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Old May 8th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Paul Motter Paul Motter is offline
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Default Serenity April 8th

Serenity April 8th

Sometimes I am reminded what a small world the cruise industry can be. We just boarded Crystal Serenity for a luxury cruise from Los Angeles to Miami through the Panama Canal. Last night we met our butler, Papa, who has been working on cruise ships steadily for 27 years. His first cruise line was MY first cruise line, Royal Viking line.

Then we turned on the television to hear a message from our cruise director, and it was Rick Spath, the same cruise director I worked under on Holland America’s Statendam. I have yet to go and say hello to him, but I will later on today. Rick was a very nice guy when I worked with him on the Statendam, one of the few cruise directors I ever got along with personally, which was more about my personal insecurities at that age than it is a comment on cruise directors.

It is painfully clear that these tough economic times have hit everyone, including luxury cruise lines. Not that there is anything wrong with the ship, in fact just the opposite is true. The service on Serenity is incredible. You would never know the ship is only about 60% full. Obviously, there has never been a better time go for the gold with great incentives to book any luxury cruise line now.

Crystal, for example, is promising up to $2000 shipboard credit to be used any way you wish on almost all of its cruises through 2010 if you book now. Onboard they are offering a birthday bonus – sail with Crystal on your birthday in 2010 and get 50% savings on an additional Crystal cruise as long as it is before your next birthday.

Sometimes it is mentioned that Crystal is not as all-inclusive as other luxury cruise lines, but our stateroom is already stocked with an entire bottle of the spirit of our choice. In our fridge we have all the free wine, beer and bottled water we can drink. With that onboard credit Crystal is almost as inclusive as any other cruise line.

Last night we asked Papa (our butler) to serve us dinner in our stateroom. Our room’s cocktail table can be transformed into a dining table by raising the stem. He covered it with a tablecloth, flowers, a breadbasket and cutlery. The soup was served first, followed by salads. The entrees were delectable. There was a salmon salad with large triangles of hot grilled salmon filet and grilled vegetables, pasta, chicken filled with ricotta and mushroom and grilled redfish. We skipped dessert so Papa could go to bed, so he brought us a plate of hot cookies.

Our bathroom is wonderful, with a separate shower and a Jacuzzi tub with a built-in head pillow and water jets to sooth your aching muscles. The bed is king-sized with a thick feather throw. The television has more channels than I have ever seen on a cruise ship. We can actually get CNN and Fox News, as well as ESPN, TNT and several movie channels showing recent movies that would be pay per view on mainstream cruise ships. We also have a DVD player and I hear the library has some 2000 titles.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned.
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