DAY 8 CRYSTAL SERENITY – DISEMBARKATION
We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink with friends Anne & Larry and friend Stacey Huston. Stacey boarded Serenity the other day to prepare for the 2017 World Cruise as she is the World Cruise Hostess. She has also been in this role on other World Cruise Voyages we have sailed. We live near Stacey's home and from time to time have lunch with her back home. It was wonderful to catch up with Stacey and to for our friends and Stacey to meet one another.
We enjoyed our final dinner of the cruise with Anne and Larry at Silk Road which is the Japanese Specialty Restaurant on board Crystal Serenity. It was develped by Chef Nobu who has restaurants in many cities around the world including the United States of America.
We were taken great care of by Anthony. We only took a couple of photos but rest assured we enjoyed lots of great food and drink too.
The evening featured a wide range of entertainment including My Life: The Music of Billy Joel. We really like the new evening entertainment concept which includes other shows from time to time in the Stardust Lounge and performances by other musicians and vocalists in other areas of the ship in additon to the two piano players.
We really like the new evening entertainment concept which includes other shows from time to time in the Stardust Lounge and performances by other musicians and vocalists in other areas of the ship in additon to the two piano players. For example when we left Silk Road last night we watched pianist Scott Mitchel perform in the
Crystal Cove playing with another musician instead of performing solo.
What is nice is that for those who were tired of the Production shows on many nights they have other options. For those who are newer to Crystal or who like the tradition of the shows they still can see them.
To us it's similar with the menus in the Crystal Dining Room. When Crystal introduced the Modern Cuisine Menu they didn't eliminate the traditional one and offer many items that are classic Crystal on one menu with the modern cuisine menu on the other one and you can order all from one or mix and match.
In addition, the College Football Championship game bewteen Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers was shown live at the Hollywood Theatre and on all guest televison sets. It was a bit of an upset depending on which team you were hoping would win.
We slept very well as Serenity sailed to our final stop of this cruise Miami, Florida.
As we are posting this we will be having Breakfast in our room this mornnig at the same time we have been each day of this voyage.
We arranged a vehicle through the Crytstal Cruises Head Concierge. We will meet him at the Crystal Cove at 8:45 AM and we will be escorted to the terminal where we will be assisted with our baggage, go through customs and be taken to the vehcile waiting for us.
We have enjoyed so many exceptional cruises with Crystal Cruises starting with our first one on Crystal Harmony in 2002 when we sailed Alaska. This one was not an exception and while one of the shorter ones in terms of total days it was another terrific experience for us.
It has been very nice not only sailing with dear friends but experiencing a first time look at Crystal Cruises through their eyes.
We hope that whether or not you have never sailed with Crytal Cruises or have sailed one or more times with Crystal Cruises that you have enjoyed our Blog. We will continue to Blog on our future trips including another Crystal Cruises with our entire family in a few months, followed by a land vacation a few weeks later and continuing with a cruise on our very first River Cruise later in this year on one of the new Crystal Cruises River Vessels.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.........
We never get sad when a cruise ends because we always have one or several more booked to look forward to. We will return to Serenity in May. Our children and spouses who are all Crystal Soceity Members will be on board with us. At the same time we wil introduce to two-and-one-half year old children and one five-and-one-half year old child to the Crystal fold.
We do get sentimental about each cruise. There is something unique about each one and a lot of it has to do with the chemistry of the passengers and crew who are on-board for a specific sailing. In short, a new community gets built on each cruise.
We know that we will see many crew who we know very well on the next cruise and that we will also see some familiar guests. However, all 1,000 or so guests and 600+ crew who were together on this specific sailing will never all be together on another sailing. Of course we know the next one will have its own chemistry so there is much to look forward to.
There are some crew members who won't be returning but as they say you never know when our paths will meet up again. We might see some on land or via Face Book or on another type of Crystal Vessel or even on this vessel in the future. Life carries with it twists and turns and that is part of what makes the world go round.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 7 CRYSTAL SERENITY – KEY WEST, FLORIDA
After we posted, Keith and Larry played Blackjack for about an hour. It was the first time Keith played in over 10 years. They had a nice time and used to play it most nights on the two cruises we took with Anne & Larry years ago. We always say that if we are on a Crystal tour and we don't know the Crystal representative the odds (no pun intended) that they work in the Casino. They both had a lot of fun. Keith made a few dollars. It's not enough to pay for another cruise though. He did have a first for him getting five blackjacks in a row. On the first one the dealer also had a blackjack. The odds are if Keith plays another hour before the sailing is over he'll get no blackjacks and probably lose some money.
We began last evening with a pre-dinner drink with Anne and Larry at the Avenue Saloon.
This was followed by dinner at the Crystal Dining Room. This was our final dinner at this dining venue for this cruise. We have mentioned it a few times but we can't say enough about the wonderful wait-staff who has taken care of us and our friends. Senior Waiter Alexsander, Waiter Jorge and Sommelier Ricardo along with Head Waiter Carmello have been fabulous.
We had looked at the dinner menu earlier in the day and didn't see anything that we particulary wanted so we spoke with Carmello in the morning and asked if we could have the Kosher Chicken. He asked what sides we wanted and we ordered roasted potatoes, asspargus, stringbeans, broccoli and carrots and Carmello recommend cranberries and gravy.
We were very pleased with our choices. Anne Marie and Keith began with a shrimp cocktail and we had salads from the menu followed by the chicken. The chicken was moist and unlike in the past when you could really taste the salt it was less salty which we thought was good. For dessert Anne Marie had one of the sugar free desserts and Keith tried the cheeses. He has not done that in many years so it was the first time he had seen the cheese extensive chees menu in many years. He selected two choices and Alexsander recommended another one. All three turned out to be good choices.
