THE END OF 2018 & A NEW YEAR AWAITS
Thank you Thelma for your comments.
Last evening we returned to the Palm Court to enjoy another pre-dinner drink. Once again we were taken great care of by Afzal and Marvin. The Palm Court provides terrific views, and we were fortunate to see a Whale.
Keith tried the Strawberry Black Pepper Gin& Tonic.
We dined again at Waterside.
These are the menus from Waterside last evening.
There are many aspects to cruising which we enjoy. One of them is to share the experience with friends and that includes dinner.
Rabbi Morrie and his dear wife Geri joined us for dinner. They joined Serenity on the cruise before the Holiday Cruise as that cruise fell during Chanukah. They will stay on-board through the end of the World Cruise.
On each World Cruise three clergies are on board; A Rabbi, A Protestant Minister and a Catholic Priest. This adds to the special feeling of community and being part of a small town on the World Cruise.
We first met Morrie and Geri on World Cruise 2007 and have sailed with them on each World Cruise we have taken and on a few other sailings. It's always special to be with them and we have enjoyed dinners with them on each voyage we have been on with them.
The Rabbi is popular with many guests of all faiths and with the crew. Every couple of sea days he will host "Rap With The Rabbi". He will select one or two major topics to discuss at each session, will share information, and open the session up to discussion. We have learned a great deal from these sessions and from the Rabbi. Often people from other faiths will attend which we think is great. He also leads the Friday night Sabbath Services and organizes Purim and Passover Seder if Passover falls on the World Cruise. Crystal Cruises always has a Rabbi on-board for Passover on both ships as they do for Chanukah and the Holiday sailing. On this Holiday sailing we have the Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister and the Rabbi. A Catholic Priest is on-board for all voyages on both Symphony and Serenity.
We enjoyed a lovely meal and conversation.
As to the meal, the two of us had salads. Anne Marie had English Roast Beef served with Yorkshire pudding, Braised Vegetables and Shallot-Port Reduction. Keith had Local Striped Marlin from the modern menu. When Senior Waiter Kasa served the entrees he brought over extra servings of the Yorkshire pudding so that Keith and the Rabbi could try them.
Shortly before we finished dinner the Senior Marketing Vice President of Crystal Cruises Carmen Roig arrived with our family and we chatted with Carmen for a couple of minutes. We were very happy to finally meet her.
Serenity pulled up anchor and departed Kona at 6:00 PM and set sail for Hilo which is also on the Big Island.
The featured entertainment was Mark Preston from Las Vegas who has receive three Grammy Nominations.
After getting a good night sleep we began the last day of 2018 with the same routine we begin each day on-board Serenity. This included an early morning workout for Keith (this time a long walk inside the ship) followed by an early breakfast.
Starting on Saturday, the Holiday Decorations on board the ship began to be taken down in preparation for New Year's Eve. With the New Year's Eve celebration planned for this evening by early this morning while guests were asleep the Crystal Plaza was decorated for the New Year's Eve Celebration.
We docked at Hilo at 7:00 AM. Our May cruise on-board Symphony was supposed to stop at Hilo. The events from the Volcanic Eruption changed the plans and for safety reasons the stop at this port-of-call was cancelled. Today market our second visit to Hilo. On our first visit in 2006 on-board the Celebrity Summit we did an organized tour. We had looked at doing a tour in Hilo. Unfortunately, the tour operators we inquired with were not providing tours since today is New Year's Eve.
Hilo is located on the eastern side of the big island of Hawaii. The first inhabitants arrived to Hilo at around 1100 AD.
Hilo receives a great deal of rain and at the highest altitude received upwards of 200 inches of rain anually. A major driver of the local economy is tourism.
Major attractions include:
Liliuokalani Gardens which include a park and gardens including Japanese Gardens built in the early 1900s.
Lyman Museum & Mission House which was built in 1839.
Pacific Tsunami Museum which is dedicated to the history of the 1946 Pacific tsunami.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which encompasses two active volcanoes.
We planned to go into town after the ship was cleared but it was pouring rain. We decided to walk inside and during the walk the rain stopped. We ended up walking for seventy-five minutes and at one point a rainbow came out.
After our walk, Keith decided to try to walk to town on his own even though local shuttles (small vans) were available. He asked one of the USA officials and she informed Keith how to make his way out of the terminal and said there was a sidewalk.
