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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first time on a Crystal Cruise and chose this cruise based on recommendations and the itinerary. The pro's - Embarkation and disembarkion - quickest and most organised of any cruises done to date Food - The best food of ... Read More
Our first time on a Crystal Cruise and chose this cruise based on recommendations and the itinerary. The pro's - Embarkation and disembarkion - quickest and most organised of any cruises done to date Food - The best food of all cruise lines to date, only thing that let it down at times was the sweets, OK but not amazing unlike the entrée and mains. Service - Waterside - a big thanks to Gorkan, Tamas who really looked after us, the buffet staff were all wonderful, Pinto from the Italian restaurant and in the Cove bar, Chris and Priscilla who made our cruise memorable. Our cabin girl Danijela looked after us so well. Cabin - 5010 on the 5th deck was lovely, quiet, no movement, kept spotlessly clean and had adequate storage and all that you needed. Was a lot smaller than the Visa cabin (same cat.) on the Silverseas ships. Entertainment in the Galaxy theatre, enjoyable. the con's - Activities - What activities! So little to do apart from computer, lectures...…… Entertainment - this ship has marvellous bars but if your sitting in a bar after 10.00pm there is more likely hood that there will be more staff in the room than passengers. We sat in the Avalon bar one evening - Piano player and four of us and five staff...……...so no atmosphere at all. Found the piano (2 piano players) and violin (she was amazing) all a bit boring over an 11 day cruise. Same as the duo. Really need more entertainment geared for passengers who would like up beat music and a bit of fun. Saying that, seems that the majority of the passengers are very old (and we are in our 70's). We did not book our excursions through Crystal as found it much cheaper to book ourselves online. Alaska itself is more suited to fit and able passengers who would like to do outdoor activities. If your interest is the towns, found them all much the same, so many jewellery shops, same type of tourist shops, etc. All a bit contrived. Sitka was my favourite stop, lovely walks and suited for older passengers. After two cruises with Silversea's I was anticipating staff calling us by name occasionally but found only Chris in the Cove bar remembered our names after 11 days. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The ... Read More
We chose the Serenity having travelled on the Espirit and the Harmony and because we wanted to do a Baltic Sea Cruise. We have suite 11060 which is fine and it an added benefit to order dinner from any of the dining establishments. The check in was seamless. Our butler and cabin attendants, Jose and Lydia, were the best!!!! You could not find anything lacking in their lovely demeanor and commitment to our well being. The first two days we were in Copenhagen. The weather was less than attractive, rainy and overcast, but the city's personality shown through. The Danes are a wonderful people, very conscious of the environment, very hygge, the perfect city to start the cruise. The second port in Germany was kind of a bust. The town was ‘eh’. It is a nice little seaside town in Northern Germany. We took a long walk into town along a boardwalk filled with German tourists. English was rather sketchy. I recommend getting off the main tourist area and walking into town. They have a lovely church square and a sweet little park that the local use. Day 4 was the day at Sea and Formal Night. The cruise seemed very casual. Less than half the men was saw adhered to Crystal Casual or the Semi Formal attire. We had dinner in the dining room which is where our problems started. My husband was the first to succumb to the norovirus the morning of day 5. I will not subject you to the details, but suffice it to say it was extremely unpleasant. The medical team admonished him for not washing his hands enough, and he was quarantined leaving me to go to a lower floor overnight. His poor health lasted two days missing Helsinki and one day in St. Petersburg. I succumbed the 2nd day in St. Petersburg missing St. Petersburg and Tallin. I did not expect to find the Norovirus in such a high end cruise. I don’t have an official count but the ship has seemed very quiet and the medical center was very busy both days we visited. An airborne food disease is not the ‘fault’ of guests. It is the responsibility of the ship to provide a clean and disenfected environment. The first evening aboard the ship I witness tissue on the ground on the 11 floor, trash left in a stairwell to the work out room and napkins in the elevator. Really! On a Crystal ship! We have sailed on 17 different cruise ships since 1991 and this is the first time we have encountered the Norovirus. As far as other aspects of Crystal, I have yet to find a barista on board at least at the Marketplace that can make a decent cappuccino. How can you call yourself a luxury cruise line when the coffee station cannot make cappuccinos and don’t use the proper size cup to get the ingredients correct. I don’t drink alcohol but I do love my mocha and cappuccinos. Sorry to say, I have not had a decent one since we left the d’Angleterre hotel in Copenhagen. Excursion desk. My question is this, how can I purchase my ticket to the Russian ballet 5 months in advance and be seated with the crew, when someone who bought their ticket for the excursion a couple of hours before the show had tickets in the second row. Also, did I mention we purchased penthouse suite? That just did not make sense to me☹️. Also, you need better excursions. The company that took us to Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg also took us to a place to purchase souvenirs. On another day a private guide we arranged to use to a souvenir shop and the items were 40-50% less. Beware! I thought the service staff was great. Crystal society rep was less than lack luster, I approached while my husband was in the room, he was getting up to join his friend at the Cruise Sale desk. I stopped him to tell him what was going on, he did not ask me sit just let me talk to him in an open lobby, and immediately joined his friend when I was finished talking. I don’t like to say never, but after having travelled on the Espirit, I will not ever take another voyage on Crystal Serenity. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us ... Read More
We thought we booked the same line we took on another cruise, but it turned out to be the Crystal Serenity, which was even better. The staff were happy, which we like because it means the company treats them well, then they treated us very well. We liked the way every time we sat down, whether it was in the central lounge on Deck 5 or the Forward lounge on Deck 12, there was someone approaching us to ask if there was anything they could get for us. It was called an "amenity" cruise, and it was indeed. We were treated extremely well from the time we arrived at the ship, throughout the cruise, and when we left to go home. The food was fabulous, the prosecco, chamboard cocktails and wine flowed freely, and there were light activity shore excursions that I could enjoy. Crystal is definitely now my favorite cruise line, and I hope we can take another cruise with this line soon. Having talked with others who have taken other cruise lines to the same locations, I find that the fact that Crystal allows you to take as many or as few shore excursions, but only pay for the ones you take, is an advantage. As my ability to walk decreases, I would take fewer shore excursions, but would enjoy every bit of the cruise as much or more than I did this time. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
