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READY-TO-GO - LIVE  REPORTS FROM CRYSTAL SERENITY FOLLOWING A “MAGICAL FAMILY” GETAWAY


Keith1010
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BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

 

We arrived to Bay Of Islands in less than three hours.  First visit was a few years ago and was unplanned.  Missed a different port as the tender area didn't meet Crystal safety requirements and Bay of Islands was substituted.  Also returned  here last year.  We love New Zealand.

 

Enjoyed a wonderful sea  day on Serenity yesterday.  Aren't sea days just divine?

 

There was a Grand Gala Buffet.

 

 

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Always an amazing array of items and to me a work of art.   Enough people  ate there it made Marketplace  very quiet for us at lunchtime.

 

Weather was nice.   A bit windy but not  like the  day before and the sun  came out making it lovely outside.

 

We attended the first 30 minutes of the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle  as we  were invited to attend a Crystal Society Dinner.  For the time we were there I believe eight people were there and at times the crew outnumbered the guests.  Hotel Director  Hubert, Cruise Director Rick and Executive Housekeeper Maria were there while we were there.

 

Met a nice couple on their first Crystal Cruise.  They mentioned how impressed they were and it would make it difficult to go back to another line.  They are  relatively new to cruising with three prior voyages all on Viking Ocean Cruises.   It  was nice to hear their thoughts.

 

We were discussing how special the crew is and how  a  portion of the crew  has  been with Crystal for so many years.  All of a sudden Jun comes up and I mention that he is one of many members of Team Serenity who  have been  with Crystal for a long time which in Jun's case is 26 years.  

 

Cheers from Crystal Serenity.

 

Keith

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19 hours ago, BeachTunes said:

Another fantastic post! Love your photos! What camera have you been using on this cruise Keith? 

Thank you so much.  

 

This is the first time I've  been using my iPhone almost exclusively.  

 

I did get the iPhone 11  (not the iPhone pro or  iPhone pro max) and have been pleased with its camera.

 

For something that involves  a  great distance I still think a DSLR is the best.  Didn't  bring my favorite one for  this cruise but  will on another cruise we have planned.

 

Keith

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3 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Thank you so much.  

 

This is the first time I've  been using my iPhone almost exclusively.  

 

I did get the iPhone 11  (not the iPhone pro or  iPhone pro max) and have been pleased with its camera.

 

For something that involves  a  great distance I still think a DSLR is the best.  Didn't  bring my favorite one for  this cruise but  will on another cruise we have planned.

 

Keith

 

I appreciate your reply, Keith. I've been looking at the newer iPhone 11s and am pleased to hear good feedback about their cameras. As mentioned, your pictures are excellent! It's amazing how much phone cameras have evolved and improved in the past decade. Wishing you continued happy days on the Serenity!

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20 hours ago, BeachTunes said:

 

I appreciate your reply, Keith. I've been looking at the newer iPhone 11s and am pleased to hear good feedback about their cameras. As mentioned, your pictures are excellent! It's amazing how much phone cameras have evolved and improved in the past decade. Wishing you continued happy days on the Serenity!

You are very welcome.

 

I am pleased with the iPhone 11.  Friends have the iPhone Pro Max and really love the camera.

 

I went with the iPhone  11 for a couple of reasons.  I did a lot of reading of the comparisons between the three and felt overall the iPhone 11 would work well for me   Also on my iPhoneX I could no longer plug the charging cord into the iPhone so I needed a replacement quickly.  I could have solved the problem with a wireless charger which I now have but I use the iPhone to teach fitness classes and didn't want to risk issues by not having a charger cord.  I could get the iPhone 11 from the Apple website in two business days but it would have been a month or so for the other two phones.

 

Keith

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BAY  OF ISLANDS,  NEW ZEALAND


One of our  favorite places to visit is New Zealand  and the  visit began  yesterday with a stop at the Bay  Of Islands.

 

We enjoyed another sunrise as  before and while eating breakfast  as Serenity made its way to this area.

 

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The weather  was terrific for the visit and the  seas calm.  


