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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
We had high expectations for our first Crystal Cruise. Boarding was a breeze, our room was fine. Staff on board quickly got to know our names and our favorite drinks. The trouble started when we would return to our room and smell heavy ... Read More
We had high expectations for our first Crystal Cruise. Boarding was a breeze, our room was fine. Staff on board quickly got to know our names and our favorite drinks. The trouble started when we would return to our room and smell heavy cigarette smoke. My husband and I spent the night coughing. This occurred for 3 days and then we asked our room stewardess about it. She said she would check with her supervisor. She returned to tell us that the people in the room next door were smoking. The smoke was being carried through the ventilator into our room. After this we complained to the front desk. The next day we were told that we could move our room. They had a room with a partially blocked view and one at the very back of the ship that we could have. We had paid a premium for our room and did not want to move to an inferior room. No compensation was offered and we refused. Subsequently we noticed that the smoker in the room beside us was a crew member which made us wonder why they did not move them instead. So we suffered the entire cruise inhaling second hand smoke and coughing through every night. The ports we visited were also not very good. In the first port Barbados, we signed up for a snorkel and swim with turtles on one of the excursions. We were taken to a reef that was clearly dead and brown and had few fish, then the crew threw out some bread crumbs to attract a couple of turtles near us. The excursion was not good. Our next port was Devils Island, which was the place of an old prison. Not much was left of it and it was hardly worth getting tendered to shore for. One of the ports was Belem, which was at the mouth of the Amazon. We arrived and the ship reportedly had no where for the tenders to tie up. Eventually they tied up to a public ferry boat that we had to climb up to and walk through the crowd of locals to reach the shore. The excursion was a boat trip on the Amazon river. It consisted of a walk through the jungle and return to a badly looking tour boat. Since the tide must have gone down when we came back, we were forced to walk a narrow plank and I had to sit on my behind and edge myself onto the boat. No water or refreshments were offered and we sat on plastic garden chairs. Hardly the luxury, the Crystal name evokes. The other ports in Brazil were Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador and not really worth seeing unless you liked dirty streets and craft markets. On board life was ok with plenty to do. They had a wonderful lecture series on the Middle East given by Mark Ginsberg. Also a retired judge gave some interesting lectures. Not much action around the pool during the day, just allot of relaxing going on. I did some knitting and needlepoint. I tried to learn Bridge but the instructor was not too keen on instructing novice players although she did put aside an hour a day to teach us the basics. The food was fabulous. Wait staff and Matre D were wonderful and would prepare us special desserts or dishes if we asked. Entertainment on board was ok with some very good acts and some that were a little boring to me. I guess the average age was 65-70 so most the entertainment and music catered to that age group. No one in the casino, not much action in the evening after the entertainment was over.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Having done in excess of 70 cruises over the years this was our first Crystal cruise. The crowd was very old - mainly 70s and 80s and 90s. The entertainment was excellent - always something to do, watch or listen to. The ship was good ... Read More
Having done in excess of 70 cruises over the years this was our first Crystal cruise. The crowd was very old - mainly 70s and 80s and 90s. The entertainment was excellent - always something to do, watch or listen to. The ship was good and clean. The staff was excellent - always helpful. The cabin outside was just about OK - not big but comfortable with a bath. The trips were expensive and not very special. The biggest let down was the food. It was barely mediocre. Nothing came up hot - everything was luke warm. The specialty restaurants were far from special - not even a bread basket choice in the Italian restaurant, just a choice of white or brown roll. The Asian restaurant had good food but tiny minute portions - really minute, my 15 month old baby eats more. Yes, you could ask for more but felt a bit like Oliver Twist - uncomfortable. It would have helped had we been told you need to order at least 6 dishes to get an average portion. The afternoon tea was the worst ever on any ship. As a cake and choc-o-holic l am certainly not fussy about cakes and desserts. These all looked pretty- and all tasted of the same shaving foam! For me to skip dessert and afternoon tea is unheard of but after the first few days they were so awful we never went - not a surprise the tea room was almost always empty whenever we went by. Food at Butlins was better where we took our grandchildren in the summer. A real shame as it spoilt the otherwise good cruise, Would we travel Crystal again? I am not sure. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We recently completed our first Crystal cruise (Vancouver to LA), after having cruised many times on NCL, HAL, and most recently, Regent. We wanted to try Crystal because of the new all-inclusive policy, and because we had heard such good ... Read More
We recently completed our first Crystal cruise (Vancouver to LA), after having cruised many times on NCL, HAL, and most recently, Regent. We wanted to try Crystal because of the new all-inclusive policy, and because we had heard such good things about them. Also, the itinerary was good for us, because we have to maintain internet connectivity while on vacation for our jobs, and we could use our MiFi card while in these ports (rather than having to pay the expensive internet fees onboard). In many ways, Crystal really wowed us; in others, not so much. Embarkation: After dropping off our bags and going through security, we had about a 20 minute wait in the port terminal. We were then called to the gangway, where a crewmember met us to escort us. We first had to stop for the mandatory Welcome Aboard photo, after which we were escorted onto the ship and into a lounge where we did a very quick and very easy check-in. We were extremely surprised to find that there were no officers at the entrance and no glass of welcome aboard champagne to greet us. It was a bit impersonal, truthfully. We found out that there was a very large group of travel agents onboard (over 100, including their children who were with them), being given tours by the ships staff, so that might have been the reason for no greeting. Apparently having these large tours whenever a ship is in port is a common Crystal practice, one that Im not too fond of, as it did seem as if the TAs were being given much more attention than the passengers. We had to find our way to the dining room, as there was no one to direct us, and we really felt like fish out of water, especially since this was our first time on a Crystal ship and we could have used a bit more guidance. Ship: The Symphony is absolutely beautiful. She is so well maintained that it is hard to believe that she is 18 years old. There are numerous lounges with different decors and themes, a very large library and computer center, a large coffee cafe, and the Palm Court, which is Crystals version of the Observation Lounge (which was very elegant and opulent, but just a bit too formal for us). The pool area is divided into two areas: the open pool deck, and a separate deck that has a retractable roof covering it, where both the pool grill and bar are located. The retractable roof was a nice touch, especially on this cruise, where the weather was often cool. The deck furniture is far superior to that of any ship weve ever been on. There were comfortable couches, loungers and chairs with big cushions and lots of pillows, as well as plenty of tables with umbrellas, and a very interesting living wall which was covered with various live plants. The pool deck became our favorite place on the ship and where we spent most of our time. Cabin: And here we come to why the public areas on the ship are so important. Crystals standard balcony cabins are very small (202 square feet, not including the balcony). These cabins do have a lot of drawer and cubby space, but the layout just isnt very functional. The closet is next to the bed, with double sliding doors, and this is really inconvenient, as only one person can get anything out of the closet at a time, and only one side of the closet can be opened at any given time. Only one person can sit on the tiny sofa and then the table has to be pushed up against the desk so that the second person has no choice but to sit on the bed. The fridge is also very small (you could not put an ice bucket into it) and does not cool (it just takes the heat off). The mattress was the hardest one weve ever tried to sleep on, and we had to have our stewardess add a foam egg crate topper onto it just so we could use it. I understand that a lot of people dont care about cabin size because they never use their cabin except for showering and sleeping. We are not that type of people. We like to relax in our cabin in the mornings while eating breakfast, and relax in our cabin in the evenings while enjoying a cocktail before going to dinner, and for that, we need a well laid out, decently sized suite which we definitely did not have on the Symphony. Those pre-dinner cocktails proved problematic. Crystals all-inclusive policy regarding liquor in the cabin