Cruising with the Girls...Again !

Cruising on Crystal Serenity Dec 12th, 2008 - Jan 6th, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Psssst....

I've uploaded some pics n' vids....scroll on !

More to come...

Enjoy !

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Home...Sick....

I’m pretty sure that when we disembarked the ship that we didn’t tumble down the stairs from the Lido Deck all the way down to the lobby...but that’s exactly how my body has felt over the last 3 days. EVERYTHING hurts.

Give us a day or two to get better...and I’ll post the last day of the cruise, pictures and videos....

Stay Tuned...

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Disclaimer

~~ This blog might be a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, cocktails and events portrayed might be the product of the author’s imagination or might be used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, cocktails or persons, living or dead, might be entirely coincidental !! ~~

Whew…I think that lets us off the hook a little. We wouldn’t want anyone to think that the content of this blog is a depiction of ‘how it actually happens’ here on board. It couldn’t possibly be….could it ?

Anyhow….here it is the LAST day of the cruise. *insert pouty face here*

We managed to make it to Joe & Brian’s last cocktail party on Saturday evening. As I mentioned before we were really dragging on Saturday. We enjoyed ourselves immensely but it was an effort to be our usual chipper selves.

We had a fairly quiet dinner at Prego and then made a bee-line towards the pillows and mattress by midnight. While riding the elevator to our stateroom the mirrored walls told the story. I couldn’t believe how tired we looked. We really needed a sound night of slumber.

Sunday was a great day. We played the slots until it was time to meet up with the Usual Suspects at noon. Gary likes to hold a champagne luncheon on the Lido deck at some point following New Years, and this was the day. When we arrived he had commandeered 2 circular tables complete with linens and an ice-bucket stood ready. Eight of us joined in the camaraderie much to the envious glares of passersby. We had an excellent luncheon and sipped away until after 2.



We retired to the room for laundry duty and then, because there are only two days left, decided to head up to afternoon tea. We met up with George and David and chattered away until the early seating reception was about to begin.

After a few hours of repose we managed to squeeze and tuck all of our new bits n’ pieces into our formal wear just in time to attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception. Dinner was another elegant affair.

I tell ya, we love to order “nice bottles” of wine with dinner (in case you hadn’t noticed…we imbibe on occasion) but last night made us feel like one of those little yachts in St. Barts. The table to my left was enjoying a 1981 Petrus (gasp!) and the table to my right had a 1982 Ch. Mouton Rothschild (OMG!) The Petrus hits the list at $2500.00 and the Mouton tipples in at almost double that ! eeeek ! The family that was having the Mouton poured it out over six stems…3 of them for children under the age of 10. KIDS !!! Slurping back a killer bottle of Bordeaux and leaving their glasses half empty. I wanted to be adopted !

My-oh-My !!

We pre-ordered a fancy dinner for the last night of the cruise, and then headed to the Avenue for after dinner libations. By 12:30 the formal wear was just too hot and uhm…tight…to lounge around in any longer, so we headed up to the pool. DRAT ! The maintenance men were in the process of draining and refilling the pool. There was no swimming to be had.

We sat around poolside for about an hour and then headed to our room where we enjoyed star gazing on our veranda. The moon was a gorgeous inverted half that hung low at the waterline…it was beautiful.

We enjoyed the benefits of turning the clocks BACK an hour and lingered in our room until 10:00 am. We managed to get the suitcases all packed up (save for our last few outfits and toiletries) and headed out to enjoy our last full day on board.

We’ve just returned from lunch in the Dining Room and Lynda is currently in “deep repose”. She’s suffering from a chest cold that has been circulating through the populous since we boarded and it’s knocking her out. If we’re to have a nice evening, she needs to rest up.

Tomorrow, Lynda has a 7am customs call and mine is at 8:10 (last initials are beneficial sometimes) but we’ll both likely go at 7 so that we can commiserate and say our farewells.

We’ve got a car scheduled for 10:00 from the Port of Miami up to Ft. Lauderdale and our flight back to reality doesn’t depart until 3:00 (ugh)

I’m going to post this now, then head to the veranda for some sunshine while I read. I’d better get at least a LITTLE bit of color to prove that I’ve been in the Caribbean for almost 4 weeks !

This will likely be the last post from the ship. I’ll update once we’re home and I promise to add some photos and videos to the blog once I’m on my own speedy connection. (all this verbiage is SO dry !)

Bon Voyage

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday # 3

*sigh*

We’ve made the turn to head northward. I know that 25 days at sea might sound like a lot, and yes, we have to go home…but there’s just something melancholy about the last few days.

Let’s see…

We headed to the Captain’s Quarters for a cocktail party on Thursday night. Yup…he definitely has the nicest (and certainly largest) accommodations on the ship. There were about 25 people present and there was room for 3 times that many in the reception lounge of his quarters (all the way forward on the starboard side of deck 11) It’s basically a public room, and by no means a glimpse into his private environment…but it was fun to have the opportunity to “hob-nob”. It was very much a see and be seen affair.

On New Year’s Eve, Lynda ‘saved the Captain’s wife’ from a maniac on a three wheeler. An old man has been racing around the ship on his scooter with absolutely no regard for the people around him. He’s probably clocking at 8 mph…and look-out if he’s backing up, at full speed, out of an elevator. We’ve seen him drive full on into people on walkers, crashing into furniture and anything else that might cross his path. So when the captain and his family were leaving the dining room on New Year’s Eve, “Mr. Road Rage” slammed into the Captain’s wife. She would have hit the floor had Lynda not been there. Lynda had HAD it with him. She unleashed her wrath on the insolent ol’ boob and got right in his face. It was hilarious. He seems to have slowed down a bit since then.

Anyhow, to make a long story short (?) when we were introduced at the Captain’s quarters that was obviously Lynda’s “in” with the head honcho. The three of them kibitzed away about the perilous event and how Lynda gave him right royal shit !

After that soiree we headed to dinner in the Dining Room. We had pre-ordered a fancy dinner for New Year’s Day and it was simply amazing ! We started with seared fois gras, then oysters Rockefeller for our appetizers. Our main course was a gigantic platter of lobster tails with hollandaise, truffle risotto, asparagus and sautéed spinach. For desert we had chocolate soufflés. OMG !! It was fantastic.

We then hit the Avenue Saloon for more libations and finally crashed at 1:00.

We slept in until 10:00 on Friday and didn’t go ashore until almost noon. Curacao was a really pretty port. It doesn’t quite have that overly touristy feel to it yet. The architecture is spectacular and there were some decent cafes along the waterfront.




We’ve been on a mission for a new video camera. (the bar manager, Joao got a cutting edge little gizmo in St. Maarten that he’s been showing off to us --- we must have one !!) So we shopped out all the electronics stores with no success *pout*.

I’m not sure how many consecutive nights of cocktail receptions we’ve had now…but we’re booked up until the end of the cruise.

Last night we didn’t sail until midnight, so from 9:30 until 12:30 the Galaxy Orchestra played Big Band tunes in the Palm Court AND the bars were complimentary. *hic* We were on the open wing-deck for sail away at midnight, and then proceeded to close the room at 2:30 am.

This morning was ‘ouchie’ for both of us. Not sure if it is merely burn-out lack of sleep or maybe the Gran Marnier …OR a combination of both. (most likely) We’ve been a little wiggly today !

We were up and out of our room at 9:00 (unbelievable isn’t it ?) We enjoyed lunch in the Dining Room with D&G and then headed into Oranjestad in search of the cool little camera. Still no luck.

We hit afternoon tea hoping that some carbs and Earl Grey would make us feel better. Hmmmm.

Lynda’s currently curled up under the covers in what David likes to call “repose” so that she’ll be ready for “public viewing” later this evening.

