Symphony Jazz Cruise

Seattle

The day started early for some passengers, as immigration was  “must attend”. Each passenger was given a number, and when called it was out the door and across a glass enclosed viaduct. The jam of passengers was easily seen. So for anyone who goes through this procedure, here’s the tip. Never mind your number, just wait until you hear “Now calling all passengers”. Watch the ramp and when the line has dwindled to about four or five, go for it. After you pass the immigration kiosk, stay near the ramp entrance. Not much time will pass until all may go back to the ship. You’ll be having coffee as others come aboard.

Last night protesters did their thing, smashing store windows, and kept up their mob action into the early morning hours. Whether they will sleep in or have some Starbucks (originating in Seattle), squint in the light and rabble rouse again, is up for conjecture. I am not up for it in any form. No one on board is quite sure what the protests taking place all over the U.S. are about. But here in Seattle, I think they are protesting rain.

Jazz happened. First, at 4 PM in the Starlite Club, Benny Golson talked about his life in jazz. Next, at 4:45, in the Starlight Club Jazz greats Don Braden (tenor sax), David Williams (bass), and Willie Jones III (drums). Although their names were not familiar to me, they are all gigantic players.

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There’s more to come as we head to Astoria.

 

Symphony Jazz Cruise

Victoria, Canada

Discovered by Captain Cook and named for England’s Queen Victoria, it is still so inimitably British, visitors find it hard to believe its charming amenities are imitations. The Parliament building itself looks like it’s straight out of, you know, back there.DSC01855

And the hotel is the biggest in Canada.

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Actually too big to capture on camera as it goes at different angles. When I last stayed, there was no air conditioning, so opening a window was a must. A seagull came by and sat on the windowsill just to check us out.

Actually jazz had yet to get cookin’ on the ship, but I found it in Victoria.

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This guy had an incredible tone, when I asked him who he played with, he said “no one”. What a shame to be so good and on a street corner for a living.

A few blocks down was a real cat.

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He put his trumpet down for a moment, looked at me and said, “You’re a musician, right?” I hope he wasn’t disappointed when I told him I was a drummer.

Back to da boat having not solved the conundrum whether Victoria is more British than Britain. Seattle is next, maybe. Why maybe?

We arrive at 8 AM and all must go through immigration. We are called by number to leave the ship and go through the process. The catch is, no one can get back on Symphony until all have been checked through. The last group will be called at 10 AM, so the early birds will eat the worm, and be sitting for a couple of hours. I’ll be called around 9:30. Again maybe. One letter tells me I am number 9 and I should wait to be called. A second note told me I was #6. Oh well.
After that we can head into town….but wait there’s more. We’ve been advised that there will be May Day protests in the central downtown area, which we are told is quite a distance from the pier. But wait there’s more, the daily Reflections mentions that there will be no shuttle service tomorrow, “due to the close proximity of the city center”.
Hmm, I may not see attle.DSC01870

Symphony Jazz Cruise

Victoria, Canada

Discovered by Captain Cook and named for England’s Queen Victoria, it is still so inimitably British, visitors find it hard to believe its charming amenities are imitations. The Parliament building itself looks like it’s straight out of, you know, back there.DSC01855

And the hotel is the biggest in Canada.

DSC01854

Actually too big to capture on camera as it goes at different angles. When I last stayed, there was no air conditioning, so opening a window was a must. A seagull came by and sat on the windowsill just to check us out.

Actually jazz had yet to get cookin’ on the ship, but I found it in Victoria.

DSC01852

This guy had an incredible tone, when I asked him who he played with, he said “no one”. What a shame to be so good and on a street corner for a living.

A few blocks down was a real cat.

DSC01853

He put his trumpet down for a moment, looked at me and said, “You’re a musician, right?” I hope he wasn’t disappointed when I told him I was a drummer.

Back to da boat having not solved the conundrum whether Victoria is more British than Britain. Seattle is next, maybe. Why maybe?

We arrive at 8 AM and all must go through immigration. We are called by number to leave the ship and go through the process. The catch is, no one can get back on Symphony until all have been checked through. The last group will be called at 10 AM, so the early birds will eat the worm, and be sitting for a couple of hours. I’ll be called around 9:30. Again maybe. One letter tells me I am number 9 and I should wait to be called. A second note told me I was #6. Oh well.
After that we can head into town….but wait there’s more. We’ve been advised that there will be May Day protests in the central downtown area, which we are told is quite a distance from the pier. But wait there’s more, the daily Reflections mentions that there will be no shuttle service tomorrow, “due to the close proximity of the city center”.
Hmm, I may not see attle.DSC01870

Crystal Symphony Jazz

I’m heading to Vancouver, Canada to board the Crystal Symphony. The ship is full and we will head down the Pacific coast; Victoria, Canada; Seattle; San Francisco; Santa Barbara, and home in LA. To tell the truth I’m not that interested in the ports, but this is a JAZZ cruise featuring some top players. As former jazz drummer, (obop shabam a flooglemop) this will be a real treat for me. The special star will be Benny Golson.

