W'ERE ON OUR WAY HOME
These words "we're on our way home" are from a McCartney/Lennon (The Beatles) song.
As we write this, we are on our way home from Lisbon on a flight that will take us to the United States. After we land we will stay over at a hotel and take a flight tomorrow to our home airport.
After we posted we got ready to leave the ship. We said final goodbye's to some of the members of Team Crystal Serenity as we made our way from our room to the Crystal Plaza where we waited for the Concierge to take us to a private car we booked with Crystal Cruises.
Overall disembarkation was one of the best ever. We waited just a couple of minutes at the Crystal Plaza and the concierge said our vehicle was early and waiting for us.
She escorted us to the gangway. The gangway had been lowered since yesterday and was very steep. Crystal Serenity crew members were at the gangway and the took all of our hand carriage for us as we walked down the gangway. There was a shuttle that took us on a two minute drive to the terminal where the luggage was placed. The concierge said the Chief Concierge would be there to guide us along.
Once inside the terminal we were met by Chief Concierge Hayley who pointed us to our luggage. There were around twenty men in suits and one stopped up to help us wit hour luggage. We pointed out our luggage, gave hugs to Hayley, and we were escorted from the terminal by a Crystal representative along with the man who had our luggage on a cart. They took us to the waiting van and the Crystal representative went over the instructions with the driver.
When we arrived to the airport another Crystal representative was on hand and she walked into the airport with us, verified the ticket counter and pointed us at the right direction.
We arrived before the counter opened but once it was opened a very nice airline representative helped us. They actually recommended checking in at the kiosk and that is what we did. Every airport is unique and the procedure at Lisbon was as well. We were interviewed by a member of the security team (we have done similar in places such as Buenos Aires and Charles de Gaulles), then we checked in at the counter. We made our way over to Passport Control. We walked to the lounge where we stayed for awhile. We then checked in at the gate and were taken on a bus to the aircraft. There were two entrances one for Business Class (that is what we had) and one for Coach. This is a Boeing 757 which we haven't flown on an International Flight in many many many years. They have made some changes to the interior so we have personal sets for movies using iPads. Very interesting.
We did take off about 45 minutes late. The good news is that it was windy but far less than we expected last night and today. Thank goodness for that.
At the airport we met a very nice couple who was on their first Crystal Cruise and loved it and later on we met several others from this cruise; some first timers and others who have taken one or more Crystal Cruises. The feedback from everyone was positive.
Thank you to those who have posted comments and/or sent e-mails. It is always good to hear from you.
Please stay tuned for our next adventure.
Anne Marie & Keith
DISEMBARKATION - UNTIL NEXT TIME
We often have lunch at the Lido Cafe. In our early days of cruising we would have lunch in the Crystal Dining Room where we enjoyed the food, the table service and the ambience. We have evolved to having lunch at the Lido Cafe. This allows us to make a salad entree with the fresh vegetables that are available each day. We will have protein with it such as some chicken or fish. Keith also enjoys the steamed and grilled vegetables that he adds to the salad. It also allows for a shorter lunch so Keith can play Paddle Tennis and Anne Marie can walk. There are also other choices for lunch including Tastes offering table service, The Trident Grill offering items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, salmon, veggie burgers and some other items. The Bistro offers items that can make for a light lunch and there is always room service.
We took some photos from yesterday's lunch at the Lido Cafe. However, the photos do not include all of the hot items with many choices available which change daily. Each day there are items carved such as whole turkey, beef or another item. The Lido Cafe also offers soups which change each day and some sandwiches, french and or sweet potato fries and several other items that are not in the photos.
Plenty of waiters are on hand who work in the evening at the Crystal Dining Room to bring beverages to the table and to clear plates and to assist with other items. At the same time waiters from the Specialty Restaurants set up the food on at the food stations and replenish this and assist guests. Chefs are on hand as well.
A tradition of ours the past few years is to have our final meal in our room. This allows for a quiet evening and gives us some extra time to finish packing.
We decided to make it a pizza night and had some pizza along with salads. We also enjoyed a pre-dinner drink with some vegetables and seafood. Rao also brought canapés that many guests in suites have before dinner. We don't as we have fruit as a mid-afternoon snack. In the past each night a different type of canapés plate would be served and would change from night to night. This has been changed and enhanced to more of a sampler so that guests have four different items to choose from and that varies each night.
Rao also brought us some Portuguese Tarts which came from ashore in Lisbon. Patty if you are reading this, this was a first time for us to have this. Yes, it was delicious.
As most of you who follow our blogs know on most nights we eat a healthier and lighter meal. This was one of those nights we ate differently. Thank goodness for exercise.
We remained docked in Lisbon as the ship overnighted there so we didn't have the benefit of the gentle rocking of the ship to fall asleep to. With that said due to the high winds the port was closed at 8:00 PM. We didn't hear the winds and as we finalize this post we believe the winds might be in the low to mid 20's but we don't hear anything from the ship.
The wine probably helped though and we slept well. We woke early this morning and as we post this will shortly have our final breakfast on-board Serenity before we disembark and head to the airport. We have two flights and have broken our return into two days so we will not arrive home until late Monday.
After all guests depart today the dry-dock of Serenity will
commence. The ship will be taken to one of the shipyards that Genting owns in Germany. Some crew will be departing today as well but many will be on-board as each person has a role in the dry dock.
We hope you have enjoyed following our trip via this Blog.
We will return to Serenity for the December 21, 2018 Holiday Cruise.