is not really all-inclusive. There is a very limited list of allowed liquors, and you are limited to one bottle of liquor and one bottle of wine. If you finish one of the bottles, you can request another. Unfortunately, the list of allowed liquors and wines is not very extensive (for example, Pinot Noir is not on the list), and if your liquor of choice is not on the list, you must either grab a drink from the bar and take it to your cabin to drink while getting ready for dinner, or you can do like I did, and ask the bartender to put a couple of shots into a glass, and carry that to the cabin for mixing yourself. Unfortunately, for us the mixers were an issue as well. We had pre-ordered diet ginger ale with Crystal, and been assured that we would have it. However, once onboard, our stewardess informed us that it was unavailable, and we would have to choose something else. We found out later in the cruise that other people were getting diet ginger ale in their penthouse, so we asked Reception about it. We did get two cans delivered to our cabin that day, and then two more a few days later, but that was all we ever got. It was certainly not a deal-breaker or even a huge issue; we just didnt understand why we were told the soda was not available when it actually was, and why we were not allowed more of it. The only other issue that I noted regarding the cabin and its amenities actually involves the cabin stewardess. She was a very sweet, very hard working young lady, and the cabin was immaculate. However, the last night of the cruise, we discovered that she had gone through all the drawers in our cabin, and had pulled everything out of them. We had done most of our packing already and our suitcases were sitting out in the cabin, so perhaps she thought we were finished and she didnt want us forgetting any of the stuff in the drawers. But I was a bit shocked to come back from dinner to find my pajamas laid out on the bed, and all the rest of our stuff lying around in the cabin. I dont know if that is common practice on Crystal, but I can certainly say I have never seen it anywhere before. Food: My husband loved the food and thought it was the best hes ever had on a cruise. However, generally the food was a bit too rich for me, and didnt have much imagination. The usual dinner offerings were a lamb dish, a veal dish, a fish dish, a pasta dish, and a steak dish, all prepared differently each night, but without much creativity. I tended to fill up on appetizers, soup and salad, because the main dishes didnt usually appeal to me, but they would allow us to choose more than one item in each category, so we made it work. The portion sizes were also very small, which we appreciated, given the richness of the food. It was nice having the smaller portions so we did not feel as if we were overeating. We spent a lot of our time up at the pool bar and grill. The grill offered breakfast and things like hamburgers and pizza up until 6:00pm. However, there was no outdoor buffet with salads and other items if we did not want something from the grill. We could walk to the back of the ship and eat at the Lido buffet, but many times we were at the pool or hot tub, and didnt want to have to get covered up, put shoes on, etc, to go to a buffet. Also, the Lido closed after lunch and never re-opened for dinner, so we were limited to either the main dining room, one of the alternative restaurants, or room service after the grill closed at 6:00pm. As for how dinner is handled, Crystal offers two options: regular fixed seating, or something called Dining by Reservation, where you can choose when you want to eat, but you must reserve it months in advance. Since we didnt want to eat as early as 6:15 or as late as 8:30, we opted for Dining by Reservation and made our reservations for 7:00 or 7:30. Unfortunately, Crystal plans any special evening events (such as the Meet and Mingle or Captains Welcome) at 7:45, to deconflict with the fixed seating times. So those of us with those 7:00 7:30 reservations found ourselves having to change our reservations at the last minute in order to attend those events and thus ended up eating at 9:00 on those nights instead. I understand how Crystal is trying to emulate the true Open Seating concept as much as possible while still keeping their client base who likes the fixed seating happy, but this just did not work well for us. The specialty restaurants consisted of an Italian restaurant (Prego) and a Japanese restaurant (Nobu). Both were superb. They were intimate and comfortable without being crowded (unlike Prime 7 on the Navigator), and the food was amazing. Just my opinion, of course. Service: This is the one area in which Crystal absolutely shines. I never had a waiter, waitress, or bar attendant who wasnt friendly and helpful, or who acted as if they didnt want to be there or that we were a burden on them. The bar attendants all rapidly learned our names and what we drank. The matre d learned who we were on the first night of the cruise, and we never had to provide our name after that in order to get seated. The dining room staff never complained or acted put out if we asked for something special or different. In fact, we could special order meals with the Head Waiter for the next night, as long as we gave them enough notice (we had lobster and a filet the last night of the cruise). When someone on Crystal said, My pleasure it felt like they really meant it. We did have a major Norovirus outbreak during the cruise (15% of the passengers and almost 4% of the crew), and the staff did a wonderful job of handling it with minimal impact to the passengers. In fact, most of us had no idea how severe the outbreak was until we disembarked and read the CDC report. If someone got sick, they and their cabin mate were quarantined for at least 24 hours; however, Crystal did reimburse them for the pro-rated cruise fare for the time they were confined to their cabin. I thought that was a classy way to handle a bad situation. Entertainment: This is another area that is very subjective. The showroom on the Symphony is only one level, so it is impossible to present any sort of acrobatic or multi-level productions there. The shows onboard consisted of a couple who did ballroom dancing (which is a BIG deal with Crystal regulars), and some singing and dancing productions. We personally found the shows boring, but many onboard raved about them (obviously they were not in the row of the people falling asleep next to us during one of the shows!). In the Palm Court every evening, they have ambassador hosts who are there just to dance with ladies who want to perfect their ballroom dancing techniques or just enjoy dancing with someone who really knows how. I honestly felt like I was watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars sometimes both the hosts and the guests were just amazing, but it kept those of us who just like to sway a bit to the music from ever getting on the dance floor. I guess if we wanted to dance we could have gone to Luxe, the disco, but it is a smoking venue, so we avoided it. We found ourselves gravitating to the Avenue Saloon most evenings after dinner, because it had a piano player who would engage the audience in the later hours, so that we could sing along and just be a bit formal. All the lounges had some sort of entertainment, whether it was a piano player or a jazz band or a singer of some sort, so at least there was a good choice of entertainment if the shows were not appealing. Crystal prides itself on its enrichment program. There are various lectures and demonstrations ranging from how Californias troubles are leaching out into America as a whole, to how to improve your golf score. We did not participate in any of the programs because none of them were really interesting to us, but many of the other passengers seemed to love that aspect of the cruise. Smoking: Although Crystal allows smoking in their cabins and several public areas (a policy which is changing early next year to be more restrictive), we never had an issue with it while onboard, mostly because we avoided any lounges or area that allowed smoking. Gym: The gym is well maintained and has a good variety and number of machines and weights. However, the aerobics area is in the same room as the cardio equipment, so whenever a class is held, it is in the same room as the machines and weights, which is a bit awkward. I like to work out to exercise videos on my iPad, but found it uncomfortable to try to do so in the aerobics area, because the music was always turned up so loudly in the gym whenever there was no class being held, and because the aerobics area is right next to an exit door to the spa, so I felt like I was on display whenever trying to do my videos. Spa: We did not use the spa, so cannot comment on it. We did do a tour after embarking, and the spa appeared fairly small, but adequate. Unfortunately, we just wanted to see the spa, not to get the hard sell technique, which is exactly what we ended up with. Knowing that we probably would not be using the spa because the cruise was so port intensive, that hour we spent hearing about all the great things the masseuse could do for us was just a waste of time. Casino: The casino was large and had a lot of slot machines, plus a craps table, several card tables, and a roulette wheel, which I enjoyed (it is really hard to find roulette wheels anymore). The croupiers were all very friendly and helpful. Most of them were from Nevada, so it was fun to talk to them, since we also live in Nevada. I really enjoyed the casino on the Symphony, and I dont usually gamble while cruising. Excursions: Although the cruise was very port intensive, we only took one excursion, both because we were familiar with most of the ports, and because not many of the offered excursions appealed to us, especially given the price. Our excursion to Mount St. Helens was very well done and the included lunch was the