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Walt Disney World Segment 1 (1/19-2/7) Segment 2 (2/7-2/25) Segment 3 (2/25-3/18) Segment 4 (3/18-4/14) Segment 5 (4/14-5/3) 2003 Summary - America's Lighting Superstore!

Crystal Symphony
Auckland to Sydney
Departs March 18, 2003

27 days


tuesday, march 18th – auckland, new zealand – depart 6:00 pm

wednesday, march 19th – cruising the coast of new zealand

thursday, march 20th – christchurch, new zealand – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

friday, march 21st – cruising the coast of new zealand

saturday, march 22nd – cruising milford sound

sunday, march 23rd – cruising the tasman sea 

monday, march 24th – cruising the tasman sea

tuesday, march 25th – launceston, tasmania – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

wednesday, march 26th – melbourne, australia – 8:00 am - midnight

thursday, march 27th – cruising the great australian bight 

friday, march 28th – adelaide, australia – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

saturday, march 29th – cruising the great australian bight

sunday, march 30th – cruising the great australian bight – bill’s birthday 

monday, march 31st – cruising the great australian bight

tuesday, april 1st – fremantle/perth, australia – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

wednesday, april 2nd – cruising the indian ocean

thursday, april 3rd – exmouth, australia – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

friday, april 4th – cruising the indian ocean

saturday, april 5th – cruising the indian ocean

sunday, april 6th – Darwin, Australia – 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

monday, april 7th – cruising the coral sea

tuesday, april 8th – cruising the coral sea

wednesday, april 9th – cruising the coral sea

thursday, april 10th – cairns, australia – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 

friday, april 11th – cruising the great barrier reef

saturday, april 12th – cruising the tasman sea

sunday, april 13th – sydney, australia – arrive 2:00 pm


tuesday, march 18th – auckland, new zealand – depart 6:00 pm

Sweeping beauty in sea and sand surrounds the city of Auckland. Located on a constricted isthmus, the municipality is built atop a cluster of extinct volcanoes, and this gorgeous landscape blends nicely with the modern metropolitan skyline. There is no lack of activity here. Though the country has a reputation for being somewhat old-fashioned and traditional, this character applies only to the polite manner of its citizens and cleanliness of its streets. The shopping centers offer the most fashionable clothing and accessories from European as well as Kiwi and Australian designers. Just outside the city are the rugged Waitakere Ranges, as well as a surprising number of award-winning wineries.

Auckland has a population of nearly one million inhabitants, and is therefore the largest city in New Zealand. It is the country's major gateway and grew up as a stopping point for ships and later air traffic traveling between Oceania and North or South America. Visitors usually are struck by the calm pace and cleanliness of the city. The streets are full of pedestrians, cyclists, and joggers. Aucklanders, like most New Zealanders, can absolutely be characterized as outdoor addicts. While it may be the largest city in New Zealand, it is the only city in the country that is big enough to have a traffic problem. And the "problem" here is one most cities would envy. Leaders in the world movement for ecological preservation, New Zealanders are very concerned with recycling, burning less fossil fuel and preserving tracts of land in their natural states.

The "sails" designation is not without merit. There are some 70,000 sailing craft and private powerboats in the greater Auckland region. This means there is approximately one boat for every four households. Within an hour's drive from the city center are more than 100 fine beaches. The harbor, framed by the city and volcanic mountain range in the background, is quite attractive. The rugged coastline near the city is also very pretty, so guests are advised to find a place on deck or in one of our many enclosed indoor vantage points as much as an hour or two before arrival.

The city is buzzing with delight as the New Zealand team prepares for the 2003 America's Cup Race. A source of great pride among Aucklanders, the cup was last defended by the New Zealand team under skipper Russell Coutts aboard the Black Magic. The 2000 race made New Zealand the second team in history to win the coveted prize in two successive races. They first sailed to victory in 1995 at San Diego. Since it was only the third race in which a kiwi team had every participated, the team was hailed at the time. The Louis Vuitton challenger series starts in late October 2002 with the finals in late February 2003. Some of the challenging yacht syndicates such as Oracle and Prada have already moved to Auckland in order to prepare.


Bill was up at 8:30 AM.  Silly Bill.  That meant he needed to have breakfast for the first time on board this cruise, so we went to the Lido for made-to-order waffles.  He learned from Suzie that the Head Sommelier, who had been filling in for Maria in the Dining Room, was fired.  She said she’d give us the details later.  Of course, that means that Gianluca has to stay another cruise when he thought he was leaving today.  That’s can’t be any fun.

Click for Daytime Activities and the itinerary for this segment.

The weather started off rainy, but it was over by late morning.  Some rain clouds threatened, but it didn’t rain at any time during the rest of the day.  The temperature was very pleasant, not requiring a jacket at all.

With some time to kill before lunch and all of the segment guests long gone, we went up to take our usual port photos.  The ship is docked in the same place as last year, directly adjacent and eyeball to eyeball with a row of modern condominiums.  We could probably jump across to their balconies if we tried hard enough.  It must be difficult for them to pretend we aren’t staring at them from ten feet away, but they managed to do so.  At the end of the complex is a Hilton Hotel.  This area was the original ferry terminal and navy yard, so there are remnants of an elaborate wrought iron gate along the street where the old ferry building remains as restaurants and shops.

Auckland is a beautiful, modern, and sparkling clean city full of friendly people.  The shiny new high-rises contrast with their classic neighbors with no problem at all.  From the ship we can see the SkyTower where we went last year for the view, as well as trendy shops and cafes along the waterfront street.  Across the bay is a lovely marina and the navy yard where the Pacific Sky is impounded for the cracked hull incident from a few days ago.

When we arrived in the Lido for lunch, we were the only guests there.  With the weather cool enough at last, we sat outside on the aft deck to eat and watch the storm clouds in the distance.  The harbor is also very picturesque with the hills on the other side of the bay lined with mansions.  There was a large turnover of crew today, so there are many new faces and some familiar ones we haven’t seen in a while.

After lunch, we walked through the terminal to the waterfront street and up toward Queen Street, the main shopping area.  Queen’s Square marks the beginning of the shopping area.  The square is completely torn up and walled off, so getting to the other side requires a detour through the lobby of one of the office towers.  We ran into Ramon from the Dining Room who walked with us for a few blocks until we stopped at an ATM for some cash.  It still amazes us that we can get cash using our ATM card without any delay at all.  

We kept walked up the street, but the shop we were looking for was gone.  However, we were able to find some basic souvenirs before turning back toward the port.  Bill needed a new dress shirt and Dave needed a belt, so we stopped into a men’s clothing store that was having a sale.  The sizes were in metric, but the salesman happily converted the sizes for us with his tape measure.  We found what we were looking for and headed back onto the street after making another ATM stop.

We decided to walk over another block to see if there might be some better stores or galleries.  There was a new gallery that was similar to the one we liked last year, but they didn’t have as large of a selection.  Even so, we managed to find a couple of nice items and a box of four handmade tiles we have no idea what we will do with.  They were cheap enough and attractive, so we figured we’d come up with something.  The proprietress was very friendly and talkative, taking her time carefully wrapping each item as they are so prone to do here.

Next stop was a shopping mall across the street.  They had some nice stores with cute merchandise, but we weren’t thrilled enough with anything to make a purchase.  Back on the street we ran into the Cayton’s who were annoyed because they had wasted most of their time ashore trying to make phone calls home.  Isn’t that what email is for?  They don’t seem to realize that if you use your phone card from home you don’t need to buy one of the cards here.  We figure they are worldly enough to figure it out themselves, so we didn’t say anything.  Besides, they were on the way back to the ship already, so no need to tell them they could have done it much more easily.  From across the street it is obvious how closely the ship is docked to the center of the city.  It couldn’t be any closer!

At the terminal, our ID’s were checked twice, very carefully.  The woman even questioned Dave’s drivers license photo because she didn’t think it looked enough like him.  Thank God it doesn’t!  It looked like the entire crew was coming off the ship for their immigration check, but it was probably just the new arrivals.  Nikki was among them and stopped to hug and kiss us, asking, “Did you miss me?”  Yes, we did was the answer.

We went directly up to the Trident Ice Cream Bar for a snack where there were two little kids running around.  It appears that they are passengers, so this might be a dreadful 27 days.  Crystal only provides youth counselors during the Alaska and Christmas season, so there is virtually nothing for children to do here.

Next up was showering and preparing for the sailing at 6:00 PM.  There is a lifeboat muster at 5:30 PM, but only newly embarked guests have to attend.  We waited for the sail away and then watched from our verandah as some of the guests who had disembarked waved from the terrace of the Hilton Hotel.  We didn’t realize it at the time, but Augusto and Albert were there, as well.  We had a great view of the entire pier side apartment/hotel complex, the gleaming city skyline, upscale suburbs, and hillside mansions with a marina.  As we reached the end of the land, there were still many sailboats about full of waving passengers.  A look back toward the sunset reflecting off of the skyscrapers was spectacular.

We received the following gifts:  $1,150 from Auto Club and $1,400 in Crystal Society credits.  This is the first time we received the Crystal Society credit without asking, but we can tell from the way the card is printed that is was generated on board and not from the office.  Lara must have checked our account this time and caught it before we could.  A notable gift that is missing are the bouquets of flowers and bottles of wine from Crystal Society that have been delivered on every cruise segment since time began.  We saw the flowers being delivered to the ship, but saw only a few going to staterooms.  We don’t care, but it’s interesting that this small perk has vanished.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.  There are only 420 guests on board for this segment, so there is still only one open seating from 7:00 – 9:00 PM.  There are a few more than the last segment, but we don’t yet know how many.  It must not be much because Waldo said there are only three butlers now.  He told us that the Serenity will have 14 butlers per cruise because they ended up having to provide butler service for the regular cabins on Deck 10 because the price was too high and nobody would buy them without it.  We knew that would happen the minute we saw the deck plan with penthouses and regular cabins on the same deck (there is also a Penthouse Deck like we have here with only Penthouses).

Suzie said she couldn’t tell us about the sommelier who was fired, but she indicated that she would tell us later when nobody could overhear.  We went to Palm Court before dinner for a drink and to watch the beautiful scenery. After dark, a huge full moon rose from behind the horizon and reflected on the water.


Sautéed Jumbo Prawns with Slow Roasted Vegetable Salad
Burgundy Ham with Arugala and Toasted Baguette
Forest Mushroom Terrine with Tomato Coulis
Tropical Fruit Cup with Grand Marnier

Soup and Salad
Alaskan Crab Soup with Brie Cheese
Beef Consommé with Truffle Célestine
Chilled Lingonberry Soup with Sour Cream
Traditional Caesar Salad
Sliced Tomatoes and Mozzarella Cheese with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pasta Special
Penne all Panna Rosa

Salad Entrée
Mixed Grill Salad

Main Fares
Roasted Rack of Wisconsin Veal
Broiled Filet of Fresh Chilean Sea Bass
Chicken Breast alla Romana

Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Eggplant Mousse “Provencal”

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Soufflé with Fudge Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
French Style Lemon Cheesecake
Soft Berry Jell-O with Banana Semifreddo
Sugar-Free Chocolate Cream Puff
Sugar-Free Lime Cake with Fresh Strawberries
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Homemade Cookies

Food review:  The soup was a bit on the sour side, but it was satisfactory.  Everything else was good, but not great.

Roland is our new headwaiter and seems like a good time.  He said that Augusto has challenged him to cook us dishes that are better than he has done for us.  He knew what he had made, but we told him he could come up with his own creations and didn’t have to make the same thing.  We really don’t care if he makes anything, but it is nice to have the option for the menus we don’t like.  Roland was injured skiing just before he was supposed to return, which is the reason Augusto had to stay an extra cruise.  He still has a huge scab on his chin and one side of his nose.  It isn’t unsightly, just making a comment.

There were very few people in the Dining Room for the first hour, then it became about three-quarters full.  The couple with the two little kids were seated in the back section behind some fake trees, but we could still hear the kids scream now and then.  They left very early because the kids wouldn’t sit still.  The only thing we can hope for is that they are entertainers and will leave eventually.  If not, they are in for a very difficult 27 days.  Let’s hope it teaches them a lesson not to bring little kids on a luxury cruise not at all suited to them.

We were out of the Dining Room by 9:00 PM and joined Mel and Barbara with their matching New Zealand Shirts in the Crystal Cove.  We had an enjoyable conversation with them, as we usually do.  Our only objection to them is that they repeat the same subject over and over, but that wasn’t the case tonight.  None of us were in love with the personality of the new pianist, but his music was pleasant.

Tonight’s Entertainment is the welcome show, “Pirates to Pinafore”.  Since we haven’t seen this show for years, we decided to take a chance on it.  We shouldn’t have.  It wasn’t a bad performance, just a bad concept.  The point is to entice the guests into anticipating great production shows.  It does have some elaborate sets, but the production shows to follow generally don’t, so we’re not sure what the point is.  The music is heavy and pretentious and doesn’t at all represent the mostly lighthearted shows that follow.  Luckily, it is only 25 minutes long.  An introduction the ship’s entertainment staff follows, which is brief and to the point.  The evening closes with a dance number by Natalie and Curtis.  They are always very good, so no problem watching them.  However, Natalie flashed the audience inadvertently by lifting her long dress a bit too high.  The first time she did that it elicited a gasp from some of the women.  We can just imagine the scandal it will cause considering the uproar that occurred when Lara failed to wear hose on a formal night.  Honestly, we can see why they would gasp.  It did look as though she wasn’t wearing anything under her long dress, but she was wearing flesh colored underwear. 

wednesday, march 19th – cruising the coast of new zealand

It was a bit rough overnight and on into the day, but nothing worse than usual.  The temperature has dropped to the mid to high 60’s and partly cloudy to cloudy.  There was no rain though.  We were up and out by 10:30 AM, so we stopped by the Bistro for breakfast.  The coast of New Zealand was visible on the horizon for most of the day, but we weren’t close enough to see any details.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We arrived at the Bistro to find in nearly full, but we managed to grab one of the last free tables.  Of course, three tables were taken by staff members and entertainers, which we find absolutely appalling.  Apparently, Crystal doesn’t feel the same way because it has always been this way.  Ben was appalled to see us there so early.  He and a friend had polished off three bottles of wine last night, so he wasn’t feeling very chipper this morning.  He told us that Maria is still out of commission.  Usually, if a crew member can’t work for three or more days, they are automatically sent home and paid until they can come back. 

As we were strolling by Captain’s Choice, Mariana called us over to chat.  She didn’t want anything specific, just to talk about general things.  She’s excited to be moving to the Front Desk for her next contract and is very anxious to get this last cruise over and done.  Pat came in a joined the chat for a few minutes, still obsessed with guests thinking his group is the Manila Diamonds.  When the business in the shop picked up a bit, we moved on, but not before someone asked us if we are brothers for the first time in a month.  They didn’t believe us when we said we aren’t brothers.

We wandered down to the lobby to check the lunch menu, but were sidetracked when Billy waved us over to thank us again for his birthday card and gift.  The staff pretended to ignore his birthday and he was annoyed until he walked into a huge surprise party later that evening.  He confirmed that the total guest count now is 420.

Renato was busying himself looking up housing options on the Internet at the computer at the Shore Excursion desk.  He said that his job is pretty much done because most guests aren’t booking tours in Australia.  The cities are easy to see of foot and most of the guests have been there before.  He said as long as he has enough to run each tour, he is happy.  He does have enough to run them, so he can avoid canceling and annoying those who did want to go.

Nikki had been trying to leave her desk for an hour, but was always delayed by another guest wanting to talk.  Nobody ever stopped to talk to Abigail, although she was very pleasant.  Nikki is beloved by the guests because she has been here forever and she is exceptionally pleasant.  Although she kept saying she had to leave, she stood in the lobby talking to us for another half hour.

By this time, we had killed enough time to go to the Italian Buffet around the Neptune Pool.  It figures that they would have a buffet outside on a rough sea day, doesn’t it?   The buffet wasn’t as elaborate as usual, but it was a nice change.  Some of the selections were better than others, but we were happy overall.  The lasagna and chicken cannelloni were the best. 

We sat outside to listen to the band, along with three other guests.  It was too cold after the sun disappeared, but we stayed until 1:30 PM when the band finished.  Then we headed toward the room, stopping to be introduced to Niklas’ partner, Anthony, on the way.  We stayed in the room for the rest of the afternoon watching TV.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal for the Captain’s Cocktail Reception.  We skipped the reception and went to the Dining Room at 7:15 PM.  It was nearly empty until 8:00 PM when the party was over and everyone arrived at once.


Iced Sevruga Caviar
Truffled Chicken Liver Parfait
Oysters Rockefeller
Exotic Fruit in a Pineapple Boat with Orange Curacao

Soup and Salad
Wild Forest Mushroom Soup “Cappuccino Style”
Clear Oxtail Soup with Wild Rice and Chester Sesame Sticks
Captain’s Salad

Refreshing Passion Fruit Champagne Sherbet

Pasta Special
Cheese Ravioli

Salad Entrée
Beef Tenderloin Salad

Main Fares
Broiled Canadian Lobster Tail and a Giant Shrimp
Broiled Fresh John Dory Fillet
Stuffed Marinated Baked Quail
Grilled Black Angus New York Sirloin Steak
Plain Grilled Halibut Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Stuffed Cabbage Roll with Stir Fried Greens

”Délice au Café” – White Chocolate Coffee Cake with Raspberry Sauce
Crunchy Vanilla Mousse with Fudge Sauce
Lemon Almond Tart with Whipped Cream and Forest Berries
Sugar-Free Yogurt Fruit Terrine
Sugar-Free Blueberry Turnover with Diet Ice Cream
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Chocolate Truffles and Petit Fours

Food review:  Everything except the chateaubriand was average.  The meat was outstanding, as usual, and warranted an extra portion.  We substituted rice pilaf for the God-awful twice-baked potatoes that nobody ever touches. We saw several of them go back to the dishwasher uneaten.  We both had ice cream for dessert despite Bruno’s attempt to sell us one of the other choices.

Ben thanked us for the gratuity we credited to his account and we asked if he had received the entire amount or just a percentage.  He said he got the whole thing.  The reason we want to know is in case Maria only received a pro-rated portion of hers.  We specifically sent the money to her, but the card that came as a receipt just said “Sommelier” with no name attached.  That means they will look up our table number and give it to whomever the station belongs to.  However, that is not how we noted it on the form, so we will have to check if and when she returns.  We sent her a Get Well card via the Front Desk tonight.

Tonight’s Entertainment is the newest production show, “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”.  We arrived early at the show because with just one seating all of the parties and such are packed.  The large public rooms are designed to hold 450 at full capacity, but the Galaxy Lounge never did fill up.  We were surprised that dancing wasn’t offered before the show as it always is.  Darwin told us that the Captain’s Reception in the Starlite Club was standing room only due to only one seating, so we’re glad we didn’t go.

The new cast is one of the worst we have ever seen.  They were so bad that it almost appeared as though each dancer was doing his or her own show.  At some points, they had to dodge an errant dancer or two.  The new leads are a mixed bag.  The female singer has one of those high screechy voices that drives us nuts and she’s as thin as a toothpick.  The male singer isn’t quite as good as the last one and is a little stiff with his dance moves, but he is more pleasant to look at than the last one.  Unfortunately, he is the only reasonably attractive man in the whole cast.  The other men all have something odd about them that makes them not fit into a chorus well…two with ponytails, one with a weird beard sort of thing, etc.  All we can hope for is that they improve as time goes on, but since they come to the ship pre-trained, we’re not sure there is much hope for that.

It started to get windy and a bit rougher after the show, but as before, it isn’t much.  If you went by the way other guests carry on, you’d think the ship was about to capsize.  It isn’t even enough to tempt us to put the ice bucket on the floor again.

thursday, march 20th – christchurch, new zealand – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Christchurch was founded in 1850 by members of the Church of England, who wanted a little bit of heaven on earth. They succeeded, and today the city takes great pride in its spacious layout and distinctive English-style buildings in elegant gray stone. The River Avon winds through Christchurch, along parks and gardens that cover one-third of the city.

Crystal Symphony docked in the cargo port of Lyttleton, “The Gateway to Christchurch.”  The port is at one side of a huge bay surrounded by steep volcanic hills that resemble the dry coastal hills of northern California.  The weather today is perfect for walking, about 69 with not a cloud in the sky.

Click for Daytime Activities.

After a breakfast snack in the Bistro, we went up to the top deck to take our usual port photos.  Directly adjacent to the ship is a cliff topped with a small castle.  To the right of that is a big pile of coal, beyond which are starkly beautiful hills that form the entrance to the harbor.  The small town of Lyttleton is to the left of the castle and is basically just one short street of shops surrounded by some very attractive tracts of houses.

Across the bay from the port the hills look exactly like California’s coast, complete with huge houses and a few mansions perched at the edge with what must be a beautiful view.  Later in the afternoon a cloud formation made it appear that there was a brush fire to make us feel at home.

We rushed to make the noon shuttle bus to Christchurch and made it with perfect timing.  The drive took about 30 minutes to downtown through a miles long tunnel under the hills.

Downtown Christchurch looks like a cross between an old English town and any modern city.  There is a bit more of an English influence here than in Australian cities, but there are more Asians and South Pacific Islanders here to add to the mix.  There is a Chinese or Thai restaurant on every corner, along with numerous Indian and Sushi establishments.  As with every city we have seen in New Zealand or Australia, the streets are spotlessly clean and the people friendly.

The shuttle bus dropped us in the center of town on a shopping street leading to Cathedral Square.  As in any big city, this public square attracts all sorts of people.  The stone cathedral stands in the center of the square flanked by a huge modern stainless steel sculpture.  We ran into Peter and stopped to talk to him for a few minutes about his dating dilemmas on board. He has declared the stewardesses off limits because, “They are crazy.”  He keeps a picture of an ex-girlfriend in the cabin just to get them to leave him alone.  We find that believable because he is quite charming and better looking than most of the crewmen.

We started off walking down the street toward the Avon River that meanders through the city.   We checked the merchandise in a few gallery shops, but decided to come back later since they are right by the shuttle stop.

The walk to the river was only about two blocks passing old stone buildings, modern hotels, office towers, and ramshackle old wooden houses.  There were many mansions in various stages of restoration for use as offices and shops, as well as many still in use as private residences.

The river is shallow and only about 30 feet wide, but very picturesque.  There are weeping willow trees along the banks and small parks filled with flowers, statues, and fountains.  A historic trolley carries visitors on a sort of grand circle tour of the city, stopping at most of the major tourist sites. 

At the end of the street is the Canterbury Museum and the Botanical Gardens.  There is a huge Art Centre housed in restored neo-Gothic stone buildings that were once a university campus.  We wandered trough the Botanical Garden passing a huge lawn surrounded by enormous old trees.  One could spend all day walking through the display of annual and perennial beds, specimen trees, shady glens, vast lawns, and on to the Avon River.

We turned back at the river to walk back toward the city center.  Lara and her mother were punting down the river, but we resisted the urge to call out to them because they looked so serene.  Other visitors were paddling canoes, paddle boats and rowboats down the lovely river.  Hundreds of ducks begged for food and foraged in the water for snacks while locals watched from shady benches along the banks.  A huge painted iron fountain marks the entrance to the garden where uniformed schoolchildren were romping in the grass. 

We crossed the street to the Arts Centre and wandered through the grounds looking at the neo-Gothic architecture and enjoying the ambiance.  There were small cafes and restaurants in several of the courtyards.  The original chapel has been transformed into a lecture hall.  Other chapels and halls are used as theaters and workshops for local artists.  We browsed through the shops and galleries, stopping in the woodworking shop to buy some wine bottle coasters and an wood disc inlaid with shell to use as an ornament.

Back out of the street we continued walking back toward the cathedral, passing an intricate old brick buildings and more high-rises and shopping areas.  For a new viewpoint, we turned along the river and skipped over a few blocks to a pedestrian street, browsing is a few shops along the way.  Although we didn’t purchase anything, the shops were very nice with a wide array of merchandise and friendly salespeople.

