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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our second cruise with Crystal - we took their Baltic Cruise on Crystal Symphony last year - and were very happy with that. I'll list the things that we liked, and the things that went wrong. I have e-mailed Crystal twice ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Crystal - we took their Baltic Cruise on Crystal Symphony last year - and were very happy with that. I'll list the things that we liked, and the things that went wrong. I have e-mailed Crystal twice since we returned pointing out these issues, but other than getting a standard "form"-type reply, we've heard nothing. This was the President's Cruise and we met him, Tom Wolber, and his family, in Barcelona - so next, I'll be writing to him. LIKED: - Stateroom: Our stateroom on Deck 8 was up to the usual high standards, and the room attendants were very friendly, helpful, and kept our cabin clean. We typically had breakfast in our room and the Room Service staff were excellent - always a smile on their faces and a cheery "good morning". - Dining: The number of dining options, whether for dinner or lunch was excellent. From the specialty restaurants, like Prego and Silk Road, to the casual Bistro and Lido, both the food and service were excellent. - Entertainment: We often went to the Galaxy Lounge after dinner, and the entertainment was good. We especially liked the Crystal Showband and Dancers, and the Comedian. - Excursions: This was very much a mixed bag, excellent for the Bordeaux ones, miserable for Lisbon (see below) WHAT WENT WRONG. - Stateroom: Like a number of our new-found dining friends, the bed-linens and towels were overly-bleached, causing me to sneeze every night, and my wife to develop sores on her lips (to the point that she went to see the ship's doctor). One of our fellow travelers described their stateroom as "toxic". We called the Front Desk and were informed this was not unusual, and these items would be washed less aggressively. - Excursions: (1): Our first excursion, in Guernsey, was cancelled at the last minute, and all the others were full, so we created our own tour. (2): Bordeaux: We had an excellent guide, but on two trips the air conditioning on the buses didn't work, and we all got very sweaty. After many complaints, Crystal offered everyone on those two tours a discount. (3): This was our first trip to Lisbon, and we were looking forward to visiting the place where they make the delicious Portuguese custard pastries. But we were disappointed when they substituted a (closed) museum cafe. That, plus another bus with broken air conditioning (it was 103 degrees F in the shade), that the bus company had to swap out. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We had previously cruised with Crystal in 2014 and 2015 and I was concerned about recent reviews about the Serenity. Our cruise involved ports in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam and Belgium. I am happy to say that the overall experience ... Read More
We had previously cruised with Crystal in 2014 and 2015 and I was concerned about recent reviews about the Serenity. Our cruise involved ports in the UK, Ireland, Amsterdam and Belgium. I am happy to say that the overall experience concerning service and food was uniformly excellent. We did not experience any significant delays in service in the main dining room or speciality restaurants. Cabin service and service at the Lido buffet and other areas of the ship was excellent. Cruise excursions and featured speakers on the cruise were excellent. The evening entertainment which was a mix of on board entertainment staff or local talent was excellent. We always book a cabin on deck 7 and found ample space and drawers in the cabin. Cabin service was excellent. The staff makes an effort to know the passengers and we were happy to see staff from our previous cruises. We look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I choose this because it featured a seminar I wanted to participate in and because of its ports of call (especially Gibraltar). When we started planning our excursions about 3 months prior to departure, the expansive Gibraltar tour was ... Read More
