Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 1

If you’ve been a client or fan of UNIGLOBE Carefree Travel Group for a while you may have met or at least heard of Ed Buchholz, the former owner of our agency.  Although Ed is now retired he still pops in from time to time and is still travelling as much as he can.  We’ll be sharing his blogs from his cruise from London to New York.

Pre-Cruise Events:

Prior to boarding the Silversea Whisper cruise from London to New York, I wanted to talk a little bit about our flights, transfers, hotel and Greenwich visit before delving into our cruise experiences.

We flew to London Gatwick aboard WestJet’s new 787 Dreamliner from Calgary.  I must admit that the aircraft is very comfortable even in Economy class.  The seat pitch is adequate, the seats relatively comfortable even for our 7 hour flight and the entertainment system top-notch.  I was surprised that they offered complimentary supper (including wine) with 2 choices and in the morning a continental breakfast.  Now if our flight attendant had been a bit more friendly and offered a smile anytime during the flight, it might have been exceptional.

We had booked a transfer upon arrival in London Gatwick to our hotel in Greenwich, which is where our cruise is leaving from.  We chose a company called Onward Travel Solutions based on price and client reviews.  Our driver was not waiting with a sign with our name on it when we arrived after clearing passport control and customs (a very simple and easy process).  I noticed on my phone a missed call and a voicemail message.  Reluctant to use my phone to call back because we have no International Plan, we just waited a bit until finally I called the number (our driver), and was advised that he was 5 or so minutes away and would be there shortly.  After he tracked us down, off we went in a very nice and perfectly clean Mercedes sedan.  The driver was very apologetic about not being there and even offered to pay for my cell call to him but I advised him not to worry about it.  The drive was a little over an hour long and he did a great job of getting us there without any issues, very knowledgeable and friendly.  Upon arrival, I went to tip the driver, but he wouldn’t accept it again apologizing for not having been at the airport.

Our hotel Ibis Greenwich, was a great disappointment.  Not inexpensive at over $200CAD per night, the hallways are dingy and very dirty.  Thankfully our room is clean, albeit basic.  The lack of towels, room amenities and view were made up by being very centrally located and easy walking distance to the historic sites and the pier where we were supposed to board the ship.  More on that later!

There is a surprising number of lovely sights to see in Greenwich and kept us busy for the day and a half we stayed there.

  • Old Royal Naval College: This is Sir Christopher Wren’s riverside masterpiece, a British landmark that has been used for many movies including Les Miserable.   It is on the original site of the Greenwich Palace from 1498-1694 which was the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I but fell into disrepair during the English Civil War and was subsequently demolished, making room for the Royal Hospital for Seamen between 1694-1869.  Between 1873-1998, it was the Royal Navy College used to train officers.    Nearly 27,000 officers and WRNS passed through this “University of the Navy” during WWII alone.  Today it is home to the University of Greenwich and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, as well as a popular tourist site.

Inside the buildings are a lovely chapel, the Skittle Alley (2 lane antique bowling alley created in 1860’s where the bowling balls are practice cannon balls and the lanes made with decking planks of ships) and then, accessible by a tunnel between the 2 buildings, Painted Hall knows as the Sistine Chapel of London.

  • Royal Observatory: It was commissioned by Charles II in 1675 and the position of “Astronomer Royal” was created to serve as the director of the observatory.  It was designed by Christopher Wren and became the first purpose-built facility in Britain at a cost of 520 Pounds.  The main purpose of the Observatory was to measure and monitor time and the most famous aspect of the Observatory comes from this purpose – The Prime Meridian.  At 0 degrees longitude, the Greenwich Meridian marks the point where all time around the world is measured.  The Prime Meridian was established in 1851 and gained international use in 1884.  The stainless steel strip we are standing on marks the line between East and West.  The red ball in the pictures drops daily at 1:00PM so people could synchronize their clocks to Greenwich Mean Time.
  • The Queen’s House: A formal royal residence dating from around 1619, it was designed for Anne of Denmark, the queen of King James I and was later altered for queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I, hence the name of the house.  The view of the river from The Queen’s House is actually a protected view and explains why Christopher Wren’s Naval College (which stands between The Queen’s House and the Thames) is made up of two identical buildings that are not connected to each other.  Wren was given specific instructions not to impede the view of the Thames from the Queen’s House, which meant he couldn’t connect the two wings of the College.
  • The Greenwich Foot Tunnel: This tunnel was designed for the dock-men who worked and lived on different sides of the Thames, was opened an August 4, 1902, replacing an earlier and more expensive ferry service.  The entrance shafts at both ends are housed underneath domed enclosures and access is by stairs or elevator.  The tunnel itself is 9 feet wide, 50 feet deep and is 1215 feet long.  The entire tunnel is coated with 200,000 glazed white tiles.  Some great views from the other side.
  • The Cutty Sark: Built in 1869 at a cost of 16,500 Pounds, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and also one of the fastest.  In fact, at one stage in her career, she was thought to be the fastest freight ship in the world.  It was retired in 1954 and has been in dry dock ever since.  Badly damaged by fire in May 2007, the Cutty Sark underwent a 35 million Pound restoration project.

