1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Cruises Cruise Reviews

27 Crystal Pacific Coastal Cruise Reviews

This was my first Crystal Cruise and my second ocean cruise. I was charmed and amazed by the lovely ship (Crystal Symphony) and especially the service. I couldn't sit down anywhere without someone popping up within the minute asking ... Read More
This was my first Crystal Cruise and my second ocean cruise. I was charmed and amazed by the lovely ship (Crystal Symphony) and especially the service. I couldn't sit down anywhere without someone popping up within the minute asking if they could bring me something. The pool deck (Deck 11) was blissfully uncrowded with comfortable seating and plenty of throws to wrap up in on a cold day (and this was a cold, windy cruise to the Pacific Northwest). Nice place to read a book and look out over the water. The service at the Marketplace buffet on the Lido deck was swift and attentive. My husband has a hard time walking, and a waiter or waitress was always on hand to carry his plates to our table. I liked that during lunch, you could carry your food anywhere on that deck (the grill, the Silk restaurant when it wasn't serving, basically any table you saw) and eat there. No one chased us back into the Marketplace eating area but waited on us where we were. Food was good, and the desserts tempted me a long way off my diet. Another thing I loved about dining on this ship--you can have anything you want, you have only to ask. One day at lunch in the Waterside dining room, I craved a sandwich, but didn't want the one on the menu. The waiter was happy to recommend another not listed and brought it to me quickly (and it was good). The public spaces on the ship are bright, airy, and relaxing. I found myself heading for the Bistro (coffee bar) on Deck 6 every afternoon for a pot of tea a scone or cold cuts (or both), to read a bit and relax. I attended one tea in the Palm Court (the Mozart tea), which had a full buffet of pastries and cakes. It was crowded that day, as it is the most popular tea of the voyage. The Library: Not many people review the library I imagine, but it is a book lover's dream. Shelves upon shelves of books of all subjects and fiction genres, plus niches to listen to audio books or just to read. They have a "swap" shelf where you can leave whatever book you brought with you and grab another. Just don't forget to return your library book, because the fines are high (understandably so--hardback books are expensive). Fitness Center: The fitness center, while small, has treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bicycles, and a rowing machine. Plus four or five weight machines that were multifaceted (worked more than one muscle group). I was pleased to see so many free weights from light to heavy, plus kettle weights, medicine balls, and exercise balls. I could replicate my usual workouts exactly. I took a few of the free classes with the fitness director who was very good at keeping the exercises easy for beginners but explained how to make them more advanced for those who were longtime exercisers. She was patient, friendly, and encouraging. The center offered personal training (for a fee), though I was too busy to sign up. Spa: Easily fit me in for appointments. I had my hair cut and got a massage. The massage was last minute on the last day, and they slid me in without a problem. Excellent massage--one of the best I've had. (Note, the spa is an extra fee, and they automatically add 18% gratuity.) Cabin: While small, it was comfortable and nice. The bathroom, while again small, had new fixtures, plenty of hot water, and best of all, lots of large towels. Anytime we needed something extra or when our TV remote stopped working, someone was there within 10 minutes to help us out. Voyage overall: I had been to some of the ports of call before (Seattle, San Francisco), but we found plenty to do. I did not take any of the excursions, because we booked this cruise at the last minute, and any that looked interesting to us were already sold out. I didn't mind, because I prefer to sightsee on my own anyway. Easy to call an Uber or taxi and head to whatever we wanted to do. Recommendations: San Francisco: Legion of Honor Museum, a branch of the SF Art museum. Beautiful place with amazing collection. It lies on the western edge of the city in Lincoln Park near Land's End. Worth the trip. Seattle: MoPop museum. Especially for music lovers and sci fi lovers! Right next to the Space Needle and the Chihuly Glass garden. Astoria: Columbia River Maritime Museum. Small but intense, full of information. I did not do the river walk or the trolley along the river walk, but I would do that on my next visit. Victoria: Tea at the Empress, of course. If you like dollhouses or miniatures, Miniature World museum right around the corner from the Empress. A fascinating collection of miniatures and dioramas. Well done. Butchart Gardens: While crowded that day, a beautiful not-to-miss botanical garden. Roses were in full bloom. A taxi is a must for that. (The free shuttle from the Symphony took us right to the Empress hotel). Overall, I loved this brief vacation on a very relaxing and surprisingly uncrowded ship. The lecturers were great too, as was the new show the Crystal singers and dancers debuted. I like the smaller ship experience--lack of noise, little stress, no lines (I rarely, rarely stood in a line on this ship). I felt like I was truly on a *ship*, not a condo block with a shopping mall that happened to be floating. I highly recommend the Crystal Symphony. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We're a couple of a certain age. Second Crystal cruise, dozens of other cruises over the decades. Our cruise Beijing to Hong Kong in 2015 was my favorite cruise ever. Cabin: Outside ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. We're a couple of a certain age. Second Crystal cruise, dozens of other cruises over the decades. Our cruise Beijing to Hong Kong in 2015 was my favorite cruise ever. Cabin: Outside window on deck 7. Balconies were all booked when we signed up. No upsell offer unlike last time. Cabin was clean and well taken care of. Ship must have sailed full, but nothing was crowded. The weather didn't lend to sun worshiping, except the last day, in Vancouver, the heated pool was open and in use. Food: Service was good and no lines for the MDR longer than five minutes (at 6pm). We found a waiter we liked, South African young gent, and asked for his table each night. We ate at Umi once, and had rez for Prego on "formal" night, (blue blazer and gray pants, tie.) but cancelled when we learned MDR had lobster. Brought on board live, said two reliable bartenders. (All drinks free, of course) We liked MDR a lot. As usual we had hot breakfast in the room daily. On time and accurate. This was the only occasion on which we tip "extra." Entertainment: We liked the historical lectures (San Fran earthquake, Lewis and Clark) and skipped a lecture rumored to be somewhat political. I cruise to reduce my blood pressure, thanks. We especially enjoyed the Broadway themed show. Shore Exc: Just did two. Seemed reasonable in price. In Vancouver we took a cab to a museum. Would we go again? Absolutely. Find a good price and it's a value. There's a mid-level cruise line sailing to Iceland next year I have my eye on. Crystal has this itinerary for 2021, but at my age I don't buy green bananas. Read Less
Sail Date June 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
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
Sail Date January 2019
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal ... Read More
Over the past 32 years I have been on over 40 cruises on about 20 cruise lines. I always remembered our 1993 cruise on "Crystal Harmony" as the best of them all, but it was very expensive. Eventually I decided to try Crystal again, as their prices were comparatively more affordable than in the 90's. I read some pretty negative comments on Cruise Critic and was dubious, but it turned out to be a fabulous cruise. The ship is beautiful and super-spacious and from the outside has beautiful lines reminiscent of the old ocean liners. There was never a wait anywhere (except getting on the tenders). The service was impeccable and the food and entertainment fabulous. I loved some of the special touches in the stateroom not found on other ships. I went as a single and never felt uncomfortable, ignored, or crowded out and though I didn't dance I appreciated the presence of the dance hosts. The entertainment was much better than on other ships despite being on a smaller one-story stage. There was never a problem finding a seat in the showroom, unlike other cruises where you had to show up an hour ahead to even get a seat. And the shows were a full 45 minutes and 3 production shows on this cruise versus 30 minutes on Princess and only one production show. I loved the ballroom dance quartet that performed in the Galaxy lounge twice on our cruise. Tea in the Palm Court was wonderful. The Brazilian BBQ at Churrascaria was unbelievably good as was the food and service in Uma Uni Japanese restaurant. I did not try Prego. It was really nice to not have to deal with paying for alcohol, soda, etc., tips and Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed was excellent. I had a few nit-picky complaints about the stateroom design, embarkation in L.A. was awkward and confusing, and the tendering operation was not very efficient. An added bonus, since I am now cruising single, is they are single-friendly, with single supplements from 30% to 75% depending on the cruise and how early you book. I am switching my allegiance from Princess to Crystal now! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain ... Read More
Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed in many ways with Crystal ... the food, entertainment, lack of activities, the invisibility of officers, etc. Don’t know what the CD does to earn his keep. Saw the captain only once in 14 days. Long-time Crystal cruisers were not welcoming to newcomers. Food was hit and miss ... usually a miss. Not at all the gourmet cuisine I expected on Crystal. Entertainment was, at least in the Galaxy Lounge, far too loud and not geared toward us older folk. Trivia was held only four times in fourteen days! I’m used to Trivia four times a day! Not a friendly ship. Will not sail on Crystal again. Apart from the Christmas decirations, there was no ‘merry’ atmosphere and very little (if any) Christmas music ... not even piped. No carol singing or Christmas show. The two bartenders in Crystal Cove bar, Themyo snd Marja, were great. And, single malt scotches were available on the all-inclusive drinks menu. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food ... Read More
My family and I had sailed several times on the Serenity, and we were looking forward to seeing the extent of the recent renovations. We were very pleased with the new look of the ship and the renovations done to the public areas. The food and service are as memorable and perfectly executed as we remembered them to be, and some events, such as the Vintage Room and the supper club very much exceeded expectations. The new all-inclusive service is very comfortable, and we never felt pressured to order upgrades to the very fine list of wines, spirits and beers on board, although we did treat ourselves to some outstanding labels under the guidance of our amazing sommelier, Tilmar Pfefferkorn! The service aboard ship is outstanding. Not only are your every needs met swiftly and with grace, but staff quickly gets to know your preferences and often seems to anticipate your next request. Special services are also outstanding. We had a member of our party that required medical attention due to a pre-existing condition, and the medical staff did an outstanding job of successfully dealing with the problem in a caring manner. We will definitely be returning to crystal Serenity or Crystal Symphony for our next cruise experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This cruise was chosen for a family trip by my parents who are big fans of Crystal. They had a larger stateroom with a butler and we had more basic accommodations. It actually worked out well because their room became the default hang out ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for a family trip by my parents who are big fans of Crystal. They had a larger stateroom with a butler and we had more basic accommodations. It actually worked out well because their room became the default hang out space for afternoon canapés and card games. It was a budget friendly way to give everyone a private space to see each other. Our cabin and veranda were well sized and the ships menu was spectacular. There were always good food options available and the crew/staff were excellent. I would highly recommend this cruise line for those who enjoy an upscale experience. Be sure to bring your crystal casual wardrobe because you’ll stick out if you’re too casual! The dining room is a classy experience where the food was above and beyond what I expected. The quality and complexity of each dish was fantastic and there were always multiple things on the menu that looked and proved to be delicious. Portions are small, but that goes with the delicate nature of fine dining. There were three other restaurants available on the ship as well: Prego, Silk and Churrascaria. Our family favorite was Churrascaria which is a Brazilian bbq type place. The lamb there was excellent and we came back twice! Do avoid the signature Brazilian cocktail... too sweet. The excursions were fine and organized. There weren’t many adrenaline filled things to do, but that also goes along with the Crystal age range and interest levels. The ports had options which were more exciting and with planning the excursions for your group can figure out a fun plan. The pool experience was also pleasant because there was a great deal of space. We never felt like we were fighting for a good place to sit by the pool and drink service was good. The all inclusive drink package which comes with Crystal was really pleasing to the entire family. Scotch and bourbon for the guys (Johnny Walker Black and Knob Creek, Crispin Cider and Coke for the ladies). New drinks were always offered as well in case we wanted to try something new which was fun. I would highly recommend this as a high end cruise trip to any group. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out ... Read More
