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12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We departed from Dubrovnik on September 23, 2018 setting sail for Venice. Our intended flight schedule was intended to take us from San Antonio, Texas to Dallas to an overnight in Madrid and then on to Dubrovnik on the day of sailing. All ... Read More
We departed from Dubrovnik on September 23, 2018 setting sail for Venice. Our intended flight schedule was intended to take us from San Antonio, Texas to Dallas to an overnight in Madrid and then on to Dubrovnik on the day of sailing. All of our luggage took different routes including stops in London, Vienna, Zurich, Frankfurt, Zagreb and finally to Zadar, Croatia. We were exhausted from trying to reunite with our luggage upon boarding the Esprit. The staff on board insisted on turning the task at hand over to them and to their network of Port Agents. They worked tirelessly to find our luggage and finally on Wednesday evening, after leaving Dubrovnik on Sunday, we were reunited with our luggage. We wore the same clothes for five days with the staff refreshing our clothes every day. The vessel was full and all of our fellow passengers recognized us by our apparent non-changing wardrobe. On the next evening we were in proper attire and were noticed and recognized with abundant cheers from our fellow guests. The Crystal Esprit is a mere 82 meters in length. One must remember that at one time it was an individual's personal yacht. Before it entered the Crystal fleet it was totally gutted and converted to a luxury yacht for about sixty-one discerning guests. I need not say how absolutely wonderful the cruise was and how we were treated by the staff. From Johann the Hotel Director, Grace and Jaypee at the Reception Desk, Lauren, Joel and Milly who served us at the bars and in the dining venues and Gee and Kath who kept our suite in perfect order, everything was over the top. We went on a couple of shore excursions which were excellent. On some ports we chose to walk around on our own where we did a bit of shopping and had a "local" lunch. The shopping was fun and interesting but we spent three days in the wonderful city of Venice which is a shopping mecca at the end of the cruise. Although we have several favorite restaurants in Venice, the dining aboard the Esprit outshined a couple of them. The dining experience ranks with some of the finist restaurants around the world. The presentation was unmatched. Adam, the Executive Chef, was incredibly creative. One day, he went ashore to round up some black and white truffles. We had homemade pasta with truffles as well as truffle omelettes for breakfast. Of course, we were lucky that it was truffle season in Europe. All included wines were great but we supplemented them with optional Caymus Cabernet. Cocktails were all hand crafted with premium liquors. The evening entertainment was lovely with relaxing music offered by Craig at the piano and, at times, with the Captain on his guitar. Water activities included jet-ski rides and two-person excursions on Crystal's own submarine on board (extra charge for that experience) The water was a bit too cold for me. We are well-traveled and my wife and I agree that the Crystal Esprit ranks at the top of our travel experiences. We are sailing on the Crystal Serenity out of LA in December and then it's back with our Esprit family in February in the Caribbean. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise line to celebrate our 49th anniversary and were very disappointed. We did not sleep well any of the 7 nights as the temperature in our room was either boiling or freezing. Every day I went to the front desk and they ... Read More
We chose this cruise line to celebrate our 49th anniversary and were very disappointed. We did not sleep well any of the 7 nights as the temperature in our room was either boiling or freezing. Every day I went to the front desk and they immediately sent someone, but all they did was adjust it up or down, but never fixed it. You have no control over the fan and the temperature is either in the red section or the blue. You cannot set a temperature for your room or set the fan to low, high or off. We ended up settling for cold and slept in a robe they provided. It was not pleasant at all. It is a shame they did not fix the temperature as there were many good things about Crystal…good food, pleasant staff, small number of people on excursions and a very clean ship. I would be very hesitant to book another cruise with Crystal or to recommend it to friends or our travel agent. At this price point, I expect a room with a comfortable temperature. This should have been fixed before they booked the room. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. ... Read More
