I like that we overnighted in Boston as we began our Crystal Cruises sailing, for a couple of reasons. Giving us more time to see the city, we went on a Crystal shore excursion through Boston and out into some culturally significant parts of the United States. Had we wanted to experience the nightlife of Boston, we could have done that too. Although the pace was luxuriously relaxed, our first full day on Crystal Serenity was packed with Crystal Cruises adventures, both on and off the ship.
Called Colonial Countryside, Lexington and Concord, the tour took our group of 38 out of Boston’s Black Falcon cruise terminal in the late morning. The four-hour tour began with a drive through Boston, passing a number of historically significant sites along the way.
The first stop was Harvard University in Cambridge where we walked the grounds of the venerated institution.
Continuing the tour, we passed a number of Georgian-style mansions, including that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as well as the first garden-style cemetery in the country.
Off the motorcoach in Lexington we walked through history, visiting Lexington Green where Minutemen faced British troops in 1775. Today, the site was a gathering place for local residents out on a pleasant Saturday in the park as the first leaves of Autumn began to fall.
In a way, that part of the tour reminded me of our Viking River Cruise through France, stopping by places frequented by renowned artists. Somehow, their works make more sense, seem more real when a personal connection is made with some part of their lives. Such was the case when we stopped by the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.
In rural Concord, we stopped by wooden North Bridge, walking the grounds where the “shot heard around the world” was fired by an embattled farmer.
The subject of Emerson’s Concord Hymn poem, this is where the first British soldiers fell during the American Revolutionary War.
On our tour, the serene area that lines the tiny Concord River was a place for National Park Service rangers leading lectures, Boy Scouts gathering, kids playing and others just considering the scene. On the way back to Crystal Serenity, it was difficult not to think about the impact of this geographic region on our country’s history and have a new appreciation for it.
Back on board, it was time for the safety drill, an efficiently done procedure that first gathered passengers in muster stations located throughout the interior of the ship. Unique and wisely planned, the procedure also called for passengers to pass by and physically see the exact location of the lifeboat they would use in the unlikely event that an order was given to abandon the ship. That night, the only part of the ship we abandoned was the dining room, choosing instead to try dining in our suite; our second adventure of the day.
The process of dining in our suite was quite simple. We called our butler Almir by simply pushing the ‘Butler’ button on our suite’s telephone, as we do for anything else we want to know or need. In a few minutes he brought the same menu used in the dining room that night, left them with us and said to call him when ready to order.
In the mean time, we sailed away from Boston and all eyes were focused outside the ship as we passed Boston-Logan airport, a number of energy producing wind turbines.
We were followed out of port by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral, a ship with some history of it’s own. Originally built for Royal Cruise Line, the 1988 ship sailed as Crown Odyssey. Sailing as Norwegian Crown for Norwegian Cruise Lines then as Crown Odyssey for Orient Lines, the ship was lengthened in 2007 before sailing for Fred Olsen.
As the sun set, the days adventure came to an end, but the night version was just beginning.
When Almir returned to take our order, he came with canapés and offered suggestions for our dining selections. Later, Almir returned to set a white tablecloth dining service complete with Sheffield silver flatware, Weiden china and Riedel crystal.
Our selections included Crab Cakes and Artichokes as appetizers along with a nicely done Spinach Salad. A pasta course preceded a fresh Halibut entrée for Whitney and a marvelous wild Mushroom Pizza for me.
Served white-gloved and course by course (as opposed to leaving all on one tray), Almir’s timing was exceptional, ending with Crème Brulee for dessert .
As much as we could forget about the rest of the ship and spend most of our time in our suite, after dinner brought a walk around Crystal Serenity.
With no particular plans in mind, we passed the casino and ship’s shops, now open as we were far enough from land to allow it. Here and there were passengers, enjoying nightlife at sea in one way or another, with plenty of crewmembers on duty to anticipate and serve their needs.
It’s that “anticipate and serve” element on Crystal Cruises that we will talk about soon in this space. Just one day into our 10-day Autumn’s Palette itinerary, the attention to detail here really jumps out as unique.
Stay tuned for more live via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as we explore Crystal Cruises for the first time and make our way from Boston to Quebec City on a 10-day Autumn’s Palette itinerary. See all our blog posts on Crystal Cruises too.