We wanted to take a more relaxing trip this summer and friends highly recommended Crystal. This was our first trip although we have been on other similar ships on Regent and Silversea. The staff onboard was delightful - everyone went out of his way to accomodate. The public areas of ship were great. Food was good - breakfasts in particular the buffet were excellent. Dinner at the specialty restaurants was quite good. We loved all ports except Astoria which was a total waste of time. Our only complaint was the size of our cabin. We had chosen a midship veranda cabin and just found it way too small. In particular the bathroom (although it had two sinks) was exceptionally tiny. I know cruise ships never have large rooms but found this to be the smallest cruise cabin I have ever experienced. If we go on Crystal again we will have to consider when of the suites. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Crystal and after 33 cruises this was the best of the best. The ship was so tastefully done. The crew was the best I have ever experienced and went out of their way to provide the best service ever. I am in the people business myself and Crystal knows how to treat their guests. The food was second to none and it didn't matter if you ate in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant. The rooms had everything you could want and if you needed anything it was provided. Crystal has gained a new member for life. Thank you for a great memory for my son and I on my 60th birthday cruise. The shore excursions were well planned and had great guides. I loved the enrichment lectures which proved great topics for our times as well as well educated lecturers. Room service was a real treat and once you called your items were delivered in under ten minutes. I can't wait to sail again on another Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca ... Read More
I have cruised with Crystal before and have always had a wonderful time. I chose this itinerary as I have not cruised from Vancouver before. I arrived the day before embarkation, in time to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant/vinoteca called Lupo. The cruise terminal in Vancouver is huge, and once I found the Crystal representatives, embarkation was smooth and very quick. Once on board the fun began. The staff, as has been my experience in my previous cruises, was always so attentive, with more than one staff member making gestures that showed they remembered me from previous cruises. The ship, after its retrofit last year, is even more beautiful. The addition of Silk as a dining venue made finding a table anywhere on the ship a sure thing. As I get motion sickness I chose a stateroom on deck 8, towards the middle of the vessel. I really liked the new flat screen TV's installed in each stateroom, and the features available on it - movies, ship info, and news channels. Very nice. This is my fourth cruise on Crystal, the third on Crystal Symphony, and the ship does not look its age by a long shot. It is meticulously maintained, spotless and comfortable, from the lounges on the pool deck to the seats in the Hollywood Theater. The new Silk lounge is so comfortable, and I love the display on the wall. I dined at Waterside all nights except for two, one when I attended a Vintage Room dinner and the other when I dined at Umi Uma. The food at Waterside was utterly delicious and beautifully presented, only surpassed by the charm and attentiveness of the staff that attended me. I dined at one particular table each evening, because the staff was so wonderful and entertaining. I almost did not want to dine at the specialty restaurants and I did skip dinner at Prego just to dine at Waterside. The Vintage Room dinner was beautiful, the staff attentive and the food and wine were delicious. The sommelier was very pleasant and debonair. The company at the Vintage Room dinner was lovely and very interesting. Dinner at Umi Uma was delicious, from the shrimp tempura to the lobster stir-fry main dish. It never disappoints. As I do not like sushi I did not order any, and so I cannot comment on that. The entertainment on board was varied and enjoyable. I enjoyed the closing show, Illuminate, which has been revamped since my last trip on Crystal Symphony. It was wonderful. I attended one other show, which was compilation of different dances and singing. The dance troupe performed a rendition of the Magdalenha, by Sergio Mendez, as well as Irish step dancing. Their rendition of the Magdalenha was disappointing. Though the singing was technically good, the dancing was just OK. To dance the Magdalenha well you must feel it, and the troupe did not. It appeared that they were going through the technical motions, but the moves did not look authentic or even fun. Their Irish step dancing, however, was wonderful. There was a dance performance by two couples in professional Latin ballroom dancing which I did not attend, though not because of any doubt as to their skill. It was that Latin ballroom dancing is not actual Latin dancing but another country’s idea of that Latin dancing is. I also, for the first time, watched a movie in the Hollywood theater – Annihilation. It was fun and the popcorn provided added to it. I also attended Mozart Tea, which was wonderful. On this itinerary I took three excursions – whale watching in Victoria, a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass studio in Seattle, and the volunteer excursion in Astoria. The whale watching excursion was fun, and we were able to see a group of transient Orcas. We then traveled to see Humpback whales and were able to see a tail. Then we rushed off for the afternoon tea part of the excursion. I would have preferred to have spent the whole of the excursion watching the whales instead of cutting it way too short. The tea at the hotel was not enjoyable – we had to wait to be seated and then my teapot was tepid at the start, cold half-way through, and it tasted like water. The excursion to see the Chihuly studio was fabulous. The studio was incredible – the docent guiding us through the exhibit was very well trained and knowledgeable. Chihuly is extraordinary. The only issue with this excursion was that our bus, before we even made it to the first stop on the tour, was in an accident. However, this was entirely the fault of the other vehicle, not our bus driver’s. No one was hurt and we were able to stay on schedule. My excursion to the food bank in Astoria was a very rewarding experience. We were able to participate in the giving of food to customers at a local food bank. The facilities were immaculately clean and organized, and the staff who we assisted was splendid. As I have been to San Francisco many times before I did not participate in any excursions. Instead, I was able to have a friend come on board the Symphony to visit. We had a lovely lunch at Waterside, and even though we sat at a table different than the one I visited for dinner, we were well take care of. I was able to say goodbye to the staff who had made my trip such a wonderful experience. Disembarkation was smooth and straightforward. I have only a couple of complaints about this trip. The first was that during the movie in the Hollywood Theater the door that leads to the casino was left open and so you could hear the noise from the casino. This was a bit distracting but I still had fun. The second was that though I had requested a group transfer through the guest check-in feature months the cruise, I was given tags for those with independent travel arrangements. I had to go to the front desk to get the correct tags, which was a slight hassle. Other than this, my trip was, as has been the case with every cruise I have taken with Crystal, a wonderful experience. I have two bookings on file and cannot wait to be back on board. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very ... Read More
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very good and creative, Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, and Umi Uma, the Japanese specialty restaurant, are excellent. The bar/bartenders are excellent, One night at Waterside, the main dining room, we spent almost an hour waiting for our food--and they were not busy, Waterside used to offer a steak option every night, now offerred less often and tasteless,The new Brazilian steakhouse provides mostly pork and the beef offerings are tasteless. The Marketplace, the buffet during the day, is open till 1:30 for lunch, but excursions often last longer and there is not a g option those days. The buffet is good, but changes little. Cabins are old and only have one USB port and one electric outlet although there are ones hidden behind the bed. For most of the day the hot water supply is insufficient, Luxury should not include a cold shower, The entertainment has improved but the lectures are now just OK, used to be great. Also there were nights with hardly any entertainment. Crystal now has a magician on board, ours was excellent. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. BUT the old system worked far better, we often could not connect to the internet and we could not make phone calls in airplane mode--prior trip with prior technology it all worked fine. The shore excursions remain VERY expensive and sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one wipes down the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was ... Read More
We had been on Crystal before and wanted to experience the overhaul of the Symphony. The public rooms are beautifully furnished, the layout of the entire ship is excellent, the food is wonderful. Most important every crew member was attentive and well-trained on how to take care of passengers. You really feel pampered and you leave relaxed and feeling that it was all money well-spent. For two years in a row we took the new Crystal European River cruises. If you have a chance to do that, it was two wonderful trips and totally different than an ocean cruise but with the same outstanding Crystal experience. Those experiences motivated us to go back on the updated Symphony. We liked that they gently enforced the dress rules so you didn't have cut-offs and flip flops in the upscale restaurants. The speakers and on-board activities were terrific. With 10 sea-crossing days (Long Beach to Hawaii, Hawaii to Vancouver), the speakers were every bit part of our ship-board experience. In addition the golf pro was excellent as were the live stage shows. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how ... Read More
