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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I was interested in a cruise that either left from New York or came back to that port which meant I would be home in and hour or so. I flew to Montreal and spent the first night and second day onboard, unpacked and being pampered. ... Read More
I was interested in a cruise that either left from New York or came back to that port which meant I would be home in and hour or so. I flew to Montreal and spent the first night and second day onboard, unpacked and being pampered. Crystal met me at the airport and escorted me to a waiting bus. That was a lovely touch since it was raining and the hostess carried the umbrella. The line has buses waiting for all arriving customers throughout the day leaving every half hour for the ship. Your luggage is taken at the airport and to your room within hours while you can start eating and drinking on your ship. My room was quite nice with a more than comfortable bathroom. SInce I had twin sinks, I used one in the AM and one in the PM. There is a tub shower that I really enjoyed, bathing most of the time with the luxurious ETRO products supplied by Crystal. There was more than enough space for all my things and plenty of hangers. I toured the ship and found lots of nooks to hang out in, some of which served coffee and nibbles. There is a lovely library, well stocked and just 3 shops which are open when at sea. There are 4 specialty restaurants including Silk, a wonderful Chinese restaurant that served the best hot and sour soup I've ever tasted and I eat a LOT of Chinese food! You are able to eat in the specialty restaurants 3 times during the cruise and I found Prego, the Italian, to be my favorite. There is also Umi Uma Nobu's Japanese restaurant and a lovely main dining room which serves 2 different menus at each meal. Breakfast is also served in the Market as a buffet. Fun can be had in Churrascaria, a Brazilian style restaurant where you get your salad at the bar and then after sitting down, waiters come around with skewers of meat, chicken, shrimp, pork and the tenderest lamb chops you can find anywhere. Most of the trip was fine with 2 nights of rockin' and rollin' on rough seas but that's to be expected in the north Atlantic. I saved my real raves for the entertainment which was the BEST of any I've ever had on a cruise. From the singers and dancers to the special guest stars, it was First Rate and memorable. Too many to name but needless to say, every night was a joy! Another standout for me was the lectures by General Nick Halley. He was fascinating and informative. Kudos to Crystal on that aspect of the trip. About the leaves, not the greatest but not the fault of the cruise line either. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise to see the fall leaves...weather was crappy...Not Crystal's fault. The ship and crew were great. The food and service were excellent. Smaller ship and passenger list meant not as much waiting for shore ... Read More
Booked this cruise to see the fall leaves...weather was crappy...Not Crystal's fault. The ship and crew were great. The food and service were excellent. Smaller ship and passenger list meant not as much waiting for shore excursions..etc. The entertainment was very nice since it was a smaller ship. We enjoyed the bistro and the hamburgers. They were the best. The speciality restarunts are a plus with no extra charge. The shore excursion were arragned well. There was always a Crystal person on the tours. Service was always spot on. Every time you sat down, there was someone available to get you a drink. When the ship docs, the attrium becomes very cold..this was an October cruise and have the ship open all day made the attrium very uncomfortable. The embarkation and disembarktation process was very smooth. When we disembarked, it seemed as if we were the only ones on the ship. Imigration was smootn. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This was our second cruise on Crystal, the first being a Lisbon to Lisbon adventure in the Azores, Canary Islands and Morocco in 2018. We chose it partly because of that experience, but also for the itinerary, hoping to hit the fall color ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Crystal, the first being a Lisbon to Lisbon adventure in the Azores, Canary Islands and Morocco in 2018. We chose it partly because of that experience, but also for the itinerary, hoping to hit the fall color along the Saint Laurence. We did. It was jaw dropping and absolutely at it's height. This also was a 'jazz days, cabaret nights,' cruise and the music was beyond good. It was over the top wonderful in every venue, all day and into the night. Musicians were all over the ship, approachable, friendly and happy to talk about their work. So much fun. On the cruise last year, one of the high points was the team we had in the main dining room and most of them were on the ship this time as well -- like seeing old friends. Crystal has changed from a fixed seating model to anytime dining, a mistake, in my opinion, but we were able to be with our awesome team anyway. The ship has been refitted in the public areas to good effect. It's beautiful everywhere, in spite of the fact that the frightening gold statues are still there. What were they thinking? Everything in such beautiful taste and then these two jarring monstrosities. Go figure. Service on Crystal is perfect in every way -- attentive and engaging staff who seem happy to be where they are. Food is good to great in all venues and the variety in the main dining room is excellent. The included wines and spirits were fine with no need to upgrade. Cocktails are beautifully made and served. The ports were enjoyable, mostly small cities full of friendly Canadians. We did not do excursions generally, preferring to explore on our own, which, in these places was easy to do. At embarkation there was a bit of a snag as no one seemed to know what cabin we were in. It got sorted out, but seemed surprising on a luxury cruise line that people were having to make calls to figure out where to put these two passengers. Aside from that trivial matter, it was a great experience and we'll be back, particularly if this 'jazz days and cabaret nights' thing is an institution. Hope it is. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My wife and I are in our mid sixties and have traveled extensively and cruised on many different ships and cruise lines. We have recently cruised several times with Oceania which has a similar level of service and food. We found our ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid sixties and have traveled extensively and cruised on many different ships and cruise lines. We have recently cruised several times with Oceania which has a similar level of service and food. We found our deluxe veranda cabin smaller than most ships we have been on. However it is well laid out and to our surprise we found enough storage for our belongings. The WiFi was good almost through out the ship and there was Crystal tech support available. The entertainment was excellent with lots of live music. I enjoy cigars and appreciated the cigar lounge. The Crystal experience overall was absolutely wonderful from beginning to end. Kudos to management as they have got it just right. We were blown away by the staff and service. On this ship there is no such thing as no. Every member of the crew was amazing and eager to please. The food is fantastic and the ship is spotless, elegant and immaculate. The atmosphere is one of relaxation and understated sophistication. We also appreciated the fact that public announcements were kept to a minimum We can't wait to do another Crystal cruise. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
After reading some of the negative reviews on the Symphony we were wondering what to expect on our return onboard after 18 months and after the refurbishment. I would like to say we were not disappointed as everything and everyone ... Read More
After reading some of the negative reviews on the Symphony we were wondering what to expect on our return onboard after 18 months and after the refurbishment. I would like to say we were not disappointed as everything and everyone onboard were of an excellent standard. The check in was seamless and took us 30 mins from arrival at the terminal to receiving our glass of champagne after completion of all the formalities. The ship itself is looking refreshed,modern and very stylish from the refurbishment but not too glitzy like a lot of the newer ships. The food and service in all the restaurants (and we tried them all ) was outstanding with a feeling of being spoilt by the very professional and attentive waiting staff. The bars were well attended and the bar staff got to know your drink preferences fairly quickly and also were very quick to note your arrival and make sure you had a drink in front of you with very little wait. The drinks were a generous pour and well presented and mixed well. The shows were ok being pretty standard cruise ship productions and the singers were fairly mediocre but we are probably jaded as we cruise 4or 5 times a year. The in room movie selection was very good and the large flat screens at the foot of the bed are a fantastic improvement. Our only gripe with Crystal cruises in this day and age is the amount of smoking areas dedicated to them especially around the pool as a handful of smokers had the whole side of the deck making the non smoking side very crowded as all it took was a couple of smokers to taint the air for all those around them and a number of people were complaining about that also smoking on the promenade when I was excercising. We will definitely cruise with Crystal again even though there has been a few cost cutting measures since our last cruise it is still a luxury experience that a lot of the premium lines have lost. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My first cruise 7 years ago was on Marco Polo a small cruise ship in the Cruise and Maritme fleet. With nothing to compare it to but other holidays in European resorts I thought it compared very favourably. Since then I have cruised ... Read More
