1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Cruises Cruise Reviews
17 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
9 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
26 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
39 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
18 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
32 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
28 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
This cruise was simply an unmitigated disaster. I have been on plenty of cruises to know what good service is and what to expect, and Crystal simply failed. The reviews convinced us to take this cruise, and I hope this review convinces you ... Read More
This cruise was simply an unmitigated disaster. I have been on plenty of cruises to know what good service is and what to expect, and Crystal simply failed. The reviews convinced us to take this cruise, and I hope this review convinces you to PASS on Crystal. I will not take this ship again. EMBARKATION Went smoothly. Bags delivered promptly. We were not offered anything upon our entrance to the ship - no champagne, no guidance, nothing. WELCOME LUNCH We were served by unenthused, curt waiters. Took ten minutes to get a coffee. The waiter became exasperated after we asked him a third time. An early warning sign. SHIP ITSELF The ship is fairly nice, but somewhat drab. A funeral parlor has more personality than this ship. It sails very smoothly though. DINING The food in the main dining hall was passable at best. Flavorless and uninteresting, with the next days lunch often incorporating the previous evening's dinner. The maitre d' was fine, but the waiters remained detached and uninterested throughout. Service took forever to get any food. The sommeliers were jokes and had no idea what wine they were even serving. The food in the specialty restaurants was excellent, but reservations were quite difficult to get and impossible to alter if need be. The sushi in Silk Road was outstanding, but the maitre d' was beyond awful. He mindblowingly sent my infirm, 82 year old father back to his stateroom because he didn't have a jacket (despite wearing a button-down shirt and tie and suit pants), causing us to lose our places at the sushi bar, even though we were first in line and had waited half an hour. The all-day food at the Bistro was okay, though it is clear the chefs have no clue what they are doing, as the prosciutto was carved in the wrong direction. The fries by the pool are excellent though. STATEROOMS Excellent linens, clean, nice shower, wonderful housekeeping, but very small rooms. Good cable stations on the tv and nice bathrooms. Good wifi throughout the ship. Our safe broke and we had to ask four times for it to get fixed. BARS & LOUNGES Excellent, friendly bartenders, good drinks, passable wine. The "disco" Pulse is the size of an inside stateroom and filled with karaoke. PORT SERVICE No offers of water bottles as we departed (unlike Oceania), despite the hot, humid weather. Crystal shuttles were free at some ports, but cost money at others. The crew had no idea where to direct us as we exited the tenders, a huge problem for the mostly elderly clientele. Despite a few nice features, nothing makes up for the absolutely awful crew and barely passable dining that made this cruise one to forget. SKIP IT.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We just returned from crystal cruise 3220 on the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Lisbon. We stayed in on the 9th level with a deluxe verandah room on the Crystal Symphony. Every thing about the cruise was great . The food and service was ... Read More
We just returned from crystal cruise 3220 on the Mediterranean from Barcelona to Lisbon. We stayed in on the 9th level with a deluxe verandah room on the Crystal Symphony. Every thing about the cruise was great . The food and service was superb and the entertainment of high quality. Most of the shows were reviews with the wonderful costumes, dance and the singing Crystal group. There were also solo enterainers, one of whom was extremely entertaining and funny,Dale Ganyea. In addition to the high quality reviews there was one new show (Iluminate) for which there was a lot of hype before th show. It was interesting and "high tech" , but we did not find it as entertaining as other shows. We did however appreciciate that it was innovative. After about 5 or 10 minutes we had enough , but others may have liked it more! (perhaps the younger people on board ) We enjoyed the guests , which had a large number of international guests from Europe, England, S. Africa, Australia etc and of course quite a few Americans. There were many repeat guests, some had been on many Crystal curise in the past. The only dissappointment was the size of the cabin , type A , high floow with Veranda , "deluxe room " The room was small but realtively well designedThe public spaces were lovely, The computer school was excellent.The Wi Fi was available in t he computer room as well as supposedly in other places. In general it was sort of slow ,but faster in computer room than in guest cabins. Only suggestions for improvement would be to make the ship completely smoke free. The guest in room next door to us was a smoker. We did not smell the smoke in our room , but it was noticed outside of the room in the hall and required a 'smoke remover apparatus' to sit in hall to help remover the smell. Otherwise it was a spetacular cruise and we would love to take another crystal cruise. Highly recommend this line. The destinations were great, but quite crowded , due to high season travel in August. ( Monaco, ,St. Tropez, Cadiz, Mallorca , Gilbraltar, Barcelona, Lisbon etc. It was a great cruise and we were sad to leave the ship and face the real world !!   Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ... Read More
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ONE: GUERNSEY We take a walking tour of Guernsey led by Mary Poppins. The nicest, sweetest lady you’d ever meet who is stunningly handsome at about 75. One of the members of he group is late, let’s call her Helen Gurley Brown. However, two members of the group a husband and wife… let’s call them Donald Trump and Ivana… are not happy. ''"We are on time, why do we have to wait?” The woman whose expression has not changed since she arrived on the ship pipes in, ''"I’m not waiting.” And she takes off. OH. The expression…it’s like she’s constantly smelling poo. I get through the day. Tomorrow is a day at sea. I wonder what it will hold. That night on the ship they play THE IMPOSSIBLE, the story of a family that goes on vacation and is hit by a Tsunami. THIS is the movie they play on the first night out… I go down to the lobby and a violin trio is playing… I SWEAR TO YOU… ''"Closer to God are Thee” the tune they played as the Titanic went down. As a comic I see the comedy in the situation as a passenger I want to run to my room and leave my life vest on…forever. DAY TWO: AT SEA. I’ve always wanted to see whales. I just didn’t think I’d see them in bathing suits. There should be a law… if the flap of skin on your back folds over and touches your hip, you cannot wear a thong. The men are no better. I saw one guy walking down the hallway. He was so wide he was knocking paintings off the walls on both sides as he made his way to his cabin. Oh and day two is the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The last time I was in Temple Eisenhower was in office but I thought it would be fun to be in France and celebrate the New Year in another country. The service is at five p.m…. I go down there at five. We have crossed a time line and clocks were set a hour ahead one hour. It was actually six p.m. and I missed the service. DAY THREE: BORDEAUX, FRANCE So next morning I’m up at six a.m. and I’m ready to go to services. I walk into the room and one lady is sitting with a shawl. On the pulpit is a priest with vestments, behind him is a huge cross with Jesus. She says, ''"Come in… join us.” I say, ''"I haven’t been in Temple in about 40 years but I don’t think this is a Rosh Hashanah service.” The woman laughs so loud the priest stops spraying the incense. Ok, so I come back in half an hour and there are the Jews… all ten of them. I have found them in this sea of WASP wonderland-ness. We get to talking and suddenly I realize I have found the rarest of rare… REPUBLICAN JEWS… a living oxymoron. It’s like it’s when I found out fish eat their young… I was horrified. The service lasts exactly 12 minutes. Why? The Rabbi has to take a tour of the Bordeaux countryside. This is the Jewish Holiday I have wished for my entire life. So we board our bus to the wine country. We have a French guide… a woman with a voice just short of grinding silverware down the garbage disposal. She spoke in such a thick accent no one could understand her and when we asked her to repeat whatever she said she got furious. ''"Vat is Wong wit you peoples” I thought I was going to have to stay after the tour in detention. Six of us started a support group for survivors of the tour which we are now calling the Death March on Bataan. That night we went to the theater for the entertainment. Sit down… you’re gonna love this. REBECCA AND DONNOVAN. Picture Arnold Schwartnegger singing like Mario Lanza while his wife hung from silk ropes. That’s what this act was. I actually sat through twenty minutes of it until my ears began to bleed and I fled from the theater like The Von Trapp Family. DAY FOUR: AT SEA They have provided us with many interesting things to do on this ship. Interesting if you live in assisted living and have a motorized wheelchair. One of my favorites activities is SCARF TYING. I kid you not… learn how to tie a scarf…followed by NAPKIN FOLDING. (Readers: this is not a joke.) These are actual classes. They also have courses you could use like how to shoot video on an ipad, how to play the piano, how to play bridge… each one of THOSE classes was anemically empty. But SCARF TYING was a slam-dunk. Standing room only! Then there was the lecture series… who do they have as a guest speaker…some show biz celebrity… some sports hero… a political figure? NO! Clint Van Zant… an FBI Serial Murderer Profiler. STANDING ROOM ONLY? They were seated on the floor. These Republicans like a good mass murder. I went to the lecture in which I learned one of the killers liked to shove stones up the vaginal cavity of his victims. (beat) FOR THIS I PAID FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS INCLUDING AIR FARE???? I was once on a Princess Cruise and their entertainment was a ''"Hairiest man on the ship” contest… a Persian woman won. Ok so tonight is formal night on the ship or as I call it, The Geriatric Prom. Tonight I will see things no man is supposed to see… moo moos and tuxedos… walkers and sequins… ladies wearing things only teenagers should wear… and all to stand in a buffet line and eat things pushed through a pastry tube. I truly do love this experience… it’s a comedy writer’s dream come true. One cruise on the Atlantic and I will be writing about it for the next six years. DAY FIVE: Lisbon, Portugal I’ve figured out what taking a cruise is all about… it’s a series of meals interrupted by Europe. My God, I have never eaten so much in my life. They are feeding us like we’re Foie Gras Geese. They just keep shoving food down our throats… my liver is the size of Connecticut. Any moment I expect the chef to cut it out and force-feed it back to me. Lisbon, Portugal. Well, I can die happy now. I’ve seen the tomb of Vasco D’Gama. This is the highlight of Lisbon, that and protecting your wallets from pickpockets. I have never seen anything like it in my life, you’re standing alone waiting for the shuttle… suddenly, out of no where, 500 Gypsies surround you trying to sell you shawls. So the entire trip your holding your wallet, your camera, your keys, your passport, your gold incisor… anything you’re afraid they could get their hands on. OH! It appears Lisbon is the thimble capital of the world. Everywhere you go they are hocking thimbles… and coasters. Thimbles and coasters…coasters and thimbles… big ones, black ones, cork ones, blue ones, coasters with Lisbon on them, thimbles with Vasco D’ Gama on them… granite thimbles.