Crystal Serenity Canal Cruise-Day 3

Crystal Serenity 12/1/09
At Sea

After having such a delightful nap yesterday afternoon, I was optimistic that I would sleep good last night. But maybe that was the reason why I didn’t. I’m coming to terms w/ the hard bed; but it just wasn’t meant to be. I had placed a breakfast order tag on the door for delivery between 9:30 & 10. I was awake by 8; but managed to amuse myself reading until Catherine came w/ yogurt, granola, raisins & some bacon. The sound of the TV is still a bothersome noise (who’d have thought you’d ever hear me say that). I’m enjoying the sound of “nothing”. The seas have picked up a little bit (“moderate“, as the captain said, at 7.5 ft); & we are “haulin’ ass”. The gentle vibration from the engines & the soft rolling motion is like salve for the soul. There is a steady stream of walkers out on the promenade deck, buzzing past my big picture window at all times of day. They seem to be frantically trying to get “somewhere”; & they make me very tired.

I ventured up on deck about 1pm to see if there was anything left to the Asian themed lunch buffet. All the Lido deck stewards converge on me w/ those huge smiling faces & blindingly white teeth. They are “gods”. They just can’t seem to do enough for people. Benjamin wants to fix me a cherry coke; I’m going to retrain him for a bottle of water. Ed wants to fix my plate for me. Archie rushes to place my napkin in my lap. Max hovers just in case the ice melts too quickly in my water glass. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of sailing on Crystal…..this is the minimum of service you should expect. These people are impeccably trained & chosen for their gleeful personalities. They don’t forget anything; whether it be your name, your family’s names or your propensity for a certain food or beverage. It makes you wonder if all past passengers have a photo on file w/ a dossier of all our idiosyncrasies.

Anyway, lunch was outstanding; & Ed put a tiny taste of just about everything on my plate. I had shrimp salad on this little tiny avocado “boat”, curried chicken salad, Thai beef salad (w/ lychees), some pork satay & beef satay w/ peanut sauce. I had a tiny spring roll, stuffed wonton; & from the hot buffet: sautéed eggplant & spicy orange chicken bits. Those 2 are my faves. I was hoping they’d have some lychee sherbet at Scoops (the ice cream parlor); but they did not. But the guy promised that he’d seek out some for me & hide it up there tomorrow. So, I must make a note to myself to at least go up there tomorrow. They go to so much trouble to stage this beautiful Asian buffet; & I marvel at watching them dismantle it. It’s carefully choreographed. Within 15 mins. there was no evidence of the black & red draped tables, the giant red parasols that shaded them, the piles of fruit & veggies artfully piled up & ice sculptures lifted gently & carted away. It almost looks effortless; although it’s anything but.

When I got on the elevator, there stood Steve Forbes. I didn’t realize that the Forbes Group was holding seminars on this sailing. They have been onboard this time of year the past 2 years; & they are a delightful group to sail with (unlike a notoriously nasty group of bridge players that I’ve had the displeasure of sailing with). I notice that the Christmas elves have been busy the past 36 hrs. Decorations are going up in varying degrees throughout the ship. The huge tree in the atrium is up w/ lights only & no other ornamentation. The Hanukkah table is draped but w/o menorah. The large nativity is partially placed outside the Palm Court. The Serenity is strikingly & understatedly beautiful when fully decorated. That’s part of the reason why I love sailing her this time of year.

Since I made the effort to put on street clothes, I thought I’d ramble around the shops; & see what goodies might tempt me. Don’t laugh….but I’ve fallen in love w/ Sure cool blue for women body responsive anti-perspirant. I bought some onboard a few years ago; & have never been able to find it locally or on the internet since. I buy 6-7 of them every year when I’m onboard. I have to tell the same long story every cruise to explain why I’m clearing out their shelves of it. But in all fairness to others, I do wait til the end of the cruise to get it so as not to prevent another passenger who might truly be in need from getting some. (You could go for days w/ just one application; BUT I WOULDN’T DO THAT.)

