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7 Crystal Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date July 2016
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance ... Read More
Eviactive put together a ballroom dance program on Crystal Serenity. Her pros were outstanding and we took lessons every morning before touring. In the evening we danced the night away to the superb band provided by Crystal on their dance floor. The pros from Eviactive partied and danced with us each night until 11 p.m. On the last night we dance until midnight and then some of the younger ones in our group headed for the pulse lounge for more dancing. What an amazing week we had. The ship provided a band for nightly dancing. I must say, the band was exceptional. Eviactive provided dance lessons every day with award-winning professionals. They were available for private lessons in the afternoon which turned out to be a treat, given how good they were. We took lessons every day and danced every night. Food was gourmet. Rooms were lovely. Nothing could have been better except skipping the port stop in Astoria. Can't wait to go to Buenos Aires with Eviactive and her dance pros. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are ... Read More
This pair of back-to-back cruises were our 2nd and 3rd cruises. Ever since we cruised on Crystal Serenity in 2014, we have been hooked on Crystal. Symphony is a little smaller so it is a little more intimate too. Public spaces are great, but staterooms are a bit small vs the Serenity. We might eventually try another cruise line, but it will be hard to beat the only cruise line named a top pick for 20 consecutive yrs by the readers of Conde Nash and members of Cruise Critic. The reasons are impossible to list as they are so many and they can be so personal in choice. With a doubt, the food is beyond compare for a ship feeding just under 1000 passengers. The Main Dining Room is our favorite place for lunch if we are back early enough from our excursions and we love both the food and the people we have met at dinners there. Breakfast on early excursion days means we eat at the Lido Restaurant, which serves an amazing buffet of virtually everything. Of course they also serve a terrific and very varied lunch buffet. And there's also the Trident Grill for those days when you want to hang around the pool/spa and enjoy a fantastic burger, tasty hotdog, excellent fries, etc. Their menu includes salads too. And right after lunch, you have the opportunity for sweet desserts like ice cream ( Ben & Jerry's) or soft serve. Did I mention there's a bar too? When you disembark, it takes but a few hours before you realize just how much you miss the 24/7 pampering. Decompression after Crystal takes us about a week! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise within three years having previously sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess. We are a couple in our mid-thirties. We chose this cruise because it fitted in with times we could both take holiday, left from a UK port, and was going to places we hadn't been before (in France) - a final important check\consideration was that Crystal was reasonably well rated well by recent passengers. The ship was in superb condition, arguably better than younger ships; everything was polished, clean, and in 'close to new' condition. A fairly small ship by today's standard we found it to our advantageous as it cut down unnecessary time walking between different venues. A similar size to Ryndham (Holland America) however a key difference we observed was that it never felt crowded on Symphony, in fact it was the least crowded ship we've sailed on yet. There are potentially two reasons for this; either it was undersubscribed (possibly because people concerned about terrorism), or the age of the passengers meant they slept a lot or otherwise entertained themselves - possibly a bit of both. We stayed in cabin 7087, which is the E1 category with a limited view, for which I've written a separate review in the cabin section (and hopefully it will let me upload a photo so you can judge the level of obstruction for yourself). Dining; breakfast was very good and we always ate it in the Lido cafe (I think you could also go to main dining room). I like healthy breakfasts and wasn't disappointed as there were a lot of tasty options including birchers, smoothies, yoghurts, fruit, as well as the usual eggs, sausages, beans, bacon (for less health conscious people). I was very happy with the variety of juice on offer, and had fresh carrot juice almost every day - while other cruise lines have also offered variety of juice, other than fresh orange, it's always been from the carton, so this was a step up for me. Lunch was also very good with a reasonable variety of food, and different things served each day so we didn't get fed up with the same thing, and again we opted to eat lunch in the Lido cafe. Dinner was reasonable to excellent - the three courses in the main dining room were to a good standard, we also ate in both of the specialty restaurants (at no extra charge) and found them both (Japanese & Italian) excellent even though I don't eat sushi (luckily there were other options at the Japanese restaurant). The Italian restaurant Prego was my favourite though, and it's the first time I've ever been served soup within a bowl made of bread (maybe I've led to sheltered a life!). Besides these dining options there are also other smaller venues where you can grab a sandwich, burger, or cakes depending on your fancy - these places were never crowded. As Crystal is all inclusive, all drinks are free unless you order something really special (I'm not sure what as I ordered anything I liked and was never charged). There are a number of bars you can get drinks from (also available when dining or lounging by pool) and staff are very available to take your order and will even walk to a different bar for you if the one your at doesn't make