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52 Crystal Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was ... Read More
We just returned from a seven-day cruise on Serenity in the Adriatic. This was our first cruise on a luxury line after sailing on Disney, Celebrity and Oceania, among others. We really enjoyed the all inclusive format. Service was uniformly friendly and helpful, and staff seemed to enjoy their jobs. The ship was beautiful and it did not seem dated or tired. Our B1 verandah cabin was very comfortable, with plenty of storage for clothes and a lot of counter space in the bathroom. We were very happy with the dining options on the ship. Room service breakfasts were delivered quickly and exactly as ordered. Lunch options, including the grill and the salad bar in Marketplace, were very good. The ship had excellent choices for dinner. We absolutely loved Umi Uma (yes, the black cod is as good as they say it is). Our dinners in Churrascuria and Prego were outstanding. Silk was just ok. We enjoyed Waterside but we only had one lunch and one dinner there. We did not attend any shows, but we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the piano player in the Avenue Saloon. We were in port every day and didn't have a chance to spend much time on the ship, so we did not advantage of the enrichment opportunities or activities. The ship has an excellent health club and spa. The hair stylist who blow dried my hair did a great job. A spa treatment was ok, but nothing special. We went on three shore excursions. They were fine, but If I did this itinerary again, I would just visit the ports on my own. Overall, we loved this cruise and hope to return to another Crystal cruise in the future. We also hope to see Crystal add another ocean ship and more 7-8 day itineraries in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary. We were not disappointed. This was our 20th cruise with Crystal and everything was pristine. Embarkation and Disembarkation: Smooth as silk. We arrived at port at 11: 35 and were having lunch by noon. We utilized PCPC and any Crystal cruiser should take advantage of this service. Our disembarkation in Venice was efficient with Crystal personnel assisting at each stage of the process. Dining; Better than ever IMHO. Sauces were perfect and sadly desserts were outstanding. Mains were abundant and included veal, duck, fish, beef, poultry and vegetarian entrees. We dined at Prego ; the world's best carpacio. Silk has done a turnaround and our group of 8 enjoyed new entrees and appetizers. While the service in Waterside was a bit slow at times we felt that there was always an effort to make the dining a great experience. Bar service was terrific. Entertainment: New shows finally. While I find the entertainment geared towards an older generation the shows were well attended. I heard no negative comments.Enrichment was a disappointment as the lecturer as a poor presenter to say the least. The computer classes are geared to novice users. Staff of computer rooms are superb Ports: We tendered a few times but mainly docked. The Crystal shuttle was prompt. We had been in every port except Dubrovnik, and had a private guide (tours by locals) to show us the city. Every port was packed with tourists by the way. Service: The best. The Lido crew always has a smile, and friendly word. The Captain was visible as were many senior crew members. Cabins: A well worn subject as this is the only downfall. Crystal cabins are small by today's standards when compared to other luxury lines. . While very clean they could use a refresher, such as new bed covers. Crystal sent out a note early on asking passengers to let the staff know of any issues so remedies could be initiated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for ... Read More
A friend recommended the line, plus the itinerary included ports of interest to me such as Kotor and Debrovnik. I also prefer ships that hold fewer than 1000 guests. Rooms were a bit small but the amenities of the ship easily made up for it. The shows were fantastic. I especially loved the white extravaganza and the show band. The main bar in the atrium was the perfect place to gather. Though it was billed as a romantic cruise the passengers were by no means all couples. I went with a girlfriend. Her tastes were different from mine so we didn’t do everything together. The bars an lounges and even the casino proved to be highly social. We met so many great people. It wasn’t a party atmosphere but was convivial. I really enjoyed the all inclusive aspect and not having to sign for drinks or figure out how to tip everyone. All restaurants were terrific but be sure to get on the guest website in advance to book them. Otherwise there is a steep fee for booking on board. The Brazilian steakhouse on aft of ship doesn’t have to be reserved. we went there the evening of our Kotor departure. It was magical with mild night and mountains all around and near full moon. An aspect that can’t be controlled is weather and ours that week was perfect. Crystal is masterful at details. We were pier side most of time and it was clear the did their best to time port calls at times when other ships were not in. This made the excursions less hectic and less competitive with thousands of passengers from mega ships. Even on tender ports it was pleasant. I like excursions which we orchestrated separate from the ship, but the ship comfort and service is most important to me. One bit of serendipity was the onboard dance hosts and the amazing quartet. I danced years ago but didn’t know these were embarked. The know swings, tangos, salsa - everything. I was able to validate that I still can dance if I have a good leader. Despite all the amazing food and drink, we walked five files daily on excursions and danced all night! I didn’t gain any weight. We frequented the blackjack tables and learned the “rules” from friendly dealers and we mostly won! Crystal has a fantastic tech lab. We could easily send emails and research. The Moxsrt high tea was a hoot and talent from the piano bar to the violinist in the lobby bar was abundant. Heck I didn’t even get to play paddle tennis. I just couldn’t get it all in. By the way the entry into Venice at noon through the Grand Canal on a gorgeous day with tugs assisting and the magnificent old skyline was absolutely spiritual. I left the ship with a tear in my eye. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date May 2019
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very ... Read More
Foe our first cruise on Crystal, we made the jump to a luxury line and were not disappointed, for the most part.The public areas of the ship are in top condition following a recent drydock. The furniture throughout the public areas is very comfortable and attractive. Our only complaints were 2: the inclusion of Corsica where there was nothing to do or to see; and the cost of excursions, e.g. $599pp for a trip to the Blue Grotto.Fortunately, one can book tours privately at much lower cost, and Corsica allowed for a day of rest. The verandah room we booked (8042) was average size but extremely well designed with numerous well-sized drawers and all the hangers one could possibly need, a large TV, roomy bathroom with double sinks and large tubes of quality toiletries. There are 2 hair dryers, an umbrella and excellent binoculars in each room. The balcony had 2 large wing chairs with deep cusions and a small table with room to move around. Dining was generally very good to excellent, with Prego being the only disappointment (chewy veal). Poerions were more generous than what we have had on HAL and Celebrity. Entertainment was pretty good. We saw 3 shows: a Billy Joel tribute band, a Broadwy revue, and a local Flamenco group in Barcelona. Staff everywhere was courteous and always helpful. Embarkation and Debarkation both went very quickly and smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I grasped an opportunity to cruise on the Crystal yacht, Crystal Esprit, on its rare Europe transitional itinerary between Malaga and Barcelona: I wanted to do this for a long time but this ship is normally in Seychelle or the Caribbean ... Read More
