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  1. Just remembered another difference between QA and QE. We did a cabin crawl on QA. Inside cabins are small. Space is cramped. I've peeked into a few on QE while the stewards were working and the insides near me have much more space. It's possible that I was seeing accessible cabins, but there was a lot of floor space.
  2. You're right, it does face forward, Since it doesn't face the sea directly, I lose my sense of direction. This was definitely a best of times worst of times trip. The ship is great, people are nice, dinner companions are wonderful. But the off-ship experience was definitely depressing and disappointing. I know that even the captain of a Cunarder can't control the weather. And I have to say the vendors tried their hardest to give good experiences. So I do understand all that, but it doesn't keep me from being disappointed. I think part of it was not getting good pictures. I love taking pictures. For me that's a huge part of travel. I love discovering interesting things and challenging angles. NOT selfies and "vacation snaps." My old digital was getting a little sloppy, so I upgraded to a new model. And I didn't get good use from it, which is hugely disappointing. I think I took fewer pictures on this trip than I have ever since I went digital 20+ years ago. I do photo books after a trip. I haven't looked at everything I've shot, but I'm thinking this will be my skinniest book ever. A few misty/gray photos are atmospheric. But do I want a whole book of that? Every morning, I take a picture of my view. I text it to my SIL. The other day she said, "Is this yesterday's picture?" (It wasn't) This was my fifth Alaska cruise. I've never had more than 1/3 of the days be rainy. I chose this itinerary for new places--Haines, Wrangel, Misty Fjord. I may do Alaska again. But now that QE will be the North American Cunarder, I'll see what else she will do. Next summer is the 2-week Norway-Iceland-TA on QM2. I've booked January 2026 to the Caribbean on QE. At my age that's an act of faith...
  3. July 21, at sea Quiet day. The plastic mat is on the bed, so that means it's about over. We've had some sunshine today, and I spent the morning on deck under a blanket, alternately watching the sea and finishing my book in time to get it back to the library. Not a lot else going on, so here's a comparison of QA and QE/QV. I haven’t been on QM2 in over 2 years, so I don’t remember enough to add her to the comparison. Plus, she’s so different in so many ways. But here are some random thoughts. QA is bigger, so there’s more space for a covered midship pool. QE and QV don’t have a covered pool. QA is bigger, so there’s more space for a more extensive buffet AND more seating. The quality of food on all 3 is good. But QA has more variety of most things. QE and QV have a more extensive and varied cold line. Better salad bar, more additional salads. Cold meats and cheeses vary from day to day. On QA they were the same every day. PG cabin on QE (haven’t been in PG on QV, but probably the same as QE) is about the same size as QA, maybe a bit bigger. The storage space on QE is MUCH better than QA. I have about 6 feet of clothes rod plus a closet of shelves plus 3 drawers in each nightstand. There was a bud vase with an orchid in it on QA. No flowers in my room on QE. QE bath is larger, maybe as much as a foot. There’s a tub on QE; stall shower on QA, but with a glass door and larger than a phone booth. QA is bigger than QE/QV BUT the Queens Room is smaller. The seating is less attractive and less comfortable. And I think Queens Room on QA is just plain ugly. QE’s is elegant. QA is bigger than QE/QV BUT the theater is smaller. On QA the seating is less raked, ceiling is lower, and sightlines are not as good. Grills Lounge on QA is an internal room, small, with a fake tree in the middle. Bar was hardly ever open. On QE, it has that wall of windows facing aft. And there’s bar service 10 AM to 11PM. Towels, not really a fair comparison as everything on QA was new. But the towels in PG on QE are strange nubby things, even the facecloths. I prefer ordinary terry cloth, which I believe are still in Britannia cabins. Any questions? I'm happy to answer.