During the last few years we have cruised on Viking, Oceania and now Crystal and having compared these cruises I can readily say that Crystal is by far the best. All of the ships are very similar in size and number of passengers, about ... Read More
During the last few years we have cruised on Viking, Oceania and now Crystal and having compared these cruises I can readily say that Crystal is by far the best. All of the ships are very similar in size and number of passengers, about 850. The difference is the amenities, service and food service. Crystal had excellent entertainment and lecturers who spoke about the what we would see and do on the trip and excursions. All of the excursions were excellent and on all excursions a crew member from the ship also went. All of the meals and food service was excellent and you can order just about anything even if it is not on the menus. The difference between Crystal and the other cruise lines is like comparing a Toyota Camry to a BMW. Both will get you to your destination but the BMW will get you there in a much more luxurious manner. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable ... Read More
Our third Crystal cruise did not disappoint. We went from Iceland to the fjord of Norway to Copenhagen, and I would highly recommend this route as it was spectacular in every way, and the Crystal Serenity was simply the best. Impeccable service, cuisine, facilities, entertainment- there cannot be a better cruise line than this. I am a customer service expert, so I have high standards and Crystal surpassed every expectation. Every single item of cuisine at every single meal or snack was exceptional. They even had a wonderful variety of sugar-free and gluten-free treats which were most welcome for those of us with dietary restrictions. The staff handled all that with ease and a smile. Every single staff member from the gangplank to the crew to the waiters to the stewardesses were delightful and the best you will ever experience. Really marvelous service. The entertainment was way beyond what I was expecting, and there were informative lectures and movies, and so much more. They even had the astronaut who rescued the Hubble Space Telescope giving talks. Very impressive. They imported a number of special guests performers, and the in-house artists were all world class too. The excursions, while expensive, and extra, were ll top notch and absolutely beautiful. The fjords are astonishing and spectacular. The ship has been nicely refurbished and is spacious, bursting with every possible amenity, planet of space. There is so much to do, or not do, that every taste will be satisfied. The spa and fitness center were excellent and spacious. The cabin was ample and the double sink in its bathroom was a nice touch. the bathroom was sizable, and I could even stand up n the show and in 99% of the ship even though I am 6'-8"/203cm tall. We loved having a verandah and could have sat out there all day and never left and been very happy (thanks to the free and wonderful room service). Of course, there was some internet spottiness above the Arctic Circle and in the fjords, but it's still miraculous to even have internet on the high seas. It turned out to be a minor inconvenience, but was better than our last Crystal cruise on the Symphony, but that was before their remodel and internet upgrade. I would HIGHLY recommend Crystal Cruises for any route, and I would very much recommend Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords as destination- really exceptional and awesomely beautiful. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Tokyo to San Francisco, 23 days of being pampered, educated, and involved. This was our first Crystal cruise, and hopefully it will not be our last. This “Movie and Theater” themed cruise offered speakers, documentaries and ... Read More
Tokyo to San Francisco, 23 days of being pampered, educated, and involved. This was our first Crystal cruise, and hopefully it will not be our last. This “Movie and Theater” themed cruise offered speakers, documentaries and entertainers. Our days at sea were filled with lecturers and performances. Tours from the ship in various ports were a little bit pricey, but enjoyable. The ship is small enough to be able to meet people more than once. Dining room staff was friendly. Special meal orders were served graciously. Symphony is an older ship, but is very well maintained. A few more electrical outlets would have been helpful, as would have been more prompt repairs to malfunctioning washers and dryers. Over all, cruising on Crystal Symphony was a wonderful experience! Special kudos to Saleh, our waiter who anticipated our every need. Remi, the head waiter, was a miracle worker who brought my the next day’s menu so that my requested salt free meals could be prepared for me. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, ... Read More
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, was varied and to a very high standard. Service was quicker than Seabourn and Barbara was a wonderful waitress. Service and dining in the speciality restaurants, Prego and Umi Uma, was absolutely first class. The decor is very old fashioned though. In the Italian Prego, that is almost forgivable as there is at least some soul to it. In Umi Uma the decor is dark, soulless and like a department store restaurant in the 1980s...it really could have done with something in the recent refit. Absolutely no problems with the wonderful cuisine and good quality included wines and spirits. We had a Penthouse Suite which, although only lightly refreshed on the recent refit, was very well appointed, with lots of space and well thought out. Our butler Richard was an absolute marvel...he deserves six stars for his positive can-do attitude and for serving meals in the cabin so well. Our stewardesses were completely wonderful and the cabin was kept pristine all through. The bathroom is good but old fashioned and the Etro toiletries are poor. Topped-up chocolates were unbelievably good. Enrichment was good. Entertainment was superb...better than Seabourn, with higher production values and a great theatre. The things that were missing were hard to put a finger on. Overall it was probably the ‘holiday’ feeling and warmth that you instantly get on Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, the overall ship design and the ability to settle into that ship easily. Many of the staff and crew were excellent on Serenity, but many were also less than engaged and tired. The crew was invisible...however the entertainment director was fantastic. The ship doesn’t flow. It’s hard to find your way around. It feels old fashioned and it shows that the recent dry dock only refreshed certain areas. The fountain in the main atrium is a tacky shopping centre disgrace. The outside areas are poorly used: the back of the buffet area is too small and unshaded; there is no pool bar and no outside evening parties. Maybe it was just the time of year? Passengers from all over the world. Mainly US, China and Japan and many in groups. Ports were good, tendering OK but not as good as on Seabourn or Hapag Lloyd. Overall, maybe we are just used to a smaller ship? We’d still come back at the right price and itinerary though! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid ... Read More
