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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is ... Read More
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is probably why the two Crystal ships (the Serenity and Symphony) are such a good value. In spite of the cabin size, there is plenty of storage. There is so much to do onboard (good speakers, computer, foreign language and bridge classes on every cruise) that there is no reason to spend much time in your cabin. Admitedly, the entertainment is geared to the 'conservative' 50+ passenger. You aren't going to find costume contests and 'wild' pool entertainment. The fitness center has the most modern equipment (plenty of it) and many free classes...Stretch, Pilates, etc. The food is very good and the 'inclusive' wines and spirits are quite satisfactory with a large selection of both. In fact, most of the spirits are premium quality (e.g., Makers Mark). The Silk Road (Nobu's Japanese restaurant) is wonderful as is Prego, the Italian restaurant. With the new management, I have noticed a couple 'cut-backs'. There are few free shuttles into town. You either need to take a tour or arrange your own transportation if the city is not within walking distance. In the dining room, caviar is on the menu several nights, but you can no longer order it at any meal as you once could. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The ... Read More
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The reason is that she is meticuluosly cared for on an ongoing basis. If you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can see how hard the staff works to address any wear in the ship, and before the guests would notice a problem. The crew and staff of the Crystal Symphony are the ship's greatest asset. They are more than just responsive when a passenger asks for something -- they anticipate the needs of the passengers and do so in a friendly way. Many go out of their way to learn the names of the passengers and then assume responsiblity for that traveler from then on. The food is the best of the best - intersting and tasty selections each day, and beuatifully presented. No expense spared. The Nobu specialty restaurant is in a class of its own. We went twice and I am not even a huge shushi fan! The basic category room is small but workable (246 SF with balcony). The added space of a penthouse would have been appreciated, but perhaps not worth the added cost. Let's face it: if small rooms are problematic then maybe cruising is not for you in the first place. Regardless, there is plenty of space devoted to the common areas so other than in the stateroom no one should feel claustrophobic. The target market for this cruise line is decidably the older crowd -- age 70+. At times there were enough seniors piloting their motorized scooters to warrant a traffic cop or perhaps valet parking. Make no mistake that the age of the crowd sets a tone, and that is one that is placid. If you are looking for high energy activities on board, you will be disappointed. Needle point classes and nodding off by the pool are more the order of the day. The entertainment was just plain bad. There was a featured flutist who played with the ship band one night and a low quality Elton John impersonator (although his back up singers were quite good) who played another night. Sereiously, when I think of cool entertainment, the flute just does not come to mind. There is also the ship's band who played by the pool/sunning area for about an hour daily. This was Muzak elevator music with an Asian influence. The rendition of a KC & the Sunshine Band song is still in my head, and that is not a good thing. That music certainly did not risk waking any napping seniors. There were also a couple of speakers who gave canned presentations on dull subjects, but like the other entertainment options were worth missing. The ship did stream some football games via satelite, but it seems they could have done more of this. Ditto better and more frequent movie selections. Not a huge issue, but shopping aboard the Symphony is odd. This is a Neiman Marcus level cruising experience with last year's Macy's basement shopping. Shopping can be a real money maker and the Symphony is missing a real opportunity here. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Having sailed with Crystal a few times before one is always wondering if like other cruise lines cutbacks and nickel and diming features have crept in which are so common on other mainstream cruising companies. Crystal promotes itself as a ... Read More
Having sailed with Crystal a few times before one is always wondering if like other cruise lines cutbacks and nickel and diming features have crept in which are so common on other mainstream cruising companies. Crystal promotes itself as a luxury cruise line and has an outstanding record of winning top awards in this class over the years. The November 2015 cruise was a 14 day Caribbean cruise from and returning to Miami. I do not propose to write about any of the ports I will just concentrate on the ship and on-board facilities and activities. The website has a very comprehensive and easy to navigate pre cruise section for those booked allowing tours and spa treatments to be viewed and booked, pre payment is not required, I believe that changes can be made on-board if desired. Speciality restaurant bookings can be made, on a 14 day cruise two visits to each restaurant are complimentary, it is possible to tie up speciality dining with other guests whom you know to be on-board via this pre-cruise website. Each voyage has a dedicated website section showing full details of Principal Officers, entertainers and speakers. Crystal often attach themes to their cruises and appropriate details are viewable online. I had booked a guarantee stateroom, ten days before cruising I was able to find out which room had been allocated via the pre booking website, I had expected either my agent or Crystal to email me with a room number but this did not happen, I think it is a courtesy to inform a guest their room allocation if decided before embarkation day. Embarkation in Miami went smoothly and on-time, the Miami onshore staff were rather dictatorial in telling guests where to sit in order to determine boarding time, those arriving early boarded first, perhaps it would have been better to have handed out cards with numbers so that waiting guests could sit where and with whom they wanted. Once boarded we were directed to the Starlite Lounge where keycards were handed out by on-board by Crystal crew members and passports were kept. At this stage the cruise started with a lovely leisurely champagne lunch in the main dining room, for those wanting a less formally served lunch burgers and pizza were available at Tastes on the Lido deck. How does a luxury cruise differ from a mass market ship some will ask apart from the obvious price difference? Better guest space ratio, service from staff who quickly get to know you and anticipate your every wish within reason, food which is better in taste, variety and quality and freely available quality drinks and wines. An interesting enrichment program is expected on a luxury cruise. Did Crystal Symphony tick these boxes? The ship takes around 950 guests when full, there were rarely any lines, the lido buffet was occasionally busy at breakfast when guests had tours booked, once the ship was docked and cleared, tables were always available and there were rarely waits to order omelettes or other cooked to order dishes, often the omelette chef would deliver the food himself to my table, now that is service! Sunbeds were readily available on sea days, surprisingly there was a small element of the towels on beds reserving syndrome. Lido servers are very evident in seeing whether sunbathing guests want drinks and are happy to bring whatever you want be it water or alcoholic cocktails. They also brought around cool towels. There are often comments that the Crystal Symphony rooms are small, compared with rooms on newer ships like the newer “S” class Celebrity ships with which I am familiar, the fact is that yes the rooms are smaller however there seems to be more drawer space and an equal amount of wardrobe space, the bathrooms are probably bigger with a double sink and small bath tub with shower. I found the room very adequate, new mattresses have been supplied which are very comfortable, the TV in my room was one of the older type, I understand that they are gradually replacing them with modern flat screen models. The servicing of the room by my stewardess was first class, she got to know my routine and did the room when I was out and about the ship. I told her the type of drinks that I wanted my refrigerator stocked with and she made sure that they were replenished without asking. The bathroom had a small plumbing problem and she ensured that it was fixed when I mentioned it, I was surprised that she had not noticed it without being pointed out by me when it got particularly evident one evening. Evening dining is one of the highlights of the day. The maitre di placed me as requested on a table for eight, he worked his magic and gathered together a wonderful group of table mates. We were lucky to have a marvellous Portuguese waitress who took care of our dining requirements in exemplary style. The training given to dining and bar staff on Crystal must surely equate to standards found in the best establishments in the world. The sommelier ensured that wine flowed freely and she was pleased to explain and recommend the complimentary wines available if she was busy our waitress made sure that the glasses were replenished herself. Food quality and variety is most important on any cruise ship, Crystal ticks all the boxes there, lido lunches are often themed, sometimes to echo the ship’s location, the dining room is also open most days for lunch for those who like a relaxed served meal. The coffee bar Bistro is open most of the day with comprehensive self service food items, breads, cakes, meats and cheeses. These are constantly refreshed so do not become tired. The available food items here are very welcome if you arrive back from tour in the afternoon after the buffet has closed and want a snack other than the burgers, pizza and ice cream available from Tastes on the Lido deck. Afternoon tea is professionally served in the deck 11 Palm Court lounge. The evening dining menu has choices of modern cuisine on one side of the menu or more traditional items on the other side, there is no problem mixing between the two menus, small portions can be ordered if desired to make an extra course or for those who do not want to be outfaced with a standard sized portion. By arrangement with the section maitre di special requests can be served if ordered the night before. I believe that Crystal stand alone in the luxury cruise market in still having two evening meal sittings, for those who prefer more flexibility there is an option of Dining by Reservation which affords you ultimate freedom, inviting you to dine at a different time, at a different table, just for two or with other guests with whom you choose to dine. This option can be selected at the time of booking. Once your cruise is fully paid, you may then reserve your personal dining times on the pre cruise website section. Times and table size can also be arranged on-board with the maitre di. The two speciality restaurants are pre-bookable via the website once full payment has been made as well as when you are on-board, Silk Road has Nobu trained chefs specialising in oriental fusion food and sushi. Prego is the Italian inspired restaurant my favourite dish being mushroom soup served in a bowl made of bread. Both of these restaurants are well regarded by regular Crystal cruisers it is indeed a treat to dine in either, service food and ambiance is excellent. The enrichment program changes on each voyage, Crystal bring on-board an amazing galaxy of quality speakers and expert teachers who take classes. Some of the classes available on sea days included Berlitz languages, computing, dancing, bridge, knitting and sewing, art, iPad for movies classes and exercise classes including yoga, stretch and Pilates, all complimentary. Its up to you whether you take it easy or rush around the ship doing as much as possible in the day. Entertainment generally consists of evening shows repeated twice, one for early and one for late sitting, like most cruise lines some of the shows have been running for a number of years, changes have been made, I believe that some of the scenery props have been replaced by back projection. The Crystal ensemble of singers and dancers were very talented and I thought that the shows were well produced and performed to a high standard, I especially enjoyed the Elton John show, apparently the principal performer is flown to the ship for each voyage, he may perform the show at the end of one cruise and the beginning of the next one. Crystal seem to have a number of show time performers who appear regularly on their ships so if you are a repeat cruiser it is highly likely that you will have seen the act before. Close up magic shows are presented on sea days, tickets are available in the library on a first come basis, they may put on three performances on each sea day with tickets limited to around 15 guests each show. Crystal Cruises seem to have the ability to retain staff, on any voyage there can be a good number of staff who you have previously met, they invariably remember previous guests and some even remember your preferences, this relationship is unusual in todays cruise industry and it does make Crystal special. The staff greet you with a genuine welcome home when they recognise a past cruiser, this is special. I started this review by mentioning cutbacks on other cruise lines, what has changed on Crystal Symphony over the years, I can only bring to mind three things, there are no more pillow chocolates, I am quite happy to live without this, some years ago caviar was available on request, it is still available but is chargeable, thirdly not a cut back, trivia held on sea days has been changed to a game of multiple choice using an electronic handheld keypad, Crystal please bring back the old game with no multiple choice but using genuine brainpower and memory and no electronics. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Review of Joie De Canada, September 20-27, 2015, 7 day trip on Crystal Symphony Quick overview of what others might mention elsewhere: Embarkation: Took our luggage, checked our passports, ran us through the security scanners, we ... Read More
