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21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our first cruise with Crystal and was a short 'try-out' before trying something more ambitious. I don't think it would be possible (for me at least) to cruise without a few niggles, but in this case they were very ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Crystal and was a short 'try-out' before trying something more ambitious. I don't think it would be possible (for me at least) to cruise without a few niggles, but in this case they were very few and far between. The only negative worth mentioning is that I felt the decor, both in our suite and in some areas of the ship, were somewhat dated. The positives far outweighed this single criticism and we shall certainly cruise with Crystal again. We found the food to be generally excellent. Both specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego, were outstanding. We were very pleasantly surprised at the high standard and variety of the entertainment in particular, but also the enrichment options available. We didn't get to try all of these, but those we did (the onboard speakers and golf pro) were excellent. Service throughout the ship was exemplary and the general ambience onboard very enjoyable.. There was an interesting selection of excursions which were well executed and organised. The suite was comfortable and well-maintained, although perhaps a little dated. The bed was very, very comfortable as were the quality bed linens and pillows. All in all, a very enjoyable cruise experience and one we expect to repeat. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This is my second trip with Crystal. I arrived in London the day before embarkation and enjoyed seeing the city. On this occasion I was unable to use the arranged transfer to the ship as I did not receive the information about where and ... Read More
This is my second trip with Crystal. I arrived in London the day before embarkation and enjoyed seeing the city. On this occasion I was unable to use the arranged transfer to the ship as I did not receive the information about where and when to be ready. Instead the friend who took me around London took me to the port and I was able to board. The embarkation was extremely easy and straight forward. Crystal Symphony is beautiful and it was lovely to be greeted left and right by the staff who remembered me from my previous trip. As on the previous occasion, this treatment continued until I retrieved my luggage for check-in at the airport in Copenhagen. The food in the main dining room was specially good, and the friendliness and charm of the staff made it perfect. I enjoyed dining at Prego and Silk Road and on this occasion I attended the Vintage Room dinner. That event was wonderful, and I specially enjoyed the wine selections. The entertainment venues on this trip included a couple of performances I had enjoyed before and new ones, two of which I was able to attend. The performance by Gregory, the violinist, was remarkable. The performer was very charming as well as being supremely talented, and his music selection ranged from Argentine tango to gypsy ballads. It was a wonderful performance. I can say the same about the performance Imagine. The part where the two performers spun together within the confines of a large hoop/circle frame was incredible and visually beautiful. The excursions I joined on this itinerary were for the most part very enjoyable. My excursion to Merdo Island in Arendal was fabulous - the island is beautiful, as was the route to get to it, and the excursion guide was very funny and knowledgeable. The volunteer excursion in Amsterdam proved to be both satisfying and actually fun, which is a surprise seeing as it was physically trying in unexpected ways. It should not have been unexpected, though, but that was my own fault and not the cruise line's. The one excursion which was not what I expected was the one to the west coast islands, and that was because it was very rushed and did not provide enough time to really see the beautiful places we visited. That guide was, as I have come to expect from Crystal, extremely well-versed in the history of the area. There are just two particulars that I do wish had been different on this itinerary. The first was that though the number of passengers on this trip was slightly less than that of the previous trip, the ship seemed crowded, and I suspect this was because of the presence of much younger travelers and children. I do not enjoy traveling with younger travelers but I do not feel this should have made it as annoying as it turned out to be. I did wish to spend time in Palm Court reading but I could hear the screaming of children coming from the adjacent Waves, the teen's activity room. The time I spent by the pool was marred by the screaming of children in the pool. There were a few more incidents where the younger travelers made their presence known. I do wish that either the accompanying parents had been more attentive or that I had chosen an itinerary earlier in the year, as with my previous trip. On that occasion I saw only a few toddlers and one teenager. The second particular was, as with the previous trip, the planning of the events. Some events, such as the Vintage Room dinner, were set and when other events were scheduled at the same time, I could not change my plans and had to miss those other events. I would very much appreciate having events scheduled earlier or receiving earlier notice of the schedules. Having said all of this, I will travel with Crystal again. The staff, the excursions and the service make it worth it for me. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We travelled with friends but the ship stopped at smaller ports which gave us a chance to see some wonderful things. My review, however, is based on Crystal's claim to be a 6 star line. We normally travel on Oceania and Silversea ... Read More
We travelled with friends but the ship stopped at smaller ports which gave us a chance to see some wonderful things. My review, however, is based on Crystal's claim to be a 6 star line. We normally travel on Oceania and Silversea (and others) so our expectations were very high...and they weren't met. Except for the entertainment, which was excellent, there was nothing very special about the ship or its service. While this cruise line may have been special 10 years ago (when we first were on it), it has stood still while others improved. The decor is rather bland and a little dated. Their booking system for the dining room is too cumbersome and rather annoying. Food was good but not outstanding and 2 dinners weren't very good at all. We met frequent Crystal cruisers who were big fans --- but have never sailed with other providers. They would be surprised if they gave another top line a try. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Sadly, we witnessed the effect of new ownership on this cruise line. After five positive experiences on the Symphony, 'economic pullbacks' took a toll on our most recent experience. Previous sailings included live string ... Read More
Sadly, we witnessed the effect of new ownership on this cruise line. After five positive experiences on the Symphony, 'economic pullbacks' took a toll on our most recent experience. Previous sailings included live string quartets at tea time. No more. Midnight chocolate festivals in the central lobby. No more. Ice sculptures. No more. Chocolates and fresh fruit bowls in the cabin. No more. Even jars of mixed nuts at the bar were downgraded to peanuts. Should we say something about the quality of tissues in the bathroom? For six days, we dealt with foul odors in our balcony cabin. The only solution management offered was a cheap-o humidifier. One was added in the hallway as well. BTW: we expressed our concerns to Crystal as soon as we got home. 4 weeks later they responded with an acknowledgement saying they would get back to us within a month. They never did. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Fell for all the Propaganda in the Magazines etc where it said 5 Stars and Delux. And also because it was discounted for single Travelers. It was a 13 day cruise not 19, Istanbul to Rome but started in Rome because of ... Read More
