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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and ... Read More
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and drinking. If you have trouble walking beware. They do not accommodate , at least they didn't for me. I ended up missing activities because I couldn't get from my room to the event. I had asked for a handicapped room, not available, then asked for a room close to the elevator, it didn't happen. Confirm which cabin you're getting and where it is located., even thou I paid for a balcony no effort was made to make it easier. If you go just walk slowly and eat a lot I was disappointed that no food or entertainment was related to the part of the world we were in. but the food was so wonderful that it wasn't a big deal. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Voyage No. 6202 on Crystal Symphony was aptly named Antarctic Discovery: though a very brief discovery it was, a 14-day cruise with only about one day's time on Antarctic waters often at foggy weather. 8 out of 14 days were sea days, ... Read More
Voyage No. 6202 on Crystal Symphony was aptly named Antarctic Discovery: though a very brief discovery it was, a 14-day cruise with only about one day's time on Antarctic waters often at foggy weather. 8 out of 14 days were sea days, mostly rough, but to me, even the limited time at Antarctica was rewarding enough, with spectacular scenery unseen anywhere and it will linger in my memory for life. We sailed from Buenos Aires on 13 January at 6pm and it was not until the fifth day that we set foot on land. Even on the Argentina coast from day one the sea could not be described as smooth. The first port of call was Ushuaia, the southernmost city on a Sunday and there was nothing to see. The four full days at sea passed well though, that is if you can take the sea. Passengers were allowed four dinners at specialty restaurant without supplement and I took full advantage of this. Both Silk Road (Japanese fusion cuisine by Nobu) and the Italian restaurant Prego were really good, the Italian Maitre d' particularly friendly. This voyage was not full, so that booking at the two restaurant was easier, and it allowed me to decide where to dine after studying the main dining room menu. Barely about a year ago I sailed on Crystal Serenity, and this time by the third meal in the main restaurant I noticed the marked change of cuisine style. The waiter confirmed that there was indeed a change of the Group Executive Chef. Crystal offers two full menus to choose from, one traditional one modern. The new modern menu was very much molecular cuisine. Excellent presentation of course and restaurant staff service was to Crystal's usual high standard. Together with the best high tea at sea: the Palm Court formal tea is almost a real ceremony everyday, and these made each day a culinary experience of some sort, even though personally I prefer the previous style of more traditional cooking. On the third night I was told that my PH stateroom was infected with insert even though I did not see anything. I reluctantly agreed to move a few cabin away, and helped by my butler, stewardess and porters, the move takes no time and there was not even the need to pack and unpack. For this inconvenience I was surprised that an additional credit of USD250 was added to my account. What happened was an indication of Crystal's meticulous attention to hygiene of a highest order, and I appreciate the generosity of the unexpected offer for compensation. I believe most if not all other cruise lines would not do so as it was not really necessary. We sailed at 9pm towards Drake Passage. The Captain had already announced that due to weather condition we would not be able to sail around Cape Horn next morning. He also warned that passengers should expect rough sea condition near midnight and should take safety caution. Indeed the sea was rough (Beaufort 9) by midnight. I can take any sea condition, and I believe passengers should have the correct expectation as one sails across Drake Passage. Arrived in Antarctic waters about 8:30 am and the sea turned smooth. The incredibly beautiful and spectacular scenery sent everyone shivering on the deck in very strong wind and around zero degree temperature. We arrived Palmer Station about 1pm and the Palmer crew were on the ship to give a very enlightening presentation of their research work, then they answered questions. The following day was supposedly another day of Antarctic scenic cruising but misty weather condition precluded any good sighting. We passed Elephant Island without view of the island, but there was a brief glimpse of sunset at Antarctica that was simply breath-taking. Negotiating Drake again for another not very comfortable sea day, we arrived Port Stanley at Falklands. The best excursion was the visit to the penguin colony, and this turned out to be excellent as we get really close to penguins. Part of the drive was by 4x4, 4 in a car, which accounts for the higher cost, but it is worthwhile. After Falklands the South Atlantic was also rough. There was little interest as a destination for Puerto Madryn. But after another sea day Montevideo was a good port of call, as of course the embarkation port Buenos Aires that I stayed three nights post-cruise. If this cruise is not for the average cruiser and not really an expedition, it is nevertheless a trip for real travellers rather than for tourists. It takes a real traveller to take in so many rough sea days and three uninteresting ports of call to 'discover' Antarctica (and in my case I needed to fly more than 30 hours just to arrive for embarkation). But what an experience to last a lifetime! A souvenir to take home was an Antarctica Certificate bearing my name signed by the Captain. I am not bored during sea days as I enjoyed the ship's food, the pamper, and not least the entertainment. The evening with the singer Kristen Hertzenberg, a 'real' soprano, was one of the best shows I have seen at sea. If the time spent in Antarctic waters was too short, it was simply memorable. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is ... Read More
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is probably why the two Crystal ships (the Serenity and Symphony) are such a good value. In spite of the cabin size, there is plenty of storage. There is so much to do onboard (good speakers, computer, foreign language and bridge classes on every cruise) that there is no reason to spend much time in your cabin. Admitedly, the entertainment is geared to the 'conservative' 50+ passenger. You aren't going to find costume contests and 'wild' pool entertainment. The fitness center has the most modern equipment (plenty of it) and many free classes...Stretch, Pilates, etc. The food is very good and the 'inclusive' wines and spirits are quite satisfactory with a large selection of both. In fact, most of the spirits are premium quality (e.g., Makers Mark). The Silk Road (Nobu's Japanese restaurant) is wonderful as is Prego, the Italian restaurant. With the new management, I have noticed a couple 'cut-backs'. There are few free shuttles into town. You either need to take a tour or arrange your own transportation if the city is not within walking distance. In the dining room, caviar is on the menu several nights, but you can no longer order it at any meal as you once could. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The ... Read More
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The reason is that she is meticuluosly cared for on an ongoing basis. If you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can see how hard the staff works to address any wear in the ship, and before the guests would notice a problem. The crew and staff of the Crystal Symphony are the ship's greatest asset. They are more than just responsive when a passenger asks for something -- they anticipate the needs of the passengers and do so in a friendly way. Many go out of their way to learn the names of the passengers and then assume responsiblity for that traveler from then on. The food is the best of the best - intersting and tasty selections each day, and beuatifully presented. No expense spared. The Nobu specialty restaurant is in a class of its own. We went twice and I am not even a huge shushi fan! The basic category room is small but workable (246 SF with balcony). The added space of a penthouse would have been appreciated, but perhaps not worth the added cost. Let's face it: if small rooms are problematic then maybe cruising is not for you in the first place. Regardless, there is plenty of space devoted to the common areas so other than in the stateroom no one should feel claustrophobic. The target market for this cruise line is decidably the older crowd -- age 70+. At times there were enough seniors piloting their motorized scooters to warrant a traffic cop or perhaps valet parking. Make no mistake that the age of the crowd sets a tone, and that is one that is placid. If you are looking for high energy activities on board, you will be disappointed. Needle point classes and nodding off by the pool are more the order of the day. The entertainment was just plain bad. There was a featured flutist who played with the ship band one night and a low quality Elton John impersonator (although his back up singers were quite good) who played another night. Sereiously, when I think of cool entertainment, the flute just does not come to mind. There is also the ship's band who played by the pool/sunning area for about an hour daily. This was Muzak elevator music with an Asian influence. The rendition of a KC & the Sunshine Band song is still in my head, and that is not a good thing. That music certainly did not risk waking any napping seniors. There were also a couple of speakers who gave canned presentations on dull subjects, but like the other entertainment options were worth missing. The ship did stream some football games via satelite, but it seems they could have done more of this. Ditto better and more frequent movie selections. Not a huge issue, but shopping aboard the Symphony is odd. This is a Neiman Marcus level cruising experience with last year's Macy's basement shopping. Shopping can be a real money maker and the Symphony is missing a real opportunity here. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Review of Joie De Canada, September 20-27, 2015, 7 day trip on Crystal Symphony Quick overview of what others might mention elsewhere: Embarkation: Took our luggage, checked our passports, ran us through the security scanners, we ... Read More
Review of Joie De Canada, September 20-27, 2015, 7 day trip on Crystal Symphony Quick overview of what others might mention elsewhere: Embarkation: Took our luggage, checked our passports, ran us through the security scanners, we took the sailaway picture, and then proceeded to the gangway. Promptly ran into people coming off the ship in an area only about 3 feet wide. We had luggage, they didn’t: made for difficult maneuvering. Traffic control could have been better. Went to midship lounge to obtain keycard. Room was ready as advertised promptly at 3 pm. Ports of Call: Awesome weather all 7 days of the cruise. Saguenay River: Lovely view of the Madonna statue. Others said they saw beluga whales (we didn’t see them. It would have been nice if that was announced over the PA). Sept-Iles: A waste of time. The running joke on board was that the best place to visit was the Walmart. Magdalen Islands: Picturesque. Took the Tastes tour: nice enough, although the scallops visit was not working the day we went. Smoked herring part of the tour was interesting. Don’t let anyone tell you that they give you enough for lunch at the different stops (beer, cheese, smoked herring, etc). They don’t. Eat lunch before you go. St Pierre/Miquelon: Picturesque. Check out the walk to the top of the hill (number 8 on the guide to the Fort) to get a great view of the entire area. The walk out to the light house on the promenade is quite interesting but very narrow – have a care. Once at the light house itself, check out the embedded cannon right next to the front step. Quebec: the highlight of the cruise. St Anne’s cathedral and the Montmorency Falls are absolute musts. The funicular is not worth it – take the steps if you are able. Disembarkation: we were travelling by car (8 hours from New Jersey!) so did not have to wait for a group. We got off with our hand luggage, found our color coded luggage easily, were barraged with queries as to whether we needed a porter/help, then made our way back to our car that was parked at the pier. No fuss, no crowds. We were surprised that we did not have to pay parking fees. Don’t know if that is the case world wide, but it was a nice touch here. What was in our room: Deluxe picture window. Have heard many statements that the staterooms are tiny. We did not feel any big difference between this room and others of the same type we have had on HAL/RCCL/Princess/etc. in terms of size. Beautiful room, high tech, ENORMOUS (for a cruise ship) bathroom with 2 sinks and a tub. All very comfortable with a lot of amenities: Lumbar pillows on couch More drawers/shelves than we knew what to do with Adjustable height table Extra lights around the mirror Bottle opener Night light Hooks on wall/closet door Personal reading lights High tech door bell LOTS of hangers (leave yours at home) Charging station for electronics (tablet/mobile phone) Shoe horn Umbrella Clothes brush Hairdryers (2) Qtips Makeup Wipes Kimonos and Robes Slippers Pillow menu Extra blankets Shoe polish Lighted closet Plastic wallets for room key/ship map Beach bag Shampoo/conditioner/soap/body wash/lotion Shower cap Emergency sewing kit Ice bucket, tongs, glasses Refrigerator filled with soft drinks, water, beer Safe Flowers Wear and tear: Very little, which is impressive for her age. 12th floor outside deck covering was somewhat worn, a few spots of rust under the floor above us, the bathroom tiles were getting rubbed in places. Tenders could use a little fixing up. Otherwise, truly spotless and immaculate. What they could do better, in no particular order: Luggage tags are paper chip/chintzy Gangplank angles were sometimes alarming (we are in our 50s and love to hike, so normally have no mobility problems). This seemed to be due to tides. Stateroom temperature control was difficult Daytime activities for sea days were minimal Main Dining Room service was very inconsistent. We had different waiters and tables every night. Some wait staff were absolutely fantastic, others occasionally forgot to bring us requested items (one course went missing, petit fours did not show up another night, crumbs not removed, tea was late) Crystal port support personnel should be familiar with parking/toll procedures Would like to have access to final charges/account online (wifi or TV) rather than getting a printout from the front desk. Would like to have access to downloadable menus from the cruise (wifi) Would like to have access to downloadable activity list from the cruise (wifi) Would like to have carrot/celery sticks at Bistro Would like to see butter mints and breadpudding with vanilla sauce. They do provide candied ginger and hard mints after the meal in the MDR though. Tissues by the bed, not just in the bathroom Had trouble getting time in the bridge rooms as they were nearly always busy this trip. DH and I like to play card/board games (Settlers of Catan, Dominion, etc not Monopoly!) and had trouble finding a large enough table. No Crystal magnets in Apropos for my refrigerator (Ja, I am one of THOSE people) Elemis products were in the public restrooms, Aveda were in our bathrooms. Both were horrible on our skin. Very drying. DH and I were both happy I brought a bar of Dove soap from home. We would like to see Crystal do Bermuda We would have liked a crash course in French (or at least some of the things we might see/hear such as “Sortie” “Ouverte” “Ferme”) on this ship prior to visiting some of the ports. What we liked, in no particular order: The Library. Great selection of CDs, take away puzzles (Sudoku/crossword puzzles) 1 hour free wifi per person per day, accumulatable Our bathroom Minimal public address announcements (no shore excursion, no disembarkation, it was nice and quiet!) THE FOOD: O.M.G. Truly scrumptious, beautifully presented Service everywhere else but the MDR. Please say hello to Tirso for us if you see him. In general, most of the crew couldn’t do enough for you. We felt very pampered. Had a great stewardess too (Hi Jelena!!) The shows. World class. No lines, no crowds, no pushing and shoving, no nickel/diming for everything No kids running wild, no apparent drunks (even with all the accessible alcohol which is included in the price of the cruise), sophisticated ambience Blankets on decks 11 and 12 for chilly weather This trip/ship is best for relaxation. This is not a ship for frenetic activities. If you want that or a hopping night life, use RCCL or Carnival. This is a floating 5 star hotel with awesome food and service, not a destination resort. Average age is about 70, with 1/3 of the passenger population in 50/60 range, 2/3 of population was American, 1/3 Canadian, with some small international smatterings. Most are educated, well travelled, well dressed (more than half of men wore jackets/suits to dinner every night, most women were dressy), well mannered. Would we take this ship/line again?: In an eyeblink, but only for itineraries with minimal sea days. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was a very lovely cruise with wonderful attentive staff. The entertainment was not great. It was Broadway reviews almost every night. It would have been nice to have comic or magic night thrown in one of the nights. We made use of the ... Read More
This was a very lovely cruise with wonderful attentive staff. The entertainment was not great. It was Broadway reviews almost every night. It would have been nice to have comic or magic night thrown in one of the nights. We made use of the gym which was very nice. There is a deck for running which is the best and the largest running/ walking deck for a cruise line I have seen. Food and cabin were perfect...except for the coffee. Cruise coffee is always bad. Shore excursion to Ephesus Turkey is a must. We choose the "Ephesus Ancient city/ Mother Mary's house." We enjoyed the lectures on board. There was a great library with movie rentals. Our only complaint was the disembark from the ship. We used the Crystal transportation company to the airport. It felt very rushed and disorganized. We arrived at airport with only 45 minutes to spare for boarding. There was a fight between passengers. Poor staff did know how to handle these rude people. We barely made it through two different security screening check points. We were told that if we had not made it Crystal would pay the cost. I never saw that in writing anywhere. Ship is a little dated but is very clean and beautiful flowers everywhere. The food is the best part and it 4.5 at the worst nights and 5 star on the best nights. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
