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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, ... Read More
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, the weather was the worst on this voyage. Crystal was not at fault for the lousy weather. Luckily, the service and food on board were excellent as were all the personnel on board. Everyone had a "can do" attitude and could seem to do enough to please. So why the poor review? My wife and I caught the NOROVIRUS! Although I had it worse than my wife. How could two healthy individuals board a SHIP and become violently ill just 3 days in. We specifically chose Crystal due to its service that we have experienced firsthand (what I thought was 5 star all the way) and for the smaller passenger count (only 900 passengers). After feeling better on the last 2 days, I spoke to at least 20 different people who were sick or knew of others who got sick on this 7 day voyage. Couple this with a full Medical waiting room and nurses buzzing about patients who were in quarantine and it was not hard to see that we were on our way to an epidemic onboard. A quick search on the internet and we got to the CDC website (I had plenty of time in my stateroom as I was quarantined for 1 day and chose to stay in for feeling too ill to move about the day prior). We typed in norovirus on cruise ships and there was the history. I was shocked at how many cruises were listed in increasing numbers since 2000. I was also shocked to see that Crystal Cruises joined the ranks a few years ago. Sadly, most cruise lines are on this list, BUT THERE ARE A FEW THAT ARE NOT. It should be noted that so far, this cruise did not make the CDC list as a certain percentage must report being ill before the cruise line has to report it to the CDC. Nevertheless, at least 25 - 30 people (maybe more) had it and that was just who I was able to confirm! When we shared our dismay of this cruise with Crystal (most likely due to lax standards this ship had on cleaning surfaces, public restrooms, not to mention elevators and buffets), Crystal only offered us a $1000 voucher for a future cruise we would have to take in the next year. I don't know that I will ever sail again let alone in the next year! We asked them to not give us an expiration date on this voucher and they declined. We can see how seriously they are taking this growing problem. We did appreciate the fine dining and service but this event left such a sour taste in our mouth (literally) that unless there is a preventative medicine for norovirus, I doubt I will ever step foot on a cruise again, on any cruise line. It is hard to comment on the entertainment and activities or many of the ports as I only went to one show and one event the entire cruise. I didn't leave the ship in Ensenada, San Diego or Catalina. (Not by choice). Beyond my sickness issues, The Crystal Serenity was a disappointment, as was the recent renovation of the ship. The ship has no special rooms on board, they all look and feel the same. Low ceilings and no sense of grandeur. The renovation was like putting lipstick on a pig. They need to retire these vessels and design something entirely new and special. As for me going on a 13th cruise, I will wait until there is preventative medicine for getting any sort of stomach virus on board a cruise ship. Until then, land based vacations. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the Crystal and were finally able to get them to come with us only to find it was not as good as it used to be. The lunch buffet was so bad that we just gave up after a couple of days. We tried the dining room which turned out to be even worse The specialty restaurants were fabulous. The food, staff and atmosphere were exemplary. The ship did not appear to be as clean as it used to be. Our suite which had been refurbished seemed smaller due to the new configuration but the shower was incredibly worth the extra money.The toiletries were horrible, with artificial scent which I am highly allergic to. Entertainment was excellent. However, the casino rules were disgusting and no wonder it was always empty. Lastly - to have 6 ports on a 7 day cruise on the West Coast was a total loss. Aside from San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas (which was not on the itinerary) are the only 2 safe and exciting places to stop at. Most passengers complained they did not enjoy the quiet ocean experience when the ship is at sea. Crystal needs to recognize that plus the savings on Port Charges could benefit the pricing for passengers. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal ... Read More
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal again, as their prices were comparatively more affordable than in the 90's. I read some pretty negative comments on Cruise Critic and was dubious, but it turned out to be a fabulous cruise. The ship is beautiful and super-spacious and from the outside has beautiful lines reminiscent of the old ocean liners. There was never a wait anywhere (except getting on the tenders). The service was impeccable and the food and entertainment fabulous. I loved some of the special touches in the stateroom not found on other ships. I went as a single and never felt uncomfortable, ignored, or crowded out and though I didn't dance I appreciated the presence of the dance hosts. The entertainment was much better than on other ships despite being on a smaller one-story stage. There was never a problem finding a seat in the showroom, unlike other cruises where you had to show up an hour ahead to even get a seat. And the shows were a full 45 minutes and 3 production shows on this cruise versus 30 minutes on Princess and only one production show. I loved the ballroom dance quartet that performed in the Galaxy lounge twice on our cruise. Tea in the Palm Court was wonderful. The Brazilian BBQ at Churrascaria was unbelievably good as was the food and service in Uma Uni Japanese restaurant. I did not try Prego. It was really nice to not have to deal with paying for alcohol, soda, etc., tips and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed was excellent. I had a few nit-picky complaints about the stateroom design, embarkation in L.A. was awkward and confusing, and the tendering operation was not very efficient. An added bonus, since I am now cruising single, is they are single-friendly, with single supplements from 30% to 75% depending on the cruise and how early you book. I am switching my allegiance from Princess to Crystal now! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not ... Read More
The ship is truly showing its age ,even after a major drydock. We stayed in a new seabreeze penthouse. Sofa was so hard that it felt as if we were on a park bench. No bed ruffle to hide our luggage. Ship is all cut up and just not graceful. Not many public spaces. Mozart tea was served and i was brought tea without a cover and the cakes tasted as if they had freezer burn. Too many smoking areas on the ship. No introduction to the officer staff.or medical staff. The palm court is no longer a comfortable place to sit and watch the ocean. They chopped up the room with a huge bar and halving the size of the dance floor. The spa is showing its age.. so, so ,small. One more thing.. i was surprised by the lack of the handwashing reminders! Many times when i put my hands to get the hand cleaners at the restaurant I found they were empty or not working. The food was very good though. We travel alot and frankly the ship and Crystal just disappointed me. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. ... Read More
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. Excursions were overpriced and terrible! Staff was nice but struggled serving a full ship. We often had to flag down our wine steward for refills. Long time Crystal cruisers commented that things have gone down hill with the new ownership. They needed a dedicated children’s section in the main dining room so other diners were not impacted by children crying, whining, etc. Lots of little things disappointed us given we are long time cruisers. They ran out of food items like tea bags to make decent ice tea. Hallway carpets are worn out and need repalcing. They say the cabins have 110 and 200 outlets but there was only one 110 outlet and it was by the vanity. If you wanted to plug in something by the bed nightstands you need to bring plug adapters. Save your money and go on other high-end cruise lines. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , ... Read More
Our recent time on Crystal Serenity was comprised of several cruises starting on December 21, 2019 Crystal Serenity: December 21, 2018 – 16 Day Holiday Cruise January 6, 2019- 7 Day California Coastal Cruise January 12 , 2019 85 Day Los Angeles to Monte Carlo World Cruise April 7, 2019 11 Day Monte Carlo to Venice Cruise April 18, 2019 9 Day Venice to Athens Cruise April 26, 2019 7 Day Athens Round Trip Cruise Overall Summary During this voyage we celebrated our 100th Crystal Society milestone a few voyages before departing Serenity for Mozart. We have sailed Crystal since 2002. This was our ninth World Cruise. It was our second longest time on board Crystal. Overall, our experience was outstanding. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect all the time. Rather, as a whole we had a wonderful time and the positives significantly outweighed the few exceptions. We were fortunate to have excellent weather other than a few days in Hawaii with rain on the Holiday Cruise and just a few days at sea with choppy seas. Although we boarded on the fourth cruise after dry-dock you would think the changes including new dining venues and open seating were in place for years. The vast majority of the crew were on-board for the dry-dock and you could see on their faces and in their words their pride of what was accomplished in the dry dock. The ship looks better than ever. We had a wonderful experience. It was great to sail with guests some of whom we hadn’t sailed with for four or more years and to meet many new guests for the first time. We had so many nice times with the guests from Yoga for Anne Marie, from Indoor Cycling Class and Paddle Tennis for me, and from people we met over the course of the cruise including some special people from this board. We felt right at home when we sail with Crystal and that includes Symphony which we don’t sail often, Serenity which we do sail often and Mozart which we sailed this onetime. The crew across all three vessels is amazing IMHO which I will discuss later in the review. Below please find narrative and a rating of the categories I chose to include in this review. Ratings are tough because if this was my first cruise I might rate something differently and sometimes higher. As I mention below, we had an extraordinary time. This doesn’t mean that a few items could not benefit from changes and I note them. Also, while we loved the cuisine, this doesn’t mean that every item we had was perfect. Rather this means that overall we thought the cuisine was terrific. I can remember a handful of times where something was not to our liking but given we had hundreds and hundreds of different items that says a lot IMHO. As I always say the only opinion that matters is your very own, and that applies to all things in life. These days when someone asks me about an opinion about a cruise, hotel, restaurant, port, tour or an entirely different area such as automobiles, movies, books when I give my opinion I preface it like this. If it’s something I like I will say this works for us and the reason(s) why but quickly mention this is my opinion and it might not work for you. Conversely, if we don’t care for something we will say that and explain why but quickly say you might like it. Also, experiences can vary. For example, I have found that weather can impact an experience on or off the ship such as encountering bad storms at sea or torrential rain on land. I also think t other factors come into play such as those you are sharing the experience with and the overall length and overall guest occupancy on a voyage. Most of this is subjective. With that said here goes. Embarkation/Disembarkation - Excellent Embarkation was very smooth. The information provided ahead of time via PCPC and the ability to check in guests on board the ship facilitates an orderly embarkation. Disembarkation went well. We used the Crystal Car service and were guided off the ship by the concierge who turned us over to one of the local representatives. We were taken to the incorrect area for our vehicle but within a minute that was corrected when another representative came over and brought us over to the correct location. Cuisine/Beverages - Outstanding I thought that the cuisine was better than ever. Waterside benefited from open seating with it operating more of a restaurant and less of a banquet facility. This translated to better presentations, with warmer moist food served. Umi Uma (Japanese Specialty Restaurant) has a new and enhanced menu as Symphony had after her dry-dock. Prego continues to have food that we enjoy very much. On the World Cruise they modified the menu on each segment to replace some items with new items. We enjoyed the new Asian Restaurant Silk. Food is served family style. Over a few cruises we tried a variety of items and determined which ones worked best for us. We also learned after placing our order how to sequence the food to avoid too many items being served at once and getting cold. We ate at the new Brazilian Restaurant Churrascaria one time as we did on our Symphony cruise in 2018. We think it’s a great concept but for us it’s a dining venue that we will only go to occasionally. Since inclusive rolled out about six years ago this area has gone through its own evolution. This includes a greater diversity in wine and spirits offered. In addition Crystal under the direction of one of its former Bar Managers has developed special drink menus for Gin and Manhattan’s. Overall Ship – Excellent The ship looks great, and the enhancements made to the public areas during last years dry-dock are amazing. This includes the major enhancements made to Waterside, Palm Court , Stardust, Computer