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how can cruising on-board a ship that is 23 years old exceed one’s expectations? Well, it happened to us on board Crystal Symphony for the 16-day cruise starting May 18, 2018. This was due to a several factors. It involved the evolution of Crystal Symphony including new dining venues, open dining, enhanced public areas, and the new Seabreeze Suites. Other reasons included enhanced entertainment, a wonderful itinerary, a terrific private Crystal Cruises exclusive tour, and the amazing team on board Crystal Symphony. Good weather just added to all of this. This review covers our recent sixteen-day Crystal Symphony. The vast majority of our cruises have been on Crystal Serenity. Our last Crystal Symphony cruise was in August 2011. Some people prefer one ship to the other. We added this cruise after deciding the timing of an August Symphony sailing originally booked would not work for us. After reading reports from fellow Cruise Critic members we wanted to see the changes made to Symphony. We purposely booked one of the new Seabreeze suites to experience the suite first hand. Things we enjoyed the most included: THE CREW: They are amazing. We met some crew for the first time and quickly felt as though we had sailed with them many times. We remembered several from prior sailings on Symphony. At the same time there were several officers, senior staff and other crew members who we know either because they used to be assigned to Serenity and are now assigned to Symphony or they swing between the ships on alternate contracts or they will work consecutive contracts on one ship and swing to the other to work multiple contracts. There are lots of positives to those who swing as they can bring best practices from one ship to the other and also help to provide one consistent product across multiple ships. Some crew came over to Symphony not only from Serenity but also from Esprit and/or the River Cruises while some have gone from Ocean Vessels over to these vessels. The crew clearly worked as one cohesive team and was positive, guest focused, and provided a very high level of professionalism at all levels. Unlike some lines we have sailed where the service is good but can be very stiff and almost robot like, the crew on Symphony is warm and attentive making one feel like they are part of the Crystal Family. We felt so welcomed on the ship and I can’t say enough about the crew at all levels. They are truly amazing. THE SHIP: If you didn’t know the age of Crystal Symphony, you might think it is much younger in age than it is. The public rooms are beautiful. We like the changes that were made in the most recent dry dock and do not believe that the photos show the beauty of some of these changes. Because it is somewhat smaller (one less deck) we find it easier to get from place to place on the Symphony. There are also some rooms in particular that we like and that includes Avenue Saloon, Crystal Cove and Plaza, Starlite and Palm Court. CUISINE AND NEW DINING VENUES: We loved the change to open dining and believe the transformation has been a huge success. We appreciate five dining venue choices for evening dinner. Waterside reflects the change in terms of the taste of the cuisine and the service and is less noisy than in the past. We found the food to be moist and to arrive to the table hot. For those wanting to sit with others there more large tables will be arriving soon but in the meantime they are being creative to accommodate requests for larger tables. Those little touches are still there even though the Crystal Dining Room has transitioned to Waterside. This includes being escorted to the table, being seated by someone and the senior waiter serving you rolls/bread from a bread basket. The one change is that Head Waiters no longer prepare desserts or other items as they had to remove their stations to create more space for tables. This transition began a couple of years ago so that Head Waiters devoted more time to assisting guests and I have to say another benefit is not having smells from the cooking of desserts at tables near the former Head Waiter stations. One can still order special meals and they will be prepared in the galley. Market-Place - With each passing year we see improved service at this venue formally named Lido Café for lunch (breakfast would be the same). In our early years sailing Crystal the Lido Deck Stewards would do so much at what was the Lido Café along with those from the Specialty Restaurants. Wait staff from the dining room would mostly be standing around. Since changes were made and Lido Deck Stewards no longer cover the buffet area at lunchtime those from the dining room (now Waterside) provide wonderful service at lunch and at breakfast. They assist with beverages. They clear tables. They offer to carry your plate. They even assist getting other items. In short, they are very visible and provide great service. As in the past, many of the hot entrée items change each day and include some themed buffets. Prego – We enjoyed our visit to Prego. Menu has remained constant and we enjoyed cuisine, service and the ambience of this dining venue. Umi Uma – While the name has changed the cuisine has not and is as delicious as ever. There are some additions to the menu replacing some items. We tried some new additions such as lobster tacos and one of the new salads. All in all this venue continues to be an excellent experience. Head Waiter Jed really is on top of things from seating guests, to visiting and assisting waiters clearing tables. Silk – From what we have read, this venue is achieving mixed reviews but that has been our experience with most new restaurants at sea. We rarely eat this type of cuisine on land although years ago we did. We found the food to be tasty and we appreciated the selection. I realize that others do not care for the food but I am just sharing our opinion. I believe this might be a work in progress. Feedback from the guests was that the original menu was too limited and they wanted more choice. This was addressed with many new items added to the menu. Whether longer terms this stays as an Asian restaurant or changes is anyone’s guess. We found two areas of the venue that can be enhanced which is noted later on in this review under the section opportunities for improvement. Churrascaria - This is one of the two new dining venues offering a buffet in the evening for some items with table side service for other items. There is a cold buffet featuring various antipastas/tapas/salads, a warm buffet of sides and a final buffet of dessert/fruit. Guests go up to the buffet to select their items. Sides are served at the buffet by members of the dining team. Some of these sides are also served at the table. Waiters come to the tables to serve various entrees and the selection includes Steak, Beef Short Ribs, Chicken, Lamb Chops, Pork, Shrimp and sliced Pineapple. We enjoyed the experience and found the food tasty. For those who want a light meal one could eat mainly the salad and vegetables and limit their consumption of the entrée like items. The service was wonderful and the look of this venue in the evening has a different feel than having breakfast or lunch there in the daytime. It truly has the feel of a restaurant. The Head Waiter was terrific not only in greeting each guest and having a waiter escort them to their table but also in making rounds to each table to check up on each guest. Vintage Room – The Vintage Room can be reserved to attend with others who sign up for the experience or as we did as an Exclusive Vintage Room where there is flat fee regardless of the number of people attending up to the maximum capacity of the dining table. We hosted on exclusive Vintage Room. The overall cuisine was the best compared to our other visits to this room on either Symphony or Serenity. The cuisine was tasty and arrived hot to the table with each item arriving with a creative presentation. We enjoyed some memorable wines. Congratulations to the Food & Beverage team on-board Symphony and on land. A special call-out to Restaurant Manager Slavko has truly been one of the people instrumental in the orderly rollout of open dining. We thought that the overall food quality was outstanding on this cruise. Due to the length of this cruise and the number of sea days one day a Grand Gala Lunch Buffet was offered. The use of hand held devices to take orders seems to be going very well. Waiters are adept at using them even when guests request changes to the meal. Like all technology some will be more adept than others using these devices. BAR STAFF: We have always enjoyed the bar staff. When Crystal went inclusive a few years ago some wondered would they be happy? How would they know your name? The staff does look happy and includes new and seasoned people and the majority learn your name as they have done in the past. ENRICHMENT: Sailing Crystal Cruises with lots of sea days such as this voyage shows off one of the Crystal differences, which is their ability to offer 50+ activities during the day and afternoon hours. The biggest challenge is what do to each day. This cruise offered some activities that you might not see on port intensive cruises as well as those you do. There is one area that I believe needs some adjustment that I will discuss later. FITNESS: Kudos to the Fitness Instructors as these two on board were terrific. They both seemed very knowledgeable and had a great rapport with the guests. The Fitness Center is well maintained and makes good use of the space they have to work with. For those who like Yoga this cruise featured a dedicated Yoga instructor. While Symphony has one Paddle Tennis court compared to the two that Serenity has I had a wonderful time playing and on this cruise there was very little down time of not playing. ENTERTAINMENT: This is another area that has evolved the past few years under the direction of Keith Cox, VP of Crystal Entertainment/Enrichment. Keith has been with Crystal Cruises for two years. The entertainment reflects diversity and the number of options has been increased and adjustments have been made to coincide with open dining. There were new performers including a couple of performers new to Crystal Cruises along with seasoned entertainers. Most nights had two different main performances with each one shown two times. The team of Crystal dancers/singers and the band were wonderful as is Cruise Director Paul McFarland. We also loved the new production show that was rolled out on this cruise. Adding a new show is no easy task. Aside from all of the work that goes into its development, the on-board team must learn it in addition to practicing and performing the regular shows. There are other choices including listening to live music at night in different lounges and a nice choice of movies shown in the cinema. Another continued change is having different performers in the Crystal Cove in addition to a pianist. INTERNET/NEW TELEVISIONS: We were fortunate to have a good Internet experience but we do know that performance can vary cruise by cruise. On the most part the internet was up and the speeds were good to excellent. We had a couple of days when speeds were low such as at one or two ports in Hawaii. Fortunately I could use my AT&T service and utilize on my computer using the connection to it from my iPhone. The new televisions are great. The quality is terrific and the remote controls are easy to use. It is nice that 60 movies are offered on-demand. There are some items on the TV not available yet. I made more use of Press Reader on this cruise than in the past such as looking at the restaurant menus and posting them on the blog. We made good use of the internet to complete Wi-Fi calls to one another on the ship and to be able to communicate back home. Press Reader worked well to pull up daily menus and reflections. The ability to see our ship board account was not available. Hopefully, this will be available in the future but in the meantime we went by the reception desk to get a copy of our shipboard account from time-to-time. NEW SEABREEZE SUITES; We tried out the new Penthouse Suite (PS) and loved it. On the first day it seemed boxy and there appeared to be limited storage space. Within a couple of days we figured out how to optimize the storage and even discovered areas such as the front closet. Loved the more solid divider between bedroom and living area as we could have all lights on in the living area and you would not see light in the bedroom. Loved the bathroom with the separate toilet area and a small sink and the rain shower is wonderful. It has three options for the rain shower and also a separate hand-held device. The shower drain is much improved and water goes down the drain quickly and does not sit in one area if there is a lot of ship movement. Having a washer/dryer combination was amazing and other guests had the same opinion. In addition to the benefit to the guests in these rooms, it takes away some demand from the guest laundry on Deck 9. It was so nice to be able to do the wash at various times of the day and not have to worry that if we were not around when the wash ended that someone would remove it from the washer. This is a unique feature and I hope it continues to be added to future ships and in future dry docks. The lighting in the room is very good. It took a couple of days to get used to all of it and which buttons to push but once we did we were very pleased with it. The pullout draws in the bathroom were also nice as was the additional shelving above the washer/dryer combo. The front closet provided additional space and a good area to hang jackets. Another very nice feature is the pullout refrigerator. One does not have to squat to remove items, and it holds many more items and has some nice features for open bottles of wine. The configuration of the room is nice should someone have a third person in the room. Also wanted to give a shout-out to the