Welcome to our 50th Milestone cruise!
At the 50th Milestone, guests are entitled to a free 12-day cruise in a
stateroom or penthouse. We are two cruises short of getting a free
penthouse (we needed just two more to qualify). It is possible to
"bank" Milestones for future use, which would probably be the most
economical use of the freebie in this case because the fares for this cruise
are quite low (for Crystal). However, Crystal can withdraw this option
at any time and we do not anticipate cruising with Crystal in the near
future. So, we feel it is in our best interest to use up the free
Regardless of whether or not we use our credit, we are still
supposed to receive a private recognition dinner with the captain and
various other things, all of which remain to be seen. We don't know
many of the officers anymore and the captain is new, so we're not overly
excited about the dinner aspect of it. However, we won't turn it down
either. We do have to report on what we get, after all.
29, 2013: Dave sent an email to our travel agent today explaining
what we are trying to do with this booking. That is, we want to find
out the cost of using the free 12-day cruise credit toward a Category B
Stateroom on Deck 8 vs. putting it toward a Penthouse. As best as we
can figure, a stateroom should end up costing us around $1,800 and a
penthouse will be around $8,700 (total, not per person.) There are
many factors that affect the final pricing, so we'll have to wait and see
what Crystal has to say in the end. Since this is most likely our last
Crystal cruise for quite some time, we are leaning toward blowing the bank
on a penthouse so we can go out in style. We haven't heard back yet,
so this booking is still up in the air.
January 6, 2014: The
word from our travel agent is that Crystal requires us to book and put down
a deposit on a penthouse before they will request that the Milestone credit
be applied. In other words, there is no way to figure out the final
price without actually booking first. Whatever, we went ahead and put
down the deposit on a penthouse figuring we can always downgrade later if
the final price isn't acceptable. She told us that it would be a
couple of days before she gets any additional information because, "You know
how Crystal is." Yes, unfortunately, we do know how the L.A. office
operates. Thank goodness that the ships are the polar opposite. By the way,
she was appalled that Crystal, "Showed you the door," (her words) by not
sending us anything for Christmas.
January 10, 2014: We were
charged a 20% deposit on the full penthouse fare ($3,292.00) within minutes
of the conversation with our travel agent earlier this week (charge came
from Crystal, not the TA), but still no word on applying our Milestone
January 20, 2014: Still waiting for information from
Crystal about the Milestone credit. How hard can this be?
30, 2014: Still waiting.
February 5, 2014: Dave
received a nice birthday present today...it appears that Crystal gave us the
Milestone credit for a Penthouse! We'll stop complaining now.
According to our travel agent, we only owe $584 for our final payment and we
are confirmed in a Penthouse. Good timing on Crystal's part because
Dave just said that since he is now officially a crotchety old man (60), he
was planning to call Crystal himself and start rattling some cages.
February 7, 2014: Crystal wanted $748 per person for their
trip cancellation & medical insurance. We declined and purchased it
from CSA for $558 total.
February 14, 2014: Dave emailed
Crystal to confirm the port of embarkation (Tokyo-Harumi Passenger Terminal)
and received an answer very quickly. They sent our complete booking
information which we hadn't yet received from our travel agent. This
is the first time we have ever received a response to an inquiry, by the
way. Let's hope this is the way it works from now on.
The information also quotes prices for transfers from the airport which
are outrageous: $700 for a private sedan from Narita ($265 from Haneda).
Prices for us to book directly with various companies in Tokyo range from
$250-275. Crystal's transfer by motorcoach is $180. The "Limousine Bus",
which is a regular bus service to major hotels in Tokyo, is around $20.00.
On our previous trip, we booked a private transfer to Narita through the
Japanese travel agency and it was around $400. The driver told us that
is much higher than they would have charged had we booked directly.
Needless to say, we learned our lesson!
It is interesting that the
boarding time is now shown as noon rather than 3:00pm. Boarding has
started at noon for many years, but the ticket always said 3:00pm.
Guests are instructed to arrive no later than 7:00pm. We intend to
leave the hotel at noon and should arrive at the ship by 12:15pm.
February 20, 2014: An email to Crystal today was answered within ten
minutes! Something sure has improved in the L.A. office. This
time we were asking to have our documents prepared and sent to us before we
leave for Japan. The answer was that the tickets for this voyage will
be prepared and sent out around March 4th, which should be plenty of time
for us to receive them from our travel agent. We're not particularly
concerned about this anyway. We know we can board without a ticket and
we already have our booking number. It will be a slight hassle without
the proper paperwork, but it isn't insurmountable.
March 12, 2014:
We scheduled our cruise luggage (one large bag) to be sent via Luggage
Forward to our final hotel in Japan. Cost is $269.00, prepaid by
credit card. We have used this company before with no issues, but we
found the website difficult to use (many errors and re-tries) and might
consider a different company next time. Our travel agent said she
received our cruise documents today and will send them by FedEx tomorrow
March 14, 2014: Our cruise documents arrived today
in one folio. We have always received individual packets in the past.
It isn't a big deal at all, but it is a notable cutback. The new
folios are supposed to double as iPad holders, by the way.
2014: After packing our large bag of only the extra clothes
required for a two-week cruise, we had to upgrade our Luggage Forward rate
to an "oversize" bag for an extra $90.00. Dave was on hold with
Luggage Forward for 45 minutes before being forced to leave a voice-mail
message that was never answered. He sent an email the next morning
that was answered hours later. Although in the end everything was
corrected, this experience doesn't instill confidence in being able to reach
them if there is a real problem. We would try a different company next
April 19, 2014: We received a notice saying our luggage
was delivered...four days after being picked up.
April 20, 2014:
We saw the
ship sail in today, so now we know we are going on a cruise!
Thursday, May 1 - Tokyo,
Japan - Embark Crystal Symphony
Fusing the vitality of a modern metropolis with the stately elegance of
yesteryear, Tokyo is truly unique. From the timeless beauty of the Meiji
Shrine to the glittering Ginza district and impressive Tokyo Tower, this
international giant is a complex blend of East and West. Houses of wood and
paper stand beside towering steel skyscrapers, while kimono-clad women
stroll beside teenagers who have created a fashion all their own.
The timeless Imperial Palace bears testament to Japan's enduring traditions.
Despite encroaching urban development, it continues to exist in a verdant
parkland of isolation.
Images of the vibrant metropolis of Tokyo, which is home to more than 11
million people, will create memories of a lifetime.
Click for weather forecast
We called for a bellman at 11:45 and went down to check out. Our bill for
meals was lower than we expected, around ¥27000,
so we are well within our budget for extras during this trip.
The taxi van was already loaded and ready to go
by the time Dave finished checking out. The driver spoke English and
was very nice. On the way to the port we encountered some sort of
traffic jam and he asked if it is OK to take another route that is a little
longer. What taxi driver in the U.S. would do that? When we
asked when Golden Week starts, he said it doesn't start until next week, so
our timing is pretty good for getting out of here. The alternative if
you must be here during that time is to stay in Tokyo because most Tokyoites
will be leaving to go on vacation or to go to visit friends and family
outside the city. The ride cost ¥3260, including the extra ¥1000 for
requesting a van.
We arrived at the port at 12:30pm. It
seems that everyone else arrived at the same time. The line for the
X-ray bag check in the terminal was very long. Nobody seemed bothered
by it, which is unusual for the Crystal crowd, but we're glad everyone was
patient. It only took so long because people weren't very adept at
getting their bags ready to scan.
When there are few ports the average age of the
passengers ratchets up considerably. There is little evidence of
Crystal's new younger demographic today.
Once past security, we boarded the ship where
our tickets were scanned, then someone escorted us to the Starlite Club to
check in. When we went to check our hand luggage, they told us we
could go directly to our room and don't have to wait until 3:00pm.
We're not sure if that applies to all penthouse rooms or not because many of
them obviously were not yet ready when we went up.
After we checked in, which is very easy when
you do everything online in advance, our picture was taken and we were
handed our ID/keycards. The woman who checked us in took us up to our
We wandered down to the Crystal Dining Room at
1:00pm for lunch. Celso greeted us and seated us by the window just
inside the doors. He has known us forever and is always very gracious.
Muzo served us. We would love to have him as our waiter all the time,
but he said he's at this station for the rest of the cruise. We know
our table is on the other side of the room. We don't have a menu from
lunch because it is too early to get them in advance. Well, the real
reason is that Dave forgot to ask for one as we were leaving the dining
Dave ordered the Filet Mignon, Bill ordered the
Grilled Salmon. We both had the Mixed Greens Salad. The salad
wasn't all that exciting, although it was fine, but both of the entrees were
outstanding. We were surprised by how large the portions are of the
meat and fish. We were prepared to bring a quarter to put next to the
servings for a photo, but everything was what we would consider a normal
restaurant portion. Dave ordered the Sugar Free Chocolate Mousse for
dessert, and it too was delicious. You'd never know it is sugar free.
After lunch we went up to wander around the
Lido Deck. On the way we stopped to look at the new (to us)
Lounge. It looks MUCH better than it used to. Walking across the
Lido Deck we were stopped by three of the deck stewards who wanted to greet
us. We only saw three of them who look familiar, so there has been
quite a bit of turnover since we were here last. What gasses us is
when they call us by name and know who is who when they haven't seen us for
at least two years.
On the way into the new Palm Court, we met one
of our forum members who actually doesn't hate us. Well, most people
on OUR forum don't hate us, but many on "that other one" sure do. We
enjoyed chatting with them and going over some of the escapades of our time
in Japan. They agree that Kamakura is way too crowded these days.
What the heck happened?
Palm Court looks completely
much more elegant or formal depending on your viewpoint. The new decor
changes the whole relaxed feeling it had before. Now it looks like a
funky LA nightclub or trendy hotel lobby. We're not sure that is
necessarily a bad thing though. We're not in love with the high-backed
chairs that block the view out the windows though.
We wandered up to the top deck for our usual
port photos. With only one port for the next fifteen days, don't
expect any more of these. The weather has cleared up and it is bright
and sunny now.
There is a notice about immigration in the
terminal that must be completed by everyone between 4 and 8:00pm. We
were wondering why it wasn't done on the way onto the ship.
Overhearing the conversations around us in the dining room, it would appear
that most people didn't read the very clear instructions about what time to
take care of this requirement.
We went back to the room and our butler, David,
arrived to go over the usual amenities. We chose two bottles of V.O.
as our liquor allotment. That is in addition to two bottles of wine
and one of champagne on ice already in the room. The refrigerator is
stocked with beer and soft drinks. Our preference list is out of date,
so we had to ask him to change out a few things for diet drinks. He
tried to get us to make alternative restaurant reservations, but we're not
all that interested in them this time. Chances are we will be hosted
at one or both of them since it is our 50th cruise, but even if we are not
we probably won't bother to go. We've had enough Japanese food to last
us a while and we aren't big fans of Prego, so why bother?
We received a box of See's chocolates from
Crystal Society and $200 in onboard credit from our travel agent. No
American Express credit this time, but since we didn't pay full price for
the cruise, that is understandable.
It isn't necessary to go to the CU@Sea room to
sign up for internet service anymore. Now a window pops up when you
open a browser, similar to how it works in hotels that charge for internet.
We didn't sign up because there is a notice saying it probably won't
work until we are away from Japan.
Our stewardess, Manju, came by to ask if we
need anything. She seems very pleasant. All we asked for is an
extra box of Kleenex and told her she can bring it tonight. However,
she came back with it in a few minutes. We assured her we will use the
"Make up the Room" signal and that we know how to behave. She knew
from her paperwork how many cruises we have racked up, so she said, "You
have been on more cruises than I have."
At 3:50pm, an announcement was made changing
the time for the immigration inspection to 4:30 - 7:00pm. Earlier
there was a "Code Alpha" call for a stretcher team to go to the library.
The announcements are so loud in our room that both of them scared the crap
out of us! The new doorbell sound is also very loud, so we're prepared
to be startled throughout the cruise.
The new (to us) penthouse
decor is a big
bathroom isn't pastel pink or blue anymore, but an
white. The vessel
sinks take up too much counter
space, but everything looks very nice. One thing that hasn't changed
is our Crystal pet peeve...the
grout in the shower is still moldy.
There are so many pillows on
bed that they are two feet high at the headboard. Maybe a bit of
overkill there. The colors in the room are muted shades of white, gray
and brown. We're glad to see the reddish pink carpet in the hallway has
been replaced with a gray version with white flowers and stems.
After partially unpacking, we went ashore for
immigration at 5:00pm. There was a long line, but it moved quickly.
Not quickly enough for the man behind us who did nothing but complain about
everything that has happened so far. "The rooms are pitifully small,"
he declared. Uh, so you didn't look at a floorplan before you booked
or what? It isn't at all mysterious. Of course, cruising just
isn't what it used to be when, "You could get a suckling pig whenever you
wanted one." Who wants one? He doesn't like Seabourn either.