Our first trip with Crystal cruises and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Yes cabins are not the largest compared with other similar ships but are reasonably spacious with plenty of wardrobe space (and hangers), pleasant bathroom and ... Read More
Our first trip with Crystal cruises and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Yes cabins are not the largest compared with other similar ships but are reasonably spacious with plenty of wardrobe space (and hangers), pleasant bathroom and nice balcony. The service, amenities, food and ambience were first class. Also you do get a large ship feel even with 800+ passengers, compared to Silverseas and Regent. Reason for 4 stars - well in this data/information age wifi should be complimentary (or at least a certain amounts of minutes per day) and the house wine although plentiful was limited in choice and quality. Highlights, apart from the food was the entertainment, which was excellent, with a great variety of shows. How to improve - better house wines and more choice, free (if limited timed wifi) and will be better once the new toiletries' are in place. Would we sail with Crystal again - definitely yes. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last ... Read More
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last year we wrote that we found the all-inclusive Crystal Cruise lines was the clearly the cruise line for wealthy alcoholics. That opinion has not changed. There were changes from 2014 to 2015. Some were good and some were clearly the home office squeezing nickels. But let's start with the three funniest comments or actions during our trip. 1) A very nice waiter from Eastern Europe at a crowded Lido lunch buffet and a woman passenger: Waiter: Madam let me help you with that tray and find you a table. Passenger: I'm looking for my husband. Waiter: Don't worry. If we don't find him, we will find you another. 2) As part of a very good 4-hour taxi tour in Reykjavik I told the driver that we wanted to go where we would not see any tourists or tour buses. He took us to a prison. (There was a charming seaside village with a seawall and beach nearby and there were no tour buses.) 3) A 10-year-old girl with her parents was waiting for an elevator after a show on Deck 6. Before the elevator arrived, she ran to the entrance of the Casino and put one foot inside the door and said, "Look mommy. I'm 10 years old and I'm in the Casino. I'm a rebel!" THE CRUISE: Embarkation: Oh My God There Was a Line: It was just two people in front of me to get through the security check point at the port and I was there a 1 pm, not like 3:30 the year before. But still it was a line, something you don't see often on a Crystal ship. Once on the ship it was business as usual and NO LINES. I went right to the Starlite Room and my wife and I were checked in by two crew members including the trombone player in ship's stage band. We would have been in our room in minutes, but I then wanted to see Remi the maître of the main dining room. I didn't care about table location for our second seating or reservations for the two specialty restaurants. No, I wanted to see if Zoltan, our waiter from 2014 was on board and to try to get a table in his area. He was one of the funniest waiters we had ever experienced who would go out of his way to get you items that were not on the menu. Luckily Zoltan was on the ship. The bad news was he had been promoted to management and was now a head waiter. The good news was our table was in his area so we still got a great show of double takes and Zoltan "the secret agent" talking into his pretend wrist radio to place special orders. THE SHIP: Last fall the Symphony was in a port in Germany for two weeks of "updating." The only thing I noticed was some new carpeting and perhaps cleaning. We started doing cruise vacations 16 years ago and on most lines my wife and I would joke how we were lowering the average age of the passengers. That is no longer the case. We are out of our forties and fifties and we are now at or above the average passenger age. That said the furniture in the public rooms and staterooms all have seats lower to the floor than you would find in most homes or restaurants. I didn't notice this when I was 50. When I'm in my sixties, my knees and back notice every time I sit down or get up. I heard this complaint from several others on board. The low seats are made worse by cushions and springs that have failed over time and use. This is noticeable all over the ship, but especially in the chairs in the forward Palm Court on Deck 11. Here are some of the reasons we are back on the Symphony and why we are looking at 2016 and 2017 Crystal Cruises. The ship is very easy to get around. While it does have a Casino, it is a non-smoking casino and passengers are routed around the casino going to see a show in the Galaxy Showroom. Most cruise ships force you to walkthrough the smoked filled casino, hoping you will stop and try your luck. STATEROOM: I can't comment on the balcony rooms and suites. For the second year we had a stateroom with a window on Deck 7. The good news was the room was close to the door for the deck for walks and to the forward elevators. The low loveseat and desk chair were uncomfortable to sit in. The bed was okay, but it could have been higher too. Other than new carpeting there was nothing new in the room. The closet space was nice for a low-end stateroom. The bathroom was great with the tub and shower combination providing plenty of room. The hand held shower nozzle was also very good. There was no such thing as warm water, if you wanted hot water during a high demand period, you got hot water. There was a hair dryer attached to the wall in the bathroom and a second one in a drawer in stateroom. Toilet paper and tissue were high end brands. Outlets were a problem. There were none in the bathroom for an electric tooth brush or razor. There was only one in the entire statement at the desk. In the new age of cell phones, cameras, IPads and other devices charging is needed. Upon request a three outlet plug extension was install quickly. There is also an outlet in the wall behind the bed, but it needed an adapter if you plan to plug in a North American device. The big lie #1: In 2014 I brought along about 30 music CDs, because I was aware that the TVs in the staterooms would play CDs. When we were settling in I tried to put on a jazz CD and the TV refused to accept it. The room stewardess said the TVs are suppose to play CDs. The ship's librarian who checks out CDs to passengers also told me CDs will play in the TV. The stewardess call a repair person who showed up and said the TV only plays DVDs. The stewardess rolled her eyes and told the repair person to supply a CD player. He said he would not and left. We went up for lunch and when we returned there was a CD player sitting on the desk and attached to the TV. The CD player was probably 20 or 25 years old but it worked. I was able to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, The Singers Unlimited, The Beegie Adair Trio and others from my collection. I immediately found the room stewardess and tipped her on the first day of the cruise. COMPUTER ROOM: There were the usual complaints about trouble getting and keeping internet connections. However there was a staff there until 11 pm to help passengers with problems. The three person staff seemed to have the patience of not priests, but saints in dealing with some passengers. Also there were some upgrades made with the satellite connections at the first of the year and with just a few exceptions I received the fastest internet speeds I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Free Time: Crystal is still providing one hour a day of free internet time. On a 16-day cruise, I knew some people who felt they needed to be connected all throughout the day who bought more time. I needed to check email and local news daily and found I still had four hours of free time left at the end of the cruise. Also my wife got 16 hours and she used about three hours. People who email me know that I will get back with them in a day and not in 10 minutes. It is important to use the same terminal every time as that will speed up your log in and search times. Also there was no charge for printing, which many cruise lines charge on a per page basis. While Crystal is cutting back some other services, I hope they stick with the one-hour of free internet per day. This really makes them an "all-inclusive" cruise line." THE GALAXY SHOWROOM: This a very nice venue with no obstructed views and a cozy feel. THE LIBRARY: It is small, but is has a good selection of recent bestsellers, a nice passenger book trade area, DVD and CDs to check out. There are two permanent librarians who are knowledgeable. However if they both have time off they are replaced by a dancer who is not a well versed with the content or other information. CUTBACK: In the middle of the cruise suddenly there were no more NY Times crosswords puzzles. A very honest employee explained that the subscription for the puzzles was discontinued by the corporate office as a cost savings move. They were replaced by free Washington Post crossword puzzles. This did not sit well with some morning visitors to the library. ANOTHER CUTBACK, Lie 2: The free small newspapers from a passenger's country that were hung on your door daily are no longer offered on Crystal. At the start of the cruise there was an announcement how the papers were no longer available, inferring that the company that provides them is out of business. Crystal then offers to deliver to your stateroom one of two or three US papers for about $7 a day. Another honest employee who just could not lie to a passenger admitted that company that sends out the small daily papers with recapped stories is still in business but the papers were discontinued by Crystal as another money saving move. Say hello to the new owners. However in fairness with an hour of free internet a day you can check your hometown paper or a free internet paper like USA Today. THE SHOPS: They are still there and they sell grossly overpriced clothes and jewelry and offer sale prices on older model cameras and other items. The difference between Crystal and other cruise lines is that the shops did not set up road blocks in the walkways for phony "sales" that would be considered "fire code violations" in buildings on land, like most other cruise ships do. Also Crystal does not have the fraudulent "Art Sales and Auctions" that many cruise lines still are co-conspirators with. Bad marketing: The thing that amazes me is how they hide the sundries in the back of the high priced clothing store. The young salesmen, who are as a thin as a rail and dressed in the latest metro-sexual wardrobe don't want you to know they sell this stuff. If I was running the place, I would keep them in the back but make sure everyone knew the sundries were there including a sign in the window. Make customers walk past the high-end items you really want to sell to get some tooth paste, cough drops or a razor and they might buy some clothing item the shop will make a huge profit on. I don't understand why they hide this stuff. I want to get as many people to come into the shop as possible. It is called GOOD MARKETING." I went in to buy a toothbrush and no one would wait on me. My electric brush was working, but I wanted a regular brush for after I packed the electric one. After about 10 minutes I left and tried again six hours later. It is just an odd way to run a business. FOOD AND BEVERAGES: The food is still very good in the main dining room on the Symphony. It was not quite as good as in 2014. One night an un-eatable chicken breast arrived. I could have sent it back or ordered something else, but frankly I was happy that I wasn't going to eat it…too much food already in the day. The service was excellent as usual. The coolest part about eating on a Crystal ship was being able to eat items not on the menu. One night they had some delicious sautéed green beans on the menu. I mentioned how great they were to our waiter and how it was too bad they are not on the menu more often. He said he would be happy to provide anytime I wanted them. I had sautéed green beans for the rest of the cruise. The same went for a shrimp cocktail every night. One night I just ordered sides listed with different entrées. Our waiter did not blink. Once again the deserts tasted as good as they looked. On many cruise ships they look much better than they taste. We also lucked out with interesting table mates, including folks from LA, an English couple now living in Canada and a couple from Australia. We lost our transplanted Canadians after the first leg of the cruise and were down to a table of six. We chatted every night well after dinner so much that we found out later our two waiters were making bets picking a time we would leave. On the last night we all were in specialty restaurants, but agreed to return to the MDR for dessert together. We were the last to leave. PREGO: The Italian specialty restaurant was free once every seven days. We ate their twice. It was more like a combination of a high end Italian joint and a steakhouse. They had several entrees that included beef from the "Greg Norman Ranch" in Australia. This incensed our Aussie table mates. "This guy has not been in Australia in 20 years," exclaimed Paul, who in retirement owns a cattle ranch that he and his wife Jenny insisted on calling a "farm." The food was very good including the filet steak. The crab salad was excellent. Prego passed my Fettuccini Alfredo, test that many "Italian" restaurants fail. Was the Fettuccini Alfredo at Olive Garden better? Prego's was just as good or maybe a little better. The Gelato for dessert was outstanding. THE SILK ROAD: This specialty restaurant's name is a bit deceiving. The name Silk Road comes from Chinese Silk reaching Western Europe. However the Silk Road on the Symphony is a Japanese eatery. I tried to order off the menu some Lo Mein style noodles as a side. I just wanted a small plate with some noodles. What arrived was a bowl of wide noodles buried under scallops and shrimp. At the end of our meal I tried to convince our waiter how Marco Polo, an Italian, was an important influence on the Silk Road and in honor of Polo, I should be able to get Gelato for desert since the Silk Road and Prego share the same kitchen. I got the Gelato and probably didn't even need the Marco Polo reference. THE LIDO: Frankly, this has been on our two Crystal cruise the best buffet style operation we have experienced on a cruise ship. The menu changes every day and once or twice a week they have themes, such as Chinese or Mexican food. The food is always hot, the silver ware is always at the table and a waiter promptly takes your drink order. There is no standing in line at the ice machine and water dispenser. THE TRIDENT GRILL: This is the sandwich grill that also has fresh fruit. Nearby is the ice cream stand service the best from the Benjamin and Jerrold operation in the foothill of Stowe Vermont. Gabriel, the short order cook is amazing. If it is not on the menu and he has the ingredients he will make it for you. The cheeseburger is too much for me, but it is no problem. Gabriel cuts down the bun, makes it a 1/4 pound burger instead of a 1/2 pounder and it is delicious. The steak sandwich is a must as is the grilled hot dog. You do not hang around the grill and wait for the food. A waiter seats you, gets you drinks and delivers the food. I make it a point to tip Gabriel early on. My wife wants to make sure I avoid Coca Cola and the sugar calories. The ship has always had Coke Zero which I find is much easier to get down than Diet Coke, but if I had my choices it would be Diet Dr. Pepper. This year I again asked about Diet Dr. Pepper and Derek from the Trident Grill was on the case. He came back and reported there were 1000 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper on the ship and he secured 12 cans that he had in the refrigerator for me. Derek got an early tip. THE PALM COURT: This is where afternoon tea is served along with music in the afternoon and evening. The tea food is better than what Cunard gives you and they are British. They have special buffet about once a week for tea where you go through a line for the finger sandwiches, scorns and whipped cream plus much more. The one I feel bad attending is the Mozart Tea. The usual music trio is absent replaced by the pianist and leader of the theater band who does an hour of non-stop Mozart. The staff has to wear powdered wigs and costumes of the era. In 2014 my attention was drawn to a waitress from Chile as her dress copying those from 1785 was so large it appeared s if it would fall off her slight frame at any moment. Privately staffers admit they hate wearing the costumes saying even though they are cleaned regularly they still smell bad and are uncomfortable. One Palm court waiter got an early tip. He was instructed if I was with my wife and had a Coke Zero, he was to come back and ask if I'd like "another Coke Zero." I would say "sure." My wife would smile and go back to her sketching or needlepoint. The waiter would then return with a high-test real thing Coke on the rocks. THE AVENUE SALOON: Bartender Paula and waitress and backup bartender Loraina, both from Romania were often more entertaining than the entertainment. Paula joined the Trident Grill in having cold cans Diet Dr. Pepper on hand. God forbid I should try and order a Coke in the Avenue Saloon. Paula would shake her finger and say "NO, Miss Diana (the wife) said no Coke for you." If I persisted Paula might give me a Coke in a shot glass. My wife is an artist and did watercolor portraits of Paula and Loraina. Paula posted hers in the middle of the bar. This ensured that my wife got to try many different drinks while at the Bar. "Here, Miss Diana, try this," was heard on a regular basis. Chris, a waiter from India, was the third person in The Avenue Saloon. On Sea days Chris started at 11:45 am in the Starlight room just before trivia started. He took orders for our team on the first sea day and then we had the same drinks waiting for us on the next subsequent days. The inside smoking room was located next to the Avenue Saloon. I have to say Crystal did a good job keeping the smell of smoke from reaching the hallway. However, I felt bad for a perfectly healthy Loraina, who had to walk into this room throughout the evening taking drink orders and delivering them. It is one thing if passengers want to slowly harm their lungs and hearts, but I don't know why healthy employees have to be put at risk. These people can walk into the bar and get their own free drinks. THE STARLITE CLUB: On deck 6 in mid ships this is the area mid ships with the large dance floor and lots of tables. On sea days it is where the bingo and trivia games are played, plus it has proved to be an excellent venue for lecture series. THE BISTRO: It has a bar, but most people are there for a light breakfast or lunch with fresh fruit, salads plus ham, cheeses, bread and rolls. It also provides coffees and hot tea to go on Deck 6. THE CRYSTAL COVE: This is on Deck 5 across from the concierge desk, the future sales and shore excursion desks. It is where the grand piano