Crystal Awards

Today I’m sharing “sign” pics from the Crystal ship Symphony that we enjoyed so much.  First, a safety sign:

Next, the first sign I saw every morning before going out on the deck for a morning walk:

I discovered an interesting room in the ship that displays all the wonderful gifts they have received from each port they have visited around the world.  It’s impressive!

There was also a huge display and blessing provided by the craftsmen of the shipyard in Finland, where Symphony was built in 1995:

Finally, I’ll share a couple more menus from our week at sea:

 

 

 

 

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Final Shout-Out

This is the final shout-out to the ship and crew of Crystal Cruises.  We had the best time in the Caribbean and would certainly go again if we get the chance.  Some of the passengers would remain onboard for another week, as they toured the Panama Canal, Colombia and other stops, but we couldn’t go the extra week (and had already been through the Panama Canal previously).  So it was a sad farewell but the memories linger!

I had toured the ship’s kitchen one of the days at sea, and it’s incredible to see how they prepare all the great meals we enjoyed.

Again–wonderful staff members giving it their all.  We ate in the Italian restaurant on our last night and the food and presentation here was also delicious and impressive.

 

 

For the Children

Our guide in Costa Rica took us to a banana plantation, which was very impressive to see.  We were not allowed to take photos of many of the areas, but we took those that we could.

My favorite moment was when Oscar asked to take some bananas to the  children in poverty at his church.  I loved this, and we willingly helped carry them to the trunk of his car.

Then we had another beautiful drive along the beach!

Costa Rica

Our next stop on the cruise was beautiful Costa Rica.  We started the day with salmon eggs benedict on the ship and watched our arrival at Puerto Limon.

As we disembarked we could hear music off the deck of the boat, and it was a welcoming marimba duo that was wonderful!

Once again, we had a driver to take us to various places for the day and he was very nice and helpful in many ways.

First we went snorkeling and saw some wonderful fish and corral.

Before leaving the area, Oscar pointed out a sloth in the tree.

It was a great start to our day!

 

 

Two Great Speakers

We hadn’t known this before we booked our cruise, but one of the speakers for the week was our own former U.S. Senator Al Simpson.  We were thrilled to know he would be speaking throughout the week.  In addition, his close friend, Norman Mineta would be sharing the speaker’s platform.  Norman was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, the only Democrat to hold office on his cabinet.  He was in this position on 9/11 and was the man who issued an order to ground all U.S. civilian aircraft, something that had never happened before.  He also worked on the implementation of the Transportation Security Administration department for airline safety. Here is an excellent video of Norman’s recollections of the events on 9/11.

We listened to all their speeches throughout the week and they were fascinating, funny at times and entertaining.

The story of how the two became best friends is amazing, and they took turns sharing the story with us.  Norman’s family had been detained at Heart Mountain–near Cody, Wyoming–one of the Japanese internment camps during World War II.  Al’s Boy Scout leader decided to take his troop of young boys out to the camp to play competitive games and camp-out together.  They ended up in the same tent and became fast friends for life, though one joined the Democratic party and the other joined the Republicans.  Maybe this is why Al was always so good at crossing party lines and working to compromise rather than hating the other side, something that is badly needed now.

We had met Al several times before, and he invited us to have lunch with them in the Palm Court; it was a special treat to sit with these two giants of the political world–men with integrity, kindness, intelligence and openness.  Their wives, Ann and Deni, are also about as kind and caring as anyone you could meet.

We asked a lot of questions about Washington and about 9/11, of course, and they willingly answered them all.  What an honor and privilege to dine with these special people!

Here are some photos from breakfast and from our dinner that evening.

 

 

 

Jamaican Cuisine

Our next stop in Jamaica was on a beach where we awaited our boat to go snorkeling.  It was certainly a beautiful area, and this is Paul sitting with our wonderful driver, Ainsworth.  We booked him and all our excursions each day–snorkeling, touring the Blue Hole, etc.–on our own, not through the cruise packages.  It was much cheaper this way and provided more variety.  It really isn’t terribly expensive to hire a driver or boat for the day or half a day if you prefer.

Our boat arrived and off we went for another fun snorkeling adventure!

Then Ainsworth took us to a special place for the best Jamaican lunch ever–jerk chicken, pak festival (similar to a hush puppy), fried plantains.  Delicious!

We also had an opportunity to sample various flavors of Jamaican rum.

This was my favorite.  They call it “BTB” — “Better Than Bailey’s.”

We also wandered about town a little and saw the colors of Jamaica.

Then we headed back to the ship.

Another great meal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaica Arrival

The Crystal Symphony has several dining areas.  This is the formal dining room.

On the day we arrived at Jamaica we opted for the quicker buffet-style breakfast.

We ate outside on the deck so we could observe our arrival to the beautiful island.

It was pointed out to us that this building was used in one of the James Bond films.

We met up with our driver to take us to the Blue Hole — high up in the hills.  It was a very interesting drive because we were able to see some of the poor housing along the way, which always concerns me because of my work with children in need.

My next post will reveal the area known as the “Blue Hole.”