1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Looking for a way to see parts of Canada we had not seen and perhaps to get a glimpse of color, we chose the last cruise of the season from Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale. Given the dates, we were not surprised that the weather caused us to ... Read More
Looking for a way to see parts of Canada we had not seen and perhaps to get a glimpse of color, we chose the last cruise of the season from Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale. Given the dates, we were not surprised that the weather caused us to miss two ports of call. We made up for it by relaxing on board...the second reason we chose the cruise. The Royal Princess is the largest calss in the fleet, and it WAS big and carried a lot of people. Still, we had quiet in our cabin and the luxury to mingle with people if we wanted. Our balcony cabin was small but fine for two of us. Our steward went out of his way to clean it around our schedule, not his. The food was excellent, and we enjoyed anytime dining with its opportunity to meet other people at dinner. The wait staff there and in the buffet areas were ESPECIALLY good and very helpful. My wife was in a wheelchair for the cruise, and the staff watched out for her and was there to help when we needed it. Kuos too the staff at the Lotus Spa. I had an excellent Massuse (I can't spell!), and my wife received excellent care from the accupunturist. The front desk staff worked magic with bookings and were always cheerful, even when obviously tired at the end of long days. We missed our frist excursion by oversleeping; we had had a 14 hour day getting to Quebec NOTE: if you are traveling a long way, arrive a day before the cruise!!!! The photo excusion I took to at St. John was excellent, providing some good opportunities for photos and providing a tantalizing glimpse of the city as well. Instead of excusions in Halifax, I walked to the Maritime Museum, managing to find a small gallery on the way and getting an idea of the architecture as well. My only personal complaint was that we spent way too much time in Boston and not nearly enough time in New York City. I knew Boston, but I had had destinations in mind for New York. Because the ship docked in Brooklyn, I did not have enough time to visit Manhattan locations such as athe Museum of Modern Art..an excursion that was mysteriously dropped between my inital booking and getting on baord. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise because of the itinerary. I live in Florida and look forward to seeing the change of seasons. This fall cruise from Quebec to Ft.. Lauderdale had lots of change of scenery and weather. I was unprepared for the ... Read More
Booked this cruise because of the itinerary. I live in Florida and look forward to seeing the change of seasons. This fall cruise from Quebec to Ft.. Lauderdale had lots of change of scenery and weather. I was unprepared for the snow that fell in Quebec during October; however, it was light and delightful for this Floridian. From snow to the shores of Florida -- lots of change of weather and temperature. Before boarding the cruise we spent two days in Quebec City in the "Old Town". Our hotel was charming in this quaint walled city. While rain hampered our touring, the charm of the this city and it's fine restaurants made up for the weather. We toured the town in horse carriage -- way to go! After boarding the ship, our first excursion was a boat trip up the Sagenay Fiords. Learned a lot about the area and enjoyed the colorful scenery during this day long trip. We sailed into a storm and took refuge for a day and then proceeded to Bar Harbor Maine. I love this tourist town. Many delightful shops and restaurants and lots of fall color.. I am disabled and travel with a scooter. Holland America ships are well equipped to handle my needs. Holland America ships mid-sized and afford me access to all areas. The food in the dining room is exceptional. One of the best things about this line, is their staff. They are so very friendly and accommodating. I appreciate the ease of boarding the disembarking. Holland America has managed to make this process easier. Since I spend time in the casino, I do wish that they would do something to enhance this experience. Lively casinos are more fun. While the tours are good and cater well to the handicapped, the on board staff always has a long line waiting to get information and their hours are short. I would recommend making arrangements prior to boarding. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Although the weather was not the best, this cruise offered a very interesting and fun itinerary including Canadian, New England and, finally, Florida ports. They did a good job of both embarkation and disembarkation, especially considering ... Read More
Although the weather was not the best, this cruise offered a very interesting and fun itinerary including Canadian, New England and, finally, Florida ports. They did a good job of both embarkation and disembarkation, especially considering the large number of passengers boarding at the small terminal in Quebec City. The ship is in good shape, and qualifies as not too big and not too small. The food and service in the Main Dining Room is the best we’ve had in years—waiters were attentive always and actually did some of the “old fashioned” things like pull out the lady’s chair and spread your cloth napkin! The food and service in the buffet Windjammer also was good, both at lunch and breakfast, with many food choices. There were some very good, original performers in the Lyric Theatre on several nights—unfortunately, the performance times kept changing from night to night and we missed some shows because showtime cut into dinner time. The Schooner Lounge is a good place for the usual sing-along music, and was packed every night. But the ship could definitely upgrade the live music in the lounges, and increase the amount of time the singers and musicians play. Several of the lounges also need improved drink service. Also, there were no enrichment talks related to the interesting ports we visited—we especially missed this since the poor weather precluded everyone from spending very much time on the outside deck so there was little to do. Lastly, our cabin was very good (spacious balcony)—attendants kept everything tip top. Only complaint is that RCCL no longer provides bathrobes. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Every time I cruise I keep thinking it can't continue to be as good as the last trip and I'm always wrong! The entertainment on this trip was phenomenal, often two completely different shows in the Stardust! I think I missed ... Read More
Every time I cruise I keep thinking it can't continue to be as good as the last trip and I'm always wrong! The entertainment on this trip was phenomenal, often two completely different shows in the Stardust! I think I missed one show because I was so tired from the day trip but otherwise my husband and I were there. The entertainment in the atrium was so good, so good, so good they had Patti and Jose preform Neil Diamond in the Stardust on the last night. The staff as usual were super, what's not to love? Still I saw ppl complaining? The lady (?) in the cabin next to me was yelling at the steward because her grandson couldn't see the TV from his bunk! She actually wanted him to rearrange her room! I guess it never occurred to her if the kid put his head at the other end of the bed he could have seen it???? The steward never got upset and was so nice to her....I wanted to hit her! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Boarded the ship on Oct.1, and were met with a sewage smell that was horrible. Upon getting to the mini suite, D231, the door wouldn't open and I was locked out of the room, 1hr later they were able to get the door open. Move the bags ... Read More
