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Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by dbjennings

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Crystal Symphony
Crystal Symphony
Member Name: dbjennings
Cruise Date: February 2014
Embarkation: Auckland
Destination: Australia & New Zealand
Cabin Category:
Cabin Number: 8048
Booking Method:
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Member Rating   5.0 out of 5+
Dining 5+
Public Rooms 5.0
Cabins 5.0
Entertainment 5.0
Spa & Fitness 5.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Shore Excursions 4.0
Embarkation 5.0
Service 5+
Value-for-Money 4.0
Rates Not Rated
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Ship Facts: Crystal Symphony Review (by Cruise Critic!) | Crystal Symphony Deck Plans
Exceptional service on a beautiful ship

My previous cruising experience: Oceania, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Viking.

Crystal Symphony is a lovely midsize ship with all the amenities you would expect. The pricing is "all inclusive", and Crystal comes pretty close. The most obvious exception was internet access, and that will be free on Crystal cruises, starting later this year. You can find plenty of information about the ship elsewhere, and you will like what you see!

Service truly stands out, all over the ship. I have enjoyed my previous cruising, but this was the best. Waitstaff, room service, senior staff - they were all wonderful.

Shore excursions were what one would expect: well organized, good quality, and somewhat expensive. (I priced a number of excursions with non-Crystal vendors, and mostly went with the Crystal offerings).

I used Crystal transfers to get to the ship (I had other arrangements for debarkation), and Crystal was convenient, efficient, and reasonably priced (perhaps one of the best values of everything). We were met at the airport and taken to a central hotel in Auckland where we had a catered hospitality suite for the day. This was a comfortable base for sightseeing until our transfer to the ship.

The cabin was nice and much like I expected. The little bathroom shines with double sinks and shelves for him and her, although using both at the same time is problematic! There are nice toiletries and ample room to stow your things. There is a tub/shower combo. I used the king bed configuration, which was quite comfortable. There is plenty of closet space and luggage storage under the beds. The TV with cable service has a built-in DVD player, and the ship's library has a nice selection of DVDs. In-room WiFi worked well, and WiFi coverage was pretty good throughout the ship. Fresh fruit and flowers in the cabin was a nice touch. The refrigerator is stocked, and that is part of all-inclusive.

I've had good dining experiences on all my cruises, but Crystal was the best! I used the main dining room for most dinners, and other excellent options for breakfast and lunch. There are two specialty restaurants, which were nice and what you might expect. You have an allotment of included reservations at the specialty restaurants, but I enjoyed the main dining room so much that I didn't use all of my specialty restaurant allotments. Perhaps some of this is good luck, as my spouse and I selected a table for 8, with 6 previously unknown diners, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Service was wonderful, and we quickly got to know the waitstaff for our special table of 8. You can select other table sizes and arrange to be with specific parties if you choose, but once you choose, that's it. There are 2 dining times for the main dining room, and a normal reservation system for the specialty restaurants. I used the Lido cafe for most breakfasts and some lunches. Lido features an excellent buffet, and you can go whenever it is open. Even out on the pool deck, wandering waitstaff will check to see if they can bring you a drink or a meal. Room service is available, but I didn't use it. They will set up the table on your verandah if you like.

There are the usual cruise activities. Onboard entertainment was good, and there were a variety of interesting lectures featuring excellent presenters. I used their beautifully equipped "Computer University" to take a series of Photoshop classes.

There are a lot of repeat Crystal cruisers, and with good reason. It isn't so much Crystal incentives, as it is that Crystal is that good! The average age of cruisers was slightly less than other cruises I've been on, but there are lots of seniors, myself included. There is elegance, but formality is not overdone. There were only a few children on this cruise, and there are some dedicated facilities for them. They seemed happy enough, but probably wished there were more youngsters.

One area Crystal can improve on is the pre-cruise planning experience. They really want you to use your travel agent and not bother them directly. Sometimes this is OK, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. You will not be told this, but it is pretty easy to figure out. The online planning center is buggy, not particularly user friendly, and not the best to produce things like customized printed itineraries. Nevertheless, you can make it work and accomplish what you need to. This surprised me after all the good things I heard about Crystal. I wouldn't make too much of it; I still give Crystal 5 stars for my cruise. Once you meet the Crystal rep at your inbound transfer, expect quality pampering the rest of the way.

In sum, I rate Crystal as the best of my cruise experiences to date. It isn't cheap, but quality never is. Crystal Symphony is a beautiful ship and I look forward to cruising with Crystal again.

 


Publication Date: 03/10/14
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