wonderful team that took good care of us including the stewardess and her assistant and the butler. All fabulous. SHORE EXCURSIONS AND LAND PROGRAMS: We booked a private excursion with Los Angeles and it was amazing. It was one of the best tours we have taken. RECEPTION/CONCIERGE/CRUISE SALES CONSULTANT/CRYSTAL SOCIETY HOSTESS: We found each person very helpful. We didn't know the reception and concierge personnel prior to the cruise and within a few days most already learned my name and we found them to be knowledgeable and helpful. The Cruise Sales Consultant turned around our on board booking requests in less than 24 hours. By the end of the day we had the cruises confirmed and our rooms assigned. In two of the three cases I just filled out the form myself and turned it into the front desk. This was the first time I had done it this way and on the morning of the last day of the cruise I turned in an on board booking request and that was also a first. Crystal Society Hostess was helpful and very pleasant. MEET & MINGLE PARTY: I realize that some wondered why the Meet & Mingle Party was not held earlier in the cruise. The reason for this is that with some people registered for the party but not boarding until Hawaii the Bar Manager waited until after the boarded to hold the party and I think that was a nice approach by the Bar Manager. While we didn’t make it to the first portion of the party we did get there around the mid-point and we were happy that several people were still there when we arrived. SOME AREAS TO ENHANCE: In any business there are areas to improve and that is no different here. The good news is this represents a few areas. THE LECTURERS: A great group of lecturers were on-board. The topics were diverse. This voyage had a combination of lectures whom we have sailed with before and lecturers we saw for the first time. For those lecturers who lecture frequently for Crystal Cruises, I think it is important that they create new lectures and not give the same ones year after year. I have seen some lecturers over the years that figured this out. They create new areas to talk about and even if they repeat a topic, they update it to make it more current. I have been on some cruises where with changing news that someone speaking about world events creates a new lecture on board the ship. On this cruise a few of the lecturers presented the same material that they have presented for years. They are good at what they do but I do think they need to change this up. I noted this in the quality assurance survey. NEW SILK RESTAURANT: If it is possible to optimize the spacing between the two person tables closest to the windows, I believe that would enhance the overall dining experience. I believe the potential is there for this. I would also give diners a choice as to whether they want to be at or near the windows where many were seated or would they prefer a quieter location even if it is not near a window. Most tables near the window were filled as the dinner progressed with almost no one sitting in the middle. Had we known this we would have taken a middle or more remote table. ON –DEMAND MOVIES: We appreciate the on-demand movies and the ease of watching them. While a choice of sixty movies is nice, I could see over long cruises such as a World Cruise or back-to-back cruises that some guests would be appreciative of additional choice. If it is possible to expand the number of movies available and also change them from time to time, I believe this would add to the enjoyment of the movies by fellow guests. FINAL THOUGHTS: The Crystal product has evolved since our first sailing in 2002. Like other cruise lines there have been some changes “cutbacks” and some changes that did not please some. At the same time we have seen many product changes we view as enhancements that were implemented to match what other luxury cruise lines were offering and/or to exceed and differentiate from what others offer. I remember the day when you paid for bottled water and sodas, which I believe changed on our second Crystal Cruises voyage. Over the course of the past few years we have witnessed several additional changes which we appreciate including: Inclusive wine and spirits, which I believe, makes the ship more social with lounges busier in the evening hours and more people coming out for the evening entertainment. Inclusive gratuities for waiters, senior waiters, stewardesses and butlers. Additional dining venues providing lots of choice and the implementation of open dining to Symphony and to Serenity in the upcoming dry-dock. Enhanced waiter service at Waterside (Lido Café on Serenity) which I discussed in the review. Lots more choices for evening entertainment including on several evenings two performances each of two different shows. Some new production shows and some reflecting solo artists and also shortening the length of shows. Enhancements to each Vessel. Symphony has undergone that greatest transformation to the public space. Complimentary internet , interactive TV, on line menus/reflections, etc. Reduced guest count capacity. While a major goal was to accommodate the rollout of open dining, this enhances space to guest ratio and crew to guest ratio on sold out voyages. At the same time Crystal has maintained its core values/strengths, which differentiate itself from some or all of its competitors depending on the item. Areas that come to mind include: Quantity and diversity of enrichment and entertainment. The retention of personnel. A high level of luxury service by the crew while making guests feel welcome and part of the Crystal Family. I believe that applies to new members of the crew who are welcomed by other crewmembers and who quickly learn the importance of making the guests feel like individuals and not just a number. In the end no two cruises are the same and no two experiences are precisely the same. For us this has been an amazing cruise and we look forward to our next one. We had such a wonderful time that we added some cruises while on board with the Cruise Sales Consultant. As I say often the only opinion that matters is our very own and this one reflects the opinion of myself and my wife. I also believe in the end each person should figure out which cruise line(s) work best for them. Keith Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a ... Read More
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a limited way by increasing the number of penthouses and penthouse suites but, for many, its too little too late. Personally I don't mind the trade off of smaller staterooms for so many large and well thought out public spaces. This cruise was pretty well sold out (we were lucky enough to get an upgrade of several categories from a picture window room to one with a veranda on deck 9) yet the ship never seemed crowded, we never had to queue for anything, the feeling of gracious spaciousness sets this ship apart in my view. Embarkation was a breeze, the greeting was warm and our room was ready pretty well after lunch. We ate at all the eating venues and the quality was consistently good - and sometimes outstanding. The matching wines at dinner were sometimes ordinary but its easy enough to request something different. One thing I noticed in particular (this was my 12th cruise with Crystal) was the quality of the evening entertainment. It has improved markedly from what used to look like amateur high school productions, the Billy Joel tribute show was again outstanding, I'm still not sure about the Illuminate light show, impressive enough in the first 5 minutes and then you are stuck in the dark for another 25 minutes for much of the same thing. I just don't think it matches the type of passenger which Crystal attracts. The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, I was remembered by several of them which I think is always a nice touch. We did a Crystal excursion in each port, they were all overpriced for what they were but pleasant enough. This is an area they could do better in although I like the fact they never completely fill the buses so there's room to spare always. This cruise was originally intended to stop at Monterey, they quietly cancelled that without advising anyone and added another day onto San Francisco - so we ended up being there two nights - great city but a bit lazy on their part. The call to Astoria was a waste of time, we went to a cooking demonstration which was interesting enough but there was clearly very little to do there. So overall a pretty good experience, I am booked again next February on Symphony which will be after their dry dock, looking forward to seeing the improvements. On a separate subject, no surprise to see their recent announcement that the "air cruise" initiative has been cancelled before it even got off the ground. Blind Freddie could see this was never going to fly. "Redeploying" it to charter work is just about saving face. As many others have mentioned, their crazy expansion plans under the new CEO will only lead to tears. They need to stick to their core business, in my humble opinion. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We chose this cruise because it went to places we liked a couple we had not been to for a long time (Santa Barbara & Seattle). We loved the ports we visited & were very impressed with the bus service when the port was a distance ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to places we liked a couple we had not been to for a long time (Santa Barbara & Seattle). We loved the ports we visited & were very impressed with the bus service when the port was a distance from the city. Food was very good, but could use improvement in desserts & breads. We especially enjoyed eating in Tastes. The entertainment far excelled anything we have had on a cruise ship. We were fortunate that there was a jazz tour group on board who brought 20 jazz musicians with them so in addition to the great entertainment provided by Crystal we were able to enjoy the jazz musicians, There was entertainment all over the ship in the evening & into the night. This cruise only at one sea day & that was filled with lecturers, trivia, entertainment, etc. (couldn't do it all). The hot-stone massage I got on the ship was excellent, I was disappointed in the spa as a whole (not very large & massage rooms quite "cozy"). It would be helpful to have known the times of the shows in the Galaxy Lounge in advance, since we had a 7:30 dinner reservation we missed shows that were shown only once at 8:00. The standard veranda cabin is "cozy". It was difficult to get to the closet area; however, the bathroom was nice size. We were surprised at the number of children on the ship & some of them were a bit disruptive. When we have traveled on "upscale" ships, we have rarely seen children. We would recommend this cruise line to anyone who wants a smaller ship with very good service & dining. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with ... Read More
We wanted to relax and enjoy the services on the ship.We wanted to do some wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley and were fortunate to hook up with another couple through a Cruise Critic posting and to arrange a private wine tour with Savoir Faire. As to the food we found the food in the main dinning room to be fine but not outstanding. The service was good but our tow female servers were inexperienced . The female wine steward was very attentive and kept our glasses full. However, we were never shown or asked if we wanted to see a wine list. We found the the first two courses in Prego to be excellent and the main courses to be poor. The service was average on the first night but excellent on the second when we ate with a couple who had cruised several times before on Crystal. The service in the Lido buffet was excellent and the food for breakfast was above average. The dinner at Tastes was unusual and good and the service was very good. Our room was small but adequate space for clothing for a short cruise and our attendant was excellent. Overall we found the service to be outstanding but everything else just average. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining room. This cruise we felt that the food was improved, with more selections that were different than what was served in the Main Dining Room. Silk Road was delicious again. The Main Dining Room and the Buffet were both impressive, as was room service. The second-to-last evening's Dover Sole meal was truly spectacular. Wait service was impeccable as always, with the exception of the second evening's dinner in MDR. Then, it was slow almost to the point of being ridiculous. I attribute this mainly to the fact that almost every seat was filled for the special lobster/chateaubriand dinner. They really do need to try to stagger people more on that evening. Our cabin attendant, Natasa, was very attentive. The room was always serviced at a convenient time, and extra items supplied quickly when requested. I loved our cabin, a veranda stateroom. Even though it is pretty small, it is well-designed and cozy. If only it were about six inches wider, it would be easier to get around the bed, and my hubby wouldn't keep banging into the waste can in the middle of the night. There is plenty of storage for a one-week cruise and huge amounts of space that we left unused in the bathroom. The one thing that disappoints sometimes on Crystal is the entertainment. We are 50-somethings, quite a bit younger than the average age on this ship. We loved the Billy Joel show. However some of the other entertainment seemed to be aimed squarely at the 80+ crowd. One night it was such a tired cliche presentation, almost like Lawrence Welk, that I walked out. The music that I enjoyed most from the last cruise, the Astoria Strings, were gone. Just the violinist remained, and she played in the Crystal Cove with the pianist Richard Pucci most nights. In fact Richard seemed to be the one remaining of my favorite acts from the last cruise. He is very talented and I could listen to him all night. The excellent lounge pianist in Avenue Saloon from our last cruise was also gone, replaced with another tired, hokey guy who talked constantly and played little of interest. If Crystal wants to bring in the 40 and 50-somethings they are going to have to revamp all this. The movies shown on board in the Hollywood Theater are also bizarre: titles I had largely never heard of. Yet they played new releases on the TV's in the stateroom. Why not in the Theater? Overall I enjoyed the cruise, a 7-day through California which was competitively priced. However I will be watching to see if there is more cost-cutting in the entertainment before I Take a longer cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so ... Read More