Boarded the ship on Oct.1, and were met with a sewage smell that was horrible. Upon getting to the mini suite, D231, the door wouldn't open and I was locked out of the room, 1hr later they were able to get the door open. Move the bags in and found out that the toilet wasn't operational, this lasted for three days, no toilets in what they called "Zone 2" which is about the whole forward starboard side of the ship, all 16 floors. The plumber came to the area and I asked him if this was going to be an issue for the entire cruise and he stated they were having issue with the vacuum system and he would keep his fingers crossed. Went to open the sliding glass door, caution tape across the doors, told I can't use the balcony for 2 days. That's why I got a mini suite! For The Balcony! The sewage smell remained for the entire cruise. On about the 3rd day the hot water stopped working. This was a refurbishing cruise at best, they were tearing out the carpet and replacing it on the entire ship, the glue smell was terrible. Food on the ship was mediocre at best, the beef, you might as well eat your shoe! I tried to get off the ship on the first day and asked that they refund my money, customer service pretty well stated, your screwed. Once you set foot on the ship, they consider the ship has sailed, insurance at that point is no good. D231 was the cabin, it had mold in the shower stall, the floors in the bath were coming apart, dirty. Room safe stopped working, had to wait about 30 minutes for them to respond to get it opened. Absolutely Terrible Ship, Beware. If you contact Princess Customer Service, they are pretty much non existent, just automated responses, your on your own. Entertainment was bad. People setting in the isle ways, on the steps, blocking the exits, don't know how the ship allows or gets away with these code violations, except your in international waters, in foreign counties, and you have no rights. When I booked the cruise we were to disembark in NYC, that changed to Bayonne, NJ it's a 1.5 hour buss ride to NYC, just what I wanted to do. I book a cruise that lands in NYC it get changed to Bayonne, NJ. The original booking had no tenders scheduled for the stops along the way, guess what, about 1/2 the stops that the ship stopped at now have water tenders to get to shore, you may say that's not a problem, it is when your disabled and have spent a lot of money to see places that you now can't get to. The one place I wanted to see was Bar Harbor, Maine, guess what, it was canceled. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
What better way to celebrate an upcoming 93rd birthday than with a trip! For the past few years Mother and I have gone to New York for some theater time for her birthday trips, but this year decided to try a Fall leaf viewing cruise. We ... Read More
What better way to celebrate an upcoming 93rd birthday than with a trip! For the past few years Mother and I have gone to New York for some theater time for her birthday trips, but this year decided to try a Fall leaf viewing cruise. We had a rough start to the planning when Mother broke both arms in May so cancelled the Crystal Cruise we had booked for October. However, by Labor Day we decided to re-book it, since we still had plane and theater tickets. Two weeks out we have no cabin assignment or dining time, but we do have Mother's hair appointment scheduled for half way though, so the important item is booked :-). I don't have much cruising experience, but Katie and I did learn a few things on our Holland America Zaandam Cruise "Around the Horn" which has helped me prepare a bit for this one. Do some research on Cruise Critic about the ports we will visit. Book a few ship excursions - more expensive but easier logistically. Avoid the early morning excursions, because Mother won't make them, at least not with a smile on her face. Pair food tours with sight seeing - discovered I love these. Pack lighter. Hope for at leisure dining to avoid sitting with the same people the whole trip. Forget the iPhone SIM, as it is too complicated to find a phone store near the port. I'll pay the exorbitant ship WiFi charge for Canada and hope ATT has some New England coverage. Try not to eat like a pig. My friends Margie and Don are in Nova Scotia this week so are giving us a great preview. 10/6/14 Left Athens at 5 AM via very prompt Bulldog Limo, but was shocked at the amount of traffic on 316 at that time. It was literally bumper to bumper to the airport all the way from Athens. Had a near bad experience in security. Someone took my basket while I was putting on my shoes. It simply disappeared. We looked everywhere and asked the TSA to help. Of course it contained my handbag with passports, money, cards, etc. After five minutes, back came the basket. Someone who was being searched in a private room said my basket was hers so the TSA whisked it away with her. Mother and I had aisle seats across from each other on the flight to JFK, and, of course, the biggest man you have ever seen was in the middle seat next to her. She did not have the armrest down, so he took his seat and half of hers. I insisted she swap with me, since I'm pushy enough to claim my space, which I did. He stood up to get something and down went the armrest. He squeezed back in, but just barely. As we began flying low for our final approach to the QC airport, we were treated to a spectacular palette of color all over the countryside. I believe we have hit the leaves perfectly for Quebec, for sure. Had a lovely welcome to Quebec at customs when the officer pronounced Galland in the French manner and asked is I had French Canadian relatives. Who knew Quebec had Gallands? Settled into our room which has a beautiful view of Hotel Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. I added another to the count right away. Met our Crystal Cruise Critic “sponsors” in the bar for a get acquainted drink. This is a fun program where someone who sees you are a first time Crystal Cruiser can ask to be your pre-trip guide. The benefit, other than some great ship tips, was $100 ship credit for each of us. We did not have a set dinner planned due to our stand by status, so we were added to six at the early seating. Very interesting couples with mostly experienced cruisers. In fact we met a couple on their 39th Crystal Cruise. Yow! Show featured songs from A Chorus Line, one of Mother’s and my favorites. 