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rafinmd

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    Crystal, Blount Small Ship Adventures
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  1. There are tradeoffs here. Crystal's rooms are smaller than most (especially other luxury lines) but really well designed and the tradeoff is very generous open spaces. I find it hard to imagine a Buffet like this on HAL without the big open space for both the serving area and the ambiance. Having sailed the Prinsendam it's hard to imagine it there as well, and even have trouble visualizing it working in the days when she was a Royal Viking ship. Perhaps there the small dining room could be converted to a serving area but I don't think even that would work as well as the setup here. Roy
  2. David, if you do this I would also suggest verifying that the US-style plugs really are 110-volt current. I think that's the case but the river ship specs only indicate they have 220. I was ready to assume that they would be 110 until I found out that the current at our next port (Antigua) is 220 volt but a US type plug. That put an end to any thoughts I had of trying to buy a heating pad there. Roy
  3. I hope your Doctor comes up with something that will not only help now but also give you some help to get through the Christmas Markets cruise with no problems. Perhaps if they know it will be a challenge they can come up with some pre-emptive solutions. My knee really feels fine but gives me enough hints that I still avoid resuming my regular activities. Today is a bit of a challenge because we have both rough seas and rain so I have been pretty inactive. I don't know if it would help you but Keith did suggest a hot pad. I've emailed a pharmacy in St. Thomas (2 days away) and it sounds like they have something that will work on the ship. Roy
  4. Day Seren13, Monday, November 18, 2019, At sea, Crystal Serenity The best weather of the crossing was the next to last day. The one time my knee bothers me now is first thing in the morning and I am taking that as a signal that too much idleness is not a good thing. I stepped my walking up to 7 laps (2 miles), but all just a lap or 2 at a time. Sunrise again was fairly late and there were still clouds around but the sun found a little hole as I was rounding the bow on my second stint of walking. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dawn1118.jpg This was the day of the Grand Gala lunch buffet. I saw the first evidence of activity when I went down to check the menu board about 8AM but am told things actually started Sunday evening. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/setup.jpg While the chefs were doing their magic there were 2 morning presentations. Bill Toone started things off at 10 with a talk on the Monarch butterfly. I watched that from my room. He was followed at 11 by General Shaefer on China in the 21st Century. He felt that China had some internal problems (cultural and demographic) that limited the threat they could pose in the future. I did not see that talk until later in the afternoon in rerun. The viability of Crystal's Grand Gala Buffet depends largely on 2 of the design features of the ships. The Crystal Plaza atrium area with the front desk extends the full width of the ships. While there is a bar on one side and the desks of the future cruise consultant and the Crystal Society host on the other, the entire space is pretty much wide open. The buffet tables are set up in the huge totally open area, and some people will sit int the bar or the space between the two desks. The other feature is the entrance to the Waterside Dining room is on the Crystal Plaza. While some people will dine in the Plaza most will go to tables in the conveniently located tables in the dining room. Setup was completed and the dining area opened to photography at 11:30. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/galabuffet.jpg Instead of a parade of chefs at the end of the cruise, they are all introduced before service opened. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/chefs.jpg Following the introduction of the chefs, the buffet was opened for dining about 11:50 and became a beehive of activity about 11:50. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/goatit.jpg I actually skipped the buffet and got in my daily soak (my own bathtub this time) and then headed up to Trident for lunch on the pool deck. In addition to the Buffet this was also the day for the open house tour. The front desk had a list of open rooms from 11AM on. I skipped the 2 regular verandah rooms but looked at the limited view oceanview (I'll post that to my site later) and 3 penthouse type cabins. This is my first time on Serenity since the 2018 refit. Both ships had some verandah cabins converted to "Seabreeze Penthouses". On Symphony that was done in the midship cabins, while the changes on Serenity were done at the bow and the stern leaving the space between the forward and aft stairs untouched. The first cabin I looked at was 10005, almost directly at the front, and was very nice. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/seabreeze.jpg The other 2 were on deck 11. The first was 11050, a regular penthouse. One of the nice features is a 2-sided desk area. Some people really love this cabin because the husband and wife can have their own separate work areas. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/penthouse.jpg My last cabin on the tour was a Penthouse Suite, about 25% larger than the Penthouse with 2 really separate rooms. There is one additional step up, the Crystal Penthouse (over twice as large as the Penthouse Suite) but there are only 4 on the ship and they were not on display. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/suite.jpg I attended the 1:30 lecture in person, Dr. Donald Behnke on "Great Conductors of the World". I was a bit surprised that while all were modern, only a handful of those chosen are still active. There was a 5:15 jazz set in the Crystal Plaza combining the Show Band with clarinet virtuoso Kenny Martyn. I would have loved to see it but plumb forgot. We had a very different group at the shared table with me, 3 ambassador hosts, and 2 new ladies. Things went quickly this time and I had time to check the new Reflections before going to the show. I had the Duck Consume, Roast Turkey and a bowl of berries for desert. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dishes18.jpg The featured entertainment was singer-instrumentalist Ben Mills, I think the first time I have seen him perform. He was pretty good but not enough to overcome my drowsiness. I pretty much ran out of gas after the show, dozing until I finally woke up enough to go to bed just before midnight. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/mills.jpg My parting shot comes from Dr. Behnke's talk combined with a bit of local pride. The subtitle of his talk was "Dr. Behnke brings to life the minds, hearts and music of 8 men and women who have awarded audiences with the most beautiful symphonic and choral music the world has ever known." The first 8 were all men and I was a bit disappointed with the woman he mentioned 7th. I ended up feeling he saved the best for last. Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007, is not only a superb musician but the kind of innovator our orchestras really need. I am thinking of 2 of the changes in particular. OrchKids has given thousands of at risk children access to musical instruments, instruction, and an opportunity to both perform and to become better citizens. More personally important to me is the Off the Cuff series where she comes out of the Ivory Tower and features one selection of a current concert combined with about 20 minutes of background on the composer and the piece. I've been subscribed to that piece since inception but sadly rarely get to the performances with my travel schedule. The generous subscriber exchange policy allows me the luxury of continuing to go when I am in town. Current BSO financial and management issues may signal the sunset of Alsop's time here, I sure hope these issues are resolved and we get many more years more from this special talent. Roy Note: I have a morning tour in Antigua and am likely to be very delayed in posting on the final sea day of the crossing (2 more local sea days to go before Fort Lauderdale).
  5. I'm on the Crystal Serenity approaching Antigua from Lisbon and our Captain mentioned a (this) disturbance in his daily update. I expect this is the same disturbance but it will be moving north staying well ahead of us. Roy
  6. It's announced in general perhaps an hour before the drill starts, and there a detailed introduction to the details of each stage as it is called. The first stage (with bells and announcements) is called about 15 minutes before the general alarm and is really just an alert for the crew and notice to the pax that something is coming. The second stage is called perhaps 5-10 minutes later and we are directed to return to our rooms to get warm clothing and prepare for the 3rd stage. Roy
  7. Day Seren12, Sunday, November 17, 2019, At sea, Crystal Serenity I'll start off with another of the ship's photos, this one from the Captain's Welcome Party. No, this was not a black tie optional night. I do regularly sail several cruise lines including Cunard. They are much more formal than Crystal, but Crystal is much more elegant, and my take is that if I must dress so formally there, how much more casual should I be in such an elegant environment. Believe me, I do not dress that way every sea day but this party seemed the right time to do it. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/captain.jpg There was a real mixture of clouds and clear spaces with more of the clouds near the horizon. I almost missed the moon beaming down in the early morning as it was almost directly overhead. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/moon1117.jpg The clouds remained on the horizon for much of a day but right after sunrise it found a little v of very thin cloud cover, producing a bright splash of color. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dawn1117.jpg In addition to 3 inside banks of stairs and elevators there are exterior stairs at the aft of each deck. On Serenity the flights are stacked on top of each other except for deck 7 where they are further aft than the rest and the last flight up to the lido which is curved. I use these stairs very frequently. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/aftstairs.jpg The top of the ship is deck 13. There is a large open area at the bow with quite a large number of loungers. There is no shade per se but towels and blankets will provide some protection. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/13forward.jpg Just below that is one of the specialty restaurants, Silk. It is nominally Chinese but also includes pasta for lunch and a Mongolian lamb chop for dinner. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/silk.jpg The library is a dedicated room that is locked in the off hours. On sea days it is open 8:30-12:00, 1:30-6:00 and 7:30 to 11:00. There is a staff librarian; when she is on break one of the dancers provides assistance. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/library.jpg The schedule was a bit different from most sea days. The Interdenominational worship service was at 9:05 in the Hollywood Theater. I hung out on the Promenade Deck just outside my cabin for the Captain's update. We had reached the point where the closest land is ahead of us at Barbuda, just a few miles closer than out destination. I quickly dropped down a deck to the Hollywood Theater for the inerdenominational worship service. Fr. Thomas Faulkenthal was the Priest when I was on the Serenity for the 2018 World Cruise. For the actual World Cruise we had a Protestant Chaplain but Fr. Faulkenthal was my spiritual leader for the Panama Canal segment leading up to it. I was asked to do the first of the readings, from Malachi, followed by another lay reader for a passage from Thessalonians, and Father handled the Luke Gospel reading himself. There was no 10AM talk due to the weekly crew drill. They try to do them on port days but that is not easy when there are 7 consecutive sea days. This drill is the first one I can remember proceeding all the way to the abandon ship signal. The first of the day's talks was Bill Miller on the last of the great transatlantic liners. I watched this one on TV and had enough time to get to the hot tub by noon, and be finished with lunch before 12:30. The 1:30 talk was Johnny Beerling on the UK side of the Big Band era, the Ted Heath orchestra. After the lecture I met with Crystal Society Host Andrew Triplow for a bit of a pleasant surprise. He printed out my record and I have one more cruise than expected. The cruise just completed was my 25-cruise milestone and I had understood it did not count because it was free, but it does show up as number 47 on his list. My 50th will be from Los Angeles to Papeete in January. Dinner was frustrating. 5 of us all wanted to go to the show but one person was extremely slow. She ordered 3 starters, lingered over 2 of them, and the third of them sat untouched for 10 minutes until she left for the ladies room. Our waiter tried to get things moving but still 3 people gave up and left without desert. I wolfed down my apple pie a la mode (after chicken broth and lamb shank) and rushed off to the show, arriving before the show actually started but too late for bar service. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dishes17.jpg The evening show was the newest of the production shows, Icons in Concert. Toward the end of the evening I headed down to the Avenue Saloon for the Diet Coke missed at the show. John Randall seemed to be more engaged with the crowd than the first time but there the crowd was quite loud and it was hard to tell what was said. My parting shot will be a word of congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens with a very decisive performance against a team with a winning record. I guess I'll continue to wear the purple tee shirt on Fridays. Roy
  8. Is it any warmer in Fort Lauderdale today? If you had been on another week I would have been waving at you from Crystal Serenity. Roy
  9. Do you REALLY want to be standing out under the lifeboats for an hour as the crew assesses your situation and attempts restart if your ship loses power in a storm with 70-knot winds and 50 foot seas? The purpose of a muster drill is ACCOUNTABILITY to be sure everyone is in a spot where they can react quickly when the situation requires action. The majority of incidents do not require evacuation and on every ship I've sailed with indoor muster the lifeboats are very close by the muster stations. Roy
  10. One of the big differences between HAL and Celebrity is that every HAL ship has a full wraparound promenade deck (although it's narrow on the 2 newest ships and there the drill is inside) so people on the HAL promenade deck have a LOT of room to spread out with a different location for each lifeboat. Roy
  11. Here's a view from one of the bicycle seats: While there are windows behind the treadmills you really don't get an outside view. I mostly watched BBC news on the monitor, with a headphone jack for the audio. Roy
  12. Thank you Jacqui and all; for the others have a wonderful voyage on the Pinnacles. I had hoped to be waving at you from the Symphony, but at some point there were too many ships in Port Everglades to handle and we had to move to Miami (Maybe not this day but once one sailing is moved the rest must be as well to comply with the PVSA. Roy
  13. Symphony and Serenity ALMOST meet but not quite. Serenity begins her Thanksgiving cruise in Ft. Lauderdale while Symphony does the same just a few miles south in Miami. They will actually meet 2 days later in Grand Turk and I expect that to be quite an occasion. What could be better than warm beaches, and blue skies, not to mention a great Thanksgiving Dinner and a nice smattering of Crystal Days at sea.: Crystal Serenity Ft. Lauderdale Round Trip, Holiday Sojourn Take it from me, Crystal Serenity is looking great and so is the service. Enjoy the service, the beaches, and all the sea days and have a wonderful cruise.: Nov. 24 (OCY191124-12) Ft. Lauderdale R/T- skinexpert- Janis/Scott Nov. 24 (OCY191124-12) Ft. Lauderdale R/T- Kathy and Frank Crystal Symphony Miami Round Trip, Caribbean Cornucopia Crystal’s senior ship is also headed off to warm beaches and great service with half of the days being Crystal’s specialty, wonderful sea days. We have several first time Crystal cruisers on this voyage and I look forward to meeting all of you: Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Fort Lauderdale R/T - rafinmd (roy) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Fort Lauderdale R/T - FeliciaLee (Glenn/Felicia) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Miami to Miami - jbandkb (Jeff and Kevin) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Miami R/T: Brian310 (Brian/wife/daughter) Both ships have multi-page roll calls and at least enough for a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle (33 on Symphony). Whichever ship you are on have a wonderful cruise!. Roy