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so for us, not too much to explore. We were basically taking this cruise to unwind, have some great food and drink and be treated in luxury. Crystal satisfied that need for us. In fact we have done this (or a very similar itinerary) on Crystal twice before. So we did no shore excursions, but did wander a bit at the port cities. We were upgraded from an Ocean View to a nice 9th floor Veranda. The stateroom was excellent as was our stateroom attendant (waitress). Food and Service were impeccable throughout. Prego was especially good this time and my wife was very impressed with the Mushroom Soup in a bread bowl. At Silk Road (Nobu's Joint), we ordered a ton of appetizers, the popular Black Cod and the Steak. Mushroom soup here as well was a treat. Overall very tasty, but apparently the same meal at Nobu's NYC restaurant would set us back $400. It was not $400 worth of food, but it was quite nice! The surprise here was TASTES! What a great concept and delivery. We ate there every other night other than the two aforementioned specialty restaurants. We also loved to snack at the Bistro. Good stuff in there. My wife loved the Casino! She actually won. I was neutral. Bingo was a bit lame and we did not care for the Afternoon Tea sandwiches. Those need improvement. The Mozart Tea was a bit more impressive though. Entertainment was good, but I do miss the String Quartet! The Piano players and the violinist were good, but a Quartet would have been quite nice. The show that played in the dark with flashing lights was quite an experience. Do see it! The price was right and the week was great. No complaints! Well done Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
As often as we have sailed Crystal Cruises we can honestly say that this entire trip has exceeded our expectations. ​There were several firsts for us including having the grandchildren with us, renewing our wedding vows, and the ... Read More
As often as we have sailed Crystal Cruises we can honestly say that this entire trip has exceeded our expectations. ​There were several firsts for us including having the grandchildren with us, renewing our wedding vows, and the accommodations we had. In the end, the most important component of the trip was being together for ten days with our entire family. The grand children were exceptional. They are children and from-time-to-time they each had their moments but they got over them quickly and did great. We have made many memories which will last a lifetime. Embarkation: Embarkation was both timely and very orderly. We were fortunate that disembarkation of guests from the prior cruise went as well as it did. Special Arrangements - Wedding Renewal Ceremony: We have celebrated special occasions on board in the past such as a 25th wedding anniversary, a birthday and a 60th milestone birthday but this was the first time we made arrangements ahead of time with on board guest services for something like this which was a wedding renewal ceremony. The ceremony and the reception far exceeded our expectations and we appreciate all of the details that went into it. We had a choice of a couple of different packages. We also are very thankful to the Captain r for officiating the ceremony and for so many officers to be there. The Ship: Serenity is fourteen years old. Although not a new vessel it is extremely well maintained and has gone through several changes since it was first launched in 2003. It will receive another makeover in late 2018 when several rooms on Deck 10 will become suites and similar in size to Penthouses and Penthouse Suites. Like a home, everyone has their opinions on what area should be makeover. One area that is not often discussed would be to update the Crystal Cove Lounge recognizing that this is often the first area that most people see on their first visit to the ship and we think first impressions are helpful. The ship is well maintained. Like any ship or hotel even ones that are a couple of years old there are some items where some additional maintenance is needed and likely is already scheduled. We have sailed smaller and larger ships and believe that size does change the overall experience including what can be offered and even the overall intimacy. For us the size of Serenity is perfect for long voyages as it allows a lot of enrichment programs and a diverse set of entertainment to be offered simultaneously. It also provides other amenities that we appreciate including a fitness center with lots of equipment, the two paddle tennis courts and a large wrap-around promenade deck. Although no children's programs were offered on this voyage, one will see programs on many of the summer cruise and during holidays when many children are off from school. Accommodations: In addition to our room, the family was in three rooms. The maximum number of guests in a room is limited to three so we placed Jennifer and Gui in separate rooms with one child in each room. We considered connecting rooms. However, we went with these rooms which did not connect because the were mid-ship. There are some rooms that accommodate three people because they have a pullout couch. We were unsure whether or not Jackson would require a crib by the time we sailed so we took one of these rooms for Eric and family. It was located right between Jennifer and Gui's rooms. We ended up going with cribs for Emma and Jackson and our children said they worked out well as they were sturdy and a really good size for each of the children. If a family of three wants to spend a lot of time in a standard room the downside might be its size. We often take the smallest of the three suites on Serenity with the exception of a few times when we went with the next largest size and that is the room we initially booked. A few months ago we thought that getting the largest of the suites would add to this voyage as it would provide lots more space for getting together with the family for pre-dinner canapés and drinks, enjoying dinners together and having the wedding renewal vow and reception. The room itself did exceed our expectations. Once inside the room it has the look and feel of being in an apartment/condominium. It has several unique features from the ceiling which looks like a ceiling you find on land and not on a ship and the master bathroom and even the shower. Early the nicest shower we have ever used on any ship or any hotel. We made good use of the dining room table which could be expanded to sit six people and sweeten the dining room table and the coffee table we could easily accommodate the family for dinner and/or canapés/drinks. Laundry Rooms: We normally don't cover these facilities but wanted to take a moment to do just that. A few years ago Crystal began to replace laundry machine and dryers on some of the decks including Deck 10 which we usually stay on. They were an improvement to the original machines but we thought that the washing machines had two drawbacks; one was that it didn't display the expected duration and should you want to speed it up or pause it to add something to the wash that was not possible. Deck 11 received a new version of the machines as it upgrade was not done for a few years and we thought these washing machines were better as they displayed the duration and when you checked back you saw the remaining time and they provide a lot of options. We also wanted to note that we find doing your own wash on Crystal ships to be easier then any other ship we have sailed on including other luxury lines. On the other luxury lines the rooms were very small and even if you favor in their ships are smaller they still were much smaller in comparison to Crystal laundry rooms and the actual machines are smaller as well. As a result we found that we brought more clothes on those cruises because to avoid doing the laundry for those reasons. This is not the case on Crystal Cruises where we can take less clothing knowing that we can do the laundry. The accommodations that we had for this cruise included pressing as they do for the other two suites categories. This accommodation included complimentary dry cleaning and laundry. We didn't send the laundry out for various reasons. One is that we don't want to put workout clothes in laundry bags due to the moisture on the clothes and prefer to wash them frequently ourselves and there are some items that we wash that we do not place in the dryer and hang up on plastic hangers we bring from home in the bathroom. This would have left us with only a few items to have laundered and it was just as easy to do them ourselves with the other items. Cuisine The food was as good if not better then ever. The dining room menus were diverse and offered many choices each evening and we thought portion size was terrific. This extended beyond the Crystal Dining Room to other areas where we ate including the Lido Cafe at lunchtime. Although we didn't eat at Silk Road (our children and spouses did) we thoroughly enjoyed the food that we ordered in from that restaurant as we did the Prego Italian Restaurant. In the case of Prego we tried several items we had either never had or hadn't had in year and found thoroughly enjoy each one. We would like to thank the pastry team for creating three wonderful cakes for us and our family starting with the cake at our reception. Entertainment/ Enrichment: Since we had the grandchildren with us and we wanted to spend maximum time with them and the rest of the family we only went to the welcome on board show and to very little enrichment. With that said the entertainment offering continue to expand. Most nights offer two distinct shows or forms of entertainment and each evening live music is played by different musicians in a minimum of three different venues. There are other forms of entertainment including a movie shown two times in the evening and then a third time the following afternoon. The amount of enrichment offered is similar to what you would find on longer cruises. The challenge for the guest on a short cruise with no full sea days is finding time to experience it. Also on a short cruise there will be fewer lecturers and they don't work every day. Shore Excursions: We didn't take any excursions so we can't comment on the excursions for this voyage. Internet: The internet was up almost all of the time and speeds were mostly good. First couple of days seemed the fastest. Fitness Center: We continue to appreciate that the Fitness Center is open 24x7 which is not the case for most land based Fitness Centers nor most at sea. Some classes were offered each day. Keith was surprised that the indoor cycling classes were offered only at 4:00 PM rather then alternating them as they often have done in the past with one in the afternoon followed the next time in the morning. This is something that we will note on the customer survey. Children Sailing On A Luxury Cruise Line: Although there was no formal children's program on this sailing we found that Serenity worked very well for the children. They do have dedicated children's facilities and even without a junior activity director on-board for this sailing our family made use of the facility from time to time. The selection of children's DVD's was terrific. The children enjoyed the ship and