Crys­tal World Cruise

Lux­ury Liv­ing

Upscale Living Magazine - - Content - | BY DEBBI K. KICKHAM AND WIL­LIAM D. KICKHAM, ESQ.

Cue the vi­o­lins to Mozart’s “A Lit­tle Night Mu­sic” writ­ten in 1787. Why?

Be­cause when Crys­tal Cruises serves af­ter­noon tea, Mozart is of­ten in at­ten­dance. Yes, many cruise ships hold af­ter­noon tea – but Crys­tal’s Mozart Tea event is far, far dif­fer­ent. First, it fea­tures a vi­o­lin­ist and pi­anist who not only play Amadeus, but other great com­posers of his era. There are more Vi­en­nese pas­tries than you can shake a scone at, in­clud­ing Linzer and Ester­hazy Slices, Do­bosh torte, and hot ap­ple strudel. But the piece de re­sis­tance? The servers are out­fit­ted in pe­riod 18th-cen­tury at­tire, with flo­ral waist­coats, breeches, and buck­led shoes. It’s a show-stop­ping, photo op­por­tu­nity event, and just the thing to ex­pect on Crys­tal Cruises, which is defini­tively one of the most up­scale ‘small’ cruise lines sail­ing to­day.

Crys­tal is a lux­ury, all-in­clu­sive line, win­ning cruise awards too nu­mer­ous to men­tion, and my hus­band Bill and I re­cently sailed al­most a month on Crys­tal’s Seren­ity (it holds 1,070 pas­sen­gers). Ev­ery­thing across the spec­trum was as su­perb as the Mozart Tea.

We took an ex­tended cruise from Charleston, S.C., to Maui, Hawaii, and were de­lighted to dis­cover the many ad­van­tages of sail­ing more than the typ­i­cal 10-14 days. One high­light: You can re­ally come to know Crys­tal’s first-class en­ter­tain­ers -- and yes, make sure to sched­ule lunch or din­ner with them. What a treat! We got to know one of the singers, who in­vited us back­stage to her show on Broad­way (Aladdin.) This never would have hap­pened if we had not booked an ex­tended sail­ing aboard Crys­tal (which be­came our se­cond home) and come to know other pas­sen­gers and en­ter­tain­ers, on a grad­ual and lovely day-by-day ba­sis.

In fact, longer, ex­tended cruises are a hot new trend in the in­dus­try. Tom Stieghorst, Se­nior Cruise Edi­tor at Travel Weekly, says that Baby Boomers, who are now re­tir­ing at the rate of about 10,000 per day, pre­vi­ously only had the time and money to take ap­prox­i­mately seven-day cruises. Now, he ex­plains, that au­di­ence of pas­sen­gers has ma­tured, and as­pire to en­joy longer cruises, with a World Cruise be­ing a pin­na­cle. If you re­ally want the top-tier of ac­com­mo­da­tions, it’s $218,375 per per­son to take a World Cruise on Crys­tal Cruises and stay in the best suite in the house -- the Crys­tal Pen­t­house Suite.

Hav­ing sailed on Crys­tal for a 25day sail­ing, we now yearn to take a World Cruise – as so many so­phis­ti­cated trav­el­ers do -- re­main­ing on board for about three months, and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all kinds of spe­cial events. It is so easy to adapt to ship life -- spend­ing all day cruis­ing, win­ing and din­ing, vis­it­ing the spa and gym -- or just read­ing a book or tak­ing a power nap. Crys­tal also has im­pres­sive, high-end en­rich­ment lec­tur­ers who dis­cuss ev­ery­thing from pol­i­tics to world af­fairs, along with a fab­u­lous “Hol­ly­wood The­ater” where you can sit – with pop­corn -- and watch a first-rate movie. And of course, you will meet other like-minded guests, where you can share any­thing from in­vest­ment tips, travel rec­om­men­da­tions, and diet ad­vice. It’s the world’s best coun­try club.

FOOD, GLO­RI­OUS FOOD

An­other area where Crys­tal ex­cels is the su­pe­rior cui­sine that is read­ily avail­able through­out the day in a wide va­ri­ety of venues.

For ex­am­ple, for din­ner, the Main Din­ing Room of­fers the full plate of five-star treat­ment. Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Franz Weiss told us how all cui­sine can be or­dered gluten-free, ve­gan, kosher, and vege­tar­ian. Debbi of­ten opted for a spe­cial low-fat meal: Salad with sweet bal­samic re­duc­tion in­stead of fat­ten­ing dress­ing; dry-grilled fish; baked po­tato; and a wide ar­ray of veg­eta­bles. Dessert? One night, we had spe­cial-or­dered a low­fat car­rot cake (sans cream cheese frost­ing) that was, stalks down, the very best we’ve ever eaten – any­where. We also or­dered Nutella crepes that fully sated our choco­late-hazel­nut crav­ings.

Even un­usual re­quests are han­dled with aplomb: Once, Chef Weiss was asked to serve both male and fe­male Dover sole to a guest. He used veg­eta­bles to create a neck­tie on one filet, and a skirt on the other, and the guest was de­lighted.

Be­ing an all-in­clu­sive lux­ury cruise line, all of your spir­its on Crys­tal are in­cluded in the price of your fare, in­clud­ing the finest wines. “We have a few thou­sand bot­tles of wine on board,” says Mario Da Silva, the head som­me­lier.

For a truly dis­tinc­tive, pri­vate treat, book the Vin­tage Room, where, for a min­i­mum of $2,600, you will dine on gourmet cui­sine paired with vin­tage wines of your choice. One fam­ily trav­el­ing aboard Crys­tal rented it to watch a foot­ball game, and paired their fa­vorite wines with hot dogs, cheese­burg­ers and onion rings. “They had a blast,” says Mr. Da Silva.

FANCY FOOTWORK

With so much su­pe­rior cui­sine, it’s wise to pace your­self, lest you ex­pe­ri­ence the anec­do­tal weight gain of one pound per day on less so­phis­ti­cated, mass-mar­ket cruise ships.

Of course, you can dance, dance, dance – and that’s where Crys­tal’s ex­em­plary Am­bas­sador Dance Host pro­gram shines. This up­scale ser­vice is avail­able on very few cruise lines nowa­days, and it’s a sym­bol of a by­gone era from the golden days of cruis­ing. Crys­tal hires sev­eral men who are pro­fes­sional ball­room dancers, and their ONLY job is to dance with the sin­gle ladies, at var­i­ous venues, through­out the day. Says Cruise Di­rec­tor Gary Hunter: “The Dance Host pro­gram is very suc­cess­ful. We have a lot of ladies who love to dance, and hav­ing that op-

por­tu­nity here sim­ply adds to the whole Crys­tal ex­pe­ri­ence.” In fact, adds dance host Den­nis Love from Aus­tralia, “Some­times hus­bands come up to us and ask us to dance with their wives, as they them­selves are not dancers.”

And have you heard of Mama Lee? She’s a house­hold name on Crys­tal. Why? She’s been liv­ing on the ship for the past nine years. Mama, who is in her 80s, is a le­gend on board, an avid dancer (and even has her own fan club). When she’s not so­cial­iz­ing with other pas­sen­gers, or do­ing needle­point, she’s jit­ter­bug­ging and hav­ing the re­tire­ment of her life.

Which brings us to an­other oc­to­ge­nar­ian: Julie An­drews is the Seren­ity’s god­mother, and her photo is promi­nently dis­played in the lobby. Julie would most def­i­nitely sing the praises of Crys­tal Cruises, and we also heartily ad­mit: Their cruises are a few of our fa­vorite things.

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