A Christmas Wish Delivered

/ Nothing to with cruising but it is Christmas Eve 2015 , about 23:00 pst and we have returned from our Xmas Eve service.

Sitting here, my grand dog Lucy (Golden Lab) snoring near my feet while Carols play on the radio.

Lucy - Dreaming
Ms Lucy, dreaming of being on a cruise ūüôā

I checked my WP blogs and in comes this one

It is so wonderful to read of this joyful Christmas present for ‘Bilos’ a dog .

Who is blind , yet  full of life

What a way for me to enter Christmas Day ‚öďÔłŹ‚õīūüėÄ

Merry Christmas everybody


‚ÄėTwas two weeks before Christmas, and all through the rescue ‚Äď All the creatures were stirring,¬†believing something¬†would ensue. Whispers and wishes hung in the air, In hopes of Bilos‚Äô special someone. Could we dare? Bilos is blind, born without eyes, But we knew when we met him ‚Ästhe was a special prize. Smart, and sweet, [‚Ķ]


Alaska Cruise season 2015 to Ogden Point finishes with 2016 Growth

The Star Princess was the last ship in for Alaska 2015 cruise season at Ogden Point , on its way to Los Angeles.

Deck. Ship. At sea....

Per attached article ,


quote: ” Overall, the harbour authority welcomed 227 ship visits and about 533,000 passengers in 2015 ‚ÄĒ up from 206 ship visits and about 465,000 passengers the previous year –¬† It‚Äôs a record year,‚ÄĚ said Ian Robertson, chief executive officer of the harbour authority, which oversees cruise operations at Ogden Point. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a record year for number of ships and number of passengers coming into Victoria.‚ÄĚ Robertson attributed the increase to the growing Alaskan cruise market and the rising appeal of Victoria as a destination port –¬† ”

It is expected for 2016 to be same number of ships but larger capacity as RCCL will be sending the International’s Explorer of the Seas , a first to Alaska.

This year with introduction of low sulphur ships , ferry to Inner Harbour , improvements to Ogden Point and transportation , our cruise port is very popular with passengers and crew.

Looking for forward to 2016 season.

/ nice review /. ¬†Mini Cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from Hamburg to Southampton


Mini Cruise on the Queen Mary 2 (Queens Grill, Q2 accommodation) In September of this year Hus and I enjoyed a mini ‚Äď and I mean MINI- two night cruise from Hamburg, Germany back to Southampton, England. When we disembarked the ship at Southampton (looking at the ship with forlorn faces) it was embarking on [‚Ķ]


A Visit To Seven Seas Voyager

An informative review

Was not aware Airfare is included

Extract ‘ I was lucky enough to pay a visit to Seven Seas Voyager last Wednesday,¬†during her call to Port of Tyne. It was my first time aboard any Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship and my first impressions were definitely good ones. I haven‚Äôt covered Regent much on my blog, so for those of you that don‚Äôt [‚Ķ]


Blog Final: Our Queen Mary 2 Voyage – Cunard’s 175th Anniversary of Liverpool – Halifax


How does one top a twelve day (12) voyage on Cunard’s Flagship Queen Mary 2 especially the 175th Anniversary Voyage from Southampton via Liverpool to Halifax retracing the original of the Britannia from Liverpool, those many years ago, by Samuel Cunard.

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QM2- Southampton City Terminal

Well, you do not,  but you can be part of it with 2,315 other souls who booked on this historical voyage.

My wife Elizabeth and I spotted this cruise for July 2nd -14th 2015 to celebrate Cunard’s 175th Anniversary from Liverpool to Halifax then ¬†Boston, finally ¬†New York back in early 2014 . Our travel agent, ¬†as we live on Vancouver Island was up in the early hours to Cunard to book a stateroom for us as they were selling fast . ¬†In fact for 24 hours they held a suite for us out of Liverpool¬† (all $25,000 worth of it) sadly I asked her to start our trip out of Southampton with an Outside Stateroom instead

To give ones perspective , our TA was booking with Cunard at 05:00 pst while I was sleeping and by 09:00 pst  we had communicated and I sent an message to  a Facebook friend ( We are Cunard Fanzine) in my Cunard  group  to query why the Liverpool bookings were gone for us normal people. Bless her (Helen) responded and said, book out of Southampton, loads of space, so we did , course we were not one of the esteemed  Liverpool  400 who would embark in Liverpool but we would embark in Southampton, much easier and allow us two extra days on QM2 plus four  days in Southampton.