Only Silversea has come close to meeting his requirements. OK, so why
did you book this cruise in the first place? Oh yeah, it is cheap
because it is a crossing! On the other hand, three sisters behind us
were very friendly and seem like a lot of fun, so it isn't all bad.
The tax-free forms stapled in Dave's passport
freaked out the customs agent. He had to call someone over to look at
it, then he took the paper to someone else for approval. In the
meantime, Dave pointed out that the form he skipped is the same thing and he should have collected it. Bill had no such issues since his was
more straightforward. They took the time to pull the staples out of
We think maybe we accidentally boarded a
Holland America ship. The passengers are much older than usual and
that's saying something for Crystal. There are more walkers and
wheelchairs than we have seen in years. A woman coming back up the
gangway regaled Dave about how she hasn't slept in 48 hours. She was
probably 80 if she's a day. Someone sure should have planned a less
stressful itinerary for someone like that. We will say though, she was
dressed and put together very nicely.
We don't want to get too excited yet, but when
Dave updated the site around 5:50pm the internet actually worked.
And, get this, it was as fast as at home, maybe faster (we have terrible
internet service). Now, we don't expect those
speeds all the time, but since a notice on the sign-on page says internet
isn't likely to be available for the next two days, we've very surprised.
Bill called our butler to pick up our clothes
for pressing. This is a free service for penthouse guests. Our
"good" clothes have been packed for two months, so they're a mess.
Dave reminded him that we need copies of the menus every day. He said
he saw the note in our file and would start putting them on our clip
An announcement was made at 6:30pm reminding
everyone to go into the terminal for immigration clearance and that, "The
wait is minimal," and, "No one is exempt."
The lifeboat drill is at 8:15pm tonight.
We went down a few minutes early to avoid the rush. The drill was a
bit more extensive than in the past, but that may be because our lifeboat commander is the
first officer. Otherwise, there wasn't anything unusual about it.
The captain made an announcement that the
sailing will be a couple of hours late because we are waiting for a late
flight to arrive. Why would anyone fly in the day a cruise departs
when there is no way to catch up at another port? There was a computer
glitch at LAX that caused a ground stop for several hours today that caused
a huge air traffic jam. He also said that it will be rough when we
reach open water because it is very windy.
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual. We
have Assigned Seating - Late Seating (8:30pm) at a table for two, as
always. We're used to eating at 6:00pm lately, so it was tough for us
to hold out until dinner time. We ate most of the fruit in the room so
we didn't faint dead away.
Our table is by a window, which ordinarily we
don't like. However, none of the tables down the middle row are set
up. We later found out from our waiter that there are only 120 guests
with late seating (main seating is full). There are only 550
passengers on this cruise, which is about what we expected for a crossing
with one port.
Our senior waiter is Santhana from India.
He seems like he might be fun to talk to. We don't recognize many of the
dining room staff anymore. All of the sommeliers are new since we were
here last, but we kind of expected that when Crystal went all-inclusive.
We didn't formally meet our waiter.
Click to view the
The menus are set up differently with many new items on the "Modern Cuisine"
page. We applaud the new items, but we don't like that the menu is
split into two sides. We'd prefer they put all of the entrees in one
place, etc., so it isn't so confusing to figure out what to order.
Other than that, we're fine with it.
Dave ordered the Ravioli appetizer, we both had
the Mixed Greens salad, Dave had the Crab Soup, Bill ordered the pasta
course as an appetizer. Dave had the Pan-Seared Halibut main course,
Bill had the Black Angus Filet Steak. The ravioli was very attractive
and we'll give it a lot of credit for being unusual, but the consistency was
gummy and it was way too salty. So, it was almost good, but missed the
mark. Salads were fine, nothing special. The crab soup was
unusual in a good way. The pasta was very good. Both entrees
were outstanding. The halibut in particular was a nice presentation
with an unusual combination of flavors. The only small complaint would
be that it was a bit overcooked. All of the portions were very
generous and what we would consider normal for most people.
For dessert, Dave had the sugar-free Citrus
Delight that was very good and exactly what he had in mind when he ordered
it. It didn't taste sugar-free at all. Dave asked what it is
sweetened with and was told is it Splenda. He doesn't usually like
Splenda and tries to avoid it for a variety of reasons, but the two desserts
he had today were very good. Bill had the Kir Royale sherbet that is
the same as it has always been, which is a good thing.
Celso and Remi stopped by to chat for a minute.
Our sommelier is fun. She kept trying to refill our glasses because
there are so few guests she doesn't have anything to do. The
wines tonight are a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were OK, but
we wouldn't make a point of ordering either of them.
The welcome show is at 10:15pm tonight. The first short production
was a number from "Hairspray" we haven't seen before, but the finale was
"Grand Hotel" that we must have seen at least 50 times. The dance
instructors did a number in the middle that was fine. Otherwise it was
just the cruise director, Paul McFarland, telling a few jokes and saying the
same things cruise directors always say. Nothing wrong with that, just
saying we didn't learn anything new and exciting.
By the way, drinks are no longer served after the show begins, but there
are waiters there to take orders beforehand, as usual.
The ship sailed at 10:30pm, so we rushed up to the upper deck as soon as
the show ended. To say that a night sailing from Tokyo is spectacular
doesn't do it justice. It is truly amazing. There were only a
handful of guests outside to see it which is a real shame.
We received a small box of specialty chocolates in the room. We
have had these before. They are replenished as you consume them.
They replaced the pillow chocolates in the penthouses years ago. As
far as we know, staterooms don't get turn-down chocolates anymore.
We move one hour ahead on the clock tonight.
We might as well get used to this since we have a long way to go to catch up
with Pacific Time!
Friday, May 2 - Cruising the Pacific Ocean
It was never rough overnight. There is some rolling from the wind, but
nothing out of the ordinary for sailing in the open ocean. The weather
this morning is very nice...slightly overcast and 68 degrees. It is
still windy, but the gentle rolling has been consistent, not a problem at
Click for TODAY'S
ACTIVITIES. Click for an example of the ship's
We dawdled around and didn't make it to breakfast, so we went to
the Late Riser's Breakfast at the Trident Grill at 10:00am. Service
from the Lido guys is always very friendly. We're amazed that they
remember our names and when they saw us last, even if it was years ago.
We both ordered a fruit plate. Dave had an omelet (you choose whatever
you want to put in it), Bill had the pancakes (they're not just pancakes,
there are a couple of interesting toppings). The omelet wasn't very
good...it was overcooked and whether there were any fillings it in wasn't
discernable. The pancakes were very good. Portions were normal.
We were amused with the fruit order though. We didn't notice that the
menu says, "From the Trident Counter," so we just ordered it with everything
else. It arrived with no questions asked and we didn't think anything
of it. When the couple at the next table asked for fruit, they were
told (very nicely) to get it from the buffet themselves. The waiter
brought over a big tray of pastries for us to choose from. Those are also self-service
from the counter, but it was his idea to bring them to us, we didn't ask for
After breakfast we went up to make haircut appointments in the salon and
were told they could take us right then. So, now we're all groomed and
ready for another year. OK, a few months anyway. The cost was
around $42, so pretty much the same as we would pay at home for less
We were hungry again by noon, but we forced ourselves to wait until 1:00pm
to go to lunch. Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We went to the Lido, which was packed. With the ship barely half full,
we are surprised to see almost all of the tables occupied. The food in
the Lido is probably the most improved single thing on the ship since we
started sailing with Crystal in 1995. It used to be barely acceptable,
but now it is a highlight. We would prefer that they still have trays,
but the food more than makes up for the slight inconvenience.
The sliced pork roast was the best item today, but everything else was very
good, too. We had the vegetable samosas, beef curry, a tuna melt,
green beans, roasted vegetables, and salads. The small desserts are
nice, too. Service was very attentive and friendly. We were
offered refills on the iced tea at least four times. Bruno came over
to talk to us. He was our waiter years ago, but was quickly promoted
to a headwaiter in Prego.
After lunch we went out to sit by the Seahorse Pool for a while. It is
a bit chilly, but we prefer sitting outside than inside. The inside
seating area (where the Neptune Pool used to be) was busy with the geriatric
crowd. Herbert Jaeger came over to talk to us. He said he was
excited to see our names on the list because he, "Thought you had abandoned
us." We assured him we haven't been taking other cruises, but we have
been doing other things besides cruising.
We received two letters from the Crystal Society Hostess. One is
inviting us to our 50th Milestone dinner in the Captain's Quarters with six
of our closest friends and/or officers (we have to let her know who to
invite). We only know Herbert among the officers. We used to
know all of them, but a lot has changed in two years. The other letter
asks if it is OK to present us on stage at the Crystal Society Party in a
few days. We don't mind doing that since it is relatively painless.
We just go up there, they give us flowers (or something similar), take a
photo and we're done. We know it is all advertising for Crystal, but
We wandered back to the room around 3:00pm when it got too windy and cold
to stay outside. Bill stopped by the CU@Sea room to be sure his
cellphone isn't still connected to the internet (it isn't).
Nothing but napping took place until we got hungry again and went up to the
Trident Grill for a snack of a hot dog, grilled cheese and fruit. Upon
our return to the room we found our
evening snack had been delivered. Tonight it is shrimp.
We received a notification of a $300 onboard credit from American Express.
Apparently it doesn't matter if you pay full price for a cruise or not as
long as you charge the balance on their card.
The doorbell rang and much to our surprise we found Theo there! He was
our butler on one of the world cruises and a couple times since then.
We thought all of the butlers we know were gone, but here he is. We
had a nice chat with him and we'll be sure to go find Paula later. We
looked around yesterday and didn't see her, so we assumed neither of them
was on board this cruise. They're two of our favorite crew members.
Theo said that Capt. Zander is very funny and we should enjoy our dinner
David came by to be sure everything is OK. We assured him everything
is fine and we'll let him know if we need anything. Butlers always
freak out because we don't ask for anything. Sometimes we have to make
things up to make them happy, but we REALLY don't need anything special.
Tonight's dress code is Black Tie (Formal) Optional. The Captain's
Welcome Reception is at 7:45pm in the Starlite Club.
On the way to the reception, we walked through the Cove to look for Paula,
but didn't see her. So, we wandered up to look through the dwindling
merchandise in the shops. Then, Paula spotted us from downstairs and
started waving. Shortly thereafter, she showed up in the shop to greet
us and thank us for talking her into going to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2009.
Apparently she enjoyed it! We promised we'd stop by and catch up ASAP.
The operator of the shops is changing shortly, so all Crystal logo items are
buy one, get one free. Still, we didn't see anything we are even
slightly interested in buying. That's kind of the problem with the
current shops. There hasn't been anything to buy in years.
Since we don't know this captain, we went through the reception line where
we met the Crystal Society hostess for the first time. We told her
whatever she wants us to do for the presentation is fine with us and that
we'll talk to her tomorrow. We also told her we only know two
officers, both of whom are standing there with her (Paul and Herbert) and
two guests, so that about sums up our invitation list. The Captain's
party was the usual except the captain's speech was very amusing. He's
the kind of snarky we love. Maybe we will enjoy the dinner with him.
We're loving the empty dining room. It is nice and quiet, plus we get
plenty of time to chat with Santhana, our waiter, and the amusing sommelier.
We were shocked that she has been on the Symphony for six years and we've
never seen her before. She's very entertaining.
Click to view tonight's
Santhana gave us the spiel about the "Modern" menu again. We almost
laughed yesterday when he did that, so tonight we told him he doesn't have
to give us the song and dance anymore, which amused him. We both
ordered the same things: Shrimp Spring Roll, Captain's Salad, and the
Beef Tenderloin. The spring roll was an enhanced version of the one
they have always served. It looked nice, but didn't have much flavor.
The salad was OK, nothing special. The beef was exceptional. It
was topped with gimmicky truffle foam, but the beef was delicious. It
is an updated version of Chateaubriand. The portion was quite small,
so when Santhana asked if we want more, the answer was yes. He brought
extra meat, then went to get some of the sauce.
Remi came by to chat and when Santhana came back he said, "It's about time.
They were just asking if you were still on board." He was joking, by
Bill had the mint trifle dessert, Dave had the sherbet. Both were very
good. The trifle was beautifully decorated with a tall sugar filigree
Tonight's entertainment is the production show "Maestro!".
We haven't seen this show before. There is a loose premise about how
composers come up with show tunes and movie scores, but that part doesn't
really add anything to the show. The songs are nice, but they all end
abruptly with no transition to the next one. The show is pretty much a
classic Crystal production with lavish, beautiful costumes. There is
one number that is particularly inventive. The ending kind of falls
flat, but overall it is an entertaining production. The ensemble is
one of the best we've seen, but the leads are a bit weak.
Saturday, May 3 -
Cruising the Pacific Ocean
There's not a cloud in the sky today. If
we were in a port it would be a perfect day for walking around. The
rocking motion is the same as it has been since we left Tokyo, nothing out
of the ordinary. There are probably people demanding their money back
because they didn't know that ships move.