10/7/ Quebec City Had room service breakfast after a pretty good night’s sleep. Rainy weather today, unfortunately, since QC is a beautiful city, filled with “firsts” such as first permanent settlement, only walled city north of Mexico in NA, first hospital in NA, first boys’ school, first girls’ school, and many others. Relived my 5th grade social studies class with Samuel D. Champlain and Jacque Cartier. I will definitely return to QC with Bob in the future. Beautiful narrow streets, old churches, walkable walls, and more restaurants than any city in Canada. Got to peek in the Hotel Fondelac to see what $2000 a night gets you. Part of QC town history wall mural Lower Old Quebec And the rain begins! Had a lazy afternoon exploring the ship, eating a two hour lunch, and watching ladies dance with the paid gentlemen dancers on board. What a hoot. Mother will be dancing before the week is out, I’m betting. Fancy high tea then happy hour at the top front of the ship watching the beautiful Quebec countryside go by. We had dinner at Tastes, a little boutique restaurant with small portions based on international street food. We ate Peruvian tuna (raw) with lots of wonderful spices, California tacos like no taco I’ve ever eaten, some sort of steak on a skewer and tempura shrimp. The chocolate dessert was to die for, so I hope never to see it again. I could not resist. Ended the day with a fabulous selection of singing and dancing for 10 different Broadway shows. We met the parents of one of the dancers who is from Wales, and loved sharing the fun with them. Steve, the dancing and singing son, joined the cast two years ago right out of college and is just fabulous, as are all the entertainers. His parents are on their third cruise on our ship to get to see him perform. Of course, Steve has aspirations for Broadway or West End, but life working for Crystal is evidently very good. Some performers stay for 20 years! 10/8 Sept Iles Sailed all night on smooth river water but was surprised to discover this morning that I could see neither shore. We must be getting into the St. Lawrence delta area which is quite wide and merges into the Atlanta with a series of island all around. Left Mother sleeping while I frantically took care of work business, using lots of my very expensive satellite Internet. Glad I did not both searching for a Canadian SIM in QC because we are far from any sort of cell tower. Mother enjoyed room service while I had a working breakfast to catch up with things from last night. The wonderful thing about my job is I can travel more due to the salary and can work from anywhere in the world. The ship satellite Internet is hideously expensive but worth every penny when I means I can sit with my laptop in a beautiful restaurant enjoying the St. Lawrence Seaway and a fabulous breakfast. Our morning is at sea so lots of activities have been schedule. I opted for a Canadian history lecture, followed by pedicures for Mother and me in the ship’s spa. Returned to Tastes for another foodie lunch. Lounged around the ship all afternoon, moving from one beautiful space to another with our books and my laptop. Managed to complete several big work tasks with great Internet since there were no trees to get in our way. Mother debated dancing during the afternoon tea dance with the hired male dancers but decided her arms were not up to dancing with a partner. After watching a few minutes, I had to reluctantly agree. Mother and I were among the smart ones on the ship who elected not to go into Sept Isles. The rain came down in buckets, umbrellas flipped inside out, and one of the school bus tour buses got stuck in the sand on a beach and had to be towed out. We had a late dinner reservation tonight, the result of our standy-by last minute booking, so went to the evening performance before dinner. This was a classical pianist who promptly put most of the audience to sleep. Dinner was again delicious! 10/9 Iles de la Madeleine Woke up with the room service steward knocked on the door at 9. Guess the rock and rolling of the ship all night put us both into a deep slumber. At noon we left the ship for our Magdalen Islands shore excursion, “Flavors of Magdalen Islands.” We were met at the dock by a school bus, but inside was a fabulous Swiss guides who had moved here permanently after an 18 year career with Cirque du Soleil. She started a circus training school in the islands which now has 500 students ages 2 - 55. Her pride is having one currently performing with Cirque du Soleil. Our prize was having a wonderful guide who spoke perfect English. The ten Madgelen Islands are in the middle of the St. Lawrence River delta about 100 km West of Newfoundland and the same distance from Nova Scotia and mainland Quebec. The only way on or off is via a five hour ferry ride or a flight from Quebec City or Montreal. Eight of the islands are French speaking and two are English speaking. This is the heart of Acadia where the French were forced out by the English in the 18th century. Many went to Louisiana and the Caribbean while others went to Sept Isles. The ones left in the Madgalen Island either returned or never left. We first visited a cheese factory. About 90 years ago, an agronomist from Toronto persuaded a beef farmer to change to daily cows to produce a cheese similar to the type made in Normanday and Brittany. They sold their beef cows and imported 62 daily cows from the mainland and never looked back. The three cheeses we tasted here were all divine. Next stop the only remainly fish smoke house on the islands. There were once 72 of these, but then the herring population disappeared in the 70’s due to overfishing, all of the others were closed. In the early 90’s the herring reappeared only to be decimated due to climate warming, overfishing again, and the abundance of seals. This was the most interesting part for me. I remember seeing the films of the adorable baby grey seals being clubbed to death and responding with outrage. Unfortunately, this meant Europe, the US and most of the world prohibited seal skin and meat import, resulting in the 1 million seal population turning into 7 million today. These seals have no enemies and eat all the fish in the area. No more herring for the smoke houses today. Their natural enemies were polar bears, which lived farther north but are also disappearing and orcas while only live further to the west. Now China has prohibited seal product import, so the seal population will continue to expand. It certainly made me rethink the whole baby seal slaughter videos we saw 30 years ago. Maybe if they would shoot seals instead of clubbing the babies, we’d feel better about this. The only animals on these 10 islands are foxes, coyotes, and rabbits. The island homes are all painted bright colors. This tradition began so fishermen could find their homes by color to head to the right destination coming home. The tradition has continued. There is so much wind that there are very few trees on the islands, so lumber is now imported for new homes. About 13,000 people liver here full time with the population rising to over 30,000 during the summer due to the large number of relatively private beach areas. The many lighthouses are no longer in use but one can purchase a lighthouse for $1 if they agree to keep them painted, etc. for the tourists. At the herring smokehouse we sampled smoked herring (tasted like a Slim Jim) and marinated herring - aka Kippers in the US. I thought they were delicious. Mother did not even taste :-). Visited several beautiful beaches and lighthouses and ended our tour at the island’s micro brewery where everyone wolfed down potato chips and lots of beer. Most of us had not eaten lunch thinking we would eat a lot on this tour - not. Mother and I