MY JOURNAL: Page 1 (2,

26-09-04 WE ARE GOING: On 15 Dec 2004 we are heading off on the first trip on the QE2. It will be the famous transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York. We are booked in a Q2 cabin on the signal deck (see the layout of that deck in the picture). As I have been doing rather a lot of looking and finding out about the QE2, I will share in this journal my thoughts, experiences, photos and some of the sites and links that I have found very helpful on both the QE2 and for the new passion in cruising!
A good start is to visit the Cunard site

We originally spoke about going on the trip between Christmas 2004 and New Year . This was after we had also had a less than brilliant time, as we had a big break in at our flat and the people who did it really cleaned us out (taking just over 15000 of plasma TV, computers etc) and left a huge mess as they had opened all the Christmas presents etc. It was horrible.

After we booked with Cunard, where we got a 30% discount. But about 6 months later (as I had kept looking at the site and various message boards) I noticed that they were offering 50% discounts and so the Q4 that we had booked was a whole 1000 each less! I called Cunard and they offered to upgrade us to a Q3 - but we eventually agreed to pay 150 each more and now have a Q2!! This has a butler service, is on the very top in what they call the "penthouse suites" with their own entrance. Above a Q2 is the Q1 and Qs suites which are the 2 roomed ones. But there are only less than 8 suites better than a Q2. So we are now VERY excited indeed. Our 1st trip on the QE2 will be in real style!!

We are in 8006 on the Signal deck. Reading in a message board one guy told me these are among the best of the Q2s.


28-09-04 CRUISEMATES: When I first started getting hooked and needed to feed my thirst for knowledge, I turned (of course) to the internet. I found many sites of varying quality and usefulness. Cruisemates.com is one that I found great - especially the quality and amount of reviews from both the editor of the site but more importantly from readers of the site. The latter for me always being the most interesting and helpful, and what I really like to read. This site also has some very good articles to help you get tips. It is more USA focussed (e.g. it does not cover in a lot of detail UK based P&O that well).

Suggested best areas in general:
* Cruisemates.com Home Page
* Readers Reviews (chose by Cruise Company/ ship etc)
* Articles and tips by topic by experts They are listed by cruise company. Check out the Cunard ones!

QE2 bits due to my current QE2 obsession:
* QE2 (and other Cunard) Readers Reviews
* Articles on the QE2: So Many Choices, Commanding the QE2
* Readers QE2 Photos Galleries: Sydney, Transatlantic New York

In the "So Many Choices" article, Ted Scull who wrote it says of the Queens Grill: "My favorite cabins on any ship are the Q3 cabins on One and Two Decks: wood panelled (some with wood even in the ceiling), satin walls, walk-in closets and dressing room and large marble bathrooms that can be entered via two doors. Two people can chase each other in circles! When the QE2 was built, the Q3s were the ship's largest cabins, and two could be combined into a suite. These accommodations, amidships and midway above the waterline, are very stable in rough seas.

The newer staterooms high up on Sun and Signal Decks have a private entrance; they were added to fulfil the demand for more top-grade accommodations with verandas. While some people swear by these, they are certainly less desirable on a North Atlantic crossing than on a calm-weather cruise. For me, they also suffer from not being original to the ship, and thus not possessing that true "ship cabin" atmosphere on the last true ocean liner afloat. I'll take my Q3 any day!"


29-09-04 CUNARD PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Always dying to see more of the ships (especially the QE2 that we are booked on for the 15 December crossing), I came across a promotional video on the Carnival Corporation (owners of Cunard) site: Worldleadingcruiselines.com.
The video shows animated shots of the QM2 with real video of the QE2, including what I think is a Q2 cabin in the 2nd last cabin shot (We are booked on a Q2): Click here to see the video (It should show in your default player).

Some other bits on the site worth looking at:
* Interactive "concierge" (tells you what of their lines is most for you): Click here


30-09-04 EXCITEMENT AS MATERIALS ARRIVE: Yesterday when I got home from work I got very excited! As in the post had arrived the first of the materials for our December QE2 crossing. It was in the form of 2 bound booklets that had our names printed on them and inside where various details about embarking and disembarking, with some offers on the Hilton for the night before and how to get to and from in the UK and New York.

They seem to have better deals on the limo pick up from home to Southampton than the one I booked through their CruiseConnection service on the website. But hey ho, we think we will leave it as it is. We are not sure what to do on getting from QE2 in NYC to Penn Station to get the train to Washington - there is a $19 bus or a $50 car. Think we may go for the car and go posh the whole way! Which reminds me, I need to book the train too.

Getting these made it seem even closer.. although still about 75 days away!!!!

The booklet was exciting to get but did not sure what expected as felt I wanted to know more after looking at it! There are 20 pages (and as mentioned nice as has our names printed on them) and contained:
- General info on embarkation (but no specifics about times, just in options to get there that they offer) - information on visas and where to get help - an offer from the Hilton for the night before - general stuff about life on board (pretty much same as in the brochures) - disembarkation information and options to book once en route)









30-09-04 COMPULSIVE BUYING: QE2 MEMORABILIA: Well, I really think I must have an obsessive compulsive personality. Ever since I decided that we were going to go on the QE2 on a transatlantic crossing, I have got a bit over zealous in finding out as much as I can about the ship.