A lot of people were doing their Christmas shopping today. I had to wait patiently for 20 mins. while 3 Spanish ladies scrutinized every little knick knack in Captain’s Choice for just the perfect specimen. I see they have a beautiful ‘crystal’ replica of the Serenity that I’d love to add to my collection. But at $99, I’m holding off to see just how much shipboard credit is left at the end of the cruise. I can do w/o it if I have to actually pay for it w/ MY money. I killed enough time until 5:15 when the Cruise Critic cocktail party started in the Palm Court. Everyone was already dressed in their semi-formal attire, except for me. They obviously had early seating dining to rush off to right afterward. Jaque Brown (Crystal Society Hostess); Gary Hunter (Cruise Director); Pratibha Garewal (Art Instructor) & Capt. John Okland hosted the party. C.C. members were Rick & Mimi (Rickmaz); Karan, (Pratibha’s SO); & myself. Of course Gary Hunter had us all in stitches. He’s a north FL transplant, by way of GA. He’s even a little Jimmy Carter-ish for those who haven‘t had the pleasure. He & I got to talking about a new drink that I saw in People Magazine a few months ago. It’s Jon Bon Jovi’s favorite, “Cocojito”. The only thing was I didn’t have the recipe w/ me in the lounge; so the bartender had to ad lib. You take a standard mojito & add Coco Lopez cream of coconut. I ordered one; & it was delicious. Well, Gary wanted to try one; & then others followed suit. Pretty soon we all decided that the cocojito was a hit. I’ve promised to make a copy of the recipe & leave it for Gary at the reception desk. I’m not really a drinker; so that one drink had me feelin’ fine.

There was a truly beautiful sunset tonight; & everyone was looking dapper as they headed out for the evening. Since I was in casual clothes, I made a hasty exit back to the cabin. Didn’t want to violate the “sacred dress code”. I did however, make a quick stop at the photo gallery to see if the table shot from last night’s dinner was out. I was told that Officer’s table shots are not put up for display & would be given to us by the end of the cruise. Too bad, I was going to find a way to post it on the blog to go w/ yesterday’s entry. So y’all will just have to check back later to see if I was successful in adding it.

By 7 pm, I’m draggin’. Not enough sleep; & I decided to order my dinner in. So many things on the menu looked good. I gave my order to Catherine; & by the time I got out of the shower, she was setting everything up. (Nothing spells home like having dinner in your “jammies”.) I had the seafood enchilada appetizer which had melted cheese & lime crème fraiche drizzled over it; served over a bed of sliced medallions of hearts of palm. The pasta special looked good; so I asked for an appetizer portion of that: farfalle w/ tomatoes, roasted sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, garlic & fontina cheese. (Yes, everything was delightfully warm.) And I created my own veggie plate tonight, since I wasn’t in the mood for broiled salmon fillet, rib eye steak, roast duck or baked ham. Instead I had roasted brussel sprouts, creamed spinach (a big fave) & “green beans wrapped in bacon”. For those of you who are familiar w/ my “green bean bundles”, it looked very similar. Only these are plain, a tad bit dry & didn’t come dripping in the butter/garlic/brown sugar sauce that mine are baked in.

I was very, very bad…..when I saw dulche de leche ice cream on the menu, I knew I was a “goner”. Caramel anything gets my vote. Catherine didn’t know what to do w/ the ice cream when she brought it in. So, I said, “life is short…..eat dessert first”!

I know some would say that I’m ruining the food & missing the whole point by dining “en suite”. Buy I’m enjoying it just as much; & the peace & tranquility is settling in. I think once I have my first massage on Thurs, I will declare myself - healed. Tomorrow, we make our first port of call, Frederiksted, St. Croix. It’s been many, many years since I’ve been there; & I just may wander around the port area (depending upon how hot it is or whether the anticipated rain showers actually materialize). For now, off to bed w/ a good book & hopefully happier dreams.

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