We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. First, most of the big ships stop in only one or two ports in Croatia, but Esprit stops in six different ports on a one-week cruise. The small size (they refer to it as a yacht) enables them to go to the smaller places that are less crowded and often more enjoyable. Second, we went with a group hosted by a family that owns a winery in Napa that we love and are club members of. So there were a number of special dinners, receptions and wine tours that were offered as part of this particular cruise, and we even got to visit their sister winery in Croatia. Almost half the 61 passengers aboard were part of our winery group, but we met and made friends with every guest on the boat. Lastly, we wanted to try a smaller boat. Last year, we went on a brand new Royal Caribbean ship that had 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. Though it had lots of high tech entertainment, it was overcrowded and overwhelming. With a max of 62 passengers and 90+ crew, we thought Esprit would be a very different experience. And it was. Embarkation in Venice was a cinch. We embarked from the San Basilio port, easily reached by public water taxi from our hotel in Santa Croce. Check-in was relaxed - no crowds at all, and we could embark anytime during the afternoon. All suites are the same size except for one larger owner's suite. We opted for S3 222 which was close to reception, the 24-hr. self-serve food and beverage pantry, one of stairways, and the gangway. This made it easy to get on/off, or to use the stairways to dining and other activities. I saw one review here that claimed this cabin had a lot of ship noise and another that said it was pretty soundproof. We agree with the latter. Dinners were top notch. Open seating, great service, nice selection of wonderful dishes - just like eating in a five star restaurant every night. The quality of the food and service was so good that we always opted to eat dinner on the boat rather than on shore. As we celebrated my wife's birthday while on board, we asked the chef the day before to make a special dish we wanted, and it was no problem. The included wine was pretty good and always served in Reidel glasses. The wine selections varied each day (we also had complimentary wine available from our group's winery host on several nights). There is also a premium wine list with some excellent choices that cost extra. We didn't see anyone opt for those given the decent quality of the complimentary wine. We enjoyed the informal buffet breakfasts and lunches too. There was a large selection of foods given such a small number of guests, and the food quality and service was, of course, excellent. We discovered about 5 days into the cruise that in addition to the buffet, there is actually a breakfast menu where you can order Japanese breakfasts or poached eggs (e.g., eggs benedict). The pantry was stocked with fancy sandwiches, snacks, desserts, fruit, cookies, beverages, etc. There was also an outdoor grill that had pizza (not great IMHO), hamburgers, and especially good salmon burgers. And room service. The entertainment was rather limited, but that's not what we chose this cruise for. There was a singer/piano player that would perform songs on his own or by your request pre- and after dinner. As with other high-end lines, all drinks were complimentary, all the time. One night, there was an excellent local Croatian music group that entertained us before dinner. In terms of water activities, we only tried the jet skis which were fun (and complimentary). There is a two-seater submersible which we thought was a bit pricey for a 20 minute dive. But it's amazing that they even have one. Guests we spoke with who tried it were a bit disappointed in what they could see in the Adriatic. I suspect this will be great when the yacht repositions to the Caribbean. There were at least two complimentary shore excursions in every port, plus others that involved special activities (bicycling, kayaking, zip lines, or private tours) for an added fee. We always opted for the complimentary excursions and enjoyed all but one of them (as we didn't think that local guide was very good). There is always a host from the ship along with the local guide, making sure no one gets separated especially in crowded ports like Split. Each group seemed limited to about a max of 10 people - Crystal just adds more groups to the popular excursions. Transportation was always in new luxury vans. On one of the islands, our local guide was a professor who teaches Croatian history and culture at universities throughout Croatia. Needless to say, he was incredible. There were a couple of things that really impressed my wife and me. As you embark, they take your photo for your ID card. Within an hour, every staff member we passed on the ship greeted us by name on sight. Wow. I've read that Crystal employees have to go to a very extensive service training program before working on the boat. Many of the staff, including the ever present reception hostesses, Jackie and Kiki, had worked for Crystal on other ships for 12-14 years. It shows. The second thing might seem small, but when you are traveling for 3 weeks, it's not. Each cabin deck has a self-serve washer and dryer. That enabled us to pack fewer clothes for our trip, and change 2-3 times a day (important given the heat during our shore excursions). If you were off at dinner, you could simply ask your butler (available 24x7) to pick up your laundry for you, or to even press your clothes. No charge for any of this. Even though Crystal is more expensive than any other cruise line we've taken (and I think Esprit is more expensive than Crystal Symphony, Serenity, etc.), we are seriously thinking about booking another trip, or at least staying within the Crystal family. Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