were happy to missing an additional 10,000 calories but did really enjoy our dinner at Tastes again. Evening entertainment was a Native American magician - odd but pretty funny. Later found a great small piano bar with a wonderful piano player and singer. Lots of fun then off to bed to be rocked to sleep again. Am loving that rock and roll. 10/10 - Friday Cruising the Cabot Strait Slept in for our day at sea, but my internal alarm is on Eastern time, not Atlantic time as we are now, so woke up too early. I must be the worst person in the world for time zone changing, because I cannot even make a one hour change work. When we go back to Eastern time in two days, I’ll probably be settled in on Atlantic. As Katie and I discovered on our South America cruise, sea days are packed with activities on the ship, so many that it is frustrating not to be able to do everything. Of course the weather was bright and sunny, but cold, making us wish we were in a port to enjoy walking outside. Outside on the ship was cold and blustery. My minimum outside boating temperature is 80 and we were at about 55 all day. Started the morning with breakfast in the Lido, because we were too late for the dining room. Next Mother decided to relax with her book in our stateroom so I ran from a lecture about the history of Nova Scotia and Maine, to a talk about iPad tips and tricks, to a lecture about militant Islamists, to a class on Photoshop Elements 12, quite different from version 3 I last owned. After learning how to remove wrinkles from faces on photos, I decided to go home and buy this one :-). Lunch in our favorite restaurant, Tastes. Beauty parlor time for Mother at 2 for a hair transformation. Mozart themed high tea followed with all wait staff dressed in period costumes and the string quartet playing all Mozart selections. Dinner at 6 with two delightful couples, production show about the British music invasion of the 60’s which was again amazingly fabulous, then a nightcap in the piano bar. I say today was mostly about eating and drinking. The all inclusive nature of this ship seems to encourage lots of both. 10/11 Halifax Woke up this morning to the sound of bagpipes as we pulling into the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was our most risky day of the cruise, as we had booked a private taxi tour we found on Trip Advisor with Lucinda at www.halifaxcruiseshiptaxitours.com. I shared the information on Cruise Critic in our cruise area and another couple from San Francisco, Laurel and Steve, and a single from Sydney, AU decided to join us. We needed five to make the price reasonable, and it ended up being about $50 a person, far less than the ship excursions. Our guide Terry met us right outside of the ship so little walking was required of Mother. We hopped into his van and began a wonderful day in Nova Scotia. Our day begin with a walk through the large Halifax city park and a tour of beautiful historic neighborhoods in the city. Our stop at the citadel on the hill gave Terry time to tell us about the huge explosion of 1917, the largest explosion ever recorded prior to the Atomic Bomb. Next toured the Fairview Cemetery, home to the graves of 121 victims of the Titanic. Since most of us know quite a bit about the Titanic from the movie, Broadway play and recent discovery and underwater exploration, this was especially interesting. One of the executives of the White Star line was on the ship and evidently bribed his way onto a lifeboat being guarded at gunpoint to keep only women and children onboard. He promised to take care of the seaman’s family in exchange for a seat, and did. He also gave the seaman a nice headstone. Of course, he lived a miserable life afterwards trying to explain why he had gotten on a lifeboat reserved for women and children. James Cameron used names in the movie Titanic based on the real names on tombstones. Most interesting to me was a tombstone of an unknown two year old. Rescuers who recovered the bodied felt so bad for this one they chipped in to pay for a larger tombstone. A few years ago DNA testing revealed the child’s actual name. Our group decided to ship lunch to give us more touring time so we detoured through beautiful waterfront areas on our way to Peggy’s Cove. Nova Scotia has over 1000 km of shoreline and the areas that had not previously been developed as villages are now being developed as multi-million dollar neighborhoods. These homes actually reminded me of the Lake Burton mac-mansions. Peggy’s Cove, a very famous photo stop south of Halifax, was a surprise. I’d expected a big tourist village with lots of people. We saw a total of about 20. There were about a dozen shops, lots of fishing boats and lobster traps, and many granite rocks scraped clean by glaciers thousands of years ago. The famous lighthouse was about half the height of our SSI one, which seems to be the norm for Nova Scotia and most of Eastern Canada. It was quite lovely and proved not to be a problem for Mother walking. We did not bother with the walker, and used me instead. Back to the port, ship, just in time for a quick tea time with sandwiches. We acted like we were starving, but I’m sure we were not as my dinner the night before was enough to last forever. I zipped off to an iPhoto class where I learned many new tricks for me. Well worth the 45 minutes. The ship has two Mac labs with 30 inch monitors on 25 computers each - quite impressive! Had dinner tonight in the specialty Italian restaurant on the ship, Prego. Crystal does not charge extra for the special restaurants on board but does limit you to two evenings at their top two, Prego and Silk Road, their Asian restaurant. Service and food were both delicious, and we agreed with our travel agent that the mushroom soup was a must have. 10/12 Bar Harbor Early start this morning with breakfast in the dining room then immigration back to the USA. This was, by far, the easiest entry into the US I’ve ever had. One immigration officer looked at our passports and that was it. He, of course, mentioned he had been at FLETC many years ago. I suggested he must either be very senior or very good to get cruise ship duty. Lucky guy! Boarded our tender for a spectacular early morning arrival into the best Fall colors of the trip in Bar Harbor. I have visited Bar Harbor and the National Park here twice before but have never taken a tour so really enjoyed our National Park Service school bus tour of Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor. Our guide, Heather, was one of those worth writing home about for sure. She had just the right amount of humor and exuberance without getting in the way of her extensive knowledge. She has been giving these tours for the park service concessionaire for over 20 years. A few interesting tidbits: Though there were three ships in the port today and the town was a bit crowded, Bar Harbor never lets tourism outweigh their charm. Only 6000 cruise ship passengers total are every allowed off the ships, and ships can only visit during September and October after the summer residents have left. Bar Harbor seems to be where most of the Jekyll Island Club group spent their summers after wintering on Jekyll. Beautiful homes line the harbor representing many of the rich and famous such as Martha Stewart, John Trivolta, and, of ocurse, the Rockefellers. The Rocks first came to Bar Harbor