We woke early to dress, pack last minute things and have breakfast. Since Viktor asked if we would be at breakfast, we broke our habit of buffet breakfast and went to Waterside. Last breakfast is such a sad occasion. We still kept a light breakfast against Viktor’s recommendation since we were traveling. After our last meal, we said our goodbyes that I hope are really “see you laters.”
We returned to the cabin to grab our bags so Julia, our fantastic steward could prepare our cabin for the next guests. There was still some time so we made ourselves comfortable in the Cove for a bit. When it was time for our disembarkation, we were quickly off the ship and found our bags easily. It was a very painless disembarkation since we had already cleared customs yesterday in Key West.
It was easy to get a cab and we were soon at the airport. The line for security was huge but thanks to TSA precheck, we were through in mere minutes. The airport was busy as this is one of the busiest travel days of the year. We had about three hours to kill at the airport since we were there early. Sitting at the gate, I recognized a pharmacist I used to work with and went over to say hello. It was great catching up with her and it helped pass the time. The plane started boarding but after group 3, an announcement was made that boarding would stop. The passengers who boarded would be coming back off the plane. Apparently, we were delayed due to congestion in Philadelphia. We had heard the weather might be bad in the area as well so we were worried that might be another factor. Eventually, we boarded the plane over an hour late. After boarding, we did have to sit on the plane for a bit as well waiting to leave. Never fun, especially with a few unhappy passengers including a very upset baby who in turn made his parents quite unhappy as well. It wasn’t the type of in-flight entertainment I was hoping to enjoy. The flight was very turbulent and the seatbelt sign was lit almost the entire flight. We seemed close to Philadelphia but a look at the screen showed a very convoluted flight path. Finally, we landed safe and sound. It wasn’t too long to get our bags and a shuttle to our car. After arriving at our car, Chris noticed that although we had just enough range to get hoe we should stop and charge. The cold and sentry mode had drained a good chunk of the Tesla’s charge. No worries as there is a Supercharger at Wawa on our way home and we were both hungry so a hoagie sounded perfect. By the time we ate our sandwiches, the car had more than enough juice to get us home. That was a valuable lesson learned. Since we were gone for 8 days we will be sure to either turn off sentry mode in the future or park at a lot where we can plug in while we are gone. Let us know if you want to learn more about the Tesla life and use this referral to get 1,000 miles of free supercharging when you purchase a new Tesla. https://www.tesla.com/referral/chris17891
We awoke to the sounds of the ship docking and knew we should start getting ready for immigration. Since this was our first port back in the USA, we had to go to a face to face immigration. We were in group two so we figured it would take a little while. As we were dressing, they called group two. Very quickly, we finished dressing and went to the Galaxy Lounge where we did not wait in line long at all. After immigration, we headed to Marketplace for coffee and a light breakfast.
We left the ship around 8:30. There was a complimentary trolley that took us into the center of town. We walked to the Hemingway House and a tour was starting about five minutes after we purchased our tickets. The tour guide was delightfully enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of Hemingway, I still think you would enjoy the tour. The house and grounds are beautiful and the history is interesting. Of course, the stars are the 59 cats who reside there. They are all named for famous actors it seems. We saw one cat curled up sound asleep on the master bed. Out by the pool, near Hemingway’s last cent, we saw Marilyn Monroe sunbathing. His writing loft looks ready for him to sit at the typewriter. After the tour, we proceeded down the street to the Southernmost Point landmark. The line was pretty long but we managed to get some cool photos without waiting with some speed and creativity.
It was still pretty early in the day so we walked over to Duvall Street. The temperature was fairly warm and we forgot to bring water from the ship so we stopped in to Walgreens to buy some. Our favorite bartender, Petar mentioned his love of Doritos and Cheetos so I saw them and had to buy him some as a treat. He had been crafting us fine Manhattans every night so he deserved this small token.
Back on board, we returned to our cabin to find a terrible sight, our suitcases on the bed. I decided we should do some packing before we go relax. We packed most of our stuff and then changed our clothes and headed poolside for lunch and relaxation. Lunch was light in Marketplace as many were still ashore. We both made a salad lunch and saw our pal, Viktor. We told him we would be dining tonight in Waterside. After lunch, it was to the couches under an umbrella to read, write and relax. It started getting sunnier so we moved to our favorite round chairs in the shade. We had a quick dip in the pool to cool off. After the swim, I wanted to try the drink of the day, the Key Lime Martini. I saw Alan wave at me from across the deck and I waved back. He came over and before I could order, he asked if we were ready for a Key Lime Martini. He’s the best! The drink was a nice substitute for not getting the pie when we went ashore. It had a graham cracker rim and was made with coconut milk to make it creamy. So refreshing! A nice dessert. We relaxed, read and napped until Chris went to hit some golf balls. I stayed at the chair a little longer soaking in my last day.
