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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service ... Read More
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service in the Marketplace and Waterside remains good. We were always seated promptly at the Waterside. The food overall in the Waterside and the specialty restaurants was uniformly good. The entertainment was excellent and there was a good variety of entertainers with a combo of performers brought onto the ship and the on ship entertainment staff. The enrichment lecturers (3) were uniformly good speakers with interesting well organized presentations. We were traveling as a family and there were other multigenerational families on board. There was a smattering of younger couples. The ports were good although I do wish there was 2 days in Lisbon rather than 1. The Crystal excursions had excellent local tour guides and were well organized. We were on deck 8 midship with a verandah. The cabin is adequate in size with plenty of closet and draw space with a well appointed bathroom. The upgraded TV and entertainment system is an improvement. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and will travel on Crystal again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the Crystal and were finally able to get them to come with us only to find it was not as good as it used to be. The lunch buffet was so bad that we just gave up after a couple of days. We tried the dining room which turned out to be even worse The specialty restaurants were fabulous. The food, staff and atmosphere were exemplary. The ship did not appear to be as clean as it used to be. Our suite which had been refurbished seemed smaller due to the new configuration but the shower was incredibly worth the extra money.The toiletries were horrible, with artificial scent which I am highly allergic to. Entertainment was excellent. However, the casino rules were disgusting and no wonder it was always empty. Lastly - to have 6 ports on a 7 day cruise on the West Coast was a total loss. Aside from San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas (which was not on the itinerary) are the only 2 safe and exciting places to stop at. Most passengers complained they did not enjoy the quiet ocean experience when the ship is at sea. Crystal needs to recognize that plus the savings on Port Charges could benefit the pricing for passengers. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This cruise was chosen for a family trip by my parents who are big fans of Crystal. They had a larger stateroom with a butler and we had more basic accommodations. It actually worked out well because their room became the default hang out ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for a family trip by my parents who are big fans of Crystal. They had a larger stateroom with a butler and we had more basic accommodations. It actually worked out well because their room became the default hang out space for afternoon canapés and card games. It was a budget friendly way to give everyone a private space to see each other. Our cabin and veranda were well sized and the ships menu was spectacular. There were always good food options available and the crew/staff were excellent. I would highly recommend this cruise line for those who enjoy an upscale experience. Be sure to bring your crystal casual wardrobe because you’ll stick out if you’re too casual! The dining room is a classy experience where the food was above and beyond what I expected. The quality and complexity of each dish was fantastic and there were always multiple things on the menu that looked and proved to be delicious. Portions are small, but that goes with the delicate nature of fine dining. There were three other restaurants available on the ship as well: Prego, Silk and Churrascaria. Our family favorite was Churrascaria which is a Brazilian bbq type place. The lamb there was excellent and we came back twice! Do avoid the signature Brazilian cocktail... too sweet. The excursions were fine and organized. There weren’t many adrenaline filled things to do, but that also goes along with the Crystal age range and interest levels. The ports had options which were more exciting and with planning the excursions for your group can figure out a fun plan. The pool experience was also pleasant because there was a great deal of space. We never felt like we were fighting for a good place to sit by the pool and drink service was good. The all inclusive drink package which comes with Crystal was really pleasing to the entire family. Scotch and bourbon for the guys (Johnny Walker Black and Knob Creek, Crispin Cider and Coke for the ladies). New drinks were always offered as well in case we wanted to try something new which was fun. I would highly recommend this as a high end cruise trip to any group. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in the people business myself and Crystal knows how to treat their guests. The food was second to none and it didn't matter if you ate in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant. The rooms had everything you could want and if you needed anything it was provided. Crystal has gained a new member for life. Thank you for a great memory for my son and I on my 60th birthday cruise. The shore excursions were well planned and had great guides. I loved the enrichment lectures which proved great topics for our times as well as well educated lecturers. Room service was a real treat and once you called your items were delivered in under ten minutes. I can't wait to sail again on another Crystal cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We have cruised Crystal on 4 other occasions and enjoyed each one immensely. This was no exception. We had our daughter and her husband with us this time, and it was fun to see the experience through their eyes. Our departure from ... Read More
We have cruised Crystal on 4 other occasions and enjoyed each one immensely. This was no exception. We had our daughter and her husband with us this time, and it was fun to see the experience through their eyes. Our departure from Vancouver was very smooth and we were in our rooms by 2pm. We chose to sit at a table for 4 every night and just enjoy each other's company. The main dining room was our favorite place, although we did go to Umi Uma, which was good and Prego, which was very good. Service was impeccable throughout the cruise but we especially enjoyed our waiters in the Waterside (main dining room). They were cheerful, funny and extremely competent. Our head waiter, Andres, went out of his way to provide a special dessert request one night. Although I did not use the spa services, my daughter had a pedicure and she raved about the lovely woman that did her nails. There were a few more children on this cruise than usual, around 12 or so, but they were well behaved and rarely heard. Note to cruisers that are considering Crystal: if you have never experienced an all inclusive cruise, you should not think twice. It is worth every penny. This ship is never crowded, almost no lines or long waits for anything. Internet is great in most locations. Staff and crew are superb. Food is outstanding. Wines served with dinner are very good and top shelf liquor is included in your fare. Embarkation and debarkation are smooth. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
If you enjoy First Class Service and Going to the Club to be pampered, this is the cruise for you. We are younger and had our 16 yr old daughter with us, so we did not fit the normal clientele, but that was just fine. ... Read More
If you enjoy First Class Service and Going to the Club to be pampered, this is the cruise for you. We are younger and had our 16 yr old daughter with us, so we did not fit the normal clientele, but that was just fine. Embarkation/Disembarkation where so smooth, we got on and off according to posted schedule with no delays. We stayed in room 9018 which is a smaller room, but the beds where comfortable, including the pull-out couch. First Class room amenities and if you need anything additional, just ask and it was provided. Stocked fridge was nice, Shower was great, balcony was large enough for the 3 of us. Specialty dining was Five Star, we did all 3 Specialty venues (Silk Rose, Prego and Tastes) and went back to the Sushi bar for an additional night. (I recommend getting there before they open because Sushi bar is first come first serve) Our experience in the main dining room for 3 nights was just OK, the food was Excellent, but the service was lacking, we are not wine drinkers, so they showed little interest in even taking a drink order, one night, we got our appetizer before getting a drink...seemed like they catered to the larger "Clubby" tables and did not think much about the little family. The excursions went as planned, but nothing first class about these island excursions, but the price was great and we got what we expected. We spent most of our time on the pool deck at a shaded table playing games or shaded couch/chair relaxing. Pool deck Staff is the best, always eager to satisfy your drink and comfort needs. Tastes, Trident Grill, Ice Cream Stand and the Buffet are all just steps away from the pool for easy dining throughout the morning and daytime. We went to the shows every night, Billy Joel and the Ventriloquist were our favorites. Don't expect Broadway or Disney quality, but they were fun. Casino was nice, and i was surprised to see the $5 Craps, Blackjack, Roulette and other table games. (I was expecting $25 minimums) The Lobby Bar is elegant and has a great drink menu, afternoon and evening. Even thou the crowd was older, it was so easy to just sit down anywhere and meet someone, everyone was so nice. *****Five Stars***** Pool Deck Staff Cabin Stewardess (Linda) Specialty Dining Venues Ice Cream Man Pizza Man Serenity Staff for great Communications throughout the Cruise Had internet and phone service most of 24 hours a day Clean Ship with Great Venues I know they say tips are included, but they go above and beyond.....PLEASE DON'T BE CHEAP and TIP ACCORDINGLY. (They have a "Crew Fund" you can tip to, just go to guest services) Thanks to our Crystal Travel Agent Marian for some on-board credits and great service. My wife and I will cruise Crystal in the future when our daughter is gone to college. Thanks again Crystal Serenity Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This was our fifth cruise with Crystal and it was wonderful. At first we were a bit wary because Thanksgiving week means families and although there were many aboard, we never encountered an unruly or bratty child the whole time. The only ... Read More