Anne Marie & Keith
Our adventure is winding down as tomorrow morning we will be leaving Crystal Serenity to begin our trip back home. We are due to arrive home late Monday.
Each time we return to the Mediterranean we enjoy it even more than before. Visiting in Autumn or Spring is a perfect time with moderate temperature, very little humidity and less tourists than July and August.
The Mediterranean including the places we visited has lots of natural beauty including the landscape of land and sea, along with small towns, villages, and vibrant cities. We adore the architecture, areas that are conducive to walking including the narrow streets lined with cafes, restaurants, pastry shops, and one-of-a-kind stores. Just smelling the aroma from those bakeries and pastry shops is amazing. We enjoy visiting the churches, synagogues, and other buildings of the past. We love looking at the flower shops and the wonderful produce of fresh fruits and vegetables. We love the museums and the beautiful statues. When we walk the streets we think of all of the history that we learned about in school. We think of all of the advancements that took place over those years. We also think of the challenges including disease. We think of the explorers who arrived and also began journeys from these areas.
We like the culture. We love the people. We prefer the one-of-a-kind restaurants and stores. We are reminded that many immigrated to our own country brought lots with them. They brought many skills that helped to expand our communities such as in woodworking, sculpting, bricklaying, the arts, and many other areas. They brought their passion and all of those wonderful recipes from their own home countries for future generations to enjoy.
Some will ask what is your favorite city, town or country to visit in the Mediterranean? Our answer is the one we are visiting at the time. There is so much to enjoy about each one.
The trip has exceeded our expectations on board Serenity and off the ship.
We enjoyed a relaxing evening on-board Crystal Serenity.
As much as we enjoy dining at Silk Road as we did on the last cruise we decided to have Silk Road dinner in our room. We realize that on a seven day cruise in order to satisfy a visit by all guests desiring dinner at Silk Road this means that the dining venue will be very busy. As such we thought we could enjoy a quieter meal in our room and open up a table for someone else who desired to dine there. As they say a win-win for everyone.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal served at a leisurely pace by Rao. As we have mentioned, we prefer to enjoy our dinner and conversation and not rush through it and that is exactly what we did.
We began with sushi and sashimi (Keith mainly has the sashimi) and this included some Nobu specials. We also had lobster tempura. This was followed with salad. Anne Marie had the Green Salad Nobu style tossed with a special Matsuhisa dressing. Keith had the Mushroom Salad which is prepared in a unique way as it includes warm mushrooms that are sautéed with a spicy lemon dressing.
For our main course Keith had the Hot Soba Noodles served with a delicious broth. Instead of having it with tempura Keith has it with some steamed scallops. As we mentioned yesterday Keith first learned about this entree from the late Walter Pietschnig. Anne Marie had the Nobu Box. We both tried the Nobu Box on our first visit to Silk Road and our first sailing on Crystal Serenity in September, 2005. The Nobu Box is a sampler with three popular Nobu signature dishes of beef, black cod, and rock shrimp. The recipe for the black cod makes this dish the tastiest black cod that we have eaten. When Serenity goes into dry dock Silk Road will be renamed Umi Uma and will feature most of the dishes by Nobu as it does today. A few of the items will be replaced with other items. The Nobu Box is one of them which is why Anne Marie chose this for her final entree before the change to Umi Uma takes place. The good news is that each of the items in the Nobu Box can be ordered at Umi Uma.
First photo looks like a lot of sushi and sashimi. It was but we ate it all. :-)
Next photos from left to right; Nobu Box & Hot Soba Noodles.
Good news! Good news! We set the clocks back one hour last evening.
This was probably the only night/day of the cruise where you knew you were cruising as one could feel the rocking and swaying of the ship due to the sea swells. We are pretty seasoned cruisers so are used to it.
We began our last full day on-board Serenity before we disembark tomorrow as we always do with breakfast in our room. We had cereal with a banana and coffee.
Captain Giske made an announcement from the bridge at 8:30 AM while we were walking inside the ship. He mentioned that guests should be careful as they walk around the ship and hold onto handrails while walking up or down on the steps. He also noted that in addition to the rougher seas we had earlier that the forecast called for high winds later today while we would are docked. As such the crew would be securing outside furniture later today in anticipation of the winds.
For those of you who have followed us over the years when we are waiting for our room to be cleaned on sea days often we sit in the Crystal Cove in one area and some refer to it as our office. With no sea days we haven't needed the "office" but with our mid-morning arrival we made use of the office.
Lisbon (Lisboa) is the largest city in Portugal and also its Capital. The population of the entire city (downtown and outlining areas) is close to three-million residents.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe and in all the world.
Major attractions/highlights of Lisbon include:
Castelo de Sao Jorge which was used as a royal palace even before it became the capital. While a good portion of the castle was destroyed overtime including in the great earthquake of 1755, portions still exist and other areas were restored in the 20th century.
Alfama which is the oldest district within Lisbon which includes narrow cobblestone streets lined with taverns and street markets.
Praca do Comercio which is a square and its southern end is open and looks not the Tagus River.
Elevador Santa Just which is also referred to as the Carmo Lift takes people between the lower streets of the Baixa District up to the uphill Carmo Square. It was constructed in 1902 and has become a major tourist attraction.
Belem Area Attractions includes the Belem Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries point where many world explorers started their journey.
We arrived to Lisbon at 10:00 AM and visited the downtown area. The weather was nice this morning with sunny skies. Enjoyed the downtown area and later the area near the port. There are always little streets that wind up and down to discover with apartments, small shops, houses of worship and other things to see. Visited on market where locals were shopping.
