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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended ... Read More
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended up right at the front of the ship. It was absolutely fine most of the time, but we did have one rather rocky night in the Bay of Biscay! Embarkation was remarkable. We were very lucky to be within driving distance of Dover, where our cruise started. From leaving the car, we were in the Crystal Dining Room within 15 minutes – having stopped off to check out our room on the way! We have stayed in this room category on Symphony previously (PS), so it was just as expected and very comfortable. As I have said in previous reviews, I do think a little updating is required and hopefully this will happen in the upcoming dry dock. In particular, the TVs are very small and somewhat dated and some of the furnishings are looking a little tired. However, it is a well-planned and thought out space with plenty of storage, and a good-sized and equipped bathroom. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens and pillows. We forgot to bring a phone charger, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an integral charger in the clock. We sampled many of the facilities on the ship – the gym, spa, cinema (rather weird choices of films sometimes!), Vintage Room, lectures, casino, shops etc. We also enjoyed several specialty restaurant reservations. Service throughout the cruise was outstanding. Where we did have an issue, it was resolved quickly, efficiently and with good grace. The crew, across the board, were unfailingly friendly and helpful – I know they are trained to be so and ‘have’ to be, but it makes for a great ambience nevertheless. We found the food to be excellent, as previously. We did eat several times in the specialties and never tired of either. The CDR was also good, but I felt service was a little below par at times and that they were over-stretched with so many people to take care of especially on the BTO evenings. This resulted in either long waits before ordering and between courses, or conversely one plate being whipped away and the next course being served almost simultaneously. We found the included wines to be very drinkable and of course there was always the option to purchase wines when we felt like splurging. I wish they had a better included champagne though! We are reluctant to buy a bottle of champagne because we would never get anywhere near finishing it, but I cannot drink the included stuff. We had signed up for the Ultimate Vintage Room, but perhaps there wasn’t enough interest because it was not offered. Instead we did the regular Vintage Room dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great food, wine and company.. a really good evening. We thought all the ports were well worth visiting, but perhaps didn’t make the best choices with a couple of our excursions which were a bit long/boring/expensive. We didn’t get to all the shows but enjoyed those that we saw, with the exception of the new light show which wasn’t to our taste, but I’m sure many would disagree. We also found the lectures interesting, informative and entertaining. All in all, we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen ... Read More
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen and Thomson. Fellow cruisers had suggested that Crystal ships were the best but we did not want to risk the expense of a long haul flight only to find that the larger ships in the Crystal fleet did not suit us. As it happens we were very glad of our decision and the cruise was only saved by glorious weather and delightful ports. Crystal Symphony takes around 800 guests and is therefore not much larger than the Silversea and Seabourn ships we use regularly. It was very American in its style and ambience. Fellow passengers were mainly American (around 80% despite the cruise originating in the UK) with a wide range of other countries each represented by just a handful of people. The first major issue we had was the size of the cabins and bathroom. The bathroom was so small that it was difficult to avoid knocking one's head against the fancy glass washbasin if the ship rolled while rising from the sitting position. Bath products were supplied in non-branded and cheap looking plastic tubes. Performance of the products was mediocre at best. The cabin was very small indeed. If one wanted to eat in the room (the only option if one did not want to use one of the 2 set dinner times), then it would be a question of taking it in turns to move. The cabin on Crystal Symphony was 206 sq ft whereas on Seabourn Odyssey an ocean view cabin is 295 sq ft and on Silver Sea Spirit it is 312 sq ft. The second issue was the dining arrangements. We had booked dining by reservation in order to avoid the 6.15 or 8.30 dinner sittings. However, on trying to book we were told that the only tables available were at either of the set dinner sitting times - not exactly what we expected. Tables are mainly fixed at the size of the party in the booking so that mixing with other cruisers is not easy. Service was performed at the run with the next plate of food hovering at one's elbow before the knife and fork hit the plate for the final mouthful. Perhaps Americans like this style of service but we found it unpleasant. The food in general was at best moderate. On the formal dinner evening, caviar was offered. This turned out to be less than half a teaspoon of caviar on a huge plate with 3 blobs of sour cream and two blinis - not exactly the Seabourn standard of a beautiful set of dishes nestled in a crisp folded napkin containing a bowl of several ounces of caviar, bowls of chopped egg white and egg yolk, sour cream and a dozen crisp pieces of fine toasts. Desserts were poor at dinner but beautiful at the dessert buffet at lunch time. Coffee at dinner arrived with dessert - again perhaps due to American nature of the ship. Buffet lunch was better with a good range of hot and cold dishes but the buffet was only available for dinner on one night of the cruise. The deck grill (in a sort of conservatory with retractable roof where there used to be an indoor pool) was poor. At this standard I expect a toasted sandwich order to arrive with a little garnish to make the plate look attractive. it arrived on a blank plate looking forlorn. Ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) was available but served in waxed paper tubs with plastic spoons. Sauce is added by the guest from a huge plastic bottle - just not really what we expect from a top line cruise ship. The reason for the tiny cabins is clear once one explores the public rooms. There is a show lounge, cinema, ballroom, 3 bars with live entertainment, night club, paddle tennis court, golf driving nets as well as huge fitness and spa facility. The covered deck area is large and there are hundreds of sun loungers around the outdoor pool arranged in neatly packed rows. However, it was almost impossible to meet other cruisers. When we went to bars, there was hardly a soul there. If a dozen or so people were in the same place, then the music was so loud and the chairs so far apart that conversation was impossible except at impolite levels of raised voices. There was hard core of about 6 people who used the ballroom using the services of the gentleman hosts again making this large facility seem over sized. In conclusion, this cruise line would suit those with a wish to rush from lunch to entertainment, to dinner (in a hurry) and on the more entertainment. Use of the cabin should be restricted to sleeping only. One should not want to socialize with other guests too much. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We have taken over 40 ocean cruises on a variety of cruise lines. We were previously frequent cruisers on Celebrity, with Elite status due to the number of cruises taken. Once we sailed on Crystal it became our first choice for ocean ... Read More
We have taken over 40 ocean cruises on a variety of cruise lines. We were previously frequent cruisers on Celebrity, with Elite status due to the number of cruises taken. Once we sailed on Crystal it became our first choice for ocean cruising. We have now taken 5 Crystal cruises, 4 of them on Symphony. All have been wonderful, but this was the best yet. Cabin We choose to sail in a Cat C cabin on Crystal which is a cabin without balcony, 202 sq. ft on Symphony and 226 sq. ft. on Serenity. As always we found the cabin efficiently arranged and well appointed. We find that we don't miss having a balcony as there are plenty of open spaces on the ship to lounge, or read and sip a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Cabin service was excellent. All our requests were met...type and number of pillows, type of fruit in the room, etc. On Crystal all you have to do is ask. Dining For dinner we elected Dining by Reservations versus fixed early or late seating, and then reserved a table for 2 at 7:00. Martin, the Head Waiter for the DBR section greeted us at the entrance of the restaurant each evening and accompanied us to our table. Because I am required to eat a gluten free diet Martin personally supervised my menu selections. Diners with special dietary needs are asked to order evening meals a day in advance so that their meals can be prepared separately from those of other guests.The menu for the following day is provided at the end of the meal so the next evenings order can be placed. On three occasions Martin assisted us in ordering "off menu" when we did not find items we liked. As a result we had Dover Sole one night, and a whole duck another night, both deboned table side with great ceremony. We loved the lobster served one night, so Martin arranged for us to have it again later in the cruise. Our waiters and wine steward were all very friendly, efficient and attentive. At lunch we also dined in the main dining room, primarily to be sure that my gluten issues could be better addressed. All the waiters were careful to check my menu choices with the Head Waiter on duty, and were friendly and attentive. We dined in Lido for breakfast where we were greeted on the first day by 3 waiters who had been on our previous Symphony cruises. They, and one other young waiter new to the ship, took turns being sure we had a table and drinks, etc. every morning. I ordered 1 piece of gluten free toast at the toasting station the first morning and every morning after the "toaster" began my toast as soon as I walked by his station and sent it to my table. So much great service! We also enjoyed having a latte in Bistro most afternoons and became addicted to the meringue cookies with chocolate chips. Enrichment Activities Both the enrichment speakers on the trip were excellent. Since this was a cruise with Scandinavian ports and St. Petersburg the focus for one speaker was the history of these areas, and the other focused on past and current economic development. Definitely provided us great insight into the cultures of these areas and made our visits in the ports more meaningful. Entertainment Although we did not attend all the shows we did enjoy those we attended. There was good variety, including production shows, comedians, and guest musicians. The Symphony Orchestra also performed in one of the main lounges on several occasions. We attended the Magic Castle magicians show and were not as impressed as we had been on previous cruises. Fitness & Recreation The gym on Symphony is small, but well equipped. I had no trouble completing my regular workout there. This cruise had a guest Pilates instructor in addition to the staff fitness instructor, so there were several exercise classes each day at different times. We also attended the dance classes and had a great time. Public Rooms The public rooms on Crystal are lovely and varied. Palm Court at the front of the ship is great for a quiet reading place in the afternoon, or drinks while listening to music before dinner, all while watching the ocean. Crystal Cove, in the center of the ship is a busier lounge, with a piano