My first cruise 7 years ago was on Marco Polo a small cruise ship in the Cruise and Maritme fleet. With nothing to compare it to but other holidays in European resorts I thought it compared very favourably. Since then I have cruised with P&O three times , NCL , and Royal Caribbean, and again with Cruise and Maritime. However the cruise I am on at the moment with Crystal on the liner Symphony beats them all hands down . The reason I have titled my review as ‘Don’t cruise on this ship’, is because it has well and truly spoiled me , and I don’t think I would be able to cruise on another liner without feeling that that they had fallen short compared to Crystal. Unfortunately I might be a while saving up for my next Crystal cruise as it works out at about double the price of the ones I have named above, but goodness is it worth it! From the moment I boarded I was treated like a treasured guest. I think the main reason is that the ship never appeared crowded , the staff had time to be attentive to the guests. In order to make my point a little more clearly I will try to give examples. On previous cruise liners - long queues for the bar during the day on the all inclusive deals,wine waiters in the restaurant only coming to the table once during the meal as they all appeared rushed off their feet. Crystal- no queues anywhere, waiter service round the pool, public areas and in the dining rooms ,constantly replenishing glasses, stopping to chat with guests. On previous cruise liners - sea days when the weather is good , don’t bother trying to get a sun bed or seat of any kind after 10 am as they are either reserved with book, towels or bodies! On sea days when the weather is bad , everywhere noisy and crowded with public areas looking like my mum’s nursing home , or Butlins , depending on which cruise line you are on. Crystal - nowhere is crowded , on the sunniest days barely half the sun beds are occupied with anything, and inside is the same , no loud piped music , no queues for anything. I don’t mean it to sound like a graveyard , it is just quiet and understated and not intrusive. On previous cruises- tips , and drinks are extra. Even on the all inclusive cruises speciality coffee and certain drinks , ice cream ,plus the mini bar in the room and certain room service menus are all extra . Crystal - All included , no staff being extra nice at the end of the holiday in the hope you will leave them an extra tip , on Crystal the staff are attentive , happy and welcoming the whole time.All speciality coffees included, with waiters on hand in public areas to dispense drinks of all sorts, and don’t get me started on the ice cream , with about 20 different flavours ( no cheap imitations) they were brilliant , and of course all included. On previous cruises- Being tendered into port whilst other ships have the cruise terminal position, queuing up for an hour before breakfast to get tender tickets so that we can get off the boat at a reasonable time . Paying extra for shuttle buses out of the port , and again having to queue up for ages in order to get a ticket that insures we get a shuttle at a reasonable time. Crystal - certainly on this cruise whenever there was a dock/cruise terminal , we got it. On the couple of occasions we were tendered in , there were no queues , no waiting , and shuttles when needed were waiting with plenty of room , and ran frequently. Food- on previous cruises tables for two have been few and far between especially on P&O. The food has been OK , but things like steak have often been tough and sometimes inedible. Self service has been good , but often the food would only be warm. On one liner our dinner companions (no table for two available) had paid a substantial amount for the drinks package and eventually having managed to get the attention of the wine waiter they were poured a glass of wine each , they didn’t see the wine waiter for the rest of the meal. On Crystal the food has been excellent , no expense spared and steaks have been so tender and cooked to perfection , as has all their food. We did try the speciality restaurants which were very good , but the main restaurant was so good that we didn’t feel the need to try anything else , also your wine glass is replenished before it ever becomes empty. The cabin we had on Crystal was a comparable size to that of other liners , but the fittings were superior . Our cabin attendant was efficient and friendly and tailored our cabin cleaning/turn down service around our movements which wasn’t the case on some of the other cruises we have been on. Of course it is very much horses for courses and if you like loud music, sing alongs , karaoke , bingo and announcements from your cruise director throughout the day , or water shoots and bumper cars , then this cruise line might be a bit quiet for you. The larger proportion of passengers are American , the rest are English , Asian and European. I think there is quite a bit to do on board with lectures , a cinema , and Dvd’s That are played through your TV . We only had 3 sea days so we were able to find plenty of quiet spots to sit and read ,so to be fair we didn’t really try out their activities, although we did play table tennis - this had its own part of the deck with a large heavy net covering the area where you played , thus preventing the ball escaping under sun loungers etc. Afternoon tea served in one of the lounges was a sight to behold and was of the same standard as the Ritz or Fortnum and Mason! We didn’t tend to watch the entertainment in the evening , as we are not really into shows , but we did catch one of the comedians one evening (John Joseph) who was hilarious. I feel that throughout the whole cruise nothing was too much trouble , the passenger and their comfort was the important aspect, not how much money could be generated from them. I think it is well worth the extra money and have started saving my pennies already! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Wanted to do the northeast. Sixth cruise with Crystal. Last was New Years in Australia 2017. Food as always was excellent. Several crew members remembered us by name. Always a nice touch. Entertainment has always been a strong point with ... Read More
Wanted to do the northeast. Sixth cruise with Crystal. Last was New Years in Australia 2017. Food as always was excellent. Several crew members remembered us by name. Always a nice touch. Entertainment has always been a strong point with Crystal and remains so. Had heard with ownership change there might be a decrease in service and or food. I found no evidence of this. We prefer the 8th deck with an unobstructed view since we rarely used the veranda in the past and would rather use the savings for the reserve wine list. We often drink half a bottle one night and finish it the next night. The sommelier is glad to store it for you Makeover of the dining room is pleasing. Still prefer Prego and Umi Uma to newer Silk and Brazilian steak venue. Just our taste since all are quite good. The cabin is relatively small but ample. New TVs are an upgrade. WiFi was good. Be sure and get the Crystal app on your iPhone. Shore excursions were as expected and advertised. Graveyard in Halifax was Titanic victims was moving. The museum not so much. The Breakers in Newport was a great reflection of a bygone period. So,pleased to say that Crystal still the best. Booked a future cruise while on board. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Firstly a little bit of background. My wife and I are long time cruisers, mostly on smaller and the R8 ships. Pacific Princess and the unfortunate Adonia have been our regular choice, but in recent years have looked into alternative cruise ... Read More
Firstly a little bit of background. My wife and I are long time cruisers, mostly on smaller and the R8 ships. Pacific Princess and the unfortunate Adonia have been our regular choice, but in recent years have looked into alternative cruise lines. Windstar, Regent and now several Cruises with Oceania. Back to this review. We chose the Crystal Symphony because of the itinerary and to experience another mid sized ship. Whilst the ship is physically large the passenger count is still below 1000, which means alot of public space and larger staterooms. The décor and luxury is immediately apparent but certainly not over the top. The main dinning room Waterside, is reasonably spacious and although open dinning times we never had to wait for a table. The food was always delicious and well presented. My only comment here would be the slightly limited menu. The Market Place at lunch time has the largest and most varied salad bar we have ever encountered. This was always backed up with a large variety of meat and fish. This venu changes to a Brazilian theme in the evening, where again the choice of food is good. Uni Uma is the Japanese fusion restaurant which undoubtedly serves the finest food on the ship. Prego is the Italian speciality dining. The food was good but the whole experience was not any better than some and certainly does not compete with Oceanias version. Entertainment was average and the casino little used. As this itinerary was port intensive, deck game and lecture were not so well attended. I have not touched on the topic of crew and staff, internet, poolside etc but suffice to say they are all in keeping with a Premium targeted cruise ship. Overall impression! A Premium cruise line providing a premium experience. So why only four stars? There is a general lack of Wow factor and generally only doing what one might expect at a level that others have achieved and in some limited areas are doing slightly better. Would we choose Crystal again? Not until all the other options have been tested out Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We have gone on other Crystal cruises before and were anxious to check out the new Seabreeze Penthouses. While they are 50% larger than the standard Veranda Suites, they also cost about 50% more. The Suite was beautiful and the extra ... Read More
We have gone on other Crystal cruises before and were anxious to check out the new Seabreeze Penthouses. While they are 50% larger than the standard Veranda Suites, they also cost about 50% more. The Suite was beautiful and the extra space was fantastic. On the negative, the TV is in an awkward place, the vanity area is very tight and the lifeboat just below our balcony interfered with our view. Also, while some passengers will appreciate having a private butler, we did not see this service as a big plus. Although the refurbishment of the ship had occurred months ago, some elements were still being completed. The WiFi was being worked on and required technicians to go into all staterooms. The in-room movies were limited because they were still loading them into the new system. The food and service in Umi Uma and Prego was wonderful as usual. The service in Waterside was excellent but the menu seemed a bit uninspired. The Mozart Tea still featured waiters in period costumes and a generous selection of treats, but overall it felt less grand than it used to be. Compared to other luxury cruise lines, Crystal is still our favorite and we will be on Serenity later this year after it is refurbished. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and ... Read More