Two other ships are in port with us; Seabourn Ovation and MSC.
There were lots of tourists out and about as well as locals.
We understand that tomorrow is a Marathon. They day we left Rome to board Serenity there was a Marathon and ironically the day we leave Serenity there is a marathon. Go figure. LOL.
We enjoyed the rest of the day on-board Serenity. A final lunch at the Lido Cafe. A last minute walk. Conversations with guests and crew.
We plan to post again tomorrow.
Anne Marie & Keith
Often we speak and write about our Crystal extended family and we learned that one of the family members, Walter Pietschnig has died while on land back home.
Words cannot describe how saddened we are. We are blessed to have known Walter for many years. He was not only a consummate professional but a wonderful family man. A few times over the years we had the opportunity to meet his darling daughter and darling wife while they sailed on-board Crystal Serenity for a family visit. When we would see Walter we would always ask about his family and you could see a big smile appear on his face and how much he adored and loved them.
Walter had a long and successful career with Crystal Cruises in Food & Beverage. He was Food & Beverage Manager for the years we knew him was either on Crystal Serenity or swung between Serenity and Symphony but had been on Crystal Harmony and among his other assignments had been with Royal Viking. He enjoyed sports including biking and auto racing. He was very organized and focused on the details and was a loving husband and father.
From time to time we talk about how life is very short and to enjoy each and everyday. We are all human and sometimes all of us lets those little things get to us but we must cherish each day and live life to its fullest. Our lives are like a book and none of us knows when that last chapter will be written.
May Walter Rest In Peace.
We included a couple of photos. One was a dinner we had with Walter and the late Herbert Doppler at Silk Road on Crystal Serenity in 2010. We remember that dinner very well including some of the topics we discussed and even some of the food we ate. It was that night that Walter introduced Keith to the Hot Soba Noodle soup as an entree at and Hubert introduced us to the Whiskey Cappuccino dessert including how to eat it.
We are also including a photo from 2015 from a Vintage Room dinner on-board Crystal Serenity.
Last night we did have Walter on our mind as many people did. Knowing Walter he would want everyone to move forward and that is what those who knew of him tried to do.
Before dinner we attended a reception at the Captain's Quarters. Each guest was welcomed by Captain Giske and Crystal Society Hostess Alissa. Captain Giske noted that this is the last cruise before the changeover to open dining and the addition of another new dining venue.
We are posting a photo from three nights ago when we were recognized at the Crystal Society Party.
We enjoyed dinner at the Crystal Dining Room. Crew Officer Leroy joined us for dinner. We have known Leroy since 2011. He joined Crystal Serenity as a waiter and after a short time he was assigned to the reception desk, moved to shore excursions where he eventually moved up to the swing assistant short excursion manager until he was promoted to Crew Officer.
Dinner was wonderful. We had Jumbo Shrimp (Anne Marie), Tuna Tartare (Keith), salads for the two of us and an amazing entree of pasta with lobster. Yummy. Head Waiter Augusto took excellent care of us along with our wonderful Senior Waiter and Sommelier.
Many people must have been dining at other venues and/or arriving to dinner later in the evening because given this is a full cruise the dining room was not very busy.
We slept well as we sailed to Cadiz. We began the morning as we always do. Workouts followed by breakfast.
Our only visit to Cadiz was in 2007. It was substituted in liue of Casablanca because of security concerns. A few months earlier there was a terrorist attack on tourists.
Cadiz is considered to be the oldest inhabited cities of the Western World and is estimated to be 3,000 years old. It has a long history of being ruled by various forces. The Phoenicians ruled this area in 1100 BC and by 500 BC the Carthaginians ruled until the Romans occupied the city. Eventually this city became part of Spain. Many years later Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World from Cadiz.
Cadiz has a population of 120,000 residents. Major highlights include:
Catedral Nueva built between 1722 and 1832 and is a Roman Catholic Church.
Plaza Topete is a triangular plaza located close to the Catedral and is popular with the locals.
Museu de Cadiz is resident to Spanish, Italian and Flemish paintings from the 16th century.
Museo de las Cortes Cadiz was opened in 1912 and is a local history museum.
Torre Tavira was built in 1717 and was the official watchtower of Cadiz given its proximity to the city centre.
We arrived to Cadiz at 8:00 AM.
Today is a annual national public holiday in Spain called Fista Nacional de Espana commemorating when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas in 1492.
What a change a day makes. The weather this morning was a delight. Absolutely wonderful. Clear skies. Sunny. Moderate temperature.
Shortly after Serenity was cleared we made our way off the ship and within one minute we were in Cadiz.
For those of you who remember former Food & Beverage Manager Victor Conceicao, this is a photo of Anne Marie with his daughter Ana who is on-board Serenity in the photo studio. She reminded us so much of Victor. Today is her birthday so here is wishing Ana a very Happy Birthday.
We revisited areas that we saw back in 2007 and walked to other areas. We stopped at two Cathedrals including one we were able to walk into which is Santiago Church built in 1635. We admired the Clock Tower and the beautiful Plaza, Topete, where a television station was filming and conducting an interview. We walked over to a Covent, walked up and down many of the charming side streets that are not very wide and have shops, bakeries/pastry shops, restaurants, cafes and walked other areas. We saw the ancient city wall.
Shortly after getting back to the ship we could hear announcements coming from the nearby P&O Ventura Hamilton Cruise Ship and when we looked outside they were conducting a lifeboat drill for the crew
After lunch at the Lido Cafe, Keith played Paddle Tennis and Anne Marie enjoyed a long walk on the outdoor Promenade Deck. We also had conversations with fellow guests and the amazing Serenity crew and read and wrote.
