Review of Symphony cruise Sept 4 - Sept 20: Part 2
Here's the rest:
I treated Jackie to a spa day and she really had good things to say about the staff and the spa. She said they were very friendly and did not tell her that the future of the free world depended on her reducing the size of her pores by buying all their products. She especially liked her massage.
We anchored at a couple of ports where we could not dock and the tenders ran continuously. We never waited long for that at all. All the tours we took were very well run with the exception of the bus arrangements around our whale-watching trip in Greenland (we saw lots of whales, by the way, a great day). We understand that this was Crystal’s maiden call to Nuuk so they probably just have to tweak some of the small details. When we got off our little whale-watching boat, we had to wait a very long time (perhaps 45 minutes) in a frigidly cold wind for the bus to take us back to the ship. We needed to be defrosted by the time we were picked up. The dock there is very small and the steps are slippery and it needs to be improved if they are going to go there very often. Usually we docked at our ports of call and there was always great information about tours or what to do if you wanted to go out on your own.
Speaking of Greenland, the high point of the cruise happened for me there. When we got on the boat to go watch the whales, I noticed a Yamaha keyboard, like a piano keyboard, next to the wheel that steers the boat. It seemed a little out of place but I didn’t give it much thought. When our time out in the fjord was up, we headed back to the port. It was then that the skipper of our little boat turned the keyboard on and began playing it, apparently for our amusement. It was pretty hilarious. At first he played a long song no one recognized, and then he went into some old American favorites, like “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”. Quite creatively, he managed to play “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to a bossa nova beat. He sang, too, which was amazing since he didn't speak a lot of English. We all joined in when we knew the piece and we sang all the way home. I noticed that occasionally our skipper played with only one hand, so I went up front to see what was going on. I realized then that sometimes he had to forsake the bass clef in order to steer the boat. So I tapped him on the shoulder and offered to drive so he could play. He was delighted. He said, “Aim for your cruise ship!” and so I drove the boat home while he played the keyboard with both hands. I thought that word of my new ability would make its way to our captain on the Symphony and that he would come to me with any technical difficulties he might be having but apparently things were okay on the bridge and he didn’t need my assistance ha ha.
There was a lot to do on sea days. Jackie and I took a dance lesson or two, went to tea in the Palm Court, had ice cream on the lido, or just snoozed in a deck chair. We often stopped in the Bistro for a snack and a cup of coffee in the middle of the day.
I took Jackie to the Crystal Society party for past guests and I think it was the fact that I had her with me that I saw it through new eyes. It was very crowded and seemed just to be a time for Crystal to pat itself on the back. Those who had cruised many, many times were brought up on stage for us to applaud and then we were instructed to book another cruise. There wasn’t really any reason to go except for the free drink.
One very odd thing happened on our way to Iceland. While at sea, a small plane flew very, very close to us and crossed across the ship not very far out in front of the bow. It looped around in a figure 8 and came from behind on the other side and did it again. We were in the lido café and he came so close I could clearly see the pilot’s face. We never found out what that was about if the bridge officers even knew.
It took a long time for the ship to be cleared for disembarkation and because it was so late, many people congregated at the gangway and it was the only time we stood in a line for the entire cruise. We walked off at about 9:30. It was easy to find our bags on the pier and off we went to the airport.
I thought a lot about the comparisons that are being made between Crystal and Radisson and for my money, I think that it’s very even and depends on what you like. Radisson’s open seating has two advantages. One, you can sit with whomever you prefer and you can eat when you like. On Crystal, I find the first seating too early and the second seating too late and if I don’t like my tablemates it’s easy enough to move but it can be awkward to explain it to them. I don’t mind paying for a bottle of wine at dinner but a lot of people like that it is included on Radisson. The basic cabin is also probably just a bit better on Radisson. However, the entertainment is much better on Crystal. Other factors, service being the main one, are about equal. I will probably let the itinerary decide whether I travel on Crystal or Radisson in the future.