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Thoughts on Symphony Boston-Bermuda 12 Sept. 2021 RT


BWIVince
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This is a rolling thread on thoughts from the Boston-Bermuda round trip on Symphony, September 12-19.  Everyone is welcome to post here — other guests onboard sharing their thoughts, people sharing reactions, people asking questions, etc..

 

I’ll start at the beginning….

 

Pre-Departure Testing

For my sailing departing Sunday, it was recommended I test early Wednesday.  Two weeks ahead I made an appointment for CVS when they became available.  CVS was quoting 1-2 day turnaround on Rapid PCR tests.  I got the negative test results Thursday afternoon and uploaded them to Bermuda Friday evening using the link they emailed.  Friday morning I got the authorization emailed back, and Friday evening I completed the final step online.  Takeaways:  Make sure the test you signed up for is a PCR test, and don’t overthink the emails or the steps.  If something doesn’t come or work, Bermuda officials are on hand at embarkation to assist.


Embarkation

Along similar lines, Crystal’s Boston testing vendor (Curative) sent a link with a QR code on Friday.  If you keep this QR code handy, the Curative agent at check-in can scan it and pull up your record directly, but if you don’t have it they can very easily search by name.  I’m sure this will work similarly in New York, in that it’s no sweat if you don’t have the specific email or some code.

 

It sounds like prior emails from Curative referenced a testing time slot.  Their system requires all appointments to have a time, so it appears they tried to align them as best they could to the completely unrelated boarding groups, but the more precise testing slots varied from the generic boarding groups.  They’d stripped the email template of the specific times by the time I got mine, so there was no confusion about whether I was supposed to be there by noon, 12:15, 12:30, etc..  Everyone was just tested in the order you came through the door.

 

The boarding process was sequenced as follows…. At the door we showed docs to go though security, then got tested by Curative, and were held in a waiting room for a few minutes while the testing cards processed.  A few minutes later we got an email or text that we tested negative, got wristbands, and went to a desk where Crystal’s shoreside vendor collected the Bermuda paperwork.  After that we were given Group 1 embarkation cards, went upstairs to another holding room with spaced stairs and waited a few more minutes for embarkation to begin.

 

After group 1 was called, everything else was routine.  Barcodes from the ticket or “boarding pass” they sent in the mail were scanned at the gangway and check-in was done with Crystal crew in the Starlite.  Check-in was MUCH slower than usual, but the wait was still minimal since occupancy is low.  Even though they spaced out the group, the first passengers were still at the desk by the time the entire group finished boarding, so the line stretched from the desk in Starlite all the way back to the gangway past the library.  Check-in was done on tablets, and new photos were taken of everyone using the the tablets.  The tracing bracelets have a QR code on the back which are also scanned by the tablet to associate to your record.  Cruise keycards are presented in your room as Crystal was doing pre-Covid, so you walk away from the desk with just the bracelet and the usual info card.

 

Penthouse guests were told rooms were immediately available, and window/verandah cabin guests were told cabins would be available at 3:00 (as before).  As usual, when the cabin or penthouse was actually ready had a lot to do with when the previous guest vacated, but generally was ready very early.

 

Silk, Trident and Marketplace were all open for lunch (plus Bistro for snacks) — the first time Marketplace has ever been open regularly for embarkation lunch in Symphony’s history, as far as I can recall.

 

More to come, off to the Asian buffet shortly…

 

Vince

 

 

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The Symphony is now docked in Bermuda.  Either the PCR tests came back very quickly this week or the ship is docked waiting for the results vs going out to sea 12 miles, as it had been doing in prior weeks.  As an aside, there are bagpipes playing outside the ship that can be heard very clearly on the portbermuda web cam.

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7 hours ago, happy cruising said:

The Symphony is now docked in Bermuda.  Either the PCR tests came back very quickly this week or the ship is docked waiting for the results vs going out to sea 12 miles, as it had been doing in prior weeks.  As an aside, there are bagpipes playing outside the ship that can be heard very clearly on the portbermuda web cam.


Before we left Boston they said we would dock overnight to await the results, which supposedly come over during the night.  Not sure why it’s been different week-to-week.  Doesn’t seem weather related or anything.

 

7 hours ago, JFontaine said:

A question - what documents do you need to print out (Crystal docs, PCR results, Bermuda authorization)?  Would prefer not to go in to office. Thanks and have a great trip. 