Our  first  visit was a few years ago when due to another port not meeting  Crystal Cruises's because of their tender pier we did not visit that port and Bay Of Islands  was  quickly substituted for us.  We were also here last  year.   

 

I've gotten back  to running.  After  arriving to the tender pier I did a combo  run and walk into town.  I stopped to smell the flowers figuratively.  In  other words I would stop from time-to-time to take in the scenery or something which struck my fancy.

 

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Similar to certain areas around the world the  local authorities do not want guests or crew to take off the ship open food products of any kind.  Unlike other places they constantly  remind you of this.  Over the past few nights when returning to our room the TV was set to the station which had a short program from New Zealand reminding us not to take these items off the ship.  Every forty minutes starting with our arrival and continuing until we left the ship was required to make an announcement reminding everyone of this rule.  Failure to obey this rule could result in an on the spot fine  of $400.00.   

 

One of the  highlights of last evening was the showing of Fosse.  The  show  was first developed for  a  previous World Cruise we were on and it was very nice to see it last evening.  Most of the singers, dancers and musicians were  not in the original production.  The past two weeks those in the show practiced it and seeing it you would think it was  one of the regular production shows.  

 

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In a  few  hours  we arrive to Auckland.

 

For more details visit our blog at:

 

https://www.followourtrips.com/current-blog

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

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AUCKLAND,  NEW ZEALAND

 

We love New Zealand so it is nice to  be here  now.   We arrived yesterday  morning and will  be here today which is turnover day as the cruise from Papeete to Auckland ends this morning and the one from Aukland to Sydney begins today.

 

 I was able to get a short video of thee Pilot arriving to our ship. I am also including video of the tug boats. One was at the aft (back or stern) of Serenity and one at the front (bow). This is to help guide the ship in the event of strong winds.
 
 
 
We have visited Auckland several times in thee past.  I have lots of detail on the Blog.   When we  were here  last year we left the ship, flew to Sydney to see our family who lives there, and rebounded Serenity once it arrived to Sydney.  At the time we  saw major construction in  downtown Auckland (I believe related to subway) and it looks the same presently.
 
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When we were outside the terminal we ran into former Crystal Symphony Shore Excursion Jim who we last sailed with in May of 2018 who was with Crystal Cruises for so many years.  He is now assisting in a couple of areas within land programs.   It was nice to see and chat with Jim.
 
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Weather was terrific and we had a marvelous time revisiting places which we have come to enjoy.
 
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We also checked out one of the train stations. We had planned to see the Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road Concert lat night  Our original plan was to use Uber to get to the stadium, but decided the train would work well.
 
Unfortunately, Elton John  got walking Pneumonia on Sunday and had to leave his concert in the middle of it. The hope was he would perform last night and two nights later as planned. Unfortunately, we were notified he could not perform and our concert  was rescheduled to Wednesday but we won't be in port by concert time. As it turned out we received a second e-mail early today that our concert which was rescheduled to today and the other concert planned for Thursday have been rescheduled to January of next year. Oh well. We won't be here. Our money is being refunded.
 
He will  be in Sydney when we are there but tickets are limited.  We'll see.  Now if it was Paul  McCartney  I would really  be upset.  LOL.    
 
Cheers,
 
Keith
 

 

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Thanks Nancy.   Glad you  have tickets.  

 

Unfortunately  I  don't believe he's scheduled  for Austin.  I'm not sure I want  to go to  Dallas  or Houston to see him.  Maybe we'll find out that he'll do more concerts next  year since they added the two for Auckland.  😀  

 

I would go  to Dallas or Houston for Paul McCartney though (saw him already in Dallas when we lived there) and if we chose Houston it would mark our first visit there.  Ironically, we still haven't been there and even work didn't take me  even though it  did take me to several other cities in  Texas.  


