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  #31 (permalink)  
Old April 30th, 2011, 07:36 PM
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Hope you have fun on your cruise. One thing I find interesting is comparing this cruise to ths Sapphire cruise nice to see what the diffrences are. I think you have to keep in mind that the Crystal cruise cost 4 times as much as the Sapphire cruise and a suite cost 20 thousand so you might be comparing a cadalac to a volkswagon.
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Old April 30th, 2011, 11:03 PM
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Kuki, still enjoying your blog, especially the pictures. Loved those comfy two-seaters (chair/couch) on the deck, and those food pics made me drool!
Crystal cruises sound and look wonderful, but I will have to enjoy it vicariously through you as I'll never see one....
Keep those reports coming!

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Old May 1st, 2011, 02:16 AM
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I don't know what is more amazing... seeing kuki read a book, or him sitting under a no smoking sign!
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Old May 1st, 2011, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by mrs kuki View Post
I don't know what is more amazing... seeing kuki read a book, or him sitting under a no smoking sign!


I knew that one would shock you honey
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Old May 1st, 2011, 06:45 AM
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Kauai, Hawaii - Apr.30 ‘11
I started this morning with a full breakfast served in my suite; fried eggs, toast, blueberry pancakes and lots of coffee. The pancakes are the first food item I’ve tasted during the cruise that I really didn’t care for at all. They are “silver dollar sized”, and not at all fluffy, and just a dry sawdust taste to them.

Just before our docking time at 10 A.M. 20 golfers, our golf pro Shannon, Crystal crew member Jo who was escorting the group, and Ken Venturi met at the Crystal Cove, so we could depart as soon as the ship was cleared, to our day of golf at Poipu Bay, which is part of the Hyatt Grand Kauai Resort.

The ship’s staff had stored everyone’s golf clubs, as well as those who chose to rent clubs, and loaded them onto our bus for everyone. The group had a full sized tour bus so there was no crowding.

I’ve been on cruise ship golf excursions before, even on luxury lines, and in past experiences we had to handle our golf clubs on our own. Crystal however is doing it right.

Poipu Bay is a beautiful golf course, with several holes featuring gorgeous vistas over the cliffs and on to the Ocean. From the “blue tees” the course plays just over 6600 yards. 6100 yards from the white tees. The fairways are pretty wide, so player friendly; the greens well protected by plenty of white silica sand bunkers.

Our LPGA pro, Shannon, did play a few holes with each foursome, and tried to offer some playing lessons as the game went on. Our escort was Jo, one of the dealers from the casino, who I’ve come to know. Jo drove around the course on a cart socializing, and checking to see if anyone needed anything.

Lunch boxes were provided on all the carts, and a couple of drink coupons were provided to each player.

I played in a very friendly foursome. However my power cart partner drove like one needs to drive in Italy; that’s like a mad-man. It was beginning to feel like I’d have picked a safer excursion if I’d gone white water rafting or zip lining.

I did a lot of foot breaking, but I had no brake to help us slow down or stop.

Thankfully we eventually found our way to the 19th hole. When I wasn’t sitting in stunned fear I did manage to hit some good shots amongst the bad, and did enjoy the day very much. I did have to change my underwear as soon as I got back to the ship.

For dinner tonight I went to the Asian restaurant, Silk Road, along with 2 of my regular tablemates. Silk Road is the only restaurant at sea whose operation was designed and overseen by famed restaurateur and chef, Nobu Matsuhisa.

The menu is Asian Fusion, with a fresh sushi bar, as well as a full menu of interesting design. I particularly enjoyed a Japanese mushroom soup, which is served in a rather unique manner; it comes in what looks to be a Chinese teapot, and is poured into a very small cup (similar to a sake cup). All three of us chose the Wagyu Rib Eye Steak as an entrée, served with three different sauces; an excellent choice.

I think my pallet runs more toward the Prego menu overall, but Silk Road was very good as well.

