On Delta Airlines flying home: I’m in a groggy shell shocked state of mind after a ten hour flight from London to Seattle, oozing with fatigue but happy that the transport from Canterbury to London Heathrow went well, and that we found our way to the gate and even spent an hour in the business class lounge before our on- time departure. I must admit that the food was pretty good on the flight to Seattle and mighty plentiful. But now I feel guilty that the extra pounds of flesh amassed during the cruise and the immediate aftermath, taken together, will agonizingly require at least a month of fasting to shed. Indeed, I sense the imminence of tomorrow’s remorse creeping upon me already, tummy prodding on and over my trousers, evidence of the damage that I have done to myself and its consequences. But lets not jump the gun……..
|Crumlin Road Jail - A nearby surprise for those condemmed|
|Crumlin Road Prison|
|shipyard where Titanaic and other ships built in Belfast Harbor|
But perhaps our most enjoyment –hummm maybe a better work is education or enlightenment… in Belfast came from spending the better part of three hours at the Titanic Museum where we relived the evolution and full history of the Titanic from pre-birth to postmortem. It was truly a memorable museum experience.
|Just by chance, Sally and John, very close friends of my wife Scherer were also on the|
cruise. This was mighty eerie since it was EXACTLY 20 years since her passing.
Crystal Cruises: It was our fourth Crystal Cruise and I must admit there were a few differences that we observed. But not all of them were negative. Indeed, some guests were a bit more (and I think unfairly) critical as they described a progressive downward spiral in service and food quality that they have observed after umpteen Crystal cruises. For me, it was undoubtedly the best of the four Crystal Cruises. I won’t go into a detailed justification for this conclusion but just some general comments.
The food was excellent but maybe not spectacular. The Silk Road on the Crystal Symphony maybe a bit better but Prego on the Serenity was better. The entertainment was fabulous: singers and dancers, comedy shows, magicians, piano player, ventriloquist, political commentator, other staff including the gentlemen hosts, professional dancers, and cruise director – Gary Hunter (he was fabulous). There were even a few shows using local talent: a fabulous Beatles show when we were in Liverpool, and a traditional Irish dance and song show when in Ireland. I really cannot complain about anything except the inevitable let down that we felt the moment we left the ship realizing that your every whim will not be immediately satisfied by a host of pampering staff. Back to the real world where you have to wait in line just like everyone else. Back to the real world where people eat two or three meals a day instead of twelve. And it was particularly difficult on this cruise to control ones’ tendency to pick just one more item on the endless sumptuous buffet display, when so much food was constantly blinding you at every moment of the day, begging you to partake.
|I got quite a few dances with the professional|
dancer, Beverly Durand - that was quite
When they gave out the awards, some cruisers were on their hundredth cruise, one lady was on her two hundredth. A few of the ladies have sold their houses and make the cruise ship their home. This is what I believe will be the beginning of a growing trend. If you think about it, it makes sense.
If you are reasonably ambulatory and self sufficient, living on a cruise ship that travels the world compares positively with being relegated to the confines of a nursing home. To be sure, the advantages and perks are much more attractive on a high-end cruise ship than the unequal treatment that you might get in a nursing home, which is legend. And in Honolulu at least, it is less expensive to live on a cruise ship!!! Do the math and you will see that nursing home costs may run you about 20k/month or more. I figure that the average expense for a month on the Crystal Serenity would be about 16k, but to be conservative, lets say its 20k. So if you can afford a nursing home, you can afford a cruise ship. And you get service with a smile, food in your room or at one of a half dozen venues, entertainment, lectures, dancing, bridge, computer instruction classes, swimming, afternoon tea, and the ability to venture out into the world to explore a new city adventure, or to return for another look. Moreover, you get to meet new people and they are genuinely friendly since they are on holiday on their best behavior…..a far cry from seeing the same desperate looking faces every day wondering whether that day would be their last on earth. On a cruise ship, dying is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
|An old house leaning forward and to the right|
|CanterburyCathedral - unbelievable in its design and detail|
|Canterbury Cathedral as seen from walking street|
|named after the Archbishop who died at the hands of Henry II|
|A guest house of the Queen that was used by some of her suiters|
generating a number of salacious tales
|the venue from our row boat tour|
Canterbury: I never like to disembark from a cruise to the airport and fly out on the same day. Shit happens and I feel that it reduces stress to buffer in one day of transition. It was only a 20 min drive from Dover to our hotel in Canterbury where we spent the day, a splendid sunny day exploring the Canterbury Cathedral and the beautiful sights of Canterbury. Walking cobblestone quaint streets were filled with an international mix of tourists, groups of children and adolescents, venders trying to get ones attention, restaurants and tour guides. To be sure, there was an endless stream of things to do and see. We took a wonderful walking tour that was led by an energetic and knowledgeable middle aged local who really knew her English History, was engaging and professional and kept us alert and interested for the two hours of touring. Having to shoulder my heavy backpack, I was pretty spent by the end of the two-hour tour. Back to the hotel to check in and unload most of our valuables in the sanctity of the room, and a few moments of rest revived the rest of the day for more adventures.
A tour by rowboat provided access to other sights along a bisecting city waterway but the quality of the tour was just a little too casual and the young man rowing the boat doubled as the tour guide. I think he was a little spent since ours was his ninth tour of the day. He was also distracted by a pretty British girl that was sitting just to his right, who could have been wearing a little more cover – to protect herself from the sun and the piercing eyes of the hormonally clogged guide pretending to not notice. I must admit I glanced once or twice myself.
In any case, we ended the day at a local Italian restaurant. The restaurant was of decent quality and price and the cliental were international and subdued. The culinary experience may not have compared to the Crystal Serenity but it was good enough and a welcome change from eating on the Cruise ship. And our dollars are worth more today than in the past, making our stay in Canterbury an enjoyable experience that did not break our bank. This is an opportunity for more Americans to travel to Europe while the dollar is strong! What a difference a few years makes in affordability.
A few more photos follow of Weymouth and the English countryside.............
|Weymouth, a lovely English coastal town|
|Final photos: other views of the English countryside|