We slept well last night. The hotel has been terrific. We never heard street noise given that we faced the Sydney Bay and our room was on the 34th floor of the hotel. The walls were very well insulated so we never heard any noise from the hallway. The staff at the hotel has been fantastic and we truly enjoyed a great stay.
We were up early to prepare for the day and to complete our final packing.
We were taken from the hotel by a private car which Keith had arranged ahead of time with the concierge of the hotel. We were met at the airport with a representative of a concierge service. We checked in at the ticket counter and she was able to expedite getting through immigration and security. Keith was one the lucky ones who did have to have some additional security scanning. Maybe because he was wearing all black. She took us to the airline lounge and met us ten minutes before the commencement of boarding to take us to the gate.
We boarded the aircraft on time and made ourselves at home for the 13+ hour flight to Los Angeles. One of the flight attendants had taken care of us when we flew from Los Angeles to Sydney and remembered us. Between her and two other flight attendants up front we were taken care of very well. We each slept for a little while a couple of hours after eating at lunchtime but having what we would define as dinner. Anne Marie watched one movie while Keith read and wrote. About three hours before we landed a flight attendant spoke on the speaker and asked if any medical professionals were on-board due to a medical emergency. Shortly before we landed Keith asked the flight attendant if the passenger was OK and the good news is that the person was fine.
We actually arrived to LAX 30 minutes early and had to wait on the plane as immigration/customs personnel were not on duty.
After arriving to Los Angeles we cleared immigration, picked up our luggage, went through customs, turned over our luggage, went through TSA security and went to the airline lounge club to await our early afternoon flight back home. The flight back home arrived early and we were back home before 7:00 PM.
This wraps up our Australia Blog. Please check back in mid-May as we go on another adventure. Until then we wish each of you happiness in all that you do.
FINAL DAY WITH THE FAMILY
As we walked back to the hotel last evening we reflected on what a wonderful time we had on Serenity. Our day even exceeded our expectations between the ease of getting on-board and off the ship even though we took the ferry's each way and getting to see so many people who are part of our Crystal Cruises family. All of this makes us look forward with great excitement our next cruise with Crystal Cruises.
Dinner last evening with dear friends Bob and Glo.
We enjoyed breakfast in the Club Lounge.
We kept to our simple breakfast of cereal and fruit.
While enjoying breakfast we could see Crystal Serenity anchored in the Harbour along with another Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship docked at Circular Bay and once back to our room we could see Crystal Symphony docked at White Bay.
After getting back to the room we packed since we will be flying home tomorrow and then got ready for our final day with our family
We met the family at Luna Park when it opened at 10:00 AM. We visited Luna Park for the first time in the evening in 2008 as part of a Crystal Cruises World Cruise shore-side event. The event was held in an indoor venue. We were taken over there on a ferry which took a cruise in the harbour while we enjoyed a drink and canapés. The event was held inside with entertainment and dinner. A few years ago we walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and over to the park but did not stay. This time we did.
Luna Park has a long history. It first opened in 1935 and would be opened all months except in the Winter. This practice continued until 1972. It closed in 1979 after a fire which killed six children and one adult. Most of the park was demolished and in-time rebuilt. The park closed again in 1988 after an inspection brought to light several issues with respect to lack of safety of rides. It reopens again in 1995 after an issue with one of its rides that caused noise pollution to nearby residents. Opening again in 2004 it has remained opened and attracted many visitors.
The park has several different areas. We spent a good deal of time at an area called Coney Island where there were several thing for everyone to do inside. From there we the grandchildren road several different outside rides. Once again it is a "small world". As we were walking friends Rob and Jim who we saw the other evening who are on board for the full World Cruise on Serenity saw us. This time we could also introduce them to the family.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch before the children went on more rides. It is nice that you are allowed to bring lunch inside the park.
The other nice feature is you can enter the park without paying anything. You just can't ride on the rides. Or you can purchase various day passes depending on what you want to do and how many rides you want to go on.
When we left the park the ferry was just arriving so we all took it over to Circular Quay where we all walked for a little while and where we all hugged before we say goodbye. Anne Marie and Jennifer got teary eyed. It has been a wonderful visit and so nice to spend lots of time with the family.