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid vessel...good bones, as is often said. We opted for a Penthouse with Verandah and were very pleased with its layout and features. I especially liked the back-to-back desk, one prepared to serve as a vanity. The lighting was very good in the suite and especially in the vanity area. The bathroom included two basins and a very comfortable shower enclosure. There was a jetted tub, which we did not use. I was pleased to see the many drawers, shelves and nooks to organize our belongings. However, the best feature of the suite was Rao, our wonderful butler, and the two housekeeping attendants. We are have had butler in Silversea (which provides butlers for any suite level) and they have been very good, but Rao was so pleasantly effective! The best of the lot. We were pleased with all dining venues, especially Waterside and Prego, except for The Marketplace. This venue acts as the breakfast and lunch buffet style cafeteria. The offerings were good, but not as good as in Colonnade and Trerraza (SB and SS respectively). We did not like it mainly for its layout. The table/chairs are set in a very narrow space, galley like, and most times the waiters' stations were almost besides us. We very much preferred Waterside. We had unusually cold weather and could not use the pool. However, we found the pool to be small, narrow and with less depth that those in SS and SB. Also, there is no food/bar service at the pool. Overall level of service was very good...except for one incident, reported and corrected. I rate the gym the best. I especially enjoyed the cardio-disco classes offered; they were a lot of fun and quite challenging. We never had any problems accessing the treadmills for our daily routines. Entertainment and daily activities offerings were so much better than in SS and SB!! The dance classes led by Beverly and Curtis were very popular, and all the participants enjoyed them very much. The shows were varied and included a comedian, as well as a magician from the well known Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In summary, we plan on booking Crystal in the future, especially longer trips, in order to enjoy all the daily offerings on sea days. However...if weather is very good, other pools may beckon us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ... Read More
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ship. Now that Crystal has chopped up its cruises into mini 5-day segments, and "relaxed" its dress code, it has become a down-scale cruise line. We have always avoided those 7-day cruise lines because we didn't want the 7-day cruise clientele. Now, that is who pretty much populates Crystal. There was frequent loud, vulgar cursing around and in the pool by clients who have obviously had too much to drink even at 11:00 AM. Baseball hats, flip-flops, athletic shoes, and t-shirts are common in the main dining room. Just read the reviews here on CruiseCritic from Crystal clients lauding the fact they will not even bring a sport coat onto their next Crystal cruise. There was a man in the cabin below us who smoked cigarettes on his balcony, despite it being explicitly prohibited by Crystal. We couldn't use our balcony or open our outside door without having to inhale his second-hand smoke. We complained to the Concierge multiple times, but Crystal was impotent in having him stop. So, WE (not him) had to change our room. Terrible. On the good side, Crystal does have great service. The staff is outstanding. With the elimination of set dining times, the food appears to have gotten even better. We have cancelled all future cruises we had already booked with Crystal. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ... Read More
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ever. The staff were happy and did seem more relaxed and content, which helps me feel more relaxed during my vacation. Ambassador hosts were charming and good for company at shared tables even getting me on the dance floor a couple of times. The headwaiter was fabulous and also the wines were fantastic. I did several spa services which were quality and worth the cost. Trivia was again a highlight on sea days and all in all the cruise was filled with movies, lectures, shore tours, and great food, company and beverages. I guess we also hit the jackpot as we did have calm enough seas to get onto Easter Island for the day tours, which is a novel experience. I indulged in some great modern dishes in the dining room and was very well taken care of regarding my dietary restrictions. Also it was great to see that bartenders no longer automatically add straws in every drink. Now I can stop saying "no straw please" with my orders. Oh also I got to play table tennis doubles one afternoon! Kept in shape taking the stairs onboard, walking the promenade deck and snorkelling in Moorea! I highly recommend this itinerary, it was a real getaway and super for getting away from the winter. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Dining in main dining room was average. However, the dining in the specialty restaurants was very good. Liked the choice of 5 dining options. High cost for tours. Best decision is to organize a private tour on Cruise Critic and use Tours ... Read More
Dining in main dining room was average. However, the dining in the specialty restaurants was very good. Liked the choice of 5 dining options. High cost for tours. Best decision is to organize a private tour on Cruise Critic and use Tours by Locals. Overall service was very good. The butler was excellent and the cabin service was very good. Prices in the shops was way out of line. No general sundry shop to purchase small items. Did not like the idea that they would not let you on the ship until noon. Other cruise lines will allow you to board early and wait in a common area until cabins are ready. Disembarkation was not satisfactory. Since we had a late flight we purchased a transfer package that included wait time in a hotel. The hotel day room supplied a minimum of snaks and drinks along with broken chairs. Probably not Crystals fault. Read Less
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