This was our fifth cruise with Crystal and it was wonderful. At first we were a bit wary because Thanksgiving week means families and although there were many aboard, we never encountered an unruly or bratty child the whole time. The only way to explain the Serenity is impeccable service, delicious food, clean ship and wonderful entertainment. The Serenity is the whole deal & once you sail her, you'll keep coming back. Two waitstaff remembered our names from 3 years ago when we had last sailed. That shocked me!!! Our cabin steward was Tatjana and she was okay. I'm pretty sure she was fairly new because she forgot to replenish and some other minor things but when I reminded her, it was there right away. She covered herself by saying, "If there's anything you need, just ask." I requested goose down pillows that were so soft, when my head hit them, my face disappeared!!! The linens were very soft & luxurious as well. The entertainment was very good: one night with James Fox's homage to Billy Joel, a wonderful Broadway singer named Rachel York, the Serenity dancers and of course, Gary, the social director and ventriloquist/comedian who was hysterically funny yet clean. The gym had plenty of machines and they offered spin classes, abs and all kinds of different options to work off those delicious desserts. You could also get individual training sessions. I found the people in the SPA to be very pushy. They were always trying to close a sale. I asked someone for a price on body wash, and she wanted my room number. I said, "Why do you need my room number just to give me a price? Just tell me the price." I'd say when dealing with them, proceed with caution and make sure you know exactly what you're being charged up front. Don't give them any information unless you're buying. The SWANK app for movies did not work on cellphone or I-pads while we were on board. I went to the computer room & they said it was a problem with the vendor. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to have a laptop. The Serenity library was fully supplied with bestsellers and very recent books. Awesome! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go ... Read More
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go on a shore trip they MUST take the kids with them - Noting that a number of the shore trips are not for children - 2. The only compromise is to have a staff member - not trained in child care are not having any basic emergency medical training baby sit them in your room. That's not to the same standards as kids club as they staff member could be any volunteer - 3. The Internet on board continually dropped out for a lot of the day, while my 4G/3G Modem to Norway telco was providing 50 - 100 Mb/s from the room - for all the trip other than a 8 hour ocean trip from Norway to Scotland. When I pointed out this to the IT staff they said that Satellite was the only way they could provide the service. In addition that noted that Internet complaints where the largest item of complaint. 4. Children leaving the vessel can be marked for checking that they have a parent with them. However, every time we left the ship our child ran ahead and was never stopped.. There identification system rang a bell and they then turned it off at no stage stopping the child I pointed out the kids club issue during the trip to the Director of Services and they advised that its company policy and there is no flexibility I showed the engineering and IT staff the speed I had with 3g/4G while at sea and was advised that they have 32 Mb/s to the satellite and that it ...When they loose the Satellite they have a backup but on trip to far northern latitudes they will continually have a problem. this was not a good family experience. I have rated below ignoring tese issues Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was ... Read More
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was really wonderful. We knew the Symphony was going in for major remodeling a few weeks after our cruise, but the ship was still in great shape, and the staff and service were incredible. Our only complaint was the limited wifi, but this will be rectified in the rejuvenation of the ship which will greatly boost the wifi and turn the ship into a 24/7 free wifi inclusion. We would highly recommend Crystal and this ship. The ports on the Baltic were fabulous and we loved every Crystal excursion. Cannot adequately rave about this trip. it was our first cruise and we feel like we started at the top. Tip, we dined lavishly at every opportunity, but took the stairs everywhere and walked a lot on the shore excursions, and used the workout room, and we both actually lost weight on a cruise. Oh, which reminds me, my wife and son has some food allergies and needed gluten-free meals and almond milk and such, and Crystal was very accommodating and provided the tastiest meals and treats imaginable. And their sugar-free desserts were out of this world as well. Incredible! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This was my 7th Crystal Cruise. We normally book Penthouse cabins on the Crystal Serenity so the Symphony, with its older staterooms, was a bit of a let down. Service was very good, as usual. Food was not as good as it usually is. There ... Read More
This was my 7th Crystal Cruise. We normally book Penthouse cabins on the Crystal Serenity so the Symphony, with its older staterooms, was a bit of a let down. Service was very good, as usual. Food was not as good as it usually is. There was more than one meal where neither my father nor I ate more than two bites of our entrees. Thank goodness for Penthouse room service from the specialty restaurants (Prego and Silk Road) or we'd gone hungry. I'd like to try other cruise lines but my dad prefers Crystal. The biggest disappointment had to do one of the excursions. For convenience, we book most of our excursions through Crystal, understanding that we pay a premium for the convenience and peace of mind. Typically a 3-4 hour tour costs $69-99 per person which I think is fair. We like active tours so we booked a very interesting and fun Me-Mover excursion in Copenhagen.It's an unusual tour, sort of like a bicycle powered by a stair master. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. The next day, we happened to walk by the tour operator's storefront again and asked the proprietor much they charge for the 3 hour tour we had just taken. He told us it costs 300 DKK which is about US $46. I was floored. Crystal had charged us $229 each. Even if you add in an extra $50/person for the 10 min shuttle ride to the bike shop where we began our tour, we felt gouged. I'd sure like to know how they justified that price. Needless to say, I won't blindly book my excursions via Crystal ever again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Chose this sailing for an interesting itinerary and read many rave reviews about Crystal. Have previously sailed Silversea and The World Ship so I am very familiar with the luxury category. Crystal just did not measure up. But first, the ... Read More
Chose this sailing for an interesting itinerary and read many rave reviews about Crystal. Have previously sailed Silversea and The World Ship so I am very familiar with the luxury category. Crystal just did not measure up. But first, the positives...the maitre d' in the MDR was excellent and solved a sticky seating issue for us and the ship was spotless. The specialty restaurants were very good and a nice change from the MDR. I had an excellent massage in the spa and the gym seemed to be big enough for the size of the ship and it had good equipment. Entertainment was also good and I appreciated the self service laundry rooms. We took 2 ship excursions that were well organized with very good guides. Among the disappointments...standard balcony cabin was tiny with the tiny slippery leather sofa being so uncomfortable we couldn't use it at all so we took turns sitting on the chair. The ship constantly vibrated and swayed - even in port! No one bothered to learn our names...we were M'amsir to most of the staff. Food was inconsistent being excellent sometimes and very much hotel banquet-like at other times. The included wines were also a very mixed bag with only a very few being drinkable. Service in the dining room was also spotty being great one night and terrible the next. The Lido is not a luxury experience at all...chaos reigned as we had to repeatedly ask for coffee some days and 3 different people would repeatedly offer coffee the next! We found hair on the buffet food more than once. Breakfast in the MDR was the worst service of all as we again had to ask for coffee repeatedly and plates were removed while we were still eating! Room service was just plopped down still on the tray right onto our tiny table. On Silversea the waiter would bring a tablecloth and set the table, flowers included! We came away feeling the company over-promised and under-delivered and is closer to a mass product than the true luxury experience advertised. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Beautiful ship. The rooms were just fine. Great entertainment. The song and dance troupe did a fabulous job. Terrific enrichment and seminar programs. Food was quite good, as well. The passengers were more lively than I had expected. I ... Read More
