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  1. The ships are on the old side, there is no question, and they keep promising a new ocean ship by 2022. Being a cruise TA (as the regulars know I am) I know that ship age is one of the first questions I get because people like "new" things, and eventually that may become a problem for Crystal. Having said that, I can't think of any line that spends more on maintenance and repair. The "industry standard" for drydocking is every five years for insurance re-certification. For as long as have sailed with Crystal (March 2000) the ships have gone into drydock every two to three years minimum. And that was before this last major six week overhaul of both ships to accommodate open dining. Daily maintenance is almost a fixation. We completed 37 days on Serenity on March 15 and during that time we watched two or three crew chip, re-finish and paint all of the rail fittings down the port side of the Promenade Deck, and they were starting on the starboard side when were leaving. We have been cruising since 1988 and have been on many "newer" ships that looked far older than either Crystal ship.
  2. We have sailed both and they are different. Since the all-inclusive is not a factor, here are a few other considerations; Crystal's ships are larger and carry fewer guests than Marina/Riviera (we sailed Riviera). Crowding is never an issue, even around the pool. Food is subjective, but we find the food far better on Crystal. Riviera's specialty restaurants are comparable, but the Main Dining Room on Riviera was something of a bad joke. Any room can have a bad night, but we dined there four times and every meal was problematic. As an example. one evening my Steak Frites came without the frites, was overcooked to being inedible and cold. My wife's duck had magically turned into chicken! Plus we waited almost 40 minutes for the entrees to even arrive at the table! While we joke that staff on Crystal are not permitted to say "No" to anything, it is a word you rarely hear. Service is intuitive, always friendly and sincere. It is rare we go more than ten minutes after boarding that someone does not welcome us back by name. Senior staff and ship officers are always out and about and always happy to chat, or answer questions. We had some very good service on Riviera, but on the whole it was very uneven, verging on indifferent in many cases. When I asked to speak to the Maitre D' about the problem above, I was told he was "busy", but would call me. I'm still waiting. For us the ship is as much the destination as the itinerary. We found Oceania to be far too port intensive, which leads into my final point. Crystal has a far superior sea day programme with lecturers and other presentations and options to the point deciding what to do can be a challenge. On our one sea day on Riviera there was nothing. At the end of the day the only opinion that matters is your own. If Oceania gives you what you need, then great. For us, Crystal is a better fit and we are willing to pay the premium for the better experience.
  3. Trust me Terry, it gets plenty warm enough up here in June through August to wear what we also call flip flops. They come in numerous styles (not just the old "thong" style of our childhood), and while I personally don't wear them, except around our pool, lots of people do.
  4. It will be interesting to see if they will let you off the ship. It's a moot point for us as we have had little interest in visiting China. And once they said we had to go to the Consulate and be fingerprinted that interest went from slim to none!
  5. FWIW, according to one of my colleagues, an ex-pat Chinese and fairly well-versed on this, if the ship comes into a Chinese port from an outside country and then leaves for an outside country, the 144 hour rules applies. If the ship makes any other stops in China, then a visa is required.
  6. I suspect the timing also depends on how many cruise, and how far out, you have booked that have not had the discount applied. We only had our June cruise on Bach outstanding and the discount on that appeared about two weeks before we left for Auckland back in January. And Keith, it happened without any "intervention" on my part. We now have the 2022 World Cruise outstanding, so it will be interesting to see when/if the discount appears as we approach our Bach cruise in mid-June.
  7. Actually it will be applied automatically by Crystal about 14 days prior to your October 2019 sailing and refunded to whatever credit card you used to make the final payment.
  8. We were in Cookstown on Serenity last year, and while the Lion's Den pub was mildly amusing, you really did not miss anything. The sea day was the better of the two options IMHO.😁
  9. Actually we did before we did our Esprit cruise. Our earliest cruising (1988 - 1995) was all in oceanview cabins, but we have had balcony cabins ever since. Initially the room did feel a little confined without a balcony door that could be opened, but that feeling dissipated quickly as we unpacked and then got out to explore the ship. Truth is there is nowhere on the ship that you cannot be on an outer deck in about 30 seconds, and the ship itself is quite bright and airy considering its size. I liken the cabins on Esprit to a river cruise. They are on the small side, but you truly only use the cabin to sleep, shower and change your clothes. The rest of the time you are out and about the ship.
  10. On a Canada/New England President's Cruise in 2011 we did the President's Shore Excursion in Boston. While they got everything in, it came so badly "off the rails" during the course of the tour that they refunded 100% of the cost the following day! One thing Crystal does that others do not is provide a staff escort in addition to the local guide and driver. On a tour in Naples a number of years ago, our "private boat transfer" got replaced with a badly overloaded "public ferry". Our tour escort pulled us off the ferry and would not allow the group to proceed until the tour operator provided the private boat transfer. Yes Crystal's tours can be pricier than private sometimes, but you do get peace of mind for your money.
  11. Because we Canadians are an orderly bunch and we don't like to see people jumping the queue who are not allowed to. 😁😁
  12. These little clips are interesting, but does anyone know when, and on what network, the series will be broadcast? We would like to see the entire series.
  13. As Robin mentioned above, the shot is now considered good for life, so if you have had the shot earlier in your life, you do not need a new one. We had our "updated" shots, before the "for life" determination was made, in our mid/late 50's respectively with no side effects.
  14. Hi Patty. Not necessarily so. While it is true that Keith and Anne Marie are in Waterside almost BEFORE it opens each night (😁), on our two segments we generally arrived around 7:15 - 7:30 each night and Leo seated at one of three four-top tables on the port side of the upper circle. We didn't ask for those tables, that's just where he seated us. Even the night we had Monica's cousins onboard for dinner, we were in the same area, but at a different four-top. Actually, the only night we didn't sit in that area Leo seated us at "Keith and Anne Marie's table"!! And we all had a good laugh at that!! Our take on this is that with all of the other options available, open seating has allowed people to "spread out" for dinner. In the five weeks we were on Serenity I can only think of two nights Waterside was "crowded", but even then there were empty tables, just not as many.
  15. I have heard variations of this idea over the years and it is a good one in the event luggage goes astray. Having said that, I would recommend putting a copy of your itinerary in your suitcases rather than a copy of your passport. If one of those passport copies goes astray, or if your luggage is opened "in transit", there are criminal organizations that would love to have your passport details and who could then engage in identity theft, making your life very, very miserable!
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