Review of Joie De Canada, September 20-27, 2015, 7 day trip on Crystal Symphony Quick overview of what others might mention elsewhere: Embarkation: Took our luggage, checked our passports, ran us through the security scanners, we took the sailaway picture, and then proceeded to the gangway. Promptly ran into people coming off the ship in an area only about 3 feet wide. We had luggage, they didn’t: made for difficult maneuvering. Traffic control could have been better. Went to midship lounge to obtain keycard. Room was ready as advertised promptly at 3 pm. Ports of Call: Awesome weather all 7 days of the cruise. Saguenay River: Lovely view of the Madonna statue. Others said they saw beluga whales (we didn’t see them. It would have been nice if that was announced over the PA). Sept-Iles: A waste of time. The running joke on board was that the best place to visit was the Walmart. Magdalen Islands: Picturesque. Took the Tastes tour: nice enough, although the scallops visit was not working the day we went. Smoked herring part of the tour was interesting. Don’t let anyone tell you that they give you enough for lunch at the different stops (beer, cheese, smoked herring, etc). They don’t. Eat lunch before you go. St Pierre/Miquelon: Picturesque. Check out the walk to the top of the hill (number 8 on the guide to the Fort) to get a great view of the entire area. The walk out to the light house on the promenade is quite interesting but very narrow – have a care. Once at the light house itself, check out the embedded cannon right next to the front step. Quebec: the highlight of the cruise. St Anne’s cathedral and the Montmorency Falls are absolute musts. The funicular is not worth it – take the steps if you are able. Disembarkation: we were travelling by car (8 hours from New Jersey!) so did not have to wait for a group. We got off with our hand luggage, found our color coded luggage easily, were barraged with queries as to whether we needed a porter/help, then made our way back to our car that was parked at the pier. No fuss, no crowds. We were surprised that we did not have to pay parking fees. Don’t know if that is the case world wide, but it was a nice touch here. What was in our room: Deluxe picture window. Have heard many statements that the staterooms are tiny. We did not feel any big difference between this room and others of the same type we have had on HAL/RCCL/Princess/etc. in terms of size. Beautiful room, high tech, ENORMOUS (for a cruise ship) bathroom with 2 sinks and a tub. All very comfortable with a lot of amenities: Lumbar pillows on couch More drawers/shelves than we knew what to do with Adjustable height table Extra lights around the mirror Bottle opener Night light Hooks on wall/closet door Personal reading lights High tech door bell LOTS of hangers (leave yours at home) Charging station for electronics (tablet/mobile phone) Shoe horn Umbrella Clothes brush Hairdryers (2) Qtips Makeup Wipes Kimonos and Robes Slippers Pillow menu Extra blankets Shoe polish Lighted closet Plastic wallets for room key/ship map Beach bag Shampoo/conditioner/soap/body wash/lotion Shower cap Emergency sewing kit Ice bucket, tongs, glasses Refrigerator filled with soft drinks, water, beer Safe Flowers Wear and tear: Very little, which is impressive for her age. 12th floor outside deck covering was somewhat worn, a few spots of rust under the floor above us, the bathroom tiles were getting rubbed in places. Tenders could use a little fixing up. Otherwise, truly spotless and immaculate. What they could do better, in no particular order: Luggage tags are paper chip/chintzy Gangplank angles were sometimes alarming (we are in our 50s and love to hike, so normally have no mobility problems). This seemed to be due to tides. Stateroom temperature control was difficult Daytime activities for sea days were minimal Main Dining Room service was very inconsistent. We had different waiters and tables every night. Some wait staff were absolutely fantastic, others occasionally forgot to bring us requested items (one course went missing, petit fours did not show up another night, crumbs not removed, tea was late) Crystal port support personnel should be familiar with parking/toll procedures Would like to have access to final charges/account online (wifi or TV) rather than getting a printout from the front desk. Would like to have access to downloadable menus from the cruise (wifi) Would like to have access to downloadable activity list from the cruise (wifi) Would like to have carrot/celery sticks at Bistro Would like to see butter mints and breadpudding with vanilla sauce. They do provide candied ginger and hard mints after the meal in the MDR though. Tissues by the bed, not just in the bathroom Had trouble getting time in the bridge rooms as they were nearly always busy this trip. DH and I like to play card/board games (Settlers of Catan, Dominion, etc not Monopoly!) and had trouble finding a large enough table. No Crystal magnets in Apropos for my refrigerator (Ja, I am one of THOSE people) Elemis products were in the public restrooms, Aveda were in our bathrooms. Both were horrible on our skin. Very drying. DH and I were both happy I brought a bar of Dove soap from home. We would like to see Crystal do Bermuda We would have liked a crash course in French (or at least some of the things we might see/hear such as “Sortie” “Ouverte” “Ferme”) on this ship prior to visiting some of the ports. What we liked, in no particular order: The Library. Great selection of CDs, take away puzzles (Sudoku/crossword puzzles) 1 hour free wifi per person per day, accumulatable Our bathroom Minimal public address announcements (no shore excursion, no disembarkation, it was nice and quiet!) THE FOOD: O.M.G. Truly scrumptious, beautifully presented Service everywhere else but the MDR. Please say hello to Tirso for us if you see him. In general, most of the crew couldn’t do enough for you. We felt very pampered. Had a great stewardess too (Hi Jelena!!) The shows. World class. No lines, no crowds, no pushing and shoving, no nickel/diming for everything No kids running wild, no apparent drunks (even with all the accessible alcohol which is included in the price of the cruise), sophisticated ambience Blankets on decks 11 and 12 for chilly weather This trip/ship is best for relaxation. This is not a ship for frenetic activities. If you want that or a hopping night life, use RCCL or Carnival. This is a floating 5 star hotel with awesome food and service, not a destination resort. Average age is about 70, with 1/3 of the passenger population in 50/60 range, 2/3 of population was American, 1/3 Canadian, with some small international smatterings. Most are educated, well travelled, well dressed (more than half of men wore jackets/suits to dinner every night, most women were dressy), well mannered. Would we take this ship/line again?: In an eyeblink, but only for itineraries with minimal sea days. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was a very lovely cruise with wonderful attentive staff. The entertainment was not great. It was Broadway reviews almost every night. It would have been nice to have comic or magic night thrown in one of the nights. We made use of the ... Read More
This was a very lovely cruise with wonderful attentive staff. The entertainment was not great. It was Broadway reviews almost every night. It would have been nice to have comic or magic night thrown in one of the nights. We made use of the gym which was very nice. There is a deck for running which is the best and the largest running/ walking deck for a cruise line I have seen. Food and cabin were perfect...except for the coffee. Cruise coffee is always bad. Shore excursion to Ephesus Turkey is a must. We choose the "Ephesus Ancient city/ Mother Mary's house." We enjoyed the lectures on board. There was a great library with movie rentals. Our only complaint was the disembark from the ship. We used the Crystal transportation company to the airport. It felt very rushed and disorganized. We arrived at airport with only 45 minutes to spare for boarding. There was a fight between passengers. Poor staff did know how to handle these rude people. We barely made it through two different security screening check points. We were told that if we had not made it Crystal would pay the cost. I never saw that in writing anywhere. Ship is a little dated but is very clean and beautiful flowers everywhere. The food is the best part and it 4.5 at the worst nights and 5 star on the best nights. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We have cruised since 1995 each year. We were sold this cruise as a luxury cruise and it was anything but....poor service in the dining room as well as very poor trained staff. Wife insulted by server and water spilled in lap. Shop ... Read More
We have cruised since 1995 each year. We were sold this cruise as a luxury cruise and it was anything but....poor service in the dining room as well as very poor trained staff. Wife insulted by server and water spilled in lap. Shop attendants bored and non attentive; products about twice as much as in shops here. Children running up and down the halls unsupervised at 01:00 hours and all ship Hotel Manager advised was "WE HAVE SPOKEN TO THE FAMILY" but the disruption still occurred almost nightly. NO assistance for disabled leaving the vessel at ports. Room so crowded that 2 people can not change clothes at the same time. Most mornings there was cherrio's and cookies on the floor of the hall. Truly the CRUISE FROM HELL and we will never consider Crystal again Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We've sailed Crystal quite a few times. The earlier cruises were great. However, since the new president took over, there have been cutbacks & disappointments all over . Quality of food has gone way down. Portion sizes have ... Read More
We've sailed Crystal quite a few times. The earlier cruises were great. However, since the new president took over, there have been cutbacks & disappointments all over . Quality of food has gone way down. Portion sizes have shrunk greatly . "all inclusive " is Totally bogus - just includes a few poor quality wines. Everything else, you have to pay for. Service is good in some areas & nonexistent in others. Entertainment not what it used to be. We have cruised about 40 times, on many cruise lines. This cruise was so overpriced for what we got, it was absurd. Embarkation was slow & unfriendly - not so in the past. Ship was not as clean as before. Looks like they are cutting costs everywhere Lots of wear in the cabin, which was tiny Dining room service not good. Stateroom service, however, was quite good. Did not use their shore excursions - way overpriced. Concierge was unfriendly & condescending. Crew - some quite good, others poor. Entertainment okay, but used to be much, much better. We will not sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2015
Our first trip with Crystal cruises and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Yes cabins are not the largest compared with other similar ships but are reasonably spacious with plenty of wardrobe space (and hangers), pleasant bathroom and ... Read More
Our first trip with Crystal cruises and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Yes cabins are not the largest compared with other similar ships but are reasonably spacious with plenty of wardrobe space (and hangers), pleasant bathroom and nice balcony. The service, amenities, food and ambience were first class. Also you do get a large ship feel even with 800+ passengers, compared to Silverseas and Regent. Reason for 4 stars - well in this data/information age wifi should be complimentary (or at least a certain amounts of minutes per day) and the house wine although plentiful was limited in choice and quality. Highlights, apart from the food was the entertainment, which was excellent, with a great variety of shows. How to improve - better house wines and more choice, free (if limited timed wifi) and will be better once the new toiletries' are in place. Would we sail with Crystal again - definitely yes. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the ... Read More