The last day went by quickly and it was time to shower and dress for dinner. We went to our usual spot, Avenue Saloon to finish out the Manhattan Mission. We brought Petar his treat and he gave us the biggest smile. It seemed to surprise him which made the little treat even better! I ended with the Reposado which is made with tequila. It was very good with orange and chocolate flavors yet not sweet. Chris had the Rob Roy which according to Petar was the first one of the cruise. The Rob Roy was made with scotch but I did not find it to be a very strong scotch. I am not a fan of scotch and I could drink this one but with so many other choices, it would not be my first pick. The snacks were crudités and arancini. We had a great start to the evening with nice drinks and good conversations with fellow passengers.
Chris had made a special order the previous evening for Chateaubriand so we were both anxious to go to dinner. As we barely walked into Waterside, Remy the maitre’d recognized us and knew to seat us with Viktor. We started dinner with one of our favorites, Beef Crudo. It is horseradish, mashed potatoes and Wagyu beef in a jar filled with smoke. It is opened by the waiter and a small wisp of smoke comes out that fills your nostrils with a delightful aroma. The beef is deliciously tender and potatoes are so creamy. Our next course was lobster and mushroom strudel. I really enjoyed this as well. Dinner was our special order of Chateaubriand. It was cooked perfectly. The sauce that came with it was outstanding. For dessert, we both ordered the Key Lime mousse. It was a modern twist of a classic with a band of marshmallows around it. We both really enjoyed it. It was the perfect last dinner aboard Symphony. Always a bittersweet day, we took a photo with Viktor and said our farewells. Although he asked if we would be at breakfast. We typically do not eat in Waterside for breakfast but quickly decided we would tomorrow.
The Crystal Quartet was finishing up their set but we did manage to dance a few songs. We skipped the show tonight which for 5-6-7-8, a production style show. During the break of music, we went back to Avenue. We had a Jaggermeister chilled to settle our stomachs from the meal. The pianist played a few songs but soon it was his break as well. The dim lights of the bar started to make someone drowsy. I suggested to go back to Starlite to dance but instead we returned to the cabin to get our bags outside. The comfortable bed drew us in and we finished up the lecture I’d been falling asleep to for a few nights now. It was an interesting lecture about Titanic but he has a very soothing voice. I went to sleep thinking this cruise went by too fast!
We were up pretty early since we went to bed early the previous night. We both went to get Americano coffees at the Bistro to-go and walked around the ship. Chris went to the golf clinic and he found the instructor very knowledgeable. I did some writing in the cabin. Later, Chris attended the Titanic lecture which he enjoyed. It discussed the various movies that have told the story of Titanic. After the lecture, we met our team for trivia. It was not our best performance 8/15 but it was enjoyable chatting with our team mates. They showed us photos of their dinner in the Vintage Room on Thanksgiving which they both enjoyed. That seems like a great experience. There are so many food choices available it is hard to try them all in a 7 day cruise.
After trivia, we went to lunch at Marketplace and then grabbed a spot by the pool. Once again, even though it was early afternoon, there was no difficulty finding a good spot. We swam for a bit and chatted with a wonderfully interesting passenger who worked as the producer and writer for a few television shows (The Mike Douglas Show, CHiPS and Hollywood Squares) . Upon finding out we were pharmacists, he asked us a few questions about medications while I asked him about being a writer. One of the delights of a Crystal cruise for me is meeting very interesting people. Chris enjoyed the golf clinic about driving so he also went to the putting one in the afternoon while I read at the pool. Chris kept up his busy day and went to the galley tour while I got ready for dinner. Since I was ready before him I went to the Avenue Saloon to wait for him.
Since we attended the Meet and Mingle yesterday in Palm Court, we needed to play catch up on our Manhattan journey. I started with the Sainted Manhattan which had elderflower liqueur and dry vermouth. Petar asked me to rate it and I said a solid 3.5 stars. When Chris arrived, he ordered the Unusual Manhattan that features cardamom. I didn’t really taste much unusual in that one but it was good. The snacks were salmon wraps and spicy chicken wings. For our second drinks, I had the Clint Eastwood and Chris had the Bluegrass. I had been weary of ordering the Clint Eastwood with green chartreuse. The color is not green and the drink was actually quite nice. It has a slightly herbal flavor that made it different. Neither Chris nor I enjoyed the Bluegrass. It was the first real dud of the list. To me, it tasted too weak almost watered down. We met some great people sitting at the bar tonight and had nice conversation with some fellow Manhattan enthusiasts.
