Day 5, Friday, February 28, Board Crystal Symphony

The Crystal Serenity is at sea from Chan May, Vietnam to Ho Min City, Vietnam. The MS Amsterdam is in Manila, Philippines.

I set a wakeup call for 6am. Sunrise was supposed to be 6:23, but when I went outside it had clearly just been raining, and there were faint rumbles of thunder. A quick look around the area confirmed my impression last night that this was not my type of place. The street was narrow and a jumble of businesses, most of which appeared very upscale. I spent a bit of time checking email and then went down for the buffet breakfast. I asked the hotel about getting to the cruise port, and they told me it was a 2-hour taxi ride, something that did not seem right as we had flown over the port seconds before landing last night.

I returned to the front desk armed with a map from, and they agreed it was not that far. I had intended to leave the hotel about 11, but packing and catching up on my last free internet pushed it back to almost noon. Frustration really caught up with me as I was in the elevator headed downstairs with my backpack and other luggage and realized my sport jacket was still in the cabinet. Returning, unloading, donning the jacket, and finally resuming my departure was no fun.

In the airport last night there was no sign of a taxi line and a lot of people offering “taxis”, and I finally succumbed to one. The hotel called me a real taxi and my ride to the ship was twice as far but half the price. I arrived at the dock around 12:15.

While I went through a terminal building embarkation was via the ship’s gangway. Checkin in the area normally used by the sales consultant and Crystal Society Hostess seemed less efficient than in the Starlite Club but still better than with other cruise lines. After a satisfying pasta lunch I left the Crystal Dining Room about 1.

Rooms are officially ready at 3PM. There is a table where you can check carryon luggage and either pick it up before 2PM or it will be delivered to your room. I did not want my carryon to leave my control, but they did put a tag on my sport coat. I overheard the Maitre d’ telling some arrivals there was a shortage of small tables so I left after desert and got coffee by the Trident Grill.

Things looked ready in my room around 2, and I plugged in my netbook and tried to stay unobtrusive while I worked. When my Stewardess came by about 2:30 and confirmed that she was finished I started unpacking. I stopped by Afternoon Tea around 3:45, and also tried the terminal wifi, but never got a connection.

There was a performance by a local folk dance group at 5:15, followed by dinner. I am at a 6-top, expanded to 7. We have 2 Ambassador Hosts, and people here for anywhere up to 7 consecutive cruises. Our Senior Waiter is Jose, assisted by Josef. The menus have been extensively reworked since my last time on board (Sorry, Lisa, Chocolate Decadence is no longer featured the first night). There are 2 pages, one is the Modern selections which change every night, the other is classics which change alternate days. Desert selections are included on both pages rather than being a separate page.

The muster drill was at 8:15. One of the crew members assigned to my lifeboat 4 is lead singer Coleen Williamson, on her second cruise since her vacation. I chatted briefly with her following the drill, telling her of my plans to continue to Serenity and Amsterdam, and of the glowing reports I had seen from her show on the Amsterdam World Cruise. She commented very nicely on the people she had met on the Amsterdam. The Welcome Aboard show was at 10:15, and I did not stay up.

Today’s parting shot will be a word of concern for my home church. As our congregation ages it has lost some of the vitality that attracted me to it, and has engaged in a process of revitalization that will culminate this weekend in a commitment to steps to return to that vitality. From this side of the International Dateline I will be praying slightly in advance of your deliberations and celebration for a continuation and acceleration of the progress we have made in the past year. People of St. John United, I may be physically absent right now but I am very much with you.


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