MARSEILLE, FRANCE - END OF FIRST VOYAGE/BEGINNING OF SECOND VOYAGE
Bonjour from Marseille, France.
Last evening we returned to the Crystal Cove for another pre-dinner drink.
Two nights ago we were dressed in white pants for the White Extravaganza night. Last night I guess you could say the dress was for black night or black knight. LOL.
Keith tried another of the new drinks. This one is called Stuck in the Med. If you are going to get stuck somewhere the Med is a nice place for that. This one has Tanqueray Gin, Maraschino Liqueur Mediterranean Tonic Water, Fresh Rosemary and a Dash of Sea Salt. Anne Marie tried a Belline. This was not one of Keith's favorite drinks. For him maybe too much of an alcohol taste but as they say choice is good and Keith has enjoyed several of the drinks he tried over the seven day voyage.
Each time that Max has come around with appetizers Anne Marie would say she is holding out for the Pigs 'n Blankets. Well tonight she got her wish.
The entertainment in the Crystal Cove was terrific with the pianist and violinist. They played some really nice songs.
These are the menus from last evening from the Crystal Dining Room.
We returned to the dining room for the final night of this voyage.
We began the meal with tuna tartare for Keith and Crab Cake for Anne Marie.
Next course was Salad for each of us.
Keith tried the Lightly Smoke Salmon from the Modern Cuisine Menu which was accompanied by Homemade Spinach Ravioli, Saffron and Veloute Romanesco for his entree. This is a new addition to the menu. Anne Marie had Tiger Shrimp. We were both pleased with our choices.
The food was delicious. Keith felt that the salmon was not as moist as he would have preferred and looks forward to trying it again after open dining is rolled out. He feels that the timing of getting food from galley to table will be quicker following open dining.
It was a bit noisy in the dining room so on the next segment we are thinking we will try another venue.
We slept well as we sailed to our final port-of-call of this cruise; Marseille, France. We understand that 250 of the guests currently on-board are continuing onto the next voyage which goes from Marseille to Barcelona, Spain.
We stayed with our routing this morning. Keith started with a workout at the Fitness Center.
During hid workout he watched two talks given by World Affairs Lecturer Shelby Coffey during this cruise. He often judged lectures o takeaways and learning something that new and gave both excellent marks. One focused on John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. He provided some very insightful information. The other was on scandals and politics in Washington. It went all the way back to Thomas Jefferson yet he spoke about the current scandal involving the Supreme Court Nominee. He found both talks to be informative, and thought provoking and learned a great deal from each one.
We enjoyed breakfast in the room. After breakfast we took a long walk on the Promenade Deck. In addition to Serenity there are four ships in port with us; Costa Diadema, Costa Mediterranean, Oceania Riviera (we've been in most ports together) and one MSC ships we can see. It is possible that there is a second MSC ship in port possibly in front of the one we can see.
The weather was pleasant and it was nice to walk outside.
We took the first shuttle from the pier into Marseille. In addition to the cruise ships in port we saw six ferries and several large yachts.
Marseille is a bustling city. As we learned on our tour of Nice/Eze it is the second largest city in France in terms of overall population. Although today is Sunday there were lots of locals and tourists out and about and places were open. This was in contrast to a visit we made to Bordeaux on a Sunday when the city was quiet in the morning and some places closed.
We saw Notre Dame de la Garde built in the 19th century and Musee de Beaux Arts. We walked into a couple of churches and viewed others from the outside. The churches we walked inside were simple in contrast to several in Italy.
We walked along the downtown port with lots of vessels in port and there was a large outdoor market with many people walking around. The items ranged from clothing to artwork to various food items.
The weather was sunny with moderate temperature.
When we returned to the ship we saw some guests waiting for embarkation to begin. We enjoyed lunch at the Crystal Dining Room since this is the start of the next voyage. As part of our tradition we had Cobb Salad and a Flute of Champagne and toasted
We spent the remainder of the day reading, writing, walking inside and speaking with guests and crew members. We know a few of the newly embarking guests some of whom we have not seen for over three years so it was nice to see them.
This evening we will dine at the Prego Italian Restaurant.
