Guest blogger and travel expert Laurie Farr knows a thing or two about Crystal Serenity’s embarkation port of San Francisco, as it has been her home for many years. What is less familiar to her is what will certainly soon feel like her home away from home, the ultra-luxury Crystal ship. As a first-time Crystal cruiser and seasoned world traveler, Laurie takes to the blog today to share her first impressions of the Crystal Experience – one of the few worldwide experiences Laurie has not yet enjoyed. Read her insights below, and share your own impressions from your first Crystal voyage in the comments!
A series of Crystal Cruise “wow” moments created a takeaway tapestry of impressions for a couple of first-time travelers departing from San Francisco. Beginning with the approach to Pier 27 from the heights of Russian Hill, Crystal Serenity comes into view against the brilliant backdrop of San Francisco Bay.
Excitement sets in.
The first realization is that the Port of San Francisco, home for the day of embarkation, is smack in the heart of the City by the Bay — on the Embarcadero, just steps from the handsome Ferry Building, historic streetcars and cable cars, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Sightseeing shore excursions beckon.
An efficient and well-organized curbside check-in, security, and boarding procedure was a breeze, bearing absolutely no resemblance to an airport experience. By the third or fourth smiling “Welcome to Crystal Cruises” greeter, we’d already formed a sense of those impressive staff-to-guest ratios highlighted in the Crystal Cruises collateral.
Service with a smile.
The “Aha” moment marking the start of that true vacation feeling was just ahead. This morning’s came to the tune of “Anything Goes,” the Broadway show number being played on the Crystal Cove piano, as a chilled flute of champagne appeared.
Vacation starts now.
Our luggage has already been delivered. Only a Penthouse suite this good-looking can bring as much delight as the views from its own spacious, furnished verandah. The room’s seating area is beautifully appointed in soft, soothing tones of taupe and ivory. But, we’re distracted by the fresh cream-colored orchid, chilled champagne in a bucket of ice, silver-plated presentation of fresh fruit, wine, luxury chocolates and personalized welcome notes.
Generously-sized and comfortable, with storage galore, it’s immediately clear that a clever decorator’s hand guided every customized element of the stateroom with design and purpose.
Grab the Bushnell binoculars and head outside.
Comforts of Home
Unpacking was more a delight than a chore, due to the roomy walk-in closet, multiple cabinets and drawers, plenty of quality wooden hangers (yes, including a dozen skirt hangers, ladies), plenty of room for storing suitcases out of the way, and a safe for passports and jewelry. Cotton kimonos and plush Etro brand terry robes are perfect for hanging out on the private verandah.
Etro amenities are in the Jacuzzi bath.
What more could a butler possibly provide? Enter Daniel dressed in black tie. Charming and helpful, he explains that he carries a buzzer in order to be reached for whatever we might need at any time. We walk through the paces of Wi-Fi access, telephone service, complimentary mini bar, dinner reservations, and more.
We are totally spoiled.
Take buffet breakfast on the Lido Deck by the pool or be served in the dining room. Hit the gym hard or line up at the ice cream bar. Book a spa treatment or take a dance lesson. Hop off for a shore excursion or plan a glam evening of cocktails, dinner and a show. Our daily “Reflections” newsletter provides a look at each day’s offerings.
There aren’t enough hours in a Crystal Cruises day.