in see-through plastic is located. It has an excellent wait staff, but like the rest of the ship the furniture other than the bar stools are too damn low. ENTERTAINMENT: The Fly-In headliners who appear in the theater on Crystal are really not much different than what you get on other cruise lines with older demographics. AVENUE SALOON PIANO BAR: Last year it was the very talented Jeff Deutch in the Avenue Saloon. Jeff had an amazing memory of songs and lyrics from the Great America Songbook. He is out of Chicago and has been a jingle singer on some national commercials. I wrote last year that I would be happy to pay an admission or a cover to hear Jeff play. On our 2015 trip it was New Yorker Marcie Castro at the piano also aided with CD tracks. On many nights Marcie and the audience had something in common. They had no idea what was next. Marcie did what most piano bar signers have to do. If a passenger asks to sing a song, they let them. If the passenger is awful, that is it…one song. In Marcie's case she would often have them do a medley. One night she had two passengers who I'll call the Screech Sisters do three songs, forcing me to say goodnight and making a fast exit. Another singer was a very gay gentleman from London who on one night wore a pink boa with the tux. He did a great impersonation of Ethel Mermen doing "There's No Business Like Show Business." However he could not do Betty Hutton's version from the movie. Marcie would often stop playing the piano and walk out in the room raising her arms and yelling to get more participation in a sing-a-long. Some people loved her energy and the fun even if it looked like a Prozac might be needed. For others it was too much. "I don't need a maniac after dinner," one passenger said. But if Marcie was too much, Paula the bartender provided her own entertainment that was worth a visit. THE TOMMY DORSEY ORCHESTRA: This was a big band and dancing cruise. The 18-piece Tommy Dorsey band plus a singer with almost no range were on board for the 16-day cruise from New York to Dover. I like big bands, but these guys were going through the motions. It was not the fault of the musicians, but the leader was pulling the reins keeping them from really swinging. The stuck to 70-year charts. A number of the musicians would go to the theater at two in the morning and jam. Others would sit in with Marcie in the Avenue Saloon after their last set and put down some jazz. The sad thing about this was the timing of the shows. The people enjoying the band would fill the Starlite room at 7:15 to 8:30. But the after dinner set from 9:30 to 11 the room would be empty. People 70 and older had gone to bed. The people 65 and younger found the charts from the 1940 's boring and went to the top deck and listened to the Filipino cover band and danced. One night I counted five people listening to the Dorsey Band's late set. The men brought on board to dance with single ladies were also upstairs. If the cruise director was smart he would have had the Dorsey band's first set start at 5 pm and the second set at 7:15. HOUSE TRIO: This year the trio that played during teas and in the evening in the Palm Court was the In-Transit Trio with a lead female singer, pianist who also played sax. They were from New Zealand with a guitar player from Australia. They were very good. I did make a suggestion that they should do one set with no ballads, just up tempo songs and call it In Transit, In Overdrive. TRIVIA: Crystal's trivia games were very civilized last year. There was just one game a day on sea days only with cheap prizes to reduce the level of competition. They made it even more civilized this year. It is multiply guess. They hand out remote clickers, put the question on the screen and you have 60 seconds to click on the right answer. The prizes are small amounts off for overpriced items in the shops or a few bucks to use in the casino. Having seen some aggressive behavior by some playing trivia on HAL and Celebrity ships, I like the Crystal way much better. TRAVEL AGENT PROVIDED FREE LAUNDRY For the second year our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in Sacramento provided $500 in our shipboard account. $200 went to our daily laundry. The rest went toward tips for crew members that were all augmented with cash. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I noticed this on our 2014 cruise when Paul McFarland was the cruise director and again this year with the more laid back Scott Peterson. On the short morning close circuit TV weather and activities report starring the cruise director that is recorded the night before and replayed all morning long there is a credit roll at the end. Normally with movies and TV shows the Executive Producer is either the guy putting up the money or controlling the business end of the operation. Oddly after a 12 or 15 minute long weather report plus what on the schedule the credit roll listed the cruise director as the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER. That leaves me to wonder if they are bankrolling the show or negotiating a syndication deal. DEBARKATION: No sitting in a theater waiting for a number or color to be called. We walked off to a waiting car and driver for the ride to Heathrow. With other cruise lines I have missed flights home or had to rush to get to an airport. That has never been the case with Crystal. PORTS: Just like embarkation and debarkation, getting on and off the ship at ports was easy with no waiting. When using tenders to get ashore, Crystal is the best we have ever experienced. There is actually legroom on the tenders and the crew does not keep stuffing people on tenders until they are overflowing. I cannot say enough nice things about Crystal's tender operations. BAR HARBOR: Just like the last three years, Enterprise was at the dock and the ride to airport to get our car was very pleasant. We did our usual exploring down roads not on the map and had a fine time. We stopped in Southwest Harbor at Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound for lunch. It was a walk up drive-in with picnic tables. We found it a little overpriced and not very good. The first clue should have been that we were the first customers of the day. After returning our car at the Airport, Ashley at the Enterprise office was nice enough to go out of her way to drop off my wife downtown and me at the dock. The rental car was far cheaper than any tour offered on the ship. HALIFAX: For years we have avoided going to Peggy's Cove the top tourist spot south of Halifax. My wife decided she wanted to see why the cruise ship sells seats on a tour bus there. We would advise you to skip this in the height of the summer season. On June 15 with many schools still in session the parking lots were 80% full. I have a feeling this would be a nightmare in July. Once again we rented an Enterprise car. The rental office was across the street from the cruise ship terminal in the railroad station. The best part was they had a return lot that was even closer to the ship. After Peggy's Cove that feature a collision between two tour buses on a narrow road on the day of our visit, we headed south along the coast road to Lunenburg one of the prettiest coastal towns anywhere. We stopped at a local seasonal market and bought some local preserves and jellies as gifts. ST. JOHN'S STATE OF MIND: We were really looking forward to visiting St. John's Newfoundland. We were there in 2010 and had a great time with a rental car meeting people and enjoying coastal towns. In 2014 Symphony was supposed to stop in St. John's but cancelled due to icebergs and fog. This year they cancelled again. The ship could safely get into the harbor, but forecasted high winds meant the ship would have to stay in harbor overnight and delay its arrival to Reykjavik. So we ended up with five sea days. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND: Rather than renting a car, we did a four hour taxi tour. Keep in mind that since the 2009 banking collapse, everything still costs a lot more in Iceland. Last year a 45-minute taxi ride from the dock to the airport cost $175. So $325 for four hours seemed reasonable. Our driver/guide was Gundmundur Birgir Stefansson, who does four hour and four day tours of Iceland. He was excellent. I told him we had seen most tourist locations on past trips and asked to see subdivisions, seaside areas away from tourist and places where the locals like to go. This resulted in the good natured trip to the prison, which was actually in front a pretty village with a different Smurf cutout in yards throughout the village. Of course this is not too unusual in a country where a large percentage of the population believe in elves. We had a fun time with Birgir and would recommend him. His email address is birgirstefans@gmail.com HEIMAEY: The City of Heimaey was our next stop the following day. This town was almost swallowed by lava in 1973 with the lava flow stopping just several hundred feet from the edge of the city of 4,300 people. On the other side of the island there are green fields with goats, horses and even a golf course with the sea and volcanic cliffs as backdrops. Heimaey is on an island that is less than 10 square miles. We rented a car from Europcar. Despite making reservations for the car weeks in advance, no one was at the dock. A young lady hired to assist ship passengers called the company and the woman at the airport said no one had reminded her about the dock drop off. She was dock side in five minutes. The airport is just 2 miles from the dock. She works five days a week in the control tower and on her days off she works for the rent-a-car company. Only small commuter planes serve the island along with a car ferry. This was one of the sightseeing highlights of the trip. There were so many wonderful sights in such a condensed area. Even a drive to the industrial side of the docks revealed several amazing views. Plus we drove down a number of dirt roads that could never hold a tour bus. Often we were all by ourselves with our mouths wide open at what we were seeing. We had asked the car rental lady if we should bring the car back to her airport office. The car had just above a half tank of gas and she told us not to bother buying gas, that in four hours we wouldn't being using that much. She then told us to just leave the car at the dock and she would pick it up later. I asked her what I should do with the keys. She said, "Just leave them in the car. Nobody is going to steal it." I have to say that I appreciated that Crystal included a stop at Heimaey on our cruise. GREENOCK/GLASGOW: We have driven Scotland before and decided to skip taking a 45-minute train ride to Glasgow. My wife walked the downtown area of Greenock and had a fine time. DUBLIN: Here is an example why you should always get along with your tablemates on cruises. On a 2011 Celebrity Cruise on the old Century from Vancouver to Alaska and then to San Diego we were at a table of six, with a couple from England and a couple from Dublin. In 2014 the couple from outside of London decided to fly to Chicago, rent a car for 30 days and follow the lyrics of the Bobby Troupe song "Route Sixty-Six." They stayed three nights with us outside of St. Louis as they did the 2,000 miles along the way. 2015 it was the turn of Ronan and Katherine in Dublin. They met us at the ship at 10 am. A four or five hour tour would have been great. Instead we apparently held them hostage all day. We got an insider's view of the Dublin region, including lunch at a country club and dinner at their home. 12 1/2 hours later we were dropped off back at the ship. While we would have liked to have paid for something, we couldn't. An all day tour plus meals…total cost ZERO. Lesson learned…make friends at the cruise ship dinner table. PORTLAND HARBOR/WEYMOUTH: No longer wishing to drive on the left side of the road in what is left of my life, we arranged for a taxi tour with the Weyline Taxi Company after reading a recommendation on Cruise Critic. We were quoted a price of 38 pounds an hour. I must of misread the email. We were only charged 30-pounds an hour. It was a bargain for a great afternoon in the English countryside. We were met dockside by Mandy Fry, the manager of Weyline Taxi and our driver. Our driver/guide in a new Mercedes was John McGill a recently retired member of England's Armed Defense Police Force. We saw the countryside of England and many small villages that could have easily been featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders. We enjoyed this afternoon more than we expected. It was a treat. We recommend that you contact Mandy at Weyline Taxi at info@weyline.com and if you arrange a tour ask for John McGill to be your driver and guide. GETTING THERE AND GETTING HOME: It used to be living in the Midwest a trip from St. Louis to New York or the West Coast was considered a major flight. Not any more, unless you are flying Southwest. The 1100 miles from St. Louis to New York is now handled by commuter planes under contract to the major carriers. The disadvantage is you are in a crowded smaller airplane. The advantage is that flying first class on Delta-Light is a lot cheaper than flying first class on Big Delta. We flew to New York the day before the cruise. On the way there we decided to go first class and booked a suite at the Waldorf Astoria towers. Okay it was $612 for the one night. We were unaware that the Waldorf had been sold to a group of Chinese investors and the entire hotel was to close in 2017 for four years. The tower suites are supposed to be made into condos with only a portion of the original hotel returning as a hotel in 2021. Getting to the Waldorf was a bit of a challenge. We normally use Arecibo Car Service (855-428-0222). Once outside of the baggage claim at LaGuardia I called for a car and one was there in 15 minutes, which actually is a little long for Arecibo. The driver was pleasant for not speaking any English and he had an excellent ability to drive on traffic choked highways and Manhattan streets. The problem was that he had no idea where the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was. It may as well have been in Atlanta. An hour later we arrived and the fare was only $45. A NIGHT AT THE WALDORF: Check in was confusing. The staff at the garage drop off sent us to the wrong desk for check in. The hotel looked great including our small suite. However a closer look showed the chairs in the room and the lobby well worn and frayed and other furniture scratched, chipped and nicked. The view from the room was great. That night we ate at a restaurant five blocks away. We got back to the hotel a little before 9 o'clock sat in the lobby having decided to "people watch." 45 minutes later as we were about to leave Emilee Floor showed up and started to play the piano in the lobby café. This meant another hour plus a bill for drinks. Emilee was a treat, but the volume on her mic and amp made it impossible to hear her unless you were at a nearby table. She also plays at the Plaza. The free breakfast on the 16th floor was very nice with one exception. Our room key was suppose to allow us entry. It didn't, forcing us to knock loudly to get in. We had a late checkout of 1 o'clock which allowed my wife to do some shopping and for us to return to sandwiches and sweets. TO THE SHIP: We called Arecibo Car Service and they had no one who could pick up up. The doorman found a black car owned by Alex Lara. He knew exactly where he was going and got us there quickly for a price that was twice as high at what Arecibo would charge. I was happy to pay. Alex assured us he would be happy to pick us up in 17 days at JFK and drop us at our hotel near LaGuardia. He took our Icelandair flight information. He was a no show. HOMEWARD BOUND: Once we docked a Parker Car Service driver from London was waiting for us at the Dover docks. Crystal claimed the trip would take 2 1/2 to 3-hours to Heathrow. Parker had told me when I made the reservation a month earlier it would be about two hours. We were dropped off 1-hour 45-minutes later. The ride was so smooth I slept half the way to the airport. Icelandair is the only Trans Atlantic carrier that we can afford to fly first class on. Two hours in the first class lounge was followed by entering a time machine. We were taken back to Nordic pilots with blond hair and blue eyes and flight attendants in pillbox hats that closely resembled Ursula Andrews or Anita Ekberg. The only drawback is that you have to fly back to Reykjavik and change planes. However, for the price and the experience it is worth it. NEW YORK NEW YORK: Of course our new black car buddy Alex was nowhere to be found once we were at JFK. We called and he called someone who was home eating dinner north of the Airport. 30 minutes later Lakeram picked us up. We were quickly at the hotel and charged a steep price of $70. The Marriott Suites at La Guardia at $212 would have been fine with one exception…the soft lumpy mattress. Despite being jet lagged the mattress reduced our sleep time to about six hours. On the plus side the staff was very nice and the blueberry muffins at the free breakfast where outstanding. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: The Delta Lite jet pushed back from the gate in NY 35- minutes late, but we arrived at Lambert Field in St. Louis (which is actually closer to Ferguson than St. Louis) five minutes ahead of schedule. Do you think they anticipate delays at LaGuardia? Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
We were first time Crystal Cruisers and had always heard how wonderful they were. Well, in some ways that was true, in others, it was not. First, what we loved: outstanding staff, smooth boarding and leaving, the best evening ... Read More
We were first time Crystal Cruisers and had always heard how wonderful they were. Well, in some ways that was true, in others, it was not. First, what we loved: outstanding staff, smooth boarding and leaving, the best evening entertainment we have ever experienced on a cruise, good food, excellent "included" wine, like the always open Bistro, large comfortable rooms and bath, better than average casino rules, superb Apple instructor, top notch lecturers (but not enough of them). However, we experienced some areas where we thought they could improve: lack of information about where we were, poor use (not many talks) by the excellent "experts" onboard, only one buffet lunch of Asian foods, absolutely no information on shopping beforehand and little to no time for any shopping in tours booked through them, lack of information about when things would be open which we would expect when you have a guide. We were not informed until one evening after being back onboard that the town we most came to see would be closed for a holiday the next day--too late to go more that day. We were informed when we boarded one bus that the main point of one tour was closed because it was Friday--their regular closing day. Little bridge (2 lessons and 3 games in 12 days). Pool not filled until the pm on the first sea day. Would we go on another Crystal Cruise? Absolutely. But if both had the same route, we would choose Oceania over Crystal. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015
