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23 Crystal Barcelona Cruise Reviews

This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service ... Read More
This is our 4th Crystal cruise but first cruise post the 2018 changes made to the Serenity. The decor in the common areas and restaurants has been updated. We enjoyed the addition of the restaurants Silk and Chiaroscurra. The service in the Marketplace and Waterside remains good. We were always seated promptly at the Waterside. The food overall in the Waterside and the specialty restaurants was uniformly good. The entertainment was excellent and there was a good variety of entertainers with a combo of performers brought onto the ship and the on ship entertainment staff. The enrichment lecturers (3) were uniformly good speakers with interesting well organized presentations. We were traveling as a family and there were other multigenerational families on board. There was a smattering of younger couples. The ports were good although I do wish there was 2 days in Lisbon rather than 1. The Crystal excursions had excellent local tour guides and were well organized. We were on deck 8 midship with a verandah. The cabin is adequate in size with plenty of closet and draw space with a well appointed bathroom. The upgraded TV and entertainment system is an improvement. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and will travel on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona before we left and had a blast. The embarkation was smooth and the staff was excellent throughout. Our room with a veranda was larger than our hotel room in Barcelona. The first morning in Valencia they would not let "independents" off the ship until those who had made Crystal excursion reservations were allowed to leave. So we could have walked to our tour but because they would not let us leave so we had to race for a cab with other "independents." That was the only morning where leaving the ship was a problem. What needs to be added is that the Crystal excursions were priced way over the top-2 to 3 times as much as privately booked tours. I guess if you can afford it and you value seeming security then you might pay for the Crystal excursions but I did not see any extras booking that way since they were the same tours. For the most part people who write reviews have something very negative to say. I want to laud the staff and crew for wonderful service at every level. That being said, it is still hard to justify the amount of money that was spent for the cruise. All of our table mates raved about the food throughout every meal-perhaps leading to impossible expectations. At the main Crystal dining room the food was very good for cruise food, but it wasn't nearly as fresh or flavorful as the food we ate in each port city. At the end of the day, it was cruise ship food. The exception would be the Silk Road restaurant. We had a wonderful meal there but the Prego restaurant was only so-so. The breakfast buffet was good and the sit down cafe Tastes had excellent breakfasts also. For a ship this size the entertainment was good. There were many activities for people that did not want to leave the ship at each port but the are definitely geared to an older clientele. This is not a cruise for young couples or children. The cruisers were mostly affluent, white Americans who liked the America-centric aspect of an international cruise. Why you would travel 7000 miles to have the same experiences that you get in the USA is baffling to me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction ... Read More
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction of Leo, to me the master of all cruiseship Maitre D’s, could still greet me in name. Such is the hospitality level of Crystal cruises that many Crystal Society members return to the ship. The embarkation took no time, even the ship was practically full. Embarkation began at noon though in theory rooms are available from 3pm, but in a PH cabin mine was ready. There was a special luggage storage that takes care of hand luggages so that any guest can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Such is the hospitality with full attention to detail that makes what Crystal is, particular with direct comparison to the two cruises that I just had disembarked (I took 3 consecutive cruises in 30 days). This cruise, trade named Iberian Sojourn, a standard 7-day trip ending in Lisbon, has an ideal itinerary in that travel distance is short so that it is all port days and passengers have ample time in each port. The Spanish ports are, to me, more interesting than the Mediterranean ports in Italy that practically every cruiser has visited. In each port Crystal of course provides free shuttle so that one enjoys free and easy visits. Because of all-port, there was no formal night and the well-loved Mozart tea was not served. I have had many Crystal Cruises (my first was on Crystal Harmony, before Serenity was built), and as an old timers I can see good changes under new ownership of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was renovated only about 4 years ago, and on embarkation I learned that after this trip the ship will undergo dry docking for a whole month for another important renovation, probably the most important because the ship will re-emerge in November offering open sitting dining (Crystal Symphony had completed that process). Hitherto if Crystal was to be faulted as a luxury ship it was the two sitting system that requires one to eat either too early or too late. No more, and then my only regret is that, if I had this knowledge, I would have chosen to cruise after the renovation. A luxury cruise differs from a standard one mainly in space per passenger and crew to passenger ratio, and of course in service and food. Crystal offers best service second only to SeaDream (but the latter carries only 100 passengers with similar number of staff). Crew members here do not change ships, though there can be re-deployment as since the Genting takeover, Crystal has added two yachts and five river boats (not to mention even a luxury air operation). Great that virtually same staff members serve so that the important ‘recognition scenes’ are in place. But it is the delicate improvement of food standard that makes the ship remarkable, at a time when cutback is seen in the whole trade (including Silversea which serves packaged orange juice unless you ask for the fresh). I agree with the latest Berlitz guide as it now rates Crystal above competitors Silversea, Seabourn and Regent. The Crystal food is truly enjoyable, now that the restaurant offers two menus, one modern and one traditional, therefore many choices. On this visit I tend to conclude that the ‘modern’ menu has improved much, with artful presentation and good taste (it had been a bit ‘funny’ in the beginning as I tasted it on Symphony two years ago). There are three alternative dining choices in addition to the main restaurant, all offering good quality of food (rather than quantity in the number of available restaurants). All guests can dine twice in an alternative restaurant free (otherwise it is a mere cover charge of $35). Dining on Crystal Serenity is a real pleasure even for gourmets, and among the best at sea. Entertainment is never a strong area for Crystal. Ship size and mature passengers not really keen on shows do not justify lavish productions such as on sister company Dream Cruises, but the quality is good, and even more than on a big ship, there are always also alternative local shows in port in addition to the production show. Of these I watched one of the best acrobatic show at sea (or indeed on land) in the Balskat Duo which had performed with Circuit de Soleil. But I see the very same production shows that are old fashioned. The singers try to make more noises to lure the young, but I see few youngish passengers. The cruise director, Gary Hunter is a master of his trade, however. It is the most port intensive cruise that calls on a port very day, and all ports are interesting except for me, Gibraltar, which is however a convenient stop on route. The last night we stayed overnight in Lisbon. Valencia was the first port of call and the free shuttle takes passengers directly to the old town. It was a great visit, walking old streets and seeing various historic landmarks. Next port is Alicante and we arrived on a Spanish holiday that most shops are closed, but the town is beautiful and even with some initial rain it still makes a day of pleasant stroll. The weather was cool and pleasant. Malaga is next, and alas there was no sunshine on the Costa del Sol on our arrival. Some rains in the morning and I wonder if those who took excursion to Seville fared better. Malaga itself is interesting and it is gateway to many interesting points. As a frequent visitor to this region, I did not rush to any places, having seen them many times, and to me the ship is the destination Particularly the ship is Crystal, no matter rain or shine. Pouring rain in Gibraltar in the morning but it cleared up in the afternoon. I always think it is funny to see UK chain stores in town and here one dispenses the British pound. But Cadiz is interesting, as we had the full day I went out on my own in the afternoon my way while I have time to take an excursion in the morning. As if by bad luck it falls on another Spanish holiday, though many shops open for tourists. The morning excursion was good in that I visited sights slightly out of town that I had not seen out of my two previous visits. There was ample time to return to Cadiz proper for a stroll in its old streets in the afternoon. The trip ends in Lisbon and we stayed overnight here. It was good as there is much to see in Lisbon but a very strong wind arrived at dinner time so that the terminal was closed for the night. This is strange; though I am sure no one will opt to go ashore in such windy condition anyway. I took Crystal’s transfer to the airport early in the morning and the trip was perfectly organized, with many helpers that virtually take your luggage from ship to your check-in counter. This ends my very pleasant trip and I look forward to returning to Crystal Serenity when it operates the Open Sitting Dining. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We were on this specific cruise as a business incentive award, so we did not actually select the cruise ship or the specific cruise. The Symphony is a relatively small ship, accomodating about 1000 guests. We spent very little time in ... Read More
We were on this specific cruise as a business incentive award, so we did not actually select the cruise ship or the specific cruise. The Symphony is a relatively small ship, accomodating about 1000 guests. We spent very little time in Barcelona (our departure city ) as we used that time for an excursion in the mountains, as we did at most of the other ports. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and fast without exception. Because the ship is relatively small, it is also easy to navigate. The cabin was comfortably and pleasantly furnished. Dining was exceptional throughout, from a small private dinner to all the other dining facilities and room service. (It's really a treat to get hot scrambled eggs from room service!) The entertainment was top notch, whether it was informational, a jazz trio in a lounge, or an after dinner show. The service was exceptional in every area. Although all the service staff was phenomenal, I would like to recognize Denis Blagojevic, who works in The Palm Court as being one of the best of the best. We hpoe to use Crystal Cruises again. We would really enjoy another cruise on Symphony, as it was perfect for us in every way. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Background - have previously cruised the inside passage in Alaska with Holland America, Caribbean islands with Princess, Crystal was equivalent but a smaller ship (for better and worse) The food and service were excellent. Especially ... Read More