Fell for all the Propaganda in the Magazines etc where it said 5 Stars and Delux. And also because it was discounted for single Travelers. It was a 13 day cruise not 19, Istanbul to Rome but started in Rome because of " Security Concern " Therefore we had to book another flight from Istanbul to Rome and got to the Ship around 10 PM. The next morning walking around, looking at things I got the impression that this ship looked like an " old Klunker " maybe in the area of a 3 Stars, though I have seen better looking 3 Stars, like the Pride and a Costa where the Public Rooms had nice carpets and better furniture, The ugly carpets on the ship are worn, most of the joints visible, on uneven surface, in some places spotted. In the Cabin the Carpet has a grayish color and I was never sure, is it the color or is it dirt. But the Girl from India was probably one of the friendliest did her best. The Carpet in the Buffet area must have been one of the ugliest. like they had at a Motel 6 in the seventies. My Cabin 7106 was below average size, 2 beds pushed together, an ugly cream colored plastic sofa, desk with 3 drawers, a wooden chair of some 40 pounds which you might find at the Salvation Army for around $ 50,- a TV above, smaller than the monitors for the computers, a small fridge with 3 Beers and 4 soft drinks HA,Ha, this on a 5 star Ship 3 other very small drawers in the closet. Bath room was new with 2 sinks, for show, not to be used by 2 people at the same time.There was no comb, tooth brush or paste, they were sold, $ 1,25 and $ 4.25, Shampoo and Lotion came in a 5 ounce squeeze bottles, Walmart Style. The worst " Feature " on this ships is that there are 2 sittings for Dinner and you have to put up with the same people every night, 4 widows, a person from the crew and both of us men.Nothing special can be said about the food but on Oceana its much better. We had an arrogant Wine server, East European, it was always Red or White and without letting you dry it, always filled full then said, I thought you knew the wine. A real Jerk, the same goes for another East European and there are many, a Bar Tender at the Ball Room Bar, a complete idiot. The only place was the Piano Bar with the man from South Africa and the Thai Lady, the only 2 you could have a conversation with. Has anybody ever had a conversation with one from Romania or Bulgaria who might have left their country 2 years ago ?? The " House Wine " is the ships own label with 2 or 3 other choices, want something better you pay through the nose. A " Champagne " seems like made for the ship, a Pro Secco, in a store probably around $ 8,- and the Roederer from California, the best choice. I eat 1 time in Silk, Asian and Sushi, either or, $30,- surcharge not worth anything, on the Pride you could eat as much you liked, 2 times in Prego $ 30,- not worth the money, Lamb Chops, dry as a Shoe sole, " you want me to change them ?, my friend a Steak, who knows what cut, same, " you want me to change it "? Not once could they cook something " to Order " Must have had East European doing the cooking, for sure not Mexicans like on some other ships were the food came out right the first time. !! Must be the reason why the ship is so expensive if they throw away so much food, maybe every 20 th meal. Breakfast Buffet was a mix but things also on the cheap side. A cheap farm raised Salmon, rolled up not sliced, a cheap sliced Salami, sliced cooked and formed Ham, in the store for $ 5,95 the pound, a cured ham, a few thin slices 2 by 3 inches of who knows what kind of cheese. A lot of fruit out of the can. What I most disliked was the Mango cut into small pieces with the skin on it. Every morning I complained about it to whoever was around but they took it the funny way. Ha Ha .Saved a lot of labor. Some of the stuff which came out of the can was just put into a container, not nice looking, more like Cafeteria style. The buffet closed at 1:30 PM nothing else besides a Food Joint behind the pool. which closed I think at 6 thereafter was only the Lido Coffee with some cold cuts and cheese but good pastry. the best on the whole ship, if you wanted to get away from the Mass Feeding in the Dining Room nor wasting your money at Silk or Prego. Almost forgot to mention, since the ship was not full Crystal flew in about 200 Travel Agents free, some First class, some in Suits and Penthouses , if they had sold enough by lying to past Cruisers and future ones how good the ship is. I can not understand people rating this Klunker which has so many negatives a 5 Star Ship ?? Yes I talked to some people who had sailed a few times before but said it might be their last time. Even the Butler Service is bad now. Well the Line got sold the Chinese, maybe it will improve, also meaning more Chinese will come and maybe make it a little more lively, must be the most boring ship on the Ocean with the most fat people ! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would ... Read More
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would be right for us yet were still overwhelmed by how perfect everything was. Our embarkation and disembarkation were swift and guided by CC staff. We were delighted with our cabin. Some reviewers had mentioned the CS cabins were small but we thought it was spacious and we are not tiny people. The dining on board was simply exquisite. The standard of food served in the dining room and specialty restaurants was equal to the best I've experienced anywhere in the world. The buffet and bistro food was also impressive. We enjoyed the shows and the various musical ensembles. The few activities we attended were presented with enthusiasm and encouragement. We were very happy with our shore excursions. For us though the most memorable part of the cruise other than the fabulous places we visited and the new friends we made was the staff. We had heard anecdotally and read that CC staff are special but until you have experienced it first hand you have no idea. They were incredible. From the moment we arrived we felt it. Our names were quickly learned by the staff we saw frequently and we never passed a single employee without them saying hello. My desire for black tea at breakfast and dinner was remembered and delivered without request. My lovely waiter sneaking a dessert onto my plate when I had ordered fruit only, "just to try my lady". These are just a few examples. We so enjoyed our cruise we booked another whilst on board and are hoping friends will join us. We can't wait to get back on board! Read Less
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
My first cruise. What a great service. What a great food. This cruise line is the total relaxation experience. After three days you can sail on for months. The constant high quality of service, friendliness of all the staff plus the ... Read More
My first cruise. What a great service. What a great food. This cruise line is the total relaxation experience. After three days you can sail on for months. The constant high quality of service, friendliness of all the staff plus the excellent restaurants on board where a great pleasure. The all inclusive works fine for me, no checks to be signed no bills to think about. The other travelers where mostly from the U.S., friendly and easy to get along with. We had a midship cabin on deck 8 with balcony, sitting there watching the ocean was another pleasure I experienced for the first time. Ok, the cabin was small but in good condition, the stewardess did a first class job keeping it clean and tidy. Crystal Symphony is sailing the oceans since 20 years, for that age the ship is kept in good condition. She sails quiet and smooth, very little rolling and pitching. The entertainment program was a bit outdated for my taste, to much 90's sexiness and not the best dancers. We spoke to many other passengers and met quit a few that sailed on other cruise lines. Their verdict was clear: Crystal ist the best cruise line. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was the first time I have sailed with Crystal. I had certain expectations engendered by what I had been told by friends who have made a life cruising around the world, and which were not all negative. I arrived back home wishing I ... Read More
This was the first time I have sailed with Crystal. I had certain expectations engendered by what I had been told by friends who have made a life cruising around the world, and which were not all negative. I arrived back home wishing I could have stayed longer and as a frequent land-traveler I do not often say that. There is elegance in simplicity and, though the ship is not as technically modern as other ships, the Crystal Symphony certainly is elegant. Friends advised me to start with a smaller cabin and not a large one because, in their opinion, if I did I would be spoiled forever. I can only agree. I booked a smaller cabin and though I wasn’t in it for anything other than sleeping it was very pleasant. I had space left over after unpacking and, though I hate to admit it, I packed much more than I needed. I did get the opportunity to see one of the penthouse suites and I am thankful to my friends for their advice – had I booked one of those I would not have wanted to leave the ship and that would have been a shame. I suffer from motion sickness and expected to become ill but the location of the cabin, mid-ship and between two decks with other cabins in them, prevented me from it, even on one particular night when I could feel the faint swaying of the ship. The feature I liked most about the Symphony was its staff and crew. From first setting