University along with new carpeting. Waterside not only has a new look, but it has enhanced the dining venue between allowing for the rollout of open dining and it becoming quieter with smaller tables and changes to reduce overall sound levels. Palm Court is beautiful and still serves many diverse functions. Stardust is better positioned to support groups and very special in the evening when on one or two selected evenings it transforms to a supper club. The Computer University is beautiful and has all new computers. It flows so much better as they opened up the entranceway. I would have given the overall ship an outstanding except for one area. I believe that some “detailing” work is needed on the standard rooms and suites . During this cruise we were in three different rooms so that gave us some additional perspective on this. Itinerary – Excellent Overall we enjoyed the itineraries and that started with the Holiday cruise of Hawaii. We appreciated the World Cruise going mainly from the East to the West so we turned the clocks back rather than forward. In most cases the schedule called for us to arrive to ports early morning which we prefer and stay until 6:00 PM or later. If I had one wish, it would be like this. One is not to arrive to any port after 9:00 AM and especially not 11:00 AM or later, especially if you are there for one day. Late morning arrival make eating lunch challenging while trying to enjoy the limited time you have in port. Second would be to minimize departures where you leave at 7:00 to 9:00 PM rather than 6:00 PM as I believe it changes the evening experience. While we don’t gamble or frequent the stores much, I just think with those venues open and the ship sailing it is different than when you are in port With this said I realize for departures they are trying to find the right balance and sometimes the driver are the tours and trying to give people more time in port. As to last morning arrivals I think most people would enjoy an early arrival and sometimes I believe a voyage would be enhanced with maybe one less port to allow enhanced time I the other ports. This is just my two cents. Apart from this we loved the vast majority of ports including some that we visited for the first time, some that we hadn’t visited since 2005, 2007 or 2008 and some that we have visited recently but enjoy seeing again and again. We had some surprise ports in terms of their sheer beauty as they were first time visits for us. Entertainment - Excellent The evening entertainment has been going through an evolution the past few years with greater diversity in the number and choices available at night. We very much enjoyed that there were regularly four different acts playing in the lounges in the evening and on many nights there were two different acts performed for the shows. The new times of the shows based on open dining work better for us. Enrichment - Excellent The World Cruise included some segments where Ocean Views was offered and the talent was so strong they had two panel discussions per cruise on at least two of the segments. Ocean Views is a panel discussion comprising three or four panelists. The format allows for a question to be asked, for the audience to respond by voting with a hand-held device, for the results to be shared, for the panelists to provide their respective thoughts/opinions on the question and for the audience to vote again with the results shared. They covered five or more topics each time. We thought these were some of the best Ocean Views we had seen with a strong moderator and strong panelists in place. Overall, we enjoyed the lectures and appreciated there was more emphasis than we had seen before of having speakers on board from countries outside of the USA. The item that I would like to see addressed is not having speakers lecture who continually give the same lectures as they have done in the past. The rest of the enrichment program was as strong as ever with many programs offered and on sea days 50+ enrichment activities offered. Fitness Center - Excellent Since we use the Fitness Center frequently, I wanted to touch on it for a moment. There was a good selection of classes offered and we both thought the two Fitness Directors were excellent. Besides taking group classes we had personal training we each had a different Fitness Instructor. Each one was prepared and because she wanted a copy, each evening the Fitness Instructor dropped off a copy of the training program that she took Anne Marie through during her personal training from earlier in the day. I continue to appreciate Crystal’s Fitness Center being open 7x24. Shore Excursions - Outstanding We do very few of the excursions because of a medical issue that Anne Marie has. We did do a couple of private ones arranged with Crystal and each one was outstanding and exceeded our expectations which is why I am rating this area outstanding. We found the Managers and their people very helpful when we asked them some questions even though we were not on one of the excursions offered. If not for my wife’s illness there were many excursions, we would have booked with Crystal. Ship-Board Account & Accounting- Outstanding I don't believe I have rated this area before. I wanted to mention how easy the bill is to read and appreciate the changes previously made. It was not long ago when the bill was difficult to read and more challenging when sailing on two or more voyages. All of the on-board credits were applied on-time including ones when the original Serenity itinerary post World Cruise was revised. We appreciate the ability to view the account on-line. Internet – Excellent The reality is the experience on any cruise across any cruise line and ship can vary based on so many factors including location of the ship, overall demand, equipment issue on the ship and with the satellite provider, weather, interference from military installations along with other factors. Given the time we were on board we thought the overall reliability and performance of the internet was the best we have experienced on any Ocean Vessel. There were very few outages. We could post daily here, on a blog, and on one other social media area and make phone and video calls through the internet and access websites and send and receive e-mail. Getting Off & On The Ship In Port – Excellent In general, we were in ports on-time or early most days. I think this is extraordinary given the diversity and distance of where we traveled and in the challenges of getting ships cleared in foreign ports. We missed a port because of high tides that impacted the ability to safely get up and down the steps at one of the tender landings. There were very few times with lines for the tenders. If I made one suggestion, it would be the placement of a couple of additional signs noting the location and deck for the gangway when in ports where a tender is not involved. Service – Outstanding +++ I saved the best for last. One of the reasons we sail Crystal is the crew. On our first Crystal Cruise within the first hour I knew something was special with Crystal when I needed help from the concierge on-board Harmony and for the first time in all of my cruising days I was treated as a person and not a number if you will. With each passing cruise we have found the service to be better each time. Sure part of that is familiarity with us but another part is with the increased emphasis in this area. Every cruise line has to differentiate itself from its competition. Some do it with newer ocean vessels or with an array of areas. Crystal certainly differentiates itself in various areas such as enrichment. However, there is something very special about the crew no matter if they have been there for years or on their first contract. It rarely happens but you can pick out someone on their first contract who likely will be around for one contract. We can’t say enough about the people who work on –board in all areas. They have dealt with the recent changes very well along with al of the other changes as Crystal has gone through a major evolution since we first sailed with them in 2002 including open dining, inclusive, and in many other areas including enrichment and entertainment. I wish I could mention each person and each department by name when I discuss how special the members of the vessel are and the departments that they represent. They do represent all departments including those we see day-in-and-day out along with those that are less familiar to guests. They are truly amazing. IMHO it takes a special person to work for Crystal. They have my respect and admiration for all they do. For those of you sailing Crystal for the first time I want to note that if you are on a short sailing such as ones of six/seven or even eight days with high guest occupancy the experience might not be like it will be on longer voyages as dining venues can get very busy and there is just not enough time for the crew to get to know you as they can and will on longer voyages. Land Based Departments The land-based departments were very helpful in putting this adventure together. This included the cooperation that our TA received from reservations. This booking was fairly complicated between all of the voyages and using a couple of Crystal Society Milestones including the one that involved the CP. Special thanks to on-board guest services for their assistance including getting the World Cruise voyages loaded for the visitor request authorization via PCPC and for communicating two special requests to purchasing and to Land Programs for organizing our private Crystal shore excursions. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food ... Read More
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food and service are as memorable and perfectly executed as we remembered them to be, and some events, such as the Vintage Room and the supper club very much exceeded expectations. The new all-inclusive service is very comfortable, and we never felt pressured to order upgrades to the very fine list of wines, spirits and beers on board, although we did treat ourselves to some outstanding labels under the guidance of our amazing sommelier, Tilmar Pfefferkorn! The service aboard ship is outstanding. Not only are your every needs met swiftly and with grace, but staff quickly gets to know your preferences and often seems to anticipate your next request. Special services are also outstanding. We had a member of our party that required medical attention due to a pre-existing condition, and the medical staff did an outstanding job of successfully dealing with the problem in a caring manner. We will definitely be returning to crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony for our next cruise experience! Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
In May 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s two-week cruise to Hawaii aboard the Symphony (voyage OCS180518-16). We take about three cruises a year on Crystal. I rate this cruise as excellent, that is, an overall “5” on a scale of ... Read More
In May 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s two-week cruise to Hawaii aboard the Symphony (voyage OCS180518-16). We take about three cruises a year on Crystal. I rate this cruise as excellent, that is, an overall “5” on a scale of 5. Crystal’s quality slipped a bit in the last few years. But Crystal is now back up to where it ought to be. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries roughly 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. My only continuing concern is Symphony’s lower scores in federal heath inspections over the past several years (both U.S. and Canada). ENTERTAINMENT -- MUSIC: Credit goes to Crystal’s entertainment veep (Keith Cox) and his choreographers for reinventing the line’s performing arts with a new repertoire. Crystal is once again the front row seat for fans of traditional jazz and Broadway. Singers, dancers, and jazz band were excellent, with a different floor show every night. In fact, one young torch singer (Janet Dacal) seemed a likely candidate to play the late Julie London if there’s ever a tribute tour of her hits from the fifties. Speaking of Julie London, I heard the strains of “Cry Me a River” from the ship’s violin-piano duo as I passed through a lonely lounge one night. And the cruise’s Hollywood historian (Jim Jimirro) even had an anecdote from his recent chat with the aged writer of that song. (By the way, Jim has a lecture series about the American songbook at the public library in Beverly Hills -- see “Jim J’s Jukebox” at www.beverlyhills.org.) In other words, Crystal takes the various niches and nuances of jazz pretty seriously. Every bit as enjoyable as a night spent clubbing in the French Quarter. Due to the small size of Crystal’s two main ships, all entertainers eat with the guests. No matter how famous on land, the norm on Crystal is their availability to visit with the guests when not performing. There was also a house dance band that played for hours every night. But not a lot of dancers. Ballroom dance studios organize cruises for their advanced (and affluent) students, and this setting would seem a good match for that market. They’d be getting a live band, a semiprivate dance floor, the good life, and everyday hobnobbing with the dance pros that do the stage shows. Due to the volcano disaster, this Hawaiian cruise had to cancel its stop at Hilo. The ship gave the volcano a good distance to avoid the fumes (we never saw it). But the potency of its ash was apparent from the metallic orange of the sun as it set through the haze (same as in the smoke from forest fires). When Hilo opens up again, Crystal could seek out talent from the Merrie Monarch Festival. This is the world championship of authentic Hawaiian hula dancing -- the Wimbledon, Masters, and World Series of that art form. On a prior cruise, we took a cab over to the festival’s office, bought some souvenirs, and got a complimentary tour of the venue (see www.merriemonarch.com). It didn’t hurt that my wife had been a hula dancer on Kauai back in the day. DINING: Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. For the first time in years, we ate most of our meals