This was our third cruise on the Symphony and each cruise gets better. We haven't sailed on the other luxury lines like SilverSeas and Regent but with the service and quality we receive from Crystal I don't know why I would venture out of the cocoon for a luxury cruise.
I'll leave the ports of call out although I can say that the excursions by Crystal are always good and with the clients it attracts, Crystal has the upscale non eventful excursions. We did have one subpar excursion in Acapulco where the guides English was poor.
From our last cruise with Crystal 2 years ago the waiter staff has become better. They were much friendlier and interacted with the passengers much more. Service has always been good but a little more intimate on this voyage. In talking to the Maitre D' I was told that Crystal was concentrating on hiring wait staff that wanted to be waiters rather than moving on to be doctors, lawyers etc. Maybe that is the difference.
The ship More
has been refurbished and the rooms now have LCD/DVD TV's. Bathrooms have been redone with dual glass sinks. Beds and pillows still great and were made to our specs.
The entertainment was extraordinary. The in house Crystal dancers and singers were every bit as good as some I've seen in Las Vegas. In fact better. They were high energy, innovative, and the lead singers were super. Considering they did a new show every other night you have to marvel at how they can remember 20 different sets a show.
Enrichment lectures were excellent as always with Hugh Downs a guest speaker and Sam Choi the celebrity chef. Besides food Sam is a great stand up comedian.
The Starlight Club has been refurbished and the Band that entertains there really had their act together. Kudos to the new female singer from the Philippines who not only had a great voice but individually visited with the guests during band breaks.
Food is always good and you can expect to gain weight. 10 pounds if you can control yourself. Otherwise bring some elastic pants for the end of the cruise.
Our table of 8 made several non menu requests. Kind of stump the kitchen by the group. They always delivered. Some required delivery the next night but often we were accommodated that meal. Alternative restaurants( Prego and Silk Road) are not to be missed. The main dining room never disappointed however. The Lido cafe and Trident Grill are always available as alternatives and are equally excellent. You'll find that the staff quickly knows you and knows exactly what you want so you can save some words and just say thank you.
Of course if you haven't had enough to eat go to the Palm Court for High Tea. The staff even dresses up in period for the Mozart Tea. Of course the string quartet plays Mozart as you have a panoramic view of the Canal as you sail on.
A six star cruise with no scrimping because of the economy as some other lines have done from what I gather from talking to friends that have sailed on other lines. Less
Crystal Symphony Cruises to the Panama Canal & Central America
Nice city. Tour was excellent and the guide was fluent in English. The city is modern, clean and very American. No pushy vendors here and not much of an opportunity to bargain. Just like America. Great beaches, golf courses and restaurants.
We did the swimming with sting rays excursion. A neat experience in crystal waters. The rays are Southern Rays that get to be 4 feet across but are the most gentle animals you'll ever encounter. Shopping for jewelry was good and the prices were reasonable.