I choose this because it featured a seminar I wanted to participate in and because of its ports of call (especially Gibraltar). When we started planning our excursions about 3 months prior to departure, the expansive Gibraltar tour was waitlisted and never re-opened. I find that to be unforgiveable and unforgettable. But we booked a private tour through Viator and it was the best tour of our trip, and less than half the cost of a lesser quality ship excursion. While many will like the food and dinner requirements (specific time reservations, more formal dressing and very formal on all sea days), we take cruises to experience the ports of call, not to have formal dining experience. So, for us, this is not a positive. Further, we thought the "Tastes" specialty restaurant was way over-rated: marginal food and served in a pool cabana setting which was not a very good atmosphere. Getting on and off were very good experiences. Same for access to excursions; and the free water bottles on the tour buses was very welcome and not standard with our cruises. So pick carefully....if you want to focus on dining, go for it; if you want to focus on ports of call, I would choose another, less expensive alternative. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our 35th cruise on Crystal Cruises. Our stateroom has always been on the penthouse deck because of the walk in shower. Over the years we have noticed with the change of ownership and executive management Crystal has been ... Read More
This was our 35th cruise on Crystal Cruises. Our stateroom has always been on the penthouse deck because of the walk in shower. Over the years we have noticed with the change of ownership and executive management Crystal has been tinkering with their delivery of service. Just small things at the beginning that really did not add much to the "Crystal Experience". However, limiting the number of reservations to the speciality restaurants and then assessing thirty dollars a person over and above the two visits was not "all inclusive" marketing. The dining venues are exceptional, mainly due to the excellent service staff. The lecture series have always had knowledgeable presenters both on current events and cruise itinerary. Both ships are showing their age. Our stateroom and some public rooms furnishings were a bit well worn. We were informed that Symphony was going to be in dry dock for a month. What Crystal needs is a new cruise ship and forget about yachts and airplanes. They had a great business plan at their inauguration. It served them well. Their greatest selling point is their officers and crew. They are top notch. Best in the cruise industry by far. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Crystal Symphony is an appealing ship, well maintained and spotlessly clean. It’s large enough to have a variety of dining and entertainment, yet small enough to get on and off easily. Service was unfussy and mostly efficient, and the ... Read More
Crystal Symphony is an appealing ship, well maintained and spotlessly clean. It’s large enough to have a variety of dining and entertainment, yet small enough to get on and off easily. Service was unfussy and mostly efficient, and the smart casual dress code works well. Our stateroom was just about big enough, with a compact bathroom and little veranda. Meals throughout were very tasty but not over-elaborate. We chose “dining by reservation” as the main sittings were too early or late for us. The dining room was quieter around 8 pm but we did miss the headline entertainment. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable and easily dealt with special requests and odd mistake from the kitchen. Different passable wines were offered each day, and you could ask for any you liked another time. There’s a long menu of all-inclusive cocktails and spirits. Prego was a pleasant change too, but the menu wasn’t especially Italian. The busy Lido Café had huge self-service spreads at breakfast and lunch including many healthier options, but the drinks service was rather hit-and-miss there. We didn’t use the Trident Grill up in the chilly northern Atlantic. The Bistro café and Crystal Cove bar were small comfortable areas off main thoroughfares, but the Avenue Saloon looked gloomy with closed shutters. Palm Court – the “observation lounge” - is the venue for formal afternoon tea (waiters rather incongruous in eighteenth century costume one day) but the musicians were amplified so loudly that we stopped going. In spite of other niggles such as the slow or non-existent internet, we would still have given this cruise five out of five but for a couple of issues: Firstly, two ports - Waterford and Fowey - were missed due to tendering being deemed unsafe, so instead of anchoring in pretty estuaries, the ship berthed in industrial docks. Perhaps some guests could have managed the tenders, but everybody’s plans were scuppered and the company couldn’t organise much at short notice. We heard that another call was skipped on the previous sector of the cruise - Crystal shouldn’t schedule ports where there is a significant risk that tendering won’t be possible. Secondly, having found a table in the Lido Café on our last morning, we were stunned when a waiter rushed in front of us to claim it for another guest. He didn’t apologise, leaving a nasty taste as we disembarked. Would we sail with Crystal again? Probably - but would avoid itineraries that involve tendering. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, left from a UK port, and was going to places we hadn't been before (in France) - a final important check\consideration was that Crystal was reasonably well rated well by recent passengers. The ship was in superb condition, arguably better than younger ships; everything was polished, clean, and in 'close to new' condition. A fairly small ship by today's standard we found it to our advantageous as it cut down unnecessary time walking between different venues. A similar size to Ryndham (Holland America) however a key difference we observed was that it never felt crowded on Symphony, in fact it was the least crowded ship we've sailed on yet. There are potentially two reasons for this; either it was undersubscribed (possibly because people concerned about terrorism), or the age of the passengers meant they slept a lot or otherwise entertained themselves - possibly a bit of both. We stayed in cabin 7087, which is the E1 category with a limited view, for which I've written a separate review in the cabin section (and hopefully it will let me upload a photo so you can judge the level of obstruction for yourself). Dining; breakfast was very good and we always ate it in the Lido cafe (I think you could also go to main dining room). I like healthy breakfasts and wasn't disappointed as there were a lot of tasty options including birchers, smoothies, yoghurts, fruit, as well as the usual eggs, sausages, beans, bacon (for less health conscious people). I was very happy with the variety of juice on offer, and had fresh carrot juice almost every day - while other cruise lines have also offered variety of juice, other than fresh orange, it's always been from the carton, so this was a step up for me. Lunch was also very good with a reasonable variety of food, and different things served each day so we didn't get fed up with the same thing, and again we opted to eat lunch in the Lido cafe. Dinner was reasonable to excellent - the three courses in the main dining room were to a good standard, we also ate in both of the specialty restaurants (at no extra charge) and found them both (Japanese & Italian) excellent even though I don't eat sushi (luckily there were other options at the Japanese restaurant). The Italian restaurant Prego was my favourite though, and it's the first time I've ever been served soup within a bowl made of bread (maybe I've led to sheltered a life!). Besides these dining options there are also other smaller venues where you can grab a sandwich, burger, or cakes depending on your fancy - these places were never crowded. As Crystal is all inclusive, all drinks are free unless you order something really special (I'm not sure what as I ordered anything I liked and was never charged). There are a number of bars you can get drinks from (also available when dining or lounging by pool) and staff are very available to take your order and will even walk to a different bar for you if the one your at doesn't make that kind of drink. As well as my juices I had a number of cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines, and penacolada's (apology for the spelling?!), and I saw a lot of other passengers enjoying copious amounts of what looked like champagne. Entertainment was low key, the main show entertainers were really good performers though they are only on for 45 minutes a night and generally do a bit of singing and dancing which while excellent, I would have liked to see a proper full musical play (even a mini one) instead of just excerpts of musical plays. That said though, it was good enough to go back to each night as they did mix\change it up so it didn't get repetitive. There was also a magician on board however you needed to book to see him which we didn't so I can't whinge about that as my own fault. The rest of the entertainment consisted of people playing piano, some big band playing, some jazz, and a bit of pop music from different era's - nice and pleasant to listen to while having a drink but all fairly laid back. Activities consisted of some lectures (mostly UK monarchy and WWII), knitting / needlework classes, how to use your ipad, and some other things I can't recall. All said and done, there wasn't much going on and to be honest given the age demographic I don't think there was a lot of demand for much to be going on. For myself this was a bit disappointing but I can't complain too much as I knew the activities would likely be tailored towards the older generation. For information, about 95% of guests are probably in bed by 10 pm - the upside is you'll always find a seat and ready waiters in any bar around the ship!! In fact I think a lot of the staff seemed underused so it really was very quick service in all respects no matter what the time of day. Our ports of call were; Tilbury (we live in London so no point discussing this), Honfleur, St Peter's Port, St Malo, and Bordeaux. Honfleur was quaint and lovely, St Malo was amazing and I wish we could have stayed overnight (as well as going around the city we also went swimming in the sea). St Peter's Port was a bit boring but perhaps that's because I'm British and it wasn't so novel to me as I may be to an American. We got the plane back to UK