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23 Crystal Australia & New Zealand Cruise Reviews

Past experiences on Crystal have been superb. Symphony has recently been remodeled and things have changed. While it continues to be a very good cruise, there are some very evident changes. As a repeat World Cruiser, my hundreds of days ... Read More
Past experiences on Crystal have been superb. Symphony has recently been remodeled and things have changed. While it continues to be a very good cruise, there are some very evident changes. As a repeat World Cruiser, my hundreds of days aboard Crystal gives me a basis for comparison. The overall atmosphere is not as friendly. Many of the crew are top notch but the remaining leave much to be desired. The uplifting can-do spirit of the past is gone. Many of the crew look and act exhausted. Service has fallen off too. It is no longer top notch, only acceptable. Longer wait time before being approached to take orders or serve drinks and food is too frequent. The open concept of the dining room works as far as being seated. Then the wait begins. In some cases the noise is so loud that conversation is impossible. This seems to be a problem when the tables are filled with groups of 6 or 8. Adjacent tables for 2 do not have a chance. Entertainment runs the gamut - outstanding to spotty (like filler food). The production performers of dancers and singers continue to excel. Current cruise director, Shane, shines. The cruise hostess, Sarah, and special events director, Jonathan, all excel in their jobs. Food in specialty restaurants is excellent, but the Brazilian steak house is not. Here again, service is sloppy. We served ourselves from the salad/vegetable/bread bar which was good, but did not get the much bragged about meat course until we had finished everything else. Same with dessert - serve yourself but what about the coffee?? Servers are inattentive and understaffed. A good cruise at a hefty price. Perhaps it's time to try a competitor. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
I was interested to see if the hype around the recent dry dock was justified, it was not. Sure the new penthouses are impressive, our request for one of the new penthouse suites prior to the cruise went unanswered by Crystal, yet on the ... Read More
I was interested to see if the hype around the recent dry dock was justified, it was not. Sure the new penthouses are impressive, our request for one of the new penthouse suites prior to the cruise went unanswered by Crystal, yet on the open day there was one available for viewing, very annoying. However, the existing penthouse suite allocated was very comfortable, if a little dated, for my mother and sister. My other sister and myself were on deck five and personally I think these are great value for money, they are the same size as the much more expensive staterooms and missing a balcony isn't an issue, for me anyway. There are only a small number of these, tucked away behind reception, very private and quiet, yet very handy to MDR and one of the bars, also located on deck five. But getting back to the renovations, the new large smart TV's in every stateroom are great, with a huge variety of on demand movies, but where the old tv was there's now an ugly and unfinished "hole", they could have tidied that up way better. The renovated MDR is impressive, much quieter and more sophisticated, many more tables for two and food And service as good as ever, some dishes truly memorable. I felt sorry for the waiters, having to use a tiny device, smaller than a cell phone, to take orders, in the main they mostly got it right. The Starlite Club "reimagining " was no more than new carpet and a recovering of the same old awkward and uncomfortable chairs - a bit of a non event, the room still as tired as previously and easily the most dated public room, especially compared to Palm Court, which I personally think is the most beautiful space on any ship I have been on. Elsewhere the new spaces on the pool deck are good, the old Trident Grill area now extra smart. As usual, the staff were outstanding in all areas, cannot be faulted. Overall, a very enjoyable cruise, up to the usual standard, just don't expect too much from the "extreme makeover" Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We wanted to see as much of Australia as possible in a brief time. We also went to Tasmania, which was a bonus! Best shore excursions were in "The Bush" where we got to look around for kangaroos and koalas in the wild. Though ... Read More
We wanted to see as much of Australia as possible in a brief time. We also went to Tasmania, which was a bonus! Best shore excursions were in "The Bush" where we got to look around for kangaroos and koalas in the wild. Though I am not a big drinker, I enjoyed not having to pay attention to the drinks I was ordering and once I gleaned on to it, I enjoyed trying the "featured drink" listed on the daily newsletter. We felt the entertainment was mostly too late after days hiking around all day - but we tend to go to bed around 10:00. Our friends enjoyed the live lectures, while I preferred watching those later in our cabin. Trying different dining rooms was great, and I really enjoyed the cafe where I got specialty coffees and pastries or fruit in the mornings while my spouse cleaned up. They got to know me on a first name basis. Then I'd join my spouse and friends for a more complete breakfast later. Food was *always* varied and fantastic!! We never had to wait in line to get back on board - which we appreciated! Worst part of the trip was when our transfer didn't pick us up at the airport when we arrived. When I called the emergency number, they were disorganized and confused. After multiple "holds" they said we were in the computer, but didn't come out on the print out - so they weren't looking for and left us, which didn't help. Then they didn't know how to help us at the emergency number - said they had to wait to hear from ONE person, who wasn't answering her phone. Since this was our friends' 1st cruise - this made an unpleasant 1st impression. We were stuck in the airport baggage pickup about 2 hours on the phone with them, before we finally gave up grabbed a taxi on our own. We were later reimbursed by the concierge later on-board the ship. They also gave us ship credits to spend as a consolation. I would have still rather had the transfer without the stress. The bathrooms were pristine and I loved having both fresh laundered individual finger towels, then paper towels to open the door to leave. Exceptional! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We were excited to take our first Crystal Cruise as Crystal is known to be the "top of the line" in cruising. We found our cabin to be adequate but cramped and dated. The bathroom was above average. While the ship is old, it ... Read More
We were excited to take our first Crystal Cruise as Crystal is known to be the "top of the line" in cruising. We found our cabin to be adequate but cramped and dated. The bathroom was above average. While the ship is old, it is quite beautiful, the service excellent, the enrichment excellent, the entertainment very good, however the food was very disappointing. The dining room menu was not very extensive and the food preparation average. The quality of some of the cuts of meat were below average. The specialty restaurants were disappointing as well. Our expectations were high due to Crystal's reputation and we surprised to find it lacking! This cruise was our 20th cruise. We have cruised on Renaissance, Celebrity, Princess, Azamara, and Oceania. Oceania is by far our favorite! Depending on the itinerary and time, we might try Crystal again but will try to stick with Oceania. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was my tenth cruise with Crystal and every one of them has been excellent. Sure, there are always small things to quibble about but the overall experience on Crystal is consistently excellent. Once again the friendly and professional ... Read More
