Crystal Serenity Canal Cruise-Day 22

Crystal Serenity-12/20/09
At sea in route to Miami

Reality is setting in like a ton of bricks. Although I slept very well, it was another night of many strange dreams. When I woke up a little after 8am, I was ‘cold’. I mean really “cold”. I looked out the window; & it looked grey. I think it had rained most of the night. I turned on the TV; & saw the rest of the US is still shoveling their way out of the snow. It’s a good thing this had to happen on a weekend. Tomorrow in Miami looks chilly. I decided “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was more my speed this morning. I think the party IS over.

When the Capt. made his report from the bridge at 9am, he forecast a mostly cloudy day in the upper 70’s, strong wind. We’re moving at 18.7 knots. Expecting to be alongside in MIA by 5:15 in the morning. I fixed a bowl of raisins, yogurt & granola; & climbed back in bed to watch the movie. The few people I see walking out on the promenade deck are bundled up as they head straight into he wind. It made me feel even colder. It took a hot shower before I got warmed up. I immediately started hacking nasty sinus stuff. (I hate cold fronts.) I went out to look for Catherine. I wanted to get a photo of us & to tell her that she didn’t need to service my room today. I’m a big girl; I’d rather be the one to put the “plastic tarp” on the bed & pull out the suitcases. Much less of a shock that way.

I made my last visit in the Bistro w/ the “guys”. Outi & John were eating breakfast; & I sat for a long while talking. They think that in a couple of years they will leave Malawi & relocate to northern Italy. And they’ve extended an open invitation to visit. There’s certainly a greater likelihood that I’ll make it to Italy than to Africa. Outi said that the “magic spray” opened her nose enough to sleep very well last night. That’s got to give her a brighter perspective on the day.

I was eyeing those vanilla custard cake things on the buffet; my last chance for a long time…..why not have 2! I parked in “my spot” at the bar & got to work. I got into a conversation w/ a lovely lady who was seated by the window about the huge ships that were approaching. There is a steady flow of ship traffic heading south. I got the camera so I could zoom in & hopefully figure out what those massive behemoths were just off our port side. One had red & black twin stack; & what appeared to be something white superimposed over the red. My guess, it’s Mickey ears; a Disney ship. Either that or a Cunard something. Then an even larger white ship w/ a single yellow & black stack…..undoubtedly a Costa. By 1pm, it was time to move along in search of lunch. I said goodbyes to Mario & Stefan (Rodin wouldn’t be in until afternoon).

Dear Catherine..

Today was the American buffet up on the Lido deck. There were things that I’d enjoyed so much last cruise; so I knew enough to stick to more of that rather than try some other things. My only disappointment was the gumbo. Having Louisiana heritage, I know good gumbo; & this was not. It was too thick & needed a serious shake or 2 of filet’ gumbo & Tobasco. The Texas chili con carne was nothing to write home about either. I had a BBQ rib; & a slice of corned beef w/ some cabbage. The fried chicken/sun-dried tomato salad was delicious. The onion rings were hot out of the fryer. I must have had 10 okra fritters, the breaded shrimp w/ Cajun tartar sauce & some excellent jambalaya. I sat all the way at the back of the Lido Restaurant. During the lunch hour, the sun peeked out a little bit; but it stayed mostly cloudy the rest of the day. “Tall” Peter came by to wish me farewell. And on my way out, I was saying my goodbyes to each of the Lido Rock Stars as I spotted them busily trying to disassemble the buffet. I lost it saying goodbye to Benjamin. Not knowing if he’ll be coming back after vacation is unimaginable. This place could fall apart w/o him.