I have an early morning wake up for our golf tour tomorrow, so I didn’t attend the show, but spent a short time in the casino instead.
Earlier in the evening I did finally see a lounge that was quite full and lively; the ship’s piano bar, the very clubby Avenue Saloon.

Trying to upload the pictures from today was taking a long time, so
I'll have to try again tomorrow, when I have more time.
 
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Old May 1st, 2011, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Dhill View Post
Hope you have fun on your cruise. One thing I find interesting is comparing this cruise to ths Sapphire cruise nice to see what the diffrences are. I think you have to keep in mind that the Crystal cruise cost 4 times as much as the Sapphire cruise and a suite cost 20 thousand so you might be comparing a cadalac to a volkswagon.
Dh.. I agree you can't not make direct comparisons. You do have to keep in mind that one is considered a "Premium Brand" and the other a "Luxury Brand".

However, the areas I am comparing... like the extra sheet (which I believe would actually save $, not having to launder duvets as often, and is more sanitary) or the quality of the toilet paper... is not to say Princess should have the same 500 thread count Eygptian sheets, or the same toilet paper. But I do think there are areas I'm comparing where Princess should raise their standards enough to justify their remaining in the "Premium Brand" category.

Of course luxury brands have to offer more for the fares they charge, but I'm also trying to explain why some people will choose to pay those fares. It really isn't about being rich. There are people paying very similar fares to Crystal for suites on the mass market and premium lines.

Whether Crystal is a better choice for those people is their own personal decision.

Plus, with some searching of dates and offers available on Crystal I think your price comparison is not entirely accurate. You can certainly sail on this ship for less than $20,000. I believe I saw some of their standby fare offerings in the $5000 range. And their regular rates include airfare and a pretty hefty onboard credit.
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 06:31 AM
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Before I post today's report here's some pictures from Silk Road last night..
Sushi
Scallop


Mushroom Soup

creme brule


With the promised credits to my dinner mates and creative production team of Susan and Anthony
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 06:51 AM
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Default A Historic Day

May 1 - Oahu
The very best thing about today was this afternoon, after returning to the ship, when I turned on the TV in my suite, and found out the U.S. had succeeded in killing Osama Bin Laden. I celebrate that with all my American friends, and hopefully all the people in the world who want to see hatred for hatred’s sake end.

The events of today had an early affect on the passengers from the Symphony in port today. In Honolulu the most popular tour, of course, is a visit to the Arizona Memorial, as well as to the military bases located on the island of Oahu.

Apparently the first tour of the day made it to it’s destination, before things changed drastically. The Arizona Memorial and the military bases were abruptly closed to visitors. I’m told that guests booked on those tours, only to arrive and be told there would be no admittance were very upset, and getting quite irate.

Later, when the news broke about the attack and ultimate death of Bin Laden, I’m sure the vast majority of those people who had been upset appreciated the circumstances for the sudden change, and the loss of their tours.

Many were no doubt still disappointed, but it’s interesting to know the government took the steps to close The Memorial and military bases to visitors prior to the news of the events being made public.

That’s also a good thing on the Symphony; television service includes CNN (US), Fox News, MSNBC, Sky News, BBC World, CNN Headline News, ESPN, ESPN2, Sky Sports, as well as two movie channels. It is so much better than the ships who choose to only carry CNN International.

Now to get back to the more mundane cruise events, rather than the more important world events.

At 7 A.M. this morning I woke up as we sailed into Honolulu Harbor, and pulled up to Pier 2, which is the shipyard pier, not Aloha Tower.

With an early golf game scheduled I had pre-ordered a continental breakfast, with a bucket of coffee, then headed down at 8 A.M. to the Crystal Cove once again to meet the golf group. Today there were only a dozen golfers heading to the links.

We were playing KO’OLAU Golf Club today, which is on the north side of the island; about 40 minutes away, and located in the rain forest, with gorgeous lush mountains for a background on most holes. It is rated one of the toughest golf courses in the world because of many forced carries and some fairly narrow fairways in places. They say players should bring at one ball for every stroke of their handicap.