The only real form they need on paper is your passenger contact information form with the boxes, which is a lot of work to even fill out electronically anyway since it’s not a fillable PDF.  
 

If you have the Bermuda authorization printed, that’s great, and I find it easier to have the Crystal barcode (the 1D barcode on the front of your ticket or the boarding pass they snail mail you) easier to juggle on paper than on my phone, but both work just fine on your screen as long as they can check or scan them.  People who are traveling with a spouse that can help them hold things might find the electronic versions easier and faster to juggle with passports and bags in hand.

 

The QR code (which the NY vendor may not have) for the testing vendor was optional, but you can print it or show it on your phone if you happened to have it handy, whichever you prefer.

 

The other form you get at the pier is the health questionnaire that you will fill out there while you wait for the antigen results.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Vince

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On Upgrading

Despite the rough year I’ve had financially because of Covid, I jumped at the chance to take the paid upgrade offer when I received it.  The cost was extremely reasonable, especially considering the usually sizable single supplement on penthouses.  My upgrade offer was to a PH category room only, and people in other categories were mapped to other specific upgrade offers.  (If there was a different category you wanted, you could work through the concierge onboard, as they can up sell to any category, though usually not for fares as low as the advance offers for a specific category.)  For a variety of reasons, I will likely never get the chance to experience this again, so I’m taking it.

 

I’ll talk more about the room and the service later (all great, as expected), but most significantly this represents a significant upgrade to my afternoon canapé and hors d’oeuvres game.  (Most of you know food is one of the main reasons I sail on Crystal, so this is no surprise as a motivator.)

 

I’ve been so excited by the daily default that I haven’t even wanted to request one of the specific options yet.  Here are some pics from the past so days…. The description tent is in the pic of each setup.

 

51477514606_f405c15d59_z.jpg

 

51477515306_09986f4ba5_z.jpg

 

51478231699_55ef7b861a_z.jpg

 

It’s hard to see, but on the top pic, yes, there’s about a third of a shaved white truffle on that dip.

 

My canapé drive in the lounges has dropped almost completely, to much relief of the servers whom I’ve stalked daily starting at 5:45pm for years. 😏 It was all I could do to scarf down a lone pig-in-blanket the other night in the Avenue.  Many crew members are concerned and confused.  
 

51478259769_665ff4f3b5_z.jpg

 

More to come…

 

Vince

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Vince great information and lovely photos.

 

The assortment of canapés began on both ships in 2018 and is nice for those who want to change things up each day.  Of course as you noted you have the Canapés menu for other items.  

 

Vince, I am not sure if you can figure this one out.  No worries if you can't.  I understand when you have your COVID test on board the ship all of the actual swabs are taken off the ship so the Bermuda Authorities can verify them.  To me it is strange as I understand when you do the test on board the ship there are authorities from Bermuda there.  I think back to our tests on board Serenity in Nassau to fly back to the USA and you take the test, get the results, print out the confirmation or save it to an electronic device and that is it.  It's interesting checkers checking checkers as if they believe Crystal or another cruise line would allow someone off the ship who tests positive.  Anyway just curious.

 

Oh and it's not on the Canapés menu but should you decide you want more of the Pigs N' A Blanket the Butler can get that for you too.

 

Keep enjoying and thank you for posting.

 

Keith

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1 hour ago, Keith1010 said:

Vince great information and lovely photos.

 

The assortment of canapés began on both ships in 2018 and is nice for those who want to change things up each day.  Of course as you noted you have the Canapés menu for other items.  

 

Vince, I am not sure if you can figure this one out.  No worries if you can't.  I understand when you have your COVID test on board the ship all of the actual swabs are taken off the ship so the Bermuda Authorities can verify them.  To me it is strange as I understand when you do the test on board the ship there are authorities from Bermuda there.  I think back to our tests on board Serenity in Nassau to fly back to the USA and you take the test, get the results, print out the confirmation or save it to an electronic device and that is it.  It's interesting checkers checking checkers as if they believe Crystal or another cruise line would allow someone off the ship who tests positive.  Anyway just curious.

 

Oh and it's not on the Canapés menu but should you decide you want more of the Pigs N' A Blanket the Butler can get that for you too.

 

Keep enjoying and thank you for posting.