Leo who is the Crystal DIning regular Maitre d' had just boarded Serenity the day before to prepared for the World Cruise. Anne Marie chatted with him yesterday morning and Keith spoke with him at the conclusion of dinner. Mario is the "swing" Maitre d' who goes between both ships and will be leaving to meet up with Symphony where he will relieve Remi who is the regualar Maitre d' on Symphony who will go on holiday.
After dinner at 7:45 was the Captain's & Crystal Society Reception. This wsa the second and final Captain's Reception of this cruise. At the end of this cruise, Captain Birger will go home to California for a well deserved holiday. He wil be our Captain when we return back to Serenity with our family in a few months.
Originally on of our favorite shows on board which is the concert production called My Life: The Music of Billy Joel was scheduled but due to the sea conditions that was changed and swapped with the variety show which had been schedules for the final night of the cruise.
In additon to the concert production there was a wide range of entertainment throughout the evening including; dancing to live music at the Palm Court, pianist performing in the Crystal Cove and the Avenue Saloon pre and post dinner time along with other entertainment at the Crystal Cove. At 11:00 PM there was Karaoke at the Pulse Nightclub and this was followed by music played by DJ Chris. ON top f this there was two showings of the 2016 movie Florence Foster Jenkins.
Keith and Larry returned to the casino for another try at Blackjack. It turned out part of Keith's prediction came true. Keith didn't get any blackjacks, however, he still walked away a winner. In fact, they both did but more importantly enjoyed the time in the casino. Anne Marie walked around the shops with Anne.
Some people were still bothered by the seas but we have gotten used to it over the years so it was not an issue for us.
The seas were less rough less evening as we sailed towards Key West but you could still feel some movement of the ship. Keith took a pass from exercise this morning. After having breakast in our room we got ready for immigration. Each passenger was assigned a group number and when the number was called we were asked to arrive to the port side of the Galaxy Lounge to go through immigration. We were asked to bring our key card and our passport and the key card was punched with a hole so that each person going through immigration could be easily identified as they were going off the ship. As in the past the process went quickly.
Our final stop port-of-call stop of this voyage was Key West, Florida.
Key West is a small island that is only 3.5 miles in length and 1 mile wide. It is home to 25,00 residents and attracts many tourists who visit via car and cruise ship. During the height of the tourist season you often find one to three ships in port.
In addition to many restaurants and stores there is plenty to see in Key West.
Some of the local attractions included:
Hemingway House. This property was home to author Ernest Hemingway. There is an admission fee to this attraction which also includes a tour.
Little White House. The house originally served as the naval station’s command headquarters. In 1846 it was used as the winter White House for President Harry S. Truman. Today it is a museum.
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory. This conservatory is home to fifty to sixty different species of live butterflies from around the world.
Audubon House. This home was build by Captain John Huling Greiger in the 1840’s for himself and his family. Today it provides an educational environment for people of all ages.
There are many ways to enjoy Key West including on bicycle, by trolley and on foot.
We took the foot approach. We have visited Key West numerous time and that includes all of the sites we’ve mentioned.
Weather was just a little on the chilly side but once the sun was overhead it felt warmer. We were the only ship in port which makes the town more enjoyable compared to when three ships are visiting. We revisited areas that we enjoy around town including the Little White House and the Audibon House. All of the homes across from the Little White House which had been Navy Officer homes are now private residences.
Once we returned to Serenity we did more packingand enjoyed the ship. We had lunch at the Lido Cafe and we saw and spoke with Captain Giske who just returned from holiday. Today Captain Birger will do the handover with Captain Giske and after we arrive back to Miami Captain Giske will take the helm and Captain Birger will go on Holiday.
After lunch we decided to take another stroll around town. As we began our walk we saw Lou Gossett Jr. and spoke with him for a couple of minutes. He was very friendly. We walked for about ninety minutes. We still wore light jackets but it was very pleasant and sunny outside. We walked by the marina, a couple of museums, the aquarium, and we walked in and out of several shops until it was time to reboard Crystal Serenity.
We will spend the remainder of the afternoon reading, writing and packing.
This evening we will be meeting someone special to us at the Avenue Saloon along with Anne and Larry and we plan to dine at Silk Road for the first time of this voyage. Speaking of food we are including lunch and dinner menus for today from the Crystal Dining Room.
TODAY'S THOUGHT OF THE DAY.....
We have enjoyed a wonderful cruise and it has been extra special by having dear friends Anne & Larry on-board Crystal Serenity with us. There is something truly remarkable about fate. Anne Marie first met Anne almost twenty-five years ago by chance. At the time, Anne was visting a mutual friend with her son who lived across the street from us. At the time our son was playing kickball outside on the cul-de-sac with one of the sons from the family of our mutual friends along with some other children. Our son accidentally kicked the ball into the back window of Anne's automobile. Keith was traveling out of town on business at the time. Anne Marie took care of getting Anne's car repaired that very day and that began the start of our friendship with Anne and Larry and their son. In time, Anne, Larry and their son became family to us and our children often thought of them as you would an Aunt and Uncle. It is interesting about the turns and twists that take place in ones lives.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 6 CRYSTAL SERENITY – A DAY AT SEA
Last evening began with drinks and canapes in our room where we were joined by our dear friends Anne & Larry. We enjoyed shrimp and lobster along with veggies and humus. We think the humus is a more recent addition to the canapés menu but could be wrong.
Afterwards we made our way to the Tastes Specialty Restaurant. This restaurant serves cuisine family style which is similar to Tapas. The cuisine represents regions from around the world. The menu is updated every couple of months. In fact, there have been many new items that have been added to the menu since we last sailed Serenity in August/September of 2016.
