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12 Crystal First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

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 September 2015
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our ... Read More
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our first cruise. I mostly want to address the negative stuff that has been written or that I noticed. First of all, the rooms are fairly small - it's a boat folks. Whatever you have you have to float on the ocean and sail. Our room was def cozy but 2 people lived there and felt luxurious from day 1 on. The shower blasts high pressure water, there are his and her sinks. Oh and btw you can order whatever you want whenever you want. We would get a wake up call at 7:30a and then at 7:40a there would be the steward with out piping hot coffee and english muffins. The rooms is just not going to be the same size as a suite at the Holiday Inn in Mobile, AL. Anyone who complains about the food on this ship needs their head examined, it is all-you-can-eat fine dining, full stop. I was incredibly skpetical of the all you can eat concept; I've been to plenty of crappy all inclusives in my day. This is 1 Michelin star quality every night and that's just the dining room. The service is incredible from top to bottom, my wife couldn't carry a plate to her table at lunch without having 3 guys swoop in and take it from her. The clientelle is older but so what? If your goal is to party hard don't got on a cruise. Go to Mykonos, Ibiza, etc. We had tons of fun meeting new people. Guess what folks? Senior citizens are more interesting than 18 year olds. If you're like me and you were worried that you had overpayed for this stop worrying and get ready for the trip of a lifetyime. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal ... Read More
As avid independent travelers, my wife and I never thought we were cruise people. In fact we steadfastly resisted any suggestion of a cruise. Then the flyer arrived in the mail - we simply could not resist. Our experience on the Crystal Serenity was absolutely impeccably perfect. All staff was extremely helpful and friendly - we felt like they were members of our family by the time we disembarked. A few highlights: - The dual dining choices in the main dining room (modern and classic) were perfect. We often mixed and matched, but in general the appetizers and deserts on the modern side were highlights. - Tastes is really so much more than "casual dining". The variety and quality of the tapas style dishes were exquisite and the service perfect and attentive. - Prego's lasagna is the best we've ever had. Yes I would have blushed to say I was ordering lasagna at such an exquisite Italian restaurant - but it was absolutely mouth wateringly good. - Silk Road has terrific, imaginative Asian fare. We were glad to have gone, but as we were more wine themed, we didn't repeat. - Crystal Cove is the perfect hide away very late at night - friendly staff, beautiful, quiet atmosphere. The ship itself is very clean and well maintained - everything is well thought out. Can't think of a thing we would change. We mostly took part in private shore excursions, but the one that we took from Crystal (Malta's Pre-historic Sites) was well organized with a fantastic local guide. Truly a terrific experience as the site we visited is extremely hard to book in advance. Frosch's wine theme was so special. We were lucky enough to have both Heitz and Kapcsandy on board pouring their magnificent wines. This added an extra dimension to dinner that is hard to overestimate. Also, the fellow wine enthusiasts were terrific to get to know. Disembarkation was orderly, easy - only problem is that it was so sad to leave. We loved the experience so much on Crystal Serenity that we are tempted to go somewhere that we are *less* interested in so we can spend more time on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my sixth Crystal cruise and my fifth on Crystal Symphony. It really is a beautiful ship and the money they have spent on her over the last few years really shows. Palm Court is the most beautiful room on the ship but all the ... Read More
This was my sixth Crystal cruise and my fifth on Crystal Symphony. It really is a beautiful ship and the money they have spent on her over the last few years really shows. Palm Court is the most beautiful room on the ship but all the public areas are large, elegant and impeccably maintained. There are so many spaces, large and small, on the ship that you will always find the perfect spot for what you are in the mood for. If anything I think the service just keeps getting better, the staff get to know you on the first day and I am well remembered by those who worked on previous cruises. I like never having to queue for anything, all the small details are sorted out. I do find the reception staff quite frosty and not very helpful however. I usually book a room with a balcony but on Crystal you pay a big premium for the privilege. On this cruise I took a room on Deck 5 with just a picture window and no balcony and didn't really miss it. Every stateroom other than on the penthouse floor is absolutely identical in terms of size and appointments