sailing on a voyage with plenty of port stops worked out well for them. We can't say enough of how welcoming the Crystal crew was with the children going out of their way to make each of them feel special. We will never forget Head Waiter Augusto stopping by the dining room table to check on the children, Senior Waiter Lylian carrying Emma and showing her off to some of the other waiters, Butler Jijo finding M&M's for them and bringing other snacks to the room that he knew they would enjoy and the professionalism of the two baby sitters who watch the children the night we went to The Vintage Room. There was a children' menu in the dining room that provided a good selection of items for the children at dinner. Of course while we didn't do this one could special orders for them or find other things on the menu which they might enjoy. Vintage Room: We chose to have our own Vintage Room for the family so only the six adults dined one night. We worked with Head Sommelier Tilmar ahead of time to create an evening which would be special for us and most importantly for our children and their spouses. It truly was and everyone enjoyed it. It was fun and also provided a great learning experience for the family. We also wanted to mention flexibility. When we booked the Vintage Room we were unaware that our daughter in-law was pregnant. Once we found out we realized that she wouldn't be able to drink but knew she would still enjoy the experience which she did. There was one seafood item that we requested that for someone pregnant there might be a concern. Our son noticed it as soon as we sat down and we mentioned it to Tilmar and without a hesitation he quickly contacted the chef and a substitute item was made for our daughter in law when it was time for that course. Service: We often say that you can take the newest ship and with the wrong crew the experience could be a disaster. There is a unique culture at Crystal and it is instilled in the crew and translates to service that is delivered professionally at all levels while also being personable and not robot like. Even if this is your first cruise you will find that after a few days that some of the crew begin to learn your names and become familiar with you as you do with them. The bonds that more experienced Crystal Cruisers develop with the crew do not come from one voyage but like all bonds comes in time. For us given the amount of time we have sailed Crystal those bonds are strong and some members of the crew we have known for close to fifteen years. For us they are our Crystal family. The crew is one of the main reasons that our go to cruise lines is Crystal Cruises. As we have said in the past, we will sail on other cruise lines and have done just that based on itinerary. However, if the itinerary that Crystal offers in the time frame we want to sail is what we are looking for we will choose Crystal Cruises over the other lines. Each time we return we have that feeling of being home and enjoy being with our extended Crystal family. On this cruise we spent more time with our "own" family but on other cruises we do spend more time with our "extended" Crystal family. ​The crew was amazing with our own children, their spouses and the grandchildren. They helped out with the grandchildren at dinner and at other times. The stewardesses were terrific not only in our room but in the other three rooms. This was also true in other areas including reception, concierge, crystal society and on board bookings, our butler, the bar team, the waitstaff, the fitness center and in other areas of the ship including the officers and the entertainment/enrichment personnel. For either the entire cruise or a portion of the cruise there were several people from Crystal Cruises corporate office and we were glad to introduce them to our family. ​Collectively we have never experienced the professionalism, warmth and passion on any other cruise line or at any other hotel that comes close to what we have experienced on Crystal Cruises. That is not a knock against other companies because several do a nice job but collectively we have found Crystal works best for us in the levels of service that are offered and the bonding with the crew. Yes, familiarly helps and you don't make complete bonds on one cruise or even a handful of cruises. It's not different then making friendships on land. They develop overtime. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was very orderly. Since Keith had booked private vehicles with each family directly with Crystal Cruises all of this was coordinated by the concierge once we boarded Serenity. Each of the families received a letter from the concierge with our disembarkation package providing additional instruction including what time and location to meet for our private transfer. We were met at the designated time/location and escorted off the ship to the pier in Los Angeles. After collecting luggage, clearing immigration and customs each family was taken to their respective vehicle to the drive to the airport. We have made memories which will last a lifetime on this family get-away including an amazing cruise on Crystal Serenity. For us, Crystal cruises is the cruise line we enjoy the most. Keith Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We boarded the Crystal Symphony in San Diego. It was largely uneventful staff had us wait while the gang plank got reattached to the ship. We were not told how it got separated from the ship. It stayed overnight and since we were in our ... Read More
We boarded the Crystal Symphony in San Diego. It was largely uneventful staff had us wait while the gang plank got reattached to the ship. We were not told how it got separated from the ship. It stayed overnight and since we were in our home town we took full advantage of it. The meals were all very good. The entertainment was sub par for my taste. The crowd was at least 15 years my senior so I can understand the slower pace. It just took a few days to adjust. We enjoyed our table 86 of mates and they each added to our vacation. Crystal's all inclusive really is top shelf and has spoiled me in regards to future cruises. We didn't book a future cruise on board because our next cruise will be a family one with the Grands. Crystal would be too expensive for that outing. In the meantime we have this memory to last for awhile. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing ... Read More
We just returned from our first Crystal cruise, a quick 6-nite voyage from San Francisco to Vancouver. Crystal had been on our radar for a while and we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a test cruise before committing to a longer voyage. By way of background, we've been cruising for over 20 years. In the beginning we sailed HAL almost exclusively and then moved onto Oceania and Azamara. We've also sailed on luxury lines, including Paul Gauguin, Regent and Seabourn. Our objective on this short Crystal cruise was to get a feel for the product and to determine if we'd be a good fit for the line. EMBARKATION Serenity was staying overnite in San Francisco and we were only a short flight away, so we decided to arrive on embarkation day. We made our own flight arrangements and booked Crystal transfers from SFO to Pier 27. Our outbound flight was delayed but Crystal reps were still at the airport to greet us and escort us to the transfer bus. We waited about 10 min for the bus to arrive and then were on our way. There was a quick check of passports and cruise tickets at the cruise pier, then we were aboard and ready to start our Crystal adventure. FIRST IMPRESSIONS We boarded Serenity on Deck 6 outside Apropos and were struck by the elegance of the ship. The atmosphere was decidedly calm and unhurried for embarkation day. We didn't know where to go for check-in and there weren't any staff at the entrance to greet us except security personnel. But we figured it couldn't be far. We wandered past the Bistro and spotted the check-in counters on the deck below. As we entered Crystal Plaza for check-in, flutes of champagne were offered and soft piano music filled the air. In a matter of mere moments, our photos were taken and we had our All Exclusive Passes. ACCOMMODATION We navigated our way to our deluxe veranda and discovered a nicely appointed and functional room. The bathroom was well laid out with generous cabinet storage and Etro toiletries. I loved the colourful packaging! The balcony was outfitted with comfortable furniture and there was excellent privacy between neighbours. Our stewardess introduced herself shortly after we arrived. We asked to have all items in our mini-fridge removed and restocked with only San Pellegrino and Club Soda. Done! We couldn't find the the beverage request card in our room and our stewardess told us Crystal wasn't providing them anymore but beverages were still available upon request. We asked for Grey Goose. Done! We also advised her we were early risers and would appreciate having our room serviced as quickly as her schedule allowed. Done! She did an excellent job of keeping our suite immaculate and replenishing our mini-fridge, usually by the time we returned from breakfast. DINING We had high expectations for dining aboard Serenity and were not disappointed. In every venue, menus were interesting, ingredients were fresh, flavors were delicious and presentation was artful. Dining and wine service across all venues was excellent. We chose Dining by Reservation and selected our preferred times for dinner in each restaurant in PCPC. When we arrived on board, there was a reservation card confirming our selections. I loved that PCPC gave a sneak peek at the type of entertainment planned for each evening as well as the showtimes, which aided us in making dinner reservations. Even on a short 6-nite cruise, we got an opportunity to sample every dining venue. We downloaded PressReader before we boarded and were able to read upcoming menus in advance. We got into the practice of always checking what was offered in the Crystal Dining Room, even if we had reservations in a specialty restaurant. I could see this feature being quite helpful in making dining decisions on a longer cruise. Tastes We ate dinner in Tastes on our first nite and it was a great choice. We were seated at a lovely deuce overlooking San Francisco and enjoyed multiple plates of cold and hot tapas with a fabulous Crystal "C" Pinot Noir. I had a list of gotta try items with me and we ordered everything on it. The tapas were delicious with authentic global flavours. We started with Ahi Tuna Poke, Pastrami Cured Salmon and Arctic Black Cod Chowder and then moved to Gambas a la Plancha, Saffron Lamb Kebobs and California Street Tacos. When I looked at my cheat sheet later, I noticed we forgot to order the Alsatian Tart. Next time! We loved the casual ambiance and returned for lunch the next day. Alsatian Tart wasn't available but Chinoise Chicken Salad turned out to be another great choice. We certainly would return to Tastes for dinner if we were on a longer cruise. Crystal Dining Room We enjoyed three dinners in the main dining room. DBR worked very well and we lucked out with great tables each time. We had different serving staff each evening, but all were professional and efficient. We mixed and matched our dinner selections from both Modern Cuisine and Crystal Classics. We were pleased with the overall flavours and preparations, though sometimes we were disappointed by being served lukewarm food that should have been hot. We weren't tempted by any of the wonderful dessert choices and instead opted for a cheese plate after dinner. The selections were very impressive and perfectly plated. We usually had the complimentary wine of the day. On a few occasions we requested a different wine and it was cheerfully poured. When we initially booked the cruise, it had a Black Tie Optional nite and we intentionally chose to be in the main dining room on that evening. Shortly before sailing, PCPC was updated to show no BTO and all Crystal Casual. We figured that many guests probably wouldn't notice the updated info, so we decided to go BTO anyway. I estimate that 70%-75% of guests showed up in more elegant evening attire. It was nice to have a more refined atmosphere on that evening. We never made it to the dining room for lunch but did have breakfast there once. We ordered Japanese Breakfast and a Crab Omelet with fresh squeezed juices. Excellent. Service was a little slow in the morning, which was surprising since wait staff outnumbered guests by a significant margin. Silk Road A fantastic meal. I had my trusty list of gotta try items and we got through them all and then some. We ate family style and shared everything from appetizers to sushi to entrees. We ordered appetizers from both Silk Road and the Sushi Bar. Some memorable bites included Salmon Tartar with Caviar, Broiled Eggplant with Miso and Crispy Rice Cake with Spicy Tuna Tartar. We then moved to a selection of Nobu New Style Sashimi from the Sushi Bar, which was