We sailed on the Crystal Symphony January 2015 from Bali, Indonesia with 3 port stops in Indonesia (Belawan was cancelled because of channel dredging), 3 ports in Malaysia, one in Thailand, and ending in Singapore. We’ve sailed on the ... Read More
We sailed on the Crystal Symphony January 2015 from Bali, Indonesia with 3 port stops in Indonesia (Belawan was cancelled because of channel dredging), 3 ports in Malaysia, one in Thailand, and ending in Singapore. We’ve sailed on the Crystal Serenity before, like the line very much (not quite up to Regent), and were generally quite pleased with this cruise. Okay, you probably know why Crystal is a top-rated line, but here are a few things of which you should be aware. The cruise started in Bali and you could embark anytime on Jan 17 or 18. Crystal met passengers flying in on Jan 17 but refused to do so for people like us who arrived on Jan 18. Moreover, they didn’t tell us this in advance, so we were stuck at the airport trying to find the Crystal shuttle before we finally took a taxi to the port. Once on the ship things were fine, although we were surprised to find the 246-sq ft stateroom about 10% smaller than those on the Crystal Serenity (269 sq ft) and 22% smaller than the corresponding level room on Regent (301 sq ft). We were also surprised that the “free” Internet service for Crystal Society members (those who have cruised on Crystal before) was for just one hour a day (not unlimited like Regent). Moreover, the connection was quite slow so uploading photos used up your hour in short order. Dining was excellent after we negotiated to be moved from a tiny table way in the back at the door to the galley to a table in the middle of the room. Although window tables were often empty, they were never offered to us. We had the early seating (be in place by 6:15), which was okay except on the days we didn’t get back from a shore excursion until late afternoon. On those days, we would have liked to go to “casual dining” at the Lido, but that was only open on 3 nights of the 12-day cruise. One wonders why? Smokers like me weren’t happy with the Connoisseur Club, a small room which was the only place to smoke on the ship. There were two types of smokers aboard: ones in Group 1 who wanted to read a book while having a quite smoke. Too bad for them as the room was dark, there were no reading lights, and there was Group 2. People in that group wanted to watch loud TV, talk even louder, and basically have a party. I resorted to bringing ear plugs and a flashlight in the late afternoon, but evenings were just impossible. A number of shore excursions were cancelled because not enough people signed up. Seems to me they could have arranged for a 6- or 8-passenger van rather than the usual 40-passenger bus and run the excursion like that. Perhaps because we were in a hot climate, the lowest we could get the cabin temperature was about 73 degrees F, which was okay during the day, but too hot at night. We traded the duvet on the bed for a blanket, but even that was often too hot. So a good night’s sleep wasn’t one of the high points of the cruise. Oh, yes, there was one toddler on board whose parents, after the second day finally got the message that a kid whining in the dining room wasn't enjoyed by most of the adults and we (thankfully!) didn't see too much of them at meals. What on earth were they thinking bringing a one-year-old on a cruise like this? Don’t get me wrong: Crystal is a great cruise line. The new emphasis of the dining staff to be friendly and really get to know you is extraordinary. Our cabin attendant was superb. The food in all the restaurants (except the outdoor grill) was outstanding. The bartenders mixed excellent drinks. The wine and champagne choices were first-rate. The shore excursions were very good (except for Malacca where we had a mediocre guide). The people at the concierge desk went out of their way to be helpful. All the staff were smiling and friendly. A few flaws, but we’ll be back.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2014
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. ... Read More
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. There were lines but these moved quickly. Once on board I had the lunch in the MDR. Pleasant but nothing to rave about and I was aware of a nasty smell in the background. At 3pm the room was ready. My first impression of this entry level room...small, tidy but bland decor and light fittings that are stuck in the eighties. The wardrobe was adequate and there were plenty of hangers! Lovely. The ship had just been in dry dock and some areas are gorgeous eg Palm Court. Other areas are ok but nothing really wowed me. The atmosphere is quiet sophistication and many passengers are repeat customers who wouldn't dream of defecting to another line! Some do not have any basis for comparison ie they haven't set foot on any other ship. The main reason I won't be back is the dining arrangements. I was wait listed when I booked months ahead but was able to change this once onboard. However I did not like these fixed arrangements and you have to dine with the same folk each night basically unless you opt for dining by reservation. I liked Prego and booked for a second time on the last night. I was seated alone to my dismay..this was not enhancing my experience but was rescued by two lovely women beside me. In Silk Road a nasty smell of Lobster was evident. Gentlemen hosts. These are advertised as professional dancer hosts. I didn't think they were all that welcoming and I was the one to ask them how their day had been! Again, most odd I felt. One even corrected me on some dance steps even though I am qualified in Ballroom myself! They were never seated at any table I was on for solo passengers. I did have a problem communicating my need for a hot water bottle for pain in the evening but eventually this was resolved and I was not charged for the heating pad that I used each night. It was brand new also. I used the Spa for massages and the staff were very professional. The Spa waiting area is nothing special at all with only 2 chairs! As well there was only one nail technician for 900 passengers. I could not make an appointment . Debarkation was very good and I was in the car to my Sydney hotel within minutes. Overall the service on the ship is very good but I don't feel I will return because I like to choose when I dine and I like meeting other people each night. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as ... Read More
We have travelled Crystal before and decided with the fixed seating that it wasn't for us. After seeing the advertising for Dining By Reservation we thought we would try again. Unfortunately the dining experience was not enjoyable as dining at 7 or 730 you are in a dining room emptying out around you with clatter of tables being set and moved and waiting staff rushing around in a frenzy preparing for the late seating. The food was excellent but the enjoyment was spoiled by the feeling of being in the way and also at times the service was slow as the waiters had to clear and reset their own table settings. We cannot understand why the By Reservation Diners are not put in a corner of the dining room together not dispersed around the restaurant like fish out of water. The afternoon tea was ok but if you arrived after the initial set up of tables and the waiting staff had to reset a table for you then you were given paper napkins and no cutlery and one time even given a paper towel folded which was more 2 star than 6. Our overall experience was good with lots of friendly efficient staff,excellent food in dining room ,Bistro and lunch buffet but overall tainted by the dining experience. Unless the Dining By Reservation is improved immensely the competition of Seabourn ,Silverseas and Oceania will be getting our future reservations . The cabin attendant was efficient but never introduced herself throughout the whole voyage or enquired if all was ok. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early ... Read More
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early 60s) and were there to experience a floating hotel. We on the other hand love the experience of being at sea, which is close to our hearts as our whole working and social life revolves around the sea. Our cabin was typical of a ship of this size. Very welled equipped. A sliding door rather than an opening one was appreciated as it allows much more room on the balcony. The men found the bathroom a little squashy, two basins was probably an overkill as only one person could be in there at a time. Our main disappointment was not being able to eat casually at night in the Lido restaurant where views to the ocean are unrestricted. We were therefore confined to eating before 6pm at the outdoor pool bar or in the very noisy main dining room where we could not see out and missed some magnificent sunsets. Also there was no area outside to have sunset drinks which is probably our most treasured time of day when at sea. Yes we had a balcony but that meant we could not socialise with others. The few shops had some very old and tattered clothing left and were closed during our cruise as they were to be reopened by someone else. The shore excursions were as expected buy I must say extremely well executed. The hotel staff were all very friendly and professional and agreed that it was unfortunate that we were all sent inside at 6pm like children on a school night. I would not sail with Crystal again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
This was my first Crystal Cruise and it was wonderful. This is going to be a lengthy review but I had such a hard time finding out any info on specifics for the Baltic Cruise that I want to give future cruises the info that I wished I had ... Read More
This was my first Crystal Cruise and it was wonderful. This is going to be a lengthy review but I had such a hard time finding out any info on specifics for the Baltic Cruise that I want to give future cruises the info that I wished I had beforehand. I had done quite a bit of research before selecting which line to use for the Baltic Cruise and I am very happy that I picked Crystal. We really liked the fact that the ship overnighted in Copenhagen at the beginning and Stockholm at the end of the cruise. This saved us from hotel stays at the beginning and end of the cruise. We were also very pleased that we had 3 full days in St. Petersburg. Many of the other lines only spend 2 days in St. Petersburg. I am very glad that we had the time to experience everything that we did. This cruise was titled “White Nights” due to the extensive amount of daylight we had. When I review the ports, I’ll mention sunrise and sunset times. Embarkation: Very smooth. Our flight landed in Copenhagen around 7:00 am the morning of embarkation. We had paid for Crystal transfers on both ends, just for convenience sake. We were met in the arrivals hall by multiple Crystal Reps. They stayed with us while we waited for our luggage. We were able to send whatever luggage we wanted to the cruise ship. We kept a small day bag with us and were taken by bus to a local hotel (Scandic Hotel Copenhagen). A conference room was available for us. There was tea, coffee, and water along with some danishes. There were a few Crystal reps here who had maps of the areas and suggestions for what to do until we would be bused to the ship at 11:45. There was free wifi available at the hotel. We walked around some lakes right in front of the hotel and just rested. We had had a long flight and did not sleep at all. The ride to the dock was quick and we were on the ship with bording cards within 15 minutes. Very smooth and painless. We were told that cabins would be ready at 3:00 pm. We went to the MDR for lunch. After lunch, we dropped our day bags into our Cabin and put stuff into the safe, then went up to the Lido deck with our books and read and rested for a bit. We went to the cabin at 3:00 pm and were a bit disappointed to discover that it had not been completely cleaned – the mini fridge still had ½ consumed drinks from the last cruise, there was only 1 robe, and other minor things. Our cabin stewardess Marisa quickly appeared and apologized for the state of the room. It seems our originally assigned stewardess quit with no notice that morning and Marisa had been pulled very late from another floor to take over. She told us the cabin would be to Crystal’s standards when she made up the room in the evening, and it was. The only other hitch was that our two checked bags were in the cabin by 4 pm, but our two pieces of hand luggage were not there. I went to reception and notified them. Within 20 minutes our luggage was located and delivered. We then had 3 follow up phone calls from different departments confirming that it had been delivered. Food – very happy with food in all locations. We did dining by reservation, with a 7 pm table for 2 on most nights. We ate at both Prego and Silk Road as well. Service was wonderful in all locations. We were lucky in that we had the same waiter for all the nights in the MDR when it wasn’t open seating. Peter and his assistant Marilen were very attentive. We tried food from both the new / fusion menu and the traditional menu. We only had breakfast in the MDR once and instead ate up on the Lido deck every morning. Service was excellent most mornings. I know that some have complained about coffee on the Symphony but my mother thought it was excellent. It is strong, which she likes so that is why some may not like it. Lunch most days was in either the Trident grill or the Lido. One day was an Asian buffet in the Lido, with lots of sushi. At dinner, our wine glasses were never empty unless we were done. The servers in the Cove and Avenue Saloon quickly learned our favorite drinks and were very prompt with service. Entertainment – Mark Farris in the Avenue Saloon was the absolute highlight of the cruise. I am amazed at his talent and the way he interacts with the crowd. He recognized people that he had sailed with before, one couple from 3 years ago. He is a master entertainer and Crystal is very lucky to have him. Tom Daniels played the piano in the Crystal Cove most evenings. He was a delight to listen to. As mentioned above, we did dining by reservation at 7 pm, so the pre-dinner music timing did not mesh with when we were in the Cove for drinks, but we enjoyed people watching just the same. Vivian Clement Trio – we went to listen to them one night and were very disappointed. Both of us felt that Vivian really couldn’t sing. She was off key on every song she attempted. Production Shows: “A Taste of Things to Come” the first night was a nice introduction to what we would see on the cruise. “Curtain Call” – very high energy and entertaining. Imagine – I was disappointed but my mother enjoyed it. I felt that the entertainers picked music that they wanted to perform and did not consider their audience. I also felt they tried to tell a story, which did not translate well. There were some more abstract parts and I felt these were better. Philip Wojciechowski – concert pianist – My mother went and enjoyed it. We were docked in St. Petersburg and she was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more Russian composers played. No Tchaikovsky. Diva – Karen Grainger – great show. Karen is very talented and it was a very fun evening. To be honest – this was a very port intensive cruise and some nights we were just too tired to see the show. We also did dining by reservation at 7 pm so the timing of the shows often did not work with our dinner timing, which we were fine with. Public Rooms – The Symphony may be 20 years old, but you would never tell. We found all the rooms to be very spacious and welcoming. We enjoyed the Palm Court for reading and relaxing, as well as for the Mozart Tea. The Trident Grill area was a delightful space to have lunch. On some days the roof was completely closed and others it was partially open. Weather was not conducive for it to be fully open. I was surprised to see that smoking was allowed on the aft decks and up on the Lido. I thought with the changes to Crystal’s smoking policies that smoking was only allowed in the Connoisseur’s room. It didn’t really bother us too much, but we did have to change sides a few times due to smokers. We were mainly seated in the elevated section of the MDR, and had no issues here either. Enrichment Activities – again, this was a very port intensive cruise, with only 1 sea day, so we did not have much opportunity to take advantage. Dan Raviv from CBS was a lecturer and while we were not able to catch any of his live talks, we were able to watch the replays on the TV. Commander Jeff Roberts, from the British Navy, gave a wonderful talk on St. Petersburg. Nicholas Roberts also gave a very nice presentation on what types of souvenirs to purchase in SPB, and some suggestions on how to tell if they are authentic or fakes. It was very informative. Internet – I wanted to keep up with work e-mails so I purchased 2 hours of internet time for $50. The staff in the Computer room were able to quickly configure my smart phone, so I could check e-mails via the ship wifi. I had taken my Nook Tablet but they were not able to get it configured. This worked out. I was able to check my e-mail almost every day from my cabin. There were only 2 times that I tried to get on line and it wasn’t working. There was plenty of signage that there was no guarantee as to internet reliability while in the Baltics. Other than the expense, I was satisfied with the internet. I think Crystal charges way too much to use the internet and am very happy that on any future cruising I do with Crystal I will have 60 min free a day now that I am a Crystal Society member. Debarkation – very smooth process. We had a 10:00 am flight and had to meet in the lounge at 7:15 am. Our bags had to be out in the hallway by midnight the night before. We were given color coded / numbered tags that corresponded to our departure group. When we arrived at the airport, we stayed on the buses until they had the luggage unloaded. It took about 10 minutes. We had checked in the night before and already had our boarding passes so just had to go to the bag drop area. This only took about 20 min. Security was very simple as well and we were quickly at our gate. Overall Impression – I was very impressed with Crystal. I thought the overall experience and service was excellent. We thought Crystal was a very good value for the money. I am afraid that Crystal has spoiled me and it will be very difficult to go back to a mass market line for cruising. We really enjoyed the smaller size of the ship. We never felt that we were sailing on a full ship and no place was ever crowded. If I had one area of disappointment, it was interactions with any officers. Granted, we were not able to attend any of the Captain’s receptions because they did not line up with our dining time. We also missed the Cruise Critic meet and mingle because it was held when we were at dinner. We never met any officers and even when we did see them walking on the ship, we were barely acknowledged by them. We would get a brief hello, but that was it. From everything I have read on Cruise Critic, I was under the impression that they mingled much more with the passengers and went out of their way to make you feel welcome. This did not happen to us, but we were first time cruises. Obviously we just don’t rate. The rest of the crew / staff were amazing and very welcoming.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
