One of the best aspects of Crystal's itineraries is that each is padded with a solid number of sea days. And while one can find many opportunities to simply relax, kick back and work on his or her tan, days onboard are also filled with enrichment activities -- from notable guest lecturers to the line's Creative Learning Institute offerings.
Through that program, unique to Crystal, passengers can participate in classes on the arts, wellness and history. There are also courses in computer-related skills, piano-playing, golf and language instruction. Crystal features occasional wine and food festivals, too.
I've long been a big fan of the enormous effort that Crystal makes to enrich and entertain its passengers. But on this cruise, I was disappointed that the program seemed stuck in a rut. Our port lecturer, billed as a journalist-expert, presented dry, outdated lectures on the places we visited. The wine tastings were banal. The French class, hosted in conjunction with Berlitz, was absurdly low-tech -- our instructor pointed to pictures in a book to teach us words.
With all the resources -- and commitment -- that Crystal brings to its enrichment activities, it sorely needs to bring the program up-to-date.
Beyond the above, there's Team Trivia, Scrabble, Mah-Jongg, movies in the cinema, bingo, dance classes, an art auction, arts and crafts and napkin-folding.
Evenings are, at least in the early stages, a bit more low-key. The Starlite enjoyed a post-refurbishment rush for pre-dinner cocktails; a band plays on the stage, and there's a dance floor. Gentleman hosts are available to dance with single women (or those whose husbands won't venture onto the floor).
The casino is tucked between Luxe, the ship's nightclub, and the Galaxy Lounge (perfectly placed to capture the crowd as it moves from each evening's theatrical performance to its "after hours" nightclub).
In the Avenue Saloon, a pianist plays Broadway tunes and sentimental favorites. The Connoisseur's Club (for the cigar-smoking crowd) is a charming hideaway, located next door. The Palm Court is the ship's airy observation lounge -- a great place to be at sailaway.
Itineraries mix and mingle styles of post-dinner entertainment; sometimes it's low-key, and during other times, big production shows are offered. The latter are featured in Galaxy, the ship's primary theater.
And don't miss a visit to LUXE. It doesn't even open until 10 p.m.! A D.J. spins dance favorites, and karaoke is a staple.