THE FINAL COUNTDOWN - UNTIL NEXT TIME CRYSTAL SERENITY
This journey on Crystal Serenity began on January 7 in Miami. It is not our longest adventure on Serenity nor our shortest. Regardless of the length of the voyage and the places we visit it is the people who make sailing on Crystal Cruises amazing and very special for us.
Let’s start with the highly trained and professional members of Team Serenity. They comprise individuals from many nationalities who work together to provide a high level of professional and personalized to each guest. They are amazing. We have known some members of Serenity since our first cruise on Crystal Harmony in 2002, our first cruise on Crystal Symphony in 2003 and our first cruise on Crystal Serenity in 2005. We have seen many of the members of Serenity move into increasing levels of responsibility and/or take on new assignments.
While many in the hospitality area around the world provide professional service to me one of the things which set Crystal apart is the people are not robot like and see each guest as individuals and that is precisely how we see them.
They remember things about us even we don’t always remember, including food and drinks we enjoy. They anticipate items before we even think of them. They remember things about our own family on land. No matter what the seas and weather conditions, or itinerary are like or whatever the other challenges they may face, they interact with each of us in the most positive manner possible trying to make our time and the time of fellow guests the best it can be. When we arrive to the ship on embarkation day or return from a visit to a port they often say “Welcome Home”. Yes, we do feel like we are back home each time we return. We also think of the amazing people who comprise each Crystal Vessel we have sailed to be part of our extended family.
While some cruise lines we have sailed have newer ships, larger staterooms and suites, like a fine wine for us sailing Crystal gets better and better with each succeeding voyage and one of the main reasons is the amazing people who are part of Team Crystal at sea and on land. In my humble opinion they are the best.
I want to note while the current Coronavirus is a challenge for many who travel it is a major challenge for the travel industry, including the people. Many people at Crystal have not only dealt with these challenges but still perform all of their day-to-day responsibilities. This included members of Team Symphony who dealt with countless challenges since Symphony was sailing Southeast Asia at the time of the outbreak and members of Team Serenity who have and are dealing with the itinerary changes resulting from this virus. Also all of the people on land from reservations to planning to purchasing/provisioning/logistics.
When we return this time of year we know there will be several fellow guests who we have sailed with on one or many prior voyages. Some we know very well having shared tours, dinners, conversations or even a game of Paddle Tennis, a walk, knitting or indoor cycling with. Others we know just from saying hi from time-to-time or starting up a conversation. They also make each voyage very special.
Let me close by saying I often think of the ship as having many of the characteristics of a small village on land. The major difference is the ship is a floating village taking us to extraordinary places around the world and allowing us to make memories which will last a lifetime.
We have enjoyed this adventure so much including special stops in New Zealand, on-board lectures and entertainment, the food/the food and the food, the people the people and the people, Vintage Room Champagne Lunch, Vintage Room Dinner and the list goes on and on and on. In the end it was the members of Team Serenity and fellow Guests who made this adventure very special.
Special thanks to Captain Birger for his leadership, including strong communication and decision making. The Captain kept the crew and the guests up to date through timely and spot-on communications so we were never in the dark.
Many thanks to the Hotel Directors, Cruise Director, Executive Housekeeper, Restaurant Manager, Food & Beverage Manager, Front Office Manager, Clearance Officer , Vice Captains, and to their teams and to so many others This includes Crystal Society Host and Hostess, Future Sales Consultants, Medical Doctor, Specialty Restaurant Maitre D’ , Head Waiters, Housekeeping Supervisors, Chief Accountant, Chief Concierge, Fitness and Spa Manager, and Store Manager and to the many hundreds of personnel throughout the ship who took excellent care of us and our fellow guests throughout this voyage. In the end it is the people who make the difference and who make our choice to sail with Crystal Cruises an easy one. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Now to our final port of call; Sydney, Australia.
Now to last night and today.
These are the Waterside Dinner Menus from last evening. We are also adding Waterside Breakfast Menu and the Waterside Luncheon Menu from yesterday.
As we have done the last few years, we had our final dinner of the cruise in our room. Back in the days when we dined with other guests at larger tables with fixed dining times we would go to the dining room for that final meal. Subsequently we went to a two person table and would go to the dining room but in recent years we have enjoyed a quiet dinner in our room.
Butler Jaison organized the meal for us.
We began with appetizers from the Umi Uma Japanese Specialty Restaurant.