Background - have previously cruised the inside passage in Alaska with Holland America, Caribbean islands with Princess, Crystal was equivalent but a smaller ship (for better and worse) The food and service were excellent. Especially Verner Petrovic as our waiter in the main dining room. Prego and Silk Road specialty restaurants were very nice. Lido buffet and Trident grill excellent Free liquor is a mixed blessing, one tends to overdo and not be as energetic for the excursions. One show (Billy joel imitator) was excellent, rest were adequate. Uncrowded but dead nightlife, glad I wasn't a single. Older crowd 7th deck room with a view but no veranda was nice and equivalent to previous experiences, Crystal overall organizational skills were OK except the interface with excursions and when something went wrong Unfortunately we got hit by pickpockets in Barcelona, the 5th floor office staff were generally of no help and actually gave us misinformation while acting like she knew what she talking about. Then Thursday or so the final bill from Crystal was to be settled, all the sudden we could make free international collect calls from their desk instead going onshore to the police stations, or aural facetiming on iphone using wifi to relatives in states. DEFINITELY NOT a luxury touch when stressed, and when WiFi is 55 euro/120 minutes with spotty SLOW reception even when docked. AND NO ATM on board. Also they didn't email us in advance what pier to arrive at in Barcelona, there's 6 km of piers for the taxi in traffic to navigate BCN 3 days, lots to see, PICKPOCKETS, beaches a subway ride, Crystal's Gaudi tour was excellent Ibiza interesting for 1 day, snorkeling excursion for 4 hrs was only 45 minutes in the water each for >150 euro each, some fish and grasses, warm salty water, bring your own mask Cartagena interesting for 1 day, excursion was OK Gibraltar interesting for 1 day, the park is huge and hilly - take a taxi Casablanca interesting for 1 day, I wont go back, tour guide not what he seemed to be, flim-flam attempts were laughable Algarve Tivoli hotel in Carvoeiro or all of Lagos was very nice, finally a good excursion guide, I might go back if I wanted a beach vacation almost rivaling Cinque Terra in Italy, LIS 3 days, enough sights for 3 days no days at sea so we did excursions rather than dance or art etc on board, gym was ok If the itinerary fits I'd do Crystal again, but prefer Holland America and Princess Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
First time on Crystal cruises. Had high expectations, and found that they were exceeded. Yes Crystal is not cheap, but since tips and drinks are included, they are comparable to others in price. What makes Crystal different is the ... Read More
First time on Crystal cruises. Had high expectations, and found that they were exceeded. Yes Crystal is not cheap, but since tips and drinks are included, they are comparable to others in price. What makes Crystal different is the attitude of ever member of the crew. Everyone greets you every time you see them. Waiters started greeting us by name. President - Edie was very open to input from passengers and she is focused on making Crystal even better. Food in main dining room was outstanding. Waiter was very attentive. Wine steward never let glass be empty. Ship docked in the middle of Bordeaux so very convenient. At all ports that needed it, a free shuttle was provided to take us to the center of each town. We started in Barcelona, then Ibiza, Cartgenta, Casa Blanca, then serveal ports in Portugal finally all though western France and the channel island of Guernsey. Recommend the Optional Oyster Farm tour. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
My wife and I checked in to stateroom 7069 on 13th July in Barcelona. There is a lot to say, so let me break it down into sections: Stateroom: This was beautifully appointed for sure, but a few things annoyed me. I am a little over 6ft 3, ... Read More
My wife and I checked in to stateroom 7069 on 13th July in Barcelona. There is a lot to say, so let me break it down into sections: Stateroom: This was beautifully appointed for sure, but a few things annoyed me. I am a little over 6ft 3, and I found the bed a little short. The TV was in the far right hand corner above the vanity and quite difficult to look at from the bed area. The sofa was covered in very fancy cushions making it impossible to sit there unless you threw them all on the floor. For 226 sq feet, it felt smaller, because there was so much furniture and decoration everywhere, but very attractive. By the way, no chocolate on the pillow at night. The bathroom had 2 sinks, was all marble and glass, with a decent sized bath for a cabin this size. The best bathroom I have ever had on a cruise ship. Pool deck: Rearranged with a more contemporary country club feel, this was well organized and various seating options as well as plentiful beds for sunbathing. It was too hot for us, so we stayed in the shade. The saltwater pool and surrounding Jacuzzis were delightful. Crystal Dining Room: Wonderful standard of food and presentation. Best steaks I have eaten anywhere, wonderful deserts. Some of the staff were undertrained by 6 star standards and did not know how to attend to people at this level with some embarrassing results. The head waiters were always buzzing around to make sure everything was taken care of. No deserts prepared tableside as we were expecting which was a little disappointing. The 6.15 seating is much too early for dinner in the med in July, but we were with older relatives so we had no choice. Bistro: Oh boy - this is where I easily put away a bonus 1000 calories a day on scones, smoked salmon, cheese and cappuccinos. How can you resist? One of the best places on the ship with superb service. Lido/Tastes: Again, wonderful food, but the service stations are all the place, and if you want to get some butter to go with your roll and soup, good luck in finding it. I did not care very much for the layout. Tastes is where you are served in a wonderful atrium setting under an umbrella. The food was great and lovely window views. Bars: The drinks flow as you like, but the lack of quality canapés was a shock. Sometimes there would just be one offering and if you did not like it, too bad, there was nothing else - why? was I still hungry! Also, the pianists seem to finish just as I sat down, and I never caught more than 15 minutes of their playing. Gym and Spa: For a small ship this was fine. Dumbbells up to 60lbs and good resistance machines and nice treadmills. No lat pulldown machine for back, which I thought was strange. Small locker rooms with beautiful sauna and steam and great showers. I used this as my personal spa in the evening and this was one of the highlights for me. For a seven night cruise, the steam room was out of order for 2 of them. Evening entertainment: This was very limited to only a 45 min performance here and there. Found myself wandering around at 9.30pm in search of something to do that was not the casino. The song and dance routines were not great and some of the song selections from the musicals were very obscure. They had cut the entertainment budget to pay for the drinks, and it showed. Casino: Not like it used to be. Any Vegas or cruise ship casino, gone was the glamour, the cream leather and staff walking around with drinks and canapés. Also, I lost a bundle! Palm Court: A very nice area for tea with the string quartet playing in the background. The Mozart tea was fabulous, the other tea times were pretty bland. For all the culinary awards they do not know how to make tea sandwiches. Plus they come round and offer you everything all at once, which is not how it is done. Cinema: This is another highlight for me. What a wonderful room. I watched Noah with Russell Crowe and Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays. Really nice venue and not busy. Summary: In a 1973 film called La Grande Bouffe, 4 friends decide to eat themselves to death. On day 5 of my cruise, at about 6.30pm I thought I was having a heart attack. I spent the whole evening with the most terrible indigestion and heartburn, which was gone by the time I fell asleep. I missed Wiener Schnitzel night, my favorite as well! There is an enormous amount of high quality cuisine and alcohol on this ship. Because we only had 7 days, I treated it like an endless buffet and my body reacted badly. After day 2, I couldn't drink anymore booze despite the wonderful wines they were offering with dinner. I couldn't even finish a pre-dinner cocktail. If you are going to put Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, Roast Turkey etc on the menu, I am going to eat like the last supper. Unless you are extremely restrained on your consumption, this can be difficult to manage. As my emphasis is more on training and spa and diet on these cruises, I am not sure the Crystal experience makes any sense for me, and I am sure my Doctor would agree. But if you are going to Grande Bouffe, what a way to do it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
First time cruising in Crystal and had a lot of expectations..I loved it.From food to beautiful, spacious cabins, impeccable service,great itinerary.The staff are very professional,efficient and very friendly. Embarkation ... Read More
First time cruising in Crystal and had a lot of expectations..I loved it.From food to beautiful, spacious cabins, impeccable service,great itinerary.The staff are very professional,efficient and very friendly. Embarkation -disembarkation was fast and and luggage was handled carefully and transfers were o time. The specialty restaurants were amazing,having all inclusive( alcohol) is the way to go.. Since we didn't have a set time for dinner, it was great that they were able to accommodate us. One of my favorite days was in St Tropez, while spending all day there, we had access to go back to the ship and back in to town.Having a laundry room on the floor was really a plus, especially for a summer time vacation..Excursions were well organized and always run smooth and on time. Spa facilities amazing! Perhaps pool area can use a little love, but overall this is a fantastic ship, providing every guest a unique experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My husband and I (late 40s/early 50s) took this cruise with his brother's family which includes his wife and 2 daughters who are in their early 20s. This was our 17th cruise, but our first on a "premium" line. We were ... Read More
My husband and I (late 40s/early 50s) took this cruise with his brother's family which includes his wife and 2 daughters who are in their early 20s. This was our 17th cruise, but our first on a "premium" line. We were expecting an older crowd, similar to what we saw on HAL, but were pleasantly surprised that there was such a mix of passengers. I can understand that now as getting around the ports and doing most of the shore excursions would have been pretty challenging for most older folks. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, found the ship to be clean and the layout convenient, but with one or two minor exceptions, we did not find the food, service or entertainment/enrichment to be significantly better than what we have experienced on lines such as Celebrity and Princess. Yes, having drinks and gratuities included was great, but you certainly pay for that in the price of the cruise. Embarkation in Barcelona went quickly as we arrived in the late afternoon - it was a Friday so traffic getting from the airport to the port was a nightmare - we used Crystal's transfer service and somehow between taking our bags from the van to our cabin, they misplaced 2 of them and it took hours for them to find the bags again. Our in-laws said they were greeted with champagne when they arrived earlier in the day, but we were not. Our cabin was on deck 10, and was pretty much the size of other cabins we have been in, but the bathroom was bigger including double sinks and a real tub/shower, which we appreciated. We had a whole day in Barcelona the next day and had hired a private tour guide that was recommended by someone we know. Barcelona is a great city with lots to see and do, and we'd definitely like to go back again. Other ports/excursions included: Valencia - bike tour: nice ride through a very large park, spent some time in the old city and then rode around the City of Arts and Sciences which is very interesting; Palma de Mallorca - did the Valldemossa tour as it was recommended by a couple of friends, very quaint town; St Tropez - chose the winery and beach excursion and were expecting a picturesque estate and then onto a beach resort for relaxation and lunch (we're in France, right?) - it was actually a very small, rustic winery in a barn with a beach on the property and if you didn't bring a beach towel, you had nowhere to sit - fun and the food and wine were great, but not what we expected - maybe they need to rewrite the description of this one; Porto Venere - my favorite stop - we did the island trek and then walked around the town and went up to the fort and church - very beautiful; Genoa - the palaces tour did not disappoint; Florence - a long day but worth the bus ride. The entertainment on board was typical of what you would experience on any cruise - production shows, magician, string quartet, piano players, bands scattered around the common areas each evening. We particularly enjoyed the dancing in the Palm Court throughout the evening, and the Avenue Saloon was a crowd favorite with lots of sing-alongs. Overall we enjoyed this cruise, as we love cruising and it was our first time cruising in Europe, but I don't know if we would choose Crystal again.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