I had great hopes after reading reviews on this company. what I found is that my husband and I are not a "good fit" for Crystal. On this trip while the passengers were nice we were younger than most of them who had been on ... Read More
I had great hopes after reading reviews on this company. what I found is that my husband and I are not a "good fit" for Crystal. On this trip while the passengers were nice we were younger than most of them who had been on numerous cruises with Crystal some from when Crystal was started. The atmosphere to me is one of a "Country Club" with the majority of the cruisers being well educated repeat cruisers in their 70s who share similar interests etc. Most seem to like the all inclusive plan of cruising. For those of us who use alcohol sparingly this can feel like we are not getting good value for our cruise $. I would prefer to pay for my beverages alcohol and non-alcohol . I found the ship to feel dated, lacking the glamor of newer ships e.g. the carpets were fraying in areas. I was told that the ship will go to dry stock in September in Germany for 21 days. It is easy to navigate being a smaller ship. Our cabin 8135 a balcony at the end of the hall in the stern felt cramped. The furnishings were similar to what I have experienced on Princess. Nothing special. The advantage of our location at the end of the hall was that it was quiet with minimal foot traffic compared to where we usually have our cabin mid-ship. Food was consistently excellent and the service in dining room good. The lido deck does not serve dinner and for me this was a negative as I don't always want to spend the time going to the dining room for dinner. I wish the calorie content with nutritional content of the food for at least a few items would be stated. Knowing the calorie and nutrition content would aid passengers wanting to eat healthy to do so. The trident grill could be crowded at peak times and service could be improved by increasing staffing. Crystal has changed vendors for the stores on symphony so the stores were closed the 1st days at sea for restocking. I found the new vendors to be expensive, clothing jewelry and perfume. I prefer the vendors on Princess which have clothing items that are more reasonable in cost and fit my life style in retirement . I don't buy high end jewelry and my active retirement community does not permit us to wear perfumes to events or while working out in gym. The gym is small and I heard some of passengers complain that there was insufficient room for the stretching classes. My husband commented that the spin bikes were old and he was told the bikes would be replaced in September. Speaking of perfume all the soaps and hand cremes in the bathrooms public and in cabins are highly perfumed. With many people allergic to perfumes, I question why the soap etc need to have these strong odors. The lectures on board are excellent and the quality of the speakers are the best that I have encountered on cruises. I was impressed by the library, selection of books and its lengthy hours. The best on ship library that I have encountered in the 20 years that I have cruised. The entertainment was not to my liking but I heard positive comments from other passengers. The SPA was expensive and I had some complaints which I feel weren't adequately addressed. On the other cruise ships the spa would offer fruit, a pitcher of water with cut up fruit etc. On Symphony I was offered bottled water at the SPA but no flavored water. I wont be using the SPA on board ship on future cruises as I cant justify the pricing compared to what I pay at my local spa for similar services--over 2X. The SPA like the ship felt small & dated with a need for updating. It was not as nice as spas that we have experienced on other ships. Will we cruise Crystal again, not likely as we would like a more informal less "clubby old school" atompshere". We like good food but dont need 1X1 staffing and lengthy time required to eat in the dining room . The excursions were the usual nothing unique or creative. What we did appreciate is that there was someone from Crystal on each excursion to help out. Water on excursions was complimentary--no charge and it was offered when leaving on excursions and on the excursions. We would like a cruise that could offer more opportunities to learn about nature and have the option of a less formal setting for dinner. Some of the passengers that I talked with used room service for dinner while we don't care for room service. So in conclusion, Crystal does have many superior services but for some of us just isnt a "good fit" in meeting out needs but for other cruisers is a "good fit". Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our 3rd family cruise on Crystal, tho we were 4 cabins of repeaters there was zero recognition of our spending large amounts of $$$ with Crystal cruises...even the repeaters party was only offered at 7:45pm leaving out the 6:15 ... Read More
This was our 3rd family cruise on Crystal, tho we were 4 cabins of repeaters there was zero recognition of our spending large amounts of $$$ with Crystal cruises...even the repeaters party was only offered at 7:45pm leaving out the 6:15 diners! Other cruise lines have a bottle of champagne to welcome back repeaters. We did receive, when we arrived back home, 4 rather tacky aqua baggage tags that went directly into the garbage! After sailing with Seabourn many times, we find that the little tiny cabins are quite confining compared to the suites. The two seating for dinner (to early and too late) vacation should not include rushing around to get ready for dinner...I know that there is the option for dining by reservation but with a family of 8 that is a pain. The food is very good, however some dishes are way over salted....the service in the MDR and Lido is still very good. We encountered waiters we had on previous cruises. We did encounter problems with the MDR for breakfast...just stopped going the food was not good and the service dis-jointed. Attention to detail was sadly lacking: use to get served pop corn in the movie theater, last movie no pop corn at all! The laundry was closed in Hong Kong & Shanghai , including the irons & ironing boards use!. I understand the gray water issue in port but there was no attempt to make ironing available...and no advance notice to guests prior to the cruise. Time to update the fleet Crystal! We also did the 3 night post to Beijing, the check-in was well organized, a nice buffet dinner the first night, breakfast buffet in the mornings was nice. The China World hotel is huge a bit worn around the edges, but very attentive staff. The post was jam packed with early starts and long days. The second evening was a dinner and show at the Great Hall, the show was great, service was attentive but the food was so bad we all ate when we returned back to the the hotel...need to some how allow time to explore and shop. The last night was in the hotel but the menu was a set menu in the Chinese restaurant. The reason we use Crystal for our family cruises: kids club, which is great, activities on board, Mark Ferris in the Avenue Salon, and the superior entertainment and high quality food.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
There are two deal breakers for Crystal. The first is the fixed dining times. They do offer dining by reservation but we found this a rather annoying fudge. We threw our toys out the pram the first night as we not only were allocated a ... Read More
There are two deal breakers for Crystal. The first is the fixed dining times. They do offer dining by reservation but we found this a rather annoying fudge. We threw our toys out the pram the first night as we not only were allocated a table in the central area which meant that during the transition between main and late dining we were in the centre of a whirlwind of table set ups but to add insult to injury there were loads of empty window seats. We were initially denied but after further moans were allocated a nice (we suspect the ‘naughty’) table for the remainder of the cruise. This was with conditions that meant it really wasn’t dining by reservation and guessing if the ship was full it might not have been attainable. No matter what a 7.30 dining time which would be our preference did not work as the atmosphere due to the changeover was weird. The second is that in order to achieve a similar space and standard of stateroom as I would have in a veranda suite with Silversea or Seabourn I had to pay for a Penthouse – lovely but way more expensive per square foot. The normal room seemed very cramped by comparison (we looked). Because of the fixed dining times the bar areas are empty and too large for the ship – particularly for pre dinner drinks (arguably at times Seabourn’s and Silversea’s are too small!). This (coupled with fixed dining times and tables) means spontaneous social interaction is tricky. We are quite social but don’t like to be forced and are happy in our own company. An ideal cruise for us is 4/5 evenings as two, 3/4 with another couple and 1 or 2 nights at a large table. This would be hard to manage on Crystal but so easy on the other two. Where Crystal won out over all our other cruises was on the food which was pretty much universally excellent. In fact in all honesty the best we have had. The butler service on the Penthouse deck was exceptional and charming – thank you Sebastian for lending great character to our holiday and enhancing everything you could. The Trident Grill indoor / outdoor space is also a great facility and if this could be added to Seabourn ships would make IMHO the perfect cruise liner! The Silk Road restaurant would be exceptional on land. There were a few children on this trip. They were very charming but the fact of the matter is they were there. Some were quite young - toddlers. We have not found this with Seabourn. The Kids' Club is next to the Palm Court so sitting with a post dinner drink one night was like being next to a school yard. Bad location if it is going to be used in the evening. Hard to give the entertainment a star rating as some was excellent and some not so. The show 'Diva' was great, the show 'Maestro' was dire. The cruise itself was a good balance. Dalian was a great start – possibly due to it being a gorgeous day and so unexpected. Shanghai rocked and having three days meant you felt you had actually given some time to this absolutely amazing city. We did Xian and Beijing before joining the cruise so weren’t under any pressure to tick more boxes and I would recommend this. Seeing Japan from a cruise ship is possibly not the best way but we stayed on afterwards so were able to dispel the industrial edges of the islands with some of the more pastoral parts (and the amazing bullet train). Good cruise and would definitely go with Crystal again but only if it offers an itinerary or timing where Seabourn wouldn’t work.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
This was our fifth Crystal cruise, all have been on the Symphony. Our first, in 2010, was the best. Since then, the quality of Crystal's offerings have declined slightly, but noticeably, with each succeeding cruise. There seems ... Read More
This was our fifth Crystal cruise, all have been on the Symphony. Our first, in 2010, was the best. Since then, the quality of Crystal's offerings have declined slightly, but noticeably, with each succeeding cruise. There seems generally to be less attention to detail. For example, there were stains on our stateroom carpet, there was a broken table in the stern lounge area that was never repaired, there never (not once) were both red and white wine glasses for each place setting at our dinner table in the main dining room, and there were windows that needed washing, especially in Palm Court. This was especially irritating on Feb. 8, 2014 as we viewed New Zealand's majestic fjords through dirty windows. Why were they not washed in Dunedin (the previous port). Finally, the wines offered in the all inclusive service were generally rather mediocre and so was the coffee in the restaurants. These offerings need to be upgraded. Crystal seems no longer to be competitive with Seabourne and, perhaps, not with Regent either. People at our dinner table compared Crystal unfavorably with Oceania and we believe that the Symphony could even be in danger of becoming an all inclusive version of Holland America or Celebrity. We suspect much of this has to do with a cost driven attempt to increase staff productivity. Many of the public contact personnel seem to be seriously overworked. Perhaps the new CEO will make the restoration of Crystal's image of very high quality and attention to detail one of her priorities. Here are some of the things Crystal continues to do well: Louis Armstrong at sail away is a lovely tradition. The spa is excellent and the health club is also first rate. Our cabin attendants have always been excellent and the butler on our 2012 cruise (Greg) was absolutely outstanding. The talent of the on-board performers is remarkable. Where do they get these people? We understand free internet access is being added to the all inclusive package this fall. Bravo!   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
My husband and I are fairly new to Crystal having sailed 6 times within the last 2 years. Had I written this review last year, it would have been far different than what I have to say now. I was, and still am a great supporter of the ... Read More
My husband and I are fairly new to Crystal having sailed 6 times within the last 2 years. Had I written this review last year, it would have been far different than what I have to say now. I was, and still am a great supporter of the Crystal experience, but on the last 2 cruises (back to back journey of 24 days), we noticed some real differences. Embarkation: Extremely smooth as always! We arrived late in the afternoon, were greeted by a Crystal representative at the airport and bused to the ship for check in. We like for Crystal to hold our hand, and they have never let us down while arriving in strange airports. Cabin: We don't spend much time in our room, so size wasn't an issue. As you may note, Crystal has no inside cabins.........you get a huge picture window for the lowest category of travel. The room is well appointed, and I love that the bathroom has a tub and shower. I also like the vessel sinks and granite countertops. Avenda products are used and I love that they are readily available, along with 2 sets of robes (a terry cloth one and a lighter cotton one) and the terry slippers are a treat! The down pillows and comforter are superb and I liked that our bed was on the firm side. The new system of setting the make-up button for the room stewardess is really great as we hardly ever saw our stewardess and always came to a cleaned room. Our stewardess Karolina couldn't do enough for us and always kept our room spotless! Service: Can't say enough about the staff members that make sure our trip is enjoyable....we never had to ask for a thing and after just a day, they knew our names and even what we wanted to drink.....from tea to wine to cocktails! Excellent bar tending staff who got used to our little quirks as to how we wanted our drinks served. Even though gratuities are included, we still felt that the wait staff deserved more for their attention to detail........and we noticed many other travelers felt the same and left extra tips for many of the staff. Entertainment: It doesn't get any better than Crystal! The Crystal Band and Singers and Dancers are fabulous and the production shows are awesome. Since the theater is small, you get a very intimate feel. Some of the guest entertainers are a little on the boring side, as their show doesn't have much variety....45 minutes of just singing without a change of routine gets a little boring. Our comedian on the New England trip (I think his name was Jimmy) was absolutely FUNNY without ever being insulting or foul. His ad-lib on one of our ports, Harve Saint Pierre was absolutely hilarious! Lectures: I think that this is one Crystals stronger points as, by in large, the lectures have been well delivered, by people who knew what they were talking about. Our destination lecturer, Ken Reese, gave great background information of the ports we were going to and what we could expect to see and our economist from South Africa presented really informative talks. As for the lectures on the Film and Theater Theme cruise ( the second cruise New York to the Caribbean) the lectures were very weak in content and not very interesting. I'm sure all of these people were very talented, but they really could use some pointers on how to present a coherent, interesting lecture. Dining: What is happening??? This is the highlight of OUR cruising experience as we are "journey" travelers and not "destination" travelers..........we love the ship; however, this time there were a lot of changes. First , for breakfast, the fruit offerings were diverse and exotic, but the Papaya was hard as a rock, as was the melon, the oranges were dry and tough, and the strawberries were quite tasteless. I asked management if they had switched vendors and was told that it was that the fruits are not in season.........well, I live in a little town in Eastern Carolina, and we don't have trouble getting good, fresh, ripe fruit. For breakfast, I got tired of BURNED FRIED EGGS in the Lido, so I asked management to please ask the Omelet chef, to SLOW COOK the eggs or omelet...finally got that right after 4 days!! In the Main Dining Room for dinner, we now have to pay for the caviar! Wouldn't mind it if there was a nominal charge, but $95 a serving was a little steep! In the past, we always got lots of fresh fish and shell fish from the various ports, but this time some of the offerings (Snapper on mashed potatoes) was tough, dry and "fishy". Our Maine lobster was covered with some awful sauce served on some "Mystery Mush". When I asked to order lobster the next night, I was told that they were all eaten and perhaps later in the cruise they would get in some tails (which they did!). On several occasions the shrimp was not cooked (they were served grey, which means that it's not cooked). We saw a real change in the quality of food overall from our 2 voyages this spring on the Serenity. I could go on, but I'm wondering if Crystal is cutting their food budget! Quite frankly, I was not the only person who complained about the food. Ports: I said that we were not destination people, but I found it so strange to see hundreds of travel agents in ever port from New York to Jacksonville (5 ports in all) that were invited to drink and dine. On several occasions we could not access Palm Court because of the special lunches that were set up. All in all, I wonder how much of our food dollar went to those promotions! Disembarkation: Another strong point for Crystal! We were asked to leave early and out flight didn't leave until late afternoon, but Crystal sent us to a Hotel for lunch instead of dumping us at the airport! Really nice! Summary: I'm still passionate about Crystal and we have booked 2 more cruises this next year, but I just hope that Crystal doesn't go the way of other cruise lines, trying to offer a not-so-good experience at a cheaper cost! I would rather pay a little more for a great experience. We also noticed that many cruises are now 7 days with lots of ports .........that means cheaper pricing without amenities like the Grand Buffet and sea time with lectures............Am I seeing the winds of change??????   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
