The Beautiful Canadian Rockies: Part 3 (Photos)

For the third installment of this rather amazing collection of photos I’m going to share the bear essentials (…ha?). Prepare yourself for a selection of decent pictures, that didn’t end up being blurry or just plain obscure, in which I hope you can enjoy. On our journey through the Rockies, we were lucky enough to witness 15 bears – 3 grizzlies and 12 black bears, including one cub. Not all of these bears were captured with decent pictures or video, though. There’s definitely a bear behind that berry bush, trust me.

Alexander Jones

P.S. If you’d like to use my photos for any reason, please contact me first!

 

The Beautiful Canadian Rockies: Part 2 (Photos)

Here is the second part of my Canadian Rockies photo collection. I’ve uploaded all of my photos to my computer and guess how many I took – over 1600. That’s a lot of photos, so luckily I’m only going to share the highlights in these blog posts. As I stated in my last post, I really hope you can appreciate the natural beauty that the Rockies have to offer.

Alexander Jones

The Beautiful Canadian Rockies: Part 1 (Photos)

Here is a collection of photos I took on my Canon DSLR in the Canadian Rockies, August 11-26th. Some shots aren’t that focused (I’m an aspiring amateur), but I hope you can appreciate the magnificent beauty – that I still can’t really comprehend – that is very much REAL.

Much more photos to come!

Alexander Jones

 

The Transatlantic Crossing Featuring the Odd Mishap and Glass of Champagne

Intro (warning: long):

Before I begin discussing the actual crossing itself, I just wanted to debrief my rather bumpy journey of travelling to New York from Wales to meet my family. I was to travel alone (which I have never done before) to Gatwick airport from Newport, and get a flight to New York City. The trip started badly with the coaches being late, which made me panic to if I was going to actually make it on the flight, 3 and a half hours later I was at the airport. I was transferred at Heathrow onto another coach with National Express to take me to Gatwick. It’s relatively simple to navigate to the right terminals and such, although I can see how people can get overwhelmed by all the signs and long corridors. I was flying with Norwegian Airline who had a weird method of check-in, it was all computerised with a few not-so-helpful attendants walking about making little effort to help people. When I asked questions one man simply replied with a “deal with it” attitude. Sadly I bumped into this man later on at the worst moment of my journey. Everything was going fine after the check-in, I had a couple hours to spare so I decided to wander around the shops, then I settled at one of the restaurants to have food until it was time to get on the plane. This is when it went bad. Partly my families’ fault, but it wasn’t helped by the less-than-helpful staff. So I queue up ready to get into the waiting area to board the plane, boarding pass and passport in hand (pretty pleased with myself with getting this far), turns out you also need proof that you’re returning to the UK and not just taking asylum in the US. Panic attack. Rang my parents for guidance, I hadn’t got any cruise documents on me at all to prove I was coming home via transatlantic crossing. I asked the staff several times to help and chat to my dad about it over the phone and they refused even when it was quiet. It’s as though they had no respect for customer service at all! Why wouldn’t they help me considering they’d have to delay the flight to get my luggage off if I couldn’t board, pretty silly if you ask me. We had booked with Iglu for this crossing, and funnily enough none of their numbers worked, and I was running out of time to board. The queue became non-existent soon after and my final call was to Cunard directly. After getting past the robot woman who only slowed me down considerably I got talking to a real lady. Without even booking through Cunard they were able to find a receipt of my booking and send it over via email, I was saved! Panic over and I was soon after sitting on the plane preparing for the next 7 hours. I just wanted to compare the lazy and inconsiderate service of Norwegian Airline to the very good service from Cunard, who luckily guaranteed I’d get on board their grand ship. Several hours later and a taxi ride to the hotel, I was relaxing in New York City, ready for our transatlantic crossing aboard the Queen Mary 2.

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The Queen Mary 2 is still a magnificent ship to look at. From the drive down to the port my family and I were eager to peek out the window and watch in awe at the lovely white, grey and red ship. This was my third time on the QM2, and after being on a few larger ships such as the Independence of the Seas and Celebrity Eclipse, it did appear smaller. Not that it took anything positive away from the experience. Personally I find that the Queen Mary 2 is just about the right size, not too big like the massive Oasis or Allure of the Seas, and not too small like the Thomson Destiny (past cruise). From the moment you step on board you are greeted by friendly staff who are eager to make you satisfied. On Celebrity it’s common to be offered champagne or orange juice upon entering the ship, which I noticed was lacking from this particular Cunard embarkation, however it was made up by the free sparkling wine that was left in our rooms. From the inside I didn’t really notice any signs of age, not unless I focused on tiny details which would have been too picky. Yes it doesn’t look as flashy as more contemporary cruise ships but that’s what happens when you have thousands of people on and off continually. The exterior of the ship was less polished and I did notice the occasional pocket of rust but it wasn’t too bad, there were crew fixing it up as we walked round the promenade deck.