so think twice about paying the extra. The rooms are relatively small compared to many other luxury ships today but I don't find that an issue, depends how much time you like to spend in your room I guess. Sea days on Crystal are full of activities and there is plenty to choose from, their nightly entertainment is first rate and, even though I have seen most of the shows before, I still go along each night as the standard is so high. Having a catholic priest on board and being able to go to mass daily is also a big plus for me. The food in the specialty restaurants is fantastic, in the main dining room it isn't quite as good, the ship wasn't full by any means on this cruise but the main dining still seemed like being in a railway station, with harried staff rushing past all the time. It pays to know that you can select beverages and food items not on the menu - it's just a matter of asking but Crystal certainly doesn't let on that there are alternatives. The standard sauvignon blanc they had most nights was terrible but all I had to do was ask and they happily supplied something else. One night our table had a fabulous dessert which one of the table had ordered for us the night before and I heard of another table who ordered rack of lamb for their whole table even though it wasn't on the menu - you need to do this the prior day of course. I have been spoiled by Crystal and have no interest in evenly trying any other cruse line, I am already booked for my next cruise with them. Some may say I'm missing out on trying other experiences but I'm happy with what Crystal provide so why risk getting a lesser experience on another line? Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther ... Read More
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther experience like it with which to compare. The outstanding feature of the cruise was without doubt the staff on board. Friendly, service orientated and a credit to their employer. We were struck by how much they appeared, and were, happy to be working for Crystal. That flowed through to their service to us. We ate in all the venues and not only did we not find fault, to the contrary every meal was wonderful. I have never tasted better soups and my wife was continuously spoiled with the dessert plate by our wonderful waiter Franklin and his pairing Juan. Ciselo San Juan added those extra special touches that come with his over 20 years experience with the ship and by the end we counted them as friends rather than service staff. The Food and Wine theme was well received by us and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and watch the demonstrations by the guest Chefs. The Cabin on Deck 7 was well cared for by our stewardess Andrea and nothing was too much trouble for her, not that you need to spend much time in the cabin anyway. Entertainment wise, there was more than enough to fill your time on board or ashore. Early on my wife said that she was feeling overwhelmed by the full program she had each day and then promptly filled her next day with twice as much as myself. Unpack once, do as much or as little each day as you wish, meet a wide range of interesting people from all over the world while having great food and wine....it doesn't get much better than that. Are we hooked and can't wait for our next Crystal experience....you bet! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My wife and I have always had a stereotypical opinion of what a cruise would be like having seen documentaries on the subject, portraying a negative view. So when the opportunity arose to try one we agreed with some trepadation. How wrong ... Read More
My wife and I have always had a stereotypical opinion of what a cruise would be like having seen documentaries on the subject, portraying a negative view. So when the opportunity arose to try one we agreed with some trepadation. How wrong we were! This cruise surpassed all expectations. We were greeted at the airport by three couriers who directed us to the transfer coach and from then on every detail was covered by a representitive. The cabin was comfortable with a sumptous kingsize bed and balcony. Our maid who looked after our cabin coudn't do enough for us and was always cheerful and attentive. Daily pamphlets were left detailing the next day's excursion. Many choices of restauraunts to choose from serving delicious food along with copious amounts of drink on offer throughout the day ( all inclusive). The excursions were plentiful and varied in choice, albeit a bit expensive! The entertainment was varied but nothing to write home about. All staff were extremely polite and helpful and always made us feel welcome. If there was one gripe it would be the long walk back from the Venice excursion boat that landed us at the quayside for us to walk back to the ship, which for a disabled person was a bit much! Many fellow passengers remarked that we have been spoiled by going on a first cruise at such a high standard which will make future cruise ships hard to beat. Would I go again, You bet. ( and I don't work for Chrystal). Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
