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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Seven days, Vancouver to Seward, AK, August 2019.This was our third cruise on Crystal (Harmony was first and Serenity was second). Compared to our one cruise on Holland America Prinsendam (no longer in service) and another on the Viking ... Read More
Seven days, Vancouver to Seward, AK, August 2019.This was our third cruise on Crystal (Harmony was first and Serenity was second). Compared to our one cruise on Holland America Prinsendam (no longer in service) and another on the Viking Sea last winter: Crystal is tops -- far ahead of Viking and clearly ahead of Holland America, too. Our fellow travelers included people of all ages (though obviously the average age would be higher than the general population) There were apparently a number of family groups travelling together, including children. All of the children we encountered were exceptionally well behaved (as were all of the adults, with only a couple minor exceptions). By the way, my wife and I are "seniors" in our so-called Golden Years (ha!). Service was excellent. Needs anticipated and met. In the past, service on Crystal service has been a little pretentious on occasion. Not this time. Pleasant, low key, but on top of the game. We had butler for our Seabreeze Penthouse cabin, who seemed very nice but we never really took advantage of what she might have done for us. We're just not butler-kind-of-people. The computer room staff was an excellent help in getting our devices hooked up with the ship's WiFi. We tried all of the dining venues (excepting the private party Vintage Room) and enjoyed them all. We had a number of lunches in the Marketplace (formerly Lido Cafe), but found breakfast there chaotic the first morning and after that we had breakfast in the main dining room (Waterside), or via room service. We tried Silk, Churrascaria,Umi Uma, and Prego each one time. All met our high expectations, as did Waterside. The only slight issue was that in Churrascaria the servers were slow with the meat offerings, and Waterside was real slow on breakfast one morning -- not sure why. The only poor meal I had was a steak one evening in Waterside, but I fault myself for that because I broke my own rule, which is: "Never order steak on a cruise ship." Overall dining was excellent -- no one's perfect. Our cabin was a Seabreeze Penthouse with Veranda (SH), No. 9035. No complaints, but did take us a while to get the hang of the lighting system, and our butler had to show us how to open the reading lights over our bed. Excellent lighting in all spaces, including the bathroom. The size of the room was good and it was well laid out. All in, the best cruise ship cabin we've ever had. We went to all the shows and entertainment. The variety was good. The house band and song and dance team did a variety of shows (only one of which was a little campy). Beyond that, there were a couple of good comedians, and some other featured performers. Same with the "enrichment" lectures -- Jay Wolff (a regular on Crystal) is a good story teller, and journalist Ken Walsh was very interesting and informative on presidential matters. I've forgotten his name, but the evening entertainer in the Avenue Saloon was great. The Avenue Saloon is a favorite place for us. The only downside is that you have to walk past the smelly cigar smoking room to get to it. For a reason or reasons beyond comprehension, they keep the door to the cigar room wide open into the hall. We only went on two shore excursions sponsored by the ship, one was to a bear viewing boardwalk outside Ketchikan, where we were lucky to hit the jackpot and could watch black bears feasting (or attempting to) on salmon (Humpies, a/k/a Pinks) coming up the creek to span. That's only going to happen for a short period of time each year. This tour also included a visit to a raptor rehabilitation center, an old saw mill and, naturally, a gift shop. The latter three things weren't of any value, but watching the bears was great. We have black bears roaming around one of our homes in the lower 48, but had never seen them in the salmon catching environment. In Skagway we rode on the Yukon & White Pass RR, which I'd recommend to anyone. Our weather wasn't great, but in southeast Alaska you take your chances on that. In Juneau we went off on our own to have lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, a tourist must do, and then to visit the Alaska Museum, also quite worthwhile. The only downside of Juneau is that to go from the ship into the town you have to pass a large number of typical cruise port shops along the street selling jewelry, watches, etc., etc., with very unpleasant and aggressive staff people standing at the doors trying to drag you in. The time at Hubbard Glacier was good, too, though calving activity was much weaker than we'd seen at other tidewater glaciers (including likely Hubbard) on a cruise 23 years ago. Again, this is something that's random -- you take your chances. Now, the really big disappointment. The first day was supposed to be "Cruising the Inside Passage." That did not happen. We were in Pacific the entire day. I asked Capt. Thomas Larsen about this omission at the "Captain's Reception" later and he simply said, "We did take last night." Not satisfactory. My guess, and it can only be that, is that Larsen avoided the Inside Passage route because it would have been too difficult for him to navigate. Oh, well. Finally, flying out to Vancouver from the east coast USA we missed our connection in Denver (weather related delay). However, United Airlines re-booked us on Air Canada to Vancouver from Denver, and I called Crystal to update them on our new arrival time for the transfer. Crystal's representatives met us at the Vancouver airport and had a car ready to take the two of us to the ship, which we made with 15 minutes to spare. We had some anxious moments, but thanks to United and Crystal we made the cruise. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
