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2 San Francisco to Cruise to Nowhere Cruise Reviews

My wife and I just completed the World Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth. When we thought of taking the cruise we researched as much as we could; but little success. So here is our review of Cunard and the 2014 QE World Cruise. We booked a ... Read More
My wife and I just completed the World Cruise on the Queen Elizabeth. When we thought of taking the cruise we researched as much as we could; but little success. So here is our review of Cunard and the 2014 QE World Cruise. We booked a Penthouse mid-ships and the Queens Grill. The total cost of our trip was just under $200k. On Cunard, you pay for everything; drinks laundry, internet, etc. Cunard Getting on and off The Embarkation process with Cunard was a disaster in San Francisco. Cunard had no staff to direct you to the ship. We ended up a few feet away from another ship before realizing it was not the QE. The group with us was not too pleased. The Debarkation Process in Southampton was unpleasant. You had to gather your luggage, find a porter, go thru Customs, then get it a Cunard Truck (we were transferring to the Queen Mary to return to the US), and then board a Bus to the QM Terminal. There was no Custom’s inspections since we were “In-Transit). So Cunard should have transferred our bags to the Queen Mary. The experience was a disaster. Grills (Princess and Queens) Cunard’s offerings in the Grills do not meet its advertisements. The food is just average. Cunard says you will have private areas on the ship to take in the Sun etc. This is not the case. Non- Grill passengers used all the areas without incurring the expense. Cunard did have signs on Saying for “Grill Passengers Only” but no enforcement. On average the Grills offering costs passengers $35,000 per person extra. What you receive in return is not worth the expense. You would be better off using the Britannia Club for your food and book some of the larger staterooms. Religious Cunard stopped having Priests or Rabbi on the QE and QV. I can understand that in 2008, but not today. We will not be sailing on a Cunard Ship until they provide this offering. Advertising Cunard’s corporate office used the QE as its advertising tool at the expense of its passengers. When the QE was approaching Sydney Harbor, the access to the ship’s forward decks was locked to passengers. The ships’ deck crew was busy putting up a 200’ Flag saying “Happy Mardi Gras” to celebrate Gay & Lesbians Mardi Gras in Sydney. The ships passengers were furious over the inability to take pictures and enjoy the arrival. Queen Elizabeth The QE is a fantastic ship. If you have sailed on the QV, you will find much the same. The service in the Grills was beyond belief. The head Maître, Ico and Kruno were the best team, I have experienced in 40 years of taking cruises. The food in the Gills was average. We took the maiden voyage on the QV back in 2008. The food on the QV was exceptional. So we were a disappointed in food offerings. The Butler service was exceptional. Our butler was Natalia. She gave us such great service. We had Penthouse mid-ships, Suite 4101. It was fantastic in that we had minimal ship movement when the other passengers Forward and Aft, we experiencing the effect of big waves. The Suites back Aft, experienced both the waves and the vibration of the ship's screws. A good friend staying in the QE's largest Suites said it perfectly “I didn't pay $250,000 plus for a vibrator; if I wanted one, I would have brought we me. The crew on the QE was outstanding. Everyone went out of their way to make you feel you were a part of their family. Tours and Pictures: Both of these offerings are done by companies that service Cunard’s ships; Outsourced. Our experience with the Tour Department was so bad. We started off my taking tours via Cunard’s coaches. I am 6’1 and 240lbs. The coaches were so small; my knees were in my chest. In addition, a respiratory infection took hold of the passengers. The coaches became a “Petrie Dish” with many of the passengers spreading the infection to other passengers. Our solution was to take the Private Car option. It should have been a great decision but the Tour Department screwed up most of the bookings. You can plan on paying approximately double over the market rate on shore. We finally did this in the last two ports. We had new Mercedes, great drivers and tour guides at half of the price of Cunard. My only recommendation if you decide to stick with the ship’s Tour Departments offering is to demand detailed confirmations 3 days before you reach the port of call. In Haifa, the Tour Department, failed to give the driver our points of interest we wanted to visit. In addition, the provided only a driver who served as a guide; not good. Demand both a driver and guide so you can enjoy your visit. Summary: The World Cruise on the QE was worth the costs. We will not take another on Cunard since they ceased having Priests or Rabbi(s) on board the QE and QV. I would stay away from using the Tour Departments’ Private Car option. In addition, I would bring 4 Z-Packs of antibiotics for infections. The ship’s Medical Department ran out of Z-Packs mid-way in our cruise. We had 4+ deaths on the ship which is normal for a World Cruise. Cunard handled the sad event with so much compassion for the affected families. This department in Cunard is to be praised for their handlings of such unexpected events.