player, or the Symphony Orchestra on some evenings. The lounge area in the Trident Bar and Grill has comfy sofas covered with umbrellas. Ben and Jerry's ice cream is nearby. We enjoy the variety of these venues and that these areas seldom feel crowded. Wait staff in all the areas are quick to ask to if you need anything and to check back regularly. Shore Excursions We used Crystal Excursions only for two days in St.Petersburg. Both were full day tours and were excellent. We had only 15 people on one tour and 22 on the other. Our guides were excellent, spoke perfect English (one was trained as a simultaneous Russian-English translator with a Masters degree in her field), and were able to move us through some crowded areas with ease. Both tours used a speaker system so that the tour guide could speak to us and we could easily hear. Embarkation and Debarkation We had booked our air through Crystal so our transfers to and from the ship were included. After an early arrival in London we turned our bags over to the waiting Crystal staff and didn't see them again until they were delivered to our staterom on the ship. Embarkation moved quickly and checkin was even quicker. Disembarkation was calm and well organized. For our transfer to the airport in Stockholm we did not have to deal with our luggage once we put it out in the hall for pickup, except to identify it to insure it was put on the same bus with us. One surprise on this cruise was the number of families of varying sizes. There were children of all ages including several small babies. Never did this interfere with our enjoyment of the cruise, and it was great to see the families enjoying the experience together. The ship's youth counselors were very busy and the lounge for the kids was more filled with activity than I have seen previously. Our cruise was a great experience. We are looking forward to a cruise on Crystal Serenity in October and have booked another cruise on the Symphony for summer of 2016. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
I don't even know where to begin. Let me say that the crew and service staff were excellent. That is the only good thing about this cruise line. 1) For the amount of money, WIFI should be included with the price. I took my husband ... Read More
I don't even know where to begin. Let me say that the crew and service staff were excellent. That is the only good thing about this cruise line. 1) For the amount of money, WIFI should be included with the price. I took my husband over 10 minutes to connect for his job, which ate up many of the minutes we purchased. 2) The cabins are small. You cannot both get ready at the same time, unless you dance around each other. The sofa was very uncomfortable. And the "queen" bed was actually two singles pushed together. The carpet is thread bare. The cleaning staff however, did a really good job. 3) If you don't care to visit the cities, this is the cruise for you. We, however, like to absorb what each city has to offer, and could not due to the time constraints. 4) Be prepared to NOT enter ports that require tender service. The 2 we wanted to see, Waterford Ireland and Iceland, became "days at sea" due to the captain and pilot thinking the seas were too rough, 5) Days at sea - if you are under 80 years of age, be prepared for total boredom. Substitute activities included scarf tying and dollar bill origami. REALLY? Where was the wine tasting? Only 1 tour of the galley? 6) Music and dancing - If you are under 80, be prepared not to dance, nor to hear any music created in the 21st century! 7) Shipboard shopping - Forget about it! 8) Crystal Cruise excursions - Use the internet to book your own. Our guide in Iceland spoke very poor English, told us nothing about the country, the people, and what we were seeing. Lobster feast? How about rock lobster parading as lobster. A waste of our short amount of time in Iceland. 9) Best tour - Booked a "FabFour Beatles Tour" in Liverpool. Do this! 10) Do not rely on the Crystal maps provided at the excursion desk. We ended up NEVER finding the shuttle stop and had to take taxis to and from the ports. 11) Food was good, however there was nothing regional, and we cannot remember what we had. 12) Wine list adequate for California wines (not much from other countries). 13) For 20K, this trip should have be fabulous. We could have purchased a SmartCar. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
This was my husband's and my first Crystal Cruise, and we're hooked. The food was outstanding (see below for my reviews on having to eat gluten free) and the crew most caring. Crystal is first class, all the way, not only in the ... Read More
This was my husband's and my first Crystal Cruise, and we're hooked. The food was outstanding (see below for my reviews on having to eat gluten free) and the crew most caring. Crystal is first class, all the way, not only in the quality of service but in the way they handle it. We loved that the cruise was all-inclusive. We felt it improved our cruising experience on a number of levels. Of course, it's liberating not to have to think about how much you're paying for drinks, tips, etc., but what we appreciated the most was the sophistication of being left alone and not being "hounded" to purchase drinks, photos, etc. We're foodies. To us, every vacation is first and foremost ALL ABOUT THE FOOD. My husband is discerning, but he's fairly easy to please. I am not easy to please, and I have a habit of being overly-critical of dining experiences. My husband can eat anything (and everything!). I cannot. I have acute gluten-sensitivity and an allergy to wheat, and if I get even the smallest bit of cross-contamination, it can make me very sick -- often for up to a week. My gluten intolerance creates a challenge on two levels, the first being that I need to make sure that where I eat will not make me sick. The second is more difficult. Being a foodie (and a bit of a bitchy foodie at that), I want my dining experience to be NO DIFFERENT than if I could eat whatever I