and more port-intensive) itinerary from there, much more interesting than Nassau. I would love to re-cruise Fascination one day and see how much the ship has changed since my 2001 cruise. In your experience, how has it changed, and would I still recognize the ship today?
  3. The three new ships that Disney Cruise Line have ordered (for launch in 2021, 2022, and 2023) don't have names, as of yet. What are your guesses for the names for the new vessels? My guesses would be Wish (from "When you wish upon a star"), Star (from "When you wish upon a star"), and Princess (since Disney have historically made a lot of princess films), or maybe even some classic original Disney character names. A Facebook friend even suggested Millennium Falcon (I replied that a ship with that name would of course need to be Star Wars themed throughout). By the way, I'm booked for my first Disney cruise--Disney Fantasy sailing May 11, 2019 (with a craniofacial family group someone else has organized). I'm looking forward to this new experience! SmithAlien
  4. I have been looking at Halifax from satellite photos (Google Maps) to see what the city looks like, in case of a future job opportunity there. I've never visited there, but may do so soon. In the satellite photos I noticed the cruise port close to downtown. I vaguely remember seeing there were cruises offered to Halifax as part of Canada/New England itineraries, but never gave it a thought. Do any cruises depart from there (ie, could I get on a cruise there), or do cruises only stop there as one port of call on their itineraries?
  5. SmithAlien

    Single men, on which ship and when are you going?

    I'm single, will be 42 on April 25, and have three cruises planned in 2018: 1) January 5-11, 2018: Norwegian Jade (Star Trek: The Cruise II) 2) April 1-8, 2018: Norwegian Getaway (I'm hosting Fabulous Faces at Sea II: The 2018 Craniofacial Cruise) 3) November 4-11, 2018: Norwegian Escape (Cher Crew Cruise)
  6. SmithAlien

    Using Cunard for Transatlantic Relocation?

    Thanks for your ideas and suggestions! I definitely plan to downsize dramatically if I make this move in future. In this case, I would get rid of my car (no need to drive in London or anywhere in the UK or Europe), all my household furniture, appliances, electrical goods and electronics, and kitchen stuff, and slim down on clothes; basically unload everything that can be replaced. What little is left over (such as medical records, a few special books, my medical artifacts and antiques collection, and a few other items of historical value to my life) could easily be packed up in boxes to be put in a surface shipping container (bulk shipping as some replies suggested) for transshipment separately from me. In the meantime, I would just carry what luggage I could easily handle and travel to NYC and get on the ship. Upon arrival and settling in, I would indeed need to look for a domicile, whilst waiting for my (little remaining) stuff to catch up. IKEA and other appropriate domestics stores would serve me well for stocking my new home in London or wherever in the UK.
  7. In 2004, I moved away from my hometown of Fort Wayne, IN, on my own for the first time in my life--to London. London became my first home away from home--a huge leap for me from growing up in semi-rural Indiana to the great world city of London! I lived and studied in London for the next 3 years (I studied at King's College London, where my career in craniofacial genetics and embryology research began). Three years were not enough time for me to live in and experience London, IMHO, and it was very sad for me to leave London at the end of my term there. To this day, I have an insatiable desire to move back to London one day. In January 2016, I made my first return visit to London since I lived there, and it made me only more determined to move back there one day. Looking back to that time, I wish I had considered using Cunard's former flagship QE2 to take me across the pond when I moved to London, instead of taking the usual, forgettable flight that I did. That would have been quite an experience! I'm currently working in Denver, but will be moving in about a year and a half to yet another position--somewhere on Earth. (Since 2004, I have moved frequently--London from 2004-2007, then San Francisco 2007-2012, Calgary 2012-2015, now Denver.) If I do get the opportunity to move back to London or elsewhere in the United Kingdom (eg, get a position in my alma mater King's College London or some other place there relating to my craniofacial research work), I am seriously considering the possibility of taking Cunard's QM2 on the transatlantic NYC-Southampton run as my means of relocation. QM2 now has single oceanview staterooms (perfect for me, a bachelor). The transatlantic voyage would be a relaxing, civilised, adventurous alternative to the cramped overnight flight in an economy seat (as much as I love BA and their 747s over any other airline I've flown transatlantic). Of course, if I end up with the opportunity to move across the pond this way, I will need to get rid of most of my stuff (including my car, IKEA furniture, any bulky items, and most other stuff of mine that is not of any historical or other significant value to me), and just take a few suitcases with (and maybe a handful of boxes of important stuff, either as freight on the ship or shipped ahead). Once I get rid of most everything, I will have to get from Denver to NYC somehow, then get to the Cunard terminal in Brooklyn. What is the Cunard terminal in Brooklyn like? From what photos I've seen of it, it looks like a big white warehouse or shed, but I cannot see whether the ship is boarded via elevated gangway (like a jetway) or from the ground level. How would I get there from a NYC airport (if I flew in) or railway station (if I took Amtrak to NYC)? Have any of you ever used Cunard (or others) to relocate across the pond? What are your experiences with that?
  8. SmithAlien