Tonight we will enjoy the cuisine of Silk Road.
Anne Marie & Keith
GIBRALTAR, U.K. - THE ROCK
We began last evening back at the Crystal Cove which has become our go-to lounge for these voyages. This was followed by dinner at Prego.
We dined with Executive Housekeeper Maria. We have known Maria for many years. She is from the wonderful city/country of Lisbon, Portugal. Maria has been with Crystal Cruises for 24 years having served on Crystal Harmony for ten of those years and the remaining time she has been on Crystal Serenity. She is an amazing person.
As Executive Housekeeper Maria has responsibility for all of the staterooms/suites, and public areas. Housekeeping is pretty much a 7x24 function because in the late hours of the evening and the early morning hours she has the night crew. They have plenty to take care of including cleaning the fitness center, the lounges, restaurants, guest laundry facilities and other areas of the ship where the late hours provides the optimal time to clean and scrub these rooms.
Dinner was wonderful. We both started with a Creamy King Crab Salad which was very tasty and both had Caesar Salad. Anne Marie had the Veal. All of this was very tasty. Keith had the addition that was added for an evening which was a Tuna Steak which Keith thought was OK but one that he would pass on in the future. As usual the overall experience was terrific between cuisine, service and the overall ambience of the dining venue. Prego was fairly busy while we dined and as we were leaving there were several empty tables, but as they say this was the calm before the storm with many guests dining later. We enjoyed such wonderful conversation that we dined from 6:00 PM to 8:15 PM with Maria.
As soon as we left we went to the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle Party. When we arrived one other couple was there. This was their first Crystal Cruise. Evidently one other person was there earlier. We believe twenty four people signed up. Seven day cruises can be more challenging for people to attend these parties. Hotel Director Hubert and Cruise Sales Consultant Jaque were there as were at least three members supporting the bar team.
Something we wanted to mention about this cruise is believe it or not there are about twenty four children on board. A few are in elementary school while the rest are either not in school or in some type of pre-school program. This is unusual given the time of year. However, in some cases you have passengers on board from the Southern Hemisphere where school is out and we have several guests on board from Europe and with pre-school children they have greater flexibility to travel this time of year. We saw almost no children on the previous two seven day cruises. They have been very well behaved and very cute. Crystal has brought in Junior Activity Directors so they can offer a program for the children older enough to attend.
Serenity left Malaga at Midnight for our next port of call in Gibraltar which is a short distance. We slept well and began today the way we always do with exercise and a light breakfast.
Gibraltar with a population of 35,000 people has a wealth of historical sites, including a 16th century cathedral and the Morrish Alcazaba Fortress.
We have visited this area several times since our first visit in 2008. The area attracts lots of visitors including many cruise ships from Europe as it offers tax free shopping. We have enjoyed many walks and like to walk onto the side streets. On previous stops we have visited one of the Synagogues where we were welcomed by the Rabbi, a Jewish School and various sites within the downtown area.
The rock of Gibraltar is well known from all of the photos taken of it. The rock soars almost 1400 feet. Over 1,400 caves have been discovered. It is connected to Spain by land but is part of the United Kingdom. Most of its residents are from Spain and Spanish is widely spoken by the locals.
Major attractions include:
Cable Car to the Upper Rock.
Apes Den. We have chosen not to visit this area over the years although many people do. It is one to be vary careful and not to feed the apes.
Gibraltar Museum houses an array of displays highlighting the history of the rock.
Gibraltar Crystal Factory where guess can learn the process of making Crystal.
Moorish Castle which was first built in 1160.
Unfortunately, it was a rainy day. Keith gave it a try hoping to take photos in town. He put on a rain coat and with an umbrella in hand started to walk into town. The rain wouldn't let up and he realized it would not be possible to take photos so he turned around and walked back to the ship.
These are some photos of Gibraltar from our last visit in 2015.
Back on the ship Keith worked out at the Fitness Center. Anne Marie did packing so that we could enjoy as much as possible at our two remaining ports of call at Cadiz, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.
We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe and the weather improved so Keith played Paddle Tennis while Anne Marie walked outside. We are enjoying the rest of the afternoon on the ship.
Hopefully tomorrow's weather will cooperate in Cadiz for everyone.
Anne Marie & Keith
We have received several comments and e-mails about a couple of photos we posted yesterday. One of them relates to the photos of the tiles that look three-dimensional. In all our years of travel we have never seen anything quite like that. A few people said they would be dizzy walking on them and a couple of times that started to happen to Anne Marie. They are certainly unique.
We've added photos of them back on today's post and you will find those below.
The other comment was about the pastries for $1.00 Euro. One of the things that we were told during our stops in Spain is that for some Europeans Spain is a bargain and many do come for Holidays. As we walked by several restaurants and looked at menus the prices did seem very reasonable. In hindsight maybe we should have tried one of the pastries to see for $1.00 Euro what the taste would be like but we didn't stop. Maybe next time.
We enjoyed a wonderful night on Crystal Serenity. We first enjoyed a pre-cruise drink at the Crystal Cove. Had a great conversation with a gent from Brisbane, Australia on not only his first Crystal Cruise but his first cruise. He certainly picked a top cruise line for that first cruise. One of the aspects of cruising we enjoy is discovery. For us discovery takes place off the ship while in port but also on-board with the diverse set of guests and crew who are on-board. There is so much to learn from others including culture of their respective home countries.