I grasped an opportunity to cruise on the Crystal yacht, Crystal Esprit, on its rare Europe transitional itinerary between Malaga and Barcelona: I wanted to do this for a long time but this ship is normally in Seychelle or the Caribbean during hot seasons for luxury sport-active cruises, which are not really my domain. I cruised on Crystal since the Crystal Harmony time and I wanted to see what is its new yachting experience. The answer is simple: the highest degree of pampering and service attention. The ship carries a maximum of some 60 passengers and on this trip we are 47, served by a staff complement higher in number. Yet it is actually quite full: I noted that only one cabin is not sold as many took single occupancy. With this statistics in mind, and with the apparent desire of Crystal to make a service standard even higher than on a big ship, the result is evident. Very soon everyone of the staff knows every passenger and his needs. My greatest surprise is that barely on boarding my chamber steward knows that I prefer not to have the bed made up for daytime: this information was acquired simply because I am a member and a fairly frequent visitor to Crystal Serenity. As if to go beyond even the big sister ships, all transfers are inclusive in private cars. In every port there are not only shuttle buses but also excursion tours free. Incredibly, even if only 30 people join, they do not use a bus, but 3 minibuses, each with a ship escort and a local guide. And I note that in Valencia there are also an ontime free shuttle bus scheduled to centre of town. The tours are normally within a 4-hour duration so that after a morning trip one still have a half-day to oneself, after lunch on the ship. The food served on the ship is of the highest standard beyond other so-called luxury boutique ships, in that every meal is a deliberate creation. It seems that the chef has full control of the kitchen, creating new dishes with fresh local ingredients as he wishes, not a corporate designed menu, as on most ships. And for this a good chef is needed, and here they have an excellent English chef that can really present Michelin-star standrad meals, with really complicated preparation and yet tasty (have to say that many good-looking Michelin meals on land taste from strange to bad). Crystal Esprit and SeaDream, another yacht operator, represents the highest cooking standard at sea in my mind. Here they use expensive ingredients, lobster, Wangu beef, truffles, and caviar was served in the bar. The service is almost perfect. The Hotel Director, Manfred, told me that he was Hotel Director of Europa 2 and have run Seabourn ships for a long time, and everything seems to have his attention. As itt is a yacht passengers do not expect evening entertainment, rather than after a slow exquisite meal with comlimentary drinks before, during, and after it. What is lacking is probably a lift for passengers that precludes passengers with mobility problems. The water-sport facilities are of course a great plus, if you use them in season and in the right waters. But in the end it is the utmost degree of pampering that may lure you to return. And of course Crystal is building two purpose-designed new yachts to be debuted soon. Crystal Esprit, as well as SeaDream, represents an entirely different cruise expereince. Yes you have to pay for it, but it is worthy of the money for what you get. Read Less
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
Sail Date May 2019
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved ... Read More
We were celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary and wanted a special experience so that is why we chose Crystal. We were not at all disappointed . The food was amazing the best we have ever had on a cruise ship . We also loved the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch so much choice the best we have ever experienced at sea. Loved that it was all inclusive and gratuities included. We enjoyed sitting in the Atrium in the evening before our meal to enjoy a pre dinner drink and the canapés they brought round. Staff were really attentive and they all seemed so genuine , nothing was too much trouble . Evening entertainment was a tad disappointing but you cannot expect London/Westend products on a cruise ship of this size. We arranged our own excursions through a cruising excursions company as the trips on Crystal were so expensive ! We would defiantly recommend Crystal for service and food . Read Less
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
Sail Date May 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had been to both Spain and Portugal previously and had a great time. The ports of call of the Iberian Sojourn were exactly what we were looking for. We spent 3 nights in Barcelona before we left and had a blast. The embarkation was smooth and the staff was excellent throughout. Our room with a veranda was larger than our hotel room in Barcelona. The first morning in Valencia they would not let "independents" off the ship until those who had made Crystal excursion reservations were allowed to leave. So we could have walked to our tour but because they would not let us leave so we had to race for a cab with other "independents." That was the only morning where leaving the ship was a problem. What needs to be added is that the Crystal excursions were priced way over the top-2 to 3 times as much as privately booked tours. I guess if you can afford it and you value seeming security then you might pay for the Crystal excursions but I did not see any extras booking that way since they were the same tours. For the most part people who write reviews have something very negative to say. I want to laud the staff and crew for wonderful service at every level. That being said, it is still hard to justify the amount of money that was spent for the cruise. All of our table mates raved about the food throughout every meal-perhaps leading to impossible expectations. At the main Crystal dining room the food was very good for cruise food, but it wasn't nearly as fresh or flavorful as the food we ate in each port city. At the end of the day, it was cruise ship food. The exception would be the Silk Road restaurant. We had a wonderful meal there but the Prego restaurant was only so-so. The breakfast buffet was good and the sit down cafe Tastes had excellent breakfasts also. For a ship this size the entertainment was good. There were many activities for people that did not want to leave the ship at each port but the are definitely geared to an older clientele. This is not a cruise for young couples or children. The cruisers were mostly affluent, white Americans who liked the America-centric aspect of an international cruise. Why you would travel 7000 miles to have the same experiences that you get in the USA is baffling to me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction ... Read More
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction of Leo, to me the master of all cruiseship Maitre D’s, could still greet me in name. Such is the hospitality level of Crystal cruises that many Crystal Society members return to the ship. The embarkation took no time, even the ship was practically full. Embarkation began at noon though in theory rooms are available from 3pm, but in a PH cabin mine was ready. There was a special luggage storage that takes care of hand luggages so that any guest can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Such is the hospitality with full attention to detail that makes what Crystal is, particular with direct comparison to the two cruises that I just had disembarked (I took 3 consecutive cruises in 30 days). This cruise, trade named Iberian Sojourn, a standard 7-day trip ending in Lisbon, has an ideal itinerary in that travel distance is short so that it is all port days and passengers have ample time in each port. The Spanish ports are, to me, more interesting than the Mediterranean ports in Italy that practically every cruiser has visited. In each port Crystal of course provides free shuttle so that one enjoys free and easy visits. Because of all-port, there was no formal night and the well-loved Mozart tea was not served. I have had many Crystal Cruises (my first was on Crystal Harmony, before Serenity was built), and as an old timers I can see good changes under new ownership of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was renovated only about 4 years ago, and on embarkation I learned that after this trip the ship will undergo dry docking for a whole month for another important renovation, probably the most important because the ship will re-emerge in November offering open sitting dining (Crystal Symphony had completed that process). Hitherto if Crystal was to be faulted as a luxury ship it was the two sitting system that requires one to eat either too early or too late. No more, and then my only regret is that, if I had this knowledge, I would have chosen to cruise after the renovation. A luxury cruise differs from a standard one mainly in space per passenger and crew to passenger ratio, and of course in service and food. Crystal offers best service second only to SeaDream (but the latter carries only 100 passengers with similar number of staff). Crew members here do not change ships, though there can be re-deployment