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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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
I just returned from my first Crystal Cruise and am in what I'm calling the 'Crystal haze' --a surreal place where one is treated like royalty, wined and dined and pampered beyond belief. I booked my Crystal cruise expecting ... Read More
I just returned from my first Crystal Cruise and am in what I'm calling the 'Crystal haze' --a surreal place where one is treated like royalty, wined and dined and pampered beyond belief. I booked my Crystal cruise expecting to receive the level of excellence they tout, but had no idea that they would meet and exceed me expectations in all categories. We sailed the Serenity on the Roman Empire Exploration from Istanbul to Barcelona. Ours was a port-intensive voyage, calling in many wonderful ports. And with three days at-sea, there was time to relax and enjoy the ship's offerings as well. My stateroom (PH) lacked nothing. With a walk-in closet complete with plenty of drawers, jacuzzi tub and glass shower, vanity, writing desk, sofa/table, ample balcony and VERY comfy queen bed, I enjoyed the time spent there. My friendly, professional and most anxious -to -please butler provided pressing/shoe shine services and brought canapes and champagne nightly at my request. Breakfast on my balcony was delivered in minutes after requesting...and always with a smile and kind word or two. It is obvious that Crystal selects their crew because of their love of people. And it is the crew and their stellar service that separates Crystal from all other cruise lines. Our stewardesses, waiters, servers, spa employees, concierge and front desk staff and even the librarian could not do enough for us --they greeted us with smiles and warm welcomes at every meeting. The artistically presented five star cuisine also differentiates Crystal as well. I can honestly say that nearly every morsel I ate in our 12 days aboard was excellent. From fresh squeezed juices every morning at breakfast to the bananas foster our head waiter Augusto made for us table side by request after dinner, the meals were memorable. I particularly appreciated the use of fresh ingredients, prime meats, not overly salty sauces, the most perfectly prepared risotto I've had anywhere, amazing soups, fresh made pastas and desserts that were as beautiful as they were delicious. Sommeliers in all dining venues were knowledgeable, upbeat and added greatly to the overall dining experiences. Specialty restaurants Prego and Nobu's Silk Road served up meals among the best I've eaten anywhere in my life. I could write an entire review about the Prego cuisine, presentation, ambiance and service!! We attended both optional formal nights in the Crystal dining room and found them to be a delightful change of pace. Another thing Crystal excels at is offering choices. From the pillow menu from which one chooses their preferred pillows, to the multiple dining options at each meal my every desire was met...and then some! The lime and ginger salt rub I experienced in the spa was one of the singular happiest hours of my life. It was so amazing in fact that I booked the same treatment later that day for a friend with whom I was traveling, and he agreed it was one of the very best experiences of his life as well. For those contemplating cruising.....I would very highly suggest Crystal. Contrary to most things I've experienced in life, with Crystal Cruises, you really can 'believe the hype.' I cannot wait to return to sea with them. Though this was my first Crystal voyage, most all passengers I met were on their 2nd, 10th or 15th Crystal Cruise. Now I 'get it.' Someone asked me last week if I could change one thing about our voyage or Crystal Cruises what would it be.......I'm still thinking. The only thing that comes to mind is that one or two of the chocolate desserts was too sweet for my taste. If that's the worst thing I can say about 12 days in heaven, that's pretty darn good. 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
Sail Date: April 2012
I read a lot of member reviews in CruiseCritic to the extent that I think I can write my review even before the cruise started. Luckily, I can restrain myself and of course this review is written AFTER the cruise. Ha ha ha .... First, ... Read More
I read a lot of member reviews in CruiseCritic to the extent that I think I can write my review even before the cruise started. Luckily, I can restrain myself and of course this review is written AFTER the cruise. Ha ha ha .... First, the background. Both DW and myself are around our early 60 yo, from Indonesia, speaking very little English, vegetarian, no alcohol, no smoking. This is our first major cruise (a few local cruises of 2 or 3 nights are nothing, I suppose), and we did enjoy every moment of it. What I've read about Crystal Cruises proved to be true. The staff are (mostly) friendly and (all) courteous. A select few crews are extra special in winning our hearts. Embarkation : We pre-order a taxi via internet so the transfer from Istanbul airport to the port is easy. The boys took over our baggages, and I'm so confident those be will delivered to our cabin promptly we even gave them our carryon as well (of course I keep the important ones with me). It was already 2pm by the time we arrived so