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Overall. Carnival prides itself on making cruising fun. For us, this was definitely a fun cruise. We really enjoyed the food, service, cabin, ship, entertainment and port of San Francisco. We are excited that Carnival has moved this ... Read More
Overall. Carnival prides itself on making cruising fun. For us, this was definitely a fun cruise. We really enjoyed the food, service, cabin, ship, entertainment and port of San Francisco. We are excited that Carnival has moved this beautiful new ship to home port in Los Angeles. The Mexican Riviera will be a fun itinerary for those of us on the west coast. San Francisco Airport Transfers. TIP 1: Save money on transfers or cab fare and take the BART light rail directly from the airport to your hotel or to the cruise terminal. For downtown San Francisco, the cost is $5.35 per person versus a $45 cab ride. It is cheap, quick and easy - even with luggage. Check the BART price before you travel. It will be much easier at the ticket machine if you know how much you need to pay. Also, each person needs his/her own ticket even if you are traveling together. On BART, we left the airport at 4:50 PM on a Friday and came out of the Powell Street BART station a few blocks from our hotel less than 30 minutes later. The InterContinental Hotel on Howard Street. We decided to arrive a day early and stay at the InterContinental Hotel at 888 Howard Street. The concierge staff helped us choose a great dinner and helped us get to the Farmer's Market, Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown before and after our Carnival Cruise. Public Transportation on BART and Trolley Cars make everything easily accessible from this home base. TIP 2: It is always safest to arrive a day early for any cruise. If you cruise out of San Francisco, the InterContinental Hotel on Howard Street is very convenient to the cruise terminal. It is also centrally located with easy access to the Embarcadero with its Farmer's Market, to China Town and to Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 39. On Saturday morning before our cruise we went to the San Francisco Farmer's Market at the embarcadero. The Farmer's Market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You will find both indoor and outdoor booths selling fresh food, baked items, coffee, candy, flowers, cheeses, chocolates, mushrooms and more. We snacked on several decadent home-made candies and picked up a truffle-flavored salt at Far West Fungi - The San Francisco Mushroom store. If you like chocolate - especially dark chocolate, you will love the renowned Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker in the Farmer's Market. You can find good coffee everywhere. Dan found an espresso and Janean found a Chai Black tea at Peet's Coffee & Tea. TIP 3: If you cruise in or out of San Francisco on a Saturday or Tuesday, make some time to visit the Farmer's Market which is only open on Saturday and Tuesday. Cruise Terminal. The Port of San Francisco Cruise Terminal is located at Pier 35 - only about 100 yards north of Pier 39 & Fisherman's wharf. We arrived at the dock at about 12:30 PM. You take your bags inside the terminal where you pass through check-in and then security. Check-in was a breeze for this short cruise. TIP 4: If you cruise out of San Francisco WRITE THIS DOWN! The Port of San Francisco Cruise Terminal is at Pier 35 just north of the popular Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. We were surprised that many locals (including our cab driver) did not know that the Cruise Ships leave from Pier 35. Onboard. Cabin. This was our first cruise in an ocean view cabin since our first cruise in 2006. We prefer a balcony but this was a very comfortable cabin for a short cruise. Our cabin was on Deck Number 1, the Riviera Deck - cabin number 1354. We had close views of the waves passing by and a great view for both sunrise and sunset on this particular cruise. Our ocean view cabin had a double bed, a small couch and sitting area and a small bathroom with stand-up shower. This was a comfortable cabin for us on the short 2-day itinerary. Our cabin steward was Acil. He did a great job taking care of us. By 1:30 PM we were onboard. We were early and our cabin wasn't quite ready, but we dropped our bags in the cabin and started our tour of the Carnival Splendor Fun Ship. We sailed out of the San Francisco harbor at about 5:30 PM on March 