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LIVE - WORLD CRUISE 2019 & MORE - A NEW ADVENTURE UNFOLDS - 12/15/18 - 5/21/19


Keith1010
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Thank you careyayn22 for your very kind words and post.

 

Our grandchildren are much younger but are also inquisitive about our time at sea.   We video with them using WhatsApp and they will ask questions about the ship and travel, particularly our four and one-half year young granddaughter.

 

Maybe one day you will take  a Crystal Cruise.  Our first one  with Crystal was a  25th wedding anniversary celebration.  Seems like yesterday.

 

Keith

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I wanted to share some good news.  Well, I think it is  good  news.

 

We just arrived to London  Heathrow  and starting last night they eliminated the  landing cards from seven  countries including  the  USA.  Todays' flight  arrived to terminal 3.   There  were no lines.  That might have been coincidental  but this does reduce significant  cost, allows  for efficiency and is supposed to free up resources to do other things.  

 

Keith

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WE'RE ON OUR WAY HOME

 

I thought this title was fitting as we make our way home. There was a Beatles song (you know I love The Beatles) sung by Paul McCartney and John Lennon) originally called We're on our way home before it became two of us. I like the lyrics and enjoy how they are singing to one another. 

 

We are at the conclusion of another amazing adventure. As they say all good things must come to an end or as The Beatles sang "All good things must pass".

 

We have visited places for the first time, returned to locations we have previously visited, and experienced so much at sea and on land. We have laughed. We teared up when we visited the concentration camp and I felt emotions on the walking tour of the Jewish Cemetery/Synagogue & Old Town. We have increased our knowledge about world events. We have grown. We have seen things through our own eyes and not the lens of a camera. We have met several guests for the first time and we have renewed friendships. We have seen our family living in Australia and kept up with our family in the USA. We have created memories which will last for the rest of our lives. We have sailed on a River Cruise Vessel for the first time and we have reached 100+ Crystal Society Milestones during this adventure. 

We have now sailed the equivalent of four years.

 

There is so much going on around the world that sometimes  gets lost or forgotten back hom. We have shared what is happening with investments by China in places such as Africa and we have seen first hand issues related to the global environment. These are some of the benefits of travel.

 

I hope my narrative and photos have conveyed much of what we experienced over the past five+ months. 

 

There is so much to see around the world and to remind ourselves that our home country and home areas represent only a portion of the world. The world is full of diversity which makes us all that much better if we take the time to learn from others about the cultures from around the world. 

 

We enjoyed our last night of the cruise at the Sofitel Hotel at London Heathrow Airport The first night of our adventure began at a hotel airport for our local airport so it was fitting that the last night end at an airport hotel. We enjoyed our final dinner of this trip and toasted our love for each other and our love and appreciation of travel. 

 

Dinner was not three or four courses as we enjoyed on Serenity and Mozart. We kept to two courses; salad and a salmon entree. Oh and I could have lived without the French fries. LOL but very true.

 

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We read and wrote before we went to sleep and awoke early for our final day away from home. After getting ready we went down to the lobby of the hotel where we could check in for our flight and drop off our luggage. This is a new service which British Airways offers at the hotel which began six months ago. We had no wait. Since our bags were large they asked us (me) to place each bag on a luggage scale and to read off the weight. We were given our boarding passes.. From there we walked the long corridor and took the elevator up four floors and entered terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. 

 

We went through passport control, through security and made our way to the British Airways Club Lounge. We were fortunate to not have additional checks as the two passengers in front of us did. The only item was security wanting to do a scan of Anne Marie's 3-2-1 bag. No big deal.

 

We just finished breakfast at the lounge. We kept this to the same breakfast you are familiar with by now; cereal and a banana. LOL. They had a full service menu with table service.

 

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We hope you have enjoyed following our adventure.

 

We have a challenging time ahead in a couple of months. If all goes well we will begin a new adventure later this year. Until then.

 

Cheers and best wishes to the members  of this board from around the world.

 

While  we all don't agree (that might be an understatement) what does unite most of us is our enjoyment of cruising and for most on this board their enjoyment of cruising with Crystal Cruises.

 

Enjoy life.

