While the Crystal Symphony is perfectly nice and the service outstanding, the overall experience left many of us who were not travelling as a couple or with a group feeling bored and left out. Mixers and other informal get-togethers were not organized; there was little to do other than sit in a lounge and drink/listen to music or on deck and read. Other than the one day at sea, the lack of programming options and communication designed to bring people together was a great disappointment. Yes, there were classes, but unless you wanted to focus on iPad skills or dancing, not much else. The lecturer offered little in the way of insights not widely available in basic media, and he misrepresented himself by claiming a non-partisan outlook.
The excursion staff, the few hours that they were available at the desk, were misinformed about several aspects of the (costly) excursions; for example, in Saguenay, the zodiac tour did NOT include the likelihood of finding beluga whales, or even seeing much in the way of fjords, and they did NOT provide any kind of protective outerwear as the excursion staff indicated. The talented musicians were mostly limited to nightly show presentations; most other cruise lines employ them elsewhere to entertain in different formats at other parts of the ship at different times of the day. Staterooms are TINY, even compared to other less high-end cruise lines. While smoking was restricted, it was allowed in the worst possible place: in the bar right at the only central place to congregate in the main lobby outside the dining room. Many of these issues would be very simple to overcome, if Crystal wants to earn a continued reputation as a leader in this industry rather than complacent reliance on past perceptions.