from Bordeaux so can't comment on it - though I have stayed there a week once in a chateau which was refreshing. The age demographic is slightly older than other cruises we've been on, I'd say 97% of passengers were over 60, I'd guess the average may be around 70. That said they certainly weren't geriatric and there were almost no zimerframes in sight, they were mostly pleasant to talk to - even the ones voting for Donald Trump. Although we are in our 30's we were looking for a laid back \ lazy holiday as our last one was a tour of Iceland in a rented motorhome followed by a week in New York, so we were not objectionable to the pace of life on board as we felt like being less active than our previous holiday. The library was well stocked with DVDs including some very recent releases. There was also a cinema on board though we didn't take the opportunity to use it. Worth a mention is that this is the first cruise where they didn't try and sell us art, jewellery, or pointless crap they we don't want and don't need, in fact the shops were barely open at all - quite refreshing! All in all, a good cruise, and recommended to those who want a laid back holiday and be able to order whatever food and drink they like without thinking about the cost or tipping. I would go again if in a similar mood and I liked the ports of call. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this cruise as one of our group had done a Crystal cruise before and always considered it a cut above the rest. There were many ways in which this was an excellent cruise from a first-rate company but we are still not sure if we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as one of our group had done a Crystal cruise before and always considered it a cut above the rest. There were many ways in which this was an excellent cruise from a first-rate company but we are still not sure if we prefer Crystal to the Grill class on Cunard or vice versa. The jury is out. What we liked on Crystal: a beautiful ship with some very relaxing indoor and outdoor areas- particularly attractive were the Palm Court lounge, the pool area and the glass-covered area; very well-motivated and pleasant staff in all areas ensure attentive service at all times; high quality cabins with good bathroom facilities (half-tub) and very good sound-proofing; superb library with wide-ranging stock of books/ dvds/ games; impressive standard of speakers and enrichment activities; lots of space so that we never felt crowded. The dining was very good but probably not of the same standard as the Grill class, although it was wonderful to have access to drinks without further payment. One disappointment was that the cafeteria, the Lido, was frequently open for very restricted hours and so we had to go to the Trident grill (hamburgers and pizza) after a morning trip rather than having a proper lunch. Apart from the Dining Room, there are three speciality options- Prego (Italian), Silk Road (Thai) and a sushi bar. We only tried Prego. This was a good alternative to the main Dining Room, although with a relatively limited selection of options. Normally passengers get two 'free' trips to a speciality restaurant but on this cruise we had four each, which was generous. The shore excursions organised by the company were expensive, especially with the exchange rate, and they ranged from the superb to the very disappointing. There was always a shuttle to the centre or (London) the nearest station. The ports were interesting, as follows: - St Peter Port: beautiful destination with the possibility of taking a 91 or 92 bus around the island for a £1 tour; - Waterford: much better than expected: within a short walk of the drop-off point, we found the Waterford Crystal factory (worth a tour), the Viking museum, the superb Medieval Museum and the Georgian Palace. - Dublin: two days here which allowed us to do the hop on, hop off bus on one day and a locally-sourced trip to Malahide Castle and then the coat on the second day (all the open tour bus companies seem to do this trip). We did a ship's tour to an Irish folk evening on the first night. This was horrendous- mass catering (break in polythene wrapper), boorish singing and only about 10 minutes of dancing. -Llverpool: very interesting to visit different quarters of the city from the shore line; a very warm welcome from the shore staff and volunteers here. - Belfast: we took a ship-organised trip to the Giants' Causeway which was very well organised but others took the shuttle in to town and then a bus/ taxi to the Titanic museum. - Isle of Skye: we did a ship's tour of the island, which was interesting; with hindsight, would have taken a local bus and/or tour to the archaeological sites. - Kirkwall: there is plenty to see in this small town (cathedral, visitors' centre, palace, wireless museum and good shops) or there is the possibility of going round the island to see wartime sites. - Edinburgh: we docked at Rosyth and it was a long trip in to