During the last few years we have cruised on Viking, Oceania and now Crystal and having compared these cruises I can readily say that Crystal is by far the best. All of the ships are very similar in size and number of passengers, about ... Read More
During the last few years we have cruised on Viking, Oceania and now Crystal and having compared these cruises I can readily say that Crystal is by far the best. All of the ships are very similar in size and number of passengers, about 850. The difference is the amenities, service and food service. Crystal had excellent entertainment and lecturers who spoke about the what we would see and do on the trip and excursions. All of the excursions were excellent and on all excursions a crew member from the ship also went. All of the meals and food service was excellent and you can order just about anything even if it is not on the menus. The difference between Crystal and the other cruise lines is like comparing a Toyota Camry to a BMW. Both will get you to your destination but the BMW will get you there in a much more luxurious manner. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
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: ... Read More
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. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
This is are 9th cruise with Crystal and remained an excellent experience. Food entertainment were excellent as always. Being recognized by the crew is always a nice touch. We cruise from July 2nd to 14th and did the post cruise Alaska ... Read More
This is are 9th cruise with Crystal and remained an excellent experience. Food entertainment were excellent as always. Being recognized by the crew is always a nice touch. We cruise from July 2nd to 14th and did the post cruise Alaska adventure. The ship was only 2/3 occupied which meant even more attention. I believe leaving the ship in Seward which requires a 3 hour bus ride to Anchorage discourages some travelers. It is ideal to do the Alaska adventure post cruise. Although it is expensive I believe you “do get which she pay for” and if it is affordable is definitely the way to go.. Again a wonderful experience and I believe Crystal remains the best of the best. I do believe the best value is to obtain a cabin on the 8th deck avoiding those cabinets that have an obstructed view. The vintage room is an added expense but offers a special menu and some excellent wine choices. The Swan court remains a wonderful escape to have a beverage between the shows. The entertainment is certainly cleared for a mature audience but clearly separates Crystal from its competitors Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I am a Diamond member of RCCL, have recently tried a few newer Carnival ships, have sailed on one Silver Sea, have tried a few NCL and Costa, and have been on a small line whose name I don't even remember...and by far, this was the ... Read More
I am a Diamond member of RCCL, have recently tried a few newer Carnival ships, have sailed on one Silver Sea, have tried a few NCL and Costa, and have been on a small line whose name I don't even remember...and by far, this was the most amazing cruise I have ever experienced! The ship is beautiful! The service is beyond compare! The food was delicious! Most importantly, the people were incredibly friendly. This last one surprised me a bit, and I can't say for sure if it was specifically this sailing or typical for Crystal...but I do get the impression it is the latter (and I plan to find out for sure by sailing Crystal more often and as soon as possible!). Some of the things that impressed me the most (in no particular order): • No Smoking! Absolutely no smoking on board (with the exception of a contained cigar room and one small obscure area outside). • Cleanest casino I have ever seen (without smoke and no ashtrays). • Speaking of the Casino, best craps game I enjoyed in a very long time (with no crazy bonus bets slowing down the action). • Amazing drinks! There was an extensive martini menu and about 16 different gin & tonic combinations that you just can't experience anywhere else (and of course, being all-inclusive it is so much fun to try new drinks). The drink of the day on Canada Day was a maple martini, with a maple leaf stenciled on top in cinnamon. • Enrichment activities were so interesting and fun. I enjoyed historical lectures about the area we were cruising (Alaska) by Dr. Jay Wolfe. I learned how to improve my iPhone photography. I especially loved the watercolor painting class offered on each sea day (with a guest exhibition at the end of the cruise). • Waiters circulating with different hors d'oeuvres each evening, as most everyone gathered and mingled in one of two amazing cocktail lounges, both with very nice music (piano player, violinist, and/or vocal