foot on board to disembarking I was lavished with friendly attention and service. From the staff taking care of me out by the pool to the staff serving at Prego they were all so pleasant. I loved Prego as much for the gentlemen who had me laughing as for its food. The food was wonderful and living in a city known for its world-class cuisine that is saying something. I am sure, though, that had it not been so I would have enjoyed dining just because of the staff. One of the little things that have made me love Crystal is the staff at Prego moving my table so that I could watch the sunset. I was advised not to miss it and had it not been for them I would have. An unnecessary aside: they looked very smart in their white jackets. The entertainers were very talented, from the orchestra members to the pianists at the evening venues. Not only were they technically skilled but also warm and friendly when not performing, which is not always the case. One of the piano players had me laughing non-stop on more than one night after they finished their set. The venues were varied, from classical pianists to a performance from the Broadway musical Chicago. The range can appeal to people with varied interests and is at the very least technically good. The ports we visited were fascinating, and another little thing I would like to mention refers to what occurred at Santorini. The shore excursions looked to be cancelled due to the high winds which prevented the passengers from disembarking on the tenders and using the cable car. I expected the ship to depart early but instead the Symphony used the engines to stay in position until we could get on land. As you cannot anchor in Santorini I liked the fact that the captain stayed using up fuel until we could get on shore. The site of Akrotiri on Santorini is impressive and our guide was very knowledgeable. I can say the same about Delos on Mykonos. I can say it for every excursion I was able to join. I have very few criticisms and I have to label them as that because there is no other word milder than it. One was waiting for the transfer to the ship from the hotel in Athens. The time given for departure turned out to be 1.5 hours later than what was originally given, time I could have used to visit in Athens instead of waiting at the hotel for the shuttle. On the ship itself I was annoyed by the fact that I could not hear announcements when in the stateroom. I am sure I missed some though they must not have been important as the trip went well nevertheless. I also would wish to have the films played in the Hollywood Theater more often than they were, but seeing as the ports of call were too wonderful to miss visiting this is negligible. The itinerary was very interesting, and getting to visit ports not often on itineraries was fabulous. The staff is wonderful and the entertainment and dining were great. All in all it was a lovely experience and I am looking forward to traveling with Crystal once again. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to ... Read More
My wife, 16 year old daughter and I returned yesterday from a 7-night cruise onboard Crystal Symphony from Athens to Athens. This was our first Crystal cruise which we chose due to itinerary, date and curiosity as we have always wanted to try Crystal. My wife and I are in our mid forties and are addicted to cruising. I've completed over 70 cruises on all lines ranging from budget to very luxurious. I started cruising at age 13. With age, as our taste and budge changed we have particularly found Oceania and Regent cruises to best suit us. This review is by no means a comparison of lines. The reason we have found Oceania and Regent to be so desirable is their commitment to quality ships, service, food and entertainment. Most importantly, when we sail on these lines we always feel special. We have for the most part abandoned mass market cruising unless if for a group or special event. I did have some trepidation about trying Crystal as I had heard it is "old school", "formal" and "stuffy". Although old school might have been appealing we certainly don't care for venues which are formal, stuffy or even pretentious. Additionally, my family always dresses well, but the idea of having to put on a tuxedo on a vacation seems ridiculous to me. Unless I'm going to a black tie wedding or the Academy Awards I don't see the purpose of a tuxedo on vacation. Well - Crystal debunked any myths of ill fated pre-conceived notions and grossly exceeded our expectations in every area. We found Crystal to be perhaps our favorite cruise line and cannot imaging how our experience could have been better - unless I really wanted to nitpick which would be ridiculous, but I will do it anyway because otherwise this review will seem too perfect. The ship is certainly older and as such the staterooms and suites are smaller than the competition's new builds and a bit aged, but extremely well done. The only other little detail I would suggest is one which would improve the lunch experience at the Trident Grill. The Trident Grill can get backed up during peak hours with lines and wait times. A solution would be to take passengers orders and have tables labeled with numbers which would go on the order and then the food could be delivered when ready allowing passengers to sit comfortably instead of stand waiting for their food. This would prevent the bottleneck that happens during peak hours and works well on lines such as Oceania and Regent. The fact that I have no other critical comments or suggestions is remarkable and kudos to Crystal! FELLOW PASSENGERS: Fellow passengers hailed from all over the world and many age ranges and situations were represented from solo travelers to couples, families, and friends traveling together. The age range of passengers was all over the map. One thing was apparent - Crystal seems to appeal to and attract fun loving people who are young at heart. Passengers were well traveled and seemed to all have a strong preference for uber luxury in a comfortable atmosphere. Many passengers are repeat Crystal loyalists who expressed they would never dream of trying a different line. As mentioned we traveled with my 16 year old daughter who was the only teenager on board. We traveled with her so we could all spend time together and she did not miss having other teens on board. There were a few very well behaved toddlers on board. STAFF: One significant area where Crystal stands out is with it's staff. A happy ship equals a happy trip. In all of my travels I have never experienced a more warm, passionate, friendly and genuinely sincere crew eager to please the passengers. From the time of embarkation we immediately felt welcomed on board as if we were visiting family. Remarkably - and almost immediately - the staff addresses passengers by their names and remembers even their little desires. I cannot reduce to words how incredible the crew of the Crystal Symphony are. AMBIANCE: From the moment you embark on Crystal Symphony you sense something special. An ambience which is very classy, upscale, yet comfortable like your local country club. The fellow passengers and crew interact like old friends - and in fact many passengers and crew have become old friends over the years and passenger loyalty is apparent as is that of the crew. Many crew members have been with Crystal since the beginning. My family found there was nothing stuffy or pretentious about Crystal. In fact, just the opposite. I think being a luxury line and attracting passengers who appreciate such an experience breeds a natural comfort level which creates an environment of warmth and community which feels familiar to that which the guests are accustomed. The ambiance reminds me a lot of a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons, but the overall experience Trumps both chains many times over. I've never experienced service at any luxury hotel that exceeds that received on Crystal. DINING: Dining for us on board Crystal Symphony was old school. We had a 830pm dining time. It's been years since we've had fixed dining and we LOVED IT! We truly enjoyed getting to know our waiter, busboy, head waiter and maître d'. Every dinner was excellent with service to match. Preferences were quickly learned on the first evening and remembered. Our waiter asked us on the first night how we liked our dining experience to be paced and kept it constant throughout. He wanted to know if we wanted to enjoy slow two hour dinners with time between courses or whether he should move things along. Our preference was to move things along - as we like to make it to the shows - he did a perfect job. Quality and presentation of the food was on par even with Michelin 1 and 2 star restaurants in my opinion. We enjoyed Silk Road and Prego as well. Silk Road was excellent, but being frequent patrons of Nobu in Los Angeles found the atmosphere not to be typical of a Nobu and although the sushi was fresh