Cosmopolitan Coastal on Crystal Symphony

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October 14th 2013
Published: October 15th 2013
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Wednesday 2nd Oct


Fine and sunny 20c

We had a great sleep-in before venturing out from our apartment on Rue Saint-Maurice about 8.30am, popping around the corner to a great little French café called Le Cartet on Rue McGill for brunch. We explored the beautiful cobbled streets of the old port area before heading into the city proper. The autumn colours are just beginning to show their bright orange and red hues in Montreal and we can only imagine the contrast in another couple of weeks. We walked up into the Latin Quarter before heading back along Rue Sainte-Catherine, a shopping street that is home to many boutique stores. For lunch we purchased a delicious smoothie - Fraise Banane Moyen from Al & Jo. Shortly after we were stopped on the street by a TV crew to give our views on whether we felt safe on their city streets knowing that the city council were conducting an exercise for a terrorist attack response. Hmmm, the juries out on that one! This seemed like the perfect time to check out the underground pedestrian network – a massive network of subterranean tunnels that link downtown buildings and the metro system to each other for when the weather gets nasty (or there’s a terrorist attack??). We wound our way through a series of tunnels until we popped up by Place des Arts – home of the Montreal museum of Contemporary Arts and the Symphony Orchestra. After exploring the city streets a bit more we found a supermarket and grabbed a few supplies for a healthy meal at the apartment.

Thursday 3rd October

Montreal, Canada

Fine, sunny and warm 22c

What a gorgeous day! We left our apartment around 8.30am bound for Le Mont Royal (Mont Real)– which gives the city its name - Montreal. On the way we stopped at the information centre to collect some details and maps on some of the places we will be stopping at on our cruise that begins this afternoon.

We meandered through the McGill University on the way up to the lookout, climbing the many steps leading to the viewpoint above this expansive city. The trees are now changing and colourful leaves adorn the branches and are also constantly fluttering to the ground. The squirrels are plentiful and we enjoy watching them chase each other about when they’re fighting over the nuts!

Back at the apartment around 11am, we quickly packed and grabbed taxis to the ship’s terminal.

We were aboard around 1pm and the rooms were ready just before 3pm. It is great to have a nice big window, after our last cruise which was an inside cabin, to allow natural light to flood the room. There is the typical king size bed and a nice soft leather couch with coffee table. So this extra space makes us feel very spoilt. The bathroom is also lovely and roomy with twin basins and a shower over bath – yes, bath!

Once unpacked, we decided to check out the famed Crystal Afternoon Tea Time with jazz. Held in the Palm Court at the bow of the ship it is a spacious, elegant lounge room with incredible full height windows to savour the view. Cucumber sandwiches, delicate sweet treats and all manner of luxury teas and coffees are on offer. Served by waiting staff in tuxedos and donning white gloves, it was a special introduction to a six star ship that promises to spoil us.

Our dining time is set for 6pm each night in the main Crystal Dining Room (unless we book a specialty restaurant). We met our friends for dinner at our reserved table for four and sampled the wonderful cuisine and complimentary wines. Nearly all of the wines, beers and spirits are inclusive on this cruise and they even leave a bottle of your favourite spirits in your cabin! We were impressed – looking forward to more of the same in the days to come.

We filled our first evening by exploring the ship, stopping in at the Avenue Saloon and back to the Palm Court where we met the jazz band – all Kiwis!

This was our first time that we actually boarded a cruise and remained at the port overnight – a bit weird but great as it will allow us time to explore the city more tomorrow.

Friday 4th October


Cloudy, 16'C

Today dawned a little bleak. We ordered breakfast in bed and went out for a final walk around town. We visited the Basilique de Notre Dame – an impressive cathedral with glorious features – too beautiful to photograph properly.

Back on board mid-afternoon, we ordered a wrap for lunch from the Trident Grill – a casual bar/café on deck 11. Seating is on outdoor rattan lounge chairs in cream with colourful cushions and mohair rugs in case it gets a little chilly. The retractable glass roof is closed due to the cool weather but we can imagine how inviting this area would be on a warm, sunny day.

Determined to stay in shape this holiday we went to the gym and joined in the circuit and stretch classes. This was great having a workout before getting ready for the evening.

The 7pm show was titled “A Taste of Things to Come” and introduced the dancers and orchestra. We sailed at 8pm and enjoyed watching the lit-up Montreal recede as we sailed down the river towards our first port of call – Quebec City.

One of the specialty restaurants on board is Silk Road – it offers contemporary cuisine by famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Eight of us had a fantastic meal and were raving about the interesting combinations and amazing fresh flavours experienced.

