Saturday, June 24, 2017

Crystal Serenity – LA to Vancouver – Reflections, Tips, and Tricks

Note - apparently we wrote this a while ago and forgot to publish it.  Well, we are getting ready for another trip, so we are publishing this now.

After a wonderful trip and getting back into the grind, we have decided that we want to write down some tips and tricks to help make our next Crystal trip even better.

Our State Room

  • Managing the space in the room to be efficient is always a challenge.  No matter how big the room is, you need to do a good job of finding places for things and keeping things organized.  First tip, when we unpacked this time, we just took items out of the packing cubes and put them into drawers.  This is fast, but it is far better to just bite the bullet and hang stuff up.  It makes it much easier to organize things that way.
  • The wooden hangers in the closet are first rate, but they are also very large.  If a longer cruise, then consider bringing plastic hangers.  Also, maybe consider bringing things that need to hang already on the hangers (not sure that we can pack that way, but it is worth investigating).
  • The closet has a short hanging area and a longer area.  It would be useful to separate Bob and Julie's stuff in each of the two areas.  We just need some kind of divider so it is easy to see where Bob's stuff starts and Julie's stuff ends.
  • We tend to use a power strip with lots of devices plugged into it to recharge all of our electronic stuff.  But it makes the desk extremely messy all of the time with wires everywhere.  One idea is to get those cable management devices that are tubes where you put the wires into one tube. That would clean it up some.
Silk Road
  • The people next to us in Silk Road did something interesting that we need to remember next time.  They didn't seem to ever order an entree, but instead ordered many courses of various sushi and appetizers.  With Silk Road having so much amazing food, this seems like a cool way to have a meal.
  • BTW - this appetizer only idea might work well in Prego too (see Silk Road).
  • A neighbor in the restaurant ordered Lobster as an appetizer in Prego.  How did they do that? How do you special order stuff.  See Dining room comments.
  • We just plain loved Tastes and it is a shame that it is disappearing in the remodel.  We never tried it for breakfast, but the lunches and dinners are just amazing.  Hopefully the new restaurant will have some of the food charm, but it will be very different cuisine, so who knows.
Dining Room
  • We've never been one to ask for anything that wasn't on the menu or ask for a special dinner the following night.  We've heard that people do this all of the time and we just have never done it. We'd like to know how to do it and then do it some times.  For example, on a longer cruise, if you wanted to have Indian food one night, could you make that happen?  It seems that you'd need two things - one to see what the menu is that night to make sure that you want to try something different and two you'd need a way to tell them.  Probably working with the mater'd or whatever you call the section leader. 
  • Along similar lines, one of Julie's favorite fish meals is Dover Sole.  We missed it the night that they had it on the menu because we were in a speciality restaurant.  It probably is possible to get it the next night, but we didn't know how to go about asking.  We need some help with special orders.
  • We love the lectures, sometime to the detriment of doing way way too many of them.  This trip there were very few because of so few sea days.  Also, we didn't even go to all of the very few. We just need to keep up with not pushing too hard.   Plus, if you get some down time, you can always watch their recorded version on the stateroom TV.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Crystal Serenity – LA to Vancouver – Day 11 – Monday, June 19, 2017 (Vancouver to Home)

Ok, so how can you go on a 10-day cruise and be blogging about day 11.  And we never crossed the international date line.  Very tricky, but it is day 11.

Well it is a very sad day.  We did talk about just getting off and getting on the Disney Wonder that arrived in port this morning.  But alas, we don’t have a ticket and the whole stowaway thing seems a bit too complicated.  So, we got up, went to the Lido for breakfast and then hung out until it was time to leave.  Our plane was leaving at 1pm, so we decided to disembark at 8:40 with the plan to be picked up for the airport at 9am.  It all was amazingly smooth.  We went down early and hung out in the Galaxy waiting for our turn.  They called us (Brown 6) and we disembarked for the last time.  Sigh.

Our luggage was downstairs and we grabbed them and went to get to the transportation pickup area.  It wasn’t quite as nuts as it was yesterday, but still kind of crazy with an awful lot of people trying to leave the port at the same time (there were also two other ships disembarking – the Disney Wonder and a Norwegian ship).  The process worked, but it was slow.  They clearly don’t have sufficient room for lots of cars and stuff, so you have to report to a port agent, who calls the car company to let them come down and pick you up.  After we gave them the name of the company and waited about 30 minutes for it to show up.  You definitely need to plan for a delay from the time you get down off the ship to getting on your transportation vehicle in Vancouver.