I’ve played this course before, and really you go for the scenery.
As well organized and operated as yesterday’s golf day was, I was disappointed with today’s. Even when I first heard Crystal had chosen this course for it’s outlining in Oahu, having played it before I was surprised. There are several first class golf courses on the island I would have selected other than this one.

For the rather steep price Crystal charges for their golf excursions, they should have chosen one with much better amenities.

To begin with there is no beverage cart on the course. In the heat, and with high humidity, it’s important to keep hydrated, and important to enjoy a golf outing with beverages.

About half way through the round they did deliver a box lunch, and a cold drink to the cart.

As difficult as this course plays, and with some steep terrain, I was very surprised that the rule for the golf carts on the course is they must stay on the cart paths. After a few holes on the front nine, they did change and allow carts on the fairways. On the back nine, they informed the players it was back to cart path only.

The golfers from the ship, myself included, are not “spring chickens”, and many found the cart path only rule to be very difficult and restricting. Cart path only golf in these conditions also slows the pace of play tremendously, and made for a very long day. We left the ship at 8:15 A.M., and returned at 4:30 P.M.

While we played the last 3 holes it was raining quite heavily. You certainly can’t blame anyone for rain in a rain forest of course. I had a rain suit in my golf bag. Many others did not. However, as we finished our game, and returned to the clubhouse, with everyone pretty much soaked, there were no attendants present to take the golf clubs off the cart, clean them, and store them until all the groups finished, and we were leaving.

There were also no attendants to carry people’s bags and load them into taxis for the return trip. Even returning to the ship I had to hunt down someone to collect everyone’s golf bags to return them to their storage area on the ship.

To summarize, the problems as I saw them..
-Unlike yesterday, there was no bus, or even mini-bus, to transport the entire group to the golf course. We were loaded into several taxi vans, with folks having to climb over seats to get in the back to fit everyone.
-the golf course lacked the services and amenities that are provided at just about any golf & country club.
- passengers paying a significant premium to Crystal, shouldn’t be required to carry and clean their own golf bags (particularly in the rain).
- if I were to book golf games on my own (which I have done in Hawaii on previous cruises) I would expect to have to deal with these sorts of things on my own. Booking as part of a golf package I expect more.

I believe Crystal passengers expect their shore excursions, whether it be golf, or any other tour, to be equal in quality to the Crystal experience onboard. This one fell well short of that mark!

The best thing about the golf today was Ken Venturi showed me how he grips a club, using my driver.

I am suddenly having trouble uploading pictures that were taken with my I-Phone, so it appears the pictures from today’s golf outing will have to wait to be uploaded until I am back on land, with high speed internet. I’ve now switched back to using my digital camera.

This evening it was back to the dining room for dinner. It was a special night for 2 of my tablemates, Glenn and Debra, who were celebrating their 29th anniversary. It seemed the entire dining room staff showed up at our table to sing for them for their anniversary. The first picture is taken from behind them, and there were so many singers participating I couldn’t fit them in the frame. The second picture shows the happy couple.


 
Tomorrow we arrive in Maui, and the last of the scheduled golf games. Hopefully the excursion tomorrow will match that of the day in Kauai, as opposed to today’s. We tender into Lahaina tomorrow, and the "golf gang" has to be up early as we are scheduled for the first tender to shore.
 
 
 
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old May 2nd, 2011, 12:31 PM
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Kuki,

The golf outings, even if with the lessened service in Oahu, sound great. I've played the north side of Kaui, in Princeville, many years ago (mid-90's) and it was something to never forget. The views are so great it makes even a bad round a good one.

I know you are having a wonderful time if you can combine golf and cruising and I have to say that I am suffering a from a bit of the "green eyed monster".

Take care,
Mike
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 12:52 PM
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I know what you mean, Kuki. I was on a Crystal cruise where we had a disappointing shore excursion. But Crystal made up for it.

To be exact - it was in Costa Rica and I went to the Shorex desk a few days in advance and specifically asked "which tour will have the most wildlife? I was at this port before and we we saw capuchin monkeys, sloths, tree frogs, four-foot tall parrots and crocodiles." They made a "rainforest canopy tour" reservation.