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the largest RCL to Norwegian and Seabourne. She told me that Crystal was the best by far. I decided to bite the bullet and take a cruise with them. Wow this ship has seen better days. Apart from the tiny room with the furniture that looked so cheap and dated. The whole ship decor was not only dated but looked worn out. ditto with the carpet and the lighting. And the main dining room was like a three star hotel dining room . From the boarding to the reception the staff I can only say was NOT top notch. Many looked like they did not want to be there. The lady who took us to our room (worked at the spa) barely spoke to us and I noticed wasnt greeting guests she walked past as I was accustomed to . I was also taken aback by the end of day boarding after an excursion. On all the ships I have been on their is staff welcomed you back on the ship with a smile and refreshements (*water or juice on the larger lines, champagne on Seabourne) On Crystal not even a plastic glass with water. No one was there except for the surly ship crew mates. The food was fine but I would say the quality was just as good on the bigger ships in the extra fee venues. The servers although nice were harried, again not what you expect from a 5 star experience. Did I mention the rooms were ridiculously tiny? For the same amount of money you can get a suite on the Haven (Norwegian) with a butler and the private pool. similar price for a much larger balcony suite on Seabourne, or if you like a larger ship the loft suites on RCL. Service on these other ships was just as good. Again I am not sure about where all the raves come for Crystal. My 1 star review is mainly because of the quality price ratio. At a cheaper price I might not have had as high expectations. Kind of like going out to a fine dining michelin starred restaurant but instead getting a quality chain restaurant food and service. And the WI-Fi prices Usurious. I paid $200 For 10 Hours I think, It almost never worked and the staff in the computer was very surly. when I asked if I could get a refund for the 6 hours I didnt /couldnt use (due to the poor connection) they said "no" . Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I was assuming that the high price somehow assured the level of quality that you can find on Seabourn...trust me it does not. This ship is dated and dirty throughout. The decor is a worn holiday inn, circa 1980. On the day we checked ... Read More
I was assuming that the high price somehow assured the level of quality that you can find on Seabourn...trust me it does not. This ship is dated and dirty throughout. The decor is a worn holiday inn, circa 1980. On the day we checked in our TINY room (a suite with a balcony) had been painted that same day and the workers left their mess behind...can you imagine this? The smell of paint in our claustrophobic room? If we could have gotten A refund of 50%, we would have gotten off the boat immediately. Our room was also on the 8th floor, far from the nearest room to the engine room, but it was still like sleeping through an earthquake every night. We had to ask for thicker mattresses and I assume it was a common request, since we saw a truck unloading new mattresses at the next stop. We had a tiny, ancient TV, placed on top of the mini fridge in the far off corner. The only positive is the bathroom, which was a nice size, with good water pressure. The ground tours were incredibly expensive and half of them were very Meh. The food...mmm...it was so bad on the first day...but it got better as the ship sailed on...the cheese cart was the highlight. Silk Road...the maitre D, makes you feel bad for wanting to eat there, it was always empty, but they told you they were all reserved. The one day we hung out at the pool, they had a dreadful Philippine band belting out the worst songs at ear splitting volume. No-one was clapping...I think we all just wanted to go back to napping or reading our books. Service was either really good (some waiters are amazing!)...but others are terrible...like the captain from Pondicherry who played a trick on an elderly man...why? For his own amusement, because no one else found it funny...it was just mean. Also, on other cruises I have been welcomed to the boat by a towel and water and even champagne...not on crystal...it's more like airport security...intimidating men with an X-ray machine. The entertainment was actually really good...they have a neon dancing show which is excellent, as is the dance number on the day at sea. I would not recommend this trip to my worst enemy. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our ... Read More
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our first cruise. I mostly want to address the negative stuff that has been written or that I noticed. First of all, the rooms are fairly small - it's a boat folks. Whatever you have you have to float on the ocean and sail. Our room was def cozy but 2 people lived there and felt luxurious from day 1 on. The shower blasts high pressure water, there are his and her sinks. Oh and btw you can order whatever you want whenever you want. We would get a wake up call at 7:30a and then at 7:40a there would be the steward with out piping hot coffee and english muffins. The rooms is just not going to be the same size as a suite at the Holiday Inn in Mobile, AL. Anyone who complains about the food on this ship needs their head examined, it is all-you-can-eat fine dining, full stop. I was incredibly skpetical of the all you can eat concept; I've been to plenty of crappy all inclusives in my day. This is 1 Michelin star quality every night and that's just the dining room. The service is incredible from top to bottom, my wife couldn't carry a plate to her table at lunch without having 3 guys swoop in and take it from her. The clientelle is older but so what? If your goal is to party hard don't got on a cruise. Go to Mykonos, Ibiza, etc. We had tons of fun meeting new people. Guess what folks? Senior citizens are more interesting than 18 year olds. If you're like me and you were worried that you had overpayed for this stop worrying and get ready for the trip of a lifetyime. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We have taken over 40 ocean cruises on a variety of cruise lines. We were previously frequent cruisers on Celebrity, with Elite status due to the number of cruises taken. Once we sailed on Crystal it became our first choice for ocean ... Read More
We have taken over 40 ocean cruises on a variety of cruise lines. We were previously frequent cruisers on Celebrity, with Elite status due to the number of cruises taken. Once we sailed on Crystal it became our first choice for ocean cruising. We have now taken 5 Crystal cruises, 4 of them on Symphony. All have been wonderful, but this was the best yet. Cabin We choose to sail in a Cat C cabin on Crystal which is a cabin without balcony, 202 sq. ft on Symphony and 226 sq. ft. on Serenity. As always we found the cabin efficiently arranged and well appointed. We find that we don't miss having a balcony as there are plenty of open spaces on the ship to lounge, or read and sip a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Cabin service was excellent. All our requests were met...type and number of pillows, type of fruit in the room, etc. On Crystal all you have to do is ask. Dining For dinner we elected Dining by Reservations versus fixed early or late seating, and then reserved a table for 2 at 7:00. Martin, the Head Waiter for the DBR section greeted us at the entrance of the restaurant each evening and accompanied us to our table. Because I am required to eat a gluten free diet Martin personally supervised my menu selections. Diners with special dietary needs are asked to order evening meals a day in advance so that their meals can be prepared separately from those of other guests.The menu for the following day is provided at the end of the meal so the next evenings order can be placed. On three occasions Martin assisted us in ordering "off menu" when we did not find items we liked. As a result we had Dover Sole one night, and a whole duck another night, both deboned table side with great ceremony. We loved the lobster served one night, so Martin arranged for us to have it again later in the cruise. Our waiters and wine steward were all very friendly, efficient and attentive. At lunch we also dined in the main dining room, primarily to be sure that my gluten issues could be better addressed. All the waiters were careful to check my menu choices with the Head Waiter on duty, and were friendly and attentive. We dined in Lido for breakfast where we were greeted on the first day by 3 waiters who had been on our previous Symphony cruises. They, and one other young waiter new to the ship, took turns being sure we had a table and drinks, etc. every morning. I ordered 1 piece of gluten free toast at the toasting station the first morning and every morning after the "toaster" began my toast as soon as I walked by his station and sent it to my table. So much great service! We also enjoyed having a latte in Bistro most afternoons and became addicted to the meringue cookies with chocolate chips. Enrichment Activities Both the enrichment speakers on the trip were excellent. Since this was a cruise with Scandinavian ports and St. Petersburg the focus for one speaker was the history of these areas, and the other focused on past and current economic development. Definitely provided us great insight into the cultures of these areas and made our visits in the ports more meaningful. Entertainment Although we did not attend all the shows we did enjoy those we attended. There was good variety, including production shows, comedians, and guest musicians. The Symphony Orchestra also performed in one of the main lounges on several occasions. We attended the Magic Castle magicians show and were not as impressed as we had been on previous cruises. Fitness & Recreation The gym on Symphony is small, but well equipped. I had no trouble completing my regular workout there. This cruise had a guest Pilates instructor in addition to the staff fitness instructor, so there were several exercise classes each day at different times. We also attended the dance classes and had a great time. Public Rooms The public rooms on Crystal are lovely and varied. Palm Court at the front of the ship is great for a quiet reading place in the afternoon, or drinks while listening to music before dinner, all while watching the ocean. Crystal Cove, in the center of the ship is a busier lounge, with a piano player, or the Symphony Orchestra on some evenings. The lounge area in the Trident Bar and Grill has comfy sofas covered with umbrellas. Ben and Jerry's ice cream is nearby. We enjoy the variety of these venues and that these areas seldom feel crowded. Wait staff in all the areas are quick to ask to if you need anything and to check back regularly. Shore Excursions We used Crystal Excursions only for two days in St.Petersburg. Both were full day tours and were excellent. We had only 15 people on one tour and 22 on the other. Our guides were excellent, spoke perfect English (one was trained as a simultaneous Russian-English translator with a Masters degree in her field), and were able to move us through some crowded areas with ease. Both tours used a speaker system so that the tour guide could speak to us and we could easily hear. Embarkation and Debarkation We had booked our air through Crystal so our transfers to and from the ship were included. After an early arrival in London we turned our bags over to the waiting Crystal staff and didn't see them again until they were delivered to our staterom on the ship. Embarkation moved quickly and checkin was even quicker. Disembarkation was calm and well organized. For our transfer to the airport in Stockholm we did not have to deal with our luggage once we put it out in the hall for pickup, except to identify it to insure it was put on the same bus with us. One surprise on this cruise was the number of families of varying sizes. There were children of all ages including several small babies. Never did this interfere with our enjoyment of the cruise, and it was great to see the families enjoying the experience together. The ship's youth counselors were very busy and the lounge for the kids was more filled with activity than I have seen previously. Our cruise was a great experience. We are looking forward to a cruise on Crystal Serenity in October and have booked another cruise on the Symphony for summer of 2016. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
I don't even know where to begin. Let me say that the crew and service staff were excellent. That is the only good thing about this cruise line. 1) For the amount of money, WIFI should be included with the price. I took my husband ... Read More
