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Going from Vancouver to Anchorage, we travelled on the Crystal Symphony departing June 30, 2019. We also took a post-cruise tour of Denali National Park. This review describes the ship, the journey, the excursions etc. Please know: I will not barter a good review for a better room, for a lower price on anything, or for a refund intended to compensate me for poor quality products or services. I WILL disclose when a refund is made or a good price is given. My reviews are as honest as I can make them. Please know that I am extremely particular and notice small details others do not, so my review is both more thorough and more negative than most people's. This was a thoroughly delightful voyage. Our stateroom was a Penthouse Suite, code PS, with butler service. The room was quite large. It included a king bed, an ample sitting area with sofa, chair and cocktail table, small bar and double-hung walk-in closet with a built-in chest of drawers. The refrigerator was stocked with drinks. There was an ample supply of bottled water. The decor was contemporary, in teals, taupe and ivory, very tasteful. The bright and attractive white tile bath has double sinks, a toilet, bidet, stall shower and jacuzzi tub with European shower. There is plenty of drawer and shelf space in the bathroom. QUIBBLES here though: The bathroom lighting is inadequate for either shaving or applying makeup. There is only one outlet. It is only for a shaver. There is a wall-mounted hair dryer, but it is weak. We used the well-lit desk for shaving, hair styling and putting on makeup. There are several outlets at the desk for charging. No outlets at bedside. If you use your phone in bed before falling asleep, you must get up and cross the room to plug it in to charge if you want it to be charged when you wake up. Our butler, Greg was very helpful in answering our questions. He made sure we had a tempting fresh fruit plate, candy and hors d'oeuvres daily. He noticed we ate more tangerines than other fruit and, without our requesting it, started giving us extra tangerines each day. We had all the champagne and wine we could have wished for. Greg accommodated our allergy and dietary needs easily. He is personable without being obsequious. The ship has many lively public spaces and numerous restaurants described in their own literature. We enjoyed the Japanese and Italian restaurants the most. All of the restaurants and food options were excellent, and for the most part, even better than the descriptions of them in Crystal's literature. The reception area on Deck 5 midship is a dramatic and inviting two story atrium. The ceiling is stained glass and there is a long curved single staircase. The area includes a bar and buffet always stocked with ample snacks and sweets. A violinist played every day in the reception area. It was a great place to sit, have a bite or a drink and relax. QUIBBLE The bronzed statue of dancers in the reception area is extremely kitschy, at odds with the tasteful decor elsewhere throughout the ship. The Palm Court is a cool quiet room where tea is served daily while live music is played. This is a peaceful place to sit and watch the mountains rush by the large picture windows. Don't miss the Mozart tea which is much more elaborate with a stunning buffet. On the pool deck, we liked sitting on a deck chair to watch the ship float past the endless parade of wonders that is Alaska. There were cozy wool plaid blankets provided. Entertainment: The quality of singers, dancers and comedians was far better than that on the other cruise lines we've used. Elio Pace is a fantastic singer and all-around showman. Jimmy Travis is a great comedian and singer. We went to see him 4 times (!!) which is very unlike us. The house band and light man were excellent. The Crystal song-and-dance troupe performed a medley of songs and dances from Broadway musicals which was top-notch. Much better than the entertainment on other cruise lines we have used. CRUISE PORTS, EXCURSIONS VIEWS: Each port was interesting, and the excursions were fun, educational, and conducted with efficiency and professionalism. Not all the excursions we took were labelled Crystal Excursions, though many were. In Ketchikan we took the Wilderness Cruise with Rainforest Adventure. We boated to a small undeveloped island or peninsula and took an easy hike partly up a hill and steps. The forest consisted of evergreen trees and smelled lovely. It was beautiful and quiet. We saw a large (5 or more inch) banana slug and a leopard slug. Our guide was informative and very cordial. We enjoyed being in the Alaskan woods. Ketchikan is a charming little town with a picturesque rushing creek and waterfall. It is the best place to buy a totem pole. They had the broadest selection, and the totem poles were not priced any higher than in other towns. I believe most totem poles sold throughout Alaska are made in Ketchikan. In Hoonah I ziplined on the world's longest zipline. I glided smoothly over a gorgeous forest with a view of the water and t(iny cruise ship far ahead below me. 90 seconds of BLISS. (I am not usually adventurous ,nor am I in good shape. I am a bit overweight and typically sedentary.) We also went to a woodsy part of Chichagoff Island, where we saw a bear, red-headed woodpecker and bald eagle near a pretty river. In Juneau we took the Mendenhall Glaciet and Whale-watching tour. We saw whales breaching. We also saw their flukes and spouts. It was wonderful. Then we were driven to the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. It was gradually melting into a pretty lake. There was a tall waterfall there as well. The walk through the woods to the waterfall was very uplifting. Sitka was also a great place to watch whales. We took a small boat excursion called the Sitka Marine Adventure. Our pilot was Sonny. He was extremely competent. We saw a sea otter as well as whales. Sitka is THE place to buy Russian products. I bought three stunning sets of nesting dolls, in Russian, "matroyshkas." If you are a collector, you will be in heaven here. Besides the very high-quality collectible nesting dolls, there are plenty of less-expensive sets to buy as souvenirs. Nowhere else stocked the quality and quantity of nesting dolls we saw here. We saw one 50-doll set priced at over $1000. The stores carried loads of other Russian products as well. Haines: The town is tiny and of little interest. What made this port worthwhile was our excursion by jet boat to a remote area, the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where we saw eagles as well as a mother and baby moose. The scenery was, again, breathtakingly beautiful, mountains swathed in a thousand shades of green plunge into the flowing waters. Small islands of trees and brush drift by. Our guide stopped the boat for us to relish the rare quality of the silence as we sat surrounded by the green mountains, still water and azure skies. Cruise Tracy and Endicott Arms Glacier Viewing. Skagway. We helicoptered to a glacier and landed there. The ride took us through a breathtaking fjord. Flying in the helicopter and viewing Alaska's mountains and waters from above was well worth the time and money we invested. The glacier was fascinating with it's blue ice, rushing rivulets and crevasses--all surrounded by soaring mountains. Hubbard Glacier was viewed from the ship. It was magnificent. We saw it calve and heard it thunder as it moved. We were only about a quarter mile from the glacier. Post Cruise program which includes Denali, Girdwood and Talkeetna: The Excursion personnel on board the Crystal Symphony couldn't answer questions about the logistics of the post-cruise tour. Furthermore, they were unable to provide information about excursions during the post-cruise tour. We finally received a very general written summary ONE DAY BEFORE departure. When the post-cruise tour did begin, however, we were impressed with the high quality of the guide, driver and bus. Our guide was eponymously named Crystal! Our driver was Steve. The bus had an immaculately clean restroom. No sink, just hand sanitizer. The drive took us through breathtaking mountains and past idyllically exquisite lakes. Alyeska Hotel: There is often a 15 minute wait to get a table for breakfast! Allow time. The hotel has a beautiful dinner restaurant, Seven Glaciers. It is on top of a mountain. The Aleyska Resort Aerial Tramway takes you up from the hotel. Denali Park. This bus tour was excellent. Almost no private vehicles are allowed in the park, so a bus tour is the way to go. The scenery was as stunning and varied as one would expect. Wilderness Express Dome Rail Car. Denali to Talkeetna. Great experience, A trip back in time, riding the rails past mountains and lakes, over creeks. The transparent dome of the upper level car provided great viewing. We also had a delicious meal in the elegant dining car. There were even live flowers in a vase on each table.