The only wildlife we saw on that tour was ants - and crocodiles. I kid you not. So, I asked the tour guide about this and he said "you should have gone to the animal preserve to see those animals" - which I recognized. we passed it on our tour.

Now - to Crystal's credit - when I went back after the tour and explained my disappointment they fully refunded the cost of our tour. That is a very good thing. But the downside is this - how many times do you get to Costa Rica? To go all that way in hopes of seeing something I had promised my wife we would see, and to miss it is more than disappointing, its a major letdown.

This is a symptom of smaller capacity cruise lines that cover the world. They may have some spectacular shore excursions, but some of them can be duds solely because they only visit that port once every three years and they don't have the clout of a cruise line that goes there weekly.

My first tour referenced was on Princess, and they knew exactly where to take people in Costa Rica because they sailed the same itinerary weekly all year. We did the canopy and the animal preserve. The preserve was the highlight by far.

But as you said - the upside is that Crystal has the best onboard pros. I am sure you will have plenty more opportunities to discuss and work on golf game even on your days at sea.
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 09:20 PM
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Kuki, considering what you have (probably) paid for your cruise and all the benefits, I'd say you have a reason to be disappointed. You should have had A1 service at the golf course, if it was sponsered by the cruise line, IMHO.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 02:08 AM
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May 2 - Lahaina, Maui - from Crystal Symphony

My day began with pre-ordered in-suite breakfast of an omelet, bacon, hash browns, a toasted bagel, and my gallon of coffee. Everything came hot, and right on the requested time.

The golf package continued today, and right off the bat I have to say it was a complete turnaround from yesterday’s excursion. The dozen golfers met this morning in the Crystal Cove at 8:30 A.M. to proceed to tender ashore. But this time our golf clubs had already gone ashore ahead of us. There was a comfortable mini-bus waiting to take us on the short ride to the Kaanapali Golf Resort.

Upon arrival we had some time to kill before our scheduled tee times. There was a self-serve continental breakfast, with coffee, tea, pastries and fresh fruit waiting for us. Our golf clubs were waiting on golf carts, and after warming up and stretching, the first group teed off.

The golf course is a resort style course, with player friendly fairways. It’s not the nicest course on Maui they could have chosen, but it was more than adequate.

The course surprisingly did not have a beverage cart on the course, but there was a snack shack you passed a couple of times, and a player services rep. driving around the course offering complimentary cold Tang Orange Juice.

Our golf pro Shannon, and legendary Ken Venturi, moved from group to group, giving golf tips, playing a few holes, and telling stories through the entire day.

The golf group enjoyed the golf, and upon returning to the clubhouse, everyone could order whatever they wanted off the menu, and a couple of drinks were included.

Our mini-bus showed up to transport us back to the tender pier, and the cleaned clubs were loaded onto the bus. Arriving back at the tender pier, ship’s staff were present to unload all the golf clubs and place them in the tender to return to the ship. No passenger had to lift a finger, or their golf bag.

This was without doubt a luxury golf tour, which I had expected of Crystal to begin with. Kudos to whoever was responsible for the quick turnaround in style and organization.

At the golf course this morning, but before we teed off this morning, my brother in law from Arizona called my cell phone. The news… my mother had been taken to the hospital after a visit to her family physician, and my sister was heading to the airport for a quick trip to my home town.

Suddenly, I was faced with the same situation I faced a couple of years ago; we were on a ship in the Caribbean, and my father was ill. Those of you who have followed my writings over the years will recall how tortured I was with the decision whether to disembark the ship in Rotan, and fly home, or stay on the ship for the remaining few days. That time I actually spoke with my father who insisted I stay on the ship and come home as scheduled. We did as asked, and sadly my father passed away before we got home.

It was a decision I deeply regretted, and as a result of the regret, I didn’t cruise for a year and a half. For most people that doesn’t seem like much time, but for a travel writer, it was significant. And even when I went back for my first cruise last May, I was stressed and somewhat depressed.