Course we also decided on four days in New York after QM2 arrived at her final port.

Many have shared about this trip on various cruise Blogs on this trip so I will leave out some of the same info.¬† Though a good reference point is a blog written by a friend of mine, who is also part of the ‚ÄėWe are Cunard Fanzine‚Äô group.¬†¬† http://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2015/07/24/queen-mary-2-anniversary-voyage/

As a child I left Liverpool to immigrate to Canada via Halifax, Pier 21 ,  http://www.pier21.ca/home/

Now being retired it was my dream to recreate this trip but in comfort and able to truly enjoy a Cunard voyage, our first Cunard experience and on its flagship QM2 across the Atlantic. Elizabeth and I have travelled on various cruise lines over time to many destinations and once retired the prior work part of me being systems and computers caused me to join cruise forums and create my personal cruise blog.  https://robbarcruises.com/

In deciding on our flights as they would be one-way ones with help of my TA we managed to arrange Air Canada business class on Aeroplan points a year ago to Southampton and from New York.  I also contacted   Imperial Cars Southampton Ltd to transport us from Heathrow to Novotel  in Southampton , then from hotel to ship.

We spent 4 days in Southampton.

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12 days on QM2 and 4 days in New York.

On July 2nd, we boarded the ship   at the City Terminal, after a bit of a wait we were processed very fast and onboard by past noon.

Luggage at Novotel, taggd and ready for ship



Southampton City Terminal- Waiting for colour card/ number to be called












Part of the sail away and excitement was to see and hear the Irish Guards performing for us on deck then with my friend watching them on the quay playing for the sail away. Was I excited, of course

Liz- Sail Away
Rob Sail Away
Irish Guards – Southampton Sail Away
Paul, Richard , Barbara (We are Cunard Fanzine)




It turned out that we of the same Facebook group were  together at the same dinner table in the Britannia Restaurant  for second seating,

what better way to get to know cyber friends in real life. 1-IMG_0719

For us from the West Coast , it was lovely to dress up for Formal and informal nights which of course on Cunard means the men have jackets on in the evening regardless while the woman have cocktail dresses and such on.

QM2 1st Formal
QM2 1st Formal
QM2 1st Formal
QM2 1st Formal
QM2 1st Formal
QM2 1st Formal

The QM2 staff treated us wonderfully 1-IMG_0718





and one could not find fault with the food nor services,  so many choices.

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Cunard always arranges gifted speakers to give talks during the day so talks were presented to attend or one could find a quiet spot to read and relax, even people watch

The voyage starts:

IMG_1304 IMG_1316 IMG_1315 IMG_1308 IMG_1241 Two Deck, forward to aft view

Spare Propellers , Captains Cufflinks

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QM2 Library - Liz
QM2 Library – Liz
QM2 Library
QM2 Library
QM2 Observation area
QM2 Observation area









Liverpool:¬†¬†¬†¬†Was after a sea day and we were treated to a fantastic concert at the Liverpool Cathedral, it was about 2 1/2 hours long and well worth it. ¬† For me, my highest emotional point was saying to myself, wow , back in my country of birth and singing ‚ÄėRule Britannia‚Äô ¬†in this church..

What more do I need.

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Cunard pulled out all the stops for this Anniversary voyage with special meals and menus including an Anniversary hardcover book given to each passenger and lapel pins.

After Liverpool, we made our way across the North Atlantic and though we sometimes had Force Gales where the decks were closed , we could not feel a thing , look out the porthole and see the swells and waves but this Ocean liner just moved through at 21. Knots,  average speed. We were in an Outside stateroom on deck 5- section A (#5003) near the bow and did not notice any true movement though we could see it. For meals, we used the buffet at times (Kings Court) and mainly had cabin service for breakfast. We took all our evening meals in the Britannia Restaurant, lower level,  deck 2.  The service was excellent including the wine / bar service.


