Background Information - The Panama Canal has always been on my "Bucket List" and when I discovered that this cruise was offered thru Road Scholar' Adventures Afloat program with free airfare, my husband and I booked it immediately!
Travel To Port of Embarkation - A direct flight to Miami booked by Road Scholar
Hotel Info - Overnighted at the Courtyard by Marriott Miami Airport South; a nice enough accommodation with free airport shuttle service running every 20-30 minutes. The block square Marriott Miami Airport Campus also included a Residence Inn & The Miami Airport Marriott, giving you ample restaurant options. The only thing that I found lacking was a room safe.
Stateroom - Category A on Deck 9 Forward: A very quiet location on the port side, 4 cabins down from the front elevator bank, allowing us easy access to most areas of the ship. The only disadvantage to this location was the distance to the self-service laundry room which was located beyond the mid-ship elevator bank and the small sun deck located on the ship's aft.
The stateroom itself was lovely and very well maintained. Hanging storage space was more than ample and both terry and light weight bath robes were provided, as well as two pairs of cheap one-size fits no one slippers. Drawer space for folded clothing items was less generous, but we managed. The 2 adjoined twin bed set-up made the room a bit tight, but we appreciated the sleeping comfort they provided. We were rocked to sleep many a night with a gentle breeze coming from our open Veranda. A small fridge, stocked with soft drinks and bottled water as well was a fresh fruit plate both of which were updated daily were nice no charge extras.
Ship Info - Very comfortable and well maintained...everything was ship/shape!
Dining - We were in the early dining seating and enjoyed dinner followed by entertainment options and being early risers, we were usually in bed by 10. Five course dinners were the norm, although we quickly learned to limit ourselves to either the soup or salad option. Five entree offerings were standard fare as well as a Vegetarian option and the deserts were to die for!
Activities - Spas, a Salon, Workout area, walking/jogging track, swimming, hot tubs, golf nets, table tennis, shuffleboard, and paddle tennis...
Children's Clubs - As no grandchildren were with us, I'm pretty clueless, although I did note a special computer center and an activity room which did't seem to be in use much on our cruise as most of the children, as well as their parents, seemed to be back to the daily post-holiday grind.
Service - In a word, EXCELLENT! The staff often thought of things I might require before I knew that I needed them...
Entertainment - Daily lecturers were excellent and offered insight on the history and politics of the Panama Canal and Central America as well as their personal experiences in that part of the world. Nightly entertainment could be found at the Piano Bar, Night Club, and a Las Vegas Style Lounge. Shows including comedy, broadway style shows, and celebrity entertainers were also featured on a daily basis.
Port & Shore Excursions - Ports of Call included George Town/Grand Cayman, Cartagena/ Columbia, Panama City/Panama, and Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, & Cabo San Lucas Mexico. Excursions were available for passengers with various physical abilities and budgets.
Disembarkation - Smooth and efficient with many Crystal ground support people to assist you once you left the ship.
Summary - Loved t he cruise and would certainly consider sailing with Crystal again!