The rest of the evening included a stop in the Avenue Saloon where we met a large group of people traveling together from Long Beach Yachting Club, California, before checking out the tunes of ‘DJ Justice’ at the Luxe nightclub.

Saturday 5th October

Quebec City 8am – 7pm

Fine and sunny, 17c

Up at 9am after a much needed sleep-in we went to the Lido café on the 11th floor for breakfast. The extensive range of food was as expected – buffet style but a good selection of fruits, nuts, yoghurts, cereals, eggs and huge array of cooked items. We knew we had a big day of walking ahead so we made sure we were well nourished.

Quebec City is the capital of the Quebec Province and has a population of 632,000 of which 95%!a(MISSING)re French speaking. The township is VERY French and very cute. We walked up to the old town through the charming streets with their boutiques, art galleries and sidewalk cafes. Rather than take the funicular we opted for the Breakneck Staircase, passing by the lookout at Parc Montmorency on the way to the top where the Château Frontenac (operated as one of the Fairmont hotel chain) stands proud and glorious. The view of the Laurence River at the top is breath-taking. Our ship the Crystal Symphony appeared tiny berthed next to the more grandiose Emerald Princess!

We trekked around the ramparts surrounding the old city and walked the boardwalk overlooking the river before venturing in to explore the secrets of the Citadel and the Governor-Generals house ensconced within. There was an open day within the citadels’ walls so we had the opportunity to check out the Governor-Generals residence as well-very flash.

We caught the funicular back down to the quaint streets of Quartier Petit Champlain below and jostled down the cobbled streets with the thousands of other cruise ship passengers. There are 3 cruise ships in today so it made the cobbled streets a bit crowded. We came across some great murals adorning the whole end of a house-very impressive.

Sunday 6th October

Saguenay - 8am - 1pm

Fine and sunny – 1'C – 13'C

We arrived at 8am to a 2'C morning – brrr! After breakfast we stopped in at the Terminal building to check on emails and send a couple away. A few other internet tasks done we jumped onto a free shuttle that took us into the small town of Chicoutimi, a twenty minute drive away. Unfortunately the French must have a bit of a hold over this area still, as everything bar a small supermarket were closed! We took the opportunity to just walk through the town and down to the waterfront to enjoy the clear, crisp weather. This was only a short stay at this port and we had to be back on board by 12.30pm. The draw card for this area is the chance to spot the small white Beluga whales swimming in the inky waters of the Saguenay River. They measure about 15 feet, have about 34 teeth and have been characterized as being able to frown or smile, due to the shape of their forehead and lips!

Alas, we didn’t see any Belugas but did spot what looked like Minke whales and some frolicking sea lions.

Tonight was formal night for the “Captains Welcome Aboard” reception and dinner, so we cracked out the penguin suits and the nice frocks. All 8 of us dined in the main dining room and we had our photo taken with the captain.It turned into a big night as we decided to tear the roof off with a bit of Karaoke in the nightclub before boogieing down until 3am!

Monday 7th October

Havre-Saint-Pierre, Canada – 9am - 6pm

Wet and cold – 8'C-14'C

Our call into this very small town situated on Eskimo Point was Crystal’s maiden visit. Population 3,418, language French.

We started the day with breakfast in the Lido at the ship’s stern. The idea of leaving the ship in the cold, wet and windy conditions was not very appealing but we decided a few emails and some other internet tasks could be done in the terminal building. We battled the wind and rain and made it the 100 metres or so to the building on the pier. Wellington umbrellas would be a good investment here as we witnessed a few implode!

The main attraction in this port of call is the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. It is noted for its flora and fauna including puffins; and some unique geological limestone features. Perhaps if we come back on a fine day we will be inspired to take one of the boat tours around the islands.

After a couple of hours looking around at nothing much, we were back on board for lunch in the main dining room. The afternoon was spent watching a movie and working on this blog. Sitting up in the Palm Court during the afternoon tea, gave us a great view of the whales and seals playing in the harbour outside the picture windows. This distraction meant very little blog was completed!

Just before dinner we could hear a huge ruckus coming from the port below. This small town was so delighted at our inaugural visit they all came out in droves to bid us farewell. Looking down from the promenade deck we observed hundreds of cars filling the car park, honking horns, flashing headlights and everyone waving goodbye to the ship. Many of us went out on deck and waved frantically, much to the delight of the town and encouraging an extra burst of honking. This may have been one of their most exciting events to happen all year! It was awesome to see and would go down as a feel-good moment!