If you want a REAL vacation it would be on the Crystal. I have been on both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity. My last cruise was on the Serenity and it sure sticks to its name. My vacation WAS really serene! Every staff member ... Read More
If you want a REAL vacation it would be on the Crystal. I have been on both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity. My last cruise was on the Serenity and it sure sticks to its name. My vacation WAS really serene! Every staff member is so very well trained in how to deal with the passengers that you feel like you have died and gone to heaven. The food is 1st class and very elegantly presented. The embarkation process is very easy and no lining up. The cabin was spotlessly clean and maintained at that level the whole time we were on the ship. The most impressive part is when you leave your cabin to go home the housekeeping staff comes in and removes EVERYTHING to get it washed. This includes the curtains, duvets, all the covers including the throw pillow covers. Wish other cruise lines would do that. I cruise about 6 or 7 times a year on different cruise lines and have only seen this kind of cleanliness on Crystal. Entertainment - 1st class. Disembarkation -very well organized so there are no lines when going through customs. The ship has more staff than passengers so everyone is very well taken care of. The cruise director is a fine gentleman - well spoken and also a great entertainer. The jazz band was also terrific! Highly recommend this line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We joined Crystal Serenity in beautiful Barcelona, for a favourite cruise, the leaisurely Transatlantic to Miami. We embarked with Crystal's minimum fuss or delay, after luggage was whisked away, and once on board, were quickly helped ... Read More
We joined Crystal Serenity in beautiful Barcelona, for a favourite cruise, the leaisurely Transatlantic to Miami. We embarked with Crystal's minimum fuss or delay, after luggage was whisked away, and once on board, were quickly helped with our hand luggage and enjoying a delightful al fresco lunch and chilled champagne. We admired the elegant makeover of the Lido casual cafe, and the charming green living wall and large olive trees decorating the Tastes grill area, now the venue for Tapas style evening dining, under the lit up olives trees, Our Deck 8 cabin was ready by 2pm, som wen quickly unpacked, met our charming stewardess and enjoyed the city views from the balcony. Cabins on Serenity are fairly small, but with a well planned layout, comfortably furnished in serene taupe and grey shades , have ample storage space and a lovely marble bathroom . Our small dislikes are the medicinal scented Aveda toiletries, and wardrobe alongside the bed. We looked over the featured programme for this Big Band themed cruise, and were delighted to discover that the band was to play 2 sets each night, and an excellent show programme and featured artists were going to be on board to entertain guests each evening. We particularly enjoyed the terrific Elton John tribute show, and the guest classical musicians. It was a. delight to see so many dance hosts , happy to dance with ladies who cared to dance, and also the Crystal initiative in having dance hostesses to partner gentlemen. On repositioning cruises, Crystal offer an excellent programme of dance tuition, delivered at 2 skill levels by well qualified and enthusiastic teachers. Additionally, we were to have excellent lectures and creative activities to keep us entertained and as busy as we cared to be. We both thoroughly enjoyed the quality art and golf tuition, delivered with charm and skill by featured tutors. Crystal Serenity has a superb library with a wide book selection for those quiet moments enjoying the sun, on the comfortable sun deck loungers. Serenity dining was superb each evening, whether in the lovely main dining room , with its varied menus, beautifully presented food and attentive service, or n the 2 speciality restaurants, Mediterranean Prefo and oriental Silk Road, a Nobu dining experience, with added sushi bar, whose chef prepared fresh delights as diners watched. Both the speciality restaurants require reservation and guests are limited as to the number of times they may dine there, so that all can enjoy these excellent . We did not try dining in Tastes , but it looked charming , intimate and fun. Daily lunch for us was always in the outdoor area of the lovely Lido, with a superb daily choice and delightful mini desserts to tempt. Waiters quickly offered drinks and were happy to bring preferred wines , even if they were not the daily selection. In fact, we found the wine service to be the best we have had on any cruise line, with knowledgeable sommeliers, helpful waiters, and a superb selection on offer. A lovely treat on Crystal Serenity was a gorgeous Mozart aftenoon tea, with costumes servers, a string quartet playing , and a fantastic pastry and cake display that would break any diet resolutions! As we prefer to breakfast in cabin, we enjoyed the full breakfast service available, served hot and promptly by cheerful room service staff. When we finally reached Miami, after 2 port stops in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and busy St Maarten, we were sad to leave such a lovely ship, and return to reality after such a superb pampering, sybaritic experience. We feel that a Crystal ship provides a wonderful quality cruise , in elegant , stylish surroundings with superb service levels , provided by well trained, motivated and charming staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This cruise was simply an unmitigated disaster. I have been on plenty of cruises to know what good service is and what to expect, and Crystal simply failed. The reviews convinced us to take this cruise, and I hope this review convinces you ... Read More
This cruise was simply an unmitigated disaster. I have been on plenty of cruises to know what good service is and what to expect, and Crystal simply failed. The reviews convinced us to take this cruise, and I hope this review convinces you to PASS on Crystal. I will not take this ship again. EMBARKATION Went smoothly. Bags delivered promptly. We were not offered anything upon our entrance to the ship - no champagne, no guidance, nothing. WELCOME LUNCH We were served by unenthused, curt waiters. Took ten minutes to get a coffee. The waiter became exasperated after we asked him a third time. An early warning sign. SHIP ITSELF The ship is fairly nice, but somewhat drab. A funeral parlor has more personality than this ship. It sails very smoothly though. DINING The food in the main dining hall was passable at best. Flavorless and uninteresting, with the next days lunch often incorporating the previous evening's dinner. The maitre d' was fine, but the waiters remained detached and uninterested throughout. Service took forever to get any food. The sommeliers were jokes and had no idea what wine they were even serving. The food in the specialty restaurants was excellent, but reservations were quite difficult to get and impossible to alter if need be. The sushi in Silk Road was outstanding, but the maitre d' was beyond awful. He mindblowingly sent my infirm, 82 year old father back to his stateroom because he didn't have a jacket (despite wearing a button-down shirt and tie and suit pants), causing us to lose our places at the sushi bar, even though we were first in line and had waited half an hour. The all-day food at the Bistro was okay, though it is clear the chefs have no clue what they are doing, as the prosciutto was carved in the wrong direction. The fries by the pool are excellent though. STATEROOMS Excellent linens, clean, nice shower, wonderful housekeeping, but very small rooms. Good cable stations on the tv and nice bathrooms. Good wifi throughout the ship. Our safe broke and we had to ask four times for it to get fixed. BARS & LOUNGES Excellent, friendly bartenders, good drinks, passable wine. The "disco" Pulse is the size of an inside stateroom and filled with karaoke. PORT SERVICE No offers of water bottles as we departed (unlike Oceania), despite the hot, humid weather. Crystal shuttles were free at some ports, but cost money at others. The crew had no idea where to direct us as we exited the tenders, a huge problem for the mostly elderly clientele. Despite a few nice features, nothing makes up for the absolutely awful crew and barely passable dining that made this cruise one to forget. SKIP IT.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We just returned from crystal cruise 3220 on the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Lisbon. We stayed in on the 9th level with a deluxe verandah room on the Crystal Symphony. Every thing about the cruise was great . The food and service was ... Read More
We just returned from crystal cruise 3220 on the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Lisbon. We stayed in on the 9th level with a deluxe verandah room on the Crystal Symphony. Every thing about the cruise was great . The food and service was superb and the entertainment of high quality. Most of the shows were reviews with the wonderful costumes, dance and the singing Crystal group. There were also solo enterainers, one of whom was extremely entertaining and funny,Dale Ganyea. In addition to the high quality reviews there was one new show (Iluminate) for which there was a lot of hype before th show. It was interesting and "high tech" , but we did not find it as entertaining as other shows. We did however appreciciate that it was innovative. After about 5 or 10 minutes we had enough , but others may have liked it more! (perhaps the younger people on board ) We enjoyed the guests , which had a large number of international guests from Europe, England, S. Africa, Australia etc and of course quite a few Americans. There were many repeat guests, some had been on many Crystal curise in the past. The only dissappointment was the size of the cabin , type A , high floow with Veranda , "deluxe room " The room was small but realtively well designedThe public spaces were lovely, The computer school was excellent.The Wi Fi was available in t he computer room as well as supposedly in other places. In general it was sort of slow ,but faster in computer room than in guest cabins. Only suggestions for improvement would be to make the ship completely smoke free. The guest in room next door to us was a smoker. We did not smell the smoke in our room , but it was noticed outside of the room in the hall and required a 'smoke remover apparatus' to sit in hall to help remover the smell. Otherwise it was a spetacular cruise and we would love to take another crystal cruise. Highly recommend this line. The destinations were great, but quite crowded , due to high season travel in August. ( Monaco, ,St. Tropez, Cadiz, Mallorca , Gilbraltar, Barcelona, Lisbon etc. It was a great cruise and we were sad to leave the ship and face the real world !!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
