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Seafairer

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About Seafairer

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    New York, NY
  • Interests
    Violin, British history, cruising, opera, ballet, sailing
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Silversea
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Mediterranean
  1. As mentioned above, Crystal will store your suitcases. But if you find yourself short of closet or drawer space on this long voyage, you might consider keeping some items in a suitcase, under the bed. If it's too deep to fit there, you can keep it open, like a book, and slide it underneath. Easy to access the contents, especially since there are always "a few" things we never get around to wearing... I wish I could take credit for this brilliant idea, but I found it on CruiseCritic!
  2. KikiKruiser, could you please tell us if most passengers tended to dine at the same time, or did they arrive throughout the night, really spread out? And how did Crystal schedule the evening shows and lounge performers? Did they have the normal early/late shows or, if the ship was lightly booked, offer a single show that fit pretty much any dining schedule? Thanks!
  3. Going back to JonKen's note about the TV program on the Viking Sea... in the U.S. it's being broadcast in the "Great Cruise Ships" series on the Smithsonian channel, available in HD. It premiered recently and is repeated often. I've only seen part of the show so far but really liked that there's a long lounging area a few steps down from the pool which apparently is designed to be totally in the shade regardless of the sun's changing position. Very nice if you prefer not to sit in the sun! I'd also like to add a comment for those who have problems with any cruise line's home office. I've always been a big proponent of using an experienced travel agent for cruises, partly because it's part of their job to intercede when real clout (or just a nice favor) is needed. With their corporate contacts, they can often deal with things more successfully than we can. And with less grief and worry on our part.
  4. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful experience, Lois, and shared it with us! It's always heartening to hear that someone really enjoys their voyage. To answer your question about the buffets... I sailed on about 15 cruises on the Wind, Cloud and Whisper, never the Spirit, and as I mentioned, my last was in the autumn of 2011. So certainly, a lot can happen in the interim! But in my experience, Silversea's breakfast and lunch buffets were on the routine side, much of it the same from one day to the next. If things have changed, I happily bow to the culinary impressions of more recent passengers. When I first sailed with Crystal in 2013, I was amazed at the truly bountiful buffets, lots of new choices every day, along with items that were always on offer. Everything was really fresh, appetizing, nothing looked tired or soggy. As we might expect of a slightly larger ship, there was considerably more choice, and the dinner menus were more expansive as well. I've been mightily impressed with the choice, quality and preparation of the food on Crystal. Very consistent, too. It's a real strong point!
  5. We sailed solely on Silversea from 2000-2011, then decided to try Crystal. I agree with the previous comments and would like to add that, while Crystal's ships are bigger and carry more passengers, they're a far cry from mega ships. Crystal's public space is so well laid out that I felt just the same as being on Silversea. Certainly no crowding. Easy to find your way around. And, as on Silversea, you quickly begin to recognize your fellow travelers and it's easy to strike up a conversation. I always found service on Silversea to be top-notch. But Crystal has something a little extra and, yes, the staff really does learn your name. Crystal's pools are longer (about 50 ft.), better for doing laps. Having more venues to choose from is a very nice plus, whether for dining or nighttime dancing and entertainment. I'm not a foodie, but I began to find the meals in Silversea's Restaurant very uneven for a luxury line; I was, however, consistently delighted by the excellent meals in the Crystal Dining Room. And their willingness to prepare off-menu requests (with notice, of course). Similarly, Crystal's breakfast and lunch buffets offered more choices and, I do believe, higher quality. On the standard staterooms: yes, Crystal's are smaller, maybe 2 feet shorter?? They don't have Silversea's wonderful walk-in closet (sigh..) but they're beautifully designed with tons of storage. The quiet, wraparound Promenade is a delight, especially if you're on the same deck and can just amble outside. And, finally, a huge plug for Crystal's activities and enrichment programs on sea days. For me, those sea days are the icing on the cake - the real secret of experiencing a fabulous voyage!
  6. DEFINITELY book your cruises with a travel agent! Yes, you may receive various credits and goodies, but their professional value goes way beyond that. Matching you with the ideal cruise line or stateroom category.. handling specialized pre-cruise requests.. arranging custom tours or car service.. or as Terry mentioned, acting as your tireless advocate if something goes wrong. Most passengers sail along without a problem, and many of us are perfectly capable of selecting our own itineraries and suites, but an individual passenger has little recourse if something goes truly wrong -- I had this happen once (not on Silversea) and our agent worked a miracle. To locate the agent that's right for you, you can certainly ask around, but also check out the cruise line websites, which often supply lists of agencies they do a lot of work with. These days, with email and overnight delivery, you don't have to limit yourself to a local agency. I suggest calling several agents and ask to make an appointment to discuss your needs. (And it's best to do this by phone, not email, so you can really gauge their interest and listen to each other.) Be prepared to discuss your budget.. past travels, cruises, hotels.. what you liked.. what you didn't like.. what you're looking for in ambience, food, activities, comfort, whatever is important to you. The agent will probably want a little time to pull some ideas together. Then see who you felt most comfortable talking to, and who really "gets" what you're looking for. I realize you're already on the verge of booking, but you can still use this information to target an agent that's right for you. Like any professional -- lawyer, doctor, real estate agent -- a good travel agent will ease your way in ways you might not anticipate. Good luck!