Since Tastes was redesigned a few years ago as part of a complete makeover of the Lido Deck we have really enjoyed dining at this restaurant. Prior to its makeover it served items such as chicken, steak and salmon and pizza which for us was not very special so over the years we dined very few times at the former Tastes.
With the makeover the entire setting was changed with new tables, chairs, a living wall, new lighting. The staffing changed to include a Head Waiter, and Senior Waiters who are ably assisted by Waiters and members of the Bar Team. We find the cuisine to be unique and we find each dish to be quite flavorful. We also like the portion sizes allowing us to try several different items including the desserts.
We ordered quite a lot to eat. We've included some of the photos but didn't get photos of the desserts. We shared two of the three; Forest Berry Cobber and Bananas Foster. This is why typically in a twelve day or less cruise we dine here one time.
There was a nice array of entertainment choices for all of us to enjoy last evening. This inluded entertainment throughout the evening at the Crystal Cove with different entertainers performing and pianist Charlie James performing at the Avenue Saloon. Comedian Gary Delana performed two shows and at 10:30 PM the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers along with the Crystal Showband performed a 25 minute show called Jump & Swing-A-Mania. Other options included two showings of the 2015 Movie; Brothers of the Wind and at 10:00 PM until closing DJ Chris played music at Pulse. Live music and dancing was available at the Palm Court and Ambassador Hosts were there before both early and late dinner seating and also from 9:15 to 12:30 AM for dancing.
About the time we left port to get out to sea the skies turned darker and there was some rain and you knew you were at sea. You could feel some sways of the ship throughtout the night but in the scheme of things it was no big deal but it was a reminder that we are at sea.
Keith was up early and worked out and also did the laundry. We enjoyed breakfast in the room. Keith went to the salon for a haircut. They way things timed out from his last cut at home he would have had to get another cut the day after we arrived home and thought it would be easier to get the cut on board Serenity. Ingrida who is the hair stylist who in the past has taken care of both of us is on-board so Keith had her cut his hair. Originally the only down-side was that the cut conflicted with the last indoor cycle class of this voyage. However, with the sea swells caused by the wind and the movement of the ship they cancelled the Indoor Cycling Class.
At his noon talk from the bridge, Captain Birger said that the wind was above forecast and we would continue to expeience the sea conditions for the next several hours before it improves. He asked everyone to be careful walking around the ship and to hold onto handrails.
With this being the second and final sea day of the cruise there was a lot on the program. Some of the highlights included:
Destination Lecturer Dr Jay Wolff spoke about Miami including its history.
Professor Roberto D'Alimonte spoke about the United States Presidential Electoin and shared is opinion of not only what happened but why the results were what they were. He spoke about the similaries to his own country, Italy, back in the mid-1990's and also touched on implications for the French and German elections later this year. He provided lots of statistics from exit polling about the USA election and mentioned several times that he was not taking positions but just sharing information.
Special Interest Lecturer Bob Ray wil speak about The Beach Boys Band and the genius of Brian Wilson. As we post today, we have not yet seen the talk but plan to see it on the television. The topic is interesting to us.
For those who like the afternoon tea today's theme will be the Mozart Tea.
There will be a tour of the Crystal Dining Room Galley.
In additon there were about another 50 activities on top of this between 7:00 AM and 5:30 PM and that does not include dining.
With Anne Marie still under the weather she spent a good deal of time in the room
We had lunch at the Lido Cafe. The waiters assisted those who had issues walking by getting food for them. We were fine but we were very careful when we got our food and brought it over to the table.
Keith will be meeting up shorlty with our friend at the Casino. Keith used to play blackjack from time to time in our early days of cruising including playing with Larry on our two previoius cruises together. He hasn't played in about ten years but will do so today.
This evening we will be back in the Crystal Dining Room for our final meal at this dining venue of the cruise.
Speaking of food, we are including today's lunch and dinner menus from the Crystal Dining room.
Lunch & Dinner Menus
TODAY'S THOUGHT OF THE DAY......
In the end when it comes to most items the only opinion that matters is our very own. With this said, we can still be respectful of the views, thoughts and opinions of others even if they run contrary to our own view. This can allow fora far better discussion as well as collaboration. We believe this is true for all topics.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 5 CRYSTAL SERENITY – PUERTO COSTA MAYO, MEXICO
We enjoyed another wonderful evening on-board Crystal Serenity.
There was a nice range of entertainment on last nights evenings program.
It included two performances of a production show that we enjoy called Across The Pond. It is about the British Music Invasion and does include some Beatles songs. In addition to performing these two shows, later in the evening the Crystal Serenity amazing singers and dancer will be accompanied by the Crystal Showband for a Rock & Pop Show. That is a fitting theme with Across The Pond. This evening will include two performances of a production show that we enjoy called Across The Pond. It is about the British Music Invasion and does include some Beatles songs. In addition to performing these two shows, later in the evening the Crystal Serenity amazing singers and dancer will be accompanied by the Crystal Showband for a Rock & Pop Show. That is a fitting theme with Across The Pond.
In addition, Pianist Scott Mitchel and Bernadett Nyari performed in the Crystal Cove as did Guitarist Boyan. and Pianist and Vocalist Charlie James performed at the Avenue Saloon DJ Chris played music in Pulse. The movie Star Trek Beyond was shown twice. For those who like Star Trek and haven't seen this movie, Keith recommends seeing it.
We slept well as we were sailing to our next port of call of Costa Maya, Mexico. Keith's day began early with a workout at the Fitness Center. Anne Marie didn't walk in the morning; doctor and nurse orders. In fact, the nurse knows that Anne Marie walks a lot and specifically told her to get plenty of rest. We did enjoy breakfast in our room. Early this morning Keith took some photos around certain areas of the ship which we are posting.
