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.
We love to travel and experience new places and cultures.