wish. While I expect to have to give up some things that would not be safe for me to eat, I still expect what is offered to satisfy me and taste great. I researched cruise lines inside and out, and the number one reason why we chose Crystal is their attention to food and food sensitivities. They delivered! Let me begin by reviewing the dining, in general. Both my husband and I were happy with most all of our meals, and we found almost all of them to be outstanding. We ate most of our meals in the dining room and loved it. Tip: If you love fresh fish, try the Asian breakfast with black cod (preferred) or the cooked salmon. If you don't want the sticky rice (which is cooked perfectly) and condiments that come with the breakfast, order the fish on the side along with your other breakfast order. The black cod is especially good and goes well with eggs, toast and such. I cannot speak highly enough of the lox (smoked salmon). I ordered some for breakfast almost every day. They were the freshest, most tender lox I've ever eaten . . . and I've eaten a lot of lox. If you order smoked salmon in the dining room, you get two slices. If you want more, go to the Bistro and help yourself. Prego: Loved it. The food and service were amazing. Silk Road: Loved the sushi and sashimi -- it was the best ever, but we were not impressed with the soup, main course or desserts. When we go again, we will probably make sushi and sashimi our entire meal. The Vintage Room: This is an add-on dining experience and a must-do. You'll experience some of the finest wines in the world (full pours and if you want more, there's plenty) along with perfect parings and an amazing meal. The sommelier also gave a history of the wine and was brilliant. Plan on the evening lasting about three hours. Sadly, the copy of our menu was missing when we unpacked. I'm still searching for it. If I find the menu, I'll post it. Crew: The best! We particularly enjoyed head waiter Vlada, room stewardess Tatiana, and a delightful waitress in the bar on Deck 5: Patricia (from Poland) -- she is the sweetest, most caring person, and she has a warm heart. I predict she'll go far with Crystal and end up in charge of something. If you cruise Symphony, look for her. She's a special one! Hubby loved the cigar room and it helped make his cruise as enjoyable as possible. He loves a good cigar and was particularly appreciative of being able to smoke one in a handsome lounge (which was unexpectedly well-ventilated -- even I could sit in there, if only for a short time -- I do not like cigar smoke, alas.) Tommy, the cigar room attendant was excellent and very personable. Excursions: Day One: St. Peter Port, Guernsey. On this day, we explored Guernsey on our own. It is beautiful--a quaint and charming seaside village that oozes with personality and photo opportunities. We'd love to return. Recommended: Bypass the first designer chocolate shop and instead visit master chocolatier Ben Le Prevost at his shop of the same name -- it is maybe a ten minute walk from port. The prices are probably better there, but that's not why you'll want to go. Seriously, his chocolate may just be the best in the world. Genius flavor combinations. If you love chocolate, this is your heaven. (Bonus: almost all of it is gluten-free.) Next time we go, we'll want to also try Guernsey ice cream. The cream in Guernsey is amazing, and the ice cream is supposed to be the best. Day Two: Waterford, Ireland. We did the Panoramic Drive and Pub Visit. The scenery was exactly what we hoped for, with beautiful landscapes and architecture, including thatched cottages. The pub was crowded but fun -- good trad Irish folk music and an excellent Irish coffee. Tip: If you long to play a bodhrán in public, sit to the immediate left of the head singer and stomp your feet, clap your hands -- show you're enjoying the show and can keep a beat . . . he might just hand you the drum before the entertainment ends. Day Three: Holyhead Wales. This is another day where we took it easy and just explored the port. We cancelled one excursion due to it being too much walking and hoped for another, but it remained sold out. Day Four: Liverpool, England. Being a Beatles fan, this was the highlight of my trip. We booked the "In the Footsteps of the Beatles" excursion and were blessed to have Ringo Starr's childhood friend Marie Maguire as our tour guide. There were many buses that day, and somehow we got the one with her! Not only did she show us all of the popular Beatles sites, she also made sure to show us Ringo's childhood home (she lived across the street) as well as George's. The day was filled with information and LOTS of personal stories from Marie's experience with The Beatles, their families and managers. I cannot speak highly enough of this excursion. Tip: I believe Marie also does private tours. If you visit Liverpool, look her up! Day Five: Greenock, Scotland. We took the Panoramic Drive of Glasgow and visited the Glasgow Art Museum, home of Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali as well as many equally wonderful works of art. Tip: Try to stay for the organ music. Sadly, our tour guide told us we had to leave at the same time the music started, which turned out to be music from Phantom of the Opera. I heard only a minute or two. It was breathtaking. How I wish we could have stayed for the rest. Day Six: Dublin, Ireland. This was supposed to be Oban, Scotland, but it was cancelled due to bad weather. We took the Panoramic Dublin/Trinity College Book of Kells excursion -- we were staying in Dublin for four days after the cruise, but we decided to book this excursion anyway as we were told it would allow us to bypass the lines for the Book of Kells (note: we were not told this by the cruise line but instead by a fellow cruiser). Unfortunately, we were not allowed by bypass the line, and the line was so long that by the time we entered the exhibit, we had to skip the preface exhibit that explains the Book of Kells and jump directly into the Book of Kells room, which