Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by Crystal Cuanarder Sue
- Sail Date: July 2016
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Large Picture Window
What we liked on Crystal: a beautiful ship with some very relaxing indoor and outdoor areas- particularly attractive were the Palm Court lounge, the pool area and the glass-covered area; very well-motivated and pleasant staff in all areas ensure attentive service at all times; high quality cabins with good bathroom facilities (half-tub) and very good sound-proofing; superb library with wide-ranging stock of books/ dvds/ games; impressive standard of speakers and enrichment activities; lots of space so that we never felt crowded.
The dining was very good but probably not of the same standard as the Grill class, although it was wonderful to have access to drinks without further payment. One disappointment was that the cafeteria, the Lido, was frequently open for very restricted hours and so we had to go to the Trident grill (hamburgers and pizza) after a morning trip rather than having a proper lunch. Apart from the Dining Room, there are three speciality options- Prego (Italian), Silk Road (Thai) and a sushi bar. We only tried Prego. This was a good alternative to the main Dining Room, although with a relatively limited selection of options. Normally passengers get two 'free' trips to a speciality restaurant but on this cruise we had four each, which was generous.
The shore excursions organised by the company were expensive, especially with the exchange rate, and they ranged from the superb to the very disappointing. There was always a shuttle to the centre or (London) the nearest station. The ports were interesting, as follows:
- St Peter Port: beautiful destination with the possibility of taking a 91 or 92 bus around the island for a £1 tour;
- Waterford: much better than expected: within a short walk of the drop-off point, we found the Waterford Crystal factory (worth a tour), the Viking museum, the superb Medieval Museum and the Georgian Palace.
- Dublin: two days here which allowed us to do the hop on, hop off bus on one day and a locally-sourced trip to Malahide Castle and then the coat on the second day (all the open tour bus companies seem to do this trip). We did a ship's tour to an Irish folk evening on the first night. This was horrendous- mass catering (break in polythene wrapper), boorish singing and only about 10 minutes of dancing.
-Llverpool: very interesting to visit different quarters of the city from the shore line; a very warm welcome from the shore staff and volunteers here.
- Belfast: we took a ship-organised trip to the Giants' Causeway which was very well organised but others took the shuttle in to town and then a bus/ taxi to the Titanic museum.
- Isle of Skye: we did a ship's tour of the island, which was interesting; with hindsight, would have taken a local bus and/or tour to the archaeological sites.
- Kirkwall: there is plenty to see in this small town (cathedral, visitors' centre, palace, wireless museum and good shops) or there is the possibility of going round the island to see wartime sites.
- Edinburgh: we docked at Rosyth and it was a long trip in to the centre of the city. Had two days here and visited Britannia on our own by local bus on the first day and then did a ship's excursion to Scone Palace/ Dunfermline Abbey which was very badly organised. A local group of musicians and dancers did an excellent show on board on the first night.
- London: a day from Tilbury. Took the train to Fenchurch street (easy 45 minute journey) and then went to Buckingham Palace. Shuttle bus from the ship to the station.
This was a very port-heavy trip which some on board found tiring. The other passengers are mostly American with a number of guests from Japan, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There were very few British guests, presumably because of the destinations. Passengers were mostly 50+ I would say and there were hardly any children/ families on board, again perhaps due to the destination.
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