We had great weather today.
We then walked back to the hotel and Jennifer, Gui, Andre and Emma were taking a bus back to their place.
We will post more tomorrow which will be a very long travel day as we make our way back home.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 11 - VISIT TO CRYSTAL SERENITY
VISITING THE CRYSTAL SERENITY
Greetings from "down under". We enjoyed a nice evening in the hotel and began our day with breakfast in the club lounge. We could see Crystal Serenity from the lounge and we are including a photo of Crystal Symphony that we viewed from our room.
We then got ready for our day on Crystal Serenity.
Today was a first for us. We first sailed with on Crystal Serenity on two back-to-back cruises starting in September of 2005. Two years later we sailed on the full 2007 World Cruise and have had the honor of sailing Serenity many times over the years including sailing last May with our family. This time we were visitors for the day having been sponsored to visit the ship by our friends Bob and Glo.
This is a view of Serenity when we last visited Sydney as part of World Cruise 2015.
With another ship requiring docking at Circular Quay early morning Saturday Crystal Serenity was moved and anchored. With the first segment of the World Cruise ending today and the second segment starting today those guests disembarking were taken over to White Bay terminal to go through Australian Customs. The vast majority departed from there. Those guests who were embarking sister ship Crystal Symphony embarked Symphony who was docked at this terminal. Those guests who are staying on-board Serenity for the next cruise along with those visiting the ship such as ourselves took dedicated ferry's that ran between St. Ives Steps in downtown Sydney and Crystal Serenity. This day clearly involved lots of challenging logistics.
On top of all of this those guests on-board both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity who are taking the full World Cruise left each ship in the afternoon to attend a special World Cruise gala event in Sydney.
After leaving the hotel and walking about fifteen minutes we arrived to St. Ives steps and waited for the ferry to take us over to Serenity.
We were able to take the first ferry over at 7:45 am and in very short order arrived to Serenity.
From the moment we arrived to the Ferry location we felt back at hone as we were greeted by the Security Officer.
We have seen many guests we know from previous Crystal Cruises. We have also seen so many wonderful members of Team Crystal Serenity including the Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director, both Maitre D’s, several Head EIters, members of the Conciege and Shore Excursion teams, one of our former Stewardesses, several butlers, the Librarian, several waiters and senior waiters, Lido Deck Stewards, Chefs, Beverly and Curtis and others. All have been very welcoming,
Had lunch at Lido Cafe. It was relatively quiet. Walked around for quite awhile and visited with many members of the crew and guest who we know.
We spent part of the afternoon with dear friends Bob and Glo and then had dinner with them in Silk Road.
Took the 8:15 ferry back to Sydney. As we walked back to the Hotel we viewed fireworks.
Some photos from our glorious day visiting Crystal Serenity.
Anne Marie & Keith
ANOTHER DAY WITH THE FAMILY
After the birthday dinner we returned to the hotel from the restaurant via Uber. The Sydney Harbour bridge was busy in both direction but traffic seemed to move along and we were back to the hotel in about twenty minutes from the time we were picked up.
We began our day with breakfast in the Club Lounge. The staff in the hotel are very accommodating. For example, we each have a banana daily and one morning the order had not arrived in time. They said going forward they would have a special order of two bananas for us daily. In the evening the lounge is very busy and often we'll take back a glass of wine to the room. They offered to send a bottle down to the room for us. While we took them up on the banana order we passed on the wine as that would be too much wine. There rest of the hotel staff has been very helpful from housekeeping to the concierge to the bell hops.
We enjoyed the same breakfast of cereal, and fruit that we have been having each morning. The tables by the windows were moved so this evening people can stand by the windows to watch the fireworks as part of the Chinese New Year's Celebration. Fortune cookies were at each places setting along with candy coins.
After freshening up we took the elevator to the lobby and it was "Uber" time. LOL. When we arrived to the apartment, Gui was getting ready for work, Jennifer was preparing lunches for the grandchildren and Emma and Andre were playing toys. While Jennifer took the children to school we saw the arrival of Crystal Serenity to Sydney.
