1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Symphony Review
  5. Crystal Symphony Cruise Reviews
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Past experiences on Crystal have been superb. Symphony has recently been remodeled and things have changed. While it continues to be a very good cruise, there are some very evident changes. As a repeat World Cruiser, my hundreds of days ... Read More
Past experiences on Crystal have been superb. Symphony has recently been remodeled and things have changed. While it continues to be a very good cruise, there are some very evident changes. As a repeat World Cruiser, my hundreds of days aboard Crystal gives me a basis for comparison. The overall atmosphere is not as friendly. Many of the crew are top notch but the remaining leave much to be desired. The uplifting can-do spirit of the past is gone. Many of the crew look and act exhausted. Service has fallen off too. It is no longer top notch, only acceptable. Longer wait time before being approached to take orders or serve drinks and food is too frequent. The open concept of the dining room works as far as being seated. Then the wait begins. In some cases the noise is so loud that conversation is impossible. This seems to be a problem when the tables are filled with groups of 6 or 8. Adjacent tables for 2 do not have a chance. Entertainment runs the gamut - outstanding to spotty (like filler food). The production performers of dancers and singers continue to excel. Current cruise director, Shane, shines. The cruise hostess, Sarah, and special events director, Jonathan, all excel in their jobs. Food in specialty restaurants is excellent, but the Brazilian steak house is not. Here again, service is sloppy. We served ourselves from the salad/vegetable/bread bar which was good, but did not get the much bragged about meat course until we had finished everything else. Same with dessert - serve yourself but what about the coffee?? Servers are inattentive and understaffed. A good cruise at a hefty price. Perhaps it's time to try a competitor. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
I was interested to see if the hype around the recent dry dock was justified, it was not. Sure the new penthouses are impressive, our request for one of the new penthouse suites prior to the cruise went unanswered by Crystal, yet on the ... Read More
I was interested to see if the hype around the recent dry dock was justified, it was not. Sure the new penthouses are impressive, our request for one of the new penthouse suites prior to the cruise went unanswered by Crystal, yet on the open day there was one available for viewing, very annoying. However, the existing penthouse suite allocated was very comfortable, if a little dated, for my mother and sister. My other sister and myself were on deck five and personally I think these are great value for money, they are the same size as the much more expensive staterooms and missing a balcony isn't an issue, for me anyway. There are only a small number of these, tucked away behind reception, very private and quiet, yet very handy to MDR and one of the bars, also located on deck five. But getting back to the renovations, the new large smart TV's in every stateroom are great, with a huge variety of on demand movies, but where the old tv was there's now an ugly and unfinished "hole", they could have tidied that up way better. The renovated MDR is impressive, much quieter and more sophisticated, many more tables for two and food And service as good as ever, some dishes truly memorable. I felt sorry for the waiters, having to use a tiny device, smaller than a cell phone, to take orders, in the main they mostly got it right. The Starlite Club "reimagining " was no more than new carpet and a recovering of the same old awkward and uncomfortable chairs - a bit of a non event, the room still as tired as previously and easily the most dated public room, especially compared to Palm Court, which I personally think is the most beautiful space on any ship I have been on. Elsewhere the new spaces on the pool deck are good, the old Trident Grill area now extra smart. As usual, the staff were outstanding in all areas, cannot be faulted. Overall, a very enjoyable cruise, up to the usual standard, just don't expect too much from the "extreme makeover" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
We wanted to see as much of Australia as possible in a brief time. We also went to Tasmania, which was a bonus! Best shore excursions were in "The Bush" where we got to look around for kangaroos and koalas in the wild. Though ... Read More
We wanted to see as much of Australia as possible in a brief time. We also went to Tasmania, which was a bonus! Best shore excursions were in "The Bush" where we got to look around for kangaroos and koalas in the wild. Though I am not a big drinker, I enjoyed not having to pay attention to the drinks I was ordering and once I gleaned on to it, I enjoyed trying the "featured drink" listed on the daily newsletter. We felt the entertainment was mostly too late after days hiking around all day - but we tend to go to bed around 10:00. Our friends enjoyed the live lectures, while I preferred watching those later in our cabin. Trying different dining rooms was great, and I really enjoyed the cafe where I got specialty coffees and pastries or fruit in the mornings while my spouse cleaned up. They got to know me on a first name basis. Then I'd join my spouse and friends for a more complete breakfast later. Food was *always* varied and fantastic!! We never had to wait in line to get back on board - which we appreciated! Worst part of the trip was when our transfer didn't pick us up at the airport when we arrived. When I called the emergency number, they were disorganized and confused. After multiple "holds" they said we were in the computer, but didn't come out on the print out - so they weren't looking for and left us, which didn't help. Then they didn't know how to help us at the emergency number - said they had to wait to hear from ONE person, who wasn't answering her phone. Since this was our friends' 1st cruise - this made an unpleasant 1st impression. We were stuck in the airport baggage pickup about 2 hours on the phone with them, before we finally gave up grabbed a taxi on our own. We were later reimbursed by the concierge later on-board the ship. They also gave us ship credits to spend as a consolation. I would have still rather had the transfer without the stress. The bathrooms were pristine and I loved having both fresh laundered individual finger towels, then paper towels to open the door to leave. Exceptional! Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked a Sea Breeze suite on deck 9 in mid 2017. These suites were created when the ship was refurbished in October. 14 days before we were due to step on board our agent was told by Crystal that due to electrical problems the Sea ... Read More