as since the Genting takeover, Crystal has added two yachts and five river boats (not to mention even a luxury air operation). Great that virtually same staff members serve so that the important ‘recognition scenes’ are in place. But it is the delicate improvement of food standard that makes the ship remarkable, at a time when cutback is seen in the whole trade (including Silversea which serves packaged orange juice unless you ask for the fresh). I agree with the latest Berlitz guide as it now rates Crystal above competitors Silversea, Seabourn and Regent. The Crystal food is truly enjoyable, now that the restaurant offers two menus, one modern and one traditional, therefore many choices. On this visit I tend to conclude that the ‘modern’ menu has improved much, with artful presentation and good taste (it had been a bit ‘funny’ in the beginning as I tasted it on Symphony two years ago). There are three alternative dining choices in addition to the main restaurant, all offering good quality of food (rather than quantity in the number of available restaurants). All guests can dine twice in an alternative restaurant free (otherwise it is a mere cover charge of $35). Dining on Crystal Serenity is a real pleasure even for gourmets, and among the best at sea. Entertainment is never a strong area for Crystal. Ship size and mature passengers not really keen on shows do not justify lavish productions such as on sister company Dream Cruises, but the quality is good, and even more than on a big ship, there are always also alternative local shows in port in addition to the production show. Of these I watched one of the best acrobatic show at sea (or indeed on land) in the Balskat Duo which had performed with Circuit de Soleil. But I see the very same production shows that are old fashioned. The singers try to make more noises to lure the young, but I see few youngish passengers. The cruise director, Gary Hunter is a master of his trade, however. It is the most port intensive cruise that calls on a port very day, and all ports are interesting except for me, Gibraltar, which is however a convenient stop on route. The last night we stayed overnight in Lisbon. Valencia was the first port of call and the free shuttle takes passengers directly to the old town. It was a great visit, walking old streets and seeing various historic landmarks. Next port is Alicante and we arrived on a Spanish holiday that most shops are closed, but the town is beautiful and even with some initial rain it still makes a day of pleasant stroll. The weather was cool and pleasant. Malaga is next, and alas there was no sunshine on the Costa del Sol on our arrival. Some rains in the morning and I wonder if those who took excursion to Seville fared better. Malaga itself is interesting and it is gateway to many interesting points. As a frequent visitor to this region, I did not rush to any places, having seen them many times, and to me the ship is the destination Particularly the ship is Crystal, no matter rain or shine. Pouring rain in Gibraltar in the morning but it cleared up in the afternoon. I always think it is funny to see UK chain stores in town and here one dispenses the British pound. But Cadiz is interesting, as we had the full day I went out on my own in the afternoon my way while I have time to take an excursion in the morning. As if by bad luck it falls on another Spanish holiday, though many shops open for tourists. The morning excursion was good in that I visited sights slightly out of town that I had not seen out of my two previous visits. There was ample time to return to Cadiz proper for a stroll in its old streets in the afternoon. The trip ends in Lisbon and we stayed overnight here. It was good as there is much to see in Lisbon but a very strong wind arrived at dinner time so that the terminal was closed for the night. This is strange; though I am sure no one will opt to go ashore in such windy condition anyway. I took Crystal’s transfer to the airport early in the morning and the trip was perfectly organized, with many helpers that virtually take your luggage from ship to your check-in counter. This ends my very pleasant trip and I look forward to returning to Crystal Serenity when it operates the Open Sitting Dining. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be ... Read More
I wanted to begin by saying that in life nothing is absolutely perfect all of the time. The same applies to a cruise. With that said overall these cruises exceeded our expectations. We knew going into this that the down-side would be all ports and no sea days other than a planned arrival to one port at Noon which still isn't a sea day. As a result we knew less enrichment, less time to get to know fellow guests not staying on and that with full cruises that specialty restaurant venues would be busy. We knew that we would have to move one time. This is a review of our sailing on board Crystal Serenity between September 23, 2018 and October 14, 2018. OVERVIEW ========= Three seven day cruises comprised this back-to-back sailing . We visited 19 Mediterranean ports-of-call with no sea days over twenty-one days. Overall, we had an outstanding time between the on-board experience and the ports of call we visited. Although Serenity was going into dry-dock the day we disembarked one would never get the sense of this. The crew was focused on the present cruise, providing an outstanding experience to the guests. Almost all food items were available and the end of the cruise ended on a high note. There was not attempt to push guests off the ship on disembarkation day. THE SHIP ======= Crystal Serenity is now fifteen years old, and the ship continues to be in excellent shape. It is well maintained. Yes, there are some areas that need a makeover and also some areas needing to be detailed. Areas that have gone through makeover since the inaugural voyage include all staterooms and suites, the lido deck, the shops, portions of the casino area , the children's area, the Crystal Cove lounge and a few other areas. The upcoming dry dock will bring several changes including open seating and the conversion of the Crystal dining room to Waterside, the change from Tastes to a Silk Asian restaurant, the makeover of the Palm Court and Stardust Lounges, the addition of a nighttime restaurant on the Lido Deck, the conversion of some staterooms to suites, new flat screen televisions in all rooms and a few unannounced enhancements. The makeover of Stardust which I mentioned will provide lots of new possibilities for that room. We continue to enjoy the layout of the ship, the wrap-around promenade deck and the space to passenger ratio. When we boarded Serenity in 2005, we realized this ship was a perfect size for us; not too large and not too small. It was on that cruise that we decided to book a World Cruise. Those areas that I think will benefit the most from the dry dock will be addressed; Palm Court and Stardust. I hope that the Crystal Cove can be updated in a future dry-dock. CUISINE ======= We thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. We dined at most of the venues with the exception of The Trident Grill and The Bistro. This is not to say that each and every item was perfect but if something was not to our liking this was an exception. Most items were very much to our liking. We enjoyed the selection of food items including its diversity. Something that is very important to us is the ease of being able to change something out whether that is how an item is cooked to ingredients in a salad. We enjoyed the wait staff in all dining venues. We have had the same Senior Waiter in the past including when our family was on board last year and on Northwest Passage. Our waiter was wonderful as well. We didn't know him from prior cruises but he was truly a gem. Our Head Waiter was wonderful. We dined at Silk Road one time and chose to eat the other two times in our room. There is no question on seven day cruises with high occupancy the specialty restaurants get very busy and IMHO work better on longer cruises with less people visiting them each evening. With that said, while very busy the waitstaff team was able to keep up with it by working as a "team". Often various dishes were served by several different waiters and this made things work. Many of the waiters have been working there since we first sailed in 2005 and have been there since 2003. Head Waiter Mario from Prego was filling in as Head Waiter on these voyages and demonstrated team work himself. We dined at Prego three times. Its busiest times were during the last part of our meals and later at night. The overall experience was wonderful and what we have come to expect from Prego; great food, cuisine, service and a wonderful dining experience. On two of the three visits I had the addition (they don't call them specials) and on the last visit the item I had for an entree didn't work for me. So I can say that twenty of twenty one dinner entrees were wonderful and one was not. That is a good statistic. We dined at Tastes two time for dinner. Both were very enjoyable. Between the two nights we tried most of the items and loved the majority of them. We keep breakfast simple. I chose not to have the birthday breakfast. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room two times. Actually if time permitted I would go each day because we love the service but with me playing paddle tennis we go to the Lido Cafe. That is the one meal that we don't linger like we do with other meals. The variety of food offered at the Lido Cafe was terrific. Since these were seven day cruises they didn't have any themed buffets. As this was a port intensive cruise and with touring many times it was not busy when we dined there other than the day that we arrived to port at Noon and it opened at 11:30 AM. We had the Vintage Room dinner and the food was terrific as was the wine and the overall experience. The difference between Symphony and Serenity is the location of the galley to each room so the food on Symphony arrives hotter than Serenity. BEVERAGES ========== We continue to enjoy the inclusive wine. It is diverse and we find it better than we have had on other cruise lines offering inclusive wine. Since inclusive rolled out a few years ago the number of spirit brands has greatly increased, as has the beer selection. As noted below Crystal has also rolled out a new drink menu. We had three different sommeliers during our sailing as they rotate each voyage. All three were very knowledgeable and two of the three I thought were excellent with one very good. The bar staff is superb. We primarily went to the Crystal Cove. One night we went to the Palm Court. One of the bartenders was a bar server in January of 2007 and when we were on Northwest Passage the year before. She hadn't seen us since then. She not only remembered our name but where we sat in the Avenue Saloon. Amazing. ENTERTAINMENT ============== The cruises featured individual artists as well as Crystal’s own team of entertainers who in our opinion are the best in the cruise industry. Since these were short cruises unlike longer cruises there were not as many shows offered at night. We didn't go to much of the evening entertainment for a couple of reasons. My only suggestion is that given the number of in-transit guests (250 continued from cruise one to cruise 2 and around 125 from cruise two to cruise three it would have been better to have varied the production shows a bit more from cruise to cruise to minimize repeat performances. There certainly are other shows that could have been performed. I understand the first show being repeated and one other one but would have avoided any other repeats. As has been the case the past couple of years we enjoyed having more than one musician in the Crystal Cove before dinner as was the case with Irina on Violin and Richard on the Piano. They are wonderful performers individually and as a duet they have amazing chemistry and just added to the overall experience when we had pre-dinner drinks. THE LOUNGES =========== We changed things up on this cruise often sitting at the bar and mainly in the Crystal Cove. In the past we rarely have sat at the bar and really enjoyed this. It provided an opportunity to speak with the various bartenders, to watch them perform their magic, to learn about all sorts of drinks, and it had the added benefit of allowing us to converse with lots of guests and many we have never sailed with. Recently Crystal rolled out a new special drink menu, which includes a focus on drinks made with gin served in Sangria Glasses. This is in vogue in some selected places on land. For me this was something new, and I enjoyed many of the drinks instead of having wine before dinner. I feel that I have a much better appreciation of differences in gin and an array of drinks. I would not have tried this if not for a few folks on this board sharing their experiences from recent cruises. THE CREW & SERVICE ================= The crew is amazing and reflects the culture we have seen since we first stepped onto our first Crystal Cruise in 2002 on the former Crystal Harmony. The crew is professional but also is very human and very welcoming and we adore them. It is that human side and feeling of family that I have not experienced on other lines. Yes, the more you sail with the crew the more you get to know them but I am reminded on that very first Crystal Cruise how in very short order I realized they were seeing us as people rather than just a number or just a suit. They truly have become our extended family. They work hard to make the experience theybest they can. We met some crew members for the very first time and in a matter of a day or two we felt the same chemistry with them as we have with so many other members of Team Serenity. INTERNET ======== This was our second cruise since full complimentary internet was rolled out. Overall we had a similar experience between this cruise and our one on Symphony in May. The overall Internet ranged from excellent to very good. Yes, there were a few times when the Internet slowed or when it was not available but this was the exception. and far better than a few years ago. With this said experiences can vary by person. Early on the first voyage a friend on-board from Cruise Critic said her Internet was poor while at that point in time ours was terrific. It could be that her room is located in an area of the ship where the connectivity is less strong as ours. Another factor can be where in the room one is using it and other factors include type of advice used and even the internet browser. I do post a lot of photos and when I post them on my blog I go with lower pixels and that allows for easy uploading of photos. Since we are not printing those photos uploading with lower pixels does not change the view of the photo on a blog on cruise critic, etc. We also experienced excellent quality when placing phone calls using a Wi-Fi connection on board the ship, using apps such as WhatsApp for phone calls, texting and even video calls. THE PORTS ========= This was a port intensive cruise as we visited 19 ports over 21 days. We enjoyed the vast majority of ports and the time spent in port. We were able to revisit ports and see many for the very first time. In short, these three cruise was a fantastic opportunity to experience a nice range of ports. We love the Mediterranean and prefer visiting this area in September/October or April/May. SHORE EXCURSIONS ================ We did one Crystal Tour, which we arranged through the Los Angeles Office, which was a tour of Florence. The tour exceeded our expectations. Our tour guide had a solid background in art so she could lead us through the artwork in the places we visited and explain what we were seeing in a way that was easy to understand. The driver was courteous and drove safely to and from and inside Florence. This is a tour we will remember for the rest of our lives. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION ============================ The process of getting on and off the ship was terrific. We would have to say this was one of or the most organized disembarkations we have ever experienced. We used a Crystal private transfer. We met the Concierge at the designated time, which is 15 minutes prior to the transfer time. The vehicle was already there. The concierge took us down to the port shuttle, which took guests between the ship and the building where the luggage was being held. When we entered the building the Chief Concierge greeted us, took us to the section where are luggage was located, and one of the many porters who were all in suits took our bags and put them on a trolley. After saying our goodbyes to the Chief Concierge a Crystal representative escorted us to the vehicle waiting for us. She went over the details with the driver. When we arrived to the airport another Crystal representative who escorted us inside and verified where we would go for check-in met us. CHANGE ======= In the eighteen plus years we have been sailing Crystal and close to thirty years of cruising we have seen a lot of change. Then again the same applies to all our life experiences. Change in today's environment is coming at a faster pace than ever before. Today most of us use smart phones. Those didn't exist back in the day nor did the ability to use your own personal computers when we first sailed. On our first Crystal cruise sodas and bottled water were not included. Many of the changes have been driven by three things; Innovation