This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and carries a nice amount of passengers (about 750-ish) - not too few that I see the same people everywhere, but not too many that I feel crowded or anonymous. I was traveling solo on this cruise, but knew a few people on board from previous cruises and met several more mutual friends while on board. As I said in the title, there's been a little slippage in the food and service on the ship since its drydock, but in other ways there's been a lot of improvements since the drydock. There are 2 additional dinner restaurants on board, both of which outshine the main dining room ("Waterside") in service and food quality. Both of the new restaurants do not count towards your allotted number of included visits to specialty restaurants -- those (Umi Uma and Prego) still remain the premiere dinner spots on the ship, in my opinion. Crystal put a limit on the number of included visits to those spots several years ago (generally 2 per week) in an effort to keep people from monopolizing them, but now that there are more dining options, I wonder if they will continue to do so (extra visits beyond your allotted amount are $30 each, which is still an incredible bargain for that quality and ambience). Of the new restaurants, I particularly recommend Churrascarria, which is Lido deck aft, in the same location where the breakfast and lunch buffets are......you get views of the sunset, and excellent food. Salads, veggies, and side dishes are available as a buffet, and 6 varieties of grilled meat are brought to your table on skewers (chicken, shrimp, pork, lamb, beef). Be sure and stay for some grilled pineapple for dessert. My friends on board very much enjoyed the evening shows, but I never attended (I don't, on any cruise), but I did enjoy the musicians who played in the lounges throughout the ship. Afternoon tea is served every afternoon (even port days), and it was a good time and place for our friends to meet up to chat before dinner. Going through the Panama Canal was interesting, but I don't feel the need to do it again. As this was an August cruise, in general the ports were all hot and humid, and I stayed on board for most of them. A warning should you take a Crystal cruise that stops in Bimini: The tender to port is at least 30 minutes, so you should take that into consideration before deciding if you want to go ashore. I did not, as there wasn't much on shore I was interested in seeing, especially if it meant an hour (round trip) in a crowded tender. Service is known to be wonderful on Crystal, but this trip I found it to be lacking in several places. Some was still wonderful (restaurants other than Waterside, cabin attendant, library and computer room), but some had slipped from terrific to merely good (Lido deck) or from terrific to pretty bad (Waterside). I submitted my concerns to Crystal in their post-voyage survey, so I hope these are just growing pains that will be worked out now that there have been some significant changes since the dry dock. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in ... Read More
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in 2012 and she said Crystal is one of the best. So we checked off a few ticks on the bucket list. The ship Symphony was beautiful. The accommodations were very well layed out with a lot of storage. No need to use the suitcases for extra storage as we had empty drawers and the clothes in the wardrobe were spaced out not squashed up. Of everything there was only one this that irritated me that I have never come across on other ships we have cruise is the cigar room. Horrible horrible horrible. To get to The Avenue, Umi Uma restaurant and Prego restaurant you had to walk past it and the door was always open, therefore the smoke flooded into the hallway. The door should always be shut and there should be sufficient ventilation in the smoking room so if the door is left open the smoke doesn't affect other passengers. That is my only issue and I am hoping that when we are on Serenity in 2021 Crystal will have rectified this problem by having either an automatic door or a gas closing door. The rest of Crystal Symphony was fantastic. For a ship smaller than we are used to (3000-3500) this ship has a lot of quiet places to sit and relax. There are never any crowds, no children running rampant and what children were on the ship were extremely well behaved. We dined at every location and the food was divine. My favourites were Waterside (the main dining room), Prego, Silk, Palm Court for amazing afternoon tea and views. However, I still enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Umi Uma, Churriscaria, Trident Grill and the Marketplace only for an early breakfast. The staff go above and beyond and are always very polite and friendly. They always have smiles on their faces and no request is too hard. They take the time to get to know their customers. The shows were good not spectacular like on the bigger ships which is understandable since on the bigger ships the ceiling over the stage is 3 decks high making it very open and airy and great for doing acrobatic shows. The dance moves seem to be similar in every show so I put that down to the Choreographer. The special guests were fabulous especially loved John Joseph who had us in stitches. We didn't like some of the ports and thought there could have been better places to stop but we made the most of those. Some we could have had more time in. Overall we loved the cruise. We don't normally like a lot of sea days but on Crystal Symphony we really loved the sea days. We enjoyed the shore excursions that we booked. Crystal's luxury has ruined for us cruising anything less than luxury. We enjoyed it so much we have booked another Crystal cruise in 2021 South Pacific Wanderlust Los Angeles/San Pedro, US to Brisbane, AU on Serenity. So looking forward to 20 days on Serenity. 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own ... Read More
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own cabin, and I always make new friends onboard. Crystal is the best cruise line for solo travelers, charging FAR less than the 200% most of the others charge. I think my cabin was priced at 130%. Anyway, the cabin was perfectly situated midship, with a window with a partially obscured view, which meant that just the edge of a lifeboat was within my view, not bad at all. The cabin was very comfortable and spacious. There is a sitting area by the window, with a little sofa. The bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom has double sinks, and a tub/shower combination with a handheld shower head. Bath products include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (and, naturally, bar soap). There are lots of extras, like a little sewing kit, shower cap, Q-tips, cotton balls, shoe shiner, shoehorn, even an umbrella. When my cabin stewardess entered that first day, we realized that she had serviced a Babis for me on a prior trip. Very nice. She did a fabulous job, everything was completely clean and tidy, and she refilled my ice bucket twice/day. Back to embarkation—-a friend dropped me off at the pier, and I joined the seated fellow passengers to wait about 15 minutes. We were called by group number. Very painless. Onboard, a line of uniformed officers and crew greeted me and welcomed me to the ship. Very nice touch! I was given my cabin key card and then headed to the dining room for lunch. The food not only looked good, but tasted great. I have found that not to be the case on, say, Princess. The menus were varied and creative, and my waitstaff team was perfect. On my birthday, they decorated the table and presented a cake. I elected to be seated at the solo dining table for 8, which was a great choice. I met lots of very nice fellow solo travelers. Obviously, there were lots of Sea Days, which I really enjoy. Typically, I had room service breakfast in my cabin, a standing order that I didn’t need to order again and again; it was just brought to me each morning at 7:30. I would then take a bridge lesson, go to an excellent lecture, participate in the Trivia Contest, have lunch in the dining room, go to another lecture, read, attend an Art Class, then return to my cabin to dress for dinner. After dinner, there were shows featuring the amazing Crystal Dancers and others. Disembarkation was completely painless, no waiting whatsoever. All in all, I had the time of my life! I love Crystal, especially for the warm and wonderful service and erudite and interesting fellow passengers. 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca ... Read More