After our youngest child graduated from college, we decided to splurge on a Crystal cruise in the Western Mediterranean. We had sailed on the crystal the Crystal Harmony several years ago and recalled the experience fondly. Also, the ... Read More
After our youngest child graduated from college, we decided to splurge on a Crystal cruise in the Western Mediterranean. We had sailed on the crystal the Crystal Harmony several years ago and recalled the experience fondly. Also, the itinerary called for stops in Majorca, Cadiz, and Lisbon, ports we were interested in visiting. We booked many months ahead and secured a good rate with an internet agency,including substantial shipboard credit. Embarcation in Barcelona was a breeze. We didn't have to wait at all. We checked in and went to lunch in the dining room, and were greeted with a flute of Champagne. As this was the first all-inclusive cruise we had been on, we realized that we would need to be moderate in eating and drinking, which was tough to do since the food was extremely good and the booze was always available. (We were amazed when, after returning home we found that one of us stayed the same weight and the other actually lost weight.) Our cabin was just a we expected. We had a limited view, but since we were on the starboard side, it really didn't make much difference. The cabin was very efficiently laid out. Our only complaints were that the mattress was too hard for our liking, but we never raised this as an issue since we didn't think anything could be done. Also the bathroom counter was only about 9 inches wide. Cabin service was outstanding. We would joke about trying to pack our stewardess, Jovanka, in our luggage when we left. It was very nice not to have worry about tipping, though would would have happily done so. The free self service laundry was greatly appreciated. The food everywhere was outstanding. We ate in the dining room every night, except for one night in Prego and two in Silk Road. The food in silk road was perhaps a cut above Prego, but only if you enjoy sushi and sashimi, which we do. We were seated at a table for six, but the other two couples were occasionally absent. When we asked to be reseated, we were directed to the Captain's table. A few diners complained that some of the desserts, like Bananas Forster, were not prepared table side, but they tasted fine to us. In the spirit of moderation, we tried to limit ourselves to wine at dinner. We found the complimentary wines to be quite good Service in the dining room was outstanding. We found our fellow travelers to be quite good companions. Although we are in our early sixties and comfortable financially, we got the sense that we were below the median in age and wealth, although nothing, of course, was a ever mentioned directly regarding the latter. The shore excursions we took we quite good. In particular we enjoyed the hike (nearly four miles) on Majorca and the Royal Equestrian School show in Jerez (Cadiz was the port. The later included a sherry tasting at a Bodega where the place bottles on the tables and allowed you to pour what you wanted. The entertainment was good, though one of us is not a big fan of Broadway show tunes, which seems to be a staple everywhere in the cruise industry. The Pianist/Comedian was good, as was the violinist when he played a classical piece the last night. Overall, the cruise experience was excellent. The ship is lovely and the number if passengers is less than most cruise ships these days. Service was uniformly good. However, the price point of Crystal Cruises is quite high. Is it good value for the money? This is a closer call, but in the end I would say so.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. ... Read More
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. Its not however 6* plus as Crystal and other probably paid reports state. Commonly high end market regular cruisers quote Seabourns product to set the standard for comparison. Seabourn's small ships are superior in food quality, choice, service and presentation. Also cabins are larger. Food in dining rooms is excellent, adequately varied and very good quality. Nobu is excellent in both food quality & presentation, although late dining is a rushed experience always reminiscent of an early closing restaurant in a major city, where waiters want to rush off home. An ill placed experience on a cruise ship. Prego Italian is sadly well below the general standard of the ship. The menu, presentation and taste can be found in most average mid market city restaurants, and certainly could be bettered by thousands of them. The decor is massively superior to the food offering. Menu is boring, poorly constructed. Ingredient quality is low. Specifically :- steak is tough and tasteless, Pasta is passable. Gnocchi a pitiable excuse. The Rissotto is the worst Ive ever tasted, made from the wrong type of rice, undercooked and tasteless. The Osso Buco was veal lacking in both taste and flavor. Tagliatale was good, as was the simple but notably farmed sea bass. 8 diners ate there twice and sent most food back uneaten. The management don't care, for other pax informed us its unchanged for at least a year. The service however is fantastic. Room service is appallingly slow, being badly managed for Crystal uniquely don't have dedicated staff, instead they use the already occupied room stewards who have to drop their prime cleaning task to obtain it from the galley and serve. Ridiculously unworkable. Entertainment is good, pianists, quartet all except the main show which is severely lacking in polish resembling a high school effort. The waiters although very efficient, rather obviously seem to operate on the previous tip culture, so much so that everyone around were discussing how much to pay them towards the end of the cruise, which sadly created a tense finale. The burning question is " Would we choose Crystal again?" The answer is "Most certainly yes and we look forward to cruising with them again soon". Theres so much excellent food and entertainment, lectures, and assorted lessons available all over the ship, its simply a matter of ignoring the Prego & main show embarrassments. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Transatlantic, December 2012, marketed by Crystal as Big Band and Ballroom theme. I have no interest in Big Band but chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. Having done Transatlantics on Costa and Cunard a year ago, I can compare ... Read More
Transatlantic, December 2012, marketed by Crystal as Big Band and Ballroom theme. I have no interest in Big Band but chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. Having done Transatlantics on Costa and Cunard a year ago, I can compare this trip with direct competitors. Although my dancing expertise is International style, I do travel with American groups and am not totally unfamiliar with American style. Food: Food in the MDR was usually excellent, although sometimes only good. Service was professional and efficient, although only really notable for high staff ratios. The MDR operates mostly with traditional fixed seating. I used "dining by reservation", not really open seating as reservations are required. I did not use the specialty restaurants. There is no midnight buffet, waiters bring trays of pizza and snacks to the lounges. Also no evening buffet, instead limited, fixed menu service using the patio furniture beside the pool. It operated 6:30 to 9 PM, but was closed sometimes, notably formal nights. I estimate a premium of $50/day over Costa and $20/day over Cunard is warranted. Cabins: All cabins are outside. AA, A, B and C categories are identical, except that C has a window. The cabins are attractive and well-furnished, but functionally similar to premium balconies on other ships. The bathroom is large enough for a second sink and a "full" (actually 48") tub. Closet space is average. The mattresses were unusually firm, more European-style. Ambiance: Several times, the ship was so quiet, I wondered if it would be literally possible to heart a pin drop. Dress Code: Mostly casual, tending towards "backyard scruffy" during the day. There were many tuxedos in evidence on formal evenings. GLBT: There was only one FOD meeting that I saw, and there did not seem to be many gay couples on the ship. Lecturers: Most interest lectures conflicted with other activities. The ones I was able to attend tended to be a summary of open-source material with little fresh insight- e.g. the Columbus lecture did not mention the controversies engendered by "1421" and "1434", and mentioned encomienda only briefly. Public Rooms: The Serenity has two large venues and was able to cope with having both Big Band and Ballroom themes simultaneously. Palm Court: Rectangular dance floor about 20' x 40' with four unfortunately placed pillars, about 4' in from the edge. The Big Band took about 1/3 the space, and although this was not a Christmas cruise (Hanukkah, actually) there were two trees on the dance floor taking a significant amount of space. They were not removed for several days. Stardust Lounge: Crescent shaped dance floor, usable rectangle about 18' x 36', total area about 25% larger with furniture removed. Avenue Saloon: No dance floor, but a pianist playing popular music; as many as 50 people as late as 1 AM. Crystal Cove: The lobby bar, with a pianist playing mostly "music to snooze by". Disco: Dance floor oval-shaped, about 15' x 12'. Most nights there was nobody there. Dancing: There were perhaps 50 people who seemed to be keen dancers. I do not know how many of them chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. The Good: Crystal hired a second dance couple, both couples were well-qualified (American style). Each couple taught one American-style beginner-level class per day. I noted that the rumba class appeared to use the Side Basic from the DVIDA syllabus. They frequently mentioned concepts such as frame, connection, LOD and floorcraft. They also experimented with advanced and International style classes, which were not very successful. There were only a few couples at this level. Although the dance floor in the Stardust lounge is an unfortunate shape, it was not bad for a cruise ship. The Palm Court is also large, but is on an upper deck. Both would be quite acceptable if properly organized. The Bad: Crystal had the professional couples perform a DWTS-type show in the theatre one night, so much time was taken by rehearsals. The house band was a Filipino quintet. They played mostly foxtrots, rumbas (American tempo) and waltzes (mostly too fast). Not bad as an ordinary lounge band, but not a dance band. They had no knowledge of dance tempos- when I asked for a waltz at 90 beats per minute, I was told "we don't know what you're talking about". I am told Filipino bands often learn to play by rote and don't really understand tempo. Crystal booked a 17-piece Big Band orchestra; I have no interest in Big Band. I noticed that the band was only popular for a couple of nights. The Stardust lounge was used as the dancing venue and attracted a steady crowd throughout the cruise. The Ugly: Students in the classes were expected to rotate partners, but did not segregate the women who were serious about learning and actually showed up wearing proper shoes (there were several), from the gawdawful creatures who just wanted to waddle around wiggling their fat butts. Hosts have to put up with that- I don't. I asked about recorded strict tempo music during band breaks, and was flat-out refused; "the Hosts have to take a break and the women will complain if they are not dancing". I was left with the impression there had been no thought of providing strict tempo music and the idea was an annoying imposition. Ambassador Hosts Six allegedly "accomplished ballroom dancers". Based on what I have seen with other groups, I was not impressed. Only one of them could even stand up straight ("frame" in American terminology). One was so bad as to be a horrible example- any woman who would tolerate him is not someone I would want to dance with. I was told that there are normally four hosts, and they usually sit around with nothing to do. Summary. Crystal provides a nice, but over-priced, product. The ambiance definitely tended towards "comatose" rather than "party". There are two lounges with decent dance floors. But if this was the best they can do on a ballroom theme cruise, I would not want to go on a regular cruise without some ironclad guarantees and big penalty clauses. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the ... Read More