We went to breakfast in the Lido where we were fawned over by the deck
stewards. Most of them have known us since our first cruise in 1995
and they've always been extremely nice to us. We loaded up on fruit
and a few other things to last until our next feeding at lunch.
After breakfast, we were on the way to talk to the Crystal Society hostess
when we were sidetracked by the photos from embarkation and the captain's
party. The hours are very strange for the photo viewing, so we're
never sure when they will be available. Yes, of course, we could read
the schedule if we cared that much, but we don't, so we just ran across it.
All of the pictures were good, so we bought them. They take extra
pictures at embarkation that are a close up of each person. That's a
nice idea to possibly sell a few more pictures. There is never any
pressure to buy anything, so we don't usually mind if they take a picture of
us. However, we do decline the pictures taken at the table in the
dining room on formal nights.
We found Alissa at her desk and sat down to
go over the information she wants to discuss. We gave her the names of
the guests and officers we want to invite to our dinner. Then she asked
about food restrictions or any special dishes we want. We don't have
many rules about that, which probably makes it more difficult for the chef
to come up with something. Dave said no veal and a sugar free dessert
for him, but don't make everyone eat sugar free. Other than that it is
By the way, Alissa said that they only have a Gala Buffet
when there are three or more sea days. With the new port intensive
itineraries, don't expect a Gala Buffet very often. There is one
scheduled on Mother's Day during this cruise and another one later if we
understood correctly. We haven't gone to one of these since our second
cruise. They are pretty to look at, but we'd rather have real food in
the Lido. That's where you'll find most of the regulars, too.
we went over our bio for the presentation. She said they have cut down
all speeches to one or two sentences, which is fine with us. We said
something generic about feeling comfortable on the ship and that it is like
coming home. Everyone says that, but it is true, especially for anyone
who has enough cruises to be up on stage. As one would expect, Alissa
is very nice and pleasant.
We sat around doing nothing
until time for lunch. There is an Asian themed buffet in the Lido
today. This is a scaled back version of the themed buffet they used to
have around the pool when it existed. We prefer that it is served in
the Lido, but it isn't nearly as impressive as it used to be.
for the Crystal Dining Room
LUNCHEON MENU. We ordered the Spring Roll, Thai Chicken Soup, Thai
Beef Salad, and Orange Chicken. Everything was outstanding. Muzo
served us again. He's always a lot of fun.
After lunch we went up to
sit by the pool for a few hours. Our big thrill is watching the water
slosh out of the pool. The new larger spa has been modified with a
glass splash guard around the edges. It sure is necessary because the
water constantly came out of the spa and would have ended up on the deck if
the glass wasn't there. The water feature that used to be under the
spa has been tiled over.
The band was playing by the pool longer than
usual. They're not very good to be perfectly honest. Usually the
dance bands and singers are very good, but this one is often off key.
at the room we napped and/or watched videos we brought with us. At
4:30, David brought the promised afternoon
snack of pigs in a blanket and a cheese plate (the cheese is the regular
daily snack for penthouses). The food saved us from having to go
up to the Trident for a snack today.
Tonight's dress code is Resort
The evening entertainment tonight is before dinner for Late
Seating guests, which we HATE. We don't like to be dressed and ready
for a show by 7:00pm. That leaves us nothing to do after dinner.
The headliner for tonight is ventriloquist Mark Merchant. Nothing
wrong with him, but he has been on probably 45 out of our 50 cruises.
In any case, we were sidetracked in the corridor by butler Victor who wanted
to chat. He was our assistant waiter on our first world cruise, so
apparently we made a favorable impression on him. He is always very
happy to see us.
We went up to sit in Palm Court to kill the rest of the
time until dinner. There is a singer and band up there, which is nice.
It isn't intended to be dance music. The singer was pretty good for
background music. Norman came over to talk to us. He has been
here from the beginning and has always been very friendly. We know
we're old because the deck guys are now in their 40's and up. They all
looked about twelve when we first started cruising.
Click for the Crystal
Dining Room DINNER
MENU. Santhana only had us and one other table to serve tonight,
so we had a chance to talk to him more. Celso showed us an email
"confirming" that there is going to be an announcement of a new ship by the
end of the year. The crew is very excited about this. However,
it is the same announcement we have been seeing all over the press since the
new president arrived. We don't doubt that an announcement will be
forthcoming, but the point is that this isn't anything new.
ordered tonight are the Mosaic of Fresh Fruits, French Onion Soup, Crisp
Spring Greens, and the Chinese Lemon Chicken. The fruit was
beautifully arranged and was a nice array of different fruits and berries.
The soup was OK, but nothing special, same with the salad. The chicken
entree was outstanding as well as unusual. We remarked to Celso that
the food has improved so much in recent years that it is as good as in the
heyday of Crystal when it was exciting to show up for dinner to see what
fantastic meal would arrive each night. Every single item isn't a
winner, but enough of them are terrific that we actually look forward to
meals. The Mango Pavlova dessert was very good, too, although we
wouldn't have described it as a Pavlova.
Celso asked if everything is OK.
We assured him it is. Then he asked if the onion soup was OK because
several people had complained it was too salty. It wasn't the best
onion soup we've ever had, but it wasn't too salty. He offered us
Cherries Jubilee, but we're not into the flambé desserts.
With no show
after dinner, we just went back to the room and watched TV for a while.
move ahead one hour on the clock tonight.
It is a little warmer today, but otherwise the
weather is the same as it has been since we left Tokyo.
There is a notice on the internet log-in page about
slow internet speeds today. We haven't had any significant issues with
it until now. In fact, it has been fairly speedy.
We started our day with lunch in the Lido Cafe.
We arrived when it opened and it quickly became very busy. The food
continues to be outstanding. There was nothing that was subpar or
below average. All of the entrees we selected were excellent.
Service was very attentive, also. Most of the entrees on the buffet
are the same as what is available in the dining room with the addition of
the carving station and some Asian selections. Click to view the
Crystal Dining Room
LUNCHEON MENU. There is only one sugar free dessert on the buffet
(there are three on the dinner menu in the dining room), but what they have
is excellent. You'd never know it is sugar free. Today it was a
mocha mousse cake.
On the way out we ran into Herbert and had the chance
to tell him how much we feel the Lido has improved in the past few years.
We also told him that we're happy with the innovative dining room menus and
the quality of the food these days. He was pleased that we are happy
and said we need to give up land travel and come back to cruise as often as
we used to. Fat chance at the current prices, but we'll still come
back occasionally when it fits our plans. However, we won't be booking
cruises just to go on a cruise, which is what we used to do all the time.
After lunch we sat in the shade by the Seahorse Pool
listening to the God-awful band. They didn't make our ears bleed, but
it was close. Several people got up and lead a dance line around the
pool when "YMCA" was played. The deck stewards always get involved
when the song plays, so it is kind of fun...to watch.
Around 3:30pm Dave went to get ice cream and Bill
asked him to get a shake for him. That was too complicated, but one of
the deck guys happened by at that very moment, so Dave asked him to get it,
which, of course, he did. In addition to the usual ice cream flavors,
there is a separate menu of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, soft serve frozen
yogurt, and three kinds of sugar free ice cream. They will make shakes
or smoothies upon request. There are several liqueurs and syrups
available for topping, including some sugar free types. Unfortunately,
all of the sugar free toppings and the breakfast syrup is made with maltitol,
which isn't the best choice for a diabetic or anyone else who doesn't want
to lose control of their bodily functions.
We heard that a lot of guests are disembarking in
Honolulu. Since it would be against U.S. laws to embark in Honolulu
and take them to Los Angeles, the ship will be pretty empty after the stop
At 4:00pm we went back to the room to await delivery
of our pre-dinner
It is more than a "snack" tonight. We got prosciutto with melon,
guacamole with chips, and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. Good thing
because the dinner menu isn't full of choices we're in the mood for tonight.
Tonight's dress code is Elegant Casual (Informal).
The entertainment for tonight is again scheduled
before dinner for late seating guests, so we won't be attending. We'll
say it again, WE HATE IT WHEN THE ENTERTAINMENT IS BEFORE DINNER!
Anyway, the show for tonight is "Virtuoso Violinist" Ian Cooper.
We went to Palm Court, but found a Cruise Critic party in progress, so we
hightailed it out of there as quickly as possible. We ended up sitting
in the Starlite Club for the hour before dinner.
Click to view the
Tonight, the dishes we ordered are Pirozhki, Oxtail Soup, Rocket Lettuce
Salad, Broiled Swordfish Steak, and the Pork Tenderloin from the Modern
Menu. The Pirozhki were outstanding. The soup and salad were
very nice, but nothing extraordinary. Both entrees were excellent.
The pork portion was very small, but everything on the plate was delicious.
The swordfish portion was generous. We noted the absence so far of the
dust-dry whipped potatoes that used to accompany almost everything.
Santhana offered to bring a bowl of cherries for dessert, which he did.
He brought Dave a bowl of blueberries and whipped cream, too. Bill had
the orange frozen yogurt. The berries were fantastic.
We asked about Dining by Reservation because we
haven't seen anyone coming or going during dinner. Santhana said it
isn't in the back of the room anymore. They're seating reservation
guests in the center circle (where the officer's table are). It makes
those guests feel more included and it is less disruptive to the
assigned seating guests. So, it is a win-win situation. We're
glad they figured it all out. Honestly, it is so invisible now that we
thought maybe no one had signed up for it this cruise.
After dinner we wandered back toward the room. We ran
into Herbert and Norbert in the hallway. Herbert carried on about how
nice it is to see us again. We believe he means it. He has
always been very nice to us. We reiterated that cruising has fallen to
second place in our travel planning, so that's why we aren't coming back as
often. When we told them we haven't cheated on them with any other
cruise lines, they were happy. Then Dave said, "We have thought about
it, but we haven't done it." Norbert then said, "Too much
information!" We're getting the impression that Crystal may be losing
a lot of their long-time fans to other lines. No one has said that out
loud, but subtle things they say definitely give us that feeling.
There are a lot of repeat passengers on this cruise, which is to be expected
for a cruise with all sea days. Crystal's emphasis lately has been
port intensive and shorter cruises, both things that don't appeal to
long-time fans, us included.
Herbert is surprised that we don't have any
reservations for the alternative restaurants. We decided before we
came that we weren't going to bother with them. We have never been
huge fans of Prego and we've had so much Japanese food over the last five
weeks that Silk Road isn't very alluring. We told him that the new dining
room menus are so interesting that we prefer to try those items over going
to the alternatives.
We're pitching and rolling today, much more than we
have up until now. The weather otherwise is about the same, 68 and
We went up to the Trident area to wait for lunch
time. We're surprised to see so many people there because it is so rough.
Most of these people can barely walk when it isn't rocking. Whoever
decided to remove the Neptune pool and add the extra seating certainly was
onto something. The area is very popular. The captain's
announcement at noon confirmed that the sea will be rough all day.
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
Collecting food from the buffet was a bit of a
balancing act, but we managed. Waiters helped many of the older
passengers select their food and carry it to a table. All of the food
was very good to excellent with only one exception. There were some
fried pastry triangles filled with smoked duck that were odd and not worth
During lunch a particularly big wave caused a ruckus
at the back of the Lido. We heard a crash and then lots of commotion,
but we couldn't see what happened. There was no continuing scene, so
it must not have been anything significant.
After lunch we went to the dining room to ask for a
copy of the lunch menu. We didn't get menus on the clip this morning.
Then up to the room to drop it off. A maintenance man arrived just
before us to fix the table. There is a loose ball bearing rolling
around inside it that is driving us crazy in the rough seas.
We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the
Trident area watching people attempt to walk. The Seahorse pool and
the Jacuzzi are drained due to the rough seas. All of the large
poolside furniture is piled up along the sides under cover.
Around 5:30pm, David delivered our evening
snack. He brings so much food that we could call it dinner!
Tonight we got guacamole and chips, chicken wings, and the little hamburgers
from the old 50's night. He grilled us for what we want for tomorrow,
but we couldn't think of anything. We'll see what we get.
During the evening entertainment roundup on TV, Paul
announced that the production show scheduled for tonight has been replaced
by Guitarist George Sakellariou. There is a Jazz Jam added in the Palm
Court and the group usually up there will be in the Avenue Saloon. A
new evening entertainment page was delivered shortly thereafter. Click
to view the
REVISED SHOW SCHEDULE.
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual. Casual
Dining is available upstairs tonight for the first time this cruise.
Due to the rough weather, we heard that hardly anyone chose that option.
Poor planning on Crystal's part to hold it tonight. We sat in the
Starlite Club for the hour before dinner.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We had a different assistant waiter tonight. Later he told us that
because it is so slow, they get to rotate having a night off. He
seemed very impressed that Crystal does this. He said it makes
everyone very happy.
Tonight we ordered the Chicken & Ravioli Soup,
Chopped Salad, Tossed Mixed Greens, and the Braised Beef Short Ribs.