duo). • One complementary reservation at each of two specialty restaurants made dining such a diverse wonderful experience (while the main dining room was delightful as well). The "anytime dining" in the main dining room actually worked well for us. I usually prefer sitting with others rather than just my husband and I...but because we interacted with other guests all day, it was nice to just sit by the window in a table for two for dinner. • Entertainment! The production shows were amazing. The lounge musicians were delightful. And the Piano Player in the Avenue Saloon was the highlight of the evening each night for my husband. • No lines or crowds! At any time. Ever. Not at embarkation. Not at debarkation. Not at any lounge or activity. Not at the breakfast buffet. I can summarize the experience by saying that I felt like I was on a yacht being pampered, but with the friendliest down-to-earth fellow passengers; and that there were lots of interesting things to do, but at a much more relaxed pace than the frantic pace I feel on other lines. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in the people business myself and Crystal knows how to treat their guests. The food was second to none and it didn't matter if you ate in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant. The rooms had everything you could want and if you needed anything it was provided. Crystal has gained a new member for life. Thank you for a great memory for my son and I on my 60th birthday cruise. The shore excursions were well planned and had great guides. I loved the enrichment lectures which proved great topics for our times as well as well educated lecturers. Room service was a real treat and once you called your items were delivered in under ten minutes. I can't wait to sail again on another Crystal cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca ... Read More
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca called Lupo. The cruise terminal in Vancouver is huge, and once I found the Crystal representatives, embarkation was smooth and very quick. Once on board the fun began. The staff, as has been my experience in my previous cruises, was always so attentive, with more than one staff member making gestures that showed they remembered me from previous cruises. The ship, after its retrofit last year, is even more beautiful. The addition of Silk as a dining venue made finding a table anywhere on the ship a sure thing. As I get motion sickness I chose a stateroom on deck 8, towards the middle of the vessel. I really liked the new flat screen TV's installed in each stateroom, and the features available on it - movies, ship info, and news channels. Very nice. This is my fourth cruise on Crystal, the third on Crystal Symphony, and the ship does not look its age by a long shot. It is meticulously maintained, spotless and comfortable, from the lounges on the pool deck to the seats in the Hollywood Theater. The new Silk lounge is so comfortable, and I love the display on the wall. I dined at Waterside all nights except for two, one when I attended a Vintage Room dinner and the other when I dined at Umi Uma. The food at Waterside was utterly delicious and beautifully presented, only surpassed by the charm and attentiveness of the staff that attended me. I dined at one particular table each evening, because the staff was so wonderful and entertaining. I almost did not want to dine at the specialty restaurants and I did skip dinner at Prego just to dine at Waterside. The Vintage Room dinner was beautiful, the staff attentive and the food and wine were delicious. The sommelier was very pleasant and debonair. The company at the Vintage Room dinner was lovely and very interesting. Dinner at Umi Uma was delicious, from the shrimp tempura to the lobster stir-fry main dish. It never disappoints. As I do not like sushi I did not order any, and so I cannot comment on that. The entertainment on board was varied and enjoyable. I enjoyed the closing show, Illuminate, which has been revamped since my last trip on Crystal Symphony. It was wonderful. I attended one other show, which was compilation of different dances and singing. The dance troupe performed a rendition of the Magdalenha, by Sergio Mendez, as well as Irish step dancing. Their rendition of the Magdalenha was disappointing. Though the singing was technically good, the dancing was just OK. To dance the Magdalenha well you must feel it, and the troupe did not. It appeared that they were going through the technical motions, but the moves did not look authentic or even fun. Their Irish step dancing, however, was wonderful. There was a dance performance by two couples in professional Latin ballroom dancing which I did not attend, though not because of any doubt as to their skill. It was that Latin ballroom dancing is not actual Latin dancing but another country’s idea of that Latin dancing is. I also, for the first time, watched a movie in the Hollywood theater – Annihilation. It was fun and the popcorn provided added to it. I also attended Mozart Tea, which was wonderful. On this itinerary I took three excursions – whale watching in Victoria, a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass studio in Seattle, and the volunteer excursion in Astoria. The whale watching excursion was fun, and we were able to see a group of transient Orcas. We then traveled to see Humpback whales and were able to see a tail. Then we rushed off