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca called Lupo. The cruise terminal in Vancouver is huge, and once I found the Crystal representatives, embarkation was smooth and very quick. Once on board the fun began. The staff, as has been my experience in my previous cruises, was always so attentive, with more than one staff member making gestures that showed they remembered me from previous cruises. The ship, after its retrofit last year, is even more beautiful. The addition of Silk as a dining venue made finding a table anywhere on the ship a sure thing. As I get motion sickness I chose a stateroom on deck 8, towards the middle of the vessel. I really liked the new flat screen TV's installed in each stateroom, and the features available on it - movies, ship info, and news channels. Very nice. This is my fourth cruise on Crystal, the third on Crystal Symphony, and the ship does not look its age by a long shot. It is meticulously maintained, spotless and comfortable, from the lounges on the pool deck to the seats in the Hollywood Theater. The new Silk lounge is so comfortable, and I love the display on the wall. I dined at Waterside all nights except for two, one when I attended a Vintage Room dinner and the other when I dined at Umi Uma. The food at Waterside was utterly delicious and beautifully presented, only surpassed by the charm and attentiveness of the staff that attended me. I dined at one particular table each evening, because the staff was so wonderful and entertaining. I almost did not want to dine at the specialty restaurants and I did skip dinner at Prego just to dine at Waterside. The Vintage Room dinner was beautiful, the staff attentive and the food and wine were delicious. The sommelier was very pleasant and debonair. The company at the Vintage Room dinner was lovely and very interesting. Dinner at Umi Uma was delicious, from the shrimp tempura to the lobster stir-fry main dish. It never disappoints. As I do not like sushi I did not order any, and so I cannot comment on that. The entertainment on board was varied and enjoyable. I enjoyed the closing show, Illuminate, which has been revamped since my last trip on Crystal Symphony. It was wonderful. I attended one other show, which was compilation of different dances and singing. The dance troupe performed a rendition of the Magdalenha, by Sergio Mendez, as well as Irish step dancing. Their rendition of the Magdalenha was disappointing. Though the singing was technically good, the dancing was just OK. To dance the Magdalenha well you must feel it, and the troupe did not. It appeared that they were going through the technical motions, but the moves did not look authentic or even fun. Their Irish step dancing, however, was wonderful. There was a dance performance by two couples in professional Latin ballroom dancing which I did not attend, though not because of any doubt as to their skill. It was that Latin ballroom dancing is not actual Latin dancing but another country’s idea of that Latin dancing is. I also, for the first time, watched a movie in the Hollywood theater – Annihilation. It was fun and the popcorn provided added to it. I also attended Mozart Tea, which was wonderful. On this itinerary I took three excursions – whale watching in Victoria, a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass studio in Seattle, and the volunteer excursion in Astoria. The whale watching excursion was fun, and we were able to see a group of transient Orcas. We then traveled to see Humpback whales and were able to see a tail. Then we rushed off for the afternoon tea part of the excursion. I would have preferred to have spent the whole of the excursion watching the whales instead of cutting it way too short. The tea at the hotel was not enjoyable – we had to wait to be seated and then my teapot was tepid at the start, cold half-way through, and it tasted like water. The excursion to see the Chihuly studio was fabulous. The studio was incredible – the docent guiding us through the exhibit was very well trained and knowledgeable. Chihuly is extraordinary. The only issue with this excursion was that our bus, before we even made it to the first stop on the tour, was in an accident. However, this was entirely the fault of the other vehicle, not our bus driver’s. No one was hurt and we were able to stay on schedule. My excursion to the food bank in Astoria was a very rewarding experience. We were able to participate in the giving of food to customers at a local food bank. The facilities were immaculately clean and organized, and the staff who we assisted was splendid. As I have been to San Francisco many times before I did not participate in any excursions. Instead, I was able to have a friend come on board the Symphony to visit. We had a lovely lunch at Waterside, and even though we sat at a table different than the one I visited for dinner, we were well take care of. I was able to say goodbye to the staff who had made my trip such a wonderful experience. Disembarkation was smooth and straightforward. I have only a couple of complaints about this trip. The first was that during the movie in the Hollywood Theater the door that leads to the casino was left open and so you could hear the noise from the casino. This was a bit distracting but I still had fun. The second was that though I had requested a group transfer through the guest check-in feature months the cruise, I was given tags for those with independent travel arrangements. I had to go to the front desk to get the correct tags, which was a slight hassle. Other than this, my trip was, as has been the case with every cruise I have taken with Crystal, a wonderful experience. I have two bookings on file and cannot wait to be back on board. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out ... Read More
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out of his way to accomodate. The public areas of ship were great. Food was good - breakfasts in particular the buffet were excellent. Dinner at the specialty restaurants was quite good. We loved all ports except Astoria which was a total waste of time. Our only complaint was the size of our cabin. We had chosen a midship veranda cabin and just found it way too small. In particular the bathroom (although it had two sinks) was exceptionally tiny. I know cruise ships never have large rooms but found this to be the smallest cruise cabin I have ever experienced. If we go on Crystal again we will have to consider when of the suites. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 6th Crystal cruise and 3rd on Symphony. Everything that we enjoyed previously about Crystal (food, service, enrichment, entertainment etc) was just as good as before, but this time we had the added bonus of the dry dock ... Read More
This was our 6th Crystal cruise and 3rd on Symphony. Everything that we enjoyed previously about Crystal (food, service, enrichment, entertainment etc) was just as good as before, but this time we had the added bonus of the dry dock enhancements. The ship was in excellent shape, especially considering the age, and the recent dry dock has enhanced most of those areas which were perhaps looking a little tired. I think that Crystal has done a tremendous job in this respect. In particular I loved what they have done with Waterside (formerly the Crystal Dining Room). Now, it looks much more inviting and the introduction of open seating seems to work really well. I also loved what they have done with the area where Silk, the new Chinese restaurant is situated. We found the food across all the dining venues to be excellent. Over the 14 days, we had only one meal which we felt was sub-par which I think is pretty good. Waterside (main dining room) – we ate here 3 times and found the open dining to work exceptionally well. The menus are varied and interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the ambience. We felt the service was better than previously, probably because the dining room was never full to capacity due to the open seating. Umi Uma (Japanese) – we love Umi Uma and ate here several times. The yellowtail, tuna and wagyu sashimi are just out of this world.  Prego (Italian) – we have always enjoyed Prego, but I think it was even better this time. Couldn’t fault a thing in 3 visits. Silk (Chinese) and Churrascia (Brazilian steak house) – we loved having these 2 additional dining venues and enjoyed both. The added variety of restaurants was a major advantage for us. It was great to have the full 14-day cruise, not least because it gave the opportunity for some good weather. Another advantage of this cruise was that it started and finished in Vancouver which was easy to get to from the UK. It also gave the opportunity to spend time in Vancouver at each end of the cruise. We enjoyed most of the ports. Some were fascinating, others not so much, but the excursions offered by Crystal made something of even the less-interesting ports. Stand-outs for us were Vancouver, Victoria, cruising the Hubbard Glacier (words can't express the perfect day we had there), and cruising Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. We stayed in an original PS and half-way through the cruise switched to a Seabreeze PS. This had not been arranged ahead of time, and once it had been ascertained that a Seabreeze PS was available for the second part of the cruise, Crystal went above and beyond to make it very easy for us to make the switch. We liked both suites for different reasons. The original PS has a more open layout and seems to be more spacious, although it is not. The bathroom has a bath and a shower. The new PS is fresh and new and has a more closed layout, with a partial dividing wall between the bedroom and the living room. This allows for a large TV to be positioned centrally on each side of the wall for optimum viewing from both the bedroom and the living room. The bathroom has no bath tub, but does have a large and very good shower. It also has a combination washer/dryer. In both cases, the bed, linens and pillows are wonderful. We have always enjoyed the entertainment and enrichment on Crystal ships and this time was no exception. I think they do really well to come up with quality acts for such a relatively small ship. All in all, this was a great cruise and we continue to be impressed with Crystal. We think enhancements made in dry dock have very much improved the overall look and feel of Symphony. I have mentioned service already, but feel that the crew deserve a second mention. We enjoyed exemplary service throughout and some genuine kindness when I was unwell for a day. 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
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
In May 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s two-week cruise to Hawaii aboard the Symphony (voyage OCS180518-16). We take about three cruises a year on Crystal. I rate this cruise as excellent, that is, an overall “5” on a scale of ... Read More