We also thought we would include photos of some of the breakfast offerings at the Lido Cafe. When Keith took these photos they were in the process of putting the items out so this doesn't show all of the hot items that are availabe.
Serenity arrived to Costa Maya on-schedule this morning.
Costa Maya is a small tourist region in the state of Quintana Rao, Mexico which is the only state with the Caribbean Sea. The area is mainly undeveloped but growth has now started with the construction of a large pier to accommodate cruise ships. With each passing year and more cruise ships being deployed in some areas of the Caribbean one or more cruise lines have developed areas to accomodate cruise ships as demand for cruising increases. We had mentioned the other day during our visit to Cozumel about only seeing one or two ships visiting Cozumel during our early years of cruising versus five or six ships that one will see during the height of the Caribbean season. When Crystal Serenity stops at Cozumel next week as part of the first segment of World Cruise 2017 it will be one of nine ships calling on this port of call.
Major attractions in and around Costa Maya include:
Maya Chan Beach
Reserva de la Biosfera Banco Chinchorro which is a reef stretching 25 miles north to south.
Costa Maya Shopping which is the remodeled cruise facility that features 70,000 square feet of shopping, a local artisan market, a private beach club as well as several restaurants, 2 saltwater pools and even a 650 sea amphitheater.
Majahual which used to be a sleepy town but now has been developed into a tourist town with the increase of cruise ship tourism.
Dzibanche Archaeological Site dating back to 200 BC.
Kohunlich Archaeological Site whose ruins were discovered in 1967.
Since Anne Marie is under the weather she stayed on board Serenity while Keith walked the nearby area. We were here last January. Back then we tendered and there have been several additions to the nearby area. In some ways it is simlar to Grand Turk where Carnival built the area that accommodate two ships docking. The area they built tries to look more authentic of Mexcio.
The good news is originally one other ship was supposed to be in port with us but thankfully they cancelled the stop. Weather when Keith first got off was 82 degrees which is quite a bit warmer then it is where we live.
Once Keith returned to the ship he changed and had his own private indoor cycling class. He was both student and instructor and played songs from his playlist. A couple of selfies once Keith finished the workout.
Speaking of food, below are dinner and lunch menus.
Lunch was back at the Lido Cafe where we each enjoyed a Salad Entree. After lunch Keith played Paddle Tennis for a couple of hours and Anne Marie did a little packing and read, wrote and rested. Speaking of food, below are dinner and lunch menus.
This evening we plan to dine at Tastes and will post about all of this tomorrow.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.....
It is our hope that people will get back to something that most of us learned about during our childhood called the Golden Rule. Unlike laws of each of our respective countries this one is a very simple one to learn and to follow. Very simply it states :
One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself .
One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.
What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself.
This rule is found across most religions and in various walks of lives.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone followed this rule? We think so.
Keith & Anne Marie
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 4 CRYSTAL SERENITY – BELIZE, MEXICO
Last evening we had another wonderful time on-board Crystal Serenity.
We began our evening by attending a cocktail reception at Captain Birger Vorland's Quarters along with several other guests. We were welcomed to the Captain's Quarters by the Captain and Crystal Society Hostess Alissa.
We spoke with some guests who we know from prior voyages and others that we met for the first time on this voyage.
Several Senior Officers and Senior Members of Serenity were on-hand including Hotel Director Hubert, the Vice Captain and the First Officer both of whom we sailed with on the Northwest Passage Adventure, the Chief Financial Accountant, the Food & Beverage Manager, the Bar Manager, the On Board Booking Consultant Paula Jean and the Activities Hostess.
We met our friends Larry and Anne after the reception at the Avenue Saloon for a pre-dinner drink.
We dined at the Prego Italian Specialty Restaurant at 7:00 PM. For us Prego has the warmth and intimacy of a small town restaurant that one might experience in Italy or in their home-town. We all enjoyed the cuisine, service and ambience of the dining venue.
We were greeted by Specialty Restuarnt Maitre d' Slavko. Slavko will be leaving Serenity at the end of this voyage for a well deserved holiday before he returns to Crystal Symphony as their Specialty Restaurant Maitre d'. Slavko spent several years on Symphony prior to coming to Serenity following a major makeover of the Lido Deck on Serenity. Paolo who is the Specialty Restaurant Maitre d' on Symphony who we have known for many years will join Serenity following this voyage in the same capacity as the Maitre d' of the Specialty Restaurants. We were also greeted by Prego Head Waiter Mario who also checked on everything from time to time during the meal.
We were taken excellent care of by Waiter Costa and Sommelier Jiri both of whom have taken great care of us for the past few years.
Between the four of us we tried a range of items. Keith had the lobster appetizer and Anne Marie had the Crab Meat Appetizer. We both had salads and Anne Marie had the Veal entree and Keith had the Lamb one which he first tried after all of these years on the cruises in August and September and loved it. We both had fruit for dessert. We recommended to Anne that she have the mushroom soup for an appetizer which she did and she thought it was great.
All in all it was a fun evening.
We don't do this very often but after dinner the two of us ran into someone and went for an after dinner drink. Well, Keith had wine and Anne Marie had water since she is under the weather. The good news is we set the clocks back one hour as we were sailing into a new time zone.
