Subject: Re: Alaska - Cruise - First Timers
Hi Dave,

Like you, we had done a fair amount of travelling but had never taken a cruise. In late October we took the cruise of a lifetime - 6 nights transAtlantic crossing on the QE2 - which we had won at a travel function. We had 3 nights in London, sailed Southampton to NYC, 3 nights in NYC and then had 10 wonderful days in Seattle with our daughter and her US husband. We did our round world trip on VERY budget. When we arrived at the QE2 we were told there had been a cabin change and found we had been upgraded to Deck One with dining in Queen's Grill, which is the top dining, and formal for evening. There was no way we had been able to afford a new wardrobe!!

It turned out that only 4 nights were designated formal, and 2 were semi-formal. John had taken his tux and wore it mostly, but wore his dark navy suit a couple of nights anyway. And I did the basic black with variations. Either long black skirt or black crepe pants. Black sleeveless top with plain coloured classic shirt worn undone as a jacket, or coloured sleeveless top worn under black crepe blazer. For the dressiest night - with the Captain's Cocktail Reception before dinner - I had taken a light lacy black cardigan style jacket, but would have felt just as OK without that option. We dined each night with 2 other couples, both quite wealthy, and the women were dressed beautifully but quite classic. I didn't feel one bit out of place in my modest outfits! Mind you, there were a lot of women in quite elaborate evening clothes, but I was dressed just as appropriately in my basics!

So - I agree that your wife's black with pearls would be superb. We girls have a thing about being seen in the same thing twice - but I wonder if anyone else really notices, and what does it matter anyway! Just go and make the most of your wonderful time!

On the ship, apart from the most wonderful dining there was so much we could do. We attended lectures (including Fred Astaire's daughter which thrilled me being a dancer in my earlier days), movies, concerts and went for walks around the deck. You could be as busy as you chose or as slack as you chose, as active or as inactive, join in with organised stuff or just do your own thing. I imagine that any other cruise would be the same. Lots of people seemed to just sit in the lounges reading or playing cards or scrabble! And there was always someone who was on for a chat, if you like meeting people!

Don't know if other cruises are similar, but our disembarkation at NYC was very simple. They collected our baggage from outside the cabin during the night. The QE2 docked at 7am, but we had our leisurely a la carte breakfast and almost ambled off the ship, I think at about 9am. But it was all very organised

We flew into and out of Vancouver in order to visit our kids in Seattle. Vancouver airport is very straightforward to get to, so I believe you've allowed ample time to catch your flight. I would check with the cruise people if 8am is docking and what time is actual disembarkation, but you should have comfortable time. No doubt there will be buses direct from the dock to the airport. We allowed 2 hours check-in (for an international flight) and had heaps of time. Even security queues flowed well so we had no moments of panic anywhere (flew Brisbane, Hong Kong, London. NYC, Vancouver. then after Seattle flew Vancouver, Hong Kong, Brisbane)

We've decided that if we ever have the opportunity to take another cruise it would be Alaska or the Fjords!

Enjoy every minute of your planning, preparation and of course your trip itself.

Cheers, Margot (and John) from Gold Coast, Australia