was extremely crowded. Having to rush through the exhibit lessened our experience as we would have enjoyed reading about the history. Because we were able to see so much of Dublin on our own over the following days, via the hop-on-hop off bus, this tour proved to be a poor choice for us, although it might have been an excellent choice for someone who would not otherwise have had the chance to visit Trinity College. Some thoughts on gluten-free dining on the Crystal Symphony: The food is safely prepared. I am highly sensitive and ate without issue. It was wonderful to be able to relax, knowing that head waiter Vlada and the rest of the kitchen staff were taking good care of me. I had only one issue, which ended up being no big deal as I caught it in time: A new waiter who appeared to be in training, brought me my gluten-free bread on top of the regular bread tray. Every other time gluten free bread was served to me, it was served separately, as it should be, because touching my bread to wheat will cause cross-contamination. When I pointed this out to him, he took care of it immediately by throwing away the bread and bringing me two fresh pieces. No biggie, but I'm glad I caught it! All of the meals in the main dining room were above-the-top. Vlada was sure to tell me that if I wanted something that was not gluten-free, that the kitchen would do everything they could to adjust the recipe so it would be safe for me. Not everything was adaptable, but there were so many outstanding choices that were available as gluten-free, I felt pampered beyond belief. The food was excellent. Only on the first day, at lunch, was I disappointed. The filet was overcooked and tasted over marinated. My husband disagreed and said it was delicious -- like I said, I can be a bit critical at times. Mind you, I could have easily sent the steak back and asked for another, but I didn't, so that really leaves me little room to complain. The gluten free bread is amazing and the best I've had at any dining venue. It does need to be toasted, but when it is toasted, it is so, so, so, so good. This meant a lot to me. There was white bread as well as brown. Both were equally good. The desserts were okay, but I had hoped for more. Most of what was available gluten free were puddings, ice cream, creme brulee and creme caramel (flan). These are similar to the desserts offered everywhere in restaurants, and I would have deeply appreciated seeing some good gluten-free pastries, cookies, and cakes offered. I am so sick of having creme brulee as the only restaurant dessert option (for years), it makes me cringe. That said, I did end up trying the creme brulee, it it was excellent -- just not what I had hoped for. I did not care for the creme caramel. It needs to be richer and made with a heavier cream base. The Palm Court did purchase a little, pre-wrapped gluten free cake for me during shore time. It wasn't good, though. I also did not care for the gluten-free finger sandwiches as the bread was not toasted (they need to taste these things before serving them -- they were not edible. That said, I do not see this as being the fault of the Palm Court. They did their best, and tea finger sandwiches are never toasted. Next time, I'll ask for a different preparation, and I'll ask if they can have a better selection of sweets. Lido Cafe: I LOVED that they had the gluten-free items clearly marked. They also have the gluten-free dishes separated from selections that might cause cross-contamination -- BRAVO! The desserts are in individual dishes and also safe. Mostly puddings, but appreciated. Bistro: Coffee, tea, latte -- all enjoyed without issue. The self-serve food service area has little to no gluten-free selections, except for the smoked salmon, which would be take-at-your-own risk as bread crumbs may drop or other cross contamination may occur. I would guess that if you ask someone from the Bistro to bring you smoked salmon from the back, they'd be happy to do so. Again, I would have loved to see some gluten-free sweets here, and gluten-free savory pastries would have been welcome. The next time I cruise Crystal, I plan to call ahead to request that there be more variety in the desserts offered. We'll see if it makes a difference. If I find the menu or think of anything else, I'll add it. My head is still swimming from our long flight home. I can hardly wait to cruise Crystal again . . . we've already booked our next cruise!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
This was my second cruise on Crystal. The first cruise was on the Serenity in 2010. The two ships are similar though the Serenity is larger. I preferred the Serenity, but I preferred the decor on the Symphony. I selected this cruise ... Read More
This was my second cruise on Crystal. The first cruise was on the Serenity in 2010. The two ships are similar though the Serenity is larger. I preferred the Serenity, but I preferred the decor on the Symphony. I selected this cruise for the itinerary which was excellent. It was round trip from Dover, England and there were only two sea days. The ports were Edinburgh (two days), Belfast, Dublin, Holyhead, Waterford, Portland, and St. Peter Port. We had smooth seas and good weather. On my last cruise there was an "as you like it" credit that could be used for everything aboard ship, but Crystal recently switched to being all-inclusive. However that does not include shore excursions and their shore excursions tend to be pricey. Most of the ports on this itinerary were a distance from the city. Shuttles were provided free in all ports except St. Peter Port which was within walking distance. In two ports (Edinburgh and Dublin) I utilized the hop on hop off buses which worked out well. My cabin was small, but comfortable with nice bedding and towels. The bath was small, but had double sinks, granite countertops and a tub/shower combination. My cabin was listed as an obstructed view cabin but the view was not obstructed. There were lifeboats on either side of the window which were not visible from