image072

So, we were supposed to embark the ship at Greenwich and that’s why we stayed there.  However, the morning of embarkation, we received an email from Silversea that because of winds and tides, we would be embarking the ship in Tilbury, about an hour away.  Luckily, we had breakfast after receiving the email and we went for a walk to kill some time and there were some Silversea representatives down where we were supposed to drop our luggage.  We found out then that there would be motorcoaches available to take us and our luggage to Tilbury.  Had we not gone for the walk, we would have taken a taxi or an Uber at our own expense to get to where the ship was docked.  We thought the communication about this might have been better.

Getting on the ship:

Embarkation was really easy once we got to the pier.  With about 340 passengers on this cruise, it was very quick and we were welcomed aboard.  Our stateroom is very lovely as you can see by the pictures and we are looking forward to casting off and sailing away to Falmouth, England as our first port of call.  More on that to come!

Colleen’s Holland America Holiday To Alaska – Part 4

70856741_2647297828826712_6139451575476682752_n

Today was the best day so far! We went to the Dawes glacier on Endicott arm. When we woke up at 8:00am we could already see bergy bits which were the first signs of the glacier.

We were travelling down a fjord with high mountain walls on each side. There were so many waterfalls that I stopped taking photos. It took a couple of hours but we got within 1 mile of the iceberg before we had to stop.  The iceberg is such a pretty colour of blue and so many larger pieces are just floating out in front. Here is another reason we are happy to have a balcony as we alternate between being outside on the veranda and then back inside to warm up.

It is really something to see. We are told that this is much nicer than Glacier Bay and we are the only ship out there. We sat for about an hour and a half to watch the iceberg. The ship swings around in 360 so all the balconies can see the glacier.  HAL serves up hot pea soup to those of use outside along with coffee and Baileys. We grabbed a bowl and then returned to our balcony to take in the sites. It’s great to have a warm blanket.   At the end of the day we left the fjord and headed down to Ketchikan; our next stop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Get Social With us @UniglobeCarefree on Facebook and @uniglobeYXE on Instagram and Twitter

Colleen’s Holland America Holiday To Alaska – Part 3

We have been on sailing for a couple of days now and are really enjoying our trip.  So far we have been to both Juneau and Skagway.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At both places Holland America has had the closest berth to town. Basically, we got off of the ship and in less than 5 mins we are in the towns. Both are like small mining towns with a lot of shopping and restaurants. The beauty of being the last cruise of the season is that everything is on SALE!  Some of the jewelry is at 50 – 70 % off and clothing the same.  In talking to people on the ship the best tour in Juneau was the whale watching and in Skagway it was the train. When in Juneau check out the Alaskan Bar and the Alaskan brewing company. They have a tour to the brewery that we took and it was great. In Skagway we spent the day shopping.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next up we’re off to see some glaciers!

Loving what you’re reading?  Take advantage of our exclusive Holland America sale on now to October 3rd, 2019.

Experience the Sandals & Beaches Resorts of Jamaica With Casie – Part 1

Hello from Jamaica! I just spent three nights at Beaches Ocho Rios and this is a resort every family needs to experience!

Pirate Island Water Park is fun for the whole family! It features eleven water slides including six kiddie slides allowing youngest guests to slip n slide their way into an unforgettable Caribbean vacation. This water park also includes a Treasure Isle Aqua-Play area and a kids zero entry kiddie pool. Kids even have the option to relax in their own lounger! Every Monday night there is a tweens and teens pool party!

71240244_2485814084805212_1694115928255496192_n

How cool would it be to get tucked into bed by Grover? That’s an option at Beaches Resorts! For an additional cost you can arrange a Sesame character to come read your kid a bedtime story and tuck them in. Mom and dad will have a tough time topping that experience!

