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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
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
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: 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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we ... Read More
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we arrived. Ship is modern, comfortable, with plenty of on-board activities and "hide-outs" for spending free time. Evening entertainment was magnificent - especially the "Rocket-Man Elton John Tribute" performance - and even the Cruise Director had a great sense of humor which he shared following each performance. Special comment about "Bluenea" jazz duo whose musical artistry at some of the the lounges was amazing. Variety of South African stops and excursions provided a broad array of experiences from very modern to very rustic. Daily briefings and tour guide yielded great insight into unique cultural perspectives for each stop. Only negatives were multiple required immigration interviews and last-day lengthy debarkation delay due to fog which caused much chaos in rearranging flights. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) ... Read More
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) for $999 -- and a surprising last minute upgrade to the Penthouse level, with butler service and an extra-large stateroom. Then Crystal topped things off by advancing us three trips in the Crystal Society program, resulting in a milestone bonus (credited at Penthouse level) of $200 each -- meaning virtually all of our modest shipboard/excursion costs were covered. The Penthouse gave us the opportunity to experience the butler service and constantly refilled wine (we could have had spirits if we preferred) in the stateroom, plus room service from Prego when we wished it. But even if didn't have these extras (which we certainly enjoyed), the services overall aboard the ship certainly met the standards of our first experience when we travelled in an ordinary verandah stateroom. There were extra sea days because of the cancelled Madagascar stop (because of the plague there), but the shipboard enrichment/programs were truly satisfactory. We also enjoyed Hanukah services with a guest rabbi and about 30 other Jewish people, some of whom ordered the kosher food service available with preplanning. The only flaw: An unpleasant smell in the room a few days; staff certainly worked to try to resolve it. I'm not sure what caused the problem but it corrected itself by the time the voyage ended. Overall, the experience proved satisfying enough that we are planning our next journey in 2019. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply ... Read More
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply don't agree with that review, and found the food delicious and the staff very professional. There are plenty of choices for restaurants on board this ship and ones which meet all requirements, which is important when the passengers are so diverse in their origins and tastes. Buffets can be not to everyones taste but when of such a high quality and freshness cannot be considered below any reasonable persons standards by any means. The staff on board were a credit to Crystal Cruises and were a joy to meet. The entertainment was varied and of a very high standard to all tastes. Embarkation and Debarkation procedures were very professional and streamlined and the free WIFI, although slow at times, was a good addition to the overall services provided by such a wonderful Cruise line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with ... Read More
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with all the major cruise lines and we were not disappointed. The recently refurbished Symphony is stunning especially the Palm Court which is situated on deck 11 at the frount if the ship, unfortunately this was always very quiet and sometimes lacked atmosphere in the evenings. The evening entertainment was varied and excellant, the Resident singers and dancers and orchestra were outstanding. The food was excellant in all dining areas and we especially liked Prego the Italian themed Restaurant, during our cruise we had 4 visits to the Speciality Restaurants. The staff thoughtout the cruise were very good to excellant a special thanks to Norman on the Lido deck so cheerful and efficient. Our stateroom was on deck 7 and although it seamed small at the outset, we soon settled in, the shower was the most powerful we have had on any cruise. The weather throughout the cruise was hot and sunny with the usual daytime activities e.g. trivia and a series of lecturers on board, just a personal view here but we would have liked a little more activity, just a personal opinion. Embarkation was a breeze on the ship within 15 minutes. Unfortunately the ship transfer to a local hotel and airport transfer at the end of the trip was very disorganised. We had been to all the other ports before and therefore arranged our own trips. We would definitely travel with Crystal again, it is like an excellant Boutique hotel at sea. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or ... Read More