I don't even know where to begin. Let me say that the crew and service staff were excellent. That is the only good thing about this cruise line. 1) For the amount of money, WIFI should be included with the price. I took my husband over 10 minutes to connect for his job, which ate up many of the minutes we purchased. 2) The cabins are small. You cannot both get ready at the same time, unless you dance around each other. The sofa was very uncomfortable. And the "queen" bed was actually two singles pushed together. The carpet is thread bare. The cleaning staff however, did a really good job. 3) If you don't care to visit the cities, this is the cruise for you. We, however, like to absorb what each city has to offer, and could not due to the time constraints. 4) Be prepared to NOT enter ports that require tender service. The 2 we wanted to see, Waterford Ireland and Iceland, became "days at sea" due to the captain and pilot thinking the seas were too rough, 5) Days at sea - if you are under 80 years of age, be prepared for total boredom. Substitute activities included scarf tying and dollar bill origami. REALLY? Where was the wine tasting? Only 1 tour of the galley? 6) Music and dancing - If you are under 80, be prepared not to dance, nor to hear any music created in the 21st century! 7) Shipboard shopping - Forget about it! 8) Crystal Cruise excursions - Use the internet to book your own. Our guide in Iceland spoke very poor English, told us nothing about the country, the people, and what we were seeing. Lobster feast? How about rock lobster parading as lobster. A waste of our short amount of time in Iceland. 9) Best tour - Booked a "FabFour Beatles Tour" in Liverpool. Do this! 10) Do not rely on the Crystal maps provided at the excursion desk. We ended up NEVER finding the shuttle stop and had to take taxis to and from the ports. 11) Food was good, however there was nothing regional, and we cannot remember what we had. 12) Wine list adequate for California wines (not much from other countries). 13) For 20K, this trip should have be fabulous. We could have purchased a SmartCar. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
As we had cruised last year from New York to Reykjavik, we chose to join a shorter cruise , a Getaway, to complete the crossing from USA to Britain. We joined in the tiny , efficient cruise terminal of Reykjavik, after a few days in ... Read More
As we had cruised last year from New York to Reykjavik, we chose to join a shorter cruise , a Getaway, to complete the crossing from USA to Britain. We joined in the tiny , efficient cruise terminal of Reykjavik, after a few days in this interesting city, and were warmly welcomed aboard by the friendly staff, and a chilled glass of champagne. Embarkation was over in minutes and the cabin was ready, so our hand luggage was carried for us to our deck 9 cabin, main luggage arriving while we enjoyed a delightful lunch. We sailed late that incredible midnight sunlit evening , and settled into the routine of enjoying a luxurious week aboard. Crystal Symphony did not disappoint, fine dining, excellent room service, a charming , super efficient cabin stewardess,wonderful quality of very varied entertainment , great lectures on offer, also repeated on cabin Tv, and a wide choice of daytime activities. To our delight it was a Big Band cruise, with the glorious rich sound of the Tommy Dorsey orchestra playing for dancing each evening,though we were astounded that far less guests were enjoying the music than on previous big band cruises we have enjoyed, possibly because the sessions were strangely times to coincide with dining hours . It was interesting to meet a former captain of the ship, sailing as a guest, who was thoroughly enjoying not having responsibility for the running of a fine vessel. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Mr. B. and I have cruised 24 times, including on two defunct lines (Premier and Renaissance), once on Carnival and several times each on HAL, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We have gone once on Azamara and once on Oceania, both of which ... Read More
Mr. B. and I have cruised 24 times, including on two defunct lines (Premier and Renaissance), once on Carnival and several times each on HAL, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We have gone once on Azamara and once on Oceania, both of which did not meet our high expectations. Oceania was fabulous in many details but somebody evidently decided that our sailing should serve gourmet nursing home food, so we were extremely disappointed in that respect. The food just was not seasoned! On Azamara, the food was very good but the hotel desk was so uncaring that we actually felt unwanted, on that ship. This time, our first Crystal and our first Trans-Atlantic, we had even higher expectations than for Azamara and Oceania (for good reason). Crystal exceeded our expectations. The big things included a dinner menu that catered to our palate, perfectly, and an enrichment program that was beyond belief. Our nine-night cruise was scheduled to have five at-sea days but ended up with six when we weren't able to go into St. John's, Newfoundland. This meant five at-sea days in a row. What did we do? On most of those days, we attended ALL FOUR of the speakers' presentations. And btw, there were actually eight different presenters on board. And if we missed a presentation (e.g., once we took a dance class), we could watch it any time throughout the day, on the t.v. I watched the missed one, at 5 pm on the treadmill! Very nice exercise room -- including interesting assortment of exercise equipment outside aft on decks 7, 8 and 9 for a bit of a different approach to fitness. Entertainment was very good and we enjoyed it all. Cruise director was a true professional and definitely added to our enjoyment. Service was outstanding in all dining venues. We opted for Dine by Reservation, and many evenings we ate at 7 or 7:30, which we prefer to Early or Late. Here's one example of the little things that added to our loving this cruise. After we boarded and picked up our room keys, we went to the library. Mr. B. had not brought any books with him. What did he find? The two books at the top of his to-read list! Mussolini and the Pope and Dead Wake were both there, available to borrow. Also, there were many activities we never participated in. There's knitting, golf, art, and movies. There's bingo; there's trivia; theres a small group magic show. What a great array of choices. Because we had Dine by Reservation, there were a few times where there was no live music for us to enjoy, with a pre-dinner drink. Many times, though, we had a choice of the Crystal Cove, the Avenue Saloon, the Starlite Club and the Palm Court, all providing live music, both before and after dinner. Besides the main dining room and the two specialty restaurants for dinner, plus a few breakasts and lunches in the main dining room, we enjoyed the Lido for breakfast and lunch buffets, and lunch at the Trident Grill once. The Bistro is a great place for a snack and coffee or glass of wine, open from right after breakfast to either 8 or 10 pm or similar. Plenty of breakfast items for anybody who might've missed breakfast. Plenty of fresh fruit and sweets for anybody who had a sugar craving. Cheese and crackers (many choices) to go with wine. Ben and Jerry's ice cream, with many flavor choices, is available every day until 6 pm. I had planned to go to afternoon tea, at least once, but it conflicted with an enrichment speaker each time. Two food items we missed were blueberries in the Lido for breakfast and anchovies to go with the Caesar salad. I told Mr. B. we should bring on our own tin of anchovies, on the next three Crystal cruises we've booked! We are so glad we tried a crystal while we are still young enough (under 70) to enjoy so much of it, and the great itineraries. From start to finish -- totally smooth and quick embarkation and disembarkation -- and everything in between, we loved this cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last ... Read More
For us this was somewhat of a repeat of 2014 Crystal Cruise vacation on the Symphony up the eastern U.S. coats with stops in Canada and then to Iceland. This year we added the Ireland and U.K. component making our trip 16 days. Last year we wrote that we found the all-inclusive Crystal Cruise lines was the clearly the cruise line for wealthy alcoholics. That opinion has not changed. There were changes from 2014 to 2015. Some were good and some were clearly the home office squeezing nickels. But let's start with the three funniest comments or actions during our trip. 1) A very nice waiter from Eastern Europe at a crowded Lido lunch buffet and a woman passenger: Waiter: Madam let me help you with that tray and find you a table. Passenger: I'm looking for my husband. Waiter: Don't worry. If we don't find him, we will find you another. 2) As part of a very good 4-hour taxi tour in Reykjavik I told the driver that we wanted to go where we would not see any tourists or tour buses. He took us to a prison. (There was a charming seaside village with a seawall and beach nearby and there were no tour buses.) 3) A 10-year-old girl with her parents was waiting for an elevator after a show on Deck 6. Before the elevator arrived, she ran to the entrance of the Casino and put one foot inside the door and said, "Look mommy. I'm 10 years old and I'm in the Casino. I'm a rebel!" THE CRUISE: Embarkation: Oh My God There Was a Line: It was just two people in front of me to get through the security check point at the port and I was there a 1 pm, not like 3:30 the year before. But still it was a line, something you don't see often on a Crystal ship. Once on the ship it was business as usual and NO LINES. I went right to the Starlite Room and my wife and I were checked in by two crew members including the trombone player in ship's stage band. We would have been in our room in minutes, but I then wanted to see Remi the maître of the main dining room. I didn't care about table location for our second seating or reservations for the two specialty restaurants. No, I wanted to see if Zoltan, our waiter from 2014 was on board and to try to get a table in his area. He was one of the funniest waiters we had ever experienced who would go out of his way to get you items that were not on the menu. Luckily Zoltan was on the ship. The bad news was he had been promoted to management and was now a head waiter. The good news was our table was in his area so we still got a great show of double takes and Zoltan "the secret agent" talking into his pretend wrist radio to place special orders. THE SHIP: Last fall the Symphony was in a port in Germany for two weeks of "updating." The only thing I noticed was some new carpeting and perhaps cleaning. We started doing cruise vacations 16 years ago and on most lines my wife and I would joke how we were lowering the average age of the passengers. That is no longer the case. We are out of our forties and fifties and we are now at or above the average passenger age. That said the furniture in the public rooms and staterooms all have seats lower to the floor than you would find in most homes or restaurants. I didn't notice this when I was 50. When I'm in my sixties, my knees and back notice every time I sit down or get up. I heard this complaint from several others on board. The low seats are made worse by cushions and springs that have failed over time and use. This is noticeable all over the ship, but especially in the chairs in the forward Palm Court on Deck 11. Here are some of the reasons we are back on the Symphony and why we are looking at 2016 and 2017 Crystal Cruises. The ship is very easy to get around. While it does have a Casino, it is a non-smoking casino and passengers are routed around the casino going to see a show in the Galaxy Showroom. Most cruise ships force you to walkthrough the smoked filled casino, hoping you will stop and try your luck. STATEROOM: I can't comment on the balcony rooms and suites. For the second year we had a stateroom with a window on Deck 7. The good news was the room was close to the door for the deck for walks and to the forward elevators. The low loveseat and desk chair were uncomfortable to sit in. The bed was okay, but it could have been higher too. Other than new carpeting there was nothing new in the room. The closet space was nice for a low-end stateroom. The bathroom was great with the tub and shower combination providing plenty of room. The hand held shower nozzle was also very good. There was no such thing as warm water, if you wanted hot water during a high demand period, you got hot water. There was a hair dryer attached to the wall in the bathroom and a second one in a drawer in stateroom. Toilet paper and tissue were high end brands. Outlets were a problem. There were none in the bathroom for an electric tooth brush or razor. There was only one in the entire statement at the desk. In the new age of cell phones, cameras, IPads and other devices charging is needed. Upon request a three outlet plug extension was install quickly. There is also an outlet in the wall behind the bed, but it needed an adapter if you plan to plug in a North American device. The big lie #1: In 2014 I brought along about 30 music CDs, because I was aware that the TVs in the staterooms would play CDs. When we were settling in I tried to put on a jazz CD and the TV refused to accept it. The room stewardess