Dinner tonight was in Waterside. We did try to get a reservation in Umi Uma but it was filled. Of course, we sat in Viktor’s section. I started with the mushroom tart and Chris had the octopus. Then, I had the octopus while Chris had an appetizer portion of pasta. The octopus was very nice. For our dinner, I had the cod while Chris had the veal. We both enjoyed our dinners. For dessert, I had mixed berries that Viktor recommended having with cognac. Chris had the sour cherry tapioca trifle. Both were lovely. It was another great dinner at Waterside.
We had been so impressed with the fine service from Viktor that we sent an email to Tom Wolber, the CEO. While we were waiting for the show, I saw he emailed me back already! We were very impressed at his dedication to his guests. He said he will be on Symphony next week and will thank Viktor personally for his service to us.
The show was a musical comedian, Steve Stevens. He was very funny with a nice mix of music and comedy. We both really laughed a bunch and enjoyed it.
After the show, we ended the night dancing at Palm Court with the Crystal Quartet. We enjoyed quite a few dances as well as nice discussion with hosts and fellow dancers we had met. At midnight, we returned to our cabin as immigration would be starting tomorrow morning at 7:30 for our last port, Key West.
Good Thanksgiving morning! We awoke early when the ship started anchoring in the harbor around 7:30. Our initial plans were to try the Royal Palm beach club but a lazy day on board won. Last year, we had our second visit to Grand Cayman so that helped make the choice to create another day at sea. We snoozed a little more and went for breakfast in the Marketplace and dined outside.
It was warm early so we changed into our bathing suits and spent the day at the pool. The hardest part of my day was “Goldilocksing” around the deck. We started in loungers by the pool which were delightfully shaded. I read my book while Chris did crosswords on his phone. We went for a dip in the pool which felt so refreshing. I glanced at my hand and noticed the main gemstone missing from my ring. I knew it was there when I entered the pool so I started the hunt. The pool is very salty so Chris went back to grab our mask. While he was gone, I found it. I attempted a dive but the salt water was brutal. I located it once more and stood with my foot over it until he returned. He dove with the mask and got it back. It is not the most valuable of rings and ironically I had the prongs fixed a few months ago but it is a sentimental ring so I’m glad we found it. After our diving adventure in the pool, we returned to our seats and decided to try lunch in the Marketplace and if nothing seemed interesting we would go to Silk. The Indian food won me over so I made a salad with some vegetable curry. We returned to our seats but the sun was now overhead. We changed loungers but didn’t stay to long there as the sun crept onto my one side. I sat briefly and one of the couches but the windows behind them can make it quite hot. Chris saw a round chair, perfect for us both under the shade open up. Ahhh, that was just right as Goldilocks would say. I wrote for awhile and read some more. Alan, one of our favorite bar waiters suggested we try the drink of the day, Harvest Old Fashioned. It was Thanksgiving in a glass for sure. Then it was just perfect for a nap in the breeze.
Tonight was the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle so we returned to freshen up for the 5:30 get together. It was pretty late in the cruise and the timing of Thanksgiving did not seem the best choice. There were 11 in attendance. The head housekeeper stopped briefly by to introduce herself. We enjoyed talking all things cruising with some really great passengers. We both had a Negroni and enjoyed snacking on the tomato with olives and shrimp sliders. If you followed my thread on Cruise Critic, the complainer did not make an appearance. I was really hoping to chat with them and would have been completely cordial after all it was Thanksgiving. But, sometimes it’s hard to meet face to face.
We headed to dinner around 7:30 hoping it would not be too brutally crowded as it is a popular night in Waterside. We were squeezed in to another section but Viktor once again was our server. Tonight, we decided to upgrade the wine to use our on board credit. Our initial idea was to order Caymus but the sommelier convinced us to try the Caymus Special Selection after hearing the descriptions of both. When he returned, he told us this was the same as the first bottle he had ever opened on a ship way back in 2008 and then he broke the cork. Tonight he extracted the long Caymus cork with ease. He said he has never opened a bad bottle of Caymus and I’d have to agree. It was spectacular. For appetizers, we both started with the escargot. They were delicious. After that, Chris had the beets with goat cheese while I had the butternut squash soup. Chris thought the beets were fantastic and I enjoyed the soup especially with the addition of a few pieces of pickled pumpkin. For mains, we both went with the traditional turkey dinner. It was the biggest portion for a main I have seen but it is Thanksgiving tradition to make a big plate. The turkey was very juicy and the sides were fantastic. We both enjoyed the heartier bourbon gravy. For dessert, we stuck with tradition and both ordered pumpkin pie but minus the ice cream. Since Viktor recommended the pecan pie, we shared that as well. I think the pecan was the superior choice. We left Waterside stuffed like turkeys and waddled back to the cabin.