Just back from the Venice to Dubrovnik Crystal Esprit cruise. The Esprit has a great itinerary if you want to visit the smaller, less crowded islands off the Croatian coast. Crystal does a great job with their complimentary excursions. The ... Read More
Just back from the Venice to Dubrovnik Crystal Esprit cruise. The Esprit has a great itinerary if you want to visit the smaller, less crowded islands off the Croatian coast. Crystal does a great job with their complimentary excursions. The groups are small, typically no more than 6-10 people, and included both a Crystal escort and a local guide. Take this cruise for the itinerary and not for the typical luxury cruise ship amenities. The Esprit is a small, nicely appointed ship whose primary function is travel between ports of call. On board amenities are limited by the small size of the ship. There are only 6-chaise lounges covered by shade for example. Having said that, dinners are the equal of any ship, of any size. It was like dining in a Michelin star restaurant every night. Breakfast and lunch were adequate but not exceptional with a small selection of food and some service issues. Overall service was very good and the staff were friendly and professional. Be very careful of cabin selection on this ship. Cabins 222 and 217 are located near equipment that cycles on when the ship is moving. That equipment is very, very loud. If I knew about the noise in advance I would not have gone on the cruise. I compare it to buying a theatre seat with an impaired view. It is one thing to knowingly buy (at a discount typically) a problem seat. It something entirely different to discover the issue as you are being seated! Because of this I will avoid Crystal in the future. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
The Esprit was a wonderful a cruise as we could imagine. We have been loyal to Seabourn for several years, but the Esprit was on a par with any Seabourn cruise we've taken. The best thing about the Esprit is that it takes only 62 ... Read More
The Esprit was a wonderful a cruise as we could imagine. We have been loyal to Seabourn for several years, but the Esprit was on a par with any Seabourn cruise we've taken. The best thing about the Esprit is that it takes only 62 passengers. The ship is a beautiful reconstruction of an older ship. Its 285 sq. ft. staterooms have a clean line and comfortable beds. All staterooms have spacious walk-in showers. Above all that the service by a friendly personal crew is first rate. Every mean was superb: a 5-star dining experience of wonderful tastes and experienced dining room service. Most of the excursions are included in the price, as are all gratuities and beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There is nothing we could complain about. It is the wonderful Seabourn experience with a fraction of the guests, leading to close comradeship among us all. Seemingly no detail was left out, and no service request denied. Pants pressed in an hour? Free and no problem. We would return to the Esprit in a heartbeat when we are next interested in a cruise. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We just returned from a 7 night cruise in the Adriatic on the Esprit embarking in Dubrovnik and ending in Venice. We loved the boat and the itinerary. Here are the details: Ship: The ship has 5 decks -- marina on 1; entry to the ship ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 night cruise in the Adriatic on the Esprit embarking in Dubrovnik and ending in Venice. We loved the boat and the itinerary. Here are the details: Ship: The ship has 5 decks -- marina on 1; entry to the ship and cabins on 2; cabins on 3; lounge/bar and two restaurants on 4; lounge/bar, restaurant and pool on outdoor deck 5. The public spaces are very well designed to accommodate everyone on-board with room to spare. We never felt crowded and were always able to sit where we wanted. Public spaces provided the ability to mingle with the crowd -- which was typically part of the routine during before-dinner and after dinner cocktails -- or find a secluded nook. The main dining room can even fit all passengers at one time for dinner. The decor is plush and elegant, and the seating inviting -- velvet padded couches and chairs on 4, and large wicker chairs and loungers on 5. Colors are a nice mix of neutrals and blues -- very relaxing and soothing. Dining room tables can be configured to seat couples, foursomes or larger groups. There are no elevators, but only 13 indoor shallow and wide stairs between each of the decks 2 and 3, and 3 and 4. Up to deck 5 requires an outside passage up a winding stair. Stairs didn't seem to cause any problems (even for those in their 80s). But the ports visited require a lot more climbing than the ship, so those with mobility issues should think twice about this cruise. For most of the cruise, the boat remained in protected waters (between islands and mainland) and we never felt movement other than the slightest rocking one night during a storm. Service: With a passenger to staff ratio of about 80 to 60, the service was fantastic. I never waited for a