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My little brother and myself had an inside window cabin, so we were overlooking the main lobby. It was a surprise at first but I found it made the room feel more open compared to a normal inside cabin. That was until we kept seeing our neighbors directly in line with the window peering into our private space and decided to close the blinds the majority of the time. Still, a very nice and suitable cabin, nothing too fancy but more than adequate for the crossing. I always say that you don’t need the fanciest accommodation on a cruise or transatlantic crossing because you’ll spend most of your time out and about doing activities! Just a quick mention: if you haven’t been on a cruise before it’s good to note they do supply shampoo and conditioner but it’s not a lot and you should always bring your own. Don’t worry about towels.

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The main reason I wanted to come on this holiday was for the food. It didn’t disappoint either; great selection of meals at the main Britannia Restaurant, less so at Kings Court buffet. We only missed two nights at the main dining, the first and the third, every other night we spent in there was great. The staff were very quick taking orders, serving bread and water, and were always polite. It was superb Cunard standard. The Kings Court Buffet was a little different. After enjoying the freedom of selecting foods from all around the world on the Celebrity ships it was a little disappointing eating in Cunard’s very limited Kings Court. The food was still of decent quality and I did enjoy eating there, it was just a bit sad not having the same variety of foods to select from.

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As a 20 year old young adult, you’re not really well suited for a Cunard cruise. You can’t pop down the Teen Zone to make new friends and you don’t quite fit in with the older generation. There are events targeted at my age going up to 35 but I didn’t bother because I had tried something similar before and nobody turned up. I decided I’d do my own thing as well as join my parents. The actual activities on board are quite various. You could take part in a number of different activities out on deck playing games or inside the Golden Lion Pub taking part in the quiz (we did this a lot) for example. You shouldn’t really get bored, there’s actually too many events going on in a day that you can’t attend them all! On this crossing we mostly joined the guest speakers (Lord and Lady Howard (Former head for Conservative Party, Derek Tedder – broadcast journalist) who were exceptional, completed as many pub quiz’s as humanely possible, visited the planetarium, sunbathed and swam in the pool, watched several theatre performances as well as use the spa. Overall I’d say we made the most of our time on board the QM2.

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Cunard didn’t disappoint with its high-end service and my family and I are definitely going to use them again. There are small signs of aging, and this is emphasised when you’ve recently been on a more contemporary cruise-line, but nothing quite compares with the elegance and sophistication of Cunard’s masquerade parties in the Ballroom and exceptional dining in the main restaurant. Hopefully we’ll see the Queen Mary 2 again soon.

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Excited for The Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic Crossing

The largest, and last ocean liner to sail the oceans of the world: Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary 2. In just over two weeks I will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean once again aboard this wonderfully elegant ship. The last time I traveled the same journey was about 7 to 8 years ago, so it’s been quite a while.

I’m really excited to make the same crossing, although I won’t have much time to explore New York again, I’ll still have 7 relaxing days on the Queen Mary 2 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Technically this trip isn’t a cruise, however the ship provides almost exactly all the same features that any other cruise ship does. For example; unlimited food, spa and gym, theatre entertainment, pools and jacuzzis, it’s all there.

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Of course all I care about is the unlimited food though. I mean, there’s a 24 hour buffet called King’s Court that offers all kinds of food including Indian, Italian, British carvery and of course American burgers. You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in a number of places; your bedroom with room service, King’s Court, the Britannia restaurant (which is amazing) or English Todd which looks great but I am yet to try. Usually I’d totally pig out every day and just pick everything I wanted to eat, even if it contained like 1000 calories, but this time round I’m going to have to be a little stricter with myself if I don’t want to put 5 stone on before I come back home.

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On a typical cruise you’d end up in a new city, and possibly a new country every morning which is bizarre but great. This isn’t going to be like that, with a whole week on a ship it probably sounds boring but you’d be surprised by how many events take place. There’s so much to do that I often feel overwhelmed and sad when I can’t get everything done in the day.

Well hopefully I’ll get as much done as I possibly can this time round as well as stuff my face with some great food!

Alexander Jones