Day 16, Tuesday, March 11, Transfer to Crystal Serenity, Singapore

The MS Amsterdam is in Phuket, Thailand.

All of my Symphony menus and Reflections should now be accessible at the appropriate tabs. I have an apology about the menus. When I first got my scanner I had found that it reproduced the green masthead on Reflections very poorly. I found a setting that corrected the issue and then Crystal changed the masthead so it was never an issue. The tweak I did then got lost in a system reload and the header on the new menus scans as poorly as that old masthead. I scanned the menus very quickly after getting the packet from Josef, and realized how poorly the top of the menus looks only after they were published. The menus themselves are fine so we will have to live with the ugly masthead.

I was up at 5 and walked 2 miles on a very dark Crystal Symphony, with sunrise coming about 7:10, not really shining through but producing some pretty colors in our wake. Although dark, it was easy to see that our approach to Singapore was on a very busy shipping channel. Freighters I could barely see were quite plainly silhouetted as they passed within a mile of the ship.

Our scheduled arrival was 8AM and around 7:30 we could see the bow of the Crystal Serenity in the distance. As we approached the terminal we turned with the port side to the Serenity sailing past the terminal and then backing in with our starboard side facing across the dock at Serenity’s port. Our first lines went out about 7:55AM. Singapore’s new cruise terminal is quite close to the downtown area. It is my 3rd visit to Singapore and 3rd docking location after being at an industrial pier on the Queen Victoria and the old cruise terminal on the Zaandam. By my GPS it was 2 miles from the central hotel where I stayed before the Zaandam, and most of it appeared to be going out on reclaimed land into the harbor. The dock has very good views of the new casino tower complex.

I got a leisurely final breakfast on the Symphony and went online to use the 20 minutes of internet we get at the end of each voyage. I left my room on the Symphony about 9:30. The 2 ships were only about 100 yards/meters apart and I thought it would be a breeze just to carry my stuff from one ship to the other. That plan did not take into account the Singapore bureaucracy. Once off the gangway there was a sloping ramp which rose about 10 feet, the first challenge in my trek with 110 pounds of stuff divided between my back and the suitcase I was pulling. Once in the terminal we waited for a passport check, across the terminal, and then down an escalator to a large baggage room. There were baggage carts on the lower level and I took advantage of one, proceeding to customs where everything had to come off the cart and through a scanner. Then it was back upstairs, and through a security check with everything coming off the cart again. They weren’t going to let me take the cart any further, but finally relented with a cart and a porter. From here we went across the terminal again, through another passport control, and finally towards the ramp to the gangway.

At this time I still didn’t have a cabin assignment. The gangway staff took my heavy bags and directed me down to the front desk for checkin. Conventional wisdom is that the later a guarantee gets assigned to a cabin, the better the chances are for an upgrade. Sadly, that was not the case here. I am in 7017, only the 8th cabin back from the bow, and possibly over the Galaxy Lounge. I am saying my prayers for calm seas lots of pre-dinner shows. Despite my luggage starting without a cabin number on the tag, the bags arrived quite quickly.

My major disappointment came soon after arriving. Despite having expressed my interests on PCPC and going to the computer center almost immediately after boarding, out of 16 classes listed on the schedule only 3 (and none of interest) were listed as open. This follows the Symphony where I went to register by 12:30 and got access only to 2 lectures in big rooms. There must be a better way to schedule and register the computer classes. I find the current setup essentially useless and FAR below what I expect from Crystal.

After that failed attempt it was time for a mixed lunch. I went up to the Trident for a sandwich, and eventually over to the Symphony for desert and coffee. The Singapore terminal had been billed to have fast and free wifi. I stopped in both directions and appreciated the free wifi but found it anything but fast, not much faster than on the ship. I did accomplish my primary goal of updating my antivirus definitions, on the laptop on the way to the Symphony and on my netbook on the return trip and accomplished a few other things, but the job took far longer than planned. My netbook work was a good hour, leaving me only about an hour to finish unpacking before the muster drill. On the way back to Serenity I passed Captain Symonds, just returning from his first closeup view of Serenity.

Muster stations on both the Symphony and the Amsterdam are on the promenade deck, but on Serenity they are in public rooms. My lifeboat number 1 met in the front of the Galaxy lounge, with the lifeboat right outside the Galaxy door.

Sailaway was scheduled for 6PM, and the Symphony usually got underway a few minutes early. When I went on deck about 5:45 there was no sign of activity; soon afterwards Captain Vorland came on the PA and announced we would be roughly a half hour late, as we were still waiting for a number of passengers to turn in their passports as required by Singapore before we could leave. I got a chance for a quick hello with Cruise Critic members Keith and Anne Marie at the cove before entering the dining room.

The delayed sailaway put any thoughts of being on deck out of my mind and I was the first by several minutes to arrive at table 102. We had one vacant seat at my 8-top with 6 women present, 2 each from Australi2, England, and Ireland. 5 are new this segment while one is doing the full world cruise. Our Senior Waiter is Peter assisted by Anita and I believe the Head Waiter is Agusto. My stewardess is Edisa. I first saw movement out the dining room windows about 6PM.

Dinner ran a bit late and I missed a couple minutes of the 7:45 Welcome Aboard show. It is very similar to the Symphony’s with selections from Chorus Line and Grand Hotel and a number by the dance team. During the show I was struck by the fact that it was a long time before I heard a note from the lead singers but the talent of the singer-dancers really brought the vocals to life.

As today’s parting shot this cruise is quite a mix of old and new. It is 3 years since I’ve sailed on the Crystal Serenity and I was really surprised at how different it is from the Symphony. I think in most ways I prefer the Symphony but Serenity is still feeling like home. My 3 previous Serenity Cruises have all had Gary Hunter as Cruise Director, this is only the second time I’ve sailed with Rick Spath; the first was on the SS Rotterdam in 1997. My first impression is that he is still trying too hard to tell us how great his product is instead of letting us come to that conclusion ourselves. Time will tell.

Roy

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