for the afternoon tea part of the excursion. I would have preferred to have spent the whole of the excursion watching the whales instead of cutting it way too short. The tea at the hotel was not enjoyable – we had to wait to be seated and then my teapot was tepid at the start, cold half-way through, and it tasted like water. The excursion to see the Chihuly studio was fabulous. The studio was incredible – the docent guiding us through the exhibit was very well trained and knowledgeable. Chihuly is extraordinary. The only issue with this excursion was that our bus, before we even made it to the first stop on the tour, was in an accident. However, this was entirely the fault of the other vehicle, not our bus driver’s. No one was hurt and we were able to stay on schedule. My excursion to the food bank in Astoria was a very rewarding experience. We were able to participate in the giving of food to customers at a local food bank. The facilities were immaculately clean and organized, and the staff who we assisted was splendid. As I have been to San Francisco many times before I did not participate in any excursions. Instead, I was able to have a friend come on board the Symphony to visit. We had a lovely lunch at Waterside, and even though we sat at a table different than the one I visited for dinner, we were well take care of. I was able to say goodbye to the staff who had made my trip such a wonderful experience. Disembarkation was smooth and straightforward. I have only a couple of complaints about this trip. The first was that during the movie in the Hollywood Theater the door that leads to the casino was left open and so you could hear the noise from the casino. This was a bit distracting but I still had fun. The second was that though I had requested a group transfer through the guest check-in feature months the cruise, I was given tags for those with independent travel arrangements. I had to go to the front desk to get the correct tags, which was a slight hassle. Other than this, my trip was, as has been the case with every cruise I have taken with Crystal, a wonderful experience. I have two bookings on file and cannot wait to be back on board. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out ... Read More
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out of his way to accomodate. The public areas of ship were great. Food was good - breakfasts in particular the buffet were excellent. Dinner at the specialty restaurants was quite good. We loved all ports except Astoria which was a total waste of time. Our only complaint was the size of our cabin. We had chosen a midship veranda cabin and just found it way too small. In particular the bathroom (although it had two sinks) was exceptionally tiny. I know cruise ships never have large rooms but found this to be the smallest cruise cabin I have ever experienced. If we go on Crystal again we will have to consider when of the suites. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our 6th Crystal cruise and 3rd on Symphony. Everything that we enjoyed previously about Crystal (food, service, enrichment, entertainment etc) was just as good as before, but this time we had the added bonus of the dry dock ... Read More
This was our 6th Crystal cruise and 3rd on Symphony. Everything that we enjoyed previously about Crystal (food, service, enrichment, entertainment etc) was just as good as before, but this time we had the added bonus of the dry dock enhancements. The ship was in excellent shape, especially considering the age, and the recent dry dock has enhanced most of those areas which were perhaps looking a little tired. I think that Crystal has done a tremendous job in this respect. In particular I loved what they have done with Waterside (formerly the Crystal Dining Room). Now, it looks much more inviting and the introduction of open seating seems to work really well. I also loved what they have done with the area where Silk, the new Chinese restaurant is situated. We found the food across all the dining venues to be excellent. Over the 14 days, we had only one meal which we felt was sub-par which I think is pretty good. Waterside (main dining room) – we ate here 3 times and found the open dining to work exceptionally well. The menus are varied and interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the ambience. We felt the service was better than previously, probably because the dining room was never full to capacity due to the open seating. Umi Uma (Japanese) – we love Umi Uma and ate here several times. The yellowtail, tuna and wagyu sashimi are just out of this world.  Prego (Italian) – we have always enjoyed Prego, but I think it was even better this time. Couldn’t fault a thing in 3 visits. Silk (Chinese) and Churrascia (Brazilian steak house) – we loved having these 2 additional dining venues and enjoyed both. The added variety of restaurants was a major advantage for us. It was great to have the full 14-day cruise, not least because it gave the opportunity for some good weather. Another advantage of this cruise was that it started and finished in Vancouver which was easy to get to from the UK. It also gave the opportunity to spend time in Vancouver at each end of the cruise. We enjoyed most of the ports. Some were fascinating, others not so much, but the excursions offered by Crystal made something of even the less-interesting ports. Stand-outs for us were Vancouver, Victoria, cruising the