Liz – Richard Golden Lion
QM2 Martin-Paul-Helen
QM2 Martin-Paul-Helen


We had fun….¬†¬† The first night the wine menu was presented to Elizabeth ¬†with the first page ¬†opened showing ¬†wines starting at $120 US + ,¬† both of us went gulp! ¬†Then I said to her, try some of those other pages, surprise we were now in the more affordable area, not inexpensive but what a quality restaurant would offer.

Did I mention the lovely menu options for all tastes and the decadent deserts, course the Canyon Spa offered on the menu selections to help one enjoy but not gain weight, sure.

Our cabin service was spot on, lots of space for four pieces of luggage and gifts we accumulated from ship or shore.  We kept the nightly chocolates on our pillows for our grandchildren Arrived in Halifax after enjoyable days at sea including some lovely lunches at the Golden Lion, just pay for your drinks. I also spent time in the Commodore Club having a few Highland Park Scotch  or the Chart  Room and Liz and I would venture for a nightcap in the Queens Room watching the more experienced folks dance to the QM2 Orchestra.

During our North Atlantic crossing we also enjoyed listening to an amazing couple (four times) who played classical and modern on a Spanish guitar and Oboe, called the Zoco Duno and attended the QM2 Interdenominational   Sunday Church service led by the Captain, for us it was like being in our local church.

In Halifax, we went back to see Pier 21 and I even got a returning immigrant sticker. We then went on a lovely walk of the Harbour area, took a trip on the Theodor Too Tug boat and of course went to a local store for some supplies. That night, Halifax sent us off in style with a 21 gun salute at sail away,  an escort by Mr Tugboat and the Royal Canadian Navy .

Halifax Sail Away pre-party
QM2 Moored Halifax

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Another sea day and into Boston,


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where we went to the John F Kennedy Museum, a marvelous experience and learning about that period of time. They also have a bookstore of many items to purchase. Only hitch into Boston prior to leaving for tour was it took awhile for us to be processed by USA Immigration on the ship. Considering the QM2 had about 2,315 passengers, our tour was delayed about 30 minutes only, left at 10:30 instead of 10am Our final sea day and of course packing day prior to arrival to New York.

A few days prior to our arrival, Cunard advertized their White Star Luggage service as being available for passengers to send luggage from ship to one home destination. We elected to explore this option and in fact sent one piece onwards from New York to Victoria. I have included that part of the trip at the end of this section on New York.

New York:  Disembarkation Day: 

Reading some of the boards as we were to go to the Sanctuary Hotel for our four days. http://www.sanctuaryhotelnyc.com/ ¬†¬†which ¬†is near Times Square.¬† I asked for a porter to get me a Black Cab instead of a Yellow Taxi , these are fixed rates based on area in town , black newer SUV’s or large cabs. In essence one pay s a flat rate plus tip also I tipped the luggage porter. We were off the ship at 10:30am and into a Black Cab by 11am, into our hotel by 12:30pm as traffic was thick and the hotel offered coffee or tea and a couch plus amenities while we waited for our room to be available as check in time is normally 3pm , we were in our room by about 2pm

New York:    What can one say , it is the city that never sleeps, people always  in a rush and we experienced restaurants where dinner conversations were like yelling matches, at least to our tender Pacific West Coast ears. Turns out , it is normal.

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We used the Hop On Hop Off Buses for two days and basically rose the two loops , lovely way to see the city , waterfront and get to know where we were an how far things really are from each other.

Do New Yorkers read books was a question for us as we could not find a bookstore nor large grocery stores, seems people in the city buy what they need for a few days and walk or bike it home as many did not have parking spots like we are used to .  Of course we had to experience a Hot Dog from the sidewalk vendor


and I found an Irish Pub 30 feet from our hotel.  Best find was Starbucks and numerous TD Toronto Dominion Bank branches so I could get monies without a fee.  We did lots of walking and toured Macys and Lords and Taylors.

Value for this voyage . QM2 and Cunard , 6 stars  ****** service   We are now looking to book QM2 again next year , perhaps Florida to San Francisco on Queen Victoria  or  around Canada / new England  on  QM2,  as I do  have a brand new tux to wear.