the centre of the city. Had two days here and visited Britannia on our own by local bus on the first day and then did a ship's excursion to Scone Palace/ Dunfermline Abbey which was very badly organised. A local group of musicians and dancers did an excellent show on board on the first night. - London: a day from Tilbury. Took the train to Fenchurch street (easy 45 minute journey) and then went to Buckingham Palace. Shuttle bus from the ship to the station. This was a very port-heavy trip which some on board found tiring. The other passengers are mostly American with a number of guests from Japan, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There were very few British guests, presumably because of the destinations. Passengers were mostly 50+ I would say and there were hardly any children/ families on board, again perhaps due to the destination. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I just returned from the Grand Britannia cruise with my mom, sister and daughter. We had adjoining staterooms. Here are my thoughts: The good: Overall food quality was very good in all venues. We loved Prego and Silk Road, liked the ... Read More
I just returned from the Grand Britannia cruise with my mom, sister and daughter. We had adjoining staterooms. Here are my thoughts: The good: Overall food quality was very good in all venues. We loved Prego and Silk Road, liked the MDR, liked Lido, and liked Trident. We got room service breakfast several times and that was also good. And we had WONDERFUL service in the MDR and in Prego, very fun, warm, and caring servers (Nikola and Stanko in the MDR). We also loved the Avenue Bar and their bartenders. We liked the overall itinerary as well, circling the UK. The bad: I am in the camp of those who feel the veranda staterooms are cramped and very worn. The "couch" was stained, the carpet coming up by the veranda door, the chair ripped, the throw pillows disgusting, and the design of the lights in the headboard absurd when the beds are twinned. The veranda was dirty and sticky (they cleaned it our last day). The cabins were also not wonderfully cleaned, with extraneous hair and an old shampoo bottle greeting us at the start. Not fun. Crystal's website is also horribly designed and primitive, with very unreliable functionality on mobile. Hello, 20th century UI! 1995 called and they want their systems back. The ugly: Five things really made me dislike this cruise. First, the ports used by Crystal for London, Dublin, and Edinburgh really made any kind of immersive experience in those cities impossible to achieve, given the horrible shuttles employed. I sat on the Edinburgh shuttle for over an hour and a half one day, and only part of that was due to traffic. Even more fun, I sat on a bus for the final day's shore excursion (and there were only FOUR choices on that day) for more than FIVE HOURS due to traffic from the stupid location Crystal used. Even Dublin was disappointing as no shuttles ran after 8 PM so it was difficult to stay late in the city. The combination of horrible docking locations and abysmal shuttle services really cut into my enjoyment of the cruise. Second, I made spa appointments very early on for all of us, but the experience I had in the spa is the worst I've ever had in a spa due to cleanliness. There's only one bathroom in the changing room. When I entered, it was full of diarrhea and blood, completely disgusting and very smelly. Bloody toilet paper was in the trash can. All the other trash cans were overflowing as well, and cast-off robes and slippers were on the bench. I brought this to the attention of my provider and they were going to clean it up, but when I finished my service (also really disappointing because the massage table was ancient and could not be adjusted for the proper angle for my neck) things had been only slightly cleaned (the smell still lingered). I took a shower and there were HUGE clumps of hair in the one shower where the tap worked. UGH. If you're going to have a spa with prices like this and a tiny changing room, you MUST keep it FLAWLESSLY clean. Otherwise, yuck, yuck, yuck. Third, I am mid-fifties and I like technology. The internet connection available on this cruise was AWFUL. The wifi did not work more than it did work, and even the wireless data was not available for entire days at a time. I have to occasionally look in at work when away and there were days when I could not. I am not cruising again until this problem is fixed. Fourth, I think $50 for the jpeg of pictures purchased is outrageous given the cost of the printed pictures themselves. Those flash drives cost 50 cents, so this is a markup of what, 10000%? The photographers were good but the price overall, even on prints, is beyond gouging. Finally, the lack of any evaluation of shore excursions made it difficult to choose good ones. While we had great fun with, for example, the Belfast Food Tour, other excursions ranged from disappointing to excruciating. Other