When we reached the area just beyond Cathedral Square, we turned along another pedestrian street back toward the square where we wanted to do more shopping.  We looked in a couple of shops selling items made in New Zealand, but all of it looked the same and we just weren’t finding anything unique enough to bother with.  So, we returned to the gallery shop selling items made only by local artists. 

The emphasis of the gallery was contemporary jewelry, which was beautiful and very reasonably prices.  However, we had no need for jewelry and were interested mostly in their selection of blown glass, bronze, and cast glass.  We bought several beautiful items at very attractive prices both for ourselves and to possibly give as gifts if we can manage to part with any of them.  We had an interesting conversation with the proprietor who said that many Americans move here for the attractive prices and open boutique hotels and other successful ventures.

We made it back to a jam-packed shuttle bus just before it left at 3:00 PM and were back at the port by 3:30 PM.  Next stop for us was for snacks at the Trident Grill, then back to the room to shower before the sail away at 6:00 PM.  Paul, the Cruise Director, told us that the war in Iraq had begun, but he didn’t know more than that.  On the way back to the room we could hear all of the TV’s in the rooms tuned to CNN.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.  We stopped to chat with Rudolf, so we were later than usual arriving at the Dining Room.  Bruno came out of the office by the door and brought us to the table, so we made it seem as though he had gone out looking for us.


Snow Crab Tower with Salmon and Malossol Caviar
Combination of Potstickers and Dim Sum with Soy Dipping Sauce
Fresh Green Asparagus with Tomato-Herb Vinaigrette
Assorted Supreme of Fruit with Maraschino

Soup and Salad
Roman Soup with Pasta and Vegetables
Cream of Celery with Spinach Quenelles
Chilled Beet Root Soup with Sour Cream
Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves with Boiled Eggs, Sliced Mushrooms, and Crisp Bacon Bits with Mustard Dressing

Pasta Special
Tortiglione with Broccoli Pesto, Fresh Tomato, Mushrooms, and Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrée
Grilled Vegetable Garden Salad

Main Fares
Broiled Fresh New Zealand Salmon Fillet
Pink Roasted Duck Breast
Sautéed Sea Scallops and Jumbo Prawns
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie a la Mode
Citrus Soufflé Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Pistachio Ice Cream
Iced Cassis Parfait on Marinated Strawberries
Sugar-Free Baked Pear in Puff Pastry
Sugar-Free Mango Chocolate Tart
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Refreshing Grapefruit Campari Sherbet

Food review:  Everything was good, nothing was outstanding.  That about sums it up.

Bruno told us right away that Roland is making a special dessert for us tonight, but he wouldn’t tell us what.  It’s nice that he wants to try to make us happy, but we absolutely hate it when anyone tries to guess what we will like.  In this case, it was a flambé of caramelized pineapple and mangos.  Essentially, it was the same as what we had Augusto make for us, with the addition of the liquor for flambé purposes.  It did nothing but make it fancier, otherwise it was fine.

The Evening Entertainment is a show by ventriloquist Gary Hunter.  He has been designated as the new Cruise Director for Crystal Serenity.  He is always one of the acts presented on Crystal Symphony and to say he is bad is exaggerating his entertainment value.  He might be good as a Cruise Director as long as he doesn’t drag out his puppets because he does know the guests and he does seem to be well liked as a person.  We didn’t attend the show.

We stopped by the Library to chat with Ronnie and ended up staying from 9:30 PM until 11:00 PM.  Mainly, we wanted to tell him that he should be in the Academy Awards show (they are doing a parody on board) as the women who carry in the statues.  He thought it was a great idea.  That lead to a variety of subjects that were more amusing to the three of us than they would be repeated here.  Ronnie whined about the man in charge of special events not telling anyone what’s going on until absolutely the last second.  We were fairly certain that is why something always goes wrong, but now we know for sure.  He has great ideas, but doesn’t give specific enough instructions for anyone else to know what he has in mind, so they guess, wrong.

Just to prepare anyone who views the Bridge Cam, we are having the World Cruise photo on Saturday, March 22nd.  The specific time hasn’t yet been announced, but we’ll pass it on as soon as we know.  Of course, that might be ten minutes before they decide to do it knowing Crystal.

friday, march 21st – cruising the coast of new zealand

Our day started at 9:30 AM with the first announcement of a crew fire drill that does not involve guests.  The alarm sounded at 10:00 AM, so we decided to give up and get up.  It is cold and foggy this morning.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Up earlier than usual, we went to the Bistro and again found it nearly full.  We managed to find a table, but many other guests did not.  This in spite of the fact that 90% of the tables were full of staff members.

By 11:30 AM we were finished eating and left with nothing to do except wander down to look at the Dining Room lunch menu, which ultimately didn’t interest us.  We stopped to tell Lara that we saw her punting down the river and how serene it looked. She carried on at length about how nice the afternoon was and how much fun it was to have her mother along.  We told her about Natalie flashing the audience during her dance routine, which Lara found hysterical.  She was glad that maybe the pantyhose issue had been overshadowed.  She said that on the first formal night her mother didn’t wear hose just to cause a stir.  Is she fun, or what?

Lara had some top secret advance information about the formal World Cruise Event in Sydney.  Basically, it is a dinner dance with some entertainment.  In other words, a repeat of the Bon Voyage Party.  She said that if it was up to her, she’d do the Bridge Climb instead, but, “You didn’t hear that from me”.  She told us that if she finds out any more details, she’ll let us know right away.  She wished she could do the climb as well because she thinks her mother would enjoy it.  But, of course, she has to go to the dinner.

Lunchtime in the Lido was jammed with an actual line at the serving counter.  We have no clue why since nothing has changed that we are aware of.  Of course, we don’t even look at the daily activities, so we’d have no way of knowing anyway.  It was amusing when about ten of the waiters fawned on us in succession, then three waiters helped Bill deliver his tray and iced tea to the table.  The people at the next table were really annoyed we were getting so much attention.  Not that they needed anything, they just didn’t like us getting so much.  It’s always like that, so they’d best get used to it.  Darwin practically throws himself on the floor for us to walk on whenever we see him, even from across the room.

After lunch we killed about an hour watching CNN before going up for haircuts at 3:00 PM.  Same old shorter than short cuts with the same stylists and we were back in the room by 3:30 PM and ready for a nap.  We both got enough sleep last night, but we just couldn’t stay awake for some reason.  The only reason we woke up at 5:00 PM in time to start preparing for dinner is because the telephone rang.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.  We pushed the 5 button in the elevator instead of 6 and rather than bother walking or riding back up a floor, we went into the Dining Room just after it opened.  Bruno was appalled and said we were lucky he was even there so early (he was kidding).


Marinated Sautéed Shrimp with Mashed and Crisp Potatoes
Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese Tower with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Salad of Roasted Chicken Breast, Avocado, and Black Olives
Fresh Tropical Fruit with Kiwi Wedges and Aged Sherry

Soup and Salad
Butternut Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seed Oil
Chicken Broth with Vermicelli Pasta
Chilled Green Pea Soup with Mint
Assorted Garden Greens with Crisp Eggplant Chips
Pear, Endive, and Blue Cheese Salad with Pear Dressing

Pasta Special
Farfalle in a Light Chive Sauce with Grilled Salmon Flakes

Salad Entrée
Tossed Spinach and Radicchio Salad with a Swordfish Steak

Main Fares
Grilled Lamb Chops
Grilled Fresh Blue Nose Fillet
Veal Scaloppini “Sorrento Style”
Fricassee di Pollo alla Cacciatore
Grilled Black Angus Filet
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Apple Cinnamon Tart with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Milk Chocolate Cheesecake with Chocolate Glaze
Passion Fruit Ice Parfait on Exotic Fruit Ratatouille
Sugar-Free Vanilla Cinnamon Cake
Sugar-Free Rhubarb Compote with Diet Ice Cream
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Refreshing Banana Sherbet

Food review:  The fruit selection has become interesting again, we assume from a new delivery in Auckland.  The plums are incredible.  The soup had quite an oil slick on the top.  When Bruno put it down, he said it looked like New Zealand, which it did.  Then he moved the bowl and it changed to Portugal or something.  You had to be there, but it was amusing.  The salad was terrible with grease-soaked eggplant chips on top that were inedible.  Both of the entrees we had are the “Traditional” selections.  They no longer call them “Always Available”.  Now there are always two different semi-plain selections.  The beef came out so raw that it was still bleeding on the sides.  Sending it back caused mass hysteria, but we didn’t mind at all waiting a few extra minutes.  Once it was cooked properly, it was very good.  The chicken tasted fine, but was too dry.  Dessert was extremely sweet, but also extremely tasty.

The Evening Entertainment is a concert by Australian vocalist, Stephen Fisher King.  He studied opera, but wanted to be in musicals, so his act is a mix of both.  His singing ability is outstanding and his banter appropriate and amusing for the most part.  There was too much audience participation to suit us (and most of the rest judging by the lack of hand-clapping and such when he asked for it).  Otherwise, the show was one of the best we have seen.  This is the guy who has his wife and two little kids in the Dining Room, by the way.

Ballots for the Academy Awards show were delivered earlier with tomorrow’s Reflections.  Tonight, we received another World Cruise gift with this card:  “Welcome to World Voyage IV, our journey from Auckland to Sydney.  Along the way, Crystal Symphony will sail south along the east coast of New Zealand to Christchurch and on to Milford Sound, where we’ll encounter a mystical land of forests, fjords, glacial lakes and waterfalls.  From there, we’ll circle the entire continent of Australia, concluding our voyage along the Great Barrier Reef and the Tasman Sea as we head toward the picturesque port of Sydney.  We hope that you will enjoy these custom zippered travel amenity bags on this voyage and on other Crystal cruises in the future.”

The World Cruise Group Photo has been scheduled for 4:00 PM on the bow of the ship for tomorrow, the 22nd (remember, we are one day ahead of the U.S.).  If you are trying to catch the photo on the Bridge Cam, the time is 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

saturday, march 22nd – cruising milford sound

Today is cloudy and slightly rainy, not the best weather for scenic cruising, unfortunately.  It isn’t all that cold, so that’s a plus.  We had no choice but to get up early because of the constant announcements describing the sights in Dusky Sound where we sailed beginning at 9:00 AM.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Dusky Sound is a fjord that looks sort of like the Inside Passage to Alaska, but not quite as scenic.  There are steep rocky cliffs covered in forests, but it isn’t the most exciting scenery we have ever seen.  After sailing through this area for a couple of hours, the ship went back out into the open ocean to sail along the coast to Milford Sound.  The weather became a bit worse as the day went on, which wasn’t a good sign for the World Cruise Photo on the bow scheduled for later today.

We stopped by the jam-packed Bistro, again with too many staff members, for some pastries.  Ben stopped by to chat, shocked to see up before 11:00 AM.  He wasn’t all that thrilled to be up and working that early either. 

After our snack, we noticed that Nikki was free, so we went down to talk to her about arranging our own World Cruise by combining the Serenity with the Harmony next year.  She was disappointed that we are probably not going on the Serenity Inaugural and agrees that Crystal screwed themselves by not allowing guests to use their Milestone credits.  We told her that there are many reasons we don’t want to go, but the primary reason is the ridiculously high price. 

We talked to Nikki about a variety of things not related to cruising, as usual.  We have known her longer than anyone on board, so she is always interested in what’s going on.  Harry showed her our Halloween pictures from last year, so she was interested to hear about our new house.  That led to a conversation about contractors and prices, as it usually does.  She is going to check on transferring our Serenity booking to the new one and will get the prices together for next year when they are available.  She does know that the last segment of the Harmony cruise we are interested in is a Value Collection fare, which we already assumed since it is 15 days with only one port.

Lunch in the Lido was again jam-packed with the line extending to the door at one point.  Josef, the Maitre ‘d, came up from the Dining Room to count heads.  There were so many people in the Lido that the Dining Room must have been nearly empty.  Our reason for going to the Lido almost exclusively this cruise is that the menus for lunch in the Dining Room have become way too fancy, rivaling the dinner selections.  The Lido isn’t much better, but at least it is possible to make up some sort of reasonable combination of food that doesn’t involve veal with caviar sauce.

After lunch we retired to the room to do some laundry and await our arrival at Milford Sound.  The weather had taken a turn for the worse by 2:00 PM with dark clouds looming and the sea churning with whitecaps.  We expect it will be smooth sailing once we are in the sound, as it was this morning in Dusky Sound.

We arrived at the entrance to Milford Sound at 3:00 PM.  From the sea, it didn’t look like anything other than a small bay, but as we turned the corner against a sheer cliff, a deep fjord became visible.  The turn was barely large enough for the ship to maneuver, but we slipped in past craggy rocks and began sailing past towering cliffs, small waterfalls, and lush greenery.  At times the channel appeared to be barely wider than the ship itself, but of course it was sufficiently wide or we wouldn’t be here.

From the Sun Deck, a magnificent vista unfolded with layer upon layer of towering mountains on every side and in the distance.  There were several small sightseeing boats about, plus a kayak that was dwarfed by the cliff beside it.  We sailed deeper into the enormous gorge and turned another corner to view a waterfall hundreds of feet high that plunged straight down to the water below. Beyond were sheer cliffs on all sides. At the far end of the bay another huge waterfall ran down the hillside in front of more enormous mountains.

About fifteen minutes before the scheduled time to arrive for the World Cruise Photo on the bow, we went down and took more photos from Deck 7 where it was plainly obvious just how close the ship was to the rocks.  Red and Rudolf were gazing at the scenery, so we took a photo of them together.  A second later, we did the same for Mariana.  Here is a view from the Starboard Promenade and the Port Promenade.

Usually, only crew members are allowed on the bow, but it is open to World Cruisers now, so we went ahead and wandered up for a few photos.  Niklas was freezing in the cold wind wearing just his daytime white uniform, as was Paul.  Of course, several of the more crotchety guests were complaining that it is too cold, too windy, and taking too long to get the photo.  All of that was true, but who cares?  A few women were complaining that they were going to miss Chocolate Tea Time.  Not that it occurred to any of them that the chance to get a photo like this is much rarer than the tea held every week.

Most of the guests were behaving properly and having a good time.  The Captain was in the process of turning the ship around slowly in the narrow channel so the waterfall would form a backdrop for the photo.  This took a considerable amount of time because the current was strong and the wind even stronger.  Everyone was walking around offering to take pictures of one another, which was nice.  Niklas took our photo and we took a photo of Rosemary and one of the men together.  More photos:  Towering Peaks, Sheer Cliffs, Sightseeing Boat at Falls, Waterfall.

Eventually, all was in order and Elizabeth began arranging guests for the photo in her usual Drill Sergeant way.  We have to give her credit for not taking any crap from these people and still managing to have all of them love her.  When all was set, they started taking the photos until they realized that the Captain was missing.  That elicited groans from everyone, but a cheer when he arrived and the photos were finished. We spotted Harry on the deck above taking his own World Cruise photos. 

After most of the guests had left, we had Elizabeth take a photo of us on the bow with the waterfall behind, then took one of her.  We have been trying to get a photo of her the entire trip, but she is always moving too fast to catch.  We also had a chance to get a picture of Paul, the Cruise Director.

We stayed outside to take more photos of the waterfall trying to show how close the bow of the ship actually was to it.  Up close, the moss-covered cliff was really beautiful in various shades of green.  The edge of the cliff where the water begins to fall was also lovely seen from so close a vantage point.  More waterfall photos:  Top to Bottom.

We climbed up a few decks and found Rosemary without anyone to take a photo for her, so we did it for her and for Pauline.  Rosemary must have been freezing in her thin polyester uniform, but she didn’t complain.  It took over an hour to complete the whole scenario, which is considerably longer than the fifteen minutes it took last year.  When Paul asked what the scenery was last time, neither of us could remember.  By the time we returned to the room it was already time to start getting ready for dinner.

Dave asked Waldo to have extra holes punched in his belt, to make it smaller, not bigger.  He was thrilled just to be asked to do something.  He wants to come by tomorrow before dinner with Suzie to celebrate his new baby and show us a photo.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Pan-Seared Scallops on Herb Risotto with Red Pepper Sauce
Herb Wrapped Beef Carpaccio with Mixed Greens and Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Carrot Emulsion and Spring Carrots
Assorted Fresh Fruit Cup flavored with Lemon Bacardi

Soup and Salad
Light Cream of Spinach with Roasted Potato Soup
Consommé Double with Cheese Profiteroles
Chilled Blackberry Yogurt Soup
Spring Lettuce with Lollo Rosso, Red Oak Leaf, and Marinated Green Beans
Traditional Caesar Salad

Pasta Special
Mezze Rigate with Fresh Crab Meat

Salad Entrée
Roast Pork Tenderloin Salad

Main Fares
Roasted Tom Turkey
Broiled Fresh Fillet of Orange Roughy
Herb Flavored Roasted Baby Veal Shanks
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Grilled Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Baked Eggplant Zucchini Tower with Mozzarella Cheese

White Chocolate Chip Bread and Butter Pudding with Vanilla Sauce and Butter Almond Ice Cream
Orange and Cappuccino Mousse Bombe with Mango Sauce
Frangelico Cake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Sugar-Free Grape Strudel with Diet Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Banana Napoleon
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Refreshing Red Wine Sherbet

Food review:  The chilled soup was good, but mostly foam.  Both entrees were just satisfactory, nothing great.  The Bread Pudding was outstanding, but had nothing to do with chocolate chips.  It tasted like plain bread pudding to us, which is fine.

Roland wants to make us an Austrian meal for either French or Neptune Dinner’s.  He started off suggesting all sorts of ultra-fancy things, but we emphasized that we want LESS fancy, not more.  He got the idea and said he could make sauerbraten or something like that.  We’re assuming he will discuss it with us ahead of time.  If not, we will have to ask what he’s planning.

We were finished with dinner early, so we stopped by to say hello to Ronnie in the Library.  He said they haven’t asked him to do anything at the Academy Awards tomorrow, but his dresses are ready just in case.

The Evening Entertainment is a concert by violinist Martin Lass.  He was outstanding, but an hour of the same type of music is just too much.  The selections he played were lively and entertaining for the most part, so it was fine as a show.  We wouldn’t necessarily go see him again, but he was good enough to see once.  All of the Australian entertainers we have seen have an easy rapport with the audience that is helpful in carrying an evening along.

It became rather windy and somewhat rough during and after the show.  There was much crashing of waves against the ship and howling wind, but it wasn’t really all that rough a ride. 

sunday, march 23rd – cruising the tasman sea

Up until mid-afternoon, it was foggy and a bit rough with temperatures in the high 60’s to low 70’s.  The sea is mostly just churning, no whitecaps, because there isn’t any wind at all.  The sun broke out after noon, but it remained overcast most of the time.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We had about half an hour to kill before lunchtime, so we wandered down to the shops to browse around.  Mariana waved us over because she was bored and wanted to chat, which was fine with us.  She wanted some gossip, but we didn’t know anything more than we had already told her, so we just chatted about general things.  Just as we found a subject she was really interested in, the very rough crossing when the Symphony was introduced, the woman who drives Waldo crazy was pushed in by Jose.  We decided it would take a while for Mariana to sort things out with her, so we went up to the Lido for lunch.  Jose told us that he had left the belt in our room that we sent out yesterday for extra holes.

We’re running out of options for lunch as the menus become more and more bizarre and/or boring, depending on your perspective.  At least with the Lido buffet one may be able to put together a reasonable plate of food.  We had some sliced beef in a red sauce that was pretty good and some Hoisin carved chicken that was very good.  It was too hot on the “sunny” side of the Lido, so we wandered downstairs again to view the photos taken of us yesterday on the bow and elsewhere.  We’ll have those scanned and posted tomorrow.

Back in the room, we did indeed find the belt with two new holes added.  It’s very nice how quickly the tailor takes care of things when she is asked.  We have had pants altered and back on the same day for a very reasonable price, about $7.00 to alter a jacket, for example.  There was no charge for adding the holes to the belt.

We recorded the photo of Red and Rudolf onto a disc to take to them later, then settled in to watch TV and do nothing for the rest of the afternoon.

Yesterday, we had agreed to have a party tonight with Waldo and Suzie (click their names to see party photo) to celebrate his new baby.  He arrived at 6:30 PM with a table full of plates of sushi, jumbo shrimp, tuna sandwiches, guacamole and chips, plus a bottle of wine.  He had his baby’s picture on a disc, so we displayed it on the laptop.  Suzie was busy in the beginning, so Waldo called in Jose to join us for a toast.  Jose is the one who had brought the bitchy woman down to the shop yesterday.  Waldo said she waited a couple of hours, then called Peter to take her down again, whereupon she returned everything she had just bought.  Suzie arrived and we sat around with Waldo drinking wine and eating the snacks, most of which we left for Waldo to take.  Of course, they aren’t supposed to be in a guest’s room sitting down, let alone partying, but it happens all the time with the right people.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Special Guest Chef Menu featuring the Cuisine of Chef Greg Heffernan

Lapsang Souchong Tea-Cured Salmon with Citrus, Ginger, and Almond Dressing

Peppered Tropical Fruit and Watercress Salad with Vanilla Bean Dressing

Vermouth Broth with Parsley and Sautéed Scallops

Main Fare
Grilled Yellow Fin Tune Steak in Mushroom, Pumpkin, and Barley Broth
Seared Filet of Beef with Green Olive Mash

In addition to Guest Chef Greg Heffernan’s special menu items,
we offer these choices from the main galley:

Crab Meat Enchiladas with Corn and Tomato Salsa
Buffalo Mozzarella on Couscous Tower with Lemon and Parsley
Iced Fruit Cup with Hazelnut Liqueur

Soup and Salad
Chicken Consommé with Chive Célestine
Watermelon Gazpacho with Tropical Fruit Salsa
Heart of Boston Lettuce with Marinated Red Beets and Daikon Root

Pasta Special
Fusilli with Sliced Chicken, Spinach, Tomato Concassé, and Light Cream Sauce

Main Fares
Grilled Pork Medallion Topped with Prune Chutney
Roasted French Duck with Caramelized Raspberry Sauce
Grilled Black Angus Rib Eye Steak
Broiled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Spinach Cheese Cannelloni with Two Sauces

Guest Chef Dessert:  Coconut Parfait with Lemon Grass Anglaise and Fruit Puree
Chocolate Paradise Cake with Coffee Ice Cream
Passion Fruit Cream with Fresh Fruits
Sugar-Free Lemon Wheel
Sugar-Free Pineapple Triangle
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Nonfat Cappuccino Yogurt

Food review:  None of the Guest Chef selections were anything special, particularly the dessert.  Everything was edible, but nothing was worth ordering again and certainly not worth paying a hefty price in a fancy restaurant.  The pasta was the best thing of the night, along with the hastily prepared strawberries with ice cream that Bruno made for Bill because he didn’t want any of the desserts.  We have to credit him for trying.

Josef stopped us on the way into the Dining Room to be sure we are happy with Roland.  We’re not sure what he expected us to say because there really isn’t much that could be done about it if we weren’t happy.  We assured him that everything is fine to which he replied, “It is very important to me that you two are happy.”  He always says that to us and we believe it’s true, but he really needs to lighten up.  We never have complained to him about anything before.

We mentioned before that when Jerry left the service became less polished.  We don’t care, but there is definitely a quality difference.  Bruno is more outwardly friendly than Jerry, but his service isn’t flawless.  Now the same thing is happening with Roland compared to Augusto.  Roland is very nice, but he doesn’t have the skill to get around the entire section as well as Augusto did.  He seems to get bogged down preparing a flambé or serving a special order.  Again, we don’t care, it’s just an observation.  We’d still rate the service as excellent from both of them.

The Evening Entertainment program is Crystal Symphony’s presentation of the 75th Annual Academy Awards, “With a cast of thousands.”  Well, it wasn’t exactly thousands, more like tens, but they did an outstanding job considering they slapped this together on board in just a couple of days.  Gary Hunter, the new Cruise Director for the Serenity, did a great job as the host.  They even had a video clip like Billy Crystal does where he is inserted in the movies.  In one scene he was posing nude in the drawing scene from Titanic, except the background was the Palm Court.  It was hysterical.