there. Simply because we enjoyed it so much -- and we had to see what new entrees they had dreamed up every day. We much appreciated Crystal’s new walk-in flexibility (open dining) for time, table location, and the number of diners joining us. With little fanfare, you can now bring along your onboard friends, old and new. Or dine in a quiet secluded corner and discreetly share state secrets. In other words, Crystal’s dining has cracked the code for providing a constant quality to the passenger whose preferences vary from day to day. As for the menu, there’s a new range of creative worldwide entrees as flavorful and spicy as you want to go. And, without exception, they were all served hot due to new kitchen systems for custom preparation. No more assembly-line institutional feedings. And Crystal has hired a more diverse crew of waiters than we’ve previously seen in its dining rooms. These enthusiastic waiters always took time to chat with us, some even gave us travel tips for visiting their home countries. Throughout the cruise, waiters Romanio and Kumrah took especially good care of us. The dining room’s seasoned maitre d’ (Albert Farkas) may be Crystal’s most senior employee, having been there over the life of the company. Definitely a legend and a mentor among that next generation of waiters that he’s devoted to training up right. (He just modestly says, “It’s my profession.”) And he’s quite the repository of lore about restaurants around the globe (like the place where they can open a wine bottle with a sword). There’s no doubt some interesting backstory as to how the Symphony’s ringmaster of restaurants (Slavko Drobnjak) implemented all of this. The kind of anecdotes that years later end up in places like the Harvard Business Review. But whatever you’re doing, Slavko, keep doing it. As I sat in the dining room, I finally got to see the legendary “green flash” of the Pacific sunset. Crystal crew members had been telling me about their sightings for some time. On ocean crossings, the ship’s daily newsletter includes an article about the phenomenon. One of Crystal’s captains gives a nature talk about it. And, yup, it’s the thing that a San Diego craft beer is named after. PORT STOP -- MAUI, HAWAII: Crystal sometimes pioneers a unique type of shore excursion, instead of just rounding up the usual contractors with their scripted bus herdings. Years later, we still talk about the extensive backstage tour of the Monte Carlo ballet by a retired ballerina (right down to the shoemaker, costume vault, and grooming of preschoolers who’d made the cut). It was our first cruise on Crystal, and I was the only passenger in our small tour group who had never been a ballet dancer. For this cruise to Hawaii, Crystal somehow convinced the charming heiress of a Maui mansion (Leona Wilson) to gather up her diverse friends for a half-day of gourmet food and stories about the island. A dozen cruisers were treated to local topics ranging from plantations, to architecture, to education, to botany, to beekeeping, to antiques. The mansion itself (Lona Ridge) seems sort of a cross between an embassy, a museum, and a monastic retreat center. Though this was modestly billed as an estate and garden tour, Leona (now in her 80s) made us feel more like honored guests at a diplomatic function than a bunch of tourists. No wonder the press calls Leona the “plantation princess.” If Verdi or Puccini ever wrote a Hawaiian opera, Leona’s bio of life lessons could frame the heroine’s libretto. Right down to her rescue and replanting of discarded plants from the town cemetery. Lona Ridge is well up a mountainside at the end of the road, and at least an hour’s drive from the tender dock. And it’s a very genuine interaction with a local celebrity (and local character) -- not some rushed walk-through before the bus whisks you off to another of a dozen promised sites. Seems like a good match for those leisurely private events that Virtuoso Travel often hosts for its onboard customers. Or for those perpetual students in the Road Scholar trips to Hawaii. Just type in “Lona Ridge Maui Hawaii” if you want to check it out on Google Maps. And see: www.lonaridge.com and https://mauimagazine.net/plantation-princess. This was one of those unexpected shore excursions that we just keep remembering. PORT STOP -- HONOLULU, HAWAII: There are, of course, endless possibilities for a shore excursion at Honolulu. But there a few things worth checking out right by the Pier 11 cruise ship terminal. Aloha Tower is a restored art deco building that’s colorfully lit up at night. Once Hawaii’s tallest structure, today you can take the elevator to the top floor for a view of the city. No charge, but it closes at 5 pm and you can only visit the top floor. There’s the Old Spaghetti Factory across the street -- part of the chain around the western U.S. But this one has a distinctive Hawaiian variation: spaghetti with clam and Spam. And next door is a Barnes and Noble with a good selection of books about Hawaii. The American Institute of Architects has its office just three blocks from the Pier 11 cruise ship terminal. This is the meeting place for the downtown walking tour that the organization offers for just $15 (see www.aiahonolulu.org/?WalkingTours). It’s in the morning of the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. (Crystal and AIA could conceivably partner on this as a little fund raiser for some local charity.) HOUSEKEEPING: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). The quality of stateroom housekeeping varied for a few years. But this time, the attention to detail was consistent with luxury cruising in every way. Right down to the daily supply of a special-order soft drink, and getting an ice pack frozen for a sore knee. And a box of chocolates that almost seemed too fancy to eat. Our stateroom attendant (Lois) gets a perfect score for all her efforts to clean up after us. INTERNET ACCESS: At least on the Symphony, Crystal has finally transitioned to an Internet service (WiFi, wireless) that is both unlimited and reliable. Given all the smartphones in a constant state of readiness, there must be quite the cell tower somewhere on the ship. We noticed an interesting side effect from Crystal’s transition to open dining and unlimited Internet. The moment there’s a lull in table talk, cruisers tend to whip out their smartphones. They eventually come up for air as the meal’s next course arrives -- or they notice that everyone at the table has rushed off to the next activity. And we’re talking retirees here, not millennials. Those who feared the decline of tuxedos may also worry about the dining room’s decay into an Internet cafe. On the other hand, Crystal’s management could understandably remind us that we screamed for more Internet, and they gave us what we asked for. SHIP’S MUSEUM: At the very top of the forward stairwell, you’ll find a room with a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect Symphony’s 20+ years of visits to the world’s ports, both famous and obscure. While some of the plaques are simple pieces of wood, the more elaborate ones feature local art, crafts, and materials. Access to this area is unrestricted; you might pass through it on your way to the golf driving nets. It’s an option while exploring the ship’s layout on your first day aboard, particularly if you’re looking for something to do while waiting for your stateroom to become available. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- CRIME: Congress requires that a cruise line report any passenger complaints that a major crime has occurred onboard. Every quarter, the counts for these complaints are publicly reported at www.transportation.gov/mission/safety/cruise-line-incident-reports. Crystal’s onboard safety has never concerned me. Only two complaints of crime on Crystal appear in this data for the past five years, both alleging thefts over $10,000. The reporting website doesn’t identify which Crystal ship was involved. When it comes to passenger age, much of the Crystal crowd is in God’s waiting room. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. However, safety on shore (port stops) is a universal concern for the passengers on any cruise line. Cruise lines all promise the greatest show on earth, and that includes speakers on what you absolutely must see at a port stop. Far rarer are speakers that tell you what to watch out for. For this cruise, Crystal brought on the authors (Bob Arno and Bambi Vincent ) of a website that tells you how to avoid the world’s thefts, cons, corruption, and trip-spoiling nastiness. Cruisers all know the horror stories, and this pair’s writing has no doubt saved me from some bad days. (See http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters) The cruise director himself (Paul McFarland) has a story on this Arno/Vincent website: his wallet was stolen when a herd of urchins jumped him in India. (See http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters/mugged-mumbai.) Definitely something to think about, since Paul’s a big, tough-looking guy who could double as Sir Sean Connery. And Paul’s deep broadcast voice sounds like a cop from central casting. We’d previously picked up some good safety tips from another of Crystal’s officers. After I did a little nosy prying, he disclosed his past life in security at an embassy. I’ve always found that Crystal’s crew members, from top to bottom, are quite willing to share candid cautions about a location if asked. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- MEDICAL ISSUES: The dining room waiters pay meticulous attention to any dietary restrictions, such as allergies worthy of an EpiPen. But be sure to clarify whether you merely need to avoid a particular ingredient, or really have some rarer sensitivity to any microscopic trace that lingers on a food prep surface. They’ll actually assume the latter unless you tell them otherwise. In fact, this is one of the better places to be if you were to have a serious allergic reaction (none so far for us). Right down the hall is the ship’s doctor (Alae Brand) and her team of nurses, who provided us with excellent emergency care on a prior cruise. They responded a lot quicker than most hospital emergency rooms (that is, immediately) -- and for a fraction of the cost. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES: Crystal’s customer core continues to be retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. An everyday part of Crystal is thus wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, canes, and oxygen tanks. Attentive and respectful assistance from Crystal’s crew has always been the routine for guests with such limitations. And fellow passengers implicitly follow an aviation-like norm that the least maneuverable get the right of way, whether it be in an aisle, hall, elevator, or buffet line. I have no idea if the ADA applies on the high seas. But accommodation is more than a legality or a courtesy at this point in life. The shadow of the future is lurking as ambulatory retirees surrender their elevator to a wheelchair and walk a few flights with no expectation of a medal. HEALTH AND SAFETY -- FEDERAL INSPECTION SCORES: Federal agencies in both the United States and Canada conduct health inspections of cruise ships. The inspection scores are posted on the agencies’ public websites. See www.cdc.gov and www.canada.ca. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 signals no significant deficiencies, not perfection. For the past 10 years of U.S. inspections, the Symphony’s lowest scores have occurred in the last four years. Its lowest score of 90 (five points above passing) was its most recent inspection (a year ago in Charleston, South Carolina). For the past 10 years of Canadian inspections, the Symphony’s lowest scores have occurred in the last four years. Its lowest score of 92 (seven points above passing) was its most recent inspection (a year ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia). Interestingly, the last U.S. inspection and the last Canadian inspection were only eight days apart. Travel writers sometimes minimize the significance of federal inspection scores. I don’t. Nor do the Crystal crew members who do the scrubbing. For the U.S. inspections, cruisers can read the full reports online in all their technical detail (as well as Crystal’s side of the story). For the Canadian inspections, you’d need to email a request to see the report behind a score. Investigations of onboard illness “outbreaks” are also reported on a federal website. Five years ago, 125 of the Symphony’s passengers came down with norovirus (that short-lived vomiting/diarrhea misery). Inspectors boarded the ship when it docked at Los Angeles and “collected stool specimens from ill passengers and crew for testing” (one nasty job). See www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/surv/gilist.htm. Regardless of the lower inspection scores last year, I didn’t get sick on this cruise. And I didn’t see anything that I thought might make me sick (beyond gluttony at the dessert bar). And one night I saw the captain and his safety officer quietly eating behind us in the main dining room. In maritime lore, that’s a classic nonverbal indicator of their confidence that things are shipshape. Ironically, Crystal’s other ship was recognized for its score of 100 at last year’s annual meeting of the U.S. inspection program. That would be a good list for the Symphony to get on. PEACE AND QUIET (PRIVACY): Travel agents should use caution in steering children under age 50 to a cruise on Crystal. There’s one swimming pool, and it’s a tiny one. Only three onboard shops (no mega-ship mall). No climbing walls, water slides, outdoor movie theaters, or midnight buffets. Nature seems to impose its own curfew, given the lack of observable life on Crystal after midnight. The wheelchairs and scooters are parked by the staterooms. The decks are largely empty and silent until sunrise signals the next available meal. Crystal has always offered plenty of privacy for those who want it. No activity announcements invade your stateroom. None of that constant gaming to charge something to your key card (Crystal is all-inclusive). No pressure to buy anything. No pressure to do anything. And there are endless quiet nooks and crannies around the ship for reading, chatting, and thinking great travel thoughts. If Elvis and Sinatra had somehow faded away into quiet cruising retirements, I’m convinced that the Crystal crowd would have respected their onboard privacy with little ado. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very ... Read More
