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Old April 26th, 2011, 04:44 AM
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I have to admit last night I stayed up much too late, and coming back to the suite at 2 A.M. to write a story isn’t such a great idea at my age. In my defense, I’d found a very friendly blackjack table, with pleasant players and friendly dealers, who kept my attention. Additionally, on any cruise, it takes a day to settle in, both physically and mentally.

Last night, in my haste to get the day’s story done, I forgot to mention the one oddity in the check during the check in process; everyone was required to turn in their passports. As mentioned, as I’d done this cruise on Princess just a few weeks back, I know on that sailing, everyone kept their passports. So, I know it’s not done due to any particular law requiring it, so I’m assuming it’s a Crystal Cruise Line policy. It’s not particularly consequential, but I will inquire later, simply because inquiring minds want to know.

Traditional assigned seating at dinner on Crystal is referred to “Classic Dining”. I’ve been assigned “Classing Dining”, late seating (8:30 P.M.), with 7 people at the table. I believe this table is probably normally an 8 top, and therefore quite spacious for the seven of us. Here’s a name test for myself… there are two other singles, and two couples joining me at the table, Susan, Anthony, Gary and Mary, Glenn and Barbara, and myself. We’ll see at dinner tonight if I got it right.

Exchanging the first evening’s pleasantries and introductions created some good initial conversation. So much so that when it was time to place our orders I wasn’t quite prepared, so I made a couple of quick choices, without perusing the menu too much. I ended up with a magnificent hot mushroom tart salad to start, followed by a scrumptious pasta dish, and an excellent Sirloin Steak.

I could have been satisfied ordering a half dozen of the mushroom tart salads alone, and left the table full and happy.

This morning the Lido Café was open, and I began my day with a rather traditional breakfast; a couple of fried eggs, and a few strips of bacon, and several cups of very good coffee.
Once breakfast was done I was going to lounge around poolside and people watch, but as with our last trip, the morning sun was not all that hot, and combined with a breeze across the bow, it kept the pool deck quite empty.

The pool deck on the Symphony has more in common with a South Beach, Miami boutique hotel, than it does a traditional cruise ship pool area. Much of the area is filled with white faux wicker furniture groupings, including areas with sofa sized conversation pit style seating, pool beds, as well as tables with chairs for al fresco dining, or card playing, reading, etc. to pass the time.

The ship’s daily schedule is titled “Reflections”, and the name seems so apropos for Crystal. It describes well an attitude I could feel immediately when I came onboard. The passengers so far seem very friendly, and quite willing to strike up a conversation. And, that holds even more true for all the staff who I’ve encountered so far, particularly those working the Lido café, and pool decks.

On our last Sapphire Princess voyage I wrote (and teased) about the large numbers of motorized scooters onboard. On this trip I think I’ve seen a total of three. For the most part, my first impressions of the passengers onboard is it seems to trend a bit younger than our Princess cruise, and seemingly in better health, and better fit; making their travel easier.

At present Crystal Cruise Line is compromised of only two ship, the Symphony and her slightly newer and slightly larger cousin, Crystal Serenity. For a line with just two ships, they do seem to have a strongly devoted and loyal repeat passenger clientele base. Though some I’ve spoken to already say they’ve cruised other lines, each and every one has ended with… but Crystal is the best!

One of the things I intend to discover during this voyage is why they say that, and do I agree?

This cruise is Crystal’s first ever golf themed cruise to the Hawaiian islands, and one of the main reasons I’m onboard. During the voyage, as we cross the Pacific Ocean, there are several golf themed lectures, seminars, and clinics to participate in.

This morning there was a brief session to hear from the LPGA professional onboard, Shannon Kneisler, describing the upcoming events. That was followed by a cocktail party with Shannon, as well as the introduction of world renowned past PGA champion and CBS Television golf announcer, Ken Venturi.
In the afternoon I attended the first in a series of lectures by golf historian, Jack Mishler, who has a world renowned collection of 12,000 items of golf history paraphernalia.


Crystal is well known in the industry for it’s enrichment programs. Each sea day guests can choose from Berlitz Spanish lessons, Yamaha keyboard lessons, Odyssey Art at Sea programs, destination lectures, bridge instruction, trivia games, and on this cruise, golf clinics, and even private lessons.
This evening the Captain held his “Welcome Aboard” cocktail party, followed by formal night’s dinner. Formal night on Crystal means “dressing to the nines”, with no maximum to the glitz factor the ladies choose for their gowns and accessories. Clearly 80% of the men don Tuxedos.

I haven’t taken my tux on a cruise since I last sailed Silversea Cruise Line, as a suit has seemed more the norm on the other mass market lines I’ve sailed, but it came out of the moth balls for this trip. One thing I have to admit about Tuxedos; rarely does a man look bad wearing one.

Following Formal Night tradition, this evening’s showroom entertainment was a production number. Tonight’s was Million Dollar Musicals. For a ship this size the Symphony amazingly has a large 10 member production cast.

I’m admittedly not a fan of musical productions, and though the costuming looked very professional and all the cast members could sign and dance, I found the show a bit on the “kitchy” side; the chosen music quite dated. The ship’s showroom, the Galaxy lounge was less than half full tonight, so I’m guessing many other passengers have seen the show previously.

As we move westward to Hawaii, we will be gaining three hours. Tonight was the first clock change. Upon returning to my suite, I found my clock had already been adjusted for the time change. Yes, I said clock. It’s very rare to see a clock in a ship’s cabin, but it’s actually really nice to have one.

Even though we’ve gained an hour, I somehow managed to stay out late again, with a visit to the casino. It seems we’ve already got a few regulars at the blackjack tables. I’ve also noticed that the dealers in the casino are more mature than those on most other cruise lines. You normally find casino dealers on ships are younger people out to see the world while they work. I’m not certain if Crystal has chosen to opt for dealers who are a bit older, or it’s just coincidence.
In any case, I’ve found them to be very friendly to the players.

The seas have calmed considerably, and hopefully the sun will be shining brightly tomorrow, with temperatures rising as well.
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