GOLDEN STATE DISCOVERY - FINAL THOUGHTS
As often as we have sailed Crystal Cruises we can honestly say that this entire trip has exceeded our expectations.
There were several firsts for us including having the grandchildren with us, renewing our wedding vows, and the accommodations we had.
In the end, the most important component of the trip was being together for ten days with our entire family. The grand children were exceptional. They are children and from-time-to-time they each had their moments but they got over them quickly and did great.
We have made many memories which will last a lifetime.
These are final thoughts about the voyage.
Embarkation was both timely and very orderly. We were fortunate that disembarkation of guests from the prior cruise went as well as it did.
Special Arrangements - Wedding Renewal Ceremony:
We have celebrated special occasions on board in the past such as a 25th wedding anniversary, a birthday and a 60th milestone birthday but this was the first time we made arrangements ahead of time with on board guest services for something like this which was a wedding renewal ceremony.
The ceremony and the reception far exceeded our expectations and we appreciate all of the details that went into it. We had a choice of a couple of different packages. We also are very thankful to Captain Birger for officiating the ceremony and for so many officers to be there. Thanks to Cruise Director Rick for his advice on this. Special thanks to the florist for the beautiful flowers, to the bar manager and his team for getting everything organized and to Butler Jijo who was assisted by other butlers including Head Butler Engin. Also thanks to Engin for helping Jijo when we had dinner that evening. We are believers in teamwork and the teamwork shown in getting everything set up and then at the actual event made it absolutely perfect. For those who have thought about a marriage vow renewal we are thrilled that we did it and happy that our own family and many from our Crystal Family could be with us.
Serenity is fourteen years old. Although not a new vessel it is extremely well maintained and has gone through several changes since it was first launched in 2003. It will receive another makeover in late 2018 when several rooms on Deck 10 will become suites and similar in size to Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Like a home, everyone has their opinions on what area should be makeover. One area that is not often discussed would be to update the Crystal Cove Lounge recognizing that this is often the first area that most people see on their first visit to the ship and we think first impressions are helpful.
The ship is well maintained. Like any ship or hotel even ones that are a couple of years old there are some items where some additional maintenance is needed and likely is already scheduled.
We have sailed smaller and larger ships and believe that size does change the overall experience including what can be offered and even the overall intimacy.
For us the size of Serenity is perfect for long voyages as it allows a lot of enrichment programs and a diverse set of entertainment to be offered simultaneously. It also provides other amenities that we appreciate including a fitness center with lots of equipment, the two paddle tennis courts and a large wrap-around promenade deck. Although no children's programs were offered on this voyage, one will see programs on many of the summer cruise and during holidays when many children are off from school.
In addition to our room, the family was in three rooms. The maximum number of guests in a room is limited to three so we placed Jennifer and Gui in separate rooms with one child in each room. We considered connecting rooms. However, we went with these rooms which did not connect because the were mid-ship. There are some rooms that accommodate three people because they have a pullout couch. We were unsure whether or not Jackson would require a crib by the time we sailed so we took one of these rooms for Eric and family. It was located right between Jennifer and Gui's rooms. We ended up going with cribs for Emma and Jackson and our children said they worked out well as they were sturdy and a really good size for each of the children.
If a family of three wants to spend a lot of time in a standard room the downside might be its size.
We often take the smallest of the three suites on Serenity with the exception of a few times when we went with the next largest size and that is the room we initially booked. A few months ago we thought that getting the largest of the suites would add to this voyage as it would provide lots more space for getting together with the family for pre-dinner canapés and drinks, enjoying dinners together and having the wedding renewal vow and reception. The room itself did exceed our expectations. Once inside the room it has the look and feel of being in an apartment/condominium. It has several unique features from the ceiling which looks like a ceiling you find on land and not on a ship and the master bathroom and even the shower. Early the nicest shower we have ever used on any ship or any hotel. We made good use of the dining room table which could be expanded to sit six people and sweeten the dining room table and the coffee table we could easily accommodate the family for dinner and/or canapés/drinks.
We normally don't cover these facilities but wanted to take a moment to do just that. A few years ago Crystal began to replace laundry machine and dryers on some of the decks including Deck 10 which we usually stay on. They were an improvement to the original machines but we thought that the washing machines had two drawbacks; one was that it didn't display the expected duration and should you want to speed it up or pause it to add something to the wash that was not possible. Deck 11 received a new version of the machines as it upgrade was not done for a few years and we thought these washing machines were better as they displayed the duration and when you checked back you saw the remaining time and they provide a lot of options.
We also wanted to note that we find doing your own wash on Crystal ships to be easier then any other ship we have sailed on including other luxury lines. On the other luxury lines the rooms were very small and even if you favor in their ships are smaller they still were much smaller in comparison to Crystal laundry rooms and the actual machines are smaller as well. As a result we found that we brought more clothes on those cruises because to avoid doing the laundry for those reasons. This is not the case on Crystal Cruises where we can take less clothing knowing that we can do the laundry.
The accommodations that we had for this cruise included pressing as they do for the other two suites categories. This accommodation included complimentary dry cleaning and laundry. We didn't send the laundry out for various reasons. One is that we don't want to put workout clothes in laundry bags due to the moisture on the clothes and prefer to wash them frequently ourselves and there are some items that we wash that we do not place in the dryer and hang up on plastic hangers we bring from home in the bathroom. This would have left us with only a few items to have laundered and it was just as easy to do them ourselves with the other items.
The food was as good if not better then ever. The dining room menus were diverse and offered many choices each evening and we thought portion size was terrific. This extended beyond the Crystal Dining Room to other areas where we ate including the Lido Cafe at lunchtime. Although we didn't eat at Silk Road (our children and spouses did) we thoroughly enjoyed the food that we ordered in from that restaurant as we did the Prego Italian Restaurant. In the case of Prego we tried several items we had either never had or hadn't had in year and found thoroughly enjoy each one.
We would like to thank the pastry team for creating three wonderful cakes for us and our family starting with the cake at our reception.
Since we had the grandchildren with us and we wanted to spend maximum time with them and the rest of the family we only went to the welcome on board show and to very little enrichment. With that said the entertainment offering continue to expand. Most nights offer two distinct shows or forms of entertainment and each evening live music is played by different musicians in a minimum of three different venues. There are other forms of entertainment including a movie shown two times in the evening and then a third time the following afternoon.
The amount of enrichment offered is similar to what you would find on longer cruises. The challenge for the guest on a short cruise with no full sea days is finding time to experience it. Also on a short cruise there will be fewer lecturers and they don't work every day.
We didn't take any excursions so we can't comment on the excursions for this voyage.