What follows is a frank review, after all this is Cruise CRITIC and my comments are not here to beat-up on anything, but I hope it will be taken as an incentive for all mentioned to improve. This is meant to be CONSTRUCTIVE criticism not ... Read More
What follows is a frank review, after all this is Cruise CRITIC and my comments are not here to beat-up on anything, but I hope it will be taken as an incentive for all mentioned to improve. This is meant to be CONSTRUCTIVE criticism not ranting. I'll break it down into both the good and the bad and name a winner in each category since I'd want to read a review like this if I was deciding on this cruise or comparing Crystal with Regent. One caveat, while my observations on Crystal are up to date, we haven't sailed on Regent for two years so please keep in mind some of my comparisons may no longer hold true with Regent since I’m afraid the cruise industry in general is increasingly losing some if its niceties. Pre-Cruise (booking, planning, information gathering) I made our booking through our travel agent and booked and paid well in advance to take advantage of every discount offered. My biggest gripe is having to always go through my travel agent every time I had a question. For example, I was trying to compare airline prices and decide whether we should go on our own our book through Crystal and get the advantage of them handling us, at least until Beijing. Normally this process takes a few hours, or I can find the information I want online. In this case every time my travel agent asked about a certain flight, it took two to three days. Apparently there’s just one person doing this at Crystal, and I guess he/she is overwhelmed. In the end we finally did go to Beijing with Crystal primarily because we could get the flight covered under the Crystal insurance plan, but it took about six weeks to come to that decision and seemed really convoluted. Compared with Regent, it was awful since, at least my travel agent could have a live conversation with the flights person and just get all the information at once. Crystal’s website and their online booking system (PCPC) work pretty well. It’s similar to Regent, but doesn’t force you to pay up front for tours to keep your tour reservation (like Regent). One glitch with Crystal, is that in the midst of sorting out our plane reservations with Crystal, I was locked out of the system, and upon calling Crystal they said I couldn’t use it until I had paid. Of course I had paid in full since I had already made most of the tour and dining reservations. I was pretty put off by this rubber stamp answer and I didn’t think that was the kind of attitude that Crystal should have with a fully paid customer who hasn’t even sailed yet. Another caveat is that the information on the website often is not checked very well, or has information that doesn’t get updated, so I really had to constantly double-check if things were right. For example, on this cruise, Tianjin, China was our departure port, but on our personal cruise calendar, it said we were in Tianjin also when we arrived in Kobe, Japan. Obviously this must have been a cut and paste mistake, but if the user isn’t completely familiar with the port names you could ask a driver in Kobe to pick you up at the port of Tianjin. I actually did this; fortunately our driver said it was a bit out of the way, coming from Kyoto, Japan… Winner: Regent Pre-cruise land tour and embarkation The first segment of our cruise included a three day land tour in Beijing before we boarded the ship. We stayed at the China World Hotel which was perfectly comfortable, and all three days were great. Since we had booked a Penthouse (PH) we were on the concierge floor. This gave us the option of dining in a smaller dining room rather than join the five hundred or so other Crystal guests in one of the ballrooms. I will hand it to the ground operator, managing this amount of guests at a high level of luxury and still maintaining a sense of personal attention is quite an achievement. Our Chinese guide made us feel like a much smaller group and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Bravo Crystal, well done! Embarkation was fairly smooth, and if there was any irritation, it was due to the immigration authorities processing hundreds of cruisers. However that’s really nit-picking and certainly not any fault of Crystal’s. Compared to Regent, the last pre-cruise land tour was when Regent had their Discovery collection. We did a three day tour with only one other couple to Victoria Falls, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. At first the tour was in jeopardy of being cancelled since there were only two couples, however Regent, instead of cancelling the tour, offered us the option to make up the difference in price, which we both did so we really had more of a private tour. Regent subcontracted the three days to Abercrombie & Kent, and we were lucky enough to have the head of South African tours host us so needless to say, it was superb. To be fair, comparing Crystal and Regent here is really apples and oranges, so I will call it a draw with both cruise lines doing an excellent job. Winner: both Cabin Due to our not wanting to downgrade our living arrangements onboard compared to Regent, we opted to go for a Penthouse (PH) cabin. Although expensive, if you’re going to splurge on one thing with Crystal, you won’t be disappointed. Our Crystal Penthouse mimicked our standard Regent cabin with a verandah in every way except that it was a bit bigger and squarer and we had a Jacuzzi tub. This also made our verandah a bit bigger. Furnishings were excellent with plenty of storage. We had thought that for our three segments and having to bring a fair amount of winter and hiking gear, that the walk-in closet would still be too tight - not at all. We still had hangers left over and since we had lots of drawers both inside the closet and in the room, we had plenty of space for everything. Crystal’s standard cabins are smaller than Regent’s and we heard many times that they were OK for single passengers, two people were a bit too cozy. While we initially got the cabin for the walk-in closet and tub, it turned out we loved the cabin so much it was really our favorite place to stay on the ship – as opposed to public spaces. Not that the public spaces are bad – they’re great too; we were just in love with our cabin. If you can afford it – spring for the Penthouse deck you won’t be sorry. Since Regent’s cabins (especially on Voyager and Navigator) are pretty standard with tub and shower, walk-in closet and DVD player (Crystal only gives DVD players to Penthouses!), the worry about cabins is not there, except perhaps for location on the ship. Because Regent gives you this as a standard basic cabin the win goes to them since the cost is substantially lower. But I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Crystal to spoil myself in a Penthouse! Winner: Regent Public Spaces The décor of the public spaces felt very much like there’s an Asian theme, with more colors and busier designs. Of course all this is a matter of taste. The winners in my book were Penthouse cabins (in off white colors with crown molding and wood furniture), the Avenue Saloon and Cigar bar (that was the prettiest mimicking a men’s club look – too bad about the smoky smell). The trident grill deck with the retractable roof was a great semi-outdoor option. The high wing-back chairs on the forward most lounge, the Palm Court are great. Although they’re often occupied its really nice to sit there and just watch the sea go by. The pool is actually big enough to swim in. It’s bigger and squarer than Regent’s. There’s a separate large Jacuzzi which can easily sit eight too. The losers in my book are the Crystal Plaza which just pales in comparison to Regent’s full height of the ship’s atrium and glass elevators. It reminds me too much of a hotel lobby and that I’m at a convention. The Galaxy Lounge which is the main theater, feels a bit head room challenged, fortunately the entertainers did make you forget that. The elevators are totally utilitarian, and the only reason I bring it up is because Regent’s glass ones really make an impression. Regent’s public spaces seem nicer, only because they have a lot more wood paneling and having the rotating art on the walls helps keep things interesting. The Mariner’s indoor promenade is lovely to stroll by on a sea day, and the Voyager’s top observation deck is still my favorite. Crystal Symphony would blow the Navigator’s public spaces out of the water, but so would Regent’s Voyager and Mariner. Winner: Regent Shipboard activities (sea days, lectures, entertainment) Being a slightly bigger ship with a max of 1000 passengers vs. Regents 700 max, gives Crystal a few more options in terms of entertainment. First off, Crystal has usually more simultaneous activities. Lectures can be in one area, while something else happens in the theater and since there’s a dedicated movie theater, it can show movies without tying up the main theater. Crystal does an excellent job utilizing their on-board TV. All lectures are taped so that you don’t feel like you have to book your time to watch it live or have to choose between a lecture or sleeping in. There’s a morning show which actually is quite informative and summarizes the activities, gives you the local weather and shows a preview of the movie of the day. There’s a destination channel which shows movies and documentaries associated with the upcoming port of call (great way to get into the mood of a particular place). The satellite TV is very international and not overly skewed towards U.S. media. It does change depending on where the ship is, but while we were in Asia we saw BBC World, and English language versions of Japan TV, and Korea TV. Again that’s great to supplant your visit to these foreign lands. There’s the usual CNN and Fox news if you want it and a couple of channels dedicated to movies or old sitcoms (it was fun to watch M*A*S*H near Korea). One slight gripe is that Crystal only has regular TV versus Regent’s Video On Demand, or DVR feature. This is a bit of a pain, especially since we use DVR’s at home all the time, since if you want to catch the entirety of a TV movie, you’ve got to make sure you’re there at the right time. However Crystal’s programming clearly wins over Regents – but who’s on a cruise to watch TV anyway? The quality of lectures is always variable, and I don’t think it’s entirely fare to judge the two contenders head to head, however I will say, Regent seems to better tailor their lecturers to the ports we are visiting. There was also a better coordination between the Tour desk, and lecturers so that before you reached a port, you had at least one lecturer who taught you about the country and culture, and perhaps another who spoke about the history and finally the tour desk making a presentation on tours. Crystal, was weak in this regard. The emphasis of the destination lecturer was more to brief us on what was fun to do, like restaurants or entertainment. I was surprised since Crystal emphasizes their learning aspect so much. I’m glad I did my homework before the cruise so fortunately I was pretty well briefed on our ports. I’d hate to think of someone who didn’t bother with the research since they probably had little idea of the context of the sights they saw while touring. I did find almost every lecturer generally interesting, and there were really no un-polished presenters as I have witnessed on Regent. Crystal’s main theater is a single deck height theater which has everything from Broadway style shows to musicians to game shows. Regent has all this but it does have a double height (two decks) theater. Personally the two deck theater just makes the shows look more spectacular, and in Regent’s case they can do their acrobatic “Cirque” show, which is fantastic. However once the initial impression of Crystal’s theater is over, the quality of the shows was excellent. I can only assume that if one day Crystal builds a new ship with a double-height theater, the whole experience will be that much better. A unique addition to Crystal is its “Magic Castle at Sea”. I’m a big fan of magic acts, and remember with pleasure some of the magicians I saw on Regent who performed in the theater. By contrast, Crystal’s Magic Castle, happens in the tiny Luxe nightclub which is decorated a bit like a carnival show tent. The acts are close-up magic and are more like parlor tricks. Personally, I prefer the grand spectacle and when magic is accompanied by lights, music and a big stage. To me these shows were a bit weak and I almost feel that I was watching a street side “Monty” game. One of the three magicians we had (there was a different one for each segment) did make an effort and she did impromptu tricks around the ship which was actually better, since it was off the cuff, and relaxed. Having it in Luxe felt like it was kind of hidden away in a broom closet. I can’t say the Magic Castle at sea is a deciding factor in choosing Crystal over anyone else. Movies in the Hollywood theater were generally excellent. The movies were quite recent and there even were a few foreign language films which were all great. The equipment in the theatre is excellent and only diminished by the viewing of standard definition source material. Hopefully this wasn’t an oversight and simply a licensing issue with the content providers. After all, how silly to spend all the money on high definition equipment and not have high definition programming. There is one thing that’s really strange on Crystal. The library is very good with books, DVD’s, and four Blu-ray discs to borrow, but only at set hours. Regent’s library is open all the time, which is great if you happen to wake up early or be up in the middle of the night. Several times I wanted to go to the library and it just wasn’t open – kind of a pain. The DVD situation is great if you’re lucky enough to have a Penthouse or smart enough to plug you own DVD player or laptop into the TV. I was shocked that regular staterooms don’t have DVD players – seems really cheap for a five star cruise line. Regent equips every cabin with a DVD player. The most amusing is that you have to spring for the ultimate suite on board, the fantastic Crystal Suite which is more like your own apartment on a yacht, and they throw in a Blu-Ray player! LOL. The joke is that they only have four Blu-ray discs in the library and although you can certainly play DVD’s in the Blu-ray player – it just seems really silly, don’t you think? Another thing that was very different from Regent is the participation in games. Both Crystal and Regent have typical games like Liar’s Club and Trivia. But Regent seems to draw you in more. Perhaps it’s scheduling and the staff joining in with the games. Crystal scheduled Team Trivia at noon, but Regent has it with tea in the afternoon (which is usually after people get back from shore anyway), which seems to be better to get people to maybe go for tea, but then get drawn into the game. Also Regent’s officers and management actively participate in Liar’s Club and other games which add a lot of fun and humanizes them. Crystal’s officers were doing their jobs admirably but nothing more. The only time we ever saw the Captain or any other officers, was at a set formal time. On Regent they’d pop up at meals, around the pool and felt just felt part of our floating world. I will say that the professionalism of Crystal’s crew was top notch and we got to and from all our ports and through some bad weather with perfect scheduling, and safety. Lastly I’ll touch upon “Learning at Sea”. Crystal promotes this greatly and I will excuse myself from most of this since I really didn’t participate. My wife and I had high hopes to do this, but you only have so much time and other things took priority. One downside is the elimination of Yamaha keyboard classes which we had always thought we’d take since no other cruise line offers this. It seems to have been replaced by iMovie classes and the Magic Castle at Sea. I’m a former CIO, so the computer classes are really not of interest to me and I’ve been making movies since Super 8 was around, but the keyboard classes would have been fun. Language classes are only in Spanish, which I really didn’t think was appropriate for Asia and Russia. What would have been more interesting are quick traveller’s language classes in port related languages, or perhaps a primer on Chinese characters, or Korean. I cannot comment on the CU@sea, except that it looked popular, and I have to assume the majority of the passengers find it helpful. My wife did participate in the Arts and Crafts program as she did on Regent, and I did sample one Golf class which actually did give me a few tips I want to try at home. I didn’t go to the others mainly due to the inclement weather and conflicts with other activities. Winner: Regent Itinerary I hadn’t mentioned this before but the primary reason for our trying Crystal Cruises after being exclusive Regent customers for so long was simply that Regent eliminated their World Cruises (we used to take segments) and their itineraries became repetitive and boring. We sailed from Beijing, to Japan, Russia and along the northern Pacific ring of fire through Alaska and down the west coast of North America to Los Angeles. This was always one of my “bucket list” things to do and I would still love to do the entire circumnavigation of the Pacific (perhaps like Cook’s journey) before I kick the bucket. It would have been nice to see more of Japan, like Hokkaido or the Kuril Islands but fortunately because we had almost three days in Kobe, Japan we did our own tour around Kyoto between segments. That was exceptional. The only negative I have to say about this itinerary was that it was a bit early in the season to be visiting a lot of these ports. The good news is that we saw these ports, especially Alaska, without thousands of other tourists. It was a bit like a pre-show or behind the scenes tours. We were ready for the cold weather, and amazingly I did manage to sneak a swim in the pool in San Francisco – of all places! Not having an active pool deck probably changed the impression we had overall of the cruise, since we now realize that it serves a bit like a town center where you can hang out, and eventually everyone passes through including the Captain. A plus Crystal has over Regent in this cold weather cruise is the trident deck which