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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and I like all inclusive cruises. Few cruise lines go down the coast of Africa from Dubai. The food and wine were very nice, although maybe not to an extreme foodie and wine lover’s standards. ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the itinerary and I like all inclusive cruises. Few cruise lines go down the coast of Africa from Dubai. The food and wine were very nice, although maybe not to an extreme foodie and wine lover’s standards. Most people would be more than happy with the selection and food presentation. The cream soups were fabulous. Entertainment by a fairly small group of entertainers in a small venue was excellent and the speakers for the enrichment lectures were good. Unfortunately there was very little information on ports of call, but lots of history and demographic info. This was unfortunate if you wanted to know about a port and didn’t want to spend the additional cost of going on a ships tour. Speaking of ships tours, this is where Crystal was a let down. The tours seemed to be poorly planned, with many participants complaining about the tours when they returned. They were too expensive compared to the price of booking your own tour to not be top notch. In almost every port the shuttle bus seemed to only go to malls or dirty, unattractive outdoor markets. Gardens, beaches, historic areas were ignored and required taxis to see them. I would suggest that we have plenty of malls at home. Some passengers were unhappy that we did not stop in Madagascar because of the plague outbreak, but we did get an extra day in the Seychelles. This satisfied my husband and I. We liked the new unassigned dinner arrangements and made lots of new friends by eating with different people most nights. We could eat whatever time we wanted and watch the show that best matched our dinner. This is a very positive change from earlier fixed dining on crystal. The overall feeling on the cruise was a little less stuffy than on previous cruises we took on Crystal although we would love to hear some real rock and roll music. The type that does not require dancing cheek to cheek. Crystal clients idea of casual is far from what the rest of the world considers casual. Bring very nice ‘casual’ clothes with you. At least half the men wore tuxes and black suits on formal nights and all the women wore fancy cocktail outfits or long dresses. The service at meals and service from cabin attendants was very good. The rooms are of a standard size. We were not in the new upgraded rooms so the room was just like ones we have been in previously, on the small side but functional. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with ... Read More
We booked this cruise as it was planned to visit Madagascar which was cancelled due to a plague outbreak. Extra days in the Seychelles and a visit to Reunion were substituted. It was our first time on Crystal, although we have cruised with all the major cruise lines and we were not disappointed. The recently refurbished Symphony is stunning especially the Palm Court which is situated on deck 11 at the frount if the ship, unfortunately this was always very quiet and sometimes lacked atmosphere in the evenings. The evening entertainment was varied and excellant, the Resident singers and dancers and orchestra were outstanding. The food was excellant in all dining areas and we especially liked Prego the Italian themed Restaurant, during our cruise we had 4 visits to the Speciality Restaurants. The staff thoughtout the cruise were very good to excellant a special thanks to Norman on the Lido deck so cheerful and efficient. Our stateroom was on deck 7 and although it seamed small at the outset, we soon settled in, the shower was the most powerful we have had on any cruise. The weather throughout the cruise was hot and sunny with the usual daytime activities e.g. trivia and a series of lecturers on board, just a personal view here but we would have liked a little more activity, just a personal opinion. Embarkation was a breeze on the ship within 15 minutes. Unfortunately the ship transfer to a local hotel and airport transfer at the end of the trip was very disorganised. We had been to all the other ports before and therefore arranged our own trips. We would definitely travel with Crystal again, it is like an excellant Boutique hotel at sea. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply ... Read More
i had great expectations prior to my cruise on Crystal Symphony and was not in the least disappointed. The food was varied, well presented, interesting and simply delicious. I have seen some criticism of the Brazilian Restaurant. I simply don't agree with that review, and found the food delicious and the staff very professional. There are plenty of choices for restaurants on board this ship and ones which meet all requirements, which is important when the passengers are so diverse in their origins and tastes. Buffets can be not to everyones taste but when of such a high quality and freshness cannot be considered below any reasonable persons standards by any means. The staff on board were a credit to Crystal Cruises and were a joy to meet. The entertainment was varied and of a very high standard to all tastes. Embarkation and Debarkation procedures were very professional and streamlined and the free WIFI, although slow at times, was a good addition to the overall services provided by such a wonderful Cruise line. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We selected Esprit based on her itinerary - the Seychelles sounded like a good idea to get away from cold, grey Germany in February. I was also curious about the ship herself and how 'the vibe' would be with such a small ... Read More
