These are the Crystal Dining Room Menus from last evening.
We had a pre-dinner drink at theCrystal Cove. In his quest to try many of the new Gin Drinks Keith had the London Spritz. This one had Beefeater Gin, Aperol Aperitivo, Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water topper with Prosecco.
We met a few guests for the very first time. They all had lots of great comments about the cruise and Crystal Cruises.
We enjoyed dinner at the Crystal Dining Room. Many people were dining at other venues so it was fairly quiet. Anne Marie had Shrimp Cocktail and Keith had Tuna Tartare. We each had salads and we both went with the Halibut. It was cooked to perfection. While it said fried it did not have the taste nor the texture of been fried.
We slept while as we sailed to our next port of call of Corsica, France.
The day began as it normally does and you all know the routine by now so we won't go into the details.
We then got ready to visit Ajaccio for the very first time.
This was our first visit to Ajaccio France. Ajaccio was founded in 1492 by the Genoese. Napoleon was born here in 1769 and all around the town there are many reminders of Napoleon. Its current day population is 60,000 people.
Major attractions include:
Maison Bonaparte which is the house where Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769.
Musee Fesch which was constructed in 1850 for an Institue of Arts and Sciences to be set up.
Marche des Producteurs de Pays is a market which carries produce from local farmers.
Notre Dame de la Misericorde which is the official name for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Ajaccio. It was the church were Napoleon Bonaparte was baptize on July 21, 1771.
Place de Gaulle which is lined with buildings in one square.
Place d’Austerlitze is a square with an enormous monument to Napoleon Bonaparte.
With both Crystal Cruises map in hand and one provided by the local tourist office we enjoyed a very long walk of Ajaccio. The town is located within a five minute walk of the ship.
We entered the town by the Market (Marche des Producteurs de Pays. The market included fruits, vegetables, breads, croissants, cheese, and other pastries, ham, olives, olive oil and other food items. Many locals were shopping there. The aroma of the pastry items, breads and cheese was wonderful. We thought about making a picnic.
We visited the Maison Bonaparte which is where Napoleon was born. We have visited his birthplace, where he was exiled on this cruise and in 2007, St. Helena, where he was sent to spend his final time before death where he was first buried as well as Paris his final resting place.
We walked along the waterfront heading over to the Ferris Wheel. To and from this area we stopped at three churches and walked inside them. We saw large groups of children walking from school to a nearby area and high school students arriving for the start of their school day.
We walked to another area of town with more upscale stores and restaurants. We walked over to the Citadel.
Although a little overcast the weather was terrific. We had on light jackets and took in all of the charm of this town.
When we returned home to the ship we enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe.
After lunch, Keith played Paddle Tennis and Anne Marie walked outside on the Promenade Deck. We also read, wrote and spoke with fellow guests and members of Team Serenity.
This evening we will be back at the Crystal Dining Room for dinner.
Anne Marie & Keith
These are last evening's menus from the Crystal Dining Room.
We have included today's Reflections Program below.
Serenity departed Porto Venere at 5:00 PM last evening. Porto Venere is one of those very special towns that if you have the opportunity to visit we highly recommend it. It is charming, quaint with absolutely breathtaking scenery.
We enjoyed last evening at an Exclusive Vintage Room which we hosted. As part of the dinner you can host up to 14 people in the room including the hosts for a set price regardless of how many people attend. We prefer keeping the dinner to fewer people allowing for one conversation.
We met with Head Sommelier Tilmar on the first voyage to plan the evening. We selected each entree with input from Tilmar. We left the wine selection to Tilmar and he did a wonderful job selecting and pairing the wines with each course.
In addition to the incredible wines and food Tilmar provided information on each wine along with the vineyards that they come from and other aspects about the wine. We love to learn about wine and find the Vintage Room a perfect opportunity to do just that.
The theme of the dinner was A Tour of the Great Estates. Wines selected represented the Mediterranean including wine from Israel, France, Italy and Spain.
For those who follow our blogs you know we take photos of all of the food. We chose not to last evening so we could focus entirely on the experience.
We began with 2009 Moet et Chandon, Cuvee Dom Perignon, Brut, Epernay Champagne for a toast to a wonderful evening.
The menu included:
Pan Seared Sea Scallops paired with a White wine of Recanati "Special Reserve" Roussanne and Marsanne, Israel 2015.
Butternut Squash Ravioli paired with a white wine of Dubreuil, Chardonnay Benoit Trocard France 2016.
Sea Bass paired with a red wine of Pieve Santa Restituta by Gaja, Brunello di Montalcino, Sugarille, Tuscany, Italy 2004. The sea bass is accompanied by a porcini-red wine gastrique and artichokes and the combination with the red wine worked very well.
