Few years ago when we started taking cruises to enhance our land tours, we carefully chose Crystal because of its reputation and its offer "$1000 as you wish" that made Crystal distinguished from "all inclusive" offer by other luxury lines. We really had a wonderful experiences from the past few cruises with Crystal.
However, V2226 Oct 21,2012 New England Cruise with Crystal Symphony disappointed us.
After Crystal changed to all inclusive, all service are going downhill.
First, in Lido and Neptune: except Filipino crew, most of the servers were not smiling and friendly, no one chasing us for coffee as before. Most of time, we needed to ask for coffee instead. No one tried to remember and were greeting us with our names. No one took your tray when you just turned around from the food serving table. It was the first time, we ordered food in the Grill, and the food got forgotten and did not show up. All those little friendly gestures I experienced in the last Crystal cruises impressed me very much and could tell the differences of luxury cruises and other cruises
Second, The steward was so different from Serenity when $1000 as you wish" was offering. Never restocked our refrigerator and shampoo, body cream etc. I needed to call room service for Perrier water and wrote her a note about the body cream. The litter in the room stayed on the floor for few days. I always ask some fruits in refrigerator every evening. The previous stewards in Serenity put the fruits in small plate so that the refrigerator door could be closed. In Symphony, the steward sometimes forgot the order or put the fruits in big plate to make the refrigerator door not closed. Few times, I almost dropped bottles from the refrigerator.
Third, the management was not friendly as Serenity, I requested hosted table when I paid in full six month ago as I did with previous Crystal cruises. After we boarded the ship this time, the maitre D told us that I didn't get it this time because those tables were reserved for special guests.
Fourth, in the past Crystal cruises, we enjoyed talking to friendly bar tenders. Just took a couple of days, all bar tenders remembered our names and chatted with us when we were there. The lady bar tender in Serenity Crystal Cove even remembered us after a year. It really made us feel welcome and at home. In this cruise, no bar tenders made an effort to chat with us, not even mentioned they remembered us.
Fifth, afternoon tea was always my favor activity, in Serenity, the head waiter always came to talk to us. The waiters all were very friendly and attentive. This cruise, we needed to walk up to the head waiter to tell him that no one served us tea for a couple of time.
MIGHT BE ALL INCLUSIVE WITH GRATUITIES MADE THE CREWS FEEL EXTRA MILES IN SERVICE MEAN NOTHING TO THEM NOW.
The food in dining room and Silk Road were still very good. Prago was not as good as before.
The all inclusive wine lists were so short and never showed to the guests unless you asked for it. In Prego, the sommelier told us the ship didn't stock that many good wines now because few people asked for connoisseur wine list. In Serenity with $1000 as you wish, since we didn't drink that much, we usually order better wines for dinner. Now, I even drank less because I didn't like their all inclusive wines.
Really missed "$1000 all you wish". Without this offer, I do not see Crystal is different to other luxury cruise line.
Final words, regarding the way Symphony handled the situation caused by its own mechanical problem and the storm, I quite agreed with another reviewer Marvick600. If Crystal were willing to give information or help about how to go to Quebec and Newport by ourselves, we definitely would rent a car to do day trip to Quebec and Newport. When we heard about the option from other people in the ship, it was already too late for us to plan the day trip. Might be, Crystal thought giving $150 per person to compensate missing Quebec was good enough. However, the money was not the issue for people taking luxury cruise. Extra service in the difficult situation is the most importance for people going for luxury cruise. Especially, the ship's mechanical problem caused customers missed a port and scenic cruising.
Will we take Crystal again? Might be. But, trying other luxury cruise line become our priority now.