when Mrs. Rockefeller was pregnant with Nelson, former VP with Gerald Ford. She has two previous children and wanted the same doctor to deliver Nelson. He told her she would have to spend the summer in Bar Harbor if she wanted him to deliver the baby, so she did and the decendents have returned every summer from that point forward. John D. Jr. donated much of the land which is now Acadia National park. The viewpoint of the park if the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern seaboard. Leaf color was at its peek, and the air was crisp and cold providing beautiful clear views. A major fire in 1947 burned much of the park's cedar forests, making was for Norwegian maples, Red maples, birch, oak and many other colorful hardwoods. We could not leave Bar Harbor without a lobster roll which Mother had never previously experienced. Instead of one of regular restaurant on Main Street, we headed to the gorgeous Bar Harbor Inn for our lunch hanging out over the harbor in a beautiful glass dining room. The lobster roll was a few dollars more expensive but the view was well worth it. Lobster season is year around in Maine but most fishermen stop during the coldest months. In fact, most stores in the town close and the owners become snowbirds, flocking to Florida, Arizona, and the Golden Isles. Maine has over 3000 offshore islands, the most of any Atlantic Coast state, and Bar Harbor is certainly one of the most lovely. We reluctantly returned to the ship at 3. Mother took a quick nap while I listened to the last history lecture of the trip about Boston. 5 PM was tea dance time, but Mother was still a watcher concerned about lifting her arms to participate. Very weird production company show tonight with all characters dressed in lights. It required lots of effort in both costuming and performing, and we decided it was not worth it. Half the audience was asleep, as the show was done in total darkness except for the lighted costumes. 10/13 Boston Fantastic morning in Boston today on a ship shore excursion to Boston and Cambridge with our local guide David. David is about my age and is decended from Beacon Hill Bostonians. His grandparents created and donated the Constitution Museum by Old Ironsides, and he graduated from Harvard. I did not have the nerve to ask why he was leading tours so just enjoyed his wonderful personality and vast knowledge. Our stop at Old Ironsides showed us the ship covered in flags and bunting ready for the Secretary of the Navy to arrive later this week for the ships final sail before going into two years of dry dock. I'm always proud this ship was made from SSI live oaks, and, of course, had to share that. Then the guide told me he was writing a novel set in Georgia in Enota (sp) and Jekyll Island. Can't wait to read this one. Bob and I visited Boston two years ago and toured thoroughly except for Cambridge which we just road through. This trip took us on a 45 minute walk around the Harvard campus, a real treat since our guide had been a student there. Harvard Yard was not at all what I expected - much smaller than the North Campus yard of UGA and not as pretty. Our guide was a bit opinionated and got into an argument with a German guide about which group would get to enter the church first, her three German tour buses or our small group. Both guides pitched hissy fits but the German won because our Crystal rep told David to back off. We had an outdoor visit with an excellent telling of the start of the American Revolution, lanterns in the church tower, battle details, etc. Found out two liquor merchants funded the brick Freedom Trail to celebrate the bi-centenial in 1976. Their only stipulation was that the trail pass both of their stores, even though they were a bit out of the way. The National Park Service agreed and both merchants have gotten their investments back many times over with all the passing tourists. Other fascinating detail on this tour was no restroom stop on a four hour tour. Some got desperate and used the bus bathroom, only to get stuck in there because the door handle didn't work properly. We crossed our legs and ran into the restroom as soon as we boarded the ship. Spent afternoon catching up on work and resting though Quincy Market was tempting. Another lovely Italian dinner at Prego tonight. Am getting addicted to the lobster on this ship, I’m afraid. Skipped the piano concert and opted for a movie, Le Chef, which someone had mentioned was sort of like the 100 Foot Journey. It was in French with subtitles, but was still wonderful. Mother went right to sleep and had a lovely nap along with most of the people in the theater. The subtitles were a bit much for most, as there was lots of dialogue. 10/14 Newport Mother slept in while I worked this morning which was a great decision for both of us. We decided last night to see if the ship excursion to Newport at noon had any seats available, and a great decision it was. We tendered into beautiful Newport and joined our 90 minute trolley tour. Weather was perfect, and our guide was outstanding. According to him, he is the only resident of the city who is a direct descendant of Rhode Island’s founder, Roger Williams. A few tidbits to remember: Newport was one of the five largest cities in the US at the time of the American Revolution - others were Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia and New York. Newport has more pre-revolutionary homes than any other city in the country, thanks to the preservation efforts of Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress. Nice to see something good came from smoking. People came to Rhode Island for freedom of religion so the city had a more diverse population than other colonial cities. First Episcopal church, first Jewish synagog, and lots of other firsts. The rich started coming to Newport when a planter from Savannah visited and decided it would be the perfect summer retreat. His friends followed but all abandoned the city when the Civil War broke out and none returned. After the war Northern millionaires of the Gilded Age began summering in Newport and building huge mansions along the coast. The age ended with income tax legislation but huge mansions remain as do many wealthy people. Most elite were the group of 400. Mrs. Astor started this and had two requirements. 1. Must have at least 4 million dollars and must have 2 million set aside for each of your children. 2. Must not have earned your money by working for at least three generations. There is still a beach club in Newport set aside for the group of 400. Donald Trump tried to join this a few years ago but was rejected due to rule #2. Did not realize Anderson Cooper of CNN fame was the daughter of Gloria Vanderbilt, part of the wealthy Vanderbilt clan. We saw the “cottage” where he vacations in the summer. I decided I’ll never give another cent to my alma mater, because the Vanderbilts can afford to keep it running without me. Newport has more yachts than any harbor in the world. Most were spectacular! Had a great show back on the ship with the production company then a lovely dinner with six people we had not previously met. One had dined with one of the four ladies who live on the ship and discovered she had been on 355 Crystal Cruises so far over a 30 year period. 