For our first ever cruise and after much research using Cruise Critic my wife and I decided to on Crystal and the Crystal Serenity. But as many had told us - after Crystal it would be all downhill - yes we were spoilt!!! The Crystal ... Read More
For our first ever cruise and after much research using Cruise Critic my wife and I decided to on Crystal and the Crystal Serenity. But as many had told us - after Crystal it would be all downhill - yes we were spoilt!!! The Crystal Forum on Cruise Critic was a great help - many of our questions were quickly answered as were our ones directed to the Crystal website. As first time cruisers the sponsorship system worked very well and our credit helped with our excursions, As avid golfers and having never toured the British Isles together we booked the back to back Dover to Dublin - Dublin to Dover(the golf themed cruise) - Dover to Barcelona cruise from August to September. Everything we had read about Crystal was correct and everything fell into place without any problems. The golf theme section of the itinerary with Billy Casper as the featured guest was a great highlight. Such a gentleman who at 82 years old gave his time to everybody - even non-golfers. His lectures in the main auditorium were always full and he gave such a fascinating talk interspersed with a range of questions and answers that kept everyone in their seats until the end. On every golf excursion he was there with encouraging words and tips and the dinners with his wife and family towards the end of the cruise were another highlight. With a great deal of pre-cruise planning our son and his wife came on board for dinner to surprise my wife after we arrived at Barcelona and the staff could not have been more accommodating - the deck security and concierge had every angle covered in case there was a hiccup in the plans but it went off flawlessly. Truly a great experience for our first ever cruise and as a result we have already booked our next Crystal cruise. . Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I am 42, and DH is 47. We have been on one Regent Navigator cruise, one Silversea Silver Spirit cruise, and one Paul Gauguin cruise. I still consider us cruise newbies. We have specific needs as we are "quirky" at the best of ... Read More
I am 42, and DH is 47. We have been on one Regent Navigator cruise, one Silversea Silver Spirit cruise, and one Paul Gauguin cruise. I still consider us cruise newbies. We have specific needs as we are "quirky" at the best of times, and we have been looking for a cruise line that meets both our specific travelling eccentricities. Crystal seems to be able to meet this! This is my first review for cruise critic as feel compelled to share joy at discovering this wonderful cruise line. I get very seasick. I get bus sick. I get train sick. I get plane sick. Gravol and ginger pills are my friend. DH does not understand this AT ALL. Crystal Serenity provides a bigger ship experience, and I found that I did not need to wear my anti-nausea wristbands. The motion from the ship was negligible. This was helped by good weather and smooth seas. In comparison, I could not tolerate the buzzing that was a normal occurence even on smooth seas that I experienced on Regent Navigator. We booked a Penthouse Suite due to information from cruise critic that usual verandah rooms are smaller than Regent or Silversea rooms. We had 11029 mid ship near elevators. Despite proximity to the elevators the room was very quiet. The room was beautiful and spacious, and the decor was like a boutique hotel in Las Vegas (we usually stay at the Skylofts in LV). The balcony was so nice that we both spent lots of time outside here, and this was not cramped at all. DH wished there was a recliner, but the two chairs with one ottoman and a table was fine. I liked that the sleeping area was demarcated from the rest of the room. The two single beds pushed together works well for us, and we both had no trouble sleeping. DH had lots of choice from the pillow menu, although they did not seem to have buckwheat pillows. Firm worked just as well. Wi-fi two hours free with this room was a very nice touch. Skype does not work, but we were able to facetime no problem. Since the room is close to midship elevators we were able to get wi-fi reception in the room if we stood by the door. We did not use the free phone call time. Another reason that we booked the penthouse suite is the room service ability to choose from the specialty restaurants. I LOVE that there is Nobu restaurant on board. When travelling, I need to have soup, and was able to have Asian soup every day. Rock shrimp, mushroom soup "tea" and kelp salad was an added benefit! Sushi took too long for room service, so I stopped ordering this (sushi bar ws very popular). DH ordered room service from a mix of main dining, Nobu and Prego, and there was never too much problem with this erratic ordering style. Our butler was amazing- oh I'll start a new paragraph about Ural. Ural our butler. He was the most professional butler that we have ever had!! He was pleasant, efficient, and even jokey which put us very much at ease. We probably drove him crazy, but he was always smiling. Iced tea in a pitcher... no problem! A big tea pot... no problem! Room service dining from three places... no problem! Special order curry as room service.. yes, tomorrow for dinner! A question about the next port..... he knows the answer! Some things we asked about were not doable, but there was an explanation that satisfied us and we were not disappointed about this. We ate at the main dining room rarely, but each time the service and food was pretty good. We are not wine drinkers. However, we enjoy tea (eg high end high mountain oolong and Mariage Frere teas) and we found that although bagged tea is fine for everyday, high tea should be loose tea, not the same bagged tea. This was the only real glaring "not five star" thing we noticed about Crystal. Even silversea had high end loose tea with timers and everything, for their tea time. We eventually chose to not even bother with their teatime. However, I really love the self service element at the Neptune bar area for just helping yourself to iced tea and juice etc. This saves time and makes me instantaneously happy. The bar guys were helpful and friendly too, but I can help myself just as well. Breakfast at the Lido was crazy busy. This was also one area that they can improve on. I suppose it may be due to port intensive itinerary with everyone leaving for morning excursions all at once, but the omelet line was just too long (too many people, too much time). There seemed to be much confusion about breakfast, and it felt crowded and "grabby". An unpleasant morning experience. The coffee was not very good! The Bistro was not open early enough for breakfast for morning excursions. Excursions- these were some of the best I have ever attended. As this was the first time we have been in this region, we wanted to do an excursion at every port, and chose a Crystal excursion for every port. Our Copenhagen acquarium visit was cancelled, but this actually enabled us ot see Copenhagen itself, walking around everywhere, so we were not too disappointed. The complimentary shuttles were very convenient even if we did not use them all the time, as they provided an option for us if we decided to venture out later on our own. We took the 3 hour Sachenhausen and Berlin tour and were not disappointed. Our tour guide was informative and objective. He provided interesting facts mingled also with personal anecdotes. President Obama was in Berlin at the time of our visit, and many sites were closed, but our tour guide was able to walk us to many of the sites, parking the bus further away. A great experience, and makes us want to visit Berlin again. The 3 hour bus ride was not a problem for me as the autobahn was very straight. St Petersburg- a problem with initial immigration! Crystal let us know what to fill out on the immigration forms, but the immigration officials seem to take affront at the lack of filling out the info so everyone had to enter their birthdates etc on the forms once there at the front of the line. A long long delay. The next day, the Reflections noted that you should have your forms ready but we didn't need them for day 2! This was very confusing and I think Crystal could have done a better job with the information dissemination. Otherwise, despite disclaimers about limited bathroom options and possible poor english speaking guides, these were not issues at all with the tours. Tour guides had understandable english and were very informative about.....everything! Bathroom breaks were provided at set intervals. However, these are long long days!! Worse than work! Worse than a bootcamp conference! Catherine palace and peterhof palace started at 715am and you get back the the ship at around 5pm. However, this was worth it. Tour group dynamics apply (It's difficult to keep together and to keep up! ). The people on the ship were generally older than us, but we found many interesting and friendly folks. Granted there were a few people that tried to push in front of the line at Russian immigration (really? here?) but people are people.......Overall the passengers were friendly and quiet. The ship was noted to be full, but we never felt like we could not do what we had chosen to do due to crowding (except for breakfast at the Lido). A note on the Laundry rooms. Five washer/dryer combos! This means no fighting or awkward situations. Laundry baskets and magazines were provided. This was so thoughtful it made me want to cry with joy. Disembark/embark - no problems. We did not have to tender at all with these ports, although we docked at a yucky industrial area in Stockholm. All transfers were without a hitch. We had private car pickup at Copenhagen, and there were no issues. Smooth and seamless. Overall, we had a great time on this cruise. If DH continues to want to cruise, I will now press to have it to be this on cruise line.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My partner and I have served back to back tours in Afghanistan, so we wanted to make my R & R leave extra special, given that we haven't seen each other a lot these last two years. I also didn't have a lot of time to plan ... Read More
My partner and I have served back to back tours in Afghanistan, so we wanted to make my R & R leave extra special, given that we haven't seen each other a lot these last two years. I also didn't have a lot of time to plan things, so we thought a cruise was the logical choice. We chose Crystal Cruises because I like a more formal atmosphere. In that aspect, Crystal delivered. The women always dressed stunning on the ship on formal nights -- even on some casual ones. The men were always at least in suits on formal nights, but many more wore tuxedos, which was nice. We found the following things to be especially good about the cruise: 1. The service. We can't say enough about how willing the staff were to cater to your needs and how cheerfully they did so. 2. All inclusive. We could not possible have eaten or drank anymore. And all inclusive does not give you rail drinks. It gives you pretty much anything short of Louis XVII Cognac, which they have for an upcharge. Glenlivet or Glenfiddich, though? It's on the house. 3. Food. Prego and Silk Road are always booked, yes, but both made for a special experience. Book them early, and don't expect more than one seating at each. It won't disappoint you that much, though, as the Main Dining Room fare is excellent and varies each night. 4. Friendly cruisers. We met many interesting people and shared plenty of great conversations. We didn't encounter any bias as a gay couple, at least we didn't perceive any. 5. Avenue Saloon and the Connoisseur Club. The Avenue Saloon was by far the best bar on the ship. The piano player was great. The Connoisseur Club was my favorite room on the ship. If you like cigars, it is amazing. Though I might suggest bringing your own cigars (prices were a bit high), their premium alcohol prices (30, 40 year old cognacs, etc.)were very reasonable. A couple of minor complaints, neither of which will deter us from cruising wiht Crystal again: 1. The internet. We realize that it's a cruise and there are logistical issues to getting connectivity. Perhaps these issues are so great that the charges and problems with the internet onboard are justified. But it seemed overly expensive. $50 got you two hours of internet and $200 got you 10 hours. That's pretty steep, even if you have the money to pay for it. All that aside, it didn't even work half the time. 2. Demographics. I don't know if its always this way on Crystal, but the crowd seemed very old. We expected an older demographic, but this group seemed to be 65 or even 70 plus, with a small smattering of other ages. I heard some comments from some of the older patrons to this effect that the crowd seemed older than usual, so perhaps this was an anomaly. Like I said, we had a wonderful time, but we feel the cruise could benefit from a more mixed crowd. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We signed up for our first cruise experience with Crystal with many recommendations from friends. We were not disappointed. Crystal Symphony's crew made us feel welcome from the get go. We were part of the "Mix & Mingle" ... Read More
We signed up for our first cruise experience with Crystal with many recommendations from friends. We were not disappointed. Crystal Symphony's crew made us feel welcome from the get go. We were part of the "Mix & Mingle" reception and met a few other Cruise Critic board members plus the cruise directors and hotel manager. We shared questions and got great support. We were especially pleased to have met Jane Salk, Crystal Society's hostess for this cruise. She made us feel part of the "Crystal family". We had delightful table mates, who will be our friends forever. The waitstaff was outstanding and it seemed "no problem" for our special requests that veered from the menu set for the day. Amazing! We did get great information ahead of time from Crystal Cruises and Cruise Critic which was an enormous help for us as first time cruisers. We would highly recommend that new cruisers seek out the info we did and just ask. Most folks gave us good info. We know we will be cruising with Crystal in the near future and it's just deciding as to where do were want to go. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
On the one hand, I don't want you to read this review, because we want to go on Crystal again, and don't want the ship to be sold out. On the other hand, the cruise was so nice, so special, that we feel we owe it to Crystal, and ... Read More
On the one hand, I don't want you to read this review, because we want to go on Crystal again, and don't want the ship to be sold out. On the other hand, the cruise was so nice, so special, that we feel we owe it to Crystal, and to potential cruisers to tell the truth. It was our first cruise in 20 years, and it was great. First, the service. Perfect. Everything you read on here is true. I've never met so many hard-working, friendly, efficient people in my life. Our on-ship experience was contrasted by the horrible service we had on our flight to Europe on American Airlines -- and we were flying business class. Richie, Clark, Benjamin, and our stewardess Malikova were too good to be true. Second, the food. Fabulous. I lived in Italy for six months, but the meal I had in the Italian restaurant, Prego, was better than any Italian restaurant I have ever eaten in -- and that includes all of Italy. Third, the spa. Fabulous. Enough said. Was everything perfect? Of course not. The classes on board --piano, computer, Italian language, bridge -- were so basic, as to be of little or no value to all but the absolute beginner. I would have liked some more intermediate and advanced classes, and I'm hardly an expert in any of those fields. Also, the report we received from fellow cruisers was that some of the shore excursions could have been better. Also, in the restaurant, when we asked for champagne, I thought it was a little tacky that they brought us the most expensive champagne, without giving us an option for the more "moderate" choice champagne. But these are minor quibbles. This is a truly great cruise line, that really knows how to do it right. If you take a Crystal Cruise, and you are bored, or unhappy, it is not the fault of Crystal. Look inside yourself. This is a first-class operation all the way. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This ship and its Japanese owners are throwbacks to the days of when restaurants, hotels, theaters, airplanes and office buildings permitted smoking, either in segregated areas or throughout, and non smokers silently suffered. The world ... Read More
This ship and its Japanese owners are throwbacks to the days of when restaurants, hotels, theaters, airplanes and office buildings permitted smoking, either in segregated areas or throughout, and non smokers silently suffered. The world standards have changed but barely Crystal. This is the only cruise line left afloat that still allows smoking in staterooms. So the smoke from the smokers rises into the ships's air-conditioning systems and spreads it's noxious fumes everywhere. Hallways outside of staterooms reek in places of the odor from smoke coming-out into the hallways from adjacent smokers smoking inside . Same in certain of the more interesting bars, where the ship honors the old airplane tradition of territoriality, by allowing smoking on one side of the bar but not the other, as if the smoke respects boundaries and does not waft over and contaminate the air in the rest of the bar where the nonsmokers gather and hope to avoid the cloud of foul air coming from the few smokers only feet away that they have to breath. Sitting at a table 20 feet from the bar does not help. So much for what makes this ship and this cruise line stand out among the worst there is from a good health standpoint. If you are a smoker, this is the ship for you. If you long for the old days when smokers ruled the roost, and the cigarette industry fooled the public, or a non smoker who simply does not know the difference or does not care enough, this is for you. If not, think options.Public spaces on the ship are lovely, and the Hollywood theater for daily movies is a very nice feature on the wide screen. the nightclub entertainment is very good, with a large show band and talented performers singing and dancing their way in excellent produced shows with very good production values of great costumes, lighting and scenery. Crystal still clings to the old commercial concept of a ship's photographer shooting photos all the time. And selling them. Whole walls adorned with photos for sale most people today just ignore. Another relic of the past. The passenger demographics lean toward the late 70's and 80's. Not a particularly happy, vibrant and joyous crowd, but a lot of repeaters comfortable with each other who seem to like the comfort of something familiar that barely changes. Top food and excellent service are the hallmark of Crystal. Very good and tasty dishes, nicely served, in normal portions not too large and with attentive service. Caviar on request. Excellent smoked salmon. No long waits for food to come. Good complimentary wines, easily refilled. Dining on command in the Main Dining Room a very nice feature. The speciality restaurants are very good, but with limited seating don't expect a second opportunity in each, except perhaps at very late hours. Excellent afternoon tea service, but the string quartet is so boring after a day or two of classic melodies.the ship's public spaces are very beautiful, with nice lounges throughout. Nice paintings and decorations and tasteful new decor in recent retrofitting. The non penthouse cabins with balconies are about 50 sq feet smaller than the competition, and the sliding door closets are not great for storage if you want to bring a large wardrobe, with little drawer space. There is non walk in closet the extra 50 sq feet would bring, and the sitting area is tight. All of this is because the Symphony is an older ship. Bathrooms despite the double basins are also small, even though a nice size shower compartment. Two normal size people cannot pass each other in the bathroom and it borders on the claustrophobic. The ship is comfortable,but the smoking that is permitted presents a real challenge to anyone with breathing problems, smoke allergies or true health consciousness. One can tolerate smaller cabins and bathrooms, and the excellent food and service are real plusses, but when coupled with this smoking problem, it gives true meaning to the principle caveat emptor. Others mentioned it to us and voiced their surprise that Crystal permitted smoking in staterooms and bars and said they would complain. Yet the policy remains unchanged. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
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