FOUR CRUISES IN FIVE WEEKS!
Over a five week period, we experienced 4 ships which were new to us! First was the Harmony of the Seas, then I transferred to the Celebrity Reflection for my knitting cruise. After 6 days home we flew to Europe for three days in Annecy, France, followed by cruises on the Viking Heimdal and Crystal Mozart! It was all wonderful but so much in so little time made my head swim.
When Harmony of the Seas opened for booking, Doug decided we needed to experience the largest ship at sea. He immediately booked a two bedroom Aqua Suite. Two years later we were onboard for the most amazing week EVER. There are 10 suites on the ship that are considered “Star Class.” These suites come with a Royal Genie (ours was Reyno). There are three Genies for 10 suites and they are a butler on steroids!
A week before the cruise, Reyno contacted us by email to ask for anything special we would like in our room (Coke Zero and Caffeine Free Diet Coke were on our list). The morning of the cruise he contacted me to ask what time we would be arriving and told us to come to the Star Banner by embarkation. We were met, taken to a special embarkation desk and signed in. Reyno then escorted us up the escalator onto the ship where he put his magic Genie button on the elevator to bypass all the floors and whisked us to our suite. The entire check in process took maybe 10 minutes!
All the items we requested were waiting in our suite—which was amazing! Each morning of the cruise Reyno would call about 10:00. “Good Morning Ms. Bonnie—what can I do for you today?” No matter what my request, the answer was always, “But of course Ms. Bonnie.” He made dining reservations for us each night—most nights even meeting us at the restaurant to make sure our table was to our liking. He made all show reservations for us—again meeting us in front of the show room to escort us to our seats which had a red “reserved” banner on them. The night of the ice show he even brought us blankets! One morning, I asked if he could make a reservation at Johnny Rockets for lunch, and got the usual answer! When we got to the restaurant at 12:30 there was a line outside, but he was standing in the restaurant holding a table for us.
The morning of disembarkation he met us in our suite, escorted us off the ship, collected our luggage (which was in a special location) and walked us through customs. I absolutely cannot begin to express what an amazing week this was.
I had not been on a Solstice Class Celebrity ship so it was nice to be on the Celebrity Reflection. I have to admit that since 90% of the time I was knitting, I did not get to experience much else, but the ship is beautiful!
Then on to the Viking Heimdal—our 5th Viking river cruise but our first longship. This ship totally exceeded our expectations! The room, staff, food, excursions etc. were all wonderful and we feel even more confident that our clients will have a great experience on Viking.
I have lost count of the number of ships Viking now has in its river fleet, but it reminds me of Southwest Airlines. By building everything the same, they can keep costs down, which of course brings the cruise price down for passengers. Viking is a great product and offers a real value for our clients.
Our Crystal Mozart cruise was a bit odd. I emailed Margarita to ask if a cruise could still be considered a cruise if you never left the dock! The ship experienced engine problems, and we ended up parked under a bridge between Slovakia and Hungary for 4 nights before finally being able to sail to Vienna to disembark! The good news is that it gave us plenty of time to enjoy this gorgeous ship!
Crystal managed to include many of our favorite ocean cruise facilities on the Mozart. My hamburger in Blu was just like the Grill, my latte in the Café was just like the Bistro and entertainment was excellent. And in typical Crystal fashion, they purchased their own motor coaches and had them reconfigured to only 42 seats so we had business class leg room.
There is no question that the Crystal River product is going to be equal to the ocean cruise experience our Crystal clients have come to expect.
I also need to suggest a visit to Annecy, France - considered the Venice of the Alps! Our three days there were the best. Annecy is a short 45 minute drive from the Geneva airport and, with the French Alps and crystal clear lake and canals, it is breathtakingly beautiful. We walked 5—8 miles each day, enjoying the quiet streets, beautiful views and great al fresco dining. We were lucky enough to have two of our Boutique Escapes sisters, Susan and Sandy, in Annecy with us so had great tour guides! It is always a treat to find a hidden gem like this little town.
If you have already been to Paris and want someplace new to spend a few days before or after an ocean or river cruise, we can highly recommend this beautiful spot and our Boutique Escapes friends can put together a great package for you.