said the TVs are suppose to play CDs. The ship's librarian who checks out CDs to passengers also told me CDs will play in the TV. The stewardess call a repair person who showed up and said the TV only plays DVDs. The stewardess rolled her eyes and told the repair person to supply a CD player. He said he would not and left. We went up for lunch and when we returned there was a CD player sitting on the desk and attached to the TV. The CD player was probably 20 or 25 years old but it worked. I was able to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, The Singers Unlimited, The Beegie Adair Trio and others from my collection. I immediately found the room stewardess and tipped her on the first day of the cruise. COMPUTER ROOM: There were the usual complaints about trouble getting and keeping internet connections. However there was a staff there until 11 pm to help passengers with problems. The three person staff seemed to have the patience of not priests, but saints in dealing with some passengers. Also there were some upgrades made with the satellite connections at the first of the year and with just a few exceptions I received the fastest internet speeds I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Free Time: Crystal is still providing one hour a day of free internet time. On a 16-day cruise, I knew some people who felt they needed to be connected all throughout the day who bought more time. I needed to check email and local news daily and found I still had four hours of free time left at the end of the cruise. Also my wife got 16 hours and she used about three hours. People who email me know that I will get back with them in a day and not in 10 minutes. It is important to use the same terminal every time as that will speed up your log in and search times. Also there was no charge for printing, which many cruise lines charge on a per page basis. While Crystal is cutting back some other services, I hope they stick with the one-hour of free internet per day. This really makes them an "all-inclusive" cruise line." THE GALAXY SHOWROOM: This a very nice venue with no obstructed views and a cozy feel. THE LIBRARY: It is small, but is has a good selection of recent bestsellers, a nice passenger book trade area, DVD and CDs to check out. There are two permanent librarians who are knowledgeable. However if they both have time off they are replaced by a dancer who is not a well versed with the content or other information. CUTBACK: In the middle of the cruise suddenly there were no more NY Times crosswords puzzles. A very honest employee explained that the subscription for the puzzles was discontinued by the corporate office as a cost savings move. They were replaced by free Washington Post crossword puzzles. This did not sit well with some morning visitors to the library. ANOTHER CUTBACK, Lie 2: The free small newspapers from a passenger's country that were hung on your door daily are no longer offered on Crystal. At the start of the cruise there was an announcement how the papers were no longer available, inferring that the company that provides them is out of business. Crystal then offers to deliver to your stateroom one of two or three US papers for about $7 a day. Another honest employee who just could not lie to a passenger admitted that company that sends out the small daily papers with recapped stories is still in business but the papers were discontinued by Crystal as another money saving move. Say hello to the new owners. However in fairness with an hour of free internet a day you can check your hometown paper or a free internet paper like USA Today. THE SHOPS: They are still there and they sell grossly overpriced clothes and jewelry and offer sale prices on older model cameras and other items. The difference between Crystal and other cruise lines is that the shops did not set up road blocks in the walkways for phony "sales" that would be considered "fire code violations" in buildings on land, like most other cruise ships do. Also Crystal does not have the fraudulent "Art Sales and Auctions" that many cruise lines still are co-conspirators with. Bad marketing: The thing that amazes me is how they hide the sundries in the back of the high priced clothing store. The young salesmen, who are as a thin as a rail and dressed in the latest metro-sexual wardrobe don't want you to know they sell this stuff. If I was running the place, I would keep them in the back but make sure everyone knew the sundries were there including a sign in the window. Make customers walk past the high-end items you really want to sell to get some tooth paste, cough drops or a razor and they might buy some clothing item the shop will make a huge profit on. I don't understand why they hide this stuff. I want to get as many people to come into the shop as possible. It is called GOOD MARKETING." I went in to buy a toothbrush and no one would wait on me. My electric brush was working, but I wanted a regular brush for after I packed the electric one. After about 10 minutes I left and tried again six hours later. It is just an odd way to run a business. FOOD AND BEVERAGES: The food is still very good in the main dining room on the Symphony. It was not quite as good as in 2014. One night an un-eatable chicken breast arrived. I could have sent it back or ordered something else, but frankly I was happy that I wasn't going to eat it…too much food already in the day. The service was excellent as usual. The coolest part about eating on a Crystal ship was being able to eat items not on the menu. One night they had some delicious sautéed green beans on the menu. I mentioned how great they were to our waiter and how it was too bad they are not on the menu more often. He said he would be happy to provide anytime I wanted them. I had sautéed green beans for the rest of the cruise. The same went for a shrimp cocktail every night. One night I just ordered sides listed with different entrées. Our waiter did not blink. Once again the deserts tasted as good as they looked. On many cruise ships they look much better than they taste. We also lucked out with interesting table mates, including folks from LA, an English couple now living in Canada and a couple from Australia. We lost our transplanted Canadians after the first leg of the cruise and were down to a table of six. We chatted every night well after dinner so much that we found out later our two waiters were making bets picking a time we would leave. On the last night we all were in specialty restaurants, but agreed to return to the MDR for dessert together. We were the last to leave. PREGO: The Italian specialty restaurant was free once every seven days. We ate their twice. It was more like a combination of a high end Italian joint and a steakhouse. They had several entrees that included beef from the "Greg Norman Ranch" in Australia. This incensed our Aussie table mates. "This guy has not been in Australia in 20 years," exclaimed Paul, who in retirement owns a cattle ranch that he and his wife Jenny insisted on calling a "farm." The food was very good including the filet steak. The crab salad was excellent. Prego passed my Fettuccini Alfredo, test that many "Italian" restaurants fail. Was the Fettuccini Alfredo at Olive Garden better? Prego's was just as good or maybe a little better. The Gelato for dessert was outstanding. THE SILK ROAD: This specialty restaurant's name is a bit deceiving. The name Silk Road comes from Chinese Silk reaching Western Europe. However the Silk Road on the Symphony is a Japanese eatery. I tried to order off the menu some Lo Mein style noodles as a side. I just wanted a small plate with some noodles. What arrived was a bowl of wide noodles buried under scallops and shrimp. At the end of our meal I tried to convince our waiter how Marco Polo, an Italian, was an important influence on the Silk Road and in honor of Polo, I should be able to get Gelato for desert since the Silk Road and Prego share the same kitchen. I got the Gelato and probably didn't even need the Marco Polo reference. THE LIDO: Frankly, this has been on our two Crystal cruise the best buffet style operation we have experienced on a cruise ship. The menu changes every day and once or twice a week they have themes, such as Chinese or Mexican food. The food is always hot, the silver ware is always at the table and a waiter promptly takes your drink order. There is no standing in line at the ice machine and water dispenser. THE TRIDENT GRILL: This is the sandwich grill that also has fresh fruit. Nearby is the ice cream stand service the best from the Benjamin and Jerrold operation in the foothill of Stowe Vermont. Gabriel, the short order cook is amazing. If it is not on the menu and he has the ingredients he will make it for you. The cheeseburger is too much for me, but it is no problem. Gabriel cuts down the bun, makes it a 1/4 pound burger instead of a 1/2 pounder and it is delicious. The steak sandwich is a must as is the grilled hot dog. You do not hang around the grill and wait for the food. A waiter seats you, gets you drinks and delivers the food. I make it a point to tip Gabriel early on. My wife wants to make sure I avoid Coca Cola and the sugar calories. The ship has always had Coke Zero which I find is much easier to get down than Diet Coke, but if I had my choices it would be Diet Dr. Pepper. This year I again asked about Diet Dr. Pepper and Derek from the Trident Grill was on the case. He came back and reported there were 1000 cans of Diet Dr. Pepper on the ship and he secured 12 cans that he had in the refrigerator for me. Derek got an early tip. THE PALM COURT: This is where afternoon tea is served along with music in the afternoon and evening. The tea food is better than what Cunard gives you and they are British. They have special buffet about once a week for tea where you go through a line for the finger sandwiches, scorns and whipped cream plus much more. The one I feel bad attending is the Mozart Tea. The usual music trio is absent replaced by the pianist and leader of the theater band who does an hour of non-stop Mozart. The staff has to wear powdered wigs and costumes of the era. In 2014 my attention was drawn to a waitress from Chile as her dress copying those from 1785 was so large it appeared s if it would fall off her slight frame at any moment. Privately staffers admit they hate wearing the costumes saying even though they are cleaned regularly they still smell bad and are uncomfortable. One Palm court waiter got an early tip. He was instructed if I was with my wife and had a Coke Zero, he was to come back and ask if I'd like "another Coke Zero." I would say "sure." My wife would smile and go back to her sketching or needlepoint. The waiter would then return with a high-test real thing Coke on the rocks. THE AVENUE SALOON: Bartender Paula and waitress and backup bartender Loraina, both from Romania were often more entertaining than the entertainment. Paula joined the Trident Grill in having cold cans Diet Dr. Pepper on hand. God forbid I should try and order a Coke in the Avenue Saloon. Paula would shake her finger and say "NO, Miss Diana (the wife) said no Coke for you." If I persisted Paula might give me a Coke in a shot glass. My wife is an artist and did watercolor portraits of Paula and Loraina. Paula posted hers in the middle of the bar. This ensured that my wife got to try many different drinks while at the Bar. "Here, Miss Diana, try this," was heard on a regular basis. Chris, a waiter from India, was the third person in The Avenue Saloon. On Sea days Chris started at 11:45 am in the Starlight room just before trivia started. He took orders for our team on the first sea day and then we had the same drinks waiting for us on the next subsequent days. The inside smoking room was located next to the Avenue Saloon. I have to say Crystal did a good job keeping the smell of smoke from reaching the hallway. However, I felt bad for a perfectly healthy Loraina, who had to walk into this room throughout the evening taking drink orders and delivering them. It is one thing if passengers want to slowly harm their lungs and hearts, but I don't know why healthy employees have to be put at risk. These people can walk into the bar and get their own free drinks. THE STARLITE CLUB: On deck 6 in mid ships this is the area mid ships with the large dance floor and lots of tables. On sea days it is where the bingo and trivia games are played, plus it has proved to be an excellent venue for lecture series. THE BISTRO: It has a bar, but most people are there for a light breakfast or lunch with fresh fruit, salads plus ham, cheeses, bread and rolls. It also provides coffees and hot tea to go on Deck 6. THE CRYSTAL COVE: This is on Deck 5 across from the concierge desk, the future sales and shore excursion desks. It is where the grand piano in see-through plastic is located. It has an excellent wait staff, but like the rest of the ship the furniture other than the bar stools are too damn low. ENTERTAINMENT: The Fly-In headliners who appear in the theater on Crystal are really not much different than what you get on other cruise lines with older demographics. AVENUE SALOON PIANO BAR: Last year it was the very talented Jeff Deutch in the Avenue Saloon. Jeff had an amazing memory of songs and lyrics from