We booked a Sea Breeze suite on deck 9 in mid 2017. These suites were created when the ship was refurbished in October. 14 days before we were due to step on board our agent was told by Crystal that due to electrical problems the Sea Breeze suites required repairs and we had been upgraded to a Penthouse Suite on Deck 10 under the pool deck. Our agent knew that after 25 years of regular cruising there are locations of a ship that we would not accept even if free. Under the pool deck is one area. Upgrade rubbish - suite size the same, fare the same and services to the suite the same. We asked if we cancelled would there be a penalty. Yes there would be no refund and read the small print we,Crystal, have the right to change the suites. We had also taken a 3 day pre cruise hotel package in Mauritius. Two days before flying out to Mauritius we checked the weather to discover the island was about to be hit with a category 3 (severe) cyclone and all air travel was cancelled to and from the island. We telephoned Crystal in Sydney and identified ourselves with the booking number etc. The voice at Crystal told us that they had no official notice of any Cyclone and they would only talk to our travel agent. Hello a cruise ship capable of holding 848 passengers heading into a cyclone forecast area and they did not know that fact. Does anyone in Crystal tell the truth? The coach from the hotel to the ship was a shambles. We arrived after 1.30 pm so lunch was not available - part of the service was suppose to be a champers lunch, which no one knew about. When we arrived on board we were told that deck 9 was closed due to flooding. Hello the ship must have great scuppers (drains) if only deck 9 was effected. When we told the Concierge that our concern with the Penthouse Suite was noise from the pool deck we were told they had never had a complaint about noise. Hello again. The now have one. For the next 14 days we had foot steps over our heads from around 7 am to 10 pm or later. Furniture was dragged across the deck. From time to time heavy trolleys trundled across the deck. At 5 pm the staff rearranged the sun lounges by moving them into position and dropping them. We complained to the Concierge and the time moved to 9 pm. When the deck was hosed down in the early hours of the morning we had the benefit of an early wake up call. On the second day we became aware that there were only 380 passengers on board, so that really explains why deck 9 was closed. The climax of the treatment we received came on day 5 when we discovered that the on board of US$1200 was not on our account. You had to spend that on board. Yes, we do read the fine print. After a meeting with the Chief Accountant it took another 2 days before the credit was put onto our account. Although the web site sets out the service to the suite we had to ask for such service each time. We only have a butler because we select the better accommodation and the butler comes with such accommodation. On the ship the Butler did not offer any service. On day one there were no canapes. Afternoon tea was never suggested etc. Service in the dining areas was initially very good but fell away in the last 7 days to poor. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos ... Read More
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos together would be so simple to organise but there was nothing. The new open-seating concept in the main dining room works against solo travellers. Finding dining companions is a lottery every night. And crew are impatient. On my first night on board I wanted to dine at 8pm and, upon arrival, asked to be seated at a large table with other solos. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I should have eaten at 6.30pm as a table of singles had been available then. Refusing to be intimidated into eating alone, I told the Maitre d’ I would sit to one side and await the arrival of others and, sure enough, there were soon enough solos to fill a table but we shouldn’t have to battle 'solos discrimination' for that to happen. The speciality restaurants on board offered three evenings when solos could sit on a table together - one at 6.00pm, one at 6.30pm and one at 8.30pm. When I tried to book these a few days into the cruise, the Maitre d’ there told me I could not be fitted in and should have booked immediately upon boarding. So, 190 solo travellers on board (this number told to me by Crystal themselves) for 17 days and the solo speciality dining provision was just 3 tables for eight spread over the whole period. In fairness, I did eventually manage to eat in the speciality restaurants but why does everything have to be a battle? Is Crystal trying to tell us solos something? Another evening a fellow solo braved the Brazilian restaurant on her own and left almost in tears. She was, quite simply, ignored throughout the meal while surrounding tables were well served. She said she had never been made to feel invisible in her life before. Some of the staff and crew are a delight but there is a problem with those who fail to respect single female travellers. We have paid over the top 'single person supplements' yet we receive inferior service that occasionally verges on the offensive. ILLNESS ON BOARD I knew I was going to be ill the first time I walked the promenade deck on Christmas Eve. The air extract for the whole ship is sited on that deck (as told to me by the Front Desk) and, as I passed the outlet vents that first day, I was astounded by the sour stench being emitted. Comparing notes with other walkers later, they also smelled the foul air and told me they'd held their breath at that point on each circuit! Sure enough I picked up something evil confining me to bed with aches, pains and flu like symptoms. Nearly two weeks later I was still feeling drained with a hacking cough and chest and back pain. I tried to report my suspicions of the source of my illness and was told Crystal check the 'air conditioning' daily. Whether that includes the emissions direct to a passenger deck I was not told. I asked to see the results for the days I walked that deck but my request was denied. I was told data is not released. My request for contact details for the shore-based person who is responsible was also denied. One of the staff on the front desk felt obliged to shout over me during a long conversation when she repeated herself endlessly and continually quoted ‘Crystal Policy' as the reason she would give me no means to escalate my complaint. She wanted to keep my complaint ship-based and offered me customer services. Is that Crystal policy so that onboard problems and issues remain 'contained' and shore-based management don't get to see there's been a problem? Is there a duty log? Was my complaint even logged? If I were CEO Tom Wolber I'd put in place a method by which complaints CAN be escalated. How else will he know what is going on if he only ever receives a sanitised/edited version of events? And why is he trying to hide from the day to day reality of passengers' experiences? Incidentally, later in the cruise that foul stench had gone convincing me even more that there had been an emission problem. FOOD SAFETY A minor point but it could bring someone down with food poisoning. I refer to refilling from the front! I noticed that crew were refilling foodstuffs as they were taken so fresh produce was used to fill gaps made by passengers at the front of displays. Products to the rear were left to fester and come up to room temperature (to be taken away and chilled again?). This is poor food hygiene practice and makes one wonder what goes on behind the scenes. CHAMPAGNE This is supposed to be 6-star, all-inclusive cruising but this ship ran out of champagne almost a week before the end of the cruise! And even though we were in port for three consecutive days during that period, none was taken on board. The reason given for them running out? 'New Year's Eve!' Yes, it must have come as a total shock to Crystal that New Year's Eve has occurred during this cruise!!! Occasionally, if I spoke to the right person, a glass of champagne could be found for me but I'd have to try all the bars AND the theatre and it really was a case of pot luck. One day, miraculously, a bottle was found and offered to me to have in my cabin. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, what use is that to a sociable solo who wants to meet others over a glass of champagne at the bar? Am I to carry my own bottle around with me? 6-star? I don't think so! OK, I've got all that off my chest now and I'd hate anyone reading this to assume all was bad. It wasn't. My bed and the quality of pillows and bed linen, the food in general, the entertainment and the majority of warm and wonderful crew are all pluses. Crystal are getting a lot right but where they’re getting it wrong impacts so negatively on the whole experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This cruise, Symphony/ So Africa was a bucket list add on to a remarkable safari experience..As the title says the jury is still out.. Pros; beautiful ship, great staff, super spa, casino that was fun but only successful for the casino ... Read More