it did not seem quite on par with the land based experience. Nonetheless, I would still rate Silk Road as excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: I could go on for pages about the entertainment. My entertainment expectations were no expectations. After all how could a small line with only 2 cruise ships provide any type of jaw dropping entertainment. Wow! Was I wrong. I'm quite critical when it comes to entertainment and have been fortunate to experience the best entertainment Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Broadway has to offer. Every show we saw on board was outstanding! The singers and dancers were extremely talented and major production shows being very well produced and captivating. The production shows were complimented by the Crystal orchestra. Guest entertainers and ballroom dancers were amazing. One of the most pleasant surprises was Mark Farris who lit up the piano bar every evening with his brilliant talent, wit and ability to engage the audience. Lastly, but certainly not our cruise director Paul McFarland is the best we have ever experienced. He truly set the tone for the whole cruise experience. CABINS & SHIP IN GENERAL: Despite the age of the ship and not having some of the glitz and glamour of newer vessels - Crystal Symphony is perfect! She is a comfortable and contemporary ship that that has been updated for the times with a timeless elegance. Her size and passenger capacity is just perfect. We never felt like the ship was crowded. No significant wear and tear in any area was recognized. Our accommodations were in a Penthouse Suite which was very comfortable and of adequate size with excellent design and décor. However, don't expect to compare the staterooms on board Crystal Symphony with new builds like the Regent Seven Seas Explorer where the entry level suites (the ship is all suites) are larger than the Crystal Penthouse Suites. I saw cabins in other categories and despite being small are very well appointed. The cabin sizes would not impact my decision to consider another Crystal cruise. Public rooms are comfortable and flow between areas is excellent. Of note, upon arrival in our cabin and unpacking my daughter's feet became soaked when entering the walk in closet. Apparently, a clean water pipe from the level above had leaked. Within minutes the Chief Housekeeper arrived on scene and workers were ripping up the ceiling to repair the leak and drying up and shampooing the affected carpeting. Several other repairs were required during the cruise on this pipe and were done when we were not in our stateroom. The day of embarkation we were offered to immediately have our stateroom moved and to have the staff pack up all of our things. We declined as the problem was a fixable one. Later in the cruise we received a bouquet of flowers with a note thanking us for our cooperation and apologizing for any inconvenience. Class act Crystal! PORTS: This was a fabulous week of Greek island ports with embarkation and disembarkation being the port of Athens. Originally, the cruise was supposed to conclude in Istanbul, Turkey, but the itinerary was changed due to safety concerns. The itinerary was port intensive, but fabulous nonetheless. Some ports were repeats for us and some were new. What a pleasant surprise Naphlion and Hydra were. CONCLUSION: Crystal has earned our loyalty and business perhaps as our new favorite cruise line and we look forward to continuing cruising on Crystal for years to come. Apparently, Crystal is arranging for 3 new build cruise ships. I imagine Crystal's ambitious and innovative CEO Edie Rodriguez will continue to have her finger on the pulse and incorporate more relevant and modern features on the new ships that were not typically the standard of luxury cruising when Crystal Symphony was launched in 1995. The bottom line is that Crystal Symphony is a 21 year old ship that has wowed us like no other! I can only imagine combining the food, service and Crystal standards applied to new build cruise ships. I'm certain that when the new ships launch any question of competition will be drowned. There will be no competition. Even now, despite a number of cruise lines being marketed in the luxury catergory - Crystal is in a class of its own. Thank you Crystal! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Great first time experience on Crystal...won't be the last. The itinerary was fabulous. Disappointed we lost a sea day with the change in itinerary, but Crystal did a great job. Wish we had more time to experience the ... Read More
Great first time experience on Crystal...won't be the last. The itinerary was fabulous. Disappointed we lost a sea day with the change in itinerary, but Crystal did a great job. Wish we had more time to experience the activities on the ship. Loved going to the islands in Greece that were not typical of Greek Island cruises. The people we encountered couldn't have been nicer or more appreciative. Each island was unique in what it had to offer. Enjoyed the interesting variety of passengers and also the loyalty of the crew. It's obvious they are well treated or they wouldn't be on the same ship for 7-10 years. Would have liked to have more info. and better communication about each port we were to visit. There was nobody from the ship present when we got to Mykonos to give maps, etc. had to go to the concierge to inquire about average prices for taxis, funicular, etc. Food was good. Did not like self service on the upstairs deck. Prefer to see staff serve food rather than to help yourself. Some passengers are not as diligent about using serving utensils, etc. Would like to see "Anytime" dining as opposed to set times. 6:00 is too early and 8:30 is too late. Never found out how to do dining by reservation. Very difficult to speak to Crystal on the phone. Everything needs to be handled by the travel agent. Would definitely cruise with them again and looking forward to the expansion of the company . Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are ... Read More
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are great, but staterooms are a bit small vs the Serenity. We might eventually try another cruise line, but it will be hard to beat the only cruise line named a top pick for 20 consecutive yrs by the readers of Conde Nash and members of Cruise Critic. The reasons are impossible to list as they are so many and they can be so personal in choice. With a doubt, the food is beyond compare for a ship feeding just under 1000 passengers. The Main Dining Room is our favorite place for lunch if we are back early enough from our excursions and we love both the food and the people we have met at dinners there. Breakfast on early excursion days means we eat at the Lido Restaurant, which serves an amazing buffet of virtually everything. Of course they also serve a terrific and very varied lunch buffet. And there's also the Trident Grill for those days when you want to hang around the pool/spa and enjoy a fantastic burger, tasty hotdog, excellent fries, etc. Their menu includes salads too. And right after lunch, you have the opportunity for sweet desserts like ice cream ( Ben & Jerry's) or soft serve. Did I mention there's a bar too? When you disembark, it takes but a few hours before you realize just how much you miss the 24/7 pampering. Decompression after Crystal takes us about a week! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on shipboard activities. Great lectures, art classes, Bridge classes, etc. No hairy chest contests or "art" auctions here! Also no hawking of gift shop wares, no pressure at all. Crew and fellow passengers were gracious. I traveled Solo, and couldn't have been happier----the dining room made the effort to seat 8 of us together, which was SO nice. I made friends right away. I took the Crystal shore excursions at each port, and found them to be exactly as described and well-run. I liked the security of being in a group, and a Crystal crew member accompanied the tours. It was nice to know that the Crystal staff was there, in case of any problems that might arise. This was in addition to the Tour Guide. I was actually on TWO cruises; it was a "back-to-back" experience. Miami to Monte Carlo (16 days) and then Monte Carlo to Venice (8 days). I enjoyed Crystal so much that I have already booked 3 more cruises with them! Two for 2017 and one for 2018. Crystal is the best! Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Crystal gets such wonderful reviews that I definitely wanted to experience the line and its self proclaimed 6*+ cruising. The itinerary was perfect for us as we prefer long times at sea. Dining: The food on the Symphony was ... Read More
Crystal gets such wonderful reviews that I definitely wanted to experience the line and its self proclaimed 6*+ cruising. The itinerary was perfect for us as we prefer long times at sea. Dining: The food on the Symphony was disappointing. It does not come near the food served other luxury cruise lines. We had a number of dishes that were inedible, e.g. under-cooked pancakes, tough and dry duck and tasteless shrimp. Now there were some excellent dishes, but the quality was inconsistent. The chef was miserly with vegetables. Fish was served without fish knives. The menus were full of typos, spelling mistakes and grammar errors. Sorry I am being picky, but this is supposed to be a superb high quality line. Prego was excellent, but Silk Road was reasonable sushi bar at best. Silk Road's much touted black cod was overly sauced with teriyaki so that it was impossible to taste the cod. Eating in the casual venues such as the Bistro and the Trident Grill was always a pleasure. The sandwiches at tea were dry. (We went twice.) We chose Dining by Reservation. This was a mistake. I don't think the ship is structured to handle the flexibility of this programme. Usually we were placed in the middle of the dining room, which meant that it was also the center of the hub-bub as the staff prepared for the second sitting. Service: The service was impeccable in the dining room, the bars and all drinking and eating venues. It was impressive how quickly the staff learned personal preferences. The concierge desk went out of the way to offer us a cheaper, yet very comfortable transfer at the end of the cruise. Embarkation: This was very pleasant and handled with ease. One felt welcomed on the ship. Entertainment: The main shows were abysmal. Most of the cast were talented, but they could not rescue the amateurish material with which the had to work. Ill fitting costume and wigs added to the bad community theater feeling of the shows. The two solo performers were excellent. The lounge/bar performers were all excellent, especially the charming Mark in the Avenue Saloon. Shore Excursions: These were ordinary. Possibly because the two ports are very small Crystal had no choice of suppliers, but they were certainly not the promised "Crystal Adventures." The Ship: The re-fit of the ship has created many elegant and comfortable spaces.The cabins are silent and the bathrooms make amazing sue of small spaces. Unfortunately the refit stopped at the aft end of the ship. The dining room is a dark and noisy space with light fixtures that are dated and probably always ugly. The placing of the serving stations may be efficient, but they increase the noise level.The Stardust Club is an underused, undefined and dated space. My fantasy would be to change it into a second dining room so that open seating would be possible. The announcement-free environment was superb. Enrichment and Daytime Programmes: All excellent. Cruise Director: I do not usually point out individuals in a review, but the Cruise Director on this cruise was completely useless. Although he was always smiling, he was not friendly and certainly did not play the role of the host that most cruise directors assume. His emceeing was so bad it was embarrassing. At disembarkation he did not know what was happening and managed upset some very elderly passengers. He walked away from them (still smiling) completely unaware of the chaos he created. Small Complaints: A formal night on the last night this segment was inconvenient. As the next day was at sea for the ongoing passengers, a last formal night could have been scheduled then. One of our two day laundry orders took 4 days to arrive in our cabin. The attendant's explanation was a shrug and a giggle. We used express check out. Our bill arrived 15 minutes before we were to board our transfer and was full of mistakes. I have never had this happen on any other line. Summary: Would I sail on Crystal again? Maybe, if they offered a really spectacular itinerary. I would certainly board with 4* expectations and maybe I would be surprised. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2016
I chose this itinerary because I wanted to see Antarctica, experience sailing the Drake Passage, Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, and specifically on this ship. In addition we saw the Falkland Islands, sailed through some of the ... Read More
I chose this itinerary because I wanted to see Antarctica, experience sailing the Drake Passage, Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, and specifically on this ship. In addition we saw the Falkland Islands, sailed through some of the fjords in Chile and made several stops in ports along the way. I had wanted to get back to Buenos Aires and also not having ever been to Santiago, this itinerary was perfect because we left from Buenos Aires and the trip ended in Valparaiso from where I then went on to the Chilean capital. Buenos Aires and Santiago are each wonderful cities with a very different character to one another. Antarctica was extraordinarily beautiful, unforgettable and must be seen since the experience is truly indescribable. From sailing among giant icebergs, tabular and otherwise, to witnessing the landscapes and wild sea life all in weather that kept changing dramatically every 15 minutes, the entire experience was as visually dazzling as it was thrilling. Sailing through the Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel and Chilean Fjords (parts of each) provided endlessly beautiful scenery and extraordinary climate-enhanced views. The Crystal Symphony is an elegant spacious ship with a very great and extraordinarily dedicated staff, consistently stellar service, wonderful cuisine and a 360 degree open Promenade Deck close to the sea that remains one of the ship's most remarkable features, in addition to the usual surrounding open deck space at the top of the ship. Even when full, the ship feels at all times very uncrowded and exudes an intimacy despite its size. It warrants repeating on its own: the staff and service on the Crystal Symphony are extraordinary. Embarkation and debarkation procedures were amazingly simple and confusion-free. Note: In the Ratings below I left Entertainment blank only because I did not attend any of the evening shows. There should be a separate category for lectures which were beyond excellent*** as usual on Crystal, and the movie offerings constituted a good range. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
We are experienced cruisers, a mature couple, with a preference for Crystal. Two years ago, we sailed from Valparaiso to Bali on the Symphony, and we found the journey marvelous. This time we took a shorter cruise from Valparaiso to ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, a mature couple, with a preference for Crystal. Two years ago, we sailed from Valparaiso to Bali on the Symphony, and we found the journey marvelous. This time we took a shorter cruise from Valparaiso to Miami, some twenty days. The experience was as grand and as elegant as before. The Crystal Symphony remains an excellent ship: the food, the bars, the service, the accommodations, the public areas (especially its palm court), all are first class. The stateroom and the bathroom were a marvel of grace and efficiency, if in a compact space. My wife has mobility problems – using a wheelchair, however, was comparatively easy throughout the ship. And the staff were always helpful. One note: the Symphony has an excellent and unobtrusive group of photographers, a minor plus on a cruise ship since once upon a time this breed were real pests. Another virtue: 60 minutes of internet per person per day free. Mostly we ate in the main dining room where you were always assured of something delicious – I was especially impressed with the quality of the beef and the seafood. I was not so taken by the so-called “Modern Cuisine,” a separate section of the menu of often weird dishes, mixing exotic ingredients, which look better than they taste. Sometimes it seemed the chef was playing a joke on us – vegetarian jambalaya for instance, eggplant everywhere, bland tasting scallops. But the main menu always had excellent classics for traditional diners, including a good Caesar salad and a marvelous array of cheeses. The complimentary wine list boasted a pleasing and diverse selection, including some excellent Chilean reds. The Prego, one of the specialty restaurants, remained superb – try the lamb or the seafood pasta, both stellar. The Silk Road, the other specialty restaurant, has slipped a bit I fear, or perhaps it was just off that night – less zest, less taste than before. Two complimentary visits each were included but we decided not to visit the Silk Road again, favoring instead the dining room. There was one spectacular Gala lunch, a buffet outside the main dining room, full of savory dishes, beef, seafood, chicken, cheeses, salads and fruits, breads, desserts, and just a general abundance. The grill and the Lido were more busy, so we didn't use these much, but both provided excellent food. We did frequent the small Bistro, however: good coffee and tea, all kinds of treats – smoked salmon, ham and cheeses, many