Around The Cape of Good Hope
This was our first Crystal cruise, and following many good comments from previous fellow cruisers, we were anxious to try it. Especially following it's longest refurbishment, which added a number of suites, Churascarria restaurant in the evening in the Market buffet. With former Crystal dining room renamed The Waterside Restaurant. This was fitted with a lot of additional tables chairs,and became open seating. Embarkation After a pleasant hotel stay in Mauritius we were transferred to the cargo dock in Port Louis, there we found 3/4 erected Gazebos with tables to complete a health and immigration form. Despite the fact that it was 33c no shelter or refreshment available. It was a perfect shambles. Once forms completed told to take your bags and board the ship 100 metres away. Once onboard joined a queue to receive our key card, and told cabin would be ready at 3pm. Lunch was available in various venues. Our first impression of our outside cabin was clean but very cramped with too much furniture. The bathroom was the same. The two ornamental basins were pleasing on the eye but totally impractical. Good thing we are both of the "racing snake" physique as getting a seat on the toilet would have flummoxed some of the larger people aboard. We found the mattress very uncomfortable. The next morning the sunlight very visible in several places through the threadbare curtains. The extravagant refit did not appear to have reached our cabin. Our cabin stewardess was very efficient. Most of the crew were very happy friendly and helpful. Dining, we only ate in The Waterside restaurant a few times, majority of waiters were very pleasant, however there were a few surly ones. With the additional tables being added, made a lot of extra work for the staff, and at times they were very rushed and delayed. Breakfast most days was in the market place, where there was little change to the daily offering, fresh fruit was restricted to apples and banana's when available. On the odd occasion there was tasteless papaya, unripe melon and mango. Full fat Greek yoghurt ran out for the last three days of cruise. Apart from smoked salmon there was no other fish served for breakfast. I was offered a Kipper from the freezer with 24 hours prior notice in the waterside restaurant,as they had stopped serving prior to the refit. We tried Churascarria twice, first occasion excellent. Second occasion several days later not so. Umi Uma ( Nobu ) was good and Prego to be the best prepared served dinner of the whole voyage. The only drawback of the speciality restaurants was the menu items of all never changed for the voyage. The Bistro was the saving grace for the best snacks, pastries and coffee etc. This was open all day with a variety of food changes throughout. Trident grill served excellent grilled Ruben sandwich and sweet potato fries to order, along with several other choices. Silk Road chinese lunch a couple of times was okay. Afternoon tea in Palm Court personal choice, teas were excellent, however cakes very bland. Mozart Tea with waiters dressed in costume was interesting. Ports of Call, Reunion, Maputo, Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth and disembarkation in Cape Town. In every port we docked we were always in a cargo ship berth, therefore very industrial and noisy area. The cancellation of Madagascar some two weeks before cruising, was a major disappointment, resultant in 4 very slow cruising days at sea. It should have been ample time for another replacement port to be organised, no such luck. Complimentary shuttle buses when available in South African ports only ever took you to a shopping mall, not sure if this concern for safety reasons, or commission based. Entertainment very much a personal choice. We enjoyed the in house Crystal band and Quartet. various musicians,, Imagine light show, Thee Legacy and the Brian Staron magic show. We did not realise that the refit also made this ship family friendly. Although there were only about 12 to 15 children aboard of various ages, the guardians of whom thought them so delightful, that all childless people should share them. They and the ships staff for the children were unable to control them. The poolside area was very cramped with too many sun loungers and sofas etc. The sofas under cover were commandeered daily, with out sanction from the staff, and left empty with peoples towels on them. Reminiscent of the spanish package holidays many years ago! Disembarkation was a carbon copy shambles of embarkation, as we were in our final berth in Cape Town right by a coal handling station! This cruise was a very big disappointment to us as cost cutting was very evident, particularly as we have had far better service and food on many other cruises lines.
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