Thanks Keith! 
 

My understanding is that there are multiple reasons for the approach they took…. 
 

First, Bermuda requires a PCR test for entry overall, that they administer, as we all as day 4 and day 10 tests for guests staying that long.  As you noted, just like at the airport here, they administer the tests, put them in giant coolers, and ship them ashore to their regular lab.  So this isn’t distrust of Crystal, it’s just consistent with their government process for all travelers — air and sea.

 

From Crystal’s perspective this is a shared expense.  The travel authorization funds the testing program and the resources to administer them, so it helps balance the requirements.  Crystal just has to prove them accommodations, which they would also have to do for any other vendor.  This works out pretty well for Crystal in the end, because unlike any other testing vendor they also get government representatives that can help with the entry requirements.


Lastly Bermuda benefits because they have precise data from a PCR test for ALL travelers onboard that could potentially go ashore this trip.  (Crew also can’t go ashore without the PCR test, and are getting select shore leave on a rotating basis, similar to the past just complicated by the testing.). They get vision into the status of the whole passenger base at once and can make whatever changes they need with as good data as you can get these days.

 

Vince

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Vince thank you for the explanation.  I had heard they were helping those who stay for the back-to-back cruises as the go through the whole process again.  😁  It is good they can help with testing, as well.  

 

Keep enjoying.

 

Keith

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Vince,

 

Oh those canape shots really have me missing Crystal.  They also made me reflect on how, even after  all that has gone on (and is still on-going), the on-board product has barely missed a beat.  While we were all watching two ships bob around points of anchor in the Pacific for what felt like forever, lots of people were doing lots of work to make sure that Crystal not only came back, but came back as "Crystal."  Wow, that deserves some applause.

 

Continue to enjoy the high life on deck 10, and remember to leave some for the rest of us (11 months, but who's counting?)🙂

 

   

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9 minutes ago, KenzSailing said:

Vince,

 

Oh those canape shots really have me missing Crystal.  They also made me reflect on how, even after  all that has gone on (and is still on-going), the on-board product has barely missed a beat.  While we were all watching two ships bob around points of anchor in the Pacific for what felt like forever, lots of people were doing lots of work to make sure that Crystal not only came back, but came back as "Crystal."  Wow, that deserves some applause.

 

Continue to enjoy the high life on deck 10, and remember to leave some for the rest of us (11 months, but who's counting?)🙂

 

   


I was reflecting on that today during my workout to try to make doom (unsuccessfully) for dinner.

 

As so many of us have had to leave our work families and forge new relationships in strange new clusters, it’s really amazing to see SO many wonderful, familiar faces again after worrying about them for the past couple of years.

 

At the same time, there are (as always) some new-to-Crystal crew members, and every single one of them I’ve met on this sailing so far are a nearly perfect fit with Crystal and are quickly learning all of the finest details of the brand.

 

Its really amazing how smooth service has been on this cruise, and what a testament that is to the crew members themselves, the leadership in their department, and the work at Crystal Cruises Manning.

 

Here are some food pics from the first night, just to show how on-point it’s been.  More to come…


Sept. 12th Waterside menu:

1-9-12-21%20Dinner%20GS.pdf

Ahi Tuna Tataki with Wasabi Crumble, Cress Salad:

51480233668_6e532f5239_z.jpg


Mozzarella Cream and Poachec Tomatoes with Balsamic Crystals and Olive Oil Caviar:

51480727804_e35319838d_z.jpg

 

Pink Roasted Milk Fed Veal Ribeye - Pumpkin pearl risotto, Brocolini, Reduced thyme jus:

51479225917_a410b42d11_z.jpg

 

Vince

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16 hours ago, BWIVince said:

On Upgrading

Despite the rough year I’ve had financially because of Covid, I jumped at the chance to take the paid upgrade offer when I received it.  The cost was extremely reasonable, especially considering the usually sizable single supplement on penthouses.  My upgrade offer was to a PH category room only, and people in other categories were mapped to other specific upgrade offers.  (If there was a different category you wanted, you could work through the concierge onboard, as they can up sell to any category, though usually not for fares as low as the advance offers for a specific category.)  For a variety of reasons, I will likely never get the chance to experience this again, so I’m taking it.


good for you..enjoy!!!!!!
 