In the lobby, they had red fabric draped over the marquee and the elevators, with red lens on the lights in the lobby to make the carpet look red (that effect didn’t work very well, but it was a good try).  They dug up red jackets for all of the bar staff to appear like ushers.  Popcorn and candy bars were served in the lobby as well, although we’re not sure what that had to do with the Academy Awards.

In the theater, they had rigged up a working teleprompter that added to the realism.  Lara came out with the statues, dressed as a ditzy starlet.  She did a great job with the walk, too.  The Repertory at Sea players impersonated stars presenting the awards, generally very poorly.  If this was any indication of what their shows are like, we will continue to stay away.  World Cruise guests came up to accept the awards on behalf of the winners with amusing speeches to go with it.  There was one big production number and three songs, which were outstanding except for the one by the female lead singer.  The two men were great.

They had assembled all of the musicians on board to make up a sort of symphony orchestra complete with a conductor wearing headphones.  Most of the time they played over a recorded soundtrack, but they did a wonderful job even when playing on their own.  Between each presentation they would break for commercials that were clips of foreign ads, and very amusing for the most part.  It was a nice touch.

We really have no complaints about the show, which lasted 90 minutes, nearly twice as long as any other shows on board.  The room was packed, also unusual.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and appreciated the effort that was put into it. 

As we were arriving back at our room, Darwin was pushing the woman down the hall back into her room.  He stopped to tell us that some people were mad because the room was so full they couldn’t sit in the back in case they wanted to leave early.  So, of course, they stormed out.  Lots of luck finding anything else to do because all of the musicians from throughout the ship participated in the show.

We have another hour back on the clock, which is a good thing because we are supposed to present ourselves in person to Australian Immigration at the ridiculous hour of 9:00 AM.  As we did last year, we will arrive at the last minute, 10:30 AM.  Guests are supposed to arrive according to the first letter of their last name, but everyone disregards that issue and shows up any old time.  Besides, what are they going to do about it?

It was rather rough tonight, about the same as last night.  The Tasman Sea is usually extremely rough, so this is nearly nothing in comparison to the norm.

monday, march 24th – cruising the tasman sea

Here are the photos taken by the ship's photographers we mentioned yesterday:  Dave & Bill on Sun Deck, Crowd on Sun Deck (we are on the far left under the radar dome), Dave & Bill on Bow, World Cruise Group with Waterfall (we are on the left propped up on the side below the people on the bow).

The weather today is partly cloudy, windy and cool.  The sea remains slightly rough to us, terribly rough to others.  It really is barely moving, but some guests seem to think they booked a vacation in a hotel rather than a cruise ship.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We dragged ourselves out of bed and to the Immigration Inspection at around 9:30 AM.  Harry was dealing with the obnoxious crowds complaining about having to do this.  We don’t like it either, but it isn’t as though the ship has anything to say about it.  Harry was shocked to see us so early and exclaimed that he didn’t expect us until later.  He had our passports pulled out and set aside already.

Tony Urbano, the puppeteer we met on the Maasdam in 1995, was in front of us in line.  We have seen him around, but we weren’t sure if he would remember us, although we thought he should.  He definitely remembered us and recalled the exact circumstances.  We’re pretty sure it just dawned on him who we are, but he did remember.  He wants to get together for dinner in the next couple of days before he leaves, which is fine with us.  His show is tonight and he wanted to make sure we would be there.

We stopped for a breakfast snack in the Bistro, shocking Ben until he realized we had to immigrate today and had no choice.  After a quick check of the Dining Room lunch menu (nothing interesting), we congratulated Lara on her performance last night.  She was disappointed because she couldn’t see the show from backstage because they were using the monitor used to view the shows as a teleprompter.

Lunch today is the Asia Café buffet around the Neptune Pool.  We waited until the last fifteen minutes before going up for a quick lunch.  It was too chilly to stay outside, so we went into the Lido with almost everyone else.  Tony Urbano stopped to ask if we would like to go to dinner with him in the next two days.  That’s fine with us, so we’re waiting for his call to confirm.  He wanted to make sure we would come to his show tonight, which had already intended to do.

The rest of the day was spent in the room watching a movie and napping.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.  We emerged half an hour before dinner, but stopped to chat first with Suzie and then Waldo.  Waldo is upset because they asked him to transfer to the Serenity today, which means he will have to leave in Sydney.  He doesn’t want to go to the new ship, so he’s sort of in conflict about what to do.  He claims he can’t say no, but we know from Jerry’s experience with the same thing that it is not only possible, but it can be beneficial.  We did finally make it to Palm Court for a drink where we waited until 7:30 PM to do to dinner.


Seafood Rendezvous – Scallops, Baby Shrimp, and Crab Meat with Three Sauces
Parma Ham with Assorted Melons and Olive Baguette
Smoked Salmon Tart with Sweet Onions, Dill Cream, and Crisp Greens
Chilled Fruit Cup with Tia Maria

Soup and Salad
Traditional Tomato Soup with Italian Bread
Chicken Broth with Chive Quenelles
Chilled Cream of Strawberry and Mango with Low-Fat Yogurt
Commander’s Salad

Pasta Special
Tripolini with Calamari, Olive Oil, Garlic, and Parsley

Salad Entrée
Tempura-Fried Rare Ahi Tuna on a Bed of Crisp Greens

Main Fares
Broiled Fresh Perch Fillet
Fine Herb Marinated Lamb Tenderloin
Grilled Marinated Jumbo Prawns
Grilled New York Sirloin Steak
Chicken a la King

Vegetarian Selection
Baked Eggplant Rolls Stuffed with Ratatouille, Gratinated with Goat Cheese

White Chocolate Truffle Cake with Strawberry Sauce
Chocolate Brownie Ice Parfait with Brandy Cherries
Rum Scented Almond Tart with Rum Raisin Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Apricot Jalousie
Sugar-Free Coconut Custard
Tropical Fruit in Season
Homemade Cookies

Food review:  Tia Maria doesn’t go with fresh fruit, enough said.  The chilled soup was outstanding.  Salad was above average.  Both entrees were satisfactory.  It appears that they are trying to offer at least one “simple” selection on the menu, hence this chicken dish.  Of course, Mario stopped to make fun of it.

Roland announced that he was making caramelized apples for us for dessert because Augusto made it.   He claimed he could make it better and completely disregarded the method we prefer.  This was on top of the fact that he simply told us we were having it without giving us a chance to decline.  It was good, but tasted like the juice from Crepes Suzette because he added orange juice to it.  At least he refrained from adding the flambé liquor, but only because we were watching him.  Even so, he had to make a point of telling us that it would have been better with the liquor, which is far from the truth.  In other words, if it isn’t fancy, it isn’t good.  Wrong!

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring the Tony Urbano Marionettes and violinist Martin Lass.  The marionette act was cute and relatively amusing, but there was definitely a skill differential between Tony and his assistant.  We’re sure nobody noticed, but Tony is far more skillful.  The show was better as half of a variety show rather than a whole hour.  The violinist was again very skillful, but he played his own compositions.  Any time a musician announces he will play his own song, we know it will be either boring or non-descript and this was no exception.  Luckily, it was only half an hour, so it was enjoyable.

Both acts were marred by technical problems caused by the ship’s staff, not the talent.  First they played the wrong music for one of Tony’s scenes, taking enough time to fix it that Paul came on to kill time.  Then, when the violinist came out, the sound wasn’t working.  This took even longer to fix, requiring Paul to return to the stage to tell jokes.  At the end of the show, Paul made the heinous mistake of referring to the marionettes as the “Huber Marionettes” rather than the “Tony Urbano Marionettes”.  We don’t recall the exact details, but there is some animosity between the two because the people who started the Huber show sort of stole their material and designs from Tony.  Paul did correct his mistake, but we’re betting we’ll hear about it from Tony. 

We stopped by to tell Ronnie that our theory for why he wasn’t in the show last night is that he would have overshadowed whatever followed, which we believe is true.  He said that several other World Cruise guests had said the same thing, as well as the Cruise Director.  Some guests were disappointed that he didn’t appear at all.  We stayed chatting until time to close the Library at 11:00 PM, then went up to bed.

The rough seas were nearly calm by the end of the night, but it was rainy and cold, as well.

tuesday, march 25th – launceston, tasmania – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Launceston is Australia’s third oldest city and was founded in 1805, one year after Hobart was settled.  This Tasmanian seaport is a treasure trove of history and delights, complete with beautifully maintained and restored historic buildings, which provide Launceston old-world charm and make it unique to Australia.

Dissected by two rivers, Launceston stands at the source of the lush Tamar River Valley region, famous for its fine wines.  Also of note are the city’s Victorian homes nestling on hills above the river’s bank.  During the 1870’s and 1880’s, mineral exploration, spurred by the mainland’s gold rush, resulted in prosperous times and a building boom.

Launceston’s real attractions, however, are its natural assets carved by the North Esk and South Esk Rivers.  Discover the breathtaking Cataract Gorge or venture further into Tasmania to Hobart and historic Port Arthur on an overland program.


Due to tidal constraints the sailing today was extended to 6:00 PM from 4:00 PM.  The weather is as perfect as it gets, clear, sunny and in the high 60’s.

Click for Daytime Activities.

The docking location is at Inspection Head, about a 45 minute drive away from Launceston.  Bill was up early again and actually had a real breakfast.  Dave was more sensible and waited until 10:00 AM to get up and have a snack in the Bistro.  Then we went up for our usual port photos.

Directly across the street from the ship is an rural residential section that looks the same as the entire drive to Launceston.  Tidy houses are arranged on 2-4 acre parcels amid eucalyptus forests on rolling hills.  We are docked at a small pier in the Tamar River that is more of a large narrow bay.  It is salt water for several miles upriver from the pier.  Directly upriver is a small marina full of sail boats.  Across the bay is more rolling farmland and forests.  Downriver is the opening to the sea and an inlet where the dramatic tidal change is evidenced by extended mud flats visible at low tide.  We were told that the climate here is similar to Oregon except that there are extremely strong winds that blow in the winter. 

We took the noon bus to Launceston, passing through two very small towns the bus driver described as, “Not worth much and nobody likes them.”  They were no more than a few shops along the two lane highway.  The rolling farmland on the way looked pretty much the same as that adjacent to the dock with large cleared patches bordered by eucalyptus forests.  In the distance were a few taller peaks, but for the most part it all looked the same.  We saw a few sheep grazing.  The area used to be known for its apple orchards, but they have begun to switch to grapes, so there are lots of new vineyards and wineries sprouting up all over.  It was quite picturesque for the entire drive.

We arrived in the center of Launceston 45 minutes later and were deposited in the center of town outside of the Information Center.  From there we walked toward the shopping district, passing Victorian-era buildings, a brick bell tower, ornate office buildings, and still more shopping areas built in the 1800’s.  The town wasn’t run down at all, but there were many vacant shops.  That might have something to do with a new Target store that had opened recently in the center of town.

Passed an ornate red brick church, we arrived at the gates of the Victorian City Park where we took a brief stroll.  Just inside the gates was a new enclosure of small monkeys.  The habitat looked nice enough, but the monkeys didn’t look very happy.  One in particular looked to be plotting his escape.

To the right of the entrance was a stone fountain in a peaceful garden.   At the center of the park was an ornate Victorian wrought iron gazebo protecting a well that we assume was the original water source for the park.

From the park, we walked back toward the center of town, through a pedestrian only street housing the usual chain shops such as Subway and Payless Shoes, and on past the city college campus.  We were trying to determine if it was really walking distance to the Cataract Gorge the driver had pointed out.  It might have been, but the walk back would have all been uphill and we just didn’t care that much.  So, we turned back toward the shuttle pick up point, detouring to photograph a windmill that is part of a mini theme park built around an old gunpowder mill.

Back at the shuttle stop at 2:10 PM, we discovered that the 2:00 PM bus hadn’t shown up because the driver had to leave to pick up school children.  So, we had to wait for the 2:30 PM bus, which is what we expected anyway.  Of course, there were guests complaining, but what difference does a half hour make?  The bus for the trip back had absolutely no leg room and was jam packed, so it was a bit uncomfortable.  That, coupled with the woman who never stopped talking about herself and complaining that it was too cold (it wasn’t, by the way), made for an unpleasant trip.  However, the scenery was interesting and the old Victorian houses along the way fascinating.

Back on board, we tried to avoid the talkative woman, who is just down the hall from us, to little avail.  She always refers to us as, “You boys,” which annoys us.  The woman is maybe five years older than Dave and seems to think she should be the focus of everyone’s attention.  She announced on the bus that she and her husband had traveled across the country in a camper, a Mercedes camper, a fact she repeated at least a dozen times.  Then she had to tell everyone that her cabin is infested by fleas, something we find difficult to believe.  Oh, and the manicurist is, “Cute as a button, but the stupidest girl in the World.  She tried to cut my nails from the side even though I told her how to do it.”  Yes, we can imagine she did tell her how to do that and twenty other things.

We needed a snack, so we went up for hot dogs and ice cream, then sat outside for about an hour before heading in to shower and get ready for the sailing at 6:00 PM.

The tide came in completely within an hour, flooding the mudflats up to the shoreline as though they weren’t even there.  We sailed right on time with a small crowd arriving on the pier when the gates were opened after the ship started to move.  Earlier we saw a large tank truck arrive at the gate that was thoroughly searched inside and out, including looking at the underside with a mirror.  We have never seen security like that at any port and certainly not at such a small one.

The ship backed up for about twenty minutes before it was able to turn around in the center of the river.  We sailed very close to shore so the trees and houses across from the port were plainly visible.  As we sailed past a small inlet, the tidal surge was apparent by looking at the churning water.  Near the coastline, we sailed so closely to a residential area that the shadow of the ship fell on the lawns and the houses themselves.  People came out to see what the heck was blocking the sun.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual/50’s.  After talking to Waldo who decided not to go to the Serenity no matter what, we went up to Palm Court to watch the scenery and kill time until 7:30 PM when we went to dinner.


Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Creole Rémoulade Sauce
Polenta con Funghi
Barbequed Quail
Iced Apple, Grape, and Pear Cup with Calvados Yogurt Topping

Soups and Salads
Midwest Baby Corn Bisque with Bell Pepper Confit and Crisp Leek
Chicken Broth with Matzo Balls
Chilled Banana Coconut Soup
Medley of Selected Field Greens with Fried Onion Rings and Shredded Carrots
Tossed Garden Lettuce with Lorenzo Dressing on a Bed of Tomatoes

Pasta Special
Tagliatelle Pasta alla Émilion

Salad Entrée
Grilled Minute Steak Salad

Main Fares
Roasted American Prime Rib of Black Angus Beef
Broiled Fresh Blue Eye Fillet
Medallions of Canadian Venison
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Broiled Fresh Salmon Fillet

The Blue Plate Special
Traditional American Meatloaf

Vegetarian Selection
Twice Baked Potatoes filled with Three Cheeses

Creole Sour Cream Cheesecake with Homemade Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie a la Mode
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae
Sugar-Free Jell-O with Fresh Fruits
Sugar-Free Lemon Yogurt Timbale
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Nonfat Strawberry Yogurt

Food review:  Bruno had the kitchen leave the yogurt topping off of the fruit without being asked, which was nice since we had forgotten to ask him to do so.  The corn bisque was very good, but we neglected to ask for the leeks to be left off the top.  They are a pointless addition and have the texture of grass in a cream soup.  Both the meat loaf and the prime rib were very good.  The cheesecake was satisfactory.  Roland insisted on serving us his version of Peach Melba. He uses fresh raspberries instead of raspberry syrup, so it isn’t quite as sweet.  That is a huge improvement.  We were both beyond stuffed by the time dinner was over.

The Evening Entertainment is the usual 50’s night selection of “Rock Around the Clock,” a Sock Hop, etc.  The performance of the show was quite sloppy as has been typical with the new cast.

wednesday, march 26th – melbourne, australia – 8:00 am - midnight

Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria.  It maintains an air of old-world grace and refined dignity with spacious tree-lined boulevards and expansive parks.  The prosperous lifestyle of its people is both cosmopolitan and sophisticated.

Quaint trams rumble through the downtown area past verdant gardens and impressive high-rises, in a city that has never lost its endearing charm.  The heritage of more than 100 different cultures has contributed to Melbourne’s richly international character.  This diverse ethnic mix is exemplified by its range of 15,000 dining venues which offer more than 50 different kinds of cuisine.

We were up earlier than we would have liked due to another crew fire drill at 10:00 AM.  The weather remains near perfect, slightly overcast and in the high 60’s.  After breakfast in the Bistro, we went out to take a photo of the swarms of jellyfish that make the otherwise attractive water dangerous to swim in.  It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the jellyfish are about 18” in diameter and are no more than two feet apart in the water.  There must be billions of them.  The warnings say that if a person is stung severely, they can die in two minutes.  So, the long beach adjacent to the port is nothing more than scenic.  Even on this beautiful day, it was deserted.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Downtown Melbourne is about a fifteen minute shuttle bus ride away.  Directly to the left of the pier is a row of brand new luxury apartment buildings, more piers and a small bay.  We caught the shuttle at around noon to go into town for our usual sightseeing walk.

Melbourne certainly isn’t Sydney, that’s for sure.  It feels more like New York with its busy streets and traffic.  There aren’t as many modern high-rises as Sydney, but the old buildings have been restored and are being used for other purposes.  The shuttle dropped us about four blocks from the river in the center of the shopping district.

The tree-lined sidewalks were jammed with people on their lunch hour, but it wasn’t unpleasant.  There was a protest march going on in the street, buildings but it was orderly and had something to do with low wages for state workers.  There was quite a bit of street art, sculptures and other interesting things to look at besides the variety of buildings, churches and streetscapes.  Electric trams crisscross the city and make it possible to get anywhere without a car.  There was still a good deal of traffic, but it wasn’t gridlocked by any means.  There was a nice mix of old and new buildings everywhere.

We walked to the edge of the downtown area to Federal Square, a jumble of ultra-modern (and very ugly) buildings that house a movie museum among other things.  It was impossible to figure out what the point of any of the buildings was because there were no signs to inform visitors what was what.  All we know is that it was ugly and we usually like modern buildings.

At the bridge over the river, we had a great view toward the Olympic Stadium and the entrance to Kings Domain, a huge park that includes the Royal Botanic Garden and Government House.  We walked along a tree-shaded walkway along the edge of the park, passing statues, monuments, a floral clock and a statue of Edward VII on horseback.  Across the street were the dramatic Victorian Arts Center, the Melbourne Concert Hall, and a huge art museum that was closed for renovations.

At the end of the park is the stark Shrine of Remembrance, a monument to Australia’s war veterans and heroes.  It was originally built as a World War II memorial, but has been expanded to include more recent wars.  Along the walk to the shrine there were enormous bats as big as cats flying around and hanging upside down in the trees.  We have never seen such big bats!  They had to be at least two feet long when hanging upside down.

The shrine is being enlarged to include a museum and other visitor facilities so it was fenced off.  In front of the building is an Eternal Flame to the heroes of WWII along with a memorial column.  From here we walked back cross the street and walk along the front of the arts complex and some ultra-luxury apartment buildings and back to the river.

At the river, we detoured down to a pedestrian promenade along the river that was lined with modern hotels, apartments, office buildings, and a never-ending array of cafes.  The colorful banners and trees made it a very pleasant walk to a pedestrian bridge back into the city via a tunnel beneath the train station.  From the bridge we looked back to the view of the old bridge we crossed originally.

Back in the city we noticed an increase in police around the train station that hadn’t been there earlier.  We continued walking back toward the shuttle stop, passing more ornate old buildings, and taking a detour through a restored Victorian-era shopping arcade.  Most of the narrow alleys have been restored to shopping areas lined with sidewalk cafes and boutiques.  They really have done a nice job of converting 1800’s buildings for modern use.  We ran into Tony and his assistant Kevin and made plans to meet for dinner tonight in the Dining Room.

We did a little shopping in some souvenir stores, but didn’t find anything.  Back on the shuttle, the driver was fretting over a protest that was building.  He was worried that the bus would get stuck in the middle of it.  Shortly thereafter, we heard someone shouting an anti-war slogan that made absolutely no sense.  It turned out to be one man, not a crowd, carrying a crudely made sign.  The locals seemed to be amused by him more than anything else. 

Once back on board, we ran up for burgers at the Trident Grill then went to clean up and rest before dinner.  A yacht race began in the bay adjacent to the ship, adding a nice touch to the ambiance.

On the way to dinner we ran into Suzie who said that a huge protest had erupted in the city and all of the roads were blocked just after we left.  Apparently the driver was aware that something was brewing and wanted to get out of there.  She said it was mostly young students who seemed to be having a good time rather than causing trouble.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.  We don’t have a menu tonight, but it’s the same as usual anyway.  We don’t really have much to report because we were busy talking to Tony and Kevin and didn’t really notice the food.  The conversation centered on what he has been doing since we last saw him on the Maasdam in 1995.  Then it switched to remodeling and sharing our stories.  Apparently everyone has the exact same issues because anyone we talk to about the subject says the same thing.  At least we know we aren’t alone.  We overstayed our welcome in the Dining Room and moved out to the lobby to continue talking until around 11:30 PM.

We had been telling Tony about Ronnie and his drag shows.  He only half believed us until we ran into him in the elevator lobby and he whipped out his lipstick and blush.  Tony laughed so hard he almost wet his pants.  The timing was perfect.

The Evening Entertainment was basically nothing at all since they had decided not to have the fair outside.  They really should have because the weather was perfect.

After Tony went off to bed to prepare for his early-morning appearance on the Cruise Director’s TV show, we went outside to await the sail away.  Only two other guests and a couple of crewmembers came out to join us. We sailed promptly at midnight on a beautiful clear night.  

thursday, march 27th – cruising the great australian bight

Today’s weather is overcast to partly cloudy and cool, basically the same as yesterday.  We’re in the shipping lanes off the coast of Australia, so every now and then we pass a cargo ship or fishing boat.

We forgot to mention that our friend Jessica from the Front Desk returned yesterday.  She was thrilled to see us, calling out across the lobby.  She's very amusing and says just about whatever is on her mind, which, of course, we love.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We were up at around 10:00 AM, so we went to the Bistro for breakfast, stopping to chat briefly with Mariana on the way.  The Bistro was jammed for the first fifteen minutes, but died quickly to nothing.  After eating, we wandered over to chat with Rudolf who was arranging figurines for the umpteenth time.  We all agreed that Crystal really needs to get some new merchandise because none of this stuff ever sells.  They do a brisk business when a vendor comes on, such as the Australian opals, so it’s fairly obvious that with interesting merchandise the sales will improve.  Rudolf was surprised at the details crewmembers blurt out to us, although he has always been quite open with us so it shouldn’t be too shocking.  He’d probably faint if he knew the kind of language our stewardess used to describe things.

The photos of the Academy Awards show were up, but there weren’t any representative enough of the evening for us to buy and post here.  Back at the room before noon, we watched the Morning Show with Tony we had taped earlier.  He did a nice job of presenting his work.  He does a lot of commercial work, such as the Parkay Margarine tub, Snuggle the bear for a fabric softener, and work in movies.  Obviously, the puppets used there aren’t marionettes, but are mechanical contraptions.

Just before going up for a late lunch at the Trident Grill, a huge, four-engine prop plane buzzed the ship at our eye level and only about 50 feet away.  It turned around and circled the ship, buzzing it from overhead.  The same thing happened last year off of Australia except the airplane wasn’t a large.  After lunch, the same plane returned and repeated the close-up inspection.  It is nice to see that Australia takes their borders seriously, but coming so close to a passenger ship that obviously has radio contact with shore is a bit much.