that kind of drink. As well as my juices I had a number of cocktails, mocktails, beers, wines, and penacolada's (apology for the spelling?!), and I saw a lot of other passengers enjoying copious amounts of what looked like champagne. Entertainment was low key, the main show entertainers were really good performers though they are only on for 45 minutes a night and generally do a bit of singing and dancing which while excellent, I would have liked to see a proper full musical play (even a mini one) instead of just excerpts of musical plays. That said though, it was good enough to go back to each night as they did mix\change it up so it didn't get repetitive. There was also a magician on board however you needed to book to see him which we didn't so I can't whinge about that as my own fault. The rest of the entertainment consisted of people playing piano, some big band playing, some jazz, and a bit of pop music from different era's - nice and pleasant to listen to while having a drink but all fairly laid back. Activities consisted of some lectures (mostly UK monarchy and WWII), knitting / needlework classes, how to use your ipad, and some other things I can't recall. All said and done, there wasn't much going on and to be honest given the age demographic I don't think there was a lot of demand for much to be going on. For myself this was a bit disappointing but I can't complain too much as I knew the activities would likely be tailored towards the older generation. For information, about 95% of guests are probably in bed by 10 pm - the upside is you'll always find a seat and ready waiters in any bar around the ship!! In fact I think a lot of the staff seemed underused so it really was very quick service in all respects no matter what the time of day. Our ports of call were; Tilbury (we live in London so no point discussing this), Honfleur, St Peter's Port, St Malo, and Bordeaux. Honfleur was quaint and lovely, St Malo was amazing and I wish we could have stayed overnight (as well as going around the city we also went swimming in the sea). St Peter's Port was a bit boring but perhaps that's because I'm British and it wasn't so novel to me as I may be to an American. We got the plane back to UK from Bordeaux so can't comment on it - though I have stayed there a week once in a chateau which was refreshing. The age demographic is slightly older than other cruises we've been on, I'd say 97% of passengers were over 60, I'd guess the average may be around 70. That said they certainly weren't geriatric and there were almost no zimerframes in sight, they were mostly pleasant to talk to - even the ones voting for Donald Trump. Although we are in our 30's we were looking for a laid back \ lazy holiday as our last one was a tour of Iceland in a rented motorhome followed by a week in New York, so we were not objectionable to the pace of life on board as we felt like being less active than our previous holiday. The library was well stocked with DVDs including some very recent releases. There was also a cinema on board though we didn't take the opportunity to use it. Worth a mention is that this is the first cruise where they didn't try and sell us art, jewellery, or pointless crap they we don't want and don't need, in fact the shops were barely open at all - quite refreshing! All in all, a good cruise, and recommended to those who want a laid back holiday and be able to order whatever food and drink they like without thinking about the cost or tipping. I would go again if in a similar mood and I liked the ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and ... Read More
The food was amazing each dish was a beautiful creation. The staff was kind accommodating and always ready to say yes. The entertainment was mundane except for the piano bars which were great. Perfect cruise foe eating and drinking. If you have trouble walking beware. They do not accommodate , at least they didn't for me. I ended up missing activities because I couldn't get from my room to the event. I had asked for a handicapped room, not available, then asked for a room close to the elevator, it didn't happen. Confirm which cabin you're getting and where it is located., even thou I paid for a balcony no effort was made to make it easier. If you go just walk slowly and eat a lot I was disappointed that no food or entertainment was related to the part of the world we were in. but the food was so wonderful that it wasn't a big deal. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
A mix of good and bad. The service was generally excellent. The onboard lecturers were very good. The Palm Court is a lovely room with excellent staff and quickly became our room of choice on board. The food, in particular the main courses ... Read More
A mix of good and bad. The service was generally excellent. The onboard lecturers were very good. The Palm Court is a lovely room with excellent staff and quickly became our room of choice on board. The food, in particular the main courses in the MDR, were mostly very disappointing. Every meal seemed to emphasis Salmon or Shrimp and the meats were dry, bland or overcooked. Considering this was supposedly a Food & Wine cruise it was not good. The entertainment was variable, sometimes quite good and sometimes very ordinary, and catered for more for a 70+ market rather than the 50+ market my wife and our friends belong to. The 'streamlined onboard checkin' was one of the slowest checkins I've experienced and definitely not what you would expect with a smaller luxury ship.And despite being an upmarket ship, we copped the second string berth at many ports, with the prime spots going to other vessels. I enjoyed the cruise but my wife and I both agree it wasn't worth the higher cost, even with its all-inclusive nature, and I think we'd rather go back to a balcony or suite on Princess or HAL over another oceanview on Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
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