This was my tenth cruise with Crystal and every one of them has been excellent. Sure, there are always small things to quibble about but the overall experience on Crystal is consistently excellent. Once again the friendly and professional staff were a huge part of why I keep returning to Crystal; I did a short cruise last year on a three star ship and that reinforced to me how much better Crystal (and no doubt the other top end lines) are, it's the little things that make the difference - like the cold towels when returning from a hot tour, the roses on Valentines Day, the afternoon tea, the entertainment throughout the ship. And that's before mentioning the truly excellent dining and beverages. It always amuses me when I see poor reviews of Crystal, I think those people are really trying hard to find fault or have unrealistic expectations. Am looking forward to my next Crystal cruise (already booked!) Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Wanted to go to the Great Barrier Reef and see the ports on the Eastern coast of Australia.I didn't realize that we would need to wear "sting suits" which are full bodied slip on net suits to avoid being stung by the tiny ... Read More
Wanted to go to the Great Barrier Reef and see the ports on the Eastern coast of Australia.I didn't realize that we would need to wear "sting suits" which are full bodied slip on net suits to avoid being stung by the tiny jelly fish and other poisonous creatures while in the ocean. The food was especially good and the other people on the cruise varied in age from young to old, a good mix of nationalities with Americans, Canadians, Chinese who all spoke English. The activities onboard especially on the days at sea were excellent with classes on iPad use, lectures on the countries we visited and the animals connected with them, bridge instruction and play. Our cabin was small but well planned so everything could be stored out of sight with room for 2 people to move about easily. Having a balcony was well worth the additional cost. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We went to Crystal Symphony because our past experience was excellent even though the company was bought by an Asian company. We had been cruising with different cruise lines for over a long time. We still decided to try again even when we ... Read More
We went to Crystal Symphony because our past experience was excellent even though the company was bought by an Asian company. We had been cruising with different cruise lines for over a long time. We still decided to try again even when we saw some bad reviews recently. First, the embarkation was a total disaster at Melbourne. There were hardly any Crystal agents and there were no instructions where to go and what to do. The lines to the security were long and the check in once we board the ship was confusing. The whole cruise experience was very disappointing. The food especially with the main dining room was very poor. Even with the specialty restaurants Prego and Silk Road, they were below par. The menu choice was small and food was ordinary. They don't deserve to be called specialty restaurants. The chef at the kitchen tour apologized that because the ship is required to purchase everything from Australia and the price was experience, the ship had to purchase the lower quality produce. This is absurd, so Crystal decided to buy lower quality food for their customers for the Australia/New Zealand trip when the theme of this cruise was supposed to be Food and Wine! Their chef table only offered twice through out the trip and they were already filled even the first day. I don't know why they didn't do the chef table every night like other cruise lines. The excursions for New Zealand were almost identical in every port so there weren't much to choose from. The worse was the entertainment in particular the shows. They were so outdated in comparisons to the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Sea which we went in October. The dancers and singers were low quality, their costume are ordinary, the stage was small and lacked scenes. The lighting and sounds lacked the newer digital equipment, sound and lighting. The entire program was similar to what we experience more than 15 years ago. As for enrichment program which they pride themselves in, they had old retired guests to talked about outdated material. One of them was an old security guard whom he talked about his experience with Jackie Kennedy for many nights. Another one was a pianist and singer that followed the John Elton style. The music and singing are mostly classic and lacked the dynamics. The computer work shops was based on only Ipad or Mac fo old people with no computer experience. The ship was supposed to have renovated but they are still old and showed wear. Many of the activity rooms were so small and old fashion. There were hardly any stores. They only had three, 1 jewelry store, 1 sells handbags and convenient items and 1 on low quality clothing. We met 2 couple of friends from the main dining. The only item that was still of good quality was their service personnel at the restaurants and cafe. The wait staffs still continued to remember and called us by our name and some times helped to carry our trays. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
A mix of good and bad. The service was generally excellent. The onboard lecturers were very good. The Palm Court is a lovely room with excellent staff and quickly became our room of choice on board. The food, in particular the main courses ... Read More
A mix of good and bad. The service was generally excellent. The onboard lecturers were very good. The Palm Court is a lovely room with excellent staff and quickly became our room of choice on board. The food, in particular the main courses in the MDR, were mostly very disappointing. Every meal seemed to emphasis Salmon or Shrimp and the meats were dry, bland or overcooked. Considering this was supposedly a Food & Wine cruise it was not good. The entertainment was variable, sometimes quite good and sometimes very ordinary, and catered for more for a 70+ market rather than the 50+ market my wife and our friends belong to. The 'streamlined onboard checkin' was one of the slowest checkins I've experienced and definitely not what you would expect with a smaller luxury ship.And despite being an upmarket ship, we copped the second string berth at many ports, with the prime spots going to other vessels. I enjoyed the cruise but my wife and I both agree it wasn't worth the higher cost, even with its all-inclusive nature, and I think we'd rather go back to a balcony or suite on Princess or HAL over another oceanview on Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Crystal Symphony cruise departing on January 5, 2017 I chose the cruise for two reasons. One was the ports of call and the area that the cruise was visiting. The other was the fact that it was a bridge cruise and I wanted to but ... Read More
Crystal Symphony cruise departing on January 5, 2017 I chose the cruise for two reasons. One was the ports of call and the area that the cruise was visiting. The other was the fact that it was a bridge cruise and I wanted to but participate in playing bridge and learning bridge I loved the luxury of the cruise. The service was excellent especially the young lady who took after me in my room when I was sick for a few days. The food actually was not up to my measure I guess because I really don't like complicated foods and very often I would order something that did not meet my expectations All in all I would cruise with Crystal again. It is nice to be taken care of and envjoy and such luxury The two is provided by the crews were excellent and certainly meant by expectations, they were well organized and well thought out . My only criticism and it is a serious one is that when I had my hair washed and blown out I was offered a little special conditioner and a teeny tiny tube. I was told that they wash and blow out what's going to cost me $43. When they showed me the bill they had added an extra $76 for this exceedingly tiny little tube of something. I should have complained but it was the last day of the cruise and I didn't have the opportunity. However I I will send a letter to the cruise company because I thought this was an out rages rip off Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because of its proximity to our home and no long haul flying needed. We boarded in Melbourne and this was orderly but we had to wait to be called as it was a full sailing. Once onboard we dined in the dining room ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its proximity to our home and no long haul flying needed. We boarded in Melbourne and this was orderly but we had to wait to be called as it was a full sailing. Once onboard we dined in the dining room and later went to our cabin to find the bags on the bed. TIP: we brought our own wire hangers and discarded the Crystal ones and the heavy robes. Our cabin was small but we got all our clothes in with drawers not used! These cabins are clever and well designed. Bathroom clean and tidy. The dining was very good and the wait staff obliging. Entertainment and activities were all very good. Yes there is something for everyone on Crystal. I must say that although aging the ship is very well maintained. The stars of the show truly are the staff at all levels and they are really customer focussed in my opinion. One joy for me is getting off the ship and being welcomed back after excursions. Keep up the good work Crystal! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I have cruised Crystal for the last few years and had many friend joining me every year from all over the world , this was our meeting place once or twice a year I have a very stressful job going on vacation to relax is a must for me ... Read More
I have cruised Crystal for the last few years and had many friend joining me every year from all over the world , this was our meeting place once or twice a year I have a very stressful job going on vacation to relax is a must for me for the last 2 year I can see the deterration of the quality of service , food , entertainment and over all maintenance of the 2 ships( the worst front desk customer service ever ) the cruise line deleted many expensive meals lowered number of staff , bad house keeping , Some guest found dirty laundry in their cabin when they checked in ... really 6 starts cruise ship. Really .... The Staff is miserable ,over worked and under paid , they also noticed the change from a luxury cruise line to average since the sale of this cruise line 2 years ago. I get a call early morning from the Captain looking for a missing male guest asking me if I know the where about of this guy I found out that he called all the female guest that day asking the same questions this is not how I wish to wake up on my vacation .... the guy was drunk and did not return to his cabin I tried to reach out to cruise line headquarters in Los angles as will as Eddie ( CEO)via emails and phone calls "All I got was sorry, we try to do our best , we are 6 stars cruise line" ....really I would save my money and find a better cruise line , I will never cruise with this cruise line as are many others to cruise with where I would have a great time in a clean environment ,great food ,pleasant atmosphere and stress free bon voyage Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We didn't know what to expect only knew of the reviews from others. As we spoke to others only to find out that these people are multiple cruisers with Crystal and in this 2 weeks we would find out why. this cruise line is the ... Read More
We didn't know what to expect only knew of the reviews from others. As we spoke to others only to find out that these people are multiple cruisers with Crystal and in this 2 weeks we would find out why. this cruise line is the closest to all inclusive we have ever encountered which made the trip one with little worries. Our cabin was on the 8 th floor right off the elevators with partial obstruction which suited us very well. Having a laundry room down the hall was so convenient and always clean in working order. So much could be done on the ship that we relished the sea days. Lectures...movie theater ...computer classes and a great gym. the eating venues were superb. Prego..Silk Road...Crystal dining room......buffet and I cannot forget the Bistros Bar! We were able to enjoy the Vintage Room and it was an experience that was surreal! I don't think it even mattered what our ports were because the ship was top notch! We were treated so well that our last night had me in tears. I have jever reacted in such a way on a cruise line. You have to ask why this cruiseline had me reacting in such a way? I would have to say.....it was like leaving a good friend behind. We will see a Crystal cruise again in the very jear future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Since sailing on the Crystal Symphony I want to sail only with the Crystal Family! I reckon that is why many people have 300 to 500 sailings with her! First of all, the staff. They are so friendly and helpful. Not a sour face in sight. ... Read More
Since sailing on the Crystal Symphony I want to sail only with the Crystal Family! I reckon that is why many people have 300 to 500 sailings with her! First of all, the staff. They are so friendly and helpful. Not a sour face in sight. Your drink of choice is remembered by them and automatically placed in front of you. The nice thing is that everything is included . Tips, drinks etc. The shows ! In 25 nights of sailing on 2 shows were repeated. Wow! In all three Bars there was live music every night. My favourite Thomas, in The Cove! The music at the sail always at the pool was a great idea! Then the talks! What Informative speakers. The dance hosts were available 3x a day! Our days were Jam packed! The cabins were very neat and tidy. The bathrooms adequate. My gripe: get rid of that tub chair and put s stool in it's place! Please! We stayed mid ships on deck 7. Close to everything. Visits to the spa is a must even if you just want to go for a steam or sauna. The shops were a delight as new stock and clothes were continuously introduced. The table for 8'for solo travelers was a great idea. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
While most reviewers give the Crystal Symphony an excellent or very good rating, we felt it was, at best, average. Not up to the standards of the Seabourne, Regent or other luxury cruise lines. The "positives" were that the boat ... Read More
While most reviewers give the Crystal Symphony an excellent or very good rating, we felt it was, at best, average. Not up to the standards of the Seabourne, Regent or other luxury cruise lines. The "positives" were that the boat had been refurbished, the crew was helpful and the entertainment was very good. On the negative side, the trip was expensive and "all-inclusive" yet they always seemed to be cutting corners and there were many extras. Specifically, 1) The food was below par. We asked and they said they that load it all at the beginning so after 2-3 days, fish, etc. is frozen. And it tasted that way. When I asked why there weren't any New Zealand mussels (we were in New Zealand) the unbelievable answer was that having them would raise expectations on other Crystal cruises when they would not be available. 2) Dining times were not convenient. The dining room closed for breakfast at 9 a.m. and also closed too early at lunch. When I asked one day what time the buffet closed, I was told "10:30." I got there at 10:17 and all of the food had been cleared. Snacks at the cocktail hour were lousy. At the grill area, after two days of potato soup as the only soup option, it was changed. I asked "what happened?" The answer was "people complained." 3) Most annoying were the daily tours, which were definitely not part of "all-inclusive". They charged 2-3 times the rate I was able to get by going direct on the internet. That was time consuming and shouldn't have been necessary. For example, they had the nerve to offer a helicopter tour of the White Island volcano for $1,429 per person. I found a similar one for $515 (still very expensive but, but at $1429 we wouldn't have gone). Other annoyances were having to pay for internet (they didn't even let employees, who were away from their families for months at a time have any free access to the internet, from what an employee told me.). A 15 minute visit to the doctor for the two of us came to $280. there was no warning of any charge until the bill arrived a few hours later. I could go on, but you get the idea... If we go Crystal again, some internet usage is free, but that isn't going to happen. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. ... Read More