simply outstanding in both presentation and flavour. Next up was Miso Soup and Spicy Seafood Soup followed by Nobu signature dishes of Miso Black Cod and Grilled Wagyu Beef. When it was time for dessert, we decided to have more sashimi from the Sushi Bar! We ended the evening with Whisky Cappuccino with Buttermilk Ice Cream. Not very Japanese but sure delicious. Prego Our meal at Prego was a disappointment. We arrived on time and were seated at a table squeezed between other diners along the banquette wall. We preferred something a bit more private and since the room wasn't full, we asked if we could move to a different table. So sorry, no can do. Maybe the better tables were being held for later reservations, but they remained empty for the entire time we were in the restaurant. We shared a few antipasti items as starters and while the presentation was impressive, they were uninspired. We each had the famous Mushroom Soup which was delicious. Next time, I'll have it in a regular bowl rather than the bread bowl. We had a tough time making secondi choices as nothing really appealed. We settled on Rack of Lamb (a house specialty) and Veal Parmigiano, with a side order of Penne in Tomato Sauce with Goat Cheese, which was the pasta of the day. Nothing was memorable, other than our entrees arrived lukewarm and the pasta was seriously overcooked. On the positive side, we had a very attentive sommelier who kept us well oiled. I'm sure our experience at Prego wasn't par for the course and we probably would give it another try on a future cruise. Lido Cafe What an impressive buffet in a lovely room! The divider screens which separate the dining tables from the buffet line are a brilliant idea. They make the space more intimate while also reducing noise and visual clutter. We ate most of our breakfasts at the Lido. The hot and cold buffet items were similar each day and featured the usual suspects, along with a made-to-order egg station and some Asian specialties. There were lots of fresh fruit and berries, most at the perfect stage of ripeness. As on most cruise lines, yogurt choices were no fat or low fat. I prefer full fat real Greek yogurt! We had lunch at the Lido most days. The cold buffet included an assortment of salads, deli, panini, sushi, seafood and cheese. Hot items included soup, a daily carving station and multiple entrees that included and went beyond those available in the Crystal Dining Room. The made-to-order pasta station was my go-to spot and it never disappointed. The pasta was actually better than we had in Prego! I had dessert a few times in the Lido, since my absolute fave Creme Caramel was always available. We were fortunate to have the Asian Buffet even on such a short cruise. It featured a large assortment of hot and cold specialties from Japan, China, Thailand, India, Philippines and Malaysia. It was a feast for the senses! The Bistro We boarded Serenity too late for embarkation lunch in the Crystal Dining Room and we weren't in the mood for Trident Grill, so we had a quick bite in the Bistro. We enjoyed charcuterie, smoked fish and cheeses, along with another glass of bubbly. Over the course of our cruise, we popped into the Bistro regularly to grab specialty coffees and to check out the daily offerings. I loved the chocolate covered strawberries! Trident Grill & Scoops Truth be told, the menu at Trident Grill was the least appealing to us and we didn't eat there at all. I had sweet potato fries on my gotta try list and we sampled them at the Lido. Yummy. I had a bowl of ice cream from Scoops on embarkation day and it was OK but nothing special. We really liked the living walls which surround the dining courtyard of Trident Grill. They create a very vibrant atmosphere. Afternoon Tea We attended Mozart Tea and thoroughly enjoyed the affair. Palm Court was transformed into a Viennese court with suitably attired wait staff and accompanying classical music. We resisted the lovely tea sandwiches and headed straight for the pastries, even though we're not dessert fans. We shared Black Forest Cake and Apple Strudel, along with Hot Chocolate Amadeus and Kapuzina. Everything was delicious. I was surprised that the food offerings at Mozart Tea were buffet style and not served by waiters from trolleys. We didn't make it to any other afternoon tea so I don't know if this is the usual set-up on Crystal. ENTERTAINMENT There were three production shows by the Crystal Ensemble of singers and dancers: Across the Pond; Curtain Call; and My Life The Music of Billy Joel. In a most unusual move for us, we attended each show and loved them all. Galaxy Lounge was a perfect venue and we managed to snag excellent seats for each show. There were also headliner entertainers but we didn't go to see any of them. We were lucky to get tickets to Magic Castle at Sea. There were initially six time slots that were quickly subscribed and the magician had to put on an additional shows. We were front row centre and close to the action but were still mystified by the magic! This is a wonderful Crystal exclusive. There were also live performers in the various lounges each evening. Perry Grant was super popular in Avenue Saloon and played to SRO every nite. We went once but found the venue too crowded and too difficult to see the performance unless you're right up front. Crystal Sextet were at Palm Court during cocktail hours and we went a few times. We found service to be spotty, sometimes great, sometimes not so much. Towards the end of our short cruise, we found our Goldilocks bar at Crystal Cove where we enjoyed pianist Scott Mitchel and the Capricco String Quartet, either at pre-dinner cocktails or after-dinner nitecaps. ENRICHMENT Dr. Jay Wolff was the destination lecturer and he delivered two outstanding presentations on the areas we visited. Professor Louis Rene Beres was a special interest lecturer and he gave two presentations with a focus on current affairs, specifically terrorism and espionage. Before we sailed, we had expressed interest in some classes offered by Computer University@Sea on PCPC. When we arrived in our stateroom, there was a confirmation card showing the date and time of each class. We attended an instructive presentation by Chip Adams on iCloud. There were other enrichment activities in which we didn't participate, such as Digital Film Making, Odyssey Art at Sea, Walkvest and Nordic Walking. There was also a Paddle Tennis Instructor and a Golf Professional available for those who were interested. We were very impressed that on such a short cruise, Crystal managed to squeeze in so many enrichment activities of such incredible variety. PORTS This was a close-to-home cruise and we had visited all the ports before so we took it easy. San Francisco: Crystal shorex to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Walked along Embarcadero to Ferry Building. Astoria: Crystal shuttle to Maritime Museum. Continued to Pier 39. Walked along Waterfront Promenade back to ship. Seattle: Chihuly Glass Gardens. EMP Museum. Pike Place Market. Victoria: Crystal shuttle to Empress Hotel. Walked to Royal BC Museum for Aboriginal Festival. DISEMBARKATION All good things must come to an end and it was soon time for us to leave Serenity. As independent guests, we requested an early disembarkation so we could make our transfer/ferry connection from Canada Place. We were assigned to the first group which was scheduled to leave the ship at 8:00 am. We ordered room service breakfast and then made our way to Galaxy Lounge. Our group was called about 8:10 am and we swiped our cards to get off the ship for the last time. Customs and immigration had already been handled in Victoria so it was a quick and simple breeze through Canada Place. The cruise terminal was busy with three ships in port but it seemed organized. We quickly spotted our transfer/ferry desk, checked in and were on our way. FINAL THOUGHTS Our short test cruise gave us a wonderful orientation to the Crystal product. It's amazing how much we got to experience and discover in such a brief period of time. We enjoyed our time on board and felt very comfortable among our fellow guests and staff. We concluded that Crystal is a good fit for us. On the last day of the cruise, we visited the Cruise Sales Consultant and purchased a Future Open Booking. We've been Crystallized! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and ... Read More
In the past 20 years, my husband and I have been fortunate enough to take 29 cruises, with 26 of them in the space of the past 11 years. We've been on a wide variety of cruise lines, from the most basic up to the deluxe Azamara and Oceania (one each). Crystal is the only luxury line we've taken, and so far we've done one on Symphony and now this one on Serenity. Our ship overnighted in San Francisco. We boarded around noon, which was a breeze. A crew member escorted us from deck six to deck five, and five minutes later, we were free to wander the ship, with all our check-in details taken care of. We had intended to have lunch in the main dining room but we were waiting for a friend whose plane was a bit late, so we had a light snack in the Bistro, which happens to be on deck six, where we had a perfect view of people boarding. Alas, by the time she arrived, we had gotten bored waiting, gone up to the Trident to share a burger, and then we forced ourselves to enjoy our third course of lunch, at Tastes. Cabins were ready earlier than expected and we made our cabin attendant, Casia, who was possibly the best cabin attendant we've had in all 29 cruises. Then we spent two hours wandering off the ship at its space at Pier 27, up Embarcadero to see the sea lions at Pier 39. It really didn't take long, but we were also people-watching and talking about past visits to San Francisco. It was sunny and balmy, a lovely bonus. The next day we had a glorious day for more wandering. The Ferry Market (the outdoor with the local people) is always fun to check out, and then two of us went up to the top of Lombard St. and walked down. The other one of us went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked a small way across (we'd done the whole thing two years ago). Dinner the first night in the Crystal Dining Room was as nice as we remembered from our previous Crystal, and Serenity seems to handle Dine by Reservation a tad better (or they've perfected it a bit in the past year). I had made all our reservations in advance, but then when I saw the show times, I decided we'd prefer a different time. "No problem, sir!" after a brief check of the computer (sent husband to ask for the change while I was unpacking). Unpacking was easy. It was a cruise of just six nights, after all, but with a complimentary well-outfitted guest laundry, I could've easily had enough for two weeks and taken up the same amount of space (which was not all of it). The cabin gives us everything we need and the bed is super comfortable. I love the bathtub, and I think perhaps Serenity's tub is a bit more user-friendly than Symphony's, or perhaps I'm not remembering it correctly. I had enjoyed Symphony's, too. All of the service at the dining venues was excellent. The one weakest spot, same as on Symphony, was Prego. My husband had the halibut and he feels as though they overcooked it. He thoroughly enjoyed it in the Crystal Dining Room (and it was his favorite dinner a year ago on Symphony in the Crystal Dining Room). The wait staff in Prego failed to offer me mint jelly for my lamb, which I forgot about until I saw them (same wait staff) offer it to a nearby table. The three different serving pairs in the CDR were all very good, and we really enjoy Crystal's food. I mean, we REALLY enjoy it! Silk Road was good, and won the award for best dessert (the chocolate one) among many nice desserts. We are very happy with the Lido breakfast and lunch, and particularly pleased to have found an omelet-maker who definitely knows his job with no coaching from my picky husband. The Trident burger-chef is also extremely good at what he does. Even the ice cream guy wins our approval. You would think that would be easy, but alas, not always so! So we love the food, love the service, and are perfectly happy in our cabin. We enjoyed the evening shows very much (especially James Fox from Movin' On, doing Billy Joel), and Gary Hunter is a charming cruise director. We were particularly pleased to find Perry Grant in the Avenue Saloon. We are fans of his from years ago at Michael's Club on Celebrity Constellation. Still, the absolute best thing about this (and our previous) Crystal cruise was the enrichment. Both Jay Wolff and Dr. Louis Rene Beres are a pleasure to listen to, as far as I'm concerned. This was a port-intensive cruise, so they didn't have very much time to speak. On the morning we were cruising into Seattle, I had to choose between going to their live lectures and being up top to watch us cruise through Puget Sound. I could've watched the lectures later on the t.v. in our cabin, but there's just something about being