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True Tales of Cruising Around the World

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The Crystal Symphony in Sydney.

The Crystal Symphony in Sydney.

What's it really like to embark on a three-month voyage? We went to the source for stories and tips: travelers who've been there and done that with Crystal Cruises.

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Imagine snorkeling in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, touring Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, and taking a pizza-making lesson in southern Italy—all in one trip. Those are just a few of the activities available during Crystal’s luxury world cruises.

 In 2018, for instance, the Crystal Serenity sails from L.A. to Sydney on to Rome over 112 days, while the Crystal Symphony’s route goes from Cape Town to Sydney on to Miami. (You can choose to start on one ship and switch over in Sydney, where there will be a big gala for all the cruisers.)

Crystal Cruises is a favorite of the Cruise Professionals by Tully Luxury Travel, who have been the company’s top seller worldwide since 2000. Tully tapped into its cruising clientele to get us candid feedback on what to expect when going around the world in 90+ days.

What is it like to be at sea for so long? Did you ever go stir crazy?  

Stir crazy? Not us! There is always so much to do or not to do onboard—your call. Learn a new language, take dance lessons, or brush up on computer knowledge. Join the choir and sing to the enjoyment of your fellow cruisers. Go to lectures, the movie theatre, or just relax and read all those novels you have been saving to read. Ray did find the last week or so a tad long and was anxious to be home, but not me. Pat and Ray Mongeau

There are never more than seven or so consecutive sea days (and then only on large ocean crossings), and Crystal fills them with a tremendous variety and quality of offerings. Typically we’ll be in port one out of every two or three days, and then the world’s your oyster! Crystal offers excursions for every taste and fitness level, and one can always make private arrangements. Often it’s fun just to wander in a new place. Sometimes people will have a “sea day” when we’re in port, meaning that we’re relaxing and staying onboard. When at sea for such a long time, the pressure of having to make the most of every second on land is much less than on short voyages. —Che Loewen 

We use the days at sea as a fun, healthy, and educational opportunity. We exercise, read, take a variety of classes, meet new and old friends, try different types of food we might not have available at home, see shows, movies, and attend lectures. —Lois Hyman 

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How did you continue to keep up a level of excitement at one new port of call after another?

 Ports tend to be sufficiently different one from another that the places themselves do the work of keeping up excitement. Plus, activities vary greatly even within ports. One can go swimming or snorkeling, take a cooking class, go for a hike, play golf, or even go hang gliding in some destinations, and take in a museum or visit famous churches or palaces in others. It is always a joy to return “home” to the ship. I never take that for granted; my heart leaps at the first sight of the ship, and I sigh with relief and pleasure stepping back into the familiar and luxurious surroundings. —Che Loewen 

Being excited in a new port isn’t difficult. It’s the smaller ports you’ve visited in the past where there’s seemingly nothing new to see that require some creativity. Hiring a van with some friends to have a look around and then have a beer or a lunch is one good way to spend quality time. —Marv Silverman

Before we go, we research each new port and check off any of the ship tours that appeal to us. On occasion we will book local tours on our own (or through our travel agent). We love it when the ship spends two nights and three days in a port as it gives us a chance to really get to see the city as well as the surrounding area. Pat and Ray Mongeau

How did you get to know the Crystal crew (and they you) during the cruise?

Crystal’s crew members have often had many years of experience in the industry, and they are also very international. It’s a joy to get to know lovely people from so many places in the world. When you spend several months seeing the same people every day you get to know their personalities and lives, so there is an easy rapport that develops. —Che Loewen

 On a World Cruise, you tend to form friendships, not only with fellow passengers but with the staff as well. You become part of a family in a way that’s hard to accomplish on short cruises. The maître d’s and waiters learn your names and likes and dislikes very quickly. It’s a nice feeling when you sit down at the bar and the bartender places your drink in front of you. —Pat and Ray Mongeau

World cruisers on an exclusive Tully Luxury Travel excursion to Iguazu Falls
What are a few of the most memorable moments?

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Tully Luxury Travel’s Great Wall walk and luncheon in Beijing was a standout, as were visits to Iguazu Falls, Singapore, Easter Island, Sydney, the Great Pyramids, and Jerusalem. So hard to choose a favorite! Onboard, certain amazing lecturers, the crew talent show, and acting silly in the disco come to mind. Also, the special buffets were excellent, with lots of lobster and fine cheese. —Che Loewen 

We booked a two-night trip to Angkor Wat through Tully Luxury Travel and stayed at the Raffles Hotel in a Garden/Pool Cabin. It was unbelievable. Then there was cruising the famous Glacier Bay on a clear day that made the photography breathtaking. And I can’t leave out our 2015 World Cruise excursion to the Magical Kingdom of Hobbiton in New Zealand. It was truly a special night, and we hated to leave—we were on the last bus back to the ship. Pat and Ray Mongeau

Cruising Iceberg Alley in Antarctica; enjoying the special World Cruise entertainment, especially the first and last shows; and laughing at the Liars Club. Lois Hyman

 What advice do you have for someone setting sail on a world cruise? 

Get your paperwork done thoroughly and promptly; different countries have various requirements, and you really do need to sort out, for e.g., if you need a yellow fever shot or not. Other advice: Plan for and discipline yourself to maintain a good exercise routine while you’re on the cruise. And lastly, come prepared to enjoy being with people. It is one of the most wonderful things about doing long cruises. —Che Loewen

 Make lists or spreadsheets to keep track of all the things you will need for the excursions you selected. Make extra copies of your passports and credit cards, and be sure your bills will be paid. File an extension with the IRS if you live in the USA. Since you will be away for an extended period, have someone retrieve your mail from your mailbox, forward it to someone, or rent a post office box and have your mail forwarded there—the U.S.P.S. will only hold your mail up to 30 days. Lois Hyman 

 Start your planning early! Take extra 30+ days of medications with you as well as your prescriptions. We still like to dress for formal nights, but do not sweat or worry about your wardrobe; cruising has changed. We’ve found that almost all of the World Cruisers are extremely sociable. So go on your World Cruise with a positive attitude: If you plan on having a great time, you will.        Pat and Ray Mongeau

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