(PLEASE NOTE: if you have not read Day One in Hong Kong, you will want to scroll down and begin there first. I know that they appear out of order here on the homepage, but that is because we did not have internet until this morning. I’m posting them in proper order. I hope that you enjoy reading, and please know that we are reading your comments while we travel.)
Waking up aboard the ship was very nice, it was however, not an accurate gauge for the sensation of when the ship would be moving. I know that now, but didn’t then. Crystal really treats Francis like a star, and he deserves it. Let me explain a few things about Crystal Cruise Line, and remember, this is my first cruise ever.
Crystal Cruises is considered the most luxurious cruise line on the seas, and it is easy to see why when you are on board. The ship is massive, and took up the entire side of one of the piers at the Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong. To better understand the size, the other side of the pier was occupied by two ships. If this were a Carnival or Royal Carribbean cruise ship, they would have more than 3,000 passengers on this ship; Crystal has around 760 passengers on this leg of the World Cruise. There are about another 680 personnel to serve the guests. Everyone is incredibly nice and want to make everyone feel special.
There is no such thing as an “inside cabin” or “porthole cabin” on the Crystal Serenity; at least not for the guests. We are in stateroom 7009, on the promenade deck. We have a large window that over looks the ocean on the Starboard side. This suits me terrific as the sun is on Port side. Everything is top of the line, like staying in a five star hotel. Sunday would be our last day in Hong Kong, and as a result we had limited time to explore before we had to get back for some mandatory procedures. As we were leaving Hong Kong SAR, we would have to meet with immigration agents for departure, we would also need to attend a mandatory evacuation drill, complete with our life jackets. We would leave port around 6:00pm to set sail for the South China Sea and the Strait of Hainan.
So, we had to get a move on if we were going to go and explore a bit of the city. Since we had not had a chance to journey up to the top of Victoria’s Peak, we figured it was now or never. So, after a terrific breakfast on board ship, we jumped off, grabbed the ferry for Hong Kong Island. We figured that we would walk through the Central District to the Peak Tram station, check on the line and either take it to the peak, OR take a cab up. We had plans to walk down the entire peak. Well, to be more specific, Francis wished to walk up, while I desired to walk down. Fortunately, the queue for the tram was fairly reasonable, so we took it. What a treat that was. You are traveling up outrageously steep hills in a train car, your back pinned into your wooden seat watching buildings appear through breaks in the forest.
Once we reached the peak, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of this amazing city and harbour. It is breathtaking, truly. We wandered around and enjoyed a view of the ocean side of the island as well. After checking on our best route down, Francis and I decided to walk down this massive peak following the Findley Road. This switchback pedestrian trail journeys down the mountain at a steep, sometimes daunting angle through an amazing sculpted forest. Trust me, my calf muscles are feeling this walk today. After about a 45 minute walk, we reached the bottom. We continued to walk back towards the ferry needing to get back to our ship for all the pre-sail requirements. We were ready to leave for Vietnam.
Getting ready for shove off.
Watching the procedure to move a ship of this size is impressive. You would think that it would take a massive numbers of tug boats on the water and crew on the shore, but it doesn’t. After they get the lines off the pier, pull the gangway off, we just glided away from the pier. We backed up out of the slip and sailed through Hong Kong harbor. I took the opportunity to sit up in the Palm Court bar on the 12th deck, enjoying a gin and tonic while the city passed by. We were off.
That strange feeling called “sea sick”
OK, I have now experienced being sea sick, and it probably didn’t help any that I had ordered one of their “special drinks” of the day before I experienced it. The drink was pure alcohol. Fortunately, I only drank a small portion of it. We sat in the Crystal Cove bar with two friends of Francis who are sailing on this leg of the trip. Half way through, I really began to feel it. So, instead of joining Francis and some of the ship’s entertainers for dinner, I made my way back to the cabin and quickly fell asleep. This worked out terrific. By the time I woke up this morning, my body had acclaimated to the motion of the ship. I did take a dramamine just as an extra caution, and I am now dealing with the ship and it’s movements pretty well.
A Day at Sea
As I write this, it is Monday afternoon and we are sailing through the Strait of Hainan. It is interesting to watch our course on the ships navigational chart in our room and I can see that we are traveling at a speed of 16.4 knots and are almost all the way through to the Gulf of Tonkin. Even though the Captain tells us that the land is about 5 miles on either side of us, we cannot see it clearly from the ship. It is a bit brackish out there today.
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life…
This morning, Francis and I noticed that the ships security crew were stationed just outside our stateroom window. Francis wasn’t sure why, and I, jokingly, said they were looking for pirates. Well, guess what…they WERE looking out for pirates. Apparently, the coast of Somalia is not the only place that pirates lurk. We were informed by a crew member that extra security precautions were in place due to the risk all the way through to Singapore. They have extra security stationed on all the walk ways and main decks and, we are told, on the bridge of the ship as well.
Tonight is a Black Tie Night onboard; so, it should be nice to get all dressed up and enjoy the true fancy side of this gorgeous ship. And, by the way, I am really excited about cruising now. Though I will say that, after experiencing Crystal, I do not plan to ever sail on a different line. This ship is amazing. There are so few people on board that you really do feel special. I am enjoying this immensely, and I owe Francis a great debt of thanks. I’m kind of depressed that I won’t be able to share all of my pictures with my mom, and I am also missing how she would nag me to bring her back gifts, especially jewelry. But, before she died, she told me that I deserved this trip and to have fun and be safe. I’ll enjoy sharing this trip with my dad, and family, but I am enjoying myself in memory of my mom. She wanted me to.
Tomorrow we arrive in Hanoi, so I will post after our initial adventures there. Pictures coming soon today.