Hubbard Glacier (words can't express the perfect day we had there), and cruising Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. We stayed in an original PS and half-way through the cruise switched to a Seabreeze PS. This had not been arranged ahead of time, and once it had been ascertained that a Seabreeze PS was available for the second part of the cruise, Crystal went above and beyond to make it very easy for us to make the switch. We liked both suites for different reasons. The original PS has a more open layout and seems to be more spacious, although it is not. The bathroom has a bath and a shower. The new PS is fresh and new and has a more closed layout, with a partial dividing wall between the bedroom and the living room. This allows for a large TV to be positioned centrally on each side of the wall for optimum viewing from both the bedroom and the living room. The bathroom has no bath tub, but does have a large and very good shower. It also has a combination washer/dryer. In both cases, the bed, linens and pillows are wonderful. We have always enjoyed the entertainment and enrichment on Crystal ships and this time was no exception. I think they do really well to come up with quality acts for such a relatively small ship. All in all, this was a great cruise and we continue to be impressed with Crystal. We think enhancements made in dry dock have very much improved the overall look and feel of Symphony. I have mentioned service already, but feel that the crew deserve a second mention. We enjoyed exemplary service throughout and some genuine kindness when I was unwell for a day. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We have cruised Crystal on 4 other occasions and enjoyed each one immensely. This was no exception. We had our daughter and her husband with us this time, and it was fun to see the experience through their eyes. Our departure from ... Read More
We have cruised Crystal on 4 other occasions and enjoyed each one immensely. This was no exception. We had our daughter and her husband with us this time, and it was fun to see the experience through their eyes. Our departure from Vancouver was very smooth and we were in our rooms by 2pm. We chose to sit at a table for 4 every night and just enjoy each other's company. The main dining room was our favorite place, although we did go to Umi Uma, which was good and Prego, which was very good. Service was impeccable throughout the cruise but we especially enjoyed our waiters in the Waterside (main dining room). They were cheerful, funny and extremely competent. Our head waiter, Andres, went out of his way to provide a special dessert request one night. Although I did not use the spa services, my daughter had a pedicure and she raved about the lovely woman that did her nails. There were a few more children on this cruise than usual, around 12 or so, but they were well behaved and rarely heard. Note to cruisers that are considering Crystal: if you have never experienced an all inclusive cruise, you should not think twice. It is worth every penny. This ship is never crowded, almost no lines or long waits for anything. Internet is great in most locations. Staff and crew are superb. Food is outstanding. Wines served with dinner are very good and top shelf liquor is included in your fare. Embarkation and debarkation are smooth. 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
We recently completed our first Crystal cruise (Vancouver to LA), after having cruised many times on NCL, HAL, and most recently, Regent. We wanted to try Crystal because of the new all-inclusive policy, and because we had heard such good ... Read More
We recently completed our first Crystal cruise (Vancouver to LA), after having cruised many times on NCL, HAL, and most recently, Regent. We wanted to try Crystal because of the new all-inclusive policy, and because we had heard such good things about them. Also, the itinerary was good for us, because we have to maintain internet connectivity while on vacation for our jobs, and we could use our MiFi card while in these ports (rather than having to pay the expensive internet fees onboard). In many ways, Crystal really wowed us; in others, not so much. Embarkation: After dropping off our bags and going through security, we had about a 20 minute wait in the port terminal. We were then called to the gangway, where a crewmember met us to escort us. We first had to stop for the mandatory Welcome Aboard photo, after which we were escorted onto the ship and into a lounge where we did a very quick and very easy check-in. We were extremely surprised to find that there were no officers at the entrance and no glass of welcome aboard champagne to greet us. It was a bit impersonal, truthfully. We found out that there was a very large group of travel agents onboard (over 100, including their children who were with them), being given tours by the ships staff, so that might have been the reason for no greeting. Apparently having these large tours whenever a ship is in port is a common Crystal practice, one that Im not too fond of, as it did seem as if the TAs were being given much more attention than the passengers. We had to find our way to the dining room, as there was no one to direct us, and we really felt like fish out of water, especially since this was our first time on a Crystal ship and we could have used a bit more guidance. Ship: The Symphony is absolutely beautiful. She is so well