The Hollywood theater screened The Great Gatsby – a movie we had seen previously and really enjoyed. We therefore watched it again before an early night about 10pm

Tuesday 8th October

Sea Day – St Laurence River

Cold, windy and choppy seas

It was great having a sleep-in today. After a relaxing start we went to a CU@Sea class – Computer University at Sea. We chose the Basic Photo Finishing class using Photoshop Elements PSE11. It was a lot of fun as we were taught how to perfect people in pictures by eliminating red eyes, change colours, enhance images and even merge group photos together. This may come in handy when family photos prove difficult to get everyone looking great on the one shot! We enjoyed the class so much that after lunch we went back for the advanced class.

During the afternoon the Destination Lecturer gave an interesting talk on some upcoming ports. This was useful as we hadn’t completely decided on our excursions for the US ports.

The afternoon tea this afternoon was Mozart Tea Time – with Mozart music and the waiting staff all dressed in period costume – a unique experience for us and a bit quirky!

Next on the agenda today was attending the Magic Castle at Sea performance. It was close-in magic performed for a small group of just 20 people and was truly jaw dropping. We were pleased to hear that the tickets are good to use at their Hollywood premises – so that has been added to the to-do list for LA in December.

Being Elegant Casual night we dressed up a little and ate in the Main Dining Room at our designated table for 4 at 6pm.

Due to the choppy seas the show for tonight was postponed – so we just mixed and mingled with some new found friends in the bars and nightclub.

Wednesday 9th October

Halifax, Nova Scotia – 9am - 5pm

Fine and sunny – 17'C

Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and is the most Scottish of all Canada’s great cities. It can be rainy and foggy for an average of 170 days per year and so we were thrilled to be able to see it on a fine and sunny day. We booked a tour that was titled Halifax by Land and Sea. It was a one hour tour around the city and then the amphibious vehicle drove into the harbour for a tour around the port. Our tour guide was great and she told the stories of the Halifax explosion and the city’s relationship with the Titanic very well. Halifax is the second largest harbour in the world after Sydney, and is the largest Canadian city on the eastern seaboard.

We completed our tour outside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street. The museum’s collection of artifacts has grown to be one of the largest in the US, numbering nearly 26,000 objects. The ship models were very impressive. Here we also explored the permanent Titanic exhibit which was quite sobering and very interesting. It features the only surviving intact deck chair from the famous sunken ship.

A walk into the town after that was great as the sun was shining and it was a brilliant autumn day. Lunch was at the landmark pub in town on Spring Garden Road – “Your Father's Moustache”. A pity their patio wasn’t open but we had a window seat so could observe the activity on the street below.

To walk off our lunch, the Victorian era Public Garden was a pleasant place to wander around. Our tour guide had earlier explained that a garden is described as Victorian due to the width of the pathways. It was designed to allow two Victorian ladies to walk side by side in their long wide crinoline dresses.

On our walk back to the ship we stopped at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia where we purchased a souvenir coffee scoop. Made in pewter it is decorated with a lighthouse shaped handle.

Tonight we joined our friends in the lovely Prego restaurant and the eight of us dined from the delicious Italian inspired menu. Naturally, complementary wines were offered to match the courses and we enjoyed the experience, a change from our usual table.

Not keen to have a late night we watched a movie in the cinema – The Big Wedding. A great cast but somehow missed the mark.

Thursday 10th October

Bar Harbor, Maine – 7.30am - 6pm

Gorgeous, fine, sunny and warm - 20'C

What a gorgeous place, home to just 2,552 people. We anchored and took tenders in to shore using the ships life-boats. Due to the 47,000 acre Arcadia National park being closed and three ships being in town there was a bit of a scramble for alternative tour options. Acadia National Park is a special place visited by 2 million people annually and this port of call is popular due to the access provided to the park. The recent events - with government workers not working and many government-operated attractions being closed has caused quite a disruption. We had earlier booked a tour incorporating an Ocean Drive and hike up Gorham Mountain in the National park. This was cancelled and so we chose Oli’s Trolley fully narrated tour instead and booked it for 2pm. This gave us a chance to wander around the Shore Path, have a brief look at the numerous quaint stores, and have a bay-side lunch at the Bar Harbor Inn on Newport Drive.

The Trolley Tour was two and a half hours and took us around much of Mount Desert Island. We learnt about some of the famous residents and some interesting stories were told by our tour guide. We stopped briefly at Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor, very picturesque.

Once back on board it was a quick change for our 6pm dinner and then off to the show – Imagine. As seen on TV and stages all around the world, iLuminate brought their unique brand of technology, music and dance to the show. The entire performance was done in the dark with their black costumes only illuminated by unique lighting effects. Quite impressive.

Our evening ended yet again in the nightclub with dancing to the mixes of DJ Justice!