Nancy

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Vince, thank you so much for all this info. Even though we are sailing from NY, your info has been extremely valuable, especially the part where they can help you with the Bermuda paperwork at the port ( as getting a PCR test here in NY takes days).

Once again thank you, much appreciated 

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54 minutes ago, Spidybabe1 said:

Vince, thank you so much for all this info. Even though we are sailing from NY, your info has been extremely valuable, especially the part where they can help you with the Bermuda paperwork at the port ( as getting a PCR test here in NY takes days).

Once again thank you, much appreciated 

I spoke with someone from Bermuda the other day & she confirmed that they will be providing that assistance in NY as they did in Bos.   BUT - they cannot help with the PCR test - she was clear that if the PCR results weren't back in time, they won't allow boarding.  

 

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Vince,  Thanks for all the wonderful insight and information.  I'm sailing on Crystal for the first time next week from NYC.  I have to ask the all important question though...does Crystal serve Coke or Pepsi?  I am a Diet Coke addict and the last post I can find on here said Coke was served, but it was from 2018.  I'm really excited to experience cruising with Crystal!  I hope the rest of your cruise is amazing!!  Thanks again for all the updates.

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33 minutes ago, tmytrvl88 said:

Vince,  Thanks for all the wonderful insight and information.  I'm sailing on Crystal for the first time next week from NYC.  I have to ask the all important question though...does Crystal serve Coke or Pepsi?  I am a Diet Coke addict and the last post I can find on here said Coke was served, but it was from 2018.  I'm really excited to experience cruising with Crystal!  I hope the rest of your cruise is amazing!!  Thanks again for all the updates.


My pleasure!  Crystal serves Coke products by default, but Ive heard stories about people special ordering Pepsi products by request before.  Your stewardess or butler will be happy to keep your fridge stocked with them if you’d like also.  Enjoy your cruise!

 

Vince

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Here are some pics from Umi Uma, as good as ever….

 

Here is the place setting…. Like all the Deck 11 venues, the harder to sanitize woven placemats have been replaced with simple paper mats.  Place settings in most restaurants (where silverware rolls aren’t used) are now left in the pre-covid set-ups with the silverware on the plates and then covered with the napkin, and the diner or server slides the silverware in place.  Neither piece is exactly a Covid step, but both are small general sanitation steps that help keep things clean overall.  Along the same lines, menus are done by QR code by default but paper copies are readily available everywhere by request.  (In the first day I watched one person hock up a lung while reading a menu, and another sneeze right into the menu, and was reminded of the upsides of the QR codes.)

 

51481796609_8fcf6ab904_z.jpg
 

Nobody Special Sashimi Sampler…. The whitefish wasn’t available that day, so it was a trio instead.  Pictured from left to right are the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, tuna tataki with cilantro sauce, and yellowtail tartare with caviar:

 

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Nobu lobster tacos with tomatillo salsa:


51482001140_73f8e49692_z.jpg

 

Grilled Australian Wagyu Beef with grilled onion, asparagus, and anticucho, teriyaki and wasabi pepper sauce:

 

51480294212_172835fb9f_z.jpg


Whiskey cappuccino — buttermilk ice cream topped with whiskey cream:

 

51481795654_55f7dd96dc_z.jpg

 

The usual petit fours:


51481070956_543a2d29fe_z.jpg


Vince

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5 minutes ago, AtA said:

If all goes well, in one week and one day we will be on Symphony and enjoying but who's counting the days...

Us too, and I'm definitely counting. First time in Crystal 

See you onboard 

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9 hours ago, tmytrvl88 said:

Vince,  Thanks for all the wonderful insight and information.  I'm sailing on Crystal for the first time next week from NYC.  I have to ask the all important question though...does Crystal serve Coke or Pepsi?  I am a Diet Coke addict and the last post I can find on here said Coke was served, but it was from 2018.  I'm really excited to experience cruising with Crystal!  I hope the rest of your cruise is amazing!!  Thanks again for all the updates.

Us too, first time Crystal.  See you onboard next week

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Just found out that Colin Salter is no longer listed to be in the Avenue Saloon. (If Mark isn't available, Colin is excellent too.)

The person newly listed for Avenue now, who we saw a few years back on Serenity was not good at all. I'm hoping he has improved since Dec 2017 as we love late nights in Avenue. We were on a Xmas cruise where Avenue should have been hopping. It wasn't.

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