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From Bill Miller

All photos by Bill Miller: used with permission 

Tue Aug 31st Bermuda:  Knives & forks!  The food onboard is nothing short of superb – and of course wickedly appealing.   Tonight after a dinner of Caesar Salad, Boston clam chowder and grilled, well seasoned prawns, three of the many dessert offerings (in Waterside, the ship’s main restaurant) included a Vanilla Tart with Chocolate Flavors, French Apple Tart a la Mode and something called Dream of Raspberry Trifle.   (PS:   Behind the scenes, that small army of Austrian chefs & bakers are always thoughtful – no portion is too big, too overwhelming. And the presentation is usually on very large plates or canyon-style bowls.    But then, with little more than a yum-yum and even a slight smile, the waiter will deliver a 2nd helping!  Yes, it can all be downward in deep decay.)


Elegant, beyond thoughtful and almost royally poised at 6 ½ feet in height, Dragan (from Serbia) has been a most splendid server!   He has been with Crystal Cruises for 21 years.

Wed Sep 1st Bermuda:  We have only 175 passengers aboard (950 is normally top capacity) – so with over 400 crew, the ratio is roughly 2-to-1.  A half-dozen waiters crowded round us at lunch and, at dinner, it was three servers & a wine stewardess.   A longtime Crystal regular later noted, “The entire ship is like a big yacht.   In your lectures, you used to say that on Crystal they all but chew the meat for you!   Well, now, they just about swallow it for you as well!   Can it get more pampered!”    And a lady on her very first Crystal voyage noted:   “This is spectacular!   I think I really am onboard one of the ‘floating palaces’ you talk about in your lectures.”

Now quite rare – a quartet of those red British phone boxes!

Hear ye, hear ye – Crystal’s back in town!

Berthed in the Dockyard, the former Royal Navy base here in still very British Bermuda, and then ashore for a café lunch with Stephen Card, a dear friend of some 40 years & of course the celebrated, very gifted, quite brilliant maritime artist.   His glorious paintings have been covers for many of my books.   But time has passed indeed – I still remember having dinner with Stephen here in Bermuda nearly 35 years ago, in June 1988,  on a cruise visit, but then on Royal Caribbean’s Nordic Prince.  Just two years ago, Stephen came aboard the Viking Sea for another happy dinner (but then docked in Hamilton).

Exotica!   Tonight, we dine in Umi Uma, the ship’s superb Asian grill.   Umi Uma (which means “seahorse” in Japanese and the symbol of Crystal Cruises) and which offers legendary Nobu’s fusion cuisine Japanese/Asian/Latin American.   Alone, there are 35 varieties of sushi.   But my choices are much more moderate:    Shrimp Tempura (with Nobu’s Dipping Sauce), then Soft Shell Crab Spring Rolls (with Nanban Salsa) followed by Filet of Wagyu Beef (with grilled onions & asparagus and coupled with 3 sauces accompanied by steamed Japanese vegetables & brown rice) and finished off with Vanilla & Coconut Tapioca Soup (really a cross between pudding & ice cream and served with green tea ice cream).  The setting alone is stunning, the food & service flawless.   (PS:   Remember that Crystal Cruises itself was Japanese owned until several years ago, but now comes under the umbrella of the Genting Hong Kong Group, the huge casino, hotel & travel operator.)

Often redecorated & restyled, Umi Uma began on the Company’s first ship, the Crystal Harmony (back in 1990), as Kyoto (and when guests were given ivory chopsticks) and then became Jade Garden and finally Silk Road.  It is quite divine & has always been a very “hot ticket” on Crystal ships.

Overnight in beautiful Bermuda … shoreside lights, the ship itself aglow, a few thousand stars overhead & so pleasant dreams!