  7. Descartes1, I believe cruise lines only use the term "charter" to describe a full-ship buyout, as opposed to selling large blocks of suites to groups. I agree that having a large group on a small ship might affect the ambience (and it might not). In the past, I was sometimes able to get this kind of info from Silversea's phone reps or our travel agent. Doesn't hurt to ask! So glad your voyage resurfaced. I hope you can all go into full "anticipation mode" in the months ahead.
  8. I'm terribly sorry about this situation, Descartes1. It's understandable that after all you did to make the logistics, planning and expenses work for 3 couples, you now find yourselves uncertain about the trip working out at all. Multi-week charters can be for a big corporate event, to house athletes at the Olympics, or house government officials in a secure setting for international summits. They don't affect us if they're already built into the schedule when it's first announced. Of course, it's a different matter when a line negotiates a charter later on, when passengers are already booked. Especially when passengers, like you, had to do back-flips to make it work! I don't know whether you booked through a travel agent but if you did, he or she will have an inside track and may be able to get your information more quickly - and maybe even secure "Satisfaction Plus" in the event that the cruise really is cancelled. But I hope your voyage goes ahead as scheduled, so you can all finally sit back and anticipate it!
  9. I must say, I agree with Keith and others who expect the TA to handle this, especially since he or she is on the ship with you, and your initial effort didn't succeed. Yes, an agent is responsible for handling bookings, getting things arranged pre-cruise, but a GOOD agent wants to know of any issues, and will have the corporate connections to solve them quickly, at least those the ship has direct control over. I'm glad your previous Crystal cruises went along without a hitch. We all know how hard Crystal works to ensure the very best in service, so this glitch is mystifying. But your big vacation every year is important to you, and if your TA didn't correct the onboard dining issue - or if your TA makes you feel that your business isn't significant - I agree that you might want to interview a few other TAs when you're back home and see if anyone strikes you as a better fit.
  10. And it also pays to check an insurer's definition of "pre-existing." I seem to recall that some cruise line policies cover you as long as a previous condition is under control (with medications, etc.) as of something like 60 days before you purchase the insurance. Or something like that. There was an earlier thread here that discussed medical and evacuation insurance in some detail. I recall Keith and others having some good advice on researching this important decision.
  11. I keep thinking back to Crystal's moving Serenity out of Europe for a good chunk of the summer and repositioning for itineraries out of the U.S. Many of us on CC assumed that decision was prompted by caution related to terrorism fears and the associated drop in travel. That could be another factor for delaying the new ocean vessel, along with the large number of cruise ships already out there. I'm sure Genting/Crystal wants to bring it out with great fanfare, but also a fair level of certainty for a strong travel market. In the meantime, we're counting the days (whoops, years...).
  12. So glad the voyage met your expectations, and then some! The Film and Theater theme voyages are fabulous -- As Tak said, there's SO MUCH to choose from, PLUS all of the regular enrichment offerings. We came to Crystal in 2013 after 11 years with a smaller luxury line, and there's no turning back!
  13. What a shock for you both! I hope you have a quick recovery. You're so right about getting travel insurance for cruises. That was very smart of you. Since cruises are prepaid, people who are unsure about cancellation insurance need to ask: If something serious happens, will I be okay with losing everything I've paid?
  14. To answer the other part of your question, Bodogbodog, Crystal does serve real clotted cream (whew!). I think they might also offer whipped cream as another option, but clotted cream is definitely available. As is strawberry jam, raspberry jam and orange marmalade. Anything you want - just ask.
  15. Suite Travels, I agree with Kathy - if you're flying to NYC on Friday and not going into Manhattan, you should be fine. The UN General Assembly meets at this time every year and can really snarl things up on the East Side of Manhattan. In the frozen zones, all traffic in the designated area is stopped for a limited period of time, but the effect is farther ranging as gridlock ensues and traffic backs up outside the zone. But it's the luck of the draw: when there's no frozen zone, traffic flows quite normally; when there is and you're anywhere near it, you'll be gritting your teeth. Going back to Keith's original observation, it's a good example of why it makes sense to book later flights.
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