The soup was outstanding. The tossed greens salad was excellent, but
the chopped one was boring. The short ribs were wonderful with several
different flavors in the potatoes, vegetables, meat and sauce that all went
together perfectly. For dessert we had the Ginger & Champagne Sherbet
and the Sugar-Free Brownie. The sherbet was way too strong both with
ginger and alcohol. The brownie, on the other hand, was wonderful.
There is no way anyone would be able to discern that it is sugar free.
We chatted with Remi on the way out. A woman
wearing a Disneyland shirt came up and joined the conversation. She
asked Remi if we are going to single seating after so many people leave in
Hawaii, but he said we would stay with two seatings. The first seating
is full, so it wouldn't work with one seating. Too many guests would
have to change tables.
With no shows after dinner (you do know we HATE that,
right?), we started to go back to the room. Then we decided to wander
down to the Cove Bar to see if it is slow enough to chat with Paula.
It is, so we stayed talking to her until closing time. We always like
talking to her, so it was more enjoyable than any show could have been.
We were surprised to learn that they don't have to keep track of the free
liquor. In fact, there isn't a computer at the bar anymore. If
someone buys one of the premium items or cigarettes, for example, they have
to ring it up in the wine room. She said it is unusual for anyone to
order something there is a charge for. They have a budget for the
liquor and as long as they stay within that, which they always do, nobody
cares how much of it they serve.
In regard to the free wine at dinner, we are
impressed with our sommelier. She always explains each of the wines in
detail as though she is trying to sell it to you. We never get the
impression she is just doling out freebie wine and doesn't care at all about
it. Since the late seating is so empty, she has plenty of time, so
we're not sure how harried they may be during a full seating. Almost
everyone has at least one glass of wine, which wasn't the case when there
was a charge for it. A table of staff received a bill for their
By the time we made it back to our room, it was very
rough again. It had calmed down a bit during dinner, but it is very
rocky now. We can hear something outside on the back deck or maybe in
the Lido above, banging around now and then. It sounds sort of like
one of the wooden tables is rolling around.
We move another hour forward on the clock tonight.
The weather is about the same as yesterday, overcast and 68 degrees.
It isn't as rocky, but it is still difficult to walk a straight line.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We went to the Lido for lunch, as usual. Most of the items from the
dining room are available from the buffet, plus Lido extras like carved meat
and a large array of desserts. All of the food today was delicious,
especially the slow roasted beef from the carving station. We don't
know where everyone went, but it isn't nearly as busy up here as it has
been, even though it isn't as rough.
Bill called David to ask him to have the deck department fix the doors
between the two rooms next to us. That is the source of the constant
banging we heard all night and into this morning. Someone came up
right away and secured them.
Both the pool and the Jacuzzi are drained due to the movement of the
ship. There is no poolside entertainment either. We sat in the
Trident area and pretended to read until around 3:30pm when we couldn't
resist the urge to nap.
David arrived with our
evening snack at around 5:30pm. He
apologized for not bringing the stuffed jalapeno poppers he promised
yesterday. He said they were way too spicy and he sent them back.
Instead he brought two plates of vegetable spring rolls and one plate of mini
cheeseburgers, plus some potato chips. We told him that one plate of
each is plenty and he took one of the spring roll dishes away. Bill
asked for some Gatorade and it appeared in minutes at no charge. David
keeps wanting to bring us fancy foods and we keep refusing them. Most
people probably want caviar and shrimp, but we want guacamole, chips and
mini cheeseburgers. If we are going to eat, we want to EAT, not nibble
Tonight's entertainment, scheduled before dinner again <sigh>, is the
production show "Route 66". We don't remember seeing it before, so it
might be new to us. What we have to say about it is the same as the
previous show...beautiful costumes, good songs, little plot, and no
transitions from scene to scene. We can't put our finger on what the
problem is with the new shows. They are almost good, but something
about them isn't quite right. They just don't grab us like some of the
old ones did. One thing that stands out is the very obvious
pre-recorded background singing, so maybe that's it, but we're not sure.
Anyway, our sensibilities weren't offended by it or anything, so it was
enjoyable enough. We have seen far worse, that's for sure.
Anyone remember "Excalibur!"?
We had 30 minutes to kill before dinner, so we sat in the Starlite Club
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Tonight we asked Santhana for his recommendation about the chilled soup and
the salads. We remember a chilled melon soup from the past that tasted
like dishwashing detergent, so we wanted to be sure this isn't the same.
He assured us that everyone liked it at the first seating, so we ordered it.
We ordered the Chilled Honeydew Espuma (whatever the heck an "espuma" is),
the Heart of Boston Lettuce salad, and the Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak.
Bill complicated things by changing all of the sides that come with the
filet, but Santhana got it all right, which is the first time ever that has
happened. The soup was very sweet, but quite good. No hint of
dishwashing liquid at all. The salad was nice, better than any we have
had so far. The filet was outstanding. Everything on the plate
with the normal serving was excellent, especially the potatoes that were
Bill asked Celso how the All Inclusive thing is going over. He said
there are more positive comments about it than complaints. Then Bill
asked, "What about the crew?" Celso laughed out loud. Then he
said that they don't have much choice but to like it and left it at that.
We went nuts and each had two desserts. Bill had the Peanut Butter
Ice Cream and the Raspberry Sherbet. Dave had the Sugar-Free Brownie
ala Mode again, and the Berry Mousse. Everything was very good except
the berry mousse. As far as Dave could tell, it consisted of plain
whipped cream with two blueberries in it, no kidding. It definitely
was not mousse. Luckily the brownie was to die for. Celso
offered Bananas Foster, but we declined.
Both of the complimentary wines with dinner were tasty. We keep
telling Kremena that we only want a small taste, but she refills our
glasses anyway. They definitely don't skimp on doling out the free
wine or cocktails. But, we noticed a subtle cutback today. The
cocktail stir sticks no longer have the Crystal logo on them. They are
generic clear plastic sticks throughout the ship.
By the end of dinner it wasn't rough at all anymore. We can still
tell we are at sea, but there is no danger of falling over tonight.
So, there's no excuse for staggering down the corridors now.
We were reminded twice during dinner about the Gala Buffet tomorrow.
We haven't gone to one of those in years and we don't intend to do so now.
We stopped by to check out the Bistro late night buffet. There is a
chocolate fountain with several things to dip into it (fruit, berries,
marshmallows, etc.), several of the mini desserts from the Lido, and a large
selection of different cheeses. It is open until 11:00pm every day.
We haven't looked at it during the day yet.
We move an hour ahead on the clock tonight.
It is Tuesday, May 6th...again. They're playing the movie
"Groundhog Day" continuously to honor the occasion. The weather is about the same,
slightly rocky, 70 degrees, overcast. The pool and Jacuzzi and filled
The main venue for lunch today is the Grand Gala Buffet in the lobby and
dining room. It is great for pictures, but you can get lobster and
shrimp in the Lido Cafe today, too. The Lido is very quiet.
Usually all of the diehards are up there, but today it is mostly staff and
just a few guests. The carved rib eye roast was the only
disappointment. It was very dry. Everything else was excellent.
They have whole lobster tails and bowls of shrimp, plus Eggs Benedict and
other things from the Gala Buffet.
The weather is quite pleasant today, so we were able to sit outside by
the pool all afternoon. The sloshing water wasn't very entertaining
because the water level was lower than usual, so it never came out of the
We chatted for a while with one of the deck
stewards we didn't know until today. He said the same thing about
All-Inclusive we hear from all crew members...they made much more money
before, but they know that Crystal had to go that route to stay competitive.
He also said it is still much more money than he could ever hope to make in
Depending on who we ask, the number of guests leaving in Honolulu ranges
from 50 to 170, so we'll just have to wait and see. The Symphony's
Asia season wasn't exactly a rousing success. The ship carried less
than 600 people on every cruise up until the one before this one that had
800 on board. No wonder all of those cruises were on sale. Look
for the same kind of discounting next year when the season is repeated.
David brought our evening
snack around 5:15pm. This is really too much food! We love
it, but still...
Passports are available for pick-up at Reception after 6:00pm tonight.
We assume we have to go through immigration in Honolulu since it is the
first U.S. port, but there has been no mention of it yet. We don't
arrive until noon, so at least we won't have to get up at the crack of dawn
to do it.
Tonight's dress code is Black Tie Optional (Formal).
The Crystal Society Party is tonight at 7:45pm. We will be paraded
onto the stage for our 50th Milestone. We don't mind doing it, but we
prefer not to. It always shocks the audience when we go up there and
we aren't 100 years old, so there is some entertainment value in it for us.
In the beginning when we would be called up to the stage with 20 cruises,
it was always amazing. Tonight, with 50, we were the lowest number of
cruises to be called up (they always call the top three). The woman
with nearly 300 doesn't go up anymore. Our forum friends joined us so
we didn't have to sit there alone. We really don't mind going up to be
recognized. Everyone is always very nice and we know Paul very well,
so it is kind of fun. However, it gives license to everyone on the
ship to talk to us, which can be good or bad depending on who it is.
Of course, since they stick a red rose on us at these things, we're kind of
hard to miss for the rest of the night.
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
Tonight we ordered the Lobster Medallions (which is ONE medallion, just
FYI), one of each salad, the Tomato Essence soup, Prime Rib, and Broiled
Black Pepper Crusted Salmon Filet. The lobster medallion had too many
flavors going on with herb yogurt under it and some sort of sweet orange
sauce on the plate. We wouldn't order it again, but it was interesting
to try...once. Both salads were a bore. Something has changed
with the salad dressings and they don't have much flavor. The soup was
just beef consommé. The salmon was overcooked, but otherwise tasted
fine. The prime rib was outstanding and a huge portion an inch thick.
Considering how poor the prime rib used to be on Crystal ships, they have
come a long way improving it. The one tonight is close to the best we
have ever had. The sugar free chocolate cheesecake was very good, too.
We asked Santhana what Raspberry Noodles are that come with the carrot cake,
so he brought us some. It is shredded raspberry gelatin that is
impossible to pick up with a spoon or a fork, but it looks pretty.
One of the long time Crystal cruisers came up to us on his way out of the
dining room to congratulate us on our 50th cruise. We have seen them
many times before. He carried on about how he loves everything about
Crystal except the change to have most shows before dinner. We
couldn't agree more. Who wants to go directly to bed right after
eating a three course meal? He said that when he complains (which is
often) he is always told that most guests don't want to stay up that late.
Uh, that's why you book Main Seating and not Late, dimwits! So ruin it
for the rest of us <sigh>. We will continue to complain about it on
our QAP after the cruise like we always do.
Tonight's entertainment is the production show "DIVA". We haven't
seen it before. It is described as a captivating concert filled with
impersonations of musical icons. Picture that, if you can. We
ran into the "Disneyland" woman we were talking to in the dining room the
other night. She said she saw it once and was going to the computer
room instead. Uh oh.
We can't slight the star's vocal talents. She is really very good.
But, only maybe three of the impressions were recognizable even when we were
told who they are supposed to be. The ones she nails are outstanding,
but that isn't enough to carry an hour long production show. We'll
give Crystal some credit for trying something different at least. We
wouldn't go see this show again though. If she did a cabaret act as
herself, we would go see her.
It isn't rough at all now, but we don't expect it to stay that way for
It is a few degrees warmer today, around 72. The sea is smooth and
there is very little rolling and no pitching.
We received a
regarding immigration procedures in Honolulu tomorrow. We expected to be
required to go ashore, but the agents are coming on board, so we will go to
the Galaxy Lounge when our group is called. The letter doesn't specify
when this will start, but does say it should be over by 1:30pm. We
did not get a Customs Declaration, so we assume we will do that when we
The Lido Cafe wasn't at all busy today. Paulo said that as a cruise
goes on the crowd tends to spread out more. At the beginning, people
arrive early because they are used to other cruise lines where the buffets
are crowded. There is never any reason to arrive early here.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Once again, everything we chose from the buffet was very good to
outstanding. The sliced turkey was very moist with lots of flavor.
Obviously, the kitchen is trying to use up the leftover shrimp from the
buffet yesterday. There are several selections using shrimp on the
menu this afternoon.
After lunch we migrated out to the Seahorse Pool area and planted
ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. Dave asked one of the deck
stewards when they covered up the waterfall under the spa. He said it
never worked correctly and spilled water all over the deck, so they had to
shut it down. It must have cost a fortune because it had
color-changing LED lights at night. We saw it working in the very
beginning and it looked OK, but it wasn't anything memorable.
Hopefully Crystal got their money back since it never worked. It is
completely covered with iridescent tile panels now. They added the
glass around the spa at the same time for the same reason...the water kept
sloshing out. Why didn't someone think of this before it was installed?
Ships do move, you know.
The band by the pool plays the exact same routine every single day.
They aren't the greatest, but they're OK for background music. The
deck stewards got in the act for "YMCA" today and led a line of guests
(well, three people or about 1/3 of the people out there) around the pool
Our butts fell asleep around 3:30pm, so we started back toward the room.
