Enjoyed dinner in Sydney last evening.
Wagyu Beef Burger for Anne Marie and Tasmanian Salmon for Keith.
Today we had four ships in port.
While having breakfast at the Hotel Club Lounge we could see Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas docked at Circular Bay, Royal Caribbean Spectrum of thee Seas anchored, and the arrival of Holland America Amsterdam as it made its way under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From our room we could see additional views of the Amsterdam as it was backing into the White Bay Cruise Terminal and from the distance we could see the Seabourn Encore.
We walked around downtown Sydney after breakfast. It was overcast and eventually drizzled. We walked from then Hotel towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We passed by a vendor market as we made our way to Ives Steps. This is where in 2017 and 2018 they ran a ferry tender service between this area and where Crystal Serenity was anchored. We could see Luna Park where we last went with the family in 2017 which is an amusement park. Some people were fishing from the Ives Steps. From there we walked by the Park Hyatt Hotel and over to Circular Quay where passengers were disembarking the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship following the end of their voyage. We made our way back to the hotel.
We took Uber over to the families place arriving a couple of minutes before Jennifer and Emma got back from Ballet lessons for Emma and Gui and Andre arrived back from a bicycle ride. A short time later we headed over to Balmoral Reserve. Gui and Grandad walked over there from the families place while Jennifer drove Nana, Emma and Andre to our meeting point across the street from The Boathouse where we had lunch. Kudos to Emma for eating all of her Pasta and Andre for eating all of his Fish N' Chips Later in the day they each had ice cream.
After lunch we walked along the beach and took in the beautiful views. Emma and Andre played on the beach and later in the playground. We saw Grandparents of three children who the family is friendly with and parents of a couple of children who the family also knows.
The weather kept changing. With full sun it felt warm and when the sun went under the clouds the breeze picked up and it felt like Autumn which it is. Overall a delightful day with the family with a delicious lunch and lots of beautiful scenery.
We took Uber back to the Hotel.
Anne Marie & Keith
SYDNEY DAY 4
We enjoyed a nice evening in Sydney.
We began today with breakfast at the Club Lounge. We kept to cereal and fruit.
A photo of a portion of the lounge tables and seats.
The Queen Mary 2 was docked at Circular Quay. Sorry about the reflection through the window. We took the Queen Mary 2 in 2014 shortly after we disembarked Crystal Serenity following World Cruise 2014 and one subsequent voyage. We used it as transportation to get from Southampton to Brooklyn, New York.
After freshening up we took Uber over to the family place in Mosman. Jennifer was out on a run when we arrived so we chatted with Gui, Andre and Emma. Emma had made a drawing for Nana. The day before she made one for the two of us. It was a drawing of Grandad and Nana. It also showed Pizza which mushrooms which she thinks Grandad enjoys.
We went with Jennifer to take the grandchildren to school. It was nice to not have rain.
After we dropped Emma and Andre at school we went to Bondi Beach. The weather was a delight and we even had full sunshine. We walked quite awhile over to various beaches. There is so much beauty and we enjoyed viewing the water, the rock formations and the foliage.
We then drove to Mosman where we went to Balmoral Beach and had lunch at Bathers Bistro. We then walked along the beach. Weather continued to be beautiful.
We then ran a few errands before picking up Emma and Andre at school and spent time at their home before we took Uber back to the Hotel.
The driver we had moved to Sydney from South Africa 32 years ago and the driver we had yesterday morning moved from South Africa to Sydney 22 years ago. They both loved it here, were very friendly and are relieved to be away from South Africa.
Anne Marie & Keith
SYDNEY DAY 3
We began last evening with a pre-dinner drink at the Crystal Cove. No. Just kidding. LOL.
However, we did begin the evening with some wine. This included a white wine for Anne Marie which we had purchased on the wine tour of Marlborough in New Zealand. It is a sweet wine called Petit Manning. Keith enjoyed a Merlot wine which we purchased while in downtown Mosman and was recommend by one of the wine specialists at the store after Keith described what he was looking for.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner. We each had a Chicken Entree, Salad and a side dish.
We began today with breakfast in the club lounge. Just as we do on the ship we kept it simple. We had cereal, and banana after having coffee in the room. There is a nice array of hot and cold breakfast items and we've included photos of some of them.
Rain Rain go away come back another day. Well, after the drought Australia does need the rain which we can appreciate so we just adjusted the day to be indoors.
We took Uber out to visit the family. When we arrived Gui was there before he went to work along with Jennifer, Andre and Emma.
We've included a view from where the family leaves. We went with Jennifer to take Emma and Andre to school. From there we drove to a shopping mall since it was raining. We walked all around and went in and out of shops.