Beautiful ship. The rooms were just fine. Great entertainment. The song and dance troupe did a fabulous job. Terrific enrichment and seminar programs. Food was quite good, as well. The passengers were more lively than I had expected. I thought it would be a bit of a stuffy atmosphere. I was wrong. The itinerary was more than forgettable: Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize, Key West and two days at sea. Costa Maya, sans excursion, must have had 75 tee shirt shops. The included one hour daily of wifi was welcomed, as well as the online PressReader which offered a free selection of magazines (how about the NYT and Wall St. Journal). However, the service just seemed to fall flat too often for a cruise line of this stature. Thus a loss of one rating level. Just my opinion. I'm far from a demanding individual, but did notice that the service level was better on another cruise line (Oceania). Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We just returned from a 7 night cruise in the Adriatic on the Esprit embarking in Dubrovnik and ending in Venice. We loved the boat and the itinerary. Here are the details: Ship: The ship has 5 decks -- marina on 1; entry to the ship ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 night cruise in the Adriatic on the Esprit embarking in Dubrovnik and ending in Venice. We loved the boat and the itinerary. Here are the details: Ship: The ship has 5 decks -- marina on 1; entry to the ship and cabins on 2; cabins on 3; lounge/bar and two restaurants on 4; lounge/bar, restaurant and pool on outdoor deck 5. The public spaces are very well designed to accommodate everyone on-board with room to spare. We never felt crowded and were always able to sit where we wanted. Public spaces provided the ability to mingle with the crowd -- which was typically part of the routine during before-dinner and after dinner cocktails -- or find a secluded nook. The main dining room can even fit all passengers at one time for dinner. The decor is plush and elegant, and the seating inviting -- velvet padded couches and chairs on 4, and large wicker chairs and loungers on 5. Colors are a nice mix of neutrals and blues -- very relaxing and soothing. Dining room tables can be configured to seat couples, foursomes or larger groups. There are no elevators, but only 13 indoor shallow and wide stairs between each of the decks 2 and 3, and 3 and 4. Up to deck 5 requires an outside passage up a winding stair. Stairs didn't seem to cause any problems (even for those in their 80s). But the ports visited require a lot more climbing than the ship, so those with mobility issues should think twice about this cruise. For most of the cruise, the boat remained in protected waters (between islands and mainland) and we never felt movement other than the slightest rocking one night during a storm. Service: With a passenger to staff ratio of about 80 to 60, the service was fantastic. I never waited for a drink refill, to order food, or to get a question answered. The staff was over the top nice and accommodating (even getting a ride for guests to an evening event when none was scheduled). Dining: The highlight of the evening was always cocktail hour outside or inside (with a specialty drink each night) followed by dinner in the main dining room with specialty wine selections available and multiple options for each of the 4 courses (or more or fewer if you wanted) and dessert. Portions were such that you could actually eat 4 courses + dessert, although most people seemed to eat 3 + dessert. The chefs get high marks for plating, creativity and just plain tastiness. Breakfast was cold buffet with a few hot options; lunch was cold buffet/salads on deck 4 and a great grill (burgers, pizza, etc) on deck 5. We loved lunch on breezy deck 5 -- a few times we scurried back from a tour just in time for 2pm lunch and then some free time before dinner. Entertainment and activities: If there is a weak spot on this boat/itinerary, this is it. There was one singer each night for the after dinner entertainment, and while she played lots of favorites and on some nights did a heroic job of getting people up to dance and sing along, the variety was simply lacking. An improvement would be to have some alternatives provided -- for those on the 2 week itinerary, I think the same entertainment for 14 nights is a bit much. While the water sport activities should have been a highlight, since the boat is stocked with water toys, they were very limited. Only one port allowed jet skis and we were on a tour that day. Most of the Adriatic ports we visited didn't allow any water sports (even paddleboarding). People: On our cruise there were mostly couples and groups of four (families or friends). There were also two groups of six. All adults. This is not a boat for children -- the food, entertainment and tours are not child friendly. Ages ranged from 20s to 80s, with most people probably 40s to 60s. Majority of passengers were from the US, but there were also people from Europe, Mexico, Canada and Brazil. People were friendly and fun loving -- most participated in the sing alongs with the piano player at night -- but were there mostly for the boat and their own group, so it was a nice mix of mingling with others but having plenty of time to spend with your chosen companions. Ports: In each port there were 2 free tours (one adventure type like rafting and one more about seeing the sights), and there were other longer tours that had additional costs. At least 1/2 our boat took the free tours each day which typically lasted from 9-2. Tours were split into smaller groups of 10-12 people per guide. The longer costlier tours had only 4-8 people on them. We docked in each location except for Piran (where we were on anchor) which allowed us to go in an out everywhere except Venice which is somewhat difficult to access from the boat. Dubrovnik: I would recommend staying 2 nights before getting on the cruise -- lots to do there and beautiful -- walk the walls! Kotor: get up early and watch the boat sail into this incredible bay surrounded by cliffs; we took the complementary tour which hit the highlights and got us back for 2pm lunch. Split: complementary tour which was great -- had no idea Split would be so special with medieval buildings and Roman walls and foundation. Really stunning city. Zadar: We took a long tour to Plitvice Park. Gorgeous park with clear green water and waterfalls everywhere and lots of climing to see them all. Haven't seen scenery like this before. But only go if weather is promising (rainy would be bad). Opatija: Took the tour to the Hill Towns of Istria. This was really a highlight -- saw 3 little towns in a Tuscan-like setting. Drank wine and ate truffle pasta. Wandered through narrow streets with few tourists. Great tour. Piran: We took the longer tour to Lake Bled. Absolutely beautiful scenery in one direction (unfortunate tourist town on one edge of the lake) but a 2 hour drive to get there, so a hard call on whether to recommend this one. Piran itself is a cute port and the only tender port on the itinerary. If you want a free day and the weather is nice, take this day as your free day. Jet skis are available, and you can spend some time in the water and then go into Piran and wander a bit. Venice: complementary tour went on walk through Venice and Doge's Palace (did not actually go into St Mark's Basilica although that's how tour was billed). Nice tour, but skip if you've been to Venice before. All in all, lovely boat, wonderful staff, great ports, fine dining, luxury accommodations, and (at least on our trip) truly warm and friendly passengers. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I just returned from the Grand Britannia cruise with my mom, sister and daughter. We had adjoining staterooms. Here are my thoughts: The good: Overall food quality was very good in all venues. We loved Prego and Silk Road, liked the ... Read More
I just returned from the Grand Britannia cruise with my mom, sister and daughter. We had adjoining staterooms. Here are my thoughts: The good: Overall food quality was very good in all venues. We loved Prego and Silk Road, liked the MDR, liked Lido, and liked Trident. We got room service breakfast several times and that was also good. And we had WONDERFUL service in the MDR and in Prego, very fun, warm, and caring servers (Nikola and Stanko in the MDR). We also loved the Avenue Bar and their bartenders. We liked the overall itinerary as well, circling the UK. The bad: I am in the camp of those who feel the veranda staterooms are cramped and very worn. The "couch" was stained, the carpet coming up by the veranda door, the chair ripped, the throw pillows disgusting, and the design of the lights in the headboard absurd when the beds are twinned. The veranda was dirty and sticky (they cleaned it our last day). The cabins were also not wonderfully cleaned, with extraneous hair and an old shampoo bottle greeting us at the start. Not fun. Crystal's website is also horribly designed and primitive, with very unreliable functionality on mobile. Hello, 20th century UI! 1995 called and they want their systems back. The ugly: Five things really made me dislike this cruise. First, the ports used by Crystal for London, Dublin, and Edinburgh really made any kind of immersive experience in those cities impossible to achieve, given the horrible shuttles employed. I sat on the Edinburgh shuttle for over an hour and a half one day, and only part of that was due to traffic. Even more fun, I sat on a bus for the final day's shore excursion (and there were only FOUR choices on that day) for more than FIVE HOURS due to traffic from the stupid location Crystal used. Even Dublin was disappointing as no shuttles ran after 8 PM so it was difficult to stay late in the city. The combination of horrible docking locations and abysmal shuttle services really cut into my enjoyment of the cruise. Second, I made spa appointments very early on for all of us, but the experience I had in the spa is the worst I've ever had in a spa due to cleanliness. There's only one bathroom