After Jennifer returned we drove to Split Reserve where we walked for quite awhile while enjoying beautiful views of the nature all around us. From there we drove to Balmoral Beach which we had visited the other day. This time we went for a much longer walk and also enjoyed a picnic lunch. This is an absolutely beautiful beach. Our son Eric called so we each spoke with him for quite awhile.
In the afternoon Anne Marie went with Jennifer to pick up Emma and Andre from school and they stayed at Andre's school so that Emma and Andre could play on the playground. Shortly after they returned we took Uber back to the hotel.
After freshening up we walked to Circular Quay where we saw our beloved Crystal Serenity which we have sailed many times. After seeing Serenity we walked to the area that we will need to use to take private ferry's over to Serenity tomorrow since she will be anchored as of early tomorrow morning. As we walked we ran into friend Elisabeth who we have sailed with on several cruises. It's a small world. As we walked back towards Serenity Keith spotted friends Jim and Rob who we sailed with on the 2015 World Cruise and who visited us at our home a few months ago.
We had a lovely day with the family and also seeing some friends and the Crystal Serenity.
Anne Marie & Keith
ANOTHER GREAT DAY FROM DOWN UNDER
After a very hot day in Sydney it was nice to relax back at the hotel and enjoy the air-conditioning until it was time to get to sleep. The hotel has been very quiet which has been a big plus.
We enjoyed breakfast back the Club Lounge.
The Regent Seven Seas Navigator arrived shortly after we sat down as it made its way over to the White Bay terminal and the Royal Caribbean Voyager Of The Seas was already docked at Circular Quay.
Today is Gui's birthday so we wished him a Happy Birthday when we arrived.
In addition to Andre having school today, Emma went to pre-school which she attends two times each week on Thursday and Friday. This is her third week at pre-school. While the children were at school and Gui at work we spent a good portion of the day with Jennifer.
After arriving to the families apartment Anne Marie went with Jennifer and Emma and took Andre to school and then they drove back and picked Keith up and we dropped off Emma at school and got to see the school for the first time.
We then went to a former military base where we parked and then walked on a pathway down to Chowder Bay. The walk was beautiful with lots of lush vegetation on both sides and beautiful views of the surrounding area. We returned on the same path and then stopped off a venue where they serve morning and afternoon tea as Jennifer is thinking of taking Emma there sometime in the next couple of months.
We drove back to the downtown area where Jennifer lives and walked around for awhile. We enjoyed a couple of hours back at the apartment before picking up Emma and Andre at school. Later in the afternoon we walked about 35 minutes back into town and met Gui for his birthday dinner. It was a nice place that worked well for the family called The Burger Shed. Jennifer brought a cake to celebrate Gui's birthday.
It was a great day. It was all about family.
Anne Marie & Keith
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FROM DOWN UNDER
It is Valentine's Day in Australia today so we wanted to wish each of you a Happy Valentine's Day.
We enjoyed breakfast at the Club Floor Lounge and kept it simple with cereal and fruit. As we have mentioned there is a large selection of hot food items including eggs and lot of breads and pastries to choose from along with other items such as yogurt. In the spirit of Valentine's Day a candy heart was on each plate on the tables. The views from the lounge are spectacular and it is a terrific way to begin the day.
There was a Princess Ship at Circular Quay and the Oceania Regatta Cruise Ship was making its way over to White Bay.
Pior to this trip we only used Uber one-time which was in Miami and it is on this trip that we are making a lot of use of this service. Once downstairs we used the Uber App and in a few minutes the car arrived for the drive over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to where the family lives. Drive time varies by direction and time of day and has ranged from fifteen to approximately thirty minutes.
When we arrived to the families place they had Valentine's cards and candy for us and we also had cards for everyone. Later in the day Anne Marie went with Jennifer, Andre and Emma to a toy store where Andre and Emma each got to pick out a toy for themselves as our Valentine's gift for them. Emma selected a doll and Andre selected a Lego kit.
After dropping off Andre at school we drove to Balmoral Reserve and Beach and enjoyed a nice walk and also stopped so that Emma could play at a playground. After a few hours we went for a nice lunch at a French Cafe.
Anne Marie visited Andre's school in the afternoon while Keith stayed at the apartment.