We slept well as Serenity sailed to our next port of call of Belize City, Belize. We began the day with the same routine that many who read our Blogs have become accustomed to. This included an early morning workout for Keith in the Fitness Center, followed by breakfast in our room. Keith took an 8:15 AM Indoor Cycling Class. Once again Fitness Director Kyle taught the class. Although the signup for the class was yesterday at 4:00 PM and the sheet was full with a waitlist only half the bikes were used and two of them by people who didn't sign up. Either some forgot it was a port day or there was confusion about the times given the time change. Keith got up there early to spin for about 45 minutes before the class and played his own music and thoroughly enjoyed the class taught by Kyle.
Anne Marie walked for awhile and then went to the Medical Center since she's been under the weather. She learned she has Bronchitis so no more walking until she is better. They want her to use the inhaler they have so she did that treatment in the morning and will do it again later in the day. They put her on antibiotics and gave her cough medicine.
We anchored of Belize City by 8:00 AM. We had already decided before we boarded Serenity that we would make this port a sea day. As it turned out with Anne Marie being sick we would not have gotten off anyways.
We were here last January and saw exactly what we wanted to and this is one of a handful of ports that we have visited over the years that we didn't have an interest in spending any additoinal time touring or even walking around. We think this is a port to take a tour if one is going to do sightseeing.
Keith spent the ramainder of the morning talking with fellow guests and crew and with our friends as well as reading and writing and Anne Marie rested in our room and also read and wrote. Lunch was back at the Lido Cafe where we made ourselves Salad Entrees.
After lunch, Keith had hoped to play Paddle Tennis but didn't find anyone to play so hopefully he'll play tomorrow. He worked out again and also read and wrote and got together with a few guests. Anne Marie rested for the rest of the afternoon.
These are some photos that Keith took last evening at The Bistro.
We have added menus from the dinners at the dining room and a lunch menu and dinner menus from Silk Road, Prego and Tastes. A big thank you to fellow guest Joan for helping us with this. Some of the menus might not be in the proper order.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.......
Some people enjoy having a vacation home/condominium for certain times of the year. For us, that vacation home is sailing Serenity or Symphony. Spending aon board Serenity as we did today is very enjoyable to us and since we don't golf is even better for us then spending a day at a Country Club on land.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 3 CRYSTAL SERENITY – COZUMEL, MEXICO
Last evening began with a 5:15 Cruise Critic reception which we had signed up for prior to the cruise. There were 20+ people in attendance as well as some member of the Crystal Serenity Crew who also attended. We spoke with some of the people who attended but by the time it was 6:00 PM we realized there were still more people to meet. Most people attended for the full 45 minutes.
After the reception we had dinner in the Crystal Dining Room with friends Anne & Larry. We had pre-ordered a couple of items with Carmello the night before.
The wait-staff team of Aleksander as our Senior Waiter and Jorge as our Waiter have been terrific. We really didn't know either of them from past cruises but after two nights in the dining room we feel as if we've known them both for years. They are very thoughful, friendly and professional and they think ahead. On the first night Keith had ordered mixed berries and Aleksander had this feeling they woudn't e enough for Keith so when he asked Keith if he liked them he said yes and he had already had a second bowl on hand for Keith. Last night when they brought over a baked potato which Keith had ordred, Larry realized that he should have ordered one and the good news is that Alexsander had ordered a second one for Keith just in case so Larry had his right away.
We began the meal with appetizers. Keith had the white sturgeon caviar while Anne Marie had jumbo shrimp cocktail. Anne had pre-ordered escargots and Larry also had the shrimp cocktail.
Carmello prepared a Caesar Salad for the four of us. Each Head Waiter has their own way of preparing the Caesar Salad so it's always a great opportunity to try it out from time-to-time. For Keith they added anchovies after the other three were placed in the bowls. We enjoyed the salad. For Anne Marie, Larry and Anne they could have used a little less of the spicy ingredients but for Keith it was absolutely fine and he could have had it even spicier.
For the Main Course it was an easy decision. Anne Marie had the Fresh Maine Lobster and Keith did likewise. To this day Lobster is a favorite of Anne Marie's. When she was young and her Grand Parent's lived with her family on Christmas Eve her Nana would prepare a lobster for each family member which is something that Anne Marie not only enjoys but brings back nice memories for her.
Three of the four of us had the Lobster except for Larry who had chicken. We all enjoyed the entrees. Keith thought it was very tasty and he doesn't even use butter on it.
We like the portion sizes. You can always get more if you want a second entree or a second of anything but the size works for us as we can have a few courses yet not feel stuffed.
For dessert, Larry and Anne had Bananas Foster prepared for them by Carmello and the two of us had fruit. We are saving dessert fo rour visit to Tastes. Knowing that Keith enjoys the mixed berries Alexsander brought Keith's in a cereal bowl.
After dinner the four of us attended Captain Birger's Welcome Reception. When we entered Palm Court we were greeted by the Crystal Society Hostess and took the traditional photo with Captain Birger before chatting with Cruise Director Rick and Hotel Director Hubert. There was the usual array of drinks and dancing to the music performed by the Crystal Quartet.
The turnout was good. Turnouts are not as large to these functions back in the day when drinks were not inclusive and so many people attended that there were two parties. Nevertheless a few hundred peope attended and Captain Birger gave an eloquent talk. The Captain who is from Norway has an outstanding command of the English Lanquage and is a terrific public speaker. He only gave the guests on responsibilty and that is for the weather. In indoor cycling earlier in the day Fitness Director Kyle did likewise when he said the harder we work the better the weather would be.
Following the reception Curtain Call was performed in the Galaxy Lounge. We passed on the show as we have seen it several times in the past but Anne & Larry attended the performance.
The seas remained calm as we sailed to our first port of call and we enjoyed a very nice sleep.