This cruise, Symphony/ So Africa was a bucket list add on to a remarkable safari experience..As the title says the jury is still out.. Pros; beautiful ship, great staff, super spa, casino that was fun but only successful for the casino owners HAHA. Awesome food. awesome venues for food and drink. Clergy aboard (a plus) Great evening enterainment, Good music. Several tours very good ie: 4x4 adventure in Walwis Bay. ***Now the cons--- The first night the toilet in 5024 developed an airlock. Overflowed all night and I stepped into ankle deep cold toilet water (clean???) in the am. Fortunately I was able to grab the counter and stop my fall. This overflow was corrected within the hour BUT no one called, messaged or knocked on my door to show any concern for the inconvenience.. Very poor customer relations! The activities that were available, knitting,, needlepoint, bridge were certainly not exciting Exercises and yoga were too early for me.. Gymn was usually pretty full. . Computer classes were of such a broad spectrum of ability that after feeling out of place for a couple I left. The staterooms at the edge of the Crystal reception area were very noisy, could use a door to separate Concierge desk out of earshot. Running out of champagne was inexcusable especially while So Africa has an acceptable bubbly right there. "Gentlemen Ambassadors" are a great idea but personalities should be vetted a little bit. One dinner at the solo table was enough (good dancers they might be). No solo events were provided not even a meet and greet venue. There were quite a few solos on board (poor cousins?) The ports of call were somewhat lacking in interest unless you were lined up for a tour and even then some complaints were heard. Shuttle services "into town" were disgusting as we were dropped off at substandard malls. Not even interesting malls and who wants to pay $$$ to be on a cruise that thinks a trip to a mall is appropriate.. In all it was a new experience for which I am grateful. I will cruise again and as often as my age (87) and physical condition will let me. Crystal? Maybe another try who knows but the cruise planners should do a little more planning and look a little more into their ports of call in this particular geographic area if the ships go that way again.. I see I am not alone in my comments re: solo travels Pay attention Crystal folks..Your prestigist position may diminish rapidly if cruisers note the negative comments that are on this board.. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I judge this cruise against my previous Crystal Serenity trip, a few years back. The old ship felt old despite the recent expensive makeover/dry dock. At times I thought there was an odd vibration even on deck 8 fwd. For sure when ... Read More
I judge this cruise against my previous Crystal Serenity trip, a few years back. The old ship felt old despite the recent expensive makeover/dry dock. At times I thought there was an odd vibration even on deck 8 fwd. For sure when you eat at the back of the ship on deck 11 you are likely in for movement. Staff seemed spoiled by Crystal but not the passengers. The food spend seemed way down. The Waterside (MDR) is now very attractive and perhaps over staffed, yet in 16 days I never got a decent dessert. Old "A Tour of the Galley" notes tell of 8 pastry cooks, well I never saw a decent bit of cake. Restaurants close earlier than some want so returning to the ship after paying plenty for a tour, all you could do may be join the crowd at the cramped Bistro, (popular with staff meetings from the Captain down) unfortunately this area needs redesign. Uncomfortable chairs, poor snack selection.Prego and Umi Uma also look tired now. As for our little cabin, no flower, fruit, champers, gifts, nor chocolates on boarding. We did get a single bloom twice in 16 days! The very next hotel I visited gave us all that. The tender boat ride was well done, these being large tenders. The entertainment was well put together, the Crystal dancer's and Band being excellent. Some of the bar crooners were not so good. In the bars service was shall we say tired, I tried to explain how a British champagne cocktail would go together but they were not interested. Afternoon tea was poorly served and one common tea bag was out of stock. The ship feels old and the experience has gone backwards. No matter how smart the decor nor how many staff I did not feel value and wont be returning. The new cabin TV's are huge at the foot of the bed. Plenty of movies and lectures can be viewed, but it serves no other purpose, still no menus, bill nor room service ordering. Using the old phone to room service often joined a long cue and delivery and food was poor. Despite a number of LBGT passengers at no time did Crystal welcome us with any get together. Despite the fact the award at the Crystal Society "party" for most cruises with Crystal went to a Gay couple. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we ... Read More
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we arrived. Ship is modern, comfortable, with plenty of on-board activities and "hide-outs" for spending free time. Evening entertainment was magnificent - especially the "Rocket-Man Elton John Tribute" performance - and even the Cruise Director had a great sense of humor which he shared following each performance. Special comment about "Bluenea" jazz duo whose musical artistry at some of the the lounges was amazing. Variety of South African stops and excursions provided a broad array of experiences from very modern to very rustic. Daily briefings and tour guide yielded great insight into unique cultural perspectives for each stop. Only negatives were multiple required immigration interviews and last-day lengthy debarkation delay due to fog which caused much chaos in rearranging flights. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
The shore excursions were extremely expensive but sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one cleans or sanitizes the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. ... Read More
The shore excursions were extremely expensive but sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one cleans or sanitizes the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. BUT I felt that the old system worked better. It was hard to connect to the internet and we could not make phone calls in airplane mode. The food was mediocre., Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, and Umi Uma, the Japanese specialty restaurant, are excellent. The bar/bartenders were very nice and recommended great drinks. However at waterside, it was not pleasant. We had to wait so long for our food and it was not even busy. The buffet during the day at The Marketplace is open till 1:30 for lunch which is pretty convenient if you like to take your time in the mornings. The buffet, again, is mediocre and it changes very little. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) ... Read More