by Crystal Cruises. The competitive environment. Changes demanded by people of all cruise lines. Most of us are resistant to change. We are creatures of habit. I found that at work and with people we know and see it when we cruise. Yes there are a few items we miss from those earlier days of cruising but they have been driven mainly by the three areas I mentioned. At the same time we appreciate many of the changes. I remember when inclusive was rolling out the vast majority of Crystal Society Members who we know said this would be the end. Crew would leave. How would the bar staff know your names? The service would be poor. Etc., Etc., Etc. Like most new things there were some startup issues. Slow pouring of wine. Insufficient choices of wine, beer and spirits. In time, IMHO all of this was worked out and just like other luxury lines new guests would think this is the way it has always been. On of the things I like best about inclusive is that it has made the lounges so much more social and vibrant. I also like that if you invite someone to join you there is not the issue of who pays for the drink. I also like not signing for each drink. The change to open dining is the most current of the changes. Just like inclusive this will be tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked until Crystal gets it as good as they can. I am reminded that the ships were not built with open dining in mind or for that matter the new evening dining venues. The reality though is both ships have been evolving to open dining the past couple of years. On our recent cruises many people were showing up at hours that we not the time for main or late dining and the Maitre d' was being creative to get them seated. I believe that each of us has changes that we like, some that we are indifferent and some we don't care for. That's the way changes work, but some of them that one person doesn't like another one does and again some of these are driven by people. An example of that is evening dining attire. FINAL COMMENTS =============== We have another Crystal cruise on Serenity scheduled for late December and look forward to seeing the "changes" that are being implemented in the dry-dock. We have already experienced open dining on Symphony but even this on Serenity could look slightly different based on experience gained on Symphony such as the set up of the tables at the new Serenity Waterside. After sailing this ship so many times and with Crystal Cruises frequently these back-to- back cruises still exceeded our expectations. I can't tell you how much my wife and I enjoyed these cruises. When you arrive back to the ship from port each day they say welcome home. For us that is the way we think of Crystal. Until next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it is the only one that Crystal do to Israel. Billed as a Holy Lands cruise, it was two weeks of luxury on-board and fascinating tours ashore. This was my 15th cruise on Crystal and, even though none of them have been perfect, they have all been consistently excellent. There was a lot of negative talk on-board about the upcoming refurbishment in relation to the move from assigned dinner seatings to open dining. I enjoyed a travellers table for eight and we had a variety of interesting "visitors" each night. As a solo cruiser I really hope Crystal will figure out a way to keep this going. I sailed on Symphony in February (not solo) after their dry dock and most of the larger tables had been replaced with tables of two and four - great if you are a couple but not for the many solo travellers or those who like to join a larger table. That aside, the service in the MDR was superb, it always amazes me how they get to know you and your preferences on the first night - another aspect which will I think deteriorate with open seating. I do think that the menus aren't quite what they used to be, there were a few nights where nothing really appealed (and I don't think I am a fussy eater) I really enjoyed Tastes restaurant on the open deck, great for a late breakfast or late lunch. The lectures and most of the evening entertainment was first rate, an aspect I think Crystal have made great improvements to over the years. I also enjoyed the casino, friendly dealers but the new small denomination blackjack rules really favour the house - it was hard to win!! As always, it's the elegance of the ship, the attention and friendliness of staff and the never crowded public spaces which keep me coming back. I have two cruises booked for next May, am looking forward to the dry dock changes and hopefully they will sort out solo travellers for the MDR. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the ... Read More
Israel has recently become a popular destination for cruise ships. Some ships stop 3 days in Haifa, some stop 1 day in Ashdod followed by 2 more days in Haifa. I and my wife have tried both ways, and I am now reporting on the differences. In 2017, we were on the Oceania Marina that started in Athens and ended in Athens, with 3 days in Haifa. That was fairly good, but was tiring and we felt we did not see enough from the big 50-seater coaches. This year we went again, but on the Crystal Serenity, that started in Civitavecchia and ended in Civitavecchia. It first stopped in Ashdod for 1 night, followed by 2 more nights in Haifa. This time we used a private minibus, was more relaxed, and we saw much more. On the Oceania trip, we took group tours on a coach arranged by the ship. We visited Jerusalem on the first day, Masada on the second day, Nazareth and the Galilee on the third day. This was basically satisfactory, but the coach was a 50-seater, and could not go through the narrow old streets to get close to some historical sights. So, we had to view some sights from a distance or from the mountain top. Also, the trips from Haifa to Jerusalem and Masada were separate trips, and each took 4 hours each way, so that was somewhat tiring. On the Crystal trip, we fortunately were with a group of 10 friends. So, we pre-hired a Mini-bus, from the internet, with a professional English-speaking guide, and a qualified driver, for about US $100 per person, per day, which was much cheaper than the ship’s price. This turned out much better, as we were more relaxed, and able to get to many more sights than with the larger coach. This is how we did it. About 4 months before the cruise, we hired a local Israeli touring company from the internet, www.GuidedToursIsrael.com , which proved to be very satisfactory. In the morning and early afternoon of the first day, we visited Jerusalem. In the late afternoon, we visited the northern part of the Dead Sea. The only disadvantage was we had to walk down many steps to get to the water front. In Jerusalem, we saw many sights including: The Western Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Temple Mount with the golden dome, The Dome of the Rock, The Golden Tomb, Tower of David Museum, Garden of Gethsethmane, Jaffa Gate, City of David, King David’s Tomb, and the narrow, cobbled shopping streets of old Jerusalem. On the second day, from Haifa, we visited northern Israel, including Nazareth and the Sea of Galillee. Nazareth is mostly a Muslim city. We were able to go inside the Basilica of the Annunciation, which is a must, and the St. Joseph’s catholic church. We also went to the baptismal site in the Jordan river. On the third day, we went to Tel Aviv, saw the center of the city, the many hotels, government buildings, and also the location where Yitzak Rabin was assassinated, as well as the beaches on the Mediterranean coast, including ancient Roman amphitheater. My advice is, if possible, try to visit Israel on a minibus with a small private group. Peter Fan. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the ... Read More