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. There were lines but these moved quickly. Once on board I had the lunch in the MDR. Pleasant but nothing to rave about and I was aware of a nasty smell in the background. At 3pm the room was ready. My first impression of this entry level room...small, tidy but bland decor and light fittings that are stuck in the eighties. The wardrobe was adequate and there were plenty of hangers! Lovely. The ship had just been in dry dock and some areas are gorgeous eg Palm Court. Other areas are ok but nothing really wowed me. The atmosphere is quiet sophistication and many passengers are repeat customers who wouldn't dream of defecting to another line! Some do not have any basis for comparison ie they haven't set foot on any other ship. The main reason I won't be back is the dining arrangements. I was wait listed when I booked months ahead but was able to change this once onboard. However I did not like these fixed arrangements and you have to dine with the same folk each night basically unless you opt for dining by reservation. I liked Prego and booked for a second time on the last night. I was seated alone to my dismay..this was not enhancing my experience but was rescued by two lovely women beside me. In Silk Road a nasty smell of Lobster was evident. Gentlemen hosts. These are advertised as professional dancer hosts. I didn't think they were all that welcoming and I was the one to ask them how their day had been! Again, most odd I felt. One even corrected me on some dance steps even though I am qualified in Ballroom myself! They were never seated at any table I was on for solo passengers. I did have a problem communicating my need for a hot water bottle for pain in the evening but eventually this was resolved and I was not charged for the heating pad that I used each night. It was brand new also. I used the Spa for massages and the staff were very professional. The Spa waiting area is nothing special at all with only 2 chairs! As well there was only one nail technician for 900 passengers. I could not make an appointment . Debarkation was very good and I was in the car to my Sydney hotel within minutes. Overall the service on the ship is very good but I don't feel I will return because I like to choose when I dine and I like meeting other people each night. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This was my second Crystal cruise and my first on the older Symphony, though it had just emerged out of dry dock. The cruise caught my attention primarily because of the wealth of sea days -- it was a 15 day transpacific cruise with only ... Read More
This was my second Crystal cruise and my first on the older Symphony, though it had just emerged out of dry dock. The cruise caught my attention primarily because of the wealth of sea days -- it was a 15 day transpacific cruise with only one port stop (a 24 hour stop in Honolulu). I love sea days for the relaxation, calmness, and freedom to do as much or as little as I want. I was traveling solo, and Crystal treats solo passengers very well with very low single supplements and excellent on board service. As I had experienced before with Crystal, the embarkation went off without a hitch. Although there was a slight (5-10 minute) line on the port to get on the ship, once on the ship there were almost no lines and I had a crew member accompany me through the process until my ship card was issued. She was friendly but not obtrusive, making polite conversation about San Diego and New Zealand (where I would be disembarking). Several people boarding seemed to know some of the crew members they were chatting with from previous cruises. I had some lunch and did a good deal of people watching until the designated time when my bags would be in my room, and they were there when promised. I took some time to explore the ship, and was up on the top deck for sail away. The time on board was just as I had expected - terrific. There were 4 different lecturers on board - two I did not enjoy, but I very much enjoyed lectures from the other two. In fact, they were so popular that I enjoyed them relaxing in my room rather than in the lounge because it was so overly filled. I had wonderful table mates at my 8-top, and several of us got along so well that we socialized elsewhere on the ship (playing trivia, etc). At times when some of the people there were dining elsewhere, a couple of dance hosts or lecturers joined our table instead. The food ranged from good to excellent in the Main Dining Room, though there were not enough vegetables and too many courses for my preference. In the specialty restaurants, the food ranged from very good to absolutely fabulous; some of it ranked among the best restaurant food I have ever had, anywhere. I prefer Japanese to Italian food, so I preferred Silk Road to Prego, but I enjoyed them both. I had the pleasure of enjoying a specially-requested dessert that was requested in advance by a table mate - the first time I'd seen that happen - and It was excellent (a Salzburger nockerl). I also saw how nicely they dealt with the dietary restrictions of one of my table mates, who was Kosher. Every night the head waiter brought her the next night's menu to see if she found anything that fit her requirements and desires - if not, she would make a request and they would thaw that frozen meat from the freezer for her. One night it was lamb chops, one night it was duck (she got the whole roast duck, and she offered the remainder that she didn't eat as an extra to the rest of the table), another night it was a steak. I was impressed with their service and flexibility. The music in the various lounges was good, and they had a couple of last-minute Dixieland Jazz concerts (from some members of the showroom orchestra) that were truly amazing. I only danced a little, as the rocking of the ship many nights made me concerned about my balance (and my trick knee), but the 4 dance hosts did an excellent job of making sure all the unaccompanied women wanting to dance each got her turn(s). I danced with 2 of them, and each were pleasant and helpful, and didn't seem bothered by my amateur dancing skills. Crystal has a very calm and low-key atmosphere, which is so appreciated. There are no announcements aside from the once daily captain's update and safety announcements (muster drill). There are no sales pitches or advertisements for anything, though there are places to go should you want to buy photos/clothes/jewelery, etc. Even the on-board photographer was rather unobtrusive. There were enough lounges and seats on the lido deck when I was looking for them, and no shortage of available outdoor seating on the aft decks for additional places to relax in quiet. The service, which Crystal is probably best known for, was very, very good - in fact, better than it had been on my last Crystal cruise. The MDR staff I encountered were universally good, and our head waiter was downright excellent, being chatty when we talked to her and unobtrusive when we clearly were involved in something else (other food or conversation). Waitstaff on the Lido deck quickly learned my name, and my drink and breakfast preferences. All the staff were friendly and actually seemed happy to be there and answer questions or help out -- not like the somewhat forced smiles and obsequious service I've felt on other cruises. My cabin attendant made sure I had ice every day, and the in-cabin fridge stocked the way I wanted it (with Diet Coke and sparkling water). She also took care of storing my bag that didn't fit under the bed, and even retrieved it for me when I realized I'd left something in it when I unpacked. Disembarkation in Auckland went perfectly, and because I wasn't using any cruise-sponsored connections I was able to disembark at my leisure within a 2 hour time frame. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My previous cruising experience: Oceania, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Viking. Crystal Symphony is a lovely midsize ship with all the amenities you would expect. The pricing is "all inclusive", and Crystal comes pretty ... Read More