in the changing room. When I entered, it was full of diarrhea and blood, completely disgusting and very smelly. Bloody toilet paper was in the trash can. All the other trash cans were overflowing as well, and cast-off robes and slippers were on the bench. I brought this to the attention of my provider and they were going to clean it up, but when I finished my service (also really disappointing because the massage table was ancient and could not be adjusted for the proper angle for my neck) things had been only slightly cleaned (the smell still lingered). I took a shower and there were HUGE clumps of hair in the one shower where the tap worked. UGH. If you're going to have a spa with prices like this and a tiny changing room, you MUST keep it FLAWLESSLY clean. Otherwise, yuck, yuck, yuck. Third, I am mid-fifties and I like technology. The internet connection available on this cruise was AWFUL. The wifi did not work more than it did work, and even the wireless data was not available for entire days at a time. I have to occasionally look in at work when away and there were days when I could not. I am not cruising again until this problem is fixed. Fourth, I think $50 for the jpeg of pictures purchased is outrageous given the cost of the printed pictures themselves. Those flash drives cost 50 cents, so this is a markup of what, 10000%? The photographers were good but the price overall, even on prints, is beyond gouging. Finally, the lack of any evaluation of shore excursions made it difficult to choose good ones. While we had great fun with, for example, the Belfast Food Tour, other excursions ranged from disappointing to excruciating. Other cruise companies provide an opportunity to rate the shore excursions publicly to help guide one's choices (and I would assume to help the cruise company offer the best of them). The shore excursion staff was not even interested in my verbal feedback. One got the impression that some of the staff (shore ex and front desk) felt they were babysitting spoiled kindergartners, that they had heard this all before and were listening only because they had to (indeed, one person said, "I have heard this complaint many times before." Excuse me? If you have heard it many times before why did Crystal not change things?). Overall, while the dining staff was very good, I am left with a huge feeling of fundamental disrespect for passengers (particularly A and B category passengers). Crystal is expanding like mad, but I recommend they look again at their core competencies. Good food and great wait staff is only going to get the line so far. I do not plan to cruise Crystal again (I had a much better experience last year on both Silversea and Seabourn). PS Ironically, when I tried to do Crystal's followup survey on my iPhone it failed and crashed. So Crystal, here is your feedback. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Our family of 15 just got back from a Vancouver to Alaska cruise on the Crystal Serenity. We had a fantastic time. We have been on multiple cruises and cruise lines over the years and this was some of our first times on Crystal Cruise ... Read More
Our family of 15 just got back from a Vancouver to Alaska cruise on the Crystal Serenity. We had a fantastic time. We have been on multiple cruises and cruise lines over the years and this was some of our first times on Crystal Cruise Line. The ship was very clean and the food was excellent. We ate at all the specialty restaurants (Silk/Sushi, Prego, Tastes and the Vintage Room) which were fabulous however the main dining room was very good also. The chefs came out in a couple of the restaurants to see how everything was, which was a nice touch. If you did not like something, they would get you something different. The different wines and drinks were fun to try and the service staff and bartenders in the Crystal Cove always gave good recommendations. The entertainment was good and casino was larger than many smaller lines. We book a excursion through the ship and they sent a escort from the ship with us, which was nice. The staff was overall very friendly, and accommodating, but of course you always run across some bad apples. The gym was a good size and had classes, however sign up early the first day if you want to do cycling. Also if you want a massage on a sea day sign up early as they sell out fast. The only downside was the rooms are very small. We went on Silver Seas a couple months ago and the same type of room was bigger. However we did not spend much time in the room, other than when we were on the Veranda. Our room stewardess was great and always kept it tidy and clean. I would strongly urge anyone to try this cruise line and the Alaska itinerary. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This is long so get ready...... Just experienced our first Crystal cruise and will begin by saying we have been crystalized! We were celebrating my husband's 50th birthday and our travel agent recommended a few Alaskan cruises for ... Read More
This is long so get ready...... Just experienced our first Crystal cruise and will begin by saying we have been crystalized! We were celebrating my husband's 50th birthday and our travel agent recommended a few Alaskan cruises for us to take and told us that Crystal was ranked #1 for some years and was well known for their customer service and cuisine. We were traveling with multiple families and children with ages ranging from 7-75 years old. Our older travelers who had been on luxury cruise lines before including Seabourne, Silver Seas and Regent were wanting a smaller cruise ship due to their past experience. I did A LOT of research on the various cruise lines we could take (luxury and non). After MUCH research and suggestions from our travel agent, we chose Crystal and everyone was SO HAPPY we did. We took advantage of their Crystal Family Memories Program. When looking at luxury cruises while traveling with children this option was a great value! We all liked the all inclusive and gratuities included too. EMBARKATION We did a short trip to Banff before our trip so we flew in the morning of embarkment from Calgary and took a cab straight to the boat around 12:30. When we drove into the parking garage, we were immediately met by a crystal rep and baggage handler who gave us a big greeting, quickly took all our luggage, loaded them up and said "enjoy your cruise, your luggage will be in your room shortly". We then needed to go through customs before boarding. There was a short line for customs, but since we are global entry we were directed straight to a customs desk, stamp stamp and within 5 minutes we were boarding the ship. My sister in law said when she boarded the ship later that day that there wasn't a line whatsoever and went through just as quickly. As we boarded the Serenity on Deck 6 my teenagers immediately said "Wow, this is soooo cool" Check in and pictures on Deck 5 took a max of 5 minutes while being offered champagne and then we were off to the Lido deck for an embarkment lunch. They told us that our room would be ready by 3:00. We ate at Tastes and had the Chinoise Chicken Salad (literally the same as Wolf Gang Puck's salad - delicious), burgers and spaghetti bolognese. The waiters continuously making sure all glasses were full and that we were satisfied with our welcome meal. We took our drinks and proceeded to look around the boat from the pool, spa, kids room, everywhere. No space was unaccessible and there was someone to ask us if we had any questions regarding the boat at every turn. CABIN and ATTENDANTS One of the biggest perks we had was made possible by our travel agent, Stephanie. Two weeks before our embarkment, she informed me that we all were upgraded to Penthouses with Verandas. We originally booked A1 rooms. This bump was a HUGE luxury and it would have not happened had we not booked through Stephanie and she arranging it for all of us. I think it is due to her relationship with Crystal. It was very much the cherry on top of a wonderful trip! One of the negative comments I came across when reading about Crystal was the room size in comparison to other luxury lines. The room IS small in comparison, but the set up is well laid out and the decor is very modern and clean lined. The bathroom with bath and separate shower was large and my daughter enjoyed her daily bubble jacuzzi baths. The walk in closet was perfect for the three of us (our room was a third berth room). The room is high tech with lighting, housekeeping & do not disturb. It is smaller than other luxuries, but very efficient with it's space. We did move the small coffee table often for more walk space with three people in the room, but who hangs out in their room with such a beautiful ship and great verandah! Our butler, Jijo, immediately introduced himself and asked if there was anything we needed. A complimentary bottle of champagne and two bottles of wine were there when we arrived with chocolates. We asked him for Crown Royal, another bottle of Cabernet, club soda, limes and Coke Zero to start. We never had to ask again. We were well stocked the entire trip. They also have fresh fruit everyday in the room. Jijo noticed that all we ate were the grapes. A few days into the cruise we would return with an entire bowl of grapes. Jijo had been with the cruise line for 10 years and his professionalism was evident. When we spoke to him about his career with Crystal he said that one of Crystal's missions is that happy employees make happy customers which make a happy ship. Jijo is a true gem to the Serenity. Our housekeepers were Sandra and Kaylie. They gave us a tour of the room, numbers to call and informed us that they changed the sheets daily and set up the third berth every night. They asked if we wanted help unpacking but we declined. Every day our room was spotless and with a teenage girl in our room that is a major accomplishment. They were amazing. We used the free pressing service (penthouse benefit) once for black tie night - perfect. I used the self service laundry down