I just returned from my first Crystal Cruise and am in what I'm calling the 'Crystal haze' --a surreal place where one is treated like royalty, wined and dined and pampered beyond belief. I booked my Crystal cruise expecting to receive the level of excellence they tout, but had no idea that they would meet and exceed me expectations in all categories.
We sailed the Serenity on the Roman Empire Exploration from Istanbul to Barcelona. Ours was a port-intensive voyage, calling in many wonderful ports. And with three days at-sea, there was time to relax and enjoy the ship's offerings as well.
My stateroom (PH) lacked nothing. With a walk-in closet complete with plenty of drawers, jacuzzi tub and glass shower, vanity, writing desk, sofa/table, ample balcony and VERY comfy queen bed, I enjoyed the time spent there. My friendly, professional and most anxious -to -please butler provided pressing/shoe shine services and brought canapes and champagne nightly at my request. Breakfast on my balcony was delivered in minutes after requesting...and always with a smile and kind word or two.
It is obvious that Crystal selects their crew because of their love of people. And it is the crew and their stellar service that separates Crystal from all other cruise lines. Our stewardesses, waiters, servers, spa employees, concierge and front desk staff and even the librarian could not do enough for us --they greeted us with smiles and warm welcomes at every meeting.
The artistically presented five star cuisine also differentiates Crystal as well. I can honestly say that nearly every morsel I ate in our 12 days aboard was excellent. From fresh squeezed juices every morning at breakfast to the bananas foster our head waiter Augusto made for us table side by request after dinner, the meals were memorable. I particularly appreciated the use of fresh ingredients, prime meats, not overly salty sauces, the most perfectly prepared risotto I've had anywhere, amazing soups, fresh made pastas and desserts that were as beautiful as they were delicious. Sommeliers in all dining venues were knowledgeable, upbeat and added greatly to the overall dining experiences. Specialty restaurants Prego and Nobu's Silk Road served up meals among the best I've eaten anywhere in my life. I could write an entire review about the Prego cuisine, presentation, ambiance and service!! We attended both optional formal nights in the Crystal dining room and found them to be a delightful change of pace.
Another thing Crystal excels at is offering choices. From the pillow menu from which one chooses their preferred pillows, to the multiple dining options at each meal my every desire was met...and then some!
The lime and ginger salt rub I experienced in the spa was one of the singular happiest hours of my life. It was so amazing in fact that I booked the same treatment later that day for a friend with whom I was traveling, and he agreed it was one of the very best experiences of his life as well.
For those contemplating cruising.....I would very highly suggest Crystal. Contrary to most things I've experienced in life, with Crystal Cruises, you really can 'believe the hype.' I cannot wait to return to sea with them. Though this was my first Crystal voyage, most all passengers I met were on their 2nd, 10th or 15th Crystal Cruise. Now I 'get it.'
Someone asked me last week if I could change one thing about our voyage or Crystal Cruises what would it be.......I'm still thinking. The only thing that comes to mind is that one or two of the chocolate desserts was too sweet for my taste. If that's the worst thing I can say about 12 days in heaven, that's pretty darn good.