The weather could not make up its mind. It went from overcast, to cloudy to rain and back again and again. Keith was able to get to the main road and walked it until there was no sidewalk. With the grass and shoulder wet and no sidewalk Keith decided to return to the ship.
In between the rain Team Crystal Serenity was busy touching up paint.
One observation is that the terminal building for the port can use some updating.
We were able to do a video call with daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Guie and grandchildren Andre and Emma family who live in Sydney, Australia where it is already New Years Day.
We wish everyone a safe, healthy and Happy New Year.
Anne Marie & Keith
Below please find the Reflections (Daily Program) from today and also the first one of this voyage. We will post these when we can based on the speed of the internet and having time to do this. We hope you will find them to be informative.
We enjoyed our final lunch of the year at Marketplace. With the on and off rain it was too wet for Keith to play Paddle Tennis. We enjoyed a nice long walk on the outside Promenade Deck where we could walk under the sheltered area.
We are spending the rest of the day on the ship.
This evening we will dine at Prego for the first time of this voyage.
Anne Marie & Keith
THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII
Doris...Thank you for your comments about our post and sharing your appreciation for the night crew.
Thelma...Thank you for your nice comments.
Caryn...Thank you for sharing your experience on the previous voyage and for taking the time to share your appreciation for the crew and for your comments about Anne Marie's sister. Thank you so much.
Johnathan...Thank you for your comments. We agree 100%. When we were recognized at the Crystal Society Party they shared what we like most about Crystal and it is the crew.
Ricki....We are glad you are enjoying the Blog and your recent cruise sounded wonderful. Yes Benjamin is truly amazing.
We returned to the Palm Court for our daily pre-dinner drink. While we were there we watched the sail away. You may have noticed that the first few days after we boarded we had pre-dinner drinks at the Avenue Saloon and the last few days it has been at the Palm Court. The reason for this is two fold: First we like to change things up. Secondly, we are enjoying the openness and views from Palm Court and it is a terrific venue. However, when there are sea swells you can feel more movement from the Palm Court. Our thought is when we return to Los Angeles there will be stronger sea swells and we will return to Avenue Saloon as we cross back to California.
We enjoy the Crystal Cove and when we sailed Serenity in September/October we visited this lounge often. On those cruises it was not very busy since everyday was a port day. On this cruise it has been very busy and we prefer a quieter location.
We were in good hands with Afzel and Marvin. Keith had Afzel recommend which Gin drink he should have and the recommendation was a Yellow Jacket Jubilee. This is a terrific drink to have on a summer day and in Hawaii it felt like summer.
The drink has Gordon's Gin, Lavender Syrup, Ginger Syrup, Lemon Juice, Soda Water, Tonic Water & no calories. LOL about the zero calories.
As soon as we sat down last evening Keith noticed the color of the ceiling above the bar as it was yellow as opposed to blue. We learned they can change the color.
We enjoyed dinner at Waterside where we dine for two nights.
These are the dinner menus.
When we arrived Waterside was quiet. Waiter (assistant waiter) Yivraj came out to the table a few times. Often he is busy in the galley, bringing all of the items from the galley to the waiter station and bringing the cleared dishes back to the galley.
There were lots of choices on the menu that we considered particularly with respect to the diversity of entree choices.
We each began with an appetizer salad, followed by Seared Sea Scallops from the modern menu (first photo). This was a creative appetizer and very tasty. Anne Marie had Coq Au Vin (she asked for only white meat) and Keith had the Tuna Steak (medium rare) for our entrees. We were both pleased with our choices.
We wanted to mention the choices in evening entertainment which included.
The featured entertainment included:
Two performances by Comedy Ventriloquist Mark Merchant who has performed on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony for many years and is popular with the guests including us.
Two performances of Rock & Pop-A-Mania show. The show featured lead vocalists Tom Lowe & Sarah Elizabeth Combs along with the very talented team of the Crystal Ensemble Dancers and the wonderful Crystal Showband.
In addition there was live entertainment throughout the evening at the Crystal Cove featuring Jo & Liv from 5:15 to 7:30 PM; Violinist Viktoriia Stryzhak between 7:45 and 8:45 PM; Pianist Scott Mitchell from 8:45 to 10:00 PM and Carlos & Daniela from 10:00 to Midnight.