First, since Crystal Serenity goes to dry dock next month (October 2018), some of the comments may not be applicable. My wife and I took a Crystal river cruise last year (Danube) and were so impressed with the level of service and the shore excursions that we booked the Italian/Greece cruise on Serenity. While we enjoyed the cruise, the level of service did not even compare to that of the river cruise. In talking to long-time Crystal cruisers (some over 10 trips), they say the quality has gone down since Crystal was sold and the bean counters took over. That is our opinion also—with just a few differences, we saw little to distinguish Crystal above other cruise lines. Pre-trip support was not that great. It was like pulling teeth to get transfer information (bot pre and post cruise). The only option I got was IF I booked their hotel, with pricing about 2 to 3 times what you can get online. I was given no transfer options post-cruise, yet found out once onboard they do offer transportation from the port (Civitacecchia) to the airport, but we had already arranged our own since we were not informed of that option beforehand. It does not show up in the list of excursions at the beginning or end of the cruise. This is completely different than the river cruise where you could easily select transportation before and after the cruise. While the Serenity might be an older ship, we found everything in good condition. The carpeting is very worn, particularly in the rooms, but it was not a problem. Everything else was in great shape which shows the continual maintenance. We had no issues at all anywhere on the ship where things were broken or didn’t work properly. Being older, some of the modern features found on other ships (interactive menu on the tv, real time billing information, electronic key fobs, et al) are obviously absent. But again, it did not detract from the cruise in any manner. The cruise was excellent. Upon boarding we found that one of the ports was changed (Zakynthos, Greece changed to Katakolon). Perhaps because it was an older ship, the tv information was never updated with this change, showing the original port and information and never the new port, even while docked. The shore excursion options were much more limited. Many of the ports selected required tendering, including this change. Crystal tends to fill the tenders to the maximum before they depart, so it gets stuffy and crowded. Return wasn’t as much of a problem as it becomes more staggered. Crystal ocean cruises do not offer any free excursions, as does the river cruise. Excursions are expensive, often 2-3 times what you can get online (TripAdvisor) or arrange on your own when in port. Like all ship excursions, they are convenient. We took some of the ship excursions, but arranged a couple on our own. Doing it on your own can result in a much smaller group (4-6 people), plus you can do several things vice the ship’s offering on usually just one major event (because of so many people). Food was excellent. If you want to dine at the specialty restaurants, you really need to book them before the cruise. We booked one before and tried to book one when we boarded, but they were full for the entire cruise. The buffet dining is open for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. So if an excursion brings you back after your assigned dining period, you don’t have a lot of options (room service works). We had a very enjoyable time in the main dining room, and had great table companions. Service was excellent. The one major disappointment in dining is that Crystal has moved to a more common menu (among all the ships) and thus you will get no cuisine from the areas you are visiting. At several ports, there were some great specialty foods that they were known for (pastries, main dishes, appetizers, or even wine and beer). None of these were ever available on board the ship. Because the ship excursions are so time-condensed, you don’t even have time to sample them on the excursion. So you miss out on great local food. For the long-time Crystal cruisers, they said that Crystal used to offer local specialties but no longer do that, and instead board the entire cruise food at the embarkation point (controlled by headquarters in Los Angeles). So I guess every ship gets the exact same menu option on any given day. I think this is the biggest disappointment in the cruise as we would have liked to have tried more regional foods. We ended up canceling some shore excursions just so we could go into the city and try new foods (like a true Italian pizza margherita). Forget the weather forecast the ship provides. At one port they ship said it would be 69F and rainy. In actuality it was 86F and clear and sunny. The ship’s forecasts were never close. Use your own app to get the real weather. Internet is free, but it is extremely slow (think slower than dial up). There will be times when you can’t even check email because it is so slow. Finally, the entertainment was good, but focuses primarily on the ship’s dance team and singers. I think they only brought in outside entertainment twice. Other cruises we’ve been on they’ve brought in comedians, magicians, aerial acrobats, and many other different forms of entertainment. While the ship’s dance crew is good, it would have been nice to have something else to see. This may be why the lounge was rarely full, so it is easy to find a seat. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable. We were just disappointed somewhat in Crystal as we expected more based upon our river cruise experience. I guess they are two completely different cruises as the river cruise offered pre and post cruise transportation, free excursions, local foods, and more. For a ship of 1200, that may not have been practical from a bean counter perspective. The point is that the Crystal ocean cruise seems to be the same as any other major cruise line (Holland, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, MSC). Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and ... Read More
Before we sailed, we were full of expectation to sail with the Best Ship of the Year. However, we were so disappointed about everything we experienced right from the cruise terminal. When we arrived, no porters to carry out luggage and we asked, the staff said we had to carry our big luggage all the way to the ship for check in. We were astonished but no one at the terminal was able to help. After checked in ( inside the ship already ), we asked about our luggage since the room was not ready until 3pm, the staff did not know how to react and simply asked to check with the Reception. We were upset and she finally got up and asked someone ( the Officer I think ) and she came to us and said our luggage would be taken care of. This was a bad start. Then, we headed to the main dining room for lunch and the food was very ordinary, I asked for an orange juice and the juice was not fresh and I was surprised and asked the waiter for a fresh one and said all juices were from the machine. Later I asked another waitress whom said all juices are fresh and brought me a fresh one. How could this happen ? In 7 days sail, we found the services were mediocre and food on the whole ( except a couple of meals ) was just above average, even their flagship restaurant Nobu restaurant. There were however, a couple of meals which were good, like lobster night ! I also think they are under staff, I was standing in a queue for 20 minutes for a burger while my friend was sitting at the table for 25 minutes before being served ( after waiving to the waiters a couple of time for getting their attention ), there were so many people and so few staff at the deck. However, in Tastes, another restaurant, the service was much better though. Most of transportation ( shuttle bus and tender service to/from ports ) were not well managed and sometimes were left alone with the driver to show us the way to the town ! Entertainment not too good also. Last one good thing to add was the disembarkation which was very smooth, it took us 10 minutes to reach to the outside taxi stand ! In summary, we would not choose Crystal again, simply for worth the money ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We took a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity for our Honeymoon. It couldn't have been better. We've been dreaming of the day we could return. Then we did, for our ten year anniversary. What a let down. Our luggage was ... Read More