The original plan was to have a picnic dinner at the beach. However, today turned out to be one of those very hot days with the high approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit so we enjoyed the picnic lunch at the dining room table at the families home. The bird in one of the photos was on the balcony this morning.
Anne Marie and Keith
ANOTHER DAY IN DOWN UNDER
After arriving back to the hotel last evening we relaxed and then got an early night's sleep. With all of the walking it was easy to get to sleep.
We began today with coffee in our room as we enjoyed the beautiful views of the harbor area from our hotel room. The ship in the back is the Asuka II which is the former Crystal Harmony which was the first Crystal Cruises ship we sailed on in 2002.
We returned to the Club Lounge for breakfast where we also enjoyed wonderful views of the surrounding area.
After getting ready we made use of Uber for the drive out to the families apartment. We wanted to note that taking the bus is an option but have used Uber for its convenience. The drivers who have driven us back and forth have one major item in common and that is driver safety. Personalities have ranged from some who were very talkative to the one last evening who may have said two words.
After spending time at the apartment, Keith went with Jennifer, Emma and Andre by car to Andre's school. He met some of the mother's of Andre's fellow students and some of his friends plus Andre's teacher. Keith became a fan of Andre's teacher when she asked if Keith was Andre's father.
We made the next several hours Emma's morning. We took a nice long walk over to a library for story time. There must have been well over 50 children in attendance with two leaders who led the children in song and reading.
Afterwards we walked over to an area where we enjoyed a picnic lunch with another Mom that Jennifer knows and two of her three children. From there we visited a memorial for Army soldiers who have served and lost their lives in recent wars and also saw people playing cricket. We then walked over to some bakeries looking for a cake for Gui's birthday which is in a couple of days, stopped off at an amazing Italian place where you can purchase items to eat at home and/or eat there. From there we went to an area where Jennifer shops which include three different grocery stores and Jennifer picked up items from each store.
We had a terrific day with the family.
This evening Jennifer attended a parents/teacher open house so we had dinner on our own back in Sydney.
Before dinner we stopped off at some places we have visited before. This included the Strand shopping plaza and the Queen Victoria Building shopping venue. From there we made our way over to Circular Quay where we walked for awhile and then had dinner at a restaurant adjacent to this area.
The weather has been fabulous and being with our family is extra special.
Anne Marie & Keith
MONDAY FROM DOWN UNDER
After getting back to our room on Sunday evening we watched from our windows the departure of the Viking Sun and Holland Amsterdam cruise ships.
After walking for the better part of the day we read and wrote and in very short order went to sleep.
Enjoyed another nice breakfast at the Club Floor Lounge as we began to get ready for another wonderful day from "Down Under".
From the lounge we could see a Royal Carribbean International ship docked at Circular Quay.
The second photo is of another ship we could see from our Hotel Room.
Once again we made use of Uber to get to our families home. With Andre in school, we went with Jennifer and Emma to Manly Beach by bus. We walked around the town and Emma played for a while and then we walked along the beach for quite awhile. It’s a beautiful beach and we enjoyed the breeze. We then went in the opposite direction and headed over to Shelly Beach. The beach is considerably smaller then Manly but very pretty with beautiful rocks in the ocean and cliffs along the walkway. We also enjoyed lunch at one of several restaurants near the beach. We returned by bus to near where the family lives, went food shopping, dropped the items off back at the apartment and then walked to Andre’s school where we met several of the parent’s before we walked back home. Enjoyed a nice dinner with the family and returned back to the hotel. The day was wonderful as was the weather. It is definitely summer in Sydney.
Anne Marie & Keith
GREETINGS FROM DOWN UNDER
Let's begin with additional thoughts from yesterday.
It is still summer in Australia. We are used to the heat but when the sun comes out it can get very hot. The high was only about 82 Fahrenheit but it felt warmer with the humidity. Keith who loves the hot weather even felt it shortly after he and Gui arrived to the zoo on foot and even started to feel a little light headed. The good news is that some vendors at the zoo sold Power Aid which is a drink that Keith drinks while working out so he ended up having two bottles of it by the time he and Gui returned back home. Our original plan for today was Luna Park which is an amusement park. However with a forecast of 90+ degrees we decided to change the plans. More on that in a moment.
