The Victoria Peak trams have been taking passengers up to the top of Victoria Peak since 1888. Some people walk to the top, but it was way too steep for us. Mom qualified for a 1/2 price ticket (over 65), which was nice. The fare for both of us (round trip) was less than $10. It was very hazy, but we had a good enough view of the city below and the other side of Hong Kong island. They have a nice viewing platform at the top of the Peak Tower and many restaurants and bars. There's also a park and many walking trails than snake along the peak. Some of the most expensive homes in Hong Kong are on the ridge along the peak. After wandering around for a while and having a diet coke, we rode the tram back down the hill and took a taxi to the hotel. The views of Hong Kong harbor certainly qualify the city as one of the best sail away ports in the world.
Since we hadn't ridden the ferry, we walked the short distance from the hotel (less than 1 block) to the Chan Mai Star Ferry stop. Ferries run from both Chan Mai near the Convention Center and from Central Hong Kong across the harbor to Kowloon. Lucky for us, the ferry stop in Kowloon was right next to the Ocean Terminal where the Crystal Symphony was docked. I got some good photos of the ship from the ferry. The Ocean Terminal adjoins Hong Kong's largest shopping mall, Harbor Place. Inside the mall, we saw a man holding a Crystal Cruises sign, and he said we could go ahead and board the ship. So, we took the Star Ferry back to the hotel, got our bags out of storage and took a taxi to the ship. It was a long ride through the tunnel, but still less than $25. There was no line and we were on the ship in five minutes. We couldn't get into the room until 3 pm, so we went to the dining room and enjoyed a leisurely lunch with a window view across the harbor at downtown Hong Kong. What a spectacular setting! The numbers of tall buildings in Hong Kong reminds me of New York, but there are so many more new ones in Hong Kong, and they all are plastered with the names of (mostly high-tech) businesses like Samsung or banks. One building even has AIG on it in big letters.
After lunch, we checked out the library and grabbed a couple of good books to read. Had a small world moment in the library. This woman came up to me and said she remembered me from the Silver Wind in January. She and her husband (from the UK) were also on that ship. Guess mom and I aren't the only ones who get around.
A little before 3 pm we went up to our nice cabin -- a penthouse stateroom on deck 10 -- 1056. It's similar to a regular verandah stateroom, but about 367 square feet versus 246 in a regular verandah cabin. Crystal's cabins are generally smaller than on other luxury ships, but the penthouse staterooms are very spacious. Our bags were all set up on the bed, so we went ahead and unpacked. Needless to say, after almost a week in the suitcases, a lot of the stuff was wrinkled. We had free pressing in the penthouse staterooms, but decided to just use the iron in the laundry room if the wrinkles didn't come out.
Our butler (Teodor -- or Teddy -- from Romania) introduced himself and told us that the ship was only about half full -- 450 passengers rather than the usual 900. I knew right away we would have terrific service! Interestingly, Crystal still had assigned tables, but only one dinner seating between 7 and 9 pm. We would have to coordinate with our table mates as to when we would dine.
Before dinner, we went up to the Palm Court Observation Lounge, and the views were spectacular. All the buildings across the harbor and behind us in Kowloon were lit up and amazing. It was so gorgeous, we decided to skip dinner and go up to the top deck of the ship to see the nightly Hong Kong light show at 8 pm. It's a laser and light show set to music that is visible from the harbor and Kowloon. The best views/sounds are from the Clock Tower on Kowloon, since the music is the best from that location, but it was perfect for us from the ship, although the Clock Tower was only about a block away from the Ocean Terminal. The tall buildings flash different colored lights and some have lasers that streak into the sky. Neither of us was hungry, and we also wanted to go to the welcome aboard show in the lounge at 9:30. So, we watched the light show from the deck. (note - our cabin was on the other side or we could have sat out on the balcony). Missing a meal didn't hurt either of us, and we had snacks in the room (along with our bottle of champagne) and with cocktails in Palm Court.
After the light show, we went back to the room and onto the lounge show. It was only 30 minutes long since we were sailing away at 10 pm. The sail away was terrific - I think everyone was out on the deck as we cruised out of the harbor on our way south to Vietnam. I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to Hong Kong than from the deck of a lovely ship like the Crystal Symphony. Next stop, Vietnam.