Photo dispatch, Crystal Serenity: Arrival

 Rebecca TobinBefore Travel Weekly's Rebecca Tobin left for a weeklong Rome-to-Venice cruise on the Crystal Serenity she downloaded the line's free "Storyteller" app. It enables users to customize iPhone photos with Instagram-style filters and frames and captions and share them via Facebook (either on personal pages or on Crystal's "Never Ending Journal" page) or email, or create an actual postcard using a third-party program. Needless to say, Tobin became hooked on the Storyteller app. Here she shares "photo dispatches" based on some of the photos she took and converted to Storyteller images.  

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The cruise started in Rome. We flew in early to spend two days in the Eternal City which, as anyone will tell you, is not nearly the fraction of the time one needs to explore. The two must-dos of our visit were the Colosseum and the Vatican Museum. At the Colosseum we missed our skip-the-line Viator tour by minutes and had to wait on a long line for tickets to enter the structure -- the weather in Rome in August is of course hot, so we paid for our tardiness more than once.  But we did eventually tour the Colosseum -- amazing -- and part of the Forum. I shot this classic photo as we were stumbling back to the Il Vittoriano monument, exhausted and jetlagged, and I didn't realize how sharp it was until we got home.

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The Crystal Serenity didn't leave Civitavecchia until 9 p.m., so we had plenty of time to get from Rome to the ship; it took us about 90 minutes. I delayed a decision about a transfer and ended up having the staff of the Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto call for a cab (the fare was 140 euro). The good news was that when we arrived around 7 p.m., in plenty of time for the muster drill, we were the lone passengers at check-in, and we breezed onto the ship. This crewmember directed us to our cabin and, very seriously, took charge of our toddler's carry-on. This was our first taste of Crystal's service standards -- as well as the beginning of a seven-day love affair between our daughter and the Serenity's crew.

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