We kept to our regular routine when we cruise. Keith got in a very early workout at the Fitness Center. Prior to them installing special coffee markers in the suites which we first used during the two cruises in August and September, Keith used to go to the Lido Cafe for coffee. These days he makes it in our room. The coffee maker is noisy but Anne Marie sleeps with ear plugs so she doesn't hear any of the noise. Keith enjoys the coffee. We had an early Breakfast and then got ready for our visit to Cozumel, Mexico.
We have visited Cozumel many times including last January. It has changed over the years. We remember the days when it was a small town that mainly attracted those who enjoyed diving. In our early days of cruising usually one ship would be in port at any given time. These days the town has expanded and like other carribbean stops it now has those jewelry stores you see everywhere and often this time of the year has three to four ships calling at the same time.
It is believed that the Maya settled Cozumel around the time of the first millennium AD. The first Spanish expedition didn't come until the year 1518. By 1520 about 10,000 Maya lived on Cozumel but that all changed when infected crew members brought smallpox to the island and by 1570 only 186 men and 172 women were alive. With a relatively small population Cozumel was on the receiving end of many an attack by pirates.
Much has changed over the years and today Cozumel is best known for its tourism. Tourism includes land vactions and those arriving by cruise ships. Diving and fishing also contribute a great deal to the local economy.
Anne Marie has been feeling a little under the weather so we made the decision that she would remain on board Serenity and Keith would go out and about on his own. When we first arrived to the pier it was drizzling but we guess the guests came through because the rain stopped by the time Keith got off the ship. The streets were wet and it was cloudy but it had no impact on Keith's walk. He walked about two hours.
We were reminiscing with our friends Larry and Anne the other day when the four of us were here with our children. The pier was quite a distance from the downtown area and we walked into town. We kid you not, but at the recommendation of the Catholic Priest who sat at our dining table we did visit Senor Frogs back then. We remember that Keith, Anne and Larry got on the line that danced to the music and each time you went around they had from the ceiling a drink and you would open up your mouth to get some. Yes we were quite a bit younger back then. On our way back to the ship we all got in a cart that was pulled by a mule and half way there we were wondering if the mule would make it. Somehow the mule came through. Oh, those were the days......LOL.
This time around no mule for Keith nor drinks at Senor Frogs. Just a nice walk. We've included photos of some of the ships that are in port. The NCL Jade is right next to Serenity. The Royal Caribbean ship is at a different dock.
The first few times we were in Cozumel you didn't see stores such as Cartier or Diamonds International. This has all changed.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on board Serenity. After lunch Keith played Paddle Tennis for a few hours and Anne Marie walked for an hour. Afterwards, Keith met up with a few of the fellow guests.
This evening wil include dining at the Prego Italian Specialty Restaurant. We will post about all of this tomorrow.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY......
We think that the world would be a better place if people would take the time to treat others the way they would like to be treated. In short, follow the Golden Rule.
Keith & Anne Marie
CRYSTAL SERENITY - A DAY AT SEA DAY 2
Before dinner we attended the LifeBoat drill. Our muster station is in the Casino and unlike for some of the drills the life-board commander encouraged everyone to take a seat. We found this to keep everyone focused during the talk and also to keep things very orderly.
About twenty minutes after the drill we met our dear friends Larry and Anne outside the Crystal Dining Room for dinner. We have known them for 25 years and there is a funny story about how we first met. We will save this for another time. This is their first Crystal Cruise.
Just to backtrack Keith stopped by their room a few hours earlier and helped them with questions they had and was on hand when they met their stewardess. A little while later while Larry was freshening up Anne came by our room to chat with Anne Marie. It is really great that we can share this cruise together.
Dinner was fabulous. The wait staff took great care of us. The senior waiter came by right away to introduce himself. He worked on Crystal Symphony for several years and then Serenity. In 2013 he left Crystal to work on River Cruises and recently came back. A few minutes later he brought over our waiter Jorge from Chile. While we know the roles of the waiter relative to the Senior Waiters our friends do not and when our Senior Waiter introduced Jorge he went on to explain each of their roles and we think that is superb.
The two of us had three courses for our meal; starting with jumbo shrimp cocktail for Anne Marie and ahi sashimi for Keith; followed by salads and ironically each of us had the fresh salmon for our entree. The pace of the meal was perfect; not too fast and not too slow. With a sold out ship of over 1,000 people the dining room was not noisy nor chaotic as it can be on the first night.
Our Head Waiter is Senior Head Waiter Carmello. As a Senior Head Waiter he has the same responsibilities as the other Head Waiters plus he does all of the scheduling of the waiters and senior waiters as some work at the Lido Cafe for breafast and lunch and others work at the afternoon tea. He also has the section of the dining room closest to the entrance as he will assist at the Maitre d' station. We have known Carmello for many years but this is the first time we have him. Normally we sit in an area that is not in his section but this time we are not at a two person table and we are in a different section. Our Somellier is Ricardo who took wondrerful care of us on the recent Northwest Passage cruise.
We enjoyed the wine that was served. Often at the end of the meal the Sommelier asked if we wanted an after dinner drink. We always say no. However he mentioned a Limoncello and friend Anne said why not and Keith said sure so the both enjoyed that drink.
The photo to the right is Anne Marie with Sommelier Ricardo. The photo to the left includes our dear friends Anne and Larry. After dinner, we brought Anne & Larry over to the Galaxy Showroom so they could see the Welcome On-Board Show.
We thought we would give you a photos tour of the ship. We will add additonal photos during the course of this adventure. Most of these photos Keith took in August and September of 2016.
We slept well as we always do. For those of you who follow our blogs you know our routine. Keith was up first and worked out at the Fitness Center on the Elliptical Machine while watching the news. Afterwards he enjoyed coffee in our room. Shortly after Anne Marie woke we had breakfast in our room. We keep it simple as we do at home with the exception of having cereal rather then oatmeal and we had fruit.