drink refill, to order food, or to get a question answered. The staff was over the top nice and accommodating (even getting a ride for guests to an evening event when none was scheduled). Dining: The highlight of the evening was always cocktail hour outside or inside (with a specialty drink each night) followed by dinner in the main dining room with specialty wine selections available and multiple options for each of the 4 courses (or more or fewer if you wanted) and dessert. Portions were such that you could actually eat 4 courses + dessert, although most people seemed to eat 3 + dessert. The chefs get high marks for plating, creativity and just plain tastiness. Breakfast was cold buffet with a few hot options; lunch was cold buffet/salads on deck 4 and a great grill (burgers, pizza, etc) on deck 5. We loved lunch on breezy deck 5 -- a few times we scurried back from a tour just in time for 2pm lunch and then some free time before dinner. Entertainment and activities: If there is a weak spot on this boat/itinerary, this is it. There was one singer each night for the after dinner entertainment, and while she played lots of favorites and on some nights did a heroic job of getting people up to dance and sing along, the variety was simply lacking. An improvement would be to have some alternatives provided -- for those on the 2 week itinerary, I think the same entertainment for 14 nights is a bit much. While the water sport activities should have been a highlight, since the boat is stocked with water toys, they were very limited. Only one port allowed jet skis and we were on a tour that day. Most of the Adriatic ports we visited didn't allow any water sports (even paddleboarding). People: On our cruise there were mostly couples and groups of four (families or friends). There were also two groups of six. All adults. This is not a boat for children -- the food, entertainment and tours are not child friendly. Ages ranged from 20s to 80s, with most people probably 40s to 60s. Majority of passengers were from the US, but there were also people from Europe, Mexico, Canada and Brazil. People were friendly and fun loving -- most participated in the sing alongs with the piano player at night -- but were there mostly for the boat and their own group, so it was a nice mix of mingling with others but having plenty of time to spend with your chosen companions. Ports: In each port there were 2 free tours (one adventure type like rafting and one more about seeing the sights), and there were other longer tours that had additional costs. At least 1/2 our boat took the free tours each day which typically lasted from 9-2. Tours were split into smaller groups of 10-12 people per guide. The longer costlier tours had only 4-8 people on them. We docked in each location except for Piran (where we were on anchor) which allowed us to go in an out everywhere except Venice which is somewhat difficult to access from the boat. Dubrovnik: I would recommend staying 2 nights before getting on the cruise -- lots to do there and beautiful -- walk the walls! Kotor: get up early and watch the boat sail into this incredible bay surrounded by cliffs; we took the complementary tour which hit the highlights and got us back for 2pm lunch. Split: complementary tour which was great -- had no idea Split would be so special with medieval buildings and Roman walls and foundation. Really stunning city. Zadar: We took a long tour to Plitvice Park. Gorgeous park with clear green water and waterfalls everywhere and lots of climing to see them all. Haven't seen scenery like this before. But only go if weather is promising (rainy would be bad). Opatija: Took the tour to the Hill Towns of Istria. This was really a highlight -- saw 3 little towns in a Tuscan-like setting. Drank wine and ate truffle pasta. Wandered through narrow streets with few tourists. Great tour. Piran: We took the longer tour to Lake Bled. Absolutely beautiful scenery in one direction (unfortunate tourist town on one edge of the lake) but a 2 hour drive to get there, so a hard call on whether to recommend this one. Piran itself is a cute port and the only tender port on the itinerary. If you want a free day and the weather is nice, take this day as your free day. Jet skis are available, and you can spend some time in the water and then go into Piran and wander a bit. Venice: complementary tour went on walk through Venice and Doge's Palace (did not actually go into St Mark's Basilica although that's how tour was billed). Nice tour, but skip if you've been to Venice before. All in all, lovely boat, wonderful staff, great ports, fine dining, luxury accommodations, and (at least on our trip) truly warm and friendly passengers. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We just came back from our cruise on the Crystal Esprit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a very new and interesting concept and they are still working out exactly what it is, I think. We thought it was terrific and would like to do it ... Read More