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very good and creative, Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, and Umi Uma, the Japanese specialty restaurant, are excellent. The bar/bartenders are excellent, One night at Waterside, the main dining room, we spent almost an hour waiting for our food--and they were not busy, Waterside used to offer a steak option every night, now offerred less often and tasteless,The new Brazilian steakhouse provides mostly pork and the beef offerings are tasteless. The Marketplace, the buffet during the day, is open till 1:30 for lunch, but excursions often last longer and there is not a g option those days. The buffet is good, but changes little. Cabins are old and only have one USB port and one electric outlet although there are ones hidden behind the bed. For most of the day the hot water supply is insufficient, Luxury should not include a cold shower, The entertainment has improved but the lectures are now just OK, used to be great. Also there were nights with hardly any entertainment. Crystal now has a magician on board, ours was excellent. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. BUT the old system worked far better, we often could not connect to the internet and we could not make phone calls in airplane mode--prior trip with prior technology it all worked fine. The shore excursions remain VERY expensive and sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one wipes down the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was ... Read More
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was attentive and well-trained on how to take care of passengers. You really feel pampered and you leave relaxed and feeling that it was all money well-spent. For two years in a row we took the new Crystal European River cruises. If you have a chance to do that, it was two wonderful trips and totally different than an ocean cruise but with the same outstanding Crystal experience. Those experiences motivated us to go back on the updated Symphony. We liked that they gently enforced the dress rules so you didn't have cut-offs and flip flops in the upscale restaurants. The speakers and on-board activities were terrific. With 10 sea-crossing days (Long Beach to Hawaii, Hawaii to Vancouver), the speakers were every bit part of our ship-board experience. In addition the golf pro was excellent as were the live stage shows. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how ... Read More
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how can cruising on-board a ship that is 23 years old exceed one’s expectations? Well, it happened to us on board Crystal Symphony for the 16-day cruise starting May 18, 2018. This was due to a several factors. It involved the evolution of Crystal Symphony including new dining venues, open dining, enhanced public areas, and the new Seabreeze Suites. Other reasons included enhanced entertainment, a wonderful itinerary, a terrific private Crystal Cruises exclusive tour, and the amazing team on board Crystal Symphony. Good weather just added to all of this. This review covers our recent sixteen-day Crystal Symphony. The vast majority of our cruises have been on Crystal Serenity. Our last Crystal Symphony cruise was in August 2011. Some people prefer one ship to the other. We added this cruise after deciding the timing of an August Symphony sailing originally booked would not work for us. After reading reports from fellow Cruise Critic members we wanted to see the changes made to Symphony. We purposely booked one of the new Seabreeze suites to experience the suite first hand. Things we enjoyed the most included: THE CREW: They are amazing. We met some crew for the first time and quickly felt as though we had sailed with them many times. We remembered several from prior sailings on Symphony. At the same time there were several officers, senior staff and other crew members who we know either because they used to be assigned to Serenity and are now assigned to Symphony or they swing between the ships on alternate contracts or they will work consecutive contracts on one ship and swing to the other to work multiple contracts. There are lots of positives to those who swing as they can bring best practices from one ship to the other and also help to provide one consistent product across multiple ships. Some crew came over to Symphony not only from Serenity but also from Esprit and/or the River Cruises while some have gone from Ocean Vessels over to these vessels. The crew clearly worked as one cohesive team and was positive, guest focused, and provided a very high level of professionalism at all levels. Unlike some lines we have sailed where the service is good but can be very stiff and almost robot like, the crew on Symphony is warm and attentive making one feel like they are part of the Crystal Family. We felt so welcomed on the ship and I can’t say enough about the crew at all levels. They are truly amazing. THE SHIP: If you didn’t know the age of Crystal Symphony, you might think it is much younger in age than it is. The public rooms are beautiful. We like the changes that were made in the most recent dry dock and do not believe that the photos show the beauty of some of these changes. Because it is somewhat smaller (one less deck) we find it easier to get from place to place on the Symphony. There are also some rooms in particular that we like and that includes Avenue Saloon, Crystal Cove and Plaza, Starlite and Palm Court. CUISINE AND NEW DINING VENUES: We loved the change to open dining and believe the transformation has been a huge success. We appreciate five dining venue choices for evening dinner. Waterside reflects the change in terms of the taste of the cuisine and the service and is less noisy than in the past. We found the food to be moist and to arrive to the table hot. For those wanting to sit with others there more large tables will be arriving soon but in the meantime they are being creative to accommodate requests for larger tables. Those little touches are still there even though the Crystal Dining Room has transitioned to Waterside. This includes being escorted to the table, being seated by someone and the senior waiter serving you rolls/bread from a bread basket. The one change is that Head Waiters no longer prepare desserts or other items as they had to remove their stations to create more space for tables. This transition began a couple of years ago so that Head Waiters devoted more time to assisting guests and I have to say another benefit is not having smells from the cooking of desserts at tables near the former Head Waiter stations. One can still order special meals and they will be prepared in the galley. Market-Place - With each passing year we see improved service at this venue formally named Lido Café for lunch (breakfast would be the same). In our early years sailing Crystal the Lido Deck Stewards would do so much at what was the Lido Café along with those from the Specialty Restaurants. Wait staff from the dining room would mostly be standing around. Since changes were made and Lido Deck Stewards no longer cover the buffet area at lunchtime those from the dining room (now Waterside) provide wonderful service at lunch and at breakfast. They assist with beverages. They clear tables. They offer to carry your plate. They even assist getting other items. In short, they are very visible and provide great service. As in the past, many of the hot entrée items change each day and include some themed buffets. Prego – We enjoyed our visit to Prego. Menu has remained constant and we enjoyed cuisine, service and the ambience of this dining venue. Umi Uma – While the name has changed the cuisine has not and is as delicious as ever. There are some additions to the menu replacing some items. We tried some new additions such as lobster tacos and one of the new salads. All in all this venue continues to be an excellent experience. Head Waiter Jed really is on top of things from seating guests, to visiting and assisting waiters clearing tables. Silk – From what we have read, this venue is achieving mixed reviews but that has been our experience with most new restaurants at sea. We rarely eat this type of cuisine on land although years ago we did. We found the food to be tasty and we appreciated the selection. I realize that others do not care for the food but I am just sharing our opinion. I believe this might be a work in progress. Feedback from the guests was that the original menu was too limited and they wanted more choice. This was addressed with many new items added to the menu. Whether longer terms this stays as an Asian restaurant or changes is anyone’s guess. We found two areas of the venue that can be enhanced which is noted later on in this review under the section opportunities for improvement. Churrascaria - This is one of the two new dining venues offering a buffet in the evening for some items with table side service for other items. There is a cold buffet featuring various antipastas/tapas/salads, a warm buffet of sides and a final buffet of dessert/fruit. Guests go up to the buffet to select their items. Sides are served at the buffet by members of the dining team. Some of these sides are also served at the table. Waiters come to the tables to serve various entrees and the selection includes Steak, Beef Short Ribs, Chicken, Lamb Chops, Pork, Shrimp and sliced Pineapple. We enjoyed the experience and found the food tasty. For those who want a light meal one could eat mainly the salad and vegetables and limit their consumption of the entrée like items. The service was wonderful and the look of this venue in the evening has a different feel than having breakfast or lunch there in the daytime. It truly has the feel of a restaurant. The Head Waiter was terrific not only in greeting each guest and having a waiter escort them to their table but also in making rounds to each table to check up on each guest. Vintage Room – The Vintage Room can be reserved to attend with others who sign up for the experience or as we did as an Exclusive Vintage Room where there is flat fee regardless of the number of people attending up to the maximum capacity of the dining table. We hosted on exclusive Vintage Room. The overall cuisine was the best compared to our other visits to this room on either Symphony or Serenity. The cuisine was tasty and arrived hot to the table with each item arriving with a creative presentation. We enjoyed some memorable wines. Congratulations to the Food & Beverage team on-board Symphony and on land. A special call-out to Restaurant Manager Slavko has truly been one of the people instrumental in the orderly rollout of open dining. We thought that the overall food quality was outstanding on this cruise. Due to the length of this cruise and the number of sea days one day a Grand Gala Lunch Buffet was offered. The use of hand held devices to take orders seems to be going very well. Waiters are adept at using them even when guests request changes to the meal. Like all technology some will be more adept than others using these devices. BAR STAFF: We have always enjoyed the bar staff. When Crystal went inclusive a few years ago some wondered would they be happy? How would they know your name? The staff does look happy and includes new and seasoned people and the majority learn your name as they have done in the past. ENRICHMENT: Sailing Crystal Cruises with lots of sea days such as this voyage shows off one of the Crystal differences, which is their ability to offer 50+ activities during the day and afternoon hours. The biggest challenge is what do to each day. This cruise offered some activities that you might not see on port intensive cruises as well as those you do. There is one area that I believe needs some adjustment that I will discuss later. FITNESS: Kudos to the Fitness Instructors as these two on board were terrific. They both seemed very knowledgeable and had a great rapport with the guests. The Fitness Center is well maintained and makes good use of the space they have to work with. For those who like Yoga this cruise featured a dedicated Yoga instructor. While Symphony has one Paddle Tennis court compared to the two that Serenity has I had a wonderful time playing and on this cruise there was very little down time of not playing. ENTERTAINMENT: This is another area that has evolved the past few years under the direction of Keith Cox, VP of Crystal Entertainment/Enrichment. Keith has been with Crystal Cruises for two years. The entertainment reflects diversity and the number of options has been increased and adjustments have been made to coincide with open dining. There were new performers including a couple of performers new to Crystal Cruises along with seasoned entertainers. Most nights had two different main performances with each one shown two times. The team of Crystal dancers/singers and the band were wonderful as is Cruise Director Paul McFarland. We also loved the new production show that was rolled out on this cruise. Adding a new show is no easy task. Aside from all of the work that goes into its development, the on-board team must learn it in addition to practicing and performing the regular shows. There are other choices including listening to live music at night in different lounges and a nice choice of movies shown in the cinema. Another continued change is having different performers in the Crystal Cove in addition to a pianist. INTERNET/NEW TELEVISIONS: We were fortunate to have a good Internet experience but we do know that performance can vary cruise by cruise. On the most part the internet was up and the speeds were good to excellent. We had a couple of days when speeds were low such as at one or two ports in Hawaii. Fortunately I could use my AT&T service and utilize on my