has a retractable glass roof. This was very pleasant in the temperate climates. We still got some sun without the cold wind. Our Captains did an excellent job getting us to all our ports with no mishaps. Winner: Crystal Shore Excursions I booked the majority of our tours on Crystal’s PCPC (online booking system). This worked quite well and I could preview most tours well ahead of time to research and choose. The choice was good, and some sounded very good, even though they were pricey. We ended up booking an overnight tour to Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai. This was a $1,300 per person tour but it was really worth it. We were thrilled with the Aman Resort that we stayed at, and I was very impressed that Crystal offered this as an option. Crystal also offered a helicopter ride around the volcanoes in Petropavlovsk for a hefty $1,700 per person. I signed up for this thinking, well I might as well do something memorable in a place I might never visit again – and there was a good chance we might not even get there since last year’s cruise had to skip it due to weather. Anyway I took the plunge and only found out by chance that my tour and my wife’s completely different tour had been cancelled. I only found this out by calling the tour desk to ask about the missing tickets and after some digging, the explanation was that since I had been the only one to sign up, they cancelled it. I couldn’t believe I had found out this way. Its one thing to have advance notice that the tour is cancelled, and perhaps get help in make alternative arrangements, but quite another to just stumble on it and then really have no recourse. On top of that, since they cancelled both our tours we were at the back of the line to get booked on the remaining options – even though I had booked the original tours months ago. I asked why had they not even offered to turn this into a private tour, like Regent had done for us in Zambia? I was just quoted regulations. I was dumbfounded, and felt like abandoned. We eventually arranged a private tour to some hot springs, but it was just so badly handled, I cannot help but characterize the whole experience as a tremendous stain on Crystal’s reputation. We had heard for years that Crystal had no knowledge of the word “No” and mimicked the Japanese manner of always trying to accommodate and make their passengers happy. So this was a total shock, even now that I’m back home after a couple of weeks. I’ve certainly had some ups and downs with Regent’s Tour desk, however my expectations are not quite as high since their tours are included and not as interesting or ambitious. Kudos would have gone to Crystal for that had they been able to fully deliver and I still encourage them to offer the expensive tours as an option. I’m afraid the level of experience at the tour desk is probably getting weaker on all cruise lines, but it was very difficult to come to this realization after having such high hopes for Crystal. Ok, that’s enough whining. Generally our tours were fine, and I actually prefer Crystal’s way of doing the tours as not included since I can easily opt out and do things on my own. Regent doesn’t do much better, but at least they have the courtesy to tell me in advance when a tour is cancelled. Winner: None Dining Simply said, the food on board Crystal Symphony was the best I’ve had on sea and as good as anything I’ve had on land. I’m a simple picky eater, and normally food is just fuel to me. I’m hungry, satisfy the appetite and I’m ready to move on. However on a cruise, I mellow out a bit and pay more attention, especially to things I like. My wife usually says I never have anything nice to say about food except that its “OK”, so I was sure to highlight the fact that on Crystal I said “Great” and “Fantastic”. That’s a lot coming from me. Although we had to insist a bit with the sommelier, my wife managed to get a good Bordeaux as her preferred wine, as opposed to the nightly offerings. Almost everything I picked over 42 nights was excellent, and I gained 17 pounds to prove it! The things that were not excellent were still OK. The specialty restaurants were also excellent and a nice change of venue on a long cruise. The Wagyu Beef in Silk Road was probably the best beef dish I’ve had. The Beef Wellington in the main dining room was perfect (Chef Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen would have been proud!). The service was excellent overall, and really the only downside is that there isn’t open seating. This has been reported many times, but coming from Regent with open seating to a set seating is a hard adjustment. We chose to dine by reservation, which is Crystal’s workaround, but you feel a bit sequestered into a designated area in the dining room. This never changes so it can get a bit wearing on a long cruise. We only interacted a bit with passengers seated at a neighboring table, but it’s not the same as having the flexibility one night to join a large table for more interaction, and then choosing to dine alone on another night. I realize this is probably a logistical issue with 1000 passengers, but it’s still a negative in my mind. The Trident grill served the best French fries ever. I wish I knew their secret to consistently producing perfectly seasoned, not greasy or undercooked fries. The pizza was also very good. The ice cream bar was a winner with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but after 43 nights it would have been nice to see the flavor choice change a bit. We had a special feature on this cruise that we’d never had before, which was a butler. Out butler “Greg” was everything you would expect and more. He really made a great effort getting to know us, and if there was anyone who we will always remember with this adventure it is him. I mentioned before that Crystal’s officers and management seem very detached from the passenger life, having Gregg as a butler made up for a lot of that. He leaped at the challenges I gave him for my in-room dining special orders and had a wealth of knowledge of the ship. Winner: Crystal Disembarkation We ended up in San Pedro, CA and our disembarkation was fine, although very sad as it is on all our cruises. Crystal does seem to do what it can to provide happy smiling people to help and guide you through the disembarkation. With Regent we kind of felt dumped on the pier having to rely on our own resources as soon as we were off the gangplank. Crystal reps were everywhere all the way out to the limos and buses. Aside from airlifting us in our wonderful Penthouse cabin to our home doorstep, Crystal could not have done more to ease our transition. Winner: Crystal Overall winner: I hate to even make this call because I’m happy to say I now like both Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. They each have enough going for them that I would sail again on either one as long as the itinerary is good. One thing Crystal seems to have is much more of an international mix of passengers. Being an American, while I don’t mind my fellow countrymen, I like to meet non-Americans when I travel. We had Japanese, Chinese, Australians, South Africans, and Canadians. This really added to the whole ambiance. Regent is heavily skewed towards Americans, and I feel sorry for non-Americans on board since they have to conform to American entertainment and being in the minority. I’m not American bashing, I just feel that as travelers on a ship in international waters we should embrace that we’re all world citizens and get out of our nationalistic modes. If I imagined myself at the head of Crystal or Regent, wondering who really wins this comparison, I’d probably be looking at the dollars. While we may have cruised more on Regent over the years, Crystal did beat out all the other competition to convince us to spend the most we’ve ever spent on a cruise, and they did it by giving us the combination of a pleasing itinerary, excellent accommodations, a mid-size ship that doesn’t get boring on a long voyage, and I did book two future cruises while on board. So if the bottom line is to get the client and make money, Crystal won. The one thing I would say in Regent’s favor is that they would probably win us back if they’d get their itineraries back to the way they were when they did Discovery cruises and get rid of the back and forth itineraries which kills it for multi-segmenters like us. Not that Crystal is bad, but Regent would kill them since they include air and tours and we get free internet all for a lower price than Crystal. So the overall winner is really both. I’m now happy that I now have to excellent cruise lines to choose from. If you think this is long, wait until I sail on some of the other cruise lines like Silver Sea and Seabourne   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
We decided to do this "Cruise To Nowhere" immediately after doing it last year. Crystal, I believe, has only done this itinerary a couple of times. Starting in San Pedro, it heads North to Santa Barbara, spends 2 days in San ... Read More
We decided to do this "Cruise To Nowhere" immediately after doing it last year. Crystal, I believe, has only done this itinerary a couple of times. Starting in San Pedro, it heads North to Santa Barbara, spends 2 days in San Francisco before returning south to Ensenada and San Diego. Being from Southern California and having spent a lot of time in all of these destinations, we termed this the "Cruise To Nowhere" last year. We were taking this Thanksgiving Cruise primarily to enjoy the ship, the food, and the usually stellar service. I am rating the overall cruise a 4 star, but in reality it's more like a 4.5 or 4.6. I unfortunately cannot rate it a 5, at least from our perspective. Here, in no particular order are my observations: Cabin: We were on the fifth deck, Category D. Cabin was in a great location. Lower deck right outside the main lobby and the Crystal Dining Room. It's a bit small, but typical of most outside cabins. Bathroom with 2 sinks and great toiletries was nice. Shower/Tub had a hand set shower unit with nice power. Downside is the quality of the beds. Mattress is very firm and all of the pillows were too soft. They tried a trick with an egg crate upside down, but it did not help much. Crystal needs to redo the beds. Many would agree. 4 stars Food: Nothing more to say than ...SIMPLY AWESOME!. We had no complaints whatsoever. The food in the MDR was 5 star or better every single meal. From the fish to the bread to the soup to the venison, it was a taste sensation every meal. Even one step higher were the Specialty restaurants: Silk Road and Prego. Outstanding preparation and my hat is off to the chefs and servers throughout the ship. 5 stars plus All Inclusive Drinks and Wine: We had a great Sommelier and the wines offered were quite nice. Our mixed drinks at the bars were also served quickly and were quite good. I cannot complain at all about this aspect of AI. We are not big drinkers, but apparently you can also have 2 bottles of complementary hard liquor or champagne in your stateroom. See your stewardess and she will get you all set up. 5 stars Enrichment: Because we only had one sea day, the Crystal Enrichment program was at a bare minimum. This was unfortunate. Last year we at least had Art and Music classes, and I was expecting it again this year. It was even listed in the itinerary on the web. The Speaker, Louis Rene Beres, an international law expert focused on the middle east, was excellent, but they only gave him one day to speak. He had apparently prepared four lectures. I do understand that on Port Days, the ship expects everyone to be out exploring. But on this particular cruise, I'd say a good proportion of people stayed on the ship, a lot. Ensenada, in particular, seemed to have very few "adventurers". we were fine with not having many activities on the sea days, as our objective was just to relax, but to have the option of a few things would have been nice. Last year, for instance, we did some art and actually had it displayed at an "Art Show" on the ship. 3 stars Jazz Themed Cruise: Perhaps some of the minimization of the enrichment program was due to the Jazz we had on board. There were several musicians on board, playing for several hours every day at various venues. The Talent was superb Old Styled Jazz with top notch solos. The groups were part of an organization called "Jazzdagen". One of their band leaders is a guy named Pieter Meijers, who plays a Clarinet like you would not believe. I would rate this entertainment 5 stars plus, and was a unique experience we had not encountered in any of our previous cruises. Well done! Service: This was the surprise for us. Last year, we had the best service of any cruise we've ever been on. They made an effort to know our names. I would be up early and try to meet my wife later in the lido for breakfast. The Lido staff would be able to pinpoint me and direct my wife to my table. It was unprecendented. The Dinner staff were equally accomading. that Was last year. This year, for whatever reason ,was a complete reversal, at least for us. Our stewardess was just adequate, if not worse. We had early dining, and on 2 nights we returned to our room after dinner to find that she was still cleaning the stateroom. This was at 830pm! So she got embarrassed and said she would hurredly finish, meaning of course, not thoroughly cleaning perhaps. Our dinner waiter was equally incompetent, if I can use that term. We were a table of 8 at the very aft end of the room. We were invariably the last table to get served. Some orders were wrong: he forgot who ordered what, that sort of thing. We had to switch our plates after he served the wrong dishes to the wtrong people Desserts were forgotten. Coffee and Tea was not served with dessert, perhaps 5-10 minutes after dessert. I mean it wasn't all bad, but it was also not that great. He never recommended any meals or described how the dishes were prepared. I don't know, but for some reason, we got stuck with perhaps the worst waiter on the ship. Now our dinner mates were great, and our interesting conversations were able to carry us through the delays, but still, I like to eat in a timely fashion. All dinners took about 2 hours from start to finish. We were usually about the last people out of the dining room. Not because of lingerring to talk, but lingering for our after dinner tea or coffe to arrive. Surprising thing however...the lunch service was excellent. Maybe less crowded, but we were in and out on 45 minutes and completely satisfied. The waiters/eaitresses vary for lunch, so we had a glimpse of some others. Most were stellar, but a couple were again just not so good. Service is the most important aspect of a luxury cruisre, and we just felt that we were treated pretty mush average if that. In direct comparison to the best serviced cruise of our life, last year, we just this was on par with a mega ship, not a smaller luxury ship known for it's sevice. And Crystal is not inexpensive, so this was just a bit incomprehensible for us. Oh, one other thing, our stateroom toilet went out of service briefly. I went to the front desk to anounce it (front desk is 30 feet from our room if that). Then we heard that toilets were out on that entire side of the ship for our floor at least, including the public bathroom. Two elderly women came out of the bathroom to say the same thing (toilets not working) so I went right back to the front desk. I thought this was pretty important. The front desk staffperson did not and just non-chalantly said someone would be notified. I went back to the room a couple hours later and the toilet was working, thank goodness. Went to the same front desk person to say "thanks, it looks like our toilet is working again." She was sort of caught off guard and said, "Oh okay, thanks for letting us know". Bottom line: She didn't put any emphasis or care in the toilets being out, and had no idea that the situation was resolved nor did any announcement come directly to us that our staeroom toilet was working again. Not a shining Service moment for Crystal, IMHO. Overall Service: 3 Stars Summary: We had a great cruise, but it was not the "6 Star" luxury we had expected, coming off our truly "6 Star" treatment on the same cruise last year. Hard to say if it was due to the "All Inclusive" changeover this year, or just our specific bad luck of having a less than stellar stewardess and waiter. Could also be that several crew members may have been at their last week of their contract, i.e. burned out. The Symphony was heading to the South Pacific and Australia, so it would make sense that a new crew was being sent "Down Under". Still, it is the ship's responsibility to make sure everyone is adequately taken care of. The Jazz was great and the food was great and the wine was great. Service was only adequate, so the overall experince was a bit diminished. Would we sail Crystal again...surely, but the price would have to be commensurate with the service. In this case, it was not. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
This ship and its Japanese owners are throwbacks to the days of when restaurants, hotels, theaters, airplanes and office buildings permitted smoking, either in segregated areas or throughout, and non smokers silently suffered. The world ... Read More