We just came back from our cruise on the Crystal Esprit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a very new and interesting concept and they are still working out exactly what it is, I think. We thought it was terrific and would like to do it again, but we’re also curious how it is going to evolve. Every person on board said they’d do it again but at the same time, everyone had certain “tweaks” they would like to see. I think it’s an interesting territory they are trying to inhabit, in between a “cruise” and the experience of being on a private yacht. Now it’s more the former but I think they will go more in the yacht direction over time. There are max 62 guests on board and we found it to be a more international crowd than usual for Crystal – roughly equal numbers of Americans and Australians, followed by Brits, with Canadians, Mexicans, Spanish and Italian guests also represented. Everyone spoke excellent English. Mostly couples, of ages varying from about 40 to about 80, though all with good mobility (no elevators on this ship). Some interesting groups, for example there were two young girls (10 and 13 respectively) each traveling with their grandparents (not traveling together, though I think they were happy to meet each other on board!); also 2 large multigenerational family groups (adults) celebrating special occasions. The itinerary was TERRIFIC – from the time we left Venice until we pulled into Dubrovnik we didn’t see another cruise ship, and it was great to be going into these tiny harbours and charming towns with all the sailboats. The weather was perfect, the sea was warm, and Croatia is just gorgeous. They have all kinds of watersport facilities on board that were underutilized because the Croatian government is still being very sticky about giving them permits to run the jet skis, submarine, etc. It’s clear this is something they’re working on, it the experience will be better when that is an option every day rather than just once or twice during the sailing. I understand that this part of the experience was much more dominant and "amazing" in the Seychelles, where they are much less restricted. All the shore excursions are “free” (ie included) and they were excellent, but again they were kind of conventional ships tours and that is also something they are working on. Most of them were full day tours with lunch included and most of the guests on board said they would prefer half-day tours that would allow them to relax on the ship, explore on their own or enjoy the watersports for the rest of the day. I suspect that will definitely be a tweak they will make in time. We went zip lining and white water rafting (all included). All the guides were excellent, the experiences were well-chosen and fabulous, and there was attention to our comfort (for example, the most popular excursion saw 30 of the 62 guests all going to Krka national park. Crystal COULD have put us all on one bus, but instead they sent us in 3 comfy mini-buses, each with our own guide. Classy call). Food was 100% up to Crystal standards and thus FABULOUS. The executive chef on board touches every plate. He runs a very tidy kitchen too! All the drinks are included, and we were impressed by the quality and selection of the “free” wines on the list too. All the stressors of cruising like embarkation, disembarkation and “rules” are basically gone. You walk on, they give you some champagne, someone shows you your room. At the end, they arrange “free” transport to the airport or your onward hotel and you leave at your convenience. None of this “red group in the show lounge by 7:15 to await embarkation instructions”. We didn’t even need to pack until the morning we left. "Entertainment" consisted of one piano player/singer; he seemed good but really no one much was looking to be entertained until we had bad weather on the last day. Most guests enjoyed gathering on deck for a drink and great conversation with other travelers. There were no real "enrichment" activities, and although I didn't really miss it, I do think having local lecturers come on board to tell us more about the history of Croatia would have been a bonus. There was also a great watersports team who as mentioned was underutilized; getting those watersports permits sorted out is clearly a priority for the captain. All in all, we enjoyed this very much (even more than our Crystal "big ship" experiences, and that is saying a LOT). I am very excited to see where else they may take this ship. The downside for me right now is that it seems to be going back to Croatia again next summer (good for you if you haven't done this fantastic itinerary yet; not so great for me as we are not big on repeating ports we've already visited). Hopefully they will seek out other smaller yachting areas to explore in the future. Oh - and contrary to a prior Seychelles review - we had virtually NO motion on board. Twice the captain warned us it might be a bit rocky; the first time it was very mild and the second we felt nothing. So, at least in these relatively sheltered waters, the Esprit is very stable and comfortable (even in a big thunderstorm which we did experience!). Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would ... Read More