At 4:00 PM yesterday Keith signed up for the first indoor cycling class of the cruise. The same two fitness directors from our last cruises are on board again. The sign up sheets are available at 4:00 PM the day before class. Keith was first to sign with a fellow guest he met while they were waiting. When he checked the sign up sheet this morning the class was full with a waitlist of eight people. Unfortunately Fitness Director Kyle told Keith that the computer he keeps his songs on crashed so he would have to revert to those CD's of songs that Keith knows by heart as they were repeated throughout the 2015 world cruise. He asked Keith if he had his music with him as Keith teached indoor cycling three days a week at the fitness center at home. He does but he wanted to be able to take the songs on a thumb drive and he couldn't do this with iTunes.
Since today was a sea day there was a very extensive enrichment and activity program. We had three interesting lectures. Since our itinerary includes stops at Mexican ports, Dr Jay Wolff spoke about the conquest of Mexico. Professor Roberto D'Alimonte spoke about Brexit and the future of the European Union a timely topic given the changes that Brexit is bringing. Finally, Bob Ray spoke about Motown and the music that changed America and the world. We found this one interesting given our enjoyment of music from motown and having seen the musical while we were in London last year.
Keith enjoyed his indoor cycle class in the morning and Anne Marie managed to get in her one hour morning walk. Kyle led a great class and everyone worked hard. There was a lot of banter back and forth.
We met up at the Crystal Cove and sat there and chatted with some of the members of the crew and fellow guests as they passed by.
Although we don't play the slot machines we wanted to mention something from today's program. Since we last sailed Serenity we see that the casino has now introduced what they call "Stay & Play 24 hour Program". It notes that slot machines will remain on and available for play during extended operating hours after the casino cage closes for the day and to see Reflections (daily program) each day for details. Obviously it depends whether or not the ship is at sea. Since we are at sea it will be open until 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.
We enjoyed lunch at the Lido Cafe and made our famous Salad Entrees. Right after lunch Keith played Paddle Tennis for a couple of hours. Having played very little Paddle Tennis during the Nortwest Passage Cruise and the one that preceded it he was happy to get in the tennis time. The weather was nice. Anne Marie walked with friend Anne showing her all around the ship.
This evening will include two receptions, dinner at the Crystal Dining Room and possibly a show.
TODAY’S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY……..
One of the nice things about cruising is the opportunity to renew acquaintances, and to meet people for the very first time. We also learn from each cruise and when you sail with guests and crew representing a diverse set of regions and counties from all around the world there is so much to learn. To us it is all part of discovery.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 1 CRYSTAL SERENITY - EMBARKATION
We slept well last night. No false fire alarms. Thank goodness.
We thought we would begin with thoughts about our first ever stay at the Epic Hotel. Overall, we were pleased and plan to return. The rooms are fairly modern. While we prefer traditonal rooms the world is changing. We are reminded of our recent stay at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco where they went from a traditoinal to a modern look throughout the hotel. The layout of our room was quite nice. There was a separate living area with a large desk with plenty (and we mean plenty) of outlets and large couch and large televison. The bedroom is a nice size as is the bath area.
Service was terrific. A feature recently introduced is the ability to text before and and during your stay. If you have an issue or an item needing attendition they immediately respond via text. We used the text to request additonal coffee, to ask for early turndown and make up the room service and even to report that the desk swivel chair had a defect with one of the roller falling off. In each case, their response was timely and efficient.
Our room included a dedicated club room with a concierge and it served five small daily meal . While not as elaborate as the Ritz Carlton it most definely met our needs. We believe that all other rooms have a club room for use where there is wine offered for one hour along with some snacks.
We enjoyed the hotel location including its proximity to Whole Foods, Mary Brickell Village, Port Of Miami and even the taxi over to and from South Beach.
It was not an issue for us but if you are on a lower floor of the hotel and on the side of the bridge you might hear traffic at night so we would try to ask for a room on the other side or a higher floor. We suspect some of the lower priced room could have this noise issue.
We also wanted to mention how much we have enjoyed our stay in Miami. Like a fine wine it gets better overtime.
As you know by now we love to walk. Several years ago we commented that this is not a walker friendly city. We feel that has changed. There are many walkers and joggers on the streets of Miami. Drivers of motor vehicles are more respectful of those of us on foot and often yield to us. Just a couple of areas where improvment would be nice.
Many on bicycles go at high speeds on the sidewalk such as on Brickell. This should not be the case, and they should ride on the street. On Brickell there are actually bicycle lanes.
Those people walking dogs should all carry bags for you know what. You really have to watch where you walk. OK, enough said. LOL.
We have sailed close to 1,000 days on-board Crystal Serenity ever since our first Serenity sailing in September of 2005.
Our first cruise with Crystal Cruises was in 2002 on-board Crystal Harmony. Harmony left the Crystal Fleet in 2006. In 2003 we sailed Crystal Symphony for the very first time.
We are asked from time-to-time why we frequently sail Crystal Cruises. Although we love to cruise and have sailed with several other cruise lines, we feel very comfortable when we sail Crystal, It is a perfect fit for us. When we return for another Crystal voyage it is like coming home. Seeing members of the crew, guests and land base enrichment/entertainment personnel brings a smile to our faces. The ship has a feeling to us of being in a small village.
We prefer the size of both ships. We find them not too large and not too small for our liking. We enjoy the people including the amazing Crystal Cruises crew and the high level of service they provide, the cuisine, the enrichment program, entertainment, and the diversity of land programs. In short, we love the Crystal package.
