Carnival introduces Ocean Medallion.

Carnival inc. is today to intoriduce the ocean medallion. A new interactive, wearable personal device. 

The device makes use of the ‘internet of things’ to provide a personalised concierge approach to guests onboard and, in home port, shoreside experiences. 

The medallion can be worn on the wrist or round the neck or indeed carried in a pocket or wallet. The technology is no tap and requires no charging. 

The technology is to be introduced today at CES in Las Vegas and will appear on Princes cruises late 2017 and early 2018, before eventually being rolled out across all then Carnival brands.  

I look forward to seeing it in action, but don’t like the idea of a wearable device. I do look forward to reading more and eventually experiencing this new customer enhancing experience. 

Original press release

Three Weeks, Three Queens or The Evolution of a Name.

This Summer the CunardCritic Kids were lucky enough to be able to visit all three vessels bearing the name ‘Queen Mary’ during July and August 2016. For my last blog of the year we’ll take a look at their fantastic journey through the history of an auspicious name in the shipping world.

They began their voyage through the history of ‘Queen Mary’ with a visit to the former Cunard Liner Queen Mary , now a permanent hotel and attraction in the city of Long Beach, California.

CunardCritic Kids in Long Beach.

At The Queen Mary, we were greeted by our old friends who had flown down for the day, before being greeted by the genial Commodore, Everette Hoard.

Commodore Hoard graciously showed us around his charge, and allowed the CunardCritic Kids to ‘drive’ his ship. We had a fun day exploring the liner, this year celebrating her 80th birthday, and learning all about her and her name.

Arrange your visit here!

‘Driving’ the great ship.

 

 

 

 

The Cunard liner wasn’t the first vessel to bear the name, which was something of a problem at the time of her construction (the early 1930’s). At that time the name ‘Queen Mary’ was begin carried on the river Clyde by an excursion steamer. Cunard needed the name for their newest ship, hull 534, and in exchange for a picture of HRH Queen Mary, the plucky excursion steamer was renamed as TS Queen Mary II and her name given to the vessel that became synonymous with the glamorous age of ocean travel. Amazingly this vessel also is still with us and has recently returned to the river of her Liner namesakes birth. Which is where the CunardCritic Kids visited her in August 2016.

 

 

The TS Queen Mary, pictured here on the Clyde.

Thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers, corporate sponsors and friends,TS Queen Mary has recently been brought home to Scotland. Work has begun on her restoration. In a continuation of Cunard and the TS Queen Mary’s links, furniture from the QM2 was donated to the trust by Cunard following QM2’s 2016 remastering.  The weather was slightly less kind than the Californian sunshine in late July, but nevertheless to see this wonderful old lady of the river back in her proper home was certainly emotional and worth the trip.

More about TS Queen Mary Trust can be found here.

To complete the set the the lucky CunardCritic Kids completed a summer crossing from New York to Southampton on the newest ship to bear the name Queen Mary, the world famous Queen Mary 2.

Enjoying a summer sailaway from New York. 

 

In a strange twist, all three Queen Mary’s were (at the time of their launch) the biggest vessels constructed for their respective roles. The ties that bind them are carried through to today, with Queen Mary 2’s remastering taking its design cues from the Long Beach vessel. The donation of furniture from QM2 to TS Queen Mary and onboard QM2 a picture of the original vessel to bear the name Queen Mary. That we still have Queen Mary’s spanning the centuries is very lucky, let us hope the name remains with us for many, many more years to come.

So there we have it, the three Queen Mary’s in three weeks. The CunardCritic Boys are certainly very lucky and I hope will appreciate their shipping education and history of these wonderful ships as they grow up.

From all of us at CunardCritic we’d like to wish al of you a very Happy 2017, full of calm seas and following winds!

QM2 remastered : Queen Mary, Long Beach. Detail and design. 

Having had the joyous experience of being aboard the first and last Cunard Queen Mary’s in the space of 48 hours it gave me the opportunity to highlight design cues taken from the first and updated and incorporated into the refit of the latters  namesake. Here are some of the design details I encountered in both Queens. It’s great to see that in an immediate gratification age some companies still place such a high value in their past and aren’t afraid to embrace that heritage whilst still facing the future. 