computer using the connection to it from my iPhone. The new televisions are great. The quality is terrific and the remote controls are easy to use. It is nice that 60 movies are offered on-demand. There are some items on the TV not available yet. I made more use of Press Reader on this cruise than in the past such as looking at the restaurant menus and posting them on the blog. We made good use of the internet to complete Wi-Fi calls to one another on the ship and to be able to communicate back home. Press Reader worked well to pull up daily menus and reflections. The ability to see our ship board account was not available. Hopefully, this will be available in the future but in the meantime we went by the reception desk to get a copy of our shipboard account from time-to-time. NEW SEABREEZE SUITES; We tried out the new Penthouse Suite (PS) and loved it. On the first day it seemed boxy and there appeared to be limited storage space. Within a couple of days we figured out how to optimize the storage and even discovered areas such as the front closet. Loved the more solid divider between bedroom and living area as we could have all lights on in the living area and you would not see light in the bedroom. Loved the bathroom with the separate toilet area and a small sink and the rain shower is wonderful. It has three options for the rain shower and also a separate hand-held device. The shower drain is much improved and water goes down the drain quickly and does not sit in one area if there is a lot of ship movement. Having a washer/dryer combination was amazing and other guests had the same opinion. In addition to the benefit to the guests in these rooms, it takes away some demand from the guest laundry on Deck 9. It was so nice to be able to do the wash at various times of the day and not have to worry that if we were not around when the wash ended that someone would remove it from the washer. This is a unique feature and I hope it continues to be added to future ships and in future dry docks. The lighting in the room is very good. It took a couple of days to get used to all of it and which buttons to push but once we did we were very pleased with it. The pullout draws in the bathroom were also nice as was the additional shelving above the washer/dryer combo. The front closet provided additional space and a good area to hang jackets. Another very nice feature is the pullout refrigerator. One does not have to squat to remove items, and it holds many more items and has some nice features for open bottles of wine. The configuration of the room is nice should someone have a third person in the room. Also wanted to give a shout-out to the wonderful team that took good care of us including the stewardess and her assistant and the butler. All fabulous. SHORE EXCURSIONS AND LAND PROGRAMS: We booked a private excursion with Los Angeles and it was amazing. It was one of the best tours we have taken. RECEPTION/CONCIERGE/CRUISE SALES CONSULTANT/CRYSTAL SOCIETY HOSTESS: We found each person very helpful. We didn't know the reception and concierge personnel prior to the cruise and within a few days most already learned my name and we found them to be knowledgeable and helpful. The Cruise Sales Consultant turned around our on board booking requests in less than 24 hours. By the end of the day we had the cruises confirmed and our rooms assigned. In two of the three cases I just filled out the form myself and turned it into the front desk. This was the first time I had done it this way and on the morning of the last day of the cruise I turned in an on board booking request and that was also a first. Crystal Society Hostess was helpful and very pleasant. MEET & MINGLE PARTY: I realize that some wondered why the Meet & Mingle Party was not held earlier in the cruise. The reason for this is that with some people registered for the party but not boarding until Hawaii the Bar Manager waited until after the boarded to hold the party and I think that was a nice approach by the Bar Manager. While we didn’t make it to the first portion of the party we did get there around the mid-point and we were happy that several people were still there when we arrived. SOME AREAS TO ENHANCE: In any business there are areas to improve and that is no different here. The good news is this represents a few areas. THE LECTURERS: A great group of lecturers were on-board. The topics were diverse. This voyage had a combination of lectures whom we have sailed with before and lecturers we saw for the first time. For those lecturers who lecture frequently for Crystal Cruises, I think it is important that they create new lectures and not give the same ones year after year. I have seen some lecturers over the years that figured this out. They create new areas to talk about and even if they repeat a topic, they update it to make it more current. I have been on some cruises where with changing news that someone speaking about world events creates a new lecture on board the ship. On this cruise a few of the lecturers presented the same material that they have presented for years. They are good at what they do but I do think they need to change this up. I noted this in the quality assurance survey. NEW SILK RESTAURANT: If it is possible to optimize the spacing between the two person tables closest to the windows, I believe that would enhance the overall dining experience. I believe the potential is there for this. I would also give diners a choice as to whether they want to be at or near the windows where many were seated or would they prefer a quieter location even if it is not near a window. Most tables near the window were filled as the dinner progressed with almost no one sitting in the middle. Had we known this we would have taken a middle or more remote table. ON –DEMAND MOVIES: We appreciate the on-demand movies and the ease of watching them. While a choice of sixty movies is nice, I could see over long cruises such as a World Cruise or back-to-back cruises that some guests would be appreciative of additional choice. If it is possible to expand the number of movies available and also change them from time to time, I believe this would add to the enjoyment of the movies by fellow guests. FINAL THOUGHTS: The Crystal product has evolved since our first sailing in 2002. Like other cruise lines there have been some changes “cutbacks” and some changes that did not please some. At the same time we have seen many product changes we view as enhancements that were implemented to match what other luxury cruise lines were offering and/or to exceed and differentiate from what others offer. I remember the day when you paid for bottled water and sodas, which I believe changed on our second Crystal Cruises voyage. Over the course of the past few years we have witnessed several additional changes which we appreciate including: Inclusive wine and spirits, which I believe, makes the ship more social with lounges busier in the evening hours and more people coming out for the evening entertainment. Inclusive gratuities for waiters, senior waiters, stewardesses and butlers. Additional dining venues providing lots of choice and the implementation of open dining to Symphony and to Serenity in the upcoming dry-dock. Enhanced waiter service at Waterside (Lido Café on Serenity) which I discussed in the review. Lots more choices for evening entertainment including on several evenings two performances each of two different shows. Some new production shows and some reflecting solo artists and also shortening the length of shows. Enhancements to each Vessel. Symphony has undergone that greatest transformation to the public space. Complimentary internet , interactive TV, on line menus/reflections, etc. Reduced guest count capacity. While a major goal was to accommodate the rollout of open dining, this enhances space to guest ratio and crew to guest ratio on sold out voyages. At the same time Crystal has maintained its core values/strengths, which differentiate itself from some or all of its competitors depending on the item. Areas that come to mind include: Quantity and diversity of enrichment and entertainment. The retention of personnel. A high level of luxury service by the crew while making guests feel welcome and part of the Crystal Family. I believe that applies to new members of the crew who are welcomed by other crewmembers and who quickly learn the importance of making the guests feel like individuals and not just a number. In the end no two cruises are the same and no two experiences are precisely the same. For us this has been an amazing cruise and we look forward to our next one. We had such a wonderful time that we added some cruises while on board with the Cruise Sales Consultant. As I say often the only opinion that matters is our very own and this one reflects the opinion of myself and my wife. I also believe in the end each person should figure out which cruise line(s) work best for them. Keith Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a ... Read More
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a limited way by increasing the number of penthouses and penthouse suites but, for many, its too little too late. Personally I don't mind the trade off of smaller staterooms for so many large and well thought out public spaces. This cruise was pretty well sold out (we were lucky enough to get an upgrade of several categories from a picture window room to one with a veranda on deck 9) yet the ship never seemed crowded, we never had to queue for anything, the feeling of gracious spaciousness sets this ship apart in my view. Embarkation was a breeze, the greeting was warm and our room was ready pretty well after lunch. We ate at all the eating venues and the quality was consistently good - and sometimes outstanding. The matching wines at dinner were sometimes ordinary but its easy enough to request something different. One thing I noticed in particular (this was my 12th cruise with Crystal) was the quality of the evening entertainment. It has improved markedly from what used to look like amateur high school productions, the Billy Joel tribute show was again outstanding, I'm still not sure about the Illuminate light show, impressive enough in the first 5 minutes and then you are stuck in the dark for another 25 minutes for much of the same thing. I just don't think it matches the type of passenger which Crystal attracts. The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, I was remembered by several of them which I think is always a nice touch. We did a Crystal excursion in each port, they were all overpriced for what they were but pleasant enough. This is an area they could do better in although I like the fact they never completely fill the buses so there's room to spare always. This cruise was originally intended to stop at Monterey, they quietly cancelled that without advising anyone and added another day onto San Francisco - so we ended up being there two nights - great city but a bit lazy on their part. The call to Astoria was a waste of time, we went to a cooking demonstration which was interesting enough but there was clearly very little to do there. So overall a pretty good experience, I am booked again next February on Symphony which will be after their dry dock, looking forward to seeing the improvements. On a separate subject, no surprise to see their recent announcement that the "air cruise" initiative has been cancelled before it even got off the ground. Blind Freddie could see this was never going to fly. "Redeploying" it to charter work is just about saving face. As many others have mentioned, their crazy expansion plans under the new CEO will only lead to tears. They need to stick to their core business, in my humble opinion. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because it went to places we liked a couple we had not been to for a long time (Santa Barbara & Seattle). We loved the ports we visited & were very impressed with the bus service when the port was a distance ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to places we liked a couple we had not been to for a long time (Santa Barbara & Seattle). We loved the ports we visited & were very impressed with the bus service when the port was a distance from the city. Food was very good, but could use improvement in desserts & breads. We especially enjoyed eating in Tastes. The entertainment far excelled anything we have had on a cruise ship. We were fortunate that there was a jazz tour group on board who brought 20 jazz musicians with them so in addition to the great entertainment provided by Crystal we were able to enjoy the jazz musicians, There was entertainment all over the ship in the evening & into the night. This cruise only at one sea day & that was filled with lecturers, trivia, entertainment, etc. (couldn't do it all). The hot-stone massage I got on the ship was excellent, I was disappointed in the spa as a whole (not very large & massage rooms quite "cozy"). It would be helpful to have known the times of the shows in the Galaxy Lounge in advance, since we had a 7:30 dinner reservation we missed shows that were shown only once at 8:00. The standard veranda cabin is "cozy". It was difficult to get to the closet area; however, the bathroom was nice size. We were surprised at the number of children on the ship & some of them were a bit disruptive. When we have traveled on "upscale" ships, we have rarely seen children. We would recommend this cruise line to anyone who wants a smaller ship with very good service & dining. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was out third Crystal cruise and probably our last for a while . While the service and food were top notch , the average age of our fellow cruisers had to be well in the 80's . I'm not young by any stretch , 59 . But ... Read More