 

Remember, life is like a book and each of us does not know when that last chapter will be written. Another reason to enjoy each day.  1f642.png?_nc_eui2=AeGDcRF8dhp05FOD3xJk2

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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Thanks for one of the most epic trip reports I think I've ever read on Cruise Critic, Keith.  I can't imagine how much time it took out of your journey to share all of that with us, but I sure appreciate all of your efforts.  What an amazing trip!

 

Vince

 

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Thank you Elaine, Vince, Jbl919, crystalfirstimer, Peggy and Jonathan. 

 

We landed a little while sho and are nOw being driven home. 

 

Flight left on time and arrived early.

 

i’ll Post a few photos in the next couple of days and a few other posts about long trips

 

Keith

 

 

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2 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Thank you Elaine, Vince, Jbl919, crystalfirstimer, Peggy and Jonathan. 

 

We landed a little while sho and are nOw being driven home. 

 

Flight left on time and arrived early.

 

i’ll Post a few photos in the next couple of days and a few other posts about long trips

 

Keith

 

 

 

After five months on the water it will be interesting to know how long it will take for your house to stop feeling like it is rocking now that you are back on dry land!!! 😀😄

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A little more about yesterday.

 

Although along day it was an easy day.

 

Really appreciated the luggage drop off and flight check in at the London Heathrow Sofitel Hotel for British Airways flights.  They open at 5:00 AM and believe are  open until 1:00 PM daily.

 

As I mentioned flight took off on time and we arrived about fifteen minutes early.

 

Global Entry was easy, luggage wait was short and easy getting home.  

 

For those of you who follow United States  National Football League Football Anne Marie got an assist with former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Troy Aikman.  She immediately recognized him as he seemed to be looking for a place to charge a couple of his devices and showed him where the outlet is and congratulated him on a successful career.  I was proud that she recognized him but her advance is we used to live about one mile from him when he was in the Cowboys and she would see him at the Hallmark Card Shop.  Still I was proud of her.  😀

 

Flight crew was terrific.  For BA, the food was good.  Remember I said for BA.  

 

A few food photos from the Lunch but I didn't take any from the tea.

IMG_7119.thumb.jpg.81cd2df1857dd7a2c3b1c0da313ab6b1.jpgIMG_7124.thumb.jpg.0933914f53d48215c7416dba770451d2.jpgIMG_7125.thumb.jpg.e6c53af8e8e69f7525d6c9c91cc107e1.jpgIMG_7121.thumb.jpg.3638ae3779cdd3392f23772c147af5ed.jpgIMG_7126.thumb.jpg.126cb7d0843a30120c5c800542943678.jpgIMG_7120.thumb.jpg.524bfdfb850cd957c7e0e0fd0a10a3d1.jpg

 

 

I usually only watch part of or maybe one movie but I ended up watching three full movies and part of another one.  I think Anne Marie watched three movies.

 

I didn't want to jinx this but knock on wood neither Anne Marie nor I got sick over these many months and that was a challenge.  I attribute it to some of the additional care we took such as avoiding elevators, staying out of harms way (LOL) if we picked up on someone coughing, etc. watching most of the lectures in our room or sitting further away from people, practicing good hygiene, cleaning with bacteria wipes the four rooms we were in on Serenity and Mozart over the course of this adventure/hotel rooms and aircraft seat areas, avoiding tenders when they were crowded or at least keeping our distances and avoiding group tours and trying to minimize using the shuttle.

 

Again I still attribute this to "luck" because the reality is when you travel you do increase your odds for getting sick plus you are more likely to get sick over winter months.

 

Thank you to those who were joining us for dinner and rescheduled if they thought they might be getting sick.  We appreciate your kindness.

 

The only issues we had centered mainly on pulled muscles, etc. I want to complement the massage therapist I saw for three treatments on Serenity.  She has been a massage therapist for many years so this was not her first rodeo and she has also had additional related experience.  I got a recommendation from someone I respect before I made the appointment.  Also Kudos to Personal Trainer Melanie who has been me several additional stretching tips.  

 

For those of you flying to London Heathrow this summer which can be very busy hopefully the elimination of the landing cards will help speed things along as you go through immigration.  This looks to be a busy summer season so my advice is to give yourselves more time than usual at airports around the world.  Remember Murphy's Law.  

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

 

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On 5/20/2019 at 2:21 AM, Keith1010 said:

Thank you careyayn22 for your very kind words and post.