10/15 New York The captain announced during his one PA announcement of the day yesterday (ship only has this one announcement - no dinner bells, no activity alerts, etc) that we'd be arrived in NYC about 6:30 AM. I wanted to see this so kept waking up all night looking out the doors for lights. Did finally see them about 6:30 as we were sailing past Brooklyn. The early morning light scene was so spectacular that I insisted Mother get up and join me on the balcony. Took some nice photos of the new World Trade Center and the Empire State building. What a surprise to be docked right next door to the Intrepid Museum. Our New York City day was celebrated with perfect center section aisle tickets to the Carole King biographical play, Beautiful. I had read about this when it opened so ordered tickets six months ago. In June the lead won the Tony for best actress, and wow was that deserved. She was a better Carole King than Carole King herself! 10/16 New York Uneventful trip home expect for a little delay taking off from LaGuardia due to fog. All wheeled chairs were ready and waiting as was our old faithful Bulldog Limo. A few comments about Crystal Cruise line. The ship was very quiet. No announcements, not bells, tiptoeing staff Though the ship was full, everything seems somewhat empty. Please of space to move around with Mother's walker, which was a god send. Really enjoyed not having to pay, sign, tip, etc. Crystal is all inclusive - just ask and it is yours. Did not realize how much effort it was to decide who was paying for the wine at dinner or how much to tip at the end.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
About us: • We are a couple in our 40s, middle class and traveling without our children. • I have medical (cancer) and mobility issues that need to be taken into consideration with everything we did on board. Notes about the food: ... Read More
About us: • We are a couple in our 40s, middle class and traveling without our children. • I have medical (cancer) and mobility issues that need to be taken into consideration with everything we did on board. Notes about the food: • The Crème brulee was not on the everyday menu and had the Brownie Stack instead. • Limited dining choices and hours. I don’t understand why they close the burger and pizza places down at 5pm. On other cruise lines these are all open in the evening if not 24/7. • Soda is very hard to find before 9am. The only option is through room service and you cannot use a soda card to do this. Cans cannot be purchased with the soda card at bars for you to save and use the next morning when they are not open. Because the soda’s are not unlimited you were also limited to small glasses, other lines allow you to use larger cups with insulation (Royal Caribbean even provides you with one). • Room service does not appear to get orders correct when called in over the phone. Several people and ourselves all noted issues with not getting exactly what we asked for and the temperature being luke warm. Notes about the Neptune Suite and Lounge: • The suite was a nice size and gave us space to spread out and to comfortably host a party of about 10. We enjoyed having the separate dressing area and bathroom and there was a ton of storage space (15 drawers, 4 closets and about 6 other shelves behind doors in various places). • The concierge ordered hot appetizers for us, we had about a dozen of two different items… both of which were delicious. • We took advantage of the free dry cleaning and pressing. I did not use the laundry services though. • It was nice having a concierge to handle any and all questions/issues. He was able to order excursions for us, replace my husband’s room key when he lost it, and print up room charges and take payment from us to zero out the balance at the end of the cruise. He was also able to reset our safe when we arrived since the last person to use the room did not leave it unlocked for us to use. Mobility issues: • The mobility accessible suite was a bit of a joke to me. The only grab bar for the toilet was behind it. Not a great place for me to grip to stand up, I ended up using the towel rack and the sink instead. The shower seat was not in a comfortable location for me to use it since it’s bolted to the wall and just folds down, so I ended up standing for quick showers. • Tendering only works if you can handle stairs (which thankfully I can). The staff had no knowledge of the roll on and roll off tendering lift I was emailed about from special services. • Staff and cruise tours were all extremely helpful and always willing to assist me with my mobility needs.  Saturday June 7th - Embarkation Day - Quebec City Our flights to Quebec went well. This was my first time traveling with a scooter and we had no issues with taking it straight through security and to the gate. The airlines quickly valet checked it at the gate and then brought it back to me once we landed. The transfer to the ship from the airport was a bit hectic as we had enough people at 11am to fill two buses. We had checked with the hospitality desk when we got there and they were made aware that I had a scooter and mobility issues. They kept us waiting in chairs at first and didn't offer me any pre-boarding or assistance onto the bus. This was the only time I experienced this the entire trip. We had to stand in a long line and I almost ended up being the last person onto the first bus… which meant I really would have struggled with getting to a seat. Thankfully we got lucky and they ran out of seats just as we got to the loading point and were then put on the second bus. This was not because of their planning but only dumb luck. As soon as we boarded we met Yaya our room assistant, he is very energetic and always happy. He is also extremely friendly and amusing, he refused to drop the Mr. and Mrs. parts of our names but did call us (Mrs.) Sherry and (Mr.). John instead of by our last name. Next we met Dexter our Neptune Lounge concierge. He was also friendly and helpful but at times he felt a little stand offish to me. Overall though we thought he was great. For lunch we went to the Lido buffet and were impressed with everything they offered. I had a slice of beef strip loin with horseradish and a nice piece of lasagna as well. Everything was tasty and of good quality. The husband and I disagreed on the lasagna as it was a meaty style and not a cheesy style that really appealed to me but not so much to him. Dinner was at a French restaurant in Quebec across the street from the ship, Laurie Raphael. While the food was great, we ended it on a very sour and bitter not and me in tears I was so frustrated with them. I have posted the review of them at the end of the ship review for those that are interested. After 4 hours at dinner it was 10pm and I was exhausted since we had been up since 3am so we collapsed and went into a sound slumber. Sunday June 8th - Quebec City When I woke up in the morning my stomach was uneasy (still not used to eating a lot of food yet) so I wanted a ginger ale. We found it almost impossible to find anything at 6am in the morning. We ended up using room service to order a can of it (which meant we could not use our soda card like I would have preferred). There was no where I could get something light to eat as well. Food is looking like it could be a deal breaker in terms of hours of availability. We decided in the morning to go on an excursion to Montmorency Falls. We talked to