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the trip destination and the Crystal reputation. We have been on other Crystal trips and this is the first time we did 3 back to back trips, total 45 days! Embarkation was a piece of cake. Bags we shipped were ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the trip destination and the Crystal reputation. We have been on other Crystal trips and this is the first time we did 3 back to back trips, total 45 days! Embarkation was a piece of cake. Bags we shipped were in our room when we arrived and the bags we brought arrived shortly thereafter. We are hoping the same for disembarkation. The Captains Larsen and Willheim are the best, with rough seas when we had them. They are cautious on all conditions. The rest of the crew are equally praised in every area of the ship. The wait staff are amazing from the Maitr’d down to waiters. It is amazing how they remember names and faces. They anticipate your every need. We are fortunate to have a Penthouse on deck 10. The butler and housekeeping staff all work well together. Because the seas are rough today, our housekeeper wanted to go out and do windows on the veranda. We told her to take that off her list today due to sea conditions. 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
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This is our third cruise on Crystal and Symphony. Our first was 22 years ago from Istanbul. Our second was February 2017 Singapore to Hong Kong. Both were amazing. We chose an easier quick trip out of New Orleans with our daughter and ... Read More
This is our third cruise on Crystal and Symphony. Our first was 22 years ago from Istanbul. Our second was February 2017 Singapore to Hong Kong. Both were amazing. We chose an easier quick trip out of New Orleans with our daughter and her spouse. We both had suites, we decided on the new Seabreeze suites which were just redone in 2017. They were very nice woth a large shower with excellent water pressure... Anyway the ship was superb, from the staff, the AMAZING speciality restaurants and the fabulous entertainment. I even had time for the casino. Keep in mind everything is inclusive, all liquior, wine, WiFi, grautuities. This time there were children on the ship and the staff seem to handle well. We are in 9051 and as I said it was very nice. We have taken over 45 ocean cruises and three River Cruises and Crystal and Silverseas remains at the top of our list. You cannot go wrong with this cruise line. Good luck and keep cruising. We loved it! Read Less
33 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We picked this cruise because we’d never taken an ‘all-inclusive’ type cruise and this one was a short 7N from New Orleans which is close to us. I’d seen the various pricing sheets showing how close in cost a cruise on a Line such ... Read More
We picked this cruise because we’d never taken an ‘all-inclusive’ type cruise and this one was a short 7N from New Orleans which is close to us. I’d seen the various pricing sheets showing how close in cost a cruise on a Line such as Crystal was to a ‘standard’ Line such as Celebrity, which we’ve cruised 20+ times and wanted to see if they were true - it’s true! At least for the shorter 7N cruises. We loved this ship and the entire Crystal experience. I will be giving my opinion about this cruise by comparing it to our Celebrity experiences. I won’t cover the ports - it was a Western Caribbean and been to all of them. Spent most of the time on the ship. So here goes. Embarkation: With barely 800 passengers, it’s not nearly as crowded as our previous cruises. The larger ships handled the 2000+ well, but this was better than nice: as we walked into the terminal, they asked us if we were suites or standard SR, and gave us a number. When called (waited about 10min), we walked onboard and checked in there. Given our keycard, gave them our paperwork and charge card and that was that. 5min max. Handed a drink as we walked further in and off to a lunch in the main dining room, not a buffet. And was introduced to ‘Crystal’ Dining - wow. Will talk on that shortly. Ship: very elegant but low key. Lower ceilings than other larger ships which gave all the common areas a more intimate feel. Many bar and seating areas. The Avenue Bar is like a pub with wood paneling and lovely pub bar. Pianos and live music in most of the bars. The ship has a nice and inviting game/card room. We played lots of bridge and had classes. Was never crowded in any of the common areas. the Palm Court on the top deck forward was unbelievable. Elegant-great bar-seating for groups and couples. Windows with all around views. The place to be at sea. Ship has a true Promenade Deck. Wood and fully wraparound. Great walking and jogging or standing and just viewing the sea. Loved it. Shopping: All was very high end, so for us, not needed. Beautifully laid out, but only a small section for ‘oops, I forgot something’ type items. Didn’t use any of the stores, but nicely laid out. Standard Lines such as Celebrity have more day-to-day items and clothing and lots of sales and ‘buy 2 and get 3’ type sales. Crystal didn’t have any big sales pitches and everyone going through piles of clothes and stuff. Dining: Here is the major plus. the Marketplace ‘buffet’ is only called that because of it’s layout but it was outstanding in choice and quality. I love the Celebrity buffets but this blew me away. The main dining in the Waterside was fantastic. No set time and no reservations. You walk up, ask for a table for 2 or 4 or whatever and you are seated. Great quality and options. I love lamb and it was so tender, I almost didn’t need a knife. Great fish and steaks. All high quality. the entrees and appetizers were relatively small so I could try multiple dishes. The Grill was well beyond a hamburger/hotdog grill. It had many salads and sandwiches, including a Ruben I’d die for. Each bar had snacks and the Bistro was a great place for pastries and light snacks and coffees and expresso-styles. Loved all of it. Specialty Restaurants: You get a least 2 dinings at these restaurants. Each we tried was unique. We loved Prego - Italian and outstanding steaks and fish. Umi Uma was Japanese and our favorite. Great choices. Silk was Chinese. It was nice, but I thought the Marketplace choices were better. Entertainment: I was mainly concerned that a small ship would have mediocre main entertainment. I was wrong. It was excellent. Not as fine as the larger Lines, but the theater is smaller and you are very close to the singers and dancers. Fun. Excellent quality. They had a magician from the Magic Castle in LA that killed it with up-close slight of hand. But one of the weak areas was activities during in port times. It was almost nonexistent. Not a big issues since we can entertain ourselves, but if you are not going to spend all day ashore, it’s very quiet. Nice, but quiet. Service. A+. Excellent ratio and well trained personnel. They were always working to meet your needs and wishes. Never went ‘dry’ with servers coming up to check. Not obtrusive, but always available. Room steward was a charmer. Very attentive and went the extra mile. We had a very bad night and day returning to New Orleans with 50+kt winds and huge waves. She came in to check us and would have got us meds if needed. The entire staff was fantastic. My experience was Celebrity also had great service, but Crystal just had more staff per passengers so more overall attention. Drinks: I wasn’t sure if the all-inclusive drinks