the Great America Songbook. He is out of Chicago and has been a jingle singer on some national commercials. I wrote last year that I would be happy to pay an admission or a cover to hear Jeff play. On our 2015 trip it was New Yorker Marcie Castro at the piano also aided with CD tracks. On many nights Marcie and the audience had something in common. They had no idea what was next. Marcie did what most piano bar signers have to do. If a passenger asks to sing a song, they let them. If the passenger is awful, that is it…one song. In Marcie's case she would often have them do a medley. One night she had two passengers who I'll call the Screech Sisters do three songs, forcing me to say goodnight and making a fast exit. Another singer was a very gay gentleman from London who on one night wore a pink boa with the tux. He did a great impersonation of Ethel Mermen doing "There's No Business Like Show Business." However he could not do Betty Hutton's version from the movie. Marcie would often stop playing the piano and walk out in the room raising her arms and yelling to get more participation in a sing-a-long. Some people loved her energy and the fun even if it looked like a Prozac might be needed. For others it was too much. "I don't need a maniac after dinner," one passenger said. But if Marcie was too much, Paula the bartender provided her own entertainment that was worth a visit. THE TOMMY DORSEY ORCHESTRA: This was a big band and dancing cruise. The 18-piece Tommy Dorsey band plus a singer with almost no range were on board for the 16-day cruise from New York to Dover. I like big bands, but these guys were going through the motions. It was not the fault of the musicians, but the leader was pulling the reins keeping them from really swinging. The stuck to 70-year charts. A number of the musicians would go to the theater at two in the morning and jam. Others would sit in with Marcie in the Avenue Saloon after their last set and put down some jazz. The sad thing about this was the timing of the shows. The people enjoying the band would fill the Starlite room at 7:15 to 8:30. But the after dinner set from 9:30 to 11 the room would be empty. People 70 and older had gone to bed. The people 65 and younger found the charts from the 1940 's boring and went to the top deck and listened to the Filipino cover band and danced. One night I counted five people listening to the Dorsey Band's late set. The men brought on board to dance with single ladies were also upstairs. If the cruise director was smart he would have had the Dorsey band's first set start at 5 pm and the second set at 7:15. HOUSE TRIO: This year the trio that played during teas and in the evening in the Palm Court was the In-Transit Trio with a lead female singer, pianist who also played sax. They were from New Zealand with a guitar player from Australia. They were very good. I did make a suggestion that they should do one set with no ballads, just up tempo songs and call it In Transit, In Overdrive. TRIVIA: Crystal's trivia games were very civilized last year. There was just one game a day on sea days only with cheap prizes to reduce the level of competition. They made it even more civilized this year. It is multiply guess. They hand out remote clickers, put the question on the screen and you have 60 seconds to click on the right answer. The prizes are small amounts off for overpriced items in the shops or a few bucks to use in the casino. Having seen some aggressive behavior by some playing trivia on HAL and Celebrity ships, I like the Crystal way much better. TRAVEL AGENT PROVIDED FREE LAUNDRY For the second year our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in Sacramento provided $500 in our shipboard account. $200 went to our daily laundry. The rest went toward tips for crew members that were all augmented with cash. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I noticed this on our 2014 cruise when Paul McFarland was the cruise director and again this year with the more laid back Scott Peterson. On the short morning close circuit TV weather and activities report starring the cruise director that is recorded the night before and replayed all morning long there is a credit roll at the end. Normally with movies and TV shows the Executive Producer is either the guy putting up the money or controlling the business end of the operation. Oddly after a 12 or 15 minute long weather report plus what on the schedule the credit roll listed the cruise director as the EXECUTIVE PRODUCER. That leaves me to wonder if they are bankrolling the show or negotiating a syndication deal. DEBARKATION: No sitting in a theater waiting for a number or color to be called. We walked off to a waiting car and driver for the ride to Heathrow. With other cruise lines I have missed flights home or had to rush to get to an airport. That has never been the case with Crystal. PORTS: Just like embarkation and debarkation, getting on and off the ship at ports was easy with no waiting. When using tenders to get ashore, Crystal is the best we have ever experienced. There is actually legroom on the tenders and the crew does not keep stuffing people on tenders until they are overflowing. I cannot say enough nice things about Crystal's tender operations. BAR HARBOR: Just like the last three years, Enterprise was at the dock and the ride to airport to get our car was very pleasant. We did our usual exploring down roads not on the map and had a fine time. We stopped in Southwest Harbor at Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound for lunch. It was a walk up drive-in with picnic tables. We found it a little overpriced and not very good. The first clue should have been that we were the first customers of the day. After returning our car at the Airport, Ashley at the Enterprise office was nice enough to go out of her way to drop off my wife downtown and me at the dock. The rental car was far cheaper than any tour offered on the ship. HALIFAX: For years we have avoided going to Peggy's Cove the top tourist spot south of Halifax. My wife decided she wanted to see why the cruise ship sells seats on a tour bus there. We would advise you to skip this in the height of the summer season. On June 15 with many schools still in session the parking lots were 80% full. I have a feeling this would be a nightmare in July. Once again we rented an Enterprise car. The rental office was across the street from the cruise ship terminal in the railroad station. The best part was they had a return lot that was even closer to the ship. After Peggy's Cove that feature a collision between two tour buses on a narrow road on the day of our visit, we headed south along the coast road to Lunenburg one of the prettiest coastal towns anywhere. We stopped at a local seasonal market and bought some local preserves and jellies as gifts. ST. JOHN'S STATE OF MIND: We were really looking forward to visiting St. John's Newfoundland. We were there in 2010 and had a great time with a rental car meeting people and enjoying coastal towns. In 2014 Symphony was supposed to stop in St. John's but cancelled due to icebergs and fog. This year they cancelled again. The ship could safely get into the harbor, but forecasted high winds meant the ship would have to stay in harbor overnight and delay its arrival to Reykjavik. So we ended up with five sea days. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND: Rather than renting a car, we did a four hour taxi tour. Keep in mind that since the 2009 banking collapse, everything still costs a lot more in Iceland. Last year a 45-minute taxi ride from the dock to the airport cost $175. So $325 for four hours seemed reasonable. Our driver/guide was Gundmundur Birgir Stefansson, who does four hour and four day tours of Iceland. He was excellent. I told him we had seen most tourist locations on past trips and asked to see subdivisions, seaside areas away from tourist and places where the locals like to go. This resulted in the good natured trip to the prison, which was actually in front a pretty village with a different Smurf cutout in yards throughout the village. Of course this is not too unusual in a country where a large percentage of the population believe in elves. We had a fun time with Birgir and would recommend him. His email address is birgirstefans@gmail.com HEIMAEY: The City of Heimaey was our next stop the following day. This town was almost swallowed by lava in 1973 with the lava flow stopping just several hundred feet from the edge of the city of 4,300 people. On the other side of the island there are green fields with goats, horses and even a golf course with the sea and volcanic cliffs as backdrops. Heimaey is on an island that is less than 10 square miles. We rented a car from Europcar. Despite making reservations for the car weeks in advance, no one was at the dock. A young lady hired to assist ship passengers called the company and the woman at the airport said no one had reminded her about the dock drop off. She was dock side in five minutes. The airport is just 2 miles from the dock. She works five days a week in the control tower and on her days off she works for the rent-a-car company. Only small commuter planes serve the island along with a car ferry. This was one of the sightseeing highlights of the trip. There were so many wonderful sights in such a condensed area. Even a drive to the industrial side of the docks revealed several amazing views. Plus we drove down a number of dirt roads that could never hold a tour bus. Often we were all by ourselves with our mouths wide open at what we were seeing. We had asked the car rental lady if we should bring the car back to her airport office. The car had just above a half tank of gas and she told us not to bother buying gas, that in four hours we wouldn't being using that much. She then told us to just leave the car at the dock and she would pick it up later. I asked her what I should do with the keys. She said, "Just leave them in the car. Nobody is going to steal it." I have to say that I appreciated that Crystal included a stop at Heimaey on our cruise. GREENOCK/GLASGOW: We have driven Scotland before and decided to skip taking a 45-minute train ride to Glasgow. My wife walked the downtown area of Greenock and had a fine time. DUBLIN: Here is an example why you should always get along with your tablemates on cruises. On a 2011 Celebrity Cruise on the old Century from Vancouver to Alaska and then to San Diego we were at a table of six, with a couple from England and a couple from Dublin. In 2014 the couple from outside of London decided to fly to Chicago, rent a car for 30 days and follow the lyrics of the Bobby Troupe song "Route Sixty-Six." They stayed three nights with us outside of St. Louis as they did the 2,000 miles along the way. 2015 it was the turn of Ronan and Katherine in Dublin. They met us at the ship at 10 am. A four or five hour tour would have been great. Instead we apparently held them hostage all day. We got an insider's view of the Dublin region, including lunch at a country club and dinner at their home. 12 1/2 hours later we were dropped off back at the ship. While we would have liked to have paid for something, we couldn't. An all day tour plus meals…total cost ZERO. Lesson learned…make friends at the cruise ship dinner table. PORTLAND HARBOR/WEYMOUTH: No longer wishing to drive on the left side of the road in what is left of my life, we arranged for a taxi tour with the Weyline Taxi Company after reading a recommendation on Cruise Critic. We were quoted a price of 38 pounds an hour. I must of misread the email. We were only charged 30-pounds an hour. It was a bargain for a great afternoon in the English countryside. We were met dockside by Mandy Fry, the manager of Weyline Taxi and our driver. Our driver/guide in a new Mercedes was John McGill a recently retired member of England's Armed Defense Police Force. We saw the countryside of England and many small villages that could have easily been featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders. We enjoyed this afternoon more than we expected. It was a treat. We recommend that you contact Mandy at Weyline Taxi at info@weyline.com and if you arrange a tour ask for John McGill to be your driver and guide. GETTING THERE AND GETTING HOME: It used to be living in the Midwest a trip from St. Louis to New York or the West Coast was considered a major flight. Not any more, unless you are flying Southwest. The 1100 miles from St. Louis to New York is now handled by commuter planes under contract to the major carriers. The disadvantage is you are in a crowded smaller airplane. The advantage is that flying first class on Delta-Light is a lot cheaper than flying first class on Big Delta. We flew to New York the day before the cruise. On the way there we decided to go first class and booked a suite at the Waldorf Astoria towers. Okay it was $612 for the one night. We were unaware that the Waldorf had been sold to a group of Chinese investors and the entire hotel was to close in 2017 for four years. The tower suites are supposed to be made into condos with only a portion of the original hotel returning as a hotel in 2021. Getting to the Waldorf was a bit of a challenge. We normally use Arecibo Car Service (855-428-0222). Once outside of the baggage claim at LaGuardia I called for a car and one was there in 15 minutes, which actually is a little long for Arecibo. The driver was pleasant for not speaking any English and he had an excellent ability to drive on traffic choked highways and Manhattan streets. The problem was that he had no idea where the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was. It may as well have been in Atlanta. An hour later we arrived and the fare was only $45. A NIGHT AT THE WALDORF: Check in was confusing. The staff at the garage drop off sent us to the wrong desk for check in. The hotel looked great including our small suite. However a closer look showed the chairs in the room and the lobby well worn and frayed and other furniture scratched, chipped and nicked. The view from the room was great. That night we ate at a restaurant five blocks away. We got back to the hotel a little before 9 o'clock sat in the lobby having decided to "people watch." 