( I guess they were from the stone age) It appears the Europeans think that all we Americans do is sew and cook. There is one funny note in Lisbon. There appears to be a large contingent of Lesbians on the ship, packs of them dressed in tool belts and wearing Berkinstocks.. It would give me great joy to say over and over… We’re in Lisbon with the Lesbians…. Lisbon with the Lesbians… Lisbon with the Lesbians. Has a nice ring, no? I must say I was disappointed in Lisbon. It’s dirty. It’s crowded. It’s covered in graffiti. It’s New York City with thimbles. I was picturing this quaint little village like it says in the brochure… lovely multi colored homes like a Disney movie. Instead I got the parking lot of an architectural salvage yard. The whole city is a big BEFORE photo. It’s a D.I.Y. project waiting to happen. One interesting side note about tour guides. How do you get them to shut up? They get you on that bus and don’t stop talking until the ship is pulling away from the dock. They tell you dates and names and countries and kings and queens and all you want to know is, ''"Where is the toilet?” About twenty minutes into the tour her voice begins to sound like nails on a blackboard. Everything she says you take exception to. ''"Oh really… Portugal has wonderful weather… really?” You can’t wait to get off the bus and flee for your life but she’s behind you with a bull horn.” DON’T FORGET TO STOP IN THE TRINKET SHOP BEFORE YOU LEAVE.” DAY SIX: SEVILLE, SPAIN-WATCH YOUR VALUABLES!!!! By this day you have gotten to know your traveling companions and they seem to fall into three categories: a. People you want be friends with. b. People you want to be friends with but just can’t. c. People you want to kill with the bottle opener provided in your room. Under ''"a” comes people your own age, people with the same political views and anyone with all their original body parts. Under ''"b” comes anyone with equipment. This includes oxygen bottles, canes, walkers, electric wheel chairs and a leg made out from composite materials. Under ''"c” comes Republicans. There are also sub categories. People with language barriers like Russians and people who stick to themselves, like Asians. These are all nice people but when ''"Isn’t Lisbon a dumpy city. ” takes 20 minutes, flash cards and a signal flare, a lasting friendship is out of the question. On today’s trip I found two things. 1. Seville is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in and 2. There are other Democrats on board. Today at lunch I sat with a lovely couple from Connecticut. Out of the blue she turns to me and says ''"Did you ever see a bigger bunch of in your life. Republicans…all of them” I heard angels sing. From that moment on the trip took on a new air. She told us of other Democrats on board. I suddenly knew what the French underground felt like during World War II. We had secret handshakes and secret meeting places. ''"We’re under the stairs in the main ball room” IT’S A WHOLE NEW TRIP!!!! DAY SEVEN: AT SEA Last night we were supposed to see The Rock of Gibraltar… we passed it at midnight so that’s one thing that won’t be crossed off my bucket list. DAY EIGHT: BARCEL…. Ohhhhhhhh who cares! I have seen more churches than the Pope. I am so touristed out I can’t begin to tell you. I’ve seen parks. I’ve seen monuments. I’ve seen the birthplace of people I never knew existed. This isn’t a vacation it’s credits for my Masters. The good news is I have finally found the fun people. All four of them. They are under 70, they are Democrats, they laugh… I’ve got four new friends. Worth the whole trip. DAY NINE; TO THE AIRPORT. My pick up is at ten… at ten thirty he still is not there. I have prepaid for this ride and suddenly the cruise ship who did everything but has thrown me to the wind. ''"Oh, you didn’t buy OUR transportation… pity.” So I grab a taxi to the airport with tip and with the money I have already paid to the other limo company this trip has cost me 16 thousand dollars. I could have flown around the world twice for what this cab ride has cost me. And here’s the bottom line. I DON’T CARE. I have had one of the best times I have ever had in my life. I came home with nothing. No key chains, no iPhones covers from Spain. No, snowballs with cathedrals in them. All I have is my memories… 486 photos and four new friends. Hey! Could have been a lot worse… and I didn’t even tell you about the Israeli on the plane home who kept pushing my seat forward because I was ''"Invading his space.” I wanted to club him with my thimble collection. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2013
This was our fourth Crystal cruise and our second on board the Crystal Symphony. Our first ever Crystal cruise was on the Symphony in 2005 and, as it has undergone many refits since then, we were looking forward to seeing the changes. We ... Read More
This was our fourth Crystal cruise and our second on board the Crystal Symphony. Our first ever Crystal cruise was on the Symphony in 2005 and, as it has undergone many refits since then, we were looking forward to seeing the changes. We have cruised on the Crystal Serenity in both 2011 and 2012 and hoped we would enjoy this holiday as much as on those occasions. We were certainly not disappointed. We spent two nights in Rome prior to joining the ship and this helped us unwind from the hassle of the flights and transfers, and also to get in the holiday mood. We would always recommend staying at least one night prior to the cruise either in, or near to, the embarkation port. Embarkation Day We made our own way by train to Civitavecchia to join the ship; however, we had pre-booked our tickets and seats via the Internet before leaving home so it was all quite easy and stress free, apart from the sheer volume of people in Rome's Termini Station that morning. Arriving in Civitavecchia, we soon made our way to the port entrance and were soon aboard the Crystal shuttle bus heading to the cruise terminal. Although the embarkation desks were not yet open, as we were perhaps a bit early, it was a great relief that we were able immediately to leave our cases in a separate holding area ready for loading by the crew. After a short wait we were able to check in and get aboard where the final check-in procedures were carried out 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 our holiday had begun. By the time we had finished lunch and met some fellow passengers, our stateroom was ready and we were able to unpack and relax by the pool. Our stateroom was located on Deck 5, just behind the Concierge Desk, and in the end it proved to be a very handy location for all the amenities. The Ship As the layout of the ship is more or less the same as on the Serenity', we found it easy to find our bearings and get around. We preferred the layout of both the 'Crystal Cove' and 'Avenue Saloon' bars here, compared to those on the 'Serenity', as we found them more user- friendly. We also visited the 'Lux' nightclub most evenings and our only slight criticism would be its common access into the Casino area. All the public areas throughout the ship were spotlessly clean as usual; however, we were never really aware of the army of staff who were responsible for keeping it that way. The exterior of the ship was perhaps starting to look a bit jaded with very obvious rust patches and dirty marks caused by the oily ropes; however, we only really noticed these when travelling on the tender boats. Our Stateroom Stewardess (Chan) looked after us very well and kept us well supplied with towels and ice. Food and drinks As always, the standard of the food on board was excellent in all the eating venues. We loved to have breakfast and lunch outside in the Lido caf' where the food was always fresh and of great variety. We particularly loved the days when special themed meals were laid on, such as the Oriental buffet and the Kebab lunch when chefs from Istanbul were brought on board to cook and serve. Very different and so tasty. It was amusing to see the reaction of one American guest who perused the food at the Kebab lunch and then turned away in disdain uttering in a stage whisper 'Oh it's all Turkish' ' the poor Turkish chef just shrugged his shoulders and we all thought ' Dah , you are in Istanbul !' We had dinner every evening in the Main Dining Room, apart from two nights when we ate in the 'Prego' restaurant, and the menu choice and standard food was superb. Even my partner, who tends to prefer plain foods, was tempted to try different things and loved them all- especially the desserts of course! Our Dining Room Head Waiter (Allwyn) and his assistant (Franklin) were simply fantastic and treated us so well the whole time. Both were so attentive and friendly that we looked forward to seeing them every evening. We also had great craic with our excellent Brazilian Sommelier (Luiz) and our Maitre' D (Mariko). The standard of the wines served in both the Main Dining Room and at 'Prego' were first class. We went to 'Prego' twice during the cruise, including one occasion with three new- found friends, and can honestly say they were the best experiences we have ever had at a 'Prego' restaurant on either the Symphony or Serenity. The food was excellent as usual but the staff were so friendly and helpful that it really made the whole experience very relaxed and special. Afternoon tea in 'The Bistro', with cakes of course, was our daily wicked indulgence. We felt that the layout of 'The Bistro' was perhaps better on the 'Serenity' than on this ship, and that the positioning of the buffet island in the centre of the space tended to cause congestion at times. 