At one point we spotted macpac. We shopped there in New Zealand on the 2016 World Cruise in preparation for Northwest Passage to purchase some clothing to keep us wrong. They are New Zealand based but have stores in Australia.
Jennifer suggested we visit a similar store which is Australia based called Kathmandu. They also sell lots of clothing which is outdoor based and Keith bought three shirts.
We went to a grocery store at the mall. We had heard there was a run on toilet paper because of the Corona Virus. Ironically, we had discussed this with the Uber driver earlier in the morning to say he was not going to stock up. He said he could understand this if it was Noro Virus but not for Coronavirus. As Keith got to the area with toilet paper which was empty a woman customer was irate that a man snatched one package out of her hands. This is hard to believe.
We enjoyed lunch at a very nice cafe where we had one of the tastiest salads we have had in years. Everything tasted as it if was just picked off the vine.
We made a stop to another grocery store which carries many organic and healthy items. We want to mention they had toilet paper. LOL. It was $6.49 for a four-pack.
Although we disembarked Serenity yesterday morning we feel it is close to us since we can see it from the hotel and while walking around yesterday.
We had our first dinner on land since January 6 in Miami. One of the many aspects we enjoy of cruising with Crystal includes dining. We had salon for dinner and while it was tasty we were thinking the presentation and the preparation would have been quite different on the ship as it likely would have come from the Modern Menu. And the service while good was not Crystal Cruises. We will survive though. LOL.
Other than cranes doing construction of a new building , we do have excellent views from our hotel room. We watched as a cruise ship departed from Sydney.
The morning began slightly differently than while on the ship with the exception of one similarity which was Keith was up first. LOL. No trip to the Fitness Center or walk inside or breakfast in our room. LOL. We did have coffee in the room though and after freshening up we made our way to what is called the Horizon Club Lounge for breakfast. They serve hot and cold items for breakfast, soft drinks/tea/coffee/fruit all day, a tea in the afternoon, and drinks, canapés and desserts in the evening. The lounge also provides beautiful views of the city.
Shortly after breakfast we made our way to where our daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Gui, grandson Andre and granddaughter Emma live. It is about a 30 minute drive. We last saw them on January 4 as we departed the Grand Floridian Hotel at Disney World.
Gui was already on his way to work. We had gifts for Andre and Emma and for Jennifer and Gui. After breakfast the grandchildren got ready for school. They recently began the start of the school year. Andre started third grade and Emma began kindergarten. They go to the same school and Emma has the same teacher as Andre did when he went to kindergarten.
It was raining fairly hard by the time we left for school. Anne Marie and Jennifer walked Emma and Andre to their respective classrooms.
Afterwards we went for a drive and stopped off for coffee. They make amazing coffee in Australia as they do in New Zealand. From there we drove to the downtown Mosman area. Between the overhangs outside the shops and our umbrella and raincoats we did fine.
From there we drove to the downtown Mosman area. Between the overhangs outside the shops and our umbrella and raincoats we did fine.
Next was lunch and we went to a cafe we visited on a prior trip and enjoyed salad entrees. We kept to a salad entree as we did at Marketplace on Serenity. Only difference is not food stations.
After lunch we walked around one beach and also drove and made a brief stop at Balmoral. From there we drove to school and to pickup Emma and Andre. We chatted with one of Jennifer's friends who has one daughter in Emma's class and the other daughter was in Andre's kindergarten class his first year at at school.
After arriving back to the Hotel we made a stop at the Club Lounge where we enjoyed beautiful views of Crystal Serenity our home away from home.
We have no daily programs to post. LOL.
Anne Marie & Keith
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN - UNTIL NEXT TIME CRYSTAL SERENITY
This journey on Crystal Serenity began on January 7 in Miami. It is not our longest adventure on Serenity nor our shortest. Regardless of the length of the voyage and the places we visit it is the people who make sailing on Crystal Cruises amazing and very special for us.
Let’s start with the highly trained and professional members of Team Serenity. They comprise individuals from many nationalities who work together to provide a high level of professional and personalized to each guest. They are amazing. We have known some members of Serenity since our first cruise on Crystal Harmony in 2002, our first cruise on Crystal Symphony in 2003 and our first cruise on Crystal Serenity in 2005. We have seen many of the members of Serenity move into increasing levels of responsibility and/or take on new assignments.
While many in the hospitality area around the world provide professional service to me one of the things which set Crystal apart is the people are not robot like and see each guest as individuals and that is precisely how we see them.
They remember things about us even we don’t always remember, including food and drinks we enjoy. They anticipate items before we even think of them. They remember things about our own family on land. No matter what the seas and weather conditions, or itinerary are like or whatever the other challenges they may face, they interact with each of us in the most positive manner possible trying to make our time and the time of fellow guests the best it can be. When we arrive to the ship on embarkation day or return from a visit to a port they often say “Welcome Home”. Yes, we do feel like we are back home each time we return. We also think of the amazing people who comprise each Crystal Vessel we have sailed to be part of our extended family.