The internet was up almost all of the time and speeds were mostly good. First couple of days seemed the fastest.
We continue to appreciate that the Fitness Center is open 24x7 which is not the case for most land based Fitness Centers nor most at sea. Some classes were offered each day. Keith was surprised that the indoor cycling classes were offered only at 4:00 PM rather then alternating them as they often have done in the past with one in the afternoon followed the next time in the morning. This is something that we will note on the customer survey.
Children Sailing On A Luxury Cruise Line:
Although there was no formal children's program on this sailing we found that Serenity worked very well for the children. They do have dedicated children's facilities and even without a junior activity director on-board for this sailing our family made use of the facility from time to time. The selection of children's DVD's was terrific. The children enjoyed the ship and sailing on a voyage with plenty of port stops worked out well for them.
We can't say enough of how welcoming the Crystal crew was with the children going out of their way to make each of them feel special. We will never forget Head Waiter Augusto stopping by the dining room table to check on the children, Senior Waiter Lylian carrying Emma and showing her off to some of the other waiters, Butler Jijo finding M&M's for them and bringing other snacks to the room that he knew they would enjoy and the professionalism of the two baby sitters who watch the children the night we went to The Vintage Room.
There was a children' menu in the dining room that provided a good selection of items for the children at dinner. Of course while we didn't do this one could special orders for them or find other things on the menu which they might enjoy.
We chose to have our own Vintage Room for the family so only the six adults dined one night. We worked with Head Sommelier Tilmar ahead of time to create an evening which would be special for us and most importantly for our children and their spouses. It truly was and everyone enjoyed it. It was fun and also provided a great learning experience for the family. We also wanted to mention flexibility. When we booked the Vintage Room we were unaware that our daughter in-law was pregnant. Once we found out we realized that she wouldn't be able to drink but knew she would still enjoy the experience which she did. There was one seafood item that we requested that for someone pregnant there might be a concern. Our son noticed it as soon as we sat down and we mentioned it to Tilmar and without a hesitation he quickly contacted the chef and a substitute item was made for our daughter in law when it was time for that course.
We often say that you can take the newest ship and with the wrong crew the experience could be a disaster. There is a unique culture at Crystal and it is instilled in the crew and translates to service that is delivered professionally at all levels while also being personable and not robot like. Even if this is your first cruise you will find that after a few days that some of the crew begin to learn your names and become familiar with you as you do with them. The bonds that more experienced Crystal Cruisers develop with the crew do not come from one voyage but like all bonds comes in time. For us given the amount of time we have sailed Crystal those bonds are strong and some members of the crew we have known for close to fifteen years. For us they are our Crystal family. The crew is one of the main reasons that our go to cruise lines is Crystal Cruises. As we have said in the past, we will sail on other cruise lines and have done just that based on itinerary. However, if the itinerary that Crystal offers in the time frame we want to sail is what we are looking for we will choose Crystal Cruises over the other lines. Each time we return we have that feeling of being home and enjoy being with our extended Crystal family. On this cruise we spent more time with our "own" family but on other cruises we do spend more time with our "extended" Crystal family.
The crew was amazing with our own children, their spouses and the grandchildren. They helped out with the grandchildren at dinner and at other times. The stewardesses were terrific not only in our room but in the other three rooms. This was also true in other areas including reception, concierge, crystal society and on board bookings, our butler, the bar team, the waitstaff, the fitness center and in other areas of the ship including the officers and the entertainment/enrichment personnel.
For either the entire cruise or a portion of the cruise there were several people from Crystal Cruises corporate office and we were glad to introduce them to our family.
Collectively we have never experienced the professionalism, warmth and passion on any other cruise line or at any other hotel that comes close to what we have experienced on Crystal Cruises. That is not a knock against other companies because several do a nice job but collectively we have found Crystal works best for us in the levels of service that are offered and the bonding with the crew. Yes, familiarly helps and you don't make complete bonds on one cruise or even a handful of cruises. It's not different then making friendships on land. They develop overtime.
Disembarkation was very orderly. Since Keith had booked private vehicles with each family directly with Crystal Cruises all of this was coordinated by the concierge once we boarded Serenity. Each of the families received a letter from the concierge with our disembarkation package providing additional instruction including what time and location to meet for our private transfer. We were met at the designated time/location and escorted off the ship to the pier in Los Angeles. After collecting luggage, clearing immigration and customs each family was taken to their respective vehicle to the drive to the airport.
We have made memories which will last a lifetime on this family get-away including an amazing cruise on Crystal Serenity.
Until next time.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
The entire family had an amazing time on this family getaway. It began with Disneyland and continued with this special cruise. The trip exceeded our expectations, everyone enjoyed it and we have created memories which will last a lifetime. Timing is everything in life. If we had planned this trip for just a few months later we likely would have cancelled it between our daughter in law expecting a second child in November and a job assignment that Gui is taking. There is a saying not to put off until tomorrow those things you can do today. This is an example of that.
Anne Marie & Keith
Please follow our next trip starting at the end of this month when we stay on land for a visit to France. Check back to our blog at the end of this month.
Before dinner last evening we had the family to our room for canapés and some drinks. We had pigs n' a blanket, vegetables and chicken wings.
We enjoyed our final dinner of the cruise at the Crystal Dining Room. It had been a few days since we had been there. When we were greeted at the entrance way by Maitre d' Leo and Head Waiter Augusto we said "we're here and we hadn't leave the ship". LOL.
We pre-ordered a couple of items; Tuna Tartare for Keith & Eric and an entree of Penne Pasta and Lobster for all the adults. Augusto made both of these items and he showed Keith the two different sauces he had made for the entree; one less and one more spicy. The children had their own pasta; macaroni and cheese for Emma and Andre and spaghetti with butter sauce for Jackson.
The grand children did very well. The boys kept busy with toys and Emma did well with all of us talking with her and the wait staff coming by to check on her.
We want to thank the entire wait staff team for all they have done to make this cruise so very special for all of us. Everyone has been helpful and the service wonderful. We have also been very pleased with the cuisine. The menu has been diverse and the challenge was that often there were several items that were appealing to each of us and which one to choose. Decisions, decisions. We found the portion size to work well. We also want to thank our sommelier and head sommelier Tilmar. We enjoyed some great wines and champagne throughout the cruise.
Those nights in the Crystal Dining Room dining with the entire family went better then we had expected as we were all concerned how long the grandchildren could sit patiently. This is one of the reasons we had some meals in our room. Keeping them busy with toys was a great help. The length of last night's dinner was like the other two times in the dining room at a little over two hours which can be a lengthly time for young children.
