It was Laura, Vicky and Jon’s turn to embark on the ‘Mediterranean Passage’ Cruise from Rome to Monte Carlo onboard Crystal Serenity. Laura and Vicky work on the Reservations team here at TCP and Jon is our Regional Sales Manager (North & Scotland).
Please note that the text in green is from Vicky and the text in blue is from Laura.
Day 1: Embarkation – Rome/Civitavecchia
After a very early start from Gatwick airport, we flew on EasyJet to Rome, after customs we were met by our transfer company, typically Italian all suited and booted and a car transfer by BMW – this is the perfect way to start our luxury cruise!
After a comfortable journey up the coast to Civitavecchia we embarked Crystal Serenity. Crystal staff were there on hand to take our luggage and assist us with check-in. We were advised that Waterside would be open shortly for lunch so we took the opportunity to sit in the Crystal Cove with the glass of champagne we received upon embarkation. Once open, we wandered over and were greeted by the friendly staff. Enjoying the view from the window I had a lovely lamb chimichurri sandwich followed by a delicious ice-cream sundae.
There were various delicious food options to choose from (light and heavy). I had a seafood salad and a glass of wine and I treated myself to an ice-cream sundae too.
We decided, since the weather was so nice, that we would spend some time up on the pool deck. This is one of my favourite places to be on the ship – they have a wide range of comfortable furniture with sun loungers for catching some rays and a variety of sofas and chairs with large cushions for relaxing on. I love it because even on a cloudy day you can curl up with a blanket and read a good book.
Our balcony stateroom was ready for the afternoon, so after a few drinks we headed down to our stateroom B1 8145 to unpack and get ready for our first evening onboard. Our stateroom attendant introduced herself and reminded us of the muster drill at 5:15pm.
At 7pm we made our way to the Crystal Cove for pre-dinner drinks and we met with Cal and Jon for cocktails, my favourite cocktail is the Bellini Tini. There are so many to choose from, so you will definitely find one you love!
Tonight we thought we would try Churrascaria and wow was it a worthwhile experience. There was a selection of both hot and cold sides to help yourself to including baked potato with trimmings, mixed vegetables, herb crusted tomatoes and mashed potato. Staff would then come to the table with the different meats and fish and you would be offered them depending on whether your card said “yes please” or “no thank you” (we pinched these for the office). We sampled most of the menu with parmesan chicken, pork medallions wrapped in bacon, herb marinated lamb chops, beef short ribs, beef picanha and garlic shrimp all on offer. All of this was complimented with the French Rose Le Vie wine, which is now my favourite wine since being onboard the Crystal Mozart. For dessert I had roasted pineapple dusted with cinnamon, and I finished off with churros drizzled in caramel sauce and some ice-cream.
What a wonderful new restaurant Churrascaria is, it had such a warm atmosphere and perfect service too. After dinner we headed to Crystal Cove for the White night evening, it attracted a great crowd with dancing, violinist and singers, the drinks and canapés were also themed white, what a great addition to the evenings, I loved it.
Day 2: Piombino, Italy
After a long day yesterday we decided to make use of the late-risers breakfast up on deck 12 today. I had the French toast with fruit and maple syrup which was delicious whilst Vicky chose an omelette. After breakfast we headed to into town, a courtesy coach was provided into the town centre where we walked around to stretch our legs, and take in the views from the sea walls. Once we thought we had seen enough, it was a small town after all, we headed back to the ship for lunch. Our choice today was the Trident Grill which was unusually busy. No trouble though we were not waiting long – I had a hot dog with fries and I had a chicken burger, fries and a beer.
After relaxing up on deck, we headed back to our stateroom to get ready for our pre dinner drinks up at Palm Court, it is so beautiful since they have refurbished it, and dance hosts were available if you wanted to sway along. Dinner was in Silk tonight so we walked just along deck 12 from Palm Court and were seated at a lovely table with an umbrella and ambient fairy lighting. Silk serves Chinese style cuisine and we decided we would try as much as we could – I was so excited for this as Chinese food is a favourite of mine! We tried most of the starters; I loved the Dim Sum sampler, Duck spring roll and duck salad. The shrimp and scallop dumplings were a particular favourite of mine although we sampled a wide range of the menu items such as Mongolian style lamb chips, baked aubergine in a sizzling pot, stir-fry beef tenderloin and sweet & sour pork. It definitely beats the local takeaway – it’s such an atmospheric area with the lighting and lovely service. I finished my meal with some fruit and sorbet. Vicky and I continued our evening in Avenue Saloon with an after dinner glass of wine before heading to bed.
Day 3: Livorno/Florence
We set the alarm clock and were up early for a breakfast in Marketplace, you can choose from cereal, fruit, baked goods, omelettes and hot food such as bacon and sausage. I had a hot breakfast which consisted of bacon, sausage and egg, oh and hash browns which are the best! We headed off the ship onto the courtesy coach into the centre of Livorno, and after guidance (thanks Nat) of how to get into Florence, we found a nearby tobacconist who sold us bus tickets to get to the train station, as well as providing directions, and also our train tickets themselves. We were lucky with the weather again and once we arrived in Florence spent a good few hours wandering around the city and taking in some of the well-known sights. The architecture was amazing and there was always something to see. We stopped off for quick lunch in a square – pasta obviously being the meal of choice – and before we knew it, it was time to return to the ship and get ready for dinner.