best weve ever had on any excursion. The tour was probably the highlight of our cruise. Dress Code: Crystal has relaxed its dress code so that what used to be mandatory formal nights are now called Black Tie Optional. On that night, and on the slightly less formal Elegant Casual night, most men were in dark suits and women were in nice dresses or pantsuits/separates. The rest of the nights were what we are used to on Regent, Resort Casual. However, even on those more casual nights, many men were in jackets and women were elegantly dressed. We did notice that many people got into their evening attire well before 6:00pm, even as early as 3:00 or so, to attend the afternoon tea in the Palm Court. I actually felt uncomfortable going into the Palm Court in my walking pants and sweater on the afternoon of the Mozart Tea (where the servers all dress up in period attire and Mozarts music is playing in the background), because so many people were all gussied up and I was not. We did have to have our bags packed and in the hallway by 11:00pm that last night of the cruise. We flew home the next day, and did not want to wear our resort casual clothes for flying, so we ended up having to make it a fairly early evening that last night in order to get everything but our travel clothes packed up by the designated time. Disembarkation: This was Crystals last chance to wow us, and they sure did, but not in a good way. They have a no-announcement policy on disembarkation, so everyone just shows up at the Starlite Lounge at their designated time, to get off the ship. We were independent travelers, and so could get off at our leisure. Because we had a late flight out, we wanted to stay onboard as long as possible, and according to the Disembarkation Instructions, the latest time off was 9:30am. At 9:05am, there was an announcement that, All remaining passengers are to disembark immediately. It was a good thing that we were already ready to go, I guess. We made our way to the gangway, found absolutely no one there to say Goodbye, or Safe travels, or Hope to see you again onboard someday. We just went straight to the door, handed our key cards to the crewmember there, and left. I almost expected to hear him say, Dont let the door hit you on the way out as we walked away. To be fair, the CDC had sent inspectors to board the ship in LA, to see how they had handled the Norovirus outbreak, so perhaps all the officers and crew were tied up with them. But I still think that just one or two people could have been stationed at the gangway to at least offer a Thank you for cruising with us. It was just a really sorry way to end what we had wanted to be a wonderful cruise. General Thoughts and Impressions: The service was outstanding, the ship was beautiful and comfortable, and the food was excellent. Still, though, for us there was just something missing. Perhaps it is because the itinerary was so port intensive that we did not have much time onboard the ship, so we never really got to know our fellow passengers that well (we have often counted meeting new people and spending time with them as the high points of our cruises). Perhaps it is because the Norovirus outbreak changed the vibe of the cruise. Perhaps it is because we really never could relax in our cabin like we often like to do, because it was just too small for the two of us. To be fair, several long-time Crystal cruisers who I spoke with told me that there was just something off about this particular cruise. No one could pinpoint it, but we could tell these Crystal fans were a bit disappointed with this cruise. So perhaps had we been on a different cruise with Crystal, we might have felt differently. We would certainly consider cruising on Crystal again, if the itinerary, length of cruise, and price (taking into account internet costs) was right for us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2013
Just off Crystal Symphony Melbourne to Brisbane and whilst the ship is nice I believe that it falls well short of Seabourne and is on a par with Oceania. Boarding Boarding was well organised as one would expect.Once on board we has ... Read More
Just off Crystal Symphony Melbourne to Brisbane and whilst the ship is nice I believe that it falls well short of Seabourne and is on a par with Oceania. Boarding Boarding was well organised as one would expect.Once on board we has afternoon tea and then went to our cabin at 3pm Fire Drill Fire drill was at 8pm. Not a good time when many had dinner reservation for 7.30 to 8pm. Still wouldn't have been too bad except for the dining room deferring our meal time from 8pm to 9pm despiter the fact that we notified them as soon as we learned of the drill time Cabin This cabin was the smallest cabin we have ever encountered . It was smaller even than Celebrity and Royal Carribean Shuttles A big raspberry to Crystal. Docked at Adelaide about 20km from the city and Crystal didn't even provide a shuttle to the city. As the train line was under repairs