We selected Esprit based on her itinerary - the Seychelles sounded like a good idea to get away from cold, grey Germany in February. I was also curious about the ship herself and how 'the vibe' would be with such a small passenger contingency. Overall, we enjoyed our trip - we jokingly called it the voyage to nowhere because the islands are so close together. But that's the idea - island hopping with a private yacht. BTW, we didn't do Dubai - those two days were not included in the price to European customers. The decor was lovely, understated elegance with soothing colors. There was a very nice flow to the ship and it 'lived' bigger than what it is. You could always find a nook or cranny to sit and read. We also enjoyed the Yacht Club - it really felt like a cozy living room and was such a comfortable place to relax with a pre-dinner drink with new friends and listen to Mark entertaining on the piano. Food was superb, especially for dinner. The chef was great and totally exceeded our expectations for creativity, high quality and number of choices. I was also was very pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of offerings at breakfast and lunch. My only (minor) nit was that I wished more advantage could have been taken to source local products, especially the wonderful fresh fish and fruit. I don't believe anything was purchased locally. Wine choices were good, especially given the size of the ship. Billecart-Salmon was the house champagne and wines by the glass were also fine. They had a very nice cellar, where we indulged a few evenings. Ramon, the sommelier, may be young but don't let that fool you. He has trained extensively and passed many of the wine world's important exams and certifications. Cocktails were excellent too. Service, almost without exception, was top notch. Very personal attention (as you would expect with the passenger:staff ratio). There were a couple of minor glitches, due to a 'lost in translation' problem with some of the wait staff (English not being their mother tongue). But they are so friendly and eager, it's easy to overlook :-) Service at dinner was flawless as was cabin service. And our butler, Nathaniel, was awesome. He just couldn't do enough for you. Cabins: We had 308 but most are the same size, so I don't think it really matters. Space is well utilized, there was enough storage and everything well laid out. There was a Nespresso machine, as well as a selection of chocolates that were replenished regularly and sweets in the afternoon. Shower was adequate size, towels were big and fluffy. Lighting not too good for doing make up, though. The bed was very comfortable. One rather big negative for us: We missed a balcony far more than we thought we would. Sometimes it's just nice to have fresh ocean air and sit outside by yourself with a glass of wine. Shore excursions: We were very active and did every shore excursion on offer. Here is an area for improvement: Communication was not what it should have been regarding the difficulty level and also things like: Wear insect repellent and long pants. Description of the shore excursions often just didn't match up with the experience itself. Some were much easier and at least one much harder. There was one particular shore excursion which was really like a rock climbing expedition: No path, scrambling upwards over rocks and roots, very slippery due to rain. We were okay, but there were people who really struggled. Shore excursions in general were just 'okay'. Also, didn't get to play with many of the 'toys' on the marina because of weather. Can't control that. Also couldn't do caviar in the surf (same problem - poured rain) but they had a nice, civilized champagne and caviar in the Yacht Club. WiFi was supposed to be 60 min/day/per person. Turned out to be unlimited. Very nice touch and it worked well, too. Check in and check out all went smoothly. Again, it's what I would expect, given the small size of the ship and number of staff. Officers were always around and interacted with the guests. So all in all, a very pleasant experience and we enjoyed it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2008
As a longtime Crystal cruiser (12 years and counting) and long curious to visit the much-talked about, but little-seen, Middle East, it took me mere minutes to decide to book Crystal Symphony's 2 week Dubai-Athens voyage. Boasting ... Read More
As a longtime Crystal cruiser (12 years and counting) and long curious to visit the much-talked about, but little-seen, Middle East, it took me mere minutes to decide to book Crystal Symphony's 2 week Dubai-Athens voyage. Boasting such exotic destinations as Oman and Jordan, taking this voyage on one of my favorite ships seemed like a no-brainer. For those interested in reading about this, my 22nd cruise, I will divide the critique up into sections. THE SHIP: Entering service in 1995, Crystal Symphony is practically considered a "veteran" in this age of mega-ships. She was renovated in 2006. Symphony looks great. You can tell she's not a young woman anymore, but well-done cosmetic surgery has helped her to conceal her age. Changes made to the ship in 2006 are both positive and negative. The staterooms have been vastly improved, given the look of a high-end boutique hotel. Even the much-maligned glass sink in the bathroom and armless reading chair didn't bother me. I found them to be fanciful elements. The former Stars Disco has been converted into Luxe, a trendy nightclub with a Miami feel, which was sorely underused on our voyage. Also, the mid-ships Starlite Room had major changes. Once an enclosed lounge, the room is now open to the rest of the ship with a central bar (with a beautifully-done blue lit icy centerpiece). The openness of this room is great for attracting a crowd for dancing or shows. However, the talking and cackling of people passing in the hallway is annoying if there is a lecture going on. The ship's alternative Italian restaurant, Prego, is as phenomenal - if not better - than before. The food (especially the mushroom soup and crab salad) were consistently mouth-watering 5-star fare. As for Silk Road, the ship's alternative Asian venue, food was good, the decor high-end and hip, but the space is small and too loud if at capacity. Overall, Crystal Symphony is still as elegant as ever - one of the grand ladies of the seas. SERVICE: Crystal has long won