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the same as what you get on [fill in the blank]?" And too, there was always some allusion to the ratio of older passengers. In order to keep my comments brief, I will say only that none of this is true. What IS true in my mind is that Crystal Cruises is tailor made for the discerning traveler. I will leave the specific comparisons of food, entertainment and quality of service for others to comment on. They are all good to great, but they are not what sets Crystal apart in my mind. Let me explain: Cruising is about leaving cares and troubles behind for a time and enjoying life. This begins with embarkation. If you have to enter a terminal, figure out WHAT LINE YOU BELONG IN, or figure out which line is moving the fastest, then you are NOT on Crystal. My first Crystal experience taught me that one merely needs to walk onto the ship and pick up the room key. VOILA! If you are reminded everyday what benefits you get based on how many times you have cruised, you are not on Crystal. As first time cruisers we were given $100 shipboard credit each and an additional $200 each as part of our booking. Everyone I talked to received credit just for booking which one that gets to decide on how to use, e.g., internet, spa, stores, excursions, private dance instruction. This gets to the heart of what impressed me the most about Crystal. At no point did I detect or recognize the difference in passengers. Officers did not parade into the dining room with privileged guests, suite passengers received no special dining room or specialty restaurant booking privileges, there was no mention anywhere that if you are such and such you get such and such. No private parties for "special" groups. We did have a cruise critic party, but anyone could attend. If the cruise line does this sort of thing, it is discreet and that is really my point. They make it their business to treat everyone on board as a first class passenger. No difference is the difference! This is a brilliant business strategy in my way of thinking. The other key business strategy that puts Crystal at the very top is the public space to passenger ratio. Read: no crowds anywhere!!! No buffet lines, no chair hogs because there are so many wonderful choices, lots of dance floor. A WIDE WRAP AROUND PROMENADE for those who love to walk or run. Space, space, space. Another small example that speaks volumes: I learned Crystal has guest laundry services. HURRAY! I followed a sign, found it, and discovered, wow, no charge to use the machines. But alas, no machine for laundry soap. I thought, ah ha, this is where they will get you, they will charge $10 for soap! So I checked the stores and then asked at the desk with a rather wry look on my face. She looked at me quizzically and said, "madam, you simply push the button when you need soap". You mean bing, bang, boom, it is free? She laughed at me. Then, to top it off, I learned there is not one guest laundry, no, there is one ON EVERY FLOOR! A big example of how Crystal is out-thinking other cruise lines is their strategy of transatlantic big band dance cruises. If you are a dance lover, there is no better ship venue. The professional instructors (4) gave multiple group lessons every sea day, private instruction and they performed at various times with each other, crew and passengers. I count myself as a dance instruction snob and they outclassed the competition on land and sea by a mile. Seven dance ambassadors were onboard and were tireless in dancing with the ladies on-board. This has to be the best kept secret in the cruising industry but I think it is just starting to take off so if you are interested, act fast and book! Finally, let me say a word about the passengers. The first week I kept asking myself, "is it the passengers aboard who make this a more enjoyable experience, or is it the way Crystal does business that makes every happier and therefore the experience more enjoyable?" I have concluded that it must be both.On Crystal, you will see smiling octogenarians showing the middle aged folks how to have fun. Common etiquette is evident everywhere. If you are on a ship with whiners, complainers, "me too" or "me first" needy type folks, you are not on Crystal! Before I conclude, I will point out two areas that are good but could be better. The spa. It is disconnected in culture from the rest of the ship. To be brief, they should be more inviting and offer more amenities in the locker room, especially at those prices. Second, the regular production stage performers (not the professional ballroom instructors onboard) are good, not great. I might point to Azamara as a cruise line that excels in maximizing the potential of a small dance/vocal performer group. Crystal cruises are a class act all the way. The discerning cruiser will see it at every turn and it will be experienced as a warmth that melts ones cares away. The ships are large enough to provide a smooth ocean experience, but small enough to make friends and find your way around. It is, after all, the perfect all around luxury cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Now that we have returned to the reality of winter, even in usually warm Houston, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on Serenity transatlantic V2327, Barcelona-Miami. In the words of the attorneys, "these comments ... Read More
Now that we have returned to the reality of winter, even in usually warm Houston, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on Serenity transatlantic V2327, Barcelona-Miami. In the words of the attorneys, "these comments represent my thoughts and do not reflect the opinions of others, etc., etc. et.al."... Pre-Cruise We arrived in Barcelona three days before the cruise and stayed at the Eurostars Grand Marina. We arrived at the hotel about 10:00am and were immediately shown to our rooms. We were upgraded to harborview/cityview rooms. The location was perfect; 5 minutes walk to the Columbus Monument, the Ramblas and the metro station, the hop-on/hop-off tour bus stopped directly in front of the hotel, and best of all, it was less than a 5 minute cab ride from the hotel to the Serenity's pier on Sunday morning. Embarkation We arrived at the pier about 12:15pm and were registered in the ship's lobby by 12:30pm. As we were registering, our waiter and Maitre 'D from our previous Serenity cruise in April spotted us, both came out of the dining room, and escorted us to a waiting table in the dining room. Champagne was already being poured as we were seated. How much better does that get? A leisurely lunch (and several more glasses of champagne later), we headed toward our cabins at about 1:55pm. The luggage was already placed on the bed and the room was ready. ("Officially" the rooms were to be ready at 3:00pm, but ours was ready earlier.) Random Observations (in no particular order) There were about 800' passengers on board, but since there were so many guest entertainers/lectures and many single passengers, there were very few empty cabins. With only 800 onboard, there was never a line, never a wait (with one exception...more later) anywhere on the ship. The weather was spectacular! Amazing calm seas, not a cloud in sight and temperatures in the 70's. We took advantage of the great weather to use the hot tubs and the outdoor pool most every afternoon. The covered pool remained unfilled and closed for the entire crossing. Although the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle had over 70 guests registered, I think that only about 35 or so actually made the party. We met many old friends, made some new friends and had enjoyable conversations with several of the ship's officers that attended. The pillow chocolates are no more. No great tragedy for us, since we usually just tossed all those chocolates in a drawer and brought them home anyway. But there was a very nice one pound box of See's chocolates from the Crystal Society in the cabin. Those came home with us, too, and will be shared with friends on New Year's Eve. The staff on Crystal are fantastic. This was our first cruise since the all inclusive took effect. We noticed no change in service and, in fact, every staff member that we encountered seemed even more eager to please than ever. We were acknowledged by every staff and crew member that we passed onboard, whether service staff, officers, deck crew, painters, handrail polishers, laundrymen, etc. I don't know how they do it, but this year's holiday decorations were even more spectacular than when we were onboard in December 2010. There were three massive Xmas trees in the atrium this year. Just amazing. The self-service laundry, at least on Deck 9, is now card-key access, I assume the self-service laundries on other decks may have new locks, but we did not check the other decks. Stateroom We were on Deck 9 aft. We met our cabin stewardess about 2:30pm. We gave her our mini-fridge beverage preferences, ordered a bottle of gin and a bottle of bourbon, requested fresh sliced limes everyday, ice to be delivered at 5:00pm everyday, requested extra towels, changed our pillow preferences, and asked for more hangers. Everything was in order later that evening and remained so for the rest of the cruise. Bathroom and cabin amenities were promptly replaced, without asking, as they became depleted. Since we had a European electrical plug adapter with us for our stay in Barcelona, we were able to use both the US-style and the European-style electrical outlets above the desk to recharge phones, cameras, etc. Due to the ship's movement, there was a slight rattle coming from one of the closet doors and one of the wall lamps. A quick comment to our stewardess and everything in the cabin was tightened, sealed and rattle-less the second evening and thereafter. Dining Breakfast: Our usual day began around 8:00am with a 3-4 mile circuit on Deck 7. After a quick shower, we generally had a very light snack of fresh fruit, juice and a double latte in the Bistro. We never made it to the MDR for breakfast and only made it to the Lido for breakfast on the two port days and before disembarking in Miami. We are not big breakfast-eaters, so the abundance of breakfast offerings generally did not tempt us. The Bistro still has the best coffee aboard! Lunch: Other than the embarkation day lunch, we never made it back to the MDR for lunch. The three themed buffets (Mediterranean, Asian and American) are now presented in the Lido instead of around the pool. The staff wears the themed uniforms on those three afternoons. The selections offered during the themed buffets appeared to be identical to my recollection of the selections offered around the pool previously, but the whole operation is now much more organized, civilized and the waiters are able to properly take care of their guests without dodging the buffet obstacle course around the pool. The Grand/Gala Buffet in the atrium was the usual visual treat, with endless cold lobster and jumbo shrimp, but no more crab claws. It is still organized chaos in the atrium for about 90 minutes during the buffet, but fortunately, there was complete calm and quiet once we were escorted to a table in the dining room. We are addicted to the freshly made onion rings from the grille, the duck quesadillas and individual pizzas at Tastes and really enjoyed