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, Paula and Camilla, 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. A special thank you to Nilo who was always tempting us with delicious hors d'oeuvres and just before dinner too! We liked to go to the 'Avenue Saloon' after dinner as it was a very comfortable place to relax and chat with fellow guests. Here again, all the bar staff were just so efficient and attentive, especially Eduardo and Marco. It still amazes me that from day one staff would remember our names, and even what we liked to drink. The 'Lux' nightclub was also a regular late night haunt for us however, there did seem to be a problem with underage drinkers on most nights, despite the DJ's repeated warnings on the subject. We would have found it hard to determine the age of some of the teenagers on board, let alone the poor bar staff who may have found it difficult to question the age of guests. We appreciate that there may be little for teenagers to do in the evenings on cruise ships and perhaps this is something which Crystal might consider addressing for the future. One of our fellow guests asked if the ship would host a 'Friends of Dorothy' get together for the gay and lesbian guests on board and we were delighted when they agreed. It was held one evening before dinner in the 'Lux' nightclub, complete with nibbles, and was greatly appreciated by all those who attended. We feel that the move to 'all inclusive' last year continues to be a great innovation and, rather than guests over indulging, in our experience it has had the opposite effect and everyone seemed to drink sensibly and in moderation. The Ports of Call All our previous Crystal cruises had been around the Mediterranean and we chose this particular cruise mainly because it was visiting unusual ports and countries which were new to us. We really enjoyed all the ports, except for Constanta in Romania (of which more later), and were very pleasantly surprised and impressed with Odessa, Yalta and Sochi. Odessa was a very grand city which had a very relaxed and safe atmosphere with some beautiful buildings and was easy to get around. Yalta was also not what we had expected ' in a good way. We opted to take the 'Sochi Highlights' excursion when we got to Russia and were astounded by the beauty of the city and its surrounding countryside. It was so green and lush that it was hard to believe that this was actually in Russia. The highlight of the tour was a visit to Stalin's dacha on the outskirts of Sochi and was a fascinating insight into that period of history. We were very fortunate to have an excellent tour guide called Olga who not only knew her facts but was passionate, and at times emotional, about her city and country. It is sad to report that our visit to Constanta in Romania was less than pleasant. We did not have high expectations prior to the visit and unfortunately they were well founded. Constanta can only be described as very grim and as soon as we stepped off the shuttle bus in the town centre we realised that it had little to commend it. There were virtually no proper roads or pavements, just mounds of stones and rubble everywhere making it difficult and dangerous to walk. We did not feel safe in any sense during our entire time there and, after a very brief walkabout, decided to hot foot it back to the safety of the ship. During the shuttle bus journey back to the ship we met two fellow guests who had just been almost robbed of their cameras in the main street. Luckily, both men were of a large build and were able to fend off the would- be thieves, however, they were still shaken by the experience and were also beating a hasty retreat back to the ship. On returning to the ship we subsequently heard that another guest had not been quite so fortunate and that he had in fact been robbed that same morning in the town centre. Presumably these incidents will have been reported to the Concierge/Security staff on the ship. We did not meet anyone who visited Constanta that day who would ever want to return there. We would recommend that Crystal seriously reviews the suitability of Constanta as a port of call on any future 'Black Sea' cruises. Our cruise ended in Istanbul and unfortunately we only had a very brief time to see the city but would be keen to return on a future occasion. Entertainment We are not avid show goers so cannot really comment on them. We still did miss the live band playing in the afternoons on the Lido deck, especially at sail away. Even some music from the DJ would have added to the atmosphere. 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. It is perhaps a little sad that the entertainers from the shows are not just so friendly and tend to keep very much to themselves, rather than interact with the guests. 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 2014. Keep up the good work Crystal! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
As a lover of luxury cruises I was really hoping to add another cruise line like Crystal to my list of favourites. However, the reality is that,as hard as this line tries to market itself to the all inclusive cruiser, it does not match ... Read More
As a lover of luxury cruises I was really hoping to add another cruise line like Crystal to my list of favourites. However, the reality is that,as hard as this line tries to market itself to the all inclusive cruiser, it does not match this marketing with its delivery. Embarkation in Rome was easy and quick, but it was certainly the first time I have not been greeted with a welcome or a glass of champagne. The atrium of the Serenity was very tasteful and the public areas to begin with appeared in good order. We were shown straight to our veranda stateroom, which was again not furnished with any kind of welcome drinks etc. the room was also very small, and we had to take in in turns to get dressed in the evening as there was so little space. The bathroom was fairly well appointed, although we had to call housekeeping on several occasions to ask for amenities to be replenished, even after asking the stewardess. Upon putting our cases under the bed I found someone else's dirty slippers there,which led to further in depth scrutiny of our small cabin, which was by no means cleaned to the levels we have been used to on Seabourn or Silversea. I called at reception and met with the head of housekeeping who inspected the room and found it to be unsatisfactory on a number of levels, from dusty side units to a dirty carpet. This should not have been left to us to deal with!!! Our broken fridge never got repaired and we gave up reporting it! The pool area was pleasant but there were far too many sunbeds around and people were crammed in like sardines,there were a few attendants who we had to chase around on several occasions in order to get a drink, not good. The lido buffet was ok, but after seeing the same old salad after thre or four days, things go repetitive and very boring. On the whole lido was pretty uninspiring and there was never anyone around to get drinks orders in breakfast or lunch. The main dining room, was pretty awful in general, and on the two occasions we ate there they didnt seem to know how not to cremate any meat or fish they cooked, so we didn't bother. The silk road and Prego were the only decent dining venues on board, food here was outstanding and served with finesse. Service wise, not what we are used to and no one seemed happy to serve, things were all too much for the majority of crystals staff, I came to the conclusion that the all inclusive set up had put many noses out of joint and they were all sulking at the lack of tips they were no longer getting. Drinks service was pretty non existent, and I have never overheard so many saying this was a self service ship. Other service or staff encountered,especially officers, who we are used to speaking to on Seabourn, would not speak and could only ethier be found at the ice cream parlour or in large groups drinking cocktails in the bars, not mixing with clientelle I add. This happened on sooo many occasions, we felt it was wholly inappropriate considering recent cruising disasters. Officers would also take up three of four tables in speciality restaurants, which was unfair as fellow cruisers couldn't get into these venues! Other staff we're unnecessarilly rude to passengers and we witnessed several really bad episodes with fellow passengers. O ne particular day, a passenger beside me in the lift could not get it to go to the lido level, so got out the lift and asked politely if the lift could be fixed, as it had been not working properly for a few days. Member of staff replied, well why don't you just walk there!! A typical crystal reply,far from 6 star!! Afternoon tea, especially the Mozart tea, was revered by Crystal, so we were looking forward to attending, at 3.30. We arrived, at 3.27 and I asked the staff member if I could have some tea and a scone, there was no one else in the room and he said no, we are not open until 3.30! Everything was laid out and he was stood waiting to serve, it was just inappropriate use of language every step of the way,with a lot of the crew. Just so pedantic, no need for it. Oh,and the scones were appalling, I love afternoon tea and didn't bother even going again,it was so poor. And finally, the smoking, oh dear, the nice bars were unusable in the evenings,as the smoke was so overpowering, I know this is changing, but it is at far too overdue. As you can probably tell, we were really disappointed with Crystal and we cannot understand why it receives all of the accolades it does. Fellow well travelled cruisers rated most lines including, Seabourn,Silversea and Oceania above crystal, and we all felt very let down by the line. Those who really liked it seemed to have tried nothing else or had come from Carnival, so it would obviously be an improvement! I am glad we tried Crystal, because we can now comment on it, but I really think they are going to struggle to keep up with the Genuine six star lines, as service and personality are lacking in bucket loads. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We embarked in Istanbul and then went to four ports in Greece (Mykonos, Athens, Navplion and Corfu), then to Kotor, Montenegro and Zadar, Croatia with debarkation in Venice. We also had ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We embarked in Istanbul and then went to four ports in Greece (Mykonos, Athens, Navplion and Corfu), then to Kotor, Montenegro and Zadar, Croatia with debarkation in Venice. We also had three days as sea filled with a variety of events and activities to participate in or to do nothing at all. This cruise also had overnight stays in our ports of embarkation and debarkation. While this may not be for everyone, we really liked to have the extra time in both ports! Our experience the second time on Crystal Serenity was as wonderful as the first. Embarkation -- This was a breeze and took less than 5 minutes. As we arrived on the ship we were greeted by several crew members. One quickly took our carry on bags and escorted us to the Crystal Plaza where reception was set up for registration. This was fast and efficient (less than 5 minutes). We were then escorted to our cabin and within 5 minutes our suitcases arrived. It truly could not have been easier! The Ship -- We were on Serenity shortly after the 2011 dry dock so had seen all the wonderful changes. It is still shining and we felt right at home immediately. The public areas and how much space there is for guests to enjoy is what stands out. You can be in the middle of the action if you want or can find a quiet place to read and relax. We spent very little time in our cabin other than some time enjoying our veranda late afternoon or early evening before getting ready for dinner. The Crew -- We can't say enough about the crew. It was nice to see many familiar faces from our cruise last year and to meet many new ones. They are friendly, efficient and will do anything for you. The Lido deck crew works so hard to make the experience wonderful. I get tired thinking about all the work the entire crew and staff do to help make our vacation the best! Dining -- We chose the Dining by Reservation option (as we did last year) and it works out perfectly for us. We made our reservations on PCPC and normally selected 7:15 as our dinner time. For us this time works out better than the set early or late seating. This time was also good to make the 8:45 shows. We dined in the MDR all but one night and the food was excellent. There is a good variety to choose from each night, portion sizes are very nice so you can have an appetizer and a soup or salad and try one of the night entrees. The dining room staff was also fantastic. With Open Dining you do not have the same waiters each night, however, you are seated in one general area so were able to have a pair of 2 or 3 waiters over the 12 nights. We enjoyed some breakfasts in the MDR an, some in the Lido; we also had lunch in either the MDR or Tastes on the Lido Deck. With breakfast and lunch it just depended on what we had planned for that day or arrival back on the ship after a tour. I cannot think of anything to truly complain about. Our Stateroom -- We