Keith

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Keith, I enjoy following your journeys, and I especially appreciate your kind spirit.  I am a Crystal gal going back about 20 years, but I missed out on the Harmony and I also missed out on the Mozart. We will be on the Ravel in late April for our second river cruise on Crystal.  Since you have been traveling, the Rolling Stones announced a number of US shows this spring and summer, and they will be in Austin.  We are in Charlotte, and we have our tickets to see them here in July, near the end of their tour. I know they are not Paul McCartney but they get better as they get older, and they put on quite a show!  I'm glad their Charlotte visit did not conflict with our Ravel trip, or else we would have had to travel to see them - one more time!

 

Stay safe,

Cindy

 

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Thank you so much Cindy.

 

I wish you a wonderful time on Ravel. We so enjoyed our first river cruise last May on Mozart.  

 

Thanks for letting me know about The Rolling Stones.  It's funny back in the day I would never have guessed most of the member would still be touring such as Keith Richards.  And back then when 40 seemed old.  LOL.   It's amazing the energy that so many of them have from The Rolling Stones to Paul and Ringo.   Maybe this is what keeps them young  at heart.

 

I will be sure to check out their schedule.

 

Keith

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11 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Thanks for letting me know about The Rolling Stones.  It's funny back in the day I would never have guessed most of the member would still be touring such as Keith Richards

We read Keith's autobiography "Life" while onboard. A wonderful memoir. Somehow he remembers almost everything.

 

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THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

 

I thought the title was appropriate as  we  begin our last leg of the time we  will spend on Crystal Serenity on leg for of World Cruise 2020.

 

Another choice was I Love New Zealand and so do many guests and crew.  Many people spoke about how much they enjoyed our time in Auckland and this is only  the start of visiting special places in this country.  

 

Sailing  New Zealand, Australia, The Mediterranean are some of our favorite areas to sail.

 

For us   this is  the itinerary which we  had the  most interest in of the four legs even though we have visited  these  places before.  They have lots of natural beauty,  wonderful people  and  many things to do on tours or on your own.  We have three tours on this leg.

 

We enjoyed our second and final day in Auckland.  Weather  was terrific.  We walked over to the Domain which was about two and one half miles from the port.  Lovely place which we visited the first time we were in Auckland in 2008 on a Crystal Tour.   

 

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Took a different way back to the City Centre as we walked around the area for one final time.

 

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Yesterday  was turnover day and  the terminal was set for embarking guests along  with those of us in transit.

 

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We continued our tradition of going to lunch at Waterside  on embarkation days even if we are in transit and enjoyed a Cobb Salad and a Flute of Champagne as  we toasted  the start of leg four of World Cruise 2020  and our love for one another.  It  doesn't get much better than that.

 

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As we walked around the ship we  met some  people we  know from previous cruises along  with some people we've never met.  

 

Heard comments  from two  different people  we  spoke about an  hour apart with which had two things in common.  

 

- First Crystal Cruise but have sailed other lines.

 

- Already amazed with the friendliness of the crew  and their attention to detail.  

 

After enjoying the  rest of the afternoon on-board Serenity we  had dinner at Prego.  

 

They updated their menu.  

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They added back some items,  removed some items and  created some new  dishes.  I  had one of the entries they  added to the menu making use of  local fish from New Zealand.  This was the pan fried fresh barramundi which was a hit  for me.  Very much enjoyed the fish and the charred kale, and other items which accompanied  it.  Kudos to Chef Alfred for creating this and several other  items we  have enjoyed since boarding Serenity on January 7.

 

Caesar salad (light on the dressing)    

 

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Half portion of  Veal for Anne Marie.

 

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Barramundi for me.

 

 

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There was also a turnover of crew with several going home for well-deserved holidays  and others returning.  

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

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Thanks Terry.  I guess  when the told us last evening it was local they were stretching what local is.  😀

 

All.... I meant to mention something when I posted earlier.  Because of the itinerary including some late evenings in port and even a early evening arrival to port (tomorrow) on this voyage the first of the two Black Tie Optional nights is night six of the cruise.  I mention this because  sometimes before PCPC is updated with the specifics on BTO and Crystal Casual nights sometimes people ask when a particular BTO night might fall and this is an example of a voyage where it does not fall on say night two or three of the voyage.