21 and passed directly under the Golden Gate Bridge heading out to the Pacific. All cruises from San Francisco cruise under the Golden Gate. It was cool and rainy but there was a lot of fun to come. Penthouse Suite number 7291. Since this was a cruise for travel agents, Carnival opened up Show Cabins for all to see. We toured 7 different show cabins. We were most impressed by the Penthouse Suite, cabin number 7291. The suite is very large. There is a very large entry way and living room. There was a sofa, an entertainment center and a bar just past the entry way. Straight through the living room you find an oversized balcony. There is room enough for a chase lounge out there. It comes complete with a nice big queen sized bed. There is a private dressing area between the bedroom and the huge bathroom. The bathroom is spacious with 2 sinks, a full-size jetted bathtub and a separate bidet. Public Areas & Venues. We toured all public areas on the ship. Splash Park on the top deck looked too cold for us, but it would be great fun for the kids on a hot day in the Mexican Riviera. We tried our hand at Wii Bowling in the Circle C. This is the club room for the kids from 12-14 years old. The kids enjoy video games, dance parties, late night movies, Karaoke and more. What fun! We visited Camp Carnival, the fun area on the ship for 2-11 year olds. This is a great area with plenty of activities for the young kids. In Camp Carnival, everything is customized for the kids including the kid-sized sinks and bathrooms. Club O2 is the place to be for teens 15-17 aboard Carnival Splendor. They can enjoy their own cool parties, movies and shore excursions. Up on the top deck - the Sky Deck at the Carnival Golf Course, the views are spectacular. The golf course is also fun. TIP 5: Don't miss the views up on the Sky Deck next to the Carnival Golf Course. The view is especially wonderful when in port or when sailing in/out of a port! The area that buzzes most on the Splendid is the Splendido Lido Pool on the Lido Deck and the Carnival's Seaside Theatre on the Panorama Deck. This is the same area - with upper and lower deck working together to create and energetic public arena. Watch movies, concerts, news, sporting events, and parties on the Seaside Theatre, a 12'x22' jumbo-sized LED screen with a crystal-clear picture and a 70,000-watt, easy-to-hear sound system. TIP 6: The specialty pizza mid-ship at the Pizzeria on the Lido Deck 9 is a must. Dan tried 4 of the 8 flavors in our 2 days aboard. Tip 7: Window seats for ocean view dining and rail seats for viewing entertainment are easier to find on the upper Panorama Deck above the Lido Pool and Seaside Theatre. The Pinnacle Supper Club is a small specialty restaurant on the Spa Deck number 11. This is a reservations only, $30 per person gourmet delicacies & steakhouse favorites menu. We had fun spending time in the Grand Piano bar on the Promenade Deck number 5. The bar was closed while we were on this cruise but we still had fun making our own music. The theatre on the Splendor is the Spectacular, Spectacular. Views from all seats are great - this is important to us because we are short. The Royal Flush Casino wasn't open during our cruise. You can find it mid-ship on Deck 5. Tip 8: For a relaxing breather, grab a drink and a window seat just outside the Casino near the Ocean view Bar on Deck 5. Your cares will float away with the ocean waves. The El Morocco is a fun bar aft on the Promenade Deck 5. The COOL is another bar right next to the El Morocco Bar. The COOL has fun views to the sea below. After our short cruise, we returned to San Francisco. While the ship was in harbor we were thrilled with the views from the top deck - the Sky deck. The views of Alcatraz from the ship in harbor are great. You also have fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and San Francisco. Tip 9: At the beginning of the cruise and at the end of the cruise, or while sailing in or out of the, go up to the top deck - the Sky and admire the views. They are spectacular. See our pictures here: http://danandjanean.com/CarnivalSplendor.html Fisherman's Wharf is a great add on either just before or just after a cruise from the Port of San Francisco cruise terminal. Captain Jack "Sparerib" is one of the street performers we found at Fisherman's Wharf on Monday around noon. And don't miss the sea lions if you visit Fisherman's Wharf. Tip 10: Arrange a couple of hours before or after your San Francisco cruise to visit Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 39. It is right next to the cruise terminal and is pedestrian friendly even if you have bags. We also walked to China Town and passed the TransAmerica building on our way. China Town is a great place to visit if you have time while in San Francisco. There are some great shops, great food and great souvenirs in China Town. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009

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