A sherbet to clean the pallet and to take a short break.
Grilled Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Crust paired with a red wine Vega Sicilia, Unico, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2006 which was a hit with many including Keith.
Selection of artisanal cheeses paired with a red wine Chateau Hosanna, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France 2005.
Chocolate & Berries (very rich chocolate taste) of Chocolate Fondant, Dark Berry Mousse, Cassis Sorbet paired with a dessert wine Chateau d'Yquem, Premier Cru Superieur, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 2005.
As if that was not enough Anne Marie had surprised Keith with a Birthday Cake. Keith's actual birthday is on the next cruise butt on turn around day which we felt would not be a good day for the Vintage Room. Harald the executive Pastry Chef was kind enough to take a few minutes from a very busy evening in the Crystal Dining Room to present the cake.
All in all this was a wonderful evening learning about wine and enjoying amazing cuisine and conversation in a very beautiful room.
We saw interesting art work on a vessel in port with us.
We kept to the same morning routine. Workout for Keith and breakfast in our room. We both walked together both outside and inside the ship.
Although this is our first visit to this port of called decided to make it a sea day for a few reasons. Feedback from a few people we know was not positive about the nearby town and rain was in the forecast.
Olbia, Italy has a population of 60,000 people. It is located on the northeastern shore of the island of Sardinia. It has a historic port dating to pre-Roman times.
Major attractions include:
Museum Civiatense Basilica di San Simplicio, built in the late 11thcentury.
Porto Istana Beach located eight miles east of Olbia providing beautiful views of the nearby area.
Porto Cervo Resorts that are known for the pubs, restaurants and yachts.
Museo Archeologico which houses artifacts from Roman amulets and pottery to nuraghic finds.
Parco Pubblico di Olbia a park established in 2011.
On-board Serenity Keith worked out again in the Fitness Center to burn off those extra calories from last evening. LOL, but..........very true. Anne Marie packed up some items we won't need for the next cruise recognizing that we will be moving rooms on turn-around day this Sunday.
We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe. The selection for lunch has been terrific but we have kept to our regular routine of salad, vegetables and protein.
After lunch Keith was going to play Paddle Tennis but it started to rain cats and dogs (hard rain) so we both ended up walking inside the ship. We ended up seeing many guests as we walked so we walked and talked and walked and talked. We did get our full walk in. It just took a little extra time.
This evening we attend to the Crystal Dining Room for dinner.
Anne Marie & Keith
OUR RETURN TO THE SPECIAL TOWN OF PORTO VENERE, ITALY
We have added the embarkation Reflection Program for this voyage.
Also adding the Reflections Program from today.
Menus from last evening from the Crystal Dining Room.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening on-board Crystal Serenity last evening. We had a pre-dinner drink in the Crystal Cove. Keith tried another new drink. This one is called Martin's Mint& Tonic which comes with Martin Miller's Gin, Fever TreeIndian Tonic Water, Fresh Mint Leaves. He really enjoyed it. This is another light drink. The bartenders explained to us what makes this gin unique and how it is distilled.
We listened to Richard Pucci on the Piano and Irina Guskova on the Violin.
Next stop was dinner at the Crystal Dining Room and we were joined by Jaque Brown. We both had a Crab Appetizer, Salad and Fresh Sea Bass. The Crab Appetizer was very tasty and we both thoroughly enjoyed the Sea Bass.
Afterwards, we attended a Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle Party. When we first arrived there were several officers already there and just us. In time about ten members of Cruise Critic arrived as did other officers. This included Hotel Director, Cruise Director, Head Housekeeper, Crew Officer, Chief Financial Accountant and a few other members of Team Crystal.
We slept well as Serenity made its way to our next port of call in Porto Venere.
We began the day with the same routine including a workout for Keith and breakfast for the two of us as we got ready to explore this unique place.
Our first and only visit to Porto Venere was in 2014. It can be described as a hidden gem. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The little medieval town is charming and it is located near Cinque Terre. The harbor is lined with brightly colored houses and narrow medieval streets.
Some of the major attractions include:
Castello dei Doria. This castle was built in the 12th century and in 1448 a portion of the castle was turned into a church.
Chiesa di San Lorenzo. This church with a Romanesque facade was built in the 12th century.
San Pietro. This is another church and dates back to the 6th century.
Porto Venere is also a gateway to Cinque Terre. The area is comprised of five towns Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The towns are known for their colorful houses and their vineyards.
We took the tender from Serenity over to Porto Venere. The tender drop off is within a few steps of the town. On our last visit it was overcast with some rain. Today the sun was out. The temperature began in the high 50's and during our walk it rose into the 60's. It was a perfect day to go for along walk.