kinds of sweets, fresh fruit as well. If you enjoy food in all its splendid variety, Crystal Symphony is the place to relish that variety. The itinerary included ports and places we have visited before. There were pricey excursions to Machu Picchu (my wife had gone there) and the Galapagos (that we'd cruised years ago). Still the three ports in Peru were all interesting, and especially Salaverry, since that allowed excursions to some fascinating pre-Inca sites, notably El Brujo. The excursion organized by the Symphony to that site and to the city of Trujillo was well worth the cost – a real pleasure. The other highlights were visits to Serena and especially Arica in Chile – the latter also full of pre-Inca artifacts, including some famed mummies – and later Cartagena in Columbia, a colorful and diverse city, also full of museums. The passage through the canal, complete with a good commentary, was as always interesting. We skipped the visit to Ocho Rios, preferring peace and life on the Symphony, but enjoyed the sights and attractions of the always interesting Key West – in particular an old-fashioned but well-maintained and intriguing aquarium. The Symphony maintains the practice of offering a complimentary shuttle, where the local authorities allow, which makes it possible for people to get to the center of town easily and conveniently. My only complaint was with the lectures and the entertainment. There are plenty of lectures. The only ones I found worthwhile were a series on the Panama canal. Otherwise the Crystal Symphony seems wedded to offering speakers on politics and international affairs (why? – cruising is supposed to be an escape, isn't it?) and Dr. Jay Wolff, an accomplished speaker on matters historical but I tired of his pet theories two years ago and didn't bother going to his performances this time round. (To be fair clearly many passengers relished his talks.) Personally I would have hoped for some expert in archeology who could have explored the extraordinary variety of civilizations, notably the Moche, which once flourished in the apparently harsh environs of Peru. Or some historian able to discuss broadly the Spanish empire and postcolonial societies of South America. Or a treatment of South American art and literature (not the Broadway musicals which were on offer). The invited comedians and singers did not impress, with the singular exception of the dancers, including the Crystal ensemble, who were very good, full of energy and verve, better than two years before. But if you really like evening entertainment, go to Princess – the food and service may be problematic there but the shows are superb. Crystal cannot match these. Still you can always find compensations, relaxation, movies, bar life, Casino, dancing, if you need alternatives. In all travelling on the Crystal Symphony is a most enjoyable experience, one of life's finer pleasures. Here at least the marketing speak does have some substance. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2016
Have taken many cruises with different lines. Crystal is superior in so many areas. Staff is very attentive all your needs. Enrichment lectures are ususal very good. food is outstanding. If you have special menu request it would be no ... Read More
Have taken many cruises with different lines. Crystal is superior in so many areas. Staff is very attentive all your needs. Enrichment lectures are ususal very good. food is outstanding. If you have special menu request it would be no problem . Entertainment is very good. Movie theather shows many new releases. Excursion were first rate They usually have free shuttle buses to the center of town . The main reason to take a crystal cruise is the staff. within the first day they know your name, your favorite drink. Cabin stewarts are always ready to take care of your every need. My favorite cruises is when the ship repostions. Ocean cruises are very relaxing. you get to meet many interesting people and leave the cruise feeling refreshed.I have booked 2 more cruises this upcoming season. Can't wait till i cruise with the best cruise line . You will not be disappointed if you cruise with crystal. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Except for a very short cruise of the Greek Isles, we have never used another cruise line, nor another cruise ship. The Crystal Symphony has been our home for progressively longer cruises. From embarkation to debarkation, our experience ... Read More
Except for a very short cruise of the Greek Isles, we have never used another cruise line, nor another cruise ship. The Crystal Symphony has been our home for progressively longer cruises. From embarkation to debarkation, our experience has always been virtually flawless. And, those flaws on this cruise were due to weather in the area of our cruise, not Crystal. Due to local weather we missed one port where we would have taken a shore excursion that would have allowed us to land on the continent of Antarctica, and, due to weather another shore excursion was cancelled by the vendor because of rough seas. Our cruise started in Buenos Aires and headed south to Antarctica (four days cruising the Antarctic coast), then back up the Pacific coast of South America to Valparaiso. We stayed on board for a "back to back" and continued up the coast, through the Panama Canal and ended in Miami. We took a 4 day land excursion to the Galapagos during the transit. We don't splurge on a cabin as we don't spend much awake time there; it's small but very comfortable and there's always enough storage. The head is also small, but nicely done and very functional. The shower water pressure is exceptional. We enjoy the main dining room and eat most meals there. We had a table for 8 at the 6PM seating. When four of us took exception to the company of one of our tablemates after several meals, the maitre'd graciously found us other accommodations. The food was generally spectacular with a few exceptions which were always remedied with grace and speed, on the spot. We found that service was slower as a table for 8; we frequently had to rush dessert in order to make the 8:30PM show. We will not make that choice again. The specialty restaurants were spectacular. In all venues, all we had to do was look thirsty or hold our hand out and immediately it was filled with the drink of our choice and the staff seemed so attentive to getting to know each passenger, that we frequently did not have to specify what we wanted before it was delivered with enthusiasm and a smile. We can't compare to other cruise lines but on a long cruise (or back to back long cruises) you wind up seeing repeat performances of certain stock entertainment. Some you don't mind seeing twice; others you just find another activity to fill that time. There was plenty to chose from. The shore excursion selection was excellent. My only complaint, ever, was that too many of the participants failed to heed such warnings as "strenuous" or "requires extensive walking" and as a result, they tended to hold up large groups of us while we waited for them to catch up or recover. We would absolutely travel with Crystal again and have already booked our next cruise. This is a biased review as we have NOT ever traveled with any other cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
This was our 3rd cruise on the Crystal line and our 2nd on Symphony (which is our favorite). We had so much trouble getting to the cruise due to a blizzard in the NYC area. The two days we booked in Buenos Aires were lost to us and we ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on the Crystal line and our 2nd on Symphony (which is our favorite). We had so much trouble getting to the cruise due to a blizzard in the NYC area. The two days we booked in Buenos Aires were lost to us and we arrived in the city only a few hours before our boarding time. What a relief it was to walk into the Crystal environment after such a anxiety filled experience. Embarkation took a little longer than usual due to a large number of people showing up at the same time, but Crystal still handled it well and we were through the lines in no time. Our room was ready before 3. Some people think the rooms are too small, but we find them to be just fine. I asked for ginger ale to be stocked in the mini bar and for a different type of pillow for my husband and our stewardess complied quickly. We have never had a bad stewardess or even a mediocre one, they are all excellent. Dinner in the main dining room was wonderful as always. Our waiter and headwaiter were the best yet. So was the sommelier. I didn't care for the particular white wine served that evening, and he suggested another type that I loved. He would always offer it to me at every dinner in case I didn't want the type served. (Different types of red and white wines are offered every night, but I noticed many people ordering different types). It's all included unless you get into