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SERENITY FOUR

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Ed and Ruth (not Bernard and Bianca, who are in the photo!) are all set to travel! We have created a Travel Blog for the Crystal Serenity Grand Voyage on which Ed is the Protestant Chaplain. The cruise starts on January 16, 2013 and ends on Easter Sunday, (March 31). However, we will also be on board for the Christmas cruise in the Caribbean (Dec. 21-Jan. 4) and possibly the following Caribbean cruise which goes from Jan. 4- Jan. 16.
We may post some pictures from those first sailings, but the blog is all set for us to start in Miami on the 16th and, virtually, bring you with us through the Panama Canal, around Cape Horn and into the Amazon River, to the cities and ports that will be the most exciting to see!

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In the Bush Inn, St. Hilary, Wales Sept 2011 – lunch with friends, photo by Ken.

Posted by Swenigale 13:31

CRUISE READY


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We have arrived in sunny Florida and are seriously unwinding! We have two nights in La Quinta Inn in Hollywood and tomorrow, the 21st, we will board Crystal Serenity in Miami, setting sail at 9pm.

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Too deep, Hästa!

Posted by Swenigale 17:36 Archived in USA

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS WITH CHRISTMAS

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The tree lighting in the Crystal Cove on the first night onboard was beautiful.

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.complete with snow!

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Our first morning on the Serenity. The wide walking deck and the fresh sea air make early morning laps a great way to start the day.

Posted by Swenigale 07:16 Archived in USA

CHRISTMAS EVE IN TORTOLA, BVI


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The Serenity has company at the dock in Tortola. The ship on the left is the AIDA LUNA from Germany.

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Our first Christmas Eve Service was going to be at 5:15pm, with a second Christmas Eve Service at Midnight. Our Christmas morning service was to be at 9am Christmas Day. We decided to stay close to the ship with a long walk through the streets of Road Town.

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Posted by Swenigale 07:41 Archived in British Virgin Islands

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL

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Posted by Swenigale 08:01

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA


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This port-intensive cruise is a good way to see a lot of islands. The weather is St. Lucia was perfect.

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Palm trees and flowers in December - easy on the eyes!

Posted by Swenigale 10:36 Archived in Saint Lucia

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS


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We are collecting awesome sunrise photos!

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A tug guides us into Bridgetown Harbor, as the Fred Olsen Black Watch awaits her turn.

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The Seabourn Quest was also in port.

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Here's a good look at the Serenity's beautiful teak walking deck.

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Posted by Swenigale 11:01 Archived in Barbados

POINTE-A-PITRE, GUADELOUPE

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The beautiful full moon was still visible at sunrise on the day of our 43rd wedding anniversary.

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Sailing into Pointe-A-Pitre, the capital of Guadeloupe

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We took a taxi (not cheap on this island!) to the town of St. Anne, a destination recommended to us by the French-speaking, very little English-speaking tourism guide. Dropped off in this alley we joined many French-speaking families as we all headed to the beach.

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Lots of wind and windsurfers and an iron gate to pass through - turns out we would be sharing the beach with Club Med Caravale.

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A dark sky looked ominous, but we enjoyed three wonderful hours snorkeling and people watching.

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How crazy awesome is that?!

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What a fabulous anniversary day!

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We are so blessed.

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While we waited for our taxi (that's another story!) this little guy caught our eye. He has "high hopes".

Posted by Swenigale 11:16 Archived in Guadeloupe

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN


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We've tied up with some interesting ships. This morning we are sharing the dock with thousands of our best friends. The Windstar's Wind Surf and P. & O.'s Aurora are pictured here

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The Star Clipper is on our starboard side -

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- And the Carnival Victory and the Queen Mary 2 (that's the lady with the black hull) were here, as well!

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Now that's a big screen!

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A water taxi took us into town

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In town, we visited St. Martin of Tours RC Church and - what a treat - the youth group was practicing "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy"!

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One of the Steeg, or small streets that connect Front Street and Back Street (the town IS narrow!)

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The Great Salt Pond, a bit beyond Back Street

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St. Maarten, "The Friendly Island

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That's me - enjoying a late afternoon dip before heading back to the ship - where have all the people gone?!

Posted by Swenigale 16:01 Archived in Saint Martin

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS


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First Sunday of Christmas dawned in a clear sky as we arrived in St. Thomas. The sun rising from behind the hills of Charlotte Amalie cast a slow progression of light across the bay.

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Work never ends for the crew.

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A zoomed-in shot from the ship of the Frederick Lutheran Church, our personal destination for the day.

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It was a nice walk from the pier into the town.

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We arrived at the church after the service has started, but we were warmly greeted and ushered into a box pew in this sanctuary that had been completed in 1793 (G. Washington had just begun his 2nd term) but was gutted by fire in 1826 and then rebuilt.

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Founded by the Danes in 1666, Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church is the third oldest Lutheran church in the Western hemisphere.