The evening entertainment continued to be diverse and plentiful. It began at 5:15 PM in the Galaxy Lounge where Magician Mark Haslam performed.
At 8:00 PM the Galaxy Lounge featured a farewell variety show which included violinist Irina Guskova; Dance Due Curtis and Natalie; Vocalist Michel Bell and a special appearance by vocalist Carol Draper.
As usual, live music was available in the evening in the Crystal Cove, Palm Court and Avenue Saloon and DJ Edgar played music in the Pulse.
The movie; A Street Car Named Bob was shown two times in the evening.
Lastly the Casino was opened from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM.
When we got back to the room, we put the clothes we wore to dinner in our luggage along with a couple of other items and then placed our luggage outside the door.
We slept well as the ship sailed to Los Angeles where we began this voyage only seven days ago. Keith slept a little longer then usual and passed on a workout. We had coffee in the room and then our final breakfast and meal of the cruise.
With afternoon flights for each of us Keith had arranged with Crystal Cruises to have vehicles for each of us at 10:00 AM and we met the concierge at 9:45. We were escorted off the ship at little after 10:00 AM and went went through immigration and customs. A Crystal Representative already had the luggage for our entire family on two carts with two porters ready to take us outside with the Concierge. We were driven to the airport. All of us except Eric, Kara and Jackson are on the same flight. One of the main roads to the airport was closed due to a fire which our driver new about in advance. There was also a lot of traffic at the airport. This is why we don't go with early flights.
As we post this we are at the airlines club lounge.
In a few days we will post some final thoughts about this cruise.
For those interested in following our travels please check back to this website on May 29 as we get ready to go to Paris, France.
We wanted to close with a quote from President John Fitzgerald Kennedy that we read to ourselves from time to time.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY....
"I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Thank you all for following our Blog and be sure to check back for our final thoughts and our upcoming trip to Paris.
Anne Marie & Keith
GOLDEN DAY DISCOVERY DAY SEVEN SERENITY - ENSENADA, MEXICO
Last evening we babysat the grandchildren so our own children and their spouses could enjoy dinner at Silk Road on their own. We considered going to the Dining Room but thought that the grandchildren would be more relaxed in our room so that is precisely what we did. This evening we will all be back at the Crystal Dining Room.
Since we were babysitting it was not possible for us to attend the entertainment but we did want to comment about that. Before dinner, Philip Wojciechowski performed a Classical Concert. We first saw him perform when he debuted with Crystal Cruises in early 2010 on-board Crystal Serenity. He was a hit with the guests the first time he performed and we remember standing up at the end of his performance to give him a well-deserved standing ovation. He is by far one of the best pianists we have seen. In addition, he is a genuinely nice person with no ego and we have enjoyed conversations with him since we first met him in 2010. We have been on several cruises where he has performed. From 7:45 PM to 8:30 PM the Crystal Showband performed in the Crystal Plaza which also included vocalist Nicola Ward. On top of this there were two performances of the high tech light and dance show called The Tourist. If that is not enough pianists Richard Pucci performed at the Crystal Cove, pianist Dan Hodge entertained at the Avenue Saloon, The Crystal Quartet performed at the Palm Court and DJ Edgar played music at the Pulse. Two showing of the Movie Logan were show in the Hollywood Theatre.
Back to the photos. This is Keith writing. Emma started to cry missing her Momma. Nana to the rescue. She took a Crystal Brochure and made it into a storybook showing Emma photos of animals and airplanes and all sorts of other things and Emma loved it. Then Jackson and Andre joined in on the fun. We ordered the children pizza, pigs n' blankets, macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gave each child a little of everything. They did great.
We have added a Junior Cruiser' Menu to the Menu section of the blog.
A photo of our son at Silk Road.
On our final fully day of the cruise we began it as we normally do with an early morning workout for Keith, breakfast and then a long walk by Anne Marie.
We arrived to Ensenada, Mexico on schedule and decided to make the stop a sea day.
Question: Why stop at Ensenada?
Answer: To comply with theJones Act where cruise ships were not USA built, not USA owned, and not carrying a USA crew and traveling between the same two USA ports must stop at a foreign port. If the two USA ports differ then the ship must stop at a distant foreign port. In our case, we required a stop at a foreign port.
On a round trip we took that started and ended in Los Angeles on another cruise line that sailed Hawaii we stopped at Ensenada for a couple of hours to comply with the requirement at the time and guests were not permitted to step on land. This itinerary called for a full day stop between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
Keith, Jennifer and Eric walked for an hour while they were waiting for the Paddle Tennis courts to dry. Anne Marie walked with Kara, Gui, Emma, Andre and Jackson.
For a couple of hours the entire family was up at the Paddle Tennis Court. While it was mainly Keith, Eric, Jennifer and Gui playing along with another guest, the Grand Children got into the swing of the game (no pun intended) so we will call this Family Tennis.
Our final lunch of the cruise was the Lido Cafe. We ate with the family.
The most popular part of the lunch for the Grand Children was..........You guessed it.............Ice Cream. You can see Emma enjoying her Ice Cream Cone.
While we were eating we saw Specialty Restaurant Maitre d' Bruno. When we first met Bruno he was a Head Waiter in the Dining Room. Eventually he moved to Prego. He was the Head Waiter when the Maitre d' of the Specialty Restaurants was on board but would swing to Maitre d' when the regular Maitre d went on vacation. Almost four years ago he was moved to Crystal Symphony where he did this same role. With the retirement of the Serenity Maitre d' they made a few changes and now Bruno is the permanent swing Maitre d' for both ships.
The two of us took a long walk together on the Promenade Deck after lunch and spent time packing. Keith plans to take a walk with Jennifer later in the afternoon. We will have the family here before dinner for canapés and drinks and then our final meal will be in the Crystal Dining Room. We will post all about that tomorrow.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.......
This cruise has been very special and has been a celebration. We celebrate our family, our marriage of forty years and our happiness sailing the world with Crystal Cruises. We consider ourselves very lucky.
Anne Marie & Keith
GOLDEN DAY DISCOVERY DAY SIX SERENITY - SAN DIEGO
We wanted to begin with some additional photos from the renewal of our wedding vows ceremony,a few photos with those "red" shirts taken on-board Serenity and a family photo from our special Vintage Room Dinner.
This is our first Crystal Cruise when the two of us will not be dining at any of the Specialty Restaurants. This is because out of respect to our fellow guests and to the waitstaff we didn't think it was appropriate for the grandchildren to be dining at these venues. This evening Jennifer, Gui, Eric & Kara will go to Silk Road while we watch the grandchildren.