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) for $999 -- and a surprising last minute upgrade to the Penthouse level, with butler service and an extra-large stateroom. Then Crystal topped things off by advancing us three trips in the Crystal Society program, resulting in a milestone bonus (credited at Penthouse level) of $200 each -- meaning virtually all of our modest shipboard/excursion costs were covered. The Penthouse gave us the opportunity to experience the butler service and constantly refilled wine (we could have had spirits if we preferred) in the stateroom, plus room service from Prego when we wished it. But even if didn't have these extras (which we certainly enjoyed), the services overall aboard the ship certainly met the standards of our first experience when we travelled in an ordinary verandah stateroom. There were extra sea days because of the cancelled Madagascar stop (because of the plague there), but the shipboard enrichment/programs were truly satisfactory. We also enjoyed Hanukah services with a guest rabbi and about 30 other Jewish people, some of whom ordered the kosher food service available with preplanning. The only flaw: An unpleasant smell in the room a few days; staff certainly worked to try to resolve it. I'm not sure what caused the problem but it corrected itself by the time the voyage ended. Overall, the experience proved satisfying enough that we are planning our next journey in 2019. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and I like all inclusive cruises. Few cruise lines go down the coast of Africa from Dubai. The food and wine were very nice, although maybe not to an extreme foodie and wine lover’s standards. ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and I like all inclusive cruises. Few cruise lines go down the coast of Africa from Dubai. The food and wine were very nice, although maybe not to an extreme foodie and wine lover’s standards. Most people would be more than happy with the selection and food presentation. The cream soups were fabulous. Entertainment by a fairly small group of entertainers in a small venue was excellent and the speakers for the enrichment lectures were good. Unfortunately there was very little information on ports of call, but lots of history and demographic info. This was unfortunate if you wanted to know about a port and didn’t want to spend the additional cost of going on a ships tour. Speaking of ships tours, this is where Crystal was a let down. The tours seemed to be poorly planned, with many participants complaining about the tours when they returned. They were too expensive compared to the price of booking your own tour to not be top notch. In almost every port the shuttle bus seemed to only go to malls or dirty, unattractive outdoor markets. Gardens, beaches, historic areas were ignored and required taxis to see them. I would suggest that we have plenty of malls at home. Some passengers were unhappy that we did not stop in Madagascar because of the plague outbreak, but we did get an extra day in the Seychelles. This satisfied my husband and I. We liked the new unassigned dinner arrangements and made lots of new friends by eating with different people most nights. We could eat whatever time we wanted and watch the show that best matched our dinner. This is a very positive change from earlier fixed dining on crystal. The overall feeling on the cruise was a little less stuffy than on previous cruises we took on Crystal although we would love to hear some real rock and roll music. The type that does not require dancing cheek to cheek. Crystal clients idea of casual is far from what the rest of the world considers casual. Bring very nice ‘casual’ clothes with you. At least half the men wore tuxes and black suits on formal nights and all the women wore fancy cocktail outfits or long dresses. The service at meals and service from cabin attendants was very good. The rooms are of a standard size. We were not in the new upgraded rooms so the room was just like ones we have been in previously, on the small side but functional. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply ... Read More
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply don't agree with that review, and found the food delicious and the staff very professional. There are plenty of choices for restaurants on board this ship and ones which meet all requirements, which is important when the passengers are so diverse in their origins and tastes. Buffets can be not to everyones taste but when of such a high quality and freshness cannot be considered below any reasonable persons standards by any means. The staff on board were a credit to Crystal Cruises and were a joy to meet. The entertainment was varied and of a very high standard to all tastes. Embarkation and Debarkation procedures were very professional and streamlined and the free WIFI, although slow at times, was a good addition to the overall services provided by such a wonderful Cruise line. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with ... Read More
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with all the major cruise lines and we were not disappointed. The recently refurbished Symphony is stunning especially the Palm Court which is situated on deck 11 at the frount if the ship, unfortunately this was always very quiet and sometimes lacked atmosphere in the evenings. The evening entertainment was varied and excellant, the Resident singers and dancers and orchestra were outstanding. The food was excellant in all dining areas and we especially liked Prego the Italian themed Restaurant, during our cruise we had 4 visits to the Speciality Restaurants. The staff thoughtout the cruise were very good to excellant a special thanks to Norman on the Lido deck so cheerful and efficient. Our stateroom was on deck 7 and although it seamed small at the outset, we soon settled in, the shower was the most powerful we have had on any cruise. The weather throughout the cruise was hot and sunny with the usual daytime activities e.g. trivia and a series of lecturers on board, just a personal view here but we would have liked a little more activity, just a personal opinion. Embarkation was a breeze on the ship within 15 minutes. Unfortunately the ship transfer to a local hotel and airport transfer at the end of the trip was very disorganised. We had been to all the other ports before and therefore arranged our own trips. We would definitely travel with Crystal again, it is like an excellant Boutique hotel at sea. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We booked the cruise when Egypt was on the itinerary and had 4 friends book with us. When Egypt was pulled, it was too bad Crystal did not add another day in Israel instead of wasting the time on Cyprus and Shalalah, Oman (no offense to ... Read More
We booked the cruise when Egypt was on the itinerary and had 4 friends book with us. When Egypt was pulled, it was too bad Crystal did not add another day in Israel instead of wasting the time on Cyprus and Shalalah, Oman (no offense to anyone). Regarding the ship, for the most part, well done. But it is difficult to understand how they left the option on the stateroom TVs out with respect to CC. As a result, you had to turn up the TV to hear (if you have a problem--I do) and the wall partitions with the TVs is paper thin and our neighbor could hear us and we them. The entertainment started off slowly but quickly picked up pace and was excellent as the cruise went on. Crystal's staff continues to excel and made the cruise very nice. Fix the few problems (I hope) and we'll be back. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or ... Read More