 

Our grandchildren are much younger but are also inquisitive about our time at sea.   We video with them using WhatsApp and they will ask questions about the ship and travel, particularly our four and one-half year young granddaughter.

 

Maybe one day you will take  a Crystal Cruise.  Our first one  with Crystal was a  25th wedding anniversary celebration.  Seems like yesterday.

 

Keith

 

Glad you are home safe. Our 25th is rapidly approaching —fall 2020. We travelled a lot by ourselves before kids, but we had them a bit on the “older parent” side, so since they were born, we have done very little traveling on our own without bringing the kids and experiencing travel with them.  I teach, so Fall is a hard time for us to travel, but we have a break mid October. Maybe we should leave the kids behind and try a Crystal New England cruise? That one may be attainable. 

 

Thanks for for the idea to consider and again, congratulations on your amazing journey. 

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After arriving home late Tuesday we are getting getting back to home life.  A reminder of our trip occurred with a knock of the door yesterday afternoon with a DHL representative delivering the luggage we sent via Luggage Concierge.

 

IMG_7128.thumb.jpg.fd44a3124bf75f5b7b5a7902f7598c17.jpg

 

 

When we departed Serenity on May 4th in Athens we had five of seven pieces taken by the Luggage Concierge Representative.  We took two pieces with us on the way to Vienna and for our time on Mozart.

 

As you can see, each piece has a number and that corresponded with an inventory sheet we kept by piece as well as the total pounds of each piece.  

 

We had made arrangements with Luggage Concierge to have our five pieces held until we arrived home asking that they be delivered on May 23 or later.  We received notification from them that indeed they were coming on May 23 so that worked out well.

 

Now we just have to unpack it all.  😀  

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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On 5/22/2019 at 11:18 AM, Keith1010 said:

A little more about yesterday.

 

Although along day it was an easy day.

 

Really appreciated the luggage drop off and flight check in at the London Heathrow Sofitel Hotel for British Airways flights.  They open at 5:00 AM and believe are  open until 1:00 PM daily.

 

As I mentioned flight took off on time and we arrived about fifteen minutes early.

 

Global Entry was easy, luggage wait was short and easy getting home.  

 

For those of you who follow United States  National Football League Football Anne Marie got an assist with former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Troy Aikman.  She immediately recognized him as he seemed to be looking for a place to charge a couple of his devices and showed him where the outlet is and congratulated him on a successful career.  I was proud that she recognized him but her advance is we used to live about one mile from him when he was in the Cowboys and she would see him at the Hallmark Card Shop.  Still I was proud of her.  😀

 

Flight crew was terrific.  For BA, the food was good.  Remember I said for BA.  

 

A few food photos from the Lunch but I didn't take any from the tea.

IMG_7119.thumb.jpg.81cd2df1857dd7a2c3b1c0da313ab6b1.jpgIMG_7124.thumb.jpg.0933914f53d48215c7416dba770451d2.jpgIMG_7125.thumb.jpg.e6c53af8e8e69f7525d6c9c91cc107e1.jpgIMG_7121.thumb.jpg.3638ae3779cdd3392f23772c147af5ed.jpgIMG_7126.thumb.jpg.126cb7d0843a30120c5c800542943678.jpgIMG_7120.thumb.jpg.524bfdfb850cd957c7e0e0fd0a10a3d1.jpg

 

 

I usually only watch part of or maybe one movie but I ended up watching three full movies and part of another one.  I think Anne Marie watched three movies.

 

I didn't want to jinx this but knock on wood neither Anne Marie nor I got sick over these many months and that was a challenge.  I attribute it to some of the additional care we took such as avoiding elevators, staying out of harms way (LOL) if we picked up on someone coughing, etc. watching most of the lectures in our room or sitting further away from people, practicing good hygiene, cleaning with bacteria wipes the four rooms we were in on Serenity and Mozart over the course of this adventure/hotel rooms and aircraft seat areas, avoiding tenders when they were crowded or at least keeping our distances and avoiding group tours and trying to minimize using the shuttle.

 

Again I still attribute this to "luck" because the reality is when you travel you do increase your odds for getting sick plus you are more likely to get sick over winter months.

 

Thank you to those who were joining us for dinner and rescheduled if they thought they might be getting sick.  We appreciate your kindness.