We’ve got a cocktail party up on the Penthouse Deck at 7:00 with the boys and then we’re off to Prego for dinner. If we’re able we may go for a midnight swim…but I’m sensing that an early night might be needed.

Tomorrow is the Captain’s Farewell reception and formal gala dinner…Then on the final night of the cruise we’ve got our LAST (I’d hate to count up how many in total) cocktail party at 5:15 for the Friends of Dorothy.

That should just about finish us off !

I should be napping….but I’ve never been very good at that…

Farewell from Aruba !

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Could’ve been the Whiskey…Might’ve been the Gin…

Wasn’t that a party !?!

Happy New Year !!

Wow … That had to be the absolute BEST New Years Eve bash that we’ve ever attended!

Yesterday, when we awoke we had a peek off of the verandah and knew there was at least one other ship at the pier in Barbados. Once we got outside, we realized that there were FIVE ships in port. The battle for a taxi to go anywhere was akin to Walmart on Black Friday. There were literally thousands of people fighting for transportation ! YUK !

We had planned to go to the beach, so we dug in and fought through the crowds to acquire a van over to the “Boatyard”. We had spent a day at this beach club on a prior trip to Barbados when we were the only ship in port. Talk about a night and day difference ! The pristine beach was a zoo of over exposed hairy bellies and screaming children. We sat under a beach umbrella on some disgusting looking chaise lounges and had to wonder why we got off of the ship at all ! We did take a swim in the ocean, but with the hundreds of people in the water I couldn’t help but wonder if I were swimming in the sea or swimming in the toilet. YIKES. We lasted for about an hour and a half before we hailed a taxi and returned to the ship. Our first resolution of the year: If there are more than two ships in port, we’re staying on board.

On our return to the ship, the lobby had been transformed into a festive balloon smorgasbord. There were streamers, glittery signs and balloons strung on every available surface. There was a net suspended just below the ceiling of the atrium that held thousands of silver and gold balloons. There were confetti cannons at the ready along strategic intervals on the mezzanine level. The bar was adorned in every imaginable vintage of Champagne. It was a glimpse of the party to come.



We had a late lunch at Tastes and then swam until the sail away.

Here's a nice shot of the last sunset of 2008...

We wanted to be all gussied up and in the lobby for pre-dinner cocktails as this was definitely the hub of activity for the evening. We had a wonderful time.


(I think they call this fellow "Captain" or something like that !)

Then on to the Dining Room. Dinner was another “pull out all the stops” affair. We must have lingered a little too long because by the time we emerged into the lobby it was packed with revelers. We donned our silver top hats and were given all the appropriate noise makers.

(This was the LAST thing I ate in 2008 ! Isn't it purty !?)

The band arrived at about 11:00 and the place just caught on fire ! Dancing, singing, hugging and kissing. I’ve never seen such energy. When the countdown rang out, the ceiling exploded with balloons and confetti for a solid 10 minutes or more. The lobby was hip deep in balloons and confetti.






We all popped the balloons with our heels in search of the 4 balloons that contained the card for a free bottle of champagne. It was next to impossible to even see the floor, let alone find the contents of any balloons.




As the frenzy and merriment subsided a young boy of about 7 years old came up to me and said “Hello…I want you to have this” He was adorable as he handed me one of the cards for the bottle of champagne. Wooo hooo !

Rick, the Cruise Director, had a look of conspiracy on his face as I collected the bottle. (we scooted over to the Casino and donated it to the croupiers !)

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By about 1:30 we were all so hot from dancing and carrying on, that we went and donned our swimsuits for a New Years swim under the stars. It was the perfect ending to a perfect party. We were tucked in bed by a quarter of 3.

Who can sleep with so much going on !?

We were up and out of our room by 10:30 and off to locate the complimentary Bloody Marys (elixir for the day after the night before) We hung around in the Crystal Cove for New Years brunch and chatted and well-wished until it was over at 2:00.