sampling the new selections of Ben & Jerry's ice creams. Dinner: There were five of us traveling together on this crossing. I specifically requested to be seated in a section of the dining room that would be served by our sommelier from our previous cruise. The Maitre'D was most obliging and we had a table for five, second sitting, in the inner ring immediately next to the Captain's table. (The Captain, btw, dined in the dining room on at least four occasions.) We were quite pleased with the included wine offerings, and if there was ever anything that we did not like (we usually started with a white then progressed to a red then had either a dessert wine or port after dinner), we were immediately offered at least one, if not several other included selections. We did splurge on two occasions for extra-tariff Champagne and a Sauternes dessert wine, but we found the included selections quite acceptable and well paired to the menus. From experience on previous cruises, we learned to order half-portions for all entrees, soups and salads. Our waiter jokingly asked every evening if we wanted the "children's" portion or the "adult" portion, and the smaller portions were served with the same polish and presentation as the "regular" orders. We had dinner at Silk Road once. The blackened miso cod is my favorite. Although the sake menu is much more limited with the all inclusive, the included hot and cold sake were very nice and presented with the same flourish as always. We had dinner at Prego once. The service was spectacular. The presentation was exemplary. Other than the mushroom soup, perhaps the chef was having an off night. Nothing really "bad", but we have had so many truly fantastic Italian meals in shore-side restaurants, perhaps our expectation level for fine Italian cuisine cannot match the limitations inherent on ship. Needless to say, not our best meal onboard and really our only dining disappointment. We had dinner one evening in the Vintage Room. We did this on our previous crossing in 2010 and it was so remarkable, we invited two of our friends to join us on this trip. (No, we did not reserve the entire room....we shared the room with five other couples.) Champagne was served at 6:30pm and the last glass of dessert wine was finally consumed after 10:00pm. A remarkable evening, superb presentation, wine pairings and an individualized learning session with the head sommelier during the entire dinner. Each course of the multiple course tasting menu was perfectly proportioned so we could enjoy every course with its paired wine. Lecturers Every day at sea (9 sea days) there were scheduled lectures at 10:00am and 11:00am in the Galaxy and another lecture after lunch at 1:30pm in the theater. We attended almost all lectures, since they were all so interesting. We had never heard Dr. Jay Wolff speak. He was the only lecturer to present nine times. His lectures every sea day at 11:00am in the Galaxy were SRO. It's not fair to call Dr. Wolff a "historian/storyteller", but if history was presented this way when we were all in school, we all might have paid more attention to our professors. A remarkable, knowledgeable and personable speaker, I would strongly encourage everyone to attend his lectures if you are ever onboard with Dr. Wolff. He really made history relevant and alive. We enjoyed Dr. Carolyn Harris who spoke several times about European monarchy. Her lectures about the British royal family were especially interesting and relevant to the places we visited on this crossing. Although her presentation style was a bit more academic in tone, she was very engaging and very much enjoyed talking "shop" when seeing her out and about the ship. Having just returned from an extended land trip to SE Asia and Vietnam, and after visiting the "Hanoi Hilton" and listening to the interpretation of the Vietnam War as presented by the Vietnamese, it was very interesting and timely to listen to Mr. Lee Ellis who spoke about his years as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton". There are usually at least two sides to every story, and the contrast between an American POW's experience and the experience of the fighting North Vietnamese at the time was quite illuminating. We had heard Dr. Tom Logsdon's lectures about space travel and rockets and NASA many times, so we only attended one of his three lectures, which covered a topic that we had not heard him speak about before. The two other special lecturers, Dr. David Plourd spoke about whales, dolphins and the ocean and was a bit too much of a specialized scope to interest us after one lecture. Mr. Will Friedwald spoke about the Big Bands and the Big Band singers, but his lectures tended to heavily rely on video clips, so we bailed after listening to his first lecture only. Guest Entertainment Crystal certainly tries to provide something for everyone. We have heard pianists Naki Ataman and Philip Wojciechowski on previous cruises and both delivered their usual world-class performances on this crossing. We totally missed the performances of comedian Steve Stevens and specialty trumpeter Gary Guthman. Their scheduled performances conflicted with our specialty dinner reservations so we had to decide between food or frivolity....the food won. The 30 minute, Magic Castle at Sea, by reservation only (easy to obtain...just sign up in the library) in the Pulse disco was an amusing mid-afternoon diversion. Just another activity in the whole portfolio of options onboard. The Artie Shaw Orchestra, all 18 musicians plus vocalist, played 10 of the 12 nights in the Palm Court, as well as two separate concerts played in the atrium. We thoroughly enjoyed the variety of music this Big Band played, and several evenings we closed down the Palm Court around 1:00am once the band stopped playing. There were two professional dance teams on board. One evening was Crystal's version of Dancing With the Stars. If you have ever seen Curtis Collins lift and spin Natalie Mavor Miles above his head, on stage, at sea, it is an amazing sight to watch. How Natalie can stand up after that spin ride in the air is anyone's guess! Joel Spire kept the Avenue Saloon SRO until after 1:00am EVERY NIGHT! It was amazing. Tables were moved out of the way and there was dancing in the Saloon until the very wee hours. This was a partying crowd! And no, it had nothing to do with all inclusive bar. By and large, it did not appear that liquor consumption was any more excessive than observed on previous cruises before all inclusive. People were just having a really good time. Needless to say, since all the late night action was either in the Palm Court, the Avenue or the Cove, there was absolutely nobody in the Pulse disco except for a lonely bartender and waiter with nothing to do. Okay, here's my negative comment. And others have expressed this on other threads. The Cove is very popular. VERY popular. There are not enough seats for all. Well, there are enough seats, but the current configuration with those huge sofas and huge lounge chairs grouped for 6-8 people makes it a challenge to be in the Cove as a couple especially if you really don't want to engage in conversation with others already seated. Not trying to be anti-social, but there are some times that we just wanted a table for two to listen to either the string quartet or Tom Daniels at the piano. And, it is true, just one cigarette smoker has the ability to pollute the air in the entire Cove. Not trying to provide a solution here, but this was the only lounge that we, unfortunately, usually avoided. Production Shows Million Dollar Musicals and Curtain Call are dated productions, way past their pull-dates. We appreciate the expense involved with these production extravaganzas, but there were very few people in the Galaxy during the late show. It's not fair to the performers and it's not fair to the audience. We saw Across the Pond earlier this year. I saw it again to confirm that it was really as awful as I remembered the first time. This unimaginative, poorly executed collection of unrelated tunes needs to be retired to the scrap heap along with Crystal's previous all-time flop, Excalibur. We thoroughly enjoyed Rocket Man, the Elton John signature show. This was the only production show that packed the Galaxy, as most passengers had not seen this new production. Crystal is trying to attract a younger demographic, and I know it is a fine balancing act. My unofficial/general consensus poll of the audience was that it was well accepted by those under 60 years. The more senior members of the audience never heard of 90% of the songs and did not appreciate the rock music arrangements. It's a very thin line the entertainment directors walk to try to please most people onboard. Ports Tenerife: The weather was perfect! Our travel agent arranged a private tour for eight of us and we spent a fantastic day touring the island which culminated in a fantastic 2½ hour lunch before returning to the ship at 4:00pm. There was a medical evacuation before we left port, so sailing was delayed by about 45 minutes to allow the affected passengers to leave by ambulance. So sad when this happens, but it was fortunate that it occurred in port and not during the actual 5-day Atlantic crossing. St.Maarten: There were six massive cruise ships in port with the Serenity. It was a "cruise ship parking lot". Needless to say, the island was overwhelmed. We went ashore for about an hour, found a free Wi-Fi connection, checked emails, and came back onboard. Apparently, the rest of the passengers had the same idea, because everyone was back onboard and we sailed 30 minutes early! Disembarkation The smoothest, most seamless disembarkation ever. We were staying in Florida for the weekend, so were assigned an independent 9:00am departure. As we entered the Galaxy at 8:50am, our color was being called. We were on the gangway at 9:00am and we were on the sidewalk in front of the pier at 9:05am with all our luggage! Closing Comments My definition of a good vacation is one where no one gets hurt, no one gets sick and all the luggage makes it. By that definition, it was a very good trip. Good food, good service, good company, good memories. We met so many people that we sailed with on the 2010 transatlantic crossing. And we met an amazing number of people that have booked either individual segments or the entire 2015 World Cruise while onboard. We look forward to sailing with old and new friends again on the World Cruise in two short years! Rob Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A food and Wine themed cruise appealed enormously to us, when we booked this lovely ship sailing from Barcelona back to our "home" port of Southampton. An easy early BA flight from the excellent London city airport was perfectly ... Read More