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or titanium plus members etc, continually signing for goods and services, mandatory tipping, crowded spaces etc. We like what we have found on crystal and are beginning to think we’ve found our Goldilocks cruise line. This was our third crystal cruise (2nd on Symphony) and her first sailing after dry dock. We’ve attempted to summarise our highlights and closed by listing our favourite 5 and least favourite 5, I confess we were scraping the barrel to come up with 5 things we liked less!! An email arrived the evening before sailing to inform us that there would be a 24 hour delay leaving port, but that no ports of call would be missed and we were each to receive $150 on board credit for any inconvenience. We felt this was very fair and crystal also laid on a half day complimentary excursion for the additional day in Lisbon although we chose to do our own thing (a highly recommended visit to Sintra.) We are always late boarding so embarkation is a breeze, we then stop by the cabin and head up to the trident grill for a snack and glass of champagne. Because of the delayed departure the emergency drill was postponed to the following day which was nice as we felt more able to relax and have a look round the refreshed areas of the ship. We knew about the dry dock and expected a few glitches; we heard (from a lady in the lift ;-) that some of the deck 9 cabins were not ready and that a number of guests had been accommodated on land for the first night. We subsequently heard that those guests were well taken care of for the inconvenience. Our cabin on deck 8 was as expected although it had not been properly cleaned (several items in drawers and bits of debris on the floor) our room attendant was lovely and we felt bad for bringing these things to her attention, it appeared that someone else had made up some of her rooms. During our conversations we got the impression that the room maids have more work than before (she wasn’t complaining - we were probing) She did however provide us with excellent service throughout the cruise and the shaky start was soon forgotten. The only change in the regular cabin is the new TV and desk chair which now fits under the desk more readily than the previous chair. I had hoped to be able to order room service and check billing / menus etc. through the interactive TV but that functionality was not available on our cruise; hopefully this will change in future. We did on occasion hear the TV in the neighbouring room and whilst not an issue for us it could be if larks and owls end up as neighbours. Internet was spotty, I didn’t have too much trouble but was aware that others did and there was a mention in reflections regarding internet connectivity one day. Again I’m sure these things are all tied up in the refit and will be ironed out. In over 40 cruises across a variety of cruise lines we felt that the entertainment in terms of variety and quality was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise ship and we’re really glad we made the effort to get to most of the shows. The only thing to take the edge from this was the lack of drink service before the shows, particularly as there is no convenient bar serving the theatre. The quality and consistency of food was excellent throughout the ship, bearing in mind that the staff in the main dining room did not only have to adapt to open seating but also a new ordering system on small hand held devices. One evening, two of everything we had ordered was delivered which caused some amusement. There was a short line for dinner on the first black tie night but the wait was not significant. The team was under some pressure though they coped admirably. This was the only occasion when it was noticeable that tables are quite close, on other nights we rarely had a neighbour when seated where the tables are closely grouped together. We were also asked if we would like to join an open table, we chose not to so can’t say how this worked. Wine is now generally served by your waiter although sommeliers are on hand and delivered other drinks (ordered via the servers hand held device) The trident grill functions like clockwork, we’re always impressed by the way the main man keeps those lines short and the rest of his team in check. Sadly there were no fries or onion rings for the first few days which was good for my waistline but piled pressure on the staff as every second guest questioned “when will you have fries” something which they very obviously didn’t have the answer to. The Churrascaria was a delight with the additional opportunity to eat outdoors, it’s nice to have an informal option for those evenings when you just want something simple washed down with a nice cold beer. You have a little card labelled yes please one side and no thanks on the other for when you want the meat to continue coming or to stop. It’s not the easiest thing for the meat waiter to see and perhaps a coloured light or flag would make their life easier. Silk was another absolute pleasure and has its own evening ambience to differentiate itself. We felt the food to be authentic and thoroughly enjoyable. I have a shellfish intolerance and am a little nervous in restaurants where a fair amount of shrimp is used. The staff were wonderfully accommodating and we ended up eating there several times. Umi Uma and Prego are pretty much unchanged in appearance and food offer. What we liked best 1. The phenomenal staff, many of whom are new to crystal though you would never know it. I hate to pick out favourites when they are all so good but on this trip Sophia (waterside and bistro) and Fabio (waterside) we felt were truly brilliant. 2. The transformation of deck 11, the way in which new venues have been laid out gives each a separate and clear identity and a really nice fresh feel. 3. Entertainment was truly fantastic each and every evening and we also loved the greater use of starlight for shows than we had experienced previously 4. Food throughout the ship was outstanding 5. Our fellow passengers – we have never failed to meet wonderful passengers on Crystal and this journey was exactly the same. What we liked least 1. Lack of drink service pre-show in the theatre (especially as the nearest bar is some walk away) 2. Avenue saloon vibe was not the same this trip; we just didn’t warm to the pianist (nothing wrong with him) guess we have been spoiled previously. The plus side to this being a far less woolly head the following day. 3. Movie selection in the theatre was odd, I think we had wonder woman one day followed by Spiderman the next plus a few other oddities in the mix (again just my opinion) 4. Birthday breakfast was a bit of a damp squib, this was the first time we had been to breakfast in the restaurant and we didn’t find it decadent or particularly special, just a bit strange. 5. Although I’ve said the food was top notch throughout we still comment on the use of reformed frozen onion rings with the beautiful steak at dinner. It should be obvious from the list of things we liked least that we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, in fact we both agreed this was our best cruise ever with the exception of our very first on P&O Canberra in 1992. (I think your first cruise will always be special) We’re struggling to find a crystal cruise to fit our travel plans for next year even though everyone on our sailing received a letter offering ($1000 per room - $500 pp On board credit) for a booking in 2018/19. The only answer is for us to change our travel plans!! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
After doing a previous Crystal Cruise, we opted to go on Symphony. This was the first cruise after an upgrade to the ship. The ship, crew and staff were not ready. Delayed beginning and food quality varied widely. I mean not even close to ... Read More