We took a cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity for our Honeymoon. It couldn't have been better. We've been dreaming of the day we could return. Then we did, for our ten year anniversary. What a let down. Our luggage was 'lost' in Heathrow. We didn't get it back for 8 days (out of a 12 day cruise). I understand the lost luggage wasn't Crystal's fault, but if I'm paying $1,000/day, I expect some level of service. We got the concierge to make a few pathetic attempts at phone calls. Other than that, it was on us. We spent 8 days standing at the concierge desk making phone calls from their 'landline'. We sent emails all day long. When we went ashore for the day, all we had time to do was shop for whatever clothes we would need for that night and next day. Crystal did nothing to help. Crystal did nothing to accommodate us. How about a shipboard credit to help buy clothes and toiletries? How about a massage? How about assisting with out laundry (we spent 2 hours every night in the laundry room)? How about trying to find our luggage???? In the end, they sent me a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Gee, thanks. The ship was nice, and mostly well maintained. It is definitely due for refurb. The food was lousy, cheap, bland, mushy and tasteless. Maybe they are still used to catering to the elderly. My wife and I took to ordering two of each course, as we knew at least one would be inedible. The room service menu was a joke. Couldn't order breakfast other than once. Limited menu that was accessible only if you are not leaving for an excursion. Hello, room service, I'd like an omlette. Sorry, it's too late, but you can have scrambled eggs. Seriously? Don't they know an omelette is scrambled eggs with some stuff inside? Again, I'm paying $1,000/day to be there. Felt more like I was staying at a Holiday Inn. The waitstaff were rude. Why am I on board this 'luxury' ship, and the watier is a jerk? But it wasn't one bad seed, it was most of them. We actually had good service and food for dinner at Tastes. Their 'Nobu' restaurant.... not even close. It was fine, but I've had comparable sushi at the grocery store. There was one good thing was the booze. Thank god it was free, and there was plenty of it. Otherwise, I may have thrown someone overboard! All in all, Crystal is not what it used to be, especially for the price. Look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Have been on several Crystal cruises before, always on the Symphony. First time on the Serenity, first time in each of these ports (Rome, Florence/Pisa, Nice, Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo). I can't say enough about the service ... Read More
Have been on several Crystal cruises before, always on the Symphony. First time on the Serenity, first time in each of these ports (Rome, Florence/Pisa, Nice, Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo). I can't say enough about the service on Crystal: not overly fussy, but always attentive, and very personal. The crew seems to love their work, and enjoy working with each other, which makes a pleasant experience all around. There is always so much to do on board: art lessons, bridge classes, enrichment talks, movies, golf lessons. The food in every restaurant is superb. Cabins are comfortable -- we've been on Regent cruises a few times, and their cabins are spectacular. Crystal's cabins are still very nice, though! A wide variety of Crystal-backed excursions, each with in-depth and accurate descriptions. We did some excursions, and also did some exploring on our own. Every port was lovely, and we enjoyed every single adventure. Crystal's customer service and attention to detail is superb. Here's a perfect example: we were tendered in Monte Carlo, requiring the use of the life boats to shuttle folks in and out of the port. In the early afternoon, the wind and rough waters caused a temporary halt to the shuttles, for about 2 hours -- for safety reasons. When we finally got on board the ship, the Captain and about 10 crew men were there to assist, and we were immediately told that Crystal was putting a $50 per person credit into our onboard account, as an apology for missing lunch on board the ship. Everyone who was delayed received the same credit -- without even asking for it! That type of customer care is amazing -- and it builds loyalty. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We booked the cruise when Egypt was on the itinerary and had 4 friends book with us. When Egypt was pulled, it was too bad Crystal did not add another day in Israel instead of wasting the time on Cyprus and Shalalah, Oman (no offense to ... Read More
We booked the cruise when Egypt was on the itinerary and had 4 friends book with us. When Egypt was pulled, it was too bad Crystal did not add another day in Israel instead of wasting the time on Cyprus and Shalalah, Oman (no offense to anyone). Regarding the ship, for the most part, well done. But it is difficult to understand how they left the option on the stateroom TVs out with respect to CC. As a result, you had to turn up the TV to hear (if you have a problem--I do) and the wall partitions with the TVs is paper thin and our neighbor could hear us and we them. The entertainment started off slowly but quickly picked up pace and was excellent as the cruise went on. Crystal's staff continues to excel and made the cruise very nice. Fix the few problems (I hope) and we'll be back. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
After doing a previous Crystal Cruise, we opted to go on Symphony. This was the first cruise after an upgrade to the ship. The ship, crew and staff were not ready. Delayed beginning and food quality varied widely. I mean not even close to ... Read More
After doing a previous Crystal Cruise, we opted to go on Symphony. This was the first cruise after an upgrade to the ship. The ship, crew and staff were not ready. Delayed beginning and food quality varied widely. I mean not even close to our other experience. (example: bone in the breakfast sausage & asked for Chicken noodle soup and got chicken broth with spaghetti noodles) The wait staff is so busy trying to figure out how to type in your food order, that there is no eye contact. Very unprofessional. A safety concern was told directly to the safety officer which was ignored. We did complain to Crystal upon are return home and after 2 months did get a response that the safety issue was addressed and fixed. Offered $500 for next cruise with too many limitations for us to use. Under new management, this cruise line has gone down substantially. Very disappointed and I would think twice about going on another Crystal Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or ... Read More
Our preference is for ships of a decent size able to offer a variety of venues whilst maintaining a high level of service. We dislike smaller ships, ships within a ship, ships with specific areas reserved for specific cabin types or titanium plus members etc, continually signing for goods and services, mandatory tipping, crowded spaces etc. We like what we have found on crystal and are beginning to think we’ve found our Goldilocks cruise line. This was our third crystal cruise (2nd on Symphony) and her first sailing after dry dock. We’ve attempted to summarise our highlights and closed by listing our favourite 5 and least favourite 5, I confess we were scraping the barrel to come up with 5 things we liked less!! An email arrived the evening before sailing to inform us that there would be a 24 hour delay leaving port, but that no ports of call would be missed and we were each to receive $150 on board credit for any inconvenience. We felt this was very fair and crystal also laid on a half day complimentary excursion for the additional day in Lisbon although we chose to do our own thing (a highly recommended visit to Sintra.) We are always late boarding so embarkation is a breeze, we then stop by the cabin and head up to the trident grill for a snack and glass of champagne. Because of the delayed departure the emergency drill was postponed to the following day which was nice as we felt more able to relax and have a look round the refreshed areas of the ship. We knew about the dry dock and expected a few glitches; we heard (from a lady in the lift ;-) that some of the deck 9 cabins were not ready and that a number of guests had been accommodated on land for the first night. We subsequently heard that those guests were well taken care of for the inconvenience. Our cabin on deck 8 was as expected although it had not been properly cleaned (several items in drawers and bits of debris on the floor) our room attendant was lovely and we felt bad for bringing these things to her attention, it appeared that someone else had made up some of her rooms. During our conversations we got the impression that the room maids have more work than before (she wasn’t complaining - we were probing) She did however provide us with excellent service throughout the cruise and the shaky start was soon forgotten. The only change in the regular cabin is the new TV and desk chair which now fits under the desk more readily than the previous chair. I had hoped to be able to order room service and check billing / menus etc. through the interactive TV but that functionality was not available on our cruise; hopefully this will change in future. We did on occasion hear the TV in the neighbouring room and whilst not an issue for us it could be if larks and owls end up as neighbours. Internet was spotty, I didn’t have too much trouble but was aware that others did and there was a mention in reflections regarding internet connectivity one day. Again I’m sure these things are all tied up in the refit and will be ironed out. In over 40 cruises across a variety of cruise lines we felt that the entertainment in terms of variety and quality was the best we have ever experienced on a cruise ship and we’re really glad we made the effort to get to most of the shows. The