Now… I’m suddenly faced with the same decision; do I get off the golf course, get back to the ship, and pack my things before the ship leaves Maui at 5 P.M.?

I spoke to, and text messaged, with Mrs. Kuki, who is at home, to see if I could get the most current status report on my mother, and decided to wait a couple of hours to get an update, if there was one later, thinking there would still be time to get off the ship.

As I posting this tonight, it’s obvious that after many more conversations, I decided to stay on the cruise. To say that I’m satisfied with my decision, or happy to continue on, simply isn’t the case. I’m now traveling with a heavy heart, and tears constantly welling in my eyes when I think about it.

I have no idea if I’ve done the “right thing”, if there is a right thing. Or if this is one of those moments… a decision I’m going regret for the rest of my life.

What would you have done facing similar circumstances?
 
 
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 02:11 AM
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Kuki, considering what you have (probably) paid for your cruise and all the benefits, I'd say you have a reason to be disappointed. You should have had A1 service at the golf course, if it was sponsered by the cruise line, IMHO.
Fern.. it should be clear, I'm on assignment for CruiseMates, and a guest of Crystal Cruise Line.

I write to describe the cruise experience onboard, and to cover their first time ever golf themed cruise to Hawaii. When I write, I view it as I would if I were a paying customer, because I assume those reading along for the information will be.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 03:12 AM
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Kuki,

Praying for your Mother and my best thoughts and hopes that all will be well.

Take care,
Mike
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:24 AM
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My thoughts are with you and your family. Hope your mom will be all right.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 11:48 AM
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I have been reading this every day. You have been doing a great job of describing everything. And even though this is a cruise for Cruisemates the problems of the previous day's golf outing should definitely be brought to the attention of the proper people on the ship. That is something that is of importance no matter how much the cost.

You and your family will be in my prayers.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 01:35 PM
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Kuki,

My heart goes out to you and your entire family. I'm praying the situation improves with your Mom over the next few hours and days. In the meantime, my advice would be to hang out with the fine staff in the Lido/Trident grill. The guys that work that area of the ship are among the finest and most sincere of the entire ship and are capable of lifting one's spirits when necessary.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 01:51 PM
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Oh, Kuki, I'm so sorry to hear that your mother has been hospitalized. I vividly recall reading your posts, when your dad passed. I can only imagine the pain and uncertainty of your decisions. As always, I look forward to your cruises, because you have a gift for observing and describing your experiences. Since I can't ease the pain, I'll continue to pray for your mom and you.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 04:24 PM
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I will pray for you and your mom. I know it is a tough decision; and one that you are stuggling with. Best to you and your family.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 06:42 PM
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Default A Midday Report

Day at Sea - May 3 ‘11
Yesterday afternoon we sailed from Hawaii, to begin the cruise back to the United States.

The seas got quite choppy almost as soon we hit open water, and the Captain reported we’d be sailing into a 45 MPH wind for at least two days.

While visiting the islands, and participating in the golf program I have met a “real character”. They may call me “Kuki”, but all I can say is she is “KUKIEST”. Let me only say that anyone who has met her during the cruise, has a story about her; a very unique “character” who certainly marches to the beat of her own drummer.

Today, the open decks were closed to passenger use; the deck furniture piled up and tied down. I thought this might be a good time to tell you about the ship.

She in superb condition, with the exception of the heavily traveled area near the photo gallery, where carpeting is showing considerable wear.
The Symphony has a rather unique smoking policy. As a smoker, I enjoy the fact there are several lounges with a small smoking section, as well as the Connoisseur Club (the ships cigar bar, where pipe smoking is allowed).
Cigarette smoking is allowed in guest cabins, but is banned from cabin balconies. The Starlight Club, the large open lounge on Deck 6 is designated totally non-smoking.

Smoking is allowed in the Avenue Saloon, the Luxe Night Club, the Casino, and somewhat surprisingly in the more open space area of the Crystal Cove, which is near the Reception Desk, in the lobby area, outside of the Crystal Dining Room.

