From Dublin to Dover
Upon arriving into Dublin Airport I was already filled with excitement about my week ahead to come onboard Crystal Serenity. 7 nights calling at Dublin, Belfast, Holyhead, Liverpool, Cork/Cobh, Portland, St.Peter Port/Guernsey & Dover. I last sailed with Crystal back in October 2012 and had a wonderful week so this cruise definitely had something to live up to!
We were greeted by Crystal staff after I had collected my bags and whisked straight to our Crystal transfer. So effortless and smooth – it was much nicer to have the stress-free experience when arriving at the airport. I had booked quite an early flight, and as embarkation wasn’t for another two hours we were told instead of being taken straight to the port we’d take a ‘scenic’ detour to pass some time to save us all waiting around. Already I was appreciating the ‘crystal way of life’, such thought and detail put into every last bit. They could have simply dropped us off and let us wait but they didn’t, instead we were taken on a mini coach tour of Dublin. Simply Fantastic.
When arriving at the port we were met with traditional Irish music and river-dancing which was a nice little surprise as we were going through check-in and security. Embarkation was painless as always, no waiting around. As we were quite early our rooms weren’t ready just yet so we decided to go up to the Trident Grill and get a burger & fries. Just as good as I remembered! Then in true Crystal style you have to start your cruise off with a glass of champagne, which I teamed up with some Ben & Jerrys, I thought they accompanied each other rather nicely. My favourite thing about Crystal is the fact it is all-inclusive. It’s just the no pressure feeling when onboard. I love the fact that I don’t even have to think or worry about money, if there’s something I want, I can have it. That is what truly makes you feel like you’re on holiday; a pure sense of relaxation.
We swung by our room which was now ready and waiting for us. We were in an A-Grade stateroom on Deck 9, I love having a Verandah, it just gives you that extra bit of space – plus its always good to pop your head out in the morning to see what lays ahead for the days weather! After being greeted by our stewardess who asked our preferences in terms of cleaning, mini bar and even down to what kind of treats we would like on our pillows for the turn-down service we were ready to hit the gym.
It’s not my ideal way to start off the cruise but we thought we may as well try and be good to prepare ourselves for the week ahead of glorious food and drink. I do love the gym on Crystal Serenity, there’s actually a very good work space, plenty of machines and it’s made all the better with the large windows so you can work out whilst taking in the scenery.
After that it was a quick unpack, relax and getting settled in before dinner that evening. Tonight we were dinning in the main dinning room, we’d opted for ‘Late’ dinning which was 8:30pm. I like the fact that on Crystal you can choose from three different dinner options; main – 6:15pm, late – 8:30pm and dinning by reservation for those who like the option of times so you can make reservations much like a restaurant. Dinner was of course superb as always, for me, I just love the buzz that comes with the main dinning room, it’s nice to feel a part of something. I must admit after a very busy day, dinner left me feeling rather full and tired so it was straight off to bed for me. I wanted a good nights sleep so that I would be ready the week ahead.
Today we arrived in Belfast and unfortunately the weather had let us down. We decided to stay onboard and make the most of the enrichment activities that Crystal had to offer. We decided to pop into the ‘Computer University@Sea’ for the Digital Filmmaking: The iPad iMovie Video Course. It was really good! Very informative and a great way to get to know more about your iPad and the types of things you can do with it. After that I stopped by the library, got a book out and went up to the pool deck and sat outside with a blanket and cup of hot chocolate. It was simply lovely. After that i went back to my stateroom for a little siesta before getting ready for Silk Road that evening (I like to say siesta as it sounds far less lazy than a nap). I have to admit, before boarding we did not pre-book our specialty restaurants, we simply booked once we’d boarded and we managed to get Silk Road for the next night (Day 2) and Prego for the day after (Day 3). It’s so nice being onboard a cruise ship that isn’t over crowded and always has enough staff and space to cover everything you could possible need.
The food in Nobu’s Silk Road was exquisite. I had the blackened cod for my main and I honestly thought I was in heaven. It was a really wonderful experience and what made it all the better was the fact even the specialty restaurants onboard Crystal Cruises are included in the All-Inclusive package. It really takes away that worry, you know once you’ve stepped on the ship that you’re basically all sorted. Anything you want, and it’s there for you. As a girl, personally, it’s just nice ‘going out’ and not having to take a bag/purse around with you as there’s simply no need for you to carry cash. With Crystal the only extras that you could really incur would be the casino, the shops or the shore excursions, yet all can just be charged to your room, again it just adds to that sense of relaxation and stress-free holidays.
The weather had picked up today and by the afternoon it was actually rather warm and sunny. After a rather large breakfast in the Lido and a stroll around the local area we retreated back to the ship. The good thing about Crystal is that although you do have to pay for shore excursions, they do actually provide a free shuttle from the ship/port to the main area/centre. I love this. Hassle free, they run very regularly from the start of the day to the end and it simply gives you the option and flexibility to make the most of your day. I always end up picking that option in port.
As our reservation for Prego was at 9pm that evening, we went down to Crystal Cover before dinner for a few drinks. My favourite thing to do is to try their Cocktail of the Day. Each day its a new combination, I love just being able to try something different that I wouldn’t have normally had. Yet again, it’s that piece of mind as you know that regardless if you don’t like it, it’s all included. The staff don’t mind either way, if they realise it’s not quite to your taste they’ll simply offer you something different. Dinner was yet again fabulous. I love Prego, it’s Italian themed cuisine and their mushroom soup is honestly the best I’ve ever tasted and it comes in it’s own bread bowl, quite literally inside. Amazing. Later that night I couldn’t sleep, so I got back up and nipped to the library and took out a DVD, got into bed with a hot chocolate and settled for the night.