Our intention was to pop into the cabin a moment and then go to the Curtis and Beverly show in Starlite at 10:15. We both dozed off thanks to fine wine and turkey. I did wake up with plenty of time but asked Chris if he just wanted to stay in the cabin and watch a lecture. Well following the lazy theme of the day, that was the winner. The lecture was about the aftermath of Titanic. The speaker’s grandfather was one of the musicians on Titanic and did not survive the tragedy. I almost made it to the end but did fall asleep. I will try to finish and also attend his lecture tomorrow on Titanic movies, fact or fiction.
I hope everyone reading this had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did. Happy Thanksgiving!
We woke fairly early once again and started our day with a walk around the promenade deck. After that, it was off to Marketplace for our coffee and breakfast. We have been eating each morning on the aft deck and it has been glorious having breakfast in the warm sun.
Sea days are the perfect days to relax. We went to trivia and met up with our team. Our score was 11/15 which while respectable, it did not win us any useless coupons. In fact, our one teammate complained that the items she liked in the shop did not get the discount. After trivia, we went to eat lunch in Marketplace and head to the pool. The beauty of Crystal is there always seems to be a great spot to lounge by the pool. The band was just starting their brief set and we enjoying the music while floating around the waves of the pool. We both decided to have a refreshing Gin and Jam before returning to the cabin to change for the 3pm magic show.
We had reserved tickets for the Crystal Magicians at Sea performance. This is similar to the Magic Castle at Sea and is an intimate performance of close-up magic. Mark, the magician during this cruise, told us he was the resident close-up artist at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando and even had a genuine Harry Potter wand to complete the look! Mark started with a clever two sided folding octagon that started out with two colors and ended with him being able to display 6 total different colors. A nifty effect. He then did some rubber band magic that he was very adept at and a few card tricks. Actually one of the card tricks was performed by Chris who followed a script on Mark’s phone to instruct him how to complete the trick. A clever turn on a classic found card routine. He finished with some rope magic, a sponge ball routine and a bottle cap penetration into a coke bottle followed by a chop cup routine making an orange, lemon and lime all appear under a metal cup. This Crystal Magicians at Sea was a winner!
With the magic show over, we decided to return to the cabin to shower for dinner. We went our usual spot the Avenue Saloon to continue our journey through the Manhattan menu. Tonight, I tried the Brooklyn Manhattan which one notable difference was dry vermouth instead of sweet. I was a little worried about that but actually enjoyed it. Chris chose the Crystal Signature Manhattan with barrel aged Woodford Reserve. He thought it was a solid take on the classic Manhattan. We sampled some falafel with beet root hummus. Very tasty and pretty spicy. Chris tried the watermelon with goat cheese as well. The ship is decorated all over with some beautiful decorations but the cross eyed reindeer really stare at you. We found the parent of the bar top reindeer so we posed for a picture on our way to dinner.
For dinner, we returned to Waterside to be served by our favorite waiter, Viktor. Of course he was very busy but the service was still impeccable. We both stared with the King Crab which is like a crab salad with tropical fruits. Chris had an appetizer portion of the puttanesca pasta and I had the salad with mixed greens, grilled vegetables and fried oysters. For dinner, we both went with Viktor’s recommendation of the Caribbean dorado. It had lobster, potato hash and an amazing sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly. We both raved about this dish. For dessert, we sampled the white chocolate delice which was nice as well. Another top notch dinner on Crystal Symphony.
I was very happy to not have spilled or dripped any food or wine on my all white outfit because later tonight was the White Party. We had a bit of time before the festivities so we went to Palm Court to listen the the Double Malt Duo since we had yet to hear them perform. They were very good and I found the female singers voice very soothing. When they took a break, we returned to the Avenue. Petar the bartender had recommended a Stabilizer as an after dinner drink so we went back to try one before the party. A Stabilizer is port wine mixed with brandy. We both agreed it is a fine choice after dinner.