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or titanium plus members etc, continually signing for goods and services, mandatory tipping, crowded spaces etc. We like what we have found on crystal and are beginning to think we’ve found our Goldilocks cruise line. This was our third crystal cruise (2nd on Symphony) and her first sailing after dry dock. We’ve attempted to summarise our highlights and closed by listing our favourite 5 and least favourite 5, I confess we were scraping the barrel to come up with 5 things we liked less!! An email arrived the evening before sailing to inform us that there would be a 24 hour delay leaving port, but that no ports of call would be missed and we were each to receive $150 on board credit for any inconvenience. We felt this was very fair and crystal also laid on a half day complimentary excursion for the additional day in Lisbon although we chose to do our own thing (a highly recommended visit to Sintra.) We are always late boarding so embarkation is a breeze, we then stop by the cabin and head up to the trident grill for a snack and glass of champagne. Because of the delayed departure the emergency drill was postponed to the following day which was nice as we felt more able to relax and have a look round the refreshed areas of the ship. We knew about the dry dock and expected a few glitches; we heard (from a lady in the lift ;-) that some of the deck 9 cabins were not ready and that a number of guests had been accommodated on land for the first night. We subsequently heard that those guests were well taken care of for the inconvenience. Our cabin on deck 8 was as expected although it had not been properly cleaned (several items in drawers and bits of debris on the floor) our room attendant was lovely and we felt bad for bringing these things to her attention, it appeared that someone else had made up some of her rooms. During our conversations we got the impression that the room maids have more work than before (she wasn’t complaining - we were probing) She did however provide us with excellent service throughout the cruise and the shaky start was soon forgotten. The only change in the regular cabin is the new TV and desk chair which now fits under the desk more readily than the previous chair. I had hoped to be able to order room service and check billing / menus etc. through the interactive TV but that functionality was not available on our cruise; hopefully this will change in future. We did on occasion hear the TV in the neighbouring room and whilst not an issue for us it could be if larks and owls end up as neighbours. Internet was spotty, I didn’t have too much trouble but was aware that others did and there was a mention in reflections regarding internet connectivity one day. Again I’m sure these things are all tied up in the refit and will be ironed out. In over 40 cruises across a variety of cruise lines we felt that the entertainment in terms of variety and quality was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise ship and we’re really glad we made the effort to get to most of the shows. The only thing to take the edge from this was the lack of drink service before the shows, particularly as there is no convenient bar serving the theatre. The quality and consistency of food was excellent throughout the ship, bearing in mind that the staff in the main dining room did not only have to adapt to open seating but also a new ordering system on small hand held devices. One evening, two of everything we had ordered was delivered which caused some amusement. There was a short line for dinner on the first black tie night but the wait was not significant. The team was under some pressure though they coped admirably. This was the only occasion when it was noticeable that tables are quite close, on other nights we rarely had a neighbour when seated where the tables are closely grouped together. We were also asked if we would like to join an open table, we chose not to so can’t say how this worked. Wine is now generally served by your waiter although sommeliers are on hand and delivered other drinks (ordered via the servers hand held device) The trident grill functions like clockwork, we’re always impressed by the way the main man keeps those lines short and the rest of his team in check. Sadly there were no fries or onion rings for the first few days which was good for my waistline but piled pressure on the staff as every second guest questioned “when will you have fries” something which they very obviously didn’t have the answer to. The Churrascaria was a delight with the additional opportunity to eat outdoors, it’s nice to have an informal option for those evenings when you just want something simple washed down with a nice cold beer. You have a little card labelled yes please one side and no thanks on the other for when you want the meat to continue coming or to stop. It’s not the easiest thing for the meat waiter to see and perhaps a coloured light or flag would make their life easier. Silk was another absolute pleasure and has its own evening ambience to differentiate itself. We felt the food to be authentic and thoroughly enjoyable. I have a shellfish intolerance and am a little nervous in restaurants where a fair amount of shrimp is used. The staff were wonderfully accommodating and we ended up eating there several times. Umi Uma and Prego are pretty much unchanged in appearance and food offer. What we liked best 1. The phenomenal staff, many of whom are new to crystal though you would never know it. I hate to pick out favourites when they are all so good but on this trip Sophia (waterside and bistro) and Fabio (waterside) we felt were truly brilliant. 