Dexter and unfortunately the one we specifically wanted was full. He offered us stand by for it but we wanted to make sure we went to the falls, so we took the other offering that had the falls with it instead. When we got down to the excursion spot I spoke with the women organizing the buses and they also offered us stand by, I explained to them my dilemma and they said they'd let us know if anyone canceled before the one we did book left 15 minutes prior to it. The bus came and had more seats than they expected so they came over to me and let me know we were getting the first choice and refunded us for the second choice and got us on board early to accommodate my scooter and issues with going up steps. We went to the St. Anne de Beaupré Basilica which was absolutely ornate and gorgeous. I could not believe the amount of detail in every single space; the ceilings, stained glass windows, walls and floors were all ornate and each had meaning. I organized a meet and greet for our group to meet at sail away after the muster. I didn't have a solid head count so I never contacted anyone at corporate to let them know about it or invite them. It's apparent now that they do lurk around here in the forums since they showed up to welcome us. Henry the beverage manager was very nice (as I have found is true of all staff on the ship) and said that someone from corporate had sent him an email telling them our details and to meet up with us. They were generous and offered all of us one complimentary drink on the house (I had the drink of the day, the Crazy Canuck) and then Henry also brought out a tray of yummy appetizers for us to snack on. Dinner was in the MDR for the first time and the food was tasty. Service was good and although the crème brulee was not on the menus we were allowed to pre-order it for the next night. Monday June 9th - Sailing the St. Lawrence River Breakfast was in the Pinnacle Grill. The place was very cold but the atmosphere was quite an calm. John had the English Breakfast and I had the Corned Beef Hash with poached eggs. I tried the chocolate croissant and while it was tasty it was not what I had imagined and I probably will not have another one again. The Walk for a Cause was held at 9:30am, I went to check it out but we were a few minutes late. I spoke with the organizers and verified and that they donate to about 6 general cancer research groups. About 20-30 people showed up for it. We saw one very angry guest yelling at the coordinators for the show because this was held on the lower promenade and the speaker with loud music was placed outside his window because; it had woke him up after a late night We went to the culinary demonstration for Pinnacle Lobster Salad and Crème Brulee. While I love cooking shows I was not really impressed with this presentation. They gave us a small sample of the crème brulee but there was no brulee on top of it. We had lunch from the taco bar, I wasn't impressed with it... but then I really hadn't expected much since it was just meat and cheese with toppings. We hosted a private meet and greet at 3pm with about 10 people from the forums. We had two appetizers delivered to the room, dumplings and little spring rolls. We greatly enjoyed the company and some friends for the cruise in the process. Dinner was the first formal night and escargot was served. They brought us our creme brulee for desert and then we decided to just have a standing order for them for the rest of the cruise. Tuesday June 10th - PEI We had a light breakfast in the lido and then went out to meet our private tour guide, Terry, with Duncan Tours. It was just my husband and I so Terry drove us around to see the sights we wanted to see, mostly around the northern coast. I was able to get some great pictures and the conversation with Terry was great. The quality of the tour was wonderful and we were able to see the things that we were interested, stopping for photos when I saw something interesting ,and then skipping past things like the Anne of Green Gables house. Lunch was at The Water Prince Shop. We had lobster rolls and I had a cup of seafood chowder. The place was just filling up when we arrived and they asked another couple if we could all share a table together, they said yes and it turned out to be another couple from here on CC as well. A little bit later in the evening we ran into the couple again and it turned out they were actually our cabin neighbors as well! After we were almost finished with lunch we ran into another couple that we had become friends with and I was able to taste a couple of the restaurants muscles as well. The food was delicious and fresh and not badly priced. Dinner was in the MDR and it was the first time we were asked if we wanted to sit with others. We were seated at a table for 8 and had an enjoyable evening. When dessert came around they all asked about the Crème Brule we were served and 2 people joined the cult of the crème brulee. Wednesday June 11th - Sydney The day started out rough since something had not agreed with my husband’s stomach from the day before. He was up until 4am until it finally left his system; he was exhausted after that so he slept in. Breakfast was in the lido, I tried the omelets for the first time and was impressed that they were cooked just right. After some rest we headed out to explore the city. This port really didn't have anything interesting to offer us so we just wandered for a bit and took it easy. We at lunch at a local restaurant and enjoyed a nice cup of seafood chowder and a sandwich. We returned in time for high tea, this day was the Indonesian tea. I wasn't really impressed with it and would not go again. They wore their batik shirts but the service was very sporadic and nothing special was done. Our large table ended up in a black hole apparently, they’d walk around and serve pastries and small sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres to everyone except us. Someone from our table had to flag them down. In the afternoon I called the spa to ask about getting a massage package. They scheduled an appointment for me for an hour later. When I called them I made it clear I had a port (used for my cancer) and they talked to their supervisor and even put her on the phone. She told me that it should not be an issue and that my doctors and I knew what was best for me, they told me to go ahead and come on down. When I went down to the spa they had me go through the normal preparation process, I changed into a robe and went for the consultation. This is when it finally hit them that I had cancer apparently. I was then refused treatment as it is corporate policy to work on no one with cancer, even if I’m not undergoing any treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. I explained to them that I’m in palliative care stage and that I will never be “free” of cancer and they said for that reason that could never get treatments from them. If I had lied and told them I was 3 months clean they wouldn’t have questioned this and worked on me though. I ended in tears and frustration since a large part of this trip was to enjoy what time I have left. The supervisor apologized to me for not asking me enough questions on the phone and putting me through this, but that really didn’t help how I felt while leaving. I was so distraught that when leaving other guests noticed in