 

Keith

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On ‎2‎/‎18‎/‎2020 at 5:38 PM, Keith1010 said:

AUCKLAND,  NEW ZEALAND

 

We love New Zealand so it is nice to  be here  now.   We arrived yesterday  morning and will  be here today which is turnover day as the cruise from Papeete to Auckland ends this morning and the one from Aukland to Sydney begins today.

 

 I was able to get a short video of thee Pilot arriving to our ship. I am also including video of the tug boats. One was at the aft (back or stern) of Serenity and one at the front (bow). This is to help guide the ship in the event of strong winds.
 
 
 
We have visited Auckland several times in thee past.  I have lots of detail on the Blog.   When we  were here  last year we left the ship, flew to Sydney to see our family who lives there, and rebounded Serenity once it arrived to Sydney.  At the time we  saw major construction in  downtown Auckland (I believe related to subway) and it looks the same presently.
 
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When we were outside the terminal we ran into former Crystal Symphony Shore Excursion Jim who we last sailed with in May of 2018 who was with Crystal Cruises for so many years.  He is now assisting in a couple of areas within land programs.   It was nice to see and chat with Jim.
 
IMG_8021.thumb.jpeg.0b15b5470118ca2def85a0b432174753.jpeg
 
 
Weather was terrific and we had a marvelous time revisiting places which we have come to enjoy.
 
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We also checked out one of the train stations. We had planned to see the Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road Concert lat night  Our original plan was to use Uber to get to the stadium, but decided the train would work well.
 
Unfortunately, Elton John  got walking Pneumonia on Sunday and had to leave his concert in the middle of it. The hope was he would perform last night and two nights later as planned. Unfortunately, we were notified he could not perform and our concert  was rescheduled to Wednesday but we won't be in port by concert time. As it turned out we received a second e-mail early today that our concert which was rescheduled to today and the other concert planned for Thursday have been rescheduled to January of next year. Oh well. We won't be here. Our money is being refunded.
 
He will  be in Sydney when we are there but tickets are limited.  We'll see.  Now if it was Paul  McCartney  I would really  be upset.  LOL.    
 
Cheers,
 
Keith
 

 

I do remember Jim very well - he previously was working on the Seabourn Sun

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WELCOME TO TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND &  ON OUR WAY TO NAPIER

 

I want to digress for a moment.   For us each segment of a World Cruise has one or more things very special for us over the years and this year has been no exception.  This  can include the itinerary, entertainment/enrichment or some special activity such as the World Games.

 

We have enjoyed the first  three segments of the World Cruise for a range of reasons.  World  Games was again special.  We  appreciate  the stepped up enrichment activities which are mainly on the World Cruise and have been on this one as well.  Another area we have enjoyed has been the enrichment and entertainment with a wide range of speakers and entertainers.  Like most things each one is not for everyone and certainly some we enjoy more than others.

 

On the entertainment side there have been thru the first three segments several production shows and given the length of the segments you pretty much get them all plus several guest entertainers.   I pulled this from going thoughtcrimes the reflections

 

Miami – LA

6 production shows

8 guest entertainers

 

LA– Tahiti

6 production shows

7 guest entertainers

 

Tahiti - Auckland

6 production shows

7 guest entertainers

 

For us this segment is about the itinerary.  We love New Zealand and that includes revisiting places and seeing new places and we also love Australia.  This segment has lots  of New Zealand starting in Auckland and moving next to Tauranga which we visited yesterday.  There is so much to do there that you can't see it all in one day.

 

In 2015 we were fortunate  to see several special areas:

 

This included exploring the Redwood Forest, visiting the geothermal area which included  2 of only 8  spontaneous geysers in the world with one of them going on for close to 90 minutes at a time and a visit to a genuine Maori  Village.  As some of you who did the entire World  Cruise in 2015  remember there was an evening shoreside event at Hobbiton.  Unfortunately, we had to pass on this one so we were determined  upon our return this year  to visit Hobbiton and we arranged a private shore excursion with Crystal Cruises.  

