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Crystal transatlantic cruise review

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Crossing the Atlantic Ocean used to be such an ordeal. Christopher Columbus, for example, took 70 days to get to the other side.

My transatlantic cruise with Crystal Cruises from Barcelona to Miami was on a similar track, steaming fairly close to Palos, the tiny Spanish port Columbus set sail from in 1492, but for me it was 12 days, and all calm seas and sunshine.

There was no doubt everyone enjoyed the discounted fares for what was a repositioning cruise (in this case we were one of an armada of ships sailing west - mostly to Miami and Fort Lauderdale every late autumn, and the reverse in the spring).

These cruises are lean on ports (just Tenerife and St Martin in our case) so the cruise lines bulk up on entertainment. Crystal Serenity themed the trip as a Big Band cruise and brought aboard the 17-strong Artie Shaw Orchestra. There were also half a dozen gentlemen hosts to dance with the ladies. So no lonely nights then. But what to do on those sea days?

You'd be surprised, and delighted, at the size of Serenity's library. Nearby is the computer room, once the orphan of the storm but now the busiest place on the ship after the self-service laundry. For that thank the iPad, as ubiquitous on board as sequins in the bar. Going online at sea is not cheap, but nor is any satellite service, and the computer staff are efficient and friendly with both geeks and grannies.

Personally I like days at sea, when a ship can get into its stride and is freed from disruptions of docking. I go to Lido deck aft for breakfast outside, and if my luck is in, sit at a table right at the stern. If you love the sea and ships, this is a special place.

The breakfast buffet is amazing. It beats me that swanky hotels often seem to struggle with the idea of providing fresh fruit yet every morning Crystal Serenity serves up mango and strawberries, and never runs out.

Ten o'clock and time for the golf lesson. Joe, the golf pro on board, has a great setup with two nets and excellent clubs for free use. An hour later I am in the Spanish class, where Nelson has an equally enthusiastic following. As that ends, the room quickly fills with passengers learning the keyboard. Then the noon quiz, followed by lunch. Whew, it's time for the siesta. In addition, Crystal has two bijou restos, the Italian Prego, and Silk Road, a work of art by Japan's Nobu. Both were outstanding, and amazingly, offered at no extra charge. Later, there is a proper cinema, a casino, shopping and of course Artie Shaw. And so to bed, ready to do the same thing every day the whole way over.

Yes, there were two ports of call, but the ship is the thing, and the voyage, and thinking about Christopher Columbus, who never got Cherries Jubilee, but he did find America.

Find out more:
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Meet the author

David Wishart is a Mundy regular and guest author

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