A tradition for us which we began a few years ago is to have Pizza on the final night and this is precisely what we did.
While dining we enjoyed spectacular views of Sydney Harbor as we made our way to Circular Quay where we docked.
We put the last items in our suitcases and placed them outside our room before going to sleep.
We slept well. This morning differed from the normal routine as Keith didn't go to the Fitness Center for a workout. LOL. He did take a walk inside the ship.
Butler Jaison brought our final breakfast of the cruise and we thanked him for all he has done and wished him our very best. Last evening we thanked Penthouse Attendant Chan for all she has done and also Stateroom Attendant Raiyotla who has assisted Chan on this leg of the World Cruise.
We enjoyed our final breakfast of the cruise before packing our carry on bags. While we were eating we had visitors and the two photos are of one of the visitors. In case you wonder, we didn't feed them.
Our time depart the ship was 9:30 AM so we left our room at 9:00 to walk around. We said until next time to Chan who took care of our room for three of the four legs of the World Cruise. She and Linda who took care of us on leg one have been gems.
From our room we went to Deck 6. This is the infamous deck where where we walk inside the ship. It is also where disembarkation took place. It turned out to be the perfect spot to catch up with lots of people. We chatted with World Cruise Hostess and friend Stacey.
We spoke with Hotel Director Scott and Keith spoke with Chief of Security Sanjiv. We also saw Charles and Alice who we toured the vineyards with, and several World Cruisers. Some were staying such as BJ but others were leaving. One couple leaving we have known since 2007, one couple was on their first World Cruise and we met them a couple of weeks ago and other full World Cruisers leaving we knew or just recognized from walking around the ship. A few people leaving were either scheduled to leave or were originally going to Singapore. This included Denise and Steve who were on last years World Cruise and this year were going from Los Angeles to Singapore but decided to leave today. They are two of Keith's Paddle Tennis buddies. We saw another guest Keith plays Paddle Tennis leave with his wife and they were scheduled to depart today from Sydney.
We felt bad for those who booked the full World Cruise and cut it short due to the virus. There is no right or wrong to this and each person/couple had their own reasons for leaving.
We left the ship by 9:30 PM and collected our bags in the terminal. Three bags are being shipped home and two bags remain with us. After collecting the bags a porter assisted us and we turned over the three bags over to the luggage shipping company who had two people in the building. Easy Peasy.
Everything was orderly in the terminal including turning I our landing cards.
Once out of the terminal we were driven to the Shangri La Hotel located a short distance from the Circular Quay. If for the fact we didn't have luggage it would be a short walk to the hotel but with luggage and up a hill it was not practical to do this. We would have gotten Uber but were concerned they were at high demand. As it turned out very few of the guests used Uber. Some had private cars as we did and many got on a long queue for the taxi. While waiting we did run into some familiar faces who were returning to Serenity including Sommelier Ross and Future Cruise Sales Consultant.
Anne Marie with Daniele who we have known for twelve years.
This is our third stay at this hotel in three years.
Our first stay was in 2018 when we visited the family in Sydney. Last year we departed Serenity in Auckland, flees to Sydney, spent a few days at the hotel and returned to Serenity shortly after it arrived to Sydney. We brought the family on-board and celebrated our daughter's birthday which was on that very date with a birthday dinner at Prego.
We like the location of the Hotel. For those of you familiar with Sydney it is located in the area known as The Rocks.
We can get to and from the hotel via Uber (we could take the bus but prefer Uber) and the drive is thirty minutes plus or minus a few minutes depending on time of day and day of week.
The Rocks have some of Sydney's oldest pubs and many restaurants. Sydney is very walkable and we can get to the Opera House by foot in less than 30 minutes and enjoy beautiful views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Club Lounge of the Hotel.
We enjoy the hotel between the lovely room, the service around the hotel and its Club Lounge.
Since we were not sure what time we could check-into the hotel and it is a school day with after school activities for the children our plan was to spend the day in Sydney and get out to the families place tomorrow before the start of the school day.
During the course of the day we walked to different areas of Sydney. This included a visit to Queen Victoria Building where we had lunch and also over to where Serenity was docked and the Opera House. We went out a second time after unpacking. With rain in the forecast for most days we are happy we had time to walk to many areas of this beautiful city.
Look for daily posts as we spend one week in Sydney.
Anne Marie & Keith