We had high expectations for our first Crystal Cruise. Boarding was a breeze, our room was fine. Staff on board quickly got to know our names and our favorite drinks. The trouble started when we would return to our room and smell heavy cigarette smoke. My husband and I spent the night coughing. This occurred for 3 days and then we asked our room stewardess about it. She said she would check with her supervisor. She returned to tell us that the people in the room next door were smoking. The smoke was being carried through the ventilator into our room. After this we complained to the front desk. The next day we were told that we could move our room. They had a room with a partially blocked view and one at the very back of the ship that we could have. We had paid a premium for our room and did not want to move to an inferior room. No compensation was offered and we refused. Subsequently we noticed that the smoker in the room beside us was a crew member which made us wonder why they did not move them instead. So we suffered the entire cruise inhaling second hand smoke and coughing through every night.
The ports we visited were also not very good. In the first port Barbados, we signed up for a snorkel and swim with turtles on one of the excursions. We were taken to a reef that was clearly dead and brown and had few fish, then the crew threw out some bread crumbs to attract a couple of turtles near us. The excursion was not good.
Our next port was Devils Island, which was the place of an old prison. Not much was left of it and it was hardly worth getting tendered to shore for.
One of the ports was Belem, which was at the mouth of the Amazon. We arrived and the ship reportedly had no where for the tenders to tie up. Eventually they tied up to a public ferry boat that we had to climb up to and walk through the crowd of locals to reach the shore. The excursion was a boat trip on the Amazon river. It consisted of a walk through the jungle and return to a badly looking tour boat. Since the tide must have gone down when we came back, we were forced to walk a narrow plank and I had to sit on my behind and edge myself onto the boat. No water or refreshments were offered and we sat on plastic garden chairs. Hardly the luxury, the Crystal name evokes. The other ports in Brazil were Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador and not really worth seeing unless you liked dirty streets and craft markets.
On board life was ok with plenty to do. They had a wonderful lecture series on the Middle East given by Mark Ginsberg. Also a retired judge gave some interesting lectures. Not much action around the pool during the day, just allot of relaxing going on. I did some knitting and needlepoint. I tried to learn Bridge but the instructor was not too keen on instructing novice players although she did put aside an hour a day to teach us the basics.
The food was fabulous. Wait staff and Matre D were wonderful and would prepare us special desserts or dishes if we asked. Entertainment on board was ok with some very good acts and some that were a little boring to me. I guess the average age was 65-70 so most the entertainment and music catered to that age group. No one in the casino, not much action in the evening after the entertainment was over.