In May 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s two-week cruise to Hawaii aboard the Symphony (voyage OCS180518-16). We take about three cruises a year on Crystal. I rate this cruise as excellent, that is, an overall “5” on a scale of 5. Crystal’s quality slipped a bit in the last few years. But Crystal is now back up to where it ought to be. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries roughly 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. My only continuing concern is Symphony’s lower scores in federal heath inspections over the past several years (both U.S. and Canada). ENTERTAINMENT -- MUSIC: Credit goes to Crystal’s entertainment veep (Keith Cox) and his choreographers for reinventing the line’s performing arts with a new repertoire. Crystal is once again the front row seat for fans of traditional jazz and Broadway. Singers, dancers, and jazz band were excellent, with a different floor show every night. In fact, one young torch singer (Janet Dacal) seemed a likely candidate to play the late Julie London if there’s ever a tribute tour of her hits from the fifties. Speaking of Julie London, I heard the strains of “Cry Me a River” from the ship’s violin-piano duo as I passed through a lonely lounge one night. And the cruise’s Hollywood historian (Jim Jimirro) even had an anecdote from his recent chat with the aged writer of that song. (By the way, Jim has a lecture series about the American songbook at the public library in Beverly Hills -- see “Jim J’s Jukebox” at www.beverlyhills.org.) In other words, Crystal takes the various niches and nuances of jazz pretty seriously. Every bit as enjoyable as a night spent clubbing in the French Quarter. Due to the small size of Crystal’s two main ships, all entertainers eat with the guests. No matter how famous on land, the norm on Crystal is their availability to visit with the guests when not performing. There was also a house dance band that played for hours every night. But not a lot of dancers. Ballroom dance studios organize cruises for their advanced (and affluent) students, and this setting would seem a good match for that market. They’d be getting a live band, a semiprivate dance floor, the good life, and everyday hobnobbing with the dance pros that do the stage shows. Due to the volcano disaster, this Hawaiian cruise had to cancel its stop at Hilo. The ship gave the volcano a good distance to avoid the fumes (we never saw it). But the potency of its ash was apparent from the metallic orange of the sun as it set through the haze (same as in the smoke from forest fires). When Hilo opens up again, Crystal could seek out talent from the Merrie Monarch Festival. This is the world championship of authentic Hawaiian hula dancing -- the Wimbledon, Masters, and World Series of that art form. On a prior cruise, we took a cab over to the festival’s office, bought some souvenirs, and got a complimentary tour of the venue (see www.merriemonarch.com). It didn’t hurt that my wife had been a hula dancer on Kauai back in the day. DINING: Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. For the first time in years, we ate most of our meals there. Simply because we enjoyed it so much -- and we had to see what new entrees they had dreamed up every day. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and discreetly share state secrets. In other words, Crystal’s dining has cracked the code for providing a constant quality to the passenger whose preferences vary from day to day. As for the menu, there’s a new range of creative worldwide entrees as flavorful and spicy as you want to go. And, without exception, they were all served hot due to new kitchen systems for custom preparation. No more assembly-line institutional feedings. And Crystal has hired a more diverse crew of waiters than we’ve previously seen in its dining rooms. These enthusiastic waiters always took time to chat with us, some even gave us travel tips for visiting their home countries. Throughout the cruise, waiters Romanio and Kumrah took especially good care of us. The dining room’s seasoned maitre d’ (Albert Farkas) may be Crystal’s most senior employee, having been there over the life of the company. Definitely a legend and a mentor among that next generation of waiters that he’s devoted to training up right. (He just modestly says, “It’s my profession.”) And he’s quite the repository of lore about restaurants around the globe (like the place where they can open a wine bottle with a sword). There’s no doubt some interesting backstory as to how the Symphony’s ringmaster of restaurants (Slavko Drobnjak) implemented all of this. The kind of anecdotes that years later end up in places like the Harvard Business Review. But whatever you’re doing, Slavko, keep doing it. As I sat in the dining room, I finally got to see the legendary “green flash” of the Pacific sunset. Crystal crew members had been telling me about their sightings for some time. On ocean crossings, the ship’s daily newsletter includes an article about the phenomenon. One of Crystal’s captains gives a nature talk about it. And, yup, it’s the thing that a San Diego craft beer is named after. PORT STOP -- MAUI, HAWAII: Crystal sometimes pioneers a unique type of shore excursion, instead of just rounding up the usual contractors with their scripted bus herdings. Years later, we still talk about the extensive backstage tour of the Monte Carlo ballet by a retired ballerina (right down to the shoemaker, costume vault, and grooming of preschoolers who’d made the cut). It was our first cruise on Crystal, and I was the only passenger in our small tour group who had never been a ballet dancer. For this cruise to Hawaii, Crystal somehow convinced the charming heiress of a Maui mansion (Leona Wilson) to gather up her diverse friends for a half-day of gourmet food and stories about the island. A dozen cruisers were treated to local topics ranging from plantations, to architecture, to education, to botany, to beekeeping, to antiques. The mansion itself (Lona Ridge) seems sort of a cross between an embassy, a museum, and a monastic retreat center. Though this was modestly billed as an estate and garden tour, Leona (now in her 80s) made us feel more like honored guests at a diplomatic function than a bunch of tourists. No wonder the press calls Leona the “plantation princess.” If Verdi or Puccini ever wrote a Hawaiian opera, Leona’s bio of life lessons could frame the heroine’s libretto. Right down to her rescue and replanting of discarded plants from the town cemetery. Lona Ridge is well up a mountainside at the end of the road, and at least an hour’s drive from the tender dock. And it’s a very genuine interaction with a local celebrity (and local character) -- not some rushed walk-through before the bus whisks you off to another of a dozen promised sites. Seems like a good match for those leisurely private events that Virtuoso Travel often hosts for its onboard customers. Or for those perpetual students in the Road Scholar trips to Hawaii. Just type in “Lona Ridge Maui Hawaii” if you want to check it out on Google Maps. And see: www.lonaridge.com and https://mauimagazine.net/plantation-princess. This was one of those unexpected shore excursions that we just keep remembering. PORT STOP -- HONOLULU, HAWAII: There are, of course, endless possibilities for a shore excursion at Honolulu. But there a few things worth checking out right by the Pier 11 cruise ship terminal. Aloha Tower is a restored art deco building that’s colorfully lit up at night. Once Hawaii’s tallest structure, today you can take the elevator to the top floor for a view of the city. No charge, but it closes at 5 pm and you can only visit the top floor. There’s the Old Spaghetti Factory across the street -- part of the chain around the western U.S. But this one has a distinctive Hawaiian variation: spaghetti with clam and Spam. And next door is a Barnes and Noble with a good selection of books about Hawaii. The American Institute of Architects has its office just three blocks from the Pier 11 cruise ship terminal. This is the meeting place for the downtown walking tour that the organization offers for just $15 (see www.aiahonolulu.org/?WalkingTours). It’s in the morning of the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. (Crystal and AIA could conceivably partner on this as a little fund raiser for some local charity.) HOUSEKEEPING: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). The quality of stateroom housekeeping varied for a few years. But this time, the attention to detail was consistent with luxury cruising in every way. Right down to the daily supply of a special-order soft drink, and getting an ice pack frozen for a sore knee. And a box of chocolates that almost seemed too fancy to eat. Our stateroom attendant (Lois) gets a perfect score for all her efforts to clean up after us. INTERNET ACCESS: At least on the Symphony, Crystal has finally transitioned to an Internet service (WiFi, wireless) that is both unlimited and reliable. Given all the smartphones in a constant state of readiness, there must be quite the cell tower somewhere on the ship. We noticed an interesting side effect from Crystal’s transition to open dining and unlimited Internet. The moment there’s a lull in table talk, cruisers tend to whip out their smartphones. They eventually come up for air as the meal’s next course arrives -- or they notice that everyone at the table has rushed off to the next activity. And we’re talking retirees here, not millennials. Those who feared the decline of tuxedos may also worry about the dining room’s decay into an Internet cafe. On the other hand, Crystal’s management could understandably remind us that we screamed for more Internet, and they gave us what we asked for. SHIP’S MUSEUM: At the very top of the forward stairwell, you’ll find a room with a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect Symphony’s 20+ years of visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Access to this area is unrestricted; you might pass through it on your way to the golf driving nets. It’s an option while exploring the ship’s layout on your first day aboard, particularly if you’re looking for something to do while waiting for your stateroom to become available. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- CRIME: Congress requires that a cruise line report any passenger complaints that a major crime has occurred onboard. Every quarter, the counts for these complaints are publicly reported at www.transportation.gov/mission/safety/cruise-line-incident-reports. Crystal’s onboard safety has never concerned me. Only two complaints of crime on Crystal appear in this data for the past five years, both alleging thefts over $10,000. The reporting website doesn’t identify which Crystal ship was involved. When it comes to passenger age, much of the Crystal crowd is in God’s waiting room. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. However, safety on shore (port stops) is a universal concern for the passengers on any cruise line. Cruise lines all promise the greatest show on earth, and that includes speakers on what you absolutely must see at a port stop. Far rarer are speakers that tell you what to watch out for. For this cruise, Crystal brought on the authors (Bob Arno and Bambi Vincent ) of a website that tells you how to avoid the world’s thefts, cons, corruption, and trip-spoiling nastiness. Cruisers all know the horror stories, and this pair’s writing has no doubt saved me from some bad days. (See http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters) The cruise director himself (Paul McFarland) has a story on this Arno/Vincent website: his wallet was stolen when a herd of urchins jumped him in India. (See http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters/mugged-mumbai.) Definitely something to think about, since Paul’s a big, tough-looking guy who could double as Sir Sean Connery. And Paul’s deep broadcast voice sounds like a cop from central casting. We’d previously picked up some good safety tips from another of Crystal’s officers. After I did a little nosy prying, he disclosed his past life in security at an embassy. I’ve always found that Crystal’s crew members, from top to bottom, are quite willing to share candid cautions about a location if asked. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- MEDICAL ISSUES: The dining room waiters pay meticulous attention to any dietary restrictions, such as allergies worthy of an EpiPen. But be sure to clarify whether you merely need to avoid a particular ingredient, or really have some rarer sensitivity to any microscopic trace that lingers on a food prep surface. They’ll actually assume the latter unless you tell them otherwise. In fact, this is one of the better places to be if you were to have a serious allergic reaction (none so far for us). Right down the hall is the ship’s doctor (Alae Brand) and her team of nurses, who provided us with excellent emergency care on a prior cruise. They responded a lot quicker than most hospital emergency rooms (that is, immediately) -- and for a fraction of the cost. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES: Crystal’s customer core continues to be retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. An everyday part of Crystal is thus wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, canes, and oxygen tanks. Attentive and respectful assistance from Crystal’s crew has always been the routine for guests with such limitations. And fellow passengers implicitly follow an aviation-like norm that the least maneuverable get the right of way, whether it be in an aisle, hall, elevator, or buffet line. I have no idea if the ADA applies on the high seas. But accommodation is more than a legality or a courtesy at this point in life. The shadow of the future is lurking as ambulatory retirees surrender their elevator to a wheelchair and walk a few flights with no expectation of a medal. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 signals no significant deficiencies, not perfection. For the past 10 years of U.S. inspections, the Symphony’s lowest scores have occurred in the last four years. Its lowest score of 90 (five points above passing) was its most recent inspection (a year ago in Charleston, South Carolina). For the past 10 years of Canadian inspections, the Symphony’s lowest scores have occurred in the last four years. Its lowest score of 92 (seven points above passing) was its most recent inspection (a year ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia). Interestingly, the last U.S. inspection and the last Canadian inspection were only eight days apart. Travel writers sometimes minimize the significance of federal inspection scores. I don’t. Nor do the Crystal crew members who do the scrubbing. For the U.S. inspections, cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Investigations of onboard illness “outbreaks” are also reported on a federal website. Five years ago, 125 of the Symphony’s passengers came down with norovirus (that short-lived vomiting/diarrhea misery). Inspectors boarded the ship when it docked at Los Angeles and “collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew for testing” (one nasty job). See www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm. Regardless of the lower inspection scores last year, I didn’t get sick on this cruise. And I didn’t see anything that I thought might make me sick (beyond gluttony at the dessert bar). And one night I saw the captain and his safety officer quietly eating behind us in the main dining room. In maritime lore, that’s a classic nonverbal indicator of their confidence that things are shipshape. Ironically, Crystal’s other ship was recognized for its score of 100 at last year’s annual meeting of the U.S. inspection program. That would be a good list for the Symphony to get on. PEACE AND QUIET (PRIVACY): Travel agents should use caution in steering children under age 50 to a cruise on Crystal. There’s one swimming pool, and it’s a tiny one. Only three onboard shops (no mega-ship mall). No climbing walls, water slides, outdoor movie theaters, or midnight buffets. Nature seems to impose its own curfew, given the lack of observable life on Crystal after midnight. The wheelchairs and scooters are parked by the staterooms. The decks are largely empty and silent until sunrise signals the next available meal. Crystal has always offered plenty of privacy for those who want it. No activity announcements invade your stateroom. None of that constant gaming to charge something to your key card (Crystal is all-inclusive). No pressure to buy anything. No pressure to do anything. And there are endless quiet nooks and crannies around the ship for reading, chatting, and thinking great travel thoughts. If Elvis and Sinatra had somehow faded away into quiet cruising retirements, I’m convinced that the Crystal crowd would have respected their onboard privacy with little ado. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very ... Read More
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very good and creative, Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, and Umi Uma, the Japanese specialty restaurant, are excellent. The bar/bartenders are excellent, One night at Waterside, the main dining room, we spent almost an hour waiting for our food--and they were not busy, Waterside used to offer a steak option every night, now offerred less often and tasteless,The new Brazilian steakhouse provides mostly pork and the beef offerings are tasteless. The Marketplace, the buffet during the day, is open till 1:30 for lunch, but excursions often last longer and there is not a g option those days. The buffet is good, but changes little. Cabins are old and only have one USB port and one electric outlet although there are ones hidden behind the bed. For most of the day the hot water supply is insufficient, Luxury should not include a cold shower, The entertainment has improved but the lectures are now just OK, used to be great. Also there were nights with hardly any entertainment. Crystal now has a magician on board, ours was excellent. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. BUT the old system worked far better, we often could not connect to the internet and we could not make phone calls in airplane mode--prior trip with prior technology it all worked fine. The shore excursions remain VERY expensive and sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one wipes down the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how ... Read More
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how can cruising on-board a ship that is 23 years old exceed one’s expectations? Well, it happened to us on board Crystal Symphony for the 16-day cruise starting May 18, 2018. This was due to a several factors. It involved the evolution of Crystal Symphony including new dining venues, open dining, enhanced public areas, and the new Seabreeze Suites. Other reasons included enhanced entertainment, a wonderful itinerary, a terrific private Crystal Cruises exclusive tour, and the amazing team on board Crystal Symphony. Good weather just added to all of this. This review covers our recent sixteen-day Crystal Symphony. The vast majority of our cruises have been on Crystal Serenity. Our last Crystal Symphony cruise was in August 2011. Some people prefer one ship to the other. We added this cruise after deciding the timing of an August Symphony sailing originally booked would not work for us. After reading reports from fellow Cruise Critic members we wanted to see the changes made to Symphony. We purposely booked one of the new Seabreeze suites to experience the suite first hand. Things we enjoyed the most included: THE CREW: They are amazing. We met some crew for the first time and quickly felt as though we had sailed with them many times. We remembered several from prior sailings on Symphony. At the same time there were several officers, senior staff and other crew members who we know either because they used to be assigned to Serenity and are now assigned to Symphony or they swing between the ships on alternate contracts or they will work consecutive contracts on one ship and swing to the other to work multiple contracts. There are lots of positives to those who swing as they can bring best practices from one ship to the other and also help to provide one consistent product across multiple ships. Some crew came over to Symphony not only from Serenity but also from Esprit and/or the River Cruises while some have gone from Ocean Vessels over to these vessels. The crew clearly worked as one cohesive team and was positive, guest focused, and provided a very high level of professionalism at all levels. Unlike some lines we have sailed where the service is good but can be very stiff and almost robot like, the crew on Symphony is warm and attentive making one feel like they are part of the Crystal Family. We felt so welcomed on the ship and I can’t say enough about the crew at all levels. They are truly amazing. THE SHIP: If you didn’t know the age of Crystal Symphony, you might think it is much younger in age than it is. The public rooms are beautiful. We like the changes that were made in the most recent dry dock and do not believe that the photos show the beauty of some of these changes. Because it is somewhat smaller (one less deck) we find it easier to get from place to place on the Symphony. There are also some rooms in particular that we like and that includes Avenue Saloon, Crystal Cove and Plaza, Starlite and Palm Court. CUISINE AND NEW DINING VENUES: We loved the change to open dining and believe the transformation has been a huge success. We appreciate five dining venue choices for evening dinner. Waterside reflects the