"" Writer's Wanderings: Crystal Serenity Cruise Reflections

Monday, September 11, 2023

Crystal Serenity Cruise Reflections

It's time for a little reflection about our Crystal Serenity cruise around Iceland. Our day at sea and the last full port day in Reykjavik was spent enjoying time on the ship. All too soon though it was time to pack up and head for home.

We had searched several times for a tour where we could keep our luggage with us and end up at the airport but nothing we found would get us to the airport at the right time. Crystal provided a hospitality suite and transportation to the airport for those who had booked air with them. For a charge of $70/person those of us who had booked our own air could take advantage of the program. Since we had onboard credit we had not used, we were able to purchase the option for a much lower price.

Our departure morning started with our last breakfast in the Waterside, the main dining room and saying more goodbyes to staff and crew. At nine we left the ship, retrieved our luggage and went to the bus that would take us into the city to the concert hall where our hospitality suite was. It was pouring rain and windy. They loaded our luggage on a truck that would take it to the airport where we would later claim it and we were on our way.

We had only seen the concert hall from the outside. It is an unusual building and even more intriguing from the inside. Bob noticed that no two windows were alike. Must have been a real challenge putting it all together. 

There were two restaurants in the building, one on the first floor and the second on the fourth floor. Crystal had reserved the fourth floor restaurant for us. There were about 72 waiting for their afternoon flights and more coming in who had arrived on early flights for the next cruise. Refreshments were available and we settled in for a time.

When the weather let up a bit, Bob decided it was time to get an Icelandic hot dog. There is a famous hot dog stand in the city that was visited once by Bill Clinton. Of course we had to try it out. The last time I had an Icelandic hot dog it was red and really didn't taste all that good. I wasn't enthused. 

A block or two from the concert hall, we found the hot dog stand. It was already busy at 11:30 with a tour group in line before us. I glimpsed one of the hot dogs and was relieved to discover that it wasn't the red variety. Bob had said that the dogs had some lamb meat in them. I still wasn't too enthused. A hot dog, I was afraid, would stay with me on the flight home and make me uncomfortable. 

You could get the dog with the works which included mustard, a couple of other toppings I didn't recognize and raw onions. I passed on the onions and just ordered it with mustard. To my surprise, the hot dog was mild tasting, not the spicy kind and the mustard was sweet. I devoured it.

Clinton's visit.

We made the forty-five minute ride to the airport comfortably on the bus and collected our luggage, much of which had already been transferred to an area just inside the door. We tucked our heavier jackets into the outside pocket of one. It would be a lot warmer arriving home. 

The airport has you print your own baggage tags and then take them to the baggage drop. It was a little confusing (and busy) at first but one of the attendants helped us figure it out. From there it was through immigration and security and into the bustling airport. We found a sandwich and chips and water to take with us on the flight. IcelandAir does not offer anything more than beverages unless you order ahead online.

The flight home was very comfortable with little air turbulence considering the the wind we had experienced on departure. Arriving in Detroit, we started our drive home. It was eight local time, midnight in Iceland. By the time we arrived home, it was 11:30, 3:30 am in Iceland. We dropped into bed.
Three puzzles done. One left.

A couple of days later at church, someone asked me what was the highlight of Iceland. There were so many things we saw, I couldn't really say but as I thought about it, the highlight of our trip was not so much the landscape we saw but the people we met both on land and on the ship. 

A good part of our enjoyment in the trip was being with the crew and staff of Serenity again. So many familiar faces and some new ones we got to know as well. Crystal's return to the sea by a new owner who recognized what made it great in the past has been astounding in a little over a year and a half. The crew was gathered from around the world where they had scattered after the bankruptcy and at least 80% of them have returned. For them it was like coming home. It was, in a way, for us as well. 

We took a few pictures of those who cared for us as we cruised. The crew is truly the heartbeat of Serenity and it is beating strong. We look forward to the future.

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