Rodel wanted us to try a tropical fruit called something like Ramadan.  It is bright orange with curly “hairs” all over it.  Inside it looks like a Lychee, but the flavor is more subtle.  We’re not sure if it grows on a tree or a vine, but it looks like it would make an interesting ornamental plant in addition to the tasty fruit.  We returned to the room at 2:30 PM and stayed there until dinnertime.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Tasmanian Smoked Salmon
Sautéed Shrimps in Light Coconut Sauce on Tropical Fruit Salsa
Ricotta Pear Carpaccio with Pecans and Chervil Vinaigrette
Chilled Tropical Fruit Cup with Passion Fruit and Lychee Nuts

Soup and Salad
Chicken Consommé with Mushroom Ravioli and Green Onions
Asparagus and Pea Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Chilled Cream of Kiwi with Orange Segments
Heart of Boston Lettuce Marinated Yellow and Green Zucchini
Crisp Garden Greens with Golden Fried Mushrooms and Sesame Seed Dressing

Pasta Special
Fettuccini al Prosciutto e Asparagi

Salad Entrée
Crab Salad with Baby Shrimp and Mussels on Crisp Greens

Main Fares
Old Fashioned T-bone Steak
Fresh Silver Dory Fillet
Seafood Paella
Roasted Australian Lamb Leg
Grilled Black Angus Fillet
Grilled Halibut Filet

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Crepes

Chocolate Pecan Caramel Shortbread with Double Caramel Ice Cream
Almond Cheesecake with Sour Cream and Rocky Road Ice Cream
Vanilla Strawberry Mille Feuille
Sugar-Free Blueberry Strudel with Diet Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Rhubarb Custard Pie
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Cappuccino Yogurt

Food review:  The chilled soup wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected, in fact, it was above average.  The salad looked like a pile of weeds and was barely worth the effort to eat it.  The Halibut was outstanding and simply prepared since it was one of the “Traditional” entrees. 

Bruno tried to sell us on the T-bone steaks, but we knew from the first segment that it is huge, full of gristle, and dripping in grease.  The couple behind us took one bite and sent it back.  On the way out of the Dining Room, we saw at least four more steaks in the dirty dishes at other stations, only one bite out of each.  Someone really needs to take note when something goes uneaten.  As it is now, the waiters just throw the food away without anyone seeing it.  How will the kitchen know an item isn’t being eaten if nobody points it out?

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring ventriloquist Gary Hunter and the Tony Urbano Marionettes.  Although Gary Hunter is extraordinarily talented, we find his material tedious and overly sentimental.  When he tells a joke, it is usually quite funny, but we’re not big fans of his regular act.  Tony’s act was as good as the first one, which means it was worth looking at, but we wouldn’t know ourselves out to see it.  Again, when Tony is operating the marionettes there is another layer of emotion added to it.  Kevin is very good, but Tony is an artist.  We thought a couple of the scenes were slightly too long, but otherwise it was fine.

It became a bit rough just before dinner and into the night.  It seems to be from an occasional swell that goes by because it isn’t constant.  No drawers are rolling open or anything, so it’s not a big deal.

Don’t ask why, but we go back 30 minutes on the clock tonight.  We were told that there are parts of India with the same strange time zones.  India we can understand, but Australia?  What possible difference could 30 minutes make?  Oh well, just go with the flow.


friday, march 28th – adelaide, australia – 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Adelaide sits green and welcoming on the banks of the Torrens River. It was carefully designed by a surveyor in 1834, which explains its bounty of parks and gardens. See the world's largest collection of Aboriginal artifacts at the South Australian Museum, tour the 19th-century Government House, and visit the cuddly koalas of Cleland Wildlife Park.


It’s another perfect day weather-wise, high 60’s and sunny.  Our first stop was the Bistro for a breakfast snack where we ran into Tony trying to get away from a woman complaining about her health.  He’s leaving for Sydney today to meet the Amsterdam there next week.  We chatted with him for a few minutes, then went up for our port photos.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Port Adelaide is a considerable distance from the city of Adelaide.  In fact, from our viewpoint we had no clue where the city was in relation to the ship.  Immediately adjacent to the breakwater is a new development of condominiums around an attractive marina.  Beyond that are old suburbs we couldn’t see from the ship.

We went down to catch the noon shuttle bus to town.  It was declared too hot in the bus by the driver, so we had to wait a few minutes for a tour bus to have its sign change to shuttle.  In the meantime we chatted with one of the local tour guides who were stationed about every two feet to be sure we had all the information we needed.

The drive to town took about 40 minutes through the aforementioned suburbs.  All of the areas we drove through looked rather depressed.  One old shopping street from the 1800’s was at least three-quarters vacant.  The houses were of a lower middle class level and not all in the best condition.  That’s not to say anything was particularly scary or run down, just depressed.

We were dropped off in downtown Adelaide at the Rundle Mall, a pedestrian street lined with departments stores and boutiques.  We saved the shopping for later and walked a few blocks through the downtown area toward Victoria Square.  There was a mix of modern and Victorian-era buildings, as is typical in Australia.  The old Town Hall is used as a performance venue.  The wide sidewalks are covered by overhangs from the shops and lined with trees, so it is pleasant to walk.  The climate here is about the same as Southern California, except maybe a bit more extreme at the high and low end of the thermometer.

At Victoria Square, we wandered around for a photo of the modernistic fountain, King George Street where we had just walked, and some of the buildings in the area.  The square was pleasant, but surrounded by traffic and tall buildings.  Some of the buildings were attractive old stone edifices and Victorian structures, but most were 1970’s office towers.

From the square we walked a few blocks over and then back toward the shopping area, passing through another tree-shaded square that the city is famous for.  We strolled along the mall looking for shops that sold anything of interest.  Honestly, it was more exciting just strolling through the Victorian arcades full of boutiques that branch off in every direction.  In one of the arcades we found a card shop and stocked up on birthday and Easter cards for the staff.

A little further along we found a Woolworth’s grocery store (not the same as our Woolworth’s).  We stopped in to buy Easter supplies to give out to the crew as we did last year to much acclaim.  The prices are so cheap for packaged candy it is almost free.  We paid only AU$2.96 for packages of Cadbury candy that would cost at least $5.00 in the U.S.  We also purchased a bottle of mildew remover for our shower to see if it would come clean and shock our stewardess.

Not that we have any use for this, but we did learn that proper Australian etiquette for requesting sexual favors from strangers is to simply walk through a crowded supermarket yelling out what you want and who you want it from.  Let’s just say some people are a few cards short of a deck.  Nobody seemed to pay any attention to him, so it must not be too unusual.

Back at the shuttle stop we found the bus full, so we decided to wait for the next one.  That meant more shopping and chatting with the saleswoman.  We did find a couple of ties to break up the monotony of 104 days with the same set of ties.  That left us with about fifteen minutes before the next shuttle bus, so we chatted with John who was toting the World Cruise video camera around with him. 

The bus ride back was a bit longer due to the traffic, but only by a few minutes.  At the gate to the port the bus driver warned us to have our ID’s ready.  That was because the guard at the gate came on and looked at everyone’s ID.  That is the first time we have ever seen security that tight.  In the terminal we browsed through some of the small shops set up there, but found nothing interesting.

We were back on board later than usual, 4:30 PM, so we were starving.  That meant we had to rush up to the ice cream bar for a sugar fix before hurrying to shower to be ready for the 6:00 PM sail away.

The sailing was delayed slightly because one of the tours returned late.  In the meantime, a high school band played on the balcony of the terminal.  As the ship sailed, all of the guides and shopkeepers came out to wave.  A huge crowd had gathered just outside the fence on the breakwater to wave, also.  There was a wide deserted beach that stretched all the way around the shoreline.  Of course, swimming here is life-threatening, so the beaches are  usually empty.

Waldo came to tell us that he had told his manager that he didn’t want to go to the Serenity.  He was extremely relieved, but he got the answer we expected, “No problem.”  He stayed to chat about his girlfriend, baby, etc, until the woman down the hall beeped him to drag her down to dinner.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.


Warm Sautéed Sea Scallops with Truffle Vinaigrette and Summer Greens
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Pesto Vinaigrette and Lavosh
Oysters Louisiana
Chilled Cup of Fresh Fruit with Strawberries and Grand Marnier

Soup and Salad
Roasted Vegetable Soup with Basil Oil
Roasted Garlic Consommé with Olive Croutons
Chilled Herb Cream with Baby Shrimp
Mixed Garden Greens with Celery Julienne, Tomatoes, and Crisp Sprouts
Chopped Romaine Lettuce with Potatoes, Red Bell Peppers, Onions and Garbanzo Beans

Pasta Special
Linguine with Garlic, Oven-Roasted tomatoes, and Herbed Goat Cheese

Salad Entrée
Chicken Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Fresh Deep Sea Bass Fillet
Chef Markus’ Childhood Favorite: Wiener Schnitzel
Grilled Fresh Tiger Prawns
Grilled Sirloin Steak
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Grilled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Paella

Turkish Baklava with Vanilla Ice Cream
Mascapone and Pear Tart with Sabayon and Fudge Sauce
Mocha Panna Cotta with Caramel Sauce
Sugar-Free Tiramisu
Sugar-Free Raspberry Cream Puff
Homemade Cookies
Peach Champagne Sherbet

Food review:  The soup was outstanding, as always.  The salad was barely worth eating, also as usual.  The pasta was satisfactory.  Both entrees were outstanding with the prawns having an edge on greatness.  Bruno tried unsuccessfully to sell Bill on a dessert.  He doesn’t seem to understand that no means no, not maybe.

Roland stopped us on the way out because tomorrow is Neptune Dinner, which he knows we don’t like.  We decided not to bother ordering anything and that we would find something on the menu.

The Evening Entertainment is a classical piano concert, which was of no interest to us.  We stopped to tell Ronnie about the weirdo in the supermarket today, must to his amusement.  Unfortunately, the library was too busy for us to hang around for long, so we called it an early night.

It’s another 30 minutes back on the clock tonight.  By the way, the mildew remover we bought worked.


saturday, march 29th – cruising the great australian bight


In the Captain’s announcement this morning he said that this part of the world is known for rough seas, “but we are optimistic it won’t be.”  There was some mild movement, but it wasn’t rough during the day.  He said the same thing about the cloudy weather, but in that case it stayed cloudy with a few sprinkles now and then.  The temperature is about the same as yesterday, high 60’s.

We started off a bit early, but ended up staying in the room to watch an unexpected show called “Behind Closed Doors: Crystal Harmony”, then talking to Suzie, Emilie and Peter in the Hallway for another half hour. Suzie noticed we had cleaned the mildew in the shower.  She said she had brought it to the head housekeeper’s attention the moment she arrived because she remembered we complained about it last year.  She was appalled when the supervisor came to inspect the room and declared it to be “perfect” in spite of the moldy shower grout.

At least we killed enough time to be able to go directly to lunch after stopping by the Front Desk to turn in our RSVP for the World Cruise Dinner in Sydney.  Against our better judgment, we accepted the invitation, giving Crystal the benefit of the doubt for doing it right.

Lunch in the Lido was as usual with a few less casual options making it a better choice than the Dining Room today.  The weather was nice enough for us to sit outside for the first time in weeks.  After lunch we returned to the room for the rest of the afternoon.  We received an invitation to a cocktail party with the Cayton’s in the Crystal Penthouse on April 2nd.   Looks like we’re part of the “in” crowd now.

We were on the way out, on time, but Waldo stopped us to complain about some obnoxious guests.  What else is new?  We agree that some of them are demanding, but isn’t that the nature of his job?  We just listen and encourage him, hoping someone will beep him as they always do.  We stopped at the Front Desk to drop off a birthday card for Tanya, the Chief Concierge, and chatted briefly with Marit and Jessica.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal.


Crisp Soft-Shell Crab
Smoked Salmon Roll on Marinated Cucumber Spaghetti
Fresh Artichokes with Tomato Vinaigrette
Chilled Melon Cocktail with Peaches and Plums

Soup and Salad
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Essence of Beef with Fois Gras Croutons
Chilled Pear and Roquefort Soup with Caramelized Pears
Iceberg Lettuce with Tomato, Cucumber, and Celery
Spring Garden Lettuce with Grilled Bell Peppers

Pasta Special
Spaghetti with Prawns

Salad Entrée
Sliced Grilled Tenderloin Steak

Main Fares
Surf and Turf
Pan-Seared Orange Roughy Fillet
Sautéed Crab Cakes with Avocado Salsa
Pan-Fried Veal Medallions
Grilled Chicken Breast
Grilled Sirloin Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Stuffed Zucchini Gratinated with Mozzarella Cheese

Australian Pavlova with Fresh Fruits and Mango Sauce
Chocolate Terrine “Harlequin”
White Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Citrus Salad with Diet Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Chocolate Éclair
Petit Fours and Chocolate Truffles
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Rock Melon Sherbet

Food review:  This menu, in spite of the title, has little to do with Australian seafood.  In fact, this is the exact same menu served on every cruise as “Neptune’s Dinner”.  The clam chowder was too “clammy”, but otherwise OK.  Both entrees were outstanding, particularly the crab cakes.  It was the fresh taste of the salsa that made them so good.  The Pavlova was also very good, but the portion was so microscopic that we had to order the sherbet, as well.  Roland made a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing for us that was outstanding.  We can’t recall ever having that salad here.

The Evening Entertainment is Australian singer Donald Cant.  We know him from our cruise that included Liverpool because he was our tour escort and we were trapped on the ship when the tenders weren’t working due to the current.  His show was outstanding and what you would expect from someone who sang in a profession version of “Phantom of the Opera.” 

We move another hour back on the clock tonight, a good thing because we have to be up and ready to go at 9:45 AM for the World Cruisers back of the house tour tomorrow.

sunday, march 30th – cruising the great australian bight – bill’s birthday


We were up at what, for us, was the crack of dawn.  In other words, 8:00 AM.  The weather is overcast, but it is warmer than yesterday.  Of course, the Captain had to say that the forecast is for clouds but, “I am optimistic that it will be sunny later.” 

Click for Daytime Activities.

Bill received birthday cards from the Captain, the “Front Line Witches” Jessica and Marit, and from one from Keiko that included two origami figures that were very detailed.  We were in a rush to get to the Galaxy Lounge to meet for the Behind the Scenes tour for World Cruisers at 9:45 AM.

The guests were broken up into three groups and taken on a guided tour.  We were in the last group with Rosemary and one of the dancers as guides.  The first stop was Deck 4 where we received New Employee Orientation cards (Front, Back).  Dave’s was missing, so they had to rush to find another one and fill it in properly.

The first stop was “Luggage Square” where all of the piles of luggage are collected.  Today, it was housing a pool table where several crew members were playing as they smoked.  Down a long corridor off of which the crew cabins branch (we didn’t view any cabins).  We were squeezed into a service elevator and taken down to Deck 2 and the laundry room.  The first stop was the tailor shop where the Captain was making alterations and taking measurements.  Next was the window where crewmembers get their uniforms.  The Executive Housekeeper was modeling a bathrobe, fuzzy slippers, and a shower cap.  Through double doors was the Chinese Laundry (yes, it’s really staffed by Chinese people), where Paul was ironing shirts.  We viewed the huge machines that automatically press and fold sheets and tablecloths, the washers and dryers.

Once finished in the laundry, we were taken back up to Deck 4 and we walked back down the central corridor beyond where we started to the Officers Mess.  We were instructed not to talk to the officers although there were only three of them in there.  They looked like animals in a zoo with all of the guests gawking at them.  Adjacent was the Officers Bar that’s furnished with the old décor and furniture from the Avenue Saloon.  In other words, it looks very comfortable.

We moved on to the Engine Control Room where Elizabeth tried to coerce us into taking a photo with one of the engineers (we declined and did one with just the two of us).  They have monitors to watch everything in the engine room, the smokestack, etc.  A TV screen even displays the location and status of the guests elevators and every other function of the ship.  Through a corridor where stairs led down to the engine room, we emerged in another corridor and continued to the Crew Mess.

Although the Crew Mess wasn’t as nice as the Officers Mess, it was comfortable and had separate smoking and non-smoking dining rooms.  The food offered was similar to the Lido, although Rosemary said the food is less fancy that what we get.  In both Mess Halls, crew members are required to wash their hands before entering and again when they leave to prevent the spread of diseases.  It occurred to us that we haven’t seen anyone with the Crystal Cough that always goes around, so these extra measures must be working.

We continued on to another large room that was stacked with bags of rice and such, plus tables set up with food that was obviously intended for us.  Unfortunately, no one bothered to point it out, so the food was ignored.  They were also serving water in case this 30 minute walk had been too much for anyone. 

Around a corner was the waste disposal room where they were washing the tiny glass jars of jam before crushing the glass.  There was another machine for crushing cans into blocks, plus two huge choppers where paper goes to be burned.  Everything is returned to shore after it is processed, including the ashes from burning the garbage.

Back at the pit stop, we sat down briefly with only about 30 seconds to sample the snacks.  They had set up long tables full of food, but it went largely untouched because we were prompted to move to the next section of the tour.  Next was the Print Shop and Florist down several winding, narrow corridors.  We have no idea how anyone finds anything because there are no directional signs or other hints about where to locate a particular room.

The final stop was a convoluted route to the Crew Bar in the bow of the ship.  The bar was nicer than expected with neon signs and fake windows with billboards “outside” to give the illusion of depth.  There was a small disco section, a library, a large bar, and a shop for crew to buy necessities.  Bloody Marys were served while the guests mingled.  Lara came over to chat and see if we were having a good time.  We assured her we were.  Once we were finished, we were escorted to an elevator that would lead to the guest floors.

Back at the room at 11:15 AM, we found several birthday gifts for Bill:  Flowers from Bev and Fred, Truffles from Adair, balloons, Swarovski crystal penguins on an ice flow from Nikki, and cards from Harry, Tanya, and Josef Matt, the Hotel Director.  As usual, his name was featured on the TV announcing today’s birthdays (Screen 1, Screen 2).  So far, he’s doing pretty well!

Next up was Sunday Brunch.  There was an error in the Reflections (gee, what a surprise), so we knew no one would show up until noon.  These things always start at 11:30 AM, and today was no exception.  We were among only about ten guests in attendance for the first half hour.  We thought the food offerings were very limited in comparison to last year, but we were mostly interested in the Eggs Benedict and waffles anyway, so we didn’t care.  The rest of the food was their usual selection of fancy hot food, pate, desserts, bread and fruit.  In spite of the lack of choices, we were stuffed when we left.

We went up to the Seahorse Pool to see if there was any entertainment going on, but they were busily draining the pool after it had sloshed all over the deck.  It still isn’t too hot outside, but it was very humid, so we returned to the room for the rest of the afternoon.  Bill received a birthday note from Rosemary and a card from Ronnie.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal/Medieval.  We’re not going to include The Royal Feast menu again because it never changes, but we thought a scan of the first page might be interesting because it is more elaborate than most of them.

On the way to dinner, we ran into Waldo in the hallway who followed us to wish Bill a Happy Birthday.  A guest came out pf his room calling for him in spite of the fact that he was busy with us.  He went over and told the guy to wait because he was with another guest.  We wish everyone would do that because it is a pet peeve of ours that guests think it is fine to interrupt our conversations even when we are talking business.  Waldo was furious.

Being Medieval Night, we know the menu isn’t going to be very inspiring, which it wasn’t.  None of our selections were better than average.  Since the Dining Room was at least half empty, it is plainly obvious that the majority of guests do not like this menu.  Thank God Bill got a cake, along with a serenade by three of the Champagne Strings and a slew of waiters, because it was the only edible option for dessert.  The song inspired Joan Embery to stop and wish Bill a happy birthday on her way out of the Dining Room (she sits one table behind us.)

Mel and Barbara had attempted to sing “Happy Birthday” on the way in, but were interrupted.  So, they stopped on the way out and made us promise to join them in the Crystal Cove when we were finished.  We stopped by the Front Desk to thank Marit for the note and to chat about nothing in particular.  She is the only person who feels, as we do, that the production show “Symphony of Nations” is hilarious for the wrong reasons.  Most people love that show, but we have always disliked it.

While we were standing at the desk, the Crystal Cove Pianist played “Happy Birthday” while everyone stared in our direction.  That done, we joined Mel and Barbara to chat for about an hour before they went dancing in the Starlite Club.  In the meantime, Nikki came by for hugs and kisses, as did Keiko.  Later, Darwin and another Deck Steward came up for the same reason, sans hugging and kissing. 

When the harpist was replaced by the full set of Champagne Strings, they played “Happy Birthday”, also.  That was mostly because Pat had missed the Dining Room performance.  When they finished their set, he came over to chat.  He is competing in the Mr./Ms. Crystal Symphony Pageant and is worried that dressing up as a woman will reflect badly on him.  Most of the guys who compete do so in drag for comic effect, so we can’t imagine how it would look bad for Pat to do it.  Besides, everyone knows he isn’t the Virgin Mary to begin with.  We assured him that he should do whatever makes him happy and then preceded to give him ideas to add to his routine, the “Banana Dance”.  Picture it if you can.  All we know is that he is going to borrow one of the harpist’s ridiculous gowns and start off playing the violin.  Then he will suddenly rip off the dress to reveal a banana-studded outfit and don one of the Carmen Miranda headdresses from “Symphony of Nations” to finish up to the “Banana Boat Song”.  We told him to ask Ronnie for pointers because the dancing part isn’t our forte.

The Evening Entertainment is the production show “Excalibur!” that everyone hates.  We skipped it.

It was a little rough by the time we called it a night with some lightning off in the distance.


monday, march 31st – cruising the great australian bight


Today’s weather took a turn for the worse with light rain and slightly rough seas lasting most of the day.  We were within sight of the coastline most of the time as we round the end west coast of Australia and north toward Fremantle.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We started off with lunch in the Lido, then wandered down to the lobby to see what was up.  Rudolf and Mariana were planning strategy for the Crystal Symphony Pageant.  Both of them promised to get a tape of it for us because it is off limits to guests.  After Rudolf left to rehearse, Mariana said that he is doing the entire “All That Jazz” routine from Chicago wearing a glow in the dark costume. 

Mariana is all set to transfer to the Front Desk when she returns from vacation. She’s leaving in Sydney and will return in a little over a month.  Next stop was a chat with Billy, who is now a Concierge.  He was trying to convince us that Exmouth is interesting even though we have heard from everyone else that it is, “a hell hole.”  Remember that Billy loves everything, so anything he says isn’t likely to influence us to do anything.  Jessica came over because she said there was too much laughter going on. 

Jessica said that guests are transferring over from the Crystal Harmony in Sydney because of the mystery disease that’s infecting some Asian ports where she is sailing.  There have been many cancellations, as well.  Soon there will be nowhere for the ships to go.

We had nothing else to do, so we went back up toward the room.  Today is Peter’s birthday, so we stopped to talk to him.  He carried on at length about nothing in particular, but managed to entertain himself and us until 3:30 PM.  He also said that they are expecting more guests in Sydney from the Harmony for the same reason Jessica had mentioned.  He said it is getting to the point there that the crew might have to start wearing surgical masks.  Beginning a couple of days ago here, the already strengthened sanitation rules have been doubled.  At least they are trying, but anti-bacterial wipes have no effect of viruses, so we’re not sure what there is they can do about it.  It isn’t that there have been any cases on the Harmony, just the fear of them that is making people cancel or leave.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the room.

Tonight’s dress code in Informal.


Chilled Crab Meat with Greens and Avocado Salsa
Rock Shrimp Cannelloni on Chunky Tomato Sauce
Wild Mushroom Salad with Sun-Dried Tomato Bruschetta
Selected Fruit in an Iced Cup with Figs and Strawberry

Soup and Salad
Chicken Consommé with Cheese Biscuits
Kansas City Beef Soup
Chilled Tomato and Peach Jus with Butterfly Prawns
Heart of Iceberg Lettuce with Grilled Eggplant Salad and Belgian Endive
Tossed Green Leaf Lettuce with Tangy Dressing

Pasta Special
Fettuccine with Lobster and Garlic

Salad Entrée
Creole Chicken Salad

Main Fares
Pink Roasted Lamb Loin
Broiled Fresh Mahi Mahi Fillet
Piccata Milanese
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Grilled Black Angus T-Bone Steak
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Three Cheese Filo Pastry Pockets

Pumpkin Layered Cheesecake with Fudge Sauce
Crunchy Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Torta with Vanilla Ice Cream
Banana Walnut Mousse with Fresh Fruits and Crisp Filo
Sugar-Free Strawberry Passion Fruit Tart
Sugar-Free Pineapple Pudding
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Frozen Cappuccino Yogurt

Food review:  The soup was very good, as was the fish after we changed everything that was served with it to a more suitable selection of vegetables.  They sure do love to serve sautéed spinach here.  It comes with everything.

