Grand Pacific I

Home Up Forum Photo Gallery Menu Gallery High Country RT Iceland Grand Circle Pagodas to Paradise Journey to Hokkaido Tokyo Disney Resort Canyonlands RT Midwest & More RT California Deserts RT Pacific Coast RT Pacific Escape Yellowstone Road Trip Asian Disneylands Cinematic Seascapes Grand Panama Golden Passage Mexican Riviera '07 Mexican Riviera '06 Harmony's Farewell Mexican Riviera '05 Treasures of Alaska Gateway to the Sun Pacific Fiesta Pacific Sun Escape to the Sun World Cruise 2003 Mediterranean 1998 Circle Hawaii '97 Grand Maiden Voyage Our First Cruise Sponsor Links Contact Us


    Birthday in a Box

Grand Pacific I Grand Pacific II Grand Pacific III Grand Pacific IV 2002 Summary




Los Angeles, USA to Valparaiso, Chile
Departs January 17, 2002
  19 days
Crystal Symphony



Los Angeles, USA – Valparaiso, Chile

January 17 – February 4, 2002

Wednesday, January 16 – Beverly Hills, USA – Bon Voyage Party 

Thursday, January 17 – Los Angeles, USA – Embark 3 PM, Sail 6 PM 

Friday, January 18 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Saturday, January 19 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Sunday, January 20 – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – 8 AM-6 PM 

Monday, January 21 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Tuesday, January 22 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Wednesday, January 23 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Thursday, January 24 – Puntarenas, Costa Rica – 3 AM-9 PM 

Friday, January 25 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Saturday, January 26 – Crossing the Equator 

Sunday, January 27 – Guayaquil, Ecuador – 1 AM-Midnight 

Monday, January 28 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Tuesday, January 29 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Wednesday, January 30 – Callao, Peru – 8 AM-10 PM  

Thursday, January 31 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean

Friday, February 1 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Saturday, February 2 – Cruising the Pacific Ocean 

Sunday, February 3 – Valparaiso, Chile – Arrive 8 AM 


Here we go!

A private limousine was scheduled to pick us up this afternoon at 3:00 pm.  The driver arrived promptly at 2:30 pm, which means, of course, that we weren’t quite ready for him.  Even so, we were on our way a bit early, at 2:45 pm.

The ride was relatively uneventful except for the driver’s aggressive tactics.  This resulted in several honking fights and the exchange of certain rude gestures.  Clearly, this wasn’t appropriate behavior, but we didn’t say anything.  It took more time to get through the traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. (40 minutes) than the entire rest of the drive. 

Upon arrival at the Beverly Hills Hotel, shouts of “CRYSTAL, CRYSTAL” from the doorman produced one of their blue-jacketed agents who escorted us through the lobby to the Sunset Lounge and more waiting agents.  Our luggage went directly from the car to the room; we never touched it again until we unpacked on the ship.

After checking in with the Crystal reps, we moved to the next table where hotel staff took a credit card imprint for incidentals and gave us our keys.   A hotel staff member escorted us to our room, conveniently located down a corridor off the main lobby.

The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in the 1930’s, but it looked brand new.  It was closed for two years recently to be completely refurbished and it certainly shows.  There are huge Murano glass chandeliers everywhere, enormous displays of fresh flowers, and not a smudge on the peach-colored walls.

Our room, while not gigantic by 5-star standards, certainly had every amenity one could imagine, including a doorbell.  There was also a deluxe entertainment system with CD changer, dual cassette player, VCR and 25” color TV.  The room also came equipped with two telephone lines, one with a private number, as well as a fax machine.  The bathroom was equal to any in a private home, probably better.  There was even a remote control shade on the window over the tub.  Not that you would need it for privacy, however.  The “terrace” was more like a small back yard with two upholstered lounges and a dining table for four on the lower level.  Yes, it had two levels!   Oh, and our own security system, too!

We took our time getting dressed for the black tie Gala Bon Voyage Party scheduled for 7:00 pm in the Crystal Ballroom (convenient name, huh?)  We decided to be fashionably late and arrived at 7:15 pm.  The first hour was for cocktails and a chance to socialize with Captain Maalen and other members of Crystal’s staff.  There were quite a few people there from the office whose names we recognized, but had never met.

BonVoyage1.jpg (42831 bytes)Arriving down the spectacular spiral staircase accompanied by lush violins and orchestra was something out of Cinderella.  It was unbelievable.  It appeared as though most of the guests had arrived already, as the huge lobby area was full.  We retrieved our table assignment from the Crystal Society Hostesses and looked around to see if we recognized anyone. 

We quickly found Josef Matt, the Hotel Director.  He knew immediately who we were and was obviously pleased to see us.  A woman named Millie stopped and introduced herself, but we have no idea why.  Ian, the head photographer was there taking pictures.  He said that his wife Linda was at home now that she has had a baby.  He had flown in for just three days from Europe.  We also spied Luis, the Meet and Greet manager who flies to every port to make shore arrangements.  Free drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served by roving waiters.  We didn’t sample the snacks, but the drinks certainly didn’t skimp on alcohol content.

Promptly at 8:00pm, the doors to the ballroom opened to reveal a stage adorned with an enormous lighted Crystal Cruises logo.  The evening (and apparently the entire cruise) has an Asian theme.  Each table for 10 was decorated with a centerpiece perched atop a tripod of black lacquered bamboo poles.  Sprays of orchids arched gracefully outward, while the center sported three spider mums.  This piece was placed on a round mirror that reflected the frosted glass and bamboo-cut metal votive candles in the center.  Click for a photo.

Music for dancing continued throughout the evening, the only drawback being the volume.  It was so loud that it was nearly impossible to carry on a conversation.

Diane, Crystal's Operations Manager and her boyfriend, Bill, hosted our table.  Diane appeared to be thrilled to meet us.  In fact, she said she had been waiting for this evening just to meet us.  We’ve never heard of her, so word must have spread through the office about us.  She wanted to sit next to us, but the seats had place cards.  We didn’t see any reason not to go ahead and rearrange them since no one was at the table yet, but her boyfriend dallied too long and the others began to arrive.  Neither of us mind having a conversation with older people if we are placed in that situation, but Diane seemed to think we would be bored silly.

Dave’s tablemate was Margaret, 83, from Houston.  We would have guessed she was in her early 60’s at the most.  She asked Dave to help her fasten her bracelets, which he did.  She must still be wearing them.  Margaret was very nice, but it was difficult to hear with the loud music and she didn’t seem particularly interested in talking, although she did answer questions.  Margaret has been on 56 Crystal cruises.

Bill sat next to a fun couple, Barbara and Mel.  They were quite jovial and talkative.  We expect to see them and speak to them on the ship.  Unfortunately, they tried to recruit us for a choir.  This suggestion appalled us, and we’ll probably have to decline more than once.

The rest of the table members were also pleasant and carried on reasonably entertaining conversations.   We would guess the average age at the table at well over 70.  Diane and Bill did a fine job of hosting the table, although Diane kept looking at Dave with pity in her eyes.  It wasn’t that bad and there was no need to feel sorry for him.

There were the usual speeches by Crystal’s new president, Gregg Michel, the head of entertainment, whose name eludes us at the moment, and a toast by Captain Maalen.

Grand Pacific Circle 2002

Gala Menu


Warm Steamed Tandoori Chicken & Rice Noodle Dumpling on Sweet and Sour Tomato Cucumber Salad with Satay Sauce

Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Crisp Stir-Fried Vegetable and Pineapple and Lemon Grass Ginger Tamarind Sauce


Sautéed Cantonese-Style Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Duckling with Young Green Vegetables and Five-Spice Garlic Sauce


Sweet Adzuki Bean Date in Sesame Pastry with Green Tea-Chestnut Ice Cream

Wine and champagne were served throughout the dinner.  We’re not sure what the story is, but the first appetizer was neither warm, nor a dumpling.  It was actually a cold spring roll.  It did have the tomato salad under it though.  Everything else was very good, but not exceptional, and the portions were microscopic.   Still, it was nicely presented and it certainly cost Crystal a bundle. Just for future reference, don’t put something in your mouth if you aren’t sure what it is.  Chestnuts are disgusting!

There were a few too many lulls in the dinner, but it seemed to be done purposely to allow time for dancing.  Did we mention the music was LOUD?

After dinner, Gregg Michel and a friendly woman from the office named Jeannie came over and introduced themselves with the admonition to “tell Adair we met you because she said we had to!”  That was rather amusing coming from the president of Crystal.  So, Adair, you have more clout than you realize.  Adair is our travel agent in case you didn't know.

One fun perk of attending this party was a chance to examine and hold one of the torches from the Olympic relay that took place a few days ago.  We saw an older man showing it around, but we didn’t realize until later that he was allowing every single person to hold it.  He was extremely nice about it and took the time to tell anyone who was interested whatever they wanted to know.  This was our first "Crystal Moment."  There are usually many of these unexpected, but memorable tidbits on these cruises, but we never expected one before we even left shore!

The party lasted until the very last minute stated in the program, 11:00pm.  Ours was one of the last tables out, although we had nothing to do with that.

Once back in our room, we went directly to bed in order to be up at 8:00am for the sole purpose of turning our luggage over to a bellman.  We don’t have to check out until 1:30pm for our limousine transfer to the ship at 2:30pm.   There is a complimentary buffet breakfast provided tomorrow, so if we want that we have to get up anyway.

We have no clue what the room rates are for the Beverly Hills Hotel, but it is probably worth whatever they are.  The bed was so comfortable we didn’t want to leave.

Here’s an interesting fact:  Last year there were 140 guests on the entire World Cruise, this year there are 181.  During his speech, Gregg Michel seemed especially grateful that so many people had booked, so we are expecting a rather low turnout of guests for the segments.   For your reference, the ship holds 940 guests.  From the few people we talked to, it does appear that the Los Angeles round trip played a big part in the decision to book and then to keep the booking.

Our luggage was picked up at 9:00am for transport directly to our stateroom on board.  Since we had to get up anyway, we went to the complimentary breakfast buffet in the Sunset Ballroom.

The buffet, which was referred to as a “full American breakfast,” consisted of a tray of fruit, cold cereal, bacon, sausage and a tough, soggy puff pastry filled with scrambled eggs topped with caviar.  Fancy?  Maybe.  Edible?  Well, not really. 

Since we arrived near the end of the designated time, most of the table settings had already been used.  We managed to find a table with two unused places, which was fine with us.  Unfortunately, a very grumpy couple sat down at the dirty places and immediately started complaining about anything you can imagine.  No coffee cups, no juice, “they don’t understand the word juice,” “the coffee here is too strong,” and on and on.  Any woman who wears ½” false eyelashes when she is in her 70’s shouldn't be complaining about anything.  So much for our theory that this group of people, being seasoned travelers, will just go with the flow.

After breakfast, we took our tickets and passports to the Crystal desk to pre-register for the cruise.  We were given an embarkation card as well as our stateroom keycard.

It would have been a lazy morning, but someone knocked at our door about every fifteen minutes asking when we were checking out, if we used anything in the mini bar, did we forget anything in the safe, etc.  We had paperwork saying to check out between noon and 1:30pm, but apparently the hotel wasn’t aware of this.   As we were going out the door at 1:00pm, the Front Desk called to ask when we were leaving.  OK, we can take a hint!

The information we had said to bring hand luggage to the Crystal desk, but it was so chaotic that we simply waited around the lobby.  Our departure time was set for 2:30pm, which meant we had to wait about an hour.  No big deal to us, but other people looked annoyed.  It wasn’t a mystery.  All of this was announced in the papers they handed out upon arrival, but reading them obviously wasn’t required.

Dave endeared himself to the Crystal reps by rolling his eyes behind an obnoxious guest’s back.  That gave us a distinct edge in speed of service as they did everything they could to rush us ahead of the masses.

We had to wait briefly for our limo and we then proceeded toward the port in San Pedro.  The driver chose an unfortunate route down La Cienega to the Harbor Freeway.  The traffic was ridiculous and it took us 45 minutes just to reach the on ramp.  Once on the freeway, it was a fairly quick trip to the port.


cruise1.gif (356660 bytes)

Crystal Symphony at the Port of Los Angeles


“As Crystal Symphony plies the portals of time, allow us to satisfy your ardent wanderlust.  Explore the peaks of Machu Picchu and venture into Chile’s renowned wine region for hot air ballooning or wine tasting.

Discover the enduring monoliths of mystic Easter Island. Complement Auckland and New Zealand’s North Island with the natural treasures of the South Island – from Rotorua to Milford Sound and quaintly English Christchurch.  Aquatic and earthbound experiences await you in Australia.  Near Hayman Island, snorkel and picnic at the Great Barrier Reef or trek to the outback and visit Ayers Rock and Alice Springs.  The inspiring temples of Angkor and the energy of Bangkok, Hanoi and Saigon await your discovery from Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Unearth the terra cotta Warriors of Xi’an and tread on the Great Wall.  The past and present glory of Shanghai beckons and a special visit to the front line along the North Korean/South Korean border has been arranged from Incheon. History unfolds from four ports in Japan where smiling faces and dazzling centuries-old shrines vie for your heart.

Ahead lie experiences and encounters as far reaching as the Pacific itself.  This Grand Pacific Circle voyage will feature exotic cultures, magnificent monuments and friendly people. All await your arrival.”

 Here are the details and layout of our stateroom on Penthouse Deck 10:

Penthouse Deck 10

Penthouse.jpg (328757 bytes)  CSfp3.gif (5734 bytes) 

Ordinarily, when one arrives at the terminal on embarkation day, there is a line of cars and crowds of people.  Not so this time!  The only people at the curb were from the limo ahead of us, along with a line of Crystal reps standing along the sides of a red carpet to greet us.  We were welcomed and accompanied toward the doors, but were sidetracked briefly as Luis recognized us.  The rep was impressed that we knew him and had to know all about how many cruises we had been on, etc.  She was extremely pleasant, as they always are.

Boarding.jpg (32697 bytes)We bypassed everything except the x-ray of our hand luggage.  We had to do this again once we were on board.  There was also the usual boarding photo opportunity on the way to the gangway.  We have never boarded with so few people.  There was only one person ahead of us at the gangway.  Mario, a headwaiter, recognized us as we entered.  It really seemed as though we had arrived very early or very late.  However, we were, in fact, right on time.

Once on board, our hand luggage was taken by a white-gloved steward (actually, one for each of us), who then led us to our stateroom.  In Crystal terminology, it is a Penthouse, however, it is just the next step up from a standard stateroom with veranda.  It does come with the perks of being on the Penthouse Deck though.  This includes a butler who will make reservations for the alternative restaurants, obtain shore excursion tickets, free pressing, and free mini bar stocked upon arrival, and copies of all restaurant menus delivered every day. 

We have two stewardesses plus the butler.  Susanna and Rosalina arrived to introduce themselves and to point out the amenities of the penthouse.  We gave our instructions for extra pillows and Kleenex, as usual.  The bed was already made up without the standard duvet, as we prefer, but we have no idea how they knew this.

Our butler, Ural, is extremely pleasant and not overbearing at all.  Every time he sees us in the hallway he asks if he can do anything for us.  He offered to bring snacks before dinner, but we were headed up to the grill for a late lunch.

Both of us were starving, so we went up to the Trident Grill for snacks.  Dave had a hot dog and Bill had grilled cheese.  We skipped the fries and had fruit instead.  The first improvement we noticed from the recent dry-dock is new wicker chairs and tables for the Neptune pool.  These are a huge improvement and should help alleviate some of the problem of finding a place to sit during the many poolside buffets.

The Lido restaurant has been completely overhauled with new upholstery, slate tile aisles and carpeted dining areas.  Originally there was a lovely inlaid wood floor, but it was ruined almost immediately and was obviously not an appropriate choice.

DeckParty1.jpg (18036 bytes)There was a sail away party on the Lido deck at 5:30pm, so we went up to see what was up and get our free champagne and snacks.  The snacks were relatively repulsive, so we passed them up.  Again, we have never seen so few passengers!  Our guess is that there were less than 100 people there and many of those were staff members.  This is probably the only time you will see us in our World Cruise Club jackets.

We strolled around checking out the recent changes.  The lobby has been redecorated in brighter color upholstery with a few avant garde leather chairs and a sofa in the center of the plaza.  The railing was lined with flags of the countries we will be visiting and a large World Cruise banner hung in front of the fountain.

The lighting in the lobby has been adjusted so it may be dimmed in the evening.  This is a huge improvement over the bright fluorescent lighting of the past.  However, there is only so much that can be done to make fluorescent light attractive.  There are lamps scattered through the Crystal Cove Bar to give it a more residential feel.   Although this is a step in the right direction, they still have a way to go before this ship has a warm atmosphere in the public areas.

Steven, the Front Office Manager made a detour to come over and say hello to us.  In the past, we haven't had much contact with him, although he does know us.  Paulo, a wine steward, came over.  He has remembered our names since our first cruise.  He even recalled that it has been two years since our last cruise! 

Harry spotted us and ran over to get caught up on things.  He isn’t working at the moment, but will stay on board until Puerto Vallarta.  Crewmembers aren’t allowed on shore in U.S. ports for any reason.  The shop staff usually handles the check in procedures, but they are not allowed to even set foot on shore due to security concerns.  So, it is easier for Harry to get off in Puerto Vallarta and fly back to Los Angeles than to try to get clearance in port.

It was freezing on deck, in spite of jackets, so we went back inside to look for our friend Jan in the shops.  He was easy to find, being as tall as we are and the only male member of the shop crew.  He was thrilled to see us and we stayed to talk to him until it became apparent that the rest of the staff was becoming annoyed even though there were no customers.  During our conversation, Nikki, the Cruise Sales Consultant, rushed over to greet us.  She is supposed to be on vacation, but had to stay at the last minute when her substitute had a family emergency.  She will leave shortly and then return in Hong Kong.  Jan agrees with us that Nikki is a wonderful person.  Nobody does her job better and she is extremely personable and nice.

Upon arrival in our room, we found the following gifts:

·         World Cruise Jackets and Caps

·         World Cruise tote bags

·         Crystal Society Diamond Pins (we already have two of these, so no idea why we got more)

·         Prego Dinner & Special Amenities Package for 20 cruise milestone

·         $500 shipboard credit from the Auto Club

·         $1750 shipboard credit from Crystal Society

·         $2000 shipboard credit for World Cruise Bank

·         $500 shipboard credit from Crystal Society

·         $200 shipboard credit from Martha Carpenter, Crystal Cruises

·         $300 shipboard credit and chocolate truffles from American Express

·         2 Deluxe Bon Voyage Bouquets & 2 Pinot Grigio Wine from Crystal Society

·         Tattinger La Francaise Champagne on ice from Adair

·         Another bottle of Champagne, no card

·         Mini Crystal Globe from Adair (Thank you!  This is a great gift!)

A note from the Crystal Dining Room confirms our suspicion that this cruise is a bit short on passengers.  There is to be single-seating dining for this entire segment.  One may arrive any time between 7:00pm and 9:00pm to be seated at their assigned table.  We found out later that there are only 451 guests on board, including entertainers, lecturers, etc.  This will make it a beautifully uncrowded experience for the guests, but a losing proposition for Crystal.

It was time for a stop at the Computer Center to have the laptop configured for use in our stateroom.  This would have taken only minutes if a man hadn’t been arguing over the $37.50 set up fee that was clearly listed in every piece of literature distributed about the subject.  While his point was valid, there was obviously nothing to be gained by arguing with Jesse, the lab assistant.

Once that was all settled, Jesse set up our computer so we could dial into their satellite system.  There is an odd fee system in place, which is probably why that man was confused.  If you only want to read and send email using your existing address at home, there is just a $5.00 fee to set up your computer.  You can then access the Internet and do anything you would normally do at home, for $1.75 per minute with a $10.75 minimum per connection.  Here’s the weird part.  If you want to read and send email from your shipboard account, there is an additional charge of $37.50 for access from your room, plus $3 per email.  Why on earth they charge for using the internal system, which costs nothing, and give you satellite access for just the per minute charge is beyond us.

We sauntered down to dinner at around 8:00pm, fully expecting not to be seated at our assigned table.  However, Josef, the maitre ‘d, told the headwaiter to take us to our regular table.  Someone else was already there, which caused quite a stir.  We could care less where we sit on the first night, but it did bother the waiters. Amazingly, Josef assigned us to the same table we always have.  Not only does he remember our name (and who is who), but he also knows which table we like!  Incredible.

Our waiter is Jerry and his assistant is Ger.  Both of them seem pleasant enough, but not particularly dynamic.  This should change as time goes by.  Antonio, the wine steward, was thrilled to see us.  He even remembered that Dave used to have a mustache!  Remember, we haven’t been on board for over 2 years.  Highlighted items are the dishes we ordered.

Bon Voyage Dinner Menu


Prosciutto with Apple and Watercress Salad, Topped with Gruyere Shavings
Forest Mushroom Terrine with Tomato Coulis
Tropical Fruit Cocktail with Grand Marnier
Sautéed Jumbo Prawns with Slow Roasted Vegetable Salad

From the Soup Kettle

Beef Consommé with Truffle Célestine
Cream of Vegetables with Fried Celery
Alaskan Crab Soup with Brie Cheese
Chilled Lingonberry Soup with Sour Cream


Traditional Caesar Salad with Parmesan Shavings and Homemade Garlic Croutons
Sliced Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese with Basil and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pasta Special

Penne alla Panna Rosa

Salad Entrée

Mixed Grill Salad

Main Fares

Broiled Fillet of Fresh Chilean Sea Bass
Roasted Marinated Chicken Breast
Grilled Black Angus Fillet Steak
Roasted Rack of Wisconsin Veal

Vegetarian Selection

Eggplant Mousse “Provencale”


French Style Lemon Cheese Cake
Exotic Fruit Ratatouille with Banana Semifreddo
Sugar-Free Mocha Cream Puff
Sugar-Free Apple Turnover with Vanilla Sauce
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Homemade Cookies

Hightlighted items  are the selections we ordered.  Service was quite good, in general.  The first night is always chaotic, except it seemed more subdued this time due to the smaller guest list.