My previous cruising experience: Oceania, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Viking. Crystal Symphony is a lovely midsize ship with all the amenities you would expect. The pricing is "all inclusive", and Crystal comes pretty close. The most obvious exception was internet access, and that will be free on Crystal cruises, starting later this year. You can find plenty of information about the ship elsewhere, and you will like what you see! Service truly stands out, all over the ship. I have enjoyed my previous cruising, but this was the best. Waitstaff, room service, senior staff - they were all wonderful. Shore excursions were what one would expect: well organized, good quality, and somewhat expensive. (I priced a number of excursions with non-Crystal vendors, and mostly went with the Crystal offerings). I used Crystal transfers to get to the ship (I had other arrangements for debarkation), and Crystal was convenient, efficient, and reasonably priced (perhaps one of the best values of everything). We were met at the airport and taken to a central hotel in Auckland where we had a catered hospitality suite for the day. This was a comfortable base for sightseeing until our transfer to the ship. The cabin was nice and much like I expected. The little bathroom shines with double sinks and shelves for him and her, although using both at the same time is problematic! There are nice toiletries and ample room to stow your things. There is a tub/shower combo. I used the king bed configuration, which was quite comfortable. There is plenty of closet space and luggage storage under the beds. The TV with cable service has a built-in DVD player, and the ship's library has a nice selection of DVDs. In-room WiFi worked well, and WiFi coverage was pretty good throughout the ship. Fresh fruit and flowers in the cabin was a nice touch. The refrigerator is stocked, and that is part of all-inclusive. I've had good dining experiences on all my cruises, but Crystal was the best! I used the main dining room for most dinners, and other excellent options for breakfast and lunch. There are two specialty restaurants, which were nice and what you might expect. You have an allotment of included reservations at the specialty restaurants, but I enjoyed the main dining room so much that I didn't use all of my specialty restaurant allotments. Perhaps some of this is good luck, as my spouse and I selected a table for 8, with 6 previously unknown diners, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Service was wonderful, and we quickly got to know the waitstaff for our special table of 8. You can select other table sizes and arrange to be with specific parties if you choose, but once you choose, that's it. There are 2 dining times for the main dining room, and a normal reservation system for the specialty restaurants. I used the Lido cafe for most breakfasts and some lunches. Lido features an excellent buffet, and you can go whenever it is open. Even out on the pool deck, wandering waitstaff will check to see if they can bring you a drink or a meal. Room service is available, but I didn't use it. They will set up the table on your verandah if you like. There are the usual cruise activities. Onboard entertainment was good, and there were a variety of interesting lectures featuring excellent presenters. I used their beautifully equipped "Computer University" to take a series of Photoshop classes. There are a lot of repeat Crystal cruisers, and with good reason. It isn't so much Crystal incentives, as it is that Crystal is that good! The average age of cruisers was slightly less than other cruises I've been on, but there are lots of seniors, myself included. There is elegance, but formality is not overdone. There were only a few children on this cruise, and there are some dedicated facilities for them. They seemed happy enough, but probably wished there were more youngsters. One area Crystal can improve on is the pre-cruise planning experience. They really want you to use your travel agent and not bother them directly. Sometimes this is OK, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. You will not be told this, but it is pretty easy to figure out. The online planning center is buggy, not particularly user friendly, and not the best to produce things like customized printed itineraries. Nevertheless, you can make it work and accomplish what you need to. This surprised me after all the good things I heard about Crystal. I wouldn't make too much of it; I still give Crystal 5 stars for my cruise. Once you meet the Crystal rep at your inbound transfer, expect quality pampering the rest of the way. In sum, I rate Crystal as the best of my cruise experiences to date. It isn't cheap, but quality never is. Crystal Symphony is a beautiful ship and I look forward to cruising with Crystal again.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Just off Crystal Symphony Melbourne to Brisbane and whilst the ship is nice I believe that it falls well short of Seabourne and is on a par with Oceania. Boarding Boarding was well organised as one would expect.Once on board we has ... Read More
Just off Crystal Symphony Melbourne to Brisbane and whilst the ship is nice I believe that it falls well short of Seabourne and is on a par with Oceania. Boarding Boarding was well organised as one would expect.Once on board we has afternoon tea and then went to our cabin at 3pm Fire Drill Fire drill was at 8pm. Not a good time when many had dinner reservation for 7.30 to 8pm. Still wouldn't have been too bad except for the dining room deferring our meal time from 8pm to 9pm despiter the fact that we notified them as soon as we learned of the drill time Cabin This cabin was the smallest cabin we have ever encountered . It was smaller even than Celebrity and Royal Carribean Shuttles A big raspberry to Crystal. Docked at Adelaide about 20km from the city and Crystal didn't even provide a shuttle to the city. As the train line was under repairs and buses were being used to transfer people for the last half of the journey taxi was the best option but the cost was $50 each way.The failure to supply shuttles went down like a lead balloon with most non excursion passengers. Vibration We have travelled on Seabourn, Ocenia, azamara, Celebrity & Royal Carribean and have had many trip in very rough seas, certainly rougher than we experienced on Crystal. The problem we found with the Symphony was that there was a constant vibration transferred through the ship . This vibration in rougher waters rattled the sliding wardrobe and was felt throughout the night . My wife who has never been seasick in her life felt very uneasy in all sectors until we cruised from Sydney to Brisbane. Quality of dining staff. Let me say that the bulk of the staff throughout the dining venues were very good to excellent. The absolute letdown though was the main Maitre D station in the main dining room. The service here was very impersonal with the Maitre D still not knowing our name or cabin number after 12 days. Once past this station then section Manager Martin was totally different , he recognised you and knew your name after a couple of days. On all past cruises except for Royal Carribean every Maitre 'd had a professional and pleasant air and certainly ever one knew who you were after a day or so. This was not the case with Main dining room front counter staff on CrystalFood The food was very good and both specialty restaurants offered a wonderful fare. Amenities The amenities throughout the ship were very good and there was generally no feeling of crowding. The ships policy to allow visitors on board on the first day in port meant that at time the ship had a bit of a crowded feel during this time. I can't complain thought as I took advantage of this offer myself. One thing that Crystal should address is the smoking areas on the pool deck area. I accept that smokers should have an area in which they can smoke and all lines provide such. Crystal have gone overboard providing about 50% of the pool deck area as smoking area. Lets have some sense and allocate an area in keeping with the percentages of smokers which is way under 50%. A maximum 20% should be provided in a corner area so that non smokers don't have to put up with the smell. One other thin , THAT HORRIBLE CARRY BAG. For heavens sake crystal spend the few dollars more and go back to the old one. Shows The shows were entertaining and the Crystal performers were better than I expected. Shore Excursions I