there was no line at all at the security check. Checking in was done in less than a minute (thanks, PCPC). The welcome onboard picture takes longer time than the check in, hahaha.... The Trident Grill served us veggie burger, and then the cabin was ready, with all our luggages inside. We started unpacking, and within 5 minutes Sheetal our stewardess knocked on the door. After a brief exchange of greetings I gave her my note (pre-printed, thanks CCers) of things we like to have in our fridge. She hesitated about cans of V-8 but said she would try (and she did find us enough cans for the length of the cruise!). Cabin : Clean and beautiful. Enough storage space. Of course I deliberately leave the closet all for DW, except for my three dress shirts and two suits. All my other things go into the drawers in the seating area. The extra hangers we brought proved to be unnecessary excess. Once emptied, we put our carryon inside our luggages, and everything disappear under the bed. Magic! So this is going to be our home for 12 nights ... not bad, eh? I only find the tiny sofa uneasy to sit on (and I am Asian size!). Perhaps they can make it little bit more "normal" size (hopeful mode "on"). Balcony : We enjoy using this space very much. Some times it is too windy, but Crystal so thoughtfully provided the mohair blankets which very pleasantly helped us to stay warm. Once we left a plate of cakes for a few minutes on the balcony and suddenly a seagull already perched on the railing! We shooh the bird away and flew he did but only after posing for my camera... Dining : Well, all vegetarians should not go hungry onboard Symphony. Plenty of choice, and choice, and choice! We took Perfect Dining by Reservation, and very happy as most of the time they sat us by the window, table for two. One evening my wife is not feeling so well we have to order room service from the CDR menu, and it is delivered promptly. We also enjoy one breakfast on the balcony as on that day we have an early excursion. We don't want to have more room service than necessary as we feel pity for Sheetal , who has to carry so heavy dishes to the room. Specialty restaurant: I highlight this item in separate heading as what I write might be controversial. Contrary to those wonderful reviews, we find there is nothing so 'special' about Nobu's Silk Road. It is even less than what we used to have in our country, or in Japan. Initially I thought our view may be biased as we are vegetarians, but I met some fellow passengers from Malaysia, and they also think that for those who are used to taking Japanese food in Asia, the food in Silk Road is under the expectation. However, we must admit that the mushroom soup and mushroom salad are nice (but not great!). On another night we tried our luck and sit at the Sushi Bar. They can't even serve simple "inari" which we can find on some days during buffet at Lido Cafe. There is less vegetarian option in the Sushi Bar, which we understood, but whatever vegetarian selection on offer is lacking "creativity". While one of the Japanese chef at the bar is quite friendly, one of the other chef looked as if he is disturbed by our being there. Prego is ok but again not great. I found the non-alcoholic wine they served there tastes "funny", unlike the ones I have at the CDR, which is nice. Drinks : We enjoy the non-alcoholic version of everything possible : NA beer, NA wine, NA cocktail... hmmm... Mozart tea : Hmm... Again, it is pathetic to see the crew in worn costumes. Crystal should have prepared better. Don't get me wrong. Mozart is my favorite composer, and I really enjoy the string quartet. It would of course be very fitting if the crew dress in the period costumes as well, but unfortunately I found their costumes have shown wear and tear. Please, please, please buy new costumes, please. Entertainment: With all due respect to the Crystal Singers and Dancers, who have entertained the guests with their wonderful talents, I must say that listening to "Evita" three times (albeit in three different versions) in a week is just too much. Somebody has to coordinate the repertoire, I think. Michel Bel deserves the standiong ovation. Naki Attaman is great with "Around the world" but in my humble opinion, the credit of that night should go to David Price with his superb percussion. And the winner of the best show in all goes to... the Sorrento Musical! Spa and fitness : I enjoy having sauna and steam in the spa, and more often than not take my shower there rather than in our cabin bathroom. Shore excursion : On our own. Crystal provided free shuttle so very easy to find our way around. We did participate in Crystla sponsored We Care You Care program in Athens, helping the Sea-Turtle Rehabilitation Project, and we did enjoy it very much. Best of the best : Hot chocolate at the Bistro, and the energetic smile of the Lido crews. Special thanks goes to Scott the CD and his team. In a short notice they enable us to have a Vesak Day celebration with our fellow Buddhists on board. Disembarkation : Smooth and easy. We disembark at our own timing as we stayed for two more nights in Barcelona. Well, funny that at first I thought I can easily write a cruise review. Now I must admit that writing a cruise review is not as easy as it seems. It takes me more than one month to finish this! :-) Read Less
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