We have just returned from our 15th Crystal cruise- this time to Norway. We started in Copenhagen and sailed all the way to the Arctic circle and then ended in Dover. To appreciate this itinerary, you must love Nature and days at sea. The magnificence of the fjords really defies description. I hope our pictures will capture some of the beauty of that area. Since it was often light 24 hours a day (no sunrise or sunset) we could enjoy the sights at all hours. One night at about 10 p.m. the captain took an unscheduled "detour" into an incredibly beautiful fjord and sailed there for about 2 hours. The ship's photographers went out in a little rubber dinghy and took wonderful pictures. We don't usually buy the pictures, but we definitely had to have one from this experience even though we were hanging over the railing of our balcony and taking pictures of our own.
As always, Crystal was as close to perfect as a cruise line can get. I have read reviews saying that the food on Crystal could be better and I don't understand how it could be improved. The food in the main dining room is superb, the alternative restaurants, Prego and Silk Road are exceptional and even the other dining venues- The Grill, Tastes, the Lido- are wonderful. We had many days at sea, but they were so filled with activities that the only difficult part was choosing what to do. We always get a category B cabin which has a balcony. It is identical to the category A or AA. The only difference is that Category B is on deck 8, while A is deck 9 and AA is deck 10. The difference in price to go a deck higher is definitely not worth it. Although we have seen the production shows numerous times, we went to all of them because they are so well done. We also enjoyed all the other entertainers who were on board for this cruise only. It is surprising that so few people actually go the shows. They were often almost embarrassingly empty!
We are very disappointed in the new "All-Inclusive" policy that will go into effect next March. Not one person we spoke to was happy that we will lose the As You Like It credit and in exchange get liquor and wine included throughout the ship 24/7. When I spoke to the Crystal Society Hostess, Jane, about this, she acknowledged that many people were expressing the same concerns that we have; but said that the other upscale lines are all including wine and liquor and that Crystal is trying to remain competitive. She also said that some guests, particularly non-Americans did not understand the As You Wish credit! Seriously, what is there to understand? The minute you board the ship you have $1000 per person credit to spend AS YOU WISH. You can spend it all on liquor or in the spa or the shops or on shore excursions. I would suggest offering wine with dinner along with some form of on-board credit or if Crystal really intends to be "All- Inclusive" they should include internet (which is very expensive) and shore excursions. Really, if you need that Bloody Mary first thing in the morning, you should be in rehab, not on a luxury ship!!
I haven't even mentioned the service yet. There simply is no more attentive, sincere service anywhere. The staff knows what you want before you even know it yourself. After ordering the same omelet twice in the Lido for breakfast, the omelet maker starting making it for me every day as soon as he saw me walk in- no need to ask! In the dining room, my husband.s decaf latte was always served to him with dessert. Just 2 examples of similar service throughout the ship. This really was a perfect vacation. We will keep going on Crystal, but I hope they will reconsider and tweak this All-Inclusive policy very soon.