change in terms of the taste of the cuisine and the service and is less noisy than in the past. We found the food to be moist and to arrive to the table hot. For those wanting to sit with others there more large tables will be arriving soon but in the meantime they are being creative to accommodate requests for larger tables. Those little touches are still there even though the Crystal Dining Room has transitioned to Waterside. This includes being escorted to the table, being seated by someone and the senior waiter serving you rolls/bread from a bread basket. The one change is that Head Waiters no longer prepare desserts or other items as they had to remove their stations to create more space for tables. This transition began a couple of years ago so that Head Waiters devoted more time to assisting guests and I have to say another benefit is not having smells from the cooking of desserts at tables near the former Head Waiter stations. One can still order special meals and they will be prepared in the galley. Market-Place - With each passing year we see improved service at this venue formally named Lido Café for lunch (breakfast would be the same). In our early years sailing Crystal the Lido Deck Stewards would do so much at what was the Lido Café along with those from the Specialty Restaurants. Wait staff from the dining room would mostly be standing around. Since changes were made and Lido Deck Stewards no longer cover the buffet area at lunchtime those from the dining room (now Waterside) provide wonderful service at lunch and at breakfast. They assist with beverages. They clear tables. They offer to carry your plate. They even assist getting other items. In short, they are very visible and provide great service. As in the past, many of the hot entrée items change each day and include some themed buffets. Prego – We enjoyed our visit to Prego. Menu has remained constant and we enjoyed cuisine, service and the ambience of this dining venue. Umi Uma – While the name has changed the cuisine has not and is as delicious as ever. There are some additions to the menu replacing some items. We tried some new additions such as lobster tacos and one of the new salads. All in all this venue continues to be an excellent experience. Head Waiter Jed really is on top of things from seating guests, to visiting and assisting waiters clearing tables. Silk – From what we have read, this venue is achieving mixed reviews but that has been our experience with most new restaurants at sea. We rarely eat this type of cuisine on land although years ago we did. We found the food to be tasty and we appreciated the selection. I realize that others do not care for the food but I am just sharing our opinion. I believe this might be a work in progress. Feedback from the guests was that the original menu was too limited and they wanted more choice. This was addressed with many new items added to the menu. Whether longer terms this stays as an Asian restaurant or changes is anyone’s guess. We found two areas of the venue that can be enhanced which is noted later on in this review under the section opportunities for improvement. Churrascaria - This is one of the two new dining venues offering a buffet in the evening for some items with table side service for other items. There is a cold buffet featuring various antipastas/tapas/salads, a warm buffet of sides and a final buffet of dessert/fruit. Guests go up to the buffet to select their items. Sides are served at the buffet by members of the dining team. Some of these sides are also served at the table. Waiters come to the tables to serve various entrees and the selection includes Steak, Beef Short Ribs, Chicken, Lamb Chops, Pork, Shrimp and sliced Pineapple. We enjoyed the experience and found the food tasty. For those who want a light meal one could eat mainly the salad and vegetables and limit their consumption of the entrée like items. The service was wonderful and the look of this venue in the evening has a different feel than having breakfast or lunch there in the daytime. It truly has the feel of a restaurant. The Head Waiter was terrific not only in greeting each guest and having a waiter escort them to their table but also in making rounds to each table to check up on each guest. Vintage Room – The Vintage Room can be reserved to attend with others who sign up for the experience or as we did as an Exclusive Vintage Room where there is flat fee regardless of the number of people attending up to the maximum capacity of the dining table. We hosted on exclusive Vintage Room. The overall cuisine was the best compared to our other visits to this room on either Symphony or Serenity. The cuisine was tasty and arrived hot to the table with each item arriving with a creative presentation. We enjoyed some memorable wines. Congratulations to the Food & Beverage team on-board Symphony and on land. A special call-out to Restaurant Manager Slavko has truly been one of the people instrumental in the orderly rollout of open dining. We thought that the overall food quality was outstanding on this cruise. Due to the length of this cruise and the number of sea days one day a Grand Gala Lunch Buffet was offered. The use of hand held devices to take orders seems to be going very well. Waiters are adept at using them even when guests request changes to the meal. Like all technology some will be more adept than others using these devices. BAR STAFF: We have always enjoyed the bar staff. When Crystal went inclusive a few years ago some wondered would they be happy? How would they know your name? The staff does look happy and includes new and seasoned people and the majority learn your name as they have done in the past. ENRICHMENT: Sailing Crystal Cruises with lots of sea days such as this voyage shows off one of the Crystal differences, which is their ability to offer 50+ activities during the day and afternoon hours. The biggest challenge is what do to each day. This cruise offered some activities that you might not see on port intensive cruises as well as those you do. There is one area that I believe needs some adjustment that I will discuss later. FITNESS: Kudos to the Fitness Instructors as these two on board were terrific. They both seemed very knowledgeable and had a great rapport with the guests. The Fitness Center is well maintained and makes good use of the space they have to work with. For those who like Yoga this cruise featured a dedicated Yoga instructor. While Symphony has one Paddle Tennis court compared to the two that Serenity has I had a wonderful time playing and on this cruise there was very little down time of not playing. ENTERTAINMENT: This is another area that has evolved the past few years under the direction of Keith Cox, VP of Crystal Entertainment/Enrichment. Keith has been with Crystal Cruises for two years. The entertainment reflects diversity and the number of options has been increased and adjustments have been made to coincide with open dining. There were new performers including a couple of performers new to Crystal Cruises along with seasoned entertainers. Most nights had two different main performances with each one shown two times. The team of Crystal dancers/singers and the band were wonderful as is Cruise Director Paul McFarland. We also loved the new production show that was rolled out on this cruise. Adding a new show is no easy task. Aside from all of the work that goes into its development, the on-board team must learn it in addition to practicing and performing the regular shows. There are other choices including listening to live music at night in different lounges and a nice choice of movies shown in the cinema. Another continued change is having different performers in the Crystal Cove in addition to a pianist. INTERNET/NEW TELEVISIONS: We were fortunate to have a good Internet experience but we do know that performance can vary cruise by cruise. On the most part the internet was up and the speeds were good to excellent. We had a couple of days when speeds were low such as at one or two ports in Hawaii. Fortunately I could use my AT&T service and utilize on my computer using the connection to it from my iPhone. The new televisions are great. The quality is terrific and the remote controls are easy to use. It is nice that 60 movies are offered on-demand. There are some items on the TV not available yet. I made more use of Press Reader on this cruise than in the past such as looking at the restaurant menus and posting them on the blog. We made good use of the internet to complete Wi-Fi calls to one another on the ship and to be able to communicate back home. Press Reader worked well to pull up daily menus and reflections. The ability to see our ship board account was not available. Hopefully, this will be available in the future but in the meantime we went by the reception desk to get a copy of our shipboard account from time-to-time. NEW SEABREEZE SUITES; We tried out the new Penthouse Suite (PS) and loved it. On the first day it seemed boxy and there appeared to be limited storage space. Within a couple of days we figured out how to optimize the storage and even discovered areas such as the front closet. Loved the more solid divider between bedroom and living area as we could have all lights on in the living area and you would not see light in the bedroom. Loved the bathroom with the separate toilet area and a small sink and the rain shower is wonderful. It has three options for the rain shower and also a separate hand-held device. The shower drain is much improved and water goes down the drain quickly and does not sit in one area if there is a lot of ship movement. Having a washer/dryer combination was amazing and other guests had the same opinion. In addition to the benefit to the guests in these rooms, it takes away some demand from the guest laundry on Deck 9. It was so nice to be able to do the wash at various times of the day and not have to worry that if we were not around when the wash ended that someone would remove it from the washer. This is a unique feature and I hope it continues to be added to future ships and in future dry docks. The lighting in the room is very good. It took a couple of days to get used to all of it and which buttons to push but once we did we were very pleased with it. The pullout draws in the bathroom were also nice as was the additional shelving above the washer/dryer combo. The front closet provided additional space and a good area to hang jackets. Another very