A food and Wine themed cruise appealed enormously to us, when we booked this lovely ship sailing from Barcelona back to our "home" port of Southampton. An easy early BA flight from the excellent London city airport was perfectly times to arrive in time for embarkation on Crystal symphony. Her lovely, more traditional, lines stretched out before us, and embarkation was speedily accomplished. A delightful, though rather small, Promenade deck cabin was soon reached, and to our surprise, the anticipated obstruction consisted of a tiny strip on a lifboat suspended from the deck above. The Promenade deck was well below cabin windo level, so did not cause any inconvenience. the Promenade deck itself was wide, uncluttered and, to our delight made of gorgeous teak, as was the spacious Pool deck. Our cabin was nicely decorated in subtle colours, elegant and well planned, with ample drawer and closet space, and proved to be very comfortable.The small bathroom had a tiny tub, twin glass sinks and quality Aveda toiletries.Cabin service was excellent, discreetly provided by a charming stewardess. A small drawback soon became apparent as we made our way to get lunch, as after 1.30 or 2pm,the only available choice proved to be a Grill bar, mainly offering typical meat-based fare, though grilled fish was available on request, but no salad to accompany it. We quickly learned to go earlier than our usual time for lunch at the lovely Lido, which had huge choice, and the most irresistible tapas-sized desserts we have ever seen. The Pool deck had lovely comfortable rattan furniture, with large sofas, circular beds ample towels, constantly replaced by a smiling team of deck stewards, who also proffered a wide range of drinks. A very surprising factor were the areas where smoking was allowed; in fact, there seemed to be more smoking areas on this ship than most, including at bars. The Main dining room was structured to offer 2 servings, and by choosing the later service we found we were less hurried. Dining was high quality, but of a traditional style, with largish portions, but the 2 alternative restaurants had much more flair, with lovely Italian menus served in Prego, and fine Oriental dining offered in Silk Road. We also noted that the wines served in the speciality restaurants were of better quality than the rather pedestrian offerings of the main dining room. Evening entertainment was some of the best we've enjoyed in the last few years, with great guest artists and an excellent singing and dancing group who provided really delightful production shows. As there were only 3 sea days on this cruise, there was little in the way of daytime activities on offer, for passengers who did not go to the quality lectures. It would have been pleasant to have had social activities so that passengers could interact. Our one real disappointment was in the delivery of the Food and Wine theme. As we were sailing in Spanish, Portuguese and French waters, we anticipated guest chefs ands wine experts from those counties to offer presentations. The guest chef turned out to be from a Las Vegas Italian restaurant, as was the wine expert. Crystal provided a high quality cruise experience for guests, in elegant surroundings and great comfort, attending to all needs in a superby professional way. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by ... Read More
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by today's standards, but the size was just right for me. Crystal is a premium cruise line with premium rates. The cruise line gave me a fantastic deal on this cruise, and they also upgraded me to a deluxe verandah cabin. This was my first verandah cabin, and I didn't use it very much but it was nice to have. I liked the ship, though as one of the passengers said, it doesn't have a "WOW factor" like Royal Caribbean's beautiful ships. The dEcor is understated, conservative and a bit dated. My cabin was a nice size, but not large. It had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had granite counter tops, double sinks, and a tub/shower combination. There were plenty of towels and quality bed linens. The only negative was that the lighting in the cabin wasn't good for reading. The food was very good. The menu changed daily in the dining room and was not repeated during the cruise. Service in the dining room was slow, but there was seven of us and generally the larger the table the slower the service on any ship. The staff accommodated all special requests for food. The only negative about the dining room is that the noise level was very high. The Lido was frequently so crowded one had to search for a table, but this was likely due to the ship being at capacity. The staff did clear the tables quickly. The mushroom soup that was served in a small bread bowl with a bread cover in Prego, the specialty Italian restaurant, was memorable as was the Grand Marnier soufflE in the main dining room. Crystal is similar to Holland America but without the pesky photographers, lines at elevators, and annoying public announcements about bingo. It has better food, better service, quality entertainment, and offers a good lecture series. Many things are included for which there is a charge on other cruise lines such as soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees. There is also no additional charge for the specialty restaurants. I selected this cruise because of the itinerary and everything else was a bonus. This was an 11-night Grand Canary Classic Cruise beginning in Barcelona, Spain and ending in Lisbon, Portugal with stops at Malaga, Cadiz, Casablanca, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Madeira. This was a great itinerary and we had good weather for mid-November. All my shore excursions were booked through the ship. The ship provides a free shuttle into town at many ports. The only problem with the itinerary was that since Crystal couldn't get me flights out the day the cruise ended I was in a forced overnight situation in Lisbon. I'd been in Lisbon before and at the end of a cruise I just want to go home, but it worked out better than expected. They put me up at the Tiara Park Atlantic Hotel which is next to The Ritz. The Tiara Park Atlantic is a very nice hotel. Crystal had everything organized at the hotel and for the airport transfer the next day. If there is one area that Crystal excels over any other cruise line it is in organization. Disembarkation and transfers to hotels and the airport were carefully planned out and handled smoothly. There were many passengers on this cruise who were well-traveled and interesting conversationalists. My dinner companions were exceptional and contributed greatly to the overall cruise experience. Many of the passengers were repeaters and several said they would never cruise on any other line. This was my 29th cruise and the first cruise with Crystal. I would cruise with them again if the itinerary was what I wanted and the price was right. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I have taken a couple of weeks to reflect on my first experience on Crystal cruises. I think, all told, I am glad for the experience, but it did not live up to the very high standards I had set based on other reviews and the boards. The ... Read More
I have taken a couple of weeks to reflect on my first experience on Crystal cruises. I think, all told, I am glad for the experience, but it did not live up to the very high standards I had set based on other reviews and the boards. The good (and very good): -Our agent had secured early boarding for us, so that was great. We arrived at about 12:15. There was no one else in line, and we were escorted to lunch and then had a little time to explore before we were able to access our cabin. When we did get to our cabin, our luggage was already waiting, and we were unpacked and enjoying the ship by 3pm. -Our head waiter and senior waiter were an absolute treat. Our head waiter especially went way out of his way to ensure we had a wonderful dining experience every night. -Our stewardess was lovely. She tried really hard to accommodate our every need, although the ship did not have certain things which surprised me (like green apples and pretzels--??). -Having Marvin Hamlisch on board for a performance was a delight. -We also enjoyed the special NFL greats speaker series. -The main pool is very nice; and there were always chairs available to sit and enjoy the day -The food in the main dining room was very good; better than many mainland restaurants, actually. We thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the cruise...especially the "special" desserts that the head waiter prepared each night. -The European itinerary was perfect; exactly what we were looking for! -The cruise director on board was simply phenomenal...a real joy to meet! -We really enjoyed the daily Reflections...especially the introductions to each of the ports. -The excursions were well thought out and put together, albeit a little pricey. The one time there was a problem with one, they did refund part of the price, which was appreciated. -We thoroughly enjoyed most of the other guests we met...a treat since we were not sure what to expect (we are in our late 30's/early 40's) The not very good: (ps: I have names of the individuals below, if someone from Crystal is reading this and is interested) CABINS: -The couches in the cabins uncomfortable, and they are itchy when you sit on them with shorts...I know they are supposed to be getting leather ones very soon, which will be a LOT more comfortable. -The beds are actually pretty uncomfortable. It took a couple of nights before I realized I could ask for another featherbed to make it softer. That helped a lot. -The scent of the Aveda products in the bathroom was overwhelming, and I was very surprised that there were no other options. I ended up buying something on the shore. I think Crystal might investigate "scentless" options for passengers with sensitive skin/allergies, or at least one of Aveda's milder scents for passengers who prefer them. -The cabin doors are unbelievably thin...even conversation at a normal volume in the hallway can be heard in the rooms...as can the kids who kept running up and down the hallways. DINING: -The couple of nights with "open seating" in the main dining room were the worst nights for us, since the service was so spotty. There were also some service challenges on the Lido deck in terms of getting food in a timely fashion for both lunch and dinner. -There were some incredibly rude waiters in Prego--the specialty restaurant. Both nights I was there they were actually making fun of other passengers. I could not believe it, and actually reported it to the guest hostess on board since it made me so uncomfortable. She told me the dining manager would get in touch with me, but he never did. BOOKING AGAIN: -I wanted to take advantage of the on-board booking discount, and I got the feeling that the woman who was working at that desk did not care if I booked again or not. It was a stark contrast to how she had been talking to the older couple right before me...and quite disappointing. PUBLIC AREAS/LAUNDRY: -The ship does not have any comfortable places to sit to just read a book in the evening, except the bar in the main lobby, but the smoke often chased me away. In fact, ALL of the bars have smoking, which for me is an obstacle to enjoying the space. I wonder if Crystal might consider creating a non-smoking bar??? -A lot of the public areas seem a little dated; I am hoping this is rectified soon! -The laundry room ran out of dryer sheets quickly and were not replaced. Also, Crystal should place signs in the laundry rooms reminding guests to be aware of the timing of their washers and dryers. Especially when one machine is out of order (which it was for the entire cruise), the ability for quick "turn-over" is only respectful, although some passengers had no qualms about leaving their laundry for hours at a time and returning whenever it suited them (and then they had the nerve to complain about people removing their items!). NOT CRYSTAL'S FAULT, BUT STILL AFFECTED OUR TRIP: On this voyage, there were over 100 children, ranging in age from a couple of months to teenagers. The older kids were actually pretty good (except for running up and down the halls at night), but the parents really let their little kids run rampant around the ship and pool area. They were throwing toys in the pool, almost hitting other guests, and they were running around playing tag, and yelling, etc. Since they were with their parents, there was nothing Guest Services could do (or so they told me). But this is NOT a playground at home!! Again, a simple reminder in the daily cruise reflections might have made a positive difference. I made this suggestion, too, but it was ignored. So, all in all, I am glad for the experience. I did like it better than Regent, with whom we have sailed twice (Tahiti and Alaska trips). But, I am not looking to rush back either...I do have my $100 deposit down, so perhaps 2012...we'll see. At least now I have a more realistic expectation for my experience that should help next time... Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I'm finding this review a little difficult to start since it's really hard to put into words why Crystal continues to garner awards such as the Conde' Nast Traveler best large-ship cruise line for 16 consecutive years and ... Read More