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The music and congregational singing was inspirational! The pastor added his talent with the soprano saxophone to the music offerings.

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After the service we were invited to join the congregation in their Christmas Dinner, which was held in the Bethania "Mission" Hall. The celebration included musical entertainment. We were invited to perform as well!

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Great food - I know, I know - more food when we are on a cruise ship? But this was local and yummy!

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It was a pleasure to meet and visit with the pastor and his wife.

Posted by Swenigale 11:21 Archived in US Virgin Islands

PONCE, PUERTO RICO


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Happy New Year! The Crystal Cove was already decorated for our New Year’s Eve party when we woke up Monday morning.

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Not much happening at the pier in Ponce, so we took a cab into the old city.

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Nice light on the Cathedral!

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The town offices must be beautiful at night with their many Christmas lights.

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This little train took us on a great $2, 45 minute tour of the city.

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The poinsettia that ate the High School

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Beautiful detail on some of the homes –

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- but not all

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Hmm – which to choose?

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The lion is the symbol of the city. The central square is populated by a dozen lion statues painted by different artists. Can you find Hästa? After returning to the Serenity we enjoyed all that Crystal had to offer as we rang in the New Year. Hello, 2013!

Posted by Swenigale 17:56 Archived in Puerto Rico

KEY WEST FLORIDA, USA

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On Jan 3rd we were in Key West. We were the only ship in port and we were docked virtually in the town!

There are amazing statues around the Old Customs House – you may have to work at this – find the real person in this vignette.

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We visited the “Little White House” and learned of President Truman’s penchant for collecting and wearing loud “aloha style” shirts while he vacationed here. I don’t think he sold many of these at his haberdashery shop in Independence, Missouri!

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Next door to the Ernest Hemingway House is a café named for all the six toed cats in his cottage – the cats have six toes as a product of inbreeding down through generations.

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We walked to the southernmost point in the continental USA.

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And then there is the Southernmost Southernmost House, and not to mention –

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- the Southernmost House.

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It seemed like an imperative to have a slice of Key Lime pie – umm, umm!

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As we savored every morsel some feathered locals were hoping we’d drop some. Not a chance!

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We will be returning to Key West at the start and at the end of the coming World Cruise which begins on Jan. 16th.

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At 5pm we sailed for Miami and the end of this holiday cruise. Here is the Crystal logo which appears magically fresh each day in the sands atop the trash receptacles at every elevator. No longer used for extinguishing cigarettes, the fine, clean sand seems an appropriate place for the seahorses of Crystal.

Posted by Swenigale 12:01 Archived in USA

MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA

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Same day, the end of a cruise and the start of another. The Serenity is bathed in morning light as Miami awakens. Guests from the Christmas cruise have left the ship and the hard working crew is doing a remarkable cleaning and refitting in the space of a few hours. Boarding guests will find a crystal clean ship and rooms to call home for the next 12 days.

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We were docked at Terminal J, Port of Miami. The following pictures are of the port area, day and night. The Serenity set sail at 9pm and sails on with 2 sea days filled with lectures, activities, food and even a Sunday worship service with Pastor Ed until we dock in Tortola on Monday, January 7th.

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Posted by Swenigale 14:46 Archived in USA

ROAD TOWN, TORTOLA

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High winds and seas delayed our arrival in Tortola, but as soon as we docked, both Ed and I escorted tours of the island in the local taxis. Our guide, Courtney, was also our driver.

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Our tour involved a whole lot of up, in low gear!

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A large mural along the mountain road depicts scenes reminiscent of island history

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Looking back to the pier and the Aidaluna is docked with us again

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My first escort assignment

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At a rest stop, Hasta gets in the picture

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Pelican grooming

Posted by Swenigale 04:01 Archived in British Virgin Islands

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS


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We approached the pier in Basseterre, delayed again during the night crossing

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The Shore Excursion staff does an amazing job - rescheduling their tours when delays happen. Today we both escorted excursions around the island. The Southeast peninsula and the island of Nevis are in the distance.

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Trees filled with egrets - what a beautiful sight!

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The 18th Century Fairview House and Botanical Garden has been beautifully restored.

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Every day is wash day in this tropical climate!

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At the beautiful Romney Gardens we saw a demonstration of the process of making batik fabric and had a chance to enjoy the beautiful flowers and rare plants in the gardens.

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Hello to our grandchildren from Mor Mor and Opa! Romney Manor was once owned by Sam Jefferson, the great-great-grandfather of President Thomas Jefferson. The terraced gardens have evolved over centuries.

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790 feet above the sea is Brimstone Hill Fortress, fully restored and now a National Park and World Heritage Site.

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The first cannons were mounted here in 1690 in an effort to defeat the French occupation in Ft. Charles on the coast below. It took the British 100 years to complete the fortress.

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Cute catches the eye - the green monkey outnumbers the island population 2 to 1!

Posted by Swenigale 11:36 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis

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