I was too stuffed for ice cream right then; so I sat down at a table by the Neptune pool. Pretty soon Gay & Lynne sat down w/ their burger lunches. They’re a crazy duo. We talked travel some, Facebook some; & I shared my recipe for “snow cream”. Gay admitted to getting addicted to “Farmville”. Finally about 3-ish, there was some room for ice cream. We walked over to Scoops; & I asked Christian how many “scoops” of lychee sorbet he had left. He had 3; & I asked the girls if they’d like to help me eat the last of the supply. They were honored. We stood right there eating & moaning w/ joy. More Lido goodbyes; & then down to the shops for one quick pass to see if there was anything I couldn’t live w/o (there wasn’t). I stuck my head in the casino hoping to see Fran & say goodbye (she won’t be in the DR tonight). She was nowhere in sight.

I went back to the cabin w/ the intention of starting the packing process. Put the “tarp” on the bed; & then cracked my big toe (nail) pulling the suitcase out from under the bed. (Maybe I should have let Catherine do this after all.) Bled all over the place. That was enough packing for right then. So, I took the laptop & camera card down to the compt. ctr. to transfer “one more time” & to say goodbyes to Jessie, Dennis & Jackie. Instead of starting to pack, I sat down w/ the compt. & turned on channel 54 to watch 2 of today’s lectures. The first was “Escape from the White House: Presidential Hideaways” by Ken Walsh (Presidential biographer). The other was the much anticipated talk on social networking by Jack McManus (David Davenport’s good friend from Pepperdine). I enjoyed both very much.

At 5:30 I admitted that I couldn’t put off packing any longer. It always seems to take longer than you think it’s going to, even though you don’t have to be as meticulous about it as you do when packing FOR the cruise. It’s totally ridiculous the amount of “paper” I cart home-menus, Reflections, photos, cruise brochures & on & on & on. I usually throw it away soon after I get home; why can’t I just throw it away here? Because.....

[A strange place & subject to put at this spot; but.....I wanted to share w/ those who don't know. The "public" bathrooms onboard Serenity are fabulous; as gorgeous as in most fancy restaurants. This is the "loo" close to the pool. Don't you just love the real hand towels & fresh flowers???]

I had most everything packed by 7pm. Now what to do? If I were a normal passenger, I’d go out & have a drink & say more (sad) goodbyes. If I had more than (50 mins.) of internet time left, I’d be playing “scrabble” on Facebook or reading message boards. I was saving those minutes in case it took an unusually long time to upload the blog before bedtime. When I admit that I “spent” $800 on internet in 20 days, it disgusts me. I doubt that’s what Crystal had in mind when they gave me all this shipboard credit. I’d love to know what impact this has had on onboard sales.

I went down to the Crystal Cove a little after 8; & had a chance to sit w/ Harriet & Seymour. I feel so badly because they weren’t happy w/ their tablemates during this segment. It had a negative impact on their enjoyment of this cruise. The orchestra was playing swing music again tonight; & people were dancing, gay. Once again putting aside unpleasant thoughts like packing & anticipated travel delays tomorrow. How lucky I am to be only 2 hrs. from home. I’ll be in my house before most everyone else boards their planes for home.

Everyone but Fran was at the table tonight. Light conversation was mixed w/ those awkward moments of handing your waiters their “envelopes” & extending thank yous. Crystal makes it easy by taking “gratuity money” from my shipboard account; & giving credit to the crewmember’s “account”. I’m not a fan of giving the crewmember a “ticket stub” in an envelope as proof that I left a tip. If the envelope has money in it, that’s another thing entirely. For the past few years, I’ve created thank you (Christmas themed) cards to hand out. And I always add a little extra money to what is credited from my shipboard account. I do this in hopes that they won’t have to “share” the extra in their respective “pools”. I also prefer to hand out the cards several days before the end of the cruise. That’s usually a less hectic time to talk & convey your gratitude instead of trying to fight for their attention during the “last supper”. I’ve been told by many that they hang onto those cards long after the holidays are over. Each member of the crew is special; & I want them to feel appreciated in other ways than just monetarily. Sorry, I’ll get off my “soap box” now.

