We are taking the plunge! Cunard has an Eastbound transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary 2, sailing from New York to Southampton on Monday, January 3rd. That’s two weeks from the moment I’m writing this article! We have booked a balcony cabin. What are the less than obvious things we will be packing?
15 Things to Bring
You might question the logic of sailing into England as quarantine restrictions get stricter and stricter. Our plan is to sail over, take the ship to airport Cunard transfer bus, check in for our flight and fly back home. We learned the UK government will consider us “in transit passengers” as if we were simply changing planes at Heathrow. No quarantine period. Let’s hope that doesn’t change.
- Get the tuxedo pants let out. Like many of us, I’ve added “the COVID 19” or the extra pounds I gained during lockdown. Thanks to stretchy pants, it’s not immediately obvious on a day to day basis. Put on trousers you haven’t worn since January 2020 and the problem becomes apparent. I’ll be at the tailor later this week.
- Vaccination card. The folks at the pier will likely want to see this before we are let anywhere near the gangway. The COVID test results will likely come through as a text on the SmartPhone.
- Bring my wax jacket. Maybe I’ll bring the trench coat instead. We don’t anticipate using our balcony much, since the only thing colder than the Atlantic in January is when there’s a 25 mph breeze as the ship sails eastward. We will want to at least step outside.
- Don’t forget the hat, gloves and scarf. We will be transferring to the airport. This implies “hurry up and wait” in less than heated conditions. We will want to bundle up.
- Pack fine wine. Cunard lets you bring a little wine to enjoy in the dining room of your cabin. The dining room corkage charge is modest. It’s a great way to enjoy fine wine in an elegant setting that’s nearly impossible to recreate at home.
- Bring $ 100+ in dollars. Maybe $200. We will want to tip the stevedores who take our bags from us and get them loaded onto the ship. We are fans of “little white envelopes” as an additional tip for crew members who look after us. We bring small bills.
- Bring the British travel wallet. It contains the GBP pounds we keep on hand. We might need to tip when our luggage is taken off the bus at Heathrow Terminal 3. On the positive side, we might top up our wallets since the GBP is about $ 1.32.
- Pack “last chance” underwear. Friends taught us this strategy years ago. Pack the sets with only a few wearings left. Toss them in the trash after use. It gives you more room in your luggage.
- Bubble wrap bottle carriers. It’s tempting to buy the duty free scotch onboard. Since it’s highly unlikely we could carry it through security, the bubble wrap cushions the bottle(s) when it’s packed in our luggage.
- Amex travel insurance. What’s the American Express saying? “Don’t leave home without it?” We buy the health insurance. It provides coverage for a large dollar amount. We hope we never need it.
- List of passwords. Ever find yourself locked out of a website? Of course you have! It’s tough being away from my desk and forgetting passwords. I keep a list in my jacket pocket, alongside my passport. I don’t pack it for obvious reasons. The only thing worse than having your luggage go missing is knowing all your passwords are inside.
- Charging cables. We need to keep the iPhone and iPad charged up, otherwise I won’t be taking many pictures or wending many e-mails.
- Gym wear. I’m optimistic I will get to the gym. This comes with its set of challenges, since the gym is far forward on a high deck. If the ship is moving, you feel it. If you are working out with dumbbells you are reminded of Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.”
- Boxes of chocolates. We bring a few half pound boxes of truffles from our local chocolatier. I’m optimistic we will see some officers and crew we encountered on previous voyages. The boxes are helpful at the airport too.
- Extra reading glasses. If I don’t bring these, I’ll break or lose the only pair I brought on the trip.
Things I won’t be packing
There are a few things we won’t need crossing the Atlantic in January.
- Sunglasses. The sun will be shining, but I don’t think we’ll be out on deck that much.
- Seasickness pills. I’ll be optimistic. If I need them, they are inexpensive onboard.
- Maps. We aren’t driving anywhere in England and I’m confident the Captain knows the way to Southampton.
Obviously we will be bringing facemasks, although I’m confident the ship will have an ample supply too.
Really looking forward to this!