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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Sadly, we witnessed the effect of new ownership on this cruise line. After five positive experiences on the Symphony, 'economic pullbacks' took a toll on our most recent experience. Previous sailings included live string ... Read More
Sadly, we witnessed the effect of new ownership on this cruise line. After five positive experiences on the Symphony, 'economic pullbacks' took a toll on our most recent experience. Previous sailings included live string quartets at tea time. No more. Midnight chocolate festivals in the central lobby. No more. Ice sculptures. No more. Chocolates and fresh fruit bowls in the cabin. No more. Even jars of mixed nuts at the bar were downgraded to peanuts. Should we say something about the quality of tissues in the bathroom? For six days, we dealt with foul odors in our balcony cabin. The only solution management offered was a cheap-o humidifier. One was added in the hallway as well. BTW: we expressed our concerns to Crystal as soon as we got home. 4 weeks later they responded with an acknowledgement saying they would get back to us within a month. They never did. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would ... Read More
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would be right for us yet were still overwhelmed by how perfect everything was. Our embarkation and disembarkation were swift and guided by CC staff. We were delighted with our cabin. Some reviewers had mentioned the CS cabins were small but we thought it was spacious and we are not tiny people. The dining on board was simply exquisite. The standard of food served in the dining room and specialty restaurants was equal to the best I've experienced anywhere in the world. The buffet and bistro food was also impressive. We enjoyed the shows and the various musical ensembles. The few activities we attended were presented with enthusiasm and encouragement. We were very happy with our shore excursions. For us though the most memorable part of the cruise other than the fabulous places we visited and the new friends we made was the staff. We had heard anecdotally and read that CC staff are special but until you have experienced it first hand you have no idea. They were incredible. From the moment we arrived we felt it. Our names were quickly learned by the staff we saw frequently and we never passed a single employee without them saying hello. My desire for black tea at breakfast and dinner was remembered and delivered without request. My lovely waiter sneaking a dessert onto my plate when I had ordered fruit only, "just to try my lady". These are just a few examples. We so enjoyed our cruise we booked another whilst on board and are hoping friends will join us. We can't wait to get back on board! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and ... Read More
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and drinking. If you have trouble walking beware. They do not accommodate , at least they didn't for me. I ended up missing activities because I couldn't get from my room to the event. I had asked for a handicapped room, not available, then asked for a room close to the elevator, it didn't happen. Confirm which cabin you're getting and where it is located., even thou I paid for a balcony no effort was made to make it easier. If you go just walk slowly and eat a lot I was disappointed that no food or entertainment was related to the part of the world we were in. but the food was so wonderful that it wasn't a big deal. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My first cruise. What a great service. What a great food. This cruise line is the total relaxation experience. After three days you can sail on for months. The constant high quality of service, friendliness of all the staff plus the ... Read More
My first cruise. What a great service. What a great food. This cruise line is the total relaxation experience. After three days you can sail on for months. The constant high quality of service, friendliness of all the staff plus the excellent restaurants on board where a great pleasure. The all inclusive works fine for me, no checks to be signed no bills to think about. The other travelers where mostly from the U.S., friendly and easy to get along with. We had a midship cabin on deck 8 with balcony, sitting there watching the ocean was another pleasure I experienced for the first time. Ok, the cabin was small but in good condition, the stewardess did a first class job keeping it clean and tidy. Crystal Symphony is sailing the oceans since 20 years, for that age the ship is kept in good condition. She sails quiet and smooth, very little rolling and pitching. The entertainment program was a bit outdated for my taste, to much 90's sexiness and not the best dancers. We spoke to many other passengers and met quit a few that sailed on other cruise lines. Their verdict was clear: Crystal ist the best cruise line. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was the first time I have sailed with Crystal. I had certain expectations engendered by what I had been told by friends who have made a life cruising around the world, and which were not all negative. I arrived back home wishing I ... Read More