found the shore excursion quite expensive, however, being an Aussie who has visited all the ports on numerous occasions just made my own arrangements or rented a car. General Comments I realise that we all have our own preferences and that all Crystal lovers will be up in arms, however, just let me point out a few of the little niceties you get on say on Seabourn and several of the other better lines that Crystal just don't match Baggage tags. Crystal use cardboard tags, Seabourn have leather permanent tags Cabins. This was the smallest cabin we have ever experienced. The settee was just big enough for 2 people to sit on. Seabour cabin was at least 20% larger with full size bath, separate shower with glass door and a very large lounge area Turn down service. Not that I eat chocolate but every other line we have been on provided a chocolate as part of their turn down service . Not Crystal Tote bags. What a disgrace for a tote back which looks more like a Woolworths shopping carry bag. Get real Crystal and at least go back to your old model which was passable for a 3-4 star line Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Repeat cruising can be difficult in terms of managing expectations . One boards the cruise ship again with high expectations based on fond memories from the last cruise. Such were my thoughts when I boarded Crystal Symphony earlier ... Read More
Repeat cruising can be difficult in terms of managing expectations . One boards the cruise ship again with high expectations based on fond memories from the last cruise. Such were my thoughts when I boarded Crystal Symphony earlier this month in Melbourne, Australia. In fact, my last cruise (a trans pacific from Los Angeles to Tahiti) was marvelous and left me thrilled with Crystal. I love eating and I must confess it is the single biggest reason why I cruise with Crystal. Not to make light of Crystal Symphony as a beautiful ship with stately public rooms & elegant well designed cabin/suites, but I really enjoy fine dining which to me means both delicious well presented food with equally elegant and professional table service. For this last cruise, I was fortunate again to have Adem as my waiter. I am afraid to write this as I understand he already has quite a following and his section is a coveted spot in the Dining Room. Adem is a marvelously professional, attentive and friendly waiter. He, together with his fine assistants, ushered us through multi-course lunches and dinners with precision and charm. His attention to detail and adherence to our preferences were flawless. For breakfast, Muzo also manages a table well and brings a friendly demeanor which makes for a great start to the day. Not to gush too much, but the entire food and beverage team is great. From Bar Staff to Wine Stewards to the Assistant Waiters and the staff helping out in the Lido Buffet and by the pool. High marks to all. It starts with Remi the ever present, charming and engaging Matre d'. Remi watches over the Dining Room with sharp eyes making each guest feel welcomed and special. He is the Senior Diplomat of the Dining Room. Joining him with watchful eyes and quick words are the Head Waiters. I had the pleasure of being in Roland's section. A special nod of recognition must go to the senior managers of Crystal Cruises on board and at the corporate office who do a great job hiring and maintaining the staff many of which have been with the cruise line for 10-15-20 plus years. Such retention and dedication does not come by accident. One final note and commendation must go to our Butler, Greg, who was so gracious and attentive we were sometimes left for a loss of words. He was great and must have wings on his shoes as he was so fast in his responses. In fact, we timed him once and he was at our door, tray in hand, less than 60 seconds after we called him. Thank you Crystal for a great cruise. We can't wait to get back aboard again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We loved it! - We took this short 6 day cruise to see if we would like cruising - and we do! From the moment we stepped on board to our departure everything about Crystal Symphony and her crew was perfect - a great example of how a luxury ... Read More
We loved it! - We took this short 6 day cruise to see if we would like cruising - and we do! From the moment we stepped on board to our departure everything about Crystal Symphony and her crew was perfect - a great example of how a luxury cruise experience should be delivered. We were first time cruises but have already booked our next Crystal cruise - 15 days this time across the Pacific in 2014 - on board Symphony again We really enjoyed the sea days - so much too do - in fact you can't fit everything in on the programme The food in the MDR, Prego and Silk Road restaurants was excellent - we were never disappointed with the quality or the service It never felt crowded and there was always a quiet place you could find to relax - or if you wanted company there were plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with other guests We are looking forward to our next cruise Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by ... Read More
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by categories, more or less. 1. Embarkation: Embarkation was a breeze. From the moment we entered the shipyard it took less than three minutes to board the ship and registration under two minutes if that. Efficiently and quickly handled, we were on our way to the MDR for our traditional lunch of Cobb Salad and along the way we saw several familiar and welcoming faces. 2. Computer and Wi-Fi: The folks who staff the Computer University deserve a medal of valor. We were able to set up our iPads quickly to access the WiFi and though I had a bit of difficulty at first due to the demand for WiFi of all of the guests logging in at once, that soon resolved itself. Sadly, we saw several guests over the first week of the cruise who were terribly rude and disrespectful of the CU staff complaining endlessly about the WiFi connectivity and how much better it was on other ships and how it was not like being at home. To their credit the staff was consistently polite (far more than I would have been under like circumstances). Though Crystal makes numerous efforts in its materials to give guests a realistic set of expectations, some just don't get it and the rudeness was appalling. Through it all, though, the staff did their best and kept trying to please and offering suggestions. During the course of the cruise, connectivity was excellent for the most part in both common areas and in our stateroom on the 10th floor. 3. MDR, PREGO and SILK ROAD: The food was consistently excellent. Special ordered foods were prepared precisely as requested. Portion sizes were reasonable and we noted little waste of food or food left on plates at the end of the meal which is a great sign that the food was delicious and also of the desire to not waste food. The selection was always good. Service in the MDR was excellent (Kudos to Celso, Renjith, Hayley and our sommelier Kremena and her assistant Michaelangelo all of whom were top notch!) Service in Prego was outstanding as always and the food scrumptious. Service in Silk Road we found to be a bit intrusive at the wrong times and rushed, especially by the sommelier who looked like he was in a hurry to meet demand for his services. A special note about AI. We did not note any delay in sommelier service at our table for 8. Kremena was seemingly always there when a glass needed filling and extremely knowledgeable about the choice of wines being offered and other options. 