would be that handy (I enjoy a few drinks but don’t get the packages on other ships), but it was just great. It was so nice having a glass of wine and a server walking up and asking if I needed a refill. Good quality cocktails. Smoking: I’m a non-smoker and was concerned because the Crystal website shows more than a bit of smoking areas. But it was fine. the outside smoking areas were mainly on the very stern of a few decks and didn’t interfere with me and gave the smokers a nice place. One inside smoking bar for cigars was available. Again, I was concerned because on a Princess ship, whenever you walked even semi-close to the bar, there was smoke all over the place. But this had a double-door set up and it wasn’t an issue for me. Ports: Not going to discuss ports. Standard ones on a Western Caribbean and only did one tour and wandered a few ports on own. One issue: it appeared Crystal had lower priority for the docking and anchoring locations compared to all the other Lines. In all cases, the docking and anchoring locations were further from the main port facilities. One port we anchored and the other three ships docked. Disembarkation: Returned to New Orleans about 5 hrs late: big winds and waves (10 on the Beaufort scale! With 50+it’s winds). Stayed in SR all day and night. Docked at an alternative pier in NO and they had shuttles to the main terminal. All-Inclusive: I’m not going through what the actual costs were, I just say, I paid for one photo (yup, did the come aboard shot) and one tour. That was it. This was truly all-inclusive: Quality drinks, wine, soft drinks; two specialty dining venues; Gratuities; Laundry room with iron; Specialty coffees and snacks; Room service; unlimited Wi-Fi on multiple units. What cost: tours; Laundry/dry cleaning; ‘upscale liquor’, but what I drink wasn’t. Yes, I know nothing is ‘free’ and paid for in the overall costs. But I ran the numbers comparing this cruise to a standard large cruise line costs by adding the additional charges for gratuities, drink packages, unlimited WiFi, 2 specialty dining. The difference would be about $450 for two people. But since I’m Elite Plus on Celebrity, and I wouldn’t get the drink package and pay a smaller amount for unlimited Wi-Fi, the different approach $950. Was it worth it? You Bet! Don’t know if this is similar for longer and more ‘exotic’ cruises. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Over the past 20 years Crystal has been our favorite cruise line and we still feel the same today. The updates are lovely. We really enjoyed the open seating and the addition of Silk which was wonderful. The Brazilian restaurant was not ... Read More
Over the past 20 years Crystal has been our favorite cruise line and we still feel the same today. The updates are lovely. We really enjoyed the open seating and the addition of Silk which was wonderful. The Brazilian restaurant was not our favorite but was good. Umi Uma and Prego are just as good as always. The service in all departments is exceptional and we rate just as highly as we always have. We did notice some younger entertainment onboard which was very much appreciated. Carl Wishneuski in the Avenue Saloon is an awesome pianist and entertainer. We enjoyed some great evenings in his company. Neil Lockwood (ex. E.L.O.) was fabulous and had everyone on their feet - his was the best show of the cruise IMHO. He also did a good Elton John Tribute but his own show was better. We always feel so relaxed and looked after onboard Crystal and can’t wait to return. We have no desire to try other cruise lines as we have in the past. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our first luxury cruise and our travel agent highly recommended this line. We have sailed many times and the most recent had been with NCL Haven. While we loved the Haven, we hated the crowds, overwhelming smoke and mediocre food ... Read More
This was our first luxury cruise and our travel agent highly recommended this line. We have sailed many times and the most recent had been with NCL Haven. While we loved the Haven, we hated the crowds, overwhelming smoke and mediocre food and service on the rest of the ship. We couldn’t wait to disembark. That was when our agent recommended we move up to Crystal. We will never go back. From the first minute, we noticed the huge difference from other cruise lines. We were greeted by name immediately and by evey crew member. Honestly, before we sailed, we were greeted by our names by every crew member each time. I don’t know how the do it. By the first day at sea, everyone knew our preferences. From Clarry at the pool to Jonathan at the Marketplace and Viktor at the Bistro. I could ask Clarry to leave a message for my husband and he would keep an eye out for him and relay the message. Anyone who has ever lost their husband on a cruise ship knows how impressive and helpful this is! We enjoy good food and entertainment and Crystal impressed us more than we thought possible on both. The entertainment was spectacular thanks to the regular ensemble, great costumes and programs. On top of that, it was a Jazz themed cruise with the most amazing visiting artists. Perry Smith jazz guitar was exceptional and Crystal should continue the relationship with this amazing artist!! Another huge shout out to Carl Wishnewski, best piano man since Billy Joel. Umi Uma, by Chef Nobu is not to be missed. The miso cod is “last meal” worthy and the mushroom soup is sublime. We ate there twice and could easily have gone again. Don’t be worried if you don’t like sushi. There is plenty of variety for anyone. I love sushi but my husband doesn’t. His Kobe steak was one of the best he has ever had. The main dining room was always available, we never waited. The food was excellent with a few exceptions. Shout out to Roger and our fav, Viktor as waiters!! The pool was where we noticed the amazing crew that took care of is with outstanding service. Clarry, Kiko, Rikkii and Ronnie are fabulous! From cold drinks to cold towels and little treats throughout the day. Most surprising, from other cruises, deck chairs around the pool and elsewhere always available! I never had to fight for a deck chair at anytime of the day, even on sea days!! Crystal passengers on our sailing were around 40 -80. Some younger some older. There was one baby that everyone on the ship saw once. He was our great white whale in baby form. Everyone talked about the one sighting. The passengers were a nice mix of US and internationals. Out of 860 passengers, we encountered 2, only 2, somewhat grouchy people. Everyone was just so friendly and enjoyable. Again, a first in our cruising experience. The most important part of our cruise was our cabin and attendants. It’s literally your home for 2 weeks. While I am convinced there is not a bad cabin on this ship, we always want a balcony and this time we wanted to try the suite. We selected the Seabreeze Penthouse with veranda and we are so glad we did. Our butler, Ay, the best on the ship! I’m serious. When we immediately booked another cruise, a first for us, we requested Ay. We never used our butler on the NCL Haven. He was never around. But Ay was omnipresent in the most unobtrusive way. He helped us switch reservations around as we met new friends and served a full dinner from the main menu to my husband on the first night as I had a raging migraine. He didn’t want my husband to miss out just because he was taking care of me. And for me, he brought the best consume I have ever had and a huge bucket of ice for my ice bag. Mayori and Alexandra were our attendants who cleaned our rooms throughout the day with the loveliest smiles and service. Our final shout out to Sergio the head concierge who was willing and able to do anything to make our first Crystal experience even better. And the Captain who was generous enough to invite us and a small group to his private quarters for cocktails. It was a unexpected surprise. Thank you. We are Crystalized! We aren’t going back to the other lines. I am counting the days until our next sailing in December and trying to figure out how to squeeze another in between. Choose Crystal. You will love it! You will never want to leave. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s ... Read More