It turns out that Julie had arranged a stretch limo for our transportation to the airport (it is our anniversary cruise after all).  WOW.  She even kept it a secret from Bob which is maybe even more amazing.  It was so big inside, that it reminded Bob of the party bus (but let’s not bring THAT up).  

The ride was uneventful and we got to the airport in plenty of time.  Going through customs, Bob had to answer the questions YES that we were bringing in some food, seeds, or whatever.  We had the seeds from Butchart Gardens.  They were sealed in a small sack with a stamp certifying saying that they were ok.  We showed them to the customs agent and she checked us through.  So, here we are back in the US having cleared customs, but still physically in Canada.  It must have something to do with being the 11th day on a 10-day cruise.

We are posting this final day from the Vancouver airport assuming the trip home is uneventful.  It anything interesting happens, we will update it.

It’s been an amazing cruise.  Crystal is absolutely the best.  We can’t wait for our next cruise.

Crystal Serenity – LA to Vancouver – Day 10 – Sunday, June 18, 2017 (Vancouver)

We got up at around 7am and decided not to walk on deck today.  Today is our true 40th wedding anniversary and also Father’s Day.  We didn’t have a shore excursion planned, so we were going to walk over to Stanley Park and check it out.  So, we got ready and headed to breakfast in the Lido.  When we walked from the bow to the stern on deck 12, we went outside by the pool.  The weather was extremely overcast and about 54 degrees.  It turns out that it was doing some heavy misting.  While we were eating, it started to all out rain.  We weren’t sure what to do, so we went back to our cabin.  After examining the weather forecast, we decided to keep our plans, except this time armed with umbrellas and rain jackets. 

We disembarked and it was a total madhouse in the terminal.  There are three ships in port, the Celebrity Infinity and Holland America Noordam and us.  They were disembarking.  As “in transit” passengers, we had to exit the ship differently than disembarking passengers that were collecting their luggage and going through customs.  Eventually we made it out of the building and started walking along the sea wall to Stanley Park.

It was about 1.75 miles over there and took us about 35 minutes.  

We aren't sure what this was, but it was on our walk.

A view of the shoreline.

This is now owned by the local rowing club.

Our home in the distance from Stanley Park.

The misting eventually let up.  The park is around 1000 acres and is the most visited site in Vancouver.  We wandered around and eventually found a horse drawn trolley hour-long tour that we decided to take.  We slowly toured around part of the park seeing the various sites.  It was a nice slow way to see the beautiful park and hear about the city of Vancouver.


A Vancouver native visited Copenhagen and fell in love with the Mermaid on the rock.  He asked Copenhagen to let him make a copy, they refused.  So, he made a young woman in a wet suit and flippers in Vancouver.

The bridge that beer built.  Originally the Guiness beer family owned property on the North shore.  They wanted to be connected to downtown Vancouver.  It took them 40 years to get approval, but eventually the city let them do it.  They paid for the whole thing.

Inside view from our trolley.

Doc and Dan (Doc is the closest one).  Just in case in a few years when we are re-reading this blog, we wondered - what were the names of the horses that pulled us on that tour in Stanley Park.

We headed back to the ship and again after wandering around through an absolute maze we were able to embark back onto the ship.  We had lunch in the Trident and then went to our room to pack.  

This is Stanley Park from our balcony.  Just shows what a mediocre day it was.

We got a good way through the packing when the 2:30 movie “Get Out” was about to start.  Julie had seen the movie before and thought that it was a pretty good, creepy movie, so we both watched.  After that, we went back to our room to finish packing and get ready for dinner.

The two other ships left at 5pm:

We headed up to the Palm Court at about 5:30pm for champagne celebration prior to our 6:30pm dinner in Prego.  

We decided that since was our only time going to dinner in Prego that we’d just go for all of our favorites.  

For appetizer, Julie had the Warm Sage Butter Poached Lobster and Bob had a Caesar Salad.  

For the second course, we both had one of our favorites, Prego’s Signature Cream Soup of Select Italian Mushrooms in an Oregano Bread Bowl.  

Again, for the entrée, we had our favorite Lasagna alla Cassalinga.  It was as excellent as we remember.  

For dessert, Julie had the white peach sorbet with prosecco and Bob had a cherry mousse with cherry ice cream.  Julie did not like the peach sorbet at all, she much prefers the strawberry sorbet in Prego on the Symphony.  Bob thought that his dessert was fine, but rich. 

After dinner, we went to the Café 68 production show at 8pm.  It was really an excellent production show, that mixed two songs together to tell a love story.  It reminded us of Mama Mia where some random songs put together to tell a story.  It was very well done.

After that, we headed to the Bistro for some late-night cheese and then back to our cabin to complete our packing and put the luggage out.