We were finished eating by 8:30 PM, but had no interest in the show.  So, we went to check up on Ronnie and the preparations for the Miss Crystal Symphony Pageant tomorrow night.  He said he’s ready and waiting, but he still has to help Pat get his act together, literally.  Other than that, we talked about nothing in particular we can report here.  Ronnie wasn’t aware that guests were coming here from the Harmony in Sydney, but a guest came in a said she heard it is about 100 people.  We’re still not sure if they are getting off of the Harmony and flying to Sydney or if they were originally scheduled to embark the Harmony and switched to the Symphony.  Either way, we’re sure Crystal isn’t thrilled about this development.

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Hour featuring Curtis & Natalie, plus vocalist Donald Cant.  As mentioned above, we didn’t attend the show.

Tonight is another hour back on the clock, but unfortunately we’ll start going the other way in just a few days.

tuesday, april 1st – fremantle/perth, australia – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

In the Far West of Down Under, the twin cities of Fremantle and Perth are like David and Goliath. Fremantle is a quaint colonial town of terraced houses, and a bay that was heaven for America's Cup yachts. Perth has bloomed into a sky-scrapered metropolis, though life remains peaceful on "Millionaires' Row," and in flower-filled Kings Park.

Here are the photos of us from the Behind the Scenes tour:  Engine Control Room, Crew Bar with Lara  

We were up early enough for a real breakfast in the Lido where we were two of only about six other guests.  Everyone must have gone on tour early this morning because there are no passengers anywhere.  The weather today is cloudy, but warm, probably low 70’s.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Today’s Reflections includes an April Fools version of the Daytime Activities that is maybe a bit too close to reality.  For example, the comment about Paul “stuttering and stammering” through the Morning Show is very close to reality.  There is an amusing activity where Jim Cayton discusses dust accumulation on vertical blinds vs. horizontal.  Jim Cayton invented vertical blinds, hence the reason the Cayton’s can afford the Crystal Penthouse for every World Cruise.

After breakfast we went up to the Sun Deck for our port photos.  There really isn’t much to see from the ship.  Perth is just a few skyscrapers far in the distance beyond some hills.  We are docked in Fremantle, a smaller version of Adelaide.  Directly across the train tracks from the terminal is a hill with some sort of monument on top.  The city center is to the right of the ship and the boat-shaped Maritime Museum is at the entrance to the harbor.

We wandered ashore at around 11:00 AM, stopping to pick up a map in the terminal building.  The woman there told us to walk along the pier area to the Maritime Museum, which we did.  Adjacent to the museum is an old submarine that is available for tours.  We don’t do museums, so we had no interest in going inside, but the walk led us to the beach side of town.

We ran into Lara and her mother at a statue of a man and his dog, then continued walking a short distance to the Round House, the oldest building in Western Australia.  It was built as a prison in the early 1800’s and is now a museum.  There really wasn’t much to it on the inside.  It is, as the name suggests, a circular stone structure with a well in the center.  Tiny cells line the walls.  There was a nice view of one of the main streets of Fremantle lined with restored old buildings. 

From the parapet outside the prison, we had a nice view of  Bathers Bay and the Fishing Boat Harbor beyond.  We walked along a short nature trail to a small group of cafes that line the harbor.  Again crossing the train tracks, we wandered through a small park where locals were lounging on the grass while school children played on the grassy lawns.

We walked around the park to the center of town.  This city doesn’t have the depressed look of Adelaide and is much more laid back.  It has the look of a beach resort town with numerous upscale cafes and shops. After walking several blocks and turning inland a bit, we reached the central shopping street that begins with an old stone church.

Following the shopping street with it’s covered arcades and old stone buildings, we ended up back at the road along the port.  We detoured down some side streets looking in the shops, but found nothing remotely interesting.  As with all of these old city centers, there was one street turned into a pedestrian mall that was jammed with locals and tourists alike. 

At one point we ended up in front on the Town Hall in the center of the city.  The streets around the center boasted more restored old buildings.  We were tempted to rummage through a second-hand shop for gowns for Ronnie, but decided he could do a better job himself.  We ran into Pat and Ronnie shortly thereafter and pointed them in the right direction.

By this time, we were too hot and tired to care anymore about shopping, so we walked back to the ship.  We were back in the air conditioned room by 1:00 PM.  With no guests on board it was a perfect time to get some laundry done, which is the only constructive thing we did for the rest of the afternoon.

The ship sailed at 5:00 PM today.  There were constant announcements for certain people to report immediately to the Front Deck for Australian Customs, but it didn’t seem to delay the departure at all.  There was a band on the pier and people threw streamers as a send-off, something we haven’t seen in years.  A few minutes after we sailed past a close-up view of the Maritime Museum, the Captain made an announcement that guests currently on board Crystal Harmony are not coming to the Symphony and that people from countries affected by SARS are not being allowed onto either ship.  The guests that are coming to the Symphony were those who had cruises booked on the Harmony, but are coming to the Symphony instead because they don’t want to go to Asia at this time.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.  We were finished watching the sail away by 6:00 PM.  So, all dressed up and nowhere to go, we left the room with the intention of going to Palm Court for an hour.  We were intercepted by Suzie and then Waldo, so a lengthy conversation resulted.  Our neighbors came by and we all declared it a party in the hallway.  After they left, the Captain came by and stopped to talk.  He was still rolling his eyes over the hysteria of the rumor of guests coming from the Harmony.  He said they are being so careful that the office is screening the passenger lists to be sure no one boards with the possibility of spreading the disease.  We believe him, but we’re not sure how they can know such things.

We decided that we didn’t want anything on the Dining Room menu, so we went to Prego to see if we could get a reservation for tonight.  “No problem,” was the answer, so we said we would come back at 7:30 PM.  As we were wandering by the Photo Shop, the opal saleswoman spotted us and rushed over to show us the ring they made for Dave.  We had forgotten this was the port where she was to return, so it was a nice surprise.  The ring is beautiful, by the way, and much the envy of the shop staff.

We had nothing better to do, so we lounged on the comfy sofas outside of the Starlite Club to wait for 7:30 PM to come around.  Pat came by and sat down to discuss his plan for the pageant tonight.  His suggestions about what he would say and how he would say it sounded ghastly, but we encouraged him.  However, we did tell him to keep the talking to a minimum and just do his show.  He is difficult to understand because he doesn’t complete his sentences, so we didn’t think an elaborate explanation of his act was a wise choice. 

Here’s the Crystal Dining Room menu for tonight:


Gratinated Seafood Crepe with Cheese on Light Tarragon Sauce
Smoked Salmon Carpaccio with Vegetable Vinaigrette
Tossed Crisp Greens with Smoked Chicken Breast, Pine Nuts, and Citrus Fruit
Chilled Fruit Cup with Banana Topping and Jamaican Rum

Soup and Salad
Wild Mushroom Hunter Soup
Beef Consommé with Potato Dumplings
Cold Apple-Honey Yogurt Soup with Mint
Baby Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing
Heart of Boston Lettuce with Marinated Celery Salad and Red Onion Rings

Pasta Special
Linguine al Pesto with Olive Oil, Basil, Pine Nuts, Garlic, and Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrée
Halibut Salad

Main Fares
Pan-Fried Fresh Deep Habuka Fillet in Orange Basil Sauce
Southern Style Pork “Bayou”
Boneless Breast of Pheasant in Potato Crust
Grilled Rib Eye Steak
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Potato Lasagna

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Brownie with Double Fudge Ice Cream
Pina Colada Cake
White Mocha Mousse with Chocolate Sauce and Fruit Salsa
Sugar-Free Strawberry Mille Feuille
Sugar-Free Apple Cake
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

We arrived at Prego and were seated immediately.  Unfortunately, we were within earshot of the obnoxious blabbermouth who is also one of our neighbors.  The only time the evening was pleasant was when she left to go to the restroom.  Otherwise, it was non-stop chatter about “me, me, and more me.”  We couldn’t see the other people at the table to tell what they were thinking, but we can imagine they were about to scream.  At one point, the other woman at the table said, “Can we please change the subject?”

We aren’t big fans of Prego, but it was better than what was offered in the Dining Room tonight.  All of the waiters, two of whom we don’t know, fawned on us at some point.  Istvan came over several times to chat.  He thinks we’re wonderful because we brought him a copy of the new brochure that includes his picture.  This was several days ago in the Lido where we works during lunch.  It doesn’t take much to become  a crewmember’s best friend just by doing something nice for them they didn’t expect.

Food review:  We weren’t thrilled with anything we ordered.  The best item was the minestrone soup, but we wouldn’t rate it as more than average.  Nothing was bad, but we thought everything was not quite as good as it has been.  The lasagna was the worst, tasting almost entirely of mushrooms.  That would be fine except it isn’t pointed out as being mushroom flavored.

To show how off the mark the chefs are on board, we were served an appetizer (along with everyone else tonight) that was tuna tartar.  This is the last thing most of these people would ever eat, must less actually order it.  It looked nice, but tasted like fish fat in olive oil. 

For the first time we can remember, the service was disorganized and very slow.  It took us exactly two hours to finish our meal.  Not that we are in a rush, but there were lulls before every course that lasted way too long.  Two different waiters attempted to serve us, so we kept getting things again after we had declined (coffee, for example).  We don’t care about any of this and they couldn’t have been any friendlier, but it was a vast contrast to the way things usually go in the alternative restaurants.

We stopped to wish Ronnie luck hosting the pageant tonight.  He was frantic because there won’t be enough time for all of the costume changes he had planned.  We’re sure it will work out fine.

The Evening Entertainment is a concert by Australian pianist Bernard Walz.  Of course, Reflections included an April Fools version of the Evening Entertainment that, like the daytime version, was amusing, but full of truth.  For example, the Featured Presentation by the satellite technician is a reference to the fact that since he arrived to upgrade the system, we haven’t had any TV programming via satellite.  This is a big deal because people are hysterical that we have lost CNN.  We skipped the show and just went to the room to watch a video.

wednesday, april 2nd – cruising the indian ocean


It is a beautiful, sunny day today.  We were up early enough to require a breakfast snack before lunchtime, so we stopped off at the Bistro, then wandered down to the lobby.  Our purpose was to look over the lunch menu hoping to avoid the Nuevo Latino buffet upstairs.  Barbara was there doing the same thing, so we chatted with her for about 45 minutes, losing our chance to talk to Nikki about our future bookings.  Barbara said she thinks the food isn’t as good as it was last year.  We agree.  It isn’t bad, just not as good.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We found out from Paulo that Petr from the Crystal Cove won the Crystal Symphony Pageant by preparing and eating a three course meal within two minutes.  This was done by putting everything in a blender and then drinking it.  Yuck.  So much for the elaborate routines everyone else had. 

We did eventually end up at the buffet, but were selective about our choices, so it was acceptable.  No matter what we do or when we do it, the obnoxious blabbermouth always seems to sit right next to us, even outside.  Oh well.  Domingo told us that Ronnie will get a tape of the pageant to us, but we'll believe it when we see it.  After lunch and listening to the band until 1:30 PM, we decided it was too hot and we were too tired to stay outside, so we wandered down to the Crystal Cove to congratulate Petr.

Petr said he, “Puked, big time,” after his performance.  The “meal” consisted of a whole fish head, steak tartar with all of the condiments, ice cream, and after dinner liqueurs.  He said it was sort of a bloody pink color and smelled kind of sweet, but, “I had to do it to win.”  He won $100.00 that he said he lost already, a Mr. Crystal Symphony sash, and a golden crown.  His stomach still hasn’t quite recovered though.  By the looks of Petr, he should be back to normal quickly.  He looks as though he probably does things like this all of the time.

We stayed in the room for the rest of the day, mostly napping.  Neither of us slept very well last night, so we needed to catch up.

Tonight is Cocktails with the Cayton’s in the Crystal Penthouse before dinner.  There were so many people there it looked like a Captain’s party, complete with a line outside the door.  Other than being way too hot to be comfortable in jackets, it was fine.  The staff members we’d expect to be there, were there, plus the usual selection of passengers.  We chatted with Don who is annoyed because Crystal changed the length of a cruise considered to be two Crystal Society credits to 24 days.  Normally, we would get eight for a World Cruise, but we are only getting five this year.  He’s almost at the 100 cruise mark and he’s afraid he won’t make it at this rate.  He complained to the office, but they gave some lame excuse that basically said, “Too bad.”  We would agree with that except we were told three times by three different people when we booked that this World Cruise would be worth eight credits.  That adds up to about $1,000 in shipboard spending credits per person.

We spent most of the time on the verandah because it was just too hot for us inside.  It was fine while the sliding door was open, but when the Captain arrived he made them close it because it shuts off the air conditioning inside.  It also makes the corridor hot, which is probably more reason to keep it closed.  We stayed until it was polite to leave, then went down to dinner.

The dress code for tonight is Informal.


Grilled Jumbo Prawns on Papaya, Melon, and Cucumber Salad
Crisp Fried Duck Spring Roll with Sweet Hoisin Sauce
Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Asparagus Terrine
Chilled Fruit Cup with Dark Rum

Soup and Salad
Beef Consommé with Liver Quenelles
Cream of Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomato Confit
Chilled Mango and Orange Soup with Nonfat Yogurt
Bouquet of Selected Greens with Sprouts and Tomatoes
Tossed Romaine Lettuce with Blue Cheese Dressing, Chopped Walnuts, and Pears

Pasta Special
Mezze Maniche Rigate with Crabmeat, Tomato, and Bacon

Salad Entrée
Curried Couscous Salad

Main Fares
Grilled Filet Steak “Riviera”
Salmon Tournedos
Sage Roasted Chicken Breast
Pan-Fried Calf’s Liver “Venetian Style”
Grilled Sirloin Steak
Plain Grilled Halibut Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Stir-Fried Vegetables with Grilled Tofu and Crisp Egg Noodles

Tiramisu con l’Arancia with Vanilla Orange Sauce
Honey Nut Cream Gateau
Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Ice Coupe Romanoff
Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Tartlet with Blueberries
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Strawberry Yogurt

Food review:  The prawns were just OK, nothing special.  The chilled soup was outstanding and one of the best so far.  The steak was good, but tasted too much of the green olives that were chopped in the sauce.  The halibut was very good and simply prepared.  Both desserts were satisfactory, but not very interesting.

Bruno and Andrejus wanted to know where we were last night.  They thought maybe we were sick because we didn’t eat much yesterday.  We assured them we had gone to Prego, but wished we had come to the Dining Room.

The Evening Entertainment is a concert by The Three Australian Tenors.  We have heard mixed reviews about this act.  Some people love them, others are bored to tears.  We stopped to chat with Ronnie about the pageant last night and stayed until 11:00 PM, so no show for us.

Ronnie said the show went really well except for one woman from the casino who was so drunk she barely knew where she was.  She would sit in the dressing room with Ronnie, stark naked until just before she had to go on stage.  The moment she would return, she’d strip again.  He was appalled to say the least.  He said that Pat did a really good job with his act (he came in second, with Rudolf being the first runner up).  Ronnie has quite a following among the guests and crew, many of whom came by to congratulate him on the great job he did as hostess with Gary Hunter as the host.

We received another World Cruise gift with this card:  “As we continue sailing the western and northern coasts of Australia, we look forward to visiting many more ports of call in this beautiful country.  We’ll visit Exmouth, Darwin and Cairns, concluding our grand tour of Australia as we cruise the Great Barrier Reef and are welcomed into the majestic port of Sydney.  We are pleased to present you with this custom security wallet designed to attach to your belt.  We hope it adds to your convenience and well-being on this voyage and during future travels as well.”


thursday, april 3rd – exmouth, australia – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Exmouth, the North West Cape’s only settlement, will come into view as Crystal Symphony rounds the northern tip of this arid North West Cape and enters Exmouth Gulf.  With a population of 2,500 during the winter months, Exmouth’s size nearly doubles in the summer.

During World War II, Exmouth was a refueling stop for submarines.  After the was, Exmouth became the site of an air force base.  It wasn’t until 1967, however, that the United States Navy established a naval communications base to maintain world-wide contact with American naval vessels, through VFL (very low frequency) radio.  Today, the Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Base services both Australian and American vessels in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans with an array of VLF antennae.

Although military legend has left an indelible impression, Exmouth is becoming better known as a tourist base for visits to the Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Marine Park.  These two stunning parks are adjacent land-and-sea-conservation areas on the western edge of the cape.

The ship arrived as scheduled and anchored off of Exmouth Marina this morning.  Why, we’re not quite sure.  There is absolutely nothing here except a tiny village and some antennas.  There isn’t a cloud in the sky and it is ridiculously hot with not a breath of a breeze.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We stopped in the Lido for lunch and to debate our fate for the day.  After talking to a couple of guests and crew, we decided to stay on board and not bother going ashore.  The nearest beach is 45 minutes away, but we’re not interested in that anyway. 

After lunch we ventured onto the deck to get some photos and contemplate whether to change our mind about shore.  The big attraction here is supposed to be the turquoise clear water.  Yeah, right.  For as far as the eye can see, the water is covered with a sort of beige goo that swirls in long tendrils.  The ship caused a sort of dam for the regular flow, so it was piled up in ripples along the sides.  Whenever a tender would arrive, it would cut a blue swath through the brown.  The Captain made an announcement telling us that the ship was not discharging this mess, most likely prompted by Crystal Harmony’s unfortunate incident in Monterey Bay recently.  He said the slime is a mixture of dusty sand and pollen.  Whatever it is, it is gross and smells like wet wheat.

Apparently, the goo is harmless because there was someone water skiing through it, cutting a path similar to the tenders’ wake.  A few small boats circled around bringing locals out for sightseeing.  We sure can see why we would be a tourist attraction because there is nothing for hundreds of miles in every direction except sand and scrub brush.  The only trees were in the village itself, unless you count the man-made trees suggested by the antennae used for military communications.

The microscopic marina consists of a stone breakwater surrounded by bare red dirt.  All of the boats were the same, gray metal fishing boats of some sort, just big enough hold about six people.  After our photo session, we retired to our verandah to watch the relatively scenic coming and going of the tenders and sightseers.  A huge sea turtle surfaced about thirty feet away from the ship directly in front of us and then languidly swam back beneath the goo and out of sight.  Every now and then a school of fish would come to the surface, prompting a swarm of birds to dive for food.

After a while, it became too hot to stay outside, mostly due to the lack of air movement and the humidity.  Looking through binoculars, the shoreline looks exactly like the coast of California around Camp Pendleton, except without the cliffs along the water.  Here the shoreline is made up of steep sand dunes topped by brush similar to what we have in the coastal hills at home.  To say this is an inhospitable place to live is an understatement.

Doing laundry and lounging around was the order of the day for us.  Some guests told us that they are bored enough to go ashore just for something to do, but we’re never that bored.

Crystal made a press release about SARS and Crystal Harmony.  They have offered guests who don’t want to go on the Asian itineraries the option to roll over to another cruise.  There must be a lot of restrictions to make people trade a port intensive Asian itinerary for our 20-day Pacific Crossing with only four ports.  Princess and Holland America announced that they have cancelled their calls in Hong Kong and Beijing and that they won’t accept any passengers who fly through those cities.  With Crystal’s exotic itineraries one would think they would be the first to make those changes, not the last.

At 5:00 PM the Captain announced that a shore excursion with 60 people on it, was late returning to the port, so we would not sail until at least 5:30 PM.  In the meantime, they hauled up the anchor to be ready to leave the moment the tenders return.  Although almost unbelievable, it was actually hotter at 5:00 PM with a slight breeze than it was at noon with no wind at all.  At least the light breeze blew away the beige goo.  The ship had become quite a tourist attraction by this point with several small boats around.  We know the ship doesn’t like this kind of thing because it is difficult for them to raise the anchor and get moving with a bunch of small boats in the way.  However, we have never seen them do anything about it in spite of the assertion that both the Symphony and Harmony launch patrol boats to protect this ships.  We have never seen that done, even last year when it was closer to 9/11. 

We didn’t sail until nearly 6:30 PM when the last tender returned from shore.  The Captain looked like he was about to freak out.  Crystal ships usually sail on the dot.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual.  On the way down in the elevator, Marvin Hamlisch came in with a young woman and Niklas.  He is the celebrity entertainer for this segment and has a show tomorrow night.


Symphony of King Salmon with Sevruga Caviar and Spring Lettuce
Homemade Won Ton with Honey Ginger Sauce
Roasted Eggplant Terrine with marinated Young Garden Greens
Fresh Papaya, Grape, and Pineapple Cup with Fresh Mint

Soup and Salad
Island-Style Portuguese Bean Soup
Beef Consommé with Asparagus Ravioli
Chilled Sweet Corn Soup with Chili Crab Salsa
Heart of Iceberg Lettuce with Warm Bacon Dressing and Herb Toasties
Marinated Assorted Bean Salad on Red Leaf Lettuce

Pasta Special
Tripolini Pasta Frutti di Mare

Salad Entrée
Ensalada Camarón

Main Fares
Baked Virginia Ham with Sugar Honey Glaze
Grilled Fresh Swordfish Steak
Walnut Prawns Cantonese-Style
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Lasagna

Hawaiian Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tart with Double Fudge Ice Cream
Bianco Mangier with Orange Verbena Sauce
Lemon Ice Parfait on Marinated Strawberries
Sugar-Free Blueberry Pie
Sugar-Free Rhubarb Yogurt Cream
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Cookies ‘n’ Cream Yogurt

Food review:  This was one of the better meals we have had recently.  The won tons were really homemade, not fresh from the freezer section.  Although the salad looked disgusting, it was very fresh and tasty.  Both entrees were almost good, but fell just short of perfection because of odd ingredients.  But, they were better than most things we have had lately.  We’ve never ordered the fruit plate for dessert, but it was perfect.  Although we didn’t ask him to, Bruno removed the skins and cut everything into bite-sized pieces.

The Dining Room was chaotic in spite of being half empty.  We didn’t see Roland until after almost everyone had left.  Renato brought all of the Shore Excursion staff in for dinner, we assume because today was such a nightmare.  So, we told Mauricio to send them whatever bottle of wine they wanted.  We’re sure the four of them were happy by the time they finished it off.  Renato and Matt seemed grateful for the gesture.

Roland carried on at length about how out of control the free liquor policy is at Silversea where he used to work.  Apparently, nobody has to account for any of it, so the staff just helps themselves.  Guests will order full bottles of alcohol the day before disembarkation and take the full bottles home with them.  He thinks that’s part of the reason they have suffering financially and we have to agree.  It usually is poor management that causes companies to fail and that seems like a perfect example of bad policies.  They have already replaced all of their assistant waiters, wine stewards and bar staff with Filipinos, which is starting to cause problems staffing the ships because Europeans don’t want to be in the minority.  It seems that the same thing is starting to happen here as a money-saving method.  Roland said that at Silversea the personal service we have here is long gone because there are so few crewmembers who can carry on a real conversation without being totally subservient. 

The Evening Entertainment is Interactive Comedy by “The World’s Only Legitimate Pickpocket,” Bob Arno.  This wasn’t even remotely interesting to us, so we went directly up to the room.

We know we have turned the corner and have started our journey homeward because we go an hour forward on the clock tonight.  They have finally fixed the satellite, so we have CNN back.  No sigh of the additional channels this upgrade was supposed to bring, but we're sure there are lots of guests relieved to have CNN again.

friday, april 4th – cruising the indian ocean


When we opened the sliding door today, a fog developed.  That should tell you everything you need to know about the weather.  Hot, humid and overcast.

Click for Daytime Activities.

During his regular 9:00 AM announcement, the Captain said that a decision was made to change Crystal Harmony’s itinerary to avoid Hong Kong.  Since that was the turn-around port, they will now have to re-arrange everyone’s return flights to depart from Tokyo instead.  Sounds like fun, not.