Since our family would not have the opportunity to dine at the Prego Italian Specialty Restaurant we decided to bring Prego to them. We decided to order from Prego and rather then having each person order a separate meal that we would make it a Prego Italian Buffet served Family Style which is exactly what we did.
We ordered Bruschetta as an appetizer, caesar salad, eggplant parmesan, small portions of penne pasta with three different toppings with the grandchildren in mind, and a couple of different entrees including Homemade Potato Gnocchi and Handmade Butternut Squash Tortelli.
If that was not enough we had pre-ordered a St. Honore Cake and once again with the children in mind, Gelato and we also had M&M's on-hand for them.
Many of you know from our previous Blogs that we are careful with what we eat. Often on long cruises we are very disciplined but on occasion we will splurge such as when we visit Tastes and from time to time with a dessert or some entree. We just think its part of good health. On a short cruise like this one while we have been disciplined with our breakfast and lunch choices, we also balanced that between the Vintage Room and say last night. Some of the items we had last night we have never eaten before at Prego and wanted to note how delicious they were.
The grandchildren also enjoyed a movie and enjoyed their meal, particularly the dessert. LOL, but they do love dessert.
We also wanted to mention that before we began dinner while we were enjoying a pre-dinner drink all of a sudden we saw what must have been 20 to 30 dolphins in the water so we all went out onto the verandah. We were going relatively slow and they stayed with us for at least fifteen minutes. Often we will hear of wildlife sightings but it seems that we are on the wrong side of the ship and miss out on them. LOL. This time we were fortunate to see so many dolphins as well as several whale which we saw the other day. Maybe that's a sign of future things to come.
Although it was not possible for us to attend the evening entertainment we wanted to mention that Broadway Vocalist Michel Bell performed two shows. He is one of a select group of entertainers who performs regularly on both Symphony and Serenity. He has a distinctive deep voice. Since these shows were at 7:00 and 8:30 PM for those wanting late night entertainment there was a Rock & Pop-A-Mania Show performed by the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers with music by the Crystal Showband. In addition to live music in three different lounges and a late night DJ, the movie A Dog's Purpose was shown at 8:30 and 10:30 PM.
On this cruise three of our family members have become first time Crystal Society Members so now they are part of the Crystal Family. From L-R grandchildren Jackson, Andre and Emma with their Nana.
The seas were much calmer last evening compared to the night before. We both slept well and began the new day as we do regularly. This included an early workout for Keith followed by breakfast and a walk for Anne Marie as we got ready for our visit to San Diego. We arrived to the Port of San Diego 8:00 AM.
Believe it or not, this is Anne Marie's first time to visit San Diego. Keith spent time here on business. One time we booked a family trip to the Coronado Hotel but canceled it and took a cruise instead.
We decided to go on a long walk which included area close to the ship and others much further away. Our walk included stops at the USS Midway Museum, the area dedicated to the Greatest Generation and then over to the area close to the bridge that carries traffic to and from the area where the Coronado Hotel is located. We also walked to Old City Hall, the Gaslamp Quarter, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Courthouse Little Italy and a few other areas in the downtown area.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous and this is a beautiful city. The area near the pier is very nice and certainly much nicer then some of the other ports such as San Pedro, California.
We did observe quite a few homeless people as we have in other cities such as San Francisco where the homeless population seems to rise with each passing year.
During our walk we ran into Caryn and Stan a beautiful couple both inside and out. This is the third voyage that we have sailed with the two of them. They are wonderful people.
Our children and grandchildren took the bus two and from the Coronado area where they enjoyed the beach and also had lunch.
We enjoyed lunch back on-board Serenity. Keith played Paddle Tennis and Anne Marie walked on the outside Promenade Deck. Keith also met up with our son Eric.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.....
The area near the pier includes a tribute to what many say is "The Greatest Generation". Our parent's were part of that generation. We owe so much of what we enjoy today to that "Special Generation". We must never forget them.
Anne Marie & Keith
GOLDEN DAY DISCOVERY DAY FIVE SERENITY - CATALINA
We wanted to begin by mentioning that when we blogged about our Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony, we accidentally left Cruise Director Rick off the list of attendees. This is because as we prepared the list of who attended we worked off the invite list. Since the Cruise Director and the Captain are part of the ceremony they didn't get invites. Therefore their names were not on the invite list. So as they say, now you know the story.
We continue from where we left off yesterday. We took one more walk around the nearby area of the city We spotted a couple of shirts in the window of a store. Not for Keith to wear but funny shirts.
Once back on the ship, Keith played his first round of Paddle Tennis since we boarded the ship. He played with three other people the entire time and enjoyed the games.
The family went to some selected sites and also to a park about two miles from the ship. Once they returned, Anne Marie sat with them while they had lunch and some of them came up to the top deck of the ship while Keith was playing his last round of tennis.
Although the forecast for high winds beginning early morning did not occur, by afternoon the winds picked up before departing San Francisco and continued with the sail away and into the evening. The Captain spoke about the winds during his talk from the bridge shortly before we departed and mentioned that guests should hold handrails when walking around the ship.
There was a sail away party at 2:45. Keith also got together with son Eric. All in all a great afternoon in the city and back on-board Crystal Serenity.
Last evening the six adults dined at the Vintage Room for an exclusive Vintage Room Dinner that Keith had organized for us. You can have up to fourteen people attend and the price is the same whether there is one or fourteen people in your party. Less people means less wine consumed which means you can have better wines served although no matter what size of the group the wine is memorable. This is the first time that Jennifer, Gui, Eric & Kara have attended a Vintage Room. Since Kara is expecting she enjoyed the food and left the wine for us to enjoy.
You can select the dinner from several menus and mix and match items. There are three regular menus plus others such as a vegetarian menu. We selected items from each of these four menus. We never select the wine and leave that up to Head Sommelier Tilmar Pfefferkorn. We do discuss with him the number of wines to be served along with ideas that he may have. We went with an approach that we used last year of one or two less wines and serving two red wines of the same type from the same year and the same vineyard with the difference being that each of the two wines came from different wine barrels. The idea is to discuss the differences in the taste of the wine based on each barrel.
We arranged for two babysitters to take care of Emma, Andre & Jackson with the Concierge and dinner with Butler Jijo. We had a couple of DVD's for the children; Dumbo which Eric and Kara brought from home and Cars which was one of several DVD's in our room. There are plenty of DVD's at the on-board library including a large section of movies for children. They had dinner in the room. Their favorite part of the meal was likely the ice cream they had for dessert with some M&M's. Between the two baby sitters with some help from time to time everyone did well although Emma did cry for quite awhile. Emma is very attached to Mommy although she also does very well with her Nana (Anne Marie).