 

The only issues we had centered mainly on pulled muscles, etc. I want to complement the massage therapist I saw for three treatments on Serenity.  She has been a massage therapist for many years so this was not her first rodeo and she has also had additional related experience.  I got a recommendation from someone I respect before I made the appointment.  Also Kudos to Personal Trainer Melanie who has been me several additional stretching tips.  

 

For those of you flying to London Heathrow this summer which can be very busy hopefully the elimination of the landing cards will help speed things along as you go through immigration.  This looks to be a busy summer season so my advice is to give yourselves more time than usual at airports around the world.  Remember Murphy's Law.  

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

 

I am glad you have managed to arrive home safe. I had only a light cold during our world cruise. I remember I did not come to have dinner with you, not because I did not feel well but to avoid passing my cold to you. Exactly like you do, we appreciate when fellow passengers are considerate to others and practice good hygiene measures. That is not always the case however.

I wish Crystal would discourage shaking hands. I have avoided it as much as I could, but it was not easy specially if the one offering the hand is an officer or crew member.

Ivi

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1 minute ago, travelberlin said:

I am glad you have managed to arrive home safe. I had only a light cold during our world cruise. I remember I did not come to have dinner with you, not because I did not feel well but to avoid passing my cold to you. Exactly like you do, we appreciate when fellow passengers are considerate to others and practice good hygiene measures. That is not always the case however.

I wish Crystal would discourage shaking hands. I have avoided it as much as I could, but it was not easy specially if the one offering the hand is an officer or crew member.

Ivi

Ivi, you were so considerate to pass on dinner that evening and the good news is we had dinner on another evening.

 

One thing Crystal does for almost as many years as we have been sailing is for the Captain to not shake hands on the receiving line.

 

As we have learned these past few years hand shaking is something that many cultures do.  I can't tell you how many "bad and evil looks" we get when someone extends their hand to shake Anne Marie's  (on the ship, off the ship, pretty much anywhere) and she has to back away.   She used to say she couldn't shake hands  because of the medication but that didn't seem to work.   She now has to be very blunt about the disease she has but then we get the response "I'm so sorry" which isn't what she or I are looking for.  

 

Ironically when we boarded Serenity a few years ago the crew was not shaking hands because of an outbreak of Noro Virus from the prior voyage  When the Hotel Director saw us he bent his arms and we touch elbows on each arm.  We now do this all the time if someone extends a handshake and we know them well.  😀

 

Personally, I wish the handshake was eliminated as a ritual when people greet one another.  We avoid hugging too because of the issue.  The reality though is often germs are spread in other ways but that is another story.  

 

We really enjoyed sailing with you both.  Until next time.  


Keith

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Hi Keith,

I also want to share my appreciation for your epic post!  I'm sure...  along with your blog... they will be cherished mementos of an amazing journey! Thank you for your observations, photos and travel tips along the way. My husband David and I have our own (for us epic) Symphony journey starting this September, bringing us from Vancouver up to Alaska then along the Pacific Coast through the Panama Canal to New Orleans. After comfortably cruising the Atlantic Coast on Serenity a few years ago and enjoying Ravel last summer I know we are in caring, capable hands. In fact the high quality yet low key way of cruising with Crystal is the only way I would want to be onboard an extended sailing.

I wish you and Ann Marie the best! I hope to meet you both on the Crystal Seas!

P.S. you mention you no longer eat oatmeal away from home... is it because the oatmeal is

A. communal

B. may sit too long

C. may harbor germs

D. all of the above

E. none of the above

F. another reason   

Just had to have some fun with that question 😁

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5 hours ago, C-sea said:

Hi Keith,

I also want to share my appreciation for your epic post!  I'm sure...  along with your blog... they will be cherished mementos of an amazing journey! Thank you for your observations, photos and travel tips along the way. My husband David and I have our own (for us epic) Symphony journey starting this September, bringing us from Vancouver up to Alaska then along the Pacific Coast through the Panama Canal to New Orleans. After comfortably cruising the Atlantic Coast on Serenity a few years ago and enjoying Ravel last summer I know we are in caring, capable hands. In fact the high quality yet low key way of cruising with Crystal is the only way I would want to be onboard an extended sailing.

I wish you and Ann Marie the best! I hope to meet you both on the Crystal Seas!