Anne Marie & Keith
WELCOME TO ST.TROPAZ
Before dinner we had a pre-dinner drink at the Crystal Cove. Keith tried another new drink. This one was the Lavender & Lemon Gin Tonic. This drink has Plymouth English Gin, Lavender Syrup, Bitter Lemon, Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water. This is one of those drinks that would be nice in the summer and is a mild drink.
Last night was also White Extravaganza Night so we had some white on.
These are the menus from the Crystal Dining Room.
We ate at Silk Road and these are the menus from this venue.
We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Silk Road Japanese Restaurant. We were taken great care of by Waiter Albert and Sommelier Jay and several other members of the Silk Road waitstaff.
Albert was assisted throughout the evening by many of the other waiters. They truly work as one cohesive team and it shows. Also Head Waiter Mario not only greeted and seated guests but assisted the wait staff team in many ways including clearing tables and plates from the sushi bar. Mario is working at Silk Road for a few voyages and normally is Head Waiter in Prego.
We had many of our favorites; sashimi & sushi, Nobu sashimi specials, salad, the Nobu Box for Anne Marie with black cod, beef and shrimp and hot soba noodles with soup and some scallops for Anne Marie. The dining venue was very busy since this is a short cruise but the wait staff and the galley kept up with everything and the service, cuisine and service was outstanding.
Last evening was White Extravaganza on-board Serenity. These parties are held on both ocean vessels once per cruise and are mixers. Guests can dress in white if the would like.
Serenity departed Monaco at Midnight for St-Tropez, France our next port of call. The seas were calm and we slept well. Began the day as we normally do with a workout for Keith followed by breakfast for the two of us in our room. We got ready for our visit to St-Tropez a town that we visited for the first time in 2015. It has a small populate of 6,000 people.
We took the first tender over to the tender pier and walked into town. St-Tropez is known as a summer playground for celebrities, artists and writers. There was a time when it attracted people such as Pablo Picasso, Francoise Sagan and Brigitte Bardot. Today many people visit during the summer for its beautiful beaches and for its lively night life. Many luxurious yachts can be seen at the height of the tourist season.
When we visited in 2015 it was a weekday. Since we are here on a Saturday there was a large market opened. It featured food including seafood, poultry, beef, ham, desserts, cheese bread, spices vegetables and fruit. We wish we could export the aromas as you view the photos because it was amazing such as the cheese and the bread. The market also had lots of clothing, jewelry, and wooden items.
We walked up and down several streets with hotels, shops and cafes and we also walked some of the residential areas. We walked along the pier where there are many restaurants and lots of boats and yachts. There will be a boating race so they were setting up for that.
After a few hours we headed back home to Serenity. We were told that later in the afternoon that the winds would pick up as they did in Monte Carlo so the tender might be rough as it was the other day. Even in the morning the sea swells were fairly strong so close to the ship the tender had a bumpy ride on both trips.
We pretty much had the tender to ourselves on the way to and from St. Tropez so the tender was our private yacht for these trips. LOL.
After a few hours we headed back home to Serenity where we enjoyed lunch and a nice long walk outside on the Promenade Deck. With many guests ashore we felt like we were on a private yacht as there were very few people having lunch. Keith didn't have any tennis buddies today so we both walked together outside on the promenade deck. We pretty much had the entire promenade deck to ourselves. While walking the wraparound deck we enjoyed beautiful views of the land and seashore and saw many different size vessels including yachts and sailboats. The weather is just breathtaking. This is such a beautiful area of the world.
This evening we are back in the Crystal Dining Room for dinner.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 2 MONTE CARLO
Before dinner last evening we enjoyed a pre-cruise drink at the Crystal Cove. Keith tried another mixed drink. This time it was Grapefruit Gin & Tonic. It seemed like a healthy choice with lots of Vitamin C. LOL.
We also enjoyed some wonderful music including two Beatles songs; Yesterday and Let It Be. Bravo.
We ate at the Crystal Dining Room. These are the menus.
We had a wonderful dinner at the Crystal Dining Room. It was fairly quiet with people dining off the ship, and in different venue and some people arriving later as they were returning from tours.
The Sommelier for our table is Lubo. This is the first voyage we have had Lubo although he has been with Crystal for four years. He is very knowledgeable about wine and very personable.
Our waiter is Michael who assists Senior Waiter Lylian. This is Michael's first contract and he is from South Africa. He is very professional and personable.