45 minutes later as we were about to leave Emilee Floor showed up and started to play the piano in the lobby café. This meant another hour plus a bill for drinks. Emilee was a treat, but the volume on her mic and amp made it impossible to hear her unless you were at a nearby table. She also plays at the Plaza. The free breakfast on the 16th floor was very nice with one exception. Our room key was suppose to allow us entry. It didn't, forcing us to knock loudly to get in. We had a late checkout of 1 o'clock which allowed my wife to do some shopping and for us to return to sandwiches and sweets. TO THE SHIP: We called Arecibo Car Service and they had no one who could pick up up. The doorman found a black car owned by Alex Lara. He knew exactly where he was going and got us there quickly for a price that was twice as high at what Arecibo would charge. I was happy to pay. Alex assured us he would be happy to pick us up in 17 days at JFK and drop us at our hotel near LaGuardia. He took our Icelandair flight information. He was a no show. HOMEWARD BOUND: Once we docked a Parker Car Service driver from London was waiting for us at the Dover docks. Crystal claimed the trip would take 2 1/2 to 3-hours to Heathrow. Parker had told me when I made the reservation a month earlier it would be about two hours. We were dropped off 1-hour 45-minutes later. The ride was so smooth I slept half the way to the airport. Icelandair is the only Trans Atlantic carrier that we can afford to fly first class on. Two hours in the first class lounge was followed by entering a time machine. We were taken back to Nordic pilots with blond hair and blue eyes and flight attendants in pillbox hats that closely resembled Ursula Andrews or Anita Ekberg. The only drawback is that you have to fly back to Reykjavik and change planes. However, for the price and the experience it is worth it. NEW YORK NEW YORK: Of course our new black car buddy Alex was nowhere to be found once we were at JFK. We called and he called someone who was home eating dinner north of the Airport. 30 minutes later Lakeram picked us up. We were quickly at the hotel and charged a steep price of $70. The Marriott Suites at La Guardia at $212 would have been fine with one exception…the soft lumpy mattress. Despite being jet lagged the mattress reduced our sleep time to about six hours. On the plus side the staff was very nice and the blueberry muffins at the free breakfast where outstanding. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS: The Delta Lite jet pushed back from the gate in NY 35- minutes late, but we arrived at Lambert Field in St. Louis (which is actually closer to Ferguson than St. Louis) five minutes ahead of schedule. Do you think they anticipate delays at LaGuardia? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
This was my 1st Crystal cruise and I had high expectations. Most of my cruising has been on Celebrity which I enjoy. I have been on Azamara and Oceania, both of which disappointed me. On Azamara to Antarctica I had multiple complaints and ... Read More
This was my 1st Crystal cruise and I had high expectations. Most of my cruising has been on Celebrity which I enjoy. I have been on Azamara and Oceania, both of which disappointed me. On Azamara to Antarctica I had multiple complaints and on Oceania, the service was great but the food I described as "Gourmet Nursing Home" because it had absolutely no taste and no seasonings. Our boarding went smoothly and efficiently. The first thing I saw on embarking was the library so I walked in an immediately found many very recent books, two of which I checked out. The cabin, as others have said, is small but who stays in the cabin? There was plenty of space for our clothes and it was nice to have both a shower and a tub. The Muster drill was disorganized. At first they didn't want your cabin # which is strange cause how would they know who was there. Eventually they took the #'s. To me, the food on the ship was superb. On the 1st night, I had a Halibut dish that was as good as I have ever had. The 2nd night I had Lobster, cooked perfectly. I was impressed that my soup was ALWAYS hot, which is a must for me. The salads were fresh and my meat was always cooked perfectly (red warm center). The choices were varied and unlike Oceania, they seasoned the food! The specialty restaurants were OK but not significantly better than the main dining room, which I enjoyed. We had dining by reservation which worked out superbly. The wait staff was efficient, knowledgeable and professional. I don't need to be coddled. Most of the time we had breakfast and lunch in the Lido and I was totally satisfied.(Fresh squeezed OJ is a must) The enrichment program was unbelievably good. We learned about the Titanic and the munitions explosion in Halifax harbor, heard talks about Broadway and the movies,the geology of the areas we were visiting and heard from Luke Zamperini (the son of Louis from Unbroken)and Leo Thorness, a Medal of Honor recipient and a POW who spent 6 years in the Hanoi Hilton. The 1 man show by Jim Brochu was worth the price of a NYC theater ticket. The music on board was good with Bruce at the piano, the Tommy Orchestra and other groups around the ship. The singers and dancers were very good and Scot, the cruise director was professional and excellent. I enjoyed his morning show that I watch as I struggled to get my 4 miles in on the treadmill in the fitness center. While some aspects of the cruise were "average" (the cabin stewardess), I really had nothing that I could or would complain about. We booked 3 more cruises while on board and I am looking forward to sailing on crystal in the future. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first Crystal cruise. We have cruised several other cruise lines including Celebrity, HAL, RCI and Carnival. We chose Crystal for this cruise because we normally cruise with our children and we wanted to do something special ... Read More
This was our first Crystal cruise. We have cruised several other cruise lines including Celebrity, HAL, RCI and Carnival. We chose Crystal for this cruise because we normally cruise with our children and we wanted to do something special for our romantic 20th anniverisary just for the two of us. We had an amazing three day precruise stay in Rome. On embarkation day, we had beautiful weather. The embarkation process was extremely smooth and easy. My evaluation in a nutshell: Cabin: We had a GTY cabin and received a category upgrade. We had a Deluxe Verandah Stateroom on Deck 10. The loaction was excellent. It was near the elevator and stairs. Easy access to everything. The decor was lovely. Very elegant and subtle. We had a nice verandah with comfortable furniture. Lots of storage space and a great bathroom with 2 sinks. I didn't give the cabin five stars only due to space issues. For the price point, more space would be nice. Dining: Dining on Crystal is extremely refined . The quality of the ingredients and the care in the presentation is apparent in each morsel served. In the main dining room, there are 2 sides of the menu with traditional and modern cuisine. All very good. We enjoyed our meals at the specialty restaurants: Prego, Silk Road and Tastes. Our favorite was Tastes, a casual dining option with creative and flavorful dishes. Our only criticism of the dining on Crystal was the relative lack of options if you wanted a casual dining option or wanted to eat a later lunch after coming back from shore excursions. I loved the ice cream and the coffee at the Bistro. Service: Service shines on Crystal. Absolutely impeccable in every aspect. Kudos to Crystal. Activities: The enrichment speakers were truly outstanding. I actually learned a lot on my vacation! The Magic Castle and evening entertainment were all very well done.I did feel that this was an area that the bigger ships do have a bit of an edge ( barring the enrichment was is superior on Crystal). Public Spaces: The ship was perfect,y maintained. The decor was thenepitomy of quiet elegance. Lots of quiet areas tonrelax and read or enjoy a drink. Never had a feeling of crowding. Just an oasis of relaxation. Spa Services: I had an excellent massage with no hard sell at the end...a welcome change from other cruise lines. The Ports: We had incredible luck. Perfect weather throughout the cruise and wonderful ports. All were enjoyable. Malta, Sorrento, Santorini, Ephesus, Taormina, Rhodes, and Istanbul. We loved having overnights in Malta, Sorrento and Istanbul as it gave us more time to explore. Excellent itinerary. Disembarkation: We disembarked in Istanbul. It was quite chaotic. Not sure how much control Crystal had over the process there. We enjoyed 4 extra days in Istanbul . A pity it has been cancelled as a cruise destination by most major lines. We loved Crystal and have booked a cruise i. juky for our entire family. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This cruise on Symphony started in Tokyo, visited two ports in Northern Japan, one in Russia, Kodiak Island and then the typical other Alaska ports on the way to Vancouver via the inside passage. The new owner was in Tokyo sailing around ... Read More
This cruise on Symphony started in Tokyo, visited two ports in Northern Japan, one in Russia, Kodiak Island and then the typical other Alaska ports on the way to Vancouver via the inside passage. The new owner was in Tokyo sailing around on his yacht emblazoned with the Crystal Logo before we left. Overall this was an excellent northern Pacific crossing. The weather cooperated magnificently with mild seas (nothing like you see on the Most Dangerous Catch), some rainy sea days, a fantastic sunny day in Ketchikan, good weather in Glacier Bay and reasonable port days when we visited shore. Time Bandit was anchored in Kodiak during that stop. The ship was FULL so service in the main restaurant was a little below par as the kitchen and waiters attempted to get to every guest, but the food quality was still outstanding. Visits to Silk Road and Prego continue to be journey highlights. Crystal's evening entertainment is always a strength as are the lecturers. I particularly enjoy the early evening show since I go to bed early and get up to exercise at 5 am. I also appreciate the Magic Castle at Sea showings. Due to the length of the voyage that magician also did an evening performance. Another highlight was the Japanese juggler from Cirque du Soleil. While I have cruised on Regent, Seabourn, Silver Sea, Oceania, Holland America and Celebrity, I keep coming back to Crystal because any voyage on Crystal is always delightful. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC ... Read More