After doing a previous Crystal Cruise, we opted to go on Symphony. This was the first cruise after an upgrade to the ship. The ship, crew and staff were not ready. Delayed beginning and food quality varied widely. I mean not even close to our other experience. (example: bone in the breakfast sausage & asked for Chicken noodle soup and got chicken broth with spaghetti noodles) The wait staff is so busy trying to figure out how to type in your food order, that there is no eye contact. Very unprofessional. A safety concern was told directly to the safety officer which was ignored. We did complain to Crystal upon are return home and after 2 months did get a response that the safety issue was addressed and fixed. Offered $500 for next cruise with too many limitations for us to use. Under new management, this cruise line has gone down substantially. Very disappointed and I would think twice about going on another Crystal Cruise. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment ... Read More
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment activities were far and away the best we've ever experiences. The cusine was top rate, though the specialty restaurants were, in my view,no better than the main dining room. Even top shelf liquor brands were included in the price, and service was impeccable.Gratuities and internet also were included in the price, so the high ticket was not as bad as it seemed. The ship, while beautiful, was a bit dated, but was due to go into dry dock right after our cruise. With the exception of Lisbon, Madeira and Morocco, the island ports were just so-so; but who cared? We would've been happy to never leave the sh\p! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended ... Read More
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended up right at the front of the ship. It was absolutely fine most of the time, but we did have one rather rocky night in the Bay of Biscay! Embarkation was remarkable. We were very lucky to be within driving distance of Dover, where our cruise started. From leaving the car, we were in the Crystal Dining Room within 15 minutes – having stopped off to check out our room on the way! We have stayed in this room category on Symphony previously (PS), so it was just as expected and very comfortable. As I have said in previous reviews, I do think a little updating is required and hopefully this will happen in the upcoming dry dock. In particular, the TVs are very small and somewhat dated and some of the furnishings are looking a little tired. However, it is a well-planned and thought out space with plenty of storage, and a good-sized and equipped bathroom. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens and pillows. We forgot to bring a phone charger, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an integral charger in the clock. We sampled many of the facilities on the ship – the gym, spa, cinema (rather weird choices of films sometimes!), Vintage Room, lectures, casino, shops etc. We also enjoyed several specialty restaurant reservations. Service throughout the cruise was outstanding. Where we did have an issue, it was resolved quickly, efficiently and with good grace. The crew, across the board, were unfailingly friendly and helpful – I know they are trained to be so and ‘have’ to be, but it makes for a great ambience nevertheless. We found the food to be excellent, as previously. We did eat several times in the specialties and never tired of either. The CDR was also good, but I felt service was a little below par at times and that they were over-stretched with so many people to take care of especially on the BTO evenings. This resulted in either long waits before ordering and between courses, or conversely one plate being whipped away and the next course being served almost simultaneously. We found the included wines to be very drinkable and of course there was always the option to purchase wines when we felt like splurging. I wish they had a better included champagne though! We are reluctant to buy a bottle of champagne because we would never get anywhere near finishing it, but I cannot drink the included stuff. We had signed up for the Ultimate Vintage Room, but perhaps there wasn’t enough interest because it was not offered. Instead we did the regular Vintage Room dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great food, wine and company.. a really good evening. We thought all the ports were well worth visiting, but perhaps didn’t make the best choices with a couple of our excursions which were a bit long/boring/expensive. We didn’t get to all the shows but enjoyed those that we saw, with the exception of the new light show which wasn’t to our taste, but I’m sure many would disagree. We also found the lectures interesting, informative and entertaining. All in all, we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen ... Read More
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen and Thomson. Fellow cruisers had suggested that Crystal ships were the best but we did not want to risk the expense of a long haul flight only to find that the larger ships in the Crystal fleet did not suit us. As it happens we were very glad of our decision and the cruise was only saved by glorious weather and delightful ports. Crystal Symphony takes around 800 guests and is therefore not much larger than the Silversea and Seabourn ships we use regularly. It was very American in its style and ambience. Fellow passengers were mainly American (around 80% despite the cruise originating in the UK) with a wide range of other countries each represented by just a handful of people. The first major issue we had was the size of the cabins and bathroom. The bathroom was so small that it was difficult to avoid knocking one's head against the fancy glass washbasin if the ship rolled while rising from the sitting position. Bath products were supplied in non-branded and cheap looking plastic tubes. Performance of the products was mediocre at best. The cabin was very small indeed. If one wanted to eat in the room (the only option if one did not want to use one of the 2 set dinner times), then it would be a question of taking it in turns to move. The cabin on Crystal Symphony was 206 sq ft whereas on Seabourn Odyssey an ocean view cabin is 295 sq ft and on Silver Sea Spirit it is 312 sq ft. The second issue was the dining arrangements. We had booked dining by reservation in order to avoid the 6.15 or 8.30 dinner sittings. However, on trying to book we were told that the only tables available were at either of the set dinner sitting times - not exactly what we expected. Tables are mainly fixed at the size of the party in the booking so that mixing with other cruisers is not easy. Service was performed at the run with the next plate of food hovering at one's elbow before the knife and fork hit the plate for the final mouthful. Perhaps Americans like this style of service but we found it unpleasant. The food in general was at best moderate. On the formal dinner evening, caviar was offered. This turned out to be less than half a teaspoon of caviar on a huge plate with 3 blobs of sour cream and two blinis - not exactly the Seabourn standard of a beautiful set of dishes nestled in a crisp folded napkin containing a bowl of several ounces of caviar, bowls of chopped egg white and egg yolk, sour cream and a dozen crisp pieces of fine toasts. Desserts were poor at dinner but beautiful at the dessert buffet at lunch time. Coffee at dinner arrived with dessert - again perhaps due to American nature of the ship. Buffet lunch was better with a good range of hot and cold dishes but the buffet was only available for dinner on one night of the cruise. The deck grill (in a sort of conservatory with retractable roof where there used to be an indoor pool) was poor. At this standard I expect a toasted sandwich order to arrive with a little garnish to make the plate look attractive. it arrived on a blank plate looking forlorn. Ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) was available but served in waxed paper tubs with plastic spoons. Sauce is added by the guest from a huge plastic bottle - just not really what we expect from a top line cruise ship. The reason for the tiny cabins is clear once one explores the public rooms. There is a show lounge, cinema, ballroom, 3 bars with live entertainment, night club, paddle tennis court, golf driving nets as well as huge fitness and spa facility. The covered deck area is large and there are hundreds of sun loungers around the outdoor pool arranged in neatly packed rows. However, it was almost impossible to meet other cruisers. When we went to bars, there was hardly a soul there. If a dozen or so people were in the same place, then the music was so loud and the chairs so far apart that conversation was impossible except at impolite levels of raised voices. There was hard core of about 6 people who used the ballroom using the services of the gentleman hosts again making this large facility seem over sized. In conclusion, this cruise line would suit those with a wish to rush from lunch to entertainment, to dinner (in a hurry) and on the more entertainment. Use of the cabin should be restricted to sleeping only. One should not want to socialize with other guests too much. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service ... Read More
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service was nice and cabin worked out well for us with enough space for storage etc. The entertainment was good, but would have preferred the "Last Show with Dancers etc" to be the night before the last. We did not take any of the shore excursions, but did touring on our own. We found the tours to be very expensive and a few people we meet were disappointed in them not having enough time at sights. This was my first cruise with Crystal and I would certainly consider going again. Would have liked one more sea day. As we get older it is harder to TOUR everyday. Also, would have liked more information about sights at each port. Found some very interesting things by accident. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 35th cruise on Crystal Cruises. Our stateroom has always been on the penthouse deck because of the walk in shower. Over the years we have noticed with the change of ownership and executive management Crystal has been ... Read More
This was our 35th cruise on Crystal Cruises. Our stateroom has always been on the penthouse deck because of the walk in shower. Over the years we have noticed with the change of ownership and executive management Crystal has been tinkering with their delivery of service. Just small things at the beginning that really did not add much to the "Crystal Experience". However, limiting the number of reservations to the speciality restaurants and then assessing thirty dollars a person over and above the two visits was not "all inclusive" marketing. The dining venues are exceptional, mainly due to the excellent service staff. The lecture series have always had knowledgeable presenters both on current events and cruise itinerary. Both ships are showing their age. Our stateroom and some public rooms furnishings were a bit well worn. We were informed that Symphony was going to be in dry dock for a month. What Crystal needs is a new cruise ship and forget about yachts and airplanes. They had a great business plan at their inauguration. It served them well. Their greatest selling point is their officers and crew. They are top notch. Best in the cruise industry by far. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of ... Read More
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of our Crystal cruises. This one was chosen for one specific stop: Edinburgh to attend the Military Tattoo. The rest of the ports all turned out to be nice bonuses. We arrived a day in advance to Antwerp, Belgium, our port of embarkation. A five-hour flight delay caused us to change our sightseeing plans for our arrival-into-Europe day, but it worked out fine. We stayed one night at the Hilton right near the Cathedral in Antwerp and we loved the location. If we had not visited Antwerp on a previous cruise (river cruise), we would not have had time to see everything we considered important. The Antwerp Hilton also happens to be staffed by excellent personnel, and the property is lovely, so we recommend it highly. Crystal keeps to a schedule better than any other cruise line. Everything starts on time! That includes embarkation; the time stated on your documents is the time the first folks will be invited onto the ship. The only limiting factor, then, is how many people arrive at the port before you do. In this case, we dawdled a bit too long, and many others didn’t; so we were in the third or fourth embarkation group. Once you get started, it goes great; but in this case, I was sorry we didn’t arrive at 11:30 instead of at 12:15, because we had planned to have a fairly quick lunch and then finish the sightseeing we’d saved from the day before. We actually could’ve satisfied our hunger for a snack at the hospitality lounge Crystal provided in the waiting area at the makeshift cruise terminal, if I’d realized it soon enough. Instead, after our little trek through the various security and passport control stops and the usual quick Crystal check-in onboard, we went to the Trident Grill for a burger and a wrap and then hustled off the ship to walk the mile to the Red Star Line Museum, which we had been anticipating for over a year. It did not disappoint! We arrived back to the Symphony just in time for the muster drill, and then it was time to unpack. Wait! First it was time to figure out why it was so warm in the stateroom. It was because, for some unknown reason, the stewardess had put the heat up to the absolute highest setting. Ok, that was solved easily enough. Now to unpack, and when Mr. Husband announces that there’s so much drawer space, even in our entry-level cabin, I decide to count the drawers: he has seven and I have ten. Throw in a few shelves and we really do have space to unpack every single thing we’ve brought with us. Next comes the husband announcing how wonderful the shower is, and how much he loves the double sinks. Besides the stewardess leaving the room heat at the highest, leaving the hottest setting for the water in the tub, and her not having cleared out the previous guest’s leftover food in the fridge, everything after that was pretty much spot on perfect. We check the Reflections (daily schedule) and realize that we would like to go to the show but it conflicts with our dining reservation, so a quick stop at the Crystal Dining Room (their MDR) gets our reservation changed. Right now Crystal has two “set” dining times, 6 pm and 8:30, plus Dine by Reservation. We used the Dine by Res., and it works very well for us. We like to eat alone and there are plenty of two-tops. We ended up having five different senior waiters and all were totally fine. Crystal has one maître-d’, who oversees the entire dining room, plus quite a few head waiters who keep things running extremely smoothly throughout the dinner hours (and breakfast and lunch, too). As has been our experience in the past, service was stellar, and we happen to love Crystal’s food. My favorites included several various salads and appetizers with beets, and even a beef broth soup with