Food review:  The fruit appetizer is what it sounds like: acceptable, but not outstanding.  Both salads were above average.  Bill had the pasta as his entrée and it was quite good.  The marinated chicken was outstanding.  The lemon cheesecake was edible, but not worth ordering again.  Bill had cookies and cream ice cream, which was very good.  The homemade cookies are served after every meal and are generally terrible.  The coconut macaroons with tonight’s selection were very good, but the chocolate chip and the butter cookies were stale.  The bread served with dinner was too dry, but tasted fine.  We would prefer that the breadbasket be left on the table, but this is obviously considered an abomination on this ship.  If one even reaches for the pepper grinder, all hell breaks loose and heads roll.  Why it is on the table in the first place, we have yet to figure out.

We skipped tonight’s introductory show, “Pirates to Pinafore,” which we have seen previously.  Unless it has changed, it is an attempt to provide what may be highbrow entertainment to some.  To us it is just pretentious.  We also skipped an “open house” with the entertainment staff for World Cruise guests.

The remainder of the evening was spent unpacking and finding space to store everything.  This is the first time we have been in anything other than a standard cabin, so we weren’t able to pre-plan where things would go as we usually do.  As usual, the larger the space, the less well planned it is, so the bathroom doesn’t have all of the little cubbyholes by the sink.  We did manage to find a place for everything for the time being.   We sent away the majority of our empty luggage for storage, something we have never done before.

We finally made it into bed around 2:00am, with an advance on the clock of one hour.

We were up at 8:30am to be ready in time for the 10:00am mandatory lifeboat drill.  We are willing to do this once per cruise, not once per segment.  Dave had a banana from the fruit bowl to tide him over until lunchtime.  The boat drill went off without a hitch.  We returned to our stateroom to find it had been cleaned while we were gone.

The first meeting of the World Cruise Club was held today, so we stopped by to see who the Host is.  His name is Artie and we’re sure all the women will be fawning over him.  

Much to our disgust, a nickname was chosen for the group, “The Boomerangs,” and embroidered polo shirts with the logo were handed out in a stampede to a card table in a manner similar to the worst  department store sale.  We were also given boomerang pins to wear so others would know we are part of the group.  Do you think we will do this?  If you said, “yes,” you don’t know us very well.  We only wore the jackets (which are very nice) because we were freezing and we hadn’t unpacked yet.  

Artie informed the group that he would sit down individually with every person sometime during the cruise to get a profile to be printed in the daily newsletter.  We know we are sticks in the mud, but does anyone else think this is a bit childish for a bunch of people who have been on 20+ cruises?  We felt like we were back in school planning the prom.

Lunch today offers a choice between the Crystal Dining Room and a Mexican Luncheon Buffet on deck.  We opted for the buffet.  The food was tasty enough, but if most of these dishes were presented out of context, you’d never guess they had anything to do with Mexico.  These theme buffets have improved immensely over the years and there is always something outstanding among the offerings.  It would be nice if they would learn to make Mexican food that remotely resembles something familiar, but that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

For your information, here is the lunch menu from the Crystal Dining Room:

Mexican Empanadas – Spicy Beef Turnovers
Vegetable Crudités with Blue Cheese Dip
Chilled Tropical Fruit Cup

From the Soup Kettle  
Beef Broth with Liver Dumplings
Chilled Spinach and Avocado Soup
Mexican Black Bean Soup with Cilantro

Chopped Spring Lettuce with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Tomato Filled with Poached Salmon

Pasta Special  
Cannelloni at Forno

Salad Entrees  
Ocean Garden Basket
Baby Shrimp, Corn and Pepper Salad Sandwich

Main Fares  
Grilled Fresh Red Snapper Fillet
Sandwich of the Day – The Six-Star Ham and Cheese
Mexican Beef Rolls
Chicken Enchiladas

Carrot Cake with Whipped Cream
Floating Island on Fruit Mirror
Lemon Roulade with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Vanilla Éclair
Vanilla, Chocolate, or Mocha Ice Cream

After lunch, we headed back to the room to catch up on this diary and rest before the formal dinner tonight.  The weather is perfect, clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid 70’s.

A much-needed nap consumed the rest of the afternoon.  Ural took our tuxedo pants to be pressed, promising they would be returned in time for dinner tonight.  We didn’t wake up until 5:30pm, so he hadn’t returned them by the time we were almost ready.  Fortunately, a press of the button on the phone and he was here in minutes.

Attending our 20th Captain’s Welcome Reception wasn’t in the cards, although it did seem as though everyone else went.  The ship was completely devoid of passengers.  There was only one other couple in the Crystal Cove when we arrived at 7:30pm.  We had stopped to get the gossip on Serge, a long-time bartender, who quit because he was passed over for Bar Manager.

The Crystal Dining Room opened at 7:00pm, but there was no one in it except a line of bored waiters at the door waiting to escort guests to their table.  When the party let out, David de Havilland, the Cruise Director, came out and told Scott, the piano player, to start playing again.  It was past his usual time and he said something snippy.  That didn’t go over well with David and he did end up playing, as he should under the circumstances.

We dallied too long and there was a line at one door to the dining room, but we just went in the other side and walked right in.  The waiter leading us to our table said, “You should probably lead me!”  He was right, too.  We greeted Waldemar, who we had as a waiter briefly a few years ago.

The dining room was full, but keep in mind that this is a two-seating ship and there is only one seating this cruise.  Most everyone shows up on the first formal night, so we are curious to see what happens when many people go to Jade Garden or Prego instead.  As an aside here, we had read many times that Crystal now has casual dinners around the Neptune Pool as another alternative that does not require reservations.  Technically, all of this is true, BUT this is only twice during a 30-day cruise and both are on casual nights anyway.  So, the casual alternative is really a moot point here.  Nice try, but no cigar.


Iced Malossol Caviar with Sour Cream, Chopped Egg, and Onions, Accompanied by Melba Toast, and Buckwheat Blinis
Truffled Chicken Liver Parfait with Warm Brioche
Fresh Oysters on Ice with Red Wine Shallot Vinegar or Horseradish Sauce
Exotic Fruit in a Pineapple Boat with Orange Curacao

From the Soup Kettle
Wild Forest Mushroom Soup “Cappuccino Style”
Clear Oxtail Soup with Wild Rice and Chester Sesame Sticks

Captain’s Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Refreshing Bellini Sherbet

Pasta Special  
Angel Hair Pasta with Goat Cheese, Broccoli, and Toasted Pine Nuts

Salad Entrée  
Beef Tenderloin Salad

Main Fares  
Broiled Fresh Maine Lobster
Broiled Fresh Halibut Fillet

Stuffed Marinated Baked Quail

Vegetarian Selection  
Grilled Asparagus and Parsnips

Caramelized Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream
White Chocolate Truffle Cake with Strawberry Sauce
Passion Fruit Mille Feuille with Chocolate Rum Sauce
Sugar-Free Tiramisu
Sugar-Free Coconut Snowball with Chocolate Sauce
Assortment of Fruits in Season
Truffles and Petite Fours

Food review:  The fruit cocktail was as expected, nothing exciting.  Captain’s Salad was good, but this version is not as interesting as in years past.  The dressing was quite good.   Soups are usually outstanding on this ship and this one lived up to the reputation.  The pasta was very tasty, but a bit gummy.  Bill had the beef and a piece of the halibut.  Unfortunately, they left the sauce off of his fish, so it was rather tasteless.  Dave had the halibut as it should be, but he felt that the sauce was a bit odd with a slight metallic taste and would have preferred the fish plain, which is no problem to get if you remember to mention it.  The beef was excellent, but could have used more sauce.  Bread tonight was fresher and better tasting.  We already know not to expect a great variety in the bread department here.  Bill had strawberry ice cream for dessert.  The apple tart was acceptable, but not memorable.

During the meal, Josef stopped by to chat.  He wanted to make sure we were happy with our waiter because he had forgotten who we liked before.  We could care less who our waiter is at this point.  It was amusing because a few minutes earlier, Bill had asked Jerry if he would be our waiter for the entire World Cruise.  Jerry took this to mean we didn’t like him for some reason and he was rather upset.  We assured him we were just asking and that there certainly were no problems.

The production show for tonight is one of our old favorites, “Cole”.  The start time was delayed because no one had arrived at dinner on time because of the party.  Surprisingly, hardly anyone barged in after the show had started.

We would rate this cast a bit below average.  This show is a good gauge because it is one of the older productions we have seen many times.  It isn’t quite as demanding, performance-wise, as the newer shows.  They have replaced a few costumes, so it looks as good as new.  The lead singers this time are a bit weak, so it drags the energy down somewhat.  It will be interesting to see how they do with the more ambitious shows down the road.  We still love the black velvet gowns with the hologram fabric during the finale.  Usually, the girls just have to walk on stage to get an ovation from the audience for this number.

The public areas were dead after the show.  The lobby area looks sort of dismal at night with the new dimmed lighting.  It is fine when people are around, but when it is empty it looks like it is closed.  The “Champagne Strings” were playing in the lobby as the show let out, which was a nice touch.

OK, this is where you really find out how boring we are, so prepare yourself for a really dynamic rendition of the day…NOT.

We purposely slept in, but only until 10:30am, not noon as we expected.  We dawdled around until 11:30am, and sauntered off to lunch.  It was amusing when we opened the cabin door.  We had taken the Do Not Disturb sign down when we retrieved the day’s menus from the clip.  The stewardess was just inserting her key in the lock when Dave turned the knob and scared her.  She  thought we had already left.  You had to be there.  Trust me, it was funny.

The weather hasn’t turned outrageously hot yet.  This is probably the last day for the high 60’s, low 70’s though.  We expect it to be at least 85 in Puerto Vallarta according to the forecasts.  It was quite windy on deck and a stroll around the top of the ship rendered our glasses full of salt spray.

As we were walking around the deck above the pool area, the singer from the band on stage stopped and frantically waved at us.  We’ve never seen her before as far as we know, so perhaps she found it amusing to see us trying to walk against the wind.

We wandered down toward the Crystal Dining Room for lunch.  Nikki didn’t have a line at her desk, so we stopped to chat.  She said they had a meeting with the staff to help design the new ship.  For instance, older guests love the cabins on Crystal Deck 5 because they are adjacent to the Front Desk and the Dining Room.  Needless to say, the new ship has no guest cabins at all on Deck 5.  When they showed her the preliminary plans, she said, “Did you forget my desk?”  They all said, “No,” then frantically started making notes.  Nikki also said that they were trying to redesign some of the public rooms to be more like they are on Crystal Harmony.  The only room we know people don’t like as much on this ship is the Palm Court, but it looks fine to us.

As we wandered toward the Dining Room, Lara McGinty, the Crystal Society Hostess, stopped us to discuss our 20th cruise milestone.  It involves going up on the stage at the Crystal Society Party to be presented with a pin by the Captain.  Ordinarily, we wouldn’t participate, but we have found that it helps to stop other guests from assuming we are part of the staff.  We told her we would do whatever she wants us to do.

There is usually a huge rush into the Dining Room in order to grab tables for two.  However, unless you consider 20 people a rush, there was no need to hurry today.  We were seated at a window table for two with a waiter we don’t know.


Assorted Seafood and Avocado Salad, Served with Cajun Aioli
Freshly Roasted Chicken Breast Garnished with Grapefruit Segments and Watercress
Chilled Supreme of Tropical Fruits with Tequila
Steamed Black Mussels in a Light White Wine Sauce, Served with Garlic Bread

From the Soup Kettle
Chicken Broth with Vegetable Pearls
Chilled Yogurt and Mango Soup
Dutch Tomato Soup with Basil

Pasta Special
Tortellini Pasta with Green Peas, Cream, and Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrees
Chicken Caesar Salad
Chopped Spring Vegetable and Bulgar Wheat Salad

Vegetarian Selection
Huevos Rancheros

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – The French Dip
California Cioppino
Chinese Chicken Chow Mein
West Indian Lamb Curry


Chocolate Whiskey Tart a la Mode
Esterhazy Cake
Frozen Lemon Soufflé
Sugar-Free Baked Apple in Crisp Puff Pastry

Just a note:  Always available in the Dining Room for lunch is an American Hamburger or Cheeseburger, with Onion Rings and French Fries.

Lunch Review:  The chilled soup was good, but mostly foam.  The pasta dish was very good and served fresh from the kitchen.  We have had this in the past and it always looked as though it had been sitting under the lights too long.  Not so this time.  In fact, all of the food has a fresher appearance and flavor than it has in many years.  The curry dish was served with bowls of the expected condiments, but the waiter had to serve it, so it wasn’t as convenient to get what you want or to add more.  Otherwise, it was fine.  The French Dip was made with the leftover chateaubriand, so it couldn’t possibly be any more tender. French fries served with it were outstanding.  You realize this means we’ll have to have them every day now, right?  We didn’t order dessert.

After lunch we wandered up to the Lido Deck so Bill could get an ice cream cone.  They make the cones fresh every day, so they are very good.  The deck stewards fawned all over us, as usual.  By this time, it was 2:30pm and time to go back to the room.  The plan was to sit on the verandah and watch the scenery go by.  We could clearly see Cabo San Lucas and the big pink hotel that is near the landmark rock formation at the entrance to the bay.  During lunch, we saw a whale swimming between the shore and the ship.

Skip ahead to dinnertime because we fell asleep immediately upon returning to the cabin.

We dragged ourselves up and prepared for the informal dinner tonight.  So far, we have missed both afternoon tea service and the before dinner snacks that are served by our butler.  Maybe one of these days we’ll stay awake after lunch!

Although it was only fifteen minutes before the Dining Room was scheduled to open, we easily found a table in the Crystal Cove.  We had already decided to wait until 7:30pm to go to dinner.  Apparently, so did everyone else, because there was no rush for the doors at 7:00pm, as there usually is.  We had drinks and people-watched, which is about the most entertaining thing to do here.


Salad of Smoked Duck with Artichokes and Green Beans
Grilled Portabella Mushroom, Marinated in Olive-Herb Vinaigrette with Arugala
Fresh Tropical Fruit with Kiwi Wedges and Aged Sherry
Crab Cake on Marinated Tomato Salad with Basil Oil

From the Soup Kettle
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sunflower Seeds
Chicken Broth with Vermicelli Pasta
Chilled Green Pea Soup with Mint

California-Grown Mixed Greens with Crisp Eggplant Chips
Pear, Endive, and Blue Cheese Salad with Pear Dressing

Salad Entrée
Smoked Salmon Cucumber Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Fresh Swordfish Steak
Maple-Glazed, Slow-Roasted Rack of Pork

Seared Sea Scallops and Prawns
Grilled Lamb Chops

Vegetarian Selection
Crispy Polenta with Grilled Portabella Mushrooms

California Citrus Soufflé Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Pistachio Ice Cream
Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie a la Mode
Hazelnut Ice Parfait with Sour Cherries
Sugar-Free Banana Chocolate Tart
Sugar-Free Rhubarb Mousse with Fresh Strawberries
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

As a note, there are two entrees that are always available: Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak and Plain Grilled Chicken Breast.  Of course, one may order anything they desire from their headwaiter at lunchtime and it will be served that evening.

Food review:  We won’t discuss the fruit from now on unless something changes.  It’s fruit, get over it.  The chicken broth was satisfactory.  Salad was outstanding with a great balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  The greens were extremely fresh with a nice variety.  Our headwaiter had recommended the Swordfish Steak and he was right, it was outstanding.  It had a light vinaigrette sauce that really brought out the flavor of the fish without masking it.  The entire dish couldn’t have been any better.  The pork was boring and somewhat of a disappointment.  Live and learn.  The Soufflé Cake was very good and presented beautifully.

The dining room was about ¾ full tonight, which is typical.  Many people go to the alternative restaurants on informal and casual evenings.

Harry stopped by to chat.  He is leaving tomorrow and will return in Hong Kong from his vacation.  We had nothing really to do tonight because we knew from past experience that we didn’t like the pianist-comedian, Dale Gonyea, who was the headline entertainment for tonight.  He’s not unbearable, just not terribly interesting or funny.  He is billed as “America’s Classic Comedian of the Year” and “Heir to the Comedy-Piano Throne.”  OK, whatever, still not interested.

We have no idea where everyone went tonight.  First we wandered to the Galaxy Lounge just to see who was there.  Answer:  Nobody.  Well, the Cruise Director was there, so count him as one. This was 10 minutes before show time, by the way.

There was supposed to be a highly recommended harpist in the Palm Court tonight from 9:00pm – 11:00pm, so we ventured up there.  Empty.  No kidding, not even bar waiters.  We were a little early, so we decided to give it a half hour and come back.

Back down to the shops to chat with Jan who was in the corner steaming ladies pants.  Gives you an idea of how busy it is, doesn’t it?  No guests came in during the half hour we were there.  The shops are usually fairly busy at this time.

When the shop closed at 9:30pm, we went back up to Palm Court to find it in the same state as it was before.  We assume the harpist was there somewhere waiting for customers, but she really should have been playing regardless.  How are you supposed to attract anyone if they don’t know anything is going on?  Don’t say, “They could read the program,” because that doesn’t happen.

We also checked out the Starlite Club just for kicks.  Nobody there except the band and three Ambassador Hosts.  Since we didn’t want to dance with three old men, we kept walking.  Next stop, the Avenue Saloon.  It was remodeled a few years ago to add the Connoisseur Club (a cigar lounge), so it is now half the size.  Generally, this has caused it to be too crowded, so we no longer go there.  Not a soul in sight this evening.  We’re talking 9:30pm, remember?

We gave up and went back to the room.  There, we found the “Boomerang” newsletter requesting us to show up at 9:30am on Monday for a digital photo.  This is for a yearbook kind of thing and “for our security.” We don’t go anywhere at 9:30am, FYI.   We’ll have to see how this plays out.  Artie is still begging people to return their RSVP for the private luncheon in Costa Rica.  We can only assume that this means no one wants to go.  If he wanted quick replies, he shouldn’t have given us a deadline of the 24th, now should he?  He is also asking people who took more than one shirt yesterday to please return the extras.  Fat chance, we’d say.

The clocks are set ahead another hour tonight.  Bummer.  We will be on Central Time tomorrow when we arrive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

By the way, if you want to correspond with us on board, feel free to use the "Contact Us On Board" link at any time.  It doesn't cost us much of anything to use it, but you may not get a reply until the next time we connect to the Internet.  Those of you who have our Crystal Symphony email address should only use that if your message is urgent as it will cost us $3.00 per message to receive and again to send via Crystal's system.


Embraced by rugged tropical mountains on one side and beautiful Banderas Bay on the other, Puerto Vallarta is second only to Acapulco when it comes to the Mexican Riviera’s leading resort cities.

White stucco houses are capped with red tile roofs and surrounded by bougainvillea-lined cobblestone streets.  Native women beat their laundry along riverbanks as busy fishing boats return laden with catches, thus representing a lifestyle the has been maintained for decades.  Nearby, sophisticated restaurants, luxury hotels, smart boutiques and lively nightclubs bear testament to the sudden changes wrought on this quiet seaside city since the 1960s.  Life for this former fishing village has never been quite the same since the filming of the movie “night of the Iguana” and the worldwide publicity accorded the romance of its stars, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

Puerto Vallarta brims with life.  Shop for leather goods, shell and silver jewelry, hand-embroidered blouses or painted figures from Oaxaca.  Explore cobblestone streets and picturesque alleyways filled with the scents and bustling energy of Mexico.

We’re not overly fond of Mexico, so we didn’t really intend to make much of an effort here.  And, we didn’t.  We slept until around 11:30am, then wandered out for lunch in the Lido Café.  Rosalina was waiting in the hallway for us to leave.  The big trash bag and vacuum cleaner literally right next to the door.

The Lido Café on this ship isn’t particularly exciting by big ship standards.  The selection is relatively limited and leans toward fancy foods that aren’t suited to a buffet line.  The first ten feet of the buffet is filled with a variety of smoked, marinated, raw and otherwise vile fish dishes intended, we assume, for the European and Japanese contingent on board.  This section never changes.  To be fair, there is also a big pile of rolls, sliced beef and cheese.

Next, comes a Chinese dish, today it was Stir-Fry Vegetables with Shrimp in a brown sauce.  Steamed rice is always available at this stop.  There are usually three or four hot dishes, all of which were not something we wanted.  That’s not to say it wasn’t good, just not what we were looking for.  Two were fish of some sort.  We did get some chicken breast that was above average and some roasted chicken that was carved in front of us.  The carved chicken was outstanding.

Salad selections in the Lido never change and are extremely limited.  Bowls of cut lettuce greens, sliced tomato, cucumber, and a couple of other items.  There are never any prepared salads, such as potato salad or macaroni salad as you would expect to find on other ships.  We were looking for fruit, but none was offered on the buffet line.  We did find a good selection later, but it was at the end of the extensive dessert buffet.  Live and learn.

Here is the menu from the Crystal Dining Room:

Chicken Croquettes with Marinated and Greens and Sauce Tartare
Aubergine and Sprout Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
Iced Supreme of Tropical Fruits
Matjes Terrine with Apple Sauce and Beetroot

From the Soup Kettle
Beef Broth with Vegetable Strudel
Cold Cream of Bananas with Dark Rum
Cream of Zucchini with Whole Wheat Croutons

Chopped Green and Red Lettuce with Gazpacho Dressing

Pasta Special
Spaghetti Bolognese

Salad Entrees
California Cobb Salad
Smoked Salmon and Honey Wheat Wrappers

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – The Pacific Tuna Melt
Chicken Tostadas
Mixed Grill: Lamb Chop, Petit Filet Mignon, Chicken Breast, and Chipolata Sausage
Broiled Filet of Fresh Grouper

Vegetarian Selection
Wild Rice-Vegetable Croquettes

Banana Split with Toasted Almonds
Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Sauce
Chocolate Truffle Bomb with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Apricot Custard Pie

There are always stations serving made-to-order pasta and Caesar salad, but we bypassed them this time.  The Filipino deck stewards fawned over us in the extreme.  It was impossible for us to fetch our own iced tea and our trays were whisked away from us and carried to a table out on deck.  Once we were seated, the stewards we didn’t know came over to introduce themselves and make sure they knew our names.  We told them they could call us Dave and Bill, so now they call us Mr. Dave and Mr. Bill. 

Just so you know, they don’t fawn over everyone like this.  Yes, they carry trays and such, but they practically grovel to us.  We assume from the reaction of the new ones that word spreads quickly that we tip the deck hands at the end of the cruise.  Frankly, Holland America is on to something with Filipino bar waiters throughout.  They are much friendlier than the Europeans and always know your name after the first introduction. 

PuertoVallartaSign.jpg (65972 bytes)After lunch, we went up on deck to gauge the weather.  Our verdict, too hot.  It’s not ridiculous, but we don’t care enough about this port to make much of an effort.  There is a little flea market area directly outside the port, so we decided to just walk there and see what they have.

ID’s are scanned upon exit and return to the ship.  This started a couple of years ago.  They told us that a photo ID, such as a Driver’s License is necessary, too, but we’re not sure they would ask for it.  There is a U.S. Coast Guard ship tied up next to us, but we don’t know if that is unusual or not.  There is also a gun-toting military man and two sailors milling around on the dock.  We don’t recall that kind of presence in the past in Mexico and certainly not at an upscale port such as this one.

PuertoVallartaView.jpg (40105 bytes)The walk to the flea market was literally about 50 feet.  No one grabbed at us, but we sure are everyone’s “amigo.”  This is a relatively upscale port, so we didn’t expect anything unseemly to happen, and it didn’t.

The flea market with “the lowest prices in all of Mexico,” was neat and tidy.  Every stall sold the same thing, so there wasn’t much point to it.  One vendor was telling a couple that, “Prices are practically free for you, today only!”  If we hesitated in front of a shop for even a second, someone would come out and inform their new amigo that they have the lowest prices on the planet.  It wasn’t offensive and they did take no for an answer.  We didn’t buy anything, although there were some attractive and colorful ceramic plates and such.  No prices were marked, so we assume it is expected that we bargain for everything.  No thanks.

That venture took all of about fifteen minutes, so we strolled back to the port and looked at some pathetic giant green parrots in a cage.  The sign said they were in a breeding program because they are endangered.  Yeah, probably from being stuck in this cage all day.  They were so bored they were peeling the plastic coating off of the chain link fence.

Back on board, we noticed a new perk; cold towels in a cooler by the gangway.  Those will be handy in a few days, we’re sure!  We would estimate the temperature today to be around 80 with a cooling ocean breeze.

The rest of the afternoon was spent on our verandah watching people return to the ship.  At the very last minute a man with a cane hobbled up, followed by a local merchant pulling his new stash of bottled water.  You pay $1000 a day for a cruise and you can’t afford to buy water on the ship?  It would have been more interesting if he had been five minutes later when the gangway had been stowed.

We stayed outside and watched the sail away.  It’s always a highlight to do that.  Crystal plays a recording of Louis Armstrong singing “What A Wonderful World” each time the ship sails.

This is 50’s night, which we’re sure is more fun for the guests than the staff.  They all wear 50’s outfits of some sort -- soda jerks, waitresses, etc.  Guests are encouraged to wear poodle skirts or whatever costume they desire, but only a very small percentage actually do.  We saw only two guests in costume tonight.

We dawdled around until about 8:00pm before heading for the dining room.   Our RSVP form for the “exclusive” luncheon for World Cruise guests was dropped off at the Front Desk en route.


Polenta con Funghi – Sautéed Forest Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta
Barbecued Quail on Kernel Corn Tomato Salad
Iced Apple, Grape, and Pear Cup with Yogurt Calvados Topping
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Créole Rémoulade Sauce

From the Soup Kettle
Chicken Broth with Matzo Balls
Chilled Banana Coconut Soup
Midwest Corn Bisque with Bell Pepper Confit and Crisp Leek

Medley of Selected Crunchy Field Greens with Celery Chips and Shredded Carrots
Tossed Iceberg Lettuce with Lorenzo Dressing on a Bed of Tomatoes

Pasta Special
Angel Hair Pasta alla Emilione – Italian Pasta with Tomato Sauce, Bacon, Onions, Olives and Herbs

Salad Entrée
Poached Salmon Fillet

Main Fares
Fresh Lemon Sole Fillets
Medallions of Canadian Venison
Roasted American Prime Rib of Black Angus Beef

The Blue Plate Special
Traditional American Meatloaf

Vegetarian Selection
Twice Baked Potatoes

Creole Sour Cream Cheese Cake with Homemade Caramel Sauce
Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae
Sugar-Free Napoleon Slice
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Nonfat Peach Yogurt

(Note that the dessert selection always includes a variety of ice cream and yogurt.  There is also a Cheese Trolley)

Bill asked Mario what his list of special dishes was, but he said he keeps it all in his head.  He is one of the less forthcoming headwaiters when it comes to tableside cooking.  His plan is to make pasta for us at some point this cruise.

Food review:  The Corn Bisque is to die for.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  There is probably a stick of butter in each cup, but it’s worth it.  Both salads were tasty.  The tossed iceberg salad had a very good creamy dressing.  The pasta dish was awful, tasting a bit like burned plastic.  The bacon probably wasn’t the best addition.  For the first time ever, the prime rib was fairly good, not outstanding, but quite good.  The brownie sundae was the real test.  We have never had this when it wasn’t ghastly and stale.  This time it was fresh and tasty. 

Jerry seems to be trying to make an effort to be friendly.  He always has been, but we don’t seem to have much of a connection with him.  Maybe he is getting used to us at last.  We’re never sure if Josef doesn’t scare our waiter to death ahead of time by insisting everything is perfect for us.  On a previous trip, our waiter told us that he had been instructed by the chef to tell him when our order was placed so it would get special attention.

Tonight’s show is part of the 50’s theme:  “Rock Around the Clock.”  This is probably the oldest show and it is getting a bit tedious.  Still, it does complete the evening’s theme, so it will likely be around for a while.

David, the Cruise Director, came out as usual after the show and attempted to garner interest in some of the evening activities.  He said that there are so many exciting activities on board that it is, “too bad none of you have ever seen them.  We only have them so we can talk about it in the brochure.”  It was funny, but also true. 

David stopped us in the hallway outside of the theater to tell us that if we need anything or if anything isn’t right, to be sure to let him know and he’ll take care of it.  He then just started chatting like we were old friends.  He usually doesn’t give us the time of day, but lube him up with a few drinks and he loses all inhibitions.  He wants to have dinner with us, which is fine with us, but we'll believe it when we see it.  He is aware of the fact that we rarely leave the ship, but we have no idea how he would know that.  We must be famous.

We stopped at the only midnight buffet they still have.  This one is themed to the 50’s and features shakes, burgers, hot dogs, and popcorn.  There is also a big selection of fancy stuff that no one ever touches.  Apparently, they will never learn.  We’ll see all of it on the Lido buffet tomorrow.

We picked up a couple of shakes that were very good and some popcorn.  Daniel, the Head Wine Steward, jested with us for a while.  Barbara was alone at a table, so we chatted with her for a few minutes until Mel returned.

A Sock Hop was going on in the Starlite Club, so we took our popcorn and shakes in there to watch people make fools of themselves.  First they attempted to lure guests to the dance floor for a twist contest.  Three couples participated.  Next was a hula-hoop contest in which three individuals participated.  Finally, they had a “costume parade” that degenerated into a costume polka when the signals were crossed with the orchestra.  Two people participated in that.  There were quite a few people in the room, but they were just sitting there watching.

As soon as we finished our food, we strolled down to the Avenue Saloon and the Computer Center to see if the Internet was working yet.  As far as we could tell, it was, but we didn’t try it.  The Avenue had a crowd at the door (6 people), but it didn’t seem very interesting, so we called it a night.

Upon returning to our cabin, we found a note from our butler regarding the VCR question Bill had asked.  It wasn't quite the answer he was looking for, but it appears as though the VCR was replaced while we were gone because it works properly now.  We also found an invitation to our 20th Milestone private dinner in Prego with Nikki, Lara and the Vice Captain.  We assume by private, they mean only people with 20 cruises, not that we will be the only ones there.

We are supposed to show up between 9:30am and 10:30am tomorrow for our World Cruise photo opportunity.  You can imagine how thrilled we are about the time.  Be assured this will be the last time we do anything at a time that isn’t convenient for us.


Photo day!  We made it up to Fantasia (what used to be the video game room, now empty) for our photo for the World Cruise book.  A line was expected, but there was no one there except the photographers and Artie.  They started to pose Dave until Bill mentioned we were together, which prompted the other photographer to shout out, “couples go together.”  We’re sure that startled Artie, but he didn’t say anything.

After the photo we had to stop and be counted by Artie, who wasn’t quite sure if we were gate crashing or what.  He did find us on the list, so there!  He asked how we wanted to be addressed, guessing at David and William, which obviously is incorrect.  Apparently, he didn’t see us at the meeting because he was concerned that we didn’t get our matching shirts.  We assured him we had.

We just barely missed breakfast, so we stopped at the Bistro for some pastries to tide us over for a couple of hours until lunchtime.  A woman at another table had a cough and was telling some friends that she just has “the Crystal Croup.”  This is her name for the disease we always get at some point on these cruises.  It just runs through the ship on a continuous circuit.

Something told us we had been charged for the two Internet connections that didn’t work yesterday, so we stopped by the Front Desk to check our account.  We had indeed been charged, so the desk clerk instructed us to complain to the Dean of the Computer University.  She said she would follow up on it, but it would be quicker if we went up ourselves.  She also carried on about how much cheaper it is to go to an Internet Café in Ecuador rather than wait for the service to be restored on board.  She also said that the satellite never works while we are in Mexico, which is why we haven’t been getting the Times Fax newspaper this week.

There was a crowd coming out of the Starlite Club and we were almost run down trying to go against the flow away from the computer room.  We told Susan at the Computer University about the situation and she said she would credit our account.  At $12 a pop, we will have to keep track of the days when we log on and it isn’t working.  Dave has been good at completing the upload of the website and retrieving all of the email within the first 10-minute window, so we expect to stay at $12 per session, which is still less than using the shipboard email at $3 each message in or out.

It was still about fifteen minutes before the Dining Room opened for lunch, so we stopped to chat with Nikki.  She had some sort of diet drink that says it makes you lose 10 pounds in two days.  The girls on board had insisted that Lara buy it in Los Angeles and bring it to them.  It costs $25 a bottle and looks like brown goo.  We’re obviously in the wrong business.

Lara asked if we had received our invitation to the 20th Milestone dinner.  We were on our way to tell her we would accept, but she asked first.  She carried on about having to stuff herself with Mexican food because they can’t make it on board.  The chefs always tell her “we have Mexican food at the buffet,” but she agrees with us that the Austrian version of Mexican food is nothing remotely like anything you would ever associate with Mexico.  She related a story of making a cab driver in Guam slam on the brakes and turn around when she spotted a Taco Bell.  That was on the way home from K-Mart where “I wouldn’t be caught dead at home.”

Besides making it convenient for preparation of this diary, we love having the day’s menus delivered so we know whether to hit the Dining Room or the Lido for lunch.  On other ships, we almost never go to the Dining Room for breakfast or lunch, but here the Dining Room offers far superior fare.  By the way, check out the first appetizer for an idea of Austrian-made Mexican food.


Smoked Salmon Quesadillas with Guacamole
Marinated Octopus and Roasted Bell Pepper Salad with Olives
Palm Hearts, Tomato, and Endive Cocktail with Yogurt-Lime Dressing
Chilled Tropical Fruit Cup with Grenadine

From the Soup Kettle
Caldo Largo – Cream of Bell Peppers, Cilantro, Peeled Tomatoes
Chilled Apple Soup with Calvados
Chicken Consommé Dubarry

Heart of Boston Lettuce with Mushrooms and Fennel Julienne

Pasta Special
Linguine Aioli e Pepperoncino

Salad Entrees
Salad Niçoise
Italian Pasta Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Brochette
Fresh Flounder Fillet Parisienne
Sandwich of the Day – Grilled Chicken Breast
Veal Zϋrichoise

Vegetarian Selection
Assorted Grilled Vegetables

Chocolate Marsala Cake with Sabayon
Strawberry Roulade with Fudge Sauce
Ice Coupe Peach Melba
Sugar-Free Raspberry Cream Tartlet

Food review:  The Chilled Apple Soup was incredible.  Couldn’t be better.  The Grilled Chicken Sandwich was sort of like a BLT with a chicken breast added.  It was good, but not outstanding.  The fries were incredible, as usual.  The pasta was as expected and much fresher tasting than in years past.  They seem to have freshness down to a science, something that seemed to elude them before.  We didn’t order dessert.

Service was prompt and efficient.  The waiter was friendlier than they generally are at lunchtime when they are dealing with people they don’t know.

A woman at an adjoining table order the Salad Niçoise, took one bite and made a face expressing disgust.  She announced to the waiter that, “something is wrong with this tuna!”  “It isn’t tuna salad, it has some sort of dressing on it!”  Now, if you had read the description of this salad in which the ingredients include sardines, olives and 1000 island dressing you would in no way expect it to resemble a regular tuna salad.  Of course, she had to sigh heavily and look around the room as she waited for them to make her a plain tuna salad from scratch.

On the way back to the room, we stopped Ural to ask if the upholstery shop could add some holes to Bill’s belt.  To make it smaller, not larger…it’s too early for that yet!  He said, “no problem,” and ran off with it.  He came back not fifteen minutes later with it all done.

We spent the rest of the afternoon either on the verandah or the sofa.  It is extremely humid outside, so keeping the door open isn’t a good idea at this point.  The temperature is probably around 80, which isn’t bad for this part of the world.  They do keep telling us that it will be warmer and warmer, which is as we expect.  We know it will be unreasonably hot by tomorrow.

Ural brought us a tray of crudités with a bleu cheese dip.  The dip wasn’t edible, but some people probably would love it.  Ural said Ural.jpg (110705 bytes)we can have anything we want and suggested caviar or smoked salmon, which we declined.  We’re more interested in tortilla chips and guacamole at this point.  If we don’t ask for something specific, he will bring whatever the chef has made that day for the entire floor.  

Dress code this evening is Informal.  We stopped in the Crystal Cove for drinks and to kill half an hour until the dinner rush is over.  It seems as though many people are starting to wait until 7:30 pm or later to go in to dinner.  We’re not sure what they would do if someone arrived at 8:59 pm because they are always cleaning up by then.


Fresh Oven Baked Lobster Strudel on Crayfish Sauce
Fresh Artichoke with Tomato-Herb Vinaigrette
Snow Crab Tower with Salmon and Malossol Caviar
Assorted Supreme of Fruit with Maraschino

From the Soup Kettle
Beef Consommé with Butter Quenelles
Roman Soup with Pasta and Vegetables
Chilled Beet Root Soup with Sour Cream

Fresh Spinach Salad with Boiled Eggs, Sliced Mushrooms, and Crisp Bacon Bits
Heart of Crisp Lettuce with Tomatoes and Potato Slices

Pasta Special
Tortiglione Calabese

Salad Entrée
Grilled Chicken Breast Salad

Main Fares
Broiled Fresh Pacific Salmon Fillet
Sautéed Veal Scaloppini
Pink Roasted Breast of Duck
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Risotto Milanese

White Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
Vanilla Strawberry Mille Feuille
Cinnamon Ice Parfait on Caramelized Apple Ragoût
Sugar-Free Citrus Mousse
Sugar-Free Baked Pear in Puff Pastry
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fresh Fruit in Season

Food review:  Soup and salad selections were satisfactory.  Both entrees were incredible.  It would be impossible to improve upon either of them.  The White Chocolate Cheesecake was unbelievably good.  

Mario wants to make pasta for us tomorrow night, but we will wait and see what’s on the regular menu before accepting the offer.  The strolling quintet stopped and played “It Had To Be You” at our table.  At least they didn’t play “Over the Rainbow” or “San Francisco” as they have in the past.  We were hoping this group would bypass us as all of the others have before.  Oh well.   They are very good though.  In fact, all of the atmosphere entertainment has been outstanding…so far.  Read on!

It was only 8:45 pm when we finished dinner, so we just stood around in the lobby listening to the piano.  Jan sashayed by carrying two gifts bags to be delivered to cabins.  He said twice that he had to leave, but it took him a half hour to finally do so.  Susan from the Computer University came over to tell us she had tried for hours to figure out how to credit our account, but it was finally done.  All she had to do was to call the girl at the Front Desk and approve it, but she had to learn it for herself.

Tonight’s main entertainment in the Galaxy Lounge:  Classical Concert by Richard and Mela presenting “The Devil’s Thrill,” diabolical sonatas for violin and piano.  We know from past experience that anything touted as a concert and so highbrow as to have drink service suspended, is usually unbearable.  One option down.  We decided to give Barbara Kirkhoff, the Palm Court Harpist, another shot.  Big mistake.

When we arrived there was some hope because there were about eight people there.  Well, once she played a couple of numbers, the tally dropped to four, including us.  A drunk woman at the bar talking loudly with the staff didn’t help create the sophisticated mood they were after.  The staff should be told to shut up, in our opinion. 

After a few minutes, Barbara stopped playing and walked around the room to chat with those of us still there.  She seems nice enough, but to put it bluntly, she blows.  We can’t recall ever hearing a bad harpist, but we have now.  We’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and just say her harp needed to be tuned.

We were stuck because she kept looking up to see if we were still there.  Luckily, another batch of guests arrived at 10:00 pm; we assume walkouts from the main show.  At that point we made our escape.

Our mail clip was full when we got back to the cabin.  An official invitation to accept our double-diamond pins from the Captain at the Crystal Society Party on January 28th, a description of the World Cruise Luncheon in Costa Rica, the Boomerang newsletter from Artie, and a request for our occupation for the Chinese Visa application.  The luncheon might be a nightmare, but we’re still going.  It is a 90-minute drive both ways and includes “local entertainment.”  They carry on about offering us tours after lunch.  Well, you might think they would be complimentary, but they are the same tours with the same prices as we could have booked on board.  No thanks, been there, done that.

Artie whined in his letter that too many people didn’t show up for the photos this morning saying, “I guess you slept in,” etc.  With that, he says he has scheduled another session for tomorrow morning at 9:30 am.  What’s wrong with this picture?  10:30 am was too early, so let’s change it to 9:30 and get more people to show up?  You do the math.  He’s still trying to get people to return the extra shirts they stole, too.  It certainly would have made more sense to just ask everyone their size and send the shirts to their cabin.  That’s what they did with the jackets and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of those.  Amateurs.

  Well, at least we got out of the room in time to go to lunch!  Give us credit for that.  It started to get a bit rough last night, but apparently the Captain took a route farther from shore that alleviated it.  The sea was smooth all day.

Our stewardess took our daily Dining Room menus before we could copy them, but we were able to retrieve them the next day.  We’ll have to have a little chat about that later.


Tomato-Basil Cheese Tart with Mixed Lettuce
Fresh Poached Salmon Filled with Cucumber Salad and Dill Cream
Sliced Roasted Turkey Breast with Avocado Confit
Iced Fruit Cup and Blue Curacao

From the Soup Kettle
Mulligatawny – Chicken Curry Soup
Chilled Orange and Tomato Soup with Melon Balls, Blueberries and Grapes
Beef Consommé with Cheese Dumplings

Assorted Spring Lettuce with Crisp Bacon Bits and Gorgonzola

Pasta Special
Mezze Rigata with Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Cilantro

Salad Entrees
Thai Beef Salad
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp Salad

Main Fares
Fisherman’s Platter – Jumbo Prawns, Scallops, Calamari and Fish Fingers
Grilled Turkey Cutlet
Grilled Pork Quesadillas
Sandwich of the Day – San Francisco Roast Beef

Vegetarian Selection
Broiled Fresh Garden Chicory

Peach Crumble with Vanilla Sauce
Fudge Brownie with Mint Icing & Chocolate Ice Cream

Forest Berry Cream Cake
Sugar-Free Banana Split

The two entrees we had were both quite good.  One was a roast beef sandwich; the other was a roasted pork quesadilla.  The quesadilla was bordering on being too salty, but it had a nice flavor.  We both had odd fruit soup that we probably wouldn’t order again, but it was acceptable.  The desserts, a mint brownie and a peach crumble were satisfactory, but we wouldn’t order them again either.

After lunch we went out on the Lido Deck by the Seahorse Pool and listened to the band until they finished at 1:30 pm.  It’s hot and humid, but the breeze kept it manageable in the shade.  In the sun it was way too hot.  A man we didn’t know, Ray, stopped to introduce himself.  He turned out to be the Catholic priest.  He said he was making it his goal to learn the name of every single World Cruise guest.  He was pleasant and didn’t overstay his welcome.

Around 2:30 pm, we went back to the cabin and promptly crashed, as usual.  Why we try to fool ourselves into thinking we are going to read, we’ll never know.  It must be the gentle rolling that does it because we generally get enough sleep at night.  

We did manage to watch most of the port lectures for Ecuador and Peru.  The Shore Excursion Manager kept prefacing his comments about the port in Ecuador with, “I’m trying to find the words,” and “Let me find a delicate way to put this.”  In other words, don’t go ashore if you aren’t on a tour.  He wasn’t this forthcoming in St. Petersburg! 

He did say we could take the free shuttle bus into town to a square filled with iguanas, but “don’t walk under the trees because we have had accidents here before.”  In other words, the iguanas don’t care if you are under them when they have the urge.  He also said that hundreds of children would swarm us and “hang onto your possessions and don’t let anything dangle or you’ll never see it again.”  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  So, no walking independently, don’t take a taxi, don’t go off the main street, etc., etc.  Don’t expect any first hand reports from Ecuador!  Apparently, this port is just the drop off point for the 3-day tour to Machu Picchu and has nothing else to offer.  The only tour he said was worthwhile was a flight to Quito, but it only has sold four tickets and “it would be difficult to operate this tour with only four guests.”  At least we know we aren’t the only ones who are boring.

Peru seems to have many of the same dangerous elements, but perhaps one or two worthwhile sights in the city.  We probably won’t do much there either.  Too bad for us, we’ll just have to eat and sleep some more.  The only “safe” thing to do independently is to take the shuttle bus to the JW Marriott Hotel as long as we stay in the fashionable area and don’t inadvertently walk toward the east (or was it south?) because no one will ever see us again if we do.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Oh, and it will be 100 degrees in the shade with 100% humidity.

Ural brought a tray of cheese and crackers for cocktail hour tonight.  He also brought some caviar as a bonus for just us, but we turned it down.  It would have been a shame to waste it just to be nice.  We plan to ask him for something else once we have figured out what the standard items are.  If we ask what is available, they always say, “Whatever you want.” Well, we know that isn’t quite true and it isn’t helpful when you have no idea what is reasonable.  We’ll start with guacamole and chips because we know they can make those.

The Crystal Cove was full before dinner, so we detoured to the Avenue Saloon for the first time this cruise.  We used to go there all the time until they cut it in half by adding the Connoisseur Club.  It’s been redone and is quite warm and attractive, but it is way too small.  Such a shame to waste the space for a cigar club that has no more than one or two guests in it during an entire cruise.  The club area is exceptionally well done, but it smells too much like smoke to be used for anything else.

It’s another formal night for Guest Chef's Dinner.  These dinners are part of the Crystal Food & Wine Festival.  It sounds good, but the dishes are generally strange combinations of fancy ingredients no sane person would eat on a bet.  Get this, the dessert featured cheese sorbet!  Yes, CHEESE SORBET.  We didn’t try it.


Special Guest Chef Menu
Featuring the Cuisine of
Marc Lippman
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Baja Lobster Salad
Squash Blossoms

Main Courses
Roasted Halibut with Mussels, Pancetta, Spinach and Clams
Grilled New York Steak and Tender Braised Short Ribs

Rhubarb Tart with Oaxaca Cheese Sorbet


Fresh Asparagus with Olive Herb Vinaigrette
Exotic Fruit Cup with Grand Marnier

From the Soup Kettle
Lobster Bisque with Puff Pastry Fleuron
Chicken Consommé with Vegetable Pearls and Truffles
Chilled Red Pepper Soup with Tortilla Chips

Hearts of Boston Lettuce with Chopped Tomatoes, Cucumber, Onions and Sprouts
Commander’s Salad – Romaine Lettuce with Croutons, Hard Boiled Egg, Crisp Bacon, and Parmesan Cheese, Tossed in a Tangy Dressing

Pasta Special
Fettuccine with Calamari

Salad Entrée
Tempura-Fried, Rare-Cooked Ahi Tuna

Main Fares
Honey and Dark Beer-Glazed Chicken Breast
Old Fashioned Baked Virginia Ham

Vegetarian Selection
Stuffed Onions with Tomato Risotto

Chocolate Frangelico Cake with Coffee Cream
Mocha Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce
Sugar-Free Raspberry Cream Puff
Sugar-Free Yogurt Fruit Terrine
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

We had the Commander’s Salad that has a creamy dressing with chopped egg, bacon, etc.  It is one of our favorites.  The chicken broth was satisfactory.  Mario made spaghetti with meat sauce for our first course.  He made enough for twenty people, but only gave us a little more than an appetizer serving.  It was quite good.  Our chicken entrée was acceptable, but relatively mundane.  Dessert wasn’t much to speak of, although it was edible and thus better than cheese sorbet.

By the way, if you are in Cabo San Lucas, you can get a free luncheon at Las Ventanas al Paraiso just by mentioning Crystal Symphony.  This offer expires 12/31/02.

Mario carried on about the “Royal Feast” for tomorrow night.  This is a new theme evening we haven’t experienced yet.  He insinuated that you eat with your fingers and such.  Dave asked if we could throw the food on the floor and the glasses in the fireplace and he said, “Sure. The glasses are pewter.”  Nothing like spending mega-bucks!  We know the entire staff dresses in medieval clothing, too.  However, the production show has received very poor reviews and we have heard that people walk out in the middle.  We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.  Mario also said that they used to hold this on a formal night, but people got so much food on their clothes from eating without utensils that they had to stop that.  What the difference is between formal and informal as far as laundry goes isn’t quite clear to us.

Tonight’s entertainment is singer/Broadway “star” Michael Maguire.  He is in the Les Miserables special that plays on PBS all the time.  He originated the role of Enrojes, the rebel leader.  He has been walking around with that “recognize me” look on his face all week.  He was fairly good, but sang the usual selection of songs, “Impossible Dream”, “Music of the Night”, “Bring Him Home,” etc.  Someone needs to tell these guys that they should sing the songs they are famous for, not the songs they WISH they were famous for.  We’ve heard far worse on here, so we won’t complain too much.

On the way out, we crossed paths with David de Havilland, Ray, the priest, and Artie, the World Cruise Host.  We didn’t stop to talk to any of them, but Artie appeared interested in talking to us for the first time.  Luckily for us, he was surrounded by admirers and couldn’t escape.

We stopped briefly in the lobby to listen to the Champagne Strings.  It’s a nice touch to have them play there after the show so it doesn’t seem quite so dreary.  We were surprised to see quite a few people in the Starlite Club.

We ran into Barbara and Mel in the hallway and chatted with them for a few minutes.  Mel said he has finally figured out that we don’t participate in activities.  Took you that long, did it?  They really are quite nice and fun to talk to, but we’re always afraid they will try to rope us into something.  It does appear they have realized the effort is futile.

We keep forgetting to mention that there are a few “celebrities” on board:  Comedian Arte Johnson, and entertainer Joel Grey.  Joel Grey is supposed to be giving a lecture or doing a show, but Arte Johnson appears to be just a regular passenger.

We received the next of our special World Cruise gifts tonight.  They are embroidered patches that they hope “we will wear during the cruise, on future cruises, and when we return home.”  Yeah, right.  They aren’t ugly or anything, but where would you wear them?  They are patches, although they do pin on so you theoretically could attach them to any cap or jacket.  So, we now have a hat, jacket, pin, polo shirt, tote bag and patch with the World Cruise Club logo.

Here are some photos of our Penthouse:  Bed, Sitting Area, Entry.

Today’s luncheon buffet around the Neptune Pool is the “American Classic.”  It is only slightly more accurate than the Mexican buffet.  Since when is shrimp tempura (which was quite good) a classic American dish? 

We stopped by Nikki’s desk to inquire about the inaugural on Crystal Serenity.  They still haven’t confirmed who will actually get to go on this cruise and she is getting lots of requests.  Just as we want to know whether to book the next World Cruise, so do many other guests.  Not many would go on the World Cruise and then another in July.  We would, of course, but most people aren’t as decadent as we are.

Nikki is supposed to accompany the guests on the special luncheon tomorrow, but 25 people cancelled at the last minute, so now she isn’t so sure.  She expects almost no one will go on the lunches by the time we get to Honolulu and the novelty has worn off.  For us, it’s nice to have these because they are all in ports where we have been on all of the tours that interest us, so why not get a free luxury lunch instead?  Nikki said that the next World Cruise includes a lot of South America which isn’t very popular with Crystal guests, so they are waiting to book in the hopes of going on the Serenity inaugural instead.

None of the staff know yet whether they will be the ones to transfer to Crystal Serenity.  They do know that Herbert will be the Hotel Director, but that’s it so far.

We had to turn in a paper to tell the Front Office whether to carry our balance over to the next cruise or charge it by the segment.  This always seems like an unnecessary step to us.  Who wouldn’t want to carry it over?  And if you didn’t, you could just go to the desk and tell them to charge it when you receive your bill.  As usual, we don’t care, it’s just pointless.

We went to the Dining Room to see if we could get the menus from yesterday that vanished with our stewardess.  Josef didn’t know that guests on Deck 10 get menus every day.  He and Mario said they would get them for us.  Ultimately, they decided to send them to our room so we wouldn’t have to carry them around tonight.  Josef was appalled that the stewardess had taken them and took our room number to be sure it doesn’t happen again.  We always forget that asking for something causes a scene.

Josef offered to send someone up to the buffet to bring down anything we want to the Dining Room.  No, that’s OK, we can haul ourselves up to the buffet, thank you.

There was quite a selection at the buffet, but most of it wasn’t very appealing.  There were some “traditional” salads:  potato, carrot, cole slaw, and fried chicken salad.  Huh?  You heard right, fried chicken salad.  Basically, it consisted of small bits of fried chicken tossed with some greens.  It was as odd as it sounds.  Otherwise, the salad selection was the same as always.

The hot section had a tempura shrimp table (very good), BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, jambalaya, baked beans, sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping (it was green, don’t ask), fried chicken, and many other items one might remotely associate with American cuisine.  The desserts included brownies, pumpkin pie (ghastly), cookies, lemon crème brulee (outstanding…tasted like lemon meringue pie), and a bunch of the usual fancy desserts.  There was also a table piled high with different breads and fruit, plus a station making custom Cobb salads.  All in all, the food was average, but there was a nice variety.

Out on deck it was so windy that drinks were blowing off of the waiter’s trays.  At least it was keeping the air moving so it wasn’t unbearably hot.  Once you got the hang of holding onto your napkin and such, it was rather pleasant.  We stayed out there until the band finished at 1:30 pm.  The deck stewards fawned over us, but we waited until Benjamin asked what we wanted before ordering a banana/strawberry smoothie.  He is by far the most accommodating to everyone.  He helps each person arrange their chaise lounge, fetches towels, automatically brings ice water with a slice of lemon, etc.  The others are very nice, but he goes way beyond the call of duty without being a pest.

The weather today is about the same temperature as yesterday, but it is extremely windy.  The ship is rocking a bit, but the sea isn’t heavy.  The wind is just catching the ship and pushing it from side to side.  It’s not enough to make anyone sick…yet.

Artie stopped at our table to try to be friendly, but he had to ask our names again.  He seemed shocked that we were going on the lunch trip tomorrow.  We told him we would only go if Nikki got to go.  She wants to go, but thought she might be left behind because so many people cancelled.  We weren’t sure if that meant negative RSVP’s or what.  Artie said that many people cancelled at the last minute, in addition to the no-go RSVP’s.  It will be interesting to see what the total is tomorrow.  This doesn’t seem to be a group of people who are any more interested in 100-degree heat than we are.

Here is the luncheon menu from the Crystal Dining Room:

Crab and Asparagus Quiche with Herb-Yogurt Sauce
Baby Shrimp Salad with Celery and Apples
Cornets of Salami with Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Exotic Fruit Cup with Kahlua

From the Soup Kettle
Seafood Gumbo
Chilled Tropical Fruit and Barbecued Chicken Soup
Chicken Broth with Vegetable Strudel
Beef Consommé with Vegetable Strudel

Vitamin Salad – Mixed Greens with Kiwi, Grapes, Oranges & Toasted Almonds

Pasta Special
Shell Pasta with Fresh Broccoli, Olive Oil, Garlic and Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrees
Golden-Fried Fish Fingers on a Bed of Summer Greens
Crisp Tortilla Basket with Turkey

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – Toasted Mozzarella, Radicchio, & Grilled Chicken Breast
Beer Marinated Grilled Pork Chop
Boiled Cornet Brisket
Pan-Fried Veal Paillard
Seafood Gratin

Vegetarian Selection
Golden-Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls

Apple Slice with Vanilla Cinnamon Sauce
Ice Coupe with Warm Raspberries
Marble Caramel-Chocolate Tart
Sugar-Free Sour Cherry Tartlet

After lunch, Bill went off with the digital camera to try to capture photos of people we have mentioned in the diary.  Dave has two days of menus to catch up on in the diary.  Nikki found out that she gets to go on the lunch with us tomorrow.

Ural brought us crab legs and BBQ almonds.  He went and got a bowl of pretzels when he found out Bill likes them.  We mentioned guacamole and chips, so we will have those from now on.  He chatted for quite a while.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.  “Inspired by the Medieval tradition of offering a great feast before a grand entertainment, as a prelude to our own elaborate and lavish Excalibur!, we bid all our lords and ladies welcome to Crystal Cruises’ interpretation of a lavish Medieval Royal Feast, tonight in the Crystal Dining Room.  Bon appétit!”

Crystal really goes all out for this theme night!  There is a huge tapestry hanging in the lobby, velvet banners around the entrance to the Crystal Dining Room, a suit of armor standing in the center of the doorway, velvet banners all around the ceiling inside the room, and a variety of costumes in crushed velvet for the waiters.  They could probably live without the caps with the feathers, but it went well with the theme.  The Wine Stewards were dressed like Robin Hood and the Wine Stewardesses as Maid Marion.  The female servers wore what would best be described as serving wench outfits.  Josef, the maitre d’, wore a king outfit complete with crown.

The table settings were completely different than usual with an iridescent turquoise tablecloth, pewter wine goblets, and custom Crystal Cruises pewter chargers (which are for sale in the gift shop for $45.00.)  Hot mulled wine was served in the pewter goblets.

We didn’t have to eat with our fingers, needless to say.  Nor did we get to throw our food on the floor.  Darn!  Our request for the missing menus caused quite a stir.  Mario was shocked that they would take them away and said they would have to look into that practice.

All ye Lords and Ladies of the Realm are Welcome to Partake in This Sumptuous Feast of Royal Delectables, prepared for Thine own Special Enjoyment

Ménage de Pain
Parsley Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
White Sourdough Bread

Saffron Bread

Hors d’Oeuvres
Salmon and Smoked Sturgeon en Croûte
Royal Treasure with Caviar Petals
Mille Feuille of Duck Fois Gras & Galvine Apples en Gelée
Chilled Melon with Mead

Elizabethan Chicken Soup
Marco Polo’s Chilled Melon Soup
Chestnut Soup with Bacon Crisps

Salade du Chevalier d’Albignac

Malvasia Nerv Sorbet

Main Fares
Coq en Pâté
Filet of Boeuf Rossini
Côte de Veau Forestière
Dover Sole à L’Orange
Skinless Roasted Capon

Salad Entrée
Salad of Grilled Turkey Medallions

For Our Vegetarians
Tourte Taillevent – Spinach Pie

The Royal Feast Finale
Witches Pyre Flambé – Layered Apple Brioche with Meringue Flambé
Pithivier – Almond Cream Tart
Chocolate Vachrine
Sugar-Free Poached Pear in Spiced Red Wine Syrup

Food review:  Whatever liqueur was served over the fruit wasn’t the best choice, but it was edible.  The soup was the standard chicken consommé, which is always good.  Salad was the usual variety of fancy greens with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  The bread was outstanding for the most part, but all of them tasted a bit of saffron just from being in the same container.  Both entrees were very good with the beef having a slight edge over the fish dish.  Jerry removed the bones from the fish without being asked.  Both desserts were good, but not quite as described.  The Flambé was warm inside, but was not flaming, and had never been.  The Chocolate Vachrine was a frozen ice cream pie and was rock hard. 

Mario had to hand out programs for tonight’s show with the dessert.  We’re sure the dining room staff is thrilled to have something else to do.  It’s not as though they have nothing better to do.

This evening’s entertainment continues the “Evening in Camelot” theme throughout the ship.  Here is what Crystal has to say about it:  “Medieval excitement with ‘Excalibur!’: A dazzling romantic fantasy.  Merlin’s magic realm. The Verona of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  The one brief shining moment of Arthur and Cuinevere’s Camelot.  A mysterious forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

These are among the fantastic stops along the way of Crystal Cruises’ newest, most lavish production show – an eclectic journey through the romantic Medieval Era.

Combining Crystal’s trademark spectacular production shows with our Artistic Directors’ unique and creative new vision, Excalibur! offers the most imaginative musical adventure ever presented on board our Six-Star luxury ships.  The colorful costumes are the most opulent and extravagant creations to grace the stage of the Galaxy Lounge.  The surprising special effects surpass any seen before on board.  The panoramic castle sets and authentic props dazzle the eye and instantly entice all in attendance to participate eagerly in the splendor of this mesmerizing Medieval fantasy.”

OK, whatever.  We ran into Lara dressed in a lavish gold-embroidered gown complete with Rapunsal hairdo.  She couldn’t swoop around to arrange the train, so Dave helped her and told her not to move after that.  All of the cocktail servers were dressed appropriately…the women in heavy red floor-length dresses, the men in monk robes. 

The scenery extended off the sides of the stage about 1/3 of the way into the room.  Velvet banners were hung from the pillars and along the side of the room.  Good show, so far.

Now, unfortunately, the actual show had to begin.  It wasn’t terrible; well, just barely above terrible.  Obviously, the money went into the lavish costumes, which were beautiful and/or just plain weird.  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Robo-Cop rendition of “Fie on Goodness” from Camelot.  The opening went on way too long and tried too hard to build excitement.  There were a couple of numbers that were just plain boring and should be cut.  One is a faux ballet that would be fine if it was performed by ballet dancers.  Another is a very odd fairy sequence that reminded us of a Carol Burnett parody, except it was serious.  Nobody left early, but the applause was very subdued, although polite, and it died quicker than they expected at the end.  A couple of staff members tried to start a standing ovation, but eventually sat down when no one joined them. 

In the elevator, an older couple asked us how we liked the show. We hesitated for a second and the man said, “No need to answer, we were there.”  He said the original version was practically unbearable, but they had cut out some really weird stuff.  Keep the scissors handy!

Back in the room we found another World Cruise gift.  This time they are portfolios embossed with the logo.  Supposedly, we are to use them to carry around our Reflections program and to use the exclusive stationary to make notes of our journey.  Apparently they forgot they gave us journals for that purpose a few days ago.

The Medieval theme continued right to the pillow chocolate with a note:  “To sleep, perchance to dream. – William Shakespeare.  King Arthur and His Royal Court Wish You a Pleasant Slumber.”

We are now arriving in Costa Rica at 3:00 am due to a problem with the currents at the new port.  The Captain said, "They must have hired a gardener to design it because it makes no sense."  We're not quite sure what he meant by the gardener part, but you get the idea.


Superlatives abound when describing Costa Rica, one of Latin America’s most peaceful and stable countries.  Often called the “Switzerland of Central America,” it enjoys an ideal climate, friendly people, superb scenery, a high literacy rate and a democratic government.

With over 60% of its landmass covered with forests and national parks, Costa Rica is one of the world’s popular destinations for “eco-tourism” and has developed greatly over the past decade.

Costa Rica is the most peace-loving and independent society in all of Central America.  Due partly to Costa Rican independence during the colonial period, aggression and militarism is customarily shunned by the general population.  As a result, Costa Rica possesses no military forces and focuses instead on economic development and tourism.

Step ashore and join fellow guests in exploring this lush, inviting and friendly country.

CostaRica1.jpg (118650 bytes)CostaRica2.jpg (128690 bytes)We didn’t even notice the early arrival into port this morning, but we did notice the Captain’s announcement of a crew fire drill blasted into the cabins.  The Captain’s choice of words when he dismissed some of the officers from the drill early will certainly become part of our vocabulary.  He said, “I will let you go early so you have time to fluff and puff before you have to leave.”

We had no trouble getting up in time for our room service continental breakfast due to the alarms and announcements.  It arrived right on time and just as ordered.  He brought a pot of coffee, too.  These guys just can’t understand how anyone can possibly not want coffee.

Our scheduled meeting time was at 10:45 am in the Starlite Club.  Apparently, the many notices about this didn’t sink in because an announcement was made not to meet on the pier because of the heat.  It’s probably around 85 and very humid, but it isn’t too terrible.  By the way, it is very unusual for announcements to be made on this ship.  They never announce shore excursions or activities, for example.  They assume we are old enough to read our program and figure out where to be and when.  What a novel idea, huh?

More people showed up than we expected.  It looked like most of the group was there.  We were called in groups of 30 or so, but we waited until the very last group.  That was a good call because we ended up in a mini bus with just four other guests and Artie the World Cruise Host.

A guide pointed out various things along the 45-minute drive, but it was mostly jungle or ramshackle houses.  Costa Rica has a fairly high standard of living for this part of the world, but there don’t appear to be many building codes being enforced.  The port city of Puntarenas is only 300 yards wide and occupies a strip of sand in the bay.  There is nothing here of interest except souvenir vendors and locals enjoying the beach.  Although things are a bit run down, everything is spotlessly clean and the people seem happy.

Our lunch was at a boutique hotel with a spectacular view.  A cute children’s choir greeted us on the steps.  Villa Caletas is an upscale resort with bungalow style rooms that tumble down the steep hillside.  The staff couldn’t have been any more accommodating.  Every one of them said, “Welcome to Costa Rica.  Thank you for coming here.”  It was apparent that they want us to come back to stay for a while.

The guide had warned us that we were going to have authentic Costa Rican cuisine and that Pepto Bismol was on hand.  He needn’t have worried because it was standard buffet fare, although very tasty.  There wasn’t anything spicy or unusual.