Bill picked up a plate of fruit from the Trident Grill. The cook there
asked if we had ever been on the Serenity because we look familiar. We
assured him that he probably did see us there at some point. It never
ceases to amaze us how these guys remember seeing us from years ago and they
always know exactly when and on which ship. We shouldn't stand out
that much on this cruise because it is overrun with gay couples. The
"hags" are in hog heaven with so many gay guys to hang around with.
David brought another onslaught of "snacks" at 5:30pm, vegetable spring
rolls, mini cheeseburgers and jalapeño poppers. Who needs dinner?
We received an invitation to our dinner in the Captain's Quarters with
the incorrect captain's name listed. David was appalled and said he
would see to it that whoever sent it is informed. We don't care and
we're certainly not at all offended, but
we agree someone should have caught an error like that.
Bill needs a belt, so we stopped by Apropos on the way to dinner to look
for one. The merchandise is marked WAY down (the operator of the shops
changes June 1st). He found one for just $20.00, which is less than he
paid for the one that fell apart after one use. It is a bit too big,
but they don't have anything smaller. No worries though. We
found David and asked him to have the upholstery shop add two more holes to
it. We have done that on other cruises and the item came back looking
like it had always been that way. And, we've never been charged for it
in the past.
We still had about 30 minutes to kill, so we sat in the Starlite Club
Tonight's entertainment is scheduled before dinner again. The first
show starts at 5:15pm with guitarist George Sakellariou. Then, there is
the regular show featuring ventriloquist Mark Merchant and violinist Ian
Cooper and 7:00pm and 8:30pm. So, we'll have nothing to do again
tonight after dinner. We find it very hard to believe that the primary
reason they made this change is to cater to guests who don't want to stay up
late. It has to be for the entertainers' convenience more than
anything and they're using a few complaints to justify it.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Click to view the menu for
SILK ROAD or
we ordered the Crab Cake, Caesar Salad, and the Filet Steak. The crab
cake was better than it has been in the past, so it was pretty good.
The salad was a bore, nothing special. The lettuce throughout the ship
is starting to turn brown. Some of it shouldn't be served, in our
opinion. The filets were outstanding with a perfect amount of char on
the outside. Really excellent. The Sugar Free Baked Apple
dessert was satisfactory, but the Sugar Free Chocolate Cheesecake was
Zoltan, the waiter from the next station came over to chat. We
started talking to him in the Lido Cafe a few days ago. He looks like
a guy Dave worked with at Disneyland 30-some years ago. He said that
the next cruise through the Panama Canal is nearly sold out, but the one
after that ending in Iceland isn't anywhere near capacity.
Smooth sailing continues tonight.
Thursday, May 8 -
Honolulu, HI, USA - Arrive Noon
"Aloha" and welcome to Oahu, Hawaii's great
"gathering place." Asian- and American-influenced cultures combine to
create a lifestyle where the tropical tempos of Polynesia prevail and
the aloha spirit pervades every aspect of the culture.
Honolulu and Oahu are the center of island life and boast sandy beaches,
endearing smiles and exotic tropical flowers. Nearby, elegant resorts
and towering high-rises line the gentle curve of Waikiki Beach. In the
distance, majestic Diamond Head Crater lies on the horizon beyond your
The choices are many. Relive the historic events of Pearl Harbor,
explore tropical rainforests or witness the creation of island culinary
Click for weather forecast
|Shore Excursions Offered in Honolulu,
||Over Oahu: A Helicopter Discovery (Limited Availability)
||Atlantis Submarine Adventure
||The Natural Wonders of Oahu
||A Tale of Two Palaces
Crystal Symphony arrived off
Honolulu around 10:00am. The ship has to
dock at the
alternative pier because the main one at the Aloha Tower is closed for
refurbishing. So, the area directly adjacent to the ship isn't very
attractive. The weather is nice, very warm and humid though. We
can expect some rain showers later, but that is normal around here. We
were tied up at the pier by 11:00am and the immigration inspection began at
TODAY'S ACTIVITIES. A free shuttle runs from the ship to Ala Moana
Shopping Center every half hour until 5:45pm.
We had some time to kill (and our stewardess wants to clean the room), so
we went up to the top deck for our usual port photos. We can see
Diamond Head and the
Aloha Tower easily from here. There are at least six skyscrapers
under construction in downtown Honolulu, so it looks like things have picked
up a bit here. There is a large
barge attached to the ship for refueling.
Announcements calling groups to the inspection were made up until Group
3, then they called everyone remaining. That caused a line, but it
moved very quickly. Needless to say, plenty of people were grumbling
about it as though Crystal has any control over it at all. The
inspector asked Dave where he lives and he told him (it is very obscure and
no one has ever heard of it). That prompted him to ask where that is,
so Dave told him. Because of that spectacle, he just waved Bill
through without asking him anything. He was probably afraid of the
answer he'd get. We were done with immigration by noon.
The only shore excursion departures listed in the Reflections are A & G,
so we assume there weren't enough participants to run the others. The
prices for all of the excursions are much higher than they were five years
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We went to the Lido Cafe for lunch, as usual. There were several
items that weren't very good today, unfortunately. However, the brown
variety of lettuce wasn't served. There are plenty of other ones
available, which is why we found it strange they would keep serving one that
isn't fresh. The tomatoes are mushy though.
The items that are nearly or completely inedible are the Beef Curry
(EXTREMELY salty), a Polynesian Pork Cutlet (no flavor and VERY dry), and
some sort of fried seafood cake (gooey and no flavor at all). On the
other hand, the Sandwich of the Day, which is the chicken salad from the
dining room menu, is delicious.
Alissa apologized for sending the dinner invitations with the wrong
captain's name. Dave told her we are so offended that we won't be
there. Luckily, she was amused and not appalled. She sent
corrected ones to our room.
Since it isn't busy in the Lido today, we took the time to take pictures
of the entire food line up. The pictures are listed in the order they
are arranged on the buffet line, so yes, the desserts are first.
Salads & Dressings,
Carved Meat & Hot Dishes,
Vegetables & Asian Selections/Rice,
Hot Sandwich of the Day/Fries/Fried Entree,
Desserts #2-Bread Pudding of the Day & Cookies. One of the waiters
grabbed a cook and made Dave take their
photo. It is the first time we have seen him smile since we got
here, although he is always pleasant when we speak to him.
After lunch we went out to the deserted pool deck and chatted with the
deck stewards for a few minutes. It is warmer than we'd like, but we
sat down anyway. Our "regular" deck guy went to get Bill a milkshake
and Dave went to get himself some fruit from the Trident Grill. The
ship is directly under the flight path to the nearby airport, so the
planes fly very low overhead. It is a bit disconcerting, to say
the least. Surprisingly, the planes aren't very noisy.
We lasted outside until 2:00pm when we got too hot and we had to move
back to the air conditioning in our room. Bill put some laundry in the
machine as his entertainment for the day. At 3:00pm a very loud
announcement was made that were will be a crew fire drill at 3:15pm and to
stay away from Deck 7. Something new is that when the emergency alarm
sounds, all of the elevators automatically go to Deck 7. Before they
would tell guests not to use the elevators during an emergency, but now you
have no choice.
Putting all of the information we have together, we have concluded that
about 60 passengers are leaving in Honolulu, none are arriving (it is
illegal for a foreign ship to transport passengers between two U.S. ports without
stopping at a distant foreign port on the way). Many guests seem
concerned about this, but we fail to see how this could negatively impact
anyone. We have sailed on this ship many times with less than 500
people on board and it is very pleasant. On the other hand, when it
goes over 800 the staff starts to get overburdened and service suffers
Bill's belt came back with new holes punched in it, as requested.
We reported a loose board on our verandah to our stewardess this
afternoon. A maintenance man showed up to fix it as we were leaving
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual. It is raining tonight, so we
went up to Palm Court to watch the rain and look at the view. The
usual jazz band was up there, but without their singer. Without her,
it is just noise to us. Dave referred to it as "scat music" and Bill
almost spit his martini through his nose.
The evening entertainment is a local production called "Aloha Polynesia"
playing once at 7:45pm. We walked by on the way to dinner and heard
many people raving about how wonderful it was. We've seen it several
times before and it is good. It is the typical hula show where they
drag audience members up on stage and such.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We were surprised that the dining room looked about as populated as it
always does. We expected more guests to be out on the town, but maybe
the rain chased them back on board.
We ordered the Tower of Roasted Chicken and Avocado (very good), both
soups (also very good), and the Beef Tenderloin "Chimichurri". The
beef part was outstanding and interesting. The arugula mashed potatoes
were OK, but such a small portion they didn't add anything. Two things
on the plate were God-awful...the Eggplant-Corn-Chorizo Confit was so
unpleasant Bill warned Dave not to put it in his mouth. Unfortunately
he tried it anyway and almost had to spit it out. There was something
thin and fried on top of the meat as a decorative touch. In that
regard it was successful. However, one tiny bite of it was more than
enough. We still don't know what it was other than ghastly. Bill
ordered the Blood Orange Sherbet from one of the desserts by itself and it
was good. Dave asked for plain berries with whipped cream and got
blueberries and strawberries, which we very nice and exactly what he had in
After dinner we went back to the room. We don't expect there to be
any after dinner entertainment on a port day, so we won't rant about that
tonight. We thought about taking a walk around the top deck, but it is
We've been reading rumblings on another popular cruise forum about the
Symphony possibly being old, run down and about to be retired. That notion is totally false
and not based in fact. This ship looks as good or better than it did
when it was brand new. All of the public areas have been gutted and
re-done within the past few years. Our room looks like we are the
first guests to stay in it. The bathroom is beautiful. The
carpet looks new. The air conditioning always works. The sliding
glass door is new. What's to complain about? OK, we'll find
something to complain about...the furniture on our verandah looks like hell.
We have witnessed carpet in vacant staterooms being replaced
during this cruise, a door to a crew area near us was completely sanded down
and re-painted, etc. What looks run down? Nothing. There are some
isolated things that look dated (the pastel stained glass ceiling in the
lobby, for example), but for the most part the decor is trendy and
up-to-date. Anyone who cancels or refuses to book a cruise on this
ship because they are afraid it is too old is a fool. We'd bet that it
outlasts the Serenity in length of service because it was constructed to a
much higher standard to begin with. We've never had plumbing or
electrical problems like we have on the Serenity several times. If you
want to pay a premium to sail on Serenity instead, go for it. Those of
us who know what we're doing will continue to sail on the Symphony!
sailed on the final voyage of Crystal Harmony and that ship was maintained
to Crystal standards up until the last passenger disembarked. The crew
of Crystal ships has too much pride to let anything look run down. You
can count on Crystal Symphony being properly maintained until it too leaves
the Crystal fleet someday.
|Shore Excursions Offered in Honolulu,
||Over Oahu: A Helicopter Discovery (Limited Availability)
|Diamond Head Summit Trek - CANCELLED
||Atlantis Submarine Adventure
||The Natural Wonders of Oahu
||Making a Difference: Weeding & Learning at Makapu’u Beach
||Spiritual Journey through Honolulu (Limited Availability)
||Valley of the Rainbows & Lyon Arboretum
||U.S.S. Arizona Memorial & City Highlights
||Oahu’s Famous North Shore
||Kualoa Ranch Exploration & Picnic Lunch
||USS Missouri & Exclusive Captain’s Cabin Lunch (New for
||The Battlefields, Military Bases & Memorials of Oahu
This Crystal Adventures excursion MUST be pre-reserved.
The weather is the same as yesterday, in the high
80's and cloudy. It looks more like it will rain later in the day than
it did yesterday.
Only two of the above shore excursions are shown with
departures in today's Reflections, Tours L & HV.
We sat in Palm Court for about 30 minutes waiting for
lunch time. The crew was setting up a buffet for travel agents the
entire time. We have always been offended by Crystal's practice of
feeding travel agents free lunch in the dining room while charging their
paying passengers for their guests' lunch. So, this isn't quite as
annoying. We realize Crystal has to cater to travel agents, but why is
that different from Crystal's own devotees bringing their friends on board?
Anyone who believes it costs Crystal anywhere near $75 to serve a guest
lunch has never worked in a restaurant or figured out food costs.
In case you missed the hundreds of press releases
about the Living Wall installed on the Symphony a few years ago, here is a
picture we took of it today. They are maintaining it well, but it
seems like was more detailed the first time we saw it. It represents a
map of the world, by the way. It is much better than the blank metal
wall it covered.
We moved to the Lido at noon, but found the food not
set up yet. They must have been occupied setting up the buffet for
travel agents instead. When we checked Reflections it does say that
lunch is from 12:30 to 2:00pm today.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
This wasn't the best selection of food we have ever had, but we still
managed to fill up sufficiently. The calamari was terrible. This
isn't something that shouldn't be sitting out on a buffet. It was like
eating soggy rubber bands. Yuck. The sliced pork roast was tasty, but
very dry. Otherwise, everything was fine, but nothing stood out as
Josef Matt returned as Hotel Director today.