While some cruise lines we have sailed have newer ships, larger staterooms and suites, like a fine wine for us sailing Crystal gets better and better with each succeeding voyage and one of the main reasons is the amazing people who are part of Team Crystal at sea and on land. In my humble opinion they are the best.
I want to note while the current Coronavirus is a challenge for many who travel it is a major challenge for the travel industry, including the people. Many people at Crystal have not only dealt with these challenges but still perform all of their day-to-day responsibilities. This included members of Team Symphony who dealt with countless challenges since Symphony was sailing Southeast Asia at the time of the outbreak and members of Team Serenity who have and are dealing with the itinerary changes resulting from this virus. Also all of the people on land from reservations to planning to purchasing/provisioning/logistics.
When we return this time of year we know there will be several fellow guests who we have sailed with on one or many prior voyages. Some we know very well having shared tours, dinners, conversations or even a game of Paddle Tennis, a walk, knitting or indoor cycling with. Others we know just from saying hi from time-to-time or starting up a conversation. They also make each voyage very special.
Let me close by saying I often think of the ship as having many of the characteristics of a small village on land. The major difference is the ship is a floating village taking us to extraordinary places around the world and allowing us to make memories which will last a lifetime.
We have enjoyed this adventure so much including special stops in New Zealand, on-board lectures and entertainment, the food/the food and the food, the people the people and the people, Vintage Room Champagne Lunch, Vintage Room Dinner and the list goes on and on and on. In the end it was the members of Team Serenity and fellow Guests who made this adventure very special.
Special thanks to Captain Birger for his leadership, including strong communication and decision making. The Captain kept the crew and the guests up to date through timely and spot-on communications so we were never in the dark.
Many thanks to the Hotel Directors, Cruise Director, Executive Housekeeper, Restaurant Manager, Food & Beverage Manager, Front Office Manager, Clearance Officer , Vice Captains, and to their teams and to so many others This includes Crystal Society Host and Hostess, Future Sales Consultants, Medical Doctor, Specialty Restaurant Maitre D’ , Head Waiters, Housekeeping Supervisors, Chief Accountant, Chief Concierge, Fitness and Spa Manager, and Store Manager and to the many hundreds of personnel throughout the ship who took excellent care of us and our fellow guests throughout this voyage. In the end it is the people who make the difference and who make our choice to sail with Crystal Cruises an easy one. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Now to our final port of call; Sydney, Australia.
Now to last night and today.
These are the Waterside Dinner Menus from last evening. We are also adding Waterside Breakfast Menu and the Waterside Luncheon Menu from yesterday.
As we have done the last few years, we had our final dinner of the cruise in our room. Back in the days when we dined with other guests at larger tables with fixed dining times we would go to the dining room for that final meal. Subsequently we went to a two person table and would go to the dining room but in recent years we have enjoyed a quiet dinner in our room.
Butler Jaison organized the meal for us.
We began with appetizers from the Umi Uma Japanese Specialty Restaurant.
A tradition for us which we began a few years ago is to have Pizza on the final night and this is precisely what we did.
While dining we enjoyed spectacular views of Sydney Harbor as we made our way to Circular Quay where we docked.
We put the last items in our suitcases and placed them outside our room before going to sleep.
We slept well. This morning differed from the normal routine as Keith didn't go to the Fitness Center for a workout. LOL. He did take a walk inside the ship.
Butler Jaison brought our final breakfast of the cruise and we thanked him for all he has done and wished him our very best. Last evening we thanked Penthouse Attendant Chan for all she has done and also Stateroom Attendant Raiyotla who has assisted Chan on this leg of the World Cruise.
We enjoyed our final breakfast of the cruise before packing our carry on bags. While we were eating we had visitors and the two photos are of one of the visitors. In case you wonder, we didn't feed them.
Our time depart the ship was 9:30 AM so we left our room at 9:00 to walk around. We said until next time to Chan who took care of our room for three of the four legs of the World Cruise. She and Linda who took care of us on leg one have been gems.
From our room we went to Deck 6. This is the infamous deck where where we walk inside the ship. It is also where disembarkation took place. It turned out to be the perfect spot to catch up with lots of people. We chatted with World Cruise Hostess and friend Stacey.
We spoke with Hotel Director Scott and Keith spoke with Chief of Security Sanjiv. We also saw Charles and Alice who we toured the vineyards with, and several World Cruisers. Some were staying such as BJ but others were leaving. One couple leaving we have known since 2007, one couple was on their first World Cruise and we met them a couple of weeks ago and other full World Cruisers leaving we knew or just recognized from walking around the ship. A few people leaving were either scheduled to leave or were originally going to Singapore. This included Denise and Steve who were on last years World Cruise and this year were going from Los Angeles to Singapore but decided to leave today. They are two of Keith's Paddle Tennis buddies. We saw another guest Keith plays Paddle Tennis leave with his wife and they were scheduled to depart today from Sydney.