Our first stop was the Lido for lunch, then we wandered out to the Seahorse Pool to listen to the band.  The wind was strong enough to make the heat and humidity manageable.  We stayed after the band finished for about a half hour to watch the water slosh out of the pool.  It was more entertaining than it sounds.  Eventually, what seemed like half the water sloshed out all at once, flooding the deck and causing them to quickly close the pool and drain it.  Just before the water sloshed out, one of the deck stewards ran hysterically to grab the grappling hook to fish something out of the pool.  He moved so quickly that everyone thought someone was in trouble, but he was just fishing out a wayward hat.

After a cup of frozen yogurt, we retired to the room to watch a movie and recover in the air conditioning.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal.


Iced Malossol Caviar
Breaded Crab Cakes on Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil
Traditional Beef Tartar with Condiments and White Toast
Fresh Assorted Fruit Cup with Peach Yogurt Topping

Soup and Salad
Cream of Fresh Pumpkin with Orange Mousse
Beef Broth with Spinach Strudel
Chilled Hazelnut and Fresh Berry Soup
Spring Lettuce with Belgian Endive, Red Oak Leaf, and Marinated Green Beans
Chopped Garden Greens with Cauliflower, Broccoli, Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Pasta Special
Pappardelle Pasta with Braised Short Ribs

Salad Entrée
Tower of Mixed Island Greens with Spicy Roasted Duck Breast

Main Fares
Broiled Australian Lobster Half
Grilled Venison Steak
Roasted Veal Chop
Stuffed Oven-Baked Quail
Grilled Rib-Eye Steak
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Mushrooms

Chocolate Soufflé with Kahlua Sauce
Honey Macadamia Nut Mousse with Caramel Sauce
Tarte au Citron with Vanilla Ice Cream
Sugar-Free Chocolate Vanilla Cream Puff
Sugar-Free Rich Pear Custard
Petit Fours and Chocolate Truffles
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat German Chocolate Yogurt

Food review:  The crab cake was fairly tasty, as were both soups.  The salad entrée was edible, but that’s about all that can be said for it.  Well, the spicy passion fruit dressing was pretty good.  The best part of the meal was the chocolate soufflé that was excellent.

We were out of the Dining Room so quickly we almost forget we had eaten.  There was an hour to kill before showtime, which we used to cool off in our room.  The whole ship is rather warm today, but the hallways on Penthouse Deck could be used as a sauna.

The Evening Entertainment is a Celebrity Showtime featuring Arranger/Composer Marvin Hamlisch.  His show was extremely entertaining, not so much for his piano playing, but for his personality.  Everything he said sounded completely off the cuff, although we’re fairly certain most of it was pre-planned.  He came up with a song about Exmouth when somebody shouted out a song title when he asked.  Of course, it’s possible it was pre-arranged, but it seemed spontaneous.  The only problem was that the lounge was full and it was way too hot.  Women were fanning themselves with their beaded bags.  We stopped to chat with Harry, but we couldn’t get out of there fast enough and back to the only cool place on the ship, our cabin.

It’s 30 minutes forward on the clock tonight.  Tomorrow’s Reflections contains a Health Warning regarding the upcoming port of Cairns.  Seems that there is an outbreak of dengue fever that is transmitted by mosquitoes, but not just any mosquitoes.  Only mosquitoes that live in urban areas and breed in containers of standing water carry the disease, not those in jungles and rivers, which are the primary tourist attractions there.  Convenient, huh?  Anyway, we will be given complimentary insect repellant at the gangway.  


saturday, april 5th – cruising the indian ocean


Nothing much has changed since yesterday around here.  It remains ridiculously humid and about 90 degrees.  The only change is that the sea is mirror smooth, so no rocking and rolling today.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Our first stop was a chat with Suzie and Emilie in the hallway, then on to the Lido for lunch.  Although we did manage to scrounge up enough food to call it a lunch, the pickings were pretty slim on items we considered edible.  The carved chicken was out of the question because the waiter was busy talking to one of the waitresses and completely ignored his duty.  This is one of our pet peeves in any restaurant.

It was too hot to sit outside, so we just went back to the room to wait for Bill’s haircut appointment at 3:00 PM.  We received a letter from Nikki asking if we could make a date for dinner with she and Harry on the 21st.  She also re-sent the fare information for the cruises we are interested in for next year, but we haven’t quite decided if it is feasible to do a long cruise with everything that is going on at home.

Nothing much happened for the rest of the afternoon.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.  We were stopped in the hallway for a chat with Waldo, the Suzie, then Peter, so we didn’t make it to the Dining Room until 8:15 PM even though we left the room at 7:30 PM.


Fresh Asparagus en Fete
Tempura-Fried Soft Shell Crab with Crisp Greens and Red Pepper Aioli
Pate de Champagne with Duck and Pistachios with Sauce Cumberland and Waldorf Salad
Iced Fruit Cup with Oranges and Maraschino

Soup and Salad
Cream of New Potato with Leek Truffle Oil
Chicken Broth with Matzo Balls
Chilled Pineapple Coconut Soup with Low Fat Yogurt
Tossed Garden Greens with Walnuts, Mango Bits, and Bella Vista Dressing
Marinated Broccoli Salad with Roasted Almonds

Pasta Special
Tagliatelle Verde with Light Garlic Cream Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Salad Entrée
Roasted Lamb Loin With Mixed Garden Greens, Feta Cheese, Grilled Bell Peppers, and Sunflower Seeds

Main Fares
Mustard and Herb Coated Rib Eye Roast
Grilled Fresh Pacific Yellow Fin Tuna Steak in Pepper Crust
Sautéed Sea Scallops
Grilled Aged Veal T-Bone Steak
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Blue Eye Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tower

Chocolate Dove Cake with Mocha Almond Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
Almond Panna Cotta with Sauce Anglaise
Sugarbread Loaf with Strawberry Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Sugar-Free New York Cheesecake
Sugar-Free Prune Jell-O
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season

Food review:  The cold soup was edible, but that’s all that can be said for it.  That’s better than the cream soup that was ghastly.  Both entrees were much better than we expected from the descriptions.  Dessert was very good, as well. 

Who thought Prune Jell-O was a good idea?  Obviously nobody, because Bruno said not a single person had ordered it.  He decided to bring it out to show us and it looked just like one would expect, dark brown cloudy Jell-O.  It tasted like the jellied syrup from a can of prunes.  Yuck!  All of the waiters were making fun of it, as were the guests.

The Evening Entertainment is a concert by “International Singing Star”, Jackie Love.  Her style wasn’t our favorite, but she put on a reasonably entertaining show with a good variety of music.  The only drawback was that she ended every song with a sort of high-pitched screech a la Ella Fitzgerald.  Otherwise he singing voice was fine.  This is rude, but we love it when performers on this ship try to drag audience members onto the stage.  As tonight, people have no qualms about refusing to  participate.  What we can’t understand is why the Cruise Director doesn’t inform each act that this kind of thing doesn’t work here.


sunday, april 6th – Darwin, Australia – 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Perhaps to most, the Northern Territory, or "NT" as it is known here, brings to mind images of desert and Ayers Rock, but the "top end" is far from arid. In fact, during the wet season, Darwin gets an average of 12 inches of rain every month. Combine that with temperatures that hover pretty constantly around 77°F to 95°F, and the climate can more readily be compared to the Amazon Basin than the Sahara Desert.

Aboriginal culture thrives in the NT. Often mistakenly viewed as a single cultural group by Westerners, there are more than 60 distinct tribal groups in the Northern Territories alone. During eons of isolation from the rest of the world’s land mass, clans were also isolated from each other by Australia’s harsh landscape. European governments have struggled with these groups for more than two centuries. The problems are similar to those in North and South America. After all, Aboriginal ancestors were in Australia at least 60,000 years ago, and have fair claim to the land. The NT Aboriginal population is about 25%, and they own half the land. Unfortunately, in keeping with their counterparts on the other side of the Pacific, planners often erred, and warring tribes were often forcefully relocated to the same reservations. Remnants of racism linger as well, but the Aboriginal peoples have gained recognition in Australian society. The culture is rich and diverse — there are more than 40 indigenous languages. Since it is closer to Southeast Asia than Sydney, a rich ethic fabric is evident in the Darwinian faces. It is said to be the most culturally diverse community in the country.

Want to go swimming? Better try another activity. Crocodiles are powerful creatures. They breed in salt marshes and even coastal waters. The massive animals can be aggressive. They are as fast on land as they are in the water, and can easily snap a human being in half. Besides the enormous jumping crocodiles, the NT is home to a list of deadly poisonous creatures that is frightening by its length alone. You need not fear the snakes. They are more afraid of you that you of them. Likewise with spiders, but one infamous resident is not agile enough to flee and is especially dangerous because it is virtually invisible. Large Box Jellyfish breed between October and May in the coastal area. As the tides rise, the freshwater streams and rivers draw the sea higher and the creatures are caught in the tidal flow. They eventually wash back out to sea, but since the volume of fresh runoff only makes coastal waters brackish, they can survive for some time before finally dying or returning to the saltier water. The animals reach diameters approaching a human arm span. Swim in designated areas only.

In this sometimes harsh and hostile environment, settlers had to struggle just to stay alive, before even thinking about setting and establishing communities. Don’t forget — Australia is a sparsely populated country and the nearest friendly communities were well out of reach of early settlers. Thus the image of the rugged outback Australian was born. And it is the very ability to withstand adversity that largely defines the northerners. The people are proud and the community of Darwin has undertaken to show the rest of the world that their community is still there — even after the devastation wrought by Cyclone Tracy on December 24th, 1974. Tracy was not the first cyclone to hit Darwin. Three have been recorded at approximately 40-year intervals beginning in 1897, and in World War II, fighter planes wrought damage on an equally grand scale. Following Tracy, not much was left standing — man-made or natural.

A settlement near present-day Darwin was first established in the early 1800s. As the great European powers were busy carving up Southeast Asia, the British became fearful that Australia would attract attention from the north, so they set about establishing a fortification on the northern coast. Conditions were so harsh, with rampant malaria killing most, and crocodiles gobbling up the remainder of the population, the settlement was soon abandoned. Later explorers and frontiersmen set up other encampments and by the latter part of the 19th century, Darwin, known at the time as Palmerston, had been founded.

In 1839, Lieutenant John Lort Stokes of the HMS Beagle named what is known as Port Darwin to honor naturalist Charles Darwin. The name Beagle Gulf was given by the captain of the HMS Beagle. Interestingly enough, however, Charles Darwin himself never actually visited Darwin.

The community’s first spurt of growth came with a gold rush in the 1870s. The fever died out as quickly as the ore, but not long afterward, in World War II, Darwin again gained importance as a base for the allied troops in the Pacific theatre. In fact, in all of Australia, only Darwin was the scene of any protracted fighting. Today, with new mineral wealth, Darwin is still growing.

The community's pioneer spirit and remote location manifest in various ways. Darwinians are fond of celebrations. One of the more colorful annual events happens in June. During the early part of the month, the town center is abuzz with talk of the Beer Can Regatta. In this event, entrants race in sea vessels, which must be constructed entirely of used beer cans. Any excuse for a celebration, another is held April 30th when parties herald the end of the Box Jellyfish season. Unfortunately, the jellyfish don’t always cooperate — sometimes they linger offshore well into May.


Crystal Symphony arrived a bit earlier than expected, so the ship was cleared by the time we heard any announcements.  It is about 90 degrees, sunny and very humid, but the temperature is actually a little lower than it has been when we visited in the past.  The deadly jellyfish aren’t visible in the water this year, so that is somewhat of an improvement.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Bill decided to go into town to re-stock our supply of birthday cards while Dave had lunch in the Lido, took port photos, and paid bills via computer.  Nothing has changed in the port or town except there is a new high-rise under construction.  To the left of the pier is a large bay where two oil rigs are sitting along with a some cattle barges.  We don’t know if the cattle are out there or not, but the boats are for transporting live cattle.  Out in a more open part of the bay there was a yacht race taking place.  Their route took them beyond the length of the ship where they were navigating around a buoy off our stern.  

Being a Sunday, Bill found very few shops in town open, except the tackiest souvenir stores.  He did manage to re-stock the card supply, so we’re set for the next round of crew birthdays.  The cafes and such in town don’t open until late afternoon when the locals, being accustomed to dealing with the heat, emerge from the air conditioning.  A pier next to ours has been converted into a collection of cafes where people can come out and enjoy the breeze off the ocean and watch the ships sail.

Directly in front of the port is the town of Darwin, most of which is new since 1974 when the whole city was destroyed by a cyclone, for the fourth time by the way.  To the right is another attractive bay.  The water is a light turquoise blue and, as mentioned, the box jellyfish are nowhere to be seen.  Last year they were teeming around the ship.  It still isn’t safe to go into the water for a variety of reasons.

The Cruise Director and several workers were busily setting up the Seahorse Pool area for the Fair Dinkum Fair that is tonight’s entertainment.  Almost all of the tables and lounges had been removed, something we’re sure they will hear about.  Here we have a perfect day for sunning and swimming and the entire deck and pool are out of commission.  Along the covered sides where the tables and chairs usually are they had lined the window with sparkle drapes and were in the process of setting up carnival-type games.  We’re sure it will be nice, it’s the timing we’re questioning.  Also, with all of the tables missing, where are the guests supposed to sit for the BBQ tonight?  The Lido, apparently.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual, Thank God.  The menu from the Dining Room follows, but we went to the deck BBQ.


Fried Tasso Shrimps with Five Pepper Jelly
Los Angeles’ Famous Chinoise of Main Chicken Salad
Homemade Vegetable Terrine with Tarragon Vinaigrette
Iced Pineapple, Strawberry, Mango and Banana Cup

Soup and Salad
Duck Consommé flavored with Star Anis and Romaine Chiffonade
Cream of Fresh Herbs with Sliced Mushrooms
Chilled Banana Strawberry Soup with Low Fat Yogurt
Heart of Garden Lettuce with Orange Slices and Blue Grapes
Marinated Tomatoes with Palm Hearts and Basil Olive Oil

Pasta Special
Tagliarini Pasta with Kalamata Olives, Fried Eggplant, and Chicken in a Saffron Sauce

Salad Entrée
Beef Tenderloin Salad

Main Fares
Australian Kangaroo Filet
Fresh West Australian Dhunfish
Ossobuco Cremolato
Grilled Black Angus Tenderloin Steak
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Curried Apple Crusted Chicken Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Potato Gnocchi with Vegetable Julienne

Triple Layered Fudge Brownie a la Mode
Pistachio Napoleon Slice with Chocolate Rum Sauce
Orange Angel Food Cake with Fruit Sauce
Sugar-Free Apple Compote
Sugar-Free Puff Pastry filled with Tropical Fruit
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Butter Pecan Frozen Yogurt

Although it was ridiculous hot and humid, the food from the BBQ on deck was quite good.  Nothing fancy, just good food you would expect at a BBQ, plus a few weird things nobody touches at any of their BBQ’s.  We assume someone must love them or they wouldn’t keep making them.  Yeah, right.  We ate in the Lido with a few other guests, but not nearly as many as we expected considering that half the remaining tables outside were empty.

At 9:00 PM when the ship sailed, we went back to the room to watch the sail away.  Darwin always goes all out to welcome the ship with shuttle busses and music on the pier paid for by the city.  There was a lone singer in a red spotlight on the pier as we sailed away in the dark, which was a nice touch.

As mentioned previously, the Evening Entertainment is the Fair Dinkum Fair.  We waited until about half an hour after it started, hoping to avoid the rush.  We needn’t have worried because there was never a crowd to speak of.  There were enough guests there to make it fun and successful, but not so crowded we had to wait to play a game.  They did a great job with the games.  There were probably over 30 different things ranging from extremely easy to somewhat difficult.  Some of the choices were simply a matter of luck, such as choosing “high” or “low” and then rolling giant dice, rolling a ball into a hole, using a giant slingshot to fling bean bag kangaroos into a giant kangaroo pouch, driving remote control trucks through a maze, computer games, several types of golf putting, throwing hula hoops over big inflatable kangaroos, etc.  There was a water balloon drop that started off with Gary Hunter dressed in a woman’s one-piece floral bathing suit and bathing cap.  Eventually most of the higher-up officers got drenched including the Captain, Nikki and many others.  There was a greased pole contest over the pool that started out with the Captain against Gary, still in the woman’s bathing suit.  We have to give the Captain credit for being a good sport.  He always participates in these things no matter how undignified or messy they are.

We watched from above for a while, then wandered down to look over the games.  When we got about halfway down one side, Kailiya, the stylist from the salon who cuts Dave’s hair, ran out through the crowd and dragged him to the game she was running.  It consisted of tying a pencil on a string behind you so it hangs above your knees.  Then you have to squat over a wine bottle and try to get the pencil into it.  Let’s just say that it looked disgusting, much to the amusement of everyone around.  That was our first win, which gained us one Dinkum Dollar that we could redeem for prizes later.

Niklas and Keiko were demonstrating one of the prizes, a light up kangaroo pen, while Rosemary manned the gift table containing hats and T-shirts for $30, key chains for $15, etc.  Some guests were really going after the gifts, but we really didn’t care if we got anything.

As we were wandering down the other side of the games, Lara roped us into playing a sort of Aussie horserace game.  We ended up playing that every time we walked by because she needed four people to play each time.  We won several times there and at the neighboring Plinko game where all we had to do was drop balls into a board.  We also won at the mop toss into a bucket (easy), rolling balls into holes in a waves board (easy), the aforementioned kangaroo slingshot (fun, but difficult), and several others.  Harry was manning the kangaroo slingshot and gave Bill double the amount of tickets when he won.

The greased pole contest went on for quite a while with Rafael, the band leader, taking the crown by knocked several officers into the pool.  Eventually, someone sneaked up behind him and pushed him into the pool, otherwise he’d probably still be sitting there.

We ended up just short of $30, but Rosemary cheated and gave us an extra ticket, then Niklas said, “Let me count your tickets,” and announced we had 30, which we didn’t, of course.  They really didn’t care anyway, but it was nice of him.  We collected two key chains we can use as Christmas ornaments, thus saving us another search in a port.

Other than the heat, which was unpleasant, the evening seemed to be quite successful.  However, we would estimate the attendance at half of the total passengers.  It’s lucky the ship isn’t more crowded because it would have been a drag if there were long lines to do anything.

We learned tonight that the passenger list for the last segment has increased to 380.  That is quite a jump over the less than 200 that was expected.  Apparently, the roll-over option for people who didn’t want to go to the Harmony in Asia drew a few, plus the fact that it is the President’s Cruise.  We see no big thrill in the latter, but it means something to some people.  We were told that the last segment will be very special with lots of fabulous events.  That’s probably true and with only four ports in 20 days, probably a wise choice.

It’s another 30 minutes forward tonight.


monday, april 7th – cruising the coral sea


It’s another hot day with humidity to match, but the sea is mirror smooth and the sky is sunny, so it’s a trade off.  We received an invitation for cocktails in the Captain’s quarters for the 9th.  That’s the same day as the Housekeeping Party for World Cruisers, so we’ll be cocktailed out that day.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We were up early enough for a snack in the Bistro, but we were delayed chatting at the Front Desk with Jessica and Marit.  Then we stopped by to tell Nikki we would love to join her for dinner on the 21st, which, of course, developed into a conversation that caused us to miss the breakfast selection.  Nikki said that she was branded as a shoplifter in Darwin, twice, that really had nothing to do with her and certainly wasn’t intentional.  The friend she was shopping with asked if she could pay for her purchase on her credit card and get the cash from Nikki.  However, the clerk didn’t include her purchase and so chased her across the street.  It all ended well, but she was humiliated.  Then, Harry stuffed his purchases from Woolworth’s, made earlier in the day, into her purse.  So, when she went to Woolworth’s later, they asked to search her bag.  You had to be there, but the way she told it was hysterical.

After killing a half hour in the room, we went to the Lido for lunch.  The cold soup was inedible, but the Sweet and Sour Pork was very good.  On the way outside to listen to the band, we stopped to chat with Lara and her mother.  Turns out that she lives in Point Loma where some of Dave’s relatives live or had lived.  She told us more horror stories about contractors and building their current house that nearly resulted in a lawsuit against the builder.  The only thing that saved them was that she had taken pictures during construction.

We sat outside listening to the band until 1:30 PM.  Although it was hot, the air was moving most of the time, so it was bearable.  We saw about ten dolphins jumping out of the water and trying to race the ship for a few minutes.  Earlier in the day, Dave saw a huge sea snake swimming along.  The water has a thin layer of that same beige dust that was in the bay in Exmouth.  It wasn’t noticeable until the ship cut through it and the clear water below showed through.

It finally got too hot to stay outside, so we moved to the room to watch videos and stay cool for the rest of the afternoon.  Suzie told us that the housekeepers were called into a meeting to tell them they have to dance with the guests during the Housekeeping Party.  We informed her that if we were required to dance, we wouldn't be there.  She didn't want to dance either, but that's what she was told.  We told her that she can hide out with us in a corner to avoid it.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal for the Crystal Society Party and the French Dinner.  We took the Express Lane into the party where we were greeted by Rosemary and Josef Matt.  Rosemary made us promise to take a picture of her when she is dressed up to make up for the one at the carnival.


Escargots Bourguignon
Assorted Seafood Cocktail
Crackling Salad with Smoked Duck Breast
Citrus Fruit in an Orange Basket, Perfumed with Crème de Cassis

Soup and Salad
French Onion Soup
Beef Consommé with Foie Gras Profiteroles
Vichyssoise with Bell Pepper Mousse
Panache of Mixed Greens Salad
Vegetable Salad Niçoise

Pasta Special
Rigatoni Boscaiole with Pancetta, Mushrooms, Onions, and Tomatoes

Salad Entrée
Scallops Salad

Main Fares
Pink Roasted Rack of Lamb
Broiled Dourade Fillet
Coq au Vin
Veal a la Mama
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Plain Grilled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Grilled Vegetable Brochette on Sautéed Spinach

Soufflé Grand Marnier with Sauce Negresco
French Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream
Glace aux Framboises – Raspberry Ice Parfait
Sugar-Free Spicy Apple Sauce Custard
Sugar-Free Vanilla Profiteroles with Diet Chocolate Sauce
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Petit Fours and Chocolate Truffles
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Vanilla Yogurt

Roland had offered to make us an authentic Austrian menu tonight because he knows we don’t like most of the selections on French night.  There were only two special items, the soup, which was basically beef broth with julienne pancake dough.  It was OK, but nothing special.  The entrée was Sauerbraten that he said had been marinating for five days.  That came with big doughy dumplings that tasted like paste and red cabbage sauerkraut.  We wouldn’t necessarily order this again, but it was nice for a change and everything was edible.  Roland made a fruit flambé for dessert that we very good also.

The Evening Entertainment is the production show “Million Dollar Musicals.”  According to the Cruise Director, this is Crystal’s most popular show.  It is our favorite, as well.  It is easy to tell the shows that get higher ratings because the cast is always at their best, not just going through the motions like they do with “Rock Around the Clock” these days.  They did a better job than they have been doing except for a missed cue by all but one of the girls that left the stage devoid of woman during the “A Chorus Line” number.  Eventually, they did inject themselves into the routine, but they never did recover the momentum.  In any case, this is still a very good show that we always try to attend.

Domingo stopped us to tell us that he is badgering Ronnie for the tape of the crew pageant for us.  He said if he doesn’t come up with it soon that he would tape it off the crew channel and give it to us himself.  This was his idea, we didn’t ask about it.  We have heard several crew members say it really wasn’t very good except for Ronnie in his gowns, but we’d still like to see it just for kicks.


tuesday, april 8th – cruising the coral sea

Here is a great sequence of photos of the Captain being dunked at the fair the other night.

Today’s weather is identical to yesterday.  As long as the wind is blowing it is pleasant outside, but the humidity takes over the moment the breeze dies down. 

Click for Daytime Activities.