the hallways and stopped to ask me if I was okay… one couple actually walked with me back to my room to try and comfort me and they were more furious than I was with the spa. For dinner we ate in the MDR again and had one 2 other people join us. We converted yet another 2 people over to the cult of the crème brulee. Because we had slept in earlier in the day we finally had the energy to stay up for a show. We went to the 10pm variety show, it was wonderful. The singer (Neil Lockwood) was AMAZING and the juggler (Hilby) was very amusing as well. Thursday June 12th - Halifax We started out breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill with BumperII and SF49erfan and then headed off to the port for the day. We booked the Halifax in Focus tour which focused on photography. The driver was very quick to get my scooter in and out of storage every stop and also help me off the bus. We stopped at the 5 main highlights for the area; the sea port, public gardens, citadel, Peggy's cove and the titanic cemetery. Peggy's cove was very scooter accessible and worth the 45 minute drive out to it. When we returned to port it was that awkward hour of 3pm where nothing is really available food wise, but we didn't have enough time to go into town to get a bite to eat. So I ordered the steak sandwich from room service, it took 30 minutes to be delivered and the order was not correct and the food was room temperature. This is why I do not like using room service. We're still considering the food a possible breaking point on not returning to HAL. Dinner was the 2nd formal night for this cruise. We dined with 4 other people that were part of a tour out of Australia. I had the seafood cocktail, mushroom soup and the surf and turf for dinner. My husband tried the sweetbreads for his appetizer and they turned out to be tasty. This night the crème brulee failed on us, they forgot to bring them to us and after an hour of sitting and talking with our tablemates we were about to leave when they suddenly remembered to bring them to us; but it was far to late and we had lost interest in eating them by this point. When we returned to the room we found that our excursion for the next day (whale watching) had been canceled at the last minute and had to scramble to find something else with no knowledge of what was still available and what was mobility friendly at 9pm in the evening. We tried the front desk for information and they were pretty much clueless on how tendering would even work for me with my scooter. We were told that the supervisor for the area would call us first thing in the morning with more information. We were so frustrated we just went to bed and decided to deal with it in the morning. Friday June 13th - Bar Harbor - Tendered port Immigration was the first agenda for the day as we returned to the US. This turned out to be extremely easy and only took about 5 minutes. We went to the shore excursions gathering area immediately after to ask about tours that were open and continued to get mixed stories about tendering and how it would work. I had received an email and a letter stating that the msVeendam had lift capabilities for roll on and roll off tendering... the staff once again seemed to have no clue that this existed. We also never received that phone call we were promised. We were told I'd have to go down the 14 stairs to the tender and then they'd carry my scooter down for me. We finally decided that I could do this after looking at the steps and so we were immediately put on the next tender since we did not require a ticket as guests in a Neptune Suite. When we reached shore we continued to get mixed answers about one of the excursions (lighthouse tour by boat) so we went to the company running it directly and got answers. We saved $10 ($5/pp) by booking it through them directly. Unfortunately the weather was very cold that day (around 60ºF) and being out on a moving boat was even colder. I was struggling to keep warm. Back on land we met up with some of our new friends and had lunch at the West Street Café and enjoyed a full lobster dinner with several members from the forums. For dinner we decided to try the Lido buffet since the casual menu showed the entrée and sides I was interested on it. When we got there the chicken dish was out and the sides they had said would be there did not exist. They did make a fresh batch of the chicken and then brought it to our table for us. This evening was the first time we encountered any rocking on the boat and rough seas. While it lulled me to sleep my husband didn’t fare as well and barely got any rest. Saturday June 14th – Boston – Debarkation We started out the morning with a final breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill. The morning was rather uneventful and debarkation was very smooth. We double checked with Dexter our concierge before leaving to make sure that the 2 unused $50 beverage cards from my HAL rewards card had been refunded, and they had. We left the ship, got on a shuttle to the airport and were on our sad way home. Ship Facts: Captain – Eric van der Wal Hotel Diretor – Simon de boer Cruise Director – Mario Vines Dining Room Manager – Bagus Sugiantha We sailed with around 950 people from my understanding. Overall Conclusion: We were very satisfied with the cruise and the quality, however we didn't feel it was exactly the right fit for us. It's much like finding that beautiful dress and then trying on and not liking how it makes your but look. :D We would recommend it to others with a few cautions, but we will continue to search for the cruise line that fits our specific wants/desires more perfectly. We would consider using them again under the right circumstances, but don't foresee that happening in the near future. We would definitely rank Holland America over Carnival. We will probably try Princess next. Laurie Raphael – Quebec (Restaurant Review) The service started out well in the beginning. We ordered the 10 course spring vision menu. I decided to do the wine pairing with my dinner as well, they were fairly generous with most of the pours. The menu was well thought out, creative and tasty but by the end of dinner I just couldn’t enjoy the food any longer due the upset they caused with us. The courses were initially coming at a reasonable pace, but as the restaurant filled up and became busier we noticed a downward trend in the progression of our meal. By the end of the 7th course we discovered (after an hour had passed) that they had completely forgotten about us and never progressed our meal. The servers never seemed to notice and we had to resolve this on our own by flagging someone over to our table and asking about it. There were no apologies and the staff did not notify management even though it was clear (and expressed to multiple servers) that we were very upset by this point. As we were leaving the manager spoke to us and we explained what had happened, he had never been made aware we had had a problem and since we were not locals it was too late for him to try and do anything to correct the situation or make us feel better. For the amount of money paid for this meal we were left extremely unsatisfied and would urge others to dine here with great caution. 4 hours to be served 10 small courses is not acceptable to us. Read Less

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