P.S. you mention you no longer eat oatmeal away from home... is it because the oatmeal is

A. communal

B. may sit too long

C. may harbor germs

D. all of the above

E. none of the above

F. another reason   

Just had to have some fun with that question 😁

Thank you so much for your comments and I loved the oatmeal question.  I'll answer that one in a moment. 

 

Your cruise sounds wonderful.  We actually booked that one when we were on Symphony last May.  We had an wonderful time on Symphony on that cruise having not sailed Symphony for five years prior to that.  Unfortunately timing won't work with an issue we'll be dealing with so we had to cancel it.  Between that cruise and continuing on to New Orleans I am sure it will be very special.  I do hope we will meet you both on board on another cruise.

 

As to Oatmeal.  :classic_biggrin:  I do have it regularly at home with a banana (got to get some Potassium).  My answer is E & F.  LOL.

 

I prefer oatmeal to be fairly dry so I don't put much water in it so it is pretty pasty when it is ready.  Often on the ship and for that matter in most places it is too wet for me.  I have been told they can adjust this for me but I just figured I would give myself a break from the oatmeal.  I still have the banana though with the cereal.  😁

 

 

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6 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Thank you so much for your comments and I loved the oatmeal question.  I'll answer that one in a moment. 

 

Your cruise sounds wonderful.  We actually booked that one when we were on Symphony last May.  We had an wonderful time on Symphony on that cruise having not sailed Symphony for five years prior to that.  Unfortunately timing won't work with an issue we'll be dealing with so we had to cancel it.  Between that cruise and continuing on to New Orleans I am sure it will be very special.  I do hope we will meet you both on board on another cruise.

 

As to Oatmeal.  :classic_biggrin:  I do have it regularly at home with a banana (got to get some Potassium).  My answer is E & F.  LOL.

 

I prefer oatmeal to be fairly dry so I don't put much water in it so it is pretty pasty when it is ready.  Often on the ship and for that matter in most places it is too wet for me.  I have been told they can adjust this for me but I just figured I would give myself a break from the oatmeal.  I still have the banana though with the cereal.  😁

 

 

I'm with you on soupy oatmeal.  Seems to be a chronic condition on cruise ships.

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… for BA the food was good :classic_biggrin:

it is true during the last year the catering on BA improved ( in Club and First ) even on a short flight Brussels to London.

sometimes you cannot avoid to fly BA like   Barbados and other Caribbean Isles   - or if you have tons of miles "avios"

i recently flew First upgraded with miles- on Lufthansa  to Miami  - the lounge  in Munich  was far better as the Concorde on Heathrow with much higher quality of   food and a superior amount  of - quite extremely expensive - drinks. You only can go into the lounge if you flying First so not if you are Gold or higher status and  flying business. I was escorted from my connecting flight to the lounge by a small limo and when leaving  an attendant was willing to bring me to the gate  what was within walking distance. The service was very personal and attentive.  

On the other side the Lufthansa group must share a lounge at Miami airport from a particular South American airline - overcrowded  and very basic.

There are only 8 people in the First cabin  LH ,  there is still a caviar service .

On the other side even if  you book quite in advance: a First ticket  on LH is somewhat the double as on BA  and very"foolish" the Club on LH is cheaper as on BA.  

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vistaman, thank you for sharing your thoughts.  We are fortunate to have a direct BA flight between London Heathrow and our home airport and while we prefer certain airlines over BA we go with this flight to avoid additional fights.

 

Keith

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Review 

Our recent time on Crystal Serenity & Crystal Mozart was comprised of several cruises.

 

Crystal Serenity:

 

December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise

 

January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise

 

January 12  , 2019 85 Day Los Angeles to Monte Carlo World Cruise

 

April 7, 2019 11 Day Monte Carlo to Venice Cruise

 

April 18, 2019 9 Day Venice to Athens Cruise

 

April 26, 2019 7 Day Athens Round Trip Cruise

 

Crystal Mozart:

 

May 10, 2019  Vienna Round Trip River Cruise

 

Overall Summary

 

During this voyage we celebrated our 100th Crystal Society milestone a few voyages before departing Serenity for Mozart.  We have sailed Crystal since 2002.  This was our ninth World Cruise.  It was our second longest time on board Crystal.  