beets for lunch one day. Fish dishes were great, lobster was great, kosher chicken is always offered once per cruise and was actually the best ever. The dinner that was least “perfect” was the duck entrée. It lacked great taste and was perhaps a tad overcooked. We have two favorite wines in the included reds, and I have the Pedroncelli zinfandel almost every night, unless the sommelier thinks I’ll be happy with whatever’s being poured that night – and she was right, whenever she said it. Husband prefers the Paso Robles cabernet, and is also usually happy with whatever’s being poured that night, sometimes a white. We generally have breakfast at the Lido, where we experienced great service from the Lido guys, as we have in the past. This cruise’s standouts were Ferdie and Allan, both from the Philippines. The guys who cook the eggs, even the one who does the toast, all are expert at what they do. For lunch we like the Lido or the Trident, where, again, the “cooks” there do a great job. The Lido has a huge variety, and so does the Trident (the burgers and wraps and great fries). Then if we want an ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is open until 6 pm, and the Bistro has all kinds of breakfast things until 11:30 (cereals and bagels and baked goods), then lunch/snack things. I often stop by the Bistro for one little piece of watermelon, one of honeydew, and a couple of small pieces of cheese, or even brie on a cracker. As somebody said the first day, to her travel companions, if you like (cold) turkey, this is the place to eat it. I can’t disagree. We always have dessert with our dinner meal, but if we didn’t, we could always go to the Bistro for dessert. So far, on four cruises, I’ve never succumbed to the temptation to have MORE than one dessert! I only went to afternoon tea once; it’s a great thing to do on an at-sea day. Our meals at Silk Road and Prego were delicious as usual. Actually, Prego was better than ever, after being a tad disappointing, previously. One of the things I absolutely love on Crystal is the enrichment, always on an at-sea day and sometimes one lecture at sailaway time from a port stop. On this cruise (only two at-sea days), we had destination lecturer Bob Aalberts, current events lecturer Tom Faranda, and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. They all did a great job. I didn’t know what to expect with the addition of “Broadway at Sea”, but we both liked it a lot. We had an added bonus of a husband and wife singing/acting pair who told us about their careers and were the featured entertainers one evening. I attended one computer class (iPad Tips and Techniques) and most of the evening entertainment. We missed going to the new show, Speakeasy, which got rave reviews from everybody who attended. There are all kinds of things we don’t attend, but we did very much enjoy the music (a singer and keyboard player) in Palm Court from 6:15 to 7:15. This worked well for our typical 7 pm dinner and is an improvement from previous cruises. I’m guessing there will be music at pretty much any time after the switchover to open seating dining, after Symphony comes out of drydock in October. Disembarkation was absolutely as easy as it could possibly be. We booked a private transfer from Honfleur into Paris with two other couples, which worked great, and then we stayed three nights at the Hilton near the Opera House. That worked perfectly for us to take the metro to our 2-1/2 days of sightseeing and various dinners, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The hotel, again, is lovely, but our entry level room, while quite classy, was also quite small, and a bit of a rude awakening after our stateroom on the Symphony. It was a good buy, for Paris, though, and I’d stay there again. We could have taken a Crystal Paris two-day post cruise tour to Paris, but we generally prefer doing our own sightseeing, so we decided to do everything on our own. Doing plenty of advance planning, both for our ports and for Paris, allowed us to have all kinds of wonderful sightseeing experiences. All in all, what a great vacation this was! Looking forward to two more Crystal cruises we have booked. We’ve had very high expectations, all four times, and we have not been disappointed. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to ... Read More
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to take a chance. We are glad we did as while some of the cities on the itinerary were more crowded than during the shoulder season, they were not too bad. Crystal really does excel at so many things that it is hard to pinpoint just a few. The service is always impeccable and it is the only cruise line we have traveled with where the staff seemed genuinely pleased to be there. We were glad to see a good number of staff who provided such outstanding service in November also on this cruise. In November, we thought the food on the ship was good, but this time we found a number of our meals to be memorable. While we expect that in the specialty dining venues, we didn't expect to have some many stellar experiences in the main dining room. We like the fact that the ship really does provide an all inclusive experience and again we found it a challenge to use our on-board credit. What Crystal does allow is using your on-board to recognize staff members. I only wish more cruise lines did this because it is always a waste having to find ways to spend your on-board credit on things you don't really need. Crystal did an excellent job of getting guests from the port to the heart of the city. On so many other lines, you end up waiting and waiting for shuttles to take you from the ship to the city. The entertainment on the ship was mixed, with some great evenings provided by guest performers. We love the fact that they also have a magician on board who does several performances in an intimate setting of close up magic. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go ... Read More
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go on a shore trip they MUST take the kids with them - Noting that a number of the shore trips are not for children - 2. The only compromise is to have a staff member - not trained in child care are not having any basic emergency medical training baby sit them in your room. That's not to the same standards as kids club as they staff member could be any volunteer - 3. The Internet on board continually dropped out for a lot of the day, while my 4G/3G Modem to Norway telco was providing 50 - 100 Mb/s from the room - for all the trip other than a 8 hour ocean trip from Norway to Scotland. When I pointed out this to the IT staff they said that Satellite was the only way they could provide the service. In addition that noted that Internet complaints where the largest item of complaint. 4. Children leaving the vessel can be marked for checking that they have a parent with them. However, every time we left the ship our child ran ahead and was never stopped.. There identification system rang a bell and they then turned it off at no stage stopping the child I pointed out the kids club issue during the trip to the Director of Services and they advised that its company policy and there is no flexibility I showed the engineering and IT staff the speed I had with 3g/4G while at sea and was advised that they have 32 Mb/s to the satellite and that it ...When they loose the Satellite they have a backup but on trip to far northern latitudes they will continually have a problem. this was not a good family experience. I have rated below ignoring tese issues 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

Find a Crystal Symphony Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise