Getting into the swing of life aboard the Crystal Symphony
I suppose it was inevitable we’d get a bit carried away on the first night. Champagne, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a cheese platter and our general overexcitement meant that by the time we dressed up and met our travel companions in the Palm Court at 7:30pm, we’d made a jolly good start.
Our “select group of media” includes a journo from a rival newspaper and his wife, and a couple who publish a flash magazine. The six of us met our Cruise Coordinator for yet more complimentary champers (I should note at this stage that this cruise is All Inclusive – perhaps the way of it for all cruise lines nowadays, but certainly “in my day” – ie. my brief experience on a pretty impressive but OMG-nowhere-near-as-flash-as-this ship in 2000 – we were packed to the gunnels with fine food, but made to pay (a lot) for the wine. Perhaps considering the price of these cruises (I actually don’t know and wouldn’t speculate, but this isn’t called a six-star ship for nothing), it’s only fair to make it a freeforall).
So we chatted and got to know our new buddies, before heading to one of the two specialist restaurants on board – Silk Road. Run/inspired by/created? by the legendary Nobu Matsuhisa, it is (obviously) Japanese, and serves up absolutely some of the best sashimi, sushi, tempura, seafood, fish, steak and other Japanese fare I’ve ever tasted. Sensational. So good that one couple returned the following night, while the rest of us went to the main, large restaurant.
After Silk Road we went to the wee piano bar – think Casblanca with fewer palm fronds and more oak panelling – where a live pianist (I love saying that – my mum is obsessed with “live” pianists, and my father always jokes about the dead ones) tinkled the ivories and made amusing small talk with us punters. I don’t know what possessed me – well I do, it’s the ship board “I’m on holiday” feeling that has permeated already – but I asked him to play I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and I got up and sang. It wasn’t quite like when I’m in my car, more’s the pity, but I got claps from lots of middle-aged to elderly Americans, and my group were sufficiently supportive. Karaoke doesn’t happen until Sat night (formal night) so I’ve got that out of my system till then.
And then our core group of party-harders went on to nightclub Luxe, decored in cream leather with pinky-mauve lighting, where we had the undivided attention of the DJ and the dancefloor. Following some shared moments with Rick Astley, Europe and Guns ‘n’ Roses, we finally realised it was time for bed and made our way down the narrow corridors to the welcoming arms of those crisp-but-cloudlike sheets.
And that was just Night 1. We have a day in Auckland (still!) tomorrow. I think I will forgo the tourist jaunts up Mt Eden or over to historic Devonport, and make the most of shipboard life.