Our Head Waiter is Augusto who we adore and have known him for many years. He adds a lot to the dining experience.
Last night Anne Marie had two courses (Salad and Pasta) and Keith had three courses (Salad, Pasta and Strawberries). The pasta was delicious and included lobster and a very tasty sauce.
After dinner we went back to the room to read and catch up with the news of the day. We had been up rather early and decided to pass on the entertainment. We hope to catch the entertainment on the next voyage.
We began the day as many of you have come to know. Keith got his his early workout, and we had breakfast. We kept breakfast light and simple.
We decided to make today a sea day. As much as we love Monaco we have been here numerous times. If we were docked we would likely have gone off for a few hours to walk around. However, between the tender (no we are not scared after yesterday) and where you are dropped off and the fact that there are no sea days on this cruise this was a nice opportunity to relax and enjoy the ship.
Anne Marie went on a nice long walk outside on the Promenade Deck. Keith returned to the Fitness Class and worked out on the indoor cycle bike using a playlist from the last class he taught right before we left for Rome. Afterwards, we spoke with fellow guests and members of the crew and read and wrote. With each passing day we are seeing more members of the crew and also meeting more guests. This is all part of why we enjoy cruising. We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe. Anne Marie took a long walk after lunch on the Promenade Deck while Keith played mainly singles Paddle Tennis. It was a nice leisurely day for us on Serenity and most enjoyable.
The weather is absolutely divine as is the scenery with clear skies. The Oceania Riviera arrived and we seem to be with them in most ports. There are several large yachts anchored near us and one of them is owned by one of those Russian Oligarchs. We remember seeing one of the Yachts that Paul Allen of Microsoft fame had and this one comes close in size.
Keith attempted to take a selfie of himself using the reflection from the mirror. We've also included a photo of Antonio who works in the Fitness Center and Spa Area. He is an amazing person. He is always working and is very dedicated. His brother is Lido Deck Steward Benjamin.
This evening we will be dining at Silk Road.
Anne Marie & Keith
MONTE CARLO - DAY 1 - VISIT TO NICE
These are the menus from the Crystal Dining Room from last evening.
Before dinner we went to the Crystal Cove for a drink. Keith tried the April in Positano which has Limoncello, Campari, Gordons Gin, and Mediterranean Tonic Water. After all we are sailing the Mediterranean. Anne Marie had sparkling wine. When one of the bartenders arrived he had Keith try a new drink that he has created. It was delicious. Full disclosure....Keith had 3/4's of the first drink and 1/4 of the second one so he stayed within his limit of one drink.
We had dinner at Prego. We had a wonderful time. We enjoyed the cuisine, service and the ambience of the restaurant.
We each had Caesar Salads, Anne Marie had the Veal, Keith had the additional entree of Sole and Fruit for dessert.
Afterwards we attended a Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle Party. Spoke with several people including Bob and his lovely wife Jeanne.
We missed the evening show given the time we left the party. We slept well and began this morning as we normally do.
We arrived to Monte Carlo this morning where we will overnight giving us two full days. Our first visit to Monte Carlo was in 1997. Since then we have visited several times most recently in 2015 when we attended the Grand Prix. On prior visits we never made it over to Nice. We booked a private tour for 2015 which would have included two other couples but with the Grand Prix the tour provider ended up cancelling the tour due to expected traffic congestion. This time we were committed to visiting Nice. While it is easily reachable by train we decided to go with a private tour.
After taking the tender between the ship and the tender pier we were met by the tour guide, Jerome. Jerome has been conducting tours for ten years and lives in Nice. He was born in Paris. He speaks english fluently. He love sports like we do.
Our tour included driving on the Low Corniche Road which hugs along the stunning coast line on the way to Nice. We ended up in the old town of Nice which was built in the 13th century. We did visit the flower market which is a popular place to see.
We also visited the medieval village of Eze made up of narrow landes and stone buildings. Eze clings to the cliff over 1,200 feet above the sea. We walked up to the top of the hill and enjoyed beautiful views of the sea. We had a terrific lunch and sat outside. We had wine and a salad entree which was amazing. The buffalo mozzarella cheese was out of this world.
Our tour continued with a drive up to the village of La Turbie where we enjoyed beautiful views of the Principality of Monaco.
