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All too soon...

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  1. It basically doesn't matter. Some will load images to your computer faster, but none will affect you in the field. Test everything in advance, and have plenty of spares. (Granted, the photo shot on board will always sell you a spare).
  2. I agree about the benefits of the monopod. A 300 shooting at f5.6 without bright sunlight will be borderline for moving subjects form a moving platform. For 10x the lens cost, a 300mm f2.8 pro lens (like sports pros use) would be ideal, and the 'pod would simply help hold the weight up. I'd caution about relying on high megapixels for cropping decisions. modern DSLRs are limited my lens resolution, not sensor resolution. Anyone with an older DSLR should upgrade the body for this type of situation, because inproved sensors will help in critical situations (inadequate light on moving subjects) more than a $10,000 lens might. Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime, and a photographer's paradise!
  3. The difference between 200 and 300 is minimal on a non-full frame DSLR, so you're mostly redundant between those two lenses. Take sharp shots and crop from the 200. 18-200 means you won't be swapping lenses on the windy deck with numb fingers. Your trip will be filled with broad vistas and tiny wildlife all at the same time. If you go for the 300, then don't bother with the 18-200, and have a second camera (or good phone) for the scenic images. Or, to supplement the 70-300, get the amazing 24mm pancake lens for scenery. If it were Nikon, I'd say to spend $60 on the fantastic 18-55mm kit lens that everyone foolishly sells off on eBay.
  4. I've been there, and took ~6000 photos on an Antarctic cruise. Photography was possibly the best highlight of it for me. 1. An SLR is the best choice because of the lack of shutter delay, which is critical for the wildlife shots you're probably looking for. 2. Healthy SLRs don't freeze in the cold (certainly not at the well-above-zero mild temps of summertime Antarctic coast). 3. Get the longest lens you can. (The 18-200 is definitely preferred for the small price premium). For wildlife, it can't be too long. A 300mm or 400mm f2.8 and a TC would be awesome (what I wished I'd had instead of the 18-200). 4. If you don't get lucky with sunny weather, the cloudy light can be dim. Be sure to have a camera with good High ISO performance, because that 18-200 doesn't have a very wide aperture. Learn how to balance shutter speed (to capture flying birds and swimming penguins), aperture (to improve focus and depth of field), and ISO, to avoid excessive grain. On cloudy days, the swimming penguins were a little blurred because of the slow shutter speeds needed for my slow 18-200 lens. I should have tolerated more grain from the high ISO to reduce the blur. 5. Consider bringing an even better lens. When you're spending $20,000 for a vacation, spending a couple thousand more might make sense if photography is important to you. Or, you can rent a pro tele lens that might cost closer to $10,000 for less than a thousand. Or buy new, and sell on Ebay when you return, you'll get most of your money back. Same for a pro body, though these are harder to resell. Your 18-200 gets sharper as it stops down, while those pro 2.8 lenses are sharp as a tack wide open. 6. Bring extra batteries, and a power strip so you can keep them charged. Plenty of memory cards. Bring your computer to back up as you go, while keeping the cards as second backups. Use the computer to analyse your work frequently, and fix what isn't working well (wish I did this and used higher ISOs on cloudy days). 7. Carry your camera with you on board during the Antarctica days. You never know when there will be an amazing sight even on a formal night. 8. Dress warm. If you're an avid shooter, you'll want to be outdoors for hours at a time. You can't dress warmly enough. Gloves that let you operate the camera (thin neoprene under warmer fingerless). A hat, scarf, and Arctic gear. Unless you have practice with 30-degree wind whipping past you while wearing a single layer of pants, bring ski-pants, thermal underwear, etc. Trust me. 9. Quality lenses always hold their value, so you can resell anything you no longer need. 10. If you were tempted, now is the time to jump to the now-affordable full frame pro format (switch to Nikon if you prefer), which lets you use the pro lenses. 11. Bodies are cheap and disposable. This is a good time to upgrade if yours in more than 2-3 years old. 12. A monopod is great for stabilizing on ship's deck, and easing the strain of holding up your camera with cold fingers. 13. Fast shutter (frames per second) is good for shooting birds and swimming penguins. To shoot nature, you need lots of luck, and the more shots you take, the more likely you are to capture the perfect moment. 14. Consider a backup camera. Things do break. And, even a pocket cam or iPhone can take the scenic photos that supplement your main camera's longer reach. 15. Do whatever enhances the enjoyment of your vacation. If you love being a photo geek, then go for it. If not, just capture some memories and don't worry too much. 16. Practice at home with your equipment. Make sure you know how to use it fully (reread the manual, or invest in an online course). Visit kenrockwell.com for good advice, including about equipment. Go out and take pictures of birds, if that's what you'll be shooting on vacation. Experience will pay off. 17. Dress warmly!