This was out third Crystal cruise and probably our last for a while . While the service and food were top notch , the average age of our fellow cruisers had to be well in the 80's . I'm not young by any stretch , 59 . But anywhere we went walkers , canes , rascals, wheelchairs . I'm sorry but I want to be with someone closer to my demographic. Perhaps Crystal can have themed cruises catering to younger people , eg: classic rocker or jazz performers. Maybe a yoga theme . They are going to need to attract younger people , because soon their client base wont be able to travel or just wont be here any longer . Sorry if this seems cruel and I realize and hope that one day I will be this old man that everyone complains about . Its hard to give up all the great things crystal has to offer , but until I get older I just may have to . Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with ... Read More
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with Savoir Faire. As to the food we found the food in the main dinning room to be fine but not outstanding. The service was good but our tow female servers were inexperienced . The female wine steward was very attentive and kept our glasses full. However, we were never shown or asked if we wanted to see a wine list. We found the the first two courses in Prego to be excellent and the main courses to be poor. The service was average on the first night but excellent on the second when we ate with a couple who had cruised several times before on Crystal. The service in the Lido buffet was excellent and the food for breakfast was above average. The dinner at Tastes was unusual and good and the service was very good. Our room was small but adequate space for clothing for a short cruise and our attendant was excellent. Overall we found the service to be outstanding but everything else just average. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining room. This cruise we felt that the food was improved, with more selections that were different than what was served in the Main Dining Room. Silk Road was delicious again. The Main Dining Room and the Buffet were both impressive, as was room service. The second-to-last evening's Dover Sole meal was truly spectacular. Wait service was impeccable as always, with the exception of the second evening's dinner in MDR. Then, it was slow almost to the point of being ridiculous. I attribute this mainly to the fact that almost every seat was filled for the special lobster/chateaubriand dinner. They really do need to try to stagger people more on that evening. Our cabin attendant, Natasa, was very attentive. The room was always serviced at a convenient time, and extra items supplied quickly when requested. I loved our cabin, a veranda stateroom. Even though it is pretty small, it is well-designed and cozy. If only it were about six inches wider, it would be easier to get around the bed, and my hubby wouldn't keep banging into the waste can in the middle of the night. There is plenty of storage for a one-week cruise and huge amounts of space that we left unused in the bathroom. The one thing that disappoints sometimes on Crystal is the entertainment. We are 50-somethings, quite a bit younger than the average age on this ship. We loved the Billy Joel show. However some of the other entertainment seemed to be aimed squarely at the 80+ crowd. One night it was such a tired cliche presentation, almost like Lawrence Welk, that I walked out. The music that I enjoyed most from the last cruise, the Astoria Strings, were gone. Just the violinist remained, and she played in the Crystal Cove with the pianist Richard Pucci most nights. In fact Richard seemed to be the one remaining of my favorite acts from the last cruise. He is very talented and I could listen to him all night. The excellent lounge pianist in Avenue Saloon from our last cruise was also gone, replaced with another tired, hokey guy who talked constantly and played little of interest. If Crystal wants to bring in the 40 and 50-somethings they are going to have to revamp all this. The movies shown on board in the Hollywood Theater are also bizarre: titles I had largely never heard of. Yet they played new releases on the TV's in the stateroom. Why not in the Theater? Overall I enjoyed the cruise, a 7-day through California which was competitively priced. However I will be watching to see if there is more cost-cutting in the entertainment before I Take a longer cruise on this ship. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so ... Read More
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so for us, not too much to explore. We were basically taking this cruise to unwind, have some great food and drink and be treated in luxury. Crystal satisfied that need for us. In fact we have done this (or a very similar itinerary) on Crystal twice before. So we did no shore excursions, but did wander a bit at the port cities. We were upgraded from an Ocean View to a nice 9th floor Veranda. The stateroom was excellent as was our stateroom attendant (waitress). Food and Service were impeccable throughout. Prego was especially good this time and my wife was very impressed with the Mushroom Soup in a bread bowl. At Silk Road (Nobu's Joint), we ordered a ton of appetizers, the popular Black Cod and the Steak. Mushroom soup here as well was a treat. Overall very tasty, but apparently the same meal at Nobu's NYC restaurant would set us back $400. It was not $400 worth of food, but it was quite nice! The surprise here was TASTES! What a great concept and delivery. We ate there every other night other than the two aforementioned specialty restaurants. We also loved to snack at the Bistro. Good stuff in there. My wife loved the Casino! She actually won. I was neutral. Bingo was a bit lame and we did not care for the Afternoon Tea sandwiches. Those need improvement. The Mozart Tea was a bit more impressive though. Entertainment was good, but I do miss the String Quartet! The Piano players and the violinist were good, but a Quartet would have been quite nice. The show that played in the dark with flashing lights was quite an experience. Do see it! The price was right and the week was great. No complaints! Well done Crystal. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
As often as we have sailed Crystal Cruises we can honestly say that this entire trip has exceeded our expectations. ​There were several firsts for us including having the grandchildren with us, renewing our wedding vows, and the ... Read More
As often as we have sailed Crystal Cruises we can honestly say that this entire trip has exceeded our expectations. ​There were several firsts for us including having the grandchildren with us, renewing our wedding vows, and the accommodations we had. In the end, the most important component of the trip was being together for ten days with our entire family. The grand children were exceptional. They are children and from-time-to-time they each had their moments but they got over them quickly and did great. We have made many memories which will last a lifetime. Embarkation: Embarkation was both timely and very orderly. We were fortunate that disembarkation of guests from the prior cruise went as well as it did. Special Arrangements - Wedding Renewal Ceremony: We have celebrated special occasions on board in the past such as a 25th wedding anniversary, a birthday and a 60th milestone birthday but this was the first time we made arrangements ahead of time with on board guest services for something like this which was a wedding renewal ceremony. The ceremony and the reception far exceeded our expectations and we appreciate all of the details that went into it. We had a choice of a couple of different packages. We also are very thankful to the Captain r for officiating the ceremony and for so many officers to be there. The Ship: Serenity is fourteen years old. Although not a new vessel it is extremely well maintained and has gone through several changes since it was first launched in 2003. It will receive another makeover in late 2018 when several rooms on Deck 10 will become suites and similar in size to Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Like a home, everyone has their opinions on what area should be makeover. One area that is not often discussed would be to update the Crystal Cove Lounge recognizing that this is often the first area that most people see on their first visit to the ship and we think first impressions are helpful. The ship is well maintained. Like any ship or hotel even ones that are a couple of years old there are some items where some additional maintenance is needed and likely is already scheduled. We have sailed smaller and larger ships and believe that size does change the overall experience including what can be offered and even the overall intimacy. For us the size of Serenity is perfect for long voyages as it allows a lot of enrichment programs and a diverse set of entertainment to be offered simultaneously. It also provides other amenities that we appreciate including a fitness center with lots of equipment, the two paddle tennis courts and a large wrap-around promenade deck. Although no children's programs were offered on this voyage, one will see programs on many of the summer cruise and during holidays when many children are off from school. Accommodations: In addition to our room, the family was in three rooms. The maximum number of guests in a room is limited to three so we placed Jennifer and Gui in separate rooms with one child in each room. We considered connecting rooms. However, we went with these rooms which did not connect because the were mid-ship. There are some rooms that accommodate three people because they have a pullout couch. We were unsure whether or not Jackson would require a crib by the time we sailed so we took one of these rooms for Eric and family. It was located right between Jennifer and Gui's rooms. We ended up going with cribs for Emma and Jackson and our children said they worked out well as they were sturdy and a really good size for each of the children. If a family of three wants to spend a lot of time in a standard room the downside might be its size. We often take the smallest of the three suites on Serenity with the exception of a few times when we went with the next largest size and that is the room we initially booked. A few months ago we thought that getting the largest of the suites would add to this voyage as it would provide lots more space for getting together with the family for pre-dinner canapés and drinks, enjoying dinners together and having the wedding renewal vow and reception. The room itself did exceed our expectations. Once inside the room it has the look and feel of being in an apartment/condominium. It has several unique features from the ceiling which looks like a ceiling you find on land and not on a ship and the master bathroom and even the shower. Early the nicest shower we have ever used on any ship or any hotel. We made good use of the dining room table which could be expanded to sit six people and sweeten the dining room table and the coffee table we could easily accommodate the family for dinner and/or canapés/drinks. Laundry Rooms: We normally don't cover these facilities but wanted to take a moment to do just that. A few years ago Crystal began to replace laundry machine and dryers on some of the decks including Deck 10 which we usually stay on. They were an improvement to the original machines but we thought that the washing machines had two drawbacks; one was that it didn't display the expected duration and should you want to speed it up or pause it to add something to the wash that was not possible. Deck 11 received a new version of the machines as it upgrade was not done for a few years and we thought these washing machines were better as they displayed the duration and when you checked back you saw the remaining time and they provide a lot of options. We also wanted to note that we find doing your own wash on Crystal ships to be easier then any other ship we have sailed on including other luxury lines. On the other luxury lines the rooms were very small and even if you favor in their ships are smaller they still were much smaller in comparison to Crystal laundry rooms and the actual machines are smaller as well. As a result we found that we brought more clothes on those cruises because to avoid doing the laundry for those reasons. This is not the case on Crystal Cruises where we can take less clothing knowing that we can do the laundry. The accommodations that we had for this cruise included pressing as they do for the other two suites categories. This accommodation included complimentary dry cleaning and laundry. We didn't send the laundry out for various reasons. One is that we don't want to put workout clothes in laundry bags due to the moisture on the clothes and prefer to wash them frequently ourselves and there are some items that we wash that we do not place in the dryer and hang up on plastic hangers we bring from home in the bathroom. This would have left us with only a few items to have laundered and it was just as easy to do them ourselves with the other items. Cuisine The food was as good if not better then ever. The dining room menus were diverse and offered many choices each evening and we thought portion size was terrific. This extended beyond the Crystal Dining Room to other areas where we ate including the Lido Cafe at lunchtime. Although we didn't eat at Silk Road (our children and spouses did) we thoroughly enjoyed the food that we ordered in from that restaurant as we did the Prego Italian Restaurant. In the case of Prego we tried several items we had either never had or hadn't had in year and found thoroughly enjoy each one. We would like to thank the pastry team for creating three wonderful cakes for us and our family starting with the cake at our reception. Entertainment/ Enrichment: Since we had the grandchildren with us and we wanted to spend maximum time with them and the rest of the family we only went to the welcome on board show and to very little enrichment. With that said the entertainment offering continue to expand. Most nights offer two distinct shows or forms of entertainment and each evening live music is played by different musicians in a minimum of three different venues. There are other forms of entertainment including a movie shown two times in the evening and then a third time the following afternoon. The amount of enrichment offered is similar to what you would find on longer cruises. The challenge for the guest on a short cruise with no full