Mixed Salad
Caletas Salad (Ham, Cheese and Shrimp)
Ceviche (Fish Cocktail)
Shrimp and Lobster Bisque
Grain Rice
Gratinated Pasta
Mixed Vegetables
Florentina Marlin with Spinach
Mixed Brochette (Chicken and Seafood) with Chimichuri Sauce
Grilled Chicken with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Pepper and Onions
Fruit Mousse
Fruit Cocktail
Chocolate Cake
Cheese Cake
Coconut Custard

CostaRicaLunch.jpg (91992 bytes)We sat at a table with Nikki, who bee lined over to sit next to us.  We didn’t know anyone else at the table except Jeff the video guy.  Many ship’s officers were there, including the Cruise Director.  They were still at the ship when we left and we have no idea how they beat us here.  Even Nikki was appalled to learn that the couple next to her are English!  We assumed they were from Texas or something by the way the dress and look.

A small band accompanied lunch.  There were some men rolling cigars that seemed to be a highlight for many.  Otherwise, there were just the lovely grounds to stroll and views to admire.  We wandered off with Nikki for a while to look at the view and the infinity pool.  She said that she hopes to have information for the Crystal Serenity Inaugural by Friday.  By this time it was time to go toward the busses and shuttle back to the ship.

We had hoped to go back with the same guide and group of guests, but it didn’t work out that way.  Our guide this time, a woman, was very nice and personable, but the guests on this trip were a bunch of crotchety old know-it-alls who kept asking questions and then correcting the guide.  She was good-natured about it, but one of them was rather crude.  Some of these people just can’t shut up.  At least we got a good reminder about why we don’t like organized shore excursions.

We arrived back at the ship around 4:00 pm, just in time to get a snack of ice cream from the Trident Ice Cream Bar.  They were setting up the area for the casual deck dinner tonight.  It was way too hot outside, so we finished our snack and went back to the cabin to upload the last two days of the diary.  It seems like we are always a couple of days behind, but we do appear to be getting the hang of it now.  Answering email is still cumbersome, but we are trying to answer those that warrant a reply.

So you don’t miss out, here is the lunch menu from the Crystal Dining Room:


Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables, Topped with Calamari-Jumbo Shrimp Salad
Egg Omelet with Tomato Concassé, Olive Tepanade and Basil
Heart of Belgian Endive Filled with Cheese Dip
Tropical Fruit Cup with Berries

From the Soup Kettle
Cream of Broccoli with Toasted Almonds
Chilled Cream of Blood Orange
Beef Consommé with Herb Célestine

Green Bean and Couscous Salad with Red Onion Rings

Pasta Special
Spaghetti Carbonara

Salad Entrees
Special Chicken Salad
Seafood Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Swordfish Sticks
Sandwich of the Day – The B.L.T.
Pesto Stuffed Baked Farmland Chicken Breast
Grilled Black Angus Beef Paillard

Vegetarian Selection
Polenta Tart

Poppy Seed Cake à la Mode
Almond Turnover with Vanilla Ice Cream
Chocolate Flan with Fresh Fruit
Sugar-Free Mocha Cream Swan

We stayed in the cool of the cabin until time for dinner.  Tonight’s pre-dinner snack was enough to be our dinner.  Bowls of fresh guacamole and salsa, plus a platter of flour and corn tortilla chips.  We weren’t the slightest bit hungry by dinnertime.

Tonight is the first casual poolside alternative dinner.  We looked at the menu which features pizza, tandoori chicken and beef, and the usual Trident Grill fare.  It doesn’t tempt us as long as there is something in the Crystal Dining Room that is acceptable.  Tonight’s dress code is casual anyway, so there isn’t much point in going upstairs to sit out in the heat.


Chilled Crab Claws, Baby Shrimp and Smoked Tuna with Sauce Marie Louise
Salad of Roasted Chicken Breast, Avocado, and Black Olives
Roasted Eggplant Terrine with Marinated Young Garden Greens
Fresh Papaya, Grape, and Banana Cup, with Fresh Mint

From the Soup Kettle
Beef Consommé with Cheese Ravioli
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup with Chili Crab Salsa
Island-Style Portuguese Bean Soup

Romaine Lettuce with Warm Bacon Dressing and Herb Toasties
Marinated Assorted Bean Salad on Radicchio Leaves

Pasta Special
Fusilli with Assorted Spring Vegetables

Salad Entrée
Ensalada Camarón

Main Fares
Piccata Milanese
Grilled Fresh Pacific Grouper Fillet
Grilled Jumbo Prawns
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Lasagna

Pumpkin Layered Cheesecake with Fudge Sauce
Crunchy Milk Chocolate Torte with Vanilla Ice Cream

Banana-Walnut Mousse with Fresh Fruit
Sugar-Free Strawberry Lemon Tart
Sugar-Free Apple Custard Pie
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

Food review:  Everything tonight was satisfactory, but nothing stood out as special.  We both had the pasta selection as a main course.  Both desserts were good, but not outstanding.

Tonight’s entertainment is a performance of “Love Letters.”  This isn’t something we would go to at home and certainly not here.  We preferred to watch the sailing from the Sun Deck.  It was quite pleasant outside with the breeze blowing.  It amused us to hear the person on the Bridge yell, “MUSIC” when we had cleared the dock.  In case you missed it earlier, they play Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “It’s A Wonderful World” along with a Norwegian sailing anthem each time we leave a port.

We lose another hour tonight, but we don’t have anything to do tomorrow anyway.  It will probably be an early night for us.

For those of you who are interested, click here for the Daily Activities on this port day.  Obviously, there are more activities on sea days, which we will add another time.

It has finally dawned on us that the lunch menu served in the Lido is exactly the same as in the Dining Room.  Duh!  It only took us a week to figure that out.  So, there isn’t much of a point in going to the Lido to find an alternative.  We don’t recall this being the case in the past, and we find that it limits the choices too much.  At least you can find a wide selection of fruit and desserts in the Lido, but we feel it would be best to offer things not found in the Dining Room as well.  At this point, the only item that is different is an Asian selection, which today was Spicy Shrimp and Vegetables.  We find the food in the Lido to be generally disappointing.  Most of it suffers from too much time on the steam table, although it is always the proper temperature.  The majority of the items are simply not suited to buffet service and should be limited to the dining room.


Chicken Curry Salad with Kiwi Slices
Prawns Wrapped in Prosciutto, Served with Mango Salsa
Vegetable Quiche with Garden Greens
Assorted Fresh Fruit Cup with Mango and Mint

From the Soup Kettle
German-Style Lentil Soup with Frankfurter Slices
Beef Consommé with Diced Bell Peppers and Crisp Tortilla Strips
Cold Buttermilk and Lime Soup

Mixed Greens with Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Celery

Pasta Special
Penne alla Calabrese

Salad Entrees
Tuna Salad
Fried Calamari Salad

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Pan Fried Trout Fillet “Grenoblois”
Viennese Veal Goulash
Poached Eggs on Potato Rösti and Hollandaise Sauce
Sliced, Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Root Vegetable Stew

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Apple Empanadas with Vanilla Sauce
Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Cake with Caramel Cream
Sugar-Free Ice Cake

At the insistence of the Deck Stewards, we sat outside on the aft deck.  It was starting to get cloudy, so it wasn’t too hot.  After lunch we went out to the Seahorse Pool to listen to the band until they finished at 1:30pm.

This would be a good chance to fill you in on the strange old woman who seems to show up everywhere.  The first time we became aware of her was at the Sock Hop when she danced by herself right in front of the orchestra during the contest.  Keep in mind she wasn’t in the contest.  At one point she accosted a photographer and made her dance with her.

Usually, we will see her wandering aimlessly, picking up a plate here, putting it down there, etc.  If there is music, she is dancing down the aisle; stopping to do little spins and dips.  Today, she started at one end of the pool deck, danced her way up one side and down the other.  She ended up right in front of the band dancing by herself.

The best part is yet to come.  To the amazement of everyone gathered outside, she started to peel off her caftan!  Thank goodness she had a bathing suit on underneath, but many of us were afraid we would be blinded for life if we gazed upon her.  Our relief was short-lived, however.  Apparently, she decided it was time for a dip in the pool, which by this time was sloshing out all over the deck.  She would need to shed her bra, of course.  So, she proceeded to pull down her bathing suit and whip off the bra, oblivious to the stunned glares of the other guests.  You could practically hear the jaws hitting the deck.  She was more entertaining than the show.

We finally figured out that her daughter was in the pool along with an old man we assume is her husband.  Their daughter just ignores her.  When they moved from the pool to the spa, and out again, they left her alone to fend for herself in the wind.  Eventually, another guest helped her cover up and head in the right direction.  Please chain us to the house when we get that old, OK?

It began to rain, so we got to watch the scramble of people from the lounges.  We have never understood what difference it makes if you get rained on when you just came out of the pool, it isn’t cold, and you are in a bathing suit.  We were entertained for a while watching the deck stewards collect the cushions and towels from hundreds of chairs.  We know, small things, small minds.

Eventually, we made our way down to Tiffany Deck 6 to make the rounds of the shops and such.  The art auction preview was laid out in the hallway, but it’s the same stuff they always have.  It is a more upscale (and we assume expensive) selection than we have seen on Holland America, but we don’t pay much attention anymore.

We ran into one of the guys we have been saying “hello” to since the first day.  Needless to say, we forgot his name as soon as he said it.  We do know he and his partner are from Palm Springs, they aren’t on the entire World Cruise (couldn’t stand it because they get antsy after 2 weeks), and they hang out with a couple of women we assume are either sisters or a couple.  All of them are way too lively for us, although they seem very nice and friendly. 

It sure would be nice if the Crystal Society party were earlier in the cruise.  We’re getting tired of people asking us if this is our first cruise. 

Dave finally bought the Crystal beach towels he looks at every cruise.  Until now there has been no use for them, but we can use them as throws in the cabin.  They provide mohair throws, but they shed lint all over everything and we make the stewardess take them away the moment we arrive.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the room.  It’s cloudy and rainy which has cooled things off a bit.  It is still very warm and humid, of course, but not nearly as ridiculous as it can be in this part of the world.

Ural arrived with our pre-dinner snacks.  He brought the main selection, three kinds of marinated herring, and an alternate of vegetables and dip.  He said hardly anyone ever accepts the herring, so he automatically brings something else now.

We gave Ural a pin-up calendar that was bound in a magazine we brought along.  You’d have thought we gave him a million dollars!  Was he excited, or what?  He couldn’t wait to run off and show the other butlers.  He declared us to be “really cool.”  God knows, we had no use for it, so we’re glad it made someone happy.

On the way to dinner, another butler stopped us in the hallway to thank us profusely for the calendar.  Apparently, it is now hanging in the butler’s pantry!  Who needs tip money?  Just bring a calendar of bathing suit models (fully clothed, by the way) and you’ve got the world eating out of your hand.

We stopped in the Crystal Cove for cocktails.  The waitress knew what we wanted without asking, which is a first.  We saw almost no one go into the dining room in the half hour we sat there.  We found out later than there was a show we forgot about at 6:30pm, so most of them were just running late.


Warm Sautéed Sea Scallops with Truffle-Vegetable Vinaigrette
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Pistachios and Pesto Vinaigrette
Beef Carpaccio “Harry’s Bar”
Chilled Cup of Fresh Fruit with Fresh Berries and Grand Marnier

From the Soup Kettle
Roasted Garlic Consommé with Olive Croutons
Potato Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Truffle Oil
Chilled Herb Cream with Baby Shrimp

Selection of Garden Spring Leaves with Alfalfa Sprouts, Plum Tomatoes, Belgian Endive and Deep Fried Cheese Balls, Served with Sherry Walnut Dressing
Chopped Romaine Lettuce with Potatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Onions and Radicchio

Pasta Special
Linguini in Light Mushroom Cream Sauce

Salad Entrée
Steak Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Fresh Ahi Tuna Steak
Crisp Lemon-Herb Marinated Chicken
Grilled Rib Eye Steak
Macadamia Nut-Wasabi Crusted Pink Roasted Lamb Loin

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Paella

Honey Glazed Pecan Pie à la Mode
Chocolate Fudge Sheba with Raspberry Sauce
Passion Fruit Mousse with Chocolate Sauce

Sugar-Free Mocha Cream Cake
Sugar-Free Filo Cup Filled with Diet Ice Cream and Pineapple Cubes
Homemade Cookies

Food review:  Bill had the kitchen make the Commander’s Salad, but it wasn’t quite right.  It was a good effort though.  The other salad was satisfactory.  The potato soup was good, but the texture of the mushrooms didn’t complement the creamy soup.  Otherwise, it was quite good.  The tuna dish had to be served rare, but it was fine.  We both had the “always available” filet steak, which was outstanding.  The chocolate dessert hadn’t been mixed enough and had a sugary grain that ruined it.  The passion fruit mousse was good, but so light that it was like eating nothing.  We both also had fat-free frozen banana/chocolate yogurt that was very good.  The homemade cookies were worse than usual, which is pretty bad to begin with.

Dave asked Mario if the food at lunch in the Lido was always the same as the Dining Room.  At first he claimed it wasn’t the same (believe us, it is exactly the same), but eventually he believed us.  He was shocked to say the least.  He said he would check with the chef and see why because he thinks it is supposed to be different to give guests more variety.  His take on it was that if it were the same, it wouldn’t be from now on.  We’ll believe that when we see it, but it would be nice.

We weren’t interested in the slightest in any of the entertainment tonight.  It was a rehash of the classical concert from a few nights ago.  No problem.  We didn’t get our nap today anyway!

Here’s a first:  The port description sheet for Guayaquil, Ecuador has this warning, “Because of its reputation, the ship must recommend that guests do not explore independently….”  We have never, in all of the ports we have visited, been warned that directly against going ashore without a tour.  We’ve been to some fairly rough ports, but the warnings have never been so direct.  It will be interesting to see what it is really like once we arrive.

Here is a typical list of Daily Activities for a sea day.

We opened the drapes to see a pod of whales frolicking outside the window.  Not a bad way to start the day, huh?  It’s sunny and not unreasonably hot or humid.   That’s not to say it is cold and dry, but it’s an improvement.

AsiaCafe1.jpg (122261 bytes)AsiaCafe2.jpg (123282 bytes)AsiaCafe3.jpg (120767 bytes)AsiaCafe4.jpg (123278 bytes)
Click on photos of the Asia Cafe for a larger version

Today is another poolside buffet, the Asia Café.  This is one of the better-executed buffets with a wide variety of very good Asian food.  Many salads, the usual grilled beef along with chicken skewers, fried won tons, egg rolls, several kinds of rice, spicy chicken, Indonesian nasi gorang, and much more.  All of it was very good or outstanding.  The whole theme is carried out nicely with red umbrellas and such.  We loaded our plates for our “breakfast” of Asian cuisine and headed into the Lido to eat.  They haven’t quite figured out that the roof over the pool should be completely open on hot days, so it is unbearable to stay and eat there. 

Here is the menu from the Crystal Dining Room.  You’ll see several items that were also on the buffet, which are in bold.


Albacore Tuna Cocktail with Celery, Red Onions and Russian Dressing
Shrimp Croquettes with Tartar Sauce
Tomato Boat Filled with Vegetable Salad on Garden Greens
Chilled Tropical Fruit Cup with Orange Curacao

From the Soup Kettle
Thai Chicken Shrimp Soup with Galangal and Lemongrass
Mushroom, Tomato and Pasta Broth
Cold Cream of Lychee Nuts

Marinated Lentil Salad with Bell Peppers and Carrots

Pasta Special
Farmer’s Cheese Ravioli with Tomato Basil Sauce

Salad Entrees
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Greek Farmers Salad

Main Fares
Spicy Orange Chicken
Sweet and Sour Prawns

Sandwich of the Day – Crystal Lamb Sandwich
Sliced Veal Liver
Grilled Striped Bass Fillet

Chocolate Chiffon Pie
Sour Cherry Cream Puff on Fruit Mirror
Apple Empanadas with Vanilla Sauce
Philadelphia Fruit Cake
Sugar-Free Strawberry Cream Cake

Vegetarian Selection
Fluffy Vegetable and Asparagus Omelet

After lunch we took up our usual spot outside by the Seahorse Pool where it is much cooler.  A nice breeze was blowing, too.  We stayed there until 2:30pm or so watching the activity of the day.  Benjamin was scurrying around arranging chairs and towels for new arrivals, even fetching little tables for their drinks.

From here we wandered around taking some photos of the ship for anyone who might not be familiar with some of the rooms we mention from time to time.  There will be links added whenever we mention a room with a photo on file.

We wanted to talk to Lara and ask for the Emerald Crystal Society pin we skipped somehow.  We have three each of the diamond pins for 10 cruises, so we intended to trade them in.  It was a little too early for her to be at her desk, so we were going to sit there tapping our foot and sighing when she arrived.  Unfortunately for us, she arrived promptly at the appointed time.  

We spent the next hour laughing over a variety of things, mostly dippy guests.  She had been dressed in an outlandish outfit as Boca Raton Queen Aggie for the Equator Crossing Ceremony earlier today and had photos to show us.  She was in an enormous blond wig, long silver glitter gown complete with padded butt and red platform shoes.  She was quite a site.  Nikki arrived and much laughter ensued.  We’ll have to make an effort to go to the ceremony when we cross again. 

Lara informed us that the best shopping this cruise is in Vietnam because the prices are still so cheap and the quality is high on the handicrafts.  She said you could trust the merchants and they bend over backwards to help you.  Each item is wrapped like a gift that’s so lovely you don’t want to open it again.

It wasn’t necessary to trade in our other pins.  Lara just handed us the ones we wanted, no questions asked.  She wants to have dinner with us later in the cruise, which is fine with us.  We also met the Vice Captain who will be at the 20th cruise dinner we have next week. 

It was almost 5:00pm before we made it back to the room today and Ural was already dispensing the evening’s goodies.  We got guacamole and chips again, plus the regular selection; a fruit boat with nut bread and cottage cheese.  Sure is a better choice than pickled herring!  Now we won’t want dinner, which is a blessing considering that it is Neptune’s Dinner and there isn’t much we are dying to order. 

Ural told us stories of people having watches and purses stolen last time the ship was in Ecuador, so that must be why they are so bold in warning us not to go out independently.  He said that they have people at the shuttle stop in town to keep the grabby children away from Crystal guests.  We can’t see how that will work if all they have to do is wait along the sidewalk for you to pass by anyway.  Lara and Ural both said the only thing in town is the park filled with iguanas and a small shopping mall.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Crisp Soft-Shell Crab on Three-Bean Salad
Homemade Gravlax on Yukon Hash Brown Potatoes
Pressed Tomato and Basil Terrine on a Bed of Niçoise Salad
Fruit Cup with Star Fruit and Grape Liquor

From the Soup Kettle
New England Clam Chowder
Essence of Beef with Foie Gras Croutons
Chilled Gazpacho Blanco with Toasted Almonds

Heart of Iceberg Lettuce with Shredded Vegetables and Red Leaf Lettuce
Spring Garden Lettuce with Grilled Bell Peppers

Pasta Special
Bucatini with Lemon Oil, Jumbo Shrimp, Basil and Plum Tomatoes

Salad Entrée
Sliced Grilled Tenderloin Steak

Main Fares
Surf and Turf – Grilled Filet Mignon with a Giant Prawn
Grilled Chicken Breast
Pan-Seared Sea Bass Fillet
Sautéed Crab Cake
Braised Baby Lamp Shanks

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Stuffed Zucchini

Viennese Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce
Chocolate Terrine “Harlequin”
Sunset Cake
Sugar-Free Citrus Timbale
Sugar-Free Chocolate Éclair
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Non-Fat Apple Strudel

Food review:  The gazpacho was fairly good, but it tasted mostly of celery and sour cream.  It also contained chopped cucumber and chives, but we couldn’t discern anything else.  The Surf and Turf was very good.  They no longer serve lobster with this dish because the lobster is always so tough you can’t cut it with a knife.  The giant prawn is a reasonable substitute.  The strudel was satisfactory.  We only ordered it because the waiter, Josef, and Mario all told us it was their favorite thing in the whole world.  Neither of us liked the consistency of it, but otherwise it was OK.

Josef filled us in on his life.  His wife now lives in Austria.  His son is eight and they now have a daughter, as well.  We didn’t quite catch it, but we think he said she is two.  He spent two hours with his in-laws in Costa Rica and “that was quite enough.”  He made some nice arrangements for them though, so he did his duty as a husband.  He said that his wife has really fit in well in Austria and all the locals in the village where they live simply adore her.  She is quite personable and it is really nice that she fit in so readily.

Mario talked to the chef about the duplicate Dining Room and Lido lunch menus.  The chef claimed, “it must have been a coincidence that day.”  Yeah, right, two days in a row?  Two items are supposed to be the same; the rest should be different, according to Mario.  He didn’t buy the chef's explanation either.

The dining room is expected to be very slow tomorrow night because many people will be leaving in the morning for 3-day excursions to the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu.  We find it odd that the Crystal Society Party is scheduled for a day before those guests return, but maybe that’s the point.

Tonight’s entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring Michael Maguire and Dance Champions Curtis and Natalie.  Michael’s musical selections tonight were more suitable for him than the last time, so he was quite enjoyable.  We could live without seeing the dance couple again, but they were satisfactory.

We arrived in Ecuador at 11:30pm, so we went up on deck to watch the docking.  It is an industrial port, so there isn’t much to see here.  While the docking went smoothly, there seemed to be some sort of problem with security.  The Captain and several other officers kept hanging over the side watching people with binoculars.  A large group of people started walking toward the ship from a nearby warehouse, but a policeman stopped them.  When a big semi truck pulling an empty flat bed drove into the “secure” area, a police truck rushed over and cut him off.  This whole scene wasn’t pleasing the officers on the bridge at all.

Every time a car would drive up, the officers would freak out and rush to look at them through binoculars.  They seemed particularly interested in a group of men sitting at the corner of the warehouse directly across from the ship.  At one point, they started to lower the gangway and abruptly stopped and pulled it back up.  It appears as though they will keep the ship secured over night.

It started to rain, so we called it a night around 12:30am.  The officers were still scrutinizing the dockside activity, but they didn’t seem very concerned with the small fishing boat on the other side of the ship that crept right up to the windows.

Upon arrival in the cabin, we found yet another World Cruise logo item.  This time it is a pin with the same design as the patch we received a few nights ago.  Again, they hope we will wear it everywhere.  Uh, did someone forget we already have pins that supposedly identify us at World Cruise guests?  Remember those cutesy boomerang pins?

Tonight’s newsletter from Artie reminds us to attend a Norwegian Waffle Party at 10:45am.  Along with the reminder is an admonition to “eat a light breakfast!”  Just how early does this man think we get up? 

Here’s a hint of this lovely port.  The charming scent wafting from the air conditioning this evening is that of sewage and/or stagnant water.  Take your pick.  Outside it smells like wet dogs.  Don’t you wish you were here?


Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, principal seaport and economic crossroad.  This bustling hub lies on the vast Guayas River delta, an area so broad that it appears to be part of the ocean.  However, the city is only 30 miles inland from the Pacific.

Guayaquil draws endless vitality from its waterfront location.  Cargo ships, ferryboats, and dugout canoes compete for space in a continuing parade of activity.  Yet beyond the urban limits, the lush forest seems almost ready to close in on the town.

Stately government buildings, patriotic monuments and flowering trees adorn the broad waterfront promenade known as the Malecón.  At its northern end lies the picturesque colonial district of Las Peñas.

Panama hats, hand-woven textiles, handicrafts and artwork make great keepsakes of your sojourn in this atmospheric tropical land.

Ecuador1.jpg (111134 bytes)Ecuador2.jpg (136294 bytes)Ecuador3.jpg (137786 bytes)
Port of Guayaquil, Ecuador - Click to enlarge

By “atmospheric” we assume Crystal means “it reeks.”  Daylight didn’t improve the outlook for this port much.  The water is filled with floating garbage and the water line of the adjacent jungle is full of trash.  The port area is in very good repair, however.  There is a wide boulevard leading from the port to nowhere in particular.  It is one of those grand statements you see in countries where some dictator had something to prove.  God forbid they should spend the money on improving education or something frivolous like that.

A big fuel barge was filling the tanks around noon today.  There was a dugout canoe with a couple of people in it approaching the ship, but they must have been shooed away because they vanished.  There are armed military personnel at our gangway along with the ship’s security person.  Otherwise, the police presence is pretty much the same, or less, than last night.  The policemen are wearing bulletproof vests, but they don’t seem to have guns with them.

There was almost no one in the Lido today until the tours returned at 1:00pm.  We watched the shuttles come back from town and there were only about 8 people, including crew, on them.  The tour bus that arrived shortly thereafter had a reasonable number of people on it, several of whom could barely walk.  Mind you, all of the tours in this port had three walking symbols, which means there is extensive walking.  Sure would have been fun waiting for them at every stop, wouldn’t it?

The Dining Room lunch menu didn’t offer anything exciting, so we went to the Lido.  Two of the dishes were the same as the Dining Room, but the other two were different.  That is how it is supposed to be.


Golden-Fried French Camembert with Lingonberries
Stuffed Mackerel with Creamed Horseradish
Iced Strawberry, Papaya, and Grape Cup

From the Soup Kettle
Navy Bean Soup
Chicken Broth Xavier
Chilled Grapefruit Soup with Orange Segments

Chopped Garden Salad with Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Oyster Mushrooms and Sprouts

Pasta Special
Tortiglione with Spring Vegetables, Roasted Garlic, and Grated Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrees
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Pasta Salad

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – Hot Pastrami
Grilled Lemon Sole Fillet
Roasted Turkey Breast
Spicy Gulf Crab Enchiladas

Vegetarian Selection
Sautéed Vegetables with Mushrooms à la Zürichoise

Pear and Honey Crumble with Vanilla Sauce
Gateau St. Honoré
Cassata Palermo Style
Sugar-Free Fruit Trifle

After lunch we took our obligatory port area photos which you can see at the top of this section.  When the sun comes out it becomes unbearably hot, but it is mostly cloudy today.  It is still much too hot for comfort because there isn’t much of a breeze.  It isn’t raining though, which is an improvement over the forecast.

We received an invitation to a Cocktail Party for American Express Platinum cardholders for January 29th.

The ship is fairly dead today because so many guests went on the 3-day excursions.  Dinner tonight is open seating and there is a deck BBQ as an alternative.  This isn’t really the best place for a deck BBQ because it smells like sewage and it is way too hot to sit outside, even after dark.  We’d predict that most people will show up in the Dining Room, but we have been known to be wrong!

Our pre-dinner snacks were the usual guacamole, salsa and two kinds of chips, plus the regular selection of pickles and Prosciutto wrapped around Swiss cheese sticks.  Ural filled us in on his day at the iguana park.  Since it was Sunday the grabby children were nowhere to be found, but all the shops, such as they are, were closed.  He said the town really had nothing to offer.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.


Wok-Spiced Shrimp with Island Greens and Creamy Oriental Dressing
Truffle-Portabella Mushroom Tart
Arugala and Lentil Salad with Eggplant Chips and Herb Croutons
Tropical Fruit Cup with Mango and Crème de Cacao

From the Soup Kettle
Chicken Broth with Matzo Balls
Cream of Sweet Potato with Lump Crabmeat
Cold Soup of Hawaiian Pineapple with Coconut

Heart of Boston Lettuce with Daikon Root and Cherry Tomatoes
Tossed Iceberg Lettuce with Tropical Fruit Dressing, Papaya and Sweet Walnuts

Pasta Special
Spaghetti Pasta with Chicken Bolognese

Salad Entrée
Salad of Grilled Fresh Tuna Steaks

Main Fares
Grilled Fresh Mahi Mahi Fillet
Oven Baked Farmland Chicken Breast
Grilled Pork Medallions
Roasted Herb-Marinated Beef Tenderloin

Vegetarian Selection
Potatoes au Gratin

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Brownie with Rum Raisin Ice Cream
White Mocha Mousse with Rhubarb Sauce
Piña Colada Cake
Sugar-Free Strawberry Mille Feuille
Sugar-Free Apple Cake
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Refreshing Mango Sherbet

OK, we admit it.  We were wrong.  Even we didn’t show up in the Dining Room.  On a whim, we decided to check out the Deck BBQ and were convinced to stay by the throng of Deck Stewards who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Boy are we glad we stayed!  The food was outstanding.  And, what a great variety.  There was something for everyone.  Grilled sausages, giant prawns, chicken, ribs, etc.  Several different and interesting salads, and a whole lineup of hot dishes.  Great job!

The only minor improvement that should be made is to have the waiters line up somewhere other than in front of the salads and bread displays.  If you want a Caesar salad, bread or fruit, you have to barge through the line, which is virtually impossible because they grab your tray to “help” you to a table.  They really should wait until you are headed somewhere before taking your tray.  But, this isn’t a big deal, just a comment.

We sat outside by the Seahorse Pool where the Starlite Orchestra was playing.  The tables were set with cloths and candlelight.  People were dancing in the aisles.  It was very festive and people were obviously enjoying themselves.  If you wanted to just watch (and who would ever want to do something like that?) you could.  If you wanted to party, you could do that also.  Cocktail servers were everywhere, along with the ever-solicitous Deck Stewards.  We were surprised how many people were there.  Most of the tables by both pools were taken and there were also people inside the Lido.  There must have been no one in the Dining Room.

We stayed outside until the party was over at 9:00pm, then made the rounds of the Sun Deck before wandering down to the lobby.  We debated for some time about whether or not to go to the folkloric show, but ultimately decided it is better than doing nothing again.

Tonight’s entertainment in the Galaxy Lounge is The National Ballet of Ecuador presenting “Jacchigua”, The Infinite Joy of Harvest.  “A gathering of the richness of Ecuadorian popular culture, displaying the ancestral traditions and customs of Ecuador.”  They were excellent and got a standing ovation.  The director was obviously overjoyed that it was so well received, which was nice to see.  He had been in the wings making nervous gestures beforehand, so he was concerned that maybe this crowd wouldn’t like them. 

After the show, we strolled down to the Crystal Cove to listen to the Champagne Strings and kill time until the midnight sailing.  They finished at 11:00pm and we left for Sun Deck around 11:30pm.

It was still warm outside, but not unpleasant.  There were a few sprinkles, but it didn’t really rain during the hour we were outside.  The ship sailed at midnight on the dot.  Talk about turning on a dime!  They dropped the ropes, we backed up the length of the pier, the front of the ship swung out and off we went.

We heard tonight that the grand boulevard from the port was some sort of project for the millennium that was never completed.  There is a nice garden at the other end, but the intended purpose of the whole thing seems to have been forgotten.


Today’s weather is practically perfect…warm with a cool breeze, mostly sunny.  We opted for lunch in the Lido, which wasn’t the best choice.  In addition to the regular buffet, there was a South American table, but everything was fairly boring.  The only benefit was sitting outside while we ate.

After lunch we wandered out to the Seahorse Pool to watch the Starlite Orchestra.  They play the same songs every day, but what other alternative is there?  A different old lady got up and danced by herself to a Salsa song, but she didn’t take off her top or anything else.  Darn!

It was amusing to watch a conga line of three women and a man do all the moves to Y.M.C.A. as they traveled around the pool.  

Joel Grey walked by and said hello to us.  Aren’t we special?  He was walking around with that “notice me” look.  He did seem quite pleasant and approachable though.  His show is the main entertainment tomorrow night.

Here’s the lunch menu from the Crystal Dining Room:


Potato Galette with Smoked Salmon and Dill Mayonnaise
Smoked Chicken Breast with French Vegetable Salad
Deep Fried Mushrooms with Sauce Tartar
Chilled Peach, Cherries, and Pineapple Cup

From the Soup Kettle
Baked Bread and Cabbage Soup
Chicken Broth with Vegetables
Cold Cream of Cranberries

Heart of Iceberg Lettuce with Grilled Mushrooms and Thinly Sliced Celery

Pasta Special
Shell Pasta with Tomato, Roasted Eggplant, and Ricotta Cheese

Salad Entrees
Chopped Texas Salad Potpourri
Golden Fried Chicken Fingers

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – BBQ Shrimp B.L.T.
Mixed Grill of the Ocean
Grilled Chicken Paillard
Huatia (South American Beef Stew)
Grilled Veal Scaloppini

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Chili

Coconut Meringue Pie à la Mode
Marble Raspberry Vanilla Cake
Chocolate Pecan Roulade with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Jell-O with Fruit

Tonight is the Crystal Society Party in the Starlite Club when we are presented with our double-diamond pins for our 20th cruise.  We arrived a bit early and made small talk with the people in line.

When the doors opened at 6:30pm, there was a receiving line starting with Lara and the Captain, then David de Havilland (Cruise Director) and Josef Matt (Hotel Director).  We asked Lara where her germ-free gloves were since she wasn’t wearing the usual long white gloves.  The Captain never quite knows what to make of us, but he’s pleasant enough.

We made our way to the edge of the room where we could get to the stage easier.  Waiters must have offered us hors d’oeuvres about 20 times during the first half hour.  You can have any cocktails you want during these parties free of charge.  Many people danced to the Galaxy Orchestra.

Once the ceremony began, there was a brief speech by David and then the Captain.  Lara came up next to introduce the five people (including us) getting their 20th Milestone Double-Diamond pin.  We went up, got the pin from the Captain, shook hands with him again, and then posed for a group picture.  It was relatively painless.

Lara introduced the top three cruisers, including a man with the most cruises of all, 108.  Of the guests currently on board, 84% of them are repeats, the vast majority of them with over 20 cruises.  That’s an incredible repeat factor for a cruise line that is relatively new and small.

As soon as the party was over, which was a half-hour after dinner began in the Dining Room, we went down to eat.  We missed our butler snack today because we wanted to nap so we could get ready earlier than usual.

Jerry said that he only had two parties last night.  They all wanted to know how the deck BBQ was.  He said a lot of people at first didn’t want to go up there because it was too hot, but once they saw the food, they decided to stay.  Sounds familiar, huh?

Tonight's dress code is Formal.


Escargots “Bourguignon” – Burgundy Snails in Garlic Herb Butter
Lobster Salad Américaine, Served with Light Crayfish Dressing
Crackling Salad with Smoked Duck Breast, Tossed in French Dressing
Citrus Fruit in an Orange Basket, Perfumed with Crème de Cassis

From the Soup Kettle
French Onion Soup
Beef Consommé with Foie Gras Profiteroles
Vichyssoise with Bell Pepper Mousse

Panache of Mixed Greens with Red Leaf Lettuce, Chopped Egg and Dijon Mustard Dressing
Vegetable Salad Niçoise

Pasta Special
Rigatoni Boscaiole

Salad Entrée
Scallops Salad

Main Fares
Pink Roasted Rack of Lamb
Grilled Farmland Chicken Breast
Broiled Fillet of Fresh Pacific Snapper
Coq au Vin
Délice de Veal à la Mama

Vegetarian Selection
French Onion Soup

Soufflé Grand Marnier with Sauce Negresco
Gateau aux Framboises – Raspberry Ice Parfait
Gateau Opera with Vanilla Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Spicy Apple Sauce Custard
Sugar-Free Vanilla Profiteroles with Diet Chocolate Sauce
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Petit Fours and Chocolate Truffles

Not to nit pick, but how can French Onion Soup, which is based on a beef broth, be considered a vegetarian selection?  Just wondering.

Food review:  The fruit selection was a very nice and different array.  The French Onion Soup was much improved over past years and bordered on excellent.  It would have rated better, but it was a bit too salty.  The salads were satisfactory.  The Lamb was too rare otherwise it was very good.  The Snapper was very good.  The Soufflé was outstanding as always.  We also sampled the Crepe Suzette made by Mario tableside.  It was tasty, but we just don’t see what the fuss is all about.

We couldn’t recall if they had served the vegetables from a bowl when we first started with Crystal, so we asked Jerry.  He, as usual, thought we were complaining about the service and launched into an explanation that we could order whatever we want, etc.  That’s not what we meant at all.  We were just wondering.  Mario came over and we asked him, with Jerry looking on in horror.  They have always served up the complete plate in the kitchen and have never used silver service on this ship.  Dilemma solved.  Poor Jerry.  He really needs to lighten up.

Dave finally remembered to pass along Rita and Phil’s greeting to Josef.  He was thrilled and carried on about how organized they are and what a pleasure it is to work with them.  Even with a huge group they always have things in perfect order.  So, Rita and Phil are as popular with Josef as he is with them!  Nikki also thinks they are wonderful, by the way.  Both of them were honored to receive a greeting and they hope to see them again soon.  Isn't it nice to be popular?

Josef was checking to be sure we still wanted second seating when we return to the regular two-seating plan next cruise.  He said we would stay on two seatings for the rest of the World Cruise.  Next segment goes up to 550 guests total and 600+ for the remaining two segments.  This means there will only be 300 people maximum in the dining room on any given night for the rest of the cruise.  The room holds 500.  It is relatively full most nights now with 480 guests on single seating.  Keep in mind that many people go to Jade Garden or Prego each night also.

We’re so glad to have the Crystal Society thing over.  Now people don’t treat us like this is our first cruise.  Now they just wonder how we find the time to rack up 20 cruises just since the Symphony came out.

The production show for this evening is “Symphony of Nations.”  This used to be the big finale show, but it has fallen a bit in the schedule.  We have never liked this show as much as everyone else seems to, although it does have some great scenes.  We are the minority though; most people absolutely adore this show.  The costumes are extremely beautiful, but it tries too hard to be highbrow and some of the numbers are a real stretch for the performers.  If they would just snip a couple of solos, this would be a great show.

It dawned on us that the “fabulous” new show that debuted on our last cruise two years ago, “Some Enchanted Evening” is gone already.  Boy, they sure ditched that loser fast.  Just goes to show you that telling people a show is great doesn’t make it so.

We found a photo posted in the gallery of Lara as Boca Raton Queen Aggie from the Equator Crossing Ceremony the other day.  When you see this photo you’ll see what really goes on around here!

Our day began with lunch in the Lido.  We skipped most of the buffet and had the Asian selection, Spicy Chicken, which was very good.  The Chicken Empanadas were also tasty.  Three Deck Stewards fetched iced tea and carried our trays.  The weather is perfect today.  Not at all hot, but pleasant enough to sit outside.  Let’s hope it stays this way for at least the next few days.

Here is the lunch menu from the Crystal Dining Room:


Avocado with Black Forest Ham and Tomato Salad
Chicken Empanadas with Papaya, Corn and Red Pepper Relish
Crisp Tortillas with Guacamole and Salsa Cruda
Exotic Fruit Cup with Jamaican Rum

From the Soup Kettle
Carrot Ginger Cream Soup with Cabbage
Clear Vegetable Soup with Vermicelli
Chilled Yogurt and Peach Soup

Heart of Romaine Lettuce with Sliced Red Skin Potatoes and Blue Cheese Dressing

Pasta Special
Macaroni with Chili Flakes, Bacon Bits, Tomatoes and Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrees
California Cobb Salad
Papaya with Black Bean Shrimp Salad

Main Fares
English Fish and Chips
California Hamburger
BBQ Chicken Half
Fluffy Asparagus Omelet
Chicken Stuffed Baked Potato

Vegetarian Selection
Eggplant and Zucchini Parmigiana

Chocolate Pignoli Nut Cake à la Mode
Budapest Slice
Ice Coupe Belle Helene
Sugar-Free Lemon Cheesecake

As usual, we sat by the Seahorse Pool to listen to the Starlite Orchestra until they finished at 1:30pm.  Their final selection was Y.M.C.A. that prompted several guests to get up and do all the moves again.

It’s laundry time, so we stopped by the laundry room to see if any machines were free.  The laundry on Penthouse Deck requires your key to gain access, so it isn’t usually as busy as those on other floors.  We sent our dress shirts out to be laundered, but we can manage to do our own basics.

We didn’t sleep all that well last night.  No reason, we just didn’t.  So, we’ll lounge around the cabin until time for the American Express Platinum cocktail party at 6:30pm tonight.

Ural brought guacamole and chips.  He said we had prompted the chef to make it for the entire floor.  He stayed chatting for quite a while, which made it a rush to get ready by 6:30pm for the cocktail party.  We’d rather talk to him than go to a party anyway, so we didn’t care.  He declared us to be "dream guests."

Half of the Palm Court was arranged for the American Express Platinum party.  There must have been 100 people there.  Usually there are no more than a dozen or so.  Apparently if you can afford a cruise like this, you use your American Express Platinum! 

Lara was the only staff there to greet people, but the Captain and some other officers arrived eventually.  They never made it around to everyone, but we didn’t care.  We arrived right behind Mel and Barbara so we sat with them and had a nice chat.  We stayed until everyone else had left and then made our way to the dining room.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.

Special Guest Chef Menu
Featuring the Cuisine of
of the Caesar Park, Buenos Aires

Fois Gras Mousse with Chardonnay Jelly, Prunes, and Pine Nuts

Fennel Vichyssoise

La Bresaola de Baila Ham, Beets, Green Apples, Blue Cheese, and Spicy Macadamias Salad

Main Courses
Earl Grey Tea Smoked Salmon
Tarragon Chicken Leg


Sautéed Bay Scallops in Herb and Olive Oil on Vegetable Stew and Saffron Sauce
Halibut and Salmon Carpaccio with Summer Greens and Vegetable Vinaigrette
Iced Fruit Cup with Mandarins, Plums and Grand Marnier

From the Soup Kettle
Roasted Californian Vegetable Soup
Consommé Double with Bretonne

Heart of Boston Lettuce with Fried Onion Rings, Shredded Zucchini and Tomato Wedges

Pasta Special
Ziti Tagliati con Salsiccia e Ricotta

Salad Entrée
Roasted Pork Medallion Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steak
Sautéed Veal Scaloppini

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Crepe

Guest Chef Selection – Peach Melba Revisited
Chocolate Paradise Cake with Coffee Ice Cream
Pistachio Profiteroles with Chocolate Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Lemon Wheel
Sugar-Free Pineapple Pudding
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

Food review:  The Vegetable Soup wasn’t at all what was expected (it was a vegetable puree), but it was outstanding.  The salad and the pasta were satisfactory.  The Guest Chef Salmon was incredible; although it sounds weird it was wonderful.  The Steak was outstanding also.  Jerry recommended the Peach Melba Revisited and it looked interesting, so we both ordered it.  We did think the name was odd.  It made us think of revisited as in regurgitated.  Well, it might as well have been.  Yuck.  Talk about odd.  The top layer was some sort of brown icy sherbet with a flavor we didn’t recognize.  Then there was a bunch of chopped stuff that looked like wet sand and tasted like wet birdseed.  We’re guessing it was finely chopped nuts.  Somewhere under all of that were pieces of peaches on top of a ghastly vanilla mousse.  We do know that the guest chef items are often odd, so we didn’t mind this little misstep.  We should have known better.  We saw lots of them going back to the kitchen untouched.

We needed to make a pit stop at the room on the way to the show.  In the hallway we ran into Peter and Ural.  Bill had given them the magazine that the calendar came in, so they were eager to chat.  Peter has never said much, but he opened up and was quite jovial with us.

Tonight’s entertainment in the Galaxy Lounge is a show by Joel Grey.  We had no idea what to expect.  Well, he was as good as he ever was, which is fine.  But, he shouldn’t try to carry an entire evening based on his singing.  We sort of felt like we had time-warped back to a smoky lounge in Las Vegas.  Actually, he was reasonably entertaining and we certainly wouldn’t have had an opportunity to see him up close and personal anywhere else.

We’re arriving in Callao, the port for Lima, early tomorrow morning.  There are again warnings about venturing ashore independently in the port area. Apparently, it is safe enough to take the shuttle to the Mira Flores District in Lima, so that is what we plan to do if things go right.

The Spanish founded the sheltered port of Callao as an important trading center in the 16th Century.  Today, it is best known as the gateway to the inland capital of Lima, which lies just 45 minutes away.