As usual, we wandered out to the deserted pool area
after lunch, stopping at the Trident Grill to pick up plates of fruit.
There is supposed to be a sail away party from 4:30-5:30pm, but it looks
very much like it will start pouring rain at any minute. Several
guests asked the deck stewards if the party will be cancelled and they said
it will be held rain or shine. If it is raining too hard they will
move it to Palm Court. They picked up all of the towels set out on the
lounges at 2:00pm when it became particularly dark. One of the deck
guys said his boss told him that all of the cruises from Los Angeles to the
dry dock are nearly sold out. We're very glad we are on board now and
not from L.A.
We went back to the room to cool off at 3:00pm.
It started raining at 4:00pm. The ship sails for Los Angeles at
At 4:30pm the captain announced that since all guests
are already on board, we will sail early. The sail away party was
moved to the Palm Court, but apparently no one showed up because an
announcement was made "reminding" us about it.
We received an invitation to cocktails in the
captain's quarters tomorrow night before dinner. Our dinner with him
is scheduled for the 11th.
David brought us the "chef's recommended" evening
snack. In other words, it is what we get if we don't order
anything special. Tonight, we're fine with that. At some point
on every cruise we get full from top to bottom and we need a day off.
However, the four tiny bruchetta servings we got were so tiny that David
gave us a second plate, plus we ate fruit from the platter in our room.
By the way, the room fruit has been very nice this entire cruise with at
least six different fruits on it every day.
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual.
The evening entertainment is scheduled before dinner,
so as far as we are concerned, it doesn't exist. The only shows we
will consider attending before dinner are production shows we haven't seen
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Casual Dining is available in the Lido Cafe tonight from 7:00-9:00pm (first
come, first served...no reservations needed). Click for the
CASUAL DINING MENU.
We decided we aren't hungry enough and/or there isn't
anything we want on the dining room menu. So, we went up to the Casual
Dining in the Lido Cafe at 8:00pm. Casual Dining is all table service
with no buffet as there was when it was around the Neptune Pool. The
Lido looks very nice with the lights dimmed and lanterns on the
tables. The waiters are the deck stewards during the day.
All of the food is cooked to order, so it takes a bit
longer to get food than in the dining room. We both ordered the Soft
Taco appetizer which was very good and what you would get in a fancy
restaurant at home. The Caesar Salad was as expected. We were
brought some homemade breadsticks and what we think was a salmon spread to
dip them in. The breadsticks were good, but we only tasted the spread
and didn't eat any more. For entrees we ordered the Balti Butter
Chicken and the Maple Glazed Salmon. The chicken wasn't at all what we
expected, but it was very good and quite interesting. We'd describe it
as chicken curry. It came with a bowl of an orange sauce/soup on the
side. There was also a small bowl of cucumber/yogurt that went well
with the curry. After tasting the orange (squash, perhaps?) sauce we
didn't think it would add anything and didn't use it. The salmon was
very good, too, but there wasn't anything unusual about it.
A cocktail waiter came by and gave us real flower
leis. He didn't appear to be particularly comfortable with the task,
but everyone seemed appreciative when he handed them out. One woman
exclaimed, "Oh my God, these are made with real flowers!" We would
have been more surprised if they weren't. This is Crystal after all.
We can't imagine any lesser cruise line giving out free leis of any sort, so
it certainly was a nice extra touch.
For dessert, Dave ordered the fruit platter, which
came out right away. FYI, it is on a plate, not a platter. Bill
ordered the Chocolate Trifle, but the waiter didn't hear him and he never
got it. When the waiter came back to try to get him to order a
dessert, he decided he didn't want it after all and didn't say anything.
We were pleased to see that Casual Dining is a
popular alternative. Everyone who left raved about the food and the
ambience is very pleasant. If they offered this on formal night it
would be the answer to a lot of prayers.
We stopped by the Bistro to get some dessert for
Bill. From 8:00-11:00pm the
buffet serves petite desserts, cheese, and a chocolate fountain.
The fountain smells good, but after watching people use it, we definitely
would pass on it. People seem to think nothing of standing there,
eating right out of it and re-using the same skewer again.
All of the wine-related decorations were removed from
the displays in the Bistro at some point, so we asked Norman if the primary
emphasis is on coffee now. He said only at night...during the day they
still serve wine as always. Basically, it is the same as it has always
been. Norman offered to go get us cocktails from downstairs, but only
because he thought we were asking because we want them and not just out of
For those of you who see our photos of Crystal's
buffets and think they must be overcrowded and difficult, rest assured they
work just fine. This ship doesn't carry 3,000 passengers, so there is
no need for giant steam tables full of food. The small serving dishes
have greatly improved the quality of the hot dishes in the Lido because
nothing sits out for very long. Anything that runs low is replaced
The captain warned that it would become rocky again
tonight, and it has. It isn't anything unusual, just normal rolling with the
wind and waves. It isn't stormy or anything like that.
We move one hour forward on the clock tonight.
It is raining this morning, but still warm, in the
mid 70's. We're still rolling a bit, but nothing major.
Click to view
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
We went to the Lido Cafe, as usual. Everything was good, no
major flops with the food today.
After lunch we went out to sit by the pool. It
looked like rain when we first went out, but it completely cleared up and
was sunny by 2:30pm. When the band started playing at 1:00pm, there
were only ten guests outside, but a few more arrived during the next hour.
Only the chairs and sofas under the covered side areas are set up today.
When someone asked a deck steward for the cushions for a sofa in the sun, he
said they are still wet. He did move some from the covered area out to the
sun for them though.
We had some snacks of ice cream and a grilled ham &
cheese sandwich around 2:30pm, but finally gave up and went back to the room
Alissa called at 4:00pm to ask if we want to add
someone to the captain's dinner invitations because she re-checked and it is
only at nine people. We asked if we can invite Paula, but she's too
far down the rungs (only officers or guests are allowed). So, we're
sticking with our original list.
Bill went to look at a Penthouse Suite and ended up
talking to Theo for so long that David brought our evening
snack in the meantime. He said that Bill told him to ask Dave what
to bring tonight. The choices were crudités with hummus, mixed seafood
plate, cheese and olive plate, pigs in a blanket, mini cheeseburgers, and
jalapeno poppers. We kept the cheeseburgers and poppers, plus the
crudités. We told him to hold off on bringing anything tomorrow
because we have to eat early, but he said he'd bring something light.
The dress code for this evening is Elegant Casual
Tonight's entertainment is before dinner again, but
since we haven't seen this show we will attend at 7:00pm. The show is
"Imagine" and is completely different than a regular production show.
It is performed in total darkness...the costumes light up. No one is
admitted to the theater late. The show only lasts 30 minutes. We
thought it was originally longer than this, but Paul said it has always been
the same. We had read that it is interesting for about 20 minutes, but
we'd give it 10 at the most. Once you've seen all of the effects,
that's pretty much it. It is something we would expect to see in a
theme park and it certainly isn't geared toward Crystal's current
demographic. However, it definitely is something different and we
applaud Crystal for trying something new. But, we probably wouldn't go
see it again.
The Galaxy Lounge wasn't even one-third full.
Paul walked around before the show and told everyone seated in the side
sections to move to the center for better effect. The center is maybe
half the capacity of each side and it still wasn't full.
We ran into our forum friends who we had invited to
join us at our 50th Milestone dinner tomorrow night with the captain (if you
join our forum, maybe you too can be our friend...maybe). Anyway, they
wanted to know what we are going to wear. It is a Resort Casual night,
but Bill wants to wear a tie and Dave does not. Quite a dilemma.
We had no luck making our friends decide between the two, being the
diplomats they are. Finally, a calmer female head prevailed and came
up with the idea of a compromise. We'll dress in the Elegant Casual
mode with a jacket and no tie and Bill can wear a tie if he wants to.
Why he would want to only he knows, but that's his choice.
We went to cocktails in the captain's quarters after
the show at 7:45pm. It seems that everyone else did exactly the same
thing because everyone arrived at once. "Everyone" being all of the
guests on Penthouse Deck, plus several others with various milestone, etc.
Other than being on Penthouse Deck or having a high number of cruises, we've
never been able to figure out how the guest list is decided.
We met several people who mistook us for someone who
posts on Cruise Critic. Dave always says he's the "Anti-Cruise Critic"
and doesn't participate there anymore (which is all true). One of the
men said he feels the same way and asked for the URL for our site, which, of
course, we gave him. The more the merrier, even if everyone doesn't
agree with everything we say. We also talked to the ship's doctor, who
is very amusing, and Josef Matt, the Hotel Director who returned yesterday.
He knows us very well, so has a lot to talk about.
The captain was in the middle of an entertaining
speech when a guest interrupted and gave him a hand-woven ship's bell pull (sorry,
we forgot the official name of such things). It was a nice gesture,
but an inappropriate time to do it. Of course, the captain was very
gracious about it and continued introducing the ship's officers after the
We have no idea how this always happens, but we were
the last people out of the party. The captain said that our dinner
tomorrow will be much different than this, "So don't worry." He's
quite a smart aleck, which we love.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Santhana acted like he's in a huff because we weren't at dinner last night.
Kremena said they were worried we were sick or something. Santhana
came over and told Kremena to get away from us so we can order (he was
joking), which she did. When we told him that we think she's very nice
and we like her, he admitted that she is his best friend on board because
she is the first person who was nice to him when he first arrived six years
ago. She encouraged him to talk to the guests and have more fun when
he wasn't enjoying the job at first. Now he loves it and has fun with
There are some new guests in the dining room and we
saw several new people around during the day, so some guests did board
yesterday. One man we overheard said he's getting off in New Orleans,
so there are a few people who boarded legally who aren't entertainment
types. Still the ship is down about 60 people from before Honolulu.
Now we are hearing that all cruises are sold out from Los Angeles until the
September drydock in Germany. We find that VERY hard to believe.
Busier than this probably, but sold out is very unlikely.
If you are wondering what is going to happen during
the drydock, we might have a bit of a scoop for you. There will be
extensive work done on the engines that will require cutting open the side
of the ship. That is the primary reason the drydock is longer than the
usual 12 days. Other than that, the carpets are being replaced.
They are still deciding on which public areas will be made over (that's the
official line, but we don't believe it), but the one that is certain is the
Crystal Cove. The exact words were, "Next time you board the ship the
area will look totally different." Hopefully that means the dated
glass ceiling will be changed in the lobby. Other than
that, pretty much everything else has been changed out fairly recently, but
waterfall could use a bit of an overhaul.
There is a new excuse about why the Symphony cannot
have Tastes installed. Previously it was always because they don't
have room for more crew to staff it. Now they are saying that it is
impossible to install air conditioning in the Trident area and there isn't a
dedicated galley area up there. Uh, so where does the cooked to order
food for Casual Dining come from? We don't believe the staffing issue
or the air conditioning are insurmountable, so we'll just have to
wait and see.
Neither of us is at all hungry tonight and nothing on
the menu stands out as something we are dying to have. However, if we
must, we must, so we ordered the following: Chilled Soup Pineapple &
Lime Sherbet, Assorted Spring Lettuce, Honey & Rosemary Marinated Chicken
Half, and a Shrimp Caesar Salad. Dave doesn't like chicken served with
bones in it, so he asked Santhana to order the "always available" grilled
chicken and have it served with whatever comes with the chicken half.
He said he would, "Talk to the chef." The "always available" items are
no longer listed on the menu, but we know you can still order them (this
includes a chicken breast, steak, and broiled fish).
The "soup" arrived in a large bowl with a small scoop
of lime sherbet and a glop of pineapple goo (Santhana used the proper name for
it that sounded far worse than "goo" and painted all sorts of pictures in
our mind). He poured a small pitcher of consommé (we think) over it.
Apparently it was delicious because when he came back Bill ordered another
one. Some of the "modern" items are very inventive and interesting.
This is one of the more successful ones.
The spring lettuce salad was a bore, as most of the
salads have been. There's nothing wrong with the lettuce and other
things in them, but the dressings have little or no flavor. The shrimp
dinner salad was better just because it came with a skewer of grilled shrimp
on top. The chicken was quite a surprise. Instead of
substituting a plain chicken breast, the chef removed the bones from the
rotisserie chicken. Well, mostly, but it was way better than trying to
eat chicken with all of its bones when you are dressed up.
Dave asked Santhana how the Lemon Curd dessert is
served. He pictured a blob of yellow stuff on a plate. Santhana
said it is "beautiful", but he says that about everything. Then he
said it is in a bowl and looks perfectly edible. It was, by the way.
After dinner we decided to go to the "Liar's Club"
show in the Galaxy Lounge. How come people can stay up late for that,
but it is always too late to attend a production show? So much for
that excuse for the earlier show schedule because the attendance was much
better than for any recent production at any time of night.