The lobby carpet. 

Inspiration for the new sunburst design, (which actually features across stairwells as well as the lobby on QM2) can be seen in the famous mural in Queen Mary’s grand dining salon. The design has been brought upto date with a modern twist, but echoes Art Deco styling cues. 

The ‘sunburst’ carpet in the Grand Lobby.
The mural which depicted the real time location if Queens Mary and Elizabeth, note the starburst.

A note on the carpets manufacture and heritage. The carpets on both vessels were manufactured by British carpet manufacture Brintons. 

The Verandah Grill.

The very first Verandah Grill was aboard Queen’s Mary and Elizabeth and whilst the modern Elizabeth (and Victoria) carried the extra tariff restaurant it was missing aboard Queen Mary 2. Following QM2’s recent refit and the removal of Todd English, the Verandah Grill is once more aboard a Mary plying the North Atlantic route.  

Verandah aboard Queen Mary, Long Beach.

The Verandah onboard Queen Mary 2 occupies a similar position today. Located on deck 8 aft with views over the pool and stern of the ship.

original circus theamed panels on Queen Mary.
The new art panels on QM2, a modern homage to the original.


Other carpeting. 

As we toured the Queen Mary her carpet designs caught my eye and their influence in the new carpeting across QM2 was obvious. Having seen the remastered QM2 I was keen to seek out obvious inspiration cues and the bold, striking deigns in Queen Mary were obvious. 

Queen Mary carpet patterns.


Queen Mary 2 remastereds carpets.

Little touches.

I noticed in both ships the small attention to detail that made them both stand out. Here are a couple from both ships. 

Egyptian themed panel on Queen Mary
Handrail in the observation bar, Queen Mary.
Wave shaped lighting, Kings Court Queen Mary 2.
Dividers in the Carinthia Lounge, QM2.

Queen Mary a photo essay. 

Stepping aboard the first queen of the seas is as close as one can get to time travel. Having enjoyed the bang upto the minute attractions of the greater Los Angeles area we now looked forward to enjoying a step back to the golden era of travel. A return to a more elegant, refined and slower time beckoned us in the shape of a sleek, sharp bow, 3 orange funnels and a million riveted black hull. 

The RMS Queen Mary had been a feature if the Long Beach skyline since the ’60’s and has passed from owner to owner all seeking their own successes in conveying the once blue riband holding ocean greyhound into as successful a static attraction. It is testament to those who love her with as much passion as a if she were a family member that she is still with us today. That passion is formed now in the figurehead of the honorary Commodore, Everette Hoard. The Commodore, a softly spoken gentleman of Georgia origin, is the driving force behind her preservation and protection. He is supported by a fan base comprising fans, ex-crew,ex-employees and passengers who only want to see their ship preserved for generations to come.

I hope you enjoy my pictures from the day as much as we enjoyed our day aboard the Queen Mary. 


A day on the Queen.

Cunardcritic and family were recently the guests if Commodore Everette Hoard aboard the 80 year old RMS Queen Mary at her permanent berth in Long Beach, California. 

A bright, sunny and hot summers day, thankfully lightened by an ocean breeze, saw our arrival alongside the original Queen of the North Atlantic. For the elders of the CunardCritic team this was a welcome return to the grand old ship, for the junior CunardCritic members it was their first visit to a ship they knew so much about. 

Our first glimpse.

The Commodore greeted us on the dockside and escorted us aboard. This was made all the better by the presence of two of our oldest Cunard friends, Betsy and Mark who had flown down to spend the day with us. 

(Honorary) Commodore Hoard, James and eldest CunardCritic Jr.

The Commodore gave us an escorted tour of Queen Mary, including some secret spots as the captains cabin and the bridge, before inviting us to spend the remainder of our day exploring Queen Mary and her many attractions. 

A future Captain?
Enjoying a seat in the Captains Quarters.
Sir Edgar Brittens guest book
which we were honoured to be asked to sign.

