In August 2015 we took our first ever ocean cruise. You would think that living in Seattle, it would be a no-brainer to take one of the many Alaska cruises that depart from here. But we've never gotten that into our vacation schedule. Steven has been on a windjammer sailing cruise in the Bahamas many years before. Neither of has had been on a full-on cruise ship. Quite frankly, we've always thought why would you want to go on the exact same vacation with thousands of other people? On the other hand, there was always the allure of the glamour of a transatlantic crossing from the days before the jet age. With a fascination for the Titanic and having missed out on the Queen Elizabeth 2 before her retirement, it was time to check off a buck list item.
The initial push came from our dear friends in Texas, Kevin and Charmaine. I've know Charmaine since college, though we hadn't kept in very good touch until the days of Facebook 'reunited' us. Her husband Kevin had been in the Navy and had sailed all the world's oceans except the Atlantic. He brought up the idea of doing so for his milestone birthday. It just so happens, this year is a milestone birthday for me. Also a milestone for our unofficial anniversary. So why not go all out on a Grand Voyage?
It didn't make sense to go all the way to England without spending at least some time on the other side of the pond. So what to do?
Steven had been doing recent on his family tree and found that he has Scot ancestry and Kevin did a study abroad program in Ireland during college. Our hope was to be able to go to both Scotland and Ireland. In early planning it became evident that both would not be possible in the time we had. So Scotland became the choice this time.
Of course, the trip became more and more complicated as the planning went along, but as they say, planning is half the fun.
In the posts below, please follow along on our journey. We've provided some glimpses of the people, places and things we encountered along the way. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventure.
Steven & Kevin
- The Journey HomeAugust 25, 2015The Journey Home By Steven 25 August 2015 This day has finally come. Sadly, it’s time to head home. We’ve certainly enjoyed our travels, seeing old friends and making new, but vacation can’t go on forever. As with all other travel days, of this trip, we start early with packing. This morning it should be so hard, you would think, it all needs to go home and we packed for air […]
- London – Our Last Day in the UKAugust 24, 201524 August 2015 By Steven – I was the last to get out of bed this morning. By the time I was downstairs, the day was well under way. I was delighted to be offered a home cooked breakfast of porridge and fresh fruit. A great way to start the day. Over breakfast we discussed the strategy for the day. Kevin and I wanted to hit at least one or two sights this morning. In the afternoon, […]
- Edinburgh to London – Travel DayAugust 23, 201523 August 2015 by Kevin We’re nearing the end of our vacation and are a little exhausted, a little ready for the next and last leg, a little fearing getting all our bags down the steep hotel stairs and onto a tram for the airport. Last minute packing always brings its stresses. Though we’ve traveled enough together to know each other’s packing rhythms and eccentricities, on big travel days it […]
- Scotland – Day 2 in EdinburghAugust 22, 201522 August, 2015 by Steven – After a busy day the day before and knowing that we will be having another long day, we decided to take our time getting going on this second, and last, day in Edinburgh. Last full day in Scotland, actually. We did make it down for breakfast in the morning. Same routine as yesterday: a harried staff with too many guests to serve in the completely full breakfast […]
- Scotland – Day 1 in EdinburghAugust 21, 201521 August 2015 by Kevin Friday, we woke to partly cloudy and humid day. Roving showers tested our ability to plan our wardrobes for the day. In the end, we went with our Seattle experience and layered up. On our docket this day was visiting two sites and more if we could: The Royal Yacht Britannia and the Palace at Holyroodhouse. Edinburgh Castle would wait until the next day. Breakfast at The […]
- Scotland – Elgin to EdinburghAugust 20, 2015by Kevin (mostly, with some additions from Steven) August 20, 2015 If you are still following us, you’re probably saying, ‘Hey, didn’t I just see these guys at a holiday party?’ And, you’d be right. Yes, we’re taking our time at this, yes we are. We had a big day ahead of us; lots of miles to cover and a couple of places of interest to visit. We thought it might take us most of the day to get to […]
- Scotland – Fawlty TowersAugust 20, 2015Tuesday – Thursday, August 18-20 Kevin alluded in our last post about to the interesting time we had at out hotel in Elgin, Mansion House Hotel & Country Club. It was of such idiosyncrasy that it really does deserve a short post of its own. I’ll think you’ll agree with us as to why we’ve dubbed it “Scotland’s own Fawlty Towers.” I really did have […]
- Scotland – Whisky TourAugust 19, 2015By Steven August 19, 2015 A wee dram of whisky by my keyboard is a perfect way to get in the mood to write this next installment. “Why?” you may ask. Well I’ll tell you –this is a day devoted to touring whisky distilleries in the Speyside region. When putting together our itinerary, Kevin and I specifically targeted finding a couple of night’s accommodation in this area so we could take a […]
- Scotland – Inveraray to ElginAugust 18, 2015Tuesday, August 18th by Kevin Last Breakfast at The Thistle House Guest House We were up early to get a start on a very busy day. Tucked in our breakfast, managed to haul all our bags, which had grown precipitously since leaving the QM2, down the steep stairways to the car without incident. Both of us were anxious to get going and leave some time to get to our first destination of the day, the […]
- Scotland – Last Day in InverarayAugust 17, 2015Hello again! We hope these posts continue to hold your interest. It’s been well over a month since our trip ended but we still have more than a week’s worth of travels to write about. By reading comments or asking questions on these posts, for the most part, is the only way we know whether or not anyone is continuing to read these. We’re also still looking for feedback that we can incorporate […]