Overall, our experience was outstanding. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect all the time.  Rather, as a whole we had a wonderful time and the positives significantly outweighed the few exceptions.

 

We were fortunate to have excellent weather other than a few days in Hawaii with rain on the Holiday Cruise and just a few days at sea with choppy seas. Although we boarded on the fourth cruise after dry-dock you would think the changes including new dining venues and open seating were in place for years.  The vast majority of the crew were on-board for the dry-dock and you could see on their faces and in their words their pride of what was accomplished in the dry dock.  The ship looks better than ever.  

 

We had a wonderful experience.  It was great to sail with guests some of whom we hadn’t sailed with for four or more years and to meet many new guests for the first time.   We had so many nice times with the guests from Yoga for Anne Marie, from Indoor Cycling Class and Paddle Tennis for me, and from people we met over the course of the cruise including some special people from this board.  

 

We felt right at home when we sail with Crystal and that includes Symphony which we don’t sail often, Serenity which we do sail often and Mozart which we sailed this onetime. 

 

The crew across all three vessels is amazing IMHO which I will discuss later in the review.

 

With fingers crossed we look forward to sailing Crystal Ocean, River and Expedition vessels over the coming years.

 

Below please find narrative and a rating of the categories I chose to include in this review.  

 

Ratings are tough because if this was my first cruise I might rate something differently and sometimes higher.

 

As I mention below, we had an extraordinary time.  This doesn’t mean that a few items could not benefit from changes and I note them.  Also, while we loved the cuisine, this doesn’t mean that every item we had was perfect.  Rather this means that overall we thought the cuisine was terrific.  I can remember a handful of times where something was not to our liking but given we had hundreds and hundreds of different items that says a lot IMHO.

 

As I always say the only opinion that matters is your very own, and that applies to all things in life.  These days when someone asks me about an opinion about a cruise, hotel, restaurant, port, tour or an entirely different area such as automobiles, movies, books when I give my opinion I preface it like this.  If it’s something I like I will say this works for us and the reason(s) why but quickly mention this is my opinion and it might not work for you. Conversely, if we don’t care for something we will say that and explain why but quickly say  you might like it.

 

Also, experiences can vary.  For example, I have found that weather can impact an experience on or off the ship such as encountering bad storms at sea or torrential rain on land. I also think t other factors come into play such as those you are sharing the experience with and the overall length and overall guest occupancy on a voyage.  Most of this is subjective.

 

With that said here goes.

 

Embarkation/Disembarkation - Excellent

 

Embarkation was very smooth.  The information provided ahead of time via PCPC and the ability to check in guests on board the ship facilitates an orderly embarkation. Disembarkation went well.  We used the Crystal Car service and were guided off the ship by the concierge who turned us over to one of the local representatives.  We were taken to the incorrect area for our vehicle but within a minute that was corrected when another representative came over and brought us over to the correct location.

 

Cuisine/Beverages - Outstanding

 

I thought that the cuisine was better than ever.  Waterside benefited from open seating with it operating more of a restaurant and less of a banquet facility.  This translated to better presentations, with  warmer moist food served.  Umi Uma (Japanese Specialty Restaurant) has a new and enhanced menu as Symphony had after her dry-dock.  Prego continues to have food that we enjoy very much.  On the World Cruise they modified the menu on each segment to replace some items with new items.  We enjoyed the new Asian Restaurant Silk.  Food is served family style.  Over a few cruises we tried a variety of items and determined which ones worked best for us.  We also learned after placing our order how to sequence the food to avoid too many items being served at once and getting cold.  We ate at the new Brazilian Restaurant Churrascaria one time as we did on our Symphony cruise in 2018.  We think it’s a great concept but for us it’s a dining venue that we will only go to occasionally.

 

Since inclusive rolled out about six years ago this area has gone through its own evolution.  This includes a greater diversity in wine and spirits offered.  In addition Crystal under the direction of one of its former Bar Managers has developed special drink menus for Gin and Manhattan’s.  

 

Overall Ship – Excellent 

 

The ship looks great, and the enhancements made to the public areas during last years dry-dock are amazing.  This includes the major enhancements made to Waterside, Palm Court , Stardust, Computer University along with new carpeting.  