and buses were being used to transfer people for the last half of the journey taxi was the best option but the cost was $50 each way.The failure to supply shuttles went down like a lead balloon with most non excursion passengers. Vibration We have travelled on Seabourn, Ocenia, azamara, Celebrity & Royal Carribean and have had many trip in very rough seas, certainly rougher than we experienced on Crystal. The problem we found with the Symphony was that there was a constant vibration transferred through the ship . This vibration in rougher waters rattled the sliding wardrobe and was felt throughout the night . My wife who has never been seasick in her life felt very uneasy in all sectors until we cruised from Sydney to Brisbane. Quality of dining staff. Let me say that the bulk of the staff throughout the dining venues were very good to excellent. The absolute letdown though was the main Maitre D station in the main dining room. The service here was very impersonal with the Maitre D still not knowing our name or cabin number after 12 days. Once past this station then section Manager Martin was totally different , he recognised you and knew your name after a couple of days. On all past cruises except for Royal Carribean every Maitre 'd had a professional and pleasant air and certainly ever one knew who you were after a day or so. This was not the case with Main dining room front counter staff on CrystalFood The food was very good and both specialty restaurants offered a wonderful fare. Amenities The amenities throughout the ship were very good and there was generally no feeling of crowding. The ships policy to allow visitors on board on the first day in port meant that at time the ship had a bit of a crowded feel during this time. I can't complain thought as I took advantage of this offer myself. One thing that Crystal should address is the smoking areas on the pool deck area. I accept that smokers should have an area in which they can smoke and all lines provide such. Crystal have gone overboard providing about 50% of the pool deck area as smoking area. Lets have some sense and allocate an area in keeping with the percentages of smokers which is way under 50%. A maximum 20% should be provided in a corner area so that non smokers don't have to put up with the smell. One other thin , THAT HORRIBLE CARRY BAG. For heavens sake crystal spend the few dollars more and go back to the old one. Shows The shows were entertaining and the Crystal performers were better than I expected. Shore Excursions I found the shore excursion quite expensive, however, being an Aussie who has visited all the ports on numerous occasions just made my own arrangements or rented a car. General Comments I realise that we all have our own preferences and that all Crystal lovers will be up in arms, however, just let me point out a few of the little niceties you get on say on Seabourn and several of the other better lines that Crystal just don't match Baggage tags. Crystal use cardboard tags, Seabourn have leather permanent tags Cabins. This was the smallest cabin we have ever experienced. The settee was just big enough for 2 people to sit on. Seabour cabin was at least 20% larger with full size bath, separate shower with glass door and a very large lounge area Turn down service. Not that I eat chocolate but every other line we have been on provided a chocolate as part of their turn down service . Not Crystal Tote bags. What a disgrace for a tote back which looks more like a Woolworths shopping carry bag. Get real Crystal and at least go back to your old model which was passable for a 3-4 star line Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
Crystal is a bit better than the average cruise line, but in no way is it '6 star cruising' and certainly not worth the extra cost. I don't believe it represents good value for money, and personally wouldn't cruise with ... Read More
Crystal is a bit better than the average cruise line, but in no way is it '6 star cruising' and certainly not worth the extra cost. I don't believe it represents good value for money, and personally wouldn't cruise with them again. Cabins are really small. We'd booked one for two adults, a three year old in a bed and a baby (6 months) in a cot. The three year old was OK in a chair which folded out into a bed (but I wouldn't want to put a child who was much older than that in there). But when the bed was folded out the table in the room had to go under the dressing table, the chair from the dressing table had to be removed from the room completely and the baby had to sleep in our bed as there was absolutely no room for a cot. This wasn't great, but given the fact we had to pay for the baby when he had nowhere to sleep and no food provided it wasn't acceptable. We were told the lowest category of cabin with a fold out bed available was Cat C. We would have much preferred adjacent cabins with an adjoining door in Cat E but we were told this wasn't available. Very frustrating