Review Of Voyage 1219 - August 13 Alaska Sailing
We had a wonderful time on this voyage. This cruise exceeded our expectations.
We arrived early and terminal security allowed us to sit inside the waiting area of the Pier 35 passenger cruise ship terminal.
This was our third embarkation since the roll out of the Priority Check-in & Planning Center(PCPC) and the check-in process was better and faster than ever. In a matter of a minute or two, we were given our shipboard cards with our picture and we were headed to the gangway to board the ship. We stopped so the photographers could take our embarkation photo. Once on board the ship, we enjoyed a nice lunch in the Crystal Dining Room. We did have our traditional Cobb Salad and enjoyed a complimentary flute of Champagne so that we could toast the start of the cruise.
After lunch, we took care of a few items including signing up for the Internet, and when we stopped by our room it was ready for our occupancy. Our luggage arrived shortly after that. We were all unpacked and settled before the lifeboat drill and the sail away from San Francisco.
I have the benefit of also having sailed on some other luxury cruise lines including a 200-passenger ship. While there are certainly differences in the physical nature of a ship carrying 200 versus 900 passenger's, Crystal has perfected the ability to provide a level of service as good if not better than even the very small cruise ships that we have sailed on.
We do not travel on the Symphony anywhere's near the number of times we travel on the Serenity a matter of a day or two we were greeted by our names throughout the ship and our preferences known in many venues around the ship.
Overall, service was outstanding throughout the ship and this is one of several core strengths of Crystal Cruises. What always impresses us is not just the high level of service provided by each member of the Crystal staff individually, but how they work together as one unit/team to deliver an outstanding level of service to each guest.
On top of the wonderful service found around the ship, we were very pleased with our stewardess, stewardess in training, our butler, who we have had previously, and by the Crystal Dining Room staff including our waiter, senior waiter, sommelier, and by Headwaiter and the Crystal Dining Room Maitre.
This is our second voyage on the Symphony since its major dry dock from the fall of 2009. The ship is as beautiful as ever and some of our favorite areas include the Lido Cafe and Lido Deck with the beautiful couches, the ambiance of Silk Road and Prego, the color scheme throughout the ship and our room. The ship is very well maintained and the public rooms are very spacious. While the ship was sold out, and we estimate that there were around 50 or so children on board, it never felt crowded and there are many quiet areas on board the ship.
This was a food and wine themed cruise, which we really enjoyed and we were very impressed with the number of lecturers on board this voyage and the range of topics they covered. There are well over fifty activities offered on each sea day during the morning and afternoon hours. For example, on the sea day while we cruised the Inside Passage there were three lectures plus a cooking demonstration by the guest chef, and an afternoon program by the mixologist along with an array of other activities.
There was a nice choice of entertainment on the cruise. On some nights in addition to the production shows there was also additional entertainment such as on the night where the Production Show Route 66 was not only performed twice, but later that evening a Cabaret Show was performed featuring the comedy and music of Jimmy Travis. There was more entertainment on this voyage than I expected, particularly as it related to entertainers brought onto the ship for this voyage.
We found the cuisine to be even better than ever and that says a lot since we always enjoy the cuisine on board Crystal Cruises. We did not have a meal that we regretted or would have changed.
The quality of the food and its overall presentation was very consistent and in our opinion six star. While in Prego and in Silk Road the kitchen is turning out meals for a much smaller number of guests, the reality is that the Crystal Dining Room is turning out meals for around 400 or more guests in each seating. Yet, when each item comes out it has the taste and the presentation of a kitchen that is turning out meals for far fewer guests.
Often we order fresh seafood and we did this for the majority of our evening meals in the Crystal Dining Room. We very much enjoyed the fresh fish from Alaska.
We also found the salads and the fresh fruit to be very tasty and choices were plentiful throughout the cruise.
We stayed on the Penthouse Deck and occupied the same room as we did last November. The layout of the room is just perfect for us.
There was a very nice choice of shore excursions to consider. Since we have been to these ports of call from anywhere from three to four times previously, we only chose shore excursions for two of the ports of call.
We really enjoyed the volunteer shore excursion. We thank Crystal for making one of these available per voyage.
The itinerary was perfect. We enjoy sailing out of San Francisco and appreciate that the cruise began and ended there and we enjoyed the six ports of call and cruising Glacier Bay a great deal. This voyage had a nice mix of sea days and days in port.
In spite of rainy weather, we felt the sunshine throughout the ship.
The disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation. We waited in our room until around 8:15 AM as our disembarkation group was scheduled for 8:45 AM and we disembarked right around that time. There were plenty of personnel at the pier and we easily found our luggage.