The entertainment staff handed out electronic voting
devices, which is new to us for this show. The team that gets the most
points wins a $25 slot coupon to use in the casino. Our team consisted
of the two of us, and we'll tell you up front that we did not win. The
show lasts over an hour and they only do four words, so obviously giving the
definitions is a very small part of what goes on. The panelists are
the ship's doctor, two lecturers, and a comedian we haven't seen before.
Apparently everything he says is a laugh riot because the man behind us
almost peed his pants every time he opened his mouth. His patter is
very funny, but just walking up to the mike isn't anything to soil yourself
over...unless you are this particular man.
Anyway, the four guys were very funny for the most
part, particularly the doctor and the comedian. Paul does a good job
hosting the game. Based on what we saw tonight, we wish we could see
the comedian's real show, but we have our captain's dinner tomorrow.
He was very funny. So was the doctor, so maybe we'll get sick before
we have to disembark.
It is mildly rocky tonight, but not quite as much as
before we reached Hawaii.
The weather remains about the same, just a few
Disembarkation Information was on our clip this morning. We have
red tags, so we can disembark whenever we choose between 8:00am and 9:45am.
There is a
Mother's Day Brunch in the Crystal Plaza starting at 11:30am. It
isn't mentioned in Reflections, so no one knows about it. An
announcement was made "reminding" us about it. We went to the Lido
Cafe, as usual.
The carved meat today is prime rib and it was very
good. Not much else appealed to us, but the meat plus some Eggs
Benedict and a salad was sufficient to last until snack time later.
After lunch we went outside by the Seahorse Pool
again. The band looked like they were hoping it would rain, but no
such luck. It did sprinkle for a few minutes, but not enough to shut
them down. It was sunny for the rest of the afternoon. It is
cooler today, but still pleasant outside. We stayed out until around 3:00pm.
David brought a pile of snacks again, but only kept
the crudités and the mini cheeseburgers. Bill had a sandwich from the
Trident Grill, so he didn't want anything.
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual. We have
our dinner with the captain tonight, so we're compromising with Elegant
Comedian John Joseph is the evening entertainment
(before dinner). There is also a cabaret show by Colleen Williamson at
5:15pm. She is the female lead singer in the production shows.
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
We started walking from our room at the very aft end
of Deck 10 up to the captain's quarters all the way forward. We could
see him standing in the corridor waiting for us. It is a longer walk
than you'd expect! He and Alissa started waving before we ever got
After a bit of chatting, we were posed at the table
for our official photo, then we were presented with our platinum Crystal
Society pins. Or maybe it was the other way around? You get the
idea. Stuff happened.
Since we know everyone except Danielle, the Cruise
Consultant, it was a pleasant evening. Danielle is talkative and knows
how to carry a conversation, so he was a nice addition to the party.
We rarely, or never, have a chance to sit down for an actual conversation
with any of the officers. So, it was fun reminiscing about past guests
and staff we all know. As we expected from our previous brief
encounters, the captain is very personable and has a good sense of humor.
Actually, everyone does, so it was really fun. Victor is the captain's
butler and we know him very well. Theo helped out at the beginning so
there was a lot of giggling and poking going on with him, within reason.
Paul is always interesting to talk to. Besides being a nice guy, he
has many fun stories to tell.
Click to view our
Milestone Dinner Menu. We both chose the Beef Tenderloin.
All of the food was outstanding, of course, but when we are busy chatting we
hardly notice the food. Tonight though, the food did make an
impression because it was so good. Dave's sugar free dessert was the
hit of the evening...everyone else was served pineapple cheesecake, but Dave
received a berry mousse topped with a variety of berries that he loved.
The dinner ended at around 9:30pm, so we missed all
of the evening entertainment. While we would probably enjoy the
comedian, we were thoroughly entertained during dinner with the
conversation. The captain was the newest member of the Crystal family
at the dinner, so most of the time he didn't have a clue what we were all
talking about, but he was a good sport.
We chatted with our forum friends in the elevator
lobby trying to figure out the appropriate supplemental tips to add.
We will add something for our waiter, butler and stewardess even though they
are included in the pre-paid gratuities. We'll give a lump sum to the
deck stewards, plus our usual tip to our headwaiter and the maitre 'd.
We have barely seen our assistant waiter or trainee stewardess.
We decided to go down to the front desk to take care
of a few things. The first elevator that came misbehaved and we didn't
want to get in, so we pushed some buttons to get rid of it and called
another one (we reported it at the front desk). We picked up a
form, extra luggage tags, and a printout of our account. We still have
about $45 in onboard credit remaining, but we will easily use that up with
We're not sure what happened to the "no smoking
inside" rule because our end of the corridor smells like an ashtray. There is no
question that there is chain smoking going on in two of the penthouses we
pass on the way to our room. Supposedly there is a $250 per incident
fine for smoking in your room, so either these people have decided to pay it
or it is being overlooked by the staff. We haven't noticed any smoke
smell anywhere else on the ship except on the aft open decks where smoking is
allowed. We have only seen two people smoke on the port side of the
pool deck (which is allowed).
We move one hour forward on the clock tonight.
It is cooler today, in the high 60's and very windy.
The sea is calm, so there isn't much rolling.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
We went to the Lido Cafe, as always. The carved turkey breast was the
best item on the buffet today. There were beef skewers that looked
good, but the meat was too tough to cut. We wanted to eat light this
afternoon and that's what we did.
Out by the pool it is windy and chilly, but the band
came out for their hour anyway. They only made our ears bleed twice
today. They're OK most of the time, but there are a couple of songs
they should ban from their repertoire ASAP. The usual diehards were
outside, but that adds up to maybe fifteen people at the most.
We gave up at 2:00pm and went into the covered
Trident area for snacks. Bill had fruit, Dave had a cheeseburger and
fruit. They offer homemade whole wheat buns for the burgers now.
The burger was fantastic. Everything about it was great.
On the way back to the room we took a detour by the
front desk to collect a copy of the Guest List. We also checked on how
many deck stewards there are and how they are distributed so we can charge
the appropriate gratuities to our account. It used to be a lot easier
when you could just write "Deck Stewards" on the form and it would work out.
Now it is divided into Lido Cafe, Trident Grill, and Trident Bar. The
latter covers the guys at the pool.
During Paul's "5 O'clock Funnies" show each night
there is a TV Trivia quiz. Bill knew the answer and called. The
first person was wrong, so Bill won. He gets a $25.00 slot coupon to
use in the casino. We will pick it up from the librarian later.
We've barely set foot in the casino, so playing the slots will be a first.
David brought our usual snacks at 5:30pm, but we cut
down and only had two things, mini cheeseburgers and guacamole with chips.
Tonight's dress code is Resort Casual.
The evening entertainment is scheduled before dinner.
The headliner in the Galaxy Lounge tonight is vocalist Mark Preston, once a
member of The Lettermen. We weren't expecting much to be honest, but
his show was very good. If the volume hadn't been so ear-splitting it
would have been perfect. He has a great voice and good banter with the
The show let out at 7:45pm, so we went the library to
pick up Bill's winnings. The librarian immediately knew who we are and
made a big deal about Bill winning. After that we went to sit in the
Starlite Club for the rest of the time before dinner. One of the
cocktail waitresses wanted us to come by and tell her if the show was any
good. We told her that, yes, it was very good.
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
There isn't anything on the menu tonight either of us is dying to order, but
we forced ourselves to choose a few things: Variation of Four Salmon,
Mixed Greens Salad, Grilled Mahi Mahi, and Roasted Kurobuta Pork Chop.
The salmon resembled some of the jiggly things we had while we were in
Japan...salmon tartar, for instance, was one of the four versions.
We'll give them credit for trying something new, but we wouldn't order it
again. The salad ingredients were fine, but the dressing tasted like
nothing at all. Both of the entrees were outstanding and decent
portions. Bill just had the sherbet for dessert while Dave had a bowl
of mixed berries.
The bowl of berries prompted a conversation with
Celso about healthy eating and such. Dave only goes on a rant about it
if it involves talking about a low carb diet, but this was a normal
conversation. Celso is always very nice and has lots of interesting
things to say.
We tried to find out what happened to our original
assistant waiter, but the best we could come up with is that he is tired and
taking a break. He didn't look at all happy when we first arrived and
we have seen less and less of him as the days go by. We have had a new
assistant the past two nights who is from Goa, India. He is friendly
and fun to talk to. Tonight he told us how different Goa is than the
rest of India (mostly Christian, not very religious, high literacy rate,
settled by Portuguese, etc.), which was quite interesting.
After dinner we went to the front desk to turn in our
gratuity form, put some cash on our account to cover it, and get change to
give out to a few other crew members. "Change" meaning smaller bills
than $100's, not quarters or something.
Dave was trying to remember a certain drink from the
olden days, so we went over to ask Paula if she knows what it is.
However, on the way over Bill thought of it. Even so, we stayed and
chatted with her for over an hour. She wanted to know how we met, etc.
So, now she knows.
We move one hour forward on the clock tonight.
It's another beautiful day at sea. Still smooth
sailing, which is amazing for a Pacific crossing. It is about 72
Theo delivered a gift from Crystal Society. It
is a beautiful album commemorating our 50th Milestone and our picture from
the captain's dinner. Crystal really does know how to do something
classy for a special occasion.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Out of habit we went to the Lido Cafe, which was a mistake. It is
Mediterranean food day, formerly the "Cuisine of the Sun" theme buffet by
the pool. We have never cared for the selection of food at this lunch
and today was no exception. There are, of course, enough choices to
find something to fill up on. The lasagna was pretty good, for
example. There were skewers of beef, pork and chicken in various
sauces that tasted OK, but were way overcooked and dry. By the way,
they have completely eliminated the themed decorations and uniforms for the
buffets now that they have moved into the Lido Cafe. Only the
background music was different.
After lunch we went out by the Seahorse Pool, as
usual. It is a bit chilly outside, but using a towel for a blanket was
enough to stay comfortable. The regular band was replaced with the
Honeytons, the jazz band/singer usually in the Palm Court. There is no
question this is a more professional group than the Crystal Sextet, but the
selection of music isn't conducive to a jovial poolside atmosphere.
There were only eight people left by the time they finished. Again,
the singer is quite good, but it is the kind of music you'd expect to hear
in a jazz bar filled with beatniks slowly snapping their fingers to the
One of the deck stewards came over to thank us for
the gratuity and seemed to genuinely appreciate it. The deck guys work
harder than anyone on board and they're always the first, and sometimes
only, ones to thank us for a gratuity.
When the music ended at 2:00pm, we moved into the
Trident area and ordered some food. Dave had another delicious
cheeseburger while Bill had a Hawaiian pizza.
Around 3:00pm, we went to the room to pick up Bill's
$25 Slot Coupon to cash in at the Casino. They gave him five $5.00
tickets, so we went to five different machines to use them up. When he
won $20.00 on one of the machines, Dave pushed "Cash Out" so we'd be sure to
come out ahead. The rest of the credits evaporated, but we still have
the $20.00 he won. He cashed the voucher in a machine that gave him a
$20 bill, and we were done with our exciting casino adventure...the first,
and probably last unless we win a contest again. FYI, the machines
know the difference between a free credit and the cash you win, so you can't
just put the coupon in a machine and cash it out to get the money.
David brought the usual array of "snacks", but
tonight we're OK with it because nothing on the dinner menu jumps out at us.
Tonight's dress code is Black Tie Optional (Formal)
for the Captain's Gala Farewell. There is a cocktail party for the
occasion in the Starlite Club before dinner. We stopped in the
receiving line briefly to thank Alissa for the nice 50th Milestone album.
She asked us to come by her desk tomorrow to sign for our Platinum Crystal
Society pins. She said some people have claimed they didn't receive
one and they have to produce the receipt to show them. Dave asked,
"You mean if they even remember where they are?" In any case, we
examined the pins later and they actually ARE platinum, not just
platinum-colored metal (there is a hallmark on the back).
We certainly can't complain about the many rewards we
received for our 50th Milestone. Not only did we get the free
penthouse, but we received platinum pins, a very nice dinner with the
captain, recognition at the Crystal Society party, and the lovely album.
Those are nice gifts in anyone's book and we do appreciate them.
The cocktail reception was the same as usual, except
the captain was amusing.
Click for the
CAPTAIN'S GALA MENU. We stopped at Remi's podium to compliment
some waiters and he said he would stop by our table to talk about it.
He thanked us for the gratuity we sent, as did Celso the first time we saw
him tonight. When Remi came to the table we complimented Zoltan and
Silvia from the neighboring station. They were very patient and
helpful to the table of old Japanese people they served. They're both
very attentive in the Lido Cafe at lunch, too. We also told Remi that
Santhana is very helpful and actually knows the menu and how each dish is
prepared. We almost never ask our waiter for a recommendation because
they generally don't know much, if anything, beyond the basics.
Santhana always has something useful to tell us.