2. The transformation of deck 11, the way in which new venues have been laid out gives each a separate and clear identity and a really nice fresh feel. 3. Entertainment was truly fantastic each and every evening and we also loved the greater use of starlight for shows than we had experienced previously 4. Food throughout the ship was outstanding 5. Our fellow passengers – we have never failed to meet wonderful passengers on Crystal and this journey was exactly the same. What we liked least 1. Lack of drink service pre-show in the theatre (especially as the nearest bar is some walk away) 2. Avenue saloon vibe was not the same this trip; we just didn’t warm to the pianist (nothing wrong with him) guess we have been spoiled previously. The plus side to this being a far less woolly head the following day. 3. Movie selection in the theatre was odd, I think we had wonder woman one day followed by Spiderman the next plus a few other oddities in the mix (again just my opinion) 4. Birthday breakfast was a bit of a damp squib, this was the first time we had been to breakfast in the restaurant and we didn’t find it decadent or particularly special, just a bit strange. 5. Although I’ve said the food was top notch throughout we still comment on the use of reformed frozen onion rings with the beautiful steak at dinner. It should be obvious from the list of things we liked least that we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, in fact we both agreed this was our best cruise ever with the exception of our very first on P&O Canberra in 1992. (I think your first cruise will always be special) We’re struggling to find a crystal cruise to fit our travel plans for next year even though everyone on our sailing received a letter offering ($1000 per room - $500 pp On board credit) for a booking in 2018/19. The only answer is for us to change our travel plans!! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment ... Read More
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment activities were far and away the best we've ever experiences. The cusine was top rate, though the specialty restaurants were, in my view,no better than the main dining room. Even top shelf liquor brands were included in the price, and service was impeccable.Gratuities and internet also were included in the price, so the high ticket was not as bad as it seemed. The ship, while beautiful, was a bit dated, but was due to go into dry dock right after our cruise. With the exception of Lisbon, Madeira and Morocco, the island ports were just so-so; but who cared? We would've been happy to never leave the sh\p! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended ... Read More
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended up right at the front of the ship. It was absolutely fine most of the time, but we did have one rather rocky night in the Bay of Biscay! Embarkation was remarkable. We were very lucky to be within driving distance of Dover, where our cruise started. From leaving the car, we were in the Crystal Dining Room within 15 minutes – having stopped off to check out our room on the way! We have stayed in this room category on Symphony previously (PS), so it was just as expected and very comfortable. As I have said in previous reviews, I do think a little updating is required and hopefully this will happen in the upcoming dry dock. In particular, the TVs are very small and somewhat dated and some of the furnishings are looking a little tired. However, it is a well-planned and thought out space with plenty of storage, and a good-sized and equipped bathroom. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens and pillows. We forgot to bring a phone charger, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an integral charger in the clock. We sampled many of the facilities on the ship – the gym, spa, cinema (rather weird choices of films sometimes!), Vintage Room, lectures, casino, shops etc. We also enjoyed several specialty restaurant reservations. Service throughout the cruise was outstanding. Where we did have an issue, it was resolved quickly, efficiently and with good grace. The crew, across the board, were unfailingly friendly and helpful – I know they are trained to be so and ‘have’ to be, but it makes for a great ambience nevertheless. We found the food to be excellent, as previously. We did eat several times in the specialties and never tired of either. The CDR was also good, but I felt service was a little below par at times and that they were over-stretched with so many people to take care of especially on the BTO evenings. This resulted in either long waits before ordering and between courses, or conversely one plate being whipped away and the next course being served almost simultaneously. We found the included wines to be very drinkable and of course there was always the option to purchase wines when we felt like splurging. I wish they had a better included champagne though! We are reluctant to buy a bottle of champagne because we would never get anywhere near finishing it, but I cannot drink the included stuff. We had signed up for the Ultimate Vintage Room, but perhaps there wasn’t enough interest because it was not offered. Instead we did the regular Vintage Room dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great food, wine and company.. a really good evening. We thought all the ports were well worth visiting, but perhaps didn’t make the best choices with a couple of our excursions which were a bit long/boring/expensive. We didn’t get to all the shows but enjoyed those that we saw, with the exception of the new light show which wasn’t to our taste, but I’m sure many would disagree. We also found the lectures interesting, informative and entertaining. All in all, we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service ... Read More
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service was nice and cabin worked out well for us with enough space for storage etc. The entertainment was good, but would have preferred the "Last Show with Dancers etc" to be the night before the last. We did not take any of the shore excursions, but did touring on our own. We found the tours to be very expensive and a few people we meet were disappointed in them not having enough time at sights. This was my first cruise with Crystal and I would certainly consider going again. Would have liked one more sea day. As we get older it is harder to TOUR everyday. Also, would have liked more information about sights at each port. Found some very interesting things by accident. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of ... Read More