Justin Abrams played cocktail music in the Avenue Saloon from 6:45 to 7:30 PM and returned to play piano and sing from 9:30 PM to 12:30 AM. The Palm Court featured the Crystal Quartet who played music to listen to and/or dance to 5:15 to 6:00 PM; 6:45 to 7:30 PM and from 9:00 to Midnight.
DJ Josh played dance music at the Pulse from 10:00 PM to late in the evening.
If that was not enough the Movie Rampage was shown in the Hollywood Theatre at 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM and popcorn was available as a movie snack.
We very much appreciate the diversity in entertainment and how it is changed up within a voyage and from voyage to voyage. For example, last evening as we waited in the Crystal Plaza for Waterside to open we enjoyed the duo of Jo and Liv with Jo on the Guitar and Liv on the piano and the singing that accompanied the music.
We left Kauai at 5:30 PM last evening and set sail for our next port of call of Kona on the big island of Hawaii. We wanted to mention that the area where we were docked received an annual rainfall of 78 inches. The 5,148-foot-tall Mount Waialeale on this island receives over 400 inches of rain annually.
We slept well and kept to our morning routine of a workout for Keith and breakfast in our room. People ask on a cruise such as this one will the seas be rough? Our answer is it depends. One can expect rougher seas the first day or two sailing from and returning to Los Angeles and calm seas between the islands. Our first day or two out of Los Angeles had fairly calm seas. When Keith made his way over to the Fitness Center the sea swells were fairly strong and as he walked he was moving side-to-side. In about an hour the sea swells calmed.
After breakfast we walked together on the outside wrap-around Promenade Deck.
We arrived to Kailua- Kona by 7:30 AM and guests could take the first tender at 8:00 AM.
The city's population is 12,000 people.
Kona is known for its beaches and weather and coffee.
Although we last visited Kona in May of this year, looked into a private tour. Unfortunately, the three private tour companies we sent inquiries to are not running tours because of the Christmas and New Year holiday season as they are taking time off.
Near the Pier is the Kamakahonu royal residence and Ahu'ena Heiau.
A second royal residence is Hulieh'e Palace which was used by members of the Hawaiian royal family until 1914. It was originally built in 1838 out of lava rock.
The historic Kona Inn is nearby and has lots of stores run along the street.
Other major attractions include:
Manini'owali Beach which providing excellent views of the ocean and the opportunity to view sea life including dolphins and during humpback whales during the whale viewing season.
Mauna Kea Summit where one can drive from sea level to 14,000 feet high.
Ali'i Drive is a coastal road facing the Bay of Kailua and is the home to resort hotels, shops, markets, churches and historical sites.
We waited until 8:45 AM to avoid the crowds to take the tender We were successful with fifteen of us on board. We sat next to Petra who we had dinner with along with her husband at the Supper Club. We have a few things in common and one of them is having one set of children and grandchildren living in Australia.
Once we exited the tender we walked to the town which is a minute walk from the drop off tender pier.
As we walked to and from the tender pier, we saw some Hullihe'e Palace, Moku'aikaua Chuch, and enjoyed the views of Kailua Bay. An hour into our walk the temperature became 80 degrees (F). It was humid making it feel much hotter. We went to a Walmart to look for a particular snack bars for a teenager on-board who we know well. We were unsuccessful in Honolulu. This is his first trip to Hawaii ,and he mentioned how much he was missing these snacks. Mission accomplished. LOL.
We enjoyed beautiful views of Serenity from various vantage points including the Walmart, located on a steep hill.
We took the tender back to the ship. We left from the port (left) side and they considered opening the starboard side (right) because of strong sea swells. There was another tender ahead of us but had no guests on board. We ended up at the port side of the ship. We waited 5 minutes before getting off the tender as the tender was being pushed up and down by the swells. For those of you who have been waiting when you are going up and down and can see a few feet below the tender platform you realize that patience is important because safety of guests and crew is the number one priority at all times. When we got a break with the swells we safely climbed out of the tender with the help of the crew who were on the tender platform. Fortunately, only ten of us were on board. There was a long line of people waiting to board the next tender.
We had a nice lunch at Marketplace and enjoyed the rest of the day on-board Serenity. Paddle Tennis for Keith, a one hour walk for Anne Marie, along with conversation with fellow guests and crew.
Another great day in paradise; on-land and on-board Serenity.
Anne Marie & Keith