Pre Symphony

I’ve never quite understood the phrase “six degrees of separation”, but this cruise must have at least a couple of degrees of whatever that means. Michael and I cruised on the inaugural of Crystal Symphony in 1995 from New York to Los Angeles.  

We were veteran cruisers, but memories of the cabins where two “bunks”, each attached to a separate wall, and subsequently, two mattresses jammed between the beds were still fresh in our minds. When we first saw Symphony, we were awe struck. Now,13 years later (that may mean something too) we are seeing her again.


On that inaugural I began my “career” as a travel writer. Sitting at dinner, next to an editor of the travel magazine Diversion, I mentioned that no one had ever done a piece on a World Cruise.

She said, “You write it and I’ll publish it.”


Bada Bing! (As we never used to say.)


Eight months later we were on the Royal Viking Sun from Los Angeles to Miami; the long way. About eight weeks later, The Royal Viking Sun and an Egyptian reef had a falling out. We were at lifeboat stations for the night. As the sun rose in the morning we could hear the surf breaking on the stern of the ship, the  bow was on the beach. The Cruise Director on that ship was Paul Mcfarland. The Cruise Director on this cruise is Paul McFarland.


We always pack too much, and rely on a luggage scale to get us on an airline without those outrageous fees. This time we were headed to a ship, so Michael just loaded four big suitcases and said we’ll worry about the weight in Miami. I don’t look forward to the night before that flight.


We would have four big suitcases, and our friends, Donna and Jerry, who are traveling with us, would have at least three. Add to that, we would depart from the LA Cruise Center, and arrive back home at the airport. We’d need transportation to and from. My job was to find an inexpensive limo service that had an SUV to accommodate all our stuff.


I found the perfect company on the net, told them what I wanted, and they asked me to send an email, to which they would respond. My email came back undeliverable. Their web site disappeared. Apparently they were too discounting to stay in business.


More time on the net.  This time I came up spending a bit more money, but they had an Escalade SUV that would be perfect. The plan was for us to drive to Marina Del Rey to our friends’ home, park our car there, and be picked up by the Escalade.


We were all waiting outside, when the limo appeared, and kept appearing, and finally the rear of the car followed the front around the corner. Not an SUV, but it held all the bags, the four of us, and still had room for the USC band. Don’t ask.


Check in was quick and orderly, and shortly we were on the ship. We are on Penthouse deck with a junior penthouse suite. Goran, from Serbia is our butler. He and I have already had an interesting conversation about Kosovo.


Symphony is fresh from 24 million dollar refurbishment, but the elegant ambience was as we remembered. p1010682.JPGThere are Mercedes, and Rolls Royces, but if this were a car, it would be a Bentley.




It has been 13 years, and we have had 6 grandchildren during that time. Looking at Symphony, and then later in the mirror, botox came to mind.


Exhausted, but hungry, we went to dinner at the main seating (6:15). Our server, Claudio from Albania, has a good sense of humor, and the food was excellent. And, yes, the Florida Snapper was rare and juicy.


For the first time in years we went to the opening night show. Paul McFarland greeted us and presented a live glimpse of each of the feature acts. One of which is an extraordinary acapella group, The Castaways, that blew us away. During the cruise, we’ll be seeing them here and there around the ship. At the end of the show, Paul explained that for health protection, there is, at least for the crew, a no handshaking policy. Tomorrow night we’ll get to touch elbows with the Captain.


After the show, to bed, listening to the rain that would be sunshine in the morning.



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