then that someone we were travelling with was allocated just such a cabin and it definitely did have a fold out bed. The size of the cabin meant there wasn't enough room for all our clothes -- I think we would have struggled with just two people in the cabin -- but with two children quite a lot of our clothes had to remain in the suitcase under the bed, which we could only get out when the fold out bed was folded up. Liked the mini-bath in the bathroom, great for bathing the kids. The twin sink looks great, but as you can't get more than one person in the bathroom at a time it would actually been better to have one bigger sink. Loved the Aveda toiletries. The waiting staff and the room stewards were generally excellent but the reception staff ranged from dismissive to downright unhelpful. Personally I found the entertainment poor. The program didn't vary day to day -- bingo at 10, quiz at 11, dance lessons at 2.30, etc -- the only thing that seemed to change was the guest lecturers. There are obviously a certain portion of people this appeals to but it completely lacked imagination and innovation, nothing that hasn't been done for years. The brochure advertises that there are dedicated rooms for kids but that is quite literally all they are, just a room -- no entertainment at all is provided and there were no toys whatsoever available in the room (which was quite often closed as it was being used by the golf program or the photographers). I understand that there are no dedicated staff available outside of selected cruises but that is absolutely no excuse for not having toys available in the kids room. If nothing else that would mean the children would have somewhere to play away from passengers who didn't want children on-board. There was a kids menu in the dining room but this didn't vary at all, and unsurprisingly my son was getting bored of eating the same things after two weeks on-board. There was very little that was suitable for children otherwise, and absolutely no baby food was available. The food in general was good, and portion sizes in the main restaurant were ideal. The lunch buffet was quite repetitive though, and only a few hot dishes varied day to day, with other counters not changing at all during the two weeks. I found the opening times of both the restaurant and the lunch buffet too limited (trying to fit in getting the children fed and naps meant that quite often I missed the buffet and had to eat at the lido). Other people who ate breakfast quite late or were on the late sitting for dinner might also have found the lunch closing at 1.30 to early also. After 6.30 the only options were the restaurant or the food being served in the restaurant as room service. With the kids asleep in the room, room service was not an option so it would have been nice to have somewhere else to go. Crystal might argue that there isn't the demand for it but the long wait for a table on the two nights there was casual dining in the evening in the buffet room would suggest otherwise. We really struggled to get bookings at the speciality restaurant at suitable times, in the end we only got a booking at all by e-mailing Crystal. We were therefore really annoyed when we did get in to find that we were the only fare paying passengers there save for one other table. All the other tables were taken up by staff, some of them with their guests. I understand that staff might want to take their guests in, but this should not be to the detriment of fare paying passengers, who should get preference. Many of the staff seemed to treat the passenger areas as their own, often taking up tables in the bistro and the lido area, leaving no seats available for the paying passengers. This also meant that the waiting staff were having to serve them drinks, etc increasing the length of time passengers were having to wait. I really didn't think this was acceptable. The boat itself has recently been refurbished but it really is beginning to show its age. We experienced rough weather but I've been on rougher seas in other boats and they were able to cope much better than this ship did. We were scheduled to call at 4 ports -- Dublin, Akureyri, Reykjavik and Halifax. Two of these stops were cancelled due to bad weather (which although the boat made hard work of it wasn't that bad). We were also delayed for over 5 hours getting out of Reykjavik, this was put down to the sea being too rough but the Brilliance of the Seas was out at sea waiting for our berth to become available and didn't seem to be experiencing any problems. As 'compensation' for missing two of the four stops we were given 100$ per person. Unfortunately this was only given to the full fare paying passengers, so no compensation at all for the baby, not even a pro-rata rebate. This works out in the region of 1% of the total cost of the holiday, and given that we missed 50% of the stops we though this was somewhat insulting. One formal night was cancelled, as it was a bit choppy, and