there with them. I'm in awe of them! Both carry around a wealth of information with them at all times and deliver it to the audience in a way that I love. I am still sorry I missed Puget Sound, though! I took one port excursion. Crystal offers Voluntourism, complimentary little jaunts into the community. Two of the ones offered on this cruise were helping out for a few hours at a local food bank. The one I chose, however, was in Astoria, OR, and went to Fort Stevens State Park. Perfect! We (a group of just seven of us, with a local guide, in a school bus) went to three different areas of the park and picked up trash while learning about the history of the area. Perfect weather and a beautiful locale, ending at South Jetty, with a great view of Washington State across the Columbia River. For Seattle and Victoria, BC, we just wandered off the ship and did our own thing. In Seattle, we were a stone's throw from Pike's Market, which is exactly what I wanted to see (and the line for people waiting to go into the original Starbuck's). The fish markets there are just incredible. In Victoria, we took the Crystal complimentary shuttle into town and took a tour of the legislative building, then a friend took us to a garden and home that was an interesting place to visit. So -- why do I love Crystal? For all the big reasons: they cook perfectly for me; the crew is outstanding at taking care of me in a friendly manner; the ship is beautiful; and the small things all add up for me to an outstanding experience. Besides the voluntourism, here are some more small things: the three-plug outlet on the desk/dressing table; the do-not-disturb/clean-my-cabin lights at the door of the cabin; the signage that tells me, when I exit the elevator or get to the top or bottom of my stair climb/descent, which way to go for port and which way for starboard; the guest laundry rooms with pre-loaded detergent and always-up ironing boards. When I filled out my evaluation to Crystal for this cruise, I said: thank you for continuing to offer me a totally pleasurable cruise experience. We have three more cruises booked with Crystal and I expect them to keep me happy, yet again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we ... Read More
We selected this cruise to try out both the ship and Crystal. If this is representative of what to expect, my advice is to look elsewhere for an exceptional cruise experience. There were some positives and a lot of negatives. Here we go: Embarkation: A nightmare from the start. It was delayed until 6:00 pm due to port congestion and the fact that the ship was coming out of a short drydock. Hospitality facilities were to be set up to accommodate passengers prior to boarding, but Crystal said these were only for passengers that were taking their airport transfers. Our TA was told point blank that independent passengers (we arrived the night before as is our custom) could drop bags and were on our own until boarding. Nice to know that we were not really considered passengers until we set foot on-board ship. When we arrived close to noon to drop our bags, we were informed of the hospitality arrangements across the street at the Fairmont. The Crystal rep said boarding might start as early as 4:00-4:30, so plan to come back by then. We were happy about the arrangements and possible speed up of boarding, but it would have been nice to know of the changes to the stated status of independent passengers. We got to the hotel and it seemed that there was a very large contingent of Crystal ground personnel. They had food, drinks, complimentary 3.5 hour city tours arranged, and were placing you in groups to walk over to the ship to board. Then it was hurry up and wait. We saw the Crystal personnel talking quietly among themselves, but almost no information was passed along to the passengers. Finally a Crystal spokesperson showed up (about 4:30 to 5:00) and said they expected boarding to commence about 6:00. They were still waiting for the ship occupying our pier to exit. The Serenity was anchored out in the harbor. Once the groups were called, then it was a parade across the street into Canada Place, through security and on-board to register. If you knew this was going to be a mess, why not set up registration at the Fairmont. We did that very thing some years ago for a Princess cruise and it made things smooth as silk. Little did we know that the miscommunication and confusion to start the cruise would dog it for the duration. By the way, the initial keycards did not work and it took two trips to the front desk to get a set that did function. Not a good start. Cabin: Very nice and well designed. Plenty of storage, a very well laid-out bathroom, and nice balcony. The bed was a little soft for our taste, but that is a nitpick. Dining: MDR - pretty good, but hit and miss. Portions of one T-bone steak was as tough as leather. Prime meat - absolutely not. Filets the last night were excellent. Fish was good to very good. Breads and many desserts seemed to lack much flavor. No matter the venue baking throughout the ship was only so-so. Silk Road and Prego were consistently excellent in food quality and prep. The Lido buffet was good to very good, but the hours were a real pain in the neck. For lunch, the MDR and Lido were open only 1.5 hours (12:00 noon - 1:30 pm). In Astoria, they changed this to 11:30 am - 1:00 pm. If you had a tour or got off the ship, it was almost certain you would miss a real lunch. The alternatives were not an acceptable substitute. At the Trident Grill, the cook lied to my girlfriend's face about having chicken breast for a chicken sandwich, he said he only had ground meat and then proceeded to start cooking chicken breast for a guest almost directly behind her. Had I been there when it happened, there would have been an ugly scene. NOT ACCEPTABLE on any cruise line, and certainly not one who prides itself on being at the top of the industry. Service: Very hit and miss. With one exception, the service in the MDR (and other non-buffet venues) was aloof to almost rude. This attitude was echoed by at least one front of house manager. Totally unacceptable. Service in Silk Road and Prego was 180 degrees opposite. It was relaxed, friendly helpful, professional, and efficient. How is this possible on the same ship? Training and attitude from management have to be the answer. Otherwise, Crystal is hiring the wrong people. Maybe both. Bars: Again, a mixed bag. An excellent drink followed by one (the same drink) that is unrecognizable and undrinkable. Something as simple as a Lina Colada should be a no-brainer, but that is what we found. Service: Housekeeping service was efficient and excellent. Service (other than in the dining venues described above) was never exceptional and often seemed almost perfunctory. Not what we would have expected. Entertainment: The one production show we saw (Across the Pond) was amateurish. The Galaxy Lounge is small and OK, but there are some obstructed sight lines. Dancing is restricted by the small stage, but that might have been a blessing. Production shows are not really suited for this size ship and I think people are really tired of them. The magician from the Magic Castle was fantastic. Staged for very small groups of 20-30 people, it these were up-close sleight-of-hand illusions that amazed the audience. Crystal still managed to mess this performance up by being unable to get the spotlight working. The magician was left to perform in reduced light that lessened the impact of his performance somewhat. Just another example of Crystal lowering their marks at every opportunity. Customer service: There was no acknowledgement of the problems with the embarkation and delivery of a sub-par experience until there were only 2 days left in the cruise. After we sailed from Seattle, we got a notice that they were giving us a $100.00 pp shipboard credit. What were we expected to do with it now with only a stop in Astoria' OR and a sea day left? This should have been offered the day after embarkation, but I think they waited to see how bad the passenger reaction was. Too little to late. A simple gesture (a small box of candy or a bottle of wine or ??) waiting in the cabin (when we finally boarded) with a note apologizing for the rocky start and a commitment to make this the cruise we had ever taken would have gone a long way to starting things off as well as possible. Be pro-active, not reactive. The Captain's reception was not even held until half-way through the cruise. They made special mention that the officers would not shake hands to prevent the possible spread of disease. I am sure there are measures that could have been taken, but the tone was just wrong so we returned this lukewarm gesture by skipping the reception (a first for us). There was almost no presence of officers to be seen during the cruise (also a first). The only officer I saw was the Hotel Manager. Another gaff. Lots more I could add, but I think you have enough of my opinions to know I will never take another Crystal cruise. Disembarkation: Excellent. On-time and efficient. We were definitely ready to get off the Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We recently returned from Crystal Cruises Serenity Vancouver BC to San Francisco cruise from 5/22 till 5/28. We took this cruise because we wanted a short break. We hoped to go in early June, but could not find a cruise that met our ... Read More
We recently returned from Crystal Cruises Serenity Vancouver BC to San Francisco cruise from 5/22 till 5/28. We took this cruise because we wanted a short break. We hoped to go in early June, but could not find a cruise that met our requirements: Less than a week and easy access to and from the ship. Convenient flights were available on both ends of the cruise and we have been to all the ports, so we planned not to get off the ship until the end of the cruise. We just wanted to be idle, comfortable, and extremely well fed and wined. Unfortunately, idle was the only thing that lived up to our expectations. We were very disappointed in the food. Veal chop and lobster were the only good dinners. I had veal scallopini which I sent back and the replacement was just as dry, but it was hotter than my original serving. Two nights I ordered different cuts of Angus steaks and both were overcooked and very dry. The fish was very fishy and/or dry. Breakfast on Lido deck was quite good. We had lunches in the main dining room and on Lido. They were okay, but not as good as we expected. The wines included in the cruise price seemed to vary depending on where we ordered them. We tried chardonnay twice and did not like either one. So we changed to Sauvignon Blanc that was sometimes very good and sometimes only so-so. The one Cabernet we had was good and the Pinot Noir was another iffy wine. Our cabin was the smallest we’ve ever had on a cruise and it was called deluxe! I did like the buttons for door access ‘do not disturb’, ‘clean up’ and ‘ring’. The organization of the cruise and dissemination of information were poor. I was told the only choice for the main dining room was early or late seating and there were no tables for two. When we received our cruise documents, I learned that the ship offered ‘dinner by reservation’. But by then, I could not get that choice. And when we went to the dining room the first night, we discovered there were many tables for two. The first information I got about transfers on embarkation was that, for no cost, we would be taken to a hotel near the port where a ballroom was reserved for the afternoon because we could not board the ship until 6pm. Then I was called and told that this plan was only for people who booked directly with Crystal. So, I called our travel agent, who contacted Crystal and was told the room was for all passengers, but we would have to pay for the transfer. We were finally on board about 7:30pm. For disembarkation, Crystal’s original schedule was that its transfers to the airport would only be available for flights departing after noon. Our flight was at 11:55am, so I arranged a private transfer. Then 2 days or so before disembarkation, we were notified that we could use the Crystal transfer, first bus would leave about 8:20am, and because of the embarkation confusion, Crystal was giving us a shipboard credit that we could use for the transfer. Fortunately, I was able to cancel the private transfer. I like detailed plans (with no surprises), so the multiple changes and conflicting information were annoying. The weather was good and the sea calm so cruising was pleasant, and the staff was courteous and helpful, but the overall experience was dominated by the unsatisfactory food & wine service, so that this was the least pleasant of some 16 cruises plus 3 river cruises. This was the first time we reserved a cruise so late that we got the "fill the ship" price. But it was still a bit much for our experience. This was our first and most likely will be our only Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click