I really do love waking up in my stateroom, the beautiful decor and ample amounts of space.
Today was Liverpool which was amazing to be docked so close to evening, the view from my Verandah was brilliant.
Liverpool is great for shopping, so for today my itinerary consisted of just that. I loved the fact I could actually just walk right into the city centre. It was quite novel to be so close and central to everything.
After getting back onboard the ship I decided to be quite productive so I popped some laundry in (yet again, all completely free) and I went to the gym whilst I waited for the cycle to finish. It’s quite nice to feel so at home whilst cruising, it’s a different feel to a beach type holiday and I really do enjoy it.
Dinner tonight was in the main dinning room again, back to our normal time of 8:30 which suited me perfectly. I like to have the time to stick to, gives me an aim for when to be ready for!
I must admit, after all the food I’d eaten so far I didn’t actually fancy any of the starters, I just wanted something a bit more plain and simple so I very politely (and slightly embarrassingly) asked for a Caesar salad. It wasn’t on the menu but I thought I’d try my luck. Now, this is the point where I point out simply how wonderful my waiter was. He was called Lloyd and was from Wales and his service was impeccable. He didn’t even stir in the slightest, he said yes straight away and took the order as though it was a natural thing to do. Now that to me is service, I know its something only so little yet it makes a great difference. That really is the attitude that Crystal has as a whole. They like to do whatever it takes to ensure that you have the greatest experience possible, saying ‘no’ isn’t an option.
Wow. Simply stunning. Cobh was absolutely beautiful, such a pretty little port and the weather was magnificent. A lot of people today took the free shuttle into Cork, and some even took the local train which went straight from the port to Cork directly, however Cobh itself seemed so beautiful we decided on a little walk to explore.
The picture I took of Cobh was taken straight from my balcony so as you can see, despite Crystal seeming like quite a large ship they really do still take you into the most beautiful and delicate of ports. It was brilliant walking right to the top and being able to look down on the miniature town in which Crystal had docked.
From the little local shops and cafes to the huge cathedral set up on the hill, everything about this place made you want to stay for as long as possible and explore. Cobh was actually originally named Queenstown and that was the last port of call for the RMS Titantic before she set sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage so as you can image this little port has a huge wealth of history behind it.
Tonight was formal night, I was much looking forward to it. Although every night the majority always made a huge effort, this one night always seems to just have a special feeling in the air. We went up to Palm Court before dinner for the Captains Cocktail Party, it was great to see some many people get together for drinks, dancing and a few speeches from a variety of crew. It was the main dinning room for dinner again and I couldn’t fault the menu, every course was just as delicious as the last. The only thing I could fault would be the fact it was so delicious you simply ate every last mouthful. Crystals’ attention to detail always amazes me, we noticed that on formal night our plates even matched the mural on the ceiling. We were so impressed I took a photo of Natalie holding it!
Today was Portland, yet again we had been very lucky with the weather! Started the day off with my favourite place for breakfast yet again – the Lido. There are plenty of choice for breakfast onboard, including room service but I simply love the Lido. It’s quite casual, buffet style service with hot and cold breakfast options. It’s one of those places where there is something for everyone no matter what you feel like for breakfast that day, plus if that weather is really nice you could always sit outside and eat it.
We decided to go into Weymouth today, so hopped on the free shuttle and we were there in no time. After a walk along the front and indulging in the typical seaside tradition of fish and chips we stopped by the shops for a bit of afternoon window shopping. We slowly made our way back to the ship, yet again hopping on the free shuttle to whisk us straight back to the ship. No waiting around at all.
Tonight we decided on the Crystal Cove again before dinner so we simply had to try out their cocktail of the day, plus a few pre-dinner snacks – it would have been rude not to! They always come round with the most delicious petits fours. Today we had mini hamburgers and sausage rolls, not that we needed it, the three course evening meal is plenty more than one needs to keep them going!
The main dinning room – 10 out of 10 as per usual, every course was amazing. I chose to sorbet for desert, great choice.
Today was our last full day onboard Crystal Serenity and I was already not wanting the day to end from the moment I woke up. We were in St. Peter Port/Guernsey today which was a tender to shore. After a wander around admiring the local sights (we’d both been to this port before) we decided to get back onboard for the afternoon and yet again enjoy the wonders that Crystal Cruises has to offer in the day time.
In the heat, nothing else seems appropriate than to sit up by the pool deck, order lunch from the Trident Grill and sip on a cocktail. I went for a chicken caesar wrap, fries and a mojito, I’d say it was a pretty good choice.
The Crystal Cove (again) for drinks with the string quartet was a really nice way to spend our last evening. We then moved into the Crystal dinning room for our final meal. For my main I chose the Rib Eye steak with potatoes and bacon wrapped asparagus. Lloyd our waiter had overheard me saying just how much I loved the asparagus and seconds later he appeared with some extras for me.
These little touches are what makes up the Crystal Cruises experience that has awarded them the title of “World’s Best” by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler more than any other cruise line, hotel or resort in history. It’s not until you actually sail with Crystal Cruises that you can really see why.
After dinner I decided I’d take a walk around the promenade deck, get a little bit of sea air and walk of some of the food that I’d consumer that week. Even thought the gym is open 24 hours I didn’t really fancy it so I thought instead I’d have a bit of ‘reflection’ time. Basically not feeling 100% sleepy after dinner, plus not wanting the evening to end, I decided to find an excuse to stay up later!
Yet again this experience with Crystal was simply marvelous. I couldn’t fault it at all.