the really pricey area of wines. I have to say something about the itinerary. It was the most spectacular and exciting trip I have ever taken, and my husband and I have traveled extensively. We LOVED the penguin colonies in the Falklands. If you have the chance, you have to take one of the excursions out to the colonies. Ours took 3 hours each way but it was worth it. The icebergs and the wildlife in Antarctica were unbelievable. We ran into some wild weather while there, but it just added more adventure to the trip. We loved seeing where Ernest Shackleton landed with his men on Elephant Island. There were several lectures on board: one on Shackleton and some on wildlife and Antarctica itself. All well worth attending. The most beautiful evening of all was at sunset while sailing through the icebergs. The ship gets quite close to them. Crossing the Drake passage was especially exciting with 30 foot waves. I took Less Drowsy Dramamine and had no problem with sea sickness. Next were the.Chilean fjords and the Strait of Magellan. Absolutely stunning and all wild. No houses, towns and only a couple of small fishing boats were seen in the whole day. As usual we met some great people and just had a wonderful time. As far as the downside, the only thing I can complain about was that the movies were kind of old. Not as up-to-date as our first cruise. Would I go with Crystal again? Absolutely. We are now planning our next adventure for 2017. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We had not sailed with Crystal since the Fall of 2013, and were a little leery about the sale of Crystal to a Chinese company. Since our first cruise on the Symphony in 2004, we loved both the Symphony and the Serenity - for service, ... Read More
We had not sailed with Crystal since the Fall of 2013, and were a little leery about the sale of Crystal to a Chinese company. Since our first cruise on the Symphony in 2004, we loved both the Symphony and the Serenity - for service, food, and for the way we were always made to feel taken care of and "special". We tried two other lines, Oceania and Silverseas, because we wanted to be CERTAIN Crystal was "our" cruise line. Well, thankfully, we had worried about the ownership change needlessly. Within 24 hours of embarking on our 18-day Buenos-Aires-Valparaiso cruise (with Antarctica as the highlight), both my husband and I and the couple we travel with all agreed - Crystal is absolutely the BEST, and we have no desire to travel with any other company. In no way did Oceania or Silverseas meet the very high standard set by Crystal - especially regarding the food and service, and wonderful concern they have for their passengers' every need and for their safety and well being. The first night, we were delighted to return to the concept of assigned seating and a set dinner hour FOR THOSE WHO CHOSE - in the main dining room. (For those who find this all too formal, open seating is available in another part of the dining room). We were all smiles as the marvelous maitre d' Mario and the usual cadre of elegantly-clad waitstaff greeted and then escorted us to our window table for two - our dining "home" for 18 days. The room, as always, was festive and elegant, with tables set with the usual gleaming silver and crystal, and beautiful porcelain dinnerware. We were thrilled when we were introduced to the lovely men who would be our senior and assistant waiters for the entire trip, Juan and Ferenc. What's wrong with having waitstaff who understand your culinary preferences and eccentricities, who are knowledgeable about the fare of the day, and are there to make sure every meal, every course, is prepared and served to your liking? The food itself was marvelous, from the first meal to the last. And because we also prefer being served for breakfast and lunch instead of eating buffet-style, we returned for almost every meal every day. Head waiter Vlada did his customary great job with special requests - including classic Caesar salad prepared tableside (when was the last time YOU experienced that treat!?!), Kosher chicken, cherries Jubilee, Schnitzel Holstein, etc. etc. NEVER AGAIN Oceania, where we were told "there are no tables for two or you will have to wait a while for one or sit at a larger table with others" - OR Silverseas, where we were never sure which part of the room we would be in or who our waitstaff would be. Everywhere we went, the "Crystal culture" of service above and beyond was the norm. Our cabin stewardess was a lovely young Chinese woman, Yunger, who seemed to anticipate our every need and kept our stateroom immaculately. Because there were quite a few days of rocky seas, we chose to have cocktails in the Crystal Cove (midship) almost every evening. The atmosphere in that venue illustrated why the Crystal ships are designed to make passengers feel as if they are at a party every night - the people watching there is fabulous, the wine and cocktails constantly flowing, and on many evenings - live music is provided by either the Crystal Cove pianist or by members of the terrific Galaxy Orchestra. The Bistro provided snacks and tidbits of the highest order when we sought that "little something" midday, and we actually enjoyed breakfast up top in the Lido on mornings when we had very early excursions. We loved going to the Trident Grill for lunch on days that were warm and sunny. In all venues, the food was excellent and fresh, and the staff was top rate, led by marvelous Philippine crew members, many of whom have been there for ten or more years. Of course, Nobu satisfied out desire for superb Japanese/fusion cuisine (Wow! the sushi!!!), and we enjoyed Prego, too, though I felt the atmosphere on Serenity's Prego is cozier and more inviting. The ship, though not "young", is maintained perfectly and is as clean as a whistle. Crew members are constantly polishing and cleaning on every deck and in every rest room. We do not partake of the enrichment activities or the entertainment - but SPECIAL KUDOS to the musicians on board. They are all so special. Every night, I turned to my husband and said, "How rare is it - and what a treat! - to hear REAL LIVE music like this!". In general, shore excursions were excellent. But I say this with a caveat - standards in most South American ports and towns are not like those to which are accustomed, even in Europe. Roads were often substandard and dusty, and rest room facilities were sketchy. But another Crystal PLUS - We do love having an "escort" from the ship in addition to the tour guide, on EVERY excursion. This is something you do NOT find on either Oceania or Silverseas. This additional person ensures that the tour guide is not distracted by the need to count heads or chase down a stray passenger. We were on deck 8, Horizon, and yes, the staterooms are small. However, they are extremely well designed so that everything you bring on board has its special place. We especially like the layout of the bathroom, with double vessel sinks, and a tub/shower that we find very comfortable, with plenty of room. Security on Crystal is stellar and reaassuring. On both Oceania and Silverseas, there were one or two gentlemen checking cards as we deboarded or boarded. And one or two men helping us on or off the tenders. Not so with Crystal. Three or four security personnel, and three or four crew helping with the tenders is the standard. Embarkation in Buenos was atypically poor for Crystal. REALLY atypical. Generally we are onboard and settled for lunch in the bat of an eye - 10 minutes tops. But there were several bottlenecks this go-round, and it took us almost an hour. I understand from the front office that 450 passengers showed up unexpectedly at noon, when usually, there is a slow trickle of about 50-100 guests per hour. Bottom line: We will probably never sail with another cruise line, and are already looking forward to back-to-back New England-Canada cruises on Serenity in September. We also have deposits on two river cruises - in 2018! One from Paris to Normandy, and the other, round-trip Vienna over the holidays. Can't wait to discover this brand new world of Crystal! I bet the other river cruise lines are quaking in their boots! 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
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Given that crystal push the " voted worlds best cruise line" tag. We fell for it and were expecting a fantastic time. The highlight of which was billed as NYE in Rio de Janiero for the fireworks. All advertising showed ... Read More