  4. July 20 Ketchikan Yes, another drizzly day. It didn’t rain all day, but it never got sunny. I had booked the hovercraft, mostly because this is my fifth time here and I’ve done most of the other things. It was canceled 2 days ago, and so I just did a wander. Actually, it’s just as well. It was pricy for the length of the ride, and I wouldn’t have see much in the dreary weather. Girl math! It’s a thing. If you have spent money or earmarked money for something and it’s cancelled (like my boat ride), you HAVE TO spend the money. I set out on my usual route toward the upstream end of Creek Street. This route passes a yarn shop. I always browse, because a knitter can’t pass a good “local yarn shop.” And I had that money refunded to my credit card, couldn’t leave it lying around, right? So I spent some of the refund on beautiful yarns. I don’t feel the need to spend the whole refund. Just using part of it is enough to qualify. I stood at the railing, watching fish, large salmon of some kind, when a sea lion swam by faster than I would have thought possible. Up and down a section of the creek, chasing fish. That was a nice wildlife sighting. A bit more of a wander, and then back to the ship. Another cocktail party tonight. The captain and officers invite … It doesn’t say World Club or “Senior Officers’ Cocktail Party.” But that’s what it was. It does not mean that this WC function is back for all cruises. It’s just that there are so few platinum and diamond this time that it’s doable in the Yacht Club. I’d guess maybe 60 of us? At the party, I commented to Dragana that there are so many diamonds with way more cruises/days than the minimum that they need another level. She said they’ve been talking about that in the 17 years she has been with Cunard. More priority things are difficult unless they take away from lower tiers. But how about more internet $$ or more OBC? Or a special excursion??? They’re doing priority disembarkation, too. Upper level of Britannia at 8:15. It doesn’t say platinum/diamond, but that’s what it is. I asked at the front desk if we should start getting there are 8:15 or if that’s when they will walk us off. That’s when they plan for us to leave. He said they’re doing priority this time because there are so few of us. Gold get priority, too. A couple at my dinner table are gold and they got Orange 1 tags as well. So there really are a lot of newbies on this cruise. I hope they like it enough to try Cunard again. Good for business.
  5. Thursday, July 18 Wrangel Woke up to a wall of white. The fog was so dense that we had to slow down and the captain needed to use the foghorn. Our arrival time had been scheduled for 9 AM. People started gathering in the lobby around 8:30. There were multiple announcements made about not standing in the gangway area, as that only slows preparations more. But, of course, nobody budges. By the time I got down there around 9:20, the queue stretched way back down a hallway. As a result, I nearly missed my tour. That’s what happens when you do the right thing. I should have lined up with the pushy people. There are two security stations, so they said to form two lines as the crowd got near the gangway. BUT they should have one line for people who have purchased shore excursions. They give priority to excursions at tender ports. They could do it here. I HATE being that last person who makes everyone late. The jet boat was fast and comfortable. The guides were a man who is retired from the US forest service and his daughter. As we got near to land, they got out their rifles and bear spray, and reminded us of the need to stay in a group. If someone needs to stop to take a picture, shout PICTURE. So we got out of the boat and guess what? It started to rain. No rain on the boat ride, just some pockets of fog. The Anan Preserve allows only 60 people to visit each day. They are trying to keep bears from acclimating to humans. NO food on the trail. Not so much because it will attract bears, but because people sometimes drop food and bears will eat it, learning to eat foods not in their natural diet. The walk was easy. It’s a gravel path with mostly gentle slopes. The hardest part is crawling out the front of the boat and down to the little beach. No dock here. There are a lot of little bridges over streams and low spots. They’re covered with hardware cloth (screening) to make them less slippery. Some of the wooden bridges show signs of being chewed. So now they’re using yellow cedar, which the bears don’t seem to like. The observation platform is partly covered, which is good on a rainy day. So we looked around. No bears. We were the first group there, and there was plenty of room to move around. Gradually, other groups arrived and I think all 60 people were there. A bear was sighted, but nobody (not even the guides) said anything. The people near that side of the rail just watched and took pictures. By the time I realized what was happening, I couldn’t see a thing without shoving someone out of the way, which I wouldn’t do. I finally got to a place where I could see. I got one picture before it disappeared. People lost interest, and this one guy turned to me and gestured to where he had been standing and said “you can stand here.” Well THANK YOU SO MUCH. He’s being so generous when there’s nothing to see. That smug attitude aggravated me off more than not being