cruise companies provide an opportunity to rate the shore excursions publicly to help guide one's choices (and I would assume to help the cruise company offer the best of them). The shore excursion staff was not even interested in my verbal feedback. One got the impression that some of the staff (shore ex and front desk) felt they were babysitting spoiled kindergartners, that they had heard this all before and were listening only because they had to (indeed, one person said, "I have heard this complaint many times before." Excuse me? If you have heard it many times before why did Crystal not change things?). Overall, while the dining staff was very good, I am left with a huge feeling of fundamental disrespect for passengers (particularly A and B category passengers). Crystal is expanding like mad, but I recommend they look again at their core competencies. Good food and great wait staff is only going to get the line so far. I do not plan to cruise Crystal again (I had a much better experience last year on both Silversea and Seabourn). PS Ironically, when I tried to do Crystal's followup survey on my iPhone it failed and crashed. So Crystal, here is your feedback. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We are well 'crystallized' but found this cruise below expectations. Embarkation was well organized although no one especially greets or escorts you once you step on board. Our cabin was well maintained and serviced although our ... Read More
We are well 'crystallized' but found this cruise below expectations. Embarkation was well organized although no one especially greets or escorts you once you step on board. Our cabin was well maintained and serviced although our stewardess never introduced herself and we never exchanged a word with her. Odd ! Many of the crew were service oriented but they seemed less related than previously. Despite this being a 14 day cruise there was little to no effort to learn names. What were the negatives for us? -Our room service breakfast was interesting...containing items we didn't order or omitting some we did -We had to chase (via LA) gifts we had received. -The MDR was closed for lunch in several ports, a somewhat new & annoying policy..No, everyone does not get off in every port 13 days in a row. -The 7pm shows for 2nd seating interfere with pre dinner relaxation. -The CD didn't t seem to chat with passengers..no banter pre show -The Internet was mostly non functional...no explanations offered. -Why Tilbury, docked for the last day...far from London..only those tours offered...no place to even walk around..and a long trip to Heathrow. -They have become a different product with teeth whitening, acupuncture, non surgical facial injections being pushed. Not very cruise-like. -The emphasis on remaining in port overnight sounds better than it is since transport into the city is often challenging. It was 45 minutes into Edinburgh. On a positive note..cuisine was of good quality and nicely prepared. The Lido has wonderful salad offerings but the steam containers remind me of a cafeteria . All of the folks who have remarked that it is impossible to carry your own plate, would not have said it this cruise. Prego was excellent and Silk Road also. We had excellent table service at dinner from Diogo & Eleza as well as sommelier Bogdan. Frankly, disappointing and no longer glittery. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our first cruise with Crystal and was a short 'try-out' before trying something more ambitious. I don't think it would be possible (for me at least) to cruise without a few niggles, but in this case they were very ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Crystal and was a short 'try-out' before trying something more ambitious. I don't think it would be possible (for me at least) to cruise without a few niggles, but in this case they were very few and far between. The only negative worth mentioning is that I felt the decor, both in our suite and in some areas of the ship, were somewhat dated. The positives far outweighed this single criticism and we shall certainly cruise with Crystal again. We found the food to be generally excellent. Both specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego, were outstanding. We were very pleasantly surprised at the high standard and variety of the entertainment in particular, but also the enrichment options available. We didn't get to try all of these, but those we did (the onboard speakers and golf pro) were excellent. Service throughout the ship was exemplary and the general ambience onboard very enjoyable.. There was an interesting selection of excursions which were well executed and organised. The suite was comfortable and well-maintained, although perhaps a little dated. The bed was very, very comfortable as were the quality bed linens and pillows. All in all, a very enjoyable cruise experience and one we expect to repeat. Read Less
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