The Vintage Room was a success for the entire family. We had some very unique wines. This included a French and an American white wine that were paired with three different courses. This was followed by two red wines which came from the same vineyard and used the same grapes, and were made the same year. The only difference was one wine came from a French Oak Barrels and the other one from a USA Oak Barrel.
Biscotti Pumpkin Tortellini with Candied Pecans and Cassis Glaze.
Chilean Sea Bass with Confit Egg Yolk, Aioli & Saffron.
Cappuccino of Fresh Butternut Squash.
Passionfruit Sherbet to clean the pallet.
Surf and Turf with Baby Vegetables, Duchess Potatoes, Sauce Bernaise.
Selection of Artisanal Cheeses with Apricot Confit & Walnut Bread.
Chocolate & Berries with Chocolate Fondant, Dark Berry Mousse, Cassis Sorbet.
Homemade Vintage Room Chocolate Pralines.
As to the drink:
We began with Krug, Vintage Brut, Reims 2000 Champagne.
The two white wines which were poured at the same time were; Grgich Hills Estate, Chardonnay "40th Anniversary Commemorative" Napa Valley 2013 and Etienne Sauzet, Montrachet, Grand Cru, Burgundy, France 2006
Following the Passionfruit Sherbet the two similar red wines were poured;
Dell Dotto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard 887 South, Fouquet American Oak, Napa Valley 2013 and Dell Dotto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard 887 South, Fouquet French Oak, Napa Valley 2013
Last but not least the final wine was served starting with the cheese which is a dessert wine; Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese, Cuvee No. 1, Burgenland, Austria 2003.
Towards the end of the meal, Executive Chef Franz Weiss came by with two members of his team who prepared the delicious food that we ate. We thanked them for this very special meal.
Three members of the Food & Beverage team served the meal.
Tilmar did a very nice job describing the Champagne, the White, Red and Dessert Wines and answering all of the questions that each of us had. We find this to be a wonderful opportunity to sample great wines/champagne and taste some very good cuisine but to increase our understanding of wine/champagne.
On a couple of occasions the ship swayed but thankfully none of the wine tipped over. There were some glasses in a cabinet that we heard tipping over and while Tilmar didn't open the cabinet door he was pretty certain six to eight glasses were broken. Tilmar mentioned that this was the roughest the seas had been since he returned to the ship and that says a lot given that the ship sailed places such as Cape Horn, The Drake Passage and around Cape Horn as part of World Cruise 2017.
The three hour timing we allotted for the babysitters to watch the grandchildren for three hours and this was perfect timing. Jennifer and Kara went to the room with five minutes to spare and Eric and Gui followed them a couple of minutes after that. After we thanked Tilmar and those who assisted him we made our way back to the room and the three grandchildren showed no signs of being tired. Maybe it was those M&M's that they enjoyed with the Ice Cream. LOL.
The babysitters were terrific and adept at taking care of children.
The entertainment for last evening included two showing of the production show Curtain Call. On top of this at 10:15 PM Cory Kahaney who our son was familiar wit performed. She is an award winning standup comic who was a grand finalist on Last Comic Standing and has been on various late night television shows including Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, and Craig Ferguson. She has also appeared on The View, Comedy Central and HBO. Other choices included listening to live music in the Crystal Cove Avenue Saloon and the Palm Court along with a DJ playing music starting at 10:00 PM at the Pulse Club and two showings of the Movie; The Founder. The movie tells the story of Ray Kroc who started his career in sales before turning two brothers' fast food eatery into a company that most know called McDonald's.
We began the morning as we normally do including a workout for Keith. We had breakfast in our room and then got ready for another day on-board Crystal Serenity.
After breakfast we stopped by the Lido Cafe knowing the family would likely be getting ready to have breakfast and that was the case. From there we took along walk together inside the ship. We met with the photo manager to select some photos from the wedding renewal vow ceremony and from the group photos with the red shirts. A short while later we met up with the family and we were met by Cruise Director Rick who escorted us up to the Bridge. Rickck toured us around the Bridge and then Captain Birger greeted each family member. Timing was terrific so we could enjoy the scenery as part of our arrival to Catalina Island where we would anchor. The family really enjoyed the opportunity to visit the bridge.
A short while later we made our way to the Lido Cafe to have lunch. The cafe opened at 11:30 AM instead of 12:00 Noon due to the timing of our arrival to Catalina Island. We anchored off the island. We ate with Jennifer, Andre and Emma. As it turned out Jackson needed to see the ships doctor. We know Dr Ralph very well having sailed with him on some World Cruises and other voyages. He treated Keith in 2014 when Keith fainted and we have both seen him a few times over the years when various upper respiratory viruses would spread around the ship. He told Eric and Kara that his ear hurt this morning and sure enough he does have an ear infection so was given antibiotics.
This is our first visit to Catalina Island. Most people we spoke with have not been here before and this is the first visit for Crystal Serenity but Crystal Symphony has been here before. Some photos from the ship.
The two of us took the over to the island and then walked the small town of Avalon. Since today is Sunday there were several tourists here for the weekend having arrived on express boats. We walked over to the casino and the yacht club and then walked around the surrounding area. Unfortunately there was a slight drizzle but we prepared for that with our rain jackets. The high was 59 degrees (F)
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY......
The Crystal Serenity Crew represents nationalities from all around the world and of different faiths of religion all working together. In business one of Keith's beliefs shared by many is that the sum of the team that works together is greater then the sum of the same number of individuals who do not work as a team. Wouldn't it be nice if countries from around the world could work like a cohesive team. If they did there is no telling how better and peaceful the world might be.
Anne Marie & Keith
GOLDEN STATE DISCOVERY - DAY 4 CRYSTAL SERENITY - SAN FRANCISCO
We wanted to mention one more item related to our Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony and Reception. It truly exceeded our expectations. We have only been to one other renewal ceremony which took place on land and all we can say is that we are so very happy that we booked this with Crystal Cruises and that it far exceeded our expectations. If others have thought about it we would highly recommend it.
After posting yesterday we had the photo shoot with the Photo Manager wearing those red shirts which you saw when we Blogged from Disneyland. He took the photos in three different areas around the Crystal Plaza/Cove. He would have done one outside but it was too cold and windy so he recommended that we pass on it.
With a scheduled 1:00 PM arrival for San Francisco the Lido Cafe opened 30 minutes earlier then usual so we went with the entire family for lunch. While we were eating we saw the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge while sailing near and underneath it. We were off the ship by 1:30 PM.