inside the cabin. The dining room food was very good and the presentation excellent. The Grand Marnier souffle was wonderful. The mushroom soup in a bread bowl and the sea bass in Prego, the Italian restaurant, were outstanding. The Bistro was a very popular place for snack type foods and drinks. It was so popular that it was often crowded and had spotty service because the staff was overwhelmed. The entertainment was better and more varied than what one would find on many other lines. Irish dancers and musicians were brought on board in Dublin and they were outstanding. The cruise director, Paul McFarland, an American from Las Vegas was very good. My cruise experience was comparable to what I experienced on Holland American's Eurodam last fall, but the Eurodam carries more than double the passengers. Crystal's smaller size was a definite plus especially on this itinerary. I could have taken Princess for less money but that ship was three hours late leaving Dover and missed Belfast so I was happy I decided to take Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with ... Read More
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with a pretty extensive room service menu, available 24/7 and don't worry about using the breakfast menu on the door, they always delivered on time. 2. Lido Cafe - The food was always hot and service was always great. Already missing the thousand island dressing. 3. Cigar Lounge - The Connoisseur Club was just great. They had a decent selection,and a great staff with TV to watch world cup or news. Also had little snacks floating around at night. 4. Dining Room - Very good, could have used French service though. Food was excellent every night, never had a problem. 5. Internet Cafe - The internet was the most reasonable I have seen on any cruise. For $300 I basically had internet whenever I wanted it the entire cruise. Was kind of slow, especially before dinner and on sea days, but generally in port it was great. 6. The Little Touches - After an 18 hour trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and touring all day on a Crystal tour, they left food in the room with sandwiches and chips at 1am so we had something to snack on before going to sleep. Really a nice touch especially since I was literally running to order room service. 7. The Staff - they really will do anything to try and make you a happy guest. I wanted Mango Sorbet, they found Mango Sorbet ashore the next day. 8. Specialty Restaurants - Prego was pretty good, but I was not crazy about it. Silk Road was definitely a highlight, one complaint is that they did not have authentic Japanese Wagyu Beef, only fake American stuff. Yes you can tell the difference, and it is quite noticeable in fact. Most people have not had the real Wagyu beef. The service was great in both however. 9. Airport Transfers, and Crystal Air - It's free, and it's smooth, quick and easy. They load your luggage right on the bus for you. You just take it off when you get to the airport could not be easier. Highly recommended. 10. Movie Theater- Great, seats could have been a little more comfortable, but the popcorn was fresh and very good. Overall a pleasurable experience. 11. Age Policies - Expect exceptions if with parents, and very lenient. The most accommodating and flexible age policies I have seen on a boat. Not being 21 (20 yrs old), they still served me my favorite Kamikaze shots, and never saw anyone else having a problem on the boat, if under 18 a parental escort was needed into more adult places like the cigar lounge or night club at night, but in general most young adults under 18 really didn't have a problem anywhere but those two places. Obviously the casino was off limits until 21, probably a good thing for me since my wallet doesn't agree with casinos. A Positive and a Negative: 1. Entertainment - They brought on to the ship before we left St. Petersburg, Native St. Petersburg performers to put on a show. It was excellent. Also they brought on a famous London West End performer who was out of this world, as good as broadway. Emerging artists was amazing, with three kids, one doing opera, one doing broadway, and one playing the piano, all of which were truly great. However, the Comedian was just ok, and the magician was subpar at best. The Crystal Singers and Performers had one very good male lead vocalist, and one very bad (so bad we had to leave) female lead vocalist. Negatives: 1. Our room steward was just alright, she got sick halfway through, and therefore we didn't see her for like 3 days. 2. Louie Armstrong sail away song really got annoying after the 3rd or 4th day. Maybe you should just play it on the first day. 3. Not enough places to smoke cigars or pipes on open decks. Let smokers have a place where they can order food and smoke. Like on the back of Deck 11. 4. Allow cigar smoking in the state rooms or on the balconies, nobody likes someone to discriminate against them. 5. Crystal shops had very limited selection. Don't go onboard expecting to shop. 6. LUXE Nightclub was awful. They played current music once, and most of the time no one was there except for karaoke. The Luxe nightclub looks like it is setup for bottle service and dancing, but realistically no one ever goes there because of the music selection. Even with a younger crowd due to a summer cruise, it was still empty. I do not want to hear 70s music in the nightclub guys. Don't go on this boat expecting a good nightclub. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
Picked up Crystal 0214 from Dover late June 2010.Embarkation procedures smooth but from there everything just got even better and better.Waited on sun deck and had lunch while rooms were being readied. This was cruise that about which ... Read More