71234639_2266507876793246_6059616019003998208_n

Beaches Resorts is the first resort company in the world to complete the IBCCES training and autism certification. They offer families with children (and adults) who have autism and other special needs specialized service, engaging activities and custom dining options. They have introduced a new Sesame Street character, Julia, who is a 4 year old with autism. She is there to remind other children that every child is special. Julia and her leader teach children that kids with autism don’t like loud noises and sometimes don’t reply but understand what is going on.

71119192_2361153537471652_6000867553658798080_n

 

When Beaches says they’re the resort for everyone they really mean it! Next on my adventure is Sandals!

Colleen’s Holland America Holiday To Alaska – Part 2

It is our first day at sea and we have spent time last night deciding what to do.  HAL has the navigator app which I downloaded before I left home and now that I’m on the ship I can’t get the app to work. Has that ever happened to you?  Zam to the rescue again!  He sends me down to the internet desk where they have two people to help me get my app sorted and on my way. Another excellent service here on Holland America’s ship. Usually you have to figure it out on your own or just forget about it.  Having such great room stewards is like having friends that have been to a destination a hundred times and tell you all the things you need to know.  We spend part of the day exploring the ship and it is beautiful.  I can’t get over the attention to detail and the art on every deck.  The entertainment is great.  There is dueling pianos, BB Kings and the Lincoln Arts Center when you are in need of a little classical.  They also have nightly shows and for you late birds they have a casino.  We have also rooted out the vast salad bar on the Lido deck.  Well not so much rooted as Zam told us about it.   It is now our lunch of choice.  There is so much to do we have little down time and are looking forward to our first port Juneau.

If a Holland America cruise sounds like your idea of a great time check out our exclusive sale – on until October 3rd, 2019.

Uniglobe Basebar

Colleen’s Holland America Holiday To Alaska – Part 1

Hello from Vancouver.  My Mom and I are taking a 7 day Alaskan Cruise aboard the Holland America Westerdam. We decided to come to Vancouver the day before to make sure we didn’t miss the cruise.  We stayed at the Listel Hotel which is on Robson.  I like this small hotel as it easy to get around and I love that they have free water; both still and sparkling.  The wine social in the lobby from 5 – 6 also doesn’t hurt.   While at the Listel we got out for a walk to buy water and pop for our trip as it is very expensive on the ship.

70894514_10156684546615897_5530805583797551104_n

I brought an extra bag and luggage tag to carry the water and pop and will leave that at the luggage drop.  It is pouring rain so we took a cab and he droped us in the parking garage right next to the luggage drop.  Because there are 3 ships going out today, it is crazy and took us 2.5 hours to get on the ship.  Once that was all behind us we boarded and made our way to our cabin.  We are in cabin 5163 and it is a beautiful cabin with a balcony. It seems small but has everything you need – Holland America has thought of everything. The room comes with hair dryer, bath robes and a basket of fruit filled daily.   There’s even 24 hour room service! Mom and I plan to have breakfast in our room daily.  There is lots of space and our suitcases fit under the beds.  Our room stewards are Zam and Moe and they came to welcome us on board.  As we are unpacked I realized that I had left my charger at the hotel. A quick call to the hotel and they have mailed it home and I ask Zam if they sell chargers on the ship.  He tells me no problem and 10 mins later comes back with a charger from his cabin mate for me to use for the duration of the cruise. I now start to realize the level of service we can expect with Holland America.  It has been a long day so we are headed up to the Lido buffet for super.  Soon we’ll leave Vancouver and so begins our Alaskan adventure.

TRAVEL TIP – How to Take the Perfect Jumping Photo

Cordell Costa Rica 1

We’re big fans of having fun while we explore the world and a part of that is sharing our experiences in creative and exciting ways.

Have you ever glanced at someone’s travel photos and thought “how did they manage to jump so high and catch it on camera?”   Well you’re in luck!  We have the secret to mastering the perfect jumping photo and we are here to share it with you.

  1. Make sure you jump off of something that has the horizon in the background.

  2. Take a video!  NOT a photo.  When you take a video you can flip through the frames and find the best one and take a screen shot.

  3. Make sure your videographer is low to the ground.  It creates the illusion that you are really high in the air.

Another good pointer is to bend those knees!  This will create the illusion of being higher in the air than you are.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Tuesday Travel Tip.    Please feel free to follow us on social media to see more of our personal travel photos and videos.

Follow us on Instagram

Like us on Facebook

Watch our Videos