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Queen Mary 2 Sydney to New York, March 6 to April 25, 2020

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Today I dropped my large luggage off at the UPS store in preparation for a surface based circumnavigation of the globe.  This will be my second attempt at this.




I've handled my luggage shipment a bit differently from usual.  While UPS will be doing most of the actual shipping of the bag I am doing one bag through Luggage Concierge, Crystal’s official partner, and the other bag through Luggage Forward, partner of Cunard and several other companies.  While UPS gets the bags to California, each of the luggage companies uses their own courier at the destination to actually deliver the bag to the ship.  If I do not get luggage that is a serious problem since there will not be a possibility of bags catching up with me until French Polynesia.    While one courier might fail I assume the possibility of both couriers failing is minuscule.




The first was in 2003 and got off to a good start until events got in the way.  The plan then was Amtrak Baltimore to Montreal, a freighter (Canmar Courage) to Belgium, a series of ferry and rail connections to Helsinki, the trans-Siberia railroad to Beijing, the Crystal Harmony to Vancouver, and train connections back to Baltimore.


It was going pretty much to plan until I did an email check before leaving my hotel in Moscow.  2003 was the year of the great SARS epidemic and the Harmony was deadheading back to North America immediately.  I was heading into the midst of the epidemic and my way out had disappeared.  As I made my way to Beijing my travel agent found me a flight to Vancouver that would work, but I still had a couple of days to wait in a very subdued Beijing.


I picked up the trip in Beijing the following year but have not yet circled the globe continuously without onward flying.  Holland America’s annual world cruise could be a very attractive option but is a bit too long for me.  As treasurer at my local fire department I must do some year end employment reports, some of which must be done physically in the fire station, so a journey that leaves the first few days is very stressful.  I also have prostate cancer which is well controlled but requires shots not much longer than 3 months apart.  My time away on this trip is about 2 weeks shorter at each end than this year’s very attractive itinerary on the HAL world cruise and just fits into the window between my cancer shots.


The itinerary for this adventure works something like this:


January 14-18: Amtrak from Baltimore to Long Beach
January 22 to March 3: Crystal Serenity Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia
March 6 to April 25: Queen Mary 2 Sydney to New York


One thing I will do each day is note the locations of both of my ships.  Today QM2 is in Southampton.  Both ships this year have multiple starting locations for their World Cruises and this is the second location for QM2 with some World Cruisers boarding a week ago in New York.  Crystal Serenity versions of the World Cruise begin in Miami (1/6) and Los Angeles (1/22) and today Serenity is in Cartegena, Colombia.


My blog for this trip will be the one I use for grand journeys:




I will also set up Cruise Critic threads covering the trip on the Crystal and Cunard forums for their part of the journey and the entire trip on the World Cruising forum.


My parting shot–if at first you don’t succeed try again even if it is 17 years later.




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That sounds fantastic, Roy. I always enjoy reading your reports and I greatly admire the imagination you put into formulating your itineraries. They are real journeys. Hope all goes to plan.

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Oh, golly, I did it on the Cunard forum as well.  Of course I mean 2020, not 2019.



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5 hours ago, rafinmd said:

Oh, golly, I did it on the Cunard forum as well.  Of course I mean 2020, not 2019.



I was wondering, Roy...well Bon Voyage!

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7 hours ago, rafinmd said:

Oh, golly, I did it on the Cunard forum as well.  Of course I mean 2020, not 2019.



And I missed it, all correct now.

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Thanks, Host Hattie.  I'm off:


Greetings from Club Acela in Washington DC.  So far everything has gone smoothly and I will board the Capitol Limited there in about 30 minutes.  I won't have wifi on the train so you won't hear from me until Chicago.


I had a bit of a weekend scare.  My Cunard portion is two bookings, one from Sydney to Southampton and another from Southampton to New York.  I checked the final segment and Cunard couldn't find it.  Love the changes to the website.  My TA got back to me on a Sunday and said the booking was in order.  Final payment wasn't due until the 19th but we paid anyway and the reservation came back to me.


I'll start posting here when I get to Queen Mary in Long Beach.  In the meantime, my active threads are on the Crystal forum:




And the World Cruise forum:




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Day Amtrak4, Saturday, January 18, 2020, Arrive Los Angeles, Transfer to Long Beach

Crystal Serenity begins a 2-day call in Cabo San Lucas.    Queen Mary 2 is at sea from Messina to Hafia, Israel.

I slept pretty well my final night on the train.  I was feeling pretty good when I woke briefly about 4 and found we were in California, but after checking the schedule we were actually about 10 minutes further behind than in Albuquerque.

While the trip was general west bound our final leg was to the south and the sun came up just after 7 on our left side.


When the Southwest Chief is on time breakfast is very early, I think 5:30-6:30.  As dinner ended Friday evening it was announced it would be pushed back to about 6:30 to 9, depending on the train's actual progress.  I went in about 7:30 for scrambled eggs and potatoes,.  While eating the conductor announced an estimated 10AM arrival but while at the table it was obvious that we were moving very slowly.

A freight train had derailed and progress slowed to a crawl and when we reached Union Station it was about 11:10.  Cynthia had indicated it would be a long walk to the station and I agreed to use a Red Cap.  It turned out to be a good move as he asked if we wanted to go to the Metropolitan Lounge.  I had never known there was one in Los Angeles but it was quite decent while pretty well hidden from common view.



My planned layover before the bus would have been very long but arriving 3 hours late shortened it considerably and I took advantage of the internet for a while and took a short walk in the station area.

At my age carrying 2 backpacks totaling 46 pounds is a bit of a challenge but I manage fairly well for short distances.  The lounge called a Red Cap to help me to the bus but all he did was point me in the right direction (I had already found the bus stop).


The connecting bus primarily serves passengers coming from Bakersfield where the train stops at mountains and is lightly used on the last leg from Los Angeles to Long Beach.  It arrived in Los Angeles promptly at 2:35 and departed promptly at 2:45.

We stopped first at the Catalina terminal in San Pedro and then continued to Long Beach.  There was a Princess ship in San Pedro, and as we crossed the bridge to Long Beach I got my first view of Queen Mary.  In addition to QM Carnival ships often dock there.  I didn't have my camera but behind Queen Mary was Carnival's newest and largest ship, the Panorama.  It's just a bit smaller than QM2 but I was surprised that it seemed to dwarf Queen Mary.

I was dropped off at the Long Beach transit center and it was about a block to the free Passport Shuttle.  Free has it's costs as the main transit stops all have benches to wait but not the Passport.  It was less than pleasant waiting for the bus with 46 pounds on my back.

I arrived at Queen Mary about 4.  As I walked from the bus to the gangway I could hear loud music from the Panorama.  I am in an oceanview room on A-deck (A148).  There is a bit of a passage way from the door to the main part of the room.  I suspect initially there was an inside room or 2 on the section near the corridor.


The room was not big but had all the necessities.  A sealed doorway suggests it once connected with what is now A150.


I left about 6PM for a bit of shopping and dinner.  From the Passport stop the ship looked pretty all lit up.


I must have been pretty tired because I dozed off for a while instead of working on my blog.  I officially went to bed after the 11PM news.

My parting shot today is that when I checked into the hotel I had a long string of emails waiting about the storms at home.  It looks like things were bad enough to have the schools closed but not so bad that most events couldn't be relocated, especially a long awaited Eagle Court of Honor for one of my scouts.  Congratulations Hunter.



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Day Amtrak+1, Sunday, January 19, 2020, Hotel Queen Mary, Long Beach

Crystal Serenity concludes a 2-day stay in Cabo San Lucas.  Queen Mary 2 begins a 2-day stay in Hafia, Israel.

I had a very good and long sleep, not waking up until about 6:30.  I had hoped to catch a sunrise from Queen Mary but it was not to be.  I was out on the sun deck right around 7 but it was coming up directly behind the Carnival Imagination and in any case I had forgotten to put the memory card back in my camera.  I don't expect a picture Monday either since the Inspiration will probably come in between me and the sun but I have my hopes up for Tuesday or Wednesday.

When in Long Beach 3 years ago I worshiped at Covenant Presbyterian Church and that was my plan again.  Oversleeping put me a bit behind the 8-ball and it was almost 15 minutes into the 8AM service when I arrived.  It was still a good experience and I especially appreciated the postlude, Bach's Gigue Fugue.  I have tapped my toes to it many times but never before in an actual worship setting.  Bravissimo!

After church I stopped at Vons (California's version of Safeway), a block away from the church and at an ATM before taking the Passport back to Queen Mary.

I did a bit of exploring later in the morning.  The staff does their best but keeping up an 80-year old ship is a challenge, as might be noted by peeling paint around the lifeboat stands.


The highlight of the day was brunch.  It is served each Sunday in Queen Mary's First Class dining room.  I was joined at brunch by a cruise critic friend (Copper10-8) and Holland America security officer and his wife.


A band provided music and a man dressed as a Captain circulated around the ship greeting the guests.  He told me that he is an occasional speaker on the Cunard Insights speaker.


There were about 5 buffet stations including almost anything one could want for brunch.  I feasted on waffles, bacon, mac & cheese, pork rib, 2 types of cake, and a cookie.


After brunch we walked around the ship.  There's an old Russian submarine that has been on exhibit but has deteriorated to a point where it is almost certainly destined for scrapping.  


This sailaway addict heard the general emergency signal from the Imagination indicating the start of the muster drill.  I went up to the promenade deck about 5:15 to watch her departure.  


On the way back to my room I passed the wedding chapel (the former second class smoking room).  


The gym was originally on the sun deck but is now inside the ship near the main staircase.  Some of the original equipment is in a small window display.  The stationary bike is a far cry from what is used in today's spin classes.


I took the Passport shuttle into town for a light dinner at Burger King, and was back on the ship a little before 8.

Monday is the Martin Luther King holiday in the United States.  May it be safe and pleasant.



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Copper10-8 has posted with some nice photos on the World Cruising thread:


1 hour ago, Copper10-8 said:

 It was great seeing you again today on the Queen, Roy and on behalf of Maria and I, thanks again for the nice brunch at 1:00 PM! That former Soviet Foxtrot-class sub off the Queen's port bow is not looking too good 😉 See you on Wed at 10:00 AM for the short ride to San Pedro and the Crystal Serenity and the start of your new adventure at sea


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Day Amtrak+2. Monday, January 20, 2020, Hotel Queen Mary, Long Beach

Crystal Serenity is at sea from Cabo San Lucas to Los Angeles.  Queen Mary 2 concludes a 2-day stay in Hafia.

I will start with an attempt to deal with a question from a blog reader about the Passport Shuttle:


 "I have a question if you don’t mind...we are thinking of taking the flyaway bus from lax to Long Beach transit hub and I’m wondering if it’s a problem/hassle taking luggage aboard the Passport Shuttle....would you recommend it upon arrival or do you think an Uber is better (3 people, about 5 bags)?"

I'm not familiar with the bus from LAX but it sounds like it might drop you off on First Street just west of Long Beach Boulevard.  If that's correct it would be a short walk to the Passport stop on Long Beach Boulevard between First and Ocean Boulevard.  It's about another 500 feet to walk between the end of the line and the hotel entrance.  Suitability for luggage will depend on the size of your bags, your ability to handle them and who else might be on the bus.  I'm attaching a photo of the bus interior;  the steps behind the back door probably total about 16 inches.  Just in front of the picture there are 2 lengthwise benches with some vacant space in the middle but it might or might not be available when you board.



I stepped up to the promenade deck aft around sunrise time but the Carnival Inspiration was already docked, and it was quite cloudy anyway.


On the way up the stairs I passed a gate that I think is original.  The sign now says "Hotel Guests Only", but I expect back in the day it was a sign of a pretty rigid class separation.


Coming back from viewing the Inspiration I passed a display with a diagram of the class areas on the ship.  While today pretty much (including Cunard) groups cabin categories by deck the classes were much more contiguous and covering several decks.  In the photo, the blue is First Class and midship, the orange is second class and to the aft, and the yellow is far forward and third class, and each class spans several decks.  The classes were contiguous and separate, while I have often stayed in inside Britannia cabins directly across the corridor from Grills suites.  A big change in how things work on ships.


Most of the day was spent away from Long Beach.  I took the Passport Shuttle into town at 8 and rented a car.  My nephew lives in San Diego and I drew a Kia Soul for the drive down there.


