Christmas & New Year Down Under with Crystal
Embarkation: On arrival at port (Melbourne) there were no porters to take luggage. A Crystal representative fetched some trolleys for us. We were directed upstairs where we had to fill in departure cards and were then given numbered cards for embarkation. It was not long before we were called to Border officials and then straight on board where check in took place in the Starlight Club very speedy. Our hand baggage was taken from us to be delivered to our cabins as they would not be available until 3pm. Lunch could then be taken in either the MDR or the Lido. Cabin: Small, but we knew this. It was an outside cabin with a partially obstructed view the obstruction was the bottom of the life boat which was in line with the top of the window, so not really obstructed. There was a 2 seater sofa and a height adjustable table. The fridge was stocked with beer and soft drinks. Fresh fruit was available if you wanted it. In the wardrobe there was a shoe horn, clothes brush, an additional hairdryer (there was a wall mounted one in the bathroom) and an umbrella. It was on the promenade deck but it was a few feet above the deck so passers-by could not see in. Our cabin stewardess introduced herself as soon as we arrived at our cabin and gave us our pre-booked excursion tickets and individual cards stating our on board credit. The bathroom was quite modern even though the ship is 21 years old. There was an extremely powerful shower above the small bathtub with a glass screen. Twin glass basins were on a marble shelve - cupboard space underneath. It was tastefully decorated with tiles no plastic here! Full size toiletries by ETRO were provided but I didnt think they were particularly good quality. Plentiful towels hand, bath and bath sheet. Food: The quality was extremely good although some plain food would have been good some evenings! The choice in the Lido did not change much for lunch it was mainly the hot food which changed, salads etc. stayed the same. Desserts in the Lido were very tasty and varied but very small meaning you had room for several! The grill on deck served excellent burgers etc. Ice cream bar had a wide selection with sauces on the counter to help yourself. Entertainment : On the whole very good. Show Company were excellent as were the headline entertainers. Lecturers were also good and varied. It was good to have an expert from New Zealand on board as that was the main destination. Christmas Day at sea Santa arrived on a sleigh for the children (Captain and daughter were in the front row!). Lunchtime was a gala buffet which filled the atrium. New Years Eve saw us in Sydney Harbour. Two catamarans were provide for guests to participate in the Parade of Light and be in a prime position for the Fireworks. Unfortunately the catamarans did not have enough seating for all guests and if you went below for food you lost your seat. We boarded the catamarans at 6:45 pm and didnt get back to the ship until 1:30am which was a long time without enough seats. Crystal acknowledged that this was not up to their standard and have given all passengers $500 of another cruise. We missed Dunedin due to the weather (Captain said if we got in it was doubtful we would be able to get out and arrive in Sydney for New Year) so sailed north again and had a substitute port which was Picton. We enjoyed this port. Tours were well organised but extremely expensive, but there was no rushing to get good seats as in the main coaches were not filled to capacity. Staff got to know what you required in the bars and drinks in the MDR & Lido after a couple of days. Queues were absent on this cruise except in Tauranga where the port authorities took a long time to give clearance it looks as though they concentrated their efforts on Golden Princess which berthed just before us. In all an excellent cruise. Would we go again? Yes we have already booked!
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