Outstanding Trip

Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by travel mensch

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: July 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Crystal Penthouse with Verandah
Going from Vancouver to Anchorage, we travelled on the Crystal Symphony departing June 30, 2019. We also took a post-cruise tour of Denali National Park.

This review describes the ship, the journey, the excursions etc.

Please know:

I will not barter a good review for a better room, for a lower price on anything, or for a refund intended to compensate me for poor quality products or services. I WILL disclose when a refund is made or a good price is given. My reviews are as honest as I can make them. Please know that I am extremely particular and notice small details others do not, so my review is both more thorough and more negative than most people's.

This was a thoroughly delightful voyage. Our stateroom was a Penthouse Suite, code PS, with butler service. The room was quite large. It included a king bed, an ample sitting area with sofa, chair and cocktail table, small bar and double-hung walk-in closet with a built-in chest of drawers. The refrigerator was stocked with drinks. There was an ample supply of bottled water. The decor was contemporary, in teals, taupe and ivory, very tasteful.

The bright and attractive white tile bath has double sinks, a toilet, bidet, stall shower and jacuzzi tub with European shower. There is plenty of drawer and shelf space in the bathroom.

QUIBBLES here though: The bathroom lighting is inadequate for either shaving or applying makeup. There is only one outlet. It is only for a shaver. There is a wall-mounted hair dryer, but it is weak.

We used the well-lit desk for shaving, hair styling and putting on makeup. There are several outlets at the desk for charging. No outlets at bedside. If you use your phone in bed before falling asleep, you must get up and cross the room to plug it in to charge if you want it to be charged when you wake up.