We felt bad for those who booked the full World Cruise and cut it short due to the virus. There is no right or wrong to this and each person/couple had their own reasons for leaving.
We left the ship by 9:30 PM and collected our bags in the terminal. Three bags are being shipped home and two bags remain with us. After collecting the bags a porter assisted us and we turned over the three bags over to the luggage shipping company who had two people in the building. Easy Peasy.
Everything was orderly in the terminal including turning I our landing cards.
Once out of the terminal we were driven to the Shangri La Hotel located a short distance from the Circular Quay. If for the fact we didn't have luggage it would be a short walk to the hotel but with luggage and up a hill it was not practical to do this. We would have gotten Uber but were concerned they were at high demand. As it turned out very few of the guests used Uber. Some had private cars as we did and many got on a long queue for the taxi. While waiting we did run into some familiar faces who were returning to Serenity including Sommelier Ross and Future Cruise Sales Consultant.
Anne Marie with Daniele who we have known for twelve years.
This is our third stay at this hotel in three years.
Our first stay was in 2018 when we visited the family in Sydney. Last year we departed Serenity in Auckland, flees to Sydney, spent a few days at the hotel and returned to Serenity shortly after it arrived to Sydney. We brought the family on-board and celebrated our daughter's birthday which was on that very date with a birthday dinner at Prego.
We like the location of the Hotel. For those of you familiar with Sydney it is located in the area known as The Rocks.
We can get to and from the hotel via Uber (we could take the bus but prefer Uber) and the drive is thirty minutes plus or minus a few minutes depending on time of day and day of week.
The Rocks have some of Sydney's oldest pubs and many restaurants. Sydney is very walkable and we can get to the Opera House by foot in less than 30 minutes and enjoy beautiful views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Club Lounge of the Hotel.
We enjoy the hotel between the lovely room, the service around the hotel and its Club Lounge.
Since we were not sure what time we could check-into the hotel and it is a school day with after school activities for the children our plan was to spend the day in Sydney and get out to the families place tomorrow before the start of the school day.
During the course of the day we walked to different areas of Sydney. This included a visit to Queen Victoria Building where we had lunch and also over to where Serenity was docked and the Opera House. We went out a second time after unpacking. With rain in the forecast for most days we are happy we had time to walk to many areas of this beautiful city.
Look for daily posts as we spend one week in Sydney.
Anne Marie & Keith
Last evening we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at the Avenue Saloon with a couple of friends.
These are the dinner menus from Waterside.
We enjoyed dinner at the Prego Italian Specialty Restaurant with Executive Housekeeper Maria. As Executive Housekeeper she has responsibility for all of the passenger areas around the ship including guest rooms and suites and the public areas. She has people working 7x24 because cleaning never stops around the ship day or night.
Dinner was a delight between the conversation, cuisine and service.
We were treated to a special show created and performed by the entertainment tea which was a tribute to The Sound Of Music. This included the singers and dancers and the Crystal Showband. Ever since we first saw The Sound Of Music we have loved all of the songs. Incidentally the godmother of Crystal Serenity is Julie Andrews. Thee show was performed two times.
We slept well as we traveled to Sydney and began our day as we always do. This included a workout for Keith and breakfast in our room.
We anchored off Sydney early morning.
A few photos and one video as we were making our way to where we would anchor.
After breakfast we took care of loose ends until our group number was assigned to go through the mandatory Australian Border Force Immigration Inspection. There was a line which moved quickly. We were asked what our plans were for the day.
Since we are spending one week in Sydney after we depart Serenity on March 3 we decided not to take the ships tenders over there. Instead we focused on packing and visiting with friends and members of the crew. We ran into several people.
There were four cruises ships in port. The Celebrity Solstice is anchored as we are and the Queen Elizabeth and the Regent Seven Seas Mariner were docked at Circular Quay and White Bay Cruise Terminal respectively.
During the course of the day we chatted with several members of team Serenity.
We enjoyed our final lunch at Marketplace of this voyage and thanked the waitstaff team who has taken great care of us. We spoke with Captain Birger to thank him so much for all he did to make this voyage special and for his frequent and thorough communications keeping everyone informed. He also kept all of us safe. Thank you Captain Birger.
We enjoyed a nice walk on the Promenade Deck while enjoying beautiful view of Sydney and also seeing the tenders going between ship and tender drop-off.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon.
Following is the daily Reflections Program.
Anne Marie & Keith