From there we went to the Crystal Dining Room. Caviar for Keith and a mushroom appetizer for Anne Marie, Caviar for Keith followed by salads and Lobster for the two of us. The meal was spectacular and the waitstaff is amazing. Lorinc is our Sommelier and knows his wine. Wine is another area in which we never stop learning. Top right is Michael our waiter from Cape Town, South Africa. As previously mentioned his wife also is on board and works as part of the dining room team as well. Bottom left photo is Senior Waiter Claudia who resides in Portugal and just returned for the start of this cruise.
We attended the Crystal Society Party. The party is for those guests who have sailed one or more prior time with Crystal Cruises. With this voyage being seven days this was a combined welcome and Crystal Society Party.
Captain Giske introduced his Senior Officers:
Vice Captain Juan Fernandez; Chief Engineer Giovanni Tropez; Hotel Director Hubert Buelacher; Cruise Director Gary Hunter and Ship's Doctor Alea Brand.
Captain Giske awarded the employee of the month who is a member of the Pastry team.
The Captain noted that guests on-board represent 29 different nationalities. Those from the USA represented about 45% of total guests. Other countries with a lot of guests included Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Captain Giske also mentioned that Crystal Cruises had been selected number 1 for the 25th year by readers of Conde Nast. We believe the Captain mentioned that Crystal River Cruises was selected number 2.
Crystal Society Hostess Alissa did the Crystal Society recognition Alissa mentioned some guests who had milestones over this cruise and Olga who lives on the ship whom we know quite well for having the most number of cruises of anyone on board. She also mentioned a couple who we have known for years for having the second highest total. In fact, we were on the same cruise with them in May on Crystal Symphony and were invited to dinner with them one night by the Captain and one night we were with them and another couple at a table hosted by the Vice Captain.
We were recognized for having sailed the most Crystal Cruises other than the three people mentioned who are on this voyage. After reading a short cruising biography about us we were called to the front. Anne Marie received a bouquet of flowers and Keith a boutonnière.
We slept well as we sailed to our next port of call in Malaga. In order to arrive on time we were sailing at 20 knots per hour. Although the Captain had mentioned that there would be a strong wind the ride was very comfortable.
We kept the morning routines that many of you have come to know. Keith worked out at the Fitness Center, Anne Marie took a long walk and we enjoyed breakfast in our room. We arrived to Malaga at 8:00 AM.
Our first visit was in 2007. Malaga lies along the beautiful Costa del Sol, and is located seventy miles inside the Strait of Gibraltar. It has a wealth of historical sites, including a 16thcentury cathedral and the Morrish Alcazaba Fortress
Malaga has a population of 600,00 people. It has a wealth of historical sites.
Museo Picasso Malaga a museum which opened in 2003 and has 285 works donated by the Picasso family.
Gibralfaro; the castle was built in 929 CE by And-al-Rahman III.
Alcazaba Fortress which was build by the Hammundid dynasty in the early 11th century.
Catedral de la Encarnacion which is a Roman Catholic Church built in Renaissance Architecture. It was constructed over a long period between 1528 and 1782.
Centro de Arte Contemporanco is a modern art museum.
We visited Malaga in April of 2007 as part of World Cruise 2007. We took the shuttle into town but it was raining. Although we had our rain coats on and umbrellas with us we decided that given how hard it was pouring (with some thunder and lightening) that we would be best to just stay one the shuttle and return back to the ship.
Although the weather cleared by afternoon we decided we would stay on-board Serenity and enjoy the ship. With no sea days and some ports we would like to visit before it is time to leave Serenity we felt this was a good approach for us.
We took another long walk inside the ship, had lunch at the Lido Cafe. Afterwards, Anne Marie walked and Keith worked out at the Fitness Center and we enjoyed the rest of the day speaking with crew and fellow guests. This evening we will be dining at Prego.
Anne Marie & Keith
Today's Daily Reflections Program.
These are menus from the Crystal Dining Room from last evening.
We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at the Palm Court. While we were there we listened to music and spoke to several guests and members of the crew. There were several groups having parties there.
Anne Marie with Ed.
Afterwards we had our final "Taste" at "Tastes". The Tastes dining venue will be transformed during the dry dock of Crystal Serenity to the Silk Asian Restaurant. This transformation begins at the end of this voyage when Serenity goes to Germany for its dry dock.
This will be the second transformation for Tates. When Tastes debuted on the Serenity inaugural voyage it included evening dinner in a casual environment. Its menus included appetizers, a couple of choices of salad and a range of entrees including seafood, steak and pizza. A few years ago Tastes was transformed with a makeover including new furniture and living walls. A Head Waiter was added along with three Senior Waiters and assistant waiters and people from the bar team to offer a new dining experience. The cuisine is tapas served family style representing different areas of the world.
Silk debuted on Crystal Symphony after its dry dock last year and we dined there in May of this year. We look forward to dining at Silk on Serenity when we return later this year.
We enjoyed a fabulous meal. Although the venue will change we don't think of it as our "last supper". LOL.
Although it was tempting to order every item on the menu for one last "taste" that would not have been a good idea.
This is the menu from Tastes.
We enjoyed the Squash Salad (Anne Marie), Greek Octopus Salad (Keith), Oven Roaded Cauliflower, Alsatian Tart, Gambas, Chermoula Baked Salmon, California Street Tacos, Chimichurri Steak, and Saffron-Marianted Lamb Chops.