This was the first time I have sailed with Crystal. I had certain expectations engendered by what I had been told by friends who have made a life cruising around the world, and which were not all negative. I arrived back home wishing I could have stayed longer and as a frequent land-traveler I do not often say that. There is elegance in simplicity and, though the ship is not as technically modern as other ships, the Crystal Symphony certainly is elegant. Friends advised me to start with a smaller cabin and not a large one because, in their opinion, if I did I would be spoiled forever. I can only agree. I booked a smaller cabin and though I wasn’t in it for anything other than sleeping it was very pleasant. I had space left over after unpacking and, though I hate to admit it, I packed much more than I needed. I did get the opportunity to see one of the penthouse suites and I am thankful to my friends for their advice – had I booked one of those I would not have wanted to leave the ship and that would have been a shame. I suffer from motion sickness and expected to become ill but the location of the cabin, mid-ship and between two decks with other cabins in them, prevented me from it, even on one particular night when I could feel the faint swaying of the ship. The feature I liked most about the Symphony was its staff and crew. From first setting foot on board to disembarking I was lavished with friendly attention and service. From the staff taking care of me out by the pool to the staff serving at Prego they were all so pleasant. I loved Prego as much for the gentlemen who had me laughing as for its food. The food was wonderful and living in a city known for its world-class cuisine that is saying something. I am sure, though, that had it not been so I would have enjoyed dining just because of the staff. One of the little things that have made me love Crystal is the staff at Prego moving my table so that I could watch the sunset. I was advised not to miss it and had it not been for them I would have. An unnecessary aside: they looked very smart in their white jackets. The entertainers were very talented, from the orchestra members to the pianists at the evening venues. Not only were they technically skilled but also warm and friendly when not performing, which is not always the case. One of the piano players had me laughing non-stop on more than one night after they finished their set. The venues were varied, from classical pianists to a performance from the Broadway musical Chicago. The range can appeal to people with varied interests and is at the very least technically good. The ports we visited were fascinating, and another little thing I would like to mention refers to what occurred at Santorini. The shore excursions looked to be cancelled due to the high winds which prevented the passengers from disembarking on the tenders and using the cable car. I expected the ship to depart early but instead the Symphony used the engines to stay in position until we could get on land. As you cannot anchor in Santorini I liked the fact that the captain stayed using up fuel until we could get on shore. The site of Akrotiri on Santorini is impressive and our guide was very knowledgeable. I can say the same about Delos on Mykonos. I can say it for every excursion I was able to join. I have very few criticisms and I have to label them as that because there is no other word milder than it. One was waiting for the transfer to the ship from the hotel in Athens. The time given for departure turned out to be 1.5 hours later than what was originally given, time I could have used to visit in Athens instead of waiting at the hotel for the shuttle. On the ship itself I was annoyed by the fact that I could not hear announcements when in the stateroom. I am sure I missed some though they must not have been important as the trip went well nevertheless. I also would wish to have the films played in the Hollywood Theater more often than they were, but seeing as the ports of call were too wonderful to miss visiting this is negligible. The itinerary was very interesting, and getting to visit ports not often on itineraries was fabulous. The staff is wonderful and the entertainment and dining were great. All in all it was a lovely experience and I am looking forward to traveling with Crystal once again. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to ... Read More
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to try Crystal. My wife and I are in our mid forties and are addicted to cruising. I've completed over 70 cruises on all lines ranging from budget to very luxurious. I started cruising at age 13. With age, as our taste and budge changed we have particularly found Oceania and Regent cruises to best suit us. This review is by no means a comparison of lines. The reason we have found Oceania and Regent to be so desirable is their commitment to quality ships, service, food and entertainment. Most importantly, when we sail on these lines we always feel special. We have for the most part abandoned mass market cruising unless if for a group or special event. I did have some trepidation about trying Crystal as I had heard it is "old school", "formal" and "stuffy". Although old school might have been appealing we certainly don't care for venues which are formal, stuffy or even pretentious. Additionally, my family always dresses well, but the idea of having to put on a tuxedo on a vacation seems ridiculous to me. Unless I'm going to a black tie wedding or the Academy Awards I don't see the purpose of a tuxedo on vacation. Well - Crystal debunked any myths of ill fated pre-conceived notions and grossly exceeded our expectations in every area. We found Crystal to be perhaps our favorite cruise line and cannot imaging how our experience could have been better - unless I really wanted to nitpick which would be ridiculous, but I will do it anyway because otherwise this review will seem too perfect. The ship is certainly older and as such the staterooms and suites are smaller than the competition's new builds and a bit aged, but extremely well done. The only other little detail I would suggest is one which would improve the lunch experience at the