accolades for its seamless, friendly European service staff. The staff is one of the main reasons I've returned to Crystal time and again. This time, all seemed off. Our Senior Waiter in the Crystal Dining Room, Dusko, was fantastic! However, he along with the other servers and Maitre 'Ds were overwhelming - even suffocating. They would constantly circle our table and would constantly try to engage us in conversation. More times than not, I wasn't even able to finish a conversation with my family before they would interrupt to ask us how dinner was, how our day was, what we were doing that night, what we were doing the next day. Don't get me wrong - we have always had a great relationship with our servers, getting to know them, trading jokes. But this time the experience was intrusive to the point we wanted to avoid the dining room alltogether. The only problem was, Prego servers were exactly the same. We were exhausted by the time dinners ended. Also, on a negative note, the front desk staff and many bar staff were - for the first time ever - aloof and unmotivated. Every other aspect of the service staff onboard was fantastic, however. Especially, the stewardesses and the Lido staff. One night when most of the ship returned from a 12-hour excursion in Egypt, we were greeted by the stewardesses from each floor lined up and gathered on the staircase landings to give us a warm welcome back! Each floor I went to, there were at least 15 stewardesses smiling and welcoming us back. It was lovely. The Lido staff would call us by our name, even from the first day. What was weird was that we had never given them our names or room number. Their attention to detail was incredible and very memorable. PORTS: DUBAI: We embarked in Dubai, UAE. Dubai was a bit of a disappointment. It is one oversized construction project at the moment. Much of what they claim to have to offer is still under construction. It is very much a city of "what will be", not "what is". Having said that, if you look in the right places (Dubai Creek, Jumeiriah Beach) much beauty can be found. We had an overnight in Dubai onboard ship, but one day would have been plenty. Don't miss the Burl al Arab (the 7-star hotel) or the views of the Burj Dubai (soon-to-be world's tallest building). SALALAH, OMAN: Oman embodies what I had always thought the Middle East would look like - busy soups, dry desert scapes, wandering camels. But what really grabbed my attention was the amazing coastline with its soaring cliffs and piercing blue water. There is not a lot to see in Salalah, but it most definitely deserves a visit. SAFAGA, EGYPT: Safaga is the gateway to Luxor and Valley of the Kings, which is a good 3-4 hour drive away. However, the long day is completely worth it. At Luxor, you can see B.C. ruins on the banks of the Nile River. At Valley of the Kings, you can tour the former tombs of pharaohs, including the one of King Tut. What's impressive about touring the cavernous crypts are the detailed hyroglyphics and beautiful paintings on the walls. There is absolutely NOTHING in Safaga (other than landmines off the road and trash), so you will definitely need to venture out and do the Luxor tour. AQABA, JORDAN: Aqaba, right at the point where Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia meet, is Jordan's only port. It is a lovely town, very reminiscent of various Mediterranean ports of call (Kusadasi for one). It is a walkable town and the cruise ship terminal is right in the middle of everything. We did a nice tour out into the desert (Wadi Rum), but the main point of interest here is the Rose City of Petra - about 2 hours away from Aqaba. Those who went to Petra felt that it was a life-changing visit. This brief call really piqued my interest to explore this beautiful country further. SUEZ CANAL: A transit of the Suez Canal is certainly not the same as a Panama Canal transit, as there are no locks or other mesmerizing activity. The beauty of this transit is the serenity of basically sailing through the desert. Seeing miles of sand dunes from the balcony of our room, interspersed with occasional towns and resorts, was a feast for the eyes. It is a quiet, relaxing and most memorable experience. ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT: Alexandria is a large city (5 million people) in its own right. But any visit here, requires the all day excursion to Cairo and the Pyramids at Giza. Seeing the Pyramids, followed by a visit to the spectacular Cairo Museum, is one of life's most precious experiences. Words or photos cannot express the sheer emotion of seeing the Pyramids and Sphinx in person. As we wandered, the Islamic calls to prayer were blasted all over the city. It was beautifully chilling. What a day! We ended the cruise in Piraeus/Athens, Greece, but I had to fly back home for work. Unfortunately, I had no time to tour Athens (I did visit Athens back in 1999, though). OVERALL: In conclusion, this was a great cruise, with an exotic itinerary. The Middle East is a culture shock, but the people could not have been friendlier. It was all I had hoped it would be - from the chaotic markets, to the stunning sounds of prayer music throughout the cities, to the spectacular sights and smells. The Crystal Symphony is still a wonderful ship, but after this trip, I am beginning to wonder if Crystal is not dropping a few notches, hovering near becoming a mainstream line. It's not at the level of Princess or Celebrity yet....but maybe close. In the future, I think I will make Regent more my cruise line of choice. It is a high-end, yet casual environment, with rooms that blow Crystal's out-of-the-water. Gone from Crystal (at least our sailing) are the white glove wearing stewards on embarkation day, along with champagne-on-ice in the rooms. I'm still partial to Crystal, but they need to fine-tune some of their offerings - end the cheesy raffles for lip balm during Bingo, stop the art auction madness, tone down the pushy salespeople in the shops - if they want to return to their former glory. Read Less
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