I had great hopes after reading reviews on this company. what I found is that my husband and I are not a "good fit" for Crystal. On this trip while the passengers were nice we were younger than most of them who had been on numerous cruises with Crystal some from when Crystal was started. The atmosphere to me is one of a "Country Club" with the majority of the cruisers being well educated repeat cruisers in their 70s who share similar interests etc. Most seem to like the all inclusive plan of cruising. For those of us who use alcohol sparingly this can feel like we are not getting good value for our cruise $. I would prefer to pay for my beverages alcohol and non-alcohol . I found the ship to feel dated, lacking the glamor of newer ships e.g. the carpets were fraying in areas. I was told that the ship will go to dry stock in September in Germany for 21 days. It is easy to navigate being a smaller ship.
Our cabin 8135 a balcony at the end of the hall in the stern felt cramped. The furnishings were similar to what I have experienced on Princess. Nothing special. The advantage of our location at the end of the hall was that it was quiet with minimal foot traffic compared to where we usually have our cabin mid-ship.
Food was consistently excellent and the service in dining room good. The lido deck does not serve dinner and for me this was a negative as I don't always want to spend the time going to the dining room for dinner. I wish the calorie content with nutritional content of the food for at least a few items would be stated. Knowing the calorie and nutrition content would aid passengers wanting to eat healthy to do so. The trident grill could be crowded at peak times and service could be improved by increasing staffing.
Crystal has changed vendors for the stores on symphony so the stores were closed the 1st days at sea for restocking. I found the new vendors to be expensive, clothing jewelry and perfume. I prefer the vendors on Princess which have clothing items that are more reasonable in cost and fit my life style in retirement . I don't buy high end jewelry and my active retirement community does not permit us to wear perfumes to events or while working out in gym. The gym is small and I heard some of passengers complain that there was insufficient room for the stretching classes. My husband commented that the spin bikes were old and he was told the bikes would be replaced in September. Speaking of perfume all the soaps and hand cremes in the bathrooms public and in cabins are highly perfumed. With many people allergic to perfumes, I question why the soap etc need to have these strong odors. The lectures on board are excellent and the quality of the speakers are the best that I have encountered on cruises. I was impressed by the library, selection of books and its lengthy hours. The best on ship library that I have encountered in the 20 years that I have cruised. The entertainment was not to my liking but I heard positive comments from other passengers.
The SPA was expensive and I had some complaints which I feel weren't adequately addressed. On the other cruise ships the spa would offer fruit, a pitcher of water with cut up fruit etc. On Symphony I was offered bottled water at the SPA but no flavored water. I wont be using the SPA on board ship on future cruises as I cant justify the pricing compared to what I pay at my local spa for similar services--over 2X. The SPA like the ship felt small & dated with a need for updating. It was not as nice as spas that we have experienced on other ships. Will we cruise Crystal again, not likely as we would like a more informal less "clubby old school" atompshere". We like good food but dont need 1X1 staffing and lengthy time required to eat in the dining room .
The excursions were the usual nothing unique or creative. What we did appreciate is that there was someone from Crystal on each excursion to help out. Water on excursions was complimentary--no charge and it was offered when leaving on excursions and on the excursions. We would like a cruise that could offer more opportunities to learn about nature and have the option of a less formal setting for dinner. Some of the passengers that I talked with used room service for dinner while we don't care for room service. So in conclusion, Crystal does have many superior services but for some of us just isnt a "good fit" in meeting out needs but for other cruisers is a "good fit".