Cote D’Azur Collection with Crystal Cruises
Monte Carlo – Saturday
We arrived at the ship at 3pm after being met at the airport by the Crystal Cruises representatives, after this we claimed our luggage from the belt and porters were ready to assist with our luggage and were directed to our transfer in a Mercedes minivan, the driver was smartly dressed and polite and we were advised the journey would take approximately 40 minutes. We arrived at the port and went through security to check in onboard the ship, as we had checked in on line before travel, we only needed our passports checked and picture taken for our ID to depart and arrive back onboard.
Once onboard we headed to our stateroom AA grade on deck 10, 10011 forward with a balcony. Our luggage arrived shortly after and then we headed down to the Bistro for hot chocolate and cakes. Here they have a buffet of sandwiches, cakes, cheeses, fruit, plus tea and coffees all are served from 9.00am to 11.00pm.
We then got ready for the Welcome cocktails in Palm Court to meet all the agents and to get acquainted for the week ahead, it was also great to put faces to names which those that we have long spoken to but never met. Dinner was in the Crystal Dining room, I chose Garlic Prawns & Veal Chop which was on the large size, everyone was shocked. I gave it my best shot to eat, but it failed me. The wine is free flowing and you can choose the included wines, or select a recommend wine from the connoisseur list for an extra charge. It makes it much easier when entertaining Travel Agents or other guests. After dinner we headed back to the stateroom for a good night’s sleep over looked by the twinkling lights of Monaco and Super rich yachts.
Monte Carlo – Sunday
The next morning still in Monaco we had breakfast in the lido; this is a buffet service with everything you could fancy for breakfast on offer from any way eggs and bacon to healthy options such as fruit and yoghurt, what a good way to start to the day. We headed in to see the sights of the cathedral and palace then onto the famous casino square, where some of the supercars are parked. After a long walk we went back to the ship for lunch in the Crystal Dining room, I tried a beer with lunch (as its all included)and he recommended a Canadian beer for me to try and it was 9% alcohol!
Before the sales meeting we had a relax on the sun deck, with the stunning new loungers, all orange and white, and since last time I was onboard I noticed they also a much better selection of seating from loungers to tables. Shame about the weather as the rain had arrived by then along with a thunder storm, but we had blankets to keep us warm. After the meeting we had the life boat drill. Now the sun had appeared as we sailed out of Monte Carlo at 5pm for Genoa. We relaxed on our balcony with the sun in our faces…lovely.
Tonight we need to get ready for dinner in Tastes; this is an open dining restaurant open from 6.30pm to 9.00pm. Up here you can have chicken, steak, spaghetti Bolognaise plus also traditional Chinese comfort food; Dim Sum, which are dumplings. I had a banana split for desert, it is like eating outside due to all those large windows but with the warmth of inside giving it a lovely cosy atmosphere with fake candle lighting. It makes me hungry just thinking about it and what cocktail to have, my favourite is Bellini-Tini or maybe a glass of champagne, oh decisions, decisions.
We met in Crystal Cove for pre-dinner drinks; this is round bar on deck 5. The band was playing and the bar was busy and buzzing with passengers dancing, i noticed this, with a Bellini-Tini in hand of course. After dinner we headed to Avenue Saloon for after dinner drinks where there is a Piano player to dance and drink the night away until late.
Genoa – Monday
We arrived in Genoa (Genova as the Italians call it) for 8.00am and went straight to the Lido again for our buffet style breakfast before we were invited to see a Crystal Penthouse on Deck 11.
It was wonderful to see the Crystal Penthouse grade and to see first hand what it was really like, there is so much space. It is perfect for entertaining, from the large dinning table for six to the butler service all your needs. There was plenty of storage space, and you don’t need even need to leave your room to use the running machine as their is a personal gym inside the stateroom intself! With a separate toilet for guests, a Jacuzzi bath that has its own private window, and a writing desk the Crystal Penthouse really does excel itself in space, luxury and quality.
Later that morning, we took the shuttle bus into Genoa which took about 10-15 minutes, these leave every half an hour to the centre so its really convenient if you want to go of and explore for yourself. What first greeted us was a large fountain in the Piazza, which on closer inspection had red water flowing like red wine! It is a large and busy town with typical cobbled streets and churches typical to Italy. We headed back to the ship around lunch time, but decided to try a focaccia pizza in warm sunshine whilst we waited for the transfer bus to arrive to take us back to the ship. The afternoon was spent around the seahorse pool as the sun was still shining, we were well looked after by the pool staff with drinks, as we had a small lunch we decided to have the Afternoon Tea at in Palm Court, The Ginger String Quartet serenaded us whilst we tucked into cakes, sandwiches and scones with clotted cream.