only thing to take the edge from this was the lack of drink service before the shows, particularly as there is no convenient bar serving the theatre. The quality and consistency of food was excellent throughout the ship, bearing in mind that the staff in the main dining room did not only have to adapt to open seating but also a new ordering system on small hand held devices. One evening, two of everything we had ordered was delivered which caused some amusement. There was a short line for dinner on the first black tie night but the wait was not significant. The team was under some pressure though they coped admirably. This was the only occasion when it was noticeable that tables are quite close, on other nights we rarely had a neighbour when seated where the tables are closely grouped together. We were also asked if we would like to join an open table, we chose not to so can’t say how this worked. Wine is now generally served by your waiter although sommeliers are on hand and delivered other drinks (ordered via the servers hand held device) The trident grill functions like clockwork, we’re always impressed by the way the main man keeps those lines short and the rest of his team in check. Sadly there were no fries or onion rings for the first few days which was good for my waistline but piled pressure on the staff as every second guest questioned “when will you have fries” something which they very obviously didn’t have the answer to. The Churrascaria was a delight with the additional opportunity to eat outdoors, it’s nice to have an informal option for those evenings when you just want something simple washed down with a nice cold beer. You have a little card labelled yes please one side and no thanks on the other for when you want the meat to continue coming or to stop. It’s not the easiest thing for the meat waiter to see and perhaps a coloured light or flag would make their life easier. Silk was another absolute pleasure and has its own evening ambience to differentiate itself. We felt the food to be authentic and thoroughly enjoyable. I have a shellfish intolerance and am a little nervous in restaurants where a fair amount of shrimp is used. The staff were wonderfully accommodating and we ended up eating there several times. Umi Uma and Prego are pretty much unchanged in appearance and food offer. What we liked best 1. The phenomenal staff, many of whom are new to crystal though you would never know it. I hate to pick out favourites when they are all so good but on this trip Sophia (waterside and bistro) and Fabio (waterside) we felt were truly brilliant. 2. The transformation of deck 11, the way in which new venues have been laid out gives each a separate and clear identity and a really nice fresh feel. 3. Entertainment was truly fantastic each and every evening and we also loved the greater use of starlight for shows than we had experienced previously 4. Food throughout the ship was outstanding 5. Our fellow passengers – we have never failed to meet wonderful passengers on Crystal and this journey was exactly the same. What we liked least 1. Lack of drink service pre-show in the theatre (especially as the nearest bar is some walk away) 2. Avenue saloon vibe was not the same this trip; we just didn’t warm to the pianist (nothing wrong with him) guess we have been spoiled previously. The plus side to this being a far less woolly head the following day. 3. Movie selection in the theatre was odd, I think we had wonder woman one day followed by Spiderman the next plus a few other oddities in the mix (again just my opinion) 4. Birthday breakfast was a bit of a damp squib, this was the first time we had been to breakfast in the restaurant and we didn’t find it decadent or particularly special, just a bit strange. 5. Although I’ve said the food was top notch throughout we still comment on the use of reformed frozen onion rings with the beautiful steak at dinner. It should be obvious from the list of things we liked least that we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, in fact we both agreed this was our best cruise ever with the exception of our very first on P&O Canberra in 1992. (I think your first cruise will always be special) We’re struggling to find a crystal cruise to fit our travel plans for next year even though everyone on our sailing received a letter offering ($1000 per room - $500 pp On board credit) for a booking in 2018/19. The only answer is for us to change our travel plans!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We have thoroughly enjoyed other luxury cruises(Seabourn) but were interested in this yachting experience and it was beyond all expectations. Essentially, it is a mobile luxury hotel affording you the opportunity to visit fabulous ... Read More
We have thoroughly enjoyed other luxury cruises(Seabourn) but were interested in this yachting experience and it was beyond all expectations. Essentially, it is a mobile luxury hotel affording you the opportunity to visit fabulous locations hassle free. With the size of the ship and the limited number of passengers, you have the opportunity to function entirely independently. Group excursions were small and actually fostered great camaraderie. Excellent and engaging local guides Embarkation/disembarkation: seamless, both initially and at each port, like walking out of a hotel room Ship: lovely, understated decor, with all areas easily accessible Cabin: though smaller than some of our previous trips, it never felt small with well designed storage, also the bath was very large with a generous glass enclosed shower and two sinks and again lots of storage. Other reviews have been critical of the ac, but we experienced no problems Dining: exceptionally good at all meals. Dinner was really a dining experience, like a fine restaurant,certainly not a move the crowd mentality. Additionally the accessibility of the yacht in general, allowed us to explore dining options in ports and easily return prior to departure. Entertainment: Oliver was great in the piano bar, but honestly, not much partying after dinner with this crowd that had been active all day and was admittedly older. We might have enjoyed some group activities or enrichment lectures in the afternoons. Service: impeccable and very personal We would LOVE to take this trip again and would really like to go on the Esprit to a destination where we could take greater advantage of the paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis, etc Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment ... Read More
My husband and I have been on a couple of dozen cruises on a total of 12 lines. This Crystal cruise was outstanding in every way. In most ways it was comparable to less expensive cruises such as Oceania and Azamara, though the enrichment activities were far and away the best we've ever experiences. The cusine was top rate, though the specialty restaurants were, in my view,no better than the main dining room. Even top shelf liquor brands were included in the price, and service was impeccable.Gratuities and internet also were included in the price, so the high ticket was not as bad as it seemed. The ship, while beautiful, was a bit dated, but was due to go into dry dock right after our cruise. With the exception of Lisbon, Madeira and Morocco, the island ports were just so-so; but who cared? We would've been happy to never leave the sh\p! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
It was a great experience however it is not recommended for anyone that has mobility issues. No elevators on this ship and all excursions leave the ship by Zodiac, therefore, embarking and disembarking can be challenging. For us, ... Read More
It was a great experience however it is not recommended for anyone that has mobility issues. No elevators on this ship and all excursions leave the ship by Zodiac, therefore, embarking and disembarking can be challenging. For us, embarkation in Venice was quick and simple. We embarked from the San Basilio port, easily reached by public water taxi from our hotel in Santa Croce. Our check-in was relaxed. There were no crowds at all, and we could embark anytime during the afternoon. Dinners were top notch. Open seating, great service, nice selection of wonderful dishes - just like eating in a five star restaurant every night. However, I felt the quality of the dishes did waver a little compared to the first night. There was a large selection of foods given such a small number of guests, and the food quality and service was fantastic. In addition to the buffet, there is actually a breakfast menu where you can order Japanese breakfasts or poached eggs (e.g., eggs benedict). Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
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