the hall on our deck and it was straight forward and easy. It was nice to clean the clothes from our pre-cruise excursion. DINING One of the main reasons we chose Crystal was because of it's reputation for it's food. After reading reviews this was probably the #1 reason we booked so I felt a lot of pressure for the others traveling with us that this was the right decision. Crystal did not disappoint even our most seasoned cruisers. We chose Dining by Reservation and selected our preferred times for dinner through the PCPC system. I chose earlier times like 7, 7:30 because we were traveling with a 7 year old and because of the entertainment schedules. Since Alaska does not have sunset until 10:30pm, I wish I would have chosen the late dining and seen the earlier shows. We did not have lunch until late everyday while on the boat and we had canapés served in our room every day around 5 (another penthouse perk - crab claws, lobster and boiled shrimp) so a late dinner would have been preferable. One of the perks we had being upgraded to a penthouse was that we could order from any specialty restaurant or the dining room for room service. My kids are HUGE fans of Nobu (a special occasion restaurant for them) which is Silk Road on the boat. They ordered room service from Silk Road 5 out of 7 nights on the boat and thought they were in heaven. All of the families ordered from Silk Road our first night on the boat and knew we were in for a special trip. Jijo ordered perfectly for us and it was wonderful! TASTES We ate dinner at Tastes on our second night and one other night (kids did Silk Road room service) and it was a great choice! Items ordered were Ahi Tuna Poke, Chimichurri Steak California Street Tacos, Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Alsatian Tart, Alaskan King Crab Dip, Roasted Beet Salad and a special fish dish. All were WONDERFUL. Only two things I didn't care for were Butternut Squash Frisee Salad (felt like it was a game of find the butternut squash). The service the first night was off and that is the only issue we had the entire trip. The view was beautiful but our meal was taking way way too long. There was a miscommunication in the kitchen and it seemed to have a trickle effect for our food service. The food and service manager, Tayfun Aybar, quickly addressed the situation and sincerely apologized for the inconvenience. We were surprised when an extremely nice bottle of wine ($275 value) with a note of apology was in our room the next day. We ate at Tastes everyday for lunch on the boat when cruising and other than that one mishap, it was a wonderful experience! CRYSTAL DINING ROOM We enjoyed two dinners in the main dining room. One with all of the families and one with just a mother/daughter dinner. It was hard pulling my son away from Silk Road room service. Everything was wonderful from food to service. My daughter and I had a two topper by the window and both enjoyed the Braised Beef with Whipped Potatoes - Excellent. One of the better appetizers during the group dinner was the smoked Beef Carpaccio. Unfortunately we missed lobster night in the main dining because that was black tie night and we had reservations at Silk Road that evening. We never made it to the main dining room for breakfast or lunch because we were spoiled by the Lido breakfast selection and Tastes lunch menu (personal taste) SILK ROAD Wonderful as expected. We actually dined here rather than room service. Unfortunately we chose lobster night in the main dining to do it. We ordered everything! Sushi, Sashimi, Appetizers, Main dishes. Service, food and level of presentation were spot on. We ordered Crispy Rice Cake with Spicy Tuna Tartar, Miso Black Cod, Grilled Wagyu Beef, Maguro, Rock Shrimp, Lobster, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Tuna Tataki, Chicken Teriyaki, California Rolls and a Bento Box! Superb PREGO This was our last night dining experience and we brought the wine we were given by Tayfun to celebrate the trip. We ordered the famous Mushroom Soup which I had read about in many reviews. It lived up to the hype. We ordered the Warm Lobster Poached in Sage Butter which in my opinion was the best lobster I ate during the entire trip which says a lot. My main course was not what I thought it would be (my bad) and our waiter quickly replaced it with the Roasted Rack of Baby Lamb. My mother in law had ordered this twice already in room service and chose it for a third round that night. I understand now why she did so. It was cooked perfectly. She said preferred this lamb to the one served in the main dining room the night we went. LIDO CAFE We ate breakfast here EVERY morning. I think because it was the early bird breakfast for most of us and had everything you could imagine for breakfast buffet style (omelet station, bacon, fresh fruit, oatmeal, made to order waffles, pancakes, etc.. Our omelet server had it down to an art. By day four he knew my order which included egg whites before I even ordered it - impressive. We had Tastes for lunch while on the boat but did mix and match the day they served their Asian buffet. A young girl walked by me with a smoothie that had whip cream on top and it looked to die for. When I asked her, where is that on the buffet? She said, "It's not". If you get the fruit you want (she had mango) take it to them and they will make a mango smoothie for you. That was some of the best advice! Everyone took advantage of that little info. So good THE BISTRO We did not get to take advantage of this particular spot. Did not even think about it until second to last day. We stopped in for afternoon cocktails, coffee and dessert. Next time I will definitely stop by more often. TRIDENT GRILL & SCOOPS The salmon burgers and hamburgers along with the sweet potato fries were a favorite among some of our family members. Everyone agreed that the person running the Trident Grill and grilling the burgers is amazing. He would take 6 peoples orders at once and quickly turned the orders around with no mistakes. He really knew what he was doing and the burgers were delicious. Lunch was quickly followed by Scoops which is pretty much Ben & Jerry's with any topping you like. If you like Ben & Jerry's and frozen yogurt then you will enjoy Scoops. We do and we did! AFTERNOON TEA We attended Mozart Tea in the Palm Court which was a lifesaver. All the servers were dressed in their beautiful costumes and the violin quartet was playing soothing classical music. It was so pretty. We did not have any of the buffet items which were finger sandwiches, cakes, tarts, etc. We actually just popped in to enjoy a different part of the boat. My husband unfortunately developed an allergy cold the day before and was so congested & miserable. Our waiter asked him what he would like and he said "Nothing, I can't breathe right now" He told him that he knew just what to get him to make him feel better. He returned with a hot toddy. He had never had one before and from that day on we went to the Palm Court for an afternoon hot toddy or asked Jijo if he could bring one to our room. My husband's breathing misery turned around overnight! Thank you!!! ENTERTAINMENT We attended all the productions except one which was due to us not reading the morning Reflections which said that there would be only one production that evening. They had a broadway show, comedian (hilarious and witty), light show (least favorite), Billy Joel performer and a ventriloquist which we missed and heard was wonderful. One evening we went to try out another part of the boat to get my husband's nightly hot toddy and came across PERRY GRANT in the Avenue Saloon. This ended up being a surprise find. Although, he does not sing our style of music, you become very engaged with his performance. His voice is amazing and that is coming from someone who does not listen to his genre. He is extremely entertaining in his custom bright and sometimes sparkling suits. We went back the next evening to show my mother and sister in law who quickly became a part of his show. It was hilarious and then we got to watch unknowingly other passengers become a part of his act. Definitely worth stopping by to enjoy. POOL/PADDLE TENNIS AREA The actual pool was nice. Nothing to write home about with two hot tubs. We sat by one afternoon for some relaxation in the sun and we always like to try every boat's pina colada. We were on an Alaskan cruise so the pool was not really a priority for us but it was very nice sitting by in the oversized chairs and getting pool service. The sitting areas around the pool and very spacious, but as I said on an Alaskan cruise there are not a lot of people taking advantage of the heated pool. Very quiet. Many people reading books or taking outside naps. My kids played paddle tennis on the upper deck and had a good time since it is covered from wind. GYM & SPA I never got a spa treatment but my sister in law got two and said it was a great massage. I did sign up for one of their spin classes (beginner) and even though it was obvious I was a beginner and there were some true professionals in the class, I think everyone got the workout they were looking for. The gym is not big, but it never seemed crowded. My daughter ran on one of their treadmills which looks out onto the ocean and fortunately for her, she got to see whales blowing their spouts and flipping their tails during her run. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS I quite liked all the ports we visited. I have told everyone to repeat our itinerary or do one that has one less day cruising (ex: Sitka vs. Glacier Bay). Looking at the cruises in 2017, I do like that they split up the two days of cruising on our itinerary. I think that was a better decision. When comparing Crystal to Regent, it was interesting in price differences. Although Crystal is a larger boat and our cruise was sold out, it NEVER felt like the boat was crowded. In fact, it felt like we were on an even smaller boat because none of the spaces seemed filled. We were told that there were 90 kids traveling on our trip and I'm not sure where they hid all of them because other than those traveling with us, I felt like we only saw 10 now and then. The Regent is priced much higher I'm guessing for a slightly smaller size and excursions included, but when I did the numbers, it did not make sense to pay so much more for excursions you may or may not do. We knew what we were doing and the cost was a fraction plus kids sail free on Crystal vs. $999 on Regent Ketchikan - We got a fishing guide outside of the cruise line at the recommendation of our friend prior to the cruise (we did not catch anything but rockfish while other cruisers on the boat caught 5 king salmon - that was a bummer) but we saw tons of eagles who swooped down and picked up our fish. Expensive eagle watching trip Juneau - Mendahall Glacier and Nugget Falls in the morning - Gorgeous and tour guide was hilarious and knowledgable. We did the HELICOPTER/DOGSLEDDING in the afternoon. This was an expensive excursion and WORTH EVERY PENNY. Every family member of all ages said that was their favorite thing we did the entire trip. It really is cool and we were fortunate to have clear skies and weather around 75 degrees Skagway - We did the White Pass & Yukon Railway which is followed by gold panning, musher camp demonstration, lunch and musher puppies excursion. The train was beautiful and relaxing and about an 1 1/2 hr up into the mountainside. Afterward you depart the train, you board a bus heading back into town with a stop off at the Klondike Gold Fields. Honestly, when we pulled into the Klondike Gold Fields I kind of felt like we were at Disney ride and thought it was going to be really really cheesy but it was included in the train excursion so nothing we could do. It ended up being really interesting learning how to pan gold from comical Sluice-box Charlie (enjoyed more than I thought I would) and what really made the excursion worth it was Matt Hiyashida explaining what it takes/took for him to do the Iditarod race. He is extremely entertaining and engaging especially with small kids. We got to meet his dogs & watch them run and actually hold 5 week old puppies. Kids loved it. Went back into town and walked around. We heard that the Red Onion Saloon Brothel Tour is interesting but didn't make it in time for their tour and not kid appropriate. Hubbard Glacier Bay - Amazing hearing the glacier calving. You could hear cracking and then soon after look for the sheets of ice that break off and as they fall you hear the ooh and ahhhs from fellow passengers. We watched from top deck where they were serving hot chocolate and rum and provided blankets and then we returned to our room and put on our robes and watched from our balcony which was so surreal. Gorgeous blue colors and many seals laying on the ice that had broken off. As you can read, I drank the Kool Aid and am sold on Crystal. I use to be a management consultant and we specialized in customer service and process streaming. Crystal has mastered both. Amazing trip, boat, service and all the above. And the food, oh my goodness the food! Highly recommend! 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
My three sons just returned from a 7 day, pre Christmas, Caribbean cruise on Crystal Symphony. We had sailed on the same ship 18 months ago to Eastern Canada. On both voyages we have been impressed with the Crystal Experience. The line ... Read More
My three sons just returned from a 7 day, pre Christmas, Caribbean cruise on Crystal Symphony. We had sailed on the same ship 18 months ago to Eastern Canada. On both voyages we have been impressed with the Crystal Experience. The line provides a traditional luxury cruise experience, which is very hard to find nowadays. I would give top marks to the great food and service on the ship. Every single meal we had on the ship was a delight. We like having an assigned table and assigned waiters at dinner at night, that way we got to know the waiters and they got to know us. Casual dining for breakfast and lunch was greatly enjoyed at outdoor Trident Grill. Special kudos go out the the deck stewards who provided us with drinks and other deck services . I really like the large swimming pool on this ship. Excellent for actually swimming laps and almost never crowded. The large hot tub is also a delight. My three sons greatly enjoyed use of the paddle tennis court. The full wrap around outdoor promenade deck is also a great feature. Would be better if they added at least a few deck chairs on the promenade deck. Daytime lectures on history and politics were first rate. Nightime entertainment was extensive. Very nice real live band to provide music for production shows (no recorded music). Excellent smaller bands in other small lounges. In Transit Jazz trio was a standout in the Palm Court at night. First rate dancers in the shows...some of the song selections not to my taste, but overall production shows were very good. Only critical thing I noted on entertainment was the very poor choice of movies in movie theatre...they had nothing but second rate movies When we were aboard 18 months ago they had excellent choice of first run recent major movies. The crew is excellent. And really if you are sailing Crystal, you are going for the crew, the service, and the food. These are the areas in which they excel. The size of the ship, (900 passengers), would have been considered a large ship in 1975, but is now considered mid size. I like this size of ship. Big enough to provide alot of activities and space, but not too big to walk around on from place to place. It is true that Crystal does not have large rooms compared to other cruise lines in this category. However, the rooms are well laid out and have alot of storage. Rooms are very quiet. Air conditioning in rooms easy to control. I highly recommend Crystal. Except for Movies, we found standards aboard to be exactly the same as 18 months ago. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The ... Read More
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The reason is that she is meticuluosly cared for on an ongoing basis. If you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can see how hard the staff works to address any wear in the ship, and before the guests would notice a problem. The crew and staff of the Crystal Symphony are the ship's greatest asset. They are more than just responsive when a passenger asks for something -- they anticipate the needs of the passengers and do so in a friendly way. Many go out of their way to learn the names of the passengers and then assume responsiblity for that traveler from then on. The food is the best of the best - intersting and tasty selections each day, and beuatifully presented. No expense spared. The Nobu specialty restaurant is in a class of its own. We went twice and I am not even a huge shushi fan! The basic category room is small but workable (246 SF with balcony). The added space of a penthouse would have been appreciated, but perhaps not worth the added cost. Let's face it: if small rooms are problematic then maybe cruising is not for you in the first place. Regardless, there is plenty of space devoted to the common areas so other than in the stateroom no one should feel claustrophobic. The target market for this cruise line is decidably the older crowd -- age 70+. At times there were enough seniors piloting their motorized scooters to warrant a traffic cop or perhaps valet parking. Make no mistake that the age of the crowd sets a tone, and that is one that is placid. If you are looking for high energy activities on board, you will be disappointed. Needle point classes and nodding off by the pool are more the order of the day. The entertainment was just plain bad. There was a featured flutist who played with the ship band one night and a low quality Elton John impersonator (although his back up singers were quite good) who played another night. Sereiously, when I think of cool entertainment, the flute just does not come to mind. There is also the ship's band who played by the pool/sunning area for about an hour daily. This was Muzak elevator music with an Asian influence. The rendition of a KC & the Sunshine Band song is still in my head, and that is not a good thing. That music certainly did not risk waking any napping seniors. There were also a couple of speakers who gave canned presentations on dull subjects, but like the other entertainment options were worth missing. The ship did stream some football games via satelite, but it seems they could have done more of this. Ditto better and more frequent movie selections. Not a huge issue, but shopping aboard the Symphony is odd. This is a Neiman Marcus level cruising experience with last year's Macy's basement shopping. Shopping can be a real money maker and the Symphony is missing a real opportunity here. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the ... Read More
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the largest RCL to Norwegian and Seabourne. She told me that Crystal was the best by far. I decided to bite the bullet and take a cruise with them. Wow this ship has seen better days. Apart from the tiny room with the furniture that looked so cheap and dated. The whole ship decor was not only dated but looked worn out. ditto with the carpet and the lighting. And the main dining room was like a three star hotel dining room . From the boarding to the reception the staff I can only say was NOT top notch. Many looked like they did not want to be there. The lady who took us to our room (worked at the spa) barely spoke to us and I noticed wasnt greeting guests she walked past as I was accustomed to . I was also taken aback by the end of day boarding after an excursion. On all the ships I have been on their is staff welcomed you back on the ship with a smile and refreshements (*water or juice on the larger lines, champagne on Seabourne) On Crystal not even a plastic glass with water. No one was there except for the surly ship crew mates. The food was fine but I would say the quality was just as good on the bigger ships in the extra fee venues. The servers although nice were harried, again not what you expect from a 5 star experience. Did I mention the rooms were ridiculously tiny? For the same amount of money you can get a suite on the Haven (Norwegian) with a butler and the private pool. similar price for a much larger balcony suite on Seabourne, or if you like a larger ship the loft suites on RCL. Service on these other ships was just as good. Again I am not sure about where all the raves come for Crystal. My 1 star review is mainly because of the quality price ratio. At a cheaper price I might not have had as high expectations. Kind of like going out to a fine dining michelin starred restaurant but instead getting a quality chain restaurant food and service. And the WI-Fi prices Usurious. I paid $200 For 10 Hours I think, It almost never worked and the staff in the computer was very surly. when I asked if I could get a refund for the 6 hours I didnt /couldnt use (due to the poor connection) they said "no" . Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