In November 2018, my wife and I took Crystal’s 11-day cruise across the Atlantic aboard the Serenity (voyage OCY181110). For some time, we’ve taken two to three cruises a year on Crystal. This is one of two ships in Crystal’s tiny ocean fleet. Each carries around 900 passengers. The two ships are pretty much a matched set that rotates crew, routes, and entertainment. ROUTE: This type of cruise is for those who enjoy the boat ride itself. It started in Lisbon and ended in Fort Lauderdale. The only enroute stop was at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, which placed us back in the U.S. It was Sunday, and the onboard border clearance was quick and painless -- took only five minutes from leaving our room to returning. OVERALL RATING (5 OUT OF 5): I rate this cruise as excellent (an overall “5” on a scale of 5). My score is based on the high quality of (1) live music in the small venues, (2) food offerings (truly perfect), and (3) service in the food and entertainment areas (still the most attentive service anywhere on land or sea). However, we’ve never found the Serenity to be perfect “ultra luxury” in every way. We keep coming back year after year because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where the predictable pleasures outweigh the problems of an aging ship. In fact, the cruise’s most memorable lecturer was a writer for the old “Cheers” television comedy (Cheri Steinkellner). She gave you the juicy backstory of that neighborhood bar where “the troubles are all the same” and “everyone knows your name.” If you’re looking for a low-key, relaxing, good old-fashioned voyage across the Atlantic, this is your ship. Luxury measured by what’s not there. No stateroom announcements. No pressure to buy anything or do anything. No gaming to get your keycard for just one more charge (Crystal’s price is all inclusive). For cruisers who’ve tired of harried herding on the mass-market lines, the absence of certain nuisances on Crystal may be worth an overall “5” in itself. ENTERTAINMENT: When it comes to entertainment, what get’s the perfect “5” from me is the live jazz and show tunes performed in the ship’s small venues (the “Great American Songbook” from the 1940s and 50s). Crystal calls this its “supper club” and “cabaret” entertainment. I found these talented performances every bit as enjoyable as a night clubbing in Seattle or New Orleans. But no cover charges, taxi fares, exorbitant parking, or pestering to buy another drink. Crystal’s musical offerings continued right up to the end, with five shows on the final night of the cruise. The last of these shows ended at 11 pm, just as luggage was due outside the staterooms. Pretty impressive for a cruise with less than 900 passengers. There are lots of amazing musicians out there who never do albums or arenas. Crystal finds them; some stay for a cruise, others stay for years. But if live music isn’t your niche, think of the Serenity as your floating senior center. One with lots of pampering (they even have a “valet service” that parks the scooters and wheelchairs to keep the halls clear after bedtime). And the ship’s veteran waiters are saints of the sea when it comes to their patience and respect toward the older crowd that frequents Crystal. Yup, you’ll find all the day-to-day activities that you’d expect in a well-appointed senior center: bingo, bridge, needlepoint, knitting, shuffleboard, slots, puzzles, trivia, liars club, name-that-tune, karaoke, parlor magic, tribute shows, afternoon tea, and dance hosts for the ladies. (About a fourth of the passengers on this cruise were involved in a bridge tournament.) Music and comedy shows are focused on the tastes and memories of the “extra generation” of seniors blessed with extended retirements. There was even the screening of a new film about finding late-life romance in a nursing home (yes, including sex). The filmmaker (Neil Leifer) was onboard and understandably pegged the Crystal crowd as a sympathetic test audience. But I’ll say it again: travel agents should use caution in sending children under age 50 on this ship. Though Crystal’s current president came over from Disney, absolutely none of the following “advancements” in onboard entertainment are found on this ship (thankfully): water slide; climbing wall; zipline; go-carts; carousel; laser tag; bungee trampoline; bumper cars; surfing simulator; trapeze training; skydiving wind tunnel. After all, this ship is called the Serenity -- a synonym for quiet peacefulness. There is, however, a golf net, a little swimming pool, and a “shopping mall” of three stores (including one that sells the Chico’s line). While there are no midnight buffets, there is 24-hour room service for those who can’t wait until the next meal at 6 am. Not surprisingly, the youngest on board are usually the employees. No teen gangs here. And nature seems to impose its own curfew, with the halls largely empty after midnight. DINING: We dined in all of the ship’s venues with the exception of its Italian restaurant (Prego). When it comes to dining, I give this cruise a perfect “5” simply because I found it perfect in every respect. Taste, variety, presentation, novelty, service, and overall enjoyability were all consistent with luxury cruising. It’s not just about the food, though. You get to leisurely visit with some of the world’s most interesting people. Table topics go far beyond the common senior focus on kids’ foibles, grandkids’ achievements, and perpetual medical procedures. While this is indeed God’s waiting room, people here aren’t in a hurry to keep their appointment with Him. In fact, the more they cruise, the less they rush to get to the next onboard activity. Crystal has definitely reinvented the experience of its main dining room. 