Still readjusting to normal life after leaving Chrystal Symphony a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time as first time cruisers, I can't imagine cruising with anyone else. We had done our research and felt Crystal would be right for us yet were still overwhelmed by how perfect everything was. Our embarkation and disembarkation were swift and guided by CC staff. We were delighted with our cabin. Some reviewers had mentioned the CS cabins were small but we thought it was spacious and we are not tiny people. The dining on board was simply exquisite. The standard of food served in the dining room and specialty restaurants was equal to the best I've experienced anywhere in the world. The buffet and bistro food was also impressive. We enjoyed the shows and the various musical ensembles. The few activities we attended were presented with enthusiasm and encouragement. We were very happy with our shore excursions. For us though the most memorable part of the cruise other than the fabulous places we visited and the new friends we made was the staff. We had heard anecdotally and read that CC staff are special but until you have experienced it first hand you have no idea. They were incredible. From the moment we arrived we felt it. Our names were quickly learned by the staff we saw frequently and we never passed a single employee without them saying hello. My desire for black tea at breakfast and dinner was remembered and delivered without request. My lovely waiter sneaking a dessert onto my plate when I had ordered fruit only, "just to try my lady". These are just a few examples. We so enjoyed our cruise we booked another whilst on board and are hoping friends will join us. We can't wait to get back on board! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go ... Read More
This was my first cruise and first trip to Europe. With very few exceptions, the all-inclusive fare covers everything, including tips. The crew truly embodies the definition of service. It was top notch and always with a smile. They go to great lengths to make sure you wont for nothing. After a couple days onboard, the crew members knew us and addressed us by name. The ship is luxurious. There is something going on all day long and never a shortage of things to do. They provide a daily newsletter with a complete list of activities on board. Educational lectures are well done and provide information about the ports along the way. If you miss them, they are rebroadcast on one of the channels on TV. There is a library on board with a nice selection of books and DVDs that you can check out to watch in your room. We also took a tour of the galley for the main dining room. If you're a foodie, check it out. How they prepare and serve a gourmet dinner menu for 600 every night is fascinating. The fitness room is a bit small, but well equipped. The yoga class was popular and could have used more space. There is also a spa and casino on board. We did not use them. If you are really into wine, they have a wine tasting and pairing dinner. It is in a private dining room adjacent to the library and can be booked for an extra charge. There is also dancing every night. A string quartet and piano soloist play at various times of the day. You can send laundry out for a charge, but each floor had a self-service laundry that included detergent and ironing boards. I went home with clean clothes. We took excursions arranged by Crystal in every port. As we are both history buffs, they were the archaeological/historical tours. Tour operators were professional and Crystal staff accompanied us. They packed a lot into the time allotted for the tours. There are tours that are not strenuous and some that are. If you have mobility issues, do not book tours that state they are strenuous and require a lot of walking. They are not kidding. This was a Mediterranean cruise and all ports were very interesting. Noteworthy excursions: Gozo and Valletta Malta, Oia Village in Santorini and the Lindos Acropolis in Greece, Ephysis Ruins in Kusadasi Turkey, Herculaneum and Pompeii at the Naples Port, Taormina, Italy and of course, Istanbul. We saw a few of the shows (some nights we were too tired after exploring the ports) and the entertainment is excellent. The singers and dancers put on a variety of shows, so there is something for everyone. Gary, the Cruise Director is funny and you can tell he loves his job. In addition to the main dining room, there are many dining options aboard and room service any time you wish. The menu in the main dining room is diverse with four courses each night (appetizer, soup and salad, entree and dessert - several options for each on the menu and you can order as many as you want) and a sommelier keeps the wine flowing. Ice cream bar serves Ben and Jerry's from noon until 6PM. On this particular cruise, there were 2 formal nights. The winner of the 2015 Bocuse D'Or chef completion prepared dinner on the second formal night. He also did a cooking demonstration earlier in the day. Highly recommend Silk Road and Prego, the Asian and Italian restaurants aboard. All food was fresh and well presented. High tea is served every afternoon. There is also a bistro that serves tea, coffee and light hors d'oeurves in the afternoon. We ate breakfast at the buffet on the lido deck. It's huge. Anything you could want is there. Loved the fresh mango and fresh squeezed orange juice. Caution: the food is so good, book excursions that make you walk it off! The ship is spotless as it was remodeled in 2013 and all of the