We started off with lunch in the Lido.  The Asian selection, our mainstay for this cruise, has gone downhill this segment.  So, we can’t rely on it alone anymore.  Today they had pre-made burritos among the hot selections.  They were edible, but the limp lettuce inside was slimy and relatively disgusting.  After lunch we moved outside to listen to the band and stayed there until around 2:00 PM when the heat beat us.  The cabaret group we loved last year is back, but their show is only 30 minutes.  Bill told one of the members how much we enjoyed them last year and wondered why they had been cut down.  There was no real reason, just that’s the way the ship wanted it.

We decided to wander through Deck 6 for a few minutes and ran into Elizabeth collecting photos that had been purchased.  She chatted briefly about nothing in particular, then we strolled to the aft of the ship and back again.  Boy, wasn’t that exciting?  Time for a rest and more video watching for the rest of the afternoon.

At around 6:00 PM we began a short transit of the narrow strait that separates Australia from Papua New Guinea.  We were close enough to shore to see details such as the World War II gun emplacements and the green rolling hills.  The water here is very shallow as evidenced by the many jagged rocks barely above the surface.  The whole trip took only about 45 minutes, but it was a nice diversion.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Smoked Prawns on Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables
Marinated Chicken in Lemon Grass on Asian Cole Slaw
Pistachio Crusted Goat Cheese Tower with Lavosh Bread
Tropical Fruit Cocktail Topped with Yogurt Kahlua Topping

Soup and Salad
Cream of Leek with Red Skin Potatoes
Chicken Consommé with Asparagus Strudel
Chilled Apple Mint Soup

Heart of Iceberg Lettuce with Marinated Mushrooms and Basil
Assorted Garden Lettuce with Red Onion Rings, Leeks, and Sliced Potatoes

Pasta Special
Ziti Tagliati ai Funghi with Tomato Sauce, Garlic, Parsley, and Forest Mushrooms

Salad Entrée
Salmon Steak Fillet and Potato-Cucumber Salad

Main Fares
Broiled Red Emperor Fillet
Roasted Turkey Breast in an Herb Crust
Seared Sea Scallops
Grilled Black Angus Filet Steak “Diane”
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Plain Grilled Turbot Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Fried Tofu with Root Vegetables and Sweet and Sour Sauce

Chocolate Ooze Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream and Mocha Almond Ice Cream
Almond Cream Puffs with Mocha Sauce
Vanilla Ice Parfait with Rhubarb Compote
Sugar-Free Sour Cherry Crumble Tart
Sugar-Free Apple Custard Pie
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Cookies ‘n’ Yogurt

Food review:  The chicken appetizer was edible, but that’s all that can be said for it.  Both soups were satisfactory, nothing special.  The turkey was dry, but otherwise acceptable.  The steak was very good, as was the dessert selection.

The Dining Room was less than half full.  According to Roland that is because many people went to Jade Garden and Prego tonight because it is the day after a formal night when most guests prefer the Dining Room.  He gave us some numbers for next cruise:  104 Full World Cruisers, 50 guests in transit, and 185 new arrivals.  The actual count is probably less because the dining room staff includes everyone, including entertainers and lecturers in their guest counts.  We know that the entire executive contingent from the Los Angeles office is joining the ship in Honolulu for meetings, which will add several more.

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring Curtis and Natalie, plus Three Got Rhythm.  Both acts were outstanding.  Curtis and Natalie did the same routines they have done previously, but Natalie’s mother is on board and she started out with Curtis doing the routine he and Natalie copied from her parents.  Three Got Rhythm were excellent as well, but they really need an entire hour to get the momentum going.  In any case, this was one of the best evenings of entertainment so far.

We were talking to Keiko and Niklas in the lobby when one of the Three Got Rhythm guys came out and invited us, along with Niklas, for drinks in the Starlite Club.  We vaguely knew him from last year and he’s the one Bill spoke to this afternoon.  We did go to the Starlite Club where he joined us for a while until he finally felt compelled to join some other entertainment types.  We sat and chatted with Niklas about nothing in particular until 1:00 AM.  He said we should come watch Trivia just to see the guests rip into one another.  Others come and sit on the sidelines just to watch the action and make fun of those who take it all too seriously.


wednesday, april 9th – cruising the coral sea


The weather was perfect for most of the day, still humid, but with a breeze keeping the heat from being too much of an issue.  Since we are sailing inside of the Great Barrier Reef, the water is as calm as it gets.  We were within sight of the shore almost all day.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Around noon we began sailing among the Whitsunday islands, a variety of low, hilly islands that are mostly uninhabited except for a few luxury resorts that weren’t visible today.  We rounded one point that consisted of nothing but huge piles of boulders for miles as well as jutting up out of the water.  It is so shallow that we can almost see the bottom, so the ship has slowed down considerably to carefully navigate through the passages in the reef.

This is Gala Luncheon Buffet day, which we always skip.  This time we didn’t even go down to look at it and went directly to the Lido.  The Asian selection was a chicken curry so spicy it was barely edible.  There was also kangaroo on the menu, obviously left over from last night’s dinner menu.

After lunch we sat outside by the Seahorse Pool to listen to the band and watch the magnificent scenery pass by.  Around 2:00 PM it started to get very cloudy, but also very hot and humid, so we called it a day and went back to the room.

This was our day for cocktails in the Captain’s Quarters before dinner.  Lara and the Captain greeted us warmly, as they always do.  The room wasn’t quite as packed as usual, but it was still way too hot.  We talked to Nikki most of the time.  She informed us that she had received notice that the itinerary we had planned on the Harmony next year is “illegal” because it violates the Jones Act.  The reason is that we start in Honolulu, but would end up in San Francisco.  The last leg includes Honolulu again, then San Francisco, with no other ports, hence the problem.  Foreign-flagged ships can’t transport passengers between U.S. ports.  So, in order to do it, we would have to disembark in Honolulu and fly home, which defeats the whole purpose.  We’ll talk to her more about it later and get the details, but we will probably not book a long cruise for next year and just do the 14 day round trip from Los Angeles on January 4th, just to see the new ship.

We had to stop by the room to dry off after the cocktail party.  We contemplated just changing our clothes entirely, but instead waited in the air conditioning until we were presentable again.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.  The menu tonight was so weird that we almost couldn’t find anything to order.  It’s not the entrée itself that’s the problem, but the way they were prepared.  For example, the fish was topped with a tomato/olive sauce.  Everything had something strange that made it undesirable.


Smoked Sturgeon and Baked New Potatoes with Sour Cream and Caviar
Seafood Ravioli in Lemon-Ginger Sauce
Tossed Garden Greens in Walnut Vinaigrette with Herb Croutons and Wild Mushrooms
Chilled Exotic Fruit Cup with Orange Curacao

Soup and Salad
Beef Consommé with Tomato Spinach Royale
Creamy Green Pea Soup with Herb Croutons

Chilled Cream of Apricot with Lowfat Yogurt
Crunchy Red Leaf Lettuce with Belgian Endive and Breaded Onion Rings
Assorted Summer Salad with Feta Cheese, Garbanzo Beans, and Spring Onions

Pasta Special
Pennette Rigate with Ossobuco Sauce, Vegetables and Parmesan Cheese

Salad Entrée
Marinated Steak Salad

Main Fares
Herb Marinated Grilled Australian Lamb Chops
Grilled Barramundi Fillet with Puttanesca Sauce
Honey Glazed Roasted Australian Emu
Sautéed Veal Scaloppini
Grilled Rib Eye Steak
Plain Grilled Chicken Breast

Vegetarian Selection
Vegetable Crespelle Gratinated with Mozzarella Cheese

Viennese Chocolate Delight with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Georgia Pecan Cheesecake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Banana Cream Tart with Vanilla Frangelico Sauce
Sugar-Free Rice Cream with Fresh Fruit
Sugar-Free Baked Apple with Diet Ice Cream
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Freshly Frozen, Nonfat Orange Yogurt

Food review:  All of the soups were good.  Bruno referred to the pea soup as split pea twice, but it was just a cream soup made with green peas.  It was good, but he was wrong again about the ingredients.  The fish entrée was OK for the fish alone, but everything on the plate with it was disgusting, including the tomato sauce with olives.  The fish would have been good except it tasted too much of green olives.  Nothing else on the plate was edible.  The banana cream tart was very good, sort of like an individual banana cream pie.  The orange yogurt tasted artificial and we both declared it inedible.

Josef stopped by to chat because he missed having us stay until all hours with our entourage talking around the table.  With Augusto and Jerry gone, we don’t know anyone else well enough to talk that long.  Ben is the only person who stops to chat during dinner, but he doesn’t keep us for hours.  Josef talked about what a nightmare it was when he started on Crystal Harmony and that two guys quite within the first six months, making him the only one left to promote to maitre d’.  He literally begged us not to cancel the Serenity inaugural, then desperately tried to convince us to book next year’s World Cruise rather than bothering with the Harmony.  We told him we would probably just skip doing a long cruise next year, but you never know.

The Evening Entertainment was a Variety Showtime featuring pianist Bernard Walz and singer Jackie Love.  Bernard was just given Crystal’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award, but we had never seen him before tonight. When Jackie came out, about twenty people left, either immediately or after the first number.  She isn’t that bad, by the way, just not a style that is popular with these guests.  The two of them did a lively song together at the end that was entertaining.

The show wasn’t over until 10:45 PM, so we were late arriving to the Housekeeping Party for World Cruisers in Palm Court.  We weren’t the last ones to arrive since many of the guests were at the show.  All of the housekeeping staff all the way down to the Chinese Laundry men, were outside waiting for all of the guests to arrive.  We chatted briefly with Nikki and then joined Mel and Barbara.  Eventually, the Executive Housekeeper came in and introduced, by name, every single person on her staff, literally about 100 people.  After that they started up the karaoke machine and sort of did a number on the dance floor.  Then they milled around with guests they know.

Waldo came over right away and sat with us, chatting with Mel who didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.  Their stewardess and her replacement for the next segment came over, joined by Suzie and Emilie.  After everyone else had left, we stayed with Suzie and Waldo for another hour.  Waldo was ranting about God only knows what, while Suzie tried to joke with him.  Both of them are trained as teachers, so a conversation with them is generally interesting and on a normal level, which is what makes it nice for us.  They said that we are the only guests they are interested in talking to, but even if they tried, most of the guests don’t have a clue when they are joking so they don’t bother anymore.  Suzie said that she probably won’t come back unless she can’t find a job at home in the next six months while she is off.  She told us the same thing last year, by the way.

At 1:00 AM, it was still at least 90 degrees with 100% humidity outside.  Should be fun tomorrow as we are sprayed with insect repellant to avoid the Dengue fever in Cairns.

thursday, april 10th – cairns, australia – 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cairns was established in 1876 as an export port serving the rich inland gold fields that had been discovered in Queensland. The original city planners had their work cut out for them. The swampy area was covered with scrub, and they had to set up offices in tents on the shores of Trinity Bay. They devised wide streets in a grid pattern. Even a century later, the plan was able to accommodate a new wave of growth in this century fueled by the dual boons of sugar and tourism.

Modern Cairns offers visitors a first class marina and wharf area, and the international airport is only a short drive from the city center. But the town has not been lost to modernization. There are lovely, tranquil parks, and playgrounds still feature fountains and shade trees. The wide Esplanade has picnic tables, barbecues, park area, jogging and bicycle pathways, and benches for romantic couples wishing to hold hands and gaze out to sea. For bird watchers, there are signposts that identify the colorful flying inhabitants. Almost everything a visitor needs is within walking distance, and the Barrier Reef islands of Green and Fitzroy are only a short cruise away.

The Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing on earth, sprawls along the Queensland coast. Pristine beaches, some of Australia’s last remaining tropical rain forest, and beautiful inland areas like the Atherton Tablelands characterize the state, and with its first class resorts and golf courses, it continues to attract vacationers seeking respite from a frenetic world.

Cairns (pronounced care-nz; locals call is cans) is a busy city. Don’t let the seemingly slow pace of the North Queenslanders deceive you… Cairns is not a country village. With direct air service to Auckland, Singapore, Tokyo, London, and Los Angeles, the gateway to the far north is well "with it." After a day of fishing, "sunbaking" (sunbathing), or diving, vacationers find plenty to do in town.

During the wet season (December to March), be prepared for a sudden burst of afternoon rain. The geography of the North Queensland coast can bring a sudden tropical cloudburst, but in these rare times, the skies clear just as quickly as they darken. In sharp contrast to the coast, not too far inland from Cairns, the small town of Babinda on the plateau is known as the wettest place in Australia. It receives no less than 175 inches of rain annually. Easy-going Queenslanders are prepared for what they call "a bit of damp." Even in Cairns, shop owners have thoughtfully covered sidewalks with awnings.

A pleasant stroll along the Esplanade with time out for a quick lunch or drink at one of the local establishments will put you right into the FNQ life. Relax, for there is no hurry here. Put on a bush hat, order a shandy (half lemon soda and half beer), grab yourself a spot in the shade and rest a while, mate. Extremely adventurous visitors, whom some may refer to as just plain extreme, may want to try their hand at bungie jumping or the new fad for risk-takers, rap jumping in which participants free-fall with a kite-like contraption on their backs. These "sports" are offered just up the road from town. While we certainly don’t recommend such activities, plenty of unusual pastimes are available.

North of Cairns, Daintree represents one of the last remaining native rain forests on the island continent. Daintree has been thoughtfully set aside as protected land so that future generations might know what rain forest looked like. Once, Australia was blankets with lush vegetation that probably looked much the same, but most of the interior is desert now. Various Aboriginal tribes refer to that earlier period as "dream time," and it is estimated that the various tribes have been living in Australia for more than 40,000 years. Sadly, none of the tribes had a written language of any kind, so information can be gleaned only from oral history and native legends. Still, it is rather humbling to think that civilizations could have lasted for so many years, especially when one compares this time frame to that of Western civilization, which, with only a scant few thousand years, has already walked to the very edge of extinction and destruction more than once.


We were up early due to the usual crew fire drill on a port day, so we ventured out of the room around 11:00 AM.  Suzie, Emilie and Jose were in the hallway, so a gossip session ensued with Jose telling some hilarious stories about guests.  He said that the miserable woman from the last World Cruise is coming back in Sydney, causing everyone to groan.  We’re shocked she is coming back because she knew that everyone, guests and crew, hated her.  She refused to participate in the group photo last year for that reason.

Click for Daytime Activities.

Up on deck we found the weather clear, hot and humid.  The only difference from our other visits here is that it isn’t raining.  In fact, there isn’t a cloud in the sky.  We took a couple of new port photos just for the heck of it.  There are more sailboats moored across the river from the pier than in the past and much more activity on the water in general.  Of course, it has always been pouring rain before.  The ship is docked directly in front of the main street of the town, next to The Reef Hotel & Casino.  There is also a Hilton about a block away.  The river around the port seems rather shallow and the muddy bottom is visible at the ocean end of it.

We had a quick lunch in the Lido, then went back to the room to gather our stuff to go ashore.  On the way out, we were offered insect repellant spray that we took advantage of.  The only goal for today was shopping at the nearby Pier Shopping Center that is part of a Radisson Hotel that fronts a marina near the mouth of the river.  Last year, the area in front of the hotel was under construction, but it has been nearly completed.  There is a new bus terminal and a swimming lagoon where there was once a mud flat.  This is one of the locations where the deadly Box Jellyfish make swimming in open water too dangerous to contemplate.  The walk to the mall took only about fifteen minutes, but it was extremely hot in the sun.  In shady areas it wasn’t too bad and there was a slight breeze.

Quickly locating the The Reef Gallery where we had purchased some items last year, we wasted no time finding many great items made by local artists.  We told the very friendly women in charge that we had come specifically for their store, which is true.  They were thrilled and ended up letting us choose a free item.  It took a couple of hours to select and then have them pack all of the items.  We paid less for the entire lot, about 20 items, than we would have for just one similar item at home.  The women offered to deliver the items to the ship, but we weren’t in a big rush, so we waited.

Of course, the same credit card that we had problems with last year was declined and we had to use a different one.  This is the card linked to our brokerage account with no limit, however, it is blocked every time we travel even though we call ahead of time and inform them.  Again, we were furious and the inconvenience, but glad that it didn’t happen earlier in the cruise.  The saleswoman was very helpful and offered to let us use her phone to call the bank, but we decided to use a different card and deal with it later.

When everything was packed, we had four large boxes and two bags of stuff, so there was no way we could carry all of it.  The saleswoman immediately offered to drive us to the ship in her car and help us carry it in, which she did.  She also gave us a tax receipt so we can get 10% back once we sail from Sydney.  When we commented on the lack of rain for the first time, she said they are really having a drought and that it hasn’t rained in nearly six months.

Back at the terminal, we had to get a bellman to come out and help carry the stuff to the room.  We met Harry in the lobby and he said he would send the appropriate forms for the tax refund to our room.

After tossing our stuff on the bed, we went up for ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches.  The giant moths had arrived again, but not in the swarm like last year.  The wing span of these things is about four inches.  By the time we finished eating it was nearly time for the 5:00 PM sailing, so we went up to the Sun Deck for the sail away view.  The sun was at an angle where we could clearly see that what we thought was shoreline across from the ship was really a mangrove swamp, the shore is really about 100’ back.  The weird thing is that people have to row across the port to get to their moored boats.  Seems too difficult to bother with on a regular basis.

As we started to sail, the Captain turned up to us and warned us that he was going to blow the horn.  He always does that, which is very considerate because the horn is extremely loud when standing on the upper deck.  There was a singing duo on the pier to see us off and a small group of people at some nearby restaurants waving as we left.  The Captain announced that the ship can only travel at 9 knots for the first seven miles because the channel is very narrow and the water only six feet deep beyond that.  As we sailed we had a nice view of the small cove at the mouth of the river and the lush tropical forests. 

We rushed to shower and then fill out our gratuity form to be charged to our account.  We started off to take the form to the Front Desk and ran into Waldo in the hallway, who chatted about nothing in particular until he was paged by another guest.

We delivered our form to Marit and Jessica at the Front Desk and chatted with them for a few minutes.  Marit went on a snorkeling tour and was somewhat disappointed because the water wasn’t as clear as she expected.  We finally remembered to bring our camera and catch up on missing crew photos, so we took the time to get a new photo of Marit, Jessica, and Billy in his new Concierge uniform, then went to the Dining room for dinner.  Casual Dining was available tonight upstairs, but it was too hot outside for that.  Jessica said it was 82 (she has a gauge at the desk) and it was 8:00 PM.

Tonight’s dress code is Casual and the Casual Dining Option is available around the Neptune Pool tonight.  We thought it was too hot to eat outside, so we chose the Dining Room.


Seafood Salad with Fruit and Crisp Greens Served with Exotic Dressing
Salad of Roasted Chicken Breast, Avocado, and Black Olives
Baked Snails in Brioche Bread
Tropical Fruit Cup with Bowtie Rum

Soup and Salad
Maui Ginger Red Onion Soup
Chicken Consommé with Vegetable Balls and Truffles
Chilled Red Pepper Soup with Tortilla Chips
Mixed Garden Lettuce with Chopped Tomatoes, Onions, and Sprouts
Commander’s Salad

Pasta Special
Farmer’s Cheese Ravioli

Salad Entrée
Tempura Fried Prawns on Crisp Greens

Main Fares
Macadamia Nut Crusted Red Snapper Fillet
Grilled Jumbo Prawns
Golden Fried Chicken Cordon Bleu
Grilled Black Angus Sirloin Steak
Grilled Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Salmon Fillet

Vegetarian Selection
Roasted Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta Cheese and Mushrooms

Honey Glazed Pecan Pie a la Mode
Chocolate Fudge Sheba with Raspberry Sauce
Baked Passion Fruit Mousse with Fudge Sauce
Sugar-Free Mocha Cream Cake
Sugar-Free Lime Tart with Ginger Cream
Tropical Fruit in Season
Homemade Cookies
Nonfat Frozen Cappuccino Yogurt

Food review:  Tonight’s meal was rather odd for a couple of reasons.  The salad was very good for the first time.  We both ordered the pasta, but never received it.  Dave thought the chicken was outstanding, but Bill didn’t like it at all.  When Dave tasted it, it was like a totally different recipe and was, indeed, terrible.  The portion was almost double the size, but it’s strange that it would be so awful when the other piece was great.  We pointed it out to Bruno, but he didn’t quite grasp what the problem was because he was too busy trying to tell us what we like and when we like it, as usual.  Both desserts were very good.

Since it was so slow tonight, we had a chance to catch up on photos and got one of Bruno, Roland, and a group shot.

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring “A special dance exhibition with fellow guests”, The Koblers and “The Versatile Talents of” Syd Heylen.  First off, we’re not the slightest bit interesting in watching “fellow guests” dance.  Recall that everyone else here is at least 80.  We are also leery of any performer billed as “versatile.”  Generally, that means that they don’t have any talent.  We stopped by just to see what was going on and found people already walking out on the second act.  One of the women walking out said, “When they turn on the house lights I know it’s time to get out fast.”  Last year when they did that it was always to intimidate the audience into staying rather than walking out on a bad act.  We assume that is the reason for this one, as well.

We stopped to visit Ronnie who is performing in the MTV Crew Party, an annual event sponsored by the Cayton’s.  This is a huge production and takes over the Starlite Club.  As with last year, several guests were moved out of their Deck 7 cabins over the Starlite Club and put up on the Penthouse Deck for the night due to possible noise.  We think it is ridiculous to do that, but this is Crystal, after all.  Waldo said that all five of the guests who moved up for tonight called the butlers to have parties and/or room service just because they can.

friday, april 11th – cruising the great barrier reef


Today’s weather is as good as it gets.  The humidity seems to be normal for a change with temperatures in the mid 70’s and calm seas.  We are too far away to see the coast of Australia, but we have been passing a variety of jagged islands for most of the day.  We may be cruising the Great Barrier Reef, but there is no evidence of it.

Click for Daytime Activities.

We had lunch in the Lido, as usual, where the Asian selection of Satay Beef was excellent.  Then we wandered down to the lobby to see if anyone there could provide information about the MTV Party last night.  We found Mariana who had nearly lost her voice from screaming during the party.  She said that Ronnie did an outstanding job, the food and drinks were very good, and Mrs. Cayton, “Danced like crazy.”  She has promised to show us her pictures tomorrow.  After catching up on various and sundry bits of gossip, none of which is worth repeating here, we retired to the room where we could leave the verandah door open for the first time in weeks without creating a sauna effect.

It dawned on us while discussing the problem with our planned Harmony itinerary next year that it shouldn’t be any different than next year’s World Cruise.  That cruise begins in Los Angeles and ends in New York, but there is a stop in Fort Lauderdale before New York with no foreign ports in between.  Isn’t that the same as our Honolulu to San Francisco itinerary?  As we thought, it appears that someone in the office didn’t think it through and said “no” without really analyzing it.  We still plan to just book the 14-day cruise on the Serenity because we can always change it later and still get the on-board booking discount.

Our mail clip was full with the QAP form, preliminary statement, and the Australian tax refund form that Harry sent up.  We will just about break even on our account so far, so we’re doing quite well spending our shipboard credits without overdoing it.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in the room watching videos.

Tonight’s dress code is Informal.


Fresh Marinated Artichokes with Seafood Salad
Spanish Tapas – Octopus Salad, Marinated Tuna, Mussels, Roasted Peppers, Sardines, and Eggplant
Homemade Vegetable Spring Roll with Coriander Dipping Sauce
Iced Supreme of Melons and Papaya, Flavored with Midori

Soup and Salad
Tomato Bisque with London Dry Gin
Beef Broth with Herb Quenelles
Chilled Lemon Cream with Nonfat Yogurt
Spring Lettuce with Onion Rings, Crumbled Blue Cheese, Roasted Peppers, and Zucchini
Heart of Romaine Lettuce with Sliced Red Skin Potatoes and White Bean Salad

Pasta Special
Linguine “Prince of Naples”

Salad Entrée
Duck Salad

Main Fares
Whole Roasted French Duck with Orange Sauce
Australian John Dory Fillet
Grilled Port Medallions
Braised Short Ribs
Grilled Filet Steak
Plain Grilled Salmon Steak

Vegetarian Selection
Potato Fingers with Sautéed Mushrooms, Grilled Asparagus, and Tomato Confit

Sacher Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream
Macaroon Tart with Fresh Fruit and Mango Sauce
Frozen Pumpkin Mousse with Silky Caramel Sauce
Sugar-Free Chocolate Custard
Sugar-Free Rhubarb Cream Cheese Strudel
Homemade Cookies
Assortment of Fruit in Season
Lychee Nut Sherbet

Food review:  The spring rolls were very strange with what tasted like mashed potatoes inside.  The lemon cream soup was subtle and better than expected.  Both entrees were outstanding.  Roland had special-ordered chocolate chip soufflés for dessert and they were also outstanding.  The Lychee sherbet was satisfactory, but we didn’t order it (see below).

The moment we sat down, Bruno tried to convince us to order the duck.  We don’t like duck.  He doesn’t care, it is great tonight, so we should order it.  No, we don’t want duck.  Then Roland came over and did the same thing, although a little less forcefully.  We ignored both of them and ordered the fish and the pork, both of which were outstanding.  Bruno tried twice to bring us a side order of the duck.  WE DON’T LIKE DUCK!  Geez, give it a rest.  We know he’s just trying to be nice, but no means no, period.  He forgot to put in the order for the soufflés until we were finished eating, so we had to wait 20 minutes for them.  We didn’t mind and told him so, three times.  Still, he brought the Lychee sherbet to keep us busy.  Bill hates Lychee anything, hence the reason we refused it the first time he offered it.  Thank God he will be a headwaiter by the time we return because it will keep him out of the ordering process.

The Evening Entertainment is a Variety Showtime featuring Three Got Rhythm.  We’re not sure why it’s a variety night because there were no other acts on the bill.  However, this group is a variety show in themselves.  As we expected, the show was outstanding and worth paying money for.  We would go out of our way to see them if they came to town.

After the show we stopped to congratulate Ronnie on the show last night.  He said that the other Filipinos keep telling him how proud they were that he was up there as the only non-white performer.  He has a really good time with it and doesn’t take it too seriously, so it’s fun for everyone.  We do think he deserves to be paid extra for it, but we think he’s playing his cards right building up a following before asking for money. 

Ronnie got an email from Tom who went to Crystal Harmony for two cruises.  He is miserable because he went specifically to end up in Hong Kong, but the call was cancelled due to the SARS outbreak there.  The crew and most passengers are wearing surgical masks and there is almost nothing going on.  He reports that there are only 77 guests booked on the next Harmony cruise.  Why they would even bother to continue with so few guests is beyond us.  Other cruise lines routinely cancel sailings when the numbers drop that low.  Recall that both Crystal ships carry 940 passengers and over 500 crewmembers.

It has been smooth-as-glass sailing the last couple of days, but it began to rock and roll a bit after the show.  It is barely anything, but worth noting just because it is different.  We received a letter with information about the Formal Gala Event in Sydney.  We are to meet in the Starlite Club at 5:45 PM to be escorted to our private limousine for transfer to Sydney Town Hall where we will be served canapés and cocktails, then a four-course dinner with dancing, music and entertainment.  This will last until 10:30 PM when we will be transported back to the ship in busses.  Sounds fairly ghastly, but we’ll put up with it just to have something to talk about and on the off chance it turns out to be wonderful.


saturday, april 12th – cruising the tasman sea


Speak of the Devil, Crystal has cancelled all of the remaining Crystal Harmony Asian itineraries and is sending the ship immediately back to the U.S.  Suzie said that the crewmembers are being paid $50 a day or can fly home at their own expense if they choose to leave before the end of their contract. 

Click for Daytime Activities.

Our first stop was the American Classic Buffet around the Neptune Pool.  This isn’t the best selection of food, but they had a nice array of carved beef, chicken, ribs, and other BBQ items to make up for the other things.  The weather looks stormy and it is a bit rocky, but there has been no rain and the temperature outside is perfect, mid 70’s or so.  We ate outside listening to the band until around 2:00 PM, had ice cream for dessert, and went down to the Front Desk to point out some errors on our bill.

We received our copies of the World Cruise Group Photo that was taken in front of the waterfall in Milford Sound.

Poor Jessica was alone at the desk with a short line of people doing the same thing.  Everyone we saw was reasonable and calm, but that isn’t usually the case.  Our bill did not include the World Cruise pre-paid gratuities credit, but did show charges for them.  Also, our accounts had been separated during the last segment, so we needed to have the merged again.  We also need another copy of the QAP form, which she said would be sent up to us.

Next stop was to chat with Mariana who was waving her photos of the MTV Party from across the lobby.  Ronnie’s outfit was hysterical!  She said he was the best part, but it was a good time overall.  We chatted with her about her 24-hour flight home tomorrow, among other things.  Rudolf came over because he thought we were having too much fun, so Mariana showed us the photo of his “All That Jazz” number at the Pageant a few weeks ago.  Judging by the outfit alone, he did an excellent job.  He was the first runner up after the guy who drank the blender full of fish heads and such.  We agreed that it wasn’t really fair that he should win that way after so many other people put so much effort into really doing something, but that’s the way it goes.  We promised to come back tonight for a goodbye session.

We went down to wait for Nikki and chatted with Lara in the meantime.  Nikki arrived and we sat to talk about a variety of subjects, mostly the lack of a World Cruise feeling and what can be done about it.  She said the office is always asking for comments to improve it because they also get complaints that it doesn’t seem like a World Cruise.  We said at the very least that they shouldn’t have cut down the number of cruise credits given for a full World Cruise from eight to five this year.  We found out that segment guests get the same gifts we do for whatever segment they are on, so there really are no perks other than the Bon Voyage Party and the two shoreside events for World Cruisers.  Nikki said that segment guests always complain because they aren’t included, but we think they should just say, “That’s a part of going on the full cruise,” and just drop it.  Anyone with a hint of good sense should expect that someone who is on board for three months gets some sort of extra reward for doing so. 

Nikki came to the same conclusion we did about the illegal itinerary we had planned being essentially the same issue as the next World Cruise.  She is going to press the office for an answer, but she’s wondering if it will dawn on someone that maybe the World Cruise as it is planned can’t be done either.  She said she wouldn’t mention that we were the ones who asked about it.

Once we were finished whining about the cutback in perks, we booked the 14-day Los Angeles round trip on Crystal Serenity for January 5th next year and cancelled our booking on the inaugural and the segment following.  Nikki said that she has had many people complain and then cancel because of the restriction on using the Milestone credit for airfare.  She can’t understand why they won’t do it even for guests booked on two segments, but the answer from the office was, “That’s what we decided and that’s just the way it is.”  They have lost hundreds of bookings for that reason alone and she’s flabbergasted that they can’t see how much damage their attitude is doing.  Oh well, count us as one more cancellation for that reason.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the cabin.  The laundry room had been closed for a few days to conserve water, but it was too busy now that it was open again to bother with.  Another good excuse to do nothing.  We received a letter from the President of Crystal Cruises canceling his appearance (along with his family and other Executives) at the World Cruise Gala in Sydney and on board for the President’s Cruise from Sydney to Fiji.  We can certainly understand why they would have more important matters to deal with at this time.  We heard that the people in the Crystal Penthouse cancelled their attendance at tomorrow’s gala because he won’t be there.  It makes no difference to us at all, but we can imagine they have had to scramble to make up a program without him.

Tonight’s dress code is Formal.  We have a reservation at Jade Garden for dinner tonight to avoid the farewell hoopla and Baked Alaska parade in the Dining Room.  We invited Suzie in to view the pictures of our new house that she has been waiting to see for weeks.  She is leaving tomorrow, so this was her last chance.  We gave her some candy and a bon voyage card that seemed to please her.

We had to rush to find Mariana to give her a bag of goodies we put together for her 24-hour flight back to London.  She was beyond thrilled and there were hugs and kisses all around.  Rudolf felt left out, but we told him he had to wait until he was leaving to get hugs.  We were a bit late for our reservation at Jade Garden, but they never really care since they only seat each table once.


Shrimp Tempura with Mirin-Soy Dipping Sauce
Chinois Lobster Spring Rolls with Ginger Sweet & Sour Sauce
Peking Duck in Mandarin Pancake with Scallions and Cucumbers
Assorted Japanese Sushi
Famous Chinois Chicken Salad

Chicken Velvet Corn Soup
Spicy Thai Shrimp Soup with Kaffir Lime, Lemon Grass and Galangal
Hong-Kong Style Won Ton Soup
Hot and Sour Soup

Side Orders
Chinois Vegetable Fried Rice
Steamed Brown Rice
Jasmine White Rice

Seared Shanghai Lobster with Lightly Spiced Ginger-Curry Sauce
Wok-Seared Beef Tenderloin Slices with Soy-Shallot-Rice Wine Sauce
Golden Sesame Shrimp in Hot Sweet and Sour Sauce
Orange-Flavored Chicken Stir-Fried and Tossed in Fresh Orange Peel Sauce
Seafood Lo Mein
Pan-Seared Sea Bass Fillet in White Truffle-Flavored Black Bean Sauce
Grilled Mongolian Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette Sauce

Chinois “Dim Sum” Dessert Delights:
Roasted Pineapple Macadamia Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream,
Chocolate Crunch Cake and Caramelized Lemon Tart
The Crème Brulee Sampler: Ginger, Passion Fruit, and Coffee
Green Tea Ice Cream
Mango Sherbet

Food review:  Everything we had was very good to outstanding.  We also had two items not on the menu, Crispy Beef, which was wonderful, and Chicken Lo Mein that we asked for specifically.  It was also very good.  We were too hot while eating and couldn’t wait to get out of there, so we just had the ice cream and sherbet for dessert.  The service was friendly, but not as polished as it usually is.  It wasn’t bad, just not perfect.

The Evening Entertainment is the production show “Symphony of Nations.”  The show was the same as usual, watchable, but not one of our favorites.  However, the technical problems and missed cues have become so rampant that they are obvious to anyone seeing the shows.  Twice, one or more dancers didn’t make it to their place in time to begin a number and more often than not a microphone wasn’t turned on until halfway through a song.  This is ridiculous and has been getting worse rather than better.  Also, the lights hadn’t been reset since the variety show last night, so they weren’t focused where they should be or didn’t work at all.

We had asked for an additional QAP because we only received one.  We did get the extra one, but it had the questionnaire for the last segment inside.  Tonight’s Reflections has a notice about the Harmony canceling its Asian itineraries and heading for Los Angeles for some short round trips from there with what is referred to as “Aggressive Fares.”  No word on the new routes or the actual fares yet.

During the closing announcement at tonight’s show, Paul said to be sure to be out on deck when we sail from Sydney because there will be a fireworks show.  He was saying this for the benefit of people who will disembark so they could watch from shore as we leave.


sunday, april 13th – sydney, australia – arrive 2:00 pm

The small tents and huts built by the first arrivals clung precariously to the edge of a vast unknown continent. From this humble beginning, one of the greatest cities in the world has grown. The Sydney Harbour was the birthplace of the city, and the ragged convicts, whose numbers had dwindled to only about 1,000 after the long ocean voyage from their homeland half a world away, rolled up their sleeves and began to build. A little more than two hundred years later, Sydney is a monument to their strength and perseverance. The city has sprawled beyond the harbor now. Spread in all directions, each community has assumed a distinct identity.

Almost one of every four Australians lives in this huge metropolis, which has a population of almost four million and which covers an area of over 4,000 square miles. The metropolitan area extends outward from Sydney Harbour to the foothills of the Blue Mountains some 34 miles west, beyond the shores of Botany Bay, which is about 20 miles south, and to Broken Bay in the north, a distance of about 30 miles.

Sydney is the gateway to Australia for most international visitors. It is also the main port for every air cargo and shipping company servicing Australia. All national highways, railroads, and domestic networks connect to Sydney and many begin in the city. Brash, vigorous, and sometimes bawdy, Sydney is fascinating in its diversity, beauty, and exciting scope.


The starting point for any tour of old Sydney is the district on the western shore of Sydney Cove known since the first settlement as The Rocks. Dear to the hearts of the Australian people, The Rocks is the birthplace, not just of Sydney, but of modern Australia. It was here, on this squat peninsula, that the 11 ships of the First Fleet dropped anchor in 1788.

Excitingly nostalgic, the district was Sydney’s first permanent settlement. Its array of alleys, cottages, and seamen’s taverns quickly gained an unsavory reputation, but life in The Rocks was not all squalor and crime. By the middle of the 19th century, respectable merchants and families had built large comfortable homes in the district. Many of the Georgian and Victorian buildings in the district are maintained in their original states, and along with the area's narrow streets, faithfully reflect the atmosphere of the colony's earliest years. Argyle Place, containing the historic Garrison Church (Holy Trinity), is one of Sydney’s most delightful corners.


We were up by 10:00 AM when the approach to Sydney Harbour began.  The weather is nearly perfect with a slight overcast that didn’t detract from the dramatic scenery.  The arrival from the sea into the harbor isn’t unlike San Francisco with steep cliffs topped by houses and old hotels.  The view of the city in the distance is stunning.  More photos:  City in Distance.

Click for Daytime Activities.

When we arrived on the Sun Deck it was already nearly full of guests out to witness our arrival.  There are some sheer cliffs guarding the entrance to the bay, inside which were thousands of boats of all kinds.  The ship had to blow the whistle several times to clear a path and slowed to a crawl.  As we sailed closer to the city, we passed the outermost point and lighthouse, some small beaches fronted by large houses, several inlets where hundreds of sailboats were out for a pleasant Sunday sail, etc.  As we rounded the bend, the view of the city became even more striking with all of the famous landmarks laid out before us.  High-rise apartments mark the outskirts of Sydney itself, while the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge mark the center of everything.

The Captain announced that we were going to sail up close to the suburbs across from downtown to blow the horn in front of a house where some guests on board expected their family to be waiting.  While we did that, the sailboats started getting a bit too close for comfort, so a police boat rushed over to shoo them away.  All the while, the yellow and green ferries went about their business.

We continued sailing closer to downtown with its gleaming high-rises sprouting among older buildings that have been restored for new uses.  Of course, nothing beats the views of the Opera House from the water.  Its white sail-shaped roof is covered with tiles that resemble fish scales.  This isn’t evident in the photos or from a distance.  The structure is stunning from any angle and we were able to see them all as we sailed past.  One side that adjoins the Royal Botanical Garden is lined with jam-packed cafes on this Sunday afternoon.  More photos of the Opera House:  Water Front, Just Passing, Side View.

Our docking location couldn’t possibly be any better.  The pier is located in Circular Quay which is where all of the yellow and green Sydney ferries congregate and then fan out to the various suburbs.   The terminal is directly adjacent to The Rocks, the oldest settlement in the city.  The buildings have been preserved and now house upscale galleries, restaurants and shops.  The Sydney Harbor Bridge begins here, as well.  There was a huge crowd out for a stroll along the waterfront and to view our arrival.  The event was captured by a news helicopter that circled the ship as we approached.  More Photos:  Bay Looking Back.

Directly in front of us is the downtown area centered around Sydney Town Hall with its clock tower.  This is where the World Cruise Gala Event is being held later tonight.  Once the ship was alongside, a huge flatbed truck arrived to haul away the gangway that was damaged months ago and has been out of service ever since.  The Rocks area where we are docked also houses several museums of a nautical nature.

The ship is located not even 100’ from the downtown area, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, which is directly across from our docking location.  Huge catamarans and the ferries were coming and going with much difficulty as our big ship was just a bit in the way.  Under the bridge on the opposite shore sits the old Luna Park.

It was after 2:00 PM by the time we docked, but we found the Lido had been kept open late to accommodate guests who were out on deck, which is a first.  We were starving, so we were glad we could get a full lunch instead of just snacking before tonight’s dinner.  We expect the food will be minimal or not something we would choose to order, so it’s wise to fill up now lest we swoon from hunger later.

We went down to stroll through the lobby and ran into Mariana awaiting her departure with several large bags.  We offered to help her carry them out, but she was afraid she would get in trouble if a guest helped her.  We saw her getting into a stretch limousine outside of the terminal and she seemed overjoyed with it from the look on her face.  We went back to the room to rest up and prepare for tonight’s gala affair.

The meeting time for the World Cruise Event is at 5:45 PM in the Starlite Club.  We arrived a few minutes early and found almost everyone already there.  We counted 73 in attendance, but we heard later that almost all of the full World Cruisers were there.  We were told to sit in groups of two or three because that’s all that would fit in the limousines.  Then we were sent to the terminal in groups of about twenty.  That process took about 30 minutes.  The cars, not limos, were waiting directly outside of the terminal, which was convenient.

Our driver was very friendly and wanted to know what this event was for and, especially, how we were getting back because they didn’t hire cars for the return trip (by bus is the answer).  He drove us on a short, but convoluted route through downtown Sydney to the Ornate Sydney Town Hall.  We were deposited onto the sidewalk where a crowd had gathered to watch the arrival of the celebrities.  Boy, they sure must have been disappointed.  There were two bagpipers on the steps who the driver jokingly referred to as “The Bagpipe Boys.”  Elizabeth was there taking a photo of each guest with one of the pipers, something that didn’t seem to make him particularly happy.  We were greeted by the Lord Mayor’s Crier or something like that, passed through a receiving line of the usual ship’s officers and staff, and led into the Vestibule for cocktails.  We felt like movie stars arriving at a premier.

The Vestibule is a three story domed foyer for the Centennial Hall where dinner would be served.  For the first time ever that we can remember, they had water and juice available for non-drinkers.  We think this is something done by the caterers, not ordered by Crystal, because Crystal functions never seem to allow for anything except hard liquor and champagne.  Waitresses were passing trays of snacks that were actually edible and tasty.  There was a harp and flute duo playing on a raised platform, but the echoes of the voices drowned them out.  The room itself was beautiful in an ornate sort of way with an enormous crystal chandelier in the center that took up half of the room.  The only complaint about this part was that it lasted an hour.  Even Mrs. Cayton was complaining about it and she is fairly tolerant of such things.   There were only a few places to sit and they were on tall barstools that were too difficult for these older guests to use.

At exactly 8:00 PM, we were ushered into the stunning Centennial Hall with its five story (maybe more) ceiling.  The marble lower floor was surrounded by a balcony similar to what you might see in Parliament Houses in Europe.  There was thunderous music booming from the old pipe organ that took up the entire space in the back wall, plus the rooms behind it.  There were huge bouquets of red roses with spotlights on them at the entrance and around the sides of the rooms, plus the centerpieces.  The spectacle of entering the hall was certainly worth putting up with everything that followed.  We were taken to our table by a waitress dressed in a sort of red British military uniform with three brimmed hat. We’re sure they hated wearing them, but it was a nice effect.

The organ music continued for a few minutes after we were seated.  The Chief Engineer was our host and although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t cut out for hosting duties and said very little.  There was also a Shore Excursion woman at the table. Thank God, because she did most of the talking to keep things moving.  One of the other couples were the same people we were seated with at the Bali Hai dinner, plus another one we hadn’t met.  Then there were two single women, one of whom is very old, but gets around well on her own.  The other one did nothing but complain about being ignored because she is single, how bored she was, how terrible a host the officer was, and on and on.  She left the moment the shuttle busses started running at 9:00 PM, although she had complained about wanting to leave within 30 minutes because nobody was entertaining her.  The other woman, who sits at the same table with her in the Dining Room, said later that, “Some people just have to be entertained all of the time,” and pointed in her direction, which was hysterical.

The menu for tonight was one of the best ever for a Crystal event and actually offered a choice between two appetizers (chicken or lobster), entrée (beef or fish), and dessert (meringue with fruit or a chocolate fudge thing).  Just to get the discussion over, all of the food was outstanding.  The servers were very pleasant and did everything properly.  They were very helpful and accommodating to the older guests, as well.

Craig from the Shore Excursion department in Los Angeles made a brief welcome speech and apologized for the President not being there.  Then the Captain did the same thing.  Both of them danced around the reason for the no show, but we had already been informed it was because of the problems repositioning Crystal Harmony.  By the way, Mrs. Cayton agrees with us that he won’t show up in Honolulu either.

The appetizer was served as a dance band played.  Then we waited for half an hour, at least, while a few people danced.  Then there were three songs by a youth choir.  Salads were served, then another half hour minimum passed.  The bored woman at our table left, Thank God, after which everyone else made fun of her and the mood lightened up considerably.  A man pretending to be a headwaiter got up and sang part of an aria for a plausible enough reason that it could have been real.  Another half hour passed and the entrees were served.  During the entrée, a man pretending to be a wine steward got up and sang.  Then it became a battle of the French and Italian tenors.  Soon a third waiter came in and claimed to be Australian.  They wandered around the room singing familiar operas.  They were very good and fairly entertaining, but by this time it was obvious it was a set up bit.  They did finally admit it was an act and did a couple more songs.  The act was very entertaining and the had extremely good voices, so it was acceptable.  But, it should have been done between courses because they walked around the room and included some of the women in their act.

Another 45 minutes went by, maybe more, and dessert was served.  The appearance of both desserts was outstanding and almost too pretty to eat.  The fudge dessert was topped with a huge white chocolate model of the Opera House. The other one sort of looked like an alien being, but it was extremely tasty.  The fudge dessert was so sweet it almost induced a stroke.

Rosemary wandered over because her table had abandoned her and she had to stay until the end.  So, we invited her to sit with our table.  She looked like she was about to scream and whined a bit because she wasn’t informed of what was going on.  Obviously, guests had been asking her daily what was going to happen.  We told her we hate the way they always feel the need to surprise us.  She said she had several complaints about that practice, but since she didn’t know what was going on there was no way to inform the guests.  She was really annoyed over the way it was handled and we certainly agree with her.  She couldn’t tell us everything that was on her mind, of course, but it was obvious she had something to say.  She did mention that the ship's photographers had been banned from the hall, so there would be no photos of the event other than what guests had taken themselves.  She knows this will be a big issue.  We can't understand why guests can take pictures and the ship can't because this isn't an exclusive, off-limits facility.  It is readily available to rent via a website, complete with pricing structure.

When most of the other guests had left, Rosemary walked by and said, “I’ll be back, but I have to go to the bathroom so badly!”  She did return and we asked if she wanted us to stay with her to the end.  She didn’t want to keep us, but we didn’t mind at all, so we stayed to give her moral support while the last few guests dawdled out.  One of the World Cruisers couldn’t come because she feel and hurt her face, so Rosemary was carrying one of the centerpieces back to the ship for her.  She wouldn’t have made it out the door with it unless we had been there because Craig tried to stop her. All of the roses were brought back to the ship anyway, so we couldn’t see what difference it made.

We learned that three World Cruisers are leaving tomorrow, thus skipping the final segment.  The husband of the woman who died after they went home early, returned to join the cruise in Cairns.  He was at the event and seemed, well, happier than he did when he was here with her.  We'll chalk it up to stress from her illness while being on board.

Out on the street there were busses waiting, but we stood talking to Rosemary until the last minute.  It was a little weird being on the sidewalk in tuxedos while students milled around and sat watching us, but there was no other choice.  There were secret service types of security men around, so it was probably safe enough, just strange.  Rosemary said she would make a date to meet with us so she can spill her guts about the complaints tonight.  Most of the people we saw seemed to like it well enough, but apparently there were some who didn’t.  We can certainly see a reason to complain about the length of the evening and the delays between courses, but it was fine otherwise.

Back at the terminal, we ran in Shawn, the guy who arranges all of the events on board.  He came over and asked us how it was.  We told him it was way too long, but otherwise perfectly fine.  He tried to suggest that we go change and come back out, but we never do that.  Niklas was there looking like he was going out with the boys.  The security was ridiculously tight with an X-ray machine and metal detector in the terminal (the same equipment is always used on board, too).  Two coins in Dave’s pocket triggered a search with a handheld wand. 

It started to rain fairly heavily at around midnight, which might thwart some of the late night plans of the crew.  Our plans included doing some laundry and going to bed.

Click for the Evening Activities on board.

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JusByJulie     Birthday in a Box


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