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  1. May husband and I have been sailing on Crystal since 2012. That is the year we both retired and we decided there would be no more tuxedos and formal dresses for us. My husband always wears a nice sports coat on the plane to the cruise, and this jacket plus a pair of dress pants and a collared shirt, with or without a tie depending on his mood, is his BTO attire. I wear a comfortable cocktail dress, or dressy tights with a dressy (sparkles or lace) top. We have always felt comfortable in this attire, and we are comfortably attired for an evening of dining and dancing. As mentioned earlier there are always some folks who want to go the true Black Tie route, and the proportion of who wears what is very variable from cruise to cruise. If we are going to Prego (we don't go to Umi Uma...another story) we go in BTO attire. We sometimes wear nice dark jeans to dinner, my husband with a collared shirt, and me with a tailored blouse or tunic top. We live in resort area in Texas and at home this is resort casual for us. Regarding the discussion of # of BTO nights we will be on BtB cruises in December, each of which is 8 days. Both have one BTO evening. Last year we booked a 14 day cruise in December, which was also broken into two cruises and I am not sure of the length of each. Our 14 day cruise had 3 BTO evenings.
  2. Sounds like you have had good experiences booking directly with Crystal. We always book through our TA and have been very happy with his service and our ability to contact him even when we have both been traveling. Just FYI.... Although we book through a TA we have never had to pay for a booked excursion, event, or spa treatment on Crystal until we actually took it. Not exclusive to those who book directly with Crystal. You can also cancel most extras once onboard with enough advance notice. But I agree that paying in advance for extras is standard practice for most other cruise lines that we have sailed on.
  3. My husband and I don’t often eat desserts, but we do love chocolate. And I am by necessity Gluten Free. The first night of a Crystal cruise we place a standing order for chocolate truffles. 1 or 2 with a glass of red wind is our favorite dessert.
  4. I am a "gluten free" person and have been mostly pleased with the attention and care that Crystal provides. In addition to the advice above I have found it helpful on the first night at dinner to request seating in the same area for the rest of the cruise with the same Head Waiter, and preferably the same wait staff. The Head Waiter is your "go to" person, and will be responsible for bringing you the next night's menus and taking your order for the next night before you leave the dining room. If you plan to eat lunch in the restaurant the next day they can also take your order for lunch. The Head Waiter can also take special requests for lunch or dinner if you don't find something on the menu that you like and that can be modified for GF. Even after placing my order in advance I have been served dishes that looked suspicious to me, and have asked the waiter to double check to be sure the item is GF. (Generally happens early in the cruise.) And several times a mistake has been made and the dish replaced with apologies. As you know being vigilant is part of insuring your health when you are GF. Don't hesitate to ask if you are concerned. I have found it easier to dine in Waterside or Trident Grill for lunch rather than trying to navigate the Marketplace buffet, even with the labeling. I do go to Marketplace for breakfast for a freshly made omelet. The omelet station on the port side has a toaster dedicated to toasting gluten free bread. I order my omelet, ask for the bread, and all is generally ready at the same time. Regarding labeling of gluten free items, Bistro has a different gluten free baked treat about midday each day on their buffet. Some of them are wonderful. There is usually a panna cotta of some kind also that varies each day. I am with you on creme brûlée, and also that bowl of fruit that some restaurants think is dessert. We are not big dessert eaters, but we love the chocolate truffles on Crystal. We have made it a practice on the first night to place a standing order for 2 truffles each for each night. Just perfect with red wine or a cognac. The waiters sometimes play a game of bringing us a big bowl of them which we share with tables around us. We have sailed on Crystal 12 times, with two B2B cruises coming in December and I have never had gluten poisoning.
  5. Ditto for us. Service was not good and the beef was inedible.
  6. My CC bank has dropped the requirement to advise them of travel plans. Since I have email alerts on the cards that advise me of all new charges, and an addition alert if a charge is international I have the ability to quickly respond if there is a suspicious charge. The bank debit card which we use for cash withdrawals overseas requires notice of travel, but it is easily done online. For extra protection we keep a separate account for travel withdrawals.
  7. Just got the email. Since we have Crystal cruises B to B in December i completed the new online questions, then sent the email to my TA to see if there is anything else I need to do. The email had language that seemed a bit threatening when it had no reason to be.
  8. We were not happy with the provided wines on our last Viking cruise, and did not like the wines included in the beverage package either. Since Viking does not charge corkage we purchased wines at wine shops or grocery stores at each of our stops and took our own bottle to dinner each night. Also found a nice cognac to sip after dinner.
  9. The only time we have booked our air with the cruise line for a river cruise was our last cruise with AMA. I provided a couple of itineraries I was O.K. with and they provided business class at half the price I could get on my own. They also do not charge extra for customizing the itinerary. We frequently take Crystal Ocean cruises and I always have my TA check with them for pricing on select air itineraries. Have gotten great pricing a few times, but not always.
  10. We have sailed on Uniworld (2 cruises), AMA (4 cruises), Viking ( 2 cruises with one booked for 2020), Scenic (2 cruises), and Tauck (2 cruises and one upcoming in September). We are avid Crystal Ocean cruisers but have not booked a river cruise due to their limited itineraries. For Uniworld one cruise was fabulous in all categories, and one had a great itinerary but missed on all counts onboard. For AMA we have had 3 great cruises, and 1 that had some very unpleasant moments onboard. For Viking we had one cruise that had multiple miscommunication issues and one cruise that was wonderful in every way. For Scenic we had more great things than negative on one cruise and a terrific time on the other. On Tauck we thoroughly enjoyed most things, but had a couple of events that were well below expectations for the cost of the trip. And are having some communication issues for our upcoming trip due to their website being continuously under construction. A great deal of the experience on any river cruise is so dependent on the crew on the ship and how they handle difficult situations. Communication precruise with the cruise line management can also have a major impact. We have had the most consistent positive experience overall regarding both communication and the crew on the ship with AMA and Scenic.
  11. We enjoyed the Supper Club last December before it could be booked via the PCPC. We were seated with another couple and found out my husband and the other gentleman had worked for the same company. We had great conversation. Also agree that even though the menu is limited, it was very good, with good service. Thought the entertainment was good and enjoyed dancing to the Crystal orchestra. We have booked it again for our upcoming cruise.
  12. Not my take. But to each his own.
  13. It is great reading about what devices and gadgets others find helpful when traveling. I have gathered some very good information from the postings. We always carry 2 iPhones, 2 iPads, 2 electric toothbrushes, and 2 cameras. Plus 1 curling brush hair dryer. We use these every day at home, so leaving home without them would not make us happy. The issue of want versus need only comes into play if there is no more room in the luggage. Since my husband gave up wearing a watch when he retired it is personally helpful for me if he has an iPad or Phone with him so he doesn't need to ask me what time it is. It is unfortunate that some posters on this and other boards have the need to critique others. Giving one's opinion when an opinion is not being asked for happens all too often, and seems to be happening more frequently.
  14. I found these same bags last week and tucked them into my travel closet. Also found these bags for organizing charging cables.
  15. I bought a device similar to this for international travel, but am considering taking it on my next Crystal cruise. You didn't state that yours is also a voltage converter ?(Mine is.) It is ultra convenient for having everything charging in one place, and quickly. Mine is made by Besttek. They make several different versions at different price points.Got it on Amazon.
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