4. SHOWS: We enjoyed the shows and especially noted that there was not a single repetition of shows during the cruise. Every night had different entertainment. We did find the decision to have some shows for late seating diners at 7 p.m. to be confusing and as a result missed a show designed by Marvin Hamlisch that we really wanted to see. That being said, the artists brought on board were wonderful and we enjoyed them thoroughly. Our only criticisum would be that we noted that members of the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers on a couple of occasions took seats in what we woulc consider prime locations in the Galaxy meaning that passengers had to find seats way along the perimeter of the showroom. The same held true on several nights in the Avenue Saloon where an entire side of the room was taken with Crystal Ensemble dancers and singers and passengers had no place to sit. As we soon learned, Mark Farris is one of the hottest tickets on the 7 seas and he could sure use a larger venue to perform but probably the intimacy of the Saloon is what makes him so great among other things like his sense of humor and his musical skills. Special kudos for the great DIVA show which was tops and excellent shows by Will Martin and by Boys in the Band. 5. MAGIC AT SEA: We recall the catty postings about the prospect of Magic at Sea before it launched that we read on these boards. Magic at Sea this time around with Andrew Goldenhersh was a GREAT experience. Andrew is a world class magician and the chance to see him in an intimate setting with 20 passengers was not to be missed. Apparently almost half of those on board concurred as his shows were full and standing room only on some instances we are told. There was nothing but class and quality in his act. Best of all, he involved willing passengers and each attendee was within a few feet of him as he performed complex effects with great finesse. Furthermore, the tickets we each received to use in the future to get access to the World Famous Magic Castle pribate club in Los Angeles were an added bonus. Being one of the hardest tickets in Los Angeles to get (you either have to be a member of the Academy of Magical Arts or know a member to get in the door), getting a free pass to get in at some time in the future was icing on the cake. We hope Crystal keeps this program going. 6. USC CINEMA SCHOOL IPAD IMOVIE CLASSES: Dave attended this class and loved it. The instructors Claudia and David from USC School of Cinema were wonderful, patient and helpful. Both spent extra time outside of the class time with Dave helping him learn how to use the iMovie program. The written materials and the hands on help which were provided were stellar. Dave intends to take the class again when he is next onboard to refine his knowledge of the program. Having two left hands when it comes to this type of technology, Dave really found the classes great and the instructors patient and easy to learn from for which he is grateful. 7. SPA AND GYM: We both had spa services and used Brian to train us privately in the gym. The spa was lovely though smaller than the Serenity. Brian was simply fantastic. He was encouraging, put us through quite a work out each time, and very positive. He is clearly knowledgeable about personal fitness and health and we cannot wait to be back on board to train with him again. Dave tried his first spinning class with Brian and found it to be very challenging. Brian was encouraging and Dave will definitely do it again thanks to Brian's kind words and feedback. 8. SMOKING: We spent less than 10 minutes in the entire cruise at the Crystal Cove. The smoke was overpowering. Similarly we found ourselves having to leave the Avenue Saloon a few times due to smoking. We realize that smoking in those venues is soon to be a thing of the past and are sure that the performers and workers in those venues cannot wait for that day to come on both ships. We did not note a lot of smokers on the Lido deck, but then again we did not go looking for them. We did note a fair amount of Crystal employees smoking at the fore of the ship and imagine a smoking ban might really impact them more than one might have thought. 9. FORMAL NIGHTS: Call us old fashioned but being in our late 50's--early 60's we do still enjoy formal nights. It is a hassle to bring all of the items required for formal dress but we are always glad we did so. We noted that folks looked very nice on those nights and even on informal nights too. We did not see more than one instance of what might be considered inappropriate attire in the MDR at dinner. We hope Crystal will maintain the Formal Nights on the cruises. 10. ALL INCLUSIVE: Being that we are not big drinkers, free and unlimited alcohol held no allure for us. That being said, we only noted one instance in the Avenue Saloon where a woman was sleeping with her head in her husband's lap during one of Mark's shows. We do not know if that was excess alcohol or fatigue but it struck us that if she was that sleepy, she should have gone up to her room. We also, as is our custom, provided gifts to some of the folks who served us for XMAS and extra gratuities especially for our butler, room stewardess, Senior Waiter, Head Waiter, Assistant Waiter, Lido and Gym personnel and a few other folks all of whom looked surprised to receive anything and were very appreciative. COnsistently during our cruise we noted smiling and happy faces among the crew. Not once did we encounter a rude or sour or unhappy crew member. 11. CONCIERGE SERVICES: We need to express our thanks publically to Gareth and Patrick at the concierge desk for their excellent assistance. They promptly and very skillfully handled multiple arrangements for us and kept us informed of their progress and confirmed everything in writing. They are the very best at what they do and very personable to boot. 12: SHORE EXCURSIONS: We enjoyed the shore excursions and only wished that perhaps a few more culinary excursions or cooking experiences could have been arranged. And we were sorry to have missed the chance to bike around Napier but did enjoy that Art Deco tour in the old Packard auto with Tony! 13. LIDO DECK: Having sailed on both Crystal ships we cannot help but compare our last cruise on the Serenity in March 2012 with this holiday cruise. The difference was most noticeable on the Lido Deck. On the Serenity (before they went AI), we were constantly asked by Lido crew if we wanted any food or drinks. We found on this cruise that we were asked about drinks from time to time, but outside of the late risers breakfast service, the solicitation of our food and beverage desires was more sporadic. It seemed like there were fewer crew on the Lido deck during lunch and afternoon than we were accustomed to. Still, the guys who approached us and helped us were wonderful and the burgers and ice cream can't be beat! 14. OUR PENTHOUSE: We've sailed both ships before and the highlight of the cruises starts when we are greeted by our dear butler IGOR BABICK who makes each sailing a special joy. He and Sheetal our stewardess made sure we had everything we needed and were charming to deal with. We cannot say enough about our cabin crew and how wonderful they are. The room is a bit smaller than on the Serenity and there is less drawer space, but when IGOR enters the room and greets us, the space is just right. 15. NEW YEARS EVE: Crystal outdid themselves for New Year's Eve. Yes second seating dinner was a bit harried, but the views and location of the catamaran near the Sydney Harbor Bridge was the best seat bar none and we were front and center. We will NEVER forget the wonders of 12/31/12 and ringing in the new year in Sydney Harbor. We doubt Crystal could ever top that excursion though we suspect that they will continue to try to do so in coming years. 