able to see. Here's the thing about photographers. I don’t mean professionals, just people with experience and real cameras. For years, I’ve been in crowded situations, and we all were considerate of others. When you use a real camera, you hold it to your face, one hand on the grip and one hand under the body. This naturally brings your arms to your sides. Because I’m short, I will scrunch down a bit and let someone shoot over my shoulder. A lot of REAL photographers can fit into a small space. Now think about the person with a cell phone. What do you do? You hold it away from your body, elbows out to the side. So already you’re wider than just yourself. Add a stupid yellow rain poncho and one person has the width of three people. AND they take video. So they want to stand there the entire time, never thinking to let someone else have a chance. I’ll get my shots and look around to see if somebody needs my space. I’m sorry if I’m insulting cell phone “photographers” but over the course of this trip, I’ve seen a lot of people taking selfies and videos just stepping right in front of other people and hogging the view. Try to be aware of more than just yourself!!! And stop asking me to take your picture. Yes, I have a very good camera. Yes, I’m a good photographer. But why do you expect me to take your picture????? Leaving the ship in Haines, I was walking with a woman from my dinner table, chatting about what we were going to do. She asked me to take her picture standing in front of the Haines sign, and I was happy to do that for someone I know. Then some stranger asked me to take their picture. So I said yes because I’m too nice to people, but said I want to get my shot (just the sign) first. So I took my picture, then theirs, and then I left because I could see other cellphone people ready to ask. Okay, rant over. But I really needed to vent. Back to the tour. After the bear sighting, there was nothing to see and the rain was getting heavier. I just hunkered down under the roofed area and wondered how long I had to stand around in the rain. There were a few eagles, wet and bedraggled, and I thought yeah, I know how you feel. Because of a few days of rain, the river was gushing. It was impossible for an eagle or a bear to find a fish in that. And it was highly unlikely that we would see another bear. We stood around for an hour, during which time several groups left. Our guides were willing to hang around and let the tour run late in hopes of seeing something. They said they could walk us around the shore a bit and maybe we would see something there. I think there were maybe 25 people still at the platform and we were about to give up when we saw another bear in the distance. Skinny. Of course, with her fur wet, that would reduce the apparent size. But her shoulder blades stuck up. I asked the guide about that and she said yes, she’s a mom. As with whales, motherhood really takes it out of a gal. We didn't see her even try to fish. She crossed the river--I'm sure the bears all know the shallow places--and wandered into a field to have some leafy greens and maybe a few blueberries, which are in season now. We stood around for a while longer, but no more bears appeared. The rain had nearly stopped, so the walk back was easy. I would have loved to have an hour on the trail, just to look at all the plants and take pictures of the mosses and ferns and everything with raindrops on it. But it was late and I knew people wouldn’t appreciate indulging my photographic choices. I grabbed a few shots on the fly. They tell you not to go off the trail, but you really can’t. To one side, it’s the slope down to the water, slippery. To the other, it’s a steep uphill climb through vegetation. On the ride back, we stopped to look at a colony of harbor seals on some rocks and to watch a woman pulling her nets into her boat. She had her dog with her, a black lab who seemed to be enjoying himself, looking all around. Because of the extra time at Anan, we got back late. 3:45 instead of 2:30. They gave us sandwiches on the ride back, which I hadn’t expected, so I wasn’t hungry. I just did a little walk around town before going back to the ship. Wrangel is a small town. The downtown has a drug store that sells souvenirs in addition to the usual items. They even have their own line of postcards. Some expedition clothing stores, a few souvenir stores, an Elks and a VFW. Grocery store, convenience store. The fire house is worrisome. I could see through the windows of the garage doors that there’s a lot of lumber and other stuff stacked in there. So where are the fire engines????? Gas station, about $4.50 per gallon. There is a small container dock and a small marina. The houses going up the hillside behind the downtown look nice and quite a good size. And, as usual, the sun came out for 10 minutes just as we were leaving.