Lima was founded in 1535 by the conquistador Pizarro as the “City of Kings.”  Under the viceroys who followed him, it became the center of Spanish authority, trade, colonization and culture in South America.  Magnificent palaces housed a wealthy, cultivated society and churches rivaled those of the mother country.

Modern Lima is renowned for its beautiful homes, fine museums, luxury hotels and flowered plazas.  Although much of its colonial charm remains, it has been overwhelmed by a huge population explosion since the 1920s.  Today, about one-third of the nation’s 24 million inhabitants live in this bustling city.

Callao1.jpg (117505 bytes)Callao2.jpg (110375 bytes)Callao3.jpg (109789 bytes)
Port of Callao, Peru

Susanna and Rosalina met us outside our door with a gift bottle of Chateau Coufran Red Wine from Adair.  A nice way to start the day, isn’t it?  We saw them haul away the first victim of the cruise in an ambulance.  One down, 480 to go.

We wandered down to lunch in the Crystal Dining Room.  There were more waiters than guests.  When we arrived at 12:15pm there were only six other guests.  During the hour we were there, only three more arrived.


Golden-Fried Chinese Won Ton with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Chicken Cocktail with Melon and Apple Pearls in a Light Curry Mayonnaise
Chick Peas, Garlic, and Parsley Dip with Pita Bread and Corn Chips
Assorted Fresh Fruit Cup with Pear Slices

From the Soup Kettle
Cream of Parsnip with Garlic Croutons
Market Broth – Chicken Meat, Vegetable Brunoise, Avocado Cubes and Tomato Concassé
Chilled Mango, Coconut and Curry Soup

Marinated Ham, Cheese, and Black Bean Salad, Topped with Crisp Tortilla Chips

Pasta Special
Linguini with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

Salad Entrees
The Chef’s Salad
Salad of Grilled Cajun Chicken Breast

Main Fares
Minute Steak with Three-Peppercorn Crust
Grilled Tuna Steak
Sandwich of the Day – The Union Square Sandwich
Roasted Herb-Marinated Flank Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Spaghetti Bolognese

Boston Cream Pie à la Mode
Apple Fingers with Vanilla Ice Cream
Creamy Mango Cheese Cake
Sugar-Free Fruit Tartlet

Food review:  Both soups were outstanding.  The two salad entrees were also very good, particularly the Cajun Chicken.

After lunch we took our time getting ready to take the shuttle into the Mira Flores section of Lima.  Susanna warned us not to take anything valuable, including cameras, so we left the digital camera on the ship.  We were a little early for the next shuttle, so we explored the Inca Market near the ship.  All we usually buy is something to use as a Christmas ornament, so these trinket markets are the perfect place to look.  We didn’t buy anything, but do plan to go back when we get back from town.

The shuttle bus was very nice, air-conditioned and modern.  There is a poor area right outside the port, but the sidewalks and streets are spotlessly clean.  There isn’t a speck of trash or litter anywhere.  We wouldn’t necessarily want to stroll along the sidewalk by the look of some of the men on the corners, but otherwise it was OK.  It was sort of like Mexico, only cleaner.

It took about 45 minutes to reach the fashionable Mira Flores area.  On the way, as the houses got bigger and nicer, the fences got higher and sprouted electric wires around the top.  Those that didn’t have electric fences had broken glass or razor wire around the top.  Even first floor balconies had the electric fencing.  Every ATM had at least two policemen in bulletproof vests guarding it.  Any business, including McDonalds, which was at all upscale, had an armed guard at the door.  The guards were seriously scrutinizing every person who came near; they weren’t just standing there.

Otherwise, the area looked like any beach resort with high-rise hotels and apartments.  As in the poorer area, the streets and sidewalks were spotless.  There don’t seem to be many traffic rules that are followed because it was pretty much a free for all at the intersections.

The bus dropped us in front of the Lima JW Marriott Hotel, directly across the street from a nice park under which is a shopping mall and food court.  By the way, all of the food places we saw were U.S. chains:  McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, TGI Friday’s, Hard Rock Café (closed), etc.

We had to run somewhat of a gamut of shoeshine boys and beggars to get to the shopping center.  All we really wanted to do was to get to the lookout for a view of the beach.  The beach was below the cliff, so it wasn’t accessible from this point.  We didn’t want to risk taking the camera out here, so we went down the stairs to the shopping area.  A guard stopped anyone not looking acceptable, so there weren’t any beggars beyond the steps.

The shops didn’t show us much, so we just went to the edge to take some photos of the view.  It was pretty, but nothing to get excited about.  After we got up our nerve, we rushed across the plaza, again with several shoeshine offers (for tennis shoes, mind you).  We met a woman from Oregon trying to cross the street and struck up a conversation with her.  She’s traveling on a tour, not on the ship.  She hates tours and this one has convinced her never to do it again.  She said that she is 72 and the younger members of the tour had pooped out long ago!  We enjoyed talking to her and it was just long enough to kill the time we had to wait for the next bus back to the ship.

The scenery was the same on the way back, except we traveled through some really rough areas.  Still, the streets and sidewalks were clean and trash-free.  We now know why so many people are killed in earthquakes down here.  There sure don’t seem to be many building codes!

Once back at the pier, we went back to the Inca Market and bought some bamboo flute things for ornaments ($1.00 each) and a couple of T-shirts for $5.00.  The woman selling the shirts spoke good English and wanted to talk about our cruise.  She was puzzled by all the days at sea.  She always thought we stopped every day and can’t imagine being at sea for an entire day, let alone five or six.  She said it must be “like a dream.”  And that it is. We really prefer these little interactions to any organized tour.

Back in the cabin, we found our snacks of guacamole and chips, plus the regular selection that is best described as a Crystal version of a tuna sandwich – tuna salad topped with caviar on top of a slice of hard boiled egg on French bread! 

We also received a copy of the deck plan for Crystal Serenity along with the itineraries, plus the brochure for the 2003 World Cruise.  The inaugural cruise for the Serenity is crossed out with a notation that it is by invitation only.  So, we don’t really know any more than we did before we got the information.  If we can’t book the inaugural, we will probably skip it altogether and just wait until an itinerary comes along that interests us.  The World Cruise for 2003 on Crystal Symphony looks quite tempting!

Dave had to hide in the closet because he wasn’t dressed when Ural came to return our laundry.  Much hilarity ensued, but you had to be there to appreciate it.  Once Dave was dressed enough to come out, he went out in the hallway to join the party with Susanna, Rosalina, and Ural.  We started taking photos for the Website, so Ural called Peter to join us. 

Ural told us that his backpack was stolen in Lima today.  It only had an old jacket in it, so the person who stole it took it to the Crystal representative and claimed he “found” it.  He asked for a $15.00 reward.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.


Fresh Green Asparagus Spears with Gazpacho Dressing
Symphony of Chilean Salmon with Sevruga Caviar
Assorted Fresh Fruit Cup Flavored with Lemon Barcardi

From the Soup Kettle
Light Creamy Red Onion Soup with Ginger
Consommé Double with Cheese Profiteroles
Chilled Yogurt Peanut Butter Soup

Spring Lettuce with Lollo Rosso, Red Oak Leaf and Marinated Green Beans
Chopped Garden Greens with Cauliflower, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Pasta Special
Mezze Rigate – Italian Pasta with Tomato Sauce,
 Red and Green Bell Pepper Julienne, Anchovies, Capers, Parsley, Garlic and Olives

Salad Entrée
Roasted Marinated Chicken Breast Salad

Main Fares
Chef Jürgen’s Childhood Favorite – Wiener Schnitzel
Grilled Fresh Grouper Fillet
Traditional Roast Beef
Sautéed Jumbo Prawns

Vegetarian Selection
Grilled Eggplant Zucchini Tower with Mozzarella Cheese

Sacher Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream
Macaroon Tart with Fresh Fruit and Mango Vanilla Sauce
Frozen Milk Chocolate and Amaretto Mousse Pie
Sugar-Free Chocolate Custard
Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fresh Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen Banana Yogurt

Food review:  Although the chilled soup sounds odd, it was extremely good, with a light, creamy flavor.  The salad was satisfactory.  Our headwaiter made a pasta dish for us with olive oil, chili flakes, garlic and parsley.  It was a bit too spicy, but was otherwise very good.  The roast beef was above average, which is a huge improvement over previous years.  There seems to have been a general improvement in the beef since we were here last. 

Ger was humiliated because he served our desserts to another table, then, when he brought them to us, he put them down in front of the wrong person.  God knows, we could care less, but he looked like he was going to cry for a while.  As far as we could see, Jerry didn’t yell at him or anything, so it was just his desire to be perfect that upset him.

Antonio stopped to chat as always.  We never order wine, but he comes by every night just to ask how we are and chat for a few minutes.  He couldn’t be any more pleasant. 

We overheard the man at the next table telling his party how his necklace was ripped off his neck while he was in a taxi!  Someone just reached in and tore it right off.  Apparently, there really is a danger of theft or assault in this city.  Hence the guards everywhere.  Of course, the ship did say not to wear any jewelry ashore.

We were collecting photos for the diary and asked Laszlo, the Wine Steward from the next station to come over.  He is our stewardess’s husband so we thought he might want a photo, too.  Everyone wants us to either email a copy to him or her or put it on a disk so they can email their photo home.  We sure are popular these days!

For the record, we have been asked if we are brothers more on this cruise than ever before.  That had sort of died down the last few years, but it’s back with a vengeance. 

Tonight’s main show in the Galaxy Lounge is vocalist Edmondo Rahme.  We sort of wanted to see him, but the sailing was at 10:00pm and that takes precedence over any show.  Our stateroom faced the dock, so we could watch the action from our verandah this time.  Convenient, huh?

Today’s weather was overcast and about 72.  It was actually a bit chilly after dark.  Apparently it is foggy a lot of the time here because they have a special name for it (don't one ear, out the other).  As soon as we sailed beyond the breakwater, the ship began to sway and pitch.  It has been so smooth up until now, we had forgotten what it is like to try to walk when the ship is moving.


It is still fairly rock and roll aboard today, but the sea doesn’t seem all that rough.  When we finally rolled out of the room, Susanna and Rosalina were waiting for us.  They came in to look at their photos.  We need to re-do them because Rosalina ended up with a stripe down her face and Susanna looks, well, not herself!  The group photo is better of both of them.

Today’s lunch buffet around the Neptune Pool is the “Cuisine of the Sun.”  If you like fish, you will love this one.  If you don’t, well, you’re pretty much screwed.  There was a huge variety, but most of it was quite strange.  In their effort to represent all the countries around the Mediterranean there are bound to be some missteps.  We did manage to find enough to fill a plate, but we didn’t eat everything we took.  Thank God for the dessert table!

Here is the Crystal Dining Room menu we should have chosen:


Golden Fried Calamari with Sauce Tartar
Italian Antipasto – Prosciutto, Melon, Olives, Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella, Sardines, and Grissini Sticks
Artichoke Bottom with Marinated Shrimp Salad and Cajun Mayonnaise
Iced Melon Chunks with Orange Filets and Mint

From the Soup Kettle
Pasta e Fagioli – Italian Bean Soup
Double Chicken Consommé Mille Fanti
Gazpacho Andalusia

Crunchy Garden Greens with Radicchio and Marinated Cucumber Salad

Pasta Special
Lasagna Verde alla Casalinga

Salad Entrees
Tuna Cobb Salad
Symphony of Tropical Fruit

Main Fares
Grilled Monkfish Medallions
Grilled Chicken Paillard
Sandwich of the Day – Monte Cristo
Italian Beef Stew
Chicken Parmigiana

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable and Potato Strudel

Irish Coffee Cream Cake
Chocolate Orange Tart à la Mode
Vanilla Swan on Chocolate Sauce
Sugar-Free Blueberry Tartlet

We stopped by the Computer University to ask Jesse how to email photos to crewmembers on board.  They all want us to do that so they can send them to friends and family.  Then we wandered by Captain’s Choice to look for something to use as a camera strap, but had no luck there.

Josef passed us in the lobby and complained about pains in his legs.  Dave had the same problem, but the doctor said not to worry about it, so he passed that information along.  Much poking and pointing ensued as they discussed this in the middle of the lobby.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the room catching up on the sleep we lost when the foghorn started at 6:00am.  There was an announcement around 4:00pm about a large pod of whales that was right outside our verandah.  There were several of them swimming in a circle.  It was amusing when the Captain came back on and said, “We at Crystal like to accommodate everyone, so there are now whales on the starboard side as well.”  We found the sea gulls flying at our eye level more interesting to be perfectly honest.

Ural delivered our snack of guacamole and chips, plus the day’s selection of a variety of pâtés that went untouched.  He told us gossip about some eccentric guests that we know, which was fun.

On the way to dinner, we stopped by the Photo Shop to see if they had any camera straps, but they didn’t.  No big deal, we’re just asking around.  The woman in front of us was arguing over the $10.00 charge to put already developed photos onto a CD.  She obviously had no idea what she was talking about and finally gave up.  She finally said, “I just can’t see why it should cost $10.00 just to put my photos on the disk.”  That’s not really the point; the point is that they tell you that’s how much it costs.  Just because you don’t understand what is involved in it has nothing to do with it.   Do it or don’t do it, but don’t argue about it.  It’s incredible that some people will pay $100,000 for a cruise and then whine over a perfectly reasonable charge.

Sorry for the rant, tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Crabmeat Lobster Enchiladas with Corn, and Tomato Salsa
Seafood Rendezvous – Crab Claws, Baby Shrimps, Jumbo Prawns and Mussels with Three Sauces
Asparagus, Broccoli and Cauliflower Terrine with Herb Vinaigrette
Iced Pineapple, Strawberry, Papaya, Banana Cup

From the Soup Kettle
Beef Consommé with Tomato Spinach Royal
Green Split Pea Soup with Whole Wheat Croutons
Chilled Cream of Apricot with Low-Fat Yogurt

Crunchy Boston Lettuce, Served with Chopped Plum Tomatoes, Red Onion Ring, and Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
Assorted Summer Salad with Feta Cheese, Garbanzo Beans and Spring Onions

Pasta Special
Fettuccini with Garlic, Oven Dried Tomatoes, and Herbed Goat Cheese

Salad Entrée
Marinated Steak Salad

Main Fares
Broiled Fresh Chilean Sea Bass Fillet
Roasted French Duck Brigarde
Sautéed Sea Scallops
Grilled Black Angus Fillet Steak
Roasted Skinless Duck Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Celery Root Piccata

Délice au Café – White Chocolate Coffee Cake with Espresso Sauce
Rum-Scented Almond Tart with Rum Raisin Ice Cream
Chocolate Brownie Ice Parfait with Brandy Cherries
Sugar-Free Apricot Jalousie
Sugar-Free Banana-Coconut Custard
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fresh Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat New York Cheesecake Yogurt

Food review:  Just a note about the fruit selection.  It is almost identical each night.  The only difference is that whatever fruit is mentioned in the description is added, usually one piece, over the cubed melons that are always the main part of the dish.  The chilled soup was above average.  Bill had the kitchen make him a sliced tomato and mozzarella salad that was very good.  The regular salad was satisfactory.  The steaks were outstanding, as always.  Both desserts were excellent.

Note that there is a selection of side dishes available every night that we haven’t mentioned, as well as vegetables.  You may substitute anything you like or order extra of anything.  It is relatively painless to get whatever you want if you are prepared to ask for it.  The Side Orders available tonight were:  Broccoli Roses, Steamed Rice, Braised Red Cabbage, Williams Potatoes, Vegetable Ravioli, Sautéed Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes, and Fettuccine with Tomato Sauce.  You may request any entrée to be served without sauce and any vegetable steamed with no salt or butter added.

Jerry was hysterical because Dave scraped the mushrooms off of his steak before he could grind the pepper on it.  It said they were there on the menu, but he figured he’d just push them aside.  Jerry freaked out and said he would have had them left off had he known.  Dave figured it’s easier to just move them and not make a scene.  Oh well.

We had a discussion with Mario about various waiter matters.  It’s an inside thing the rest of you wouldn’t understand.  Josef came by to say his leg thing wasn’t improved by propping them up during his nap.  That led to a discussion of high cholesterol and informing him that there are drugs for such things.

Tonight’s show in the Galaxy Lounge is classical pianist Daniel Smith.  Not interested, sorry.  There was also another reading of highlights of Neal Simon plays before dinner in the Starlite Club. 

We received another World Cruise gift.  This time we got shoe bags with the logo on them.  At least this gift is useful, so we have nothing to whine about.  We also received advance order forms for Shore Excursions during the next segment and a request to R.S.V.P. for the included overnight excursion to Beijing.

The clocks move ahead an hour for the second day in a row.  At least we get to start going backward soon!  It was still somewhat rocky by nighttime, but nothing unmanageable.

Today is the Grand Gala Buffet in the Crystal Plaza.  This is roughly equivalent to other cruise lines’ lavish midnight buffet.  We think it’s a great idea to do this in place of lunch when most people are actually hungry.  Although we never participate in it, it is beautifully presented.  We did note this time that the food offerings had been scaled back.  Much of the food in the past went untouched and it appears that the less popular items are no longer prepared.  Too bad they still serve the disgusting creamed spinach that runs all over the plate.  It must be some sort of tradition that escapes us.

Usually there are two duplicate lines, but with the low passenger count for this cruise, there is only one.  We did note that they have greatly enhanced the presentation with new uniforms for the staff and matching table dressing.  Good show all around.

Here are some photos:  Main Food Line, Ger Serving, Cheese Display, Tray of Edible Penguins, and Overview to Dessert Table.


Our expert galley staff has prepared a sumptuous Grand Gala Buffet today.  Below is our alternative luncheon served from the galley.

Chilled Fruit Cup with Bananas and Strawberry Topping

Potage Garbure with Croutons
Chicken Consommé with Vermicelli and Vegetables

Assorted Garden Greens with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Pasta Special
Fusilli Pasta with Baby Shrimp, Clams, Green Peppercorns, Bell Peppers and Tomato Sauce

Main Fares
Sautéed Shrimp Brochette
Turkey Club Sandwich
Grilled Minute Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Grilled Vegetable Plate

Caramel Flan
Sugar-Free Ice Coupe Denmark

We hung around the balcony overlooking the buffet to get a few pictures, but we were otherwise not interested in the buffet.  Although we hoped the Lido would offer a better alternative, there was nothing there we wanted either.  So, we each got a bowl of fruit and went out to the Trident Grill for cheeseburgers.  We didn’t have to wait for them to be cooked.  Benjamin took everything outside for us and brought out the burgers when they were finished.

The fries were excellent, but the burgers were way undercooked.  A sign over the grill says that all burgers must be cooked well done, but these were still nearly cold in the middle.  Yuck.  Not to worry, Benjamin had also brought a plate of tortilla chips and salsa.  We also had some excellent Bread Pudding and a Brownie Parfait from the Lido dessert table.  Even if we don’t like something in a meal, it’s not as though there is any chance of starving to death.

The weather continues to be quite pleasant.  In the mid 70’s and mostly sunny.  As usual, we stayed outside by the Seahorse Pool listening to the Starlite Orchestra until they finished at 1:30pm.  We intended to make haircut appointments, but there was no one at the desk in the salon.

On our stroll through the lobby, we ran into Pauline sporting a sling on one arm.  She said she has to keep in immobilized for a few days due to a previous injury she aggravated.  She was disappointed because she wasn’t able to swim on the Galapagos tour.  This woman does everything!

We have been waiting for the Shore Excursion Desk to be free so we can ask about some of the upcoming tours, but it was still too busy to bother with today.  Besides, we prefer to talk to Renato to get the real story rather than the rosy picture his underlings paint.  We have to decide whether to take the included one-night excursion to Beijing by tomorrow.  They made a mistake in the wording and offered it to everyone on board rather than just World Cruise guests.  We can’t see any problem since anyone who’s not on the full World Cruise won’t be here for the fourth segment anyway, but apparently it caused a stir.

There were maintenance men in the hallway near our cabin taking down the ceiling after lunch.  He said there is a water leak in one of the cabins.  We were about to report a loud hammering in the pipes just in case it meant something.  It doesn’t bother us, but we thought maybe they should be alerted to it because it causes the water to spray all over the bathroom if the water happens to be running at the time.

An announcement was made earlier today that the ship has to make an emergency stop at the nearest port for a medical evacuation of a crewmember.  This should take place around 9:00pm tonight somewhere in Chile.  The Captain said he doesn’t know yet how they will get him ashore. Benjamin filled us in on some of the details.  It’s a person from the galley who is extremely ill.  It has to be serious or they wouldn’t be making a detour to drop him off in Chile of all places.

Tonight is our Crystal Society dinner with Lara in Prego for our 20th cruise Milestone.  The dress code for tonight is Informal again.


Crisp Fried Shrimp with Hot Mustard Plum Sauce
Chicken Salad “Chinoise”
Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese Tower with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto Vinaigrette
Chilled Fruit Cup with Banana Liqueur

From the Soup Kettle
Wild Mushroom Hunter’s Soup
Chicken Broth with Mint, Coriander and Lemon Grass
Tropical Fruit Soup with Pineapple

Iceberg Lettuce Tossed with Bella Vista Dressing and Pineapple Chunks
Marinated Tomato Salad with Chopped Onions and Chives

Pasta Special
Pappardelle with Vegetable Osso Bucco Sauce and Porcini

Salad Entrée
Lamb Salad

Main Fares
Old Fashioned Grilled Black Angus T-Bone Steak
Broiled Pacific Halibut Fillet
Whole Roasted Tom Turkey
Braised Oxtail in Burgundy Red Wine Sauce

Vegetarian Selection
Deep-Fried Rice Balls

Chocolate “Ooze” Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Almond Profiteroles with Mocha Sauce
Vanilla Ice Parfait with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Sugar-Free Apple Custard Pie
Sugar-Free Peach Crumble Tartlet
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fresh Fruit in Season
Refreshing Banana Colada Sherbet

There is always a variety of ice cream and other frozen items available plus a “Cheese Trolley.”  Tonight’s selection is:  Vanilla, Strawberry Cheese Cake, Rocky Road, or Spumoni Ice Cream with your choice of Raspberry, Mango, or Butterscotch Topping.  Freshly Frozen, Non-fat New York Cheesecake or Dutch Chocolate Yogurt.  Selections from the Cheese Trolley:  Provolone, Roquefort, Brie, Tête de Moine, or Gouda; Served with Crackers and Biscuits.