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of our Crystal cruises. This one was chosen for one specific stop: Edinburgh to attend the Military Tattoo. The rest of the ports all turned out to be nice bonuses. We arrived a day in advance to Antwerp, Belgium, our port of embarkation. A five-hour flight delay caused us to change our sightseeing plans for our arrival-into-Europe day, but it worked out fine. We stayed one night at the Hilton right near the Cathedral in Antwerp and we loved the location. If we had not visited Antwerp on a previous cruise (river cruise), we would not have had time to see everything we considered important. The Antwerp Hilton also happens to be staffed by excellent personnel, and the property is lovely, so we recommend it highly. Crystal keeps to a schedule better than any other cruise line. Everything starts on time! That includes embarkation; the time stated on your documents is the time the first folks will be invited onto the ship. The only limiting factor, then, is how many people arrive at the port before you do. In this case, we dawdled a bit too long, and many others didn’t; so we were in the third or fourth embarkation group. Once you get started, it goes great; but in this case, I was sorry we didn’t arrive at 11:30 instead of at 12:15, because we had planned to have a fairly quick lunch and then finish the sightseeing we’d saved from the day before. We actually could’ve satisfied our hunger for a snack at the hospitality lounge Crystal provided in the waiting area at the makeshift cruise terminal, if I’d realized it soon enough. Instead, after our little trek through the various security and passport control stops and the usual quick Crystal check-in onboard, we went to the Trident Grill for a burger and a wrap and then hustled off the ship to walk the mile to the Red Star Line Museum, which we had been anticipating for over a year. It did not disappoint! We arrived back to the Symphony just in time for the muster drill, and then it was time to unpack. Wait! First it was time to figure out why it was so warm in the stateroom. It was because, for some unknown reason, the stewardess had put the heat up to the absolute highest setting. Ok, that was solved easily enough. Now to unpack, and when Mr. Husband announces that there’s so much drawer space, even in our entry-level cabin, I decide to count the drawers: he has seven and I have ten. Throw in a few shelves and we really do have space to unpack every single thing we’ve brought with us. Next comes the husband announcing how wonderful the shower is, and how much he loves the double sinks. Besides the stewardess leaving the room heat at the highest, leaving the hottest setting for the water in the tub, and her not having cleared out the previous guest’s leftover food in the fridge, everything after that was pretty much spot on perfect. We check the Reflections (daily schedule) and realize that we would like to go to the show but it conflicts with our dining reservation, so a quick stop at the Crystal Dining Room (their MDR) gets our reservation changed. Right now Crystal has two “set” dining times, 6 pm and 8:30, plus Dine by Reservation. We used the Dine by Res., and it works very well for us. We like to eat alone and there are plenty of two-tops. We ended up having five different senior waiters and all were totally fine. Crystal has one maître-d’, who oversees the entire dining room, plus quite a few head waiters who keep things running extremely smoothly throughout the dinner hours (and breakfast and lunch, too). As has been our experience in the past, service was stellar, and we happen to love Crystal’s food. My favorites included several various salads and appetizers with beets, and even a beef broth soup with beets for lunch one day. Fish dishes were great, lobster was great, kosher chicken is always offered once per cruise and was actually the best ever. The dinner that was least “perfect” was the duck entrée. It lacked great taste and was perhaps a tad overcooked. We have two favorite wines in the included reds, and I have the Pedroncelli zinfandel almost every night, unless the sommelier thinks I’ll be happy with whatever’s being poured that night – and she was right, whenever she said it. Husband prefers the Paso Robles cabernet, and is also usually happy with whatever’s being poured that night, sometimes a white. We generally have breakfast at the Lido, where we experienced great service from the Lido guys, as we have in the past. This cruise’s standouts were Ferdie and Allan, both from the Philippines. The guys who cook the eggs, even the one who does the toast, all are expert at what they do. For lunch we like the Lido or the Trident, where, again, the “cooks” there do a great job. The Lido has a huge variety, and so does the Trident (the burgers and wraps and great fries). Then if we want an ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is open until 6 pm, and the Bistro has all kinds of breakfast things until 11:30 (cereals and bagels and baked goods), then lunch/snack things. I often stop by the Bistro for one little piece of watermelon, one of honeydew, and a couple of small pieces of cheese, or even brie on a cracker. As somebody said the first day, to her travel companions, if you like (cold) turkey, this is the place to eat it. I can’t disagree. We always have dessert with our dinner meal, but if we