We walked along the Embarcadero. It was very sunny which was nice and the temperature in the low 60's. Lots of people were out and about. We eventually came to the Ferry Building and then crossed the street. Our destination was Nordstrom to pick up Mother's Day gifts for our daughter and daughter-in-law. We then walked for quite awhile until we retraced our steps via the Embarcadero over to the ship. We walked just under nine miles.
Our other family members went off the ship at different times. Eric, Kara and Jackson got off the ship late as Jackson took a very long afternoon nap.
We had dinner with the family in the Crystal Dining Room. On the first nigh at dinner we spoke with Head Waiter Augusto and pre-ordered Caesar Salad and Beef Wellington. Both of these items were a "hit" with all of the adults.
Afterwards, we took the grandchildren dancing at the Palm Court. Jennifer has a friend in San Francisco who she met. We know that Jackson likes to dance and in very short order he began to dance only to be followed to the dance floor by cousin's Andre and Emma. The vocalist of the Crystal Quartet also sang a song directly to Jackson. She also danced one song with him. Coincidentally at the end of the dance we saw two of the Crystal Ambassador Hosts at the elevator and we said you may have to watch out for your job. LOL.
After having breakfast this morning we walked around San Francisco for a few hours. We were here around this time last year before boarding Crystal Serenity. The weather was a delight. The forecast two days ago called for strong winds today. Wrong. The forecast called for cooler weather. Wrong again.
There was no apparent wind. Temperature was perfect. Sun was shining. Very few clouds. The sky was what you might expect in the afternoon.
We enjoyed our walk. We revisited places that we had visited this time last year. We ran into some members of the Serenity Crew and a few other guests.
We are going to post early today since we plan to go out on another walk and have some other plans for this afternoon and this evening. There is a sailaway party at 2:45 PM
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY....
When we lived in Northern California the emphasis was on the outdoors. In fact at home the emphasis was having a very nice backyard with less emphasis on the interior. We are reminded of this as we walked one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world.
Keith & Anne Marie
GOLDEN STATE DISCOVERY - DAY 3 CRYSTAL SERENITY - SAN FRANCISCO
We will begin with yesterday afternoon but want to provide some background.
When we sail Crystal Serenity we mainly stay in what is called a Penthouse with Verandah. It's the smallest of the three types of Penthouse categories. We actually like the layout over the next category which is a Penthouse Suite even though it is smaller then the suite. On the Symphony we do prefer the Penthouse Suite over the Penthouse Category.
Since we have the family with us, we originally booked the Penthouse Suite to have more space when we would get together with everyone as the living room area is larger.
In January, we decided that it would be nice to have additional space for the family and our Travel Specialist Gerri was able to secure the last of the Crystal Penthouses for us. It's not a suite we ever considered for other cruises given its cost and because we really have no need for its overall space.
We made an exception for this cruise for several reasons:
We want to be able to meet the family before dinner for canapés and given the ages of the grandchildren thought this would work much better for everyone (including our fellow guests) in lieu of meeting in a lounge.
We thought it would be nice to have a couple of dinners in the room. That way it will be more relaxing for the grandchildren and they could even watch a movie before the adults are finished with dinner.
We also thought it would be a wonderful location to renew our wedding vows.
All of our assumptions were confirmed yesterday. Here a a few photos of some of the rooms.
This leads us to yesterday afternoon. We celebrated 40 years of marriage by renewing our wedding vows. Captain Birger led the ceremony. In addition to our family in attendance we also some members of our extended Crystal family who we extended an invite to share this moment with us. This included: Hotel Director Hubert; Cruise Director Rick; Food & Beverage Manager Svein; Shore Excursion Manager Daniel; Shore Excursion Assistant Manager and Swing Manager Storme, Crystal Society Hostess Alissa; Chief Housekeeper Maria; Dining Room Maitre d' Leo; Head Waiter Augusto; Cruises Sales Consultant Paula Jean; Chief Concierge Ervin; Concierge Haley; Vice President of Land Programs John and former Captain Glenn and his lovely wife. Coincidentally Captain Glenn and his had booked this cruise to celebrate a couple of milestones of their own.
The vows that the Captain read were powerful and meaningful and you can't help but to tear up listening to the words.
It was enjoyable to celebrate with our family and our Crystal family. We thank on board guest services and the food & beverage team including the bar team, the butler team and others that are part of the Hotel Director's team, You all are amazing. We also are appreciative that everyone stayed as long as they did as we realize they have many other duties to attend to.
Following the vow renewal ceremony we enjoyed champagne, wine and soft drinks and canapés. We also had the ships manager of the photo studio take some photos of the ceremony and of our family before, during and after the ceremony. We will also do another photo shoot with them tomorrow in more relaxed attire. You remember those red shirts. They will be making a return for those photos.
We thought this would be a perfect night to have a family dinner in our room. Everyone changed to casual attire and returned about ninety minutes later. We ordered dinner from the Crystal Dining Room and from Silk Road. Before dinner we enjoyed some champagne and canapés and watched a portion of the movie Sting which our son had brought from home. The grandchildren ate before the adults and shortly after we put the movie back on for them while we ate.
We sometimes use the word "team Crystal" or "team Serenity" and yesterday that was very evident. Some members of the bar team and butler team got everything set for the reception and for the meal Jijo had assistance from one of the head butlers Engin whom we have known for years. They all help out one another and they way they do this represents the true meaning of teamwork in our opinion.
At the end of an absolutely wonderful day we slept well. There is no question that the gentle rocking of the ship makes it easier to fall asleep. The wine and champagne help too. LOL.
We began today as we normally do. A workout for Keith at the Fitness Center followed by breakfast a few hours later for the two of us. Anne Marie took one of her long walks while Keith went to find the family at the Lido Cafe. While at the Cafe, Keith and the family saw several whale near the ship. Keith walked about a half hour with Anne Marie and then met Jennifer and Eric. He led them in an indoor cycling class using a playlist from a recent class he taught at home.
We are posting early today as we will be having some family photos taken. We will be putting those red shirts we last wore at Disneyland to good use. Afterwards we will have lunch and then we will be in San Francisco.
San Francisco is one of our favorite cities around the world. To us it is similar to Venice in that its topology is out of a story book. We consider ourselves fortunate to have lived nearby the city in the East Bay for four years. We enjoyed when friends and family would visit so we could play tourist. Since we moved away in 1991 we have returned numerous times on business trips (Keith), on trips with our family and by ourselves. We love walking around the city as there is so much to see and do.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.....
We thought we would share something we read at the end of our Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony. Anne Marie read the first verse and we alternated the reading of each verse.
We were married 40 years ago.
And our love for each other continues to grow.
We remember our ceremony as if it was yesterday.
It took place at noon on a Sunday.
The justice of the peace said our rings were round and our marriage would last a lifetime.
Our wedding ceremony was held outside and we enjoyed lots of sunshine.
We have experienced many wonderful events since that special day.
This includes the births of Jennifer and Eric, and the births of grand children Emma, Jackson and Andre.
We are thrilled to renew our wedding vows on Crystal Serenity.
And be together with friends and family.
Keith I love you with all my heart.
Anne Marie from the moment we met I knew we would never be apart.
If you noticed we ended each verse with a rhyme.
This is because we know our love for each other will last a lifetime.
Anne Marie & Keith
GOLDEN DAY DISCOVERY DAY TWO SERENITY - SANTA BARBARA
After we posted yesterday we finished unpacking. We met our Penthouse Attendant Jasmina and her assistant Lucy. Butler Jijo stopped by a few times and he took us on a tour of the room and showed us how to work some of the electronics.
At 5:15 PM we attended the muster drill. The location for our drill was in the Casino. As it turned out the entire family went to the Casino for the Muster Station. Shortly after Jennifer told Andre that we would be taking everyone on this getaway he showed an inquisitive mind of a child his age and began to ask us many questions about "the boat" we would be on and overtime some of that turned to safety so he seemed to enjoy wearing the lifeboat vest and learning more about the lifeboat.
After the drill we went back to our room to remove our lifejackets and then we met the family outside the Crystal Dining Room. The queu might have been the longest we have seen. With so many first time Crystal cruisers they formed one very long line not realizing you could enter the dining room on both sides of the single entranceway. Rather then stand on line, we just sat and talked and waited until the line had shortened.
Our wait staff team includes a couple of people very familiar to us. Our Head Waiter is Augusto who has taken care of us for many years and that included when Kara and Eric were on board in 2014. Head Waiter Lylian took care of us throughout our time on Serenity last August and September and we have known her for the last few years. Waiter Mirsad is new for us and very friendly, professional and efficient. We met Sommelier Kremena when we had lunch earlier in the day.
We are at one large table in one of the corners of the dining room. It's a good location and being next to a long wall the children can get out of their seats without disrupting anyone. We have Emma and Jackson in highchairs. Jackson kept occupied between courses playing a game on an iPad, Andre read some books and Emma, well, Emma was a delight sitting next to Nana and Jennifer.
Maitre d' Leo and Head Sommelier Tilmar stopped by the table to make sure everything was going well and we introduced our family members to everyone. Leo remembered Eric and Kara from 2014.
Augusto made Tuna Tartare for Keith and Eric the "Italian" way. What you ask? Answer a ver large portion. Most everyone had salads and for the entree we each had salmon, Kara a steak, Eric Veal Chops and Gui and Jennifer had another entree. For Miss Emma it was macaroni and cheese, a hamburger for Maser Andre and Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches for Master Jackson.
We had Krystal Champagne which we sent down from our room and Vin Robles Sauvignon Blanc a relatively new included wine and a mixed Red wine for Eric.
Most everyone had some type of ice cream and the rest of us had fruit.
After dinner we all got together outside for a Family Meeting. LOL but it was sort of a recap about the day and a discussion about today's plans. We will all do Santa Barbara on our own so that the families can get off the ship at a time that works best for them. We have a celebration planned for this afternoon which we will post about tomorrow.
The two of us went over to the Galaxy Showroom to see the variety show and to say hello to Cruise Director Rick. Rick mentioned in his talk that half the people on board this voyage are first time Crystal Cruisers. Once back in the room we relaxed and took care of getting remaining items organized.
We stayed with our regular routine that many of you know very well. Keith worked out on the Elliptical Machine. Anne Marie did our laundry yesterday as we know the rooms are quiet on embarkation day and Keith did one load of laundry today. The machines are all new and provide more choices for the length of the wash and use digital displays. Thank goodness for the instructions on the front of the machines. We both made use of the coffee machine in the room and had breakfast in the room before getting ready for our visit to Santa Barbara.
Keith and a few of our family members are going to do indoor cycling on our own which Keith will lead so he stopped by the computer room to print out a few of the playlists he recently taught at home where he teaches indoor cycling three times each week.
This was the first time we have returned to Santa Barbara since we lived in Northern California and stopped there in 1989 as part of a land based California Coastal trip. We remember renting bicycles and also staying at the Fess Parker Hotel. Believe at the time it was a Marriott Property. Just to digress for a moment as part of that first trip the following day we stayed over in San Luis Obispo at a place called Madonna Inn. It was a spontaneous decision to spend the night there. Each room was unique having its own identity in the way it was decorated and it size. It was family run and at check-in we learned that they didn't take Credit Cards but only cash or check. We didn't have our check book with us and they were kind enough to allow us to stay there and for us to mail them a check when we got home.
Shortly after the ship was cleared we took a tender over to the tender pier in Santa Barbara. The sea swells were rough when getting into the tender and it was very foggy that shortly after leaving the area we could no longer see Serenity nor the shore. In very short order the sea swells calmed.
Once ashore we walked along the beach and made our way to State Street. This is one of two streets that would allow us to walk under the freeway. As we walked up Market Street the area was so so with businesses such as a tattoo parlor. However that all changed as we arrived to an upscale shopping area and then to the historic district and then over to the Presidio State Historic Park, the Historical Museum, to various Churches and over to the Court House. The fog began clearing and the temperature began to rise from the mid 50's (F) into the high 60's before it would rise into the 70's
We then walked back on the opposite side of the street. All of a sudden who do you think we saw? Yes, our family with everyone on bicycles. They stopped and we spoke with them and then they were heading over to a park. After we chatted we walked towards the beach area and this time we walked over to the Wharf Area.
If not for our plans for this afternoon we would have stayed out for a couple more hours. Santa Barbara is indeed very charming and it is very nice that this was a stop on today's voyage. Keith asked one of the local officials at the tender pier about ships calling on this port and she indicated they receive around one ship every three weeks this time of year.
We are going to post this now since we have a busy afternoon and evening and we will post about that tomorrow.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.....
While it is always nice to visit places for the very first time, we also enjoy returning to places we have visited in the past. After so many years, it was nice to return to Santa Barbara.
Keith & Anne Marie
GOLDEN DAY DISCOVERY DAY ONE SERENITY
We all met for dinner at a restaurant featuring Italian Cuisine located at downtown Disneyland.
They gave us a choice of sitting indoors or outdoors. Keith took their recommendation of sitting outside which was a good decision since it was quite outside then inside.