- Scotland – Trip to Oban Part 2August 16, 2015Scotland – Trip to Oban As promised, the continuation of our journey to Oban. We won’t subject you all to the tedium of reading about the rest of the day as written by the two of us. From here on, it’s all Steven’s doing. You can refresh your memory on the route we took by taking a quick look once again at the map on our last post by clicking here. by Steven – […]
- Scotland – Trip to Oban Part 1August 16, 2015Both of us started writing up this next section of the trip not knowing that the other had already begun. Since a fair amount of it was double-written already, we thought we would include both to show how we each experienced the day a little differently even though we were together throughout. Feel free to read both, either or any combination thereof. In the text below, Steven will be on the left […]
- Scotland – Inveraray CastleAugust 15, 2015Saturday morning, Aug. 15th by Kevin (and some by Steven) – We ambled down to breakfast at Thistle House. The room is bright and clean with yellow walls, white trim, and white furnishings…and we were the only ones there. It was a little odd being the only ones there for a while, but soon enough another couple came in said hello in some heavy accent and sat down turning to talk to each […]
- Out of the Blue – Partie DeuxAugust 15, 2015A quick ride home and on to a 2nd dinner at Out of the Blue Bistro! The countryside of Argyll is spectacular. After lunch we headed back to Thistle House for a rest and perhaps even a nap. We had arrangements to go back to Out of the Blue to meet the owner and talk with Noel, the chef, to get some background about him the bistro for this blog – and, of course, have another wonderful dinner. Our […]
- Scotland – Out of the Blue BistroAugust 14, 201514 August by Kevin – Friday evening at Thistle House and the Out of the Blue Bistro In our last post we said there would be more about Out of the Blue Bistro. So here it is. At the B&B we stayed, Thistle House Guest House, there is a binder with recommended places to see and where to eat. Jennifer, the proprietor, said later that she had personally checked out every place mentioned and […]
- UK – Onward to ScotlandAugust 13, 2015By Steven – Thursday, 13 August What a lovely visit we had in York with Linda, Kate and Bill! But now it’s time to move along. Our next stop is Glasgow. With our “goodbyes” to Bill and their lovely daughters, Kate took us to the train station with one more scenic stop along the way at Sledmere House (http://www.sledmerehouse.com). No time to go in or thoroughly explore the grounds. It all […]
- UK – Back on Terra FirmaAugust 11, 2015Southampton to York by Kevin – Landing day and disembarking from the QM2 went pretty smoothly, except for the 15 min or so delay due to an issue at the dock (we never found out what that was). My colleague and friend, Karen and her husband Digby met us at the ship and off we were to a very quick visit that involved the New Forest and our first tea on the island. The New Forest isn’t […]
- QM2 – Ship PhotosAugust 10, 2015By Steven – Let’s have a tour of the ship, shall we? Here are a few shots from around the ship. Most are from embarkation day, but others throughout the voyage. I’ll start with these from near the bow of the ship. Any guesses at to what these are? [David and Tony – no fair for you to guess, you should already know!] Here are some other random day-time shots- On the second […]
- QM2 – Life At SeaAugust 10, 2015By Steven So, we’ve already covered our departure from New York and the food aboard. But we haven’t talked much about the day-to-day life and activities on board the ship. I’ll try to keep this as brief as I can to cover the six days on the ocean in one post – partly as that’s all there is to say and partly because we want to move on to writing about our time in England and Scotland. I’m writing […]
- QM2 – Food & DrinkAugust 10, 2015by Kevin – It’s easier to disdain than it is to be fair. After several days at sea, it’s become far harder to step back and put in perspective the many meals, service, and general impressions of our culinary adventures on the QM2. One caveat: we’ve had little interaction with Britannia food options, other than the Kings Court on odd hours when we were starving with only very few options […]
- QM2 – Verrazzano BridgeAugust 4, 2015by Steven – Here’s a video I forgot to post earlier. This is as the ship passes under the Verrazzano Bridge as we leave New York. We clear by only a few feet. Fortunately the ship was specifically designed with this bridge in mind. ARVE Error: Mode: Normal is invalid or not supported. Note that you will need the Pro Addon activated for modes other than normal. […]
- Day 4 – QM2 Embarkation DayAugust 4, 20154 August 2014 New York and Brooklyn by Kevin – Embarkation – Caught cab a little after 11am going speedily across town to the FDR where we encountered traffic due to a stalled car and road work. Made it just after Noon to the docks. Seeing the Queen for the first time as we crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge was memorable. She is a massive ship, still-looking, tethered to the pier, […]
- Day 3 – New York CityAugust 3, 20153 August 2014 by Stacie – As I’ve gotten older I’ve decided that life is about memories, it’s up to you to make those memories whenever you can. I decided what better way to make some is to meet my dear uncles for their brief stay in NYC. I took a 6am train from Richmond to NYC on Sunday, met them at Penn station and the fun began!1 Getting to meet up with Jerry, Charmaine […]
- Day 2 – New YorkAugust 3, 20152 August 2015 by Steven (edits by Kevin) So, just so you know, we haven’t been entirely diligent about getting these posts written. We’re actually on Day 5 (9 August) of the QM2 crossing and I’m just now getting around to writing about our couple of days in New York. It took some time just to get the 100’s of photos collected from our various devices, sorted, selected and edited. And, of course, […]
- Day 1 – Seattle to New YorkAugust 1, 20151 August 2015 Day 1 – Seattle to New York via San Francisco by Steven Wow! After over a year of planning and anticipation, this day has finally come – we leave on our biggest vacation yet. It’s hard to believe this is actually happening! To be honest, we’ve been talking about a transatlantic trip for many years but one thing or another intruded on our plans. A little background: our dear friends […]