Yesterday morning we asked the girl at the front desk of the hotel if she knew of a breakfast place with views of the bay (harbor? I’m not sure of the correct Long Beach lingo) and she recommended Claire’s, which is in the back of the Long Beach Museum of Art. We found the place, saw the umbrellas, and followed a guy and his kid back there – and in so doing, we learned later, basically cut in line and inconvenienced the restaurant staff – we were supposed to go in the main restaurant and check in with the hostess. They accommodated us without too much trouble, though, and then put up with us further as we insisted on rearranging the table to get some shade (I’m sure we were their favorites).

It was another gorgeous day – clear and warm, beautiful skies and seas, very little smog, very little wind; really spectacular – and breakfast was very pleasant. After breakfast, we decided to check out the museum a little, since we have reciprocal privileges there, due to our Walker Art Museum membership (faithful readers might remember that this is the membership we reverse engineered to get into the the Art Institute of Chicago). Even though our membership was only supposed to admit 2, the girls at the counter let us all in. The current show was a retrospective of video installations from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Video installations are not really my thing, but it was interesting enough, plus I was very pleased to have used our reciprocal privileges :)

Now it was time to check out of the hotel and head to the cruise port. Before we turn our attention to the cruise, though, I must take a moment to say how much I liked Long Beach. Maybe it was a function of the beautiful weather, but I thought it seemed a really cool town – I could definitely see coming back someday for a long weekend or something.

Vicki dropped us off at the cruise port (thanks for everything, Vicki! You’re a peach!), we gave our bags to the porter, and then headed over to the check in area. To my surprise, there were a bunch of people sitting in chairs, and we were given a ticket with the number 11 and told to sit and wait for our number to be called (they were on number 5). This surprised me because usually, on these smaller luxury ships, the embarkation process is pretty quick and there are very few lines – it’s part of what you’re paying the big bucks for. I groused about it a little, and then, to Lis’ horror and my own, I loudly announced “We wouldn’t have to wait like this on Regent!” – I mean LOUDLY – I practically shouted it. Lis shot me a look, and I said “I know, I know – I don’t know how that happened!” We were sitting kind of by ourselves, and I’m not sure that anybody heard me, but I still found it terrifying to contemplate that I might be becoming one of those old people who loudly blurt out whatever is in their heads…

(Speaking of old people, a digression: there are, as you may imagine, a large number of elderly people on the ship. Which means that there is also fair bit of the phenomenon of old, old people with young, young hair. This works well enough at a distance in low lighting. But up close in good lighting, the effect is NOT what the practitioner imagines. In fact, it is rather startling and mildly horrifying. The lesson to learn from this is, go ahead and dye your hair, but, really, let’s try to be realistic about it.)

Once our group was called (we waited about half an hour), we saw that the reason for the delay was that one of the metal detectors was out of order. If it had been working, we would have had our normal check in – so Crystal was off the hook. We went quickly through security, and were on the ship and checked in in just a few minutes.

We had lunch at the pool grill, and it was good, but not quite as great as we remembered from before; I suspect that we will find several things not as good as we remembered, since we have built Crystal up as practically the greatest food on earth since our last sailing, 5 years ago.

We wandered around a bit, and encountered this odd elevator behavior that we have run in to only on Crystal – people who refuse to make way when you are trying to get on. This man and woman were standing at the very front when the elevator doors opened, didn’t budge an inch, and then gave us the stinkeye as we were forced to push past them to board. It’s very strange. We wondered if it was some sort of rich person thing, but we’ve hung out with rich people on Regent and at the Four Seasons, and we’ve never seen anything like it, except on our last Crystal cruise. Go figure.

We went back to our room so we could be on our balcony to watch the ship sail away from port (one of my favorite parts of any cruise is sailing in to or out of port) and then got ready for dinner.

For dinner we had reservations at Silk Road, which is the Asian restaurant on board, affiliated with Nobu in Los Angeles. We had made a date to meet Sandra, travel agent extraordinaire, and her son David, and we had a really great time – especially since Sandra brought a bottle of wine for the table and told the waiter to keep the rock shrimp coming (I’m not much of a seafood person in general, but the rock shrimp were really, really good). Sandra’s wine, in addition to the Pinot Noir (from Oregon!) I had already ordered, and the champagne I’d had when we boarded the ship, meant that I’d had about 3 times the amount of wine I normally have, so I was feeling pretty good:)

After dinner Lis checked out the casino a bit (she wanted to see if they have penny slots – they do) and I walked around on deck a bit, and then it was time to turn in.

(Author’s note: no links in the next few posts, as the ship’s internet connection is just too dang slow for it…)