January 18, 2012
And we’re off………
After a fair night’s sleep, I had a surprise wake up call from Lindsay (my financial advisor) who wanted to touch base one last time before I became totally incapacitated with ‘vacation brain’. Then I called Carolyn (my 2nd “mommy”) to say goodbye one more time. Went online to read mail, blogs & boards while internet was still ‘free’. Checked out of the Crowne Plaza; & was driven to the ship at 11 am. I was in the first group to board; so only had to wait about 30 mins. I saw several Passenger faces that I recognized; but don’t know their names. I made a few new acquaintances during the wait. And I got a quick hug from my friend, Peggy (xrvlcruiser), who I met on the Symphony last year. She is ‘in transit’ & on the pier to bring an LA friend onboard today.
First smiling face I saw when I boarded was Ed, who was manning the elevator button. And when I got off the elevator, the next face I saw was Benjamin’s. I wasn’t sure he was still here (he’s been talking retirement the last few years). And he still calls me ‘Miss Beekee’. Got to speak briefly with Gary Hunter & give him a big hug before he left to start his 3 month vacation. He is the Cruise Director I am most familiar with; but he handed the baton over to Rick Spath today.
Next stop was at the Computer University @ Sea; nice to see Jessie still in charge there & Jackie proudly showing off photos of her (3) yr. old daughter Cassie. She tells me that Clarke (her significant other) is on vacation; but will return when we arrive in Singapore. I told Jackie I was thinking down the road to maybe getting an iMac some day; & asked if it might help me to decide if I were to take some of their Mac classes. She said it would; & signed me up for a series of classes that start next week. I also gave her my camera memory card in hopes that she might be able to magically retrieve that photo of Vitaliy (my chauffer) from the supposed deleted files. She’s gonna try.
I did a good bit of unpacking in the next hour. At 3:30 the USC Trojan marching band was coming onboard to get this party started by the Seahorse Pool. They played a wide range of music; & their high energy performance got everybody in the groove.
Catching up with my good buddy, Dennis during sailaway festivities.
Lifeboat drill started at 4:15; my station met in the Hollywood Theatre. I don’t think it was my imagination; but this drill seemed to go into greater detail than I’ve heard in the past. The Captain spoke at length about smoking & fire hazards; the ability to lower life boats even if the ship was listing; & advising us to go straight to our stations if we weren’t near our cabins in an emergency situation. Assuring us that there are plenty of vests throughout the ship if we can’t bring ‘our own’. I also noticed that everyone was clearly paying attention & taking this very seriously. The tragedy onboard Costa Concordia was a wakeup call!
There are probably some of you who are rolling your eyes right now; & saying ‘wow, she’s a demanding be-yotch’! That’s why it’s different on Crystal. They EXPECT you to tell them what it’s gonna take to make your stay the happiest moments of your life. I could easily have taken extra sheets; & put them over that leather sofa myself or hidden all those extra pillows in the top of the closet. But then they would have ‘reprimanded’ me for not telling them that that’s the way I wanted it in the first place. Whether it’s caviar every night at dinner (no extra charge); if you want your ice bucket refilled 4 times a day; or you have a yearning for some strange curry dish from Bangladesh, they WANT you to ask!!! I’ve never heard the word ‘NO’; I’ve never seen a smirk or a roll of the eyes. Yes, I’m a walking billboard for all things Crystal…..it’s what past passengers refer to as becoming ‘Crystalized’! I’ll step down from the soap box now.
Another thing that struck me, was watching people’s faces light up when they saw old friends for the first time. It’s normal to break out in a grin when you board & see your favorite crew members year after year. But I don’t remember EVER seeing such a huge number of reunion moments between passengers before. I’ve seen it on a much smaller scale on other cruise lines. I’ve cruised with about 7-8 of these other passengers before; but it looked like everybody knew everybody else! Maybe it’s a world cruiser thing…..an elite club of sorts. I’ve heard some people on the Cruise Critic message boards mention how they felt like 2nd class citizens when they were sailing on just one or 2 segments of the full world cruise. I certainly don’t feel that way myself; but I do see it’s a ‘family unit’ within itself. This evening was undoubtedly the most interesting people watching session I’ve ever experienced.
L to R: Josef, Captain Glenn, Elise, & Rick
At 8:15, Rick Spath (the Cruise Director) took the stage & introduced Elise Ivy (W.C. Hostess), Josef Lumetsberger (Hotel Director) & finally Glenn Edvardsen (the Captain). Then a large contingent of the crew from all departments made an entrance down the grand staircase & took their places on the dance floor. They were given glasses of champagne as well.
Credit to Keith (KESWORLD), who got this shot from a different perspective.
The countdown began; & balloons came cascading down from the ceiling onto the dance floor. You would have thought it was New Year’s Eve all over again.