Beverages always available: Freshly Brewed Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Café Latte, Cappuccino, Espresso, and a Selection of International Teas.

On the way out the door, Susanna ran over waving the World Cruise Photo Albums and laughing.  She said, “Are you sure you want these?”  OH MY GOD, the pictures are TERRIBLE!  Well, maybe the pictures were acceptable to start with, but the printing is so poor that everyone looks awful.  Susanna said we all look like people from wanted posters.  Next time we’ll insist on proofing anything they are going to print!

We were ready early for our Milestone dinner, so we waited in the Avenue Saloon for about a half hour.  John Mentis, the pianist, chatted with us for quite a while.  We were just sitting there, he started it.

There are so many Milestone cruisers on this leg that we took up two tables for 12.  This includes Keiko, the Activities Hostess, Nikki, Lara and the Vice Captain, Atle Knutson.

The conversation was interesting with Lara explaining how she ended up with her current job from starting as a volunteer with the Computer University when it first started.  About half the people at our table were Japanese from the table next to us in the dining room.  They are very nice and try very hard to communicate in spite of limited English.

Tonight’s menu was specially prepared for this dinner.  It is not the regular Prego menu.


Grilled Herb Marinated Gigantic Prawn

Porcine Essence Cappuccino Style

Duck Ravioli in a Light Vegetable Butter Sauce
with Sweet Potato Chips

Roasted Veal Tenderloin
Fresh Local Snapper Fillet

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tiramisu

Chocolate Truffles and Petit Fours

All of the food was very good to outstanding and all was beautifully presented.  The dessert was so attractive it was almost too lovely to eat.

We all received a 2-piece box of Godiva Chocolates as a party favor and were handed copies of our special menus as we left.  All the names of the guests and officers are printed on the menu.  Crystal really knows how to kiss up to its repeat guests!  Here is a photo of our table.

During dinner the ship arrived at the port where the crewmember was to be evacuated to the hospital.  We found out it is an appendix that needs surgery.  Everyone felt sorry for him being left behind in Chile.  Later, we learned that he has only been with the ship for a month.

There was much vibrating and rattling when we arrived.  The ship stayed well away from shore and a boat came out to fetch the crewmember.   Another boat arrived with the port agent, as well.  We had a nice city lights view during dinner while all of this was going on.  The whole operation took about a half hour and we were on our way.

After dinner we stopped by the cabin and found a thoughtful gift from Nikki.  Two leather bound travel journals and a box of truffles.  Included was a very nice note saying she was glad to see us again and looks forward to seeing us when she returns from vacation in the port of Hong Kong.  We can't say often enough how wonderful this woman is.

Against our better judgment, we went to tonight’s show in the Galaxy Lounge.  It was a Variety Hour featuring the dance team of Curtis and Natalie along with vocalist Edmondo Rahme.  The dance team was enjoyable enough for what it is, but we wouldn’t knock ourselves out to see them.  The singer has a very good tenor voice, but we were distracted by his obvious attempts to show off.  His voice stood for itself and it is a pity he feels it necessary to pander to the audience.  Otherwise, he was acceptable.  By the way, we absolutely hate it when entertainers try to make the audience sing or otherwise participate.  Pardon us, but we’re paying them to entertain us, not the other way around.

There was a special World Cruise party with the chefs in the Palm Court tonight at 10:30pm.  We didn’t expect quite so many crewmembers to be there.  The entire galley staff was there down to the lowliest Filipino.  Noel, formerly the Trident Grill cook, came over and was happy that we remembered him.  He had a friend with him who is the pasta cook.  We invited them to sit down and they were beyond thrilled.  We stayed and talked with them and a couple of others who came and went for several hours.  Here is a photo of our table.

During the party, a cook from Australia got up and showed how to play a didgeridoo, which was kind of fun.  He had a great personality for explaining it without being boring.

At the end of the party, Artie came over to try to make small talk with us.  He really is trying hard to be nice to us, so maybe there is hope that we will be able to carry on a conversation with him at some point.  He is interviewing everyone for the newsletter he puts out every night and wanted to talk about that.  We told him that nobody ever finds out anything about us, so he might as well give up now.  We finally told him just to say we are loads who never participate in anything.  He’s so perky that he could never understand our lifestyle.

The people behind us complained to Artie about the horrid pictures in the World Cruise Album.  He made some excuse about not being able to reproduce pictures on board, but the pictures in the Reflections program look fine, so that’s no reason.  Wait until you see these things; they’re unbelievable.

Noel and his friend walked out to the lobby with us.  He said we are like family to him because we are so nice all the time.  He said all of the staff was honored to have the chance to mingle with guests because they never allow that.  We believe he truly meant it.  You could tell it really was meaningful to him that we would spend so much time just talking to him.

On the way to lunch in the Dining Room, we stopped by Shore Excursions to ask Renato about upcoming ports.  We want to do the bridge climb in Sydney, but Crystal’s tour adds on a harbor cruise that extends the time to eight hours.  No thanks.  Four hours is our limit.  Renato said he could book it for us directly with the bridge company over the Internet if we would bring down a credit card for him to charge it.  We plan to do that later.  We also clarified which tour option would be best on Easter Island.  He said it is way too hot and dusty in the afternoon and we should do the morning tour.  That’s what we will do.  The rest of the ports on this segment are easily seen without a tour, so the Easter Island Exploration and the bridge climb are the only organized tours we will do for the next 30 days.

We stopped to thank Nikki for the gift she sent last night.  Much kissing and hugging resulted.

It is only about 65 outside today and cloudy.  Certainly much cooler than we expected, but it doesn’t bother us to be cold rather than hot.  The Captain announced that the crewmember evacuated yesterday had already undergone surgery and was doing fine.


Tartar of Salmon, Garnished with Dill Cucumber Salad
Bahamian Conch Fritters with Spicy Sauce
Marinated Jarlsberg Cheese with Cucumber, Orange, Grapes and French Dressing
Supreme of Fresh Fruit with Green Grapes

From the Soup Kettle
Light Cream of Cauliflower
Clear Beef Broth with Cheese Biscuit
Chilled Yogurt and Blackberry Soup

Marinated Red Cabbage Salad, Topped with Pecan Nuts and Feta Cheese

Pasta Special
Ruote with Marinara Sauce, Bell Peppers, Baby Shrimp, and Italian Parsley

Salad Entrees
Tossed Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad
Traditional Caesar Salad

Main Fares
Sandwich of the Day – The Reuben
Broiled Fillet of Plaice
Old Fashioned Chicken in the Pot
Beef Burritos

Vegetarian Selection
Carrot and Zucchini Croquettes

French Crullers with Rhubarb Compote
Banana Chocolate Cream Cake
Ice Bomb Nelusco with Strawberry Sauce
Sugar-Free Mango Tartlet

Food review:  Everything was quite good, including the desserts.

After lunch we wandered up to the salon to make haircut appointments, then out on deck to watch the band until they finished at 1:30pm.  A loudmouth woman we find fairly obnoxious engaged us in conversation.  She was relatively amusing and the type of person we normally like to talk to, but she is just too loud and bossy to suit us most of the time.  We were shocked to find out she is over 80.  We would have guessed that maybe she was in her early 70’s.  She did remind us that we wanted to complain in our Quality Assurance Questionnaires about the smell from the cigar room wafting out into the corridor.  All they need to do is keep the door closed, but it is always wide open and very smelly.

It eventually became too chilly to stay outside in shorts, so we went inside and chatted with Jan and Debbie in Apropos until the manager came in.  Debbie said someone stole all of her underwear from the laundry and she has been checking out all of the men to see if they are sashaying down the hallways in them ever since. 

Then, it was back to the cabin to fill out the questionnaires about this cruise and rummage through the piles of paper we have collected.  They sure do know how to waste expensive stationary around here!

Ural brought us some smoked salmon on French bread, and then ran to get some cashews and nuts, as well.  He told us more disgusting stories about the port calls in West Africa.  Don’t expect Crystal to go there again any time soon.

Jan came to the cabin to pick up some of our free liquor that we will never drink.  We’ll get a whole new supply in two days and we hadn’t even touched any of it.  We know he will put it to good use.  By the way, we can have all of the bottled water and soft drinks we want in the cabin for no extra charge.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.  Dave discovered that his Double-Diamond Crystal Society pin is defective, so he plans to go down and throw it in Lara's face one of these days.  Here we are at dinner.


Iced Russian Sevruga Caviar with Traditional Condiments, Blinis and Melba Toast
Sautéed Fois Gras of Duck with Port Wine Sauce and Glazed Apples
Gulf Shrimp in Root Vegetable Aspic
Combination of Tropical Fruits, Sprinkled with Drambuie

From the Soup Kettle
Cream of Asparagus Argenteuil
Consommé Élysée 1975 – Beef Essence with Truffles in a Puff Pastry Dome

The Captain’s Salad

Refreshing Kir Royale Sherbet

Pasta Special
Capellini Pasta with Light Porcini Mushroom Sauce, Topped with Grilled Scallops

Salad Entrée
Crunchy Garden Greens with Grilled Turkey Medallions

Main Fares
Broiled Crab Legs
Roasted Stuffed Wild Pheasant Breast
Filet of Beef Wellington
Grilled Herb Marinated Veal Medallions

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Stuffed Potato Cakes

The American Institution – Baked Alaska Flambé en Parade
Vanilla Cinnamon Mousse with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse Cake
Tropical Fruit in Season
Plantation Pralines, Truffles, and Petit Fours

Food review:  The fruit array was so exotic we didn’t recognize a couple of the items.  The soup came sealed with a pastry dome that Jerry insisted on opening for us.  The menu didn’t say the soup had bits of liver pâté in it, but otherwise it was fine.  The salads were boring with way too much red cabbage and too little dressing.  The Kir Royale sherbet would have been better as a dessert as it was very sweet.  The Beef Wellington was much better than usual and bordered on outstanding.  We could have lived without seeing the Baked Alaska Parade for the umpteenth time, but we didn’t get out of the dining room fast enough.  Jerry said nothing on the menu was any better, but we find that hard to believe.  Honestly, the Baked Alaska was nearly inedible with a cardboard-like cake layer.  We won’t make that mistake again.

Tonight’s production show in the Galaxy Lounge is “Million Dollar Musicals.”  This is by far the best show currently running.  The costumes alone must have cost over a million dollars.  Finally, a show with no embarrassing moments!  This one builds and builds until it reaches an exciting finale that wraps everything up nicely.  Probably the one thing that keeps this show on solid footing is that most of the soundtrack is pre-recorded, so even if some of the singers aren’t up to par it still works.

We received landing cards for Chile that we have to carry ashore in the next port as well as Easter Island.  The warnings about the upcoming port have multiplied, but no one seems to know for sure.  We’ll wait and see how many people grab at us when we walk off the ship before we decide what to do for the next two days.

Valparaíso, the “Vale of Paradise,” has a population of almost 300,000 and is Chile’s principal seaport and home to Chile’s Congress.  It climbs a crescent of 45 hills creating a maze of alleys, winding streets, connecting stairs and funicular railways. The port and business center lie at the foot of the hills, in a narrow belt of flatland.  Having experienced the rich culture and history of this popular port city, you will realize how ingenuity has transformed this abrupt stretch of coastline into one of the world’s most picturesque and famous port cities.

Nearby lies flower-bedecked Viña del Mar, where the wealthy and powerful come to play in the sun and at the casino.  And just two hours from Valparaíso, this beach resort city, also popularly known as the “Garden City,” boasts white-sand beaches, notable museums and a variety of carefully designed parks and beautiful public spaces.

Farther afield, the churches, colonial grandeur and sophistication of Santiago beckon for exploration and discovery.

This morning started off with a serenade of ship’s whistles, Crystal Symphony's included.  It went on for about fifteen minutes before we looked out to see what was happening.  We are docked in a port filled with Chilean Navy ships, and, this being Sunday, it seems to be family day.  So, everyone was out to meet their family member while all of this ships sounded their horns and bands played.

It is actually chilly today and overcast.  We went up to the Lido for food, which was acceptable, but nothing more.  The bowl of fruit gets us started anyway, so it’s no big deal.  We sat outside and it was a bit chilly, but not bad.


Avocado Fan with Baby Shrimp, Prawns, and European Cocktail Sauce
Golden Fried Shrimp Eggplant Sandwich with Spicy Sauce
Swiss Air Dried Beef with Mixed Pickles and Crisp Lettuce
Carrot and Celery Sticks with Yogurt-Herb Dressing
Chilled Cantaloupe and Pineapple Cup with Toasted Coconut

From the Soup Kettle
Chicken Broth with Leek Strudel
Spicy Corn Soup with Bell Peppers
Chilled Cream of Sour Cherries

Heart of Boston Lettuce with Carrot-Raisin Salad

Pasta Special
Fusilli alla Pizzaiola – Tomato Sauce, Capers, White Wine and Parsley

Salad Entrees
Salmon Niçoise Salad
Cous Cous Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Filet Mignon
Captain’s Favorite Seafood Basket
BBQ Glazed Chicken Legs
Open Faced Spanish Omelet

Vegetarian Selection
Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Cous Cous, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

Black Forest Cake
Passion Fruit Chiffon Pie
Coffee and Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich with Fudge Sauce
Crème Royale

We took a walk around the Sun Deck to see what the city looks like before deciding what to do.  The port area is huge and is obviously not right in town as they had told us.   It seems the Caronia arrived earlier than we did and snagged the prime berth.  No problem.  Crystal provides a shuttle to both the nearby resort city of Viña del Mar and to the entrance to the port.  The area looks sort of like Laguna Beach with tall cliffs along the shore topped with homes and apartments.  All in all, it looks pretty good for this part of the world.  The port area is spotless and well organized.

We took our time getting ready to leave and finally dawdled out around 2:00pm.  From the looks of people on shore, we discovered it is too cold to go out in short sleeves, so we went back up to retrieve light jackets.

The shuttle ride to Viña del Mar only takes about 10 minutes.  Around the port, the area looks like the usual industrial port, but older than at home.  The streets are well kept and lined with manicured grass and flowers.  We wouldn’t call this part of town beautiful, but it doesn’t look as dangerous as Peru.

The area near the entrance to the port has only a flea market sort of thing and a big monument to sailors in the square.  Otherwise, there isn’t anything of note here.  However, we did notice the absence of guards and barbed wire, so this country is definitely an improvement over where we have been.

Our drop-off point is in front of the National Theater in Viña del Mar that fronts a shady square full of statues and fountains.  This city is a huge step above anywhere we have been so far.  It is old, but obviously still a thriving resort town.  The beaches along the drive were packed, but neat and clean.  Some buildings have that sort of ramshackle look common in this part of the world, but for the most part it looks just fine.  There aren’t any beggars to speak of or people grabbing at you to try to sell something.

The people here have a more European/Spanish look to them rather than the native Indian appearance of the people in Ecuador and Peru.  Shops have merchandise similar to what we have at home, telephones work, public transportation is prevalent and clean.  Basically, Chile is heads above even Mexico in development.  By the way, anyone who may have been reluctant to buy produce from Chile or Peru, don’t worry anymore.  These are the cleanest places we have ever seen.  Don’t compare them to Mexico!

The sun was out by the time we arrived at the stop, but it was never overly warm and stayed very pleasant.  We walked through the park, down to the bridge over a mostly-dry river, back to the main shopping district, and to a pay phone on the sidewalk to call home.  Crystal had given an incorrect AT&T access code, but we eventually figured out what would work after guessing and trying every combination we could think of.

After the call, we walked back to the square. There are flower-bedecked horse carriages similar to those in New York’s Central Park.  Smells about the same, too.

We were going to walk to a park where the guide said there was a craft market, but we didn’t feel comfortable with the area right in front of the entrance.  It was probably fine, but better safe than sorry when you don’t really care that much about what’s there to begin with.  From there it was just a two-block stroll back to the pick up point where we waited for about 20 minutes.

Once back on board, we were starving, so we went up to the Trident Grill for hot dogs and grilled cheese.  We were two of only six guests on the entire deck, so there was plenty of fawning from the Deck Stewards.  Benjamin brought us Strawberry/Banana Smoothies, so we were plenty full by the time we were finished.

By this time, it was extremely windy on the upper deck, so we hope everyone appreciates these port photos we took from there!  The second photo with what looks like a big beam over the road is one of the many funiculars that connect the lower city to the upper city.

ChileCity.jpg (126516 bytes)ChileElevator.jpg (117048 bytes)ChileNavy.jpg (129830 bytes)ChilePort.jpg (113747 bytes)

Back in the cabin, we found our usual plate of guacamole and chips, plus vegetables and dip.  Since we weren’t hungry, Bill went looking for Ural to see if someone else could use them.  He asked a stewardess in the hallway, which, needless to say, caused a frenzy to find him right away for our urgent request.  He showed up at the door shortly thereafter worried that he had neglected something.  The best part of the food delivery is getting the latest gossip, so he filled us in on a few things we aren’t supposed to know about fatalities on board, etc.

The Caronia sailed at 6:00pm with the traditional three-blast acknowledgement from Crystal Symphony’s horn.  This ship sure has a more butch sounding horn than any of the others!  It sounds like a foghorn more than anything and makes the whole ship rumble.

As World Cruise guests, we have all of our tips pre-paid by Crystal as part of the package.  However, this does not include the Assistant Stewardess who we feel deserves at least as much as an Assistant Waiter who is included.  So, we will have to tip Rosalina separately.  It’s not a big deal, but if they are going to pay all of the tips, why should she not get anything?  She is always there with Susanna so it’s not as though she doesn’t do anything.

Dave received a birthday card and Bill got a Valentine’s Day card from his parents.  They had been opened and taped shut, we assume by the port agents or maybe the ship’s security.  In any case, we did receive them today, so sending things to the port agents does work.

As an aside, we have noticed a definite difference in shore side security this cruise.  For example, in this port, there are concrete barriers blocking off an area the entire length of the ship.  No one is allowed anywhere near the ship unless they have official business.

On the way into the Dining Room we stopped to chat with Josef at his podium about our various ailments.  His legs are better, but he told us that his hearing aid isn’t working because his ear has gotten worse.  He has also had ringing in that ear for eight years that doctors can’t do anything about.   With his stressful job, we sure hope he can keep going.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.


Chilled Seafood Cocktail with American Cocktail Sauce
Ragout of Morels, Chicken, and Asparagus in Puff Pastry Bouchons
Cilantro Flavored Artichoke Terrine with Marinated Quail Eggs
Selected Fruit Marinated in Campari with Blood Orange

From the Soup Kettle
Veal Consommé with Herb Biscuit
Cream of Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Peppers
Chilled Green Gazpacho

Mesclun of Lettuce with Gorgonzola Croutons and Walnut Vinaigrette
Heart of Iceberg Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Radishes, and Sprouts

Pasta Special
Elbow Macaroni alla Cecca

Salad Entrée
Apple Potato Salad

Main Fares
Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Stuffed Leg of Lamb
Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Broiled Fillet of Chilean Salmon

Vegetarian Selection
Sautéed Vegetables Stuffed in Filo Pastry Pockets

Caramel-Hazelnut Chocolate Tart à la Mode
Lilikoi Cheesecake
”Bombe au Praline” – Frozen Praline Cream Cake
Sugar-Free Vanilla Custard
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen Nonfat Peach Yogurt

Food review:  Do not mix fresh fruit with Campari.  Enough said.  The pasta dish was outstanding.  The Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork was very good, bordering on exceptional.  Desserts were satisfactory, but the tart was way too sweet.

Since Mario is moving to a different station, we tipped him now, much to his surprise.  We told him he’d better take it now because we might not remember three months from now.  Then we said we were just paying him to stay away from us.  He knew we were joking, by the way.

Tonight’s main entertainment in the Galaxy Lounge is the Chilean Folkloric Ballet.  It was outstanding.  Obviously, this culture has more of a directly Spanish influence.  The music, costumes and dances were all more sophisticated than we saw in Ecuador, although both performances were quite polished.  The show ended with dances from Easter Island.  They consisted of the fire dance one might see in Hawaii, complete with grass skirts.  They did an excellent job even with this dance.

The harpist was playing in the lobby in front of the fountain.  Apparently, they want someone to see her, so she’s out of the Palm Court for once.  Well, she really had no choice tonight.  The topic of the day was whether or not the Super Bowl could be received on board.  At first, the answer was “no,” but go into town to Ruby Tuesday’s to see it.  During dinner, it was announced that we would get it after all on our stateroom TV and it would be shown, complete with popcorn, in the Starlite Club.  That meant that dancing was bumped up to Palm Court and the Harpist down to the Crystal Plaza.  Some people just can’t get away no matter what.

We went up on deck to look at the view.  It was quite a sight being in a bay surrounded by steep hills covered in lights.  Another obvious sign of greater sophistication here is that all of the city streets are lighted properly.  Even the unknown city where the ill crewmember was dropped off had a completely lighted street grid.

This is a bit late, but here is a photo of us at the ceremony when we were presented with our 20th Milestone Pin.  We forgot to mention a few days ago when we found out that there were party crashers at the Gala Bon Voyage Party!  There are "professional" gate crashers who go to fancy parties and pretend to be guests.  That had never happened before and we're fairly sure it won't happen again now that it is a known problem.

Home Up Next      Starbucks

© 2015 Jet Set Enterprises, Inc.