Our butler, Greg was very helpful in answering our questions. He made sure we had a tempting fresh fruit plate, candy and hors d'oeuvres daily. He noticed we ate more tangerines than other fruit and, without our requesting it, started giving us extra tangerines each day. We had all the champagne and wine we could have wished for. Greg accommodated our allergy and dietary needs easily. He is personable without being obsequious.

The ship has many lively public spaces and numerous restaurants described in their own literature. We enjoyed the Japanese and Italian restaurants the most. All of the restaurants and food options were excellent, and for the most part, even better than the descriptions of them in Crystal's literature.

The reception area on Deck 5 midship is a dramatic and inviting two story atrium. The ceiling is stained glass and there is a long curved single staircase. The area includes a bar and buffet always stocked with ample snacks and sweets.

A violinist played every day in the reception area. It was a great place to sit, have a bite or a drink and relax.

QUIBBLE

The bronzed statue of dancers in the reception area is extremely kitschy, at odds with the tasteful decor elsewhere throughout the ship.

The Palm Court is a cool quiet room where tea is served daily while live music is played. This is a peaceful place to sit and watch the mountains rush by the large picture windows.

Don't miss the Mozart tea which is much more elaborate with a stunning buffet.

On the pool deck, we liked sitting on a deck chair to watch the ship float past the endless parade of wonders that is Alaska. There were cozy wool plaid blankets provided.

Entertainment: The quality of singers, dancers and comedians was far better than that on the other cruise lines we've used. Elio Pace is a fantastic singer and all-around showman. Jimmy Travis is a great comedian and singer. We went to see him 4 times (!!) which is very unlike us. The house band and light man were excellent. The Crystal song-and-dance troupe performed a medley of songs and dances from Broadway musicals which was top-notch. Much better than the entertainment on other cruise lines we have used.

CRUISE PORTS, EXCURSIONS VIEWS:

Each port was interesting, and the excursions were fun, educational, and conducted with efficiency and professionalism. Not all the excursions we took were labelled Crystal Excursions, though many were.

In Ketchikan we took the Wilderness Cruise with Rainforest Adventure. We boated to a small undeveloped island or peninsula and took an easy hike partly up a hill and steps. The forest consisted of evergreen trees and smelled lovely. It was beautiful and quiet. We saw a large (5 or more inch) banana slug and a leopard slug. Our guide was informative and very cordial. We enjoyed being in the Alaskan woods.

Ketchikan is a charming little town with a picturesque rushing creek and waterfall. It is the best place to buy a totem pole. They had the broadest selection, and the totem poles were not priced any higher than in other towns. I believe most totem poles sold throughout Alaska are made in Ketchikan.

In Hoonah I ziplined on the world's longest zipline. I glided smoothly over a gorgeous forest with a view of the water and t(iny cruise ship far ahead below me.

90 seconds of BLISS. (I am not usually adventurous ,nor am I in good shape. I am a bit overweight and typically sedentary.)

We also went to a woodsy part of Chichagoff Island, where we saw a bear, red-headed woodpecker and bald eagle near a pretty river.

In Juneau we took the Mendenhall Glaciet and Whale-watching tour. We saw whales breaching. We also saw their flukes and spouts. It was wonderful. Then we were driven to the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. It was gradually melting into a pretty lake. There was a tall waterfall there as well. The walk through the woods to the waterfall was very uplifting.

Sitka was also a great place to watch whales. We took a small boat excursion called the Sitka Marine Adventure. Our pilot was Sonny. He was extremely competent. We saw a sea otter as well as whales.

Sitka is THE place to buy Russian products. I bought three stunning sets of nesting dolls, in Russian, "matroyshkas." If you are a collector, you will be in heaven here. Besides the very high-quality collectible nesting dolls, there are plenty of less-expensive sets to buy as souvenirs. Nowhere else stocked the quality and quantity of nesting dolls we saw here. We saw one 50-doll set priced at over $1000. The stores carried loads of other Russian products as well.

Haines: The town is tiny and of little interest. What made this port worthwhile was our excursion by jet boat to a remote area, the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where we saw eagles as well as a mother and baby moose. The scenery was, again, breathtakingly beautiful, mountains swathed in a thousand shades of green plunge into the flowing waters. Small islands of trees and brush drift by. Our guide stopped the boat for us to relish the rare quality of the silence as we sat surrounded by the green mountains, still water and azure skies.

Cruise Tracy and Endicott Arms Glacier Viewing.

Skagway. We helicoptered to a glacier and landed there. The ride took us through a breathtaking fjord. Flying in the helicopter and viewing Alaska's mountains and waters from above was well worth the time and money we invested. The glacier was fascinating with it's blue ice, rushing rivulets and crevasses--all surrounded by soaring mountains.