sea days is finding time to experience it. Also on a short cruise there will be fewer lecturers and they don't work every day. Shore Excursions: We didn't take any excursions so we can't comment on the excursions for this voyage. Internet: The internet was up almost all of the time and speeds were mostly good. First couple of days seemed the fastest. Fitness Center: We continue to appreciate that the Fitness Center is open 24x7 which is not the case for most land based Fitness Centers nor most at sea. Some classes were offered each day. Keith was surprised that the indoor cycling classes were offered only at 4:00 PM rather then alternating them as they often have done in the past with one in the afternoon followed the next time in the morning. This is something that we will note on the customer survey. Children Sailing On A Luxury Cruise Line: Although there was no formal children's program on this sailing we found that Serenity worked very well for the children. They do have dedicated children's facilities and even without a junior activity director on-board for this sailing our family made use of the facility from time to time. The selection of children's DVD's was terrific. The children enjoyed the ship and sailing on a voyage with plenty of port stops worked out well for them. We can't say enough of how welcoming the Crystal crew was with the children going out of their way to make each of them feel special. We will never forget Head Waiter Augusto stopping by the dining room table to check on the children, Senior Waiter Lylian carrying Emma and showing her off to some of the other waiters, Butler Jijo finding M&M's for them and bringing other snacks to the room that he knew they would enjoy and the professionalism of the two baby sitters who watch the children the night we went to The Vintage Room. There was a children' menu in the dining room that provided a good selection of items for the children at dinner. Of course while we didn't do this one could special orders for them or find other things on the menu which they might enjoy. Vintage Room: We chose to have our own Vintage Room for the family so only the six adults dined one night. We worked with Head Sommelier Tilmar ahead of time to create an evening which would be special for us and most importantly for our children and their spouses. It truly was and everyone enjoyed it. It was fun and also provided a great learning experience for the family. We also wanted to mention flexibility. When we booked the Vintage Room we were unaware that our daughter in-law was pregnant. Once we found out we realized that she wouldn't be able to drink but knew she would still enjoy the experience which she did. There was one seafood item that we requested that for someone pregnant there might be a concern. Our son noticed it as soon as we sat down and we mentioned it to Tilmar and without a hesitation he quickly contacted the chef and a substitute item was made for our daughter in law when it was time for that course. Service: We often say that you can take the newest ship and with the wrong crew the experience could be a disaster. There is a unique culture at Crystal and it is instilled in the crew and translates to service that is delivered professionally at all levels while also being personable and not robot like. Even if this is your first cruise you will find that after a few days that some of the crew begin to learn your names and become familiar with you as you do with them. The bonds that more experienced Crystal Cruisers develop with the crew do not come from one voyage but like all bonds comes in time. For us given the amount of time we have sailed Crystal those bonds are strong and some members of the crew we have known for close to fifteen years. For us they are our Crystal family. The crew is one of the main reasons that our go to cruise lines is Crystal Cruises. As we have said in the past, we will sail on other cruise lines and have done just that based on itinerary. However, if the itinerary that Crystal offers in the time frame we want to sail is what we are looking for we will choose Crystal Cruises over the other lines. Each time we return we have that feeling of being home and enjoy being with our extended Crystal family. On this cruise we spent more time with our "own" family but on other cruises we do spend more time with our "extended" Crystal family. ​The crew was amazing with our own children, their spouses and the grandchildren. They helped out with the grandchildren at dinner and at other times. The stewardesses were terrific not only in our room but in the other three rooms. This was also true in other areas including reception, concierge, crystal society and on board bookings, our butler, the bar team, the waitstaff, the fitness center and in other areas of the ship including the officers and the entertainment/enrichment personnel. For either the entire cruise or a portion of the cruise there were several people from Crystal Cruises corporate office and we were glad to introduce them to our family. ​Collectively we have never experienced the professionalism, warmth and passion on any other cruise line or at any other hotel that comes close to what we have experienced on Crystal Cruises. That is not a knock against other companies because several do a nice job but collectively we have found Crystal works best for us in the levels of service that are offered and the bonding with the crew. Yes, familiarly helps and you don't make complete bonds on one cruise or even a handful of cruises. It's not different then making friendships on land. They develop overtime. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was very orderly. Since Keith had booked private vehicles with each family directly with Crystal Cruises all of this was coordinated by the concierge once we boarded Serenity. Each of the families received a letter from the concierge with our disembarkation package providing additional instruction including what time and location to meet for our private transfer. We were met at the designated time/location and escorted off the ship to the pier in Los Angeles. After collecting luggage, clearing immigration and customs each family was taken to their respective vehicle to the drive to the airport. We have made memories which will last a lifetime on this family get-away including an amazing cruise on Crystal Serenity. For us, Crystal cruises is the cruise line we enjoy the most. Keith Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to imagine that the food in the dining room was better than the last cruise, but it was. Our waiters were exceptional, as was the wine steward. The room stewardess was so attentive and thorough. The only complaint I can think of was the poor, and often unavailable WiFi connections. Hopefully with the drydock in September, this will be rectified. Unlike cruise 7208 reports, our Lido/Trident staff was as wonderful as ever. especially Jonathan. Kiko. Allan and Dio. You are truly a member of the Crystal Family when you return and that cannot be overlooked. We look forward to the "New ships" as they come out of drydock and hope not too many of our familiar services and programs will disappear. We too were given a $250 per person onboard credit for our embarcation in San DIego, and we actually enjoyed the 2 hour scenic motorcoach ride. Debarcation in New York City was so quick, we never even got to sit in the Starlite lounge. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC ... Read More
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC through the Panama Canal, it has become "Crystal Clear" that Crystal is not the enviable cruise experience it once was. We have cancelled all of our future bookings and will be looking to other premier lines for our cruising experiences. I feared that this would happen; it usually does when a cruise line gets a new CEO (Oct 2013) and then the sale to another owner (completed May 2015). First, let me tell you a little about us. We are "older folks", both of us in our 70's, who don't require any special attention. This is not our first cruise; we've sailed some 35+ cruises with Celebrity, RC and Azamara, who just got tired of the herding, the over-crowding, the signing for every little amenity, and the average food on the larger vessels. We found Crystal in the spring of 2012 and this was our 12th cruise in 3 years. We are not "destination" cruisers rather "journey" travelers......we love the ship for its elegant, relaxing atmosphere and great dining experiences. We're not driven to cruise to the far corners of the earth to fulfill any "bucket list". If I want something "up close and personal" , I turn on the National Geographic Channel on my TV. We sailed with Crystal for their exemplary service, their elegant atmosphere, the ease of small ship inclusive cruising and for the OUTSTANDING, GREAT FOOD they once offered. Having said that, Crystal was a real disappointment this time: FOOD: Seems that there is a real disconnect between the recipes and the chefs who prepare them. The best I could figure out, is that the recipes come from the corporate office and the chefs were asked to change or "re-invent" some of their tried and true offerings they once prepared. I never knew that there were so many ways to prepare mousse! Mousse with appetizers, mousse with entrees, mousse for dessert! And, what's this "foam" stuff sprayed on my food? The fish were dry, salty and fishy tasting (with the exception of the Dover Sole). The shrimp were rubbery and undercooked. The quality of the meats were sometimes down-right poor, both in the Lido and MDR. There was absolutely no difference between the coating on the pre-prepared Wienerschnitzel and Veal Parmasan. Alaskan King crab legs on the last formal night....what happened to the Lobster? I could go on, but you get the point. Silk Road was still excellent, but Prego's menu was undergoing changes too....mushroom soup didn't quite taste the same. The Lido salads and fresh breakfast fruits were still excellent. The German potato salad in the Lido was awesome! ATMOSPHERE: Of the 26 nights aboard, 23 were Resort Casual. The cruise itinerary originally had a few Elegant Casual nights scheduled, but after boarding, those dress codes were changed. There were not many men wearing sports jackets in the MDR, in spite of the fact that the Crystal Cove and other public areas, had an average temperature of about 55 degrees.......always, VERY COLD!! There were more children on board this cruise than I've ever seen before, but then that's probably due to the new(?) policy of FREE sailings for kids on "select cruises". It took me awhile to figure out that the dress code of "European Trousers for men", was nothing more than denim pants that weren't manufactured in the USA (Levis, Wrangler). Most were appropriate attire for the MDR.......absolutely not problem with a nice pair of Armani jeans with a sports coat and Hermes belt, but before long, other passengers will start showing up in their Levis! That brings me to another disconnect between the emphasis on "Casual" by Crystal and the Retail shops selling Designer clothing and accessories like Gucci, Prada and Burberry when so many passengers are content to wander around all day in their Logo and gym gear. And what's with this ENDLESS stream of parading travel agents wined and dined by Crystal in EVERY port? I would love to know how much of my cruise fare is spent on that. SERVICE: This was the only "WOW" factor left aboard Crystal. Our standing Room Service of juice and coffee every morning always arrived on time and our Stateroom Attendant was awesome. The bar staff always remembered our drink orders and our waiters always tried to remedy the disappointments that came out of the MDR Kitchen. Just a special group of fine young people that worked so hard! I have gotten to know many of them over the years and will miss them very much! Enough said, but I wanted to give our assessment of the "New" Crystal from 2 journey cruisers that still remember the "refined Crystal experience". We will be looking to other premier luxury lines in the future until Crystal regains it's past reputation. I'll be checking on Cruise Critic for future assessments! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early ... Read More
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early 60s) and were there to experience a floating hotel. We on the other hand love the experience of being at sea, which is close to our hearts as our whole working and social life revolves around the sea. Our cabin was typical of a ship of this size. Very welled equipped. A sliding door rather than an opening one was appreciated as it allows much more room on the balcony. The men found the bathroom a little squashy, two basins was probably an overkill as only one person could be in there at a time. Our main disappointment was not being able to eat casually at night in the Lido restaurant where views to the ocean are unrestricted. We were therefore confined to eating before 6pm at the outdoor pool bar or in the very noisy main dining room where we could not see out and missed some magnificent sunsets. Also there was no area outside to have sunset drinks which is probably our most treasured time of day when at sea. Yes we had a balcony but that meant we could not socialise with others. The few shops had some very old and tattered clothing left and were closed during our cruise as they were to be reopened by someone else. The shore excursions were as expected buy I must say extremely well executed. The hotel staff were all very friendly and professional and agreed that it was unfortunate that we were all sent inside at 6pm like children on a school night. I would not sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We have traveled on Crystal for at least 15-16 voyages. We love their staff and service. They have an excellent cruise director, Paul, who always adds to our enjoyment. The lectures & entertainment are wonderful. We are not ... Read More