As part of the Monaco Yacht show we saw French Patrol flying overhead as we were making our way back to Monaco. We pulled over for a short time to view it.
When we took the tender from the ship to the tender landing after we got into the tender the sea swells were strong. We had a bit of drama on our return. When we were tied to Serenity some people got off ahead of us and as Anne Marie was getting ready to go off the ship tender pitched side to side like nothing we have ever seen. Keith grabbed Anne Marie by the arm to pull her and get himself back over to the seats and at one point that look impossible. One of the passengers who had gotten back into his seat was able to give support to Anne Marie. Back in our seats we waited a few minutes until it was safe to get back up.
The day and the tour were wonderful. Because of the strong winds the other day we had clear skies with full sun. All we can say to our tour guide is Bravo and this area of the world is truly stunning.
Anne Marie & Keith
LA SPEZIA, ITALY
We decided to have dinner in our room last evening given the time we arrived back to the ship for our tour. These are the menus from the Crystal Dining Room.
Dinner Menus from last night at the Crystal Dining Room.
Dinner in our room made for a nice relaxing evening.
We began dinner with some sashimi and sushi which Butler Rao ordered for us from the Silk Road Japanese Restaurant. We had asked Rao for some specific items and he also added of few additional ones which was very much appreciated.
We didn't get photos of the next three courses. Our next course was a Greek Salad for Keith and a Mixed Green Salad for Anne Marie from the Crystal Dining Room. Often we just get a set salad but this cruise we are trying to go with mainly the salads on the menu. They were each a work of art. The one that Keith had was tasty and just a work of art and was very colorful. The one that Anne Marie had even had very tiny Monte Christo Sandwiches.
This was followed with an entree of Local Fresh Sea Bass which also was on the Crystal Dining Room menu. The Sea Bass was very moist and already cut into smaller pieces.
Dessert was blueberries for Anne Marie and strawberries for Keith. The fruit was delicious as we find it to be when sailing this area of the world.
We began today as we begin most days when we cruise. Keith enjoyed another workout at the Fitness Center on both the Elliptical and the Spin Bikes and Anne Marie got in a short walk before we enjoyed breakfast in the room.
On the next cruise we will be hosting an Exclusive Vintage Room and with no sea days we selected today to meet with Head Sommelier Tilmar to plan the evening. We looked over the food items that are contained on four menus (one menu is vegetarian) and we selected the food items with input from Tilmar. We booked about an approach for wine as we like to try out new approaches but we leave the selection of the wine to him. An example of trying to do something different was one-time having two red wines served. Each one was from the same vineyard, with the same grapes and the same year. The difference was one was in an oak barrel and the other one was not. It's fun to discuss the differences in aroma and taste and to see if one is favored over the other one by each person.
We arrived to La Spezia at 9:00 AM. The town is located within five to ten minutes of the terminal on foot and has a population slightly below 100,000 residents.
It is situated between Genoa and Pisa and you can take day trips to both of these locations. There are nearby villages of this section of the Italian Riviera, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is at these nearby villages where many will spend their time because of the their picturesque views and charming settings.
We took a two minute shuttle to get from ship to near the exit of the terminal since this is an industrial port. There were two ships in port including the Oceania Riviera which was in port with us yesterday in Livorno.
We made a short visit to the town, as this was our first visit to La Spezia. There were no shore excursions of interest to us and when planning this cruise we selected to take full day tours the day before in Florence and the following day to tour Nice.
After enjoying a nice stroll around the town we returned back to Crystal Serenity. We had lunch at the Lido Cafe. Keith enjoyed several games of tennis. He also met up with fellow guests, read and wrote. Anne Marie walked for quite awhile outside. Afterwards she began the first of two books she checked out from the library today. This evening we dine at the Prego Italian Specialty Restaurant.
Anne Marie & Keith
THE BEAUTY OF FLORENCE, ITALY
Before dinner last evening we had a drink at the Crystal Cove. Anne Marie had wine and Keith tried one of the new drinks that are now being offered. It is called Rose & Cucumber Gin & Tonic in a glass that is similar to what one might have Sangria in. These gin drinks are quite in vogue. Max came around from time to time with Canapés. While we don't have any of them we alway s enjoy seeing what is being offered. We have known Max for so many years and he is like family to us. A wonderful person.