 

Waterside not only has a new look, but it has enhanced the dining venue between allowing for the rollout of open dining and it becoming quieter with smaller tables and changes to reduce overall sound levels.  Palm Court is beautiful and still serves many diverse functions.  Stardust is better positioned to support groups and very special in the evening when on one or two selected evenings it transforms to a supper club.  The Computer University is beautiful and has all new computers.  It flows so much better as they opened up the entranceway.

 

I would have given the overall ship an outstanding except for one area.  I believe that some “detailing” work is needed on the standard rooms and suites . During this cruise we were in three different rooms so that gave us some additional perspective on this.  

 

Itinerary – Excellent

 

Overall we enjoyed the itineraries and that started with the Holiday cruise of Hawaii.  We appreciated the World Cruise going mainly from the East to the West so we turned the clocks back rather than forward.  In most cases the schedule called for us to arrive to ports early morning which we prefer and stay until 6:00 PM or later.

 

If I had one wish,  it would be like this.  One is not to arrive to any port after 9:00 AM and especially not 11:00 AM or later, especially if you are there for one day.   Late morning arrival make eating lunch challenging while trying to enjoy the limited time you have in port.  

 

Second would be to minimize departures where you leave at 7:00 to 9:00 PM rather than 6:00 PM as I believe it changes the evening experience.  While we don’t gamble or frequent the stores much, I just think with those venues open and the ship sailing it is different than when you are in port

 

With this said I realize for departures they are trying to find the right balance and sometimes the driver are the tours and trying to give people more time in port.

 

As to last morning arrivals I think most people would enjoy an early arrival and sometimes I believe a voyage would be enhanced with maybe one less port to allow enhanced time I the other ports.  This is just my two cents.

 

Apart from this we loved the vast majority of ports including some that we visited for the first time, some that we hadn’t visited since 2005, 2007 or 2008 and some that we have visited recently but enjoy seeing again and again. 

We had some surprise ports in terms of their sheer beauty as they were first time visits for us.  

 

 

Entertainment - Excellent

 

The evening entertainment has been going through an evolution the past few years with greater diversity in the number and choices available at night. We very much enjoyed that there were regularly four different acts playing in the lounges in the evening and on many nights there were two different acts performed  for the shows.  The new times of the shows based on open dining work better for us.

 

Enrichment - Excellent

 

The World Cruise included some segments where Ocean Views was offered and the talent was so strong they had two panel discussions per cruise on at least two of the segments.  Ocean Views is a panel discussion comprising three or four panelists.  The format allows for a question to be asked, for the audience to respond by voting with a hand-held device, for the results to be shared, for the panelists to provide their respective thoughts/opinions on the question and for the audience to vote again with the results shared.  They covered five or more topics each time.  We thought these were some of the best Ocean Views we had seen with a strong moderator and strong panelists in place.

 

Overall, we enjoyed the lectures and appreciated there was more emphasis than we had seen before of having speakers on board from countries outside of the USA.

 

The item that I would like to see addressed is not having speakers lecture who continually give the same lectures as they have done in the past.

 

The rest of the enrichment program was as strong as ever with many programs offered and on sea days 50+ enrichment activities offered.

 

Fitness Center - Excellent

 

Since we use the Fitness Center frequently, I wanted to touch on it for a moment.  There was a good selection of classes offered and we both thought the two Fitness Directors were excellent.  Besides taking group classes we had personal training we each had a different Fitness Instructor.  Each one was prepared and because she wanted a copy, each evening the Fitness Instructor dropped off a copy of the training program that she took Anne Marie through during her personal training from earlier in the day.  

 

I continue to appreciate Crystal’s Fitness Center being open 7x24.

 

Shore Excursions - Outstanding

 

We do very few of the excursions because of a medical issue that Anne Marie has.  We did do a couple of private ones arranged with Crystal and each one was outstanding and exceeded our expectations which is why I am rating this area outstanding.  We found the Managers and their people very helpful when we asked them some questions even though we were not on one of the excursions offered.  If not for my wife’s illness there were many excursions, we would have booked with Crystal. 

 

Ship-Board Account & Accounting- Outstanding

=================

I don't believe I have rated this area before.  I wanted to mention how easy the bill is to read and appreciate the changes previously made.  It was not long ago when the bill was difficult to read and more challenging when sailing on two or more voyages.  All of the on-board credits were applied on-time including ones when the original Serenity itinerary post World Cruise was revised.  We appreciate the ability to view the account on-line.