Friday 11th October

Boston, Massachusetts - 8am - 5pm

Fine and sunny – 18'C

This morning Crystal Symphony was docked in Boston next to the Norwegian Dawn. The passengers were disembarking and so we expect it will do another 14+ day sailing before we pick it up again in Boston early November.

Our exercise this morning was walking the promenade deck with a difference. After a few laps we picked up some poles from the fitness director and were given a quick intro into Nordic walking. We set off with the poles to complete the laps with this interesting new exercise. It was interesting to do and apparently burns about 40%!m(MISSING)ore calories than walking which is good as we are probably eating up to 40%!m(MISSING)ore food than normal!

After breakfast we caught the free shuttle into downtown Boston with the drop-off point being at Quincy’s Market. The market is full of food stalls and souvenir stalls. The place was packed with the long weekend and 4 ships in port. We decided to settle into a coffee at Starbucks and get a few admin emails and banking done.

Jennie found an underground nail bar and had a great French polish done – all set for elegant night tonight.

As we are back in Boston at the end of the month we decided to collect up some information to research what we may do on our return.

Back at the ship mid-afternoon allowed the opportunity for Shaun to do a circuit and stretch class in the gym while Jennie did the Tour of the Galley. The executive chef gave an interesting talk about the complex task of running the ship’s menus, shopping list and kitchens. Some fascinating facts about the foods consumed by 940 passengers during our cruise - daily quantities - ice cream 180 litres, 2,500 bread rolls, 2,000 lbs. of fruit, 2300 eggs, 120 lbs. of sugar and 850 lbs. of poultry!

After dinner we went to the show which was great – DIVA by Karen Grainger a female vocal impressionist. She does a great job of singing and performing other artist's material such as Celine Dion, Cher, Madonna, Tina Turner, and Lady Gaga - among others; a thoroughly entertaining show. No nightclub tonight as we have an early tour tomorrow morning.

Saturday 12th October

Newport, Rhode Island – 8am - 6pm

Fine and sunny – 22'C

Another glorious day. Again we anchored and were required to tender ashore. Newport has a population of approx. 25,000 and the downtown area is right next to the port. Our tour was The Elms and Rosecliff Mansions. We set off at 8.30am in a coach with wonderful driver who took us all around the island explaining the history and sharing interesting stories about the impressive mansions along Scenic Ocean Drive, Harrison Drive and Bellevue Avenue. There are about 60 of these with about a dozen open to the public. Some look upon the Newport “cottages” as a disgraceful display of excess. We did think that as well, as we toured around the area. What made things seem even more excessive was understanding that previously these homes were used for a mere 8-10 weeks a year. During those weeks it was expected that the owner would host lavish parties and dinners for their neighbours. The amount of money spent on these was unbelievable and when converted into today’s money - truly mind blowing. The properties now open to the public are under the care of the Preservation Society of Newport County, as many of these homes became derelict and run down, some almost ready for demolition when saved. We toured two main mansions – The Elms and the Rosecliff – both having a great audio walk through system which allowed each visitor to take their time listening to the commentary as they went at their own pace through the mansion.

Once the tour was finished we popped our heads into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum and took a photo of the Crowley Irish Pub right next door. We would have had lunch there but there were no outdoor tables left and the heat inside was oppressive. Instead we found a little waterfront pub called The Port Grille & Raw Bar on Thames Street, where we both enjoyed a cod wrap and a cool beverage.

Back on board we had a quick nap before starting our packing. We met our Australian friends for dinner in Silk Road and then finished off our packing.

Another stint in Silk Road after that with our NZ friends meant we sampled a few extra dishes on the wonderful Asian menu.

We skipped the show but did head to the nightclub to farewell the DJ before heading off to bed before midnight. A great cruise and a wonderful ship – we will be back!

Sunday 13th October

New York, New York

Warm and sunny – 18'C

We sailed into the Brooklyn Red Hook cruise terminal about 7.30am.

While awaiting the ship to unload the luggage and the local authorities to provide clearance, we had our first breakfast in the Main Dining Room. As we waited it gave us a chance to say goodbye to all the friends we had made on board over the last 10 days. We also took the opportunity to print some things in the computer room and finally disembarked about 10.30am. There was a long wait for taxis and we finally left Brooklyn about 11.30am bound for Manhattan.

Our apartment is on East 44th Street, near 2nd Ave – a great handy location in Midtown. We found it on Airbnb’s website and it will suit us perfectly.

We spent the rest of the day getting organised – repacking, stocking up at the local superette and having a cheap and cheerful Indian meal down the road.

Early to bed for us tonight so we can start the next part of our adventure tomorrow!


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