Dinner menus from last evening at the Crystal Dining Room.
We had a fabulous meal. We began with Caviar for Keith and Ragout of Wild Mushrooms for Anne Marie, Tuna Tartare for Keith and Spinach Salad for the two of us followed by fantastic cold water lobster which we each enjoyed. The food was delicious. The Spinach in the salad was very fresh and a reminder to us of how fresh and tasty local vegetables and fruit are in Italy. Anne Marie's Ragout was very tasty and Keith found the taste of the caviar to be great. The Lobster came to the table hot and it was cooked to perfection.
Once again we took our time as we enjoyed dinner and appreciate the time allocated between courses. The dining room was quite busy as this is a popular menu for the guests. There were some hosted officer tables.
Following dinner we attended the Captain's Welcome Reception and the Crystal Society Recognition Reception. There was a show which we did't make it to as we had an early tour planned for today.
We followed our regular routine in the morning. Keith worked out and we both walked together and this was followed by breakfast in the room.
Our first visit to Florence, Italy was in 2005 on board Crystal Serenity. We took a full day tour offered by Crystal Cruises. Since that time we have stopped at Livorno many times where we did other tours including our last visit when we toured Lucca and made a short stop at Pisa.
We wanted to return to Florence and booked a private tour with Crystal Cruises. When we got off the ship it felt like Alaska. It was cool and was very windy. In fact, when we returned to the port it was also very windy.
Our tour included a car, driver and licensed tour guide. Our drive to Florence took seventy five minutes due to traffic in a couple of areas. On a sad note, someone set fire outside of Pisa last evening knowing the winds would be very bad and the fire would spread. We saw the smoke and actually flames from afar. Our drivers mother lives very close and sent him a photo. He lives further away but still relatively close about three miles from the fire. It was too windy for helicopters to get in but in the afternoon they did. On our return it looked better but with high winds in the forecast for this evening it could continue to be a bad situation.
Upon arrival we visited the Uffizi Gallery. This is a major gallery in the historic centre of Florence. It is considered one of the most important museums in Italy. This is one of the areas that our tour guide excelled. Her education and experience is in art. She guided us through the gallery carefully stopping in the key areas where she took the time to explain each piece of art and the meaning of it and pointed out so many details.
After our visit, we walked through and visited Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza della Repubblica, Patristry and Duomo.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the Hotel Excelsior at Sesto on Arno. A major highlight was the stunning views and the food, and service were top notch.
Following lunch we drove to the Academy Fine Arts. Once again our tour guide explained so much to us making the visit very educational and interesting.
We stopped at a few additional places before it was time for the drive back to Livorno and to Crystal Serenity.
This was a fantastic tour with an exceptional tour guide and driver and we will remember this tour for the rest of our lives.
Photos are mainly in reverse order.
We had a terrific day. Florence is amazing and one could spend several days here. We are going to return to Italy and do some type of land trip and attach it to a pre or post cruise.
Anne Marie & Keith
We spent the remainder of yesterday afternoon getting settled on-board Serenity. This included unpacking, getting all of the clothes washed from our pre-cruise stay in Rome, organizing the room, seeing the Concierge & Spa Manager on some items and enjoying the ship.
Our stewardess Puii came by a couple of times including once to introduce the stateroom attendant Niedja. We have known Puii from previous voyages but this is the first time she has taken care of us and our room. We were happy to hear that one of the stewardesses we had on a couple of world cruises has been promoted to one of the housekeeping supervisor positions and that another of our previous stewardesses has been promoted to the head supervisor. Congratulations to the two of them.
We received a beautiful floral arrangement from a dear friend which added to the beauty of our room.
We attended the muster drill at 5:15 PM at our usual spot in the Casino. This was a busy one and it seemed that almost everyone attended. The challenge is that while most people pay attention to the talk some feel compelled to talk the entire time. We noticed new chairs in the casino that are lower to the ground than the former ones. The tables looked new to us. Head Sommelier Tilmar is head of our lifeboat should it be needed in an emergency. Our lifeboat always has the Head Sommelier in charge since we have stayed in this room over the years. Now the question is will he have wine for us. We think the simple answer is "NOT".