So most of this year, I have been searching and finding out about the QE2. I have bought videos, bought books and been buying bits and pieces on one of my most favourite sites: eBay. Also on Amazon and Alibris books

Here is what I have bought on eBay or other sites that is QE2 orientated: click here

04-10-04 OVER THE ATLANTIC:  As I write this I am now in the USA. Having just flown in on BA from Heathrow on one of my regular work trips. As I flew in I was reading "QE2: The Cunard Line Flagship" by Captain Ronald W Warwick. A book that I am enjoying and will write more about once I have finished it.

I was just reading the part about when the QE2 was requisitioned in 1982 by the UK government for the Falkland Island War with Argentina. The QE2 was transformed in a week into a ship ready to transport soldiers, ammunition and 2 large helicopters landing on the ship (by cutting off some of the deck it seems!).

Anyway, I am getting distracted. The thing I was thinking is that the flight takes over 7 hours - and so each hour and a bit on the plane will be one full day on the QE2. Plus instead of having to turn back the clocks by 5 hours, it means we have 25 hour days for 5 of the 6 days of the crossing - an hour longer each day to enjoy the QE2. And to not get jet lagged.

I come to the States about once every 5 - 6 weeks. This is the first time that I have been on since they started the fingerprint and photo taking at immigration - which as it only started on Friday that is about as close to the start as you can get I guess as today is Sunday! There was a problem with my fingerprints - possibly as I have a strange shaped left index finger after a horrible boil when a kid and I got bustled off to the clearing area to sit while they checked me out. All was fine of course and I was out in about 15 or 20 minutes before many other people sitting there. It was amazing how scary it was! I knew that it would be fine, but all these very stern men and women in their Department of Homeland Security uniforms was quite scary as everyone in the room looked quite spooked. I suspect it may be a settling in of new technology as there seemed to be a lot of people coming in.

I wonder how they handle it when you come off the QE2, or if they will do it on the ship? I will maybe post a message in one of the cruise message boards that I am addicted to!

05-10-04 CHOO CHOO TO WASHINGTON DC: After we get to New York on 21 December after the 6 day crossing, we are going to be heading to Washington DC until Boxing Day when we fly back from there to London. (The hotel in Washington we are staying at is Mark's treat).

I have booked us two First Class tickets on the Amtrak fast commuter service called the Acela Express. It leaves from NYC Penn Station and takes 2 hours and 47 minutes. Although I suspect we will be ready for an earlier train as we should be able to disembark the QE2 fairly early as Queens Grill passengers, thought it best to go for a mid-day train. The 1st Class ticket means we can use the lounge if we are early and we cannot get on an earlier train (which run every hour).

This is what the Amtrak. COM site says about the service:

"Enjoy superior comfort, upscale amenities, and polished professional service--at speeds up to 150 mph--aboard Acela Express. The Acela Express experience includes: A faster trip with fewer stops; Reserved First Class and Business Class seating; At-seat electrical outlets for your laptop or DVD player; Adjustable lighting and large tray tables; Conference tables ; Four channels of audio entertainment; Quiet Car; Cafe Car. And in First Class: At-seat meal and beverage service; Hot towel service; Newspaper; and Access to ClubAcela lounges"

And on the First Class page notes it goes on waxing lyrical about: "Acela Express offers hourly service downtown to downtown during peak morning and afternoon rush hours between New York, Washington, DC, and intermediate cities, as well as many convenient round-trips between New York and Boston.

On Acela Express and Metroliner trains, you can enjoy First Class service. Amenities include: Spacious seating configurations; Superior cuisine with at-seat attendant service; Complimentary meals and beverages, with wine served by the glass, micro-brewed beers, and liquor and cocktails; Access to ClubAcela lounges; At-seat standard AC electrical outlets; Personal audio programming (Acela Express only); In-car Railfone and Hot towel service" (Not sure why the hot towel thing is such a selling point!!! I never have really understood the hot towel thing. But it seems to be one of those things they do in business and first class as a treat...?)


10-10-04 JOINING THE QE2 "CLUB": One of the things that I have really enjoyed, and have been constantly seeking out online, are the reviews and experiences of people who have travelled on the QE2.

These differ from the ones written by "professional reviewers/ journalists" as they not only have more raw passion - but are truly insightful and give great ideas about how to really enjoy the ship and especially the forthcoming crossing.

Something that comes screaming through, is the amazing passion and how travelling on the QE2 makes you part of a "club". Part of a shared experience, a sense of becoming part of a history and part of an exclusive group (even though in fact the data says there have been many passengers and so it is probably that really that exclusive!). It is also clear that going on a crossing, and then a December crossing, is very much seen as the true and proper way of experiencing the QE2. As that is what the ship was really designed and made for, and by doing this you are definitely joining the club. And it seems that people of varied ages and backgrounds easily interact and join.

A very noticeable way this passion shows up is in that when you post something on a message board asking for thoughts, advice or tips then people take a lot of time out to provide their thoughts. It is just fantastic.

Links: CUNARD.CO.UK          
Mail me: Gary Bembridge