This is not one of my favorite menus; but I certainly didn’t go away hungry. I had 2 appetizers; starting w/ the prawns wrapped w/ prosciutto accompanied by tropical fruit salsa & lemon aioli. And I had to have the puffed pastry “basket” w/ the ragout of morel mushrooms, asparagus & chicken again. Delish! I chose the pasta special which was penne w/ tomato cream sauce & comte cheese (no, I’m not sure what that is either). It was good; but not great. Double trouble tonight. I had to have one last salt stick; & when Peter came by to ask if I wanted more “brrrrread”, I ended w/ a cheese roll. My bad, or what?? Part of me wanted to order the “Bridge of the Americas” dessert again; & ask for 3 of the little chocolate tres leche cakes instead of the series of 3. The oven baked banana & the yogurt ice cream just didn’t quite cut it for me the last time. But that cake was orgasmic. I should have done that; but I didn’t. I ordered a sampling of 3 cheeses; & (God bless) Boris brought me one last serving of those delicious marinated raisins (mincemeat). That & a cappuccino……what better way to put an end to a delightful day & a perfect cruise?

I did something tonight that I’d been wanting to do for 10 days. Allen referred to Serenity as “the boat” for the umpteenth time; & I just couldn’t stifle myself any longer. I finally said, “if you say ‘boat’ one more time, I’m gonna have to haul off & hit you. It’s a ship; she deserves respect!” He said, “ship, boat, what’s the difference?” I’m glad the Chief wasn’t there. Like me, he cringed every time “she” was referred to as a BOAT. Just a big pet peeve of mine. Bryn & Allen were telling us that there was some sort of medical emergency that would require the ship to dock in MIA in the middle of the night tonight. I hadn’t heard anything about it; but wanted to confirm. Bryn said that we had been going so fast (19 knots) all day; & that that was the reason why. I asked Boris & Petar: & they said they’d heard something but didn’t know any details.

I stood & talked to Boris & Petar for a while. They are delightful young men; & it has been a sincere pleasure for me during both segments. I looked around for Kamel; but didn’t see him. His asst. waiter saw me; & came over to tell me that Kamel was “in the back” & would be right out. I waited because I knew he would be upset w/ me if I didn’t say goodbye. It’s so funny…..Kamel has never been my waiter. But we’ve developed a friendship based on my love for his home town (Istanbul). We’ve shared some delightful conversations w/ what limited time we’ve had. It was sad saying goodbye. But he promised that he would be here waiting for me to return. And maybe some day, I will ask to be assigned to his section.

As I was leaving the DR, all the “head honchos” were holding court at the podium. I thought what better place to confirm the “rumor” than right here. Sure enough, there is a passenger in some form of cardiac distress; & we will be docking in a matter of hours. Unfortunate way to end a cruise; but fortunate, in the respect that we were close enough to MIA to get them to good medical care. I chatted w/ the guys for a little while; & was telling them about Bruno calling me Mrs. Thomas. Leo picks up the phone to call Prego to rib him about it. I told Leo to tell “George” that Mrs. Thomas wanted to say goodbye. The phone rang & rang; no one ever answered. Then Leo asked me how he could find my blog. Lord have mercy, how does everybody know about this stupid blog? Pressure………they’re likely to be disappointed after all the hype.

Finally back to the cabin at 10:15. It wasn’t easy cramming everything back in the suitcases. I’m not sure why, because all I bought was 6 bottles of deodorant, took a few bottles of Aveda body wash & that big honkin’ pile of “paper”. Then comes the frightening ritual of putting your bags out in the hallway. Open the door slowly, peak in both directions to see if anyone is looking, step out in your jammies & slide them as close to the wall as you can. Scurry back inside. I did catch a glimpse of a man down the hall who was wearing his Crystal bathrobe. Why didn’t I think of that? I forgot it was even in the closet. I’ve hurriedly finished the blog work; & hoping that the internet is fast enough to upload everything before I run out of those last few precious minutes. I refuse to put another dollar’s worth in…..

It’s been real; it’s been fun; & I hope it’s been real fun for you. Back to my boring, but crazy life in Naples. Until next time…… Peace!

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