Afterwards we sat at the bar (changing it up) at the Crystal Cove. The assistant stewardess we had in 2017 was promoted to the bar so it was so very nice to see how well she is doing. We often think of the younger crew members as our own children and enjoy seeing them move into new areas of responsibility. The bartender spoke with us about the emphasis on some areas such a drinks with gin.
We had dinner at The Crystal Dining Room. On this first of three voyages we plan to dine at Prego and Silk Road on night each, in our room one night after we return from an all day tour, and enjoy the remaining nights at The Crystal Dining Room. We will visit Tastes one time per cruise on the other two cruises for the last time before Tastes is converted to the new Silk Dining Venue during dry dock.drydock
Lylian was as our Senior Waiter. She took so very great care of us when we had the family on board last year and all on Northwest Passage. Our Sommelier is Lubo. We have known him for many years but this is the first time he has taken care of us. Michael from Cape Town is our waiter. We will get a photo of him. This is a terrific waitstaff team. Headwaiter Augusto came by a few times to check on us and we spoke with Headwaiter Giuseppe. When we entered the dining room we spoke with Maitre d' Leo. He was very busy on the first day/night of the cruise so we kept conversation very brief. Dining room was not as crowded or loud as it can be on the first night of a cruise when guests seated with others for the first time are busy introducing each other to one another and also the wait staff is getting to know them.
Food was excellent. We had shrimp (Anne Marie) which is always available each night of the cruise and Ahi Tuna (Keith) for appetizers, salads for each of us, Fresh Salmon (moist and hot) for both of us and fruit (Keith) and sugar free dessert (Anne Marie) Dining is something we look forward to. In our own country we feel the emphasis is to turn tables over quickly and appreciate that we can linger over a meal on board the ship which was also the case in Rome.
Wine was good. Keith had the Crystal Cabernet and felt that it has come along way over the years. This one was quite good. Anne Marie was pleased with her choice which had Chardonnay and some Chablis and a nice balance.
We did pass on the evening's show. It has been a long day for us having gotten up very early in the morning and we know we can see the show two more times during our stay which we plan to do.
As to sleep. A piece of cake for us. We always attribute this to the comfort of the bed, the gentle rocking of the ship and maybe the wine helps too.
We began the day as we always seem to do. Keith up very early and he enjoyed his first workout of this trip. Pretty quiet in the Fitness Center. LOL. Just Keith and the machines.
If we had a sea day Anne Marie would get in a walk around the ship before breakfast. However, our routine on port days is for an earlier breakfast as we get ready to go into port. We also know that on many port days we will do a lot of walking.
We visited Portoferraio for the very first time. Portoferraio was founded in 1548 and is part of the Province of Italy. Portoferraio is located on the island of Elba. Napoleon was exiled to the island and many today credit him as the person who brought an education and legal system to Elba. Nine months after his arrival to Elba, Napoleon vanished.
The city of Portoferraio is the largest city and the island's capital. With that said, it has only 15,000 residents. Many of the older buildings were badly damaged by the Allies and the German during World War II.
Tourism is the main industry because of the areas beautiful beaches.
We walked for quite awhile up the main street and then up and down several of the side streets some of which were on steep inclines. The weather was a delight. We passed by many cafes and stores and saw several yachts of varying sizes.
After returning to the ship we met with the Crystal Society Hostess, Alissa to discuss some upcoming milestones and On Board Booking Consultant, Jaque to discuss a future cruise. We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe. Many know our routine and that is to create our own Salad Entree. The afternoon included paddle tennis, reading and writing for Keith and walking, reading and writing for Anne Marie. We also enjoyed visiting with some fellow guests and members of Team Serenity.
While there are no black tie optional nights on this cruise since it is 7 days the evening does feature a menu and a Captain's party that is typical of a black tie optional night which we are looking forward to.
We will post all about it tomorrow.
Anne Marie & Keith
We enjoyed our dinner in Rome and at the hotel. We decided to have dinner in the room. We got our last "fix" of Rome Pizza. LOL.
After dinner we packed and got organized for the morning.
Our transfer arrangements were made with Crystal Cruises as we are using a Crystal Society Milestone which included two private vehicle transfers. We were in contact with the local operator a couple of times the past two days. Because of the marathon the operator wanted to have the driver pick us up earlier than planned to allow more time to get around the city. We were just happy that they got with us about this.
