04.Ilha Grande-blogheader

Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro aboard the Crystal Serenity: The People are the Story

Ireland Postcard-blogI recently had the opportunity to cruise from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro aboard the Crystal Serenity. On reflection of my adventure, I’m reminded of the first couple of lines of a postcard my father once sent to me when he visited Ireland: “This trip to Ireland has once again been truly amazing. Most importantly, the people are the story.”
First off, the people that make up the staff aboard the Serenity were amazing. My greatest impression from a Crystal experience was being blown away by their attention to detail in the customer service department. The same person that served me at breakfast could often be seen serving drinks at night in a lounge – always with a smile. Our stateroom attendant didn’t simply go through a checklist when cleaning our room. While there was a process, she also made a point to adapt to how we liked our personal items organized. 02.Serenity-blogMost impressively, the majority of staff members knew us by name within 1-2 days, and our bartenders knew our preferred drinks! They all collectively anticipated anything we needed, without us asking. For instance, when one of the bartenders realized that my girlfriend was suffering from a cold, he made her a Hot Toddy with fresh cloves, cinnamon, lemons, honey and spices, without her asking.

The CoveThe people cruising aboard the Serenity were great to meet, as well. When we returned back from our cruise, many friends asked how our interaction with other guests was, since we’re in our 40’s, and presumably many guests aboard a Crystal cruise are 55-60, or even retired. Simply put, we met couples that we’ll keep in touch with for the rest of our lives. We shared dinner, drinks, conversations, and experiences at ports with them. I’m ashamed to say, that I couldn’t “hang” with many of them, as they would close Pulse, the onboard dance club, in the early morning hours, then wake up for early breakfast and an excursion at the port the next day. For me, it was very similar to going to a family reunion: gaining knowledge and insight, and enjoying the comradery that I share with my uncles and aunts. On the last couple of nights of our cruise, it was less common to say goodbye to these friends – instead, they would say: “We can’t wait to see you on the next one!”

Most travelers can’t return home without stories of the people. Our journey began in Argentina, then entered Uruguay, and finally Brazil, and our ports-of-call varied in population, currency, and language. A common string that binds them all, though, was a strong work ethic and zest for life. Is it the non-existence of cold weather and the predominance of beautiful vegetation throughout the cities that makes them so happy? I recall an elderly lady in Montevideo (Uruguay) who was wheelchair-bound and struggling to back-out of the main door to her apartment building on her own. We weren’t sure how long she’d been attempting, but she wasn’t complaining or asking for help – she was just determined to do it. When we noticed her, we were happy to help, and luckily my girlfriend spoke Spanish fluently so that we could assist her all the way to her bus stop. Then, there were the large number of vendors, strenuously pushing carts along the sandy beaches, setting up “booths” right in the middle of the sidewalks, and even selling their goods right in the middle of the freeway at rush hour! This may be a tough life for some cultures, but they all seemed to be smiling and happy with their own little piece of the market. Finally, our tour guide in Rio de Janeiro had such a passion for teaching. In fact, his other job is as an instructor at a university. He kept our tour going for 2 hours more than the original schedule, and we enjoyed every minute!Print

My recent vacation up the east coast of South America, aboard the Crystal Serenity was truly amazing. Most importantly, the people were the story!

~Zac Reilly

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