Trident Grill. The Trident Grill can get backed up during peak hours with lines and wait times. A solution would be to take passengers orders and have tables labeled with numbers which would go on the order and then the food could be delivered when ready allowing passengers to sit comfortably instead of stand waiting for their food. This would prevent the bottleneck that happens during peak hours and works well on lines such as Oceania and Regent. The fact that I have no other critical comments or suggestions is remarkable and kudos to Crystal! FELLOW PASSENGERS: Fellow passengers hailed from all over the world and many age ranges and situations were represented from solo travelers to couples, families, and friends traveling together. The age range of passengers was all over the map. One thing was apparent - Crystal seems to appeal to and attract fun loving people who are young at heart. Passengers were well traveled and seemed to all have a strong preference for uber luxury in a comfortable atmosphere. Many passengers are repeat Crystal loyalists who expressed they would never dream of trying a different line. As mentioned we traveled with my 16 year old daughter who was the only teenager on board. We traveled with her so we could all spend time together and she did not miss having other teens on board. There were a few very well behaved toddlers on board. STAFF: One significant area where Crystal stands out is with it's staff. A happy ship equals a happy trip. In all of my travels I have never experienced a more warm, passionate, friendly and genuinely sincere crew eager to please the passengers. From the time of embarkation we immediately felt welcomed on board as if we were visiting family. Remarkably - and almost immediately - the staff addresses passengers by their names and remembers even their little desires. I cannot reduce to words how incredible the crew of the Crystal Symphony are. AMBIANCE: From the moment you embark on Crystal Symphony you sense something special. An ambience which is very classy, upscale, yet comfortable like your local country club. The fellow passengers and crew interact like old friends - and in fact many passengers and crew have become old friends over the years and passenger loyalty is apparent as is that of the crew. Many crew members have been with Crystal since the beginning. My family found there was nothing stuffy or pretentious about Crystal. In fact, just the opposite. I think being a luxury line and attracting passengers who appreciate such an experience breeds a natural comfort level which creates an environment of warmth and community which feels familiar to that which the guests are accustomed. The ambiance reminds me a lot of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, but the overall experience Trumps both chains many times over. I've never experienced service at any luxury hotel that exceeds that received on Crystal. DINING: Dining for us on board Crystal Symphony was old school. We had a 830pm dining time. It's been years since we've had fixed dining and we LOVED IT! We truly enjoyed getting to know our waiter, busboy, head waiter and maître d'. Every dinner was excellent with service to match. Preferences were quickly learned on the first evening and remembered. Our waiter asked us on the first night how we liked our dining experience to be paced and kept it constant throughout. He wanted to know if we wanted to enjoy slow two hour dinners with time between courses or whether he should move things along. Our preference was to move things along - as we like to make it to the shows - he did a perfect job. Quality and presentation of the food was on par even with Michelin 1 and 2 star restaurants in my opinion. We enjoyed Silk Road and Prego as well. Silk Road was excellent, but being frequent patrons of Nobu in Los Angeles found the atmosphere not to be typical of a Nobu and although the sushi was fresh it did not seem quite on par with the land based experience. Nonetheless, I would still rate Silk Road as excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: I could go on for pages about the entertainment. My entertainment expectations were no expectations. After all how could a small line with only 2 cruise ships provide any type of jaw dropping entertainment. Wow! Was I wrong. I'm quite critical when it comes to entertainment and have been fortunate to experience the best entertainment Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Broadway has to offer. Every show we saw on board was outstanding! The singers and dancers were extremely talented and major production shows being very well produced and captivating. The production shows were complimented by the Crystal orchestra. Guest entertainers and ballroom dancers were amazing. One of the most pleasant surprises was Mark Farris who lit up the piano bar every evening with his brilliant talent, wit and ability to engage the audience. Lastly, but certainly not our cruise director Paul McFarland is the best we have ever experienced. He truly set the tone for the whole cruise experience. CABINS & SHIP IN GENERAL: Despite the age of the ship and not having some of the glitz and glamour of newer vessels - Crystal Symphony is perfect! She is a comfortable and contemporary ship that that has been updated for the times with a timeless elegance. Her size and passenger capacity is just perfect. We never felt like the ship was crowded. No significant wear and tear in any area was recognized. Our accommodations were in a Penthouse Suite which was very comfortable and of adequate size with excellent design and décor. However, don't expect to compare the staterooms on board Crystal Symphony with new builds like the Regent Seven Seas Explorer where the entry