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC through the Panama Canal, it has become "Crystal Clear" that Crystal is not the enviable cruise experience it once was. We have cancelled all of our future bookings and will be looking to other premier lines for our cruising experiences. I feared that this would happen; it usually does when a cruise line gets a new CEO (Oct 2013) and then the sale to another owner (completed May 2015). First, let me tell you a little about us. We are "older folks", both of us in our 70's, who don't require any special attention. This is not our first cruise; we've sailed some 35+ cruises with Celebrity, RC and Azamara, who just got tired of the herding, the over-crowding, the signing for every little amenity, and the average food on the larger vessels. We found Crystal in the spring of 2012 and this was our 12th cruise in 3 years. We are not "destination" cruisers rather "journey" travelers......we love the ship for its elegant, relaxing atmosphere and great dining experiences. We're not driven to cruise to the far corners of the earth to fulfill any "bucket list". If I want something "up close and personal" , I turn on the National Geographic Channel on my TV. We sailed with Crystal for their exemplary service, their elegant atmosphere, the ease of small ship inclusive cruising and for the OUTSTANDING, GREAT FOOD they once offered. Having said that, Crystal was a real disappointment this time: FOOD: Seems that there is a real disconnect between the recipes and the chefs who prepare them. The best I could figure out, is that the recipes come from the corporate office and the chefs were asked to change or "re-invent" some of their tried and true offerings they once prepared. I never knew that there were so many ways to prepare mousse! Mousse with appetizers, mousse with entrees, mousse for dessert! And, what's this "foam" stuff sprayed on my food? The fish were dry, salty and fishy tasting (with the exception of the Dover Sole). The shrimp were rubbery and undercooked. The quality of the meats were sometimes down-right poor, both in the Lido and MDR. There was absolutely no difference between the coating on the pre-prepared Wienerschnitzel and Veal Parmasan. Alaskan King crab legs on the last formal night....what happened to the Lobster? I could go on, but you get the point. Silk Road was still excellent, but Prego's menu was undergoing changes too....mushroom soup didn't quite taste the same. The Lido salads and fresh breakfast fruits were still excellent. The German potato salad in the Lido was awesome! ATMOSPHERE: Of the 26 nights aboard, 23 were Resort Casual. The cruise itinerary originally had a few Elegant Casual nights scheduled, but after boarding, those dress codes were changed. There were not many men wearing sports jackets in the MDR, in spite of the fact that the Crystal Cove and other public areas, had an average temperature of about 55 degrees.......always, VERY COLD!! There were more children on board this cruise than I've ever seen before, but then that's probably due to the new(?) policy of FREE sailings for kids on "select cruises". It took me awhile to figure out that the dress code of "European Trousers for men", was nothing more than denim pants that weren't manufactured in the USA (Levis, Wrangler). Most were appropriate attire for the MDR.......absolutely not problem with a nice pair of Armani jeans with a sports coat and Hermes belt, but before long, other passengers will start showing up in their Levis! That brings me to another disconnect between the emphasis on "Casual" by Crystal and the Retail shops selling Designer clothing and accessories like Gucci, Prada and Burberry when so many passengers are content to wander around all day in their Logo and gym gear. And what's with this ENDLESS stream of parading travel agents wined and dined by Crystal in EVERY port? I would love to know how much of my cruise fare is spent on that. SERVICE: This was the only "WOW" factor left aboard Crystal. Our standing Room Service of juice and coffee every morning always arrived on time and our Stateroom Attendant was awesome. The bar staff always remembered our drink orders and our waiters always tried to remedy the disappointments that came out of the MDR Kitchen. Just a special group of fine young people that worked so hard! I have gotten to know many of them over the years and will miss them very much! Enough said, but I wanted to give our assessment of the "New" Crystal from 2 journey cruisers that still remember the "refined Crystal experience". We will be looking to other premier luxury lines in the future until Crystal regains it's past reputation. I'll be checking on Cruise Critic for future assessments! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
30 cruises with Regent/Seabourn/Silversea/Oceania etc and the second trip with Crystal. Clearly Crystal has many fans, who appear not to have travelled with many other lines. Boarding was chaotic, 900 people board at the same time and ... Read More
30 cruises with Regent/Seabourn/Silversea/Oceania etc and the second trip with Crystal. Clearly Crystal has many fans, who appear not to have travelled with many other lines. Boarding was chaotic, 900 people board at the same time and stand in line in the cold as each passenger is checked in on board. Safety drill took place at 8.15 pm. As you sit at the bar, a sign is placed in your face that service is suspended. Everybody goes outside, many are drunk and making a joke of the whole process. You then all rush back in and undergo the chaotic dinner service in the dining room. Dining by reservation is a disaster. You are seated in an undesirable seat between meal services as the waiters noisily clear the first sitting and set up the second sitting. We were given seconds to order; "I hope you are ready to order", with no eye contact and desperate to move on. Wine service is "Red or white?", no description of the wine and it is poured VERY quickly before they run off. Food quality is VERY poor compared to ANY other cruise line I have travelled with and in particular with all inclusive premium cruise lines. Menus are very unimaginative; ingredients are cheap, frozen and prepared in advance. Everything is VERY salty, especially the soups that are often slopped around the bowl and plates as they are rushed to your table. Dessert is often Ice Cream or Ice Cream, a clear sign of penny pinching. There were numerous outbreaks of gastric illnesses. The dining room is very busy, very noisy and in no way refined or anywhere near fine dining. There is no alternative dining in the evening in the Lido area as with all other premium lines such as Seabourn/Regent etc. Prague and the Nobu themed restaurants are 'ok' but then they should be, considering the hype and the background to the chefs who risk their name to the venture. Lunch is a procession of travel agents being dined by Crystal. They can be heard clearly explaining how Crystal provide 'incentives' to recommend them to clients and one was thanking Crystal for his latest iPhone update. Cabins are the smallest on ANY ship and the bathrooms have two PLASTIC bowls that you can just about put your hands in.You have to carefully manoeuvre around the room just to be able to get around the bed, the cabins really are very small. There is no atmosphere on board, it is really very flat. Officers are rarely seen except at the 'Welcome Aboard" party towards the END of the voyage where the officers won't touch you in case they spread viruses. Staff in general are flat, there is often no eye contact and nobody called me by name which I have never experienced on any premium cruise line. The stateroom attendant couldn't even manage 'hello' or 'good morning'. Shows are 'ok' but again nothing special considering the claims of Crystal to be the best. Dancers are too busy eating in the main restaurant at dining times we were told were not available. I could write a lot more but I think it's safe to say my money will be staying with the other premium lines and I can only suggest those Crystal fans that have never tried another cruise line to venture out into the big competitive world and try some better food and service in cabins twice the size and sometimes lower priced than the very 'pricey' Crystal. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
Everything was wonderful- from the itinerary, to the speakers to the food. We missed a port due to icebergs, but with so many things to do on the ship it did not matter. Glacier Bay with 4 park rangers and a buffet sandwich lunch was ... Read More
Everything was wonderful- from the itinerary, to the speakers to the food. We missed a port due to icebergs, but with so many things to do on the ship it did not matter. Glacier Bay with 4 park rangers and a buffet sandwich lunch was perfect. wWe left deposits for 2 more Crystal cruises in the future! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
They could not make a Room Access Card for my wife that worked for five days. They kept blaming her for demagnetising the card when for 21 cruises we have worn our card in a Lanyard around our neck. Could not get a Hot Meal in the ... Read More
They could not make a Room Access Card for my wife that worked for five days. They kept blaming her for demagnetising the card when for 21 cruises we have worn our card in a Lanyard around our neck. Could not get a Hot Meal in the Dining Room. Even the hot Soups were cold. Complaints were not able to fix the problem. Could not get a Steak Medium Rare as they always came well done. Excursions were of poor quality and well over prices we spent A$2500 and got half that value. Complaints were ignored. No Musical Entertainment between 8.30 and 9.30pm. The Cruise Director would do nothing about it. Bridge Sessions were only 2 hours on sea days and on port days no equipment would be made available. Ran out of Saporro and Tsingtao beer even though there was a large Asian Passenger list. Also ran out of Hot Chocolate. All in all a poor experience in what is supposed to be a five Star line. Aparently since Changing hands they have deteriorated. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We have enjoyed several Crystal cruises in recent years, so confidently booked the interestingly routed Tokyo to Vancouver crossing, with an itinerary that visited Russia's Far East, and along the entire Aleutian chain before ... Read More
We have enjoyed several Crystal cruises in recent years, so confidently booked the interestingly routed Tokyo to Vancouver crossing, with an itinerary that visited Russia's Far East, and along the entire Aleutian chain before visiting the more usual Alaskan ports. We anticipated cold weather, rough seas, but looked forward to the exciting prospect of amazing wildlife. Alas, it was not to be, as it was far too early in the season for whale migration, bird life or bear sightings. Wisely we had packed warm clothing , boots, hats etc, as we certainly needed them! So early in the season, we experienced many days of fog, and chill winds, and the ship had to miss Petropavlovsk because of sea ice. It was delightful to visit the charming, welcoming small Japanese ports of Amori and Otaru, totally unlike the frenzied excitement of Tokyo. We thought more unusual Alaskan ports of Dutch Harbor and Kodiak were fascinating, and enjoyed seeing non-touristy Alaska before sailing into busy Ketchikan Crystal have recently changed both their marketing policies, and certainly dropped their standards, it seemed to us, as there was a completely different atmosphere on board. We felt we were on a.downmaeket, mass market ship, with pushing in, loud shouting, "me first" behaviour, disregarding of courtesies towards fellow guests and staff. Even in the glories of Glacier Bay, all seats in the prime viewing area in the forward viewing Palm court had been " reserved" long before dawn, with a refusal to share with fellow guests. The shows were filmed on held up IPads, to the detriment of those behind, despite staff requests. The dress codes had been" relaxed " to the point that there were none, with the words Crystal Casual being interpreted as "come as you are", even on designated formal evenings. It is uncomfortable to those guests who appreciate the opportunity to wear formal evening clothes to realise that some fellow guests think jeans and track suits are acceptable. This may seem a snobby attitude, but we previously found that Crystal offered the opportunity to enjoy a taste of fine, refined, cultured dining and entertainment, completely different to our home life. If this is the way Crystal is choosing to move forward, they will quickly lose their core customers who chose this line for its elegant sophisticated ambience, aimed at well travelled discerning clients. Their continued raising of prices, now several times a year, will soon lose its appeal, and business will slow rapidly. Expensive cruises need to give value for money, and make guests feel the extra expense is worth it. We will certainly reconsider cruising with Crystal again as other luxury lines seem to aim upwards, not, as Crystal appear to be doing, set their standards lower . Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We just spent 10 nights aboard the Crystal Symphony. We have traveled on Disney, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian so we have a lot to compare Crystal to. After experiencing the high level of service and great food it will ... Read More
We just spent 10 nights aboard the Crystal Symphony. We have traveled on Disney, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian so we have a lot to compare Crystal to. After experiencing the high level of service and great food it will be hard to go back to any other line. It started at check in, swift, easy and no line, NO HASSLES. The Symphony strikes a nice balance between size and intimacy, just right, with immaculate public areas and nice lounges. Our balcony room was as expected size wise with a WAY above average sized balcony. Food was 5 star, I do not equate a lot with great, just because you can eat all day does't make it great, Crystal's food was great. Only little complaints were I would have liked to see consistent items on the appetizer menu, like shrimp cocktail. The buffet hours were somewhat constrained, IE lunch from 12-2. Service was OUTSTANDING, servers asked your name on the first day and remembered them, not just some servers, MOST servers did! They couldn't help enough. It is so nice being all inclusive and not having to dig out your cruise card every time you want something. Yes you do pay for it up front as Crystal is not cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for. Crystal is not for kids as the ships have kids rooms but I doubt would have enough to keep most kids happy, if you want a rock wall better look elsewhere. Great experience overall!! 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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