On deck, the port side of the ship, on Lido Deck, by the outdoor pool also has an area where smoking is allowed.

The Crystal passengers seem to be accepting of these smoking policies, with smokers remaining satisfied to stay in areas designated for their habit, and non smokers generally accepting the fact they have non-smoking areas to use.

With the way things are now, with it being more acceptable these days for people to be militantly anti-smoking, I am surprised I’ve seen no incidents of clashes over the issue.

Perhaps it’s because of the older demographic, with the Symphony carrying many passengers who grew up with cigarette smoking being more common place. That’s the only thing I can think of.

While the ship’s interior is quite beautiful, the décor is indeed very low key. There’s no multi-million dollar art collections onboard, as is the case of many ships onboard. The furnishings are all rich, and of obvious quality, and in many ways simply set a tone of comfort and elegance.

One thing which surprised me is the presence of ship’s photographers. And they are just as aggressive, trying to get passengers to pose, as they are on the mass market ships. I hate it when photographers interrupt dinner to take pictures of couples, table groups, etc. I am a bit surprised that Crystal allows these disturbances during dinner.

The real key to the success of this ship is it’s staff and crew. The warmth they project, almost to a man, makes every guest feel like a king or queen. If it’s forced, it certainly isn’t obvious. Each time I pass through the Lido Café, or sit out on deck by the pool, every crew member yells out Sir Kuki, with a huge smile on their faces, and an offer to get me something.

The dining room servers for our table, are quite smooth, and the service is good. However, our waiter, though basically proficient, is on his final contract with Crystal Cruise Line, and in small ways, it’s obvious his mind has already left. There’s nothing particular, or dramatic, in his actions that makes me say that. Rather it’s his lack of attention to the small details, that display his mind set.

For example, it’s mid way through the cruise, and every time he serves a course, he offers me pepper from the pepper mill. He’s doing his job, but if he was paying attention to his job, he’s have noticed I’ve never used pepper on any dish, and in fact had mentioned to him the first night, when offered pepper, that I never use pepper.

On the other hand, his assistant waiter is excellent, and seems to do his job flawlessly.

Every night the Assistant Maitre ‘d does stop by the table for a visit. He always approaches with a big smile on his face, is very social, and each and every night reminds us if there anything special we’d like, to just tell him.

My suite attendants, including the butler, do excellent work. They seem to have picked up “my style” and how I like things immediately. Though, I have discovered that I was wrong in a an earlier posting, when I said they don’t leave mints or chocolates on your pillow during turn down service. Apparently it’s just me who doesn’t get chocolates on my pillow. I personally don’t care, but didn’t want to supply misinformation.
 
At noon today is a Gala Lunch Buffet being held on the lobby area. I’m heading there now, just to take pictures for you <wink>. I’ll be back later today with pictures.
 
 
 
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 07:34 PM
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Default Some pictures from the Grand Lunch Buffet held in Lobby







There's more of these pics to enjoy in my Symphony Photo gallery
CruiseMates Cruise Community and Forums - Kuki's Album: Crystal Symphony LA Hawaii LA
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 08:00 PM
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The lunch looks amazing-but I know you didn't partake. Just took pictures
I wondered if you saw or heard about the water spouts that were off the coast near Honolulu-they showed them on the news here. They were HUGE.

I hope you get a good report on your Mother. It would ease your mind and allow you to enjoy the rest of the cruise.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuki View Post
Fern.. it should be clear, I'm on assignment for CruiseMates, and a guest of Crystal Cruise Line.

I write to describe the cruise experience onboard, and to cover their first time ever golf themed cruise to Hawaii. When I write, I view it as I would if I were a paying customer, because I assume those reading along for the information will be.

Hi Kuki, I should have posted that I knew that you were "on assignment", but I appreciate you posting as if you're paying the "big bucks" for the cruise!

I'm keeping your Mom in my prayers and hope that everything will turn out well.