  5. Trademarks apply only as long as they are in use, so unless Crystal was doing some strategic use to preserve rights (like having a "Harmony-level of concierge service" or some place holder related to cruise line services) they have abandoned the brand. Crystal registered CRYSTAL HARMONY as a trademark, not Harmony alone (if I were advising them, I'd counsel a more aggressive path). It was renewed in 2007. HARMONY OF THE SEAS was applied for late last year.
  6. Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas might present some legal problems for that otherwise-nice suggestion. There is the Avalon Tranquility, a European riverboat cruiser, but I suspect that would present less of a challenge.
  7. I derived my screen name from the brochure's frequent conclusion of many tour descriptions: "All too soon, you will return to the pier to rejoin your Crystal ship."
  8. Thanks for the interesting perspective. I didn't realize that the windows were a different size (do you happen to know the difference?) Is "bulwark" what we might call the "railing" (a steel wall above waist high - a visual extension of the hull as seen from outside)? "Reeling" is a term I'd never heard, and even Google couldn't help me with, but I assume it's the "railing" with the grid of horizontal bars to keep us from slipping overboard. I should note that the more I cruise, the less the view out the stateroom window seems to matter.
  9. The best of the Symphony compared to Serenity is the marvelous central Starlight lounge. I'd find a way to retain that. I'd find a way to offer a smoking area in the outdoor pool area that contained or segregated the smoke better. I'd make the decor, especially in the MDR, more contemporary, like a well-designed modern restaurant in a big city. Enhance the Grill/Tastes facilities to offer an all-day tapas/dim sum bar. Go digital (displays of images) on photo shop. Imagine walls of big screens. Computer delivered daily schedules, and the ability to make reservations on the computer system. Blue-ray and true HD wall screens for staterooms. The name? As I have said for years: The Crystal Tranquility
  10. I don't think I have ever seeb anyone order food in any lounge. They do pass hors d'ourves at certain times.
  11. I remain a little surprised that the one cruise to the holy land occurred on such a holy day. Either Crystal faced scheduling constraints (as they always do), or assumes their demographic is not strictly observant, or simply didn't think to check. I have found enough minor scheduling glitches over the years to infer that the scheduling department doesn't look at holidays much (except for those they can sell). But other examples include hitting ports on days when everything is closed due to holidays, etc. It would be interesting to ask the boss how they do the scheduling (I'll bet even the Cruise Director might have some insight).
  12. My first on Crystal was at age 39 +358 days.
  13. That's my past experience for still water, but it used to be they always had Perrier, and now they use San Benedetto for sparkling.
  14. Excellent advice here all around. I'm a fan of Valencia, but it's wonderful just walking in the old town, with the central market as my "must-see" (get a wonderful breakfast or lunch at one of the little cafe/stalls). Mallorca is fine for a ride to town, and a walk about, hitting the cathedral (hope for sunshine and a spectacular stained glass experience). If you need a break, Mykonos and Corfu are missable in my opinion, and you may be docked someplace pleasant enough to enjoy the ship. Not that there's anything wrong with those ports if you feel like a walk around town. I like Keith's advice to go intensive one day on the overnight ports, and then light (or "at sea") for the other day. Most importantly, give yourself the freedom (when practical) to decide at the spur of the moment to do more or less than you had planned. You might just decide that it feels like the perfect day to stay on board, and you can see this port another time.
  15. That's unfortunate, as few who would be fasting for a day would want to do so on board a Crystal ship. The day in Rhodes would also be missed by the observant. But while those who are most strictly observant might have a challenge, I suspect Crystal might have something suitable for many.
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