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 share secrets. Gone are those days when disappointed cruisers went up to a hearing room for an audience before the maitre d’. There you lined up and pled your case for the dining dispensation of a better table or feeding time. Never quite seemed consistent with Berlitz’s definition of luxury cruising as “the kind of stylish ships aboard which the word ‘no’ is virtually unheard.” STATEROOM: We stay in ordinary staterooms on Crystal (no opulent party suites for us). Though Crystal had just remodeled this ship’s “penthouse” class of rooms, the only change we found in the standard stateroom was a bigger TV screen. But we frankly don’t come here for the rooms. We keep returning to this ship because it’s like a comfortable old hotel, where seasoned employees year after year provide the most attentive service anywhere. And an expected part of a comfortable old hotel (ship) is old rooms with problems that we just get fixed as they arise. This time it was slow drains, faucets without cold water, no clock, no shower curtain, and a stuck sliding door that kept us from using the veranda. All eventually fixed after a little intervention from an officer. Onboard television was limited to a few generic international channels. Those who live for American reality shows or Monday night football may need to schedule their cruise during the annual rerun doldrums. On the other hand, the Lido Deck’s sound system was unintelligible, and a channel on our television was a good alternative for hearing the captain’s daily announcement on weather conditions and routing adjustments. Travel agents should alert customers that, even on a cruise billed as ultra luxury, an aging ship’s staterooms may be in less than perfect condition. INTERNET ACCESS: You really don’t come here for the Internet. A few months before our trip, Cruise Critic published its article, “6 Cruise Lines With Great WiFi.” Crystal didn’t make the list. Those tethered to the rituals of social media may consider it more of a forced silent retreat than a vacation. Internet connectivity varied greatly throughout the cruise, with regular display of the dreaded message, “Internet access is currently not available” (even when approaching Florida). Passengers grabbed it while they could. And ocean crossings like this one obviously lack port stops where an Internet cafe could come to the rescue. For some primitive, less-connected retirees like ourselves, a vacation with sporadic Internet is no deal-breaker. And there’s something to be said for the attitude of a past Crystal president that cruisers should “turn off the Internet and just enjoy the moment.” (Virtuoso Life, May-June 2015, p. 99) However, travel agents should caution their customers that this ship may not be a good fit if they must stay in uninterrupted email contact with a business or relative back home. Nor should passengers count on Internet availability to make enroute arrangements for port stops or post-cruise travel. Or for online bill paying or holiday shopping at the last minute. SHIP’S MUSEUM: The lore of cruising traditionally has the rich & famous dining at the captain’s table. But Crystal has something just as good for the rest of us. Captain Vorland periodically opens up the ship’s museum and serves as its docent and resident storyteller -- sort of a Norwegian cross between Sully Sullenberger, Garrison Keillor, and your favorite humanities professor. This guy really has been everywhere, man (he even took a break as a Crystal vice president). The museum, in a restricted area, has a couple hundred commemorative plaques. They reflect the Serenity’s 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. Tell the cruise director or Crystal Society host if you’d like to be included when a group does this. Like the free kitchen tours, backstage tours, magic shows, and guided stargazing, Crystal doesn’t charge for this onboard activity. I’ve always been impressed by Captain Vorland’s daily explanation of the sea conditions and resulting navigation adjustments. Reminds me of the aviation saying that “a superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill.” Or success is measured by all the potentially bad days that cruisers never know they have been spared. Captain Vorland may in fact be eligible for the honor of the Explorers Club, given his work in advancing passenger cruising through the Northwest Passage (like another Norwegian who pioneered polar air routes back in the 1950s). Crystal recorded the many lectures that experts gave during the Serenity’s treks through the Northwest Passage. I’ve watched around 40 of these videos, and the collection should be sent to the Vancouver Maritime Museum (rather than just forgotten, lost, or erased). 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. For the U.S. inspections (CDC), 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. Unlike your grades back in school, a passing score (both countries) is set a bit higher at 86 out of 100. And a score of 100 means no significant deficiencies, not perfection. The Serenity’s most recent U.S. inspection occurred in December 2018 (about three weeks after the end of our cruise). Score was 95. The inspection report listed 43 violations around the ship, none of which would deter me from booking the ship again. (Gluttony at that Churrascaria dessert bar was a health risk for me, though.) A few months passed before CDC published the results of this inspection. Perhaps due to the famous shutdown of some federal agencies for about a month. The Serenity’s most recent Canadian inspection was in June 2017. Score was 99. However, even well-inspected luxury liners can face that noro nastiness (vomiting, diarrhea). There’s a limit to what cruise lines and governments can do to protect passengers from their own health habits. While we were crossing the ocean, Crystal’s other ship (the Symphony) had a norovirus outbreak on the Amazon. No secret, though. It was publicly reported on CDC’s home page, in Cruise Critic’s passenger chat room, and in USA Today. The Symphony’s doctor made daily reports to CDC, sought CDC’s assistance, and was able to contain the illness (less than 5 percent of the passengers reported symptoms). While passengers in a Cruise Critic chat room are not a statistical sampling, their online thread on the Symphony didn’t signal any cruise-spoiling panic. They made passing references to onboard norovirus in the midst of much more vigorous exchanges over the ethics of petting sloths and the merits of selling the Chico’s brand in the ship’s clothing store (true story). Per these stats and chats, it’s not inevitable that most people on board will get sick if there’s a norovirus outbreak (defined by CDC as 3% of passengers). A clinic that specializes in travel medicine can give you a thorough briefing on how to handle this contingency, including what remedies to take along. Here are two lists of doctors with this type of practice: (1) the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org) and (2) the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (www.astmh.org). Measles has made quite the comeback across the U.S., and is highly contagious. CDC presumes that travelers born in the U.S. before 1957 have childhood immunity. If you were born later and have had the shots, you may want to take along proof in case there’s a quarantine in your travels. (See www.cdc.gov/measles/travelers.html) EVOLVING AMBIENCE: Crystal’s customer core is retired “comfortable couples” from the American mainstream. Some have been retired for decades -- now in their eighties and beyond. Crystal continues to preserve