We asked for only one or maybe two courses at a time so the food kept warm and that we had plenty of time to savor the taste of the food and just enjoy a relaxing evening and the waiter did an excellent job on this.
The waiters not only use the hand held devices to take the orders but they can control when the orders are sent back to the galley. For example we ask for eight items but he might send just two of them back to the kitchen or he could send them all so they can prep some of the items but instruct them not to cook them until he/she follows up.
The assistant waiters will also bring the orders out to the table and clear dishes and the Head Waiter will help where required.
We had an absolutely amazing dinner.
You may notice that we didn’t have any dessert or if we did we didn’t mentioned it. Full disclosure…..We had some of the left over Birthday Cake
Serenity left port at Midnight as the drive to our next port of call is a short distance.
We began the day as we usually do with exercise and a light breakfast.
We arrived to Alicante Spain at 8:00 AM.
After the ship was cleared we took the port shuttle to the entrance of the port. Unfortunately there was no shuttle bus and our experience is that when this happens and the town is not steps away it is because a shuttle bus is not permitted. Often this is to give the taxis the benefit of no competition.
The walk to town is about 20 to 25 minutes. In Reflections they noted that without shade the walk might be challenging but given the time of year we decided to go ahead and walk to town.
We arrived to Alicante, Spain this morning. This city has a population of 350,000 people and was founded by the Ancient Greeks in 325 BC. The Moors ruled here for over five centuries.
Major attractions include:
Castillo de Santa Barbara which is one of the largest medieval fortresses in Spain.
MARQ Archaeological Museum which shows visitors the various methods and techniques associated with archaeology.
Explanada de Espana is a boulevard that is covered with 6.6 million red, black and cream tiles stretched around the marina.
Mercado Central which is the central market of Allicante and built between 1911 and 1912.
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante which is a municipal museum that exhibits mainly 20thcentury art.
As soon as Serenity was cleared, we walked off the ship and took the port bus that takes you on a five-minute drive and drops guests outside the port area. From there we walked to the Explanada de Espana.
We made a right turn and walked for quite awhile with the beach on our right side. The tiles were amazing and looking down they looked three dimensional. There were some people out and about walking like us and/or running. The temperature was 63 degrees (F)
We admired some buildings across the main street towards the city centre. There was interesting scenery on both sides between the sand/palm trees/water and behind some of the buildings were hills.
Eventually we turned back and this time after getting back to our starting point we continued further up in the other direction with a different type of pavement on the ground and a beautiful yacht marina on our left. We saw several kayak boats with people practicing for a competition. All of this was very beautiful.
Next we reversed course and walk for a while and then crossed over to walk the city centre. Once again the tiles changed in style and color reminding us of tiles you see in Rio and Portugal. We walked up several streets in the city centre and passed by lots of restaurants and cafes and places selling pastries. We visited Catendral De San Nicolas, and walked some of the residential areas.
After a few hours it was time to return home to Crystal Serenity having seen another port of call for the very first time. We see why this is a place that many people within Europe will visit for Holiday and was a joy to see for ourselves.
Once on-board Serenity we enjoyed lunch and our usual set of afternoon activities.
This evening we will be back in the Crystal Dining Room for dinner and attend the Crystal Society Reception.
Anne Marie & Keith
These are the restaurant menus from the Crystal Dining Room where we dined last evening.
After we posted yesterday we had a video call with our son. It's so nice to be able to video with our family while on board Serenity. The family also sent Keith a video for his birthday.
We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at the Crystal Cove. When we arrived pianist Richard Pucci played Happy Birthday for Keith and then continued with 15 minutes of Beatles songs. Thank you Richard.
Keith had the Rose Cucumber Gin & Tonic and Anne Marie had a Bellini.
We enjoyed a special meal at the Crystal Dining Room which Anne Marie pre-ordered to celebrate Keith's birthday. We can think of no better way for a celebration than to be sailing on a Crystal Cruises cruise.
We were taken care of by the extraordinary dining room team. Head Waiter Augusto; Senior Waiter Claudia who just returned from holiday in Portugal yesterday, Waiter Michael and Sommelier Lorinc.
We had smoked salmon (Keith), Shrimp Cocktail Anne Marie, Caesar Salad (Keith & Anne Marie) and Beef Wellington (Keith & Anne Marie). When we returned to the room Rao had just delivered the cake (St. Honoree) that Anne Marie had ordered. The entire meal plus the cake plus the entire evening was amazing.
We began today as we have since boarding Serenity. Keith enjoyed an early morning workout. With the time difference he could even catch a portion of the Dallas Cowboys/Houston Texans game. Enjoyed breakfast in our room as we got ready to visit Valencia Spain.
Valencia, Spain. Our first and only visit was with our daughter and son-in-law as part of the 2008 World Cruise. It was a maiden port of call for Crystal Cruises. Valencia combines the old with the new and that is what we saw on a tour in 2008.
The population of Valencia is 2.5 Million people making it one of the largest cities in Spain. It is a popular city for locals and for tourists with its mile climate and many beaches. It is known for sports including golfing, diving, cycling and tennis. It is a vibrant city at night.
Major attractions include:
Catedral founded in the13th century. Its exterior is mostly gothic.
Basilica dels Desemparatswhich was build between 1652 and 1667.
Caile de Cabaileros which is the historic city center of Valencia
National Ceramics Museum which is housed in a palace dating back to the 15th century and was refurbished in 1740.
L'Oceanographic Museum which is the largest complex of its type in all of Europe. It is divided into ten areas and allows for viewing of 500 different species of sea life. We spent a few hours at the museum as part of a tour in 2008 and it is amazing and the most interesting venue of this type that we have ever been to.