I'm finding this review a little difficult to start since it's really hard to put into words why Crystal continues to garner awards such as the Conde' Nast Traveler best large-ship cruise line for 16 consecutive years and the Travel + Leisure for 14 consecutive years. Until you sail the line, it's hard to say. CABIN - We were in a B Veranda cabin on deck eight, starboard side Aft in 8125. The cabin was smaller than our entry-level suite on the Regent Voyager, but it was certainly very nice. There was no curtain to separate the sitting area, but there was a comfortable loveseat, adjustable table and a chair along with a small desk. Although there was no walk-in closet (they have them in the Penthouse suites), the closet was large and automatically lighted with plenty of quality hangers. The TV was not flat and a bit too high for my liking but had good reception and plenty of channels (I like that every day they gave you a new list of the channels with what movies were playing). The bedding was very nice with great pillows and a pillow menu. The mini-refrigerator was stocked with sodas and mini-Perrier (you can also have beer if you are in a Penthouse or higher). The dEcor was a bit non-descript for my taste, but was fine. The deck chairs were not loungers but they did recline. The bathroom was smaller than the Voyager, but had a nice shower and double sink along with big bottles of Aveda amenities and plush large towels! FOOD - As I said in previous reviews, my husband and I travel a lot and love good food. We did come with high expectations of the Crystal dining and they were met! We were reluctant to go back to set seating but it worked out fine for us (especially since I was on the cruise for the last three nights by myself) (you can go the section on day-to-day for more on the why of that and how it worked out). We had interesting tablemates and so enjoyed our evenings. The food was very good in all venues of the ship including the main dining room, the Lido and the two specialty restaurants (for which there is no extra charge). Prego is a fine dining Italian experience and Silk Road, the creation of celebrity Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, is simply amazing (and it has a sushi bar). Since my husband is an oenophile, we had to try the special dinner at the Vintage Room. This is a private dining room on deck 7 that will hold 14, which you can reserve just for your group or just join other guests for an amazing dining experience of food paired with reserve wines, and all hosted by Head Sommelier Ales Machac. The menu with the wine pairings was really quite special. They also provided beautiful souvenir packages with our names, the menu, the wine descriptions and a list of the guests. The special lunch buffets (Asian and Mediterranean) around the Neptune Pool were beautifully presented and delicious and the Grand Gala Buffet on Deck Five was simply stunning (the cakes were too pretty to eat). Room service is available 24 hours a day and those in Penthouse and higher can even order from the Specialty restaurants. Although the breakfast food was good I would say that breakfast offered more interest and variety on Regent. STAFF/SERVICE - Here is where Crystal really shines! With Crystal's two ships, it's not about the hardware but the software and that is their crew and staff! It's what you don't see that creates a sensation. Truly amazing! Throughout the ship the service was impeccable and friendly and felt genuinely so. From the servers at the pool and Lido to the Cruise Director and Captain - it was truly a difference that is hard to beat. The Guest space ratio is 64, so it never feels crowded and the staff to guest ratio is 0.61 (655 crew for 1070 guests). Time and again other guests said the same thing - that the crew remembers your name (and your partner's) (I don't know how they do it even remembering several years later when guest return). It's really more than that as they somehow make you feel like welcome guests rather than paying customers. SHIP - I had recently toured the refurbished Crystal Symphony in New York so was anxious to compare the Serenity. The Serenity is larger (11,000 more tons) but only has 540 cabins (vs. 470 on the Symphony). There are no inside cabins (on either ship) and the ship is laid out very well with a lot of intimate public spaces. I loved that there is a true 360 degree Promenade for walking (wide teak with benches to sit and watch the ocean). I really like that the Aft section of the ship was not full of cabins so that decks 6 through 12 had space in the back for lounging or other activities sheltered from the wind (golf nets, shuffle board, and just tables and loungers). What is lost in a larger guest capacity (vs. Regent Voyager or the much smaller Seabourn triplets), is gained in some lovely indoor spaces like the real Movie Theatre, the Palm Court with it's Sunset bar and the many places for the onboard enrichment including a large room for the Yamaha keyboard classes and a large room for the Computer University@Sea classes. This ship still has its indoor pool (the roof can be opened but I think it is not done so frequently). The indoor pool on the Symphony was just removed, as this is the area used for the specialty buffet lunches. There is also golf nets at the back and full size paddle tennis. I did miss having a pool bar to relax and socialize and meet other guests but pool side service was more than amazing. But the Sunset Bar, Avenue Saloon (with talented pianist Colin Salter) and the Crystal Cove (with great pianist John Mentis) are all great places to enjoy a cocktail and meet other guests while enjoying good music. INTERNET - This ship is equipped for wireless Internet and we could use our laptop in the cabin (but it was faster in the public areas as our cabin was too far aft) but the Computer lent Ethernet cords to use in the cabins. There was nothing on their plan between 2 hours (too little) and ten so it was a little expensive but unavoidable. The computer center was staffed for extended hours with knowledgeable and friendly experts who would even help with iPhone, blackberries and other mobile devices. ENTERTAINMENT - Here is another area where Crystal is superior to other lines. Their onboard entertainment is very good and the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers are quite talented. We enjoyed all the production shows (and liked doing the backstage tour with the Line Leaders - we really got a sense of why the crew is so great since Crystal treats them so well) The Galaxy Orchestra is very good. The Headline entertainers brought on board for the sailing were also quite good - I especially enjoyed the Mind Reader Marc Paul and the singer Petrina Johnson from the West End of London One nice thing about the two set seating arrangement is that there are early and late shows so we got to see them (vs. the one show on an open seating ship that never seemed to work for our dinner times) The Ambassador Host program is very popular and the gentlemen are cultured and all good dancers. I thought it was an interesting statement about the line that they flew in cost two extra gentleman hosts at a considerable when the contingent of single women were visibly unhappy having to wait for a dancing partner! Although he may not be classified as "entertainment" I have to give kudos to the great cruise director, Rick Spath. ENRICHMENT - Crystal is known for the enrichment options on board and they are plentiful - everything from the Odyssey@Sea, Yamaha classes, Berlitz, Bridge and on every sailing a PGA golf pro offer so much to do and to learn and is wonderful for sea days. The guest lecturers were very good and well above the caliber offered on other lines. We had the privilege of having Dr. Jennie Congleton the destination lecturer at our table who was very knowledgeable and a great presenter. CASINO - Although I am not a gambler I thought the casino was well placed and had a lot to offer from the typical slots to blackjack and craps. My husband even entered and won the Blackjack tournament so that was nice! SHOPS - Unlike the typical shops on the larger Major cruise lines, Crystal's three shops had more interesting fare although I admit the price points were higher (they carried Hermes scarves, Joseph Ribkoff, and even Judith Leiber bags) (I bought a Crystal tee-shirt!) Facets, the upscale jewelry store, even had a special designer on board and we enjoyed her company one night for dinner. She is Rhonda Faber Green and her collections were beautiful. SPA/GYM - The gym is very nice with up to date equipment including individual TV's, a Kinesis wall workout system and a nice area for classes (with two Fitness Directors). Their array of optional classes such as spin, cardio, Pilates and yoga are all were complementary. And all the machines were working with TVs on the cardio and were constantly set up with water, towels and headphones. I also tried the Walk on Water and the Nordic fitness on the Promenade deck and enjoyed that. THEME - Crystal is also known for offering various Theme cruises throughout the year and I was excited that ours was Focus on Photography. This was probably the only disappointment of the cruise. I had thought (as others did) that there would be more substance to the theme. The one speaker was very good but there were only 3 short lectures and no classes. We did get to meet with her in the Palm Court in the afternoon and she offered suggestions on our cameras and answered questions. She even said she would have loved to have done a photography excursion. (The fact that there was another Master Portrait photographer onboard, Simon John, to take portraits was not for me a selling point) MISC - It's wonderful not to be disturbed with constant announcements. Although the demographics of the passengers can vary by dates and itineraries this one was interesting since Americans were the smallest group on board - (almost 1/3 of the ship were Asian and the rest European and South American.) The library was nice and well stocked with books, DVDs and CDS. I did like that the price on Regent included the gratuities as I don't enjoy the "stress" of the last day(s) trying to make sure the right staff are compensated properly. But it's not a negative about Crystal per se. I also thought that their daily bulletin, Reflections, was very good with maps, great information, write-ups on the guest speakers and entertainers and well organized. The first day it included a concise schedule of the itinerary but only the dress code, the evening program and the dining room dinner theme. Crystal also participates in the Five & Alive charity and publicizes it nicely to the guests who can donate easily with envelopes in the cabin. So far they have raised over $90,000 - Five & Alive information PORTS AND EXCURSIONS - This cruise was port intensive but it was also a great itinerary because of the three Sea days! We were not sure how the weather might be in November but we were lucky and it was mild and mostly sunny. The Canary Islands were warm as they are generally temperate year round. If you want more information you can go to the day by day section. The ports we thought were highlights were: Barcelona - We were just here on a port stop in September so it was nice not to take an excursion but just to walk the Ramblas and explore on our own. We really enjoy discovering the wonderful local Tapas restaurant. Malaga - We loved this port not for Malaga but for Granada for the Alhambra! Arrecife, Canary Islands - This volcanic island was quite interesting and we loved our camel ride. Funchal, Maderia, Portugal - A beautiful port with lots to do and enjoy and the memorable basket toboggan ride down the steep streets! EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS: • Service and Staff - that's an understatement • Food - Consistently great in all venues and the specialty opportunities were quite memorable • ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT - gosh other than the Theme minor disappointment, there really isn't any. Crystal truly does everything to make their guests have an enjoyable cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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