selected a veranda cabin on Deck 8 this year (last year we had a similar cabin on Deck 9). The location was between mid and aft elevators and we liked the location. While the cabin is small, it is well appointed with plenty of storage between the large closet and drawers. The bathroom is also well appointed. We like to have the veranda to sit out late afternoon or early evening prior to dinner. The weather during this trip was wonderful so we were able to enjoy it pretty much every day. Also, our stewardess was very efficient and ensured we had our beverages of choice in the refrigerator. Debarkation -- This was also fairly painless. The information provided is excellent. It explains exactly what you need to do, where to be and at what time. It could not have been clearer. The only complaint we had was that when we arrived at the Venice airport we were unable to check in with our airline for another hour, so we needed to find a place to sit with our luggage. This minor issue was mentioned in our survey response to Crystal. Not a big deal, but the Venice airport is small and crowded. It would have been nice to have quickly checked our luggage with the airline and been able sit more comfortably in the airline lounge. I did notice this was the case for a couple of other passengers. We were just at the airport way too early. To close out I did want to share one story. One day we were having lunch @ Tastes after a tour and some shopping. After lunch, my husband wanted to go out to the Aft deck and take some pictures. While I was on the Aft Deck with him I realized I'd left a small bag under the table. I quickly ran back and there was no bag at the table and someone was just getting ready to sit down. A couple of tables nearby told me that one of the waiters was taking it to lost and found. I went down to Reception and told them I'd left a bag under the table in the Tastes ... they opened the drawer and gave me my bag which had a gift for my Mom inside. The time from when we left the table, me realizing I forgot it and getting down to Reception could not have been much more than 5 minutes! It was such a good feeling to have the gift safely returned. My only regret is I don't know what crew member was so quick to get the bag to L&F so that I could personally thank them. It's a silly story and not a big expensive gift but it was the efficiency and genuine concern that touched me. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
We anticipated our Crystal Serenity cruise for many months if not years before finally having the time and affordability of a Mediterranean Cruise. My husband and I and a single friend began our journey in the States and flew to Rome via ... Read More
We anticipated our Crystal Serenity cruise for many months if not years before finally having the time and affordability of a Mediterranean Cruise. My husband and I and a single friend began our journey in the States and flew to Rome via London on British Airways (fabulous airlines). We stayed for 2 days prior to cruising at the St. Regis, Rome. Our stay could not have been any better! The service and the accommodations were excellent as was the location. We boarded the Serenity at Civitavecchia. No smile greeted us as we arrived at 4:00pm and not much help with bags, etc. First of many disappointments along the journey. We entered the ship and were immediately whisked away to our accommodations; my husband and I stayed in Suite 11040; Penthouse Suite and our friend was a few doors down opting to pay the single supplement for a Penthouse Suite as well. Our room was on the small side compared to other ships we have sailed on but very well appointed. There was more than adequate space for clothing, etc. The bathroom was beautiful and the bathtub was an added bonus. The new furnishings were beautiful and the veranda chairs were very comfortable. We met our two stewardesses; two very young girls who were quite efficient at keeping our rooms well cleaned during the 7 days. Our butler never showed up to greet us until many hours later. He was running (most every time we saw him)and hurriedly told us if we needed ANYTHING he could get it for us. The first of many untruths for our experience. We asked for appetizers to be delivered and he did so without haste; so much so that the dining table along with the living room table was full to overflowing! We thought this was indicative of the manner to which we would be accustomed on our cruise. Sadly, this was not so. We had trouble getting back dry cleaned items from Sami's (our butler) closet. We ordered appetizers on several more occasions only to be told that they "were out of" that particular item. We asked for waters to be delivered one evening so we could pack them for our excursion the next morning and they never showed up. When we asked where they were Sami said they were waiting for their delivery of water and he only had 4 bottles he could give us because someone else wanted water also. Not exactly the kind of treatment we had expected on Crystal. Another area where we had trouble was with the front desk. We had trouble with my name on the entire cruise. I was known as Mary Beth (my name is Nina) the entire trip; this was my friend's name. The computer somehow made an error in my information being confused with our friend's and everything I received came in my friend's name. I could not correct this even after speaking to the front desk 3 times.Even our waiter in Prego tried to help us out. They also did not cancel a tour we had originally booked and left the amount on our final bill; another hour and a half of speaking to the front desk and proving that we had cancelled it before the cruise even began. We also had to request that the Share The Experience Credits be appropriately added to our cabin and also had to prove with an email that we had signed up for this. We were late to our formal night dinner because of the time it took to finally fix all the problems. Our meals were all stupendous; a great relief after the disappointing butler experience! The main dining room served exquisite meals meticulously presented by our servers. The wine steward was a delight to work with; he knew exactly which wines we would like with each course of our meal. We could not have been more excited about our meals. The specialty restaurants, Prego and Silk Road were the most decadent meals we have ever had. The Black Cod signature dish of Nobu is not to be missed as well as the mushroom soup in Prego and the Limoncello souffle. All meals were beyond our expectations. While eating up in the Lido deck buffet style the food was once again elevated to a level well above any other cruise line we had experienced. What was not elevated was the service once again. We could not find anyone to serve us and we were not allowed to serve ourselves in a portion of the buffet. When we finally asked a head waiter why we would have so much trouble he let loose with his complaints that the cruise line added more 7 day cruises along with the "all inclusive" nature and the crew was just too overloaded to keep up with everyone. He told us that the crew was not happy with the all inclusive decision. He was not the only one who told us this during our cruise. The excursions we took were just amazing; the tour guides were completely knowledgeable and the vehicles were clean and new. The Taormina Wine Tasting Tour was incredible; it was over 100degrees that day and they kept us comfortable in the bus as well as at the winery; tasting appetizers of bruschetta and local cheeses and sampling wines from the winery under a beautiful canopy of trees. We even bought a bottle to take home with us. Our only other tour we reserved was on Dubrovnik; we took the Olive Mill and Noble House tour. What a completely wonderful time we had. We were treated to personally grown tomatoes and cheeses and sampled olive oil made by a gentleman and his family; his family owned the land for generations. The second part of the tour took us to a house owned by a Noble family from Dubrovnik. A beautiful 2 story house made of rock overlooking the beautiful waters of the bay. We became immersed in the two diverse ends of cultures in Croatia. We came away from that tour with a full heart. We must say we made some very nice friends on board despite all of our negative experiences (did I forget to mention my luggage was not delivered until 10:00pm that night because it was held up in security - I attended dinner in my crop pants and flip flops!Quite embarrassing) including the Assistant Cruise Director whom we had dinner with one evening. When I told him how I always eat the same thing every morning; shredded wheat with yogurt and blueberries and was not able to get them on the ship; he so very kindly sent them up to my room that next morning. Our last port Venice was an exciting experience like no other. What a fantastic time we had in this port. However, once again, Crystal was not on the ball when it came to our transportation. We had to wait over an hour at the designated place for our next water shuttle to arrive. We were told that there would be shuttles every 1/2 hour but there was something wrong and we had to wait over an hour in the 103 degree weather. We were quite worried for the elderly people waiting along with us. The gals holding up the signs for Crystal were quite flustered as well. As much as we disliked embarkation our disembarkation went quite smoothly with Crystal. They took us from our meeting space on the ship without much waiting at all and delivered us to a hotel not 5 minutes from the airport. We had refreshments waiting for us and of course had lovely bathrooms to use as well. When it was time for us to head to the airport we boarded the same bus and all went smoothly. My summation for this cruise; we did not receive what Crystal promises, a care-free receive anything you request cruise because of the nature of 7 day cruises as well as the feelings of employees regarding the all inclusive decision. We will not try Crystal Cruises again even though a dear friend is the Cruise Director on the Symphony. We will stay with Holland America or possibly try Silversea or Seabourn next time. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
Background information- Retired from the US Navy after 30 years my wife convinced me to take a cruise and I have been hooked ever since. This was our second Crystal cruise and 9th overall, most of our cruises have been on Holland of ... Read More