Given that crystal push the " voted worlds best cruise line" tag. We fell for it and were expecting a fantastic time. The highlight of which was billed as NYE in Rio de Janiero for the fireworks. All advertising showed fireworks above the ship. In reality there were 12 ships anchored in Rios bay that night and Crystal was at the very back in the centre. All the other ships were closer to the barges that let off the fireworks. I thought this had something to do with the fact the ship left the previous port 5 hours late. So instead of arriving in Rio at 5.p.m we arrived at 9 p.m. I had a chance to ask the captain about our position a a meet and greet. He assured me that their position was given 3 weeks ago. Which actually makes it worse to know that. Either crystal isn't bringing or paying enough to ge the best positions for its guests. We were at least 2 kilometres away. It was a most underwhelming NYE in a place far away which I probably will never return to. Unforgivable crystal really poor. FOOD: crazy cutting corners and ridiculous that they CLOSE the main buffet an start pulling dishes at 1.20 p.m ! Yes. Several times we were on ships tours that were late getting back or not due back till two p.m. We were sent away for the main dining room and the buffet had closed. So bus loads of passengers had to line up at their terrible grease joint selling hamburgers and fries in the hot atrium with the glass roof and no aircon to get some food. This is just totally unacceptable. I met many people upset with this. Firstly I don't eat crappy hot dogs ever. I don't buy them and I don't feed them to my family. So why should that be MY ONLY CHOICE When I have paid a premium price for what should be top quality food and service? Crystal really should reimburse us some money for this. SERVICE: was good to excellent at most venues. CABINS: tiny, worn out old furniture and decor. Really to of spent 25 days looking at the cheap 1980 s print opposite my bed was a joke. It was the sort of art work one would find in a 3 star chain motel. The cabins are SO small and balconys as well I'd actually say they are claustrophobic, we were never so happy to disembark a ship as were were this one. TOURS: one one tour I cut my foot with broken glass on the boat that crystal used. Apparently Doc the captain said that the crew had been drinking rum and had broken some bottles but they handnt cleaned it up properly. It could of been bad and ruined my whole trip had I needed stitches or had I gotten an infection I may of not been able to of walked ect luckily it was minor. But crystal didn't handle it very well. I had to poach them and I had to ask for the refund. Which I got. A second tour was worse for another passenger. This poor woman actually had her hand BROKEN. She had gone down the ladder at the side of this vessel and the ladder has caused her and and fingers against the side of the boat. This was a very serious medical emergency and it was Not handled by crystal in the way it should of been handled. This woman was left there with an ice pack on her hand and bandages for the reset of the tour. Why our vessel didn't immediately turn around and return us all the the Symphony is crazy. Myself and another passenger asked and were told that a speedboat with medical personal was on its way. They never arrived, I asked one of the non crystal staff why she was not picked up. I was told there was no boa available to get her. If that was the case then our vessel should of cancelled the " blue lagoon snorkelling tour " and just talked her back pronto. It was a most distressing event. You are on your own no protocols seem to be in place for when things go wrong. I do feel crystal should of sent a letter to each person on that tour explaining their course of action or lack of. SHOWS: poor to very bad except when they brought in dancers from Uruguay and Argentina to do tango, which was great. The Xmas show was me of the worst love productions I have ever seen in my life. I actually left as a cultural protest as did another woman we were laughing in the lift at how immature and silly it was. They had a really dull band that were off key and repetitive . They had a fabulous orchestra that they really didn't use to full advantage, as another cost cutting measure. Once each cruise they got the band to go the the main lobby bar and they played jazz, it was so great finally some life. Everyone for excited and was singing. It lasted 45 minutes only then back to nothing. Crystal needs more live music like this The had Marica at the avenue she was good but they need MORE live music There should of been live music for two hours at the main bar every night for two hours while people have pre dinner drinks. I don't count that dull as anything piano player. CAFE: didn't open until 9 a.m so if you wanted a quick bite before an early tour without the crowds forget it. This is another totally idiotic cost cutting unacceptable crystal method. That has made us say never again once is enough. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS PREGO, only went once as it was very average. All the sauces were SO salty everyone we spoke to that ate there agreed. We could not taste the food. Just the salt. They are not offering or using top quality Parmesan cheese. Cost cutting again. We spent 6 weeks in Italy last year, I know good Italian cheese. NOBU: absolutely superb! Loved it. We went 6 times. I'd say. Each time could of been a $250 meal if we were at the actual Nobu and had to pay. This restaurant made the trip. Could not fault it. Consistently brilliant each time. BUFFET: this was terrible for vegetarians of those that are not big meat eaters. They never had a single interesting salad. Not once in 25 days. Is this because Americans are simple eaters? Please a bowl of lettuce, a bowl of shredded carrot, a bowl of cucumbers ect you get my drift. The food was old fashioned and daggy. Not nuts not interesting grain salads and worst of all only ever one type of fish at lunch All meat meat meat. Horrible it was so repetitive the pool area is dead it needs a bar and there were only every two people walking. Around. I had to lift my own chair and arrange my own towels ect. Hard to get a drink and just NO atmosphere. Summary Crystal is a rip off. I really expected more for the money we spent. A huge disappointment. I don't think they care they lost us. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
My three sons just returned from a 7 day, pre Christmas, Caribbean cruise on Crystal Symphony. We had sailed on the same ship 18 months ago to Eastern Canada. On both voyages we have been impressed with the Crystal Experience. The line ... Read More
My three sons just returned from a 7 day, pre Christmas, Caribbean cruise on Crystal Symphony. We had sailed on the same ship 18 months ago to Eastern Canada. On both voyages we have been impressed with the Crystal Experience. The line provides a traditional luxury cruise experience, which is very hard to find nowadays. I would give top marks to the great food and service on the ship. Every single meal we had on the ship was a delight. We like having an assigned table and assigned waiters at dinner at night, that way we got to know the waiters and they got to know us. Casual dining for breakfast and lunch was greatly enjoyed at outdoor Trident Grill. Special kudos go out the the deck stewards who provided us with drinks and other deck services . I really like the large swimming pool on this ship. Excellent for actually swimming laps and almost never crowded. The large hot tub is also a delight. My three sons greatly enjoyed use of the paddle tennis court. The full wrap around outdoor promenade deck is also a great feature. Would be better if they added at least a few deck chairs on the promenade deck. Daytime lectures on history and politics were first rate. Nightime entertainment was extensive. Very nice real live band to provide music for production shows (no recorded music). Excellent smaller bands in other small lounges. In Transit Jazz trio was a standout in the Palm Court at night. First rate dancers in the shows...some of the song selections not to my taste, but overall production shows were very good. Only critical thing I noted on entertainment was the very poor choice of movies in movie theatre...they had nothing but second rate movies When we were aboard 18 months ago they had excellent choice of first run recent major movies. The crew is excellent. And really if you are sailing Crystal, you are going for the crew, the service, and the food. These are the areas in which they excel. The size of the ship, (900 passengers), would have been considered a large ship in 1975, but is now considered mid size. I like this size of ship. Big enough to provide alot of activities and space, but not too big to walk around on from place to place. It is true that Crystal does not have large rooms compared to other cruise lines in this category. However, the rooms are well laid out and have alot of storage. Rooms are very quiet. Air conditioning in rooms easy to control. I highly recommend Crystal. Except for Movies, we found standards aboard to be exactly the same as 18 months ago. 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 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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