We were delayed getting off the ship. Due to some issues the gangway location had to be moved from Deck 6 to Deck 4. Tours could still run as planned but those who wanted to take one of the complimentary shuttle buses had to wait for a special port bus to get people from the ship over to the area where the local shuttle bus would be operating from. In the end, all worked out well. The weather was wonderful with sunny skies and moderate temperature. We have been very blessed with very good weather since boarding Serenity.
Back on the ship we enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe. We made the afternoon a sea day with Paddle Tennis for Keith, a long walk on the outside Promenade Deck for Anne Marie and reading, writing for the two of us. We also walked around the ship and spoke with fellow guests and members of the crew. Some people who we have met on both Symphony and Serenity boarded the ship in Barcelona some of whom we have not seen in many years so we enjoyed speaking with them.
This evening we will have our final "taste" at Tastes.
Anne Marie & Keith
The daily Reflections Program follows.
We originally had reservations at Silk Road for dinner. However, recognizing that this is a high occupancy cruise and knowing how busy the waitstaff is we cancelled the reservation. We did it early in the voyage so if someone was trying to get into Silk Road that this cancellation might result in them getting their own reservation.
Instead we enjoyed Silk Road in our room. Butler Rao placed the order for us and served the meal course by course. We enjoyed it all. We began with sushi and sashimi. Keith enjoyed the sushi and Anne Marie prefers Sashimi but she enjoys the Nobu specials particularly in this case the Nobu Tuna. Keith had the Soba Noodles with the soup as an entree and Anne Marie had the lobster. It was a very relaxing evening and the food is absolutely divine. Thank you Rao.
We enjoyed pianist Filip Wojciechowski. He used to go by Phillip. He is not only a wonderful pianist (wonderful is an understatement), he is also a very nice person with no ego. We have enjoyed conversations with him over the years on board Serenity and Symphony when he is not performing and really think highly of him on and off the stage.
Today is turn-around day with the end of one cruise and the start of a new one. Our third and final cruise of this adventure starts in Barcelona, Spain and ends in Lisbon, Portugal. Serenity arrived to Barcelona at about 4:00 AM this morning.
Before Breakfast Keith took along walk inside the ship and we had a video call from our daughter Jennifer and while we were talking our Son-In-Law Gui, Grandson Andre and Granddaughter arrived home and we chatted with them. They are the family who live in Sydney, Australia. They called to wish Keith a Happy Birthday. It was wonderful to chat with the family and to see them is extra special. Thank goodness for technology. Keith received a Birthday Card from Captain Giske.
While on one of his walks inside the ship this morning Keith stopped by some of the public rooms. Turn around day is a perfect day for this. These are photos from Palm Court and Stardust. Each room will receive a makeover in the upcoming dry dock. While these rooms surely need the change and we know will look gorgeous seeing each one brings back many wonderful memories from all of our previous Crystal Serenity Voyages. We look forward to seeing the changes later in December.
We enjoyed breakfast in our room and then got ready for our move up one floor and into a different. On this cruise we will be in a Penthouse Suite and when we have stayed in this category of suite we have chosen the same room number. Similar to the Penthouse with Verandah that we have been in these past two voyages we prefer mid-deck and the suite we moved into on this sailing is pretty much above the room we've been in.
We have adored our Penthouse Attendant Puii and Stateroom Attendant Niedja and will miss them. They make an amazing team.
Crystal Cruises makes the move from one room to another very easy. We arrived with two piece of luggage. Clothes that we will not need for this last voyage we packed in part of one piece. There are bell men who can move us or in this case Butler Rao took care of most things for us. He coordinated with the stewardesses on Deck 11 to begin cleaning our new room as soon as the existing guests vacated the room.
Everything on hangers, Butler Rao places on a trolley to bring up to the new room. We made use of laundry tubs to place loose items in them and some other items. We waited in our room until the new room was available. Housekeeping puts priority on cleaning the rooms that will be needed for those remaining on-board who are known as in-transit guests.
The last time we moved was in 2014. After spending 120+ days on board we could not get the same room as we added that one after we booked the other voyages so our son and daughter in-law could be with us. We made the same move between the two rooms and Butler Rao was also on-board.
Between Rao and the fantastic people in Housekeeping this was an easy move and quick as a flash we were easily settled into our new room. Shortly after the new room was vacated the stewardess team of Penthouse Attendant Caroline and Stateroom Attendant Svenlana worked their magic and began cleaning. Rao came up to our room to let us know the room was available and in short order brought each of our items up there. At one point they said it would be OK for us to go by there and we places valuables in the safe and left so they could get the entire room in order. They were very thoughtful and we are most appreciative.
By 10:30 AM the cleaning was done. While they cleaned we took a nice long walk inside the ship. When we came by the room all was in order. Rao came by a little while later and asked if we wanted to have lunch in the room. He had already written out suggested items that he knows we would have from past cruises. That worked out well. Chicken for Anne Marie, Tuna Fish for Keith, and we shared some additional Boston Lettuce.
Lunch began at 11:45 AM in the Crystal Dining Room which is 15 minutes earlier than most days reflecting opening a little earlier on embarkation day when that is possible.
These are some photos of the Penthouse Suite. We do enjoyed several features in this room. Although smaller than this one we find the storage and the two desks in the Penthouse With Verandah work out very well for us. Maybe a combination of the best of both rooms would be great. LOL....Bu.......