Background information- Retired from the US Navy after 30 years my wife convinced me to take a cruise and I have been hooked ever since. This was our second Crystal cruise and 9th overall, most of our cruises have been on Holland of America. We have never been on a bad cruise some better than others. I have never taken the time to write a review. We are so impressed with Crystal and the staff we felt we owed it to Crystal and future Cruisers. Travel to Port of Embarkation - US Airways into Rome 2 days prior to cruise Hotel info- We used Crystal pre cruise and post cruise hotel(Crystal takes the worry completely away). We Stayed at the St Regis in Rome, a beautiful hotel with great location. About a 10 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain, The staff was great. The breakfast was very good Post Cruise in Athens we stayed at the Hotel Grand Bretagne... Wow 5 Star Crystal representatives are at the Hotel to answer any and all question. Breakfast is served at the rooftop restaurant, what a view. We also had dinner one night a little pricey the view alone was worth the price. Embarkation- Very smooth was on board in less than 10 minutes Stateroom- Category B on Deck 8 aft starboard side just down from aft elevator bank. Staterooms have been refurbished since we last cruised. Very adequate stateroom with large closets. Double vanity in the bathroom. If you let your cabin steward know she will stock your fridge with your favorites. They have added a new feature on the outside of door electronic notification please clean, please do not disturb also acts as a doorbell. Ships info- Very eloquent ship! Dining- We were in main seating. We opted for one night in Prego and one night in Silk. Five entree offerings standard fare, The Lido was opened for lunch but closed at 13:30 this is the only negative comment I have, your only option if you missed this was Taste or the grill. Activities- Very nice fitness area, very adequate sauna and steam room. Service- This is where Crystal shines all personnel must go through an extensive 6 month program before being hired, it shows. Every time the ship gets underway they play What a wonderful world and this is where you realize just that What a wonderful world it is, the crew and staff are the very best that i have experienced. Entertainment- Daily lectures were offered, Las Vegas style shows including comedy, Broadway shows and celebrity entertainers. Nicely done! Port and Shore excursions- This is another area that Crystal gets it right. You always have someone from the ship on your excursion with a Crystal sign. Excursions are well organized and thought out. Disembarkation- Very smooth and efficient Summary- Absolutely will cruise Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
We are experienced cruisers, although our past experience had been limited to the major lines and the Caribbean. Although we always had a wonderful time there were always disappointments. Bad food, bad service, poor maintenance, etc. ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, although our past experience had been limited to the major lines and the Caribbean. Although we always had a wonderful time there were always disappointments. Bad food, bad service, poor maintenance, etc. Nothing ever lived up to the romanticized image of cruising I always had. Then we took our first Crystal Cruise. Embarkation, to baggage handling, food, service, everything met or exceeded our expectations and past experiences. This was how I always thought cruising should be. From the start: Embarkation - We arrived at the port and immediately boarded a bus which took us right to the ship. We handed the driver our luggage and that was the last we saw of it until we went to our room. Simple and easy. No lines at check in. 3 groups checking in, 5 people to help them. Once we were checked in we were escorted onto the ship to have our pictures taken, key cards issued, and turned loose on the ship. From the time we got to the port until we were fully processed in was less than 15 minutes. Food - From the pool side grill to the Specialty Restaurants, the food was far above average if not excellent. Highly recommend the Blue Cheese burger with Sweet Potato Fries at the pool grill. Prego and Silk Road lived up to their reputations with good food. Mushroom soup at Prego and the Rocket Shrimp at Silk Road are highly recommended. We had the late seating for dinner and the main dining room food was of the same high quality. Drinks - I had heard there was some concern about the quality and quantity of alcohol now that Crystal has gone all inclusive. I was quite happy with the selection of rums, vodkas, gins, etc. More impressive was when I ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri and instead of watching him pour a mix into the blender, I actually saw him throw in strawberries. The Myers Rum floated on top of the Pina Colada was also a nice touch. The wines offered at dinner were also quite good. Service - We arrived at about 1:30, knowing cabins would not be ready until 3PM. Had a nice lunch, explored the ship, and cheated and snuck down to our room at 2:30. Not only was the room ready, our luggage was already there. No worries about having appropriate clothes for dinner the first night as I am more accustomed. Our stewardess Gloria was fantastic. Although she did have a complaint about us... She didn't feel she was doing enough for us. Room was always cleaned promptly and spotless. Refrigerator stocked as we asked. Dinner service was what you would expect in any fine restaurant, with many touches which appeared to be in response to comments made by our dining companions, including souffles which were not on the menu when someone had mentioned how much they loved them. Pool waiters and attendants were prompt and always around. No waiting for one to show up. Ship - We loved the smaller size. Very quickly found our way around, enjoyed all the usual amenities. Other than the day at sea, the pool was never crowded. Always plenty of places to sit, in or out of the sun. Really liked the quiet area at the aft end of each deck. A few chairs and lounges, very peaceful and a great view. Watched the dolphins follow us out of Sicily. Stateroom - Our cabin was well appointed. Not any larger than the usual balcony cabin, but certainly higher quality appointments, wood work and furniture. Aveda soaps and shampoo were very nice. Bed most have been comfortable, we slept great every night. Entertainment was OK. Have seen bigger better shows on ships, but no real complaints here. Lecturers were interesting, piano bar was fun, very happy they had a cigar lounge. Debarkation - Got off the boat even more easily then we got on. Walked off, found our luggage based on the color code and we were done. All in all, a great experience. We fully expect our next cruise to be on Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was my twenty second sailing with Crystal and my first with my partner Craig. We choose this cruise to celebrate his birthday and to visit some new ports of call; Venice and Dubrovnik. The balance of our ports were repeats of some ... Read More
This was my twenty second sailing with Crystal and my first with my partner Craig. We choose this cruise to celebrate his birthday and to visit some new ports of call; Venice and Dubrovnik. The balance of our ports were repeats of some favorites - Sicily, Sorrento, Rome, Florence and Barcelona. He had never been to Monte Carlo and the French Riviera towns of Nice and Eze. We were both pleased with our Crystal experience. Our flights from Miami on Alitalia were uneventful and our transfer to the ship was flawless, as always. We arrived in Venice midday, enjoyed lunch in the MDR and settled in to our cabin and exploring the ship, as we were docking overnight. The next morning we took the first of many shore excursions, doing a whirlwind introduction to Venice. This included a guided tour of Doge's Palace and a walking tour of the center square. Next was an hour long gondola ride followed by a demonstration of Murano glass blowing. We were enchanted by Venice, despite being in port with many other ships. Our sail-away was enhanced by welcome party hospitality for our V.Com group while we enjoyed views of Venice from the Palm Court. Our first dinner in the MDR was up to the usual Crystal standards. All was well with Serenity, sparkling from her drydock and renovation this spring. Our second full day was at sea with the usual abundance of choices of guest lecturers, and a cooking demonstration by Andre Soltner of the French Culinary Institute. Craig loved his demonstration of traditional french cooking and won a private lesson in the Galley with him that afternoon. That evening was our only formal night and the usual Captain's Welcome reception. This was where we first noticed a marked change in the usual demographics of the guests. This sailing was almost full with nearly 1,000 guests, but only 350 Society members. Formal attire and polite behavior was markedly absent among the many new to Crystal passengers. Matre'D Leo had his hands full attempting to enforce the dress codes in the dining room. Our second port of call was Dubrovnik, Croatia, where we did a culinary excursion to Cavtat, a stunning seaside fishing village on the Dalmation Coast. Here, Craig and I participated in a hands-on cooking lesson where we prepared our own feast of flambed shrimp, grilled stuffed baby squid and bananas cooked in rum. Each course was accompanied by a delicious Croatian wine. This was one of the best shore excursions of the many I have taken with Crystal. Our return to the ship included a tour of the walled city of Dubrovnik. This is a wonderfully scenic, friendly and safe country; someplace I shall return to someday. With two wonderful ports behind us, we enjoyed another sea day relaxing around the pool, which has been redecorated in the same fashion as the Symphony. All of the deluxe staterooms have been renovated with fresh, stylish soft goods, improved lighting and flat screen TV's with DVD players. The layouts of the staterooms have always worked well, seeming more spacious than their dimensions would predict. I had always sailed solo on Crystal before, but had no problem sharing our cabin with my partner. Those who complain that Crystal's accommodations are too cramped must surely be spoiled, or bring too many clothes for a two week sailing. We were totally comfortable in our balcony stateroom on Deck 8. Our stewardess, Petty, was outstanding. In Sicily we participated in our complimentary Vacation Vignettes tour which took us up Mt. Etna and on to a winery for a tasting and lunch. Again, the food and wines served were delicious and the bus ride was quite scenic. After our tour, we took the Crystal Shuttle into the lovely town of Tourramina, which is as scenic as anything on the Amalfi Coast. That evening, en route to Sorrento, Captain Glenn announced that our plans had changed due to anticipated strong winds and heavy seas. The next day we would be docking in Naples, rather than risk anchoring off of Sorrento. This change was met with many complaints from the guests, but I have always enjoyed Naples before. The remaining ports were repeats for me, with our overnight in Monaco being a real treat for Craig. There is so much to see and do in the Cote D'Azure that an overnight here was a welcome change from this port intensive cruise. We spent the first day walking about Monte Carlo and the second on a tour to Nice and Eze, which I enjoyed seeing for the second time. Our weather was perfect for the entire cruise, with the exception of one rainy, windy day in Naples. This is the perfect time of year to visit the Med and the Serenity remains one of my favorite ways to travel in complete luxury. The Serenity and Crystal still shine as brightly as ever, but in keeping their ships full they have had to attract a new type of cruiser; not the same as the Crystal of the past. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This was my first cruise aboard the Serenity, my third cruise with Crystal Lines, and perhaps my 12th plus cruise experience. From beginning to end, my expectations were almost always exceeded. The arrival experience at the Venice Airport ... Read More