level suites (the ship is all suites) are larger than the Crystal Penthouse Suites. I saw cabins in other categories and despite being small are very well appointed. The cabin sizes would not impact my decision to consider another Crystal cruise. Public rooms are comfortable and flow between areas is excellent. Of note, upon arrival in our cabin and unpacking my daughter's feet became soaked when entering the walk in closet. Apparently, a clean water pipe from the level above had leaked. Within minutes the Chief Housekeeper arrived on scene and workers were ripping up the ceiling to repair the leak and drying up and shampooing the affected carpeting. Several other repairs were required during the cruise on this pipe and were done when we were not in our stateroom. The day of embarkation we were offered to immediately have our stateroom moved and to have the staff pack up all of our things. We declined as the problem was a fixable one. Later in the cruise we received a bouquet of flowers with a note thanking us for our cooperation and apologizing for any inconvenience. Class act Crystal! PORTS: This was a fabulous week of Greek island ports with embarkation and disembarkation being the port of Athens. Originally, the cruise was supposed to conclude in Istanbul, Turkey, but the itinerary was changed due to safety concerns. The itinerary was port intensive, but fabulous nonetheless. Some ports were repeats for us and some were new. What a pleasant surprise Naphlion and Hydra were. CONCLUSION: Crystal has earned our loyalty and business perhaps as our new favorite cruise line and we look forward to continuing cruising on Crystal for years to come. Apparently, Crystal is arranging for 3 new build cruise ships. I imagine Crystal's ambitious and innovative CEO Edie Rodriguez will continue to have her finger on the pulse and incorporate more relevant and modern features on the new ships that were not typically the standard of luxury cruising when Crystal Symphony was launched in 1995. The bottom line is that Crystal Symphony is a 21 year old ship that has wowed us like no other! I can only imagine combining the food, service and Crystal standards applied to new build cruise ships. I'm certain that when the new ships launch any question of competition will be drowned. There will be no competition. Even now, despite a number of cruise lines being marketed in the luxury catergory - Crystal is in a class of its own. Thank you Crystal! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Great first time experience on Crystal...won't be the last. The itinerary was fabulous. Disappointed we lost a sea day with the change in itinerary, but Crystal did a great job. Wish we had more time to experience the ... Read More
Great first time experience on Crystal...won't be the last. The itinerary was fabulous. Disappointed we lost a sea day with the change in itinerary, but Crystal did a great job. Wish we had more time to experience the activities on the ship. Loved going to the islands in Greece that were not typical of Greek Island cruises. The people we encountered couldn't have been nicer or more appreciative. Each island was unique in what it had to offer. Enjoyed the interesting variety of passengers and also the loyalty of the crew. It's obvious they are well treated or they wouldn't be on the same ship for 7-10 years. Would have liked to have more info. and better communication about each port we were to visit. There was nobody from the ship present when we got to Mykonos to give maps, etc. had to go to the concierge to inquire about average prices for taxis, funicular, etc. Food was good. Did not like self service on the upstairs deck. Prefer to see staff serve food rather than to help yourself. Some passengers are not as diligent about using serving utensils, etc. Would like to see "Anytime" dining as opposed to set times. 6:00 is too early and 8:30 is too late. Never found out how to do dining by reservation. Very difficult to speak to Crystal on the phone. Everything needs to be handled by the travel agent. Would definitely cruise with them again and looking forward to the expansion of the company . Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are ... Read More
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are great, but staterooms are a bit small vs the Serenity. We might eventually try another cruise line, but it will be hard to beat the only cruise line named a top pick for 20 consecutive yrs by the readers of Conde Nash and members of Cruise Critic. The reasons are impossible to list as they are so many and they can be so personal in choice. With a doubt, the food is beyond compare for a ship feeding just under 1000 passengers. The Main Dining Room is our favorite place for lunch if we are back early enough from our excursions and we love both the food and the people we have met at dinners there. Breakfast on early excursion days means we eat at the Lido Restaurant, which serves an amazing buffet of virtually everything. Of course they also serve a terrific and very varied lunch buffet. And there's also the Trident Grill for those days when you want to hang around the pool/spa and enjoy a fantastic burger, tasty hotdog, excellent fries, etc. Their menu includes salads too. And right after lunch, you have the opportunity for sweet desserts like ice cream ( Ben & Jerry's) or soft serve. Did I mention there's a bar too? When you disembark, it takes but a few hours before you realize just how much you miss the 24/7 pampering. Decompression after Crystal takes us about a week! Read Less
Crystal Symphony Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 4.5 4.3
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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