    Carry on luggage

    Do you need to tip when handing the luggage over to be checked (ie, to the porters at curbside)?
  9. I was on Escape in August this year, and found Margaritaville mostly empty most of the time. My group ate lunch there on our last sea day, and there were a few more people around then (but not many). Their Beach Club sandwich (Mom and I split it) was good though. I have never been in a Margaritaville on land, so I would have nothing to compare the Margaritaville at sea to.
  10. I am starting to plan the next Fabulous Faces at Sea Craniofacial Cruise for 2018 (likely April 2018 on NCL Getaway).
  11. SmithAlien

    My List of Ships with Single Occupancy Cabins

    I forgot to add one NCL ship: NCL Epic has 120 Studios. Also, Pride of America has no dedicated Studio Lounge, but like her NCL fleetmates with Studios, POA still has activities and stuff for solo travellers.
  12. For those of us who want to sail solo on a cruise, here is my list of cruise ships that offer single-occupancy cabins (designed and priced for one), current to the best of my knowledge: NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE (NCL has specially designed Studio cabins--inside cabins for solos--in an access-controlled area with Studio Lounge.): *Escape (82 Studios) *Breakaway (59 Studios) *Getaway (59 Studios) *Pride of America (4 Studios) I highly recommend NCL for solo travellers, based on my recent cruise experience on Escape, where my mom and I had adjoining Studio cabins, and all the amenities they have for solos aboard ship. HOLLAND AMERICA LINE: *Prisendam (3 singles) *Koningsdam (12 oceanview singles) ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL: *Quantum of the Seas (28 inside and balcony studios) *Ovation of the Seas (28 inside and balcony studios) *Anthem of the Seas (28 inside and balcony studios) *Harmony of the Seas (15 inside and balcony studios) COSTA CRUISES: *Costa Favolosa (17 inside and outside singles) *Costa Fascinosa (17 inside and outside singles) CUNARD LINE: *Queen Elizabeth (8 oceanview singles, 1 inside single) *Queen Victoria (9 singles) *Queen Mary 2 (15 oceanview singles, after recent refit) P&O CRUISES: *Azura (18 inside and outside singles) *Britannia (27 inside and balcony singles) *Ventura (18 inside singles) *Oriana (2 inside singles) *Arcadia (6 inside and balcony singles) *Aurora (4 outside singles) FRED. OLSEN CRUISE LINE (all ships in fleet have singles): *Balmoral (64 inside, oceanview, and balcony singles) *Boudicca (43 inside, oceanview, and balcony singles) *Braemar (40 inside, oceanview, and balcony singles) *Black Watch (43 inside and oceanview singles) CRUISE & MARITIME VOYAGES (CMV): *Magellan (150 superior interior and oceanview twin cabins set aside for singles with a 25% supplement on superior category 3 and 9 twin prices. Plus, there are dedicated interior and oceanview singles, but number of these is unknown.) *Marco Polo (15 inside and oceanview singles) *Astor (8 inside and oceanview singles) *Astoria (10 inside and oceanview singles) *Columbus (Multiple categories of inside and oceanview singles, number unknown) Again, this list is current to the best of my knowledge of what lines and ships have single-occupancy cabins, but if you know of any more, let me know.
  13. Hi all! Sometime in the (indeterminate) future, I want to do a World Cruise. I am 41 now, in a career in craniofacial anomalies laboratory research as well as public engagement for awareness of craniofacial anomalies and the need for research into these. I am single and will remain so for the foreseeable future, unless of course I find a special someone to finish out my life with. (By the time I get married, if it does happen, it will be late in life anyway.) I realize there are quite a number of choices, in terms of cruise lines, ships, itineraries, prices, etc. for World Cruises. I would love to do Cunard's QM2 (because I'm an Anglophile, having lived in London for 3 years recently). I regrettably missed out on QE2 (I wish I had taken that option for when I first moved to London years ago). QM2 is the only ocean liner out there (and worry that it could be the last). But I'm open to other options for WCs on other cruise lines. 