  6. Wednesday, July 17 Juneau And yes, another dreary day. It’s raining. It rained here yesterday and will likely rain here tomorrow. People in Juneau haven’t seen the sun in 10 days. This is a tender port for Queen Elizabeth. Fortunately, a Princess ship wasn’t scheduled until noon, so we took her berth long enough to get morning tours ashore before we had to leave the dock. That was a huge logistical bonus. But we did have to tender back to the ship. That went smoothly because the weather kept a lot of people on the ship. Three people bailed on my excursion so we were 11 instead of 14. Today’s excursion was a whale watch and woodland hike “photo safari.” I’ve done this before, and I chose it because of the small boat and small group (no more than 14 on a boat that can hold 22). Gastineau’s boats are built for whale watches. One level, so good water-level shots, and windows that open in and up, so we had an unobstructed view without having to go outside. A photographer travels with us to give us tips on photography. Nick is an excellent teacher, explaining how to choose shutter speed and aperture. He had little tutorials to show while we were on the bus ride to the dock. More people were using iphones and Samsung something-or-other phones than cameras. We did see whales, but with the rain and mist, I didn’t get good pictures. The tail patterns are clear enough to identify the whale, but not nice sharp images. We saw two adult females, Flame and Sasha. These two usually hang out in Auk Bay, where the whale watch boats go. I’ve seen Flame twice before. Five years ago, she had a calf, and I got a great shot of him. Today, we didn’t get a good look at her calf. Gestation for a whale is a year. She gives birth in Hawaii and immediately heads north to Alaska. There’s nothing to eat in Hawaii, so by the time she gets to Alaska, having nursed that calf with something like 100 gallons of milk per day, her body weight may be reduced by as much as 30 percent. So she needs to feed a LOT. Most females skip the migration the year after having a calf so they don’t breed right away. But Flame is made of stronger stuff. She has had a calf every year but one since 2019. And their names are fire-related: Ember, Smoke, Sizzle, Bunsen (as in lab burner). Bunsen was the one I saw in 2019. When we got to Mendenhal for the hike, I was cold and tired and could not face an hour on muddy trails. So the bus driver took me to the visitor center where the hike would end. I did walk one boardwalk trail over a creek that was gushing. I managed to hold the umbrella in one hand and the camera in the other. A group of people stood looking up at a tree. What was that? A porcupine, huddled next to the trunk of a cottonwood tree. Yay! More wildlife. Well, not very wild, but it’s something. Mendenhal Glacier is receding faster than most other glaciers. I could see the difference from 5 years ago. The visitor center shows a video of still photos taken over a 10-year period and the difference is remarkable. I got a so-so picture of the glacier through the rain. While I was in the visitor center, the rain picked up and the fog got thicker, and the glacier was barely visible. I got back to the bus nicely dry except for my feet. When the hikers returned, they were soaking wet. So I’m pleased with my decision. People were offered the chance to be dropped off in a more central “downtown” spot or go to the dock. Everyone opted for the dock. Juneau is mostly bars and jewelry stores. I don’t know how many bars, but Nick said there are 24 jewelry stores. And they all close up shop after cruise season ends. The tenders were running efficiently and soon I was back on the ship. It was lovely to thaw out in the thermal pool.
  7. Tuesday, July 16 Haines We arrived in fog and drizzle, but it did get better as the day went on. Rain returned about an hour before we left, so we had the best of the day today, even a few peeks of sunshine! Haines is a small town. There are none of the usual cruise port chain jewelry stores. Yes, there are souvenir shops, but they’re local as is the art and much of the jewelry. I did a little looking. I hadn’t planned to buy anything but a pair of copper earrings in the shape of jellyfish just cried out to be bought. The body is green enamel on copper and the tentacles are copper wire. I went to the Bald Eagle Foundation. I don’t mind donating $25 to a good cause, and their rehab and release program is good. But from a tourist standpoint, it wasn’t good value for money. They have one eastern screech owl—no idea what an eastern bird is doing here. Blind in one eye, so it can’t be released. They have 3 bald eagles and one red-tailed hawk. And lots of empty enclosures, which I hope means successful rehabs. But it wasn’t much to look at. The natural history museum part was very old-school, lots of stuffed creatures. Nicely done, but… Haines also has a hammer museum. Yes, really! A museum filled with all kinds of hammers. There are specialized hammers for all sort of trades—coopers (barrel makers), blacksmiths, farriers (not a blacksmith, the guy who shoes horses), tinsmiths, all kinds of construction trades. Very long-handled hammers for tacking up posters. Hammers to break up chunks of coal for your furnace/stove. Snowball hammers to break up snow that gets stuck in a horse’s hoof. Outside, there’s a giant hammer two stories tall and a bicycle sculpture made of hammers. This was the best day so far for me because I could wander and take pictures. One shop had a lovely garden. It’s what I call a profusion garden, with a little of this and a little of that. Foxglove, cosmos, roses, lilies, delphinium, and I forget what else. I suppose you could call it a cottage garden, which went perfectly with the shop, which is a cottage. Some shops along the main street had window boxes. And then there were the views of the harbor and the mountains.