Last evening after getting back from the Zoo, Jennifer and Gui made all of us a delicious dinner of fresh salmon, potatoes, broccoli, salad and some wonderful wine. Before they began to prepare dinner Keith accompanied Jennifer to a bakery where Jennifer selected a cake for dessert.
Emma and Andre did so well eating their dinner that they enjoyed some extra dessert. They each started with small frozen ice cream cones which they enjoyed. They also each had a small piece of cake that we got from the bakery last night along with a small piece of cake from Jennifer's birthday the night before we arrived.
Emma with her ice cream cone and an apron given to her from Uncle Eric and Aunt Kara.
We returned back to the hotel with a ride from Uber. Prior to this trip we had used Uber only once getting from a Miami, Florida downtown hotel to the Port of Miami. Yesterday we used Uber to get to and from the hotel and it worked out very well. We waited about five minutes each time for the vehicle to arrive.
We slept very well. The hotel is very quiet as is the room. All of the walking also helped. We enjoyed breakfast back at the club lounge.
A view of a Carnival Cruise Ship in port and some of the breakfast pastries. We just had cereal and fruit but the sweets did look good.
We met our family at Circular Quay and we took the ferry to Watsons Bay. The ferry made one stop and we arrived in thirty minutes. We first stopped at a playground. After the grandchildren played we walked over to the ocean side and walked up several sets of steps to the cliffs. At one Jennifer and Keith went walked up to the highest peak. From there we walked towards the lighthouse and stopped to have a picnic lunch. After lunch we walked along another area where we passed several very large homes.
We took the Ferry back to Circular Quay and visited the Botanical Gardens. At one point we went to the Calyx which includes a living wall which we estimate had 16,000 flower potted plants. The area was amazing. We continued walking the area and then we dined at Four Frogs Creperie where each of us enjoyed an entree Crepe and the grandchildren along with Anne Marie and Jennifer enjoyed a Crepe dessert.
The weather turned out to be terrific. In the afternoon we enjoyed a nice breeze which cooled down the area. Kudos to Andre and Emma who did a tremendous amount of walking on their own.
The photos that follow are in reverse order of our day.
Anne Marie & Keith
A WODERFUL TIME IN SYDNEY - FIRST FULL DAY
Jennifer, Gui, Andre and Emma met us at our hotel before dinner last evening. Lots of hugging.
Andre has grown quite a bit since we last saw him the end of June of last year. He recently began first grade. If he was still home he would be in Kindergarten.
Emma's vocabulary has increased significantly since we last saw her in June. She just began pre-school which she attends twice a week on Thursday and Friday.
We gave the grandchildren and Gui a tour of the hotel before we all walked to an Italian Restaurant for dinner which we had spotted earlier in the day while on our walk with Jennifer. Jennifer thought Emma and Andre would enjoy pizza which they did. The pizza was very well prepared with a thin crust, and oil on top of it similar to what you might find in New York City.
Lots of people were out and about between the locals and the tourists. After all it was Friday night in Sydney.
Everyone seemed happy with the food.
We still felt pretty good given the long travel day and once back at the hotel we stayed up additional time to get onto the time zone. We did make a stop to the club floor lounge and couldn't believe that the place was packed. It might be the food or maybe because wine/beer/spirits are served between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM each evening.
After a good night sleep we enjoyed our first breakfast in Sydney and at the hotel. While having breakfast we enjoyed the beautiful views from the club lounge and also saw the arrival of a Holland American ocean vessel.
We made use of Uber to get a car from the hotel over to the apartment where the family lives.
They enjoy beautiful views from the apartment and are just a ten minute walk from a beach.
After getting a tour of the apartment Jennifer drove Anne Marie, Emma and Andre over to the Taronga Zoo and Keith and Gui took a 2 mile walk over there where we all met. We then spent several hours touring the zoo. We also enjoyed a picnic lunch that Jennifer made for us. We returned back to Jennifer and Gui’s home the same way we got to the zoo. We then enjoyed a wonderful meal that Jennifer and Gui made for all of us.
We had a wonderful day.
Anne Marie & Keith