The Commodore explained to us that despite the entry charge, each passenger is currently costing the Queen Mary money to visit and at the time if our visit the need for an overhaul was obvious. Her hull is in desperate need of a repaint and most of her superstructure needs a good coat of overhauling. However since we have returned home an ambitious program of alterations and additions has been announced, what was obvious is the very great love the Commodore has for his charge and overall given her great age she’s doing very well. Here’s to the next 80!

I will continue our visit in a photo essay blog. 

Getting here wasn’t half the fun, but not too bad at all. 

We flew from manchester airport with Thomas cook last Sunday. Traveling through somewhere as noisy, busy and crazy as an airport with an autistic child didn’t look like fun. 

Luckily Thomas Cook and Manchester Airport made it so easy! We checked in the night before so could just turn up at the airport and clear security the morning of our flight. 

Manchester airport operate an autism friendly service, to apply you need to email customer services who send you out a pack and identifying wristband. This allows the whole family to use the fast tack through security cutting your waiting time down to near enough zero. 
The flight was brilliant, the refurbished a330 was comfortable and even my 6’3″ husband had tons of leg room. The food was some of the best we’ve ever had and the entertainment system slick and with a good selection of films and tv. 10 hours went better than could be expected. 

On arrival we were paged and escorted straight to immigration and through in under 20 minutes. We landed at 11:40, by 2pm we were sat by the pool enjoying a tray of wings and drinks!

Between Thomas cook and manchester airport our getting to the west coast was easy peasy. 

Getting ready to fly. 

Not long now and the CunardCritic team and kids will be heading to the USA! 

Flying this weekend to Las Vegas; we will be visiting the Titanic exhibition at the Luxor before heading to LA to visit the original Queen Mary. 

We are flying then to New York to join QM2 to Southampton via Halifax. 

Join us as we spend two weeks enjoying sun, sea and ships! 

Fly cruising and worried about weight?

This year before we join Queen Mary 2 in New York were spending a week in California. California will be hot and our plans include a trip to the original Queen Mary, Disney, Universal and down time with friends. 

These plans could not be more poles apart in what to wear, further we have two flights to complicate things. What then as a girl who likes to dress up on a crossing am I to do?

The answer it turns out is a miracle machine. A vacuum sealing machine to be exact. I have just packed (vacuum and in a bag) our formal gear in one duffel bag. We are a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids) so this was no mean feat. We have only a train journey home from Southampton when we get back to the UK so will pack an extra duffel bag in our luggage to accommodate our clothes, but if I had to fly home I would definitely pack my machine to create that vital space for everything to fit in. (It only weighs about 600g). 

Our machine is an Andrew James one which can be purchased from Amazon or similar. 
(Does not include my shoes in this bag, but does include my costume jewellery and hair accoutrements)

A Cunard duffel packed with formal wear for 8 nights!
saves weight and space.

Solo Luxury on the North Atlantic.

The new single cabins, what can I say? We visited with an extremely accommodating guest on deck 2, I think his name was Edward (if you’re reading this, please say hi) and we were blown away by the luxury and scale of his cabin. Trust me when I say I am sirely tempted to ditch Mr. CunardCritic and try one of these by myself!

The cabin windows are two oversize portholes, previously it was the photo gallery (more of which anon) so those of you familiar with Mary will realise the size! Cunard have thoughtfully fitted a window seat for the crusty old devotee of the North Atlantic (as the late John Maxtone-Graham entitled us) to sit and watch the waves crash by from. You see now why I so want one of these.

The bed linen is gorgeously blue and gold and richly embroidered, I want to sleep in that bed!

The bathrooms feature glass walk in showers, please can these be rolled out across the ship please, and are enormous. In room is a soft chair and dressing table (yes with kettle, but room service is still available).

Cunard did suggest they were going to be looking at the pricing structures for these cabins  but I suspect as word leaks out they will be in high demand. just imagine starting your day with a cup of tea watching the waves from your own window seat, bliss!

 

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