maintained that it is hard to believe that she is 18 years old. There are numerous lounges with different decors and themes, a very large library and computer center, a large coffee cafe, and the Palm Court, which is Crystals version of the Observation Lounge (which was very elegant and opulent, but just a bit too formal for us). The pool area is divided into two areas: the open pool deck, and a separate deck that has a retractable roof covering it, where both the pool grill and bar are located. The retractable roof was a nice touch, especially on this cruise, where the weather was often cool. The deck furniture is far superior to that of any ship weve ever been on. There were comfortable couches, loungers and chairs with big cushions and lots of pillows, as well as plenty of tables with umbrellas, and a very interesting living wall which was covered with various live plants. The pool deck became our favorite place on the ship and where we spent most of our time. Cabin: And here we come to why the public areas on the ship are so important. Crystals standard balcony cabins are very small (202 square feet, not including the balcony). These cabins do have a lot of drawer and cubby space, but the layout just isnt very functional. The closet is next to the bed, with double sliding doors, and this is really inconvenient, as only one person can get anything out of the closet at a time, and only one side of the closet can be opened at any given time. Only one person can sit on the tiny sofa and then the table has to be pushed up against the desk so that the second person has no choice but to sit on the bed. The fridge is also very small (you could not put an ice bucket into it) and does not cool (it just takes the heat off). The mattress was the hardest one weve ever tried to sleep on, and we had to have our stewardess add a foam egg crate topper onto it just so we could use it. I understand that a lot of people dont care about cabin size because they never use their cabin except for showering and sleeping. We are not that type of people. We like to relax in our cabin in the mornings while eating breakfast, and relax in our cabin in the evenings while enjoying a cocktail before going to dinner, and for that, we need a well laid out, decently sized suite which we definitely did not have on the Symphony. Those pre-dinner cocktails proved problematic. Crystals all-inclusive policy regarding liquor in the cabin is not really all-inclusive. There is a very limited list of allowed liquors, and you are limited to one bottle of liquor and one bottle of wine. If you finish one of the bottles, you can request another. Unfortunately, the list of allowed liquors and wines is not very extensive (for example, Pinot Noir is not on the list), and if your liquor of choice is not on the list, you must either grab a drink from the bar and take it to your cabin to drink while getting ready for dinner, or you can do like I did, and ask the bartender to put a couple of shots into a glass, and carry that to the cabin for mixing yourself. Unfortunately, for us the mixers were an issue as well. We had pre-ordered diet ginger ale with Crystal, and been assured that we would have it. However, once onboard, our stewardess informed us that it was unavailable, and we would have to choose something else. We found out later in the cruise that other people were getting diet ginger ale in their penthouse, so we asked Reception about it. We did get two cans delivered to our cabin that day, and then two more a few days later, but that was all we ever got. It was certainly not a deal-breaker or even a huge issue; we just didnt understand why we were told the soda was not available when it actually was, and why we were not allowed more of it. The only other issue that I noted regarding the cabin and its amenities actually involves the cabin stewardess. She was a very sweet, very hard working young lady, and the cabin was immaculate. However, the last night of the cruise, we discovered that she had gone through all the drawers in our cabin, and had pulled everything out of them. We had done most of our packing already and our suitcases were sitting out in the cabin, so perhaps she thought we were finished and she didnt want us forgetting any of the stuff in the drawers. But I was a bit shocked to come back from dinner to find my pajamas laid out on the bed, and all the rest of our stuff lying around in the cabin. I dont know if that is common practice on Crystal, but I can certainly say I have never seen it anywhere before. Food: My husband loved the food and thought it was the best hes ever had on a cruise. However, generally the food was a bit too rich for me, and didnt have much imagination. The usual dinner offerings were a lamb dish, a veal dish, a fish dish, a pasta dish, and a steak dish, all prepared differently each night, but without much creativity. I tended to fill up on appetizers, soup and salad, because the main dishes didnt usually appeal to me, but they would allow us to choose more than one item in each category, so we made it work. The portion sizes were also very small, which we appreciated, given the richness of the food. It was nice having the smaller portions so we did not feel as if we were overeating. We spent a lot of our time up at the pool bar and grill. The grill offered breakfast and things like hamburgers and pizza up until 6:00pm. However, there was no outdoor buffet with salads and other