1) How soon should I consider doing a WC, considering I'm 41 now? 2) How early can I start planning? I'm thinking probably around age 45-50 (which would be 2020-2025), as a nice round number and a milestone for age, for my first WC. Or it could be later. How early do cruise lines start opening bookings for world voyages? 3) How much do I really need to pack? I use a CPAP machine to keep myself breathing at night (due to my small airway, part of my craniofacial birth defects), so of course I need to carry that and have the cruise line provide distilled water for the machine. Other than that, I want to carry as little luggage as possible (I'm small and not physically strong, besides the fact I'm alone and live and travel alone, so don't want to carry a whole lot). How little in terms of luggage can I get by with? 4) What cruise lines offer the best experience for their WCs in terms of what you get for your money, as well as the best WC experience for solo travellers? Or, if I get married someday, for a middle-age/senior couple? 5) I am still physically active (meaning, I walk miles each day, but I don't swim, dive, play ball, or do anything else strenuous), so I love to explore cities on foot. I picked up this habit (I call it "urban hiking" when I lived in London, and have continued it in San Francisco, Calgary, and now, Denver). A WC would provide the opportunity for me to explore new cities worldwide on foot, is that right? 6) On a WC, what kind of cabin accommodation would be best for me, since I'm single? Are solo cabins available for WCs on many lines? Or, if I get married at some unforeseen and indeterminate later stage by the time I chose to go on a WC, what kind of cabin would be best for a late middle-age or early senior couple? Would a balcony be a minimum to aim for then? A suite would be nice (especially if there was a piano in it, as I'm a lifelong pianist), but might be quite pricey, or would that be a good value? 7) I've also discovered Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), the UK cruise line using classic ships (Marco Polo, Magellan, Astor, etc); they will do their first WC soon, and are advertising the lowest prices of any line for the WC. What do you think of them? 8) I notice Carnival, NCL, and other mass market lines have not done or don't do WCs. Is it because they serve a market not predisposed to WCs? There are many more questions I haven't thought of. Please let me know more!
  14. SmithAlien

    Solo on Royal Caribbean or Carnival?

    Thanks, let me know when you hear back about John Heald's announcement about something for us solo cruisers on Carnival.
  15. This cruise was a "workation" (working vacation) with the purpose of both fellowship among families with craniofacial challenges and education of others about our challenges. My current career trajectory, as a research doctor in craniofacial genetics, not only includes my laboratory research in genetics but also includes public engagement for awareness of craniofacial anomalies and the need for our continuing research into craniofacial malformations and how to treat them. Other initiatives I have begun include collecting in-person video interviews of my craniofacial research professors and mentors (past and present) at my various alma maters in England and America, for the purpose of providing a public resource for education about craniofacial anomalies and research. I also want to foster ecumenical efforts at interaction between us scientists and those medical professionals who work directly with children with craniofacial differences (ie, cross-talk), as well as enhanced global research collaboration. And this cruise is yet another of my initiatives for public outreach, so it's a part of my work anyway! This cruise will hopefully be just the first of a continuing tradition of Fabulous Faces at Sea Craniofacial Cruises in coming years.