Love the food pictures! Could you send me the "shrimp tower"



Ummm, YUM!
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Old May 4th, 2011, 03:11 AM
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Thank you all for your prayers for Kuki's mom. She appears to be improving every day and very much appreciates all your good wishes.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:07 AM
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At Sea - May 3 Cont’d
This evening was the second formal night onboard The Symphony. It was also the night of the Crystal Society (repeaters club) cocktail party, which I had been invited to even though this is my first Crystal cruise.

The guests onboard were not “dressed to kill” so much, as they were the first formal night. Many more men were dressed in suits, and even a few in sports coats. While ladies were still in gowns or cocktail dresses, there didn’t seem to be as much presence of “haute couture” as there was on the first formal night.

The theme for the dining room menu tonight was French, and the feature items of the menu seemed to be the escargot, the rack of lamb, and the Grand Marnier Soufflé. The lamb didn’t appear to be near as nice as it was when served in Prego a few nights back. I opted for a veal dish that was, frankly, underwhelming.

The waiter didn’t seem to have control of the bottle of Grand Marnier, as he seemed to splash it as he poured it into the soufflé. Though that caused everyone at the table who ordered it to get a significant amount of alcohol in their soufflé.

The pictures below are really cute charger plates used tonight.


The seas today were choppy all day, and open decks remained closed into the evening. Tonight’s scheduled production show had to be cancelled. The Cruise Director actually did a good job of rescheduling events for the entire day, and got a new entertainment schedule for the evening, printed and delivered to each cabin prior to dinner.

After dinner tonight, rather than attend the rescheduled show, I went to the casino for about an hour. By now we’ve pretty much got a regular crew of table game players, and I’ve had some good times, and good socializing. Fortunately, I’ve been holding my own in the wins and losses column, so things have been ok on that end.

From the casino, I decided to check out Luxe. Luxe is the ship’s disco, with a fellow Canadian (though across the country, from Montreal), Mark as the DJ. I got there about midnight, and tonight that was definitely where the party was. The dance floor was hopping, and the small bar pretty much full. Seemed the production show troupe were taking advantage of having the night off, and were doing it in the disco. I think I enjoyed watching them having a great time on the dance floor in the disco, than watching their choreographed numbers in the showroom. Here they were really having fun.


 
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Old May 4th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
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Thank you all for your prayers for Kuki's mom. She appears to be improving every day and very much appreciates all your good wishes.
As Mrs. Kuki posted... we thank everyone for their good wishes for my mother. And I thank her and my sister for dealing with the stress for me.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 08:55 AM
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Kuki: glad to hear your Mom's improving.

We really enjoyed following your posts....brings back great memories of our time on the Sapphire. Remember Jim and Beverly trying to figure out who decorated their cabin door every day on the cruise? They blamed you and Mrs. Kuki as the culprits, then the cabin steward, then an elusive Cruisemates elf. All was revealed on the last night of the cruise. We sure did have alot of laughs over this. Let us know how the meals on the Symphony compare with the Sapphire.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 06:45 PM
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Nice to hear your mom is doing better. You thread is great; lots of info on the trip, the ship, the crew, and pics.
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Old May 4th, 2011, 08:27 PM
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- At Sea- May 4 ‘11
As this cruise begins to make it’s way back to Los Angeles, we awoke to fairly significant headwinds (about 24 MPH across the bow). However, for some relief the sun was shining. Deck chairs located in areas protected a bit from the wind were put out, but half remained tied up.

On decks 8,9 and 10 aft, there’s some small areas, protected from the wind by the structure of the ship, made good areas to sit out and catch some sun.


The Cruise Director, Paul McFarland, had to work long into the night I imagine to juggle the activities schedule and entertainment. He did a very good job of “moving on his feet” to get things set up, and get the information out.

I have to admit there’s something special about waking up, calling your butler, and having your pot of coffee delivered by the time you’ve brushed your teeth. My butler David isn’t near as good looking as Mrs. Kuki, but who knows, as I get older his services may become more important than those Mrs. Kuki provides.