16. REMI AND OUR DINING ROOM TABLEMATES: As always we asked for a late seating and a table of 8. Remi, ever the magician, put together an absolutely splendid table of dinner mates for us. We enjoyed every dinner together, periodically becoming so lost in the conversation and laughter that we practically were the last ones out of the MDR at night. We do not know how he does it, but it is a special skill. We had such a great time that we have all agreed to sail on the Northern Cape July 2014 voyage together and to request the same table and table mates again. We know we'll keep in touch with Mary, Fran, Lyn, Nancy, Cathy and Ernie and see them from time to time if our travels permit either here where we live or in their home towns and we can't wait. 17. COMPLAINTS: Aside from our observation about crew taking prime seats at some entertainment venues, we only have one other complaint and it is one which Crystal cannot do much about. As we expected, a holiday cruise has children on it and sadly, some of the children onboard had parents who were not attentive to their children's behaviors or chose to ignore it. Running up and down the hallways, playing in the elevator, trying to glide down the bannisters and running around on the dance floors was hardly appropriate conduct. We noted young children teetering on bar stools near the ice cream bar, picking through the cookies in the box there and putting cookies back that they had touched. We heard of children pushing doorbells late at night at certain staterooms. As noted above, sadly, some folks do not know how to behave and therefore do not teach their children about appropriate behavior on the ship. Again we do not fault Crystal for that and we did note several families with extremely well behaved children. Finally, as we have found to be consistently true, we ended our cruise longing to stay longer and realizing that we simply had to wait until our next cruise comes around (in a mere 130 or so days). We left the ship feeling so relaxed and having seen such marvelous places and sights, and having made some wonderful new friends and acquaintances and concluded, as we always do, that there is simply nothing better than a Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Background: I am one of the last people you would expect to find on a Crystal ship. Most of the qualities for which Crystal is renowned mean little to me. The stage shows are great but I could easily live without them. I'm not fond of ... Read More
Background: I am one of the last people you would expect to find on a Crystal ship. Most of the qualities for which Crystal is renowned mean little to me. The stage shows are great but I could easily live without them. I'm not fond of formality, and choose Best Western and Holiday Inn over the Ritz and Four Seasons, and my nature runs towards frugal. I booked my first Crystal Cruise in 1996 when a good opportunity presented itself, expecting a once in a lifetime experience. I was mistaken, at least in a literal sense. While anyone can consider themselves fortunate to sail a Crystal ship once in their lifetime, I quickly decided that the experience would be repeated many times. My second Crystal experience took another 6 years, but since that time I have never walked off a Crystal ship without a future booking in my hand. Why do I keep coming back when I am nominally such a poor fit for the line? Primarily, because Crystal does EVERYTHING extremely well, and a bit more specifically because every customer is treated as the most important person in the world. Ship info: The Crystal Symphony was built in 1995, and has been updated regularly since then, most recently in 2009. It is moderately large, and extremely spacious for the passenger capacity. My voyage was completely sold out, and the only brief hint of crowding came during a major storm when the activities were concentrated in the midship rooms. The open decks are especially spacious, and there is a wide, wrap-around Promenade Deck. Staterooms: With the exception of the penthouses on deck 10, the rooms are essentially the same. There are only 8 categories, 3 for penthouse, regular and deluxe verandas, depending on the deck, and 3 categories of penthouse cabins. The rooms are well equipped, especially the baths, with a full tub in even the lowest category rooms. There is ample storage space. Dining: Up to now, dinner in the main dining room has always been served in 2 seatings, usually 6 or 6:30 and 8:30, but Crystal has just announced plans for an option of a flexible dining time beginning in 2011. In addition to the Crystal Dining Room, there are 2 specialty restaurants, Silk Road with Japanese cuisine and Prego with Italian cuisine. These restaurants require reservations but have no surcharge other than a suggested gratuity. The Lido Cafe does not typically open for dinner but will once or twice per cruise. The Lido Cafe serves breakfast and lunch, starting with coffee and pastries around 5AM. There are special theme buffets in the lido, typically about every 3 days. While nominally a buffet, the lido is staffed by several incredible stewards who greeted me by name by day 3, learned my preferences, and generally provide very personal service. A grill midships on the lido serves a late breakfast plus burgers and sandwiches with a few extras. The selection of side dishes is limited, but it is just steps from the Lido Cafe, so these extras are readily available. The Crystal Dining serves a traditional breakfast and lunch with open seating, with one grand gala luncheon buffet sometime during the cruise. The Bistro a deck above the dining room serves pastries and other snacks. Dining as such pretty well closes after dinner, but each room has a refrigerator and is stocked with beverages and fruit, routinely restocked by the Stewardess on her regular visits. Light snacks are served in the lounges in the evening, and there is excellent 24-hour room service.. Activities and entertainment: Activities are geared to a mature demographic and a wide variety are offered. Many cruises have a theme, as did this one with a "Movie and Theater" theme with 3 presenters focusing on the topic. The Crystal Visions Enhancement is very strong, usually with at least 3 presenters, and always providing opportunities for ample feedback from the audience. The spa and fitness staff is very strong, including 2 innovative programs for walkers. The walkvest program uses vests with removable weights (up to about 16 pounds) to improve the strength benefits of walking. A new program uses trekking poles to get more muscles involved in the walking process. There is a log sheet on the Promenade deck where passengers can record their progress and receive shirts and certificates at the end of their cruise celebrating their progress. One slight disadvantage of the ship's design is that the Promenade doors are frequently subject to wind turbulence and often closed, but the aft doors are almost always available. Other regular enhancement activities include computer classes, music and Berlitz language classes, and excellent dance instructors. There are daily activities including bingo, team trivia, concerts, and movies in the Hollywood Theater. There are 4 significant routine venues for activities, the Palm Court (Deck 11), and the Galaxy Lounge, Hollywood Theater, and Starlite Club on deck 6). It is routine to see simultaneous activities in 3 of these venues, and not unusual to have them in all 4. In the evening there are several venues featuring several varieties of musical entertainment, and a daily presentation in the Galaxy Theater. The excellent Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers presents about 5 or 6 shows per voyage, with other headline entertainers brought on board for the remaining nights of the cruise. Children: There is a children's program with 2 facilities set aside for programs, one for younger children and another for teenagers, but most of the cruises I have been on do not attract a large number of children. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was smooth and easy. At least on our cruise, we were allowed to continue using our rooms until we actually left the ship. Summary: Crystal provides a stunningly superior product in every respect. You will frequently pay a significant premium to be on Crystal, but that is not necessarily the case. If money is an object you really need to look at your own situation for each cruise individually, and you will find some excellent cruises that are surprisingly affordable. While the fares are not "all inclusive" more is included than on many other lines, such as soft drinks, and specialty restaurants. Most current Crystal fares include air fare, and there is an "As You Wish" credit, usually $500 or $1000 per person, which offsets many of the things that are extra. The single supplement is typically 25-30 percent, making it very friendly for solos both in price and services. Many of the things that are extra are also priced reasonably. For example, on my next cruise I will be using Crystal's hotel program in Athens, at about a 15 percent surcharge over booking the hotel which includes Airport-hotel-ship transfers, while I have seen other cruise lines charge at least double the hotel's price. In summary you may pay extra with Crystal, but you always get a lot extra. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
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