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Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by Emerald22: Great Services but sub-standard food


Emerald22
6 Reviews
Member Since 2004
65 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 4.0
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities 5.0
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates 4.0
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 3.0
Value for Money 3.0

Compare Prices on Crystal Symphony Panama Canal & Central America Cruises

Great Services but sub-standard food

Sail Date: November 2010
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)

We went on this cruise with another couple, who have travelled with Crystal Harmony 4 times before. We flied to N.Y. the night before, spent an evening in N.Y., then boarded the ship just before noon. We stayed in Ink48, which is 10 minutes cab ride to the pier. We really liked the hotel, clean, modern, and quiet, with very comfortable bed. This is not a 5 star hotel, good enough for a short stay but a bit far from theatre district.

Boarding took about an hour, when we got on the ship, our room was not ready. We checked our hand luggage, which took another half hour, then went to the Dining Room for lunch. Around 2:30pm, we were in our room. Our luggage was delivered to our room, including our hand luggage. So bring extra lock for your hand luggage.

The room was clean, but small. The sitting area looked bigger in picture. With the coffee table pushed closer to the couch so that we could access the drawers, there was not enough leg room for two persons to sit on the More couch, only one person at a time.

I am only going to talk about the few things that I have always wanted to know but never found the answers here.

With the 2 for 1 pricing, was the food as good as they said? Maybe it normally is, but not on this sailing. Compared to the 5 star restaurants found in any big city, the food served on this cruise would only get a 3.5 rating. Someone told me the regular chef was on vacation. More than 1/3 of the time our food arrived luke warm. A few times, we waited 40 minutes for our dinner. Soup was watery. Most of the time, chicken consomme was served and it tasted like Campbell soup. On the Galley tour, one lady asked the Executive Chef Manfred Schaller why the soup choice was getting more and more limited. His reply was that "There is just not a lot of demand". Well, if the soup did not taste good time after time, people would not order them. Steak was tough and always came overcooked. Order a medium rare if you want a medium well. Seafood was a lot better and most patrons did order fish. This may be the reason why they did this very well. Souffle was one of the few dishes that was met our expectation. Lobster was also very good but for a 19 days cruise, they only served it once. If you want another lobster dinner, place the order the night before.

Is the cruise on Crystal worth the money? Base on our experience, with the 2 for 1 pricing, and a $2,200 shipboard credit, I would say yes. But if you are young and active, wants to do a lot and see a lot on board and on land, then the answer is no. This ship caters to clients over 70 years old, who are rich and shameless. Their money works for them and not the other way around.

I met a lot of nice people, who have sailed with Crystal numerous times (easily over 15 times). One thing I found is that they are "crystalized", and have not travelled with any other cruise line since they sailed with Crystal. With no other experience to compared with lately, they simply don't know what they are missing.

Service was excellent. We haven't met one single rude employee.

Bathroom is small but has enough storage space. Shower has great water pressure. They still have receptionists making the wake-up calls personally; therefore there may be 5 - 6 minutes delay on a port day.

I have very sensitive skin, and reacts to strong commercial detergent used by the Princess Cruise ships. I was hoping that Crystal might be different. On the 4th day, my skin started to break out in rash. My cabin steward replaced the linen promptly with what I brought from home. The rash subsided. She ordered special sheets for me, catered to people with sensitive skin. It did not work. After the 3rd day, my skin broke out in rash again. So if you have sensitive skin like mine and had similar experience, bring your own sheet. I did not seem to have any problem with the Celebrity cruise line.

Spa was very nice and cozy. Fitness centre was usually only half full.

If you are booking this cruise to transit the Panama Canal, the best view is on open deck, not in the Palm Court. You just would not get a great picture there due to the window frame. Order room service early in the morning, then head straight to the open deck, if you are fit and nimble.

I asked my friends how this cruise compared to their previous cruises with Crystal, they said that this one does not even come close to what they experienced before. We had a full ship on this sailing. On the afternoon of the so called Mozart tea, everyone showed up. So instead of having the pastry brought to us, we had to take our plate and lined up for them. Tea was served in tea bag instead of loose tea leaves. I would not call that a High Tea at all. I had better experience in a side walk cafe. Less


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Cabin review: Crystal Symphony Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah Seabreeze Deck 9118

Cabin 9118 is at AFT, therefore you will feel the vibration of the ship. However, you are close to the open deck in the back, which has stairs that would take you up to the open deck. Two levels down and you are right at Silk Road, very convenient location for dining. I also found the open deck area in the back very quiet and peaceful.

Port and Shore Excursions


Absolutely georgeous port, unfortunately, we only got to stay here for half a day. We started with a catamaran ride to the Land’s End, and then boarded an air-conditioned unmarked mini-van taxi to a 5-star hotel, which is at the other end of Land’s End. Light refreshment was served in this hotel. The scenery was beautiful and breath-taking. Beware of the strong undertow. Don't swim on the Pacific Ocean side of the Land's End.

Very interesting port, don't miss the old walled city but don't go out on your own to any remote area, especially the fishing village of Bocachica, where the San Fernando Fortress is situated. This island has lots of beggars and they can get very aggressive. If you take picture of them or with them, be prepared to pay them.

Our tour guide took us shopping by the end of the tour, and the emeralds of Columbia are indeed very special.


Charleston is very pretty. The pier is located within walking distance to the city center, and only two blocks from Charleston's famous public market. We turned left from the pier, cut through the Waterfront Park, and walked along East Bay Street till we hit the waterfront. There are some big beautiful historic buildings along the waterfront. Turning right on Meeting Street will take you back to the Market Place. If you like to tour some big plantation buildings, you would need to join a tour. We have seen them in Atlanta, so we did not join any tour. Two malls - The Citadel Mall and Northwoods Mall - are located within a few minutes ride by taxi. For those with walking difficulties, there is a city trolley that takes you around town.


We took a ride in a submarine, the 46-passengers Atlantis which took us down 50 ft below the surface to take a look at the quiet underwater world. The water is not crystal clear. We have seen better coral and marine life in Hawaii. The shipwrecks were equally disappointing.

Shopping is pathetic. Go straight to the Beach, don't waste your time with the submarine or shopping.


There are lots to do in Miami. Because we've been here before, we just went shopping. Crystal offers complimentary Shuttle Bus service to the Bayside Marketplace. We spent our morning there, then took a cab to Dolphin Mall ($40). We had lunch there and went back to the ship around 4 pm to avoid the rush hour traffic.

Read 163 Miami Reviews

We did not join any tour. Crystal provides complimentary shuttle which took us from the pier to the City Centre (Board & Locust). From there, we walked 40 minutes to the Liberty Bell. There was a Starbucks along the way, as well as Hard Rock Cafe and Macy. So you can sight see and shop as well.


Beautiful port, with lots to do. We boarded the motor coach, traveled along the coast to the city centre, where the City Hall was located. Then we headed to a small coast known as Barcelo La Jolla de Mismaloya, where it all began. We learned that Puerto Vallarta was a small fishing village until 1963, when the Director John Huston made a movie here called “The Night of the Iguana”. This movie brought Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Ava Garner to Mismaloya, Puerto Vallarta.

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