They could not make a Room Access Card for my wife that worked for five days. They kept blaming her for demagnetising the card when for 21 cruises we have worn our card in a Lanyard around our neck. Could not get a Hot Meal in the ... Read More
They could not make a Room Access Card for my wife that worked for five days. They kept blaming her for demagnetising the card when for 21 cruises we have worn our card in a Lanyard around our neck. Could not get a Hot Meal in the Dining Room. Even the hot Soups were cold. Complaints were not able to fix the problem. Could not get a Steak Medium Rare as they always came well done. Excursions were of poor quality and well over prices we spent A$2500 and got half that value. Complaints were ignored. No Musical Entertainment between 8.30 and 9.30pm. The Cruise Director would do nothing about it. Bridge Sessions were only 2 hours on sea days and on port days no equipment would be made available. Ran out of Saporro and Tsingtao beer even though there was a large Asian Passenger list. Also ran out of Hot Chocolate. All in all a poor experience in what is supposed to be a five Star line. Aparently since Changing hands they have deteriorated. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
Crystal is a bit better than the average cruise line, but in no way is it '6 star cruising' and certainly not worth the extra cost. I don't believe it represents good value for money, and personally wouldn't cruise with ... Read More
Crystal is a bit better than the average cruise line, but in no way is it '6 star cruising' and certainly not worth the extra cost. I don't believe it represents good value for money, and personally wouldn't cruise with them again. Cabins are really small. We'd booked one for two adults, a three year old in a bed and a baby (6 months) in a cot. The three year old was OK in a chair which folded out into a bed (but I wouldn't want to put a child who was much older than that in there). But when the bed was folded out the table in the room had to go under the dressing table, the chair from the dressing table had to be removed from the room completely and the baby had to sleep in our bed as there was absolutely no room for a cot. This wasn't great, but given the fact we had to pay for the baby when he had nowhere to sleep and no food provided it wasn't acceptable. We were told the lowest category of cabin with a fold out bed available was Cat C. We would have much preferred adjacent cabins with an adjoining door in Cat E but we were told this wasn't available. Very frustrating then that someone we were travelling with was allocated just such a cabin and it definitely did have a fold out bed. The size of the cabin meant there wasn't enough room for all our clothes -- I think we would have struggled with just two people in the cabin -- but with two children quite a lot of our clothes had to remain in the suitcase under the bed, which we could only get out when the fold out bed was folded up. Liked the mini-bath in the bathroom, great for bathing the kids. The twin sink looks great, but as you can't get more than one person in the bathroom at a time it would actually been better to have one bigger sink. Loved the Aveda toiletries. The waiting staff and the room stewards were generally excellent but the reception staff ranged from dismissive to downright unhelpful. Personally I found the entertainment poor. The program didn't vary day to day -- bingo at 10, quiz at 11, dance lessons at 2.30, etc -- the only thing that seemed to change was the guest lecturers. There are obviously a certain portion of people this appeals to but it completely lacked imagination and innovation, nothing that hasn't been done for years. The brochure advertises that there are dedicated rooms for kids but that is quite literally all they are, just a room -- no entertainment at all is provided and there were no toys whatsoever available in the room (which was quite often closed as it was being used by the golf program or the photographers). I understand that there are no dedicated staff available outside of selected cruises but that is absolutely no excuse for not having toys available in the kids room. If nothing else that would mean the children would have somewhere to play away from passengers who didn't want children on-board. There was a kids menu in the dining room but this didn't vary at all, and unsurprisingly my son was getting bored of eating the same things after two weeks on-board. There was very little that was suitable for children otherwise, and absolutely no baby food was available. The food in general was good, and portion sizes in the main restaurant were ideal. The lunch buffet was quite repetitive though, and only a few hot dishes varied day to day, with other counters not changing at all during the two weeks. I found the opening times of both the restaurant and the lunch buffet too limited (trying to fit in getting the children fed and naps meant that quite often I missed the buffet and had to eat at the lido). Other people who ate breakfast quite late or were on the late sitting for dinner might also have found the lunch closing at 1.30 to early also. After 6.30 the only options were the restaurant or the food being served in the restaurant as room service. With the kids asleep in the room, room service was not an option so it would have been nice to have somewhere else to go. Crystal might argue that there isn't the demand for it but the long wait for a table on the two nights there was casual dining in the evening in the buffet room would suggest otherwise. We really struggled to get bookings at the speciality restaurant at suitable times, in the end we only got a booking at all by e-mailing Crystal. We were therefore really annoyed when we did get in to find that we were the only fare paying passengers there save for one other table. All the other tables were taken up by staff, some of them with their guests. I understand that staff might want to take their guests in, but this should not be to the detriment of fare paying passengers, who should get preference. Many of the staff seemed to treat the passenger areas as their own, often taking up tables in the bistro and the lido area, leaving no seats available for the paying passengers. This also meant that the waiting staff were having to serve them drinks, etc increasing the length of time passengers were having to wait. I really didn't think this was acceptable. The boat itself has recently been refurbished but it really is beginning to show its age. We experienced rough weather but I've been on rougher seas in other boats and they were able to cope much better than this ship did. We were scheduled to call at 4 ports -- Dublin, Akureyri, Reykjavik and Halifax. Two of these stops were cancelled due to bad weather (which although the boat made hard work of it wasn't that bad). We were also delayed for over 5 hours getting out of Reykjavik, this was put down to the sea being too rough but the Brilliance of the Seas was out at sea waiting for our berth to become available and didn't seem to be experiencing any problems. As 'compensation' for missing two of the four stops we were given 100$ per person. Unfortunately this was only given to the full fare paying passengers, so no compensation at all for the baby, not even a pro-rata rebate. This works out in the region of 1% of the total cost of the holiday, and given that we missed 50% of the stops we though this was somewhat insulting. One formal night was cancelled, as it was a bit choppy, and never reinstated on another night. And no effort was made to change the entertainment program to alleviate the boredom of spending endless unplanned days at sea. I found that the tours were excessively expensive. For example we did a tour to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It seemed expensive but we though this might be because the entry to the Blue Lagoon was expensive, but this wasn't the case. We were also under the impression that the tours were free for the under 4s. In fact they charged us 50% of the full fare for our 3 year old. This was despite the fact that it was completely free for him to get into the Blue Lagoon. So effectively we had to pay $60 for a bus trip which was less than half an hour each way. Needless to say we didn't take any more trips, and would have struggled to do so as the stops were cancelled anyway! The debarkation was the worst I have experienced. Crystal have a no passenger announcements policy, which generally is OK but when their organisation goes so spectacularly awry they are really needed. Debarkation was scheduled to commence from around 8am, with passengers being told to wait in the Starlight lounge at specific times and passengers would be directed from there. However 9am came and went with no sign of anyone getting off. The two staff present were hopelessly inundated and had no idea what was happening. By 10am it felt like the entire ship was trying to fit into the lounge and when they did begin letting people off the first ones off where the last ones to arrive as those who should have been let off were trapped in the lounge by those who had arrived for a later departure. Utter chaos, and I'd be surprised if people didn't miss their flights because of it. Especially frustrating as we could see passengers on the Carnival ship, which arrived after us, getting of before us. But this event summed up the entire cruise -- lack of customer care, staff largely absent and uninterested and no better (and quite often worse) than any other cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Our second family trip on Crystal, and no disappoinmtments. everything was as expected. Food and service shine! We love Crystal as does the family. The children's programs are excellent, with the exception that baby sitting after kids ... Read More
Our second family trip on Crystal, and no disappoinmtments. everything was as expected. Food and service shine! We love Crystal as does the family. The children's programs are excellent, with the exception that baby sitting after kids club only goes until 10: 00 pm. Our adult children did not want to miss a night in the Saloon bar with Mark Farris...he is a jewel....Crystal don't ever let him leave! The big draw back with Crystal is the small size of the cat A & B cabins, can be a deal breaker for future cruises as the other luxury companies have all suites even the least expensive cabin is much larger than cabins on Crystal.... They even had an early dinner for those of us that were attending an evening performance in St. Petersburg! Plus a very late night buffet when we returned.....well done! We would like to see 14 day itineraries however...11 days is much to busy for us!!!! We used private guides for Berlin for an all day tour that was excellent....and in St Petersburg TJ Travel...for 3 days plus they scored tickets to Swan lake in the Tsar's box!!!! Nellie was more than excellent.....she & the driver were wonderful to us....were were 7 adults 1 6 yr old.... Fond memories of our Baltic cruise on Crystal! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I ... Read More
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I booked in September for the May 21 voyage on the Symphony called European Discoveries. This would also be the annual President's Cruise so the expectation of special events and programs was also an enticement. Highlights: -Great itinerary and the ports were all terrific. -All inclusive fare with alcohol and gratuities included. -Free Shuttle buses to town -No need to sign slips for a large variety of table wines wines and spirits. -Excellent customer service, the best we have had onboard any ship. -Treated same by the crew if you were in an ocean view room or a penthouse. -No speical treatment like priority tendering for those with elite status. -Pre booking shorex in advance but not charged until you are on the ship. -Bistro extra hours and quality of cheeses, cured meats, fruits and desserts. -Fellow passengers were interesting and great cruising companions. -Free laundry Lowlights: -Inconsistent food in the Crystal dining room. -High price for Crystal shore excursions (although the ones we took were excellent). -Crowding. As our cruise was sold out it was often hard to find a seat in the Lido for breakfast. -Enrichment program was weak. Too many lectures on the Middle East when presentations on WWII and the D-Day invasion would have been much more appropriate and interesting. -Terrible quality of the coffee in the Lido. -Mozart Tea was just ok. Tea was weak. Why can't Crystal serve loose leaf tea? We boarded the Symphony in Southampton on a Monday afternoon. Embarkation through security at the City Terminal was tedious. We had to keep showing our passports. Once onboard the ship the check in was completed which only took a few minutes. I don't think it was any faster to do it this way than in the cruise terminal. I am guessing that Crystal can save money by not paying as much for the port staff and would prefer to process people onboard the ship. Of course I could be wrong about that too. We had a category C Deluxe stateroom with large window. On my past 12 cruises I have always had a veranda and booked a window this time in order to save $1000 on the per person cruise fare. Our stateroom 7117 was located in the aft area of the ship. The window was quite large and during the day provided a great view across the Promenade Deck to the sea. You cannot see out of the window at night due to high intensity flood lights on the deck. With this being the only drawback we did not miss having a balcony at all. Our itinerary was very port intensive interspersed with 3 sea days. For a cruise with many more sea days the balcony might be nice so you can sit out during the day and also see out at night. Our category C (which is he same size as category D and E) stateroom was elegant and spacious. The Murano glass night table lamps and crystal mirror sconces were beautiful. Deck 7 where the Category C rooms are located has a lavender, cream and gold theme. I love lavender and was delighted! It was just a short walk out the door on Deck 7 to the outdoor area at the back of the ship and also just a short walk and elevator ride up to the Lido on Deck 11. The beds were very comfortable and had a top sheet and fluffy white duvets. I requested special pillows from among the 4 options on the pillow menu and was quite happy. Our room had plenty of storage, 15 drawers and a very nice closet with a motion activated light. The bathroom was a nice size with glass sinks. There was limited counter space. The shower was very steamy and was great for some of my wrinkled dresses. The only downside to the steam was that the room became very wet. The walls were absolutely drenched. A glass door instead of a curtain would be a welcome addition for the tub/shower. I would describe the look and feel of the Symphony as more understated elegance than beautiful. There was no "wow" factor to Symphony that can be found on several new builds. The Symphony entered service in 1995. There have been several refurbs since then including the one immediately following our voyage. Our favorite area of the ship was the layout of Decks 5 and 6. They were joined by a central sweeping staircase and provided a high class feel. The Bistro on deck 6 was another highlight with an excellent selection of specialty cheeses, cured meats, fruits and pastries. We made regular visits to the bistro during our cruise. The two specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego are available at no additional charge. We tried both and although Asian food is my favorite, we were not impressed with Silk Road and preferred Prego for its excellent Italian dishes. The carpaccio in Prego was fantastic. We both had pasta which was flavorful and well presented. Prior to the cruise immediately after final payment you can login in to Crystal's PCPC and book all you dining times in advance. I loved this and booked all our meals for either 7:15 pm or 7:30 pm. We met some guests who did not book in advance and were eating at times they found inconvenient. The food in the Crystal Dining room was hit and miss. Perhaps we made the wrong choices but we only had a few meals that we liked. The rest were as Simon Cowell would say, "forgettable". If I did not take photos I would have no memory of what we ate there. The lobster was excellent and I had several yummy desserts. However, a shrimp Cobb salad without any lettuce and a few unappealing fish dishes that were dried out left me disappointed. We had much better food off the ship than during our 11 night cruise. There were also a few buffets on the sea days. The Asia buffet seemed very Filipino and the Med buffet was horrific. I love Mediterranean food so this was a surprise. I ended up with a Reuben from the Trident Grill. At times our meals in the Crystal Dining Room felt very rushed. They served the food quickly and had us out the door on most nights between 8:15 pm to 8:30 pm. Our ports for the cruise were Southampton; La Coruna, Spain; Bilbao, Spain; St. Jean de Luz, France; St. Malo, France; Honfleur, France and Hamburg, Germany. It was a fantastic itinerary and we were fortunate to have excellent weather up until our arrival in Hamburg where it was drizzling. The seas were so smooth and I didn't have to wear my pressure wristbands at all. It was my first cruise where I was sad to disembark the ship. We booked our next Crystal Cruise while onboard for the beginning of 2014. We are eager to see the improvements made to Symphony in Hamburg following the recent refurb. The photos, especially of the new Palm Court (which previously looked like a retirement home) make 2014 seem a long way off. Overall we were very impressed with Crystal and look forward to future voyages. Ports: There is no option on the CC menu for many of our ports. In Bilbao, Spain we took the bus independently to San Sebastian. We had a long but fabulous day. Loved San Sebastian. The town is beautiful and we had the most amazing pinxtos lunch that we will remember for along time. We also visited La Perla Thalassotherapy spa and spent about 2 hours there doing the circuit and enjoying the hot pools. Rating would be a 4. For Saint Jean de Luz we were ultimately able to tender after a few tense moments with delays. We visited both St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz on a Crystal excursion which was fabulous. Both places had great shopping and restaurants. The history was fascinating. Would love to go back. Rating would be a 5. In St. Malo, France we tendered again but it was much easier. We took another Crystal excursion, this time to Dinan and Dinard. Had a great guide and really enjoyed it. I would rate it a 5. After our excursion we walked around the ramparts in St. Malo and had a delicious lunch at Brasserie du Sillon facing the beach. I rate this port a 5. Read Less
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