We got a chance to speak with a couple of favorites of ours from Crystal Serenity; Sneha and Langhar. Sneha was our Penthouse Attendant for two World Cruises and we adored her. She is very kind, thoughtful and a hard worker and a terrific attitude. The past few years she has assumed expanded responsibilities becoming supervisor of one of the desks of the stewardesses and being promoted to a higher deck and eventually the top deck of suites on the ship. She is now filling in as the assistant to the Head Housekeeper and then will swing back and forth.
We also saw Langhar. Keith took the photo of Anne Marie and Langhar while standing on one of the steps of the staircase. We had Langhar on a couple of World Cruises and on some other voyages. We were thrilled to learn when we boarded that she has been promoted to a Housekeeper supervisor.
Because of ages we think of many members of the crew as our own children. We do worry about them if they go ashore and we take delight when we see them being promoted. Langhar has similar attributes to Sneha and we know she will do very well as well.
Crystal provided a complimentary shuttle between the ship to a location close to Las Rambles and we visited the city in the afternoon. We have enjoyed numerous visits to this city over the years. In fact our first visit was in 1997 on our first Mediterranean cruise with the family and we had a couple of day pre-cruise stay in this city. We have done numerous tours of the city and a lot on our own as well. We enjoyed a nice walk with beautiful weather. This is a perfect time of the year for a visit.
While it did rain earlier we were fortunate that it cleared.
This evening's schedule was a little different than a typical embarkation day. It may have reflected newly embarking guests arriving later to the ship and/or the feeling that newly embarking guests may want more time to visit Barcelona. The muster drill is for those guests embarking today in Barcelona. Others already on-board are welcome to attend but this is not mandatory.
The biggest difference is that the muster drill is scheduled for 8:00 PM rather than 5:00 or 5:15 PM. With that time slot open there was a local dance show at 5:15 PM. The welcome production show is scheduled for 10:15 PM and that is Crystal in Motion.
We will close for now.
We will be back in the Crystal Dining Room this evening.
Anne Marie & Keith
HOLA FROM - MALLORCA, SPAIN
Hola as Crystal Serenity is now in Spain.
Unfortunately neither the dinner menus or the daily Reflections program are available for posting.
Before dinner last evening we attended the Captain's Quarters Reception hosted by Captain Giske. As each person enters the Captain's Quarters they are greeted by Captain Giske and Crystal Society Hostess Alissa.
Several officers were on-hand. We spoke with Shore Excursions Manager Storme Brown for quite awhile. It was so good to catch up with Storme. She is a consummate professional and a wonderful person.
We enjoyed dinner at the Crystal Dining Room. We were taken wonderful care of by Head Waiter Augusto, Senior Waiter Lylian and Waiter Michael. Lylian is going on a well deserved holiday at the end of this cruise.
We began with an appetizer which was a wild mushroom tart. It was very tasty. Next course was salads and we each had mushroom salads. The highlight of the meal was the Broiled Fresh Swordfish. We would say this might have been one if not the best one we have ever had. It was very moist and tasty and cooked to perfection. Anne Marie had the one on the menu and Keith had asked the day before to have it butterfly style.
The entree that Anne Marie had is on the left side and Keith's is on the right side. They ended up giving Keith a double order of the Swordfish.
Later in the morning Keith met with one of the crew officers while Anne Marie worked on our packing. No we are not leaving the ship. We will be moving up one deck on the next cruise.
With a noon arrival to today’s port of call this morning had lots of enrichment activities on the schedule. This included two lectures; Destination Lectures Martin Lee spoke about Barcelona which is fitting as we visit the first of several ports-of-call in Spain. World Affairs Lecturer Shelby Coffey who was on the previous cruise spoke about Crimes of Passion.
The Lido Cafe opened for lunch 30 minutes earlier than usual to accommodate those who were on tours or wanted to explore Palma de Mallorca on there own.
We decided to not go into Palma de Mallorca because of medication that Anne Marie is on for a disease. The medication lowers her resistance which is why we avoid group tours. We didn't find a private tour and with some guests sick we decided to avoid the shuttle.
We thought we would share some information about the city.
This city has a population of 400,000 people and is rich in monuments. It was founded by the Roman 2,100 years ago.
Major highlights include:
Catedral Le Seu; which is one of Spain’s most outstanding Gothic Structure. Work began in 1229 and completed in 1601.
Palau de l’Almudaina; originally an Islamic Fort it was converted to a residence for Mallorcan Monarches in the early 1300s by King James II of Majorca.
Museo Diocesano; the museum offers a historical tour of Christianity for this island.
Museo de Mallorca. This 45+ year museum includes prehistoric artifacts, Moorish ceramics, medieval and and Baroque paintings.
We enjoyed our afternoon on-board Serenity. We began with lunch at the Lido Cafe. Because of the arrival time to port the Cafe opened 30 minutes earlier tan usual and was the busiest we have seen it. Many people on the cruise have been having lunch at the Crystal Dining Room but dined at the Lido Cafe in order to take tours and/or explore the city on their own. Afterwards, we both walked together on the Promenade Deck. Keith met one person for Paddle Tennis and played singles for quite awhile. While on our walk we saw a ferry in port, the Ida Cruise ship and the arrival of the NCL Epic cruise ship. The temperature was in the high 70's (F), sunny and very pleasant.
This evening Serenity will set sail for the final port of call in Barcelona, Spain where many guests will disembark, in-transit guest such as ourselves will remain on-board (about 125) and newly embarking guests will board. We should arrive around 4:00 AM.
Anne Marie & Keith