Early Sunday Morning

The time on my phone currently says it is 451 am, it’s been bright daylight here for more than an hour, and I’ve struggled to try to sleep at all over the course of the night, the cabin air is too dry and is messing with my sinuses, and it’s far too cold outside to leave the door open for very long. It’s 41 degrees but the natural wind mixed with more breeze caused by the ships movement  makes it feel far cooler out there. 

We have ridden fairly close to the coast until now, but last night around 9, we pulled away and started to cut towards the UK somewhere around 9 last night, from my understanding, just a bit north of the titánics final resting place. 

I’ve been limited a bit more than anticipated on my activities thus far, as E does not like the crowds, I’m not allowed to leave her in the room unattended, and she is adamant that she does not wish to attend the children’s programming on board. Yesterday we reached a breaking point in that impasse, as we needed to be out of the room for the steward to tidy up, and she wasn’t interested in any of the options for lunch. I reached my limit after attempting 4 different options, 2 of them twice, and she would not be pleased. (The meal options in the main dining room were not anything I would have liked either, in her defense, and there was no seating in the pub, barring being seated with a woman who had taken the entire table up with her fish and chips). 

Cross words were said and a threat of an entire day with the children’s program came out. many tears were shed and a nap (but still no lunch) was taken by both of us when we returned to our room. 

Today we will be going earlier to the pub to wait for the 11:30 lunch time. Today we will be exploring more than just the shops and the outer decks. I think the breaking point needed to be there. 

Last nights dinner was pleasant, Nothing extraordinary or special, just a chatty meal with E and me, and our 8 older, British table mates. Margaret hopes we will set E next to her husband, Joe…as she is determined that he can get E to actually talk (though Ted asked her quite a few questions 2 nights ago, and Arthur was quite chatty with her last night) it was our second formal night, and everyone looked lovely. 

We saw a small pod of dolphins spy hopping as we got ready for dinner last night, they were only there for a brief moment before we were so far past them that we could not see them anymore. E has been looking for them and whales since we set out, so we were pleased to see them.

I’m hungry and breakfast isn’t for another 2 hours. E is still asleep, and I’m unable to even try. I’m glad to see a clear morning this morning as the fog was thicker than I’ve seen in quite some time last night, for most of the night. 

Here is hoping for a pleasant day, with many adventures. We seem to be on the cusp of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, per the map. I will check in more later. 

(I do need to say that though I write of our butting heads, it was a short lived episode, and it rarely happens with us, I believe tempers were a bit shorter for many reasons, and neither of us was more at fault than the other).

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It is Saturday morning

The third day or our transatlantic journey.

The weather has been kind, and the people have been mostly kind thus far.

Day one-  We did not care to spend too much time out of our room, we were fatigued from the journey here and mostly we just wanted to be able to settle into our room and make it as comfortable as possible. We did go out for half an hour for the meet and greet at sail away, got to meet My one online friend, Pixie, and her friend Tim, but other than that, we really weren’t up for the social scene all that much. We ordered room service for dinner and watched television until late. Mostly…we relaxed. 

Day 2, we walked quite a bit around the ship, and explored. Dressed up for our first formal night, and met our table mates at dinner, all 8 of which were married British couples all in their late 60’s to maybe their early 90’s. All very pleasant. Most very chatty, and one who persistently asked E her whole life story as if he was interviewing her for a book. (He and his wife also offered to take her to the show that evening, not understanding that it wasn’t me that didn’t care to attend, but her).

There are so many details I’m not writing, like the fact we’ve used our in room kettle probably 40 times thus far and how much the wind howled last night because of a warped ceiling slat that caused a gap, we ended up closing the balcony most of the way because of the noise, and  today we have scratchy throats because of the dry heat. (No cough, no fever)

So far, we’ve not slept much later than 430 in the morning, which should help make the transition to England easier I would guess. 

No idea what we’re doing today, however it’s another formal night,  so dresses are hanging out and we will be ready for that when the time comes. 

Here’s to a lovely day!

It’s getting close!

Less than 2 months before we embark on our huge adventure!

Lots has been going on, but not a lot I have felt like writing about.

I joined a group on facebook to do with Cunard (seems to be their fan club). I have found it to be very useful, especially when asking advice on things like what to see while in London, for example.


They are not, however, friendly should you mention things like being unhappy about a price drop and hoping Cunard will make the difference up. I got an entirely different view of people when I ventured into these waters. These people would attack you with nothing to go on, and would not let up. I ended up deleting those posts as even messages when i was expressing approval, I got attacked on.

When I paid for and booked my cruise this past January, I paid $525 more for both my daughters and my ticket than I would have paid, should I have paid this week instead. Also, balcony rooms were out of reach costwise for me when I originally booked. This week I could have had one for less than I paid for our original booking. I wrote Cunard, and called their customer service as well. (Word to the wise, always book with Cunard and not outside sources, even if you save 25-50 dollars with the outside sources, if you choose to go to a third party, you wind up needing that third party to help negotiate for you, and let me tell you, they really don’t care about your issues enough to try to fix them).

so…6 phone calls later (with at least 4 other people) I took (I say took like I was given a choice)what Cunard was willing to give me. (they called it a goodwill gesture, I disagree with their perception of what “goodwill” is). They upgraded my room to a balcony room, (technically still 200+ dollars extra in their pockets, but hey!)

I learned a few things during this whole ordeal:

  1. Wait until the 60 day window to book if you can at all, you will usually get better fares if they haven’t filled up.
  2. Book directly with Cunard, as they seem to have more *goodwill* towards those who do. I may have gotten money to spend on board or at least some options on how their goodwill paid out.
  3. Don’t talk to fans of someone about the negative aspects…or you will not be happy with the results.

Does this mean I won’t travel with Cunard again…No.

But I sure hope that the trip isn’t a disappointment after all this fuss.

That might make a difference.

 

Let’s talk luggage…

What names do you believe in when it comes to Luggage? What do you look for when you purchase? Are you a hard sided or a soft sided? Do you buy a single piece or a set as a general rule?

As I was deciding what luggage to buy this year for our excursion, I decided to go with a brand I knew to be affordable, which was American Tourister. We had bought 5 sets of their luggage previously at Walmart for about 98 dollars a set, around 2009-2010, for a trip to Hawaii. We’ve used those sets until the wheels were falling off. (My family takes more road trip than any most, trust me). I wanted pretty and new for E and I for this trip, so I bought her a purple set, and myself a blue set.

Shortly after purchasing the new sets though, I decided to explore the fact that American Tourister, who happens to be a Samsonite company, had a really good warranty on their luggage. The old sets were less than 10 years old, and while they’ve  seen a lot of miles, and we’ve thrown several pieces away simply because they’d seen their day, I made a call.

Edgar, the rep I talked to on the phone listened to my concerns with the luggage and decided that the issue I was having didn’t require me to bring the luggage in, but could be *evidenced* easily through photos and emails with details. He sent me an email with the appropriate information to follow up with. A day after getting the email, I responded with all the info requested and after reviewing all info, they replaced the remaining luggage with 3 new 4 piece sets of similar luggage. (2 black sets, and one purple).

I have enough new luggage for a while, as we’d bought 3 full sets previously, and got the 3 free sets too. I am pleased overall with this company’s commitment to their customers though. If you’re ever in the market for luggage, please don’t discount them just because they have decent prices on their luggage. Its good quality and will get you a long way down the road!

just my 2 cents worth for the day.

 

a little more mundane details post

But let’s face it, sometimes the mundane details can be the factors that later on make the difference whether your trip goes smoothly or is a nightmare.

This weeks call was with Verizon wireless, making sure that we’d be able to connect with home as much as necessary during the excursion without breaking the bank. I got a pleasant customer service agent, Amanda,  who went over every aspect of the trip with me in great detail, then shot me an email when we got off the phone to cover all the details of what we had just discussed.

First hurdle, E’s phone is not compatible with their normal travel plan, which means either:

  •  She will cost far more and be very limited throughout the time we’re abroad…this makes for a very unhappy tweenager, and subsequently, a very unhappy mum.(she’s practicing for London and has been calling me that this week, I find it endearing)
  • We upgrade her phone to a compatible, which costs a bit more, but locks her into the more affordable price point on the travel plan. or…
  • She does’t get to use her phone during the trip, which I think sounds like the most miserable option of all.

We opted for the middle choice and brought her, and her brother (to be fair) up to a more compatible phone. Both phones should be here by the end of the month and hopefully we’ll be able to get their info converted to the new phones.

So, it seems on the Queen Mary, we will need to work to keep ourselves limited to just their wifi.