furnishings are updated. We also booked our airline and travel from disembarkation through Crystal and found it to be just as reasonable as booking ourselves, without the hassle. I think the only thing that needs improvement is the Wi-Fi aboard. Passengers are given one our of free Wi-Fi for each day aboard. It is pretty slow so it takes quite a bit of time to send emails. If you use more, there is a charge and it's expensive. At slow speeds, it doesn't take long to eat up the allotted free time. Many of the passengers are older and may not use internet, but those that do, might find it a bit challenging. I did have to attend to some work on board, so I needed the internet. Maybe it's their plan - keep you off your devices so you can enjoy your vacation-work can wait :-) All in all, it was a wonderful cruise. It is likely I'll be aboard the Crystal Serenity again someday. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
This was our fifth Crystal cruise and our third onboard the Crystal Serenity and, as it had recently undergone a multi-million pound refit, we were looking forward to seeing the changes. As our flight to Venice did not arrive until quite ... Read More
This was our fifth Crystal cruise and our third onboard the Crystal Serenity and, as it had recently undergone a multi-million pound refit, we were looking forward to seeing the changes. As our flight to Venice did not arrive until quite late in the evening ,we spent one night in a hotel near the airport prior to joining the ship the next morning. After a welcome night’s sleep and a good breakfast it was only a short private coach transfer, organised by our hotel, to the port. We would always recommend staying at least one night prior to the cruise either in, or near to, the embarkation port. Embarkation Day When we arrived at the port the embarkation desks were just about to open so we were soon processed and onboard the ship where the formal check in took place in the main lobby area and, as usual, this was done very quickly and efficiently. We were then free to have lunch in the Trident grill, which we washed down with a very welcome glass of champagne, and felt that our holiday had really begun. During lunch we were delighted to meet up again with some familiar and friendly faces, namely crew members whom we had met on previous cruises. This made us feel very welcome and as if we had come home again. By the time we had finished lunch, our stateroom was ready and we were able to unpack and relax in the sun by the pool. Our verandah stateroom was located on Deck 8, towards the bow of the ship. The Ship Thankfully the layout of the ship had not been changed as a result of the refit so we already were familiar with all the public areas. In view of the recent refit we had expected to find some dramatic changes , however, these seem to have been confined mostly to the refurbishment of the staterooms and the creation of the new ‘Tastes’ restaurant in the area around the former Trident pool. The staterooms looked very smart and well kept, however, the biggest improvement was the removal of the old Trident pool and the creation of the ‘Tastes’ restaurant. The old Trident pool was previously a bit of a dead space and the revamp (including screens, plants and new furniture) is a great innovation. As usual all the public areas throughout the ship were spotlessly clean and it never ceases to amaze us that this is all done without guests even being aware that it is happening. We did hear some negative comments about large rust marks at the bottom of the Seahorse pool which guests thought would have been addressed during the refit. Our Stateroom Stewardess looked after us very well and kept us well supplied with towels and ice. Food and drinks The standard of the food on board was excellent in all the eating venues as usual. We usually had breakfast outside at the excellent ‘Lido’ buffet where we could sit and view the port we were visiting that day. For lunch we varied between the ‘Lido’ buffet and the ‘Tastes’ restaurant and, when at the latter, always ensuring to get dessert from the extensive selection at the ‘Lido’. It is hard to single out any particular member of crew for praise, however, Bruno from Portugal was a delight with attentive service and always time for a chat. We had dinner every evening in the Main Dining Room, apart from three nights when we ate in the ‘Prego’ , ‘Silk Road’ and ‘Tastes’ restaurants. The menu choice and standard food in the main Dining Room was excellent and the experience was enhanced by our very efficient and jovial Head Waiter Zoltan – we loved his sense of humour. Our Spanish Sommelier was very attentive the standard of the wines served was first class. We went to ‘Prego’ once during the cruise in the company of two new- found friends and everyone thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the calm ambience. On another night we went to ‘Silk Road’ and were tempted to try dishes which we would not normally choose and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. We decided to try the less formal ‘Tastes’ restaurant on another evening, however, we found the menu a bit confusing and would not have rushed back again. We were told that the evening menu did not change from day to day and