Day 13, Saturday, Feb 12, Disembark Serenity

Trip Start Jan 26, 2011
Trip End Feb 13, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, February 12, 2011

I woke at my usual 5am, stopped by the fitness center one last time to say au revoir to Keith, and walked a modest 1 1/2 miles on the Promenade Deck.  Most of the morning went to a leasurely breakfast, some final checks on the internet, and the last stages of packing.  I left my room a little after 9 and the Crystal Serenity about 9:40 for the short transfer to the Crowne Plaza hotel.  I walked around the waterfront and victoria Park for about 90 minutes, then returned to the Crowne Plaza for lunch.  It was a good enough buffet but no Lido Guys.

After lunch I visited the Sky Tower.  This 328 meter tower provides absolutely stunning views of the waterfront (Including Crystal Serenity and Silver Shadow), the harbor bridge, and the surrounding countryside.  Other spactacular activities include jumping from the tower tethered to a cable and an outside sky walk on a narrow platform while tethered to the tower.  I passed on those options but rode an elevator for the first time since at least Los Angeles Airport.

I also visited the very nice Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum with exhibits ranging fron native canoes to early ocean liners, ferries, whaling ships and racing yachts, and toured Rapaki, a 1926 80-ton floating steam crane, before returning to the Crowne Plaza for the transfer to the airport, which took about 20 minutes.

Flight checkin was rather quick.  I had hoped to upgrade to Premium Economy, as I have for SFO-BWI, but the available seat was an additional $2,400 and I passed.  We were given a paper at checkin telling us we would all be subject to pat-downs, a hand inspection of carryons at the gate, and would only be able to bring aboard newly purchased water but none of that actually happened, and boarding proceeded smoothly.  It was as comfortable as a 12-hour flight in economy can be, with an aisle seat and an empty middle seat, but it was still a very long night.

As today's parting shot, my first Crystal World Cruise segment is now in the history books.  It is always a delicate balance between meeting the needs of those on the full world cruise and those on one or more segments.  I found that a bit of an annoyance but not a real problem.  My table was a good mix of people on the full world cruise and those on a part of it and the group gelled rather well.  There were some awkward moments when the full world people got a special event, especially a special dinner but overall the experience worked out pretty well.

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