Amanda told me they charge somewhere around 3.25 a minute to use the phone onboard. She highly suggested that I keep both of our phones on Airplane mode the entire time and tether them to the wifi when able. I hope that I can keep E honest on this policy, as I really don’t want any surprise charges. I’ve tried searching the Cunard site to better understand the Wifi capabilities and costs, I can only tell so far that 120 minutes will cost me approximately 45 dollars, and that we cannot be on more than one device at a time, I will encourage E to let her friends know that she will be out of touch for that week and get email addresses if she absolutely needs to contact her friends. The good thing is the bulk of emails can be written offline (as can my posts) and only take seconds to a minute or 2 to actually connect and send. I will probably try to encourage her to understand that factor prior to embarking on our adventure as well.

In London, it seems we’ll be in good shape, I should approximate 20 dollars a day as an extra cost.

We have 2 phones at 10 dollars a day,  and for that 10 dollars, it keeps everything on our normal plan the same. Unlimited texts, unlimited calls, ability to call US and UK without any extra charges (in case we order takeout or something). Data usage will be same as it is in the US, and hopefully we’ll have some rollover data from previous months to make up for any extra we may use during that time. I will also have Wifi, unsure of whether it costs any extra as that hasn’t been disclosed, in the Apartment while we’re there.

only possible bump with the costs there is if we make a day trip to Paris. Then it will cost us 40 for the day if we happen to use the phones while in both countries. Amanda was very thorough on explaining this. I love Verizon’s customer service for this reason.

So, now I am in the know, with one less detail to fuss with…have a good one!

 

 

 

 

The dining conversation (Cunard- Queen Mary 2)

So, 3 days ago I called Cunard with a simple question about our dining options. My primary question was whether or not we could dine in the other 2 main dining rooms during meal times (I knew we had first seating in the Britannia restaurant, per request).

The pleasant customer service advisor  (I could not understand her name enough to share it here) not only told me extensively about the availability of the other main dining rooms (princess grill, queens grill and Britannia club restaurants) that have an open come and go as you please atmosphere, but proceeded to tell me about several other options available to us: 

  • Kings court is open 24 hours and is buffet style, they have an alternating availability of Asian, Indian, Italian and American (smokehouse) cuisines. 
  • The verandah restaurant has French cuisine, but I got the impression they were a separate, higher cost.
  • Boardwalk cafe may be a good option for a 12 yr old according to the agent, basically the offerings there have a fast food feel…hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries and soft drinks. I’m not sure we’ll dine here, but we may try it one afternoon if we happen to get in a mood.
  • Carinthia lounge was mentioned, but not elaborated on, from what I can find, they have a varied, if not somewhat eclectic menu. 
  • Golden lion is the signature pub on the ship. They serve a classic British pub fare. I can see me hitting this a time or 2.
  • Queens room was something she was very excited to share with me, the ship has afternoon tea every day from 330-430, complete with finger sandwiches, pastries and scones with a wide assortment of preserves and jams. (I hope to hit this every day)
  • Room service has an extensive menu, and is also available 24 hours a day.

I look forward to this part of the trip almost as much as actually being in Great Britain for the first time.

Yesterday a post they shared made me want to explore something else about the ship…activities!

I definitely want to take the fencing lessons 🙂

The Trip 

So, for this summer excursion…my daughter and I have a short flight into the New York area , one night in New York, then 7 glorious nights  on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 before disembarking in Southampton, catching a ride up to London and staying in the London area for a total of 11 adventurous days. We will then be taking her first transatlantic flight back home in time for 4th of July. 

A lot of this trip excites me.  Adventure has always been something that inspires and excites me. Getting opportunities to meet new people, and explore places I’ve never been also excites me. 

I’ve been calling Cunard once to twice a week since I first got it in my head that I wanted to make this trip. Let me tell you something, you won’t find nicer customer service agents anywhere. Not only are they happy to assist you with your questions, but they go the extra mile to make sure their answer is thorough.

2 days ago, I called concerning the different dining options available to us on QM2. I can solidly say, after that conversation, that E and I should not lack for options. I will probably write more extensively on the options either tonight or tomorrow, as well as my thoughts on each.  

I think my favorite thing about the trip is recognizing that there are many facets/aspects of the trip that I can pull apart in the quiet hours of the evening. I probably will have as much time in exploring before the trip as I will on the trip itself. 

I look forward to sharing all of it with you.