 

This included a driver/guide for our drive to and from Hobbiton.  Once inside the two of us were escorted by a guide.  We had lunch at a private room with the owner of Hobbiton.  We  learned a lot including the history of the farm, how 12 acres of the massive farm was selected for the movies, what the rest of the farm is used for today and lots of other information about Hobbiton.  It was everything we hoped for and more.

 

We learned lots  about the area during our drive.  They are in the middle of a drought so areas which would be green are brown.  If they don't get their typical wet season in April it will be an issue with respect to feeding sheep and other animals.  Let's hope they get rain.  As we got closer to the port we drove for awhile along the coastal road and saw amazing beaches; some of the most beautiful ones we have seen.

 

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Food was delicious where we ate at Hobbiton and back on the ship at Waterside.  I  continue to find the food at Waterside to be better than ever.  This included  two items from last evening.

 

For my appetizer, Red Snapper Sashimi. The ingredients were unique as it included Carmelized Bananan & Banana-Lime Ragout.

 

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The entree was Maple Glazed Marlborough Salmon. You could smell the aroma of Maple as soon as the entree was placed on the table.

 

 

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We have George as our Sommelier.  First time we've had George although we have spoken with him several times past few weeks.  Really enjoying his sense of humor and passion for wine. All of thee sommelier's we've had have been wonderful on the four segments of the World Cruise.

 

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Cheers,

 

Keith

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4 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

Tahiti - Auckland

6 production shows

7 guest entertainers

Keith, by my calculation we had 6 entertainers on this segment - 3 of whom were pianists and all performing one night after the other (I heard the pianists talking on the last day and they were even surprised as they had never been on a Crystal cruise with other pianists!!). In terms of guest entertainment and lecturers this was, for us, the weakest cruise we have sailed on with Crystal. I am sure the segments before were great and potentially the segments to follow will be, but the segment we were on was not what I would call Crystal's finest hour, JMO.

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19 minutes ago, ClefsDor said:

Keith, by my calculation we had 6 entertainers on this segment - 3 of whom were pianists and all performing one night after the other (I heard the pianists talking on the last day and they were even surprised as they had never been on a Crystal cruise with other pianists!!)


I recall 3 pianists, 1 comedian, 1 female vocalist and the Acrobats on the last night - so that’s 6 by my reckoning 

 

I haven’t gone back over Reflections but I can’t for the life of me remember a 7th act and don’t believe we missed having any on board - albeit some would have boarded in different ports than originally planned 

 

The original listing for this cruise had the following entertainers listed - we even scored a bonus pianist! Rick the CD certainly knows we noticed our “luck” at having so many pianists and our Customer Survey will certainly reflect the over supply on this leg 

 

HEADLINE ENTERTAINERS

Jamila Ajibade, Vocalist 
Steve Caouette, Comedian 
Kym Purling, Jazz Pianist 
Simon Tedeschi, Classical Pianist

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Hi Keith!  I have seen many pictures of Hobbiton but yours are some of the nicest due to the vibrant colors!  It didn't hurt having a gorgeous blue sky as backdrop!  I continue to enjoy following along on your cruise. 

I hope to return to New Zealand for a land trip.....a few days in ports last year wasn't enough time for me in this beautiful country.  

 

~Nancy

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Hi Keith --

I've been drooling over your food photos, especially the salmon! 

When we were on Serenity 2 months ago, there was a dish on the breakfast buffet that I enjoyed every day. And I have attempted to make it at home several times -- and failed every time.

It's on the Marketplace buffet in the same area with the fresh fruit (melons, pineapple, kiwi, etc). It's in a small white square-ish dish and topped with a few berries, with a banana slice on the bottom. It looks like "overnight oats" or Bircher meusli -- but it's not. <sigh> Could you persuade Jarryed to tell you what's in it or how it's made?? (Tell him you are asking for Mrs. Blunt) He always greeted me by name, so perhaps he will tell you & you can post it on this board for me? Exact measurements are not necessary (I don't need to make 200 servings).

Hoping you can find out! Many thanks from a fellow Texan!

-Liz B.

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