 

 

 

 

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Almost a year to the date my brother and I sailed Symphony from Los Angeles to New York.  Some changes have been made to this lovely ship since then. It is now all inclusive……food, booze, etc. And it’s been redone, not that it needed it, but I will take some photos to show you how lovely she is.

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I’m on Alaska Air and landing at estimated 5:43 PM. A lovely trip flying over numerous lakes.Who knew?

It’s been awhile since I’ve been through Canadian customs and the taxi takes about 40 minutes and $40 to get to the ship. I have a meeting at 7:00 PM. Good luck eh.

Landed on time; immigration was a breeze. Taxi, a lovely newer car with a driver who knew his way around, well, everything. Lines of traffic? Zip, zoom, side roads, alleys and back on main highway, traffic far behind. I was enchanted by the huge Victorian homes along the way.

I made it into the meeting at exactly 7:00, had a flute of Champagne with Vancouver media and blown away  by Anthony Salazar, a close up magician from the Magic Castle.  Crystal now features the Magic Castle at Sea. Incredible!

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Dinner in the Sushi Bar was as much as you want for as long as you want.

I stayed more than a little while, then to bed. We have a short voyage to Victoria during the night.

 

 

 

 

Cruise Problems?

A new survey indicates luxury traveler interest in cruises has fallen to a record low, this in an article by Jeri Clausing. I have no idea who was surveyed, but I’m willing to bet they weren’t guests on either Crystal ship. Some lines are adding large spa cabins, some are even offering bumper cars, so why does Crystal sail with no empty cabins? Simple answer, they are always innovative.

Next week, leaving from Vancouver and doing 7 days down the Pacific coast, is a Jazz Cruise saluting Benny Golson. But wait, there’s more. The Cedar Walton Trio is also featured, plus the Don Braden Quartette. Cruise is full!

Another theme is religion. What? Yup. With the expansion, the ultra-luxe line now offers more than 20 Crystal Adventures featuring private, after-hours access, centuries-old houses of worship, Jewish heritage tours, and sacred pilgrimage destinations in Spain, Italy, Turkey, Malta, France and other timeless locales on the Continent. Most of the new and exclusive adventures visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And for experts in almost everything:

The two-term former president of Switzerland, NASA’s lead flight controller for Apollo missions and a general who was once the highest ranking intelligence officer in the United States Armed Forces. These guest speakers are part of a distinguished lineup of internationally influential, preeminent leaders set to present lectures and interactive Q & A sessions on several itineraries.

Crystal is all inclusive so what more could one want. Well, if you are a man check out this electric shaver.

It’s the size of a small smart phone and is charged with the USB on your computer. Check it out at www.shavetech.com .

Bon Voyage!

Darwin or Lose

(This is a few years old)

By Geoff Edwards
“I have been covering the Galapagos Islands for twenty years”, said Miriam Diaz of the travel company Canodros, “and you are the first person I have ever heard of that was bitten by a blue-footed booby.” I beamed. My name would join Darwin’s in Galapagos history.

Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos archipelago, made up of nineteen islands plus forty islets, in 1835. With what he learned from this untouched area, he formulated his theory of evolution. Since then, man has put his messy hand to the area, bringing rats, goats, pigs, and commerce to the islands, and nature’s living laboratory lost its sterility. It was this evolutionary erosion that, in 1959, prompted the Ecuadorian government to make all of the Galapagos Islands waters, and 97% of the landmass, a national park. Areas that were untouched, remain so; tainted areas are being restored.

In January 2001, a new and unexpected menace came steaming through the night. Jessica, a small boat transporting diesel and fuel oil, ran aground, her slick cargo oozing into the open sea. Fortunately, little damage to the environment was done, and the unprepared Ecuadorians now have contingency plans should there be a next time. But Jessica caught our attention, and, notwithstanding Ecuadorian contingency plans, we wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands without being told, “You should have seen it before.” Continue reading

Christmas With A Princess

Emerald Princess

DSC01355Emerald is a variety of beryl that is highly valued as a gemstone. Emerald Princess is a variety of cruise ship that is highly valued by anyone who steps on board. I found that absolutely true as I sailed with her for a holiday cruise in the Caribbean.

But, first things first. If you take Princess out of Fort Lauderdale, book your flights through Princess. You’ll be met at the airport and whisked over to Hyatt Embassy Suites. Your vacation starts; two rooms, an LG TV that has an incredible picture, and breakfast cooked and served in a lovely lobby.

At an appointed time all will gather in the foyer to identify luggage and board a bus to the ship; waiting time can be avoided by grabbing a shuttle outside for $7.00.

Although stuff gets in the way, the first view of Emerald gets the juices flowing.DSC01354

The minute you enter the atrium,DSC01396 those juices boil over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A choir was singing and decorations were everywhere.DSC01372

 

 

 

 

 

My cabin was at the stern and just a short elevator ride to the Lido.

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I loved breakfast there. Each day, besides all the fruit, cereal, eggs, etc., specialties popped up every morning and changed daily.

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I passed on the Soup. Continue reading