Tonight we ordered Rock Shrimp "Thermador Style",
Tropical Fruit Mosaic, Caesar Salad, Pan-Fried Lemon Sole Fillets, and Beef
Wellington. The shrimp was interesting, but we wouldn't order it
again. Nothing wrong with it, but it wasn't what we expected. The
fruit was very attractive and a nice selection of various fruits and
berries. The salad was adequate, nothing more. Both entrees were
very good. The Beef Wellington in particular was much better than it
has been in the past. Santhana said they only serve it on long cruises
like this one and he hasn't seen it on the menu for quite a while.
Dave ordered a bowl of berries with whipped cream for dessert; Bill had the
sherbet from the menu.
We were horrified to learn that when the new Modern
Menu started they only changed the items on the Classic Menu every two days.
That is not acceptable and we would have trumpeted it as a major cutback.
Apparently, everyone else felt the same way and now it changes every day as
it always has.
Tonight's entertainment is the production show
"Curtain Call"...after dinner! We have never loved
this show and we still don't. That is mostly because it includes some
very dated selections. "Mama Mia" is the most current show
represented, which should tell you something about the show. We can't
help but cringe during the "Cats" and "Man of la Mancha" numbers. The
rest of the show is enjoyable and feels like a classic Crystal Cruises show.
Wednesday, May 14 -
Cruising the Pacific Ocean
The weather is perfect today...low 70's, smooth seas,
and not a cloud in the sky. Everyone is saying that this is the
calmest crossing ever. From our experience, we would agree!
Everyone gets 20 minutes of free internet access today for airline check-in
and printing of boarding passes. The time was added to our account.
We went down to talk to Alissa and sign for our pins.
She said, as we expected, that since these pins actually are valuable that
people sometimes "forget" they have received them. That sure is tacky
of them, but since a lot of them may not even know where they are or where
they've been at this
point, maybe it really is an honest mistake. Maybe.
Here is some definitive information on what is
happening during Crystal Symphony's September dry dock. As we already
mentioned, the entire Crystal Plaza area will be "reconfigured" and "it
will look completely different than it does now." That may be good or
bad depending on what it is that they change, but it does need some
updating. We hadn't heard before today that the Crystal Spa is being
re-done again. We don't know what that entails, but the word
"completely" was used in describing it. All of the carpets in public
areas will be replaced. We don't think that is really necessary since
most of it looks fairly new, but maybe they are changing the color scheme or
something. Otherwise, the main thrust of the operation is the
extensive engine overhaul happening below decks. That bodes well for
the Symphony remaining in the fleet for a few more years, at least.
Click for the Crystal Dining Room
Lunch in the Lido was fine, as usual. More people must have gone to
the dining room on the final day because it was very slow in the Lido.
After lunch we went outside to sit by the pool to
listen to the band. They only did one song that made us cringe, so it
was pleasant. The weather is beautiful today.
At 2:00pm when the band finished, we went
inside...well, sort of, the glass roof is partially open today...and had
food from the Trident Grill. Then, we went back to the room to start
We were in the middle of packing when David arrived
with our evening snacks. We can't believe we'll ever be hungry again
since we just ate, but we have a long way to go before dinner time.
David gave us a Fodor's guide book to Chile and told us to contact him if we
ever want him to show us around. He said the same thing yesterday
without any prompting from us, so it is a sincere offer. Now that we
are doing road trips more than cruising, who knows, maybe we'll take him up
Tonight's entertainment is a Farewell Variety Show at
5:15pm, so we put off snacking, got re-dressed, and went to the show.
This was probably the best overall farewell show we have ever seen.
The opening and closing numbers by the Crystal Ensemble were very good, as
were the short acts in between (the pianist, vocalist, and comedian).
People started leaving at 6:00pm as though the dining room wouldn't still be
there if they are fifteen minutes late. Considering that nearly
the entire first seating is in the Galaxy Lounge, we're pretty sure the
dining room knows they are coming late.
We went back to the room to finish most of our
packing. Of course, we had to eat the snacks David left earlier.
It has been an hour since we last ate, so we're starving.
David and Manju (our stewardess) received extra tips
over what they get with all-inclusive. Manju was very sweet, thanking
us for being so nice to her during the cruise.
We shoved our three larger pieces of luggage out in
the hallway and went down to sit in the Starlite Club before dinner.
There is a ballroom dancing session going on there with the Galaxy Orchestra
and the lead singers, which is a nice change from the usual dance band (same
one that is out by the pool in the afternoon). Our FF's (forum
friends) arrived and we went down to the dining room together.
Click to view the Crystal Dining Room
Everyone shows up in the dining room on the last night, but with so few
people on the late seating we could barely tell the difference. When
Santhana came to the table we gave him an extra tip and told him to be
discrete because we're not giving anything extra to Yasin. We barely
saw him during the cruise and he wasn't exactly the most cheerful person
Tonight we ordered the Chilled Tiger Prawn, Yellow
Corn & Ancho Chili Smoke, Spinach Salad, Hawaiian Striped Marlin, and the
Meatloaf. The prawn appetizer was interesting, but the lime snow was
pointless. It was just white powder in a pile and added no flavor at
all. The fig jam though was very tasty. The salad wasn't
anything special. The marlin looked very attractive served on green
cous cous. It was very good. Santhana said it is fresh from
Hawaii until we said that's kind of impossible at this point. Then he
said it was "barely frozen". The meatloaf was OK, but nothing
unexpected about it. Celso called it "boring", but it wasn't that bad.
The corn soup is the same corn bisque that used to be served on 50's night
with the meatloaf. All they did was serve a tiny side dish of smoked
ancho chili powder to add to it. All that does it make it spicy.
The sugar free cheesecake for dessert was OK. Again, nothing special.
Kremena was chatty and friendly as she always is.
On the way out she hugged both of us even before she knew we had a tip for
her. Santhana gave us copies of the menus. Yasin was certainly
available tonight...for the first time. Talk about obvious.
We went to the room and found the heat running.
However, the thermostat is where we left it, so something went haywire while
we were out. After jiggling the lever it fixed itself, but it was way
too warm in the room to stay there.
We went down to the Cove Bar to say our goodbyes to
Paula. She came out and literally jumped on each of us in turn to hug
us. As we keep saying, she and Theo are our favorite crew members.
We are always glad to see them because they are like "real" people, not just
When we returned to the room, the air conditioning
was back to normal and it was cool again. We quickly packed our dirty
clothes into one of the remaining bags and put them out in the hall.
The ones we put out earlier are already gone.
The sea is completely calm and we can barely tell the
ship is moving.
Thursday, May 15 - Los Angeles/San Pedro, CA, USA
- Disembark Crystal Symphony
Click for weather forecast
At 1:30am, Dave looked out the window because it felt
as though the ship had stopped. It was still moving, but very slowly.
At this distance, points of light are visible on land.
Click to view the Disembarkation Issue of
The ship docked at 6:00am and disembarkation began on
time at 8:00am.
There are brush fires all over San Diego County
today, so we're a little concerned that our car service won't be able to get
out to pick us up today.
We went to the Lido Cafe for breakfast. It was
fine. We're not big breakfast people, so we loaded up on fruit and a
few other things. It took a very long time for Bill to get his eggs
cooked to order, but since we're in no hurry, it wasn't a problem.
We're amazed how cheerful the deck stewards are all the time. It seems
like they work from dawn to very late at night, but they never act tired or
No announcements were made all morning. On
Crystal you are expected to read the disembarkation instructions and follow
them without reminders. We decided to leave as soon as we finished
breakfast and got our stuff together. So, we headed for the elevator
at 8:50am. Our car service called as we were getting into the elevator
to say he has arrived. They always expect throngs of people and lines
of taxis and cars. Not so with a Crystal ship with only 500 passengers.
Manju came out of a room and fawned all over us for
being so nice during the cruise. We are always nice to all crew
members, but what are other people doing to make them go out of their way to
No one was disembarking when we went down to the
gangway, so all we had to do was scan our keycard and walk into the
terminal. There were more Crystal representatives standing around than
passengers. Customs control took about two seconds. All they did
was collect our forms and that was it.
Luggage was arranged by number, so it was very easy
to find. A very friendly porter followed us and helped load the
luggage onto his cart. He took us out where the cars are usually
waiting to pick people up. We found the car quickly, but the driver
wasn't there. By the time the porter unloaded our bags, he showed up
and we were ready to go.
We weren't thrilled to have a 77-year-old driver, to
be honest (he told us his age). He was very nice and there weren't any
problems, but that age is kind of pushing it for a service we are paying
for. In any case, we made it home with no problem, arriving at
Welcome home guys, the entire county is on
fire! Yesterday the fire was on the other side of hill behind our
house, but we can't see any smoke in that direction today. Later, our
housekeeper came to get us to point out a new fire on the outside of the
opposite side of the valley. Our house sitters received a reverse 911
call yesterday telling them to evacuate, but they felt the situation had
improved and evacuation wasn't necessary. They were right. It is
a difficult to know what to do when we get those calls. Later in the
afternoon, another fire broke out at the end of the valley, dropping ash
over our area. That's when we decided to break out the fire hoses and
pump for the pool "just in case". Nothing like a jolt of reality to
bring us back to earth after two weeks of doing nothing!
This is probably one of the best overall cruises we
have taken when only the cruise itself is considered. The food was
vastly improved overall from recent years, service remains top notch, and
the ship looks great.
There are only a few things that need improvement and
they are related to the entertainment. While all except one of the
production shows was new to us, the formula is exactly the same as it was
twenty years ago. In other words, the shows are stale.
Beautiful, absolutely. Entertaining, sure. Cutting edge, not
even close. The biggest complaint we have is the recent practice of
scheduling the shows for Late Seating guests at 7:00pm, before dinner.
This interrupts the whole flow of the evening and leaves us with nothing to
do after dinner. Who wants to go directly to bed after eating a huge
meal? We don't believe for a minute that there have been so many
complaints about late shows that a change had to be made. What we do
believe is that Crystal is using this explanation as an excuse to schedule
shows for the convenience of the entertainers and staff.
We were very impressed by the thought and effort that
went into recognizing our 50th Milestone. It all came off as a sincere
thank you for our loyalty. The Crystal Society hostess really made an
effort to make our dinner with the captain suitable for our tastes.
The real platinum pins are a nice gift for sure, as is the beautiful album
with our captain's dinner photo. We appreciate the gesture and commend
Crystal for making the entire event a class act.
Many people complained about the constant
hour-forwards every other night. We didn't find it at all disruptive.
Where are you going in the morning anyway? So sleep an extra hour if
the time change bothers you. We still managed to get out of bed at the
same time every day, so what's the big deal?
This was the smoothest Pacific crossing ever!
There were only two days of rough seas, but calling them rough under the
circumstances is quite an exaggeration. It could have been much worse,
that is for sure.
We have seen a bit of a change in the staffing that
results in some less than luxurious attitudes. Thankfully, those sour
puss crew members are few and far between. This seems to be a result
of Crystal moving down the rungs on the countries from which they can
attract new employees. We saw this happen before when they had to
shift from using Scandinavian stewardesses, but it all worked out
eventually. Our stewardess from Nepal was delightful, so all is not
lost. We never saw our assistant stewardess. Our butler was
wonderful...he did everything he could to try to force food on us. He
was interesting and friendly, too. We never ask for much, if anything,
from the butlers, but it is a huge plus when they are friendly and
Contrary to claims by self-appointed "experts" on
other forums, every crew member we asked about all-inclusive doesn't like
it. 100% of them said they made much more money under the old system.
None of them faulted Crystal for making a change that they all see as
necessary to stay competitive, but they still don't like it. Every
single one of them still praises Crystal as a great employer who they
believe really cares about their welfare.
We did not see any issues with the complimentary wine
service in the dining room. Late Seating wasn't very busy, so that may
have something to do with it, but we found the wine service to be even
better than in the past. The sommelier we had was charming and she
always explained each complimentary wine in great detail. We never
waited for our glasses to be refilled. If the sommelier was busy, our
waiter refilled them.
Speaking of waiters, ours was great. He was
actually knowledgeable about the menu and gave accurate descriptions when
asked about certain items. He spoke excellent English (he is from
India) and had a fun sense of humor. On the other hand, our assistant
waiter was quite the opposite. He never smiled and seemed to dislike
us from the start. We rarely saw him and we had a substitute several
nights (who we enjoyed). He is the first crew member to whom we didn't give
an extra gratuity. If this had been pre-all-inclusive, we would have
reduced the recommended tip, which we have never even thought of before.
It took us several days to fall back into the "do
nothing" routine we have developed on Crystal cruises. We have decided
that we have evolved and this kind of vacation doesn't suit us as much as it
used to. That's not to say we will never go on another cruise.
But, we will probably attach it to the beginning or end of a land adventure
as we did this time. We loved not having to fly home. We had no
jet lag coming or going, which is a bonus for travelling by sea.
Crystal is as great or better than it has always been and it is still our
preferred cruise line.
We'll start planning our next adventure soon, so stay