Post script:¬†¬†¬† White Star Luggage service ¬†I had read about transporting your luggage to the ship prior to a voyage via the service Cunard offered called White Star Luggage service By the time I looked into it , was three weeks too late. It intrigued me as to send ones luggage not really needed while in transit as we would spend time in Southampton prior to boarding and it would reduce concerns about air weight and transporting luggage for long distances. We live on Vancouver Island and would fly to Southampton then back from New York. About seven days prior to end of our cruise the Pursers office announced that staff would be available to coordinate transfer of luggage from port to your home city if wanted by White Star Luggage (DHL). I went down and discussed the options and discovered the options and costs were to my mind not that expensive to ship a 50 lb luggage case. From New York city to Victoria Canada , about $190 US for 3,030 miles. As were staying four days in New York we elected to have only three pieces of luggage with us and ship back our formal clothes and extra we did not plan to wear. In our case our weight limits and number of bags (4) were allowed free on Air Canada but we thought why not try this service and see the results for future cruises. So we hipped one item back. The way it works is you fill out forms indicating your approval, agreement and destination, supply passport to be copied and a credit card for payment as to option chosen. We had one day to complete the process as the information had to be sent and approved by DHL and Cunard prior to arrival in New York. The fun part was to fill out a form that detailed the items being shipped and their approximate value for Insurance purposes. You are automatically covered for $2,000 US and can add another $1,000 increments for $10 US. We chose $3,000 ūüôā Imagine Liz’s surprise when I asked her to decide what had to go into this suitcase 7 days prior to disembarkation. No gifts, food et cetra are allowed. Only Clothes though I did add all our daily news items on actual night of packing prior to New York. The Pursers office confirmed all was well 2 days later and sent ne copies of my itemized list though nerd here took a picture on my iPhone, just in case The day we received our luggage tags we also received a special plastic pouch with scan code papers and instructions. one inside the suitcase and UNLOCKED. Once off the ship we went through customs and just outside the hall our luggage porter took us to the White Star representative. pile of luggage already there. The rep checked m name off a list and that was it. Six days later , 2 after we got home we had a call from DHL. please send by email , copies of our passport and list They would clear through customs and send to our home The only glitch was I sent a copy of our declaration of goods intransit instead of the official carbon copy , it not bother DHL but did bother a CBSA person Lesson learned The item I did do right was to declare to an agent not to the scan machines that we had this intransit Within 2 weeks all was at our home.. We will use White Star Luggage service ( DHL ) again It works and is safe

Antler- Home by Cunard White Star Luggage Service (DHL)
New York to Victoria , Air Canada 549
Newark Airport
Waiting Vancouver to Victoria , prior midnight

I hope you all have enjoyed my account of our trip , long perhaps but it was overall  a wonderful  trip for the both of us and we were pleased to meet Cyber Friends who are now real friends in the flesh

Rob  (aka Robbar)

Queen Mary 2 Anniversary Voyage : By Solent Richard

Liz and I were blessed to also be part of this same Queen Mary 2 Anniversary Voyage to Halifax thence Boston , New York via Southampton and Liverpool.

Click link  >     http://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2015/07/24/queen-mary-2-anniversary-voyage/
Richard has been a cruise blog and vapour land friend of mine for over six years and we finally met in person, still great friends we are ūüôā ūüôā
As usual he is ahead of the pack in getting his blog write-up together so I have elected to share his write up with you as it covers areas I would not have covered. He is an early riser while I am the one who closes the shop.
In his zeal to cover the Red Arrows in Southampton by getting to Mayflower Park to take pictures. his wife was frantic as he almost was last on board. Then again , that is the detail he strives to publish on his blog for us all to enjoy
Enjoy ,    Cheers / Rob Holloway (aka Robbar)

Cunard’s Thank You To Southampton

Patricia has written a lovely update on Cunard festivals this year
I now know the time it departs and even the terminal change from her and Paul C
Getting excited I am to be part of this event