 

Internet – Excellent

 

The reality is the experience on any cruise across any cruise line and ship can vary based on so many factors including location of the ship, overall demand, equipment issue on the ship and with the satellite provider, weather, interference from military installations along with other factors.

 

Given the time we were on board we thought the overall reliability and performance of the internet was the best we have experienced on any Ocean Vessel.  There were very few outages.  We could post daily here, on a blog, and on one other social media area and make phone and video calls through the internet and access websites and send and receive e-mail.

 

Getting Off & On The Ship In Port – Excellent

 

In general, we were in ports on-time or early most days.  I think this is extraordinary given the diversity and distance of where we traveled and in the challenges of getting ships cleared in foreign ports.

 

We missed a port because of high tides that impacted the ability to safely get up and down the steps at one of the tender landings.  There were very few times with lines for the tenders.  

 

If I made one suggestion, it would be the placement of a couple of additional signs noting the location and deck for the gangway when in ports where a tender is not involved.

 

Service – Outstanding +++

 

I saved the best for last.

 

One of the reasons we sail Crystal is the crew.  On our first Crystal Cruise within the first hour I knew something was special with Crystal when I needed help from the concierge on-board Harmony and for the first time in all of my cruising days I was treated as a person and not a number if you will.   With each passing cruise we have found the service to be better each time. Sure part of that is familiarity with us but another part is with the increased emphasis in this area.  Every cruise line has to differentiate itself from its competition.  Some do it with newer ocean vessels or with an array of areas. Crystal certainly differentiates itself in various areas such as enrichment.  However, there is something very special about the crew no matter if they have been there for years or on their first contract.  It rarely happens but you can pick out someone on their first contract who likely will be around for one contract.  We can’t say enough about the people who work on –board in all areas.  They have dealt with the recent changes very well along with al of the other changes as Crystal has gone through a major evolution since we first sailed with them in 2002 including open dining, inclusive, and in many other areas including enrichment and entertainment.

 

I wish I could mention each person and each department by name when I discuss how special the members of the vessel are and the departments that they represent.  They do represent all departments including those we see day-in-and-day out along with those that are less familiar to guests.  They are truly amazing.  IMHO it takes a special person to work for Crystal.  They have my respect and admiration for all they do.  

 

For those of you sailing Crystal for the first time I want to note that if you are on a short sailing such as ones of six/seven or even eight days with high guest occupancy the experience might not be like it will be on longer voyages as dining venues can get very busy and there is just not enough time for the crew to get to know you as they can and will on longer voyages.

 

Land Based Departments

=====================

 

The land-based departments were very helpful in putting this adventure together.  This included the cooperation that our TA received from reservations.  This booking was fairly complicated between all of the voyages and using a couple of Crystal Society Milestones including the one that involved the CP.  Special thanks to on-board guest services for their assistance including getting the World Cruise voyages loaded  for the visitor request authorization via PCPC and for communicating two special requests to purchasing and to Land Programs for organizing our private Crystal shore excursions.  

 

Crystal Mozart – May 10 Athens R/T River Cruise

 

I have submitted a review for Mozart and this being a Crystal Ocean Vessel Board I will limit my comments.  I just want to say this voyage turned out to be a prefect way to cap our terrific experience on Serenity.  This was our first River Cruise so I can’t compare it to any others we have been on. What I can say is that this product was truly Crystal in so many ways and we loved the experience.  We will take another River Cruise with Crystal and will attempt to combine it before or after an Ocean Voyage(s).

 

Keith

 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Keith1010 said:

vistaman, thank you for sharing your thoughts.  We are fortunate to have a direct BA flight between London Heathrow and our home airport and while we prefer certain airlines over BA we go with this flight to avoid additional fights.

 

Keith

I meant to have said non-stop versus a direct flight.  😀

 

Keith

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Unfortunately ex Brussels there is only one cheaper carrier operating - non daily - to Miami - without a business class.

So everytime going to Miami is exploring the "jungle" of air ticketing  - ranging from the cheapest business on a Portuguese to the most expensive on a US company. Also for Europeans preferable without connecting in a US airport ( luggage immigration … )  despite some TA do advice in mid winter cruisepax to go over Atlanta for the possible bad "snow"  weather . ( Chicago NYC  DC  )   

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