  8. Monday, July 15 One dreary day just blends into the next. Haven’t seen sunshine since we left Vancouver on Thursday. Today we went to Hubbard Glacier. This one is beautiful, a long wall of blue. The face of it is 7 miles wide. Not all of this expanse is visible from where the ship stops, but there is an excursion that will sail along the whole face. I was lucky to do it 2 years ago during the restart, when things weren’t crowded AND we were blessed with a gorgeous day. I didn’t see the need to do it again, and just as well. Even getting much closer to the glacier, it still wouldn’t have made for spectacular views (or pictures) On the sail to the glacier I saw a seal and a few otters. Some gulls. Lots of ice chunks. (Are you as bored reading this as I was experiencing it????) Standing on deck watching the scenery, I chatted with a family on their first Cunard cruise. They are loving the whole Cunard atmosphere. The mother admitted to being worried about the gala nights, but now she understands that Cunard is elegant without being stuffy. The 30-something brothers are booked on a westbound crossing on Queen Mary 2 next April, so they were asking me for advice about “don’t miss” things on QM2. I love meeting members of a new Cunard generation. The day wasn’t a total disappointment. I had a relaxing hour in the spa. I keep running into the same couple. He has several cameras with him and they did the boat excursion. They enjoyed it, but he said every time there was a really good calving, they were on the side of the boat facing away from the glacier. I feel his pain. It’s always frustrating almost getting that great shot. And to address the 2-hour time slot question, they don’t seem to be paying any attention. There were six of us when I was there, and at least two of us weren’t at our allotted time. I decided to try tea in Princess Grill. I don’t like the way they do it on this ship. I suppose it’s fancier to give you a printed menu, but it’s the same every day. And no cucumber sandwiches!!!! On top of that, the waiter had no idea what tea he was pouring. “English tea.” Right, but what kind of English tea. “English tea.” So I asked English Breakfast? And he was probably so relieved that I used the word English he said yes. The menu says they serve Earl Grey and Assam. This was Earl Grey, which I do not like. I asked for Assam, and I got my very own pot of a tea that I like. Since I ordered from a menu, I got the tiered server with my food bits on it. Very fancy. But I guess they were running out of the servers (although the room wasn’t even close to full) because the waitress came to collect my server, not seeing that there was a plate with a scone still on it. She almost walked away with my scone! But fortunately, she noticed and set the plate on the table. I guess I was supposed to load the plate in front of me with all the food at one time so the server could be reused???? I think further attempts at tea will be in the Queens Room. I like it when they come around with the trays and I can choose that way. (Points to QA where the Grills serve from the trays.) And speaking of the scones, the clotted cream seems odd, like it has a little vanilla flavoring in it. Has anyone had clotted cream like that? It's Gala night tonight and the theme is roaring 20’s. It’s also World Club party night. I have seen lots and lots of red cards (first timers) on the ship. Mine is gray for Diamond. Not seeing a lot of those. At the World Club party, they announce a Top Sailor. It’s usually some 90-year old who has four thousand days and has done a dozen world cruises. It’s lovely to see, and DH used to wonder if we could ever reach such exalted status. I would laugh and say are you kidding? Well, I wish he were here to say I told you so because… Yup, I’m the top sailor on this cruise. Little old me with my measly 402 days. There are so few long-timers on board that I’m the best they could dredge up. When I checked in at my muster station, the officer there said “Oh, you’re our top sailor. I recognize your name” And I said, “No, couldn’t be me, must be a similar name.” She quickly covered with, “I didn’t say anything , you didn’t hear anything.” I shrugged it off knowing my record wasn’t extensive enough. Then yesterday I got a call from one of the World Club reps, and yes, c’est moi. So I went to the voyage booking/world club office to chat with Dragana and give her a little background. I had to get there around 6:50 to go in before the doors open and get a seat convenient to the front of the room. About midway through the party, they introduced the captain who spoke briefly. He’s Italian, so not easy to understand. And he looks so young!!! (I know, it’s a sign of age when you think people look too young for their jobs.) Then Dragana introduced me as the Top Sailor, mentioning that I started in 1986 on QE2 and told how I’m the third (actually fourth, but never mind) generation to sail with Cunard and told the story of my grandfather sending my grandmother a ticket on Cunard to join him in the US. I’d also told her what I like about Cunard is the elegance and formality and the good service from the crew. And she used my quote from Captain McNaught (on QE2) during the final tandem sailing with QM2. Dragana had been on QM2 while I was on QE2 (of course!). McNaught would always make some comment about how Mary had the better view. So it was lovely. I went up, was given flowers (which Dragan had sent to my cabin when the thing was over), and had my picture taken with the captain. He said nothing to me, just posed and left. If it had been someone like Wells or McNaught, he would have stayed to congratulate me and maybe chat a little bit. When that was done, a couple walked over to me to say they’re also from my town. How about that! And then another woman came over and said she was so happy about my comment about the formality, and we had a nice chat. That’s the thing about Cunard. Strangers will strike up a conversation and it feels perfectly normal to talk to someone you’ve never met. So now that I’m famous, please doff your caps and curtsey when you read my posts!!!!
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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."
  14. 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.
  15. Yes, that's it, thanks. And yes, east not west. That was one of my possibilities. I got a look at it way off in the distance on the flight to Vancouver. Beautiful picture!
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. I haven't had the corner aft on QE or QV, but I've had them on HAL's Vistas. The wrap balcony is great for scenic cruising, especially in Alaska. If it's chilly, you can run inside to warm up, maybe have room service coffee. Then go out again for more scenery.
  21. 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.
  22. Yes it is. Don't remember where I heard it.
  23. 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.
  24. 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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