This is our first luxury cruise. Our party of 6 Asian American friends supposed to embarked in Hamburg but was delayed for 5 hrs due to the ship was not ready. However Crystal did arrange free shuttle to downtown Hamburg so we got a chance to try out the German famous sausages, black beer, pig feet as well do some nice shopping. Plus one for Crystal.
The embankment was smooth and our room was quite spacious and clean. The bathroom is larger than some of the newer cruise ship we have been on. But like the other reviewer has said, the bathroom ventilation was not sufficient and it would be better with a glass panel instead of shower curtain.
The ship was the smallest one we have been to but the layout is sufficient to accommodate its small number of passengers. Even this cruise was full ship, it was quiet and comfortable all over.
Even this ship do not have buffets all over like other cruise ship. Food is abundant and the quality is very good. We tried the Silk Road 4 times and even the quality is not as good as the top Japanese restaurant in our city, nevertheless it is still very good over all. However, their sake was weak and no taste and we ended up ordering the Shochu(stronger rice spirit). The Italian restaurant PREGO is also very good too. We thoroughly enjoyed both these restaurants.
As for the main dinning room, even we didn't have that many dinners in the main dinning room, the times we were there the food is very good and is a lot better than all the other non luxury cruises(including Princess cruise). The best thing about Crystal is that they will try to do anything to please you if they can. We ordered lobster dinner twice and we have lobster dinner twice. We didn't order the quantity but they cooked 1 and a half lobster for each of us and unshelled the lobsters at our table. Plus one for Crystal.
The breakfast at the Lido did not offer as many items as I expected. But there
are plenty of fresh fruits and fresh squeezed orange juice. The pastries were delicious and the eggs(including egg white) were cooked to ordered. However, the Asian items, such as Miso soup and Congee, are popular among Asian guests but the choices and quality do has a lot of room for improvement.
We also tied the Bristo for sweets/cheese and the Trident Grill for steak sandwich both are excellent. I particular tried their room service when we took a long day in Moscow and was back after midnight. I ordered the steak, salad with shrimp, and fruit plate. Everything was prepared and presented perfectly even after midnight. However, I agreed with the previous review that the tea in the Palm Court was weak and they should offer lose tea leaf. However, their sweets and mini sandwiches are very good.
The worst meal is the Asia buffet in one of the days at sea. We suspected it was the result of European chef trying to cook Asian cuisine. The supposed roast duck tasted like a baked duck painted with red color and the rest was horrific. I wish if they cannot get real oriental cooks, then better offer some other types of buffet which their cooks are good at.
The service is excellent all over the ship and we have no problem getting what we need.
The entertainment on board is so so. The Filipino bands and quartet are ok but did not arouse any excitement in the Palm Court and Starlight Lounge. The Disco is more interesting and attracted a good crowd.
As for wine and beverages, the refrigerator in the room was stocked with beer, soft drink, and water. We did specify the type of drinks we want and they stock the refrigerator as requested, all inclusive. The daily wine(one red and one white) offer in the main dinner room are good but outstanding. Special brand of wine can be ordered but is not free. All mixed drinks, non-alcoholic beverages and wine are free on board. The captain did announced this cruise with around 900 guests did consume over 2,000 bottle of wine. There are also a cigar room with more expensive liquor(Cognac XO) stocked in it but we suspect those are along with the cigar are not inclusive.
The ship docked at St. Petersburg and we did arrange our private tour with a side tip to Moscow. We went with Anastasia Travel. They promised us a memorable experience in Russia but we were disappointed by quality of their guides and change of dinner itineraries without our knowledge which we ended up with a not so impressive Russian dinner.
Overall, maybe in the past we were having bad experience with those non luxury cruises or other reasons that make this luxury cruise stands out. But at the end of the day, all it matters is we did have a great and wonderful time with this Crystal cruise. We are just impressive with Crystal cruise as other reviewers do and is looking forward to have another fantastic Crystal voyage, and hopefully this time we will have a more authentic Asian buffet.