There are multiple levels to this town. The first level includes restaurants, stores and hotels. The second level is mainly restaurants and shops. The third and fourth levels have many apartments. We also saw homes.
We visited the various attractions during our walk including the churches and former fort as we took in beautiful views of the surrounding area. While Keith did some additional hiking Anne Marie waited by The Church of San Lorenzo. While waiting a nun spoke with Anne Marie. She has been here a few months and is from India and works with two other sisters and a priest. Anne Marie asked about her home town. She speaks her native language, Italian and English. She escorted us into the church.
We also explored the other side of town which we didn't get to on our first visit. We stopped by a store where we had purchased a couple of wooden items made from Olive Wood on our first visit and did the same today.
There are some very intimate towns that are part of Italy that we have been fortunate to visit over the years and this is clearly one of them.
Once back to the ship we enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe. It was very quiet with many guests off the ship. We made the rest of the day a sea day.
We both walked together on the outside on the Promenade Deck enjoying conversation and beautiful views of the scenery all around us.
We both read, wrote and enjoyed conversations with members of the crew and fellow guests.
This evening we will be dining at the Vintage Room.
Anne Marie & Keith
GENOA,ITALY - HOME OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
Before dinner we enjoyed a drink at the Crystal Cove. Anne Marie had a Chardonnay and Keith tried yet another new Gin Drink. This time it was a Tonic Delight. This included Sipsmith Gin, Rose Water, Grapefruit Bitters, Indian Tonic Water, Grapefruit Slice & Rosebuds. Keith enjoyed it.
We enjoyed the music of Richard Pucci on Piano and Irina Guskova on the Violin. They were kind enough to play to Beatles songs for Keith; Yesterday and Hey Jude.
The Cove was lively with lots of guests enjoying the music, conversation and beverages and canapés.
Last evening we got one of our final "tastes" at the Tastes dining venue. This was our first of two visits to Tastes for dinner. Following the upcoming dry dock, Tastes will be converted to Silk serving Asian cuisine.
This is not the first makeover for Tastes. Since the debut of Serenity Tastes has offered a late risers breakfast, lunch and dinner. From 2003 until a dry dock in late 2013 Tastes offered casual dining at dinner with a menu that included pizza, steak, chicken, salmon and a few other entrees.
Following the 2013 dry dock Tastes one through a major transformation. This included an entirely new look which included living walls, new furniture and other features giving it a feel of a dining venue on land at a luxury resort. The wait staff was augmented to include a Head Waiter, Waiters who previously worked in the Crystal Dining Room along with some members who used to work as Lido Deck Stewards and some members from the bar staff. The cuisine was changed to reflect items from around the world served as tapas for one person or to be shared by two people. It is served family style. The menu was updated every couple of months with some items replacing other items. Some replaced items would appear on future menus.
We will dine here one more time before we depart Serenity. This will be our final "fix" at Tastes.
We tried lots of the items on the menu. Salads, Tapas and Desserts. Many guests were dining in the Crystal Dining Room because of its special menu. Also some were bothered by the seas and since Tastes is located on Deck 12 some canceled their reservation. For us it was all great. The seas don't bother us and we loved the views from our table. We even saw a beautiful rainbow.
We slept well as we were sailing towards Genoa. The weather that we encountered before we left last evening didn't follow us and we thought the seas were relatively calm.
Keith was up early and back to the Fitness Center. After getting a good workout he took advantage of the time of day and did the laundry. He does the laundry each morning and does not have to worry about getting a machine. They are all there for his choosing. LOL.
We enjoyed breakfast in our room as we got ready to begin another wonderful day of this trip. Keith got a haircut at the salon shortly after breakfast. Normally he would have done this on a sea day but that is not an option for this trip. He picked this day for its timing, because the first shuttle into the city was not until 9:00 AM. We have been to Genoa before. At the same time Anne Marie walked for an hour.
As mentioned we have visited Genoa before and this was while we sailed on World Cruise 2008.
Genoa is a city with close to 600,000 residents. Christopher Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa in 1451. This is a city that has a rich maritime history.
We took the complimentary shuttle for the one miles drive from the port to the drop off location. We revisited some of the places that we had seen ten years ago and enjoyed walking the city.
Major city highlights include:
Via Garibaldi Palazzo dei Rolli which is a group of palaces and mansions and is a UNESCO site.
Galata Museo del Mare. In recognition of this city being known for maritime history this is a museum dedicated to sailing in the Mediterranean.
Chiesa del Gesù which is a 16th century church.
Piazza Raffaele de Ferrari which is the main square of Genoa
Museo di Palazzo Reale which is the Royal Palace of Genoa first constructed in 1618.
Porto Anico which is a natural harbor and its history of being a port can be traced back to 1000 AD.