Picked up Crystal 0214 from Dover late June 2010.Embarkation procedures smooth but from there everything just got even better and better.Waited on sun deck and had lunch while rooms were being readied. This was cruise that about which there simply was NOT a single deficiency. a.food - flawless,simple,clean,eye catching and always prepared exactly to individual likings.Special requests not a problem.After the first night,the Senior waiter took the trouble to ask as what we wanted that night so it could be prepared eg special meats or poultry. Table settings ie early sitting no problem. Every meal be it breakfast,lunch,afternoon tea`s (wow!) always a pleasure.Top quality foods always available at sedveral other places on board,long after formal times had finished b.cabins and accomodation.Highest standard and the staff knew thier jobs down to every detail.Nothing ever too much to try and help with.Everything works,supplies more than adequate,fresh fruit and beverages always in topped up. Bed reasonably comfortable,frankly,I found the sheets a bit too shiny. Reviewers often speak of cramped cabins but really they are more than what one needs. c.everything else,from daily news,announcements,programs,special events,embarkation and disembarkation procedures,itineraries for tours performed with ease,applomb and absolute precision. Already made another booking for next cruise.No wonder they get the top marks!Is there anyone else? Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Our cruise began in Dover with the traditional sail-off song by Louis Armstrong, "It's a Wonderful World." Prior to sail-off we had settled in our cabin, been introduced to our cabin stewardess, been greeted by a flank of ... Read More
Our cruise began in Dover with the traditional sail-off song by Louis Armstrong, "It's a Wonderful World." Prior to sail-off we had settled in our cabin, been introduced to our cabin stewardess, been greeted by a flank of tuxedoed attendants (reminded me of the Titanic), done the requisite life-jacket drill, and toured the ship. The public areas of the ship are lovely and our cabin, while small (no verandah) had adequate storage space, a comfortable bed, flat screen television, and a shower/tub combination. We are middle-age, professors, well-travelled, and enjoy food. I have broken this review into parts to better focus on the experience of the cruise. Ship Amenities The public areas are easy to locate and navigate after very little time on board. We did not use the gambling area so cannot comment on this aspect of the ship experience. The library is large and contained files on each port. The computer center has enough computers for those that check email and must do work even on vacation. Be warned that the speed of the Internet is slow, cost to use the computers high ($50 for 2 hours), and the log-off procedures require 2 separate actions. The latter was an issue as I failed to log-off and someone else got the benefit of my 2 hours of time. Crystal should devise a better method to login to the computer that is consistent with how most people use a public computer. The bar areas had excellent service and each a different ambience. The Avenues Bar had a great pianist but the smoking in the area (very small so smoke filters all over) made it a place to avoid. We enjoyed dancing and smaller shows in the Starlite but did not venture into the disco Luxe. The bar area on level 5 by the Bistro had a great pianist and killer sunset views but again, smoking is allowed in this bar in a designated area which is next to those that do not smoke. We did not use the pool or spa but noted that the spa was in almost constant use. The Galaxy lounge performances were wonderful and professional, not the usual cheesy song and dance reviews that we were expecting. All the entertainment onboard was of high caliber with exception of the comedian (Marty Brill). The lecturers were informative and thought-provoking. Ship photographers were available to take photos (for sale later) and did a good job of capturing you at your best. Movies in the theater are close to first run and include a waiter with fresh-popped popcorn. The ship stores have an interesting selection of jewelry and clothing for purchase while sailing (closed during docking). Summary: Great entertainment, attentive bar service, and the public areas never feel crowded. Only down-note is the smoking. Food We go on a cruise for the food as well as the itinerary so the food was a major component in our decision to book a Crystal cruise. In general, all the food was significantly better than any cruise ship we have sailed. Breakfasts on the Lido deck were fresh and wonderful. The breakfast is served buffet style with fresh options available (such as eggs, omelets, waffles). Our trays were always carried by staff and our coffee refilled and plates cleared with attentive service. We ate lunch a few times at the Trident grill and found the hamburgers freshly made and the pizza very good. We did not eat lunch in the dining room. Our dining room experience was the least satisfying of our food experiences. While all the food was good, it was not exceptional. We did not ask for special preparations but will try that on our next cruise. Food was delivered promptly and wait staff was always attentive. The wine selections are fairly priced. I understand that wine can be brought onboard and a small corkage fee charged to open it and we will try this option next time. The dining room has 2 seatings and while we booked the late seating (due to lots of late-ending tours) we often ate at the early seating. It is possible to walk up to the maitre' d and ask to be seated at a different time. Our cruise was about half-full so there were many tables available for this request. The noise level in the dining room is loud and many families brought everyone (including crying babies) to the table. We tried Prego twice and while some items were great (try the mushroom soup) most of the food could have been better prepared. An example was the mashed potatoes with Kalamata olives—eating a purplish mash-up was just not appetizing. I ordered lamb medium rare and it was delivered medium well. I asked our head waiter how he thought it looked and he confirmed it was medium well. While another effort was underway the maitre d' came over and