didn’t, we could always go to the Bistro for dessert. So far, on four cruises, I’ve never succumbed to the temptation to have MORE than one dessert! I only went to afternoon tea once; it’s a great thing to do on an at-sea day. Our meals at Silk Road and Prego were delicious as usual. Actually, Prego was better than ever, after being a tad disappointing, previously. One of the things I absolutely love on Crystal is the enrichment, always on an at-sea day and sometimes one lecture at sailaway time from a port stop. On this cruise (only two at-sea days), we had destination lecturer Bob Aalberts, current events lecturer Tom Faranda, and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. They all did a great job. I didn’t know what to expect with the addition of “Broadway at Sea”, but we both liked it a lot. We had an added bonus of a husband and wife singing/acting pair who told us about their careers and were the featured entertainers one evening. I attended one computer class (iPad Tips and Techniques) and most of the evening entertainment. We missed going to the new show, Speakeasy, which got rave reviews from everybody who attended. There are all kinds of things we don’t attend, but we did very much enjoy the music (a singer and keyboard player) in Palm Court from 6:15 to 7:15. This worked well for our typical 7 pm dinner and is an improvement from previous cruises. I’m guessing there will be music at pretty much any time after the switchover to open seating dining, after Symphony comes out of drydock in October. Disembarkation was absolutely as easy as it could possibly be. We booked a private transfer from Honfleur into Paris with two other couples, which worked great, and then we stayed three nights at the Hilton near the Opera House. That worked perfectly for us to take the metro to our 2-1/2 days of sightseeing and various dinners, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The hotel, again, is lovely, but our entry level room, while quite classy, was also quite small, and a bit of a rude awakening after our stateroom on the Symphony. It was a good buy, for Paris, though, and I’d stay there again. We could have taken a Crystal Paris two-day post cruise tour to Paris, but we generally prefer doing our own sightseeing, so we decided to do everything on our own. Doing plenty of advance planning, both for our ports and for Paris, allowed us to have all kinds of wonderful sightseeing experiences. All in all, what a great vacation this was! Looking forward to two more Crystal cruises we have booked. We’ve had very high expectations, all four times, and we have not been disappointed. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to ... Read More
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to take a chance. We are glad we did as while some of the cities on the itinerary were more crowded than during the shoulder season, they were not too bad. Crystal really does excel at so many things that it is hard to pinpoint just a few. The service is always impeccable and it is the only cruise line we have traveled with where the staff seemed genuinely pleased to be there. We were glad to see a good number of staff who provided such outstanding service in November also on this cruise. In November, we thought the food on the ship was good, but this time we found a number of our meals to be memorable. While we expect that in the specialty dining venues, we didn't expect to have some many stellar experiences in the main dining room. We like the fact that the ship really does provide an all inclusive experience and again we found it a challenge to use our on-board credit. What Crystal does allow is using your on-board to recognize staff members. I only wish more cruise lines did this because it is always a waste having to find ways to spend your on-board credit on things you don't really need. Crystal did an excellent job of getting guests from the port to the heart of the city. On so many other lines, you end up waiting and waiting for shuttles to take you from the ship to the city. The entertainment on the ship was mixed, with some great evenings provided by guest performers. We love the fact that they also have a magician on board who does several performances in an intimate setting of close up magic. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was ... Read More
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was really wonderful. We knew the Symphony was going in for major remodeling a few weeks after our cruise, but the ship was still in great shape, and the staff and service were incredible. Our only complaint was the limited wifi, but this will be rectified in the rejuvenation of the ship which will greatly boost the wifi and turn the ship into a 24/7 free wifi inclusion. We would highly recommend Crystal and this ship. The ports on the Baltic were fabulous and we loved every Crystal excursion. Cannot adequately rave about this trip. it was our first cruise and we feel like we started at the top. Tip, we dined lavishly at every opportunity, but took the stairs everywhere and walked a lot on the shore excursions, and used the workout room, and we both actually lost weight on a cruise. Oh, which reminds me, my wife and son has some food allergies and needed gluten-free meals and almond milk and such, and Crystal was very accommodating and provided the tastiest meals and treats imaginable. And their sugar-free desserts were out of this world as well. Incredible! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I love Crystal, for its outstanding service, friendly crew, beautiful ships, delicious food, and lectures/ other activities. Everything during my 3-1/2 weeks onboard was amazing, from the shore excursions to the cabin stewardess. ... Read More