It was then time to head to the Cove for the White Party. The decorations for the holidays complimented the White Party decorations so nicely. The music was upbeat and fun. We tried a white drink but didn’t finish it but we did sample some of the white petit fours. I spotted a cruise critic member I started following on Instagram so we went and introduced ourselves. It was great chatting with them about their previous cruising. I burned off some calories dancing with the Ambassador Hosts and Chris. Curtis and Beverly performed a stellar cha cha for the crowd. Later, I spoke with Shane about the fun I had with him at the White Party on the Hawaii cruise so he grabbed me for a dance around the floor. Chris and I chatted with Beverly and Curtis joined us. I reminded him of when I fan girled him on our first cruise about his working on Days of Our Lives which I have watched for about 33 years! Curtis asked me to dance a fun swing while Chris danced with Beverly. Later, Chris got a waltz with Beverly as well. We stayed until the music was over and finished the evening off with a new couple we met at the party in the Avenue. Tonight’s music was pretty mellow but very nice. Beverly showed up as well and we also enjoyed chatting with her. She is an absolute delight. It was a great night of fun aboard Crystal Symphony
We slept a little later for us but were still up before 8. Today, we are in Grand Turk and arriving around 8. We went to Marketplace for a light breakfast before venturing out on our adventure.
We left the ship around 8:15 and saw the area in the port with stores and beaches. They have chairs that are free in the back rows and other ones for rent. The beach looked nice for an easy day but it did look a little rocky and had the potential to be crowded with three ships in port, Symphony, Serenity and a larger Holland America ship, Niew Amsterdam. I did some research and wanted to try Governor’s Beach.
We found our way to the cab stand and did not wait long to leave. The fare was $4 per person each way. The walk didn’t seem to bad but we were anxious to see the beach and it was already fairly warm. The beach was amazing. Soft white sand, crystal blue water and we were the only people there! You could rent chairs but we decided to just sit on our towels when taking a break from the water. There is also a shipwreck right on shore. It washed ashore during Hurricane Sandy. The water was a great temperature and we did some snorkeling. We saw tons of fish only a few feet from shore. Sitting on he beach, I watched so many butterflies dance by. Some others arrived later but it was still a pretty empty slice of paradise. I wanted to take a cab back to the ship as I felt so relaxed and at easy and Chris agreed.
We went back to the ship around lunch and headed up to the pool deck. We grabbed a table and I did some writing before lunch. The ship was busy with people visiting from Serenity. We met a rather creepy man who started talking to us. He told us he was a wizard and needed one ingredient for his potion, a virgin. Yeah OK. He seriously was trying to ask me. Very bizarre and creepy. He wouldn’t go away and proceeded to harass to other women with the same question. He finally left and I did overhear some women complaining about a “creepy guy who talked dirty” so it had to be him.
After our interesting encounter, we both went to Marketplace for lunch. We brought our food out to the pool to enjoy the warmth. Then it felt pretty hot so we found some nice shady loungers and went for a dip in the pool. Chris tried a new cocktail, Gin and Jam which was very delicious. We both loved it. I had a drink called a Grumpy Old Man, inspired by our crass visitor from before! We looked at the dinner menu and were not too excited. Chris went to ask for a reservation at Silk. He was told they were fully booked but had one at 8:30pm. Sold. The shade was so lovely we both took lovely poolside nap. After the nap, we both went for another swim. Another couple we had been dancing with joined us in the pool and we enjoyed a delightful conversation.
We both watched sail away since it was extra special tonight. The Symphony would pass its sister ship, Serenity on its way from Grand Turk. We heard lots of cheering as we passed. It was enjoyable hearing the horn competition of the sisters. They don’t often have much time to chat in person!
We had a cocktail reception from Ensemble Travel at six so we went back to the room to get ready. We enjoyed our drinks and a chat with the group. We still had a bit of time before our late reservation. We went to Avenue Saloon to grab our Manhattans, Employees Only for me and Black Manhattan for Chris. Both were perfect. We decided to hit the 7:30 show which was ventriloquist, Mark Merchant.
I saw Mark Merchant on my last Crystal cruise. Chris thought it was a rave review that I wanted to see a ventriloquist again. We both really enjoyed the show. He is very entertaining and keeps his show current.
After the show, it was time to go to Silk. We tried the signature cocktail that was pretty sweet but tasty. We started with the Dim Sum, Crispy Shrimp Dumplings and the spring roll of the day which was beef. All the starters were great. For shared entrees,we had Kung Pow shrimp, miso cod and beef with xo sauce. For dessert, Chris had the tapioca soup and I had the fruit plate. I think the best fruit plate on board is in Silk. It was another fabulous night of food!
After dinner, we returned to Avenue to get a nightcap. We tried a new cocktail, French Connection at the bartender’s recommendation. It was cognac and Grand Mariner. We took our drinks to the show in Starlite. Tonight, Curtis and Beverly were performing. I love ballroom dancing and Curtis and Beverly are truly amazing dancers. The show had comedy and dancing. The lifts they execute are effortless and flawless. We stayed for one dance with the DJ and went back to the room. Another fine day aboard Symphony
We woke fairly early after a wonderful night of sleep. Our bed is so very comfortable and cabin was very quiet. We went for a mile walk before breakfast which we enjoyed outside of the Marketplace. Chris and I both kept breakfast small and healthy as we knew later we’d be indulging in delights!
Chris attended a lecture about cocaine trafficking. There he learned from a former UK Superintendent of police about the process of growing, harvesting and producing cocaine from the cocoa leaf. Most cocaine comes from Peru and Columbia through Venezuela and is transported through the Caribbean waters we are sailing in to Florida. The drug cartels have moved from speedboats to semi-submersible submarines to outwit the coast guard but still they are captured. What the traffickers have done now is to sink the craft when they are caught so all the evidence sinks thousands of feet to the ocean floor. The best the authorities can do is to deport them back to South America and the cycle starts anew.
After the lecture, we went to play trivia. We were joined by another couple who definitely rescued us. We were the winners with a score of 13/15. The prizes are discount voucher to the spa and gift show which is not too exciting but truly it is the bragging rights that matter.
With our prizes in hand, we went to Marketplace for buffet lunch. We enjoy the vegetable options and the salads which are served there. It was Asian themed so in addition to my salad I tried a vegetable spring roll and vegetable potsticker which were both very nice.
After lunch, we put on our bathing suits and found a shady spot by the pool. It was quite warm so the pool water felt chilly but only for a few seconds. After the initial cold, it was delightful. We swam, wrote, lounged and had a cocktail. We both ordered a Pimm’s Cup which is a wonderfully refreshing drink.
Soon, it was time to shower and change for the evening. We were looking forward to dinner at Waterside. We stopped at Avenue Saloon on the way for a pre-dinner drink. Chris had a Bensonhurst while I tried Little Italy. Both manhattans were good and very similar but mine was a touch sweeter.
At Waterside we were seated quickly and it was surprising not crowded early. Chris asked to be seated in Viktor’s section. I was so excited to reunite with him. He saw me come in and his face was surprised. After a hug, he took us to our table which was not actually in his section. If you read the blog from the Hawaii trip, this was not new for us! Chris enjoyed meeting him and hearing his recommendations. We started with the caviar followed by the oysters. Both were spectacular. A maitre’d passed by to grab the empty oyster dishes and said he would bring us more. How could be say no? Our main was the lobster which was cooked perfectly. For dessert, Chris went with the recommendation of German Chocolate cake while I had the mango pavlova against his recommendations (another thing reminiscent of the Hawaii cruise) and we both liked our desserts.
Since we dined early, we went back to the cabin on our way to the Welcome/Crystal Society party. On my bed was a jewelry box containing my pin for completing five cruises! I put on my new bling and headed to the party. We did a little dancing and caught up with Julie from Cruise Critic. She was on the Hawaiian cruise with me so it was great seeing her and her husband again. We also met Roy from Cruise Critic whose posts I have been following.
We went to see the Icons production show. It was your typical cruise production show with singing and dancing. Very upbeat and high energy songs and dancing. Everyone was handed a light stick on the way in to hold up and wave like a lighter. That was a nice touch.
We ended our evening alternating between dancing in Starlight and piano sing along in the Avenue Saloon. Both were lots of fun. We returned to the cabin around midnight to rest up for our day in Grand Turk.
We woke up fairly early after a great night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed. It was a pretty early evening as I didn’t even make it through a whole episode of The Crown. We went for a walk along the water and saw our home for the week across the water. After the walk, we popped back into Whole Foods. I thought we’d grab a quick pastry but after seeing the salad bar already set and so fresh looking, we both made a salad for breakfast.
Chris’ parents met us in the lobby at 11 for the short Uber ride to the pier. We were boarding group 2 and didn’t have to wait long for a quick check-in. I thought it was pretty neat that I could use my photo from my last cruise.
We entered the ship and were wowed by the decorations. They really put a lot of effort into decorating the ship. We each grabbed a champagne and I gave them a tour of the ship. It felt good to be home!
We decided to have another drink in the Cove before lunch which was in Waterside. Everyone started with the seafood plate and enjoyed the starter. For lunch, Chris and his mom chose the Prime Rib which was cooked perfectly. Chris’ dad ordered the salmon and loved it. I went with the butternut squash ravioli which was good as well. For dessert, Chris and I ordered fruit while his mom chose cheesecake which she said was just how she likes it. Chris’ dad ordered cheese and fruit. I think he was a bit taken back by the pungent cheese so we had a laugh over that.