Great choices for everyone such as a sea bass fish of the day special which we both had and spaghetti and meatballs which Eric and Kara shared and a pasta for Gui and a salad for Jennifer. Emma and Jackson had macaroni and cheese and Andre had pizza.
After dinner Eric, Kara and Jackson made one final visit to the park to go to the Tiki Room and a couple of other venues. We returned to the hotel with Jennifer, Gui, Andre and Emma to relax and to pack for today.
We gave each family their respective cruise tickets, luggage tags and information about each vehicle transfer to take each family over to the Los Angeles Cruise ship terminal.
Some additional photos from the past few days follow.
This morning we went to the club lounge for our final breakfast. While we ate, everyone else slept later. Keith had made our transfer to the port then the other family members. He felt by them having less wait time at the port it would make it easier on the children.
This has been a wonderful three day stay at Disneyland made extra special by having the family all-together. We benefited from terrific weather with day-time temperature in the mid 70's to low 80's (F). It is a pleasure to see the joy in the eyes of the grandchildren and their smiles throughout the day. They have done very well. From time-to-time we would mention to our own children and their spouses what we experienced with Eric and Jennifer on rides back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, including those favorite rides of the family.
In spite of most schools in session we found the park especially busy on Tuesday and we were surprised to see many families at the park. We were told that in another month the number of daily visitors would increase with the summer school break in full swing.
After check-out from the Hotel, we made our way over to the Port Of Los Angeles located in San Pedro via SUV. We arrived to the port first and then a little while later the rest of the family arrived.
Eric and Kara last sailed Crystal Serenity in 2014. We stayed on board for two cruises following the end of the 2014 World Cruise and they joined us for the final voyage from Rome to Istanbul before we all left the ship together. Jennifer and Gui last sailed on Serenity in January 2010 when they along with Eric and Kara joined us for a Caribbean cruise before we sailed on the 2010 World Cruise. There have been several changes since 2010 including inclusive providing certain wine, beer and spirits as part of the cruise fare and gratuities, the addition of a modern cuisine menu in the Crystal Dining room in 2014 to complement a menu featuring classic cuisine and the makeover of the Lido Deck.
We booked three rooms for the families all on Deck 7 without verandahs. They are close to each other and with the children in mind we avoided rooms with a verandah. Serenity has some three person rooms but no room to accommodate four people. We secured a three person room (the sofa is a pullout bed) for Eric, Kara and Jackson. Jennifer and Emma will share a room as will Gui and Andre. We took a suite providing space to enjoy a couple of dinners with the family and to provide a place for everyone to meet before dinner.
From the moment we arrived to the port we ran into many familiar faces. This included a guest who we know who just disembarked Serenity along with one of the Ambassador Dance Hosts who lives in California. A little while later we were greeted by the person who is in charge of the local team of people that assist with embarkation and disembarkation. While we waited to board we spoke with one of the women who lives on the ship along with a crew member.
As soon as we made our way up the gangway we were back at home and greeted by so many members of Team Crystal Serenity who we adore. This began with security. We spoke with the Hotel Director, Food & Beverage Manager, one of the VP's from Los Angeles and so many other members of the Crystal Serenity Crew. We saw our butler for the cruise JiJo who we have known for many years. He was our Senior Waiter for a couple of World Cruises and also our Butler for the Northwest Passage Cruise.
We all went up to our room which was ready. The opened the Crystal Dining Room about 30 minutes early since the did an early embarkation. We introduced our family to Head Waiter Augusto who will take care of us this voyage, along with several others from the Wait Staff. Head Sommelier Tilmar visited with us. We enjoyed our traditional embarkation lunch of a Cobb Salad and a Flute of Champagne (well maybe a little more then usual) and this time toasted with our entire family.
As we write this we are getting settled in our room as our suitcases arrived.
As many times as we have sailed on Crystal we are as excited as we have ever been to not only enjoy this special voyage but to create memories which will last a lifetime. It's so nice to share this with our ever growing family.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY....
Although, Keith first cruised at the young age of 12, this year marks the 25th year of cruising for the two of us along with our children Jennifer & Eric. We always found that cruising offered the perfect getaway for our family. This time around we get to experience a cruise with our ever expanding family.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 4 - DISNEYLAND DAY 3
Last evening we took the family to a character dinner at a Restaurant located at the Disneyland Hotel. It is called Goofy's Kitchen serving a buffet breakfast and buffet dinner with various Disney characters on hand.
When we visited the park in the late 1980s and early 1990 we would go to this restaurant one time per visit and returned last year with Jennifer and Andre.
Andre welcomed all of the characters and would stand up and hug each one. Emma and Jackson admired each character from afar often calling out their names such as Emma saying "Hi Minie". However, as the character would get close to the table the expressions on Jackson and Emma's faces showed that they were worried which is what we experienced when Eric and Jennifer were of similar ages.
The buffet included a wide range of items so everyone found items that they could enjoy. The hit with Emma, Andre and Jackson was was the dessert.
All in all we had a great time.
After dinner everyone except for Keith returned to Disneyland and attended the evening parade. Keith guarded the room. LOL.
We are including a photo of Andre, Emma and Jackson from Sunday and a video of Cousin's Jackson and Emma dancing before the start of the parade last evening.
Today we marks our last full day at Disneyland. The family had breakfast at the club floor lounge before getting ready for our visit to Disneyland Park. Those Mickey Mouse waffles continued to be a hit with the children. This is a new addition to the breakfast menu since our stay last year with Jennifer and Andre. The staff at the lounge is great and have been very kind to the grandchildren. One of the staff members we remember from last year and almost looks like he is a relative of the Disney family.
We could enter the park one hour before the general public since we are staying at one of the three Disney properties. This provides a great opportunity to get on one or more rides before the most popular rides get busy.
We spent several hours at the park. It was busier in comparison to yesterday. We went on many rides; some as a group all together and others where we split up into two groups so that Jennifer, Eric, Keith and Andre were together for those rides that Emma and Jackson could not go on. We all went on the ride It's A Small World. Anne Marie and I first went on the ride back in 1964 and 1965 at the New York Worlds Fair but that was many years before we met. We also took our own children on the ride at Disneyland and Disney World.
This evening we will dine in the downtown Disney area and possibly go back into the park(s).
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY....
Each day brings the opportunity for all of us to learn and that includes learning from those young in age. This includes having a positive attitude, laughing, and naturally enjoying some dessert as Andre, Emma & Jackson did last evening. Just a our own children allowed us to relive some of our own childhood memories the grandchildren allow us to relive memories of when Jennifer and Eric were their ages.
Keith & Anne Marie