The port was one of those places that when you exit the ship you feel like you are walking for quite awhile just to get to outside the terminal area for the shuttle. Although the drop-off is one mile from the port because of the route of the road to exit the terminal, the volume of traffic near the port and inside the city the drive took thirty minutes.
As it turned out we were on a mission. A few days ago one of the lenses of Keith's sunglasses fell out and we never could find it. There were many tourist places all selling sun glasses for a very low cost of $10.00 Euros significantly less than Keith's Oakley's. We said sold. When putting the glasses on today Keith put them over his hat (glasses have a strap) at which point the lens popped out but the frame cracked. Ugh! We did find a place to purchase sunglasses for Keith downtown to use the rest of the trip until we get home and can find something more suitable. We will keep the ones that Keith purchased today as backup.
We did walk around for awhile before we decided to take the shuttle back to the ship. The return trip was twenty minutes.
After a nice walk around portions of the city we returned home to Serenity for the rest of the afternoon. We enjoyed another nice lunch at the Lido Cafe. After lunch Anne Marie walked, Keith played Paddle Tennis and we spoke with guests and members of the crew and read and wrote.
We are trying to find a nice balance between this being a port intensive cruise and enjoying the ship. We feel we are succeeding.
Anne Marie & Keith
WELCOME TO ANTIBES
We enjoyed another wonderful evening on-board Crystal Serenity last night. We had a pre-dinner drink at the Crystal Cove. With the muster drill at 5:15 PM and knowing that the bars must stop service 15 minutes before the drill we got down to the Cove at around 4:45 PM. Since it is embarkation day and the one lounge open it was very busy. Shortly after the announcement was made about the drill everyone left except for one other guest who was on the previous voyage. We pretty much had the entire venue for ourselves which was nice. LOL.
In his quest to try every Gin drink (LOL) Keith tried the Elderflower Fizz. This one included Hendrick's Gin, Splash of Elderflower Liqueur, Tonic Water. This was one of Keith's favorites. It makes a nice light drink. Anne Marie had an Italian Sparkling Wine.
These are the Crystal Dining Room menus from last evening.
Shortly after the muster drill, Crystal Serenity set sail for our next port of call; Antibes, Franc.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Prego Specialty Italian Restaurant with Hotel Director Hubert.
Anne Marie had the Veal and Keith had the Lamb and we each had a Caesar Salad. Tried some nice wine that is part of inclusive. One of them was an Italian White Wine that was a Chardonnay. Keith who normally switches to red after one glass had a little more as this one was delicious. We will have to write down the name. Keith tried the Chianti Red wine which went well with his entree.
Great meal and service wonderful conversation.
We began the morning as we often do which included an early morning workout for Keith and breakfast in our room. We then got ready to visit Antibes, France which is our first visit to this port of call. A few days ago we were speaking with another couple as we returned back to Serenity from Monaco. We had just visited Eze and Nice on our tour and they told us that they visited Antibes which was on their bucket list. We totally forgot that we would be sailing to Antibes on this voyage. Ironically, from Antibes some of the tours offered include, Eze,Nice, and Monte Carlo.
Antibes is located between Cannes and Nice. Although larger than Eze like Eze it is beautiful and picturesque. It features a maze of cobblestone lanes.
The area includes a beautiful old town which was built over an ancient Greek town. It is believed that Antibes was founded in the last 4th century. The old town area includes many shops and cafes.
Other attractions include: Fort Carte which was originally built in the 16th century; Musee Picasso which is a chateau built in the late 15th century and was the home for artist Pablo Picasso for six months in 1946; Marche Provencal which is a market that sells a variety of items including produce, cheese, spices and flowers; Cathedrale d'Antibes which is both a Roman Catholic Church and National Monument.
Our visit represented a maiden port of call stop for Crystal Cruises. The weather was spectacular even though rain was in the original forecast.
We walked to the major attractions that we listed. Unfortunately they are closed on Monday's between September and late May other than the Roman Catholic Church. The walk around town was nice. There are many restaurants, cafes, shops and places selling baked good. We walked into a couple of the baked good shops and the aroma of bread, cakes and pastries was amazing. It reminded us of those bakeries that our parent's shopped at when we were growing up.
After a couple hour stroll around town we returned home to Serenity.
On the tender ride back to Serenity we could see the Fort Carre where Napoleon was imprisoned during the French Revolution.
We also viewed hundreds & hundreds of yachts of varying sizes along with other vessels.
We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe and in the afternoon Keith played Paddle Tennis while Anne Marie walked outside on the Promenade Deck. Keith also visited the Fitness Center a second time. We read, wrote and spoke with fellow guests and members of the crew.
Anne Marie and Keith
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