items if we did not want something from the grill. We could walk to the back of the ship and eat at the Lido buffet, but many times we were at the pool or hot tub, and didnt want to have to get covered up, put shoes on, etc, to go to a buffet. Also, the Lido closed after lunch and never re-opened for dinner, so we were limited to either the main dining room, one of the alternative restaurants, or room service after the grill closed at 6:00pm. As for how dinner is handled, Crystal offers two options: regular fixed seating, or something called Dining by Reservation, where you can choose when you want to eat, but you must reserve it months in advance. Since we didnt want to eat as early as 6:15 or as late as 8:30, we opted for Dining by Reservation and made our reservations for 7:00 or 7:30. Unfortunately, Crystal plans any special evening events (such as the Meet and Mingle or Captains Welcome) at 7:45, to deconflict with the fixed seating times. So those of us with those 7:00 7:30 reservations found ourselves having to change our reservations at the last minute in order to attend those events and thus ended up eating at 9:00 on those nights instead. I understand how Crystal is trying to emulate the true Open Seating concept as much as possible while still keeping their client base who likes the fixed seating happy, but this just did not work well for us. The specialty restaurants consisted of an Italian restaurant (Prego) and a Japanese restaurant (Nobu). Both were superb. They were intimate and comfortable without being crowded (unlike Prime 7 on the Navigator), and the food was amazing. Just my opinion, of course. Service: This is the one area in which Crystal absolutely shines. I never had a waiter, waitress, or bar attendant who wasnt friendly and helpful, or who acted as if they didnt want to be there or that we were a burden on them. The bar attendants all rapidly learned our names and what we drank. The matre d learned who we were on the first night of the cruise, and we never had to provide our name after that in order to get seated. The dining room staff never complained or acted put out if we asked for something special or different. In fact, we could special order meals with the Head Waiter for the next night, as long as we gave them enough notice (we had lobster and a filet the last night of the cruise). When someone on Crystal said, My pleasure it felt like they really meant it. We did have a major Norovirus outbreak during the cruise (15% of the passengers and almost 4% of the crew), and the staff did a wonderful job of handling it with minimal impact to the passengers. In fact, most of us had no idea how severe the outbreak was until we disembarked and read the CDC report. If someone got sick, they and their cabin mate were quarantined for at least 24 hours; however, Crystal did reimburse them for the pro-rated cruise fare for the time they were confined to their cabin. I thought that was a classy way to handle a bad situation. Entertainment: This is another area that is very subjective. The showroom on the Symphony is only one level, so it is impossible to present any sort of acrobatic or multi-level productions there. The shows onboard consisted of a couple who did ballroom dancing (which is a BIG deal with Crystal regulars), and some singing and dancing productions. We personally found the shows boring, but many onboard raved about them (obviously they were not in the row of the people falling asleep next to us during one of the shows!). In the Palm Court every evening, they have ambassador hosts who are there just to dance with ladies who want to perfect their ballroom dancing techniques or just enjoy dancing with someone who really knows how. I honestly felt like I was watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars sometimes both the hosts and the guests were just amazing, but it kept those of us who just like to sway a bit to the music from ever getting on the dance floor. I guess if we wanted to dance we could have gone to Luxe, the disco, but it is a smoking venue, so we avoided it. We found ourselves gravitating to the Avenue Saloon most evenings after dinner, because it had a piano player who would engage the audience in the later hours, so that we could sing along and just be a bit formal. All the lounges had some sort of entertainment, whether it was a piano player or a jazz band or a singer of some sort, so at least there was a good choice of entertainment if the shows were not appealing. Crystal prides itself on its enrichment program. There are various lectures and demonstrations ranging from how Californias troubles are leaching out into America as a whole, to how to improve your golf score. We did not participate in any of the programs because none of them were really interesting to us, but many of the other passengers seemed to love that aspect of the cruise. Smoking: Although Crystal allows smoking in their cabins and several public areas (a policy which is changing early next year to be more restrictive), we never had an issue with it while onboard, mostly because we avoided any lounges or area that allowed smoking. Gym: The gym is well maintained and has a good variety and number of machines and weights. However, the aerobics area is in the same room as the cardio equipment, so whenever a class is held, it is in the same room as the machines and weights, which is a bit awkward. I like to work out to exercise videos on