While traffic was not heavy and there were few delays, especially on the way down, I still found it much less than relaxing driving along with 4 busy lanes of traffic.  I left Long Beach around 9:15 and was at Keith's house perhaps 11:20.  

He and Tracy have twins, about 3 ½ years old.  The last time I saw them they were just about ready to crawl, so it has been a very big change.  They are now pretty much bundles of undirected energy and quite a handle.  They will be going on their first cruise Saturday (Majesty of the Seas out of New Orleans).

I think originally just Keith, Tracey, and I were going to lunch but in the end the twins and the nanny came along also, and I believe there was a change of venue.  The place we ended up I think was called Tender Greens, with salad based entrees along with meat and vegetables.  They also had a couple of soups which I chose along with chicken and mashed potatoes.  The kids are still reticent about meeting strangers but it was a good lunch.  

After lunch Keith needed to return to work and I headed back to Long Beach.  The traffic was a bit heavier but still not a serious problem and I got a little shopping in before returning the car.  By the time it was done it was after 5 and I decided to stay in town for a light dinner at Burger King.  I was back at the Queen Mary a little before 7 and pretty much spent the evening in my room.

My parting shot will be a wish for a wonderful first cruise for Keith, Tracy, and the children.



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Day Amtrak+3, Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Hotel Queen Mary, Long Beach

Crystal Serenity is at sea from Cabo to Los Angeles.  Queen Mary 2 is at sea from Hafia to Aqaba, Jordan.

While Monday had been a major travel day Tuesday was the time to stay local.  In the morning I was pretty much in my cabin bringing my credit card balances up do date with just a quick visit to the Midship Marketplace for a muffin and coffee.

I left about 11 for what was likely my last visit to Long Beach proper.  I visited the bank, the post office, and bought a few more supplies (mostly packaged snacks), and stopped by McDonalds for a quick lunch.

Once back on the ship it was an hour or 2 before I finally got back to my cabin.  I walked along the shoreside walkway to find the actual location of my cabin.


The walkway ended at a lower entrance to the ship and I toured a bit of the engineering spaces.  On modern ships on behind the scenes I have sometimes visited the engine control room, now a quiet temperature controlled console.  On Queen Mary it is down among the engines with a small instrument panel, a telegraph from the bridge, and pretty direct manipulation of the machinery with an array of wheels and levers.


There were places down there where I saw the bare inside of the hull and even an opening to see one of the propellers (a fixed pitch unlike modern ones).  The light was insufficient to get a good photo of the propeller.


Returning further forward I browsed one of the shops on the Promenade deck.  A sign indicated the room was originally the First Class library.


The bridge is accessed from the sun deck.  It is a far cry from today's sophisticated bridges but a blue console was an early version of an auto pilot.  While actual bridge visits are now rare on QM2 one can easily get a look at the progress in bridge design from a window far forward on deck 12.


The officers quarters are behind the bridge.  The Chief Engineer had a nice 2-room suite.


The Staff Captain's quarters were a step better than the Chief Engineers but the really nice suite was for the Captain.


The day had started out cloudy and there was no visible sunrise but it cleared up as the day progressed.  The bow of the ship is accessed from A deck forward and was the perfect place to watch the sunset.


A large room in A-deck forward was devoted to Cunard history, and while the ship has little or no formal connection to Cunard there was even a corner with a supply of Cunard brochures.


My last dinner for a while on my own was attached to land but still floating.  I would like to have had dinner at Sir Winston's but it is closed Monday and Tuesday so I visited the Chelsea Chowder House.  I believe much of the space is the former second class smoking room but the dining area is a part of the former enclosed promenade on the starboard.  There was a lovely view across the harbor to downtown Long Beach.  I chose a (huge) pork chop entree.


I am hoping to get a good start on packing to transfer to the Crystal Serenity if I don't get too drowsy.

Today's parting shot will be a wish for a quick and effective response to the coronavirus.



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My ship has arrived.  I checked it on marine traffic just after 5 and she was edging up to the dock.  I thought I might see her from Queen Mary''s bow but no such luck.  It's not a warm day here, 51F.  I popped in on the Holland America sailaway thread for Ft. Lauderdale and it's just 42 there.



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