Tonight for dinner we were booked into Umi Uma (aft of deck 7) and we decided to have pre-dinner drinks in the nearby Avenue Saloon (aft of deck 6). The atmosphere was lovely for before dinner with a guitarist providing us with soft background music. The service is still as outstanding as I can remember at Umi Uma and the food to follow definitely was too! I had Rock shrimp tempura, spring rolls, mushroom salad and Wagyu beef for main. I chose not to get a dessert as I was just too full, a coffee and the little biscuits were enough for me. To start I had the glazed miso aubergine with a small selection of sushi. I asked the waiter if I could have sushi that did not contain salmon and they were more than happy to accommodate instead providing me with California rolls, shrimp, and spicy tuna. For my main course I had the wagyu beef and for dessert a whiskey cappuccino ice cream. I thought this was very restrained of me as so much of the menu is delicious! After dinner we headed to see the dancers perform a medley of songs in the Stardust Club and then we headed off for post dinner drinks in the Avenue saloon.
Day 4: Livorno
We decided to relax and treat ourselves to breakfast in the stateroom today. We made sure to try most of the menu – waffles, pastries and fruit salad. What a luxury not getting out of our PJ’s!
We then had a very leisurely day and made use of the movies on demand. After starting to feel peckish (as you do!), we decided to wait for afternoon tea in the beautiful Palm Court, we were greeted at the door and escorted to a seat. The violinist was playing and there were a couple of little girls in Disney princess dresses dancing away to the music. Nowadays the afternoon tea is served as a selection of treats on a silver tiered stand and also a selection of teas or coffee alongside it (or maybe champagne). After a quick visit to the computer room and a wave to the office, we headed back to get ready for our next delights of dinner.
For pre-dinner drinks tonight we met in Crystal Cove as we would be dining in Waterside. As Waterside requires no reservations with open dining we took our time a bit more for drinks. When we felt ready, we went for our meal where the friendly and knowledgeable sommelier spoke with us about our wine choices. I had prawns and then pasta followed by lamb shank for main course and low fat yoghurt for dessert. I went for the tiger shrimp, a creamy pasta primavera, a steak with twice baked potato and coffee to finish. The food did not disappoint! Laura went back to stateroom and I headed off to the show in the Galaxy lounge with Jon and Carol, it was called ‘Legends of rock’ which featured different songs by the likes of Elvis, Elton John etc. It was a great show to see! I had an earlier night tonight and joined Laura back in the stateroom to watch a film.
Day 5: Monte Carlo
We were back in marketplace for breakfast today – refusing the call of the hot items and pastries I chose to go with some fresh fruit and yoghurt. Following that we hopped on a tender across to shore – these run very regularly so you are never kept waiting too long. The sun was shining for us and I took Laura on a tour around Monte Carlo as she had not been here before, so we went on a hike up the hill side to see the Royal Palace with the guards and the church, and then went back down through the lovely gardens. It was All Saints day so a little quiet around apart from all of us tourists! After deciding we had seen enough we walked back to the tender point and sure enough there was one just coming in. We headed back onboard for lunch in Marketplace, there was a buffet selection of hot and cold food which consisted of everything you could imagine (freshly made pasta, quiche, meat with vegetables, sandwiches or salad items). We also enjoyed a glass or two of our favourite Rosé. We then headed back to the stateroom to pack, watch a film and get ready for dinner. Tonight we met back in Crystal Cove for our last night onboard, Crystal Cove was our favourite place for drinks for this cruise – it had a really good atmosphere and lovely service. This evening we had a dinner reservation at Prego; the Italian speciality restaurant – what a Friday night treat!
We took advantage of all four courses – I had crispy fried calamari, shrimp and bay scallops with aïoli to start followed by the signature mushroom soup served in an oregano bread cup. Next I had a Caprese salad before finishing up with veal scaloppini al limone. I went for the Parma ham, tomato and mozzarella, mushroom soup and veal parmigiana, all complimented by white wine Di Gavi, similar to Pinot Grigio. I just had a mint tea for dessert, and I just had a coffee as not only were we too full but also wanted to make it to the show. Tonight’s performance would come from West End star Jacqui Scott who sang some of her favourites as well as some classics. The night finished up in Crystal Cove for one more drink before bed. As we were getting ready we noticed the ship was moving as it was due to change from anchored to a docking position. As we were reversing in I thought I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch the ship dock into Monte Carlo and went out onto the aft deck area near our room. It was amazing to see all the lights of the city as we moved into the harbour. I clearly was not the only one as when I looked up the back of the ship there were a few people doing the same! It was a lovely way to finish the evening.
Day 6: Monte Carlo
It’s our last morning onboard, so we headed up to the Bistro for light breakfast – well I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel alongside a coffee. There is a good choice for breakfast with toast, fruit, yoghurts, cereal and fantastic selection of teas and coffees, the Bistro serves the best tea and coffee! After this I returned to the room to watch the Ruby World Cup on my phone – unfortunately the ship was not showing it anywhere onboard. After the game had finished we dropped our bags at reception and headed up to lunch in marketplace where we managed to fit in one more glass of wine. I selected a hot meal to set me up for the flight home and back to the reality of no luxury food or service. We had left our luggage behind the front desk, after collecting this we disembarked and waited for our transfer back to Nice Airport.
Ahh farewell Crystal Serenity, until next time! I had a great time away and writing this now I remember again why I love to sell Crystal Cruises, 3lbs heavier but it was most definitely worth it!
Are you feeling inspired to book a cruise around the Mediterranean?
Visit http://www.crystalcruises.co.uk for more information.
Stay tuned for Part 3 where Jenna and Beth will continue on the remainder of the ‘Mediterranean Passage’ cruise!