Our intention was to relax, swim and read by the pool. However, when we emerged on deck it had to be one of the hottest days I have ever felt in my life ! No breeze, searing heat and burning sun.

What to do …what to do. (wouldn’t want to waste a nice Champagne buzz !) So we whiled away a few hours in the Casino. Then retired to the peace and quiet of our veranda to watch the first sunset of 2009.


Lynda’s just starting to get a stuffy head, and we’re hoping it’s not going to materialize into the “Crystal Croup” that everyone seems to be getting. (don’t lick the casino chips !) We’re both eating ColdFX as a precaution.

Gotta go and get ready for the Captain’s Quarters party…apparently it’s quite a good party too. Keep em coming !

Tomorrow…Curacao.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rut-Roh…

That was our reaction when we were dressing for dinner last night…we pulled on our slacks, looked at each other and did the ol’ Scooby Doo….”rut roh”… We’ve promised ourselves that we’re going in to ‘Dry Dock’ on January 7th.

We had a leisurely morning on the ship prior to heading ashore in St.Lucia. Having never sailed into this port before, we wanted to make sure that we at least had a look around. The weather has been a bit of a downer since St. Maarten. It seems that we’ve been chasing around a storm system that offers very few glimmers of sunshine…and St.Lucia may have been the worst of it until about 3:00.

We persevered and met up with Anne and her two sons in the cruise terminal. They were negotiating a van tour and we were welcomed along for the ride. There are some spectacular views to be had as you get into the higher elevations of this island. Vincent was a proud tour guide as he took us to little out of the way fishing villages, banana plantations and towns. We were glad that we got to see some of the less touristy areas. St. Lucia is a lush, mountainous, bustling island.

We did a little bit of shopping before returning to the ship for a late lunch (wouldn’t want to miss a meal !) and we quickly followed that up with afternoon tea. Eeek ! We took a short siesta because we wanted to be out and about early for the jazz jam in the lobby AND the open bars.

We took up the “best seats in the house” and thoroughly enjoyed a raucous evening around the bar.
(look closely...we're perched along the bar)

At one point I asked for the house phone so that I could call Ben, the head sommelier, to enquire why there was no Screaming Eagle being poured during complimentary bar hours. HA ! He quickly came by and joined us for a little gossip and frivolity. We were talking about how the open bar would impact wine sales in the dining room….he said the dining room was full of drunk people. Apparently lots of non-drinkers take up drinking when it’s free !

We had reservations in Silk Road and the chef asked if he could prepare an omakase set for us. It was fantastic.

We finished the night off in the Avenue Saloon in the company of the Usual Suspects and headed to bed at 1:00.

Oh. We’ve been invited to the Captain’s quarters on January 1st for a pre-dinner cocktail reception. We promise not to jump up and down on his bed !

We’re finishing up some laundry before heading out to the Boatyard for a swim and some sun…and then we’ll get ready for the big gala New Years bash for tonight.

Looks like we’ll be ringing in the New Year an hour ahead of the folks at home…

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Disparity

You know something ? If you came cruising into the Caribbean in your gleaming 80 ft motor yacht you’d be feeling very much like “I’ve made it !” That is unless you cruise into the waters of St. Barts where you would instantly be transformed into a nuisance little tugboat operated by the minions that own it.

Sunday we dropped anchor right off the starboard side of Phil Allen’s famous yacht “Octopus”. It didn’t matter how big any of the other mega yachts were in the harbor…they were instantly insignificant by the mere presence of the Octopus. (and there were some fantastic yachts here…the Russian owned “Pelorus” clocks in at almost $500 million *poof* Insignificant !)

We were close enough to easily make out the activity on board. Having seen this yacht in several harbors on previous cruises, we’ve never actually seen it with passengers on board. So the hustle on her decks in the early morning was indicative, we thought, of “pending arrival”. Ooooh ahhhh. As we had coffee on the verandah, the helicopter crew fired up the little dragonfly copter on the aft deck, took it up, hovered for a moment and then landed it on the fore deck. Oh well, so much for thinking that the owner was onboard. But it was fun to watch.

What we weren’t aware of until later, was that they were making way for the HUGE helicopters that would shuttle guests to the yacht later in the afternoon. It took 2 trips to load her up with party guests. What an unbelievable amount of wealth…it’s difficult to comprehend. We were a little miffed that we didn’t receive an invite.

Again I digress…

On Saturday night we went up to Brian & Joe’s for another lavish cocktail affair. Last cruise it was an easy trek across the corridor from port to starboard. This cruise, the journey from the “hood” was a little more involved. We had to leave early, take the subway, 2 buses, and a transfer before we found ourselves back up on deck 11. (okay…so it wasn’t THAT bad…but it was farther than last week !)

We were late getting to dinner in the dining room (here’s where my details get fuzzy…this was 2 days ago now, and it’s all a blur) and following dinner we played some blackjack while awaiting the “witching hour” of midnight to go up to deck 12 for a swim….we thought it would be nice to swim while we sailed out of St. Maarten.

The crew was just finishing up a game of pool volleyball when we arrived. Into the pool we went and as the ship picked up speed…so did the water in the pool. It wasn’t long before security came by to usher us out to “safety”. Hrmph.

We sat poolside and chatted while we finished up a bottle of wine, then headed to bed.

In St. Barts our ‘tradition’ is to sit at the corner table in this perfectly French Café. We arrived at 11 and foo-foo’d the view until after 2:00. It was fabulous. We scurried back to the ship in time for Lynda’s 3:00 Spa appointment. (incidentally...the tenders were a treacherous affair !)Once again, due to the Christmas Winds, the Captain announced that we would be delaying sailing until 9:00. We’ve never been on a cruise with so many schedule adjustments. The people in St. Barts were telling us that the wind has severely impacted the movement of the Mega Yachts…so they’re worried about their New Years Eve revenues. No yachts…no income.

Sunday night was yet another Friends of Dorothy party in the Palm Court. It was the most widely attended that we’ve been to on this ship, and finally we weren’t the only girls present ! YAY !! kind of. One of the bartenders working the party, Jagen just loves Lynda and I (he was working the casino on the last cruise…so he knows us pretty well) When I asked him for a Goose on the Rocks, he brought me a gargantuan tumbler with a big grin ! (I think I hear my dad calling !) It was only a sipper, and turned out to be a tragic waste of Grey Goose !

We stumbled off to dinner at Prego after that and finished the evening sipping cocktails with the Cruise Director.

This morning we arrived in Antigua under bright blue skies. Looked like a beach day to me ! We thought that this would be the day that we finally would swim in the ocean (sheesh…17 days in and we haven’t swam in the sea !) By the time we were ready to go ashore, the skies clouded over with a thick veil of dark grey clouds. It poured off and on all day.

Sooooo…we went to the movies on board and had a blast watching Meryl Streep belt her way through Mama Mia ! It was a lot of fun.

This evening after another 1 hour delay to sailing, we went to the Crystal Society cocktail reception before dinner. We’ve had a marathon string of cocktail parties on this trip. We thought that this was going to be our last one prior to New Years Eve…however, due to our late arrivals and late departures, the Captain has decided that tomorrow evening, between 5 and 9, all the bars on the ship will be OPEN. Ut oh ! I better spin through my Rolodex and see if Betty Ford will still take my calls !

It’s coming up on 1:00 am…so I better call this a post.

Tomorrow…St.Lucia.

G’night

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In case you're wondering.....

My photo
We're just 2 girls who absolutely adore cruising with Crystal. We became "Crystallized" in 2003 while we were part of a *gasp* "Group Cruise" through our work. The nature of our business limits us to winter itineraries, but one day....ONE DAY....we're going to embark on a World Cruise. Is that a lofty goal, or what ?
 
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