think that this may deter guests making a second visit. We indulged ourselves with afternoon tea in the Palm Court on a few occasions; however, our big vice was afternoon tea and cakes in ‘The Bistro’. We were aware that the Bistro was now open later in the evenings, however, by that stage we had usually eaten too much already so we did not make it there. It was clearly popular with guests who wanted to sit and relax with a cup of tea or coffee after dinner so the longer opening hours are definitely a welcome innovation. Our favourite bars were ‘Crystal Cove’ and ‘the Avenue Saloon’, mainly due to the great staff working there. We always had pre-dinner drinks in ‘Crystal Cove’ and had great craic with the bar staff, Afzal and Alex, who were not only very good at their job but they made us feel like old friends. We would invariably meet the same guests there every night as they also loved the relaxed, friendly atmosphere fostered by all the staff. We liked to go to the ‘Avenue Saloon’ after dinner as it was a very comfortable place to relax, chat with fellow guests and sing along to the piano. We also enjoyed a few late nights in the ‘Pulse’ nightclub, especially on the karaoke nights hosted by the lovely Hayley from the Reception desk. The Ports of Call All our previous Crystal cruises had been around the Mediterranean and we were looking forward to this particular cruise because it was visiting some ports new to us. Venice – We decided not to brave the crowds this time and just relax onboard, enjoying the peace and quiet while all the other guests went off sightseeing. A former Captain of the Crystal Serenity once said that ‘the ship can be your holiday destination in itself’ and we heartily agree with that sentiment. Kotor , Montenegro – We had been told that this was a very beautiful part of the world and they were correct. Sailing slowly between spectacular wooded landscapes was really magical and you could sense the excitement of the crew who hailed from the region. We docked just a stone’s throw from Kotor and it was a very picturesque place. Taormina, Sicily – We booked the Crystal transfer into the town and it was well worth the ride. A beautiful place with lots of character, cafes, bars and shops, including some very upmarket designer ones. Recommended viewing. Sorrento – We had been here several times before with Crystal, however, it was nice to get off the ship for a short while just to stretch the legs and have a little retail therapy. Civitavecchia, Italy- We did not want to visit Rome on this occasion so we opted for a post-breakfast stroll around Civitavecchia and a coffee before heading back to the ship for lunch. It is a much larger town than we had remembered but a few hours was enough time there. Monte Carlo/ Monaco – It was purely by accident that we found ourselves on this cruise which coincided with the Monte Carlo rally and there were lots of ‘petrol heads’ onboard who had booked this cruise especially to be there. Even though we were not race enthusiasts there was a growing sense of anticipation when we arrived in Monte Carlo on the day of the race. Unfortunately we were not moored in Monte Carlo bay, as on previous occasions, but just round the headland so we did not have the usual spectacular view of Monte Carlo, however, we were certainly made well aware of all the build up to the race. From early morning there was a constant shuttle of private helicopters overhead, undoubtedly carrying the rich and famous to their stretch limos and onto the race. It was fascinating to watch and the mind boggled at what it must all be costing! The following day we ventured into Monte Carlo hoping the place would have returned to normality and perhaps engage in a bit of star spotting, however, many areas were still sealed off and barriers were still being removed. Sorry to report no sightings of George Clooney or Nicole Scherzinger – maybe next time? Livorno – Unless you are heading to Florence, Livorno is not a pretty place to spend too much time in. Barcelona – Having visited the city many times before we used our last day of the cruise to have a wander around and enjoy some sangria and tapas with two fellow guests who had by now become firm friends. A lovely way to end to a very happy cruise. Entertainment It is a pity that the live band does not play every afternoon on the Lido deck at sail away, however, they did play on the ‘sea day’ and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it- even the crew working on deck got into the spirit and were dancing in the aisles! The Crew The crew, as ever, made the whole cruise special and, although we have mentioned by name those with whom we probably had the most contact, we must praise all crew for their efficiency, friendliness and patience. . They are Crystal’s biggest asset. Overall cruise experience This was a very relaxing and enjoyable cruise and we loved every minute. We met some great fellow passengers with whom we are still in contact and we look forward to planning our next Crystal cruise in 2015 when a certain someone will be celebrating a milestone birthday – and I do not mean a 21st. It is Crystal clear to see that this cruise line keeps up the excellent work!   Read Less
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