At 9:30 this morning there was a CU(Crystal University ) @ Sea Class on “Ten Terrific Tools Using Microsoft Windows 7. Pre-registration was required (and I hadn’t registered), but thought I would pop in to just watch for awhile.

The internet café and the Studio for CU were packed to the rafters. I looked over some shoulders and saw many of the people playing solitaire. I assumed that was application must have been one of the ten.

By 10 A.M. I moved on the Starlite Club, where past member of the Washington press, Dan Thomasson, was doing a special interest lecture on “How We Set The Stage for Middle East Turmoil”.

In light of the recent killing of Usama Ben Laden, the topic was certainly going to be of current interest, and the lounge was packed. While Mr. Thomasson did supply bits of interesting historical background, in my opinion the session was not well directed, nor focused.

It’s a very difficult topic, with the opportunity for diverse political views to be expressed. Near the beginning of his presentation Mr. Thomasson told a joke, which he began with “at the risk of offending some of you”, that was an ethnic joke. As someone who jokes around a lot, with even the odd ethnic joke along the way, I can tell you that this joke was totally out of place, and not even close to being anywhere near the topic of discussion.

There’s certainly a place for levity, but this was not one of them. And I think it set a tone for what I viewed as a less than quality discussion on a topic that had the potential for being very informative and lively from a presenter whose experience should have had the topic right in his “wheel house”, but he struck out.

From there I attended the wind-up cocktail party and prize presentations for those who’d participated in the golf package. The party was well done, with nice etched glass trophies for the winners.


Cruise Director, Paul McFarland, talked about the golf theme cruises being a “value added experience”, and with the exception of the middle day of the three (Ko’Oloua”) the program fulfilled that description in my view.

I have an interview scheduled tomorrow with our LPGA Pro, Shannon Kneisler to discuss her thoughts on the golf program, and learn a bit about her history.

It was mentioned that Crystal does 3 or 4 of these golf themed cruises a year (this was the first one in the Hawaiian Islands), so if this interests you, you should keep an eye out, or have your travel agent check out future sailing dates for these theme cruises.

Moving on to a totally different and I think very pertinent and confusing topic; Cellular @ Sea.

Many ships now have the technology which allows passengers to use their own cell phones to make and receive phone calls, receive and send emails on smart phones, text messages etc.

Due to the situation with my mother being hospitalized I turned on my cell phone yesterday, and used that available service to call home.
As soon I turned on the cell phone it noted “Carrier - Cellular @ Sea. I knew this meant I was now paying International Roaming Charges, and high per minute usage rates.

I’ve seen many passengers out and about on the ship, talking on their cell phones, texting, or emailing. And I believe many are simply leaving their cell phones on all day. But I don’t believe they know that is automatically adding International Roaming Charges to their phone bills, even if they don’t use the phone. They are going to be surprised how hefty a bill they are going to have amassed, later, when they get home.

Frankly, I think the cruise lines should be posting notices in their daily newsletters, or with a notice posted in every passenger cabin, warning passengers they will incur charges from Cellular @ Sea. Unless communication is urgent cell phones should be powered off when you are at sea.

When Paul McFarland and the staff were rescheduling events, he said the #1 request was for another presentation by Ken Venturi. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one on the ship who’d thought Mr. Venturi’s presentation to be the best on the ship.

Mr. Venturi agreed to do another session. I’m off to it now, and will report on it, and the remainder of the day later this evening.
 
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Old May 4th, 2011, 09:48 PM
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Thanks, Kuki! I'm enjoying your post's even though we'll probably never cruise on Crystal.

I'm glad to hear that your Mother is doing better. I know that makes you feel better, too!

If the "joke" Mr. Dan Thomasson told was offensive to you, I'm sure it was offensive to other's. Did you ask the CD about it? I think he/she is the person who's responsible?

When someone starts a talk saying "at the risk of offending someone", I just want to run away because they are going to offend someone!

Which golf trophy did you win?
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