Linerlovers's Blog

As everyone knows by now, 2015 is the 175th anniversary of Cunard or British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company as it was originally called. Since returning from the world cruises on the 3rd May, we’ve had all three ships in Southampton, the sinking of the Lusitania centenary commemoration and all the ships in the Mersey with a flypast from the Red Arrows en route to a display in Blackpool. Next up in the true anniversary of the 4th July, the day Britannia set sail from Liverpool. The recreation of this crossing begins in Southampton 2 days before with a thank you to the city they have used for over 100 years. Some wrongly believe Cunard only started calling at Southampton in 1967 when they moved their head office out of Liverpool but the connection with the city goes back to 1911 with Albania, Ausonia and Ascania. They…

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Crown Princess – Alaska Cruise Smoke unit

On May 28th it was reported that a fire broke out in the storage area of the theatre

It turned out to be a smoke generating unit was left on and overheated.

No fire but lots of smoke

To give credit the crew and Captain took charge per story and all was restored

To my mind, considering the packed area used for entertainment staff costumes and supplies this type of unit should be kept in a non flammable area at least

Given Princess does not use lighted candles anymore for baked Alaska parade though the MDR , only battery ones why do we need a smoke unit that can overheat

Had it overheated to a degree and burnt the wall cable or surrounding materials then this could have been much worse in potential damage to ship

For entertainment purposes , one could use lightening effects to create the illusion of smoke

Retire these machines period for everyone’s safety as entertainment staff in rush for a performance change or stage hands can forget

Lesson learned so think out of the box

My view


Ogden Point, Vancouver Island – Alaska Cruise Season 2015 Schedule / Items

Well, I am¬†pleased that not only was today in Victoria , Canada on beautiful Vancouver Island¬†a wonderful sunny day, ¬†though at 16C but our first cruise ship ‘Grand Princess’ will be docking at Ogden Point this Wednesday April 22nd 2015 at ¬†07:00 pst from Vancouver and to San Francisco at 14:00 pst.¬† It will then begin its regular Alaska cruises back to Vancouver.

This year 230 cruise ship port visits will be made to Ogden Point , majority are on route back to Seattle or San Francisco with some being repositioning cruises and some parts of World Cruise segments. This year we expect a large number of ships to dock in morning or afternoon giving passengers a longer time to enjoy Victoria instead of the standard for some of 18:00 to 23:50 pst stops. Mind you our daylight hours are longer into the late summer.

The last scheduled cruise ship will be the ‘Star Princess’ on November 9th 2015 , making¬†its way to Los Angeles

Here is the link to our schedule  http://victoriacruise.ca/page/cruise-schedule   and a PDF can be downloaded from this site.

The¬† Times Colonist has written a great article on the pending season ,¬† quote : ” Cruise-ship daytime visits are scheduled to rise by about 17 per cent this year compared with last, bringing good news to local businesses keen to sell services and goods to tourists. – See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/more-cruise-ships-coming-earlier-in-day-to-victoria-staying-longer-1.1820867#sthash.SA62Wkkn.dpuflink is here

Sadly we have been advised by the Times Colonist that¬† ¬†”¬†Harry, Happy and Henrietta, the Hippo buses that have been carrying tourists on land and on water in Greater Victoria, are leaving for warmer weather in the Caribbean. – See more at:¬† http://www.timescolonist.com/business/victoria-s-hippo-tourism-buses-head-to-warmer-climate-1.1822578¬†¬†¬†¬† So, will it be Barbados or St Maarten or what Island in the Caribbean to host these three land/sea buses ūüôā

Of special note and thank you to a Facebook friend in the UK , I was advised that the Crown Princess will be in dry dock at Victoria Sea Span Yards from approximate May 1 – 15 2015 , undergoing tune-ups and maintenance.


These yards have worked on many cruise ships and have a reputation of quality work and to ensure the job is completed on schedule allowing it to begin its scheduled Alaska runs out of Seattle.

Welcome to all the crew and contractors , course we enjoy the revenue and work in our city .

An Historical event. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Her Majesty The Queen To Name P&O Cruises Britannia

I think we all knew it was coming, but today P&O Cruises has finally announced that Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, will name the new P&O Cruises vessel Britannia at Ocean Terminal, Southampton, SO14 3QN, on Tuesday March 10, 2015. The naming will be a milestone in […]