  14. Bon Voyage to Skinexpert, Kathy and Frank, FeliciaLee, jbandkb, and Brian310, November 24, 2019 Symphony and Serenity ALMOST meet but not quite. Serenity begins her Thanksgiving cruise in Ft. Lauderdale while Symphony does the same just a few miles south in Miami. They will actually meet 2 days later in Grand Turk and I expect that to be quite an occasion. What could be better than warm beaches, and blue skies, not to mention a great Thanksgiving Dinner and a nice smattering of Crystal Days at sea.: Crystal Serenity Ft. Lauderdale Round Trip, Holiday Sojourn Take it from me, Crystal Serenity is looking great and so is the service. Enjoy the service, the beaches, and all the sea days and have a wonderful cruise.: Nov. 24 (OCY191124-12) Ft. Lauderdale R/T- skinexpert- Janis/Scott Nov. 24 (OCY191124-12) Ft. Lauderdale R/T- Kathy and Frank Crystal Symphony Miami Round Trip, Caribbean Cornucopia Crystal’s senior ship is also headed off to warm beaches and great service with half of the days being Crystal’s specialty, wonderful sea days. We have several first time Crystal cruisers on this voyage and I look forward to meeting all of you: Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Fort Lauderdale R/T - rafinmd (roy) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Fort Lauderdale R/T - FeliciaLee (Glenn/Felicia) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Miami to Miami - jbandkb (Jeff and Kevin) Nov 24 (OCS191124-07) Miami R/T: Brian310 (Brian/wife/daughter) Both ships have multi-page roll calls and at least enough for a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle (33 on Symphony). Whichever ship you are on have a wonderful cruise!. Roy
  15. Day Seren11, Saturday, November 16, 2019, At sea, Crystal Serenity There will be a bit of an odd collection of photos this time. I will start with one taken by the ship. I own a tuxedo but usually do not carry it on a trip where I must handle luggage on my own. What I do carry is a black Travelsmith Blazer. If people don't look really closely, it can be mistaken for a tuxedo jacket, especially in combination of an appropriate shirt, slacks, and tie, but it also works well on a more casual night. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/blacktie1.jpg On deck 7, just a few doors away from my cabin is a pair of rooms each called "The Studio". I think originally this was a big room with a moveable partition but that partition now seems to be fixed. The larger section has seating and can be used for seminars (including Road Scholar) and sometimes music lessons. It and the computer center are the places I go for somewhat better wifi. I have found that the best way to upload large Reflections files is to email them (Gmail seems to be the best way to do this) to wordpress from the Studio. The smaller portion seems to keep pretty busy with private dance lessons. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/studios.jpg Although I am using the elevators for longer descents I still am on the stairs a lot. There are 3 banks of elevators/stairs (plus aft external stairs) and they are all pretty much identically decorated. No paintings, the elevator side is a white marble type material. The stairway landings between floors have that same marble with a couple of columns at the corner and dark wood paneling along the sides. A few of the landings have little sculptures set into a recess. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/stairs.jpg I am walking and getting coffee a little later, as the first thing I am doing in the morning is posting the day's reflections. I usually start my walk with a single lap where I stop by the lido for coffee about 5:45. It is still dark then but while not quite full the moon was shining brightly overhead. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/moon1116.jpg My plan was to walk a total of 5 laps, and I went out for laps 2-4 about 7 as the sun was due to rise. There were still quite a few clouds and I gave up waiting for an actual sunrise but the sky did light up quite nicely. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dawn1116.jpg The weather is REALLY improving and for the first time of the voyage I took my omelet out on the back deck. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/alfresco.jpg For the remainder of this voyage Captain Giske will be doing his updates at 9AM rather than noon. The nearest land is still Portugal but now 760 miles behind us. In a sign of the times he was asked for and added a piece of information for Iphone users. The Apple setting to get the correct time for our location is Grytviken, South Georgia. When I returned to my cabin after the update my room was being cleaned, so I walked a 6th lap while it was serviced. The knee took it fully in stride. We had as normal 3 Crystal Visions presentations. At 10 we had a frequent presenter on both Crystal and Holland America, Jay Christofferson on whales. He started his presentation with his key 3 of wildlife biology, (i) not being eaten, (ii) finding food, and (iii) finding a mate. He was followed at 11 by Steven Friedman's second (sadly I think last) presentation of the voyage, this one on musicals of the 60's. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/christofferson.jpg Having the Captain's update at 9 seems to have improved efficiency for me. I had just enough time to both get lunch and soak my knee before the 1:30 presentation. That UK Detective Tristram Elmhirst with his very first Crystal presentation. He spoke about the basics of forensics, boiling it down to 2 key points, (i) that material is transferred whenever 2 objects touch, and (ii) the more random something becomes, the more unique it becomes. While it is really more complicated than that, those are the essential building blocks of his craft. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/elmhirst.jpg I had a pretty quiet afternoon, before heading off at 5:30 for a cocktail party done by my travel consortium. It was a pretty good turnout including Captain Giske and several other ship's officers. There were 4 at the shared table including one of the members of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. I chose the Consume Double, Rib Eye, and Carrot Cake. https://getawaysfrom21044.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/dishes16.jpg I was out in time for the evening show, Brett Cave but skipped it having seen it just a few days ago. I did go up to Palm Court for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra for a while but got pretty tired. My parting shot starts with a bit of commonality between Jay Christofferson and Tristram Elmhirst. Very complex subjects start from basic principles. The devil is in the details. Roy
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