This was my first cruise aboard the Serenity, my third cruise with Crystal Lines, and perhaps my 12th plus cruise experience. From beginning to end, my expectations were almost always exceeded. The arrival experience at the Venice Airport culminated in a hassle-free entry to the Monaco and Grand Canal Hotel via bus and water taxi. Despite the 10:00 AM arrival, our room was ready, and St. Mark's Plaza was about 2 blocks away. Local restaurant recommendations by the Crystal representative did not prove helpful, and a mediocre margarita pizza and overly icy gelato at a sidewalk cafe were quickly forgotten in the endless parade of interesting travelers. Boarding, the next morning, was efficient and our cabin was central to the library, the Silk Road and we scarcely missed the absence of a balcony. My wife has limited endurance for the more vigorous activities, so we participated in the panoramic excursions. In Venice, she loved Cooking with the Contessa, and I substituted the panoramic cruise for the cancelled visit to the Lamborghini factory. We did not get off the ship in Kantakolon or Nafplion, and an untimely sever upper respiratory infection kept me cabin-bound in Nessebur, Bulgaria. Room service provided the soup and nutrition, and the movie selections, DVD's, MSNBC, BBC all passed the cabin time with little wanting. My wife and I are sushi and sashimi fanatics, and the quality and availability, as well as the service, are simply the finest around....anywhere! We ate at the Silk Road 5 times out of 11 opportunities, in all, and found the experience to fulfill our highest expectations. Service, everywhere, from Lido Breakfasts, to sandwiches for lunch in the dining room, to our rotating table for eight, for dinner, all were enjoyable. The Black Sea ports were particularly interesting to someone with an interest in military history. Our tour guide recited the Charge of the Light Brigade from memory and took us down to the British redoubt for a view of what they would have seen before their date with destiny. The waterfront at Yalta mixed Lenin with McDonalds' and the tiny beaches were filled with the bikini clad vacationers dotting nearly every square inch of the gravel. Odessa, with its celebrated steps, seen from below and above, and a trip inside the Opera House, sweltering though it was, and followed by Ukrainian folk dancers and a satisfying lunch, was hosted by Virtuoso, and they, too, did not disappoint. There was not enough time in Istanbul, our departure city, and the shopping experience proved to be too energy consuming for my wife, but my experience in the streets was fascinating, and all too brief. The departure from Istanbul was marred by airport restrooms that were worse than untidy, and with uncaring attendants! (Lady's Restroom....bring your own paper!) Crystal arranged our air transport with Delta, Los Angeles to Atlanta to Venice (less than mediocre) and Lufthansa, Istanbul to Munich to Los Angeles, superb, even in tourist! The speakers aboard were excellent led by Howard Fineman, on Presidents he has known, the Media, and Barack Obama, in particular, and Jay Wolff, who makes history seem like cabaret entertainment. We looked forward to the days at sea. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2010
This is a review of our cruise on the Byzantine Odyssey cruise on the Crystal Serenity from June 25 - July 7 2010 with time spent pre-cruise in Venice and after disembarking in Athens. STATS AND STUFF We're a gay couple from San ... Read More
This is a review of our cruise on the Byzantine Odyssey cruise on the Crystal Serenity from June 25 - July 7 2010 with time spent pre-cruise in Venice and after disembarking in Athens. STATS AND STUFF We're a gay couple from San Francisco, ages 54 & 61. This was our first cruise on Crystal, but our 23rd cruise overall. We've cruised on most of the other cruise lines, but most frequently have enjoyed Cunard and HAL. Since this was our first Crystal cruise, this review will highlight "the Crystal difference" as well as give some advice for the various ports of call. THE SHIP The Crystal Serenity (68,870 GMT) was built in 2003 and holds only 1070 passengers (with a crew of 655). The ship is very comfortable, with no interior passenger cabins. Currently, the main dining room has two traditional seatings, but this is scheduled to change next year, with a more flexible dining concept. There are 2+ alternative restaurants: Prego for Italian food, and Silk Road for Asian items which also includes a sushi bar overseen by Nobu, the celebrity chef. Aside from tips, there is no extra charge for dining in these restaurants. Besides a well-designed buffet, there's a nice area called the Bistro for coffee and pastries as well as areas near the pool for ice cream, burgers and salads and such. Notably, the chefs in the dining room will happily accommodate special requests. Do you want a special dish, not on the menu? Ask the day before, and they'll prepare it if they can. There are three major public rooms, the single-deck Galaxy Showroom, the Stardust Lounge, for musical performances and dancing, and the Palm Court, the forward lookout bar, with a large dance floor and small stage. Additionally, there's the clubby Avenue Saloon, with dark wood paneling and leather, a disco, cigar lounge and casino. There are two pools (one with retractable dome) and a gym/spa. Additionally, the ship is equipped with a comfortable theatre, a large computer lab with separate classroom and the Studio, with electronic keyboards for music classes. On the same floor is the Vintage Room, where special dinners with tasting menus are served. Although the specific assortment of rooms might not be unusual for a ship this size, it's not the case of many competitors in the luxury market, which tend to use smaller more "boutiquey" ships. A unique feature of this ship is the location of the lifeboats. They're tucked beneath the promenade (outside the casino and theatre) Not only are there no obstructed view cabins - it avoids the common situation of cabins on the deck above the boats, where the views are horizon or lifeboats, but not the sea. Of course, this diminishes the revenue-generating space on the ship, but for passenger comfort, it can't be beat. THE PASSENGERS On this sailing, the ship was not full. There were 700+ passengers. As might be expected for a 12 night cruise of this type, there were a number in their 60s, 70s and above - but there were probably 50-100 (well-behaved) kids. Perhaps owing to the Japanese ownership of the line, there were a significant number of Asian passengers in the mix as well. THE CRYSTAL DIFFERENCE The passenger space and crew ratios are superb, as might be expected. One would expect a high level of service and that is certainly the case. There's another aspect to the warm, committed service that surprised me, and that was the attitude of the crew and staff to the company, itself. Time and again, in conversation, crew members volunteered how happy they were to be working for Crystal - and how well the company takes care of them. This attitude toward their employees clearly manifests itself in the attitude toward their jobs and to the passengers. Not only are the staff happy and service-oriented, they're extremely talented. Martin, the pianist in the Avenue Saloon, spent many years playing for the English Royal Family on their yacht, Britannia, and at Windsor Castle. The Berlitz Spanish instructor was responsible for all their programs in Central and South America. The list goes on. To a person, their credentials and knowledge are impressive. Continuing on this theme, I must note the production shows. They were excellent. Unlike shows we've seen on other lines, the entertainment was provided by the entertainers, not the stage or shtick. The company consists of two lead vocalists and an ensemble of eight singers and dancers. Yes, like Broadway, the chorus is multitalented - they sing too. There were a couple of other notable facets to the shows. One show, "My favorite Things" exclusively features the music of Rogers and Hammerstein. R&H Theatricals is notorious for keeping VERY tight control of the catalogue. (Think about it - have you EVER seen a R&H song in a showtune revue?). Finally, check the shoes! The two ladies in LA who create the shows for Crystal must like shoes. Unlike other lines, each of the many costume changes includes its own footwear. (This was pointed out during a backstage tour I attended) There were many other luxury touches included. Defying the fee-crazy trend of recent years, there is no charge for non-alcoholic beverages or ice cream (happily provided by the ever-available staff). In the well-designed cabins, there are full-size bottles of premium toiletries. The soft drinks, water and fresh fruit was replenished daily at no charge. Going ashore? Be sure to grab a complimentary bottle of water or beach towel inside the gangway. When you return, there's a chest of cold towels to refresh you. I must mention the seamstress. We noticed that a couple of buttons on our formal wear needed replacing. The solution? Five minutes after a call to the front desk, the ship's seamstress appeared at our cabin. A half hour later, the buttons were attached - no charge. Last, but certainly NOT least, I've got to mention my cruise critic posting and its aftermath. During the first dinner, things were a bit bumpy. No major problems, but the experience was not what I had been led to expect by the rave reviews and postings on Cruise Critic. (No significant issues at all - the experience would have been totally expected on a mainstream line) Unsure exactly how to calibrate my expectations, I posted a question on Cruise Critic before I decided if I should talk to the appropriate crew members. Talk about responsible service and going above-and-beyond! Hours later, on the next night, we had new dining room staff, and the maitre d' and dining room manager checked in repeatedly to ask if things were OK. (They were) Also the next day, I received a message from Victor, the Food and Beverage Manager, inviting me to discuss any concerns I might have. I sent him a note to thank him and reply that indeed, everything was wonderful. Later that day, a nice bottle of wine was delivered with a note from him. What had the potential for a small negative experience was quickly turned into an impressive display of proactive customer service and truly exceeding expectations. Again, I must mention a comment that illustrates how this attitude permeates the Crystal experience. A few nights later, during an amazing 4th of July deck party on our Istanbul overnight, I saw Victor, introduced myself, and complimented the great event put on by the people who work for him. He corrected me, crediting the people who work WITH him. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS I always recommend doing some research before leaving, in order to maximize the experience and help decide when it makes sense to spend extra for a ships tour or to do it on your own. One of the best starting places is always Cruise Critic (http://www.cruisecritic.com) Venice We departed from Venice. What can I say? We had heard Venice would be stinky (not true) crowded (not if you just walk a couple of blocks away from San Marco and the other tourists) and expensive (yeah, that one's accurate) -- but we were enchanted by this unique city of islands and canals. We stayed at the Hotel Al Codega. It's located on a little courtyard about midway between the Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge - yet surprisingly, there's only one little bridge to either destination. It was charming, quiet, and reasonably priced. We took a water taxi from the airport. Following 20+ hours of travel, this was money well spent. Standing up in the back of the luxurious boat as we sped across the lagoon to Venice was a spectacular experience. We didn't blow our money on a gondola ride - and we think this was a better use for those roughly 100 euros. (By the way, we DID ride in a gondola -- the next day we used a tronchetto to cross the Grand Canal for 1 euro) I mentioned that our hotel was located on a small courtyard. I was glad that I had checked it out using the street-view cams at Venice Connected, or I may have bypassed the little alley to the courtyard entirely. (http://www.veniceconnected.com) This site is a compendium of information and the best source for advance purchase of passes for museums and vaporetti (boats used for public transit) Venice Tours We took a number of tours - primarily not provided by the ship: Venice Backstreets Tour (http://www.theveniceexperience.com) - we took this walking tour an hour or two after arriving. Mike, the owner of the company took us around spots that most tourists would likely miss. Most importantly, he exposed us to the two key aspects to enjoying Venice. First - go down that little alley. Get lost. Be brave (there's no crime to speak of in the city) - if you think something interesting might be down that little street, go there! Second - take a break and have a spritz. Venetians' favorite cocktail, appropriate any time of day, a spritz, is a refreshing blend of prosecco, soda and Campari (bitter) or Aperol (orange) with a garnish of citrus and olive. All cafes serve them, and you'll get a knowing smile if you order one - especially with Campari. Another highly-recommended tour is the Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge's Palace. This tour is only offered three times a day in English and must be booked in advance. (http://www.venice-museum.com). This tour takes you to the "secret floors" above the public areas of the palace, where the bureaucrats, and spies kept their records and reports - also prison cells and a torture chamber. It was absolutely fascinating. When you're online, you can also save a lot of time and avoid the LONG lines of tourists by pre-booking an entrance reservation to the don't-miss Basilica San Marco in advance (http://www.venetoinside.com/en/basilica_of_san_marco/) We usually enjoy taking boat tours of cities. From the rivers of St Petersburg to the canals of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, these tours inevitably give another perspective of the city, while allowing an hour or two to rest our tired feet. We found a tour in Venice. We were disappointed. Besides the cost (30 euro), they don't use specially designed river tourboats like in other cities. In Venice, these tours are done in water taxis - which are designed for many things (low bridge clearance, inside passenger luxury) but not for views from inside or audibility of the guide's comments. All-in-all, better to grab Rick Steve's guide and ride the vaporetto down the Grand Canal. Finally, on Saturday, we took a very special ship's excursion, called Venetian Artistry. Our first stop was the home of Bevilacqua, where we saw the looms which have been used for hundreds of years - still using the jacquard cards which store the patterns for their historic silk velvets. We then boarded our water taxi to Murano, to visit another historic producer of Venetian art - the Archimede Seguso factory, which is usually closed to the public. It was a spectacular, and very special, afternoon capped with a lunch catered by the top establishment in Venice - all of this was arranged and provided only by Crystal. Ravenna Closed on Sunday. We saw the beautiful mosaics and then returned to the ship. Not a highlight. Corfu Took the ships' excursion to the "sea caves" at Paleokastritsa with beach time and local snacks from a view spot. The sea caves were "sea niches" at best, but the boat time was pleasant, the beach was nice, the guide was interesting, the snacks were good - and the Greek beer we purchased was refreshing. The excursion was fine, but doing your own tour at this port would be OK too. Rhodes We downloaded a walking tour for this fascinating city. It was very well done. (http://www.discovery-walk.com) A highlight of our visit was the excellent Archeological Museum. It's much more extensive than it originally appears, with many garden areas. Bodrum We took a tour which had been offered by our travel agent. We visited the usual two sites: the old palace, now an excellent "underwater archeological museum" and the ruins of the mausoleum. It was a nice port. However, I'm told that the city is known as a major party town and to really experience Bodrum, one must be there in the evening. A number of passengers took an excursion to Ephesus - which is fascinating, but requires a loooong bus trip. Mykonos One of the highlights of the trip. We took a ship's excursion to the sacred island of Delos, which is just offshore of Mykonos. This island is uninhabited, but is completely a historic site. Only 20% has been excavated and that much is breathtaking. Our "Greek guidess" was wonderful and provided so much context for the many sights. While we did our trip as a ship excursion, tours are widely available, and the ferry to the island is public. After the tour,. We wandered the little city of Mykonos, climbing through the little white walkways and shops. We had a delightful lunch of seafood, lamb and more local beer in a little garden oasis. Fortunately, we were the only ship in port that day. There were five ships the day before, and I suspect the tiny town would have been overrun. Istanbul We loved Istanbul and look forward to returning. It's a fascinating city with so much to experience that our overnight stay just whetted our appetites - which considering the delicious Turkish food, is literally true. We arranged for a private tour with a gay tour guide -- specifically for the nightlife tour mentioned below. Although there's much that is exotic about Istanbul, it's quite approachable and a savvy cruiser could easily see the major sites on their own. As an alternative to large ship tours, there are a number of resources for small group and private tours besides the one we selected. In our two half-day tours, we saw the usual sights: Hagia Sophia (don't miss the views from the second story), Blue Mosque, the Cisterns (very cool!) and the Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace Museum. All were breathtaking, don't-miss experiences. However, we also ate a delicious lunch at one of the oldest restaurants in the city (it was more of a cafeteria, really). In our Istanbul Gay Nightlife tour, we visited six bars starting at 10:00 at night and returned to the ship before 3:00 (We could have stopped at more, but were pooped by the end). Our guide seemingly knew people at all the bars and on the streets. The venues ranged from a small cafe at the start of the evening (where a wedding party, including the bride in full white dress, arrived and started dancing to traditional Turkish music) to "atmospheric" bars up three dodgy flights of stairs, to a beautiful nightclub with a 10 piece band performing Turkish disco dance music - it's surprising how well a house beat matches Turkish music. (http://www.istanbulgay.com) If you have an overnight stop in Istanbul - do NOT stay on the ship all night. It's a short taxi ride to the Taksim district. This is where seemingly all of Istanbul goes in the evening to walk down the well-lit pedestrian street filled with shops, restaurants and bars. Athens We spent an extra three days in Athens after disembarking. This was a good choice. First, because it allowed us to see the major sites, secondly, because there was a general strike and some demonstrations on our second day - which allowed us to adjust our schedule to accommodate it. I wish I could add some advice to the usual suggestions, but I cannot. The Acropolis and Ancient Agora were breathtaking. The Parthenon Museum is exquisitely designed - with space set aside for those Elgin Marbles, should the British Museum ever return them. The National Museum is the other can't miss sight with an incomparable collection and superb signage and explanations to put it all in perspective. SUMMARY At this point, the usual question is "Will you do it again?" We most certainly will cruise Crystal again. As forewarned, indeed, we've been spoiled and found much to love about the Crystal experience. However, there's a wide world of cruising options and alternatives, so our future plans won't be exclusively with the line. For instance, our next cruises are likely to be a river cruise in Europe, what I'm calling a "big, dumb Caribbean cruise" on the Oasis/Allure of the seas and quite possibly another North Atlantic crossing - and none of these match the Crystal experience. It took about 25 years to try Crystal for our first time, but it'll be a small fraction of that before we sail on the line again. Will we revisit the ports? Yes, we will revisit Istanbul. We loved Venice and would enjoy seeing her again, but don't have the "unfulfilled" feeling about revisiting. Athens? Been there, done that. It was an amazing vacation. We adored the ship and many of the cities we visited. We learned a lot, had some amazing food, and drank a lot of local culture. Life is good! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2007
RE: Sailing 8/19/07 Booking 953766 Cruise 7320 G320 10085 , My name is Karen Joyce Baker. I recently sailed on Crystal Cruise Lines ship, Serenity 8/19/07-8/31/07. I am a journalist. As I planned my travels, my intention was to write an ... Read More
RE: Sailing 8/19/07 Booking 953766 Cruise 7320 G320 10085 , My name is Karen Joyce Baker. I recently sailed on Crystal Cruise Lines ship, Serenity 8/19/07-8/31/07. I am a journalist. As I planned my travels, my intention was to write an article for my local paper, about my experiences as a baby boomer with physical disabilities and a wheelchair, traveling in Europe and to Israel by myself. My hope was to encourage others who share similar challenges. My itinerary included a cruise of the Mediterranean on Crystal Cruise Line's ship, Serenity. My reason for choosing Crystal was based on the assurances I received from my travel agent and from the Crystal staff that I would get all the help I would need On arrival in Venice, where I was scheduled to embark on the cruise, I was booked to stay in a Crystal arranged hotel, the Westin Excelsior, for two nights prior to sailing. As part of the package I was to have transportation to the hotel by Starwood. I went to the Starwood office before 7:00PM and found that it was closed. Instead, I was met by three "locals," who spoke very little English and who started to push my chair toward a small boat, telling me it was the only transportation to my hotel. They would not stop pushing me, so I applied the brakes on my wheelchair and yelled for help. Luckily the pier manager came to my rescue. Can you imagine my fear? Because I am vulnerable traveling in a wheelchair, I had paid extra to ensure that I would always be met at airports and transferred safely to my local destinations. The connections in Venice, made in relation to Crystal Cruise Lines, were awful and did not live up to promises. Eventually, after over an hour of waiting, I arrived at the hotel via a large public commuter boat. My feet were very swollen from all the stress and waiting, and the result was that I had to stay in my hotel with my feet elevated for the next 24 hours, losing what opportunity I had to see Venice. Prior to embarking on the Serenity, because I was concerned about the difficulty and safety of shore excursions, I had gone online and downloaded all the excursions and studied them, to determine which excursions would be appropriate for me. When I tried to make a phone appointment with the excursion desk I was ignored and my emails went unanswered. My travel agent got a message stating someone from the excursions would speak to me as soon as I boarded the ship . . . "not to worry." With this in mind, I boarded the ship early for my excursions appointment. We met for about an hour, and went through each excursion. For each trip there was a reason for me not to go: steps, walking too much, no wheelchair accessibility, etc. I am not sure that I could get on a bus (no wheelchair lift of course, but steps about 13" high). Why was no lift provided for me when you were informed I would