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Old May 9th, 2009, 04:28 PM
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Default Friday Night, Saturday May 10

Friday Night, May 9


We went to our first dinner in the dining room last night, as we were too exhausted the first night and so we decided to dine en cabine. It was a formal night, one of three on this 16-night cruise.
We have discovered we too used to early dining at home yo change now -- we tend to get tired early these days. So we asked the head waiter if we could move to early seating and he said yes.

When we went to dinner we asked the maitre d’ for a table and he was somewhat perplexed, despite that ship only being 60% until we said we do not mind sharing a table with other guests. He had a table with some of the working enrichment speakers onboard, so I explained I had also personally worked on cruise ships so I would love to dine “with the help.”

Our table for eight had the computer class instructors, the music instructor, one of the feature performers (an organist) and his wife, and one passenger who had just completed Serenity’s world cruise. That had officially ended in Los Angeles but many people who live in Florida opted to stay onboard the extra 16 days to sail to Florida.

Dinner was just plain delicious; Maine lobster served with drawn butter and hollandaise atop a small bed of risotto. There was actually enough lobster on the plate that no one ordered seconds. It was entirely shelled, even the claws which were laid our on both sides of the tail.

After dinner we had our first show by the onboard cast of singers and dancers. Crystal is known for its entertainment, rated number one of all cruise lines in many polls although in reality it is hard for a ship that only carries 1000 passengers to compete with the mega-ships from mainstream Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships that carry four times as many passengers.

The entertainment was good, but let’s be honest, Crystal appeals to an average age of just under 70. These people are not exactly up on the hit songs from Sweeney Todd, but they know Sound of Music and Music Man. Julie Andrews is the godmother of this ship, after all.

Saturday May 10

We slept from 9:30 last night to almost 7:30 this morning. We called for coffee and it arrived with five minutes. I checked my email and caught up on the news – not hard to do on this ship. At 9:00 I went to my beginning piano class. This course is taught in conjunction with Yamaha Musical Instruments division. They supply about 25 keyboards and an instructor leads us along on the most basic piano courses. Most people had lessons for a year or two when they were children and have forgotten everything. No matter, the lessons are so simple a beginner could do them. But after eight of these lessons you would have knowledge of complicated concepts like staccato notes, reading bass clef, etc.

Meanwhile, the computer area was holding a beginners guide to Window’s Vista. Frankly, that is how these onboard classes start out – very basic, but they progress to more complicated topics. The idea is to offer a crash course for beginners that will take them to very advanced topics without going so fast that people cannot understand what is going on.

At 11:00 I attended a lecture by world affairs expert Dr. Louis Rene Beres. His topic, very timely for today’s political climate, was “Foreign Affairs and the Changing Shape of World Power.” He didn’t take any obvious sides, unlike the pretty apparent political leanings of the L.A. Times reporter who spoke yesterday, but he did say that while he recognizes the authority of the U.N. to invoke International Law, he does has much confidence in its ability to back up their authority.

12:00 noon; poolside lunch buffet was Asian. The most delicious Orange Chicken, crab filled avocados, mango and ginger soup and chicken cashew salad were just some of dozens of choices. One of the nicest things About Crystal is the service. There is almost no waiting for anything ever. Waiters will carry your tray, and after lunch come up to offer you coffee, poolside!

They will give you espresso, cappuccino, latte, anything you want. The Hagen Daas ice cream station is always open as well, but I opted for the dessert buffet with miniature crème brulet in tiny ramekins.

1:30 – I now have to choose between my second beginning piano class or beginning ballroom. My wife went to ballroom and I said I was going to piano, but I think I might surprise her. So far, I can’t find a thing not to like about Crystal.

Oh, did I mention our butler, Papa, has been bringing me a caviar hors d’ oeuvres every afternoon. Three big dollops of roe with all the accouterment. It is actually too much – so I (incredibly) told him he had better skip us this afternoon. I turned caviar; My favorite food.
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