I love Crystal, for its outstanding service, friendly crew, beautiful ships, delicious food, and lectures/ other activities. Everything during my 3-1/2 weeks onboard was amazing, from the shore excursions to the cabin stewardess. Embarkation and disembarkation were painless, with no waiting at any point. One never feels "herded" on Crystal. I particularly appreciate the approach to the Solo traveler---Crystal welcomes us, charging somewhat less than double the fare for a cabin, depending on the cruise. They also host "Table for Eight" dinners in the specialty restaurants, so that one need not dine alone, unless preferred. There were many Solo travelers on my cruise. This ship and its sister, the Serenity, are scheduled for major upgrades later this year, and, while I'm sure the results will be lovely, I will miss the Symphony just as it is. The Bistro is one of my favorite spots for a cappuccino with ocean views. Also, there is a fine selection of sweet and savory snacks, though one could easily make a meal of them. My cabin was my retreat when I needed downtime--- I kept it very neat and tidy, and therefore it was plenty roomy. The suitcase fits nicely under the bed. I didn't even use half of the storage drawers. Lectures are a particular favorite of mine, and we had several, on subjects as varied as Donald Trump, Atlantic Ocean geology, and the Ancient Romans. We also had several excellent concerts, as well as fine ballet dancers performances. All in all, though I just got home last night, I would go again in a heartbeat, and, in fact, am already booked on Crystal for 2018 and 2019. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
I picked this cruise because it was a great deal for solo travelers, had lots of sea days (I love sea days - especially the lectures), and the itinerary. It did not disappoint. I reconnected with several fellow travelers from other ... Read More
I picked this cruise because it was a great deal for solo travelers, had lots of sea days (I love sea days - especially the lectures), and the itinerary. It did not disappoint. I reconnected with several fellow travelers from other Crystal cruises met many new enjoyable companions. The service, the activities, fellow travelers are all part of the reason that I love Crystal cruises and this one met all expectations. BTW I booked 2 more cruises while on board - one leaving August 3rd and the other in 2019. New York was special for me since I went to the 911 Memorial Museum to re-visit one of the worst days in my life - I was on an airplane that day and lost 5 business associates (4 in the airplane that hit the Pentagon and 1 in the airplane that hit the south tower. In Newport, I sailed on the Columbia, the 12 meter boat that won the America's Cup in 1958. It was a beautiful day for a sail. In Boston I walked the Freedom Trail - my last time was more than 50 years ago. I Bar Harbor, I ate Lobster. Halifax is one of my favorite ports, with great historical and archeological sites. It was rainy in Iceland but still interesting. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to see Iceland and after looking at all the itinerary's of many cruise lines we decided we liked the Crystal Symphony itinerary the best since it sailed out of NYC , stopped in New England ports and then on to Iceland. We ... Read More
We wanted to see Iceland and after looking at all the itinerary's of many cruise lines we decided we liked the Crystal Symphony itinerary the best since it sailed out of NYC , stopped in New England ports and then on to Iceland. We had heard it was a great cruise line but didn't realize how excellent it really was until we sailed on Crystal. We have been on 12 cruises on 3 different lines. We always enjoyed ourselves but never expected to enjoy this one as much as we did. First off, you aren't "nickeled and dimed to death", almost everything is included in your fare. The food was exceptional and of gourmet quality, the crew amazing, and the entertainment very good. ( a famous singer, a pianist, singers who won national TV talent contests, dancers), The afternoon lecturers were interesting and very knowledgeable. They even had a former astronaut give 4 extremely great lectures on space . The cabin was nice and roomier than others we've been in, very comfortable and quiet .The ship was beautiful but a bit worn, but we heard it's being refitted this Sept. The average age was probably about 60 but these people seemed generally to be a very active , friendly group and very loyal to Crystal.. We couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more and hope to do more Crystal cruises in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to imagine that the food in the dining room was better than the last cruise, but it was. Our waiters were exceptional, as was the wine steward. The room stewardess was so attentive and thorough. The only complaint I can think of was the poor, and often unavailable WiFi connections. Hopefully with the drydock in September, this will be rectified. Unlike cruise 7208 reports, our Lido/Trident staff was as wonderful as ever. especially Jonathan. Kiko. Allan and Dio. You are truly a member of the Crystal Family when you return and that cannot be overlooked. We look forward to the "New ships" as they come out of drydock and hope not too many of our familiar services and programs will disappear. We too were given a $250 per person onboard credit for our embarcation in San DIego, and we actually enjoyed the 2 hour scenic motorcoach ride. Debarcation in New York City was so quick, we never even got to sit in the Starlite lounge. 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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