be traveling with a wheelchair? Why was I told there were excursions for me when there were none? Why did I pay thousands of dollars extra for a cruise which could not accommodate me? Did anyone say "Let's look at these destinations so we can provide assistance for her on and off the ship?" or, "How can we accommodate her?" My first evening meal on the ship, I dressed up, fixed my hair, took extra special time applying my make-up-after all, this was the first time I was going to meet my dinner partners with whom I would share meals for the next 12 days. I had a young man wheel me to the dining room (too far for me to walk from my room). I was anxious to meet my "dinner partners," and guess what: I was seated at a table by myself. I was dumbfounded. There were available places, so if my table was empty, give me a choice: a later seating, other people to dine with, but don't put a single, partially-baled lady at a table by herself her first night on the ship! Screw you Crystal-I wanted to leave and get my money back! The next day I explained to my stewardess, Juliana that I had been in Venice for two days and not seen Venice. The ramp was too difficult for me, the larger tender boat not available, no excursion suitable for me, etc. Juliana said, "It's a sin not to see Venice." She returned with Aries, my Venice guide, who spoke enough English to take me around, and had enough work experience to know how to get there. We had a wonderful afternoon. I see now how this first excursion led me to future trips which I arranged. The next day we were at sea so I had a chance to do some studying. I also asked to be taken around the ship so I could find places on my own. I stopped on Deck 6 mid ship to use the handicap women's toilet Much to my chagrin I could not stand up, the toilet seat was so low, and the bar to my right did not serve me well at all. I had to yell "Help", and my helper had to come into the bathroom and help me off the seat. Now I was looking at going back to my room every time I needed the rest room. For the next excursion I was told that the concierge would help me. The help consisted of my use of a phone. The concierge said he could not advise me on any trips, nor could he help me in any way. He suggested that I would do best using "Goggle" to make my own arrangements. If I needed to confirm by phone or fax I could use the desk phone. If I wanted a crew member to go on an excursion with me to push the wheelchair and assist me, a crew member from the Philippines would be available at a cost of $30.00 per hour. The excursion desk was willing to book me tours for $1200 to $1500 per day, for a private car and guide. After what I spent to book Crystal (about $11,000), I could not afford those costs, so instead I spent $300 for computer online time for the next few days, and went to work, trying to locate a guide and a car, available at such short notice. The gods were with me. How did Crystal help Karen with her excursions? They gave me Ritchie... A young man from the Philippines who had enough English to be pleasant and helpful, His fee was $30.00 per hour, their was no negotiating. I had a helper now all I needed was a guide with an air conditioned car that could accommodate a wheel chair. I spent the next few hours doing research and booking guides for Dubrovnik, Taormina, Sorrento, Rome and Livonia. I was very fortunate ,I had wonderful guides and delightful days.(accept for Rome ) The most congenial guide Mariano Floriento info@pleasantravel.com I booked him for two days. in Sorrento. I was able to have an excursion which I arranged, at each port. My free time was spent on the computer, so I cannot tell about any of the day time events. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2006
Background: First time Crystal Cruiser and Mediterranean itinerary. Previous cruise experiences have been with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL in the Caribbean and repositioning NW Pacific coast. Live in the southeast US. Age bracket: ... Read More
Background: First time Crystal Cruiser and Mediterranean itinerary. Previous cruise experiences have been with Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL in the Caribbean and repositioning NW Pacific coast. Live in the southeast US. Age bracket: mid 50's. Female. Married. Frequently travel single or with one other friend (husband doesn't cruise) Ship information: I found the Serenity to be a beautiful, well thought out ship. Although she is considered a large ship, the layout was open yet comfortable and easily negotiated. Lot's of nice nook and crannies to seek out. Many activities to choose from along with a great deal of diversity. I personally enjoyed the art classes, well stocked library (books & dvd's), guest lecturers, afternoon teas and the spa. Dining: Main dining room was pleasant, well staffed and was there to not only accommodate each individual need, but to surpass your expectations. Found the chef choices in particular to be on the salty side so learned quickly to either ask for no salt or low sodium dishes. They were also happy to individualize orders such as making an appetizer into a main course and the opposite. Other Dining Options: ROOM SERVICE - There is not a designated room service, your cabin attendant handles this.... if one uses this service frequently (I did each morning) I highly suggest you add to the gratuity... these folks work very very hard and provide quality service 24/7. Bistro - good place to come during the day for a great snack, coffee (they offer all types of speciality coffees at no additional charge (non alcoholic). Prego - Wonderful service, food, wine..... best lamb I've ever had! Silk Road - Again great service, food and wine. Buffets - didn't participate, but heard from others it was quite good. Trident Grill: I recommend the Veggie burger, Tuna Melt and the Chicken Caesar Salad. Entertainment: The Galaxy Lounge venue was where the big shows were performed was laid out nicely and very comfortable. Entertainment was very enjoyable and not overdone like some "Vegas Wanna Be's" I've seen on some ships. The Variety entertainment was good as well, Gary the cruise director also performed as a ventriloquist and was surprisingly very entertaining. (Not usually my cup of tea, enjoy those good surprises). Music and dancing before and after dinner was nice. I noted having four Ambassador Hosts onboard was a plus for many ladies. Launderettes, complimentary self-service launderettes was very nice (decks 7-11) Included washing machines, detergents, fabric softeners, dryers, irons and ironing boards) Embarkation and Disembarkation: Well organized. NUMBER ONE point: Top of the line, quality SERVICE throughout the entire ship, venue and each and every crew member I came in contact with. 6 plus star! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
We recently sailed from Rome to Athens on board the Crystal Serenity. We had a good trip overall, and it has to be said that the Serenity is a handsome ship- if larger than our normal choice of ship. Although we normally prefer smaller ... Read More
We recently sailed from Rome to Athens on board the Crystal Serenity. We had a good trip overall, and it has to be said that the Serenity is a handsome ship- if larger than our normal choice of ship. Although we normally prefer smaller ships like Silversea, we had travelled once before on the Crystal Symphony, so we knew what to expect from Crystal, and overall our experience was consistent. One area where Crystal excels seems to be in transfers, embarkation and ground arrangements. The embarkation process was very smooth with Crystal staff easy to identify in the baggage hall of Fiumicino airport. Upon arrival at the ship, check in was quick and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. Having previously sailed in a penthouse, this time we had opted for a bog standard veranda cabin. It was obviously smaller than our previous Crystal "home", but you get what you pay for. It was also smaller that the Silversea equivalent, but well appointed, comfortable and well sound-proofed. The colour scheme was a bit mad, but everything looked new and luxurious. The bathrooms on the Serenity are the most handsome I have seen at sea. They are simply breathtaking and very spacious. Unfortunately this seems to impinge upon closet space- there is no separate walk-in closet- but we were ok for a 12 day hop around the Med. One nice touch in each suite is a book recalling the inaugural voyage. There is also a DVD player which I enjoyed using. The ship has an atmosphere very akin to that of a hotel- I really like that personally- and I think that the Crystal Cove is a beautiful space. However, some guests were lamenting the lack of a "ship" feel, but that is down to a personal preference. The ship was not full which left plenty of room for sunbathing, and the pool was simply delicious- heated to perfection. The jacuzzis were too hot to get in! There were about 40 children on the ship, but they were mainly to be found in the excellent child facilities that Crystal offer. In my view, the Crystal Serenity has one weakness- but it is a biggie- namely the Crystal Dining Room. The decor is gloomy and drab- dark carpet, dark blue upholstery and dark wood walls- really grim- and not conducive to a pleasant atmosphere. Whatever claims Crystal make about "fine dining" in the brochure- don't believe it! The restaurant is simply too hectic and noisy. It reminded me of an upmarket UK motorway service station! The ship was operating on single seating as it was not full. But the noise of clattering plates and cutlery, together with the normal restaurant hubbub was intolerable. On top of this the service was frenetic, rushed and often sloppy. I am not blaming the restaurant staff, all of whom were friendly and tried hard, but something is not working in the restaurant. The food started off quite average but improved considerably during the trip, but this is not a "fine dining" experience. The practice of serenading diners is intrusive and embarrassing, and the baked alaska parade is a throwback from the 70's and again, simply not compatible with a "fine dining" experience. The restaurant was much better for lunch when not so frequented, and overall the food was good. I really liked the late breakfast in the Tastes cafe- great for those of us who sleep in. I must applaud Crystal for the low carb options that they offer- this is a superb idea for people like me who are doing a low carb diet- way to go! We tried the Silk Road a few times- it was imaginative food, well presented, but not as good as the superb "Jade Garden" aboard the Symphony. I also think that the $6 gratuity for the alternative restaurant is a bit of a cheek. But the staff were great and they deserved it. Speaking of gratuities, as UK passengers, our gratuities are pre-paid, but I really think that on a ship of the calibre of Crystal, gratuities should be included for everyone. The activities onboard were imaginative and well thought out. I did a watercolour class, but there were lots of other options too that seemed to be a cut above the usual cruise fare. The itinerary was varied, but we left each port at around 6pm- far too early! This is the best time of day in the Med to go ashore and have a stroll when the heat of the day is fading- but of course we had to leave so that everyone could go and get dolled up for the Captain's cocktail party or whatever. The ship is very smooth and stable and offers a "hotel like" experience which I enjoyed. But the restaurant is a major weakness, and I am wondering if I will repeat the Crystal experience in the future. Thanks for reading my review Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise