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22 Crystal San Francisco 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
This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and ... Read More
This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and carries a nice amount of passengers (about 750-ish) - not too few that I see the same people everywhere, but not too many that I feel crowded or anonymous. I was traveling solo on this cruise, but knew a few people on board from previous cruises and met several more mutual friends while on board. As I said in the title, there's been a little slippage in the food and service on the ship since its drydock, but in other ways there's been a lot of improvements since the drydock. There are 2 additional dinner restaurants on board, both of which outshine the main dining room ("Waterside") in service and food quality. Both of the new restaurants do not count towards your allotted number of included visits to specialty restaurants -- those (Umi Uma and Prego) still remain the premiere dinner spots on the ship, in my opinion. Crystal put a limit on the number of included visits to those spots several years ago (generally 2 per week) in an effort to keep people from monopolizing them, but now that there are more dining options, I wonder if they will continue to do so (extra visits beyond your allotted amount are $30 each, which is still an incredible bargain for that quality and ambience). Of the new restaurants, I particularly recommend Churrascarria, which is Lido deck aft, in the same location where the breakfast and lunch buffets are......you get views of the sunset, and excellent food. Salads, veggies, and side dishes are available as a buffet, and 6 varieties of grilled meat are brought to your table on skewers (chicken, shrimp, pork, lamb, beef). Be sure and stay for some grilled pineapple for dessert. My friends on board very much enjoyed the evening shows, but I never attended (I don't, on any cruise), but I did enjoy the musicians who played in the lounges throughout the ship. Afternoon tea is served every afternoon (even port days), and it was a good time and place for our friends to meet up to chat before dinner. Going through the Panama Canal was interesting, but I don't feel the need to do it again. As this was an August cruise, in general the ports were all hot and humid, and I stayed on board for most of them. A warning should you take a Crystal cruise that stops in Bimini: The tender to port is at least 30 minutes, so you should take that into consideration before deciding if you want to go ashore. I did not, as there wasn't much on shore I was interested in seeing, especially if it meant an hour (round trip) in a crowded tender. Service is known to be wonderful on Crystal, but this trip I found it to be lacking in several places. Some was still wonderful (restaurants other than Waterside, cabin attendant, library and computer room), but some had slipped from terrific to merely good (Lido deck) or from terrific to pretty bad (Waterside). I submitted my concerns to Crystal in their post-voyage survey, so I hope these are just growing pains that will be worked out now that there have been some significant changes since the dry dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in ... Read More
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in 2012 and she said Crystal is one of the best. So we checked off a few ticks on the bucket list. The ship Symphony was beautiful. The accommodations were very well layed out with a lot of storage. No need to use the suitcases for extra storage as we had empty drawers and the clothes in the wardrobe were spaced out not squashed up. Of everything there was only one this that irritated me that I have never come across on other ships we have cruise is the cigar room. Horrible horrible horrible. To get to The Avenue, Umi Uma restaurant and Prego restaurant you had to walk past it and the door was always open, therefore the smoke flooded into the hallway. The door should always be shut and there should be sufficient ventilation in the smoking room so if the door is left open the smoke doesn't affect other passengers. That is my only issue and I am hoping that when we are on Serenity in 2021 Crystal will have rectified this problem by having either an automatic door or a gas closing door. The rest of Crystal Symphony was fantastic. For a ship smaller than we are used to (3000-3500) this ship has a lot of quiet places to sit and relax. There are never any crowds, no children running rampant and what children were on the ship were extremely well behaved. We dined at every location and the food was divine. My favourites were Waterside (the main dining room), Prego, Silk, Palm Court for amazing afternoon tea and views. However, I still enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Umi Uma, Churriscaria, Trident Grill and the Marketplace only for an early breakfast. The staff go above and beyond and are always very polite and friendly. They always have smiles on their faces and no request is too hard. They take the time to get to know their customers. The shows were good not spectacular like on the bigger ships which is understandable since on the bigger ships the ceiling over the stage is 3 decks high making it very open and airy and great for doing acrobatic shows. The dance moves seem to be similar in every show so I put that down to the Choreographer. The special guests were fabulous especially loved John Joseph who had us in stitches. We didn't like some of the ports and thought there could have been better places to stop but we made the most of those. Some we could have had more time in. Overall we loved the cruise. We don't normally like a lot of sea days but on Crystal Symphony we really loved the sea days. We enjoyed the shore excursions that we booked. Crystal's luxury has ruined for us cruising anything less than luxury. We enjoyed it so much we have booked another Crystal cruise in 2021 South Pacific Wanderlust Los Angeles/San Pedro, US to Brisbane, AU on Serenity. So looking forward to 20 days on Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own ... Read More
When I saw that this Hawaiian cruise (on my favorite ship, no less!) was to depart from and return to San Francisco (my home), I was delighted. The cruise turned out to be my favorite one ever. I travel solo, as I like to have my own cabin, and I always make new friends onboard. Crystal is the best cruise line for solo travelers, charging FAR less than the 200% most of the others charge. I think my cabin was priced at 130%. Anyway, the cabin was perfectly situated midship, with a window with a partially obscured view, which meant that just the edge of a lifeboat was within my view, not bad at all. The cabin was very comfortable and spacious. There is a sitting area by the window, with a little sofa. The bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom has double sinks, and a tub/shower combination with a handheld shower head. Bath products include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion (and, naturally, bar soap). There are lots of extras, like a little sewing kit, shower cap, Q-tips, cotton balls, shoe shiner, shoehorn, even an umbrella. When my cabin stewardess entered that first day, we realized that she had serviced a Babis for me on a prior trip. Very nice. She did a fabulous job, everything was completely clean and tidy, and she refilled my ice bucket twice/day. Back to embarkation—-a friend dropped me off at the pier, and I joined the seated fellow passengers to wait about 15 minutes. We were called by group number. Very painless. Onboard, a line of uniformed officers and crew greeted me and welcomed me to the ship. Very nice touch! I was given my cabin key card and then headed to the dining room for lunch. The food not only looked good, but tasted great. I have found that not to be the case on, say, Princess. The menus were varied and creative, and my waitstaff team was perfect. On my birthday, they decorated the table and presented a cake. I elected to be seated at the solo dining table for 8, which was a great choice. I met lots of very nice fellow solo travelers. Obviously, there were lots of Sea Days, which I really enjoy. Typically, I had room service breakfast in my cabin, a standing order that I didn’t need to order again and again; it was just brought to me each morning at 7:30. I would then take a bridge lesson, go to an excellent lecture, participate in the Trivia Contest, have lunch in the dining room, go to another lecture, read, attend an Art Class, then return to my cabin to dress for dinner. After dinner, there were shows featuring the amazing Crystal Dancers and others. Disembarkation was completely painless, no waiting whatsoever. All in all, I had the time of my life! I love Crystal, especially for the warm and wonderful service and erudite and interesting fellow passengers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Travelled alone with a couple. It was my first Crystal experience - every single bite of food was superb... they had 3 specialty restaurants in addition to the Main Dining. The service was excellent - all details were attended to. I am ... Read More
Travelled alone with a couple. It was my first Crystal experience - every single bite of food was superb... they had 3 specialty restaurants in addition to the Main Dining. The service was excellent - all details were attended to. I am now totally "crystalized"! The enrichment lectures were excellent, as was the entertainment. In particular I very much enjoyed PERRY GRANT entertainment - he is truly 'one of a kind'........ and now, like so many of his fans (see his website), I am "perryfied" and hope he will be aboard all my future Crystal cruises. I enjoyed my champagne throughout the cruise - I like the fact everything is included. There were 3 ladies who LIVE aboard full time - one for over 8 years! My cabin had a veranda which was was nice. he beds were super comfortable. Both the boarding and disembarking were done easily. There were no screaming children which was great. I have already booked another cruise with them, and investigating others. Not the cheapest cruise line, but the best for me. Absolutely no hesitation in recommending Crystal to all. Read Less
Sail Date June 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 booked this cruise while on Serenity in Europe in August of 2014. My wife does not like to fly over water, so she thought a round trip from San Francisco to Hawaii was a perfect cruise for us. It afforded us plenty of time on board ... Read More
We booked this cruise while on Serenity in Europe in August of 2014. My wife does not like to fly over water, so she thought a round trip from San Francisco to Hawaii was a perfect cruise for us. It afforded us plenty of time on board and just a short flight to SFO to embark. We have done seven Crystal cruises, the first five being absolutely wonderful on Insignia. On number six in Europe, August 2014, we noticed that many small things had disappeared and were so longer provided unless you asked. Most were not of any major consequence, but many small things add up. One major thing we did notice was that the wait staff seemed to be hurried most of the time. Waiters no longer had the time to chat. On that cruise the meals were all hot and the food was still excellent as usual on a luxury line like Crystal. This last cruise after a Chinese company purchased Crystal no longer had hot food. The wait staff was more harried than ever and the service suffered. Our head waiter was miffed when we pointed out to him that our food was not always hot. The maitre 'd wanted to know who our waiter was but we refused to tell him. We do not feel it is the fault of the wait staff, other than having too many tables to service. The guest speakers on Crystal were the high light of this cruise. We had two show business lecturers, a former U.S. senator, an international law professor, an Hawaiian historian, and a biologist. All were great speakers, knowledgeable, and entertaining. This is one area where Crystal excels. With the cost of a Crystal cruise being rather high, we have decided to leave Crystal for good. Our next cruise is with Silversea and we have heard many good things about them. We have also been on Oceania where the food is as good or better than Crystal and it was always hot. Oceania is also in our future plans. I guess because of the number of sea days on this cruise, it was very popular with senior citizens. Many, though, were very challenged in the mobility area. There were numerous walkers and electric scooters on board. This is what my wife and I have to look forward to, but we want to travel as long as our legs hold up. Our cabin was always clean and the stewardess was always prompt. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous ... Read More
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous cruise, so we were prepared for the down time Embarkation was smooth and professional. Using the website to book our shore excursions and to complete all data requirements saved a great deal of time and travail. All in all, we only spent about twenty-minutes from the announcement of boarding to sitting down for lunch. Baggage was delivered without incident and we were in our stateroom (as insistently named by Crystal) by 3:10 PM. The cabin (10097) was quite small; we could not both pass by the foot of the bed concurrently. The closet was adequate, but below the standard set by other lines. The carpet was faded and a bit worn, while the drapes were consistently off-track. The balcony worked quite well. No on-line library of current movies exists on the Serenity, so when the satellite TV reception was spotty (as it often was), reading or drinking seemed to be the only alternative. Dining was a hit and miss affair. The specialty restaurants lacked flair and the food was inconsistent. The buffet (the Lido) provided fresh, well-prepared food in very limited variety. Both breakfast and lunch were okay; no casual dinner service is offered on the Serenity -- a genuine mistake. Dinner at the Crystal Dining Room displayed excellent service, mediocre wines and average cuisine. The usual lobster and lamb entrees appeared as well as lots of fish. The soups were universally excellent. A note about the "Modern" items isolated to one side of the menu: they should be isolated to the moon. No mass feeder can bring off the delicate foams and molecular gastronomy promised by these items. The wines in the all-inclusive program were mid-level supermarket brands, available at my grocer for about $10 - $12 a bottle (the in-house "C" pinot noir was excellent, however). Enrichment activities ranged from world-class to galaxy-class. The sea-day lectures were meticulously researched, eloquently presented and rich with content. Most were quite well-attended. The lecturers succeeded in bringing an immediacy to topics ranging from an historical series on populating the islands through a set of eco-lectures on topics including the California Condor and the Easter Monarch butterfly. All in all, the lectures and lecturers were the finest in our memory. Entertainment, on the other hand, was cruise ship standard...which is to say very mediocre indeed. Everyone we met on the crew and staff were personable, quite articulate and often anticipated our requests. They were also stressed and tired. The thin veneer of effortless service cracked regularly. However, our stateroom was regularly re-stocked with goodies and housekeeping was excellent. Should we cruise with Crystal in the future, we will not avail ourselves of the proffered excursions. While of reasonable value, the variety lacked range. Port choice was limited by our destination and the size of the Serenity. Hilo was our favorite. Reading other reviews of the Serenity and its cruises, it seems to us that what we found is typical of the experience. While our expectations remained unmet, the cruise still lingers in a rosy glow in our memory. We cruise primarily by destination, not cruise line, so we may sail on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was my first Crystal cruise, a short-notice, easy-going, well-priced, discounted test run cruise out of my home port I did solo before considering booking anything longer on this line with my husband. My goal was to compare it with ... Read More
This was my first Crystal cruise, a short-notice, easy-going, well-priced, discounted test run cruise out of my home port I did solo before considering booking anything longer on this line with my husband. My goal was to compare it with other luxury lines I have been on a few times, including Silver Sea, Regent, Seabourn, and Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2 (and I will soon also be trying the sister luxury ship MS Europa on HL). I have also cruised Holland America a couple times on special big group cruises (one more coming up in the fall), and with AMA Waterways, for just under a dozen cruises total since 2011. I have plans to continue cruising 3-4x/year, mostly on luxury lines, ocean or river (and possibly an expedition) as long as my health allows me to continue to do so (I am in my early 60’s with some chronic health problems). I have no loyalty to any particular line, as I continue to sample, so I have no biases, but then also do not usually get the great discounts and privileges loyalty programs bring, which can create a different perspective. More extensive details of this overall worthwhile and pleasant cruise including some of my experiences are on Cruise Critic at the following site , on a communal thread started by frequent Crystal cruiser Keith1010 (who also wrote a separate formal review), called “Live from Crystal Serenity May 6, Coastal Vistas Voyage” (his thread also includes links to his blog which has many wonderfully detailed pictures he took of the ship and ports). http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2352821 I start chiming into Keith1010’s thread periodically with my own commentary starting at post #31. EMBARKATION: this took longer than I expected for a luxury cruise (1.5 hours from port arrival to my getting on), but on analysis of what happened I believe the problems were primarily due to San Francisco port and port worker issues, and mostly cannot be blamed on Crystal (details are in the thread) DECOR AND ATMOSPHERE: As with all luxury lines, the housekeeping in the cabin and pubic venues was immaculate, very clean, and public spaces were light and airy. Unlike on Seabourn, where most furniture is stiff though chic, I found the furniture in public venues on the Serenity to be much more comfortable, while still stylish. The mattress in my cabin was fantastic, even in stormy seas, the most comfortable I have had, soft and forgiving to my musculoskeletal problems. FELLOW PASSENGER AND CREW DEMOGRAPHICS The passenger mix on this itinerary appeared to be primarily English-speaking Americans and Canadians, but there were also quite a few Chinese and Japanese speakers. This was not surprising, given that the San Francisco and Vancouver areas have very large Asian descent populations, both native-born and immigrant. I did not hear many British or Australian accents, as I often heard on Silver Sea and on Seabourn (likely the short itinerary and long distance from home played a role here) . Other European accents and languages amongst passengers were not as common either. A passenger list was available from reception, which listed opt-in passengers' general place of residence (e.g., “California”, or “British Columbia”), thus providing general information about passengers if people chose to disclose, without breaching privacy. There was also a sizable group of people on board who had something to do with Crystal marketing or sales. Most people were well-dressed in designer casual attire day and night, though some wore neat T-shirts and jeans, some put on coat and tie for dinner, and some ladies wore fancier outfits. No one looked like a slob. The ship also appeared to be gay and lesbian friendly (passengers as well as personnel), as all luxury lines are these days. I also noticed a Friends of Bill W. meeting option posted. The cruise was over Mother’s Day, so although most passengers were middle-aged or elderly, there were some extended happy families on board celebrating. There were very few small children. Some passengers were in wheelchairs and appeared to be appropriately accommodated. The crew were primarily Eastern European (various countries, based on their name tags, accents, and languages I recognized) with variable skill sets) or of Asian origin (e.g., there were quite a few well-trained Filipinos, who are also common on Silver Sea and Regent and Holland America). QUALITY OF FOOD AND WINE Overall, food and wine offerings were good, some exceptions. The included wines and champagne I tried (Jacquart) were almost all very drinkable to excellent, and I did not feel compelled to order more off a special wine menu, though might have done so if with my husband and thus able to finish a bottle in one sitting. Cocktails I had were also nicely done. Main dining room (MDR) dinner food was good, with excellent service, though my experience there was limited and the menus did not seem particularly original. MDR boarding lunch was not so good food or service-wise (see my comments on the thread), but again, limited experience. The Tastes small plates venue which I tried 3 times was my favorite, both for creative food and atmosphere (you dine as you look at the sea). Don't miss the dinner choice Arctic Black Cod and Lobster corn and fennel chowder! The Bistro small snack place was cute, even closer to a view of the sea, with running buffet selections of cold salmon, cheeses, and cookies throughout the day, and fancy coffees or other drinks. The Lido lunch buffet was decent if you knew what to get, and the American style breakfast buffet in the Lido appeared adequate. I was unable to get into the highly rated Japanese restaurant, and skipped Prego, the Italian restaurant, so I could go to Tastes again. SERVICE To start, I liked Crystal’s website, very organized, easy to navigate, compared with other luxury lines, solo prices were posted. I booked off the site into a window view cabin (got upgraded last minute to a balcony cabin), and also booked my excursions there. I might not have booked this cruise, on impulse, if the site were a problem (did not use my TA ). Reception personnel were friendly and helpful. The cabin stewardess was terrific. There is room for improvement in some dining room service personnel training, especially on organization, and attention to solo customers (see the thread for details). ENTERTAINMENT Though I generally prefer classical music, or non-lounge modern music style entertainment, the non-classical major offerings on this cruise, which were Vegas and Broadway style, were fine (I went to 4 of 5 shows and enjoyed all, at various levels). It is clear Crystal puts great effort into productions. Pianist Jamie Fox did Billy Joel songs with a good band (nice horn section), and Lovena Fox enthusiastically belted out assorted soul and pop numbers. The acrobat duo Donovan and Rebecca was also fun to watch. There were many other minor entertainment offerings and activities I did not sample, e.g., a movie venue, Trivia, various lessons. INTERNET One hour internet per day was included in the cruise price, and it worked reasonably well throughout the cruise. I use internet a lot when I cruise (to connect to work, and also to read about things I see), so when in port, I also supplemented access using my existing cell service, which I would not have been able to do far out at sea. Internet could get expensive on Crystal, if not near ports, as there was no “unlimited” plan like Seabourn offers that makes up for slow service periods. Internet and its speed and cost is a challenge on all lines. ENRICHMENT There were two listed speakers, one was an older former Newsweek journalist who talked about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and other president issues, and one of whom talked about the ports. I would prefer not to hear opinions about contentious U.S. politics while