nice feature is the pullout refrigerator. One does not have to squat to remove items, and it holds many more items and has some nice features for open bottles of wine. The configuration of the room is nice should someone have a third person in the room. Also wanted to give a shout-out to the wonderful team that took good care of us including the stewardess and her assistant and the butler. All fabulous. SHORE EXCURSIONS AND LAND PROGRAMS: We booked a private excursion with Los Angeles and it was amazing. It was one of the best tours we have taken. RECEPTION/CONCIERGE/CRUISE SALES CONSULTANT/CRYSTAL SOCIETY HOSTESS: We found each person very helpful. We didn't know the reception and concierge personnel prior to the cruise and within a few days most already learned my name and we found them to be knowledgeable and helpful. The Cruise Sales Consultant turned around our on board booking requests in less than 24 hours. By the end of the day we had the cruises confirmed and our rooms assigned. In two of the three cases I just filled out the form myself and turned it into the front desk. This was the first time I had done it this way and on the morning of the last day of the cruise I turned in an on board booking request and that was also a first. Crystal Society Hostess was helpful and very pleasant. MEET & MINGLE PARTY: I realize that some wondered why the Meet & Mingle Party was not held earlier in the cruise. The reason for this is that with some people registered for the party but not boarding until Hawaii the Bar Manager waited until after the boarded to hold the party and I think that was a nice approach by the Bar Manager. While we didn’t make it to the first portion of the party we did get there around the mid-point and we were happy that several people were still there when we arrived. SOME AREAS TO ENHANCE: In any business there are areas to improve and that is no different here. The good news is this represents a few areas. THE LECTURERS: A great group of lecturers were on-board. The topics were diverse. This voyage had a combination of lectures whom we have sailed with before and lecturers we saw for the first time. For those lecturers who lecture frequently for Crystal Cruises, I think it is important that they create new lectures and not give the same ones year after year. I have seen some lecturers over the years that figured this out. They create new areas to talk about and even if they repeat a topic, they update it to make it more current. I have been on some cruises where with changing news that someone speaking about world events creates a new lecture on board the ship. On this cruise a few of the lecturers presented the same material that they have presented for years. They are good at what they do but I do think they need to change this up. I noted this in the quality assurance survey. NEW SILK RESTAURANT: If it is possible to optimize the spacing between the two person tables closest to the windows, I believe that would enhance the overall dining experience. I believe the potential is there for this. I would also give diners a choice as to whether they want to be at or near the windows where many were seated or would they prefer a quieter location even if it is not near a window. Most tables near the window were filled as the dinner progressed with almost no one sitting in the middle. Had we known this we would have taken a middle or more remote table. ON –DEMAND MOVIES: We appreciate the on-demand movies and the ease of watching them. While a choice of sixty movies is nice, I could see over long cruises such as a World Cruise or back-to-back cruises that some guests would be appreciative of additional choice. If it is possible to expand the number of movies available and also change them from time to time, I believe this would add to the enjoyment of the movies by fellow guests. FINAL THOUGHTS: The Crystal product has evolved since our first sailing in 2002. Like other cruise lines there have been some changes “cutbacks” and some changes that did not please some. At the same time we have seen many product changes we view as enhancements that were implemented to match what other luxury cruise lines were offering and/or to exceed and differentiate from what others offer. I remember the day when you paid for bottled water and sodas, which I believe changed on our second Crystal Cruises voyage. Over the course of the past few years we have witnessed several additional changes which we appreciate including: Inclusive wine and spirits, which I believe, makes the ship more social with lounges busier in the evening hours and more people coming out for the evening entertainment. Inclusive gratuities for waiters, senior waiters, stewardesses and butlers. Additional dining venues providing lots of choice and the implementation of open dining to Symphony and to Serenity in the upcoming dry-dock. Enhanced waiter service at Waterside (Lido Café on Serenity) which I discussed in the review. Lots more choices for evening entertainment including on several evenings two performances each of two different shows. Some new production shows and some reflecting solo artists and also shortening the length of shows. Enhancements to each Vessel. Symphony has undergone that greatest transformation to the public space. Complimentary internet , interactive TV, on line menus/reflections, etc. Reduced guest count capacity. While a major goal was to accommodate the rollout of open dining, this enhances space to guest ratio and crew to guest ratio on sold out voyages. At the same time Crystal has maintained its core values/strengths, which differentiate itself from some or all of its competitors depending on the item. Areas that come to mind include: Quantity and diversity of enrichment and entertainment. The retention of personnel. A high level of luxury service by the crew while making guests feel welcome and part of the Crystal Family. I believe that applies to new members of the crew who are welcomed by other crewmembers and who quickly learn the importance of making the guests feel like individuals and not just a number. In the end no two cruises are the same and no two experiences are precisely the same. For us this has been an amazing cruise and we look forward to our next one. We had such a wonderful time that we added some cruises while on board with the Cruise Sales Consultant. As I say often the only opinion that matters is our very own and this one reflects the opinion of myself and my wife. I also believe in the end each person should figure out which cruise line(s) work best for them. Keith Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was ... Read More
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was attentive and well-trained on how to take care of passengers. You really feel pampered and you leave relaxed and feeling that it was all money well-spent. For two years in a row we took the new Crystal European River cruises. If you have a chance to do that, it was two wonderful trips and totally different than an ocean cruise but with the same outstanding Crystal experience. Those experiences motivated us to go back on the updated Symphony. We liked that they gently enforced the dress rules so you didn't have cut-offs and flip flops in the upscale restaurants. The speakers and on-board activities were terrific. With 10 sea-crossing days (Long Beach to Hawaii, Hawaii to Vancouver), the speakers were every bit part of our ship-board experience. In addition the golf pro was excellent as were the live stage shows. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
I choose Crystal over the years for the magnificent service and standards. I know the company for the last 10 years, I have sailed onboard Serenity and Symphony few times. I feel the crew members are lacking motivation and training, ... Read More
I choose Crystal over the years for the magnificent service and standards. I know the company for the last 10 years, I have sailed onboard Serenity and Symphony few times. I feel the crew members are lacking motivation and training, their can do spirit from the past is gone, food is fantastic but isn't enough for a premium line, I'm frankly disappointed with the onboard experience and lack of identity crystal have these days.. The upside is that itineraries are very good, casino is very good also but overall I did not leave the ship satisfied this time. I contacted corporate to make some comments and I'm still waiting for a reply (not good). At this time I don't think I will go again, it is time to try the competitors, I have cruised with seabourn once and I think I will try again when the time is right, if not silversea could be a good option. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where ... Read More
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where very good. All restaurants serves high quality food. The numerous activities onboard where well appreciated. Lecturers where excellent and all other activities where varied. We embarked at Papeete and did some south pacific atols, Pitcairn island. People from the island came onboard to sell their arts and crafts product. Very interesting. Easter Island was the highlight of this 19 days cruise. We then visited Robinson Crusoe Island and finished our journey at Valparaiso. This leg of the the world tour was amazing. We will certainly sail again on Crystal. We sailed on other cruise line and Crystal deliver the quality and service expected from a 6 stars cruiseline. We are looking to sail again on Crystal in the near future. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and ... Read More
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and sometimes very disappointing. Shore excursions had too many people participating in it. On Nuku Hiva there were twenty 4 wheel drive vehicles in a caravan. The original cabin had a problem with the air conditioner that could not be fixed and had to move to another cabin. The second cabin had multiple problems. The hot water was not hot and needed to be fixed few times. The toilet didn’t flush many times. The alarm of the refrigerator was beeping. The old refrigerator needed to be replaced with a new one. In multiple occasions the public toilets didn’t flush. My cabin was on the 7th floor. I heard from other guests who had similar problems. Read Less
Crystal Symphony Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 4.5 4.3
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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