This ship and its Japanese owners are throwbacks to the days of when restaurants, hotels, theaters, airplanes and office buildings permitted smoking, either in segregated areas or throughout, and non smokers silently suffered. The world standards have changed but barely Crystal. This is the only cruise line left afloat that still allows smoking in staterooms. So the smoke from the smokers rises into the ships's air-conditioning systems and spreads it's noxious fumes everywhere. Hallways outside of staterooms reek in places of the odor from smoke coming-out into the hallways from adjacent smokers smoking inside . Same in certain of the more interesting bars, where the ship honors the old airplane tradition of territoriality, by allowing smoking on one side of the bar but not the other, as if the smoke respects boundaries and does not waft over and contaminate the air in the rest of the bar where the nonsmokers gather and hope to avoid the cloud of foul air coming from the few smokers only feet away that they have to breath. Sitting at a table 20 feet from the bar does not help. So much for what makes this ship and this cruise line stand out among the worst there is from a good health standpoint. If you are a smoker, this is the ship for you. If you long for the old days when smokers ruled the roost, and the cigarette industry fooled the public, or a non smoker who simply does not know the difference or does not care enough, this is for you. If not, think options.Public spaces on the ship are lovely, and the Hollywood theater for daily movies is a very nice feature on the wide screen. the nightclub entertainment is very good, with a large show band and talented performers singing and dancing their way in excellent produced shows with very good production values of great costumes, lighting and scenery. Crystal still clings to the old commercial concept of a ship's photographer shooting photos all the time. And selling them. Whole walls adorned with photos for sale most people today just ignore. Another relic of the past. The passenger demographics lean toward the late 70's and 80's. Not a particularly happy, vibrant and joyous crowd, but a lot of repeaters comfortable with each other who seem to like the comfort of something familiar that barely changes. Top food and excellent service are the hallmark of Crystal. Very good and tasty dishes, nicely served, in normal portions not too large and with attentive service. Caviar on request. Excellent smoked salmon. No long waits for food to come. Good complimentary wines, easily refilled. Dining on command in the Main Dining Room a very nice feature. The speciality restaurants are very good, but with limited seating don't expect a second opportunity in each, except perhaps at very late hours. Excellent afternoon tea service, but the string quartet is so boring after a day or two of classic melodies.the ship's public spaces are very beautiful, with nice lounges throughout. Nice paintings and decorations and tasteful new decor in recent retrofitting. The non penthouse cabins with balconies are about 50 sq feet smaller than the competition, and the sliding door closets are not great for storage if you want to bring a large wardrobe, with little drawer space. There is non walk in closet the extra 50 sq feet would bring, and the sitting area is tight. All of this is because the Symphony is an older ship. Bathrooms despite the double basins are also small, even though a nice size shower compartment. Two normal size people cannot pass each other in the bathroom and it borders on the claustrophobic. The ship is comfortable,but the smoking that is permitted presents a real challenge to anyone with breathing problems, smoke allergies or true health consciousness. One can tolerate smaller cabins and bathrooms, and the excellent food and service are real plusses, but when coupled with this smoking problem, it gives true meaning to the principle caveat emptor. Others mentioned it to us and voiced their surprise that Crystal permitted smoking in staterooms and bars and said they would complain. Yet the policy remains unchanged. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I ... Read More
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I booked in September for the May 21 voyage on the Symphony called European Discoveries. This would also be the annual President's Cruise so the expectation of special events and programs was also an enticement. Highlights: -Great itinerary and the ports were all terrific. -All inclusive fare with alcohol and gratuities included. -Free Shuttle buses to town -No need to sign slips for a large variety of table wines wines and spirits. -Excellent customer service, the best we have had onboard any ship. -Treated same by the crew if you were in an ocean view room or a penthouse. -No speical treatment like priority tendering for those with elite status. -Pre booking shorex in advance but not charged until you are on the ship. -Bistro extra hours and quality of cheeses, cured meats, fruits and desserts. -Fellow passengers were interesting and great cruising companions. -Free laundry Lowlights: -Inconsistent food in the Crystal dining room. -High price for Crystal shore excursions (although the ones we took were excellent). -Crowding. As our cruise was sold out it was often hard to find a seat in the Lido for breakfast. -Enrichment program was weak. Too many lectures on the Middle East when presentations on WWII and the D-Day invasion would have been much more appropriate and interesting. -Terrible quality of the coffee in the Lido. -Mozart Tea was just ok. Tea was weak. Why can't Crystal serve loose leaf tea? We boarded the Symphony in Southampton on a Monday afternoon. Embarkation through security at the City Terminal was tedious. We had to keep showing our passports. Once onboard the ship the check in was completed which only took a few minutes. I don't think it was any faster to do it this way than in the cruise terminal. I am guessing that Crystal can save money by not paying as much for the port staff and would prefer to process people onboard the ship. Of course I could be wrong about that too. We had a category C Deluxe stateroom with large window. On my past 12 cruises I have always had a veranda and booked a window this time in order to save $1000 on the per person cruise fare. Our stateroom 7117 was located in the aft area of the ship. The window was quite large and during the day provided a great view across the Promenade Deck to the sea. You cannot see out of the window at night due to high intensity flood lights on the deck. With this being the only drawback we did not miss having a balcony at all. Our itinerary was very port intensive interspersed with 3 sea days. For a cruise with many more sea days the balcony might be nice so you can sit out during the day and also see out at night. Our category C (which is he same size as category D and E) stateroom was elegant and spacious. The Murano glass night table lamps and crystal mirror sconces were beautiful. Deck 7 where the Category C rooms are located has a lavender, cream and gold theme. I love lavender and was delighted! It was just a short walk out the door on Deck 7 to the outdoor area at the back of the ship and also just a short walk and elevator ride up to the Lido on Deck 11. The beds were very comfortable and had a top sheet and fluffy white duvets. I requested special pillows from among the 4 options on the pillow menu and was quite happy. Our room had plenty of storage, 15 drawers and a very nice closet with a motion activated light. The bathroom was a nice size with glass sinks. There was limited counter space. The shower was very steamy and was great for some of my wrinkled dresses. The only downside to the steam was that the room became very wet. The walls were absolutely drenched. A glass door instead of a curtain would be a welcome addition for the tub/shower. I would describe the look and feel of the Symphony as more understated elegance than beautiful. There was no "wow" factor to Symphony that can be found on several new builds. The Symphony entered service in 1995. There have been several refurbs since then including the one immediately following our voyage. Our favorite area of the ship was the layout of Decks 5 and 6. They were joined by a central sweeping staircase and provided a high class feel. The Bistro on deck 6 was another highlight with an excellent selection of specialty cheeses, cured meats, fruits and pastries. We made regular visits to the bistro during our cruise. The two specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego are available at no additional charge. We tried both and although Asian food is my favorite, we were not impressed with Silk Road and preferred Prego for its excellent Italian dishes. The carpaccio in Prego was fantastic. We both had pasta which was flavorful and well presented. Prior to the cruise immediately after final payment you can login in to Crystal's PCPC and book all you dining times in advance. I loved this and booked all our meals for either 7:15 pm or 7:30 pm. We met some guests who did not book in advance and were eating at times they found inconvenient. The food in the Crystal Dining room was hit and miss. Perhaps we made the wrong choices but we only had a few meals that we liked. The rest were as Simon Cowell would say, "forgettable". If I did not take photos I would have no memory of what we ate there. The lobster was excellent and I had several yummy desserts. However, a shrimp Cobb salad without any lettuce and a few unappealing fish dishes that were dried out left me disappointed. We had much better food off the ship than during our 11 night cruise. There were also a few buffets on the sea days. The Asia buffet seemed very Filipino and the Med buffet was horrific. I love Mediterranean food so this was a surprise. I ended up with a Reuben from the Trident Grill. At times our meals in the Crystal Dining Room felt very rushed. They served the food quickly and had us out the door on most nights between 8:15 pm to 8:30 pm. Our ports for the cruise were Southampton; La Coruna, Spain; Bilbao, Spain; St. Jean de Luz, France; St. Malo, France; Honfleur, France and Hamburg, Germany. It was a fantastic itinerary and we were fortunate to have excellent weather up until our arrival in Hamburg where it was drizzling. The seas were so smooth and I didn't have to wear my pressure wristbands at all. It was my first cruise where I was sad to disembark the ship. We booked our next Crystal Cruise while onboard for the beginning of 2014. We are eager to see the improvements made to Symphony in Hamburg following the recent refurb. The photos, especially of the new Palm Court (which previously looked like a retirement home) make 2014 seem a long way off. Overall we were very impressed with Crystal and look forward to future voyages. Ports: There is no option on the CC menu for many of our ports. In Bilbao, Spain we took the bus independently to San Sebastian. We had a long but fabulous day. Loved San Sebastian. The town is beautiful and we had the most amazing pinxtos lunch that we will remember for along time. We also visited La Perla Thalassotherapy spa and spent about 2 hours there doing the circuit and enjoying the hot pools. Rating would be a 4. For Saint Jean de Luz we were ultimately able to tender after a few tense moments with delays. We visited both St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz on a Crystal excursion which was fabulous. Both places had great shopping and restaurants. The history was fascinating. Would love to go back. Rating would be a 5. In St. Malo, France we tendered again but it was much easier. We took another Crystal excursion, this time to Dinan and Dinard. Had a great guide and really enjoyed it. I would rate it a 5. After our excursion we walked around the ramparts in St. Malo and had a delicious lunch at Brasserie du Sillon facing the beach. I rate this port a 5. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We have heard that Crystal Cruises is the best of the best. What we found and my husband and i disagree, is that Crystal certainly i premier with regard to service and food. But, we also found that there was sloppy service in the main ... Read More
We have heard that Crystal Cruises is the best of the best. What we found and my husband and i disagree, is that Crystal certainly i premier with regard to service and food. But, we also found that there was sloppy service in the main dining room. The service level depended on how many staff was in attendance and their level of training. The food certainly ranked among the finest we've had, including, Regent, Silver Seas and Celebrity, but and there are many buts. I found the meals were inconsistant as far as preparation and serving temperature. The Crystal Symphony is a beautiful ship, well laid out, but certain public areas are too crowded with chairs to be comfortable. The Lido Buffets at breakdast and lunch are overcrowded. The food selections at lunch are sparse. Compare these to Regent and Silver Seas, where each lunch offers many, many choicesof both hot and cold entrees. Our reluctance to travel on Crystal has been the reputation for a strict dress code after 6PM. We were most comfortable without donning tuxedos and gowns. Most of the other passengers as well dressed as we did in "country club casual except for formal nights" Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was the third cruise for me and the Missus on Crystal. We were on the Harmony (still our favorite) and the Serenity. First time on the Symphony. The Symphony is on the far side of 15 years now. Here and there, you can see the wear ... Read More
This was the third cruise for me and the Missus on Crystal. We were on the Harmony (still our favorite) and the Serenity. First time on the Symphony. The Symphony is on the far side of 15 years now. Here and there, you can see the wear and tear on the ship after years of steady cruising. But it's still one of the best of the small liners - and we like 'em small. An older ship develops certain idiosyncrasies that come with age. The level of service that comes with this particular cruise line made up for that, mostly. Check-in was unusual, at least for me. I've been so used to checking in at the pier, and the Symphony's was held in the Starlight Room. The lines were less than orderly but check-in was quick. Los Angeles was gray and dreary, with rain in the remote forecast. We grinned and beared it as we stood under one of the fan blowers that blew cold air on us on the Promenade Deck during boat drills. Getting underway from San Pedro, the PA malfunctioned and we never did hear the scratchy recording of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" that is usually mandatory upon every Crystal sailaway. Minor points. The cabin was small, but the AC / heater worked perfectly. The resin basins in the lavatory looked odd, but took up very little space and mostly kept the water in the basin. Ambient noise was a problem in our cabin. When our neighbors weren't running the television loudly in the morning, we heard the Symphony's orchestra running rehearsals in the Galaxy Lounge that was almost directly below us. We needn't have shown up *at* the evening shows; we could *hear* them perfectly fine from where we were sleeping... Another issue: vibration. Okay, so it is nice to have a bed with "magic fingers" - due to vibration that was transferred either from the hull or the engine room. But too much magic fingers can be too much of a good thing. It could be difficult to sleep at times between L.A. and Puerto Vallarta, and back north to L.A. on the way home. One thing that was not a problem was the food. Whether you were in the dining room or the specialty restaurants or the Lido, the quality was quite good. We had a very lively table at late seating. Our Waiter and Senior Waiter were top-notch. This was a Wine & Food specialty cruise, as evidenced by the appearance of Hawaiian celebrity chef Sam Choy. One of the evening meals in the dining room contained examples of his work. I like the food in his restaurants in Honolulu; in a dining room venue where the meals are served en masse, the flavor of the dishes lost a little something. Our favorite meal: Late Riser's breakfast in the Trident Grill. The service by the wait staff was very personal, considering that they are not eligible for gratuities unless you specified it prior to the end of the cruise. While the menu was shorter, there wasn't as much noise or frenzy as there was in the Lido next door. We tried both of the specialty restaurants. Prego was warm and inviting. The food was excellent and I would recommend a repeat visit. Silk Road's food was really good but the service was rather perfunctory and cold. Perhaps an off night for the staff? One surprising evening dining venue: on one evening, the Lido was opened for casual dining. The menu featured bits and pieces of the evening's Dining Room selections and the food was great. The service, for a non-fee, non-gratuity restaurant, was again outstanding. My only food gripe is the lack of a casual dining alternative at night, other than room service or the occasional opening of the Lido for casual dining. Practically all the other food options, other than the Dining Room and specialty restaurants, close at 6:00 p.m. We finally escaped the cloudy skies on the second day at sea. Nice to walk around the ship in warm-weather clothes. Crystal likes to name its cruises with flowery terms. Ours was "Sun-Kissed Shores." We received plenty of sun in Puerto Vallarta, along with more of the warmth we craved. Having been there many times, our shore adventure was across the street to the upscale portside shopping mall - and then next door to Wal-Mart... While in port, we were joined by a Carnival ship and the Disney Wonder. I marveled at the progress of marine architecture in comparing the Carnival vessel, which dated back to the early 90s or so and looks her age, and the Wonder which is cruise ship state-of-the-art. Topolobampo: This was to have been the jumping-off point for the Copper Canyon tour. Because Crystal couldn't fill an entire special train for the tour, it was cancelled prior to the cruise. This was explained to me in not-so-apologetic terms by the Shore Excursions staff - probably the only members of the staff I had any real complaints about. We did take the shuttle into Los Mochis and walk around the city's palm-filled public gardens. It's a big park, shady and quiet, in the heart of a fast-growing town. At the pier, the locals set up a stage with dancers and a band, and a small collection of shops. But hardly any of the passengers stopped for any period of time to watch the show. I really felt sorry for the people who had set this up. Topolobampo doesn't get many calls from cruise ships. A less-upscale cruise line would have yielded more-curious passengers. Loreto: My favorite Sea of Cortez town. It is an easy walk from the tender pier to the heart of the city and the old mission. The tourist shops were fun, but the Missus and me enjoyed strolling around the parts of town that the locals frequent. I'd love to spend a week just hanging around this city, because it isn't yet as commercial as the other Mexican Riviera ports. The weather in the Sea of Cortez, by this time, was less favorable than what we received in Puerto Vallarta - mostly partly cloudy, and it remained that way until we headed back into the grayness of the return cruise to L.A. Miscellaneous: There was certainly no lack of activities while at sea. The cruise lecture series featured, among other speakers, former U.S. diplomat "Tex" Harris, who talked about America's relationship, past and present and future, with Mexico, and Lou Zamperini, the former Olympian-turned-POW who is the subject of the best-selling book "Unbroken". I occupied myself with an excellent series of golf clinics, conducted by former LPGA pro Shannon Kneisler. The Missus and I attended a Cruise Critic Mix & Meet aboard the Symphony, certainly one of the nicest M&M gatherings we have attended. Kudos to the organizer (Haikou) for putting this together. Lots of great food and drink, and visits by the Captain and officers. We were disappointed in the Palm Court. On the Serenity and the old Harmony, it was a special space amidships. On the Symphony, it is located where the lounge above the bridge is located on most ships. It looked cluttered, and somewhat claustrophobic. Disembarkation: we woke up to cold, hazy weather in San Pedro. There was a Princess ship in the main terminal, and the Queen Victoria in the second terminal. We were relegated to the "shed" that masquerades as a cruise terminal at the end of the pier. While Crystal has a "no announcements" policy at disembarkation, that did not guarantee an orderly departure from the ship. The lines were fairly long - lots of yellow-tag passengers headed to their cars parked at the terminal - and rather disorganized. But that didn't take away from what turned out to be an excellent cruise.   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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