Hubbard Glacier was viewed from the ship. It was magnificent. We saw it calve and heard it thunder as it moved. We were only about a quarter mile from the glacier.

Post Cruise program which includes Denali, Girdwood and Talkeetna:

The Excursion personnel on board the Crystal Symphony couldn't answer questions about the logistics of the post-cruise tour. Furthermore, they were unable to provide information about excursions during the post-cruise tour.

We finally received a very general written summary ONE DAY BEFORE departure.

When the post-cruise tour did begin, however, we were impressed with the high quality of the guide, driver and bus. Our guide was eponymously named Crystal! Our driver was Steve. The bus had an immaculately clean restroom. No sink, just hand sanitizer.

The drive took us through breathtaking mountains and past idyllically exquisite lakes.

Alyeska Hotel:

There is often a 15 minute wait to get a table for breakfast! Allow time. The hotel has a beautiful dinner restaurant, Seven Glaciers. It is on top of a mountain. The Aleyska Resort Aerial Tramway takes you up from the hotel.

Denali Park. This bus tour was excellent. Almost no private vehicles are allowed in the park, so a bus tour is the way to go. The scenery was as stunning and varied as one would expect.

Wilderness Express Dome Rail Car. Denali to Talkeetna. Great experience, A trip back in time, riding the rails past mountains and lakes, over creeks. The transparent dome of the upper level car provided great viewing. We also had a delicious meal in the elegant dining car. There were even live flowers in a vase on each table.
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Cabin Review

Crystal Penthouse with Verandah
Cabin CP 1005
Our stateroom was a Penthouse Suite, code PS, with butler service. The room was quite large. It included a king bed, an ample sitting area with sofa, chair and cocktail table, small bar and double-hung walk-in closet with a built-in chest of drawers. The refrigerator was stocked with drinks. There was an ample supply of bottled water. The decor was contemporary, in teals, taupe and ivory, very tasteful.
The bright and attractive white tile bath has double sinks, a toilet, bidet, stall shower and jacuzzi tub with European shower. There is plenty of drawer and shelf space in the bathroom.

QUIBBLES here though: The bathroom lighting is inadequate for either shaving or applying makeup. There is only one outlet. It is only for a shaver. There is a wall-mounted hair dryer, but it is weak.
We used the well-lit desk for shaving, hair styling and putting on makeup. There are several outlets at the desk for charging. No outlets at bedside. If you use your phone in bed before falling asleep, you must get up and cross the room to plug it in to charge if you want it to be charged when you wake up.
Penthouse Deck Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Chilkoot Lake scenic cruise
    What made this port worthwhile was our excursion by jet boat to a remote area, the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where we saw eagles as well as a mother and baby moose. The scenery was, again, breathtakingly beautiful, mountains swathed in a thousand shades of green plunge into the flowing waters. Small islands of trees and brush drift by. Our guide stopped the boat for us to relish the rare quality of the silence as we sat surrounded by the green mountains, still water and azure skies.
    View All 3 Chilkoot Lake scenic cruise Reviews
  • Mendenhall Glacier
    we took the Mendenhall Glaciet and Whale-watching tour. We saw whales breaching. We also saw their flukes and spouts. It was wonderful. Then we were driven to the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. It was gradually melting into a pretty lake. There was a tall waterfall there as well. The walk through the woods to the waterfall was very uplifting.
    View All 859 Mendenhall Glacier Reviews
  • Whale Watching
    we took the Mendenhall Glaciet and Whale-watching tour. We saw whales breaching. We also saw their flukes and spouts. It was wonderful. Then we were driven to the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. It was gradually melting into a pretty lake. There was a tall waterfall there as well. The walk through the woods to the waterfall was very uplifting.
    View All 804 Whale Watching Reviews
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  • Sitka
    Sitka was also a great place to watch whales. We took a small boat excursion called the Sitka Marine Adventure. Our pilot was Sonny. He was extremely competent. We saw a sea otter as well as whales.

    Sitka is THE place to buy Russian products. I bought three stunning sets of nesting dolls, in Russian, "matroyshkas." If you are a collector, you will be in heaven here. Besides the very high-quality collectible nesting dolls, there are plenty of less-expensive sets to buy as souvenirs. Nowhere else stocked the quality and quantity of nesting dolls we saw here. We saw one 50-doll set priced at over $1000. The stores carried loads of other Russian products as well.
    View All 323 Sitka Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Helicopter Tour
    helicoptered to a glacier and landed there. The ride took us through a breathtaking fjord. Flying in the helicopter and viewing Alaska's mountains and waters from above was well worth the time and money we invested. The glacier was fascinating with it's blue ice, rushing rivulets and crevasses--all surrounded by soaring mountains.
    View All 59 Helicopter Tour Reviews
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