never reinstated on another night. And no effort was made to change the entertainment program to alleviate the boredom of spending endless unplanned days at sea. I found that the tours were excessively expensive. For example we did a tour to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It seemed expensive but we though this might be because the entry to the Blue Lagoon was expensive, but this wasn't the case. We were also under the impression that the tours were free for the under 4s. In fact they charged us 50% of the full fare for our 3 year old. This was despite the fact that it was completely free for him to get into the Blue Lagoon. So effectively we had to pay $60 for a bus trip which was less than half an hour each way. Needless to say we didn't take any more trips, and would have struggled to do so as the stops were cancelled anyway! The debarkation was the worst I have experienced. Crystal have a no passenger announcements policy, which generally is OK but when their organisation goes so spectacularly awry they are really needed. Debarkation was scheduled to commence from around 8am, with passengers being told to wait in the Starlight lounge at specific times and passengers would be directed from there. However 9am came and went with no sign of anyone getting off. The two staff present were hopelessly inundated and had no idea what was happening. By 10am it felt like the entire ship was trying to fit into the lounge and when they did begin letting people off the first ones off where the last ones to arrive as those who should have been let off were trapped in the lounge by those who had arrived for a later departure. Utter chaos, and I'd be surprised if people didn't miss their flights because of it. Especially frustrating as we could see passengers on the Carnival ship, which arrived after us, getting of before us. But this event summed up the entire cruise -- lack of customer care, staff largely absent and uninterested and no better (and quite often worse) than any other cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
I know that many people love Crystal Cruises, in fact most of the passengers on my cruise had sailed Crystal numerous times, but I am not one of them and do not plan on sailing Crystal again. I was bored out of my mind!!!!Daytime ... Read More
I know that many people love Crystal Cruises, in fact most of the passengers on my cruise had sailed Crystal numerous times, but I am not one of them and do not plan on sailing Crystal again. I was bored out of my mind!!!!Daytime activities were limited to one trivia and 1 bingo per day plus some lectures, a mid-afternoon movie and dance classes. I read a lot of books on this crossing! The food and service were no better than what I have experienced on many cruise lines that charge much less than Crystal does. I did not find the food or the service excellent or exceptional (except for Prego - see below). The boring breakfast buffet at the Lido Cafe was the same ever morning and the lunch buffet was quite limited and boring also. Food in the dining room was OK, except for my medium rare steak arriving overcooked every night except for the first one. Most passengers loved the free drinks and the wines flowed freely. I don't drink but was happy to have all the Coke Zeros and bottled water I wanted. 2 good things - the delicious cupcakes in the Bistro Cafe and my dinner at Prego- only in that restaurant were the food and service exceptional. It was the best meal I had while on the cruise and I can see why it was fully booked every night. My balcony cabin was much smaller than a balcony cabin on any other cruise line I have sailed, the bathroom was tiny and the bed was as HARD AS A ROCK. If I hadn't been able to get a puffy mattress pad that made the bed a little softer I would have slept on the floor. The pillows were plentiful and wonderful, however. The bathroom was very small with a tub/shower combo. Good water pressure and plenty of hot water and bath sheets that actaually went all the way around me. Thankfully, very few (maybe 10) children on the cruise. Passengers were well-heeled and well-traveled but fun to be with and not snooty at all. Everybody seemed to actually stick to the daily evening dress code. You saw very few (if any!) around the ship in shorts or tee-shirts after 6PM. As this was a big band theme cruise, there was plenty of dancing and gentlemen hosts to dance with some of the single ladies. Many places around the ship to listen to various types of music. Casino-old slot machines that did not pay and ate your money. There were some interesting classes such as beginning Berlitz Spanish, Yamaha keyboard and various computer classes. I prefer a cruise with many more daytime activities that I like to do. You won't see me on a Crystal ship again anytime soon! 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 4.3
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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