my iPad, but found it uncomfortable to try to do so in the aerobics area, because the music was always turned up so loudly in the gym whenever there was no class being held, and because the aerobics area is right next to an exit door to the spa, so I felt like I was on display whenever trying to do my videos. Spa: We did not use the spa, so cannot comment on it. We did do a tour after embarking, and the spa appeared fairly small, but adequate. Unfortunately, we just wanted to see the spa, not to get the hard sell technique, which is exactly what we ended up with. Knowing that we probably would not be using the spa because the cruise was so port intensive, that hour we spent hearing about all the great things the masseuse could do for us was just a waste of time. Casino: The casino was large and had a lot of slot machines, plus a craps table, several card tables, and a roulette wheel, which I enjoyed (it is really hard to find roulette wheels anymore). The croupiers were all very friendly and helpful. Most of them were from Nevada, so it was fun to talk to them, since we also live in Nevada. I really enjoyed the casino on the Symphony, and I dont usually gamble while cruising. Excursions: Although the cruise was very port intensive, we only took one excursion, both because we were familiar with most of the ports, and because not many of the offered excursions appealed to us, especially given the price. Our excursion to Mount St. Helens was very well done and the included lunch was the best weve ever had on any excursion. The tour was probably the highlight of our cruise. Dress Code: Crystal has relaxed its dress code so that what used to be mandatory formal nights are now called Black Tie Optional. On that night, and on the slightly less formal Elegant Casual night, most men were in dark suits and women were in nice dresses or pantsuits/separates. The rest of the nights were what we are used to on Regent, Resort Casual. However, even on those more casual nights, many men were in jackets and women were elegantly dressed. We did notice that many people got into their evening attire well before 6:00pm, even as early as 3:00 or so, to attend the afternoon tea in the Palm Court. I actually felt uncomfortable going into the Palm Court in my walking pants and sweater on the afternoon of the Mozart Tea (where the servers all dress up in period attire and Mozarts music is playing in the background), because so many people were all gussied up and I was not. We did have to have our bags packed and in the hallway by 11:00pm that last night of the cruise. We flew home the next day, and did not want to wear our resort casual clothes for flying, so we ended up having to make it a fairly early evening that last night in order to get everything but our travel clothes packed up by the designated time. Disembarkation: This was Crystals last chance to wow us, and they sure did, but not in a good way. They have a no-announcement policy on disembarkation, so everyone just shows up at the Starlite Lounge at their designated time, to get off the ship. We were independent travelers, and so could get off at our leisure. Because we had a late flight out, we wanted to stay onboard as long as possible, and according to the Disembarkation Instructions, the latest time off was 9:30am. At 9:05am, there was an announcement that, All remaining passengers are to disembark immediately. It was a good thing that we were already ready to go, I guess. We made our way to the gangway, found absolutely no one there to say Goodbye, or Safe travels, or Hope to see you again onboard someday. We just went straight to the door, handed our key cards to the crewmember there, and left. I almost expected to hear him say, Dont let the door hit you on the way out as we walked away. To be fair, the CDC had sent inspectors to board the ship in LA, to see how they had handled the Norovirus outbreak, so perhaps all the officers and crew were tied up with them. But I still think that just one or two people could have been stationed at the gangway to at least offer a Thank you for cruising with us. It was just a really sorry way to end what we had wanted to be a wonderful cruise. General Thoughts and Impressions: The service was outstanding, the ship was beautiful and comfortable, and the food was excellent. Still, though, for us there was just something missing. Perhaps it is because the itinerary was so port intensive that we did not have much time onboard the ship, so we never really got to know our fellow passengers that well (we have often counted meeting new people and spending time with them as the high points of our cruises). Perhaps it is because the Norovirus outbreak changed the vibe of the cruise. Perhaps it is because we really never could relax in our cabin like we often like to do, because it was just too small for the two of us. To be fair, several long-time Crystal cruisers who I spoke with told me that there was just something off about this particular cruise. No one could pinpoint it, but we could tell these Crystal fans were a bit disappointed with this cruise. So perhaps had we been on a different cruise with Crystal, we might have felt differently. We would certainly consider cruising on Crystal again, if the itinerary, length of cruise, and price (taking into account internet costs) was right for us. 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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