The Captains Reception & Crystal Society Party was hosted in Palm Court, the four of us met the agents and had a drinks before dinner whilst hearing the how many times some of the passengers have sailed with Crystal before, I think 168 was mentioned! After the party we headed down to Prego with Susan and Jack from Travelink for dinner, the food was exceptional as usual and the service very attentive. After dinner we went to the Galaxy Lounge to see Curtain Call, this is a taster of several west end shows.
La Spezia – Tuesday
We arrived into La Spezia which was again another busy industrial port. We had breakfast in the Crystal Dining room for Natalie’s birthday, here it’s a lot quieter than the lido and seems more refined for breakfast. That is what is great about Crystal, no matter your choice may be, there is always something to suit everyone. I had smoked salmon eggs Benedict; there is a good choice here too, with cereal, fruit, all the toasts, pancakes and so much more. After breakfast we headed into La Spezia, a shuttle service dropped us outside the port entrance, here we took a land train up to the outskirts, it’s quite a small town, so we walked around the shops and made our own way back to the ship. We met in Crystal Cove for a pre-dinner drink, before dinner Silk Road. This I was looking forward too and it certainly did not disappoint, the service was excellent, I had Vegetable Tempura, Miso Soup, Tuna salad, then the stir fried Lobster. It was delicious. For desert we had chocolate cake to celebrate Natalie’s birthday. After dinner we headed Avenue Saloon, this time I had a new cocktail, the Ruby Martini, only a couple as the grapefruit juice is sour. By later that evening hot canapés were being served and as we had eaten early I tried a few, it would have been rude to say no! Also, a couple had got engaged earlier that evening too, it all added to a great atmosphere, along with lasting memories, plus it meant there was more cake to eat.
San Tropez – Wednesday
We arrived into San Tropez for 7.00am and awoke to find we had anchored and was surrounded by Cote d’Azur coast line which is very pretty with the sun shining, so the sea was a beautiful aqua blue. Yachts were moored all around us. The tenders started at 9.00am to go ashore, we headed to breakfast in the lido before going ashore. I had been to San Tropez before and was surprised to find it seemed much friendlier than I remembered it, the town is neat and clean as you would expect and is set on a hill, so we headed up to the citadel to get an view of the town and coast line, we walked back down through the narrow streets and admired the restaurants and shops, they were getting ready for the lunch time rush, we stopped at a café for a drink and streets suddenly become very busy with the locals appearing for lunch. We started early this evening as we went down the Galaxy Lounge to see iLuminate, it was certainly not something to be missed. After this we went to the Crystal Cove for pre-dinner drinks before dining in the Crystal Dining room, tonight we are going to experience the kosher dining, which is offered in the main dining room. We tasted the turkey, duck and lamb chops, they served this with roast potatoes and vegetables. There is a wide selection of kosher food cooked to order for guests that pre book it.
Marseille – Thursday
We arrived into Marseille, the Gateway to Provence and the second largest city in France with a population close to one million so after a breakfast in the lido, we headed into Marseille on the shuttle service which dropped us off at the marina and we walked further along the promenade into the city centre to find the shops. I had been here before and liked the city the first time, but this time it was much improved as they have built a lot of new office buildings and flat’s along the port road as you come into the centre. After looking around the shops and buying some sweets and clothes in C&A we headed back to ship for lunch at the Trident Grill were Burgers, Hot Dog, Tuna melts, and fries and much more are offered for lunch. At 4pm we had tickets to see Magic Castle at sea, a 25 minute show of fun magic. We met in Palm Court for farewell drinks for the agents and then had dinner in the Crystal Dining room at 8.30pm, where the menu was French night. The local speciality bouillabaisse and snails, coq au vin and crepes Suzette were on offer for dinner. No drinks this evening we decided on as the crossing over to Barcelona was choppy and it was our last night onboard, so we needed to pack.
Barcelona – Friday
We arrived into Barcelona at 8.00am to the weather cloudy and raining, after finishing the packing we headed off for a late risers breakfast in Tastes around the Neptune pool, as it was raining we sat inside under the glass roof and relaxed with a leisurely breakfast and tea, until we needed to take a taxi back to Barcelona Airport for our flight home to Gatwick, we easily caught a taxi outside the ship. The taxi took about 20 minutes to the airport.
I had not sailed on Crystal Cruises for a couple of years it was great to be reminded what a fantastic product we sell and the service delivered onboard always with a smile, the quality of food and standard of accommodation is excellent. Now that we are All Inclusive the atmosphere seemed busier onboard in the evening, in the restaurants, bars, and shows. Pre-dinner drinks in the Crystal Cove with the hosts dancing with guests and the band playing made a great atmosphere before dinner. The after dinner shows Welcome onboard, Curtain Call and Elton John, ILuminate were always busy too, post dinner drinks in Avenue Saloon with the Joel Spire playing the piano until late, was always accompanied by guests dancing. Everywhere you went was bursting alive with atmosphere. All in all we had wonderful cruise with some great agents to show off what Crystal Cruises is really about.