We slept well and in the morning enjoyed our final breakfast at the hotel. We can't say enough about how pleased we have been with the hotel. Service has been exceptional. Same goes for our room and the location of the hotel.
The driver, Slorin, met us at the hotel lobby at the revised planned time for our drive to the port of Civitavecchia. Some ask why was Rome built far from the port and as we understand the main reason was to defend the city.
Although we have sailed the Mediterranean several times including 1997, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2015 this cruise includes seven first time ports of call for us. They are:
La Spezia, Italy
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
The itinerary for this voyage is very different from our most recent voyage on Crystal Symphony in May.
Crystal Symphony Voyage: Total of 16 days;
(9 sea days, 6 days in port, 5 unique ports-of-call)
Crystal Serenity Voyages: Total of 21 days;
(0 sea days, 21 days in port, 20 unique ports-of-call)
Cruising works for us as it provides a good means of seeing many places in a relatively short time while avoiding the constant packing/unpacking and moving from place to place that one encounters on a land vacation. We can also do this in a luxury environment as we sail from port-to-port. We realize that the downside is limited time in port. The upside for us is that we get a flavor for a vast number of places and we can always return to the ports that we find special on another cruise and in some cases as part of a pre or post cruise.
Our first cruise on Crystal Serenity was a twenty-four day back-to-back cruise in 2005. We boarded the ship in Civitavecchia as we did today.
As we got ready to board Crystal Serenity we thought we would take you on a short trip down memory lane. LOL.
These are a few photos from our first Crystal Serenity cruise. First two photos: getting ready for tender drill; Second set of two: Formal night, Cocktail party at Palm Court with Clark (now on Crystal Esprit and Nat who is on Serenity; Photo five from the Captain's Farewell dinner (we had two as this was a back to back cruise) and we believe the last time we had the formal Baked Alaska Parade; Photos seven and eight are our son-in-laws brother Martin meeting us in Barcelona where he was taking a semester abroad (it truly is a small world) and a photo of Anne Marie while we were walking around Monte Carlo.
Final two photos. Cruising friends of ours who had sailed with Val and Ernie on the 2005 World Cruise wrote to all of us and suggested we might want to get-together. We had lunch with them and a few days later dinner. Over these two meals they walked us through their World Cruise experience. The timing was perfect. We had thought about some type of 30 day cruise to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary in 2007. Between Ernie and Val's thoughts and how much we felt at home on Serenity we revised that plan following dinner with them. The next day we met with the on-board cruise booking consultant Nikki and we wait-listed for World Cruise 2007. As they say the rest is history.
The final photo is from Venice, Italy. We had visited Venice with our family in 1997 and enjoyed one overnight in port. When we had looked at sailing Serenity in 2005 we had considered the first cruise only sailing Rome to Venice. We revised those plans combining a second cruise with the first one. This allowed us to take our first back-to-back cruise, our longest cruise at the time, and provided us with three full days in Venice.
Back to present day. The drive to the port worked well as did embarkation. We enjoyed speaking with the driver. A very nice man and we spent a lot of time discussion Italy including Rome, the port city, places we will be visiting and ones we have visited before. We even spoke about the size of meatballs. Anne Marie has a recipe that began with her Nana whose siblings and parents were from Italy. The area that they are from makes the larger size meatballs so now we know. We do learn from our travels and that includes history as well as so many other areas.
As soon as we were on-board we began to see so many members of the wonderful Crystal Serenity crew and felt right at home. We saw head of security Sanjeev along with other members of his team. Chief Concierge Hayley and Concierge Marco, Head Waiter Augusto and Head Waiter Franz who is going on Holiday, Butler Rao, Executive Chef Werner, Chief Accountant Brigita, and we touched base with Hotel Director Hubert just to name a few people.
Back home in our favorite room.
We enjoyed lunch at the Crystal Dining Room and had our traditional lunch of Cobb Salad and a flute of champagne to toast our love for one another and the start of the cruise.
We are going to post this early as we will spend the rest of the afternoon getting settled and seeing fellow guests and members of the extradinary Serenity team.
Anne Marie & Keith
LAST FULL DAY IN ROME BEFORE THE START OF THE CRUISE