traditions from a prior era of travel. There are still formal nights (“black tie optional” and some tuxedos), daily afternoon tea, a dress code after 6 pm, and an ornate hideaway for smoking cigars. We continue to feel safe from onboard crime. Guests occasionally die from getting old, but not from assaults, drunken parties, or jumping overboard. You’ll have to cruise elsewhere for those experiences. But Crystal is not an isolation ward, and travel agents may need to prepare some customers to expect subtle changes in the ship’s atmosphere. For instance, the music. The Russian string quartet has been replaced by a solo performer with an electronic violin. Crystal has invested heavily in computerized neon costumes for performers to dance in the dark. The young jazz crooner that faithfully replicates the 1940s may wear his hair in a modern man bun. (But just be glad that yet another generation is striving to perpetuate the old favorites from before it was born.) The crew members who give you super service may sport a few tattoos. (We’re talking pretty young ladies here, not muscled male deckhands.) And you’ll see cruisers who whip out their smartphones whenever there’s a lull in table talk. (We’re talking seniors here, not millennials.) And you might even see a dog on board these days. Folks on this cruise reported dog sightings at the buffet line, ice cream bar, clothing store, Lido Deck dining, Japanese restaurant, and ledge around the hot tub. The tiny hound that I saw didn’t make a sound, didn’t bother anyone, and was even wearing a dress at one point. And the affection from crew members suggested that they might be missing their pets back home. Or perhaps their parents just raised them to be kind to animals (and seniors). Social media polarizes this sort of thing in a rhetoric of rights. But it’s not really a legal matter until a foreign ship (here the Serenity) departing from a foreign port (here Lisbon) finally reaches an American port (here the Virgin Islands). (49 CFR 39.5(b)) Until we reached the Virgin Islands, it was just a customer relations call as to which species Crystal wished to accommodate in the price of a ticket. Regardless of a dog’s purpose, the practical problems for “pet parents” make it unlikely that cruises will ever really go to the dogs (become truly “pet friendly”). There are issues like dog-sitting during port stops, local health regs, security screenings, and distinctive nasties from nature. Things like fleas with plague, cute little snakes, and big birds that really do eat small mammals. Nature is indifferent to the rhetoric of rights. In the event of a canine unthinkable, it can be a long wait until the next port stop with a veterinarian. And I have no idea whether Crystal’s onboard physician would agree to treat a suffering non-human. If you insist on bringing Fido or Fifi, a competitor’s megaship will be more likely than tiny Crystal to include a vacationing veterinarian among its passengers. Of course, you never know what travel entrepreneurs will develop for an unmet need. While we were docked in the Virgin Islands, the humane society was having a dog-washing fundraiser at the yacht marina. Proceeds of $10 a dog went to “fly homeless pets to stateside rescues and better lives.” Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I was interested in a cruise that either left from New York or came back to that port which meant I would be home in and hour or so. I flew to Montreal and spent the first night and second day onboard, unpacked and being pampered. ... Read More
I was interested in a cruise that either left from New York or came back to that port which meant I would be home in and hour or so. I flew to Montreal and spent the first night and second day onboard, unpacked and being pampered. Crystal met me at the airport and escorted me to a waiting bus. That was a lovely touch since it was raining and the hostess carried the umbrella. The line has buses waiting for all arriving customers throughout the day leaving every half hour for the ship. Your luggage is taken at the airport and to your room within hours while you can start eating and drinking on your ship. My room was quite nice with a more than comfortable bathroom. SInce I had twin sinks, I used one in the AM and one in the PM. There is a tub shower that I really enjoyed, bathing most of the time with the luxurious ETRO products supplied by Crystal. There was more than enough space for all my things and plenty of hangers. I toured the ship and found lots of nooks to hang out in, some of which served coffee and nibbles. There is a lovely library, well stocked and just 3 shops which are open when at sea. There are 4 specialty restaurants including Silk, a wonderful Chinese restaurant that served the best hot and sour soup I've ever tasted and I eat a LOT of Chinese food! You are able to eat in the specialty restaurants 3 times during the cruise and I found Prego, the Italian, to be my favorite. There is also Umi Uma Nobu's Japanese restaurant and a lovely main dining room which serves 2 different menus at each meal. Breakfast is also served in the Market as a buffet. Fun can be had in Churrascaria, a Brazilian style restaurant where you get your salad at the bar and then after sitting down, waiters come around with skewers of meat, chicken, shrimp, pork and the tenderest lamb chops you can find anywhere. Most of the trip was fine with 2 nights of rockin' and rollin' on rough seas but that's to be expected in the north Atlantic. I saved my real raves for the entertainment which was the BEST of any I've ever had on a cruise. From the singers and dancers to the special guest stars, it was First Rate and memorable. Too many to name but needless to say, every night was a joy! Another standout for me was the lectures by General Nick Halley. He was fascinating and informative. Kudos to Crystal on that aspect of the trip. About the leaves, not the greatest but not the fault of the cruise line either. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Booked this cruise to see the fall leaves...weather was crappy...Not Crystal's fault. The ship and crew were great. The food and service were excellent. Smaller ship and passenger list meant not as much waiting for shore ... Read More
Booked this cruise to see the fall leaves...weather was crappy...Not Crystal's fault. The ship and crew were great. The food and service were excellent. Smaller ship and passenger list meant not as much waiting for shore excursions..etc. The entertainment was very nice since it was a smaller ship. We enjoyed the bistro and the hamburgers. They were the best. The speciality restarunts are a plus with no extra charge. The shore excursion were arragned well. There was always a Crystal person on the tours. Service was always spot on. Every time you sat down, there was someone available to get you a drink. When the ship docs, the attrium becomes very cold..this was an October cruise and have the ship open all day made the attrium very uncomfortable. The embarkation and disembarktation process was very smooth. When we disembarked, it seemed as if we were the only ones on the ship. Imigration was smootn. Read Less
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