After lunch, we went up to the bar outside of Silk to get another drink. Chris grabbed his dad a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to try. We tried two of the gin and tonics (London Spritz and Grapefruit) which were both tasty. Chris’ mom enjoyed a rose wine and Dad ordered Tommy’s margarita. All excellent choices.
Around three, our cabin was ready. We took them to the cabin and we watched the Eagles game while we unpacked. We are on deck 7 with an unobstructed view. It was almost time for our guest to depart so we went to the Cove for a goodbye drink. I think they were sad to go and might have gotten “crystallized” after a few short hours!
The muster drill was relatively painless. We didn’t not need to bring life jackets and your room key is quickly scanned to take roll. At the very end of the drill, we looked out on the water to see dolphins playing. What a great send off!
We returned to our cabin to change for the evening. As we left the cabin, we could hear Louis singing so we stepped out on the promenade to hear it better. Sail away is always a special time, it never gets old.
We had dinner reservations at Umi Uma at 7. It was a little early so we popped into the Avenue Saloon for a cocktail. We decided to try a new Manhattan. Chris ordered the Fig which I chose the Make the Mark. Both were lovely drinks. His was on the sweet side while mine had a more alcohol taste since it also has Bristol Cream in it.
We made the short walk to Umi Uma. I have dined here on the first night of all my cruises so it is now tradition. It was a spectacular dinner. Chris let me do all the ordering and he said I did a great job. I ordered chef’s choice of sushi/sashimi, lobster tacos and lobster tempura to share. We each got mushroom salad and the Wagyu beef. We washed it down with the delightful Nobu Chardonnay. A phenomenal evening of food made even more enjoyable by the gentlemen sitting next to us who were fun to talk with and taught Chris about the fresh wasabi.
After dinner, we went to Crystal in Motion with was entertaining. We powered though the evening by going to Palm Court to dance. We met the dance hosts who seem great! I shared a few dances with them and Chris. We went back to the cabin around midnight. What a wonderful first day!
Welcome to another series of our travel adventures. We are off on another cruise but this time we are leaving our teen home with her grandparents. Before you start to feel too bad for her, last summer, I spent 16 glorious days on Serenity with just my daughter and now I get to have a week of relaxation with my husband.
We had an early morning flight to Miami that left a little bit late which didn’t surprise us. The airport was pretty busy with holiday travels. Security was a breeze for us though with TSA precheck. We grabbed a quick breakfast and it was time to board. There were lots of families traveling for the holidays and we heard lots of talk about cruising. The flight was quick and relatively painless although the man across the aisle apparently has never heard of headphones. (Note: we should probably do a traveling rant post sometime)
We took a cab to the JW Marriott Marquis ($32.00) where we staying one night pre-cruise. Chris got a text that our room was ready when he turned his phone back on. It was nice being able to go to the room straight away. The room was on the 33rd floor with a view of the bay. We both felt hungry so we decided to go to Whole Foods across the street to get a quick and healthy lunch. We took our food back to the room and waited to hear from his parents who were coming to Miami to spend some time with us. They were driving from Tampa to spend the weekend here with us and will be joining us on the ship for lunch.
After his parents called, we went to their hotel which was across the street. We had a nice drink by the pool and decided to walk through the park to the Bayside Marketplace to get some dinner. It is a nice stroll and we saw the Christmas tree being worked on. We decided to eat at Tradewinds right on the water. We all enjoyed our food and drinks. Most of us ordered the grilled shrimp which were very tasty.
After dinner, we walked back to our hotel to show them our room. We went down to the bar in the hotel and had a nightcap. It was great catching up with family. Coming to the port the night before makes it much more relaxing and enjoyable.
The last full day of the the cruise is usually sad but we were really looking forward to our first visit to Belgium. Plus, I think we are all ready to be heading home tomorrow. We had room service deliver coffee and pastries as our arrival was at 7:00am. I opened up the curtain and saw gray skies and steady rain. This did not make us to excited to run off the ship. Veronica and I were still not feeling well and Chris was not too keen on a rainy day either. Moments later, we heard a loud crack of thunder. We decided to dress and wait hoping for it to clear up.
Around 10:00, we were seeing blue skies so we decided now was the time to leave. We found a taxi right at the port. The driver was very friendly and gave us tips for things to see in Bruges. He was very impressed with our knowledge of Belgian beers. He dropped us close to the center of town, gave us his number and told us to call for pick up back to the ship.