explained that the light from the window can make meat look over-cooked. (That has to be one of the funniest excuses I have ever heard). The second lamb effort was correctly cooked but tasted gamey and certainly was not a fresh piece of lamb. Waiters were attentive and the sommelier was willing to prepare us a special wine flight for our courses. We also ate at Silk Road and felt that this is the best restaurant and a top dining experience. We attempted to get reservations for the Vintage Room but were not successful (missed by 1 couple). The lunch buffet was great with a large variety of food using fresh ingredients. The grand buffet was not as great with large amounts of food with no particular flavor but it was a great photo opportunity. We did not try room service. The Bistro is great for a late breakfast or tea. I loved the magazine selection that included the Wine Spectator and Food and Wine. We did not do a formal tea as we were out touring. Summary: Way above average food and the specialty restaurants are worth a try. Cabin: Our cabin was small but functional. Two people do have to time their dressing activities or risk getting entangled. Our tub faucets stopped working on one of the formal nights and it took several calls to fix the problem. The bedspread looks a bit tired but the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Loved the old movies on the television but they should show movies themed to the area we were visiting (i.e., Dr. Zhivago for Russia). CNN was difficult to catch with satellite loss but Fox news came in great—we wondered if there was a political message there. Our cabin stewardess did a great job although a couple times my side of the bed was short-sheeted. When we arrived there were half full water bottles left in the cabin and refrigerator but they were promptly taken away and replaced. It was a relief not to have towel animals every night. We did hear noise from adjoining cabins the last night as folks were opening and closing drawers to pack. Summary: small cabin unless you pay for an expensive upgrade but adequate for sleeping. Tours: We used the ship tours for almost all of our touring. We were off the boat for 10 hours every day. By the end we were tired of buses. The ship tours are a great way to see a country in a general way. One tour ended early as the driver got lost and one stop had an unexpected water problem. We did bring this to the excursion director's attention but no compensation was made. All tours were exactly as described (except for the lost tour). Be aware that even though you see everything described, you will have no time to linger. Conversely, one tour included an excessive 2 hours at a glass shop designed for shopping. Our tour buses had expert guides, water, a bathroom, and were only partially full. The food at each stop while described as unique local restaurants was very poor. Our best tour was arranged with the excursion desk for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. It was incredible the difference between a ship tour and with a private guide and driver. While expensive ( a full-day is $800+) it was memorable. I had not been to any of the countries we visited and enjoyed every stop. Summary: arrange your own tours using the excursion desk or on your own if you want to see a lot in small amount of time. Over-all Yes, we'd take the cruise again with Crystal. The forums refer to this as being "crystallized" and we are as we have booked another cruise (6 weeks later) and for one in the fall. While the cruise line and experience were not perfect, it is so much better than other lines we have experienced (Cunard, Seabourn, Sitmar). The line offers a good compromise between the small experience of the yachts and the large experience of the big ships. Fellow cruisers will be middle-age and well-traveled. There were kids onboard our summer cruise and for the most part were well-behaved (some screaming babies at dinner). Staff are attentive and everyone works hard to make sure your experience is great and of course, they want to be remembered with a gratuity. This cruise line works hard to deliver an exceptional experience and if you are interested in an upscale experience, this cruise line is for you. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2008
This cruise was a special anniversary celebration. We boarded at Dover - did not use the airport to ship transfer as we had been in Paris for a pre-cruise celebration. Our A cabin was close to midship and was fantastic! We did not spend ... Read More
This cruise was a special anniversary celebration. We boarded at Dover - did not use the airport to ship transfer as we had been in Paris for a pre-cruise celebration. Our A cabin was close to midship and was fantastic! We did not spend a lot of time in the cabin but tended to "cruise the ship" while on board. This is definitely not a relaxing cruise it is very busy and most of our shore excursions left the ship between 8 and 9 AM. We took a lot of longer excursions which included at least one meal in a local restaurant. Highlight was definitely St. Petersburg and one day trip to Moscow. Most other cruise lines give you 2 days in St. Petersburg, others only 1, we had 3 (including excursion to Moscow). Tours were well run and in both Moscow and St. Petersburg the tour leaders provided us with audio receivers and we had no problem hearing our tour guides. It was interesting to watch other cruise tours who did not provide this service. We had great weather, sunny or partly sunny every day. Food on board was very good, my wife especially liked Prego. We paid in advance and were able to make reservations before boarding - highly recommended. Shows are getting a little tired but are still enjoyable. Spa service was very good, massage was wonderful. My wife summed it up best - thanks for the best holiday ever!! Read Less
Crystal Symphony Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 5.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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