We have traveled on Crystal for at least 15-16 voyages. We love their staff and service. They have an excellent cruise director, Paul, who always adds to our enjoyment. The lectures & entertainment are wonderful. We are not "foodies" and we find their food to be just fine. This past May, after a missed year of cruising, we embarked on the Symphony from Los Angeles to New York. My first impression was that things have changed. We still encountered the wonderful staff and service, but just a little something about the ship had changed. Perhaps it was that the ship was filled to capacity and could not function as well. The Bistro seemed very crowded and understaffed. We noted repairs necessary in our stateroom as well as in public areas. There was rust on the exterior railings and other areas crying for paint. Some of the hard surfaces are scratched and gauged. In the past, we saw maintenance constantly taking place on the ship. This time hardly at all. Our friends, who were on the 9th floor mid ship, encountered the annoying vibration from the engines. On past sailings, I had learned this the hard way and now always book a stateroom more forward. There the vibration is minimal. We have grown accustomed to the tiny staterooms but we would love to see Crystal switch to stall showers instead of the bath tub shower combination. We will continue cruising with Crystal because of the staff and service. Although it is due for some work in dry dock, I am afraid the Symphony is tired and needs more help than a short dry dock can provide! But, while while we wait for them to launch a new ship, we will probably return for another cruise on the Symphony. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
The public rooms are impressive with a large atria, attractive furnishings and the areas well laid out, The Avenue Saloon with nightly piano music was especially delightful. As for dining, we enjoyed the late seating with a delightful ... Read More
The public rooms are impressive with a large atria, attractive furnishings and the areas well laid out, The Avenue Saloon with nightly piano music was especially delightful. As for dining, we enjoyed the late seating with a delightful table and superb service. The cuisine was well prepared and presented and is definitely a cut above that on Regent Seven Seas. The shows aere good and well presented and the other entertainers as well. The theme was Movies with a special tribute to Doris Day and we found all of the speakers and topics truly delightful and entertaining. The staff was helpful, friendly and alert to all requests. The excursions were wothwhile wi the best being the lovely luncheon in San Jose,Costa Rica, the Panama Canal crossing and the totally delightful surrey tour through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
It is a competitive marketplace in the "Luxury" or "Premium" cruise category and Crystal stands at the top of this narrow pyramid. Crystal matches the upper competitors by offering a luxury cruise ship with well ... Read More
It is a competitive marketplace in the "Luxury" or "Premium" cruise category and Crystal stands at the top of this narrow pyramid. Crystal matches the upper competitors by offering a luxury cruise ship with well appointed cabins and elegant spacious public spaces. The place settings sparkle and the linens are crisp. But what really stands out on Crystal Symphony, from the first day to the last day, is the high level of very personalized, attentive and consistent service. In this age of computer algorithms and complex customer databases, it is the real human touch and care which stands Crystal truly apart. More persuasive than any fancy cruise brochure or well spoken sales agent, Remi Szutkiewicz, the Maitre d', is the most public face on Crystal Symphony and, in effect, the "Brand Ambassador" presiding over a most impressive Dain Dining Room team. Cruise lines and hotel brochures go to great lengths to advertise their focus on service and personalized attention. However, I was consistently and considerably struck by Crystal's ability to really deliver on this overused expression. I must confess my favorite part of cruising is eating and, as such, I must admit to spending a lot of time in the Dining Room. I was fortunate to sit close to the front which gave me a great vantage point to watch the Dining Room staff, particularly the senior staff, in action. Without fail, their focus was like a laser beam on making sure each guest felt welcomed, comfortable and really special. While Remi, with his worldly charm and grace, set a high tone, I also had the opportunity to watch Head Waiter Roland and really the entire team of Head Waiters carrying this approach with complete focus and dedication. For dinner, my Senior Waiter was Muzo whom I had requested from a previous cruise. Without fail, he welcomed me to the Dining Room each evening like an old friend and proceeded to deliver course after course with very friendly professionalism and precision. For breakfast and lunch I was fortunate to be served by Mustafa who, while a little quieter, was very attentive, professional and made for very enjoyable meals. Assisting Muzo and Mustafa was Elio who was very conscientious and capable in his table service. It's not just the Dining Room staff that makes a personal difference. I noticed in the bars and lounges a regular flow of guests interacting very personally, warmly and with a long history with a number of the bartenders and bar staff. For myself, I had the good fortune to be served by Paula, Elisa and Camila each evening before dinner in the Starlite Club. My cabin was cleaned very nicely by Leslie who was always attentive and eager to please. In fact, this was my first cruise "downstairs" in a category other than the Penthouse. I had a Category D cabin which is Symphony's basic "Deluxe Stateroom with Large Picture Window". Even at just 202 sq. ft., it felt surprisingly spacious and had a good amount of storage and a well-designed bathroom. So two thumbs up and a thank you to Crystal. I am eager to be back aboard soon. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
We decided to do this "Cruise To Nowhere" immediately after doing it last year. Crystal, I believe, has only done this itinerary a couple of times. Starting in San Pedro, it heads North to Santa Barbara, spends 2 days in San ... Read More
We decided to do this "Cruise To Nowhere" immediately after doing it last year. Crystal, I believe, has only done this itinerary a couple of times. Starting in San Pedro, it heads North to Santa Barbara, spends 2 days in San Francisco before returning south to Ensenada and San Diego. Being from Southern California and having spent a lot of time in all of these destinations, we termed this the "Cruise To Nowhere" last year. We were taking this Thanksgiving Cruise primarily to enjoy the ship, the food, and the usually stellar service. I am rating the overall cruise a 4 star, but in reality it's more like a 4.5 or 4.6. I unfortunately cannot rate it a 5, at least from our perspective. Here, in no particular order are my observations: Cabin: We were on the fifth deck, Category D. Cabin was in a great location. Lower deck right outside the main lobby and the Crystal Dining Room. It's a bit small, but typical of most outside cabins. Bathroom with 2 sinks and great toiletries was nice. Shower/Tub had a hand set shower unit with nice power. Downside is the quality of the beds. Mattress is very firm and all of the pillows were too soft. They tried a trick with an egg crate upside down, but it did not help much. Crystal needs to redo the beds. Many would agree. 4 stars Food: Nothing more to say than ...SIMPLY AWESOME!. We had no complaints whatsoever. The food in the MDR was 5 star or better every single meal. From the fish to the bread to the soup to the venison, it was a taste sensation every meal. Even one step higher were the Specialty restaurants: Silk Road and Prego. Outstanding preparation and my hat is off to the chefs and servers throughout the ship. 5 stars plus All Inclusive Drinks and Wine: We had a great Sommelier and the wines offered were quite nice. Our mixed drinks at the bars were also served quickly and were quite good. I cannot complain at all about this aspect of AI. We are not big drinkers, but apparently you can also have 2 bottles of complementary hard liquor or champagne in your stateroom. See your stewardess and she will get you all set up. 5 stars Enrichment: Because we only had one sea day, the Crystal Enrichment program was at a bare minimum. This was unfortunate. Last year we at least had Art and Music classes, and I was expecting it again this year. It was even listed in the itinerary on the web. The Speaker, Louis Rene Beres, an international law expert focused on the middle east, was excellent, but they only gave him one day to speak. He had apparently prepared four lectures. I do understand that on Port Days, the ship expects everyone to be out exploring. But on this particular cruise, I'd say a good proportion of people stayed on the ship, a lot. Ensenada, in particular, seemed to have very few "adventurers". we were fine with not having many activities on the sea days, as our objective was just to relax, but to have the option of a few things would have been nice. Last year, for instance, we did some art and actually had it displayed at an "Art Show" on the ship. 3 stars Jazz Themed Cruise: Perhaps some of the minimization of the enrichment program was due to the Jazz we had on board. There were several musicians on board, playing for several hours every day at various venues. The Talent was superb Old Styled Jazz with top notch solos. The groups were part of an organization called "Jazzdagen". One of their band leaders is a guy named Pieter Meijers, who plays a Clarinet like you would not believe. I would rate this entertainment 5 stars plus, and was a unique experience we had not encountered in any of our previous cruises. Well done! Service: This was the surprise for us. Last year, we had the best service of any cruise we've ever been on. They made an effort to know our names. I would be up early and try to meet my wife later in the lido for breakfast. The Lido staff would be able to pinpoint me and direct my wife to my table. It was unprecendented. The Dinner staff were equally accomading. that Was last year. This year, for whatever reason ,was a complete reversal, at least for us. Our stewardess was just adequate, if not worse. We had early dining, and on 2 nights we returned to our room after dinner to find that she was still cleaning the stateroom. This was at 830pm! So she got embarrassed and said she would hurredly finish, meaning of course, not thoroughly cleaning perhaps. Our dinner waiter was equally incompetent, if I can use that term. We were a table of 8 at the very aft end of the room. We were invariably the last table to get served. Some orders were wrong: he forgot who ordered what, that sort of thing. We had to switch our plates after he served the wrong dishes to the wtrong people Desserts were forgotten. Coffee and Tea was not served with dessert, perhaps 5-10 minutes after dessert. I mean it wasn't all bad, but it was also not that great. He never recommended any meals or described how the dishes were prepared. I don't know, but for some reason, we got stuck with perhaps the worst waiter on the ship. Now our dinner mates were great, and our interesting conversations were able to carry us through the delays, but still, I like to eat in a timely fashion. All dinners took about 2 hours from start to finish. We were usually about the last people out of the dining room. Not because of lingerring to talk, but lingering for our after dinner tea or coffe to arrive. Surprising thing however...the lunch service was excellent. Maybe less crowded, but we were in and out on 45 minutes and completely satisfied. The waiters/eaitresses vary for lunch, so we had a glimpse of some others. Most were stellar, but a couple were again just not so good. Service is the most important aspect of a luxury cruisre, and we just felt that we were treated pretty mush average if that. In direct comparison to the best serviced cruise of our life, last year, we just this was on par with a mega ship, not a smaller luxury ship known for it's sevice. And Crystal is not inexpensive, so this was just a bit incomprehensible for us. Oh, one other thing, our stateroom toilet went out of service briefly. I went to the front desk to anounce it (front desk is 30 feet from our room if that). Then we heard that toilets were out on that entire side of the ship for our floor at least, including the public bathroom. Two elderly women came out of the bathroom to say the same thing (toilets not working) so I went right back to the front desk. I thought this was pretty important. The front desk staffperson did not and just non-chalantly said someone would be notified. I went back to the room a couple hours later and the toilet was working, thank goodness. Went to the same front desk person to say "thanks, it looks like our toilet is working again." She was sort of caught off guard and said, "Oh okay, thanks for letting us know". Bottom line: She didn't put any emphasis or care in the toilets being out, and had no idea that the situation was resolved nor did any announcement come directly to us that our staeroom toilet was working again. Not a shining Service moment for Crystal, IMHO. Overall Service: 3 Stars Summary: We had a great cruise, but it was not the "6 Star" luxury we had expected, coming off our truly "6 Star" treatment on the same cruise last year. Hard to say if it was due to the "All Inclusive" changeover this year, or just our specific bad luck of having a less than stellar stewardess and waiter. Could also be that several crew members may have been at their last week of their contract, i.e. burned out. The Symphony was heading to the South Pacific and Australia, so it would make sense that a new crew was being sent "Down Under". Still, it is the ship's responsibility to make sure everyone is adequately taken care of. The Jazz was great and the food was great and the wine was great. Service was only adequate, so the overall experince was a bit diminished. Would we sail Crystal again...surely, but the price would have to be commensurate with the service. In this case, it was not. Read Less
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