As often as we have sailed Crystal, we are excited each time we cruise. Today has been no exception.
We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, freshened up, and finished packing. The drive to the Miami Cruise Ship Terminal was quick. We made our way to the Port on the same route we took when we walked over there. We took Uber for the very first time. It worked like a charm.
Crystal Serenity was berthed at Terminal B.
Check-in was efficient. After embarking Serenity we checked in on the main level. Check-in was efficient. We quickly ran into Captain Birger and Hotel Director Hubert and on the stairwell in the photo Hotel Director Scott Peterson who will be leaving today on a well deserved holiday. We also saw Head Butler Rao.
We enjoyed lunch at the Crystal Dining Room. For those who board after the dining room closes or just prefer a more casual dining experience The Trident Grill was also open. The grill serves an array of grilled items such as hamburger, hotdogs, chicken and salmon.
Our tradition is to have our "embarkation lunch" in the Crystal Dining Room with seated table service. A several course meal is available as it is each and everyday. There is a good range of entrees including seafood, poultry and even filet mignon. Keeping to our "tradition" we each had a Cobb Salad along with a flute of Champagne. We toasted our love for each other (this year will mark forty years of marriage) and to a wonderful cruise.
We spoke with several members of the Crystal Dining Room and Food & Beverage Team including Somellier Ricardo who poured the Champagne for us, Head Sommelier Mario, Head Waiter Franz and Senior Head Waiter Carmello and several Senior Head Waiters and Waiters too many too list here.
Later today we will attend the mandatory life boat drill, have dinner and possibly see the welcome show. We are very excited to be home.
We will post more about the remainder of the day tomorrow.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY - This year marks our 25th year of cruising together beginning with a family cruise on-board the Big Red Boat. We remember that first cruise as if it was yesterday. Cruising appeals to us in many ways. This includes the ability to visit many places in a short timeframe, and to meet and develop relationships with people from cultures around the world. Cruising allows us to travel in a pleasant environment offering significant choices through the day and evening hours, with terrific cuisine and an extraordinary level of service.
We can think of no better way to see the world. In our early years of marriage we never could have imagined traveling so often by cruise ship, let alone doing so on a cruise line as special as Crystal Cruises.
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY 4 MIAMI - UNTIL NEXT TIME
We had no dinner plans for last evening. This is because our original plan was to see the Miami Heat play the Detroit Pistons. Since 2010 we have gone to one or two basketball games each time we stayed in Miami for a pre-cruise. The last few times there was the added benefit of Miami having a wonderful team with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. None of them play for the Heat and the team is so-so and the prices for tickets were high so we decided not to purchase tickets. Given how much we ate last evening, we decided to have a light meal in our room and watch some television. After all, we will be on a cruise.
We had a bit of an incident in the middle of the night. We were awoken to an alarm with a recorded voice that kept repeating that a fire has been detected in the building and would everyone leave their rooms and proceed down the stairwell. We did precisely that. We walked down twenty-four floors. People did well and were orderly. At around floor eight we could hear something on the speaker but could not quite pick out the words and from that moment on we could not hear anything else. We thought it might be that it was a false alarm and we could return to our rooms but we didn’t want to take a chance and everyone continued heading down to the main floor. Sure enough by the time we got outside the hotel we learned that all was clear.
You can often find a positive or two about most situations. Here goes:
There was no fire, and we were able to return to our room.
Our room includes the amenities of floor 29 but they didn’t have the category of room we reserved on that floor so we ended up on floor 24 saving us from walking an additional 5 floors.
The only funny part was that for us it was the middle of the night. Not true for others. When we got down to the lobby area some people were decked out in trendy attire. All of a sudden a couple of people are walking up to one of the Kardashian’s who was in the lobby to get a photo. We have no interest in them. Now if it was Stephen Curry or Tom Hanks that would be a different story.
In our younger years maybe we would have been up at that hour too.
We began our day with breakfast at the Club Lounge. We kept it simple as we do when we travel and when we are at home. We each had cereal, a banana and some melon.
After breakfast, we took a nice long walk around downtown Miami. We eventually headed up Brickell towards the Four Seasons Hotel. Since many businesses observed today as a holiday there was very little traffic on Brickell. We passed by some other hotels including the JW Marriott and the Conrad Hilton. We normally stay at the Four Seasons Hotel so we thought we would stop by for a few minutes. One of the benefits of the Four Seasons is that it is in a very quiet location of town.
Our next stop was the St. Jude Melikite Catholic Church. From there we visited a nearby park and then stopped by Publix Grocery Store and a Walgreens and finally a CVS to get some last minute liquid items for the voyage.
We also stopped by the Brickell City Centre and we had lunch at Perricone's that Italian Restaurant that reminds us of a neighborhood restaurant.
Weather was delightful with a breeze from time to time. The construction is far less then two years ago. There are a pocket of areas with construction. The area looks so nice.
There is a down-side which we commented on as far back as 2007. With small buildings being replaced with high rise buildings but no possibility to add or widen streets there is more traffic on a typical weekday. However, this is not very different from most cities from our own nearby city to New York City. Traffic is a challenge in most cities. Some cities have more solutions then others when it comes to mass transportation.
Final stop before returning back to the Hotel was Whole Foods.
Back at the hotel we relaxed and packed for tomorrow before going back out again.
We took another long walk before dinner which included a walk over to the small island where the Mandarin Oriental is located. As we walked arond the island we saw several cruise ships in port. We took photos of some of them.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.........
Tomorrow we board Crystal Serenity. As often as we have sailed Serenity we are as very excited to be returning to a ship where we have made a lifetime of memories. We look forward to this cruise as if it was our very first.
Keith & Anne Marie