Bruges is a beautiful medieval town with canals. It is amazingly picturesque and I fell in love with it as soon as I stepped into the centre of Bruge and saw the Belfry of Bruges. Before the trip, we watched the movie “In Bruges” and this spot is featured prominently in the film. You could hear the tower chiming out its melody as soon as we came in view. You can climb the tower but instead we were all hungry and eager to try a waffle. We found a place and Veronica ordered a waffle with strawberries while Chris and I shared a plain. It was nothing like a “Belgium waffle” that I’ve had in the States. It was magical. The texture was unlike any waffle I’ve ever tasted. Now with some food in our bellies, the search was on for the Beer Wall our cab driver told us about.
On our way to the beer, we we passed the Basilica of the Holy Blood. We went inside to visit the Church. This Church houses a relic of the blood of Jesus Christ collected by Joseph of Arimathea. It was brought to Bruges during the Second Crusade. The phial dates back to the 11th or 12th century and was never opened since its arrival in Bruges. The chapel is beautiful and we saw where the relic is stored. We lit two candles and then an announcement was made that veneration of the relic would be at 11am which was only five minutes away. We took seats in the front and waited. A priest appeared with the relic around his neck accompanied by an altar server. They went up a few stairs to a small altar. The priest said a short prayer and placed the relic in a glass case. We were all permitted to go up to the altar to view the relic. You could donate money and then place your hands on the case to say a short prayer. The altar server then gave each person a prayer card. It was a very spiritual experience for me and something I will always remember.
We continued our travels to the Beer Wall. It is located inside 2be bar and shop which is inside a 15th century mayor’s house. Here on display is all the Belgium beers next to the appropriate drinking vessel. We marveled at the majestic site of 1915 Belgium beers on display. We decided you can’t just look at them so we shared a local tasting. Four 4oz beers with 3 snacks sounded like a great place to start. Veronica and I went out on the terrace with views of the canal and Chris appeared a few moments later with our tasting. The snacks were a small piece of cheese, a little cup of sausages and a little cup of peanuts. The beers were amazing as was the snacks. Chris wanted to look for lunch and maybe some frites. We wandered the quaint streets of Bruges but nothing seemed like what we wanted. What I wanted was more beer so I suggested to go back to 2be and each get our own tasting. Veronica liked this plan and how could Chris argue. Back to the wall we went. This time we each got our our tasting. Since this was Veronica’s first legal drinking, she did the Light tasting while Chris and I both chose the Strong. The beers were once again fabulous. I thought it was a great “lunch”.
After our beers, we all wanted frites. We also wanted to buy some chocolates to bring home as thank you gifts, We stopped in one of the many chocolate shops and bought a few assortments. I asked one of the workers where he likes to get frites and he gave me a recommendation. We passed by a beer shop so we popped in to look. Of course we bought a few beers we have not seen at home to try.
The frites or fries were at a shop right in the center of town across from the tower. The outside seating was crowded and there was a line so that’s a good sign. We decided to share a large. They have 18 different sauces to choose from. We got a sample of three, warm brown beer sauce, andaluse and frikadelsaus. The last two were recommendations of the server after we wanted one that was spicy and one sweet. The fries were awesome and we enjoyed all the sauces. The beer sauce was like a beef gravy while the other two were mayonnaise based. After the fries, we called for our taxi. We found him at the pick up spot very easy and it was a short ride back to the ship.
Back on board, we all went to evening trivia. Veronica was having dinner with her friends so Chris and I went to the buffet. We wanted to go to pub trivia for one last visit with our Faukland friends. They were such a fun bunch to play trivia and talk with. We hope to one day visit their hometown on a trip to Antarctica.
After all this trivia, tonight was the prize redemption night. We had lots of signatures, close to 140 or so. There was a line out the door of the card room but we didn’t wait too long. We asked for a t-shirt and was told they only had one left. So, we took that. There weren’t many gifts left. No coffee mugs. Just really cheap water bottles and pens. We took 5 pens and I think a deck of cards. The line was even longer when we left so I don’t think people will be too happy. They probably shouldn’t offer trivia so many times a day on a two week cruise!
We went to Galaxy afterwards and did some dancing. We sat at our usual seats at the bar to enjoy Reinzi, RJay and the other bartenders one last evening. It was another great team who worked here this cruise. We left a little early and wanted to visit Champagne Charlies to say our goodbyes to the bar staff there. We saw friends we had made enjoying a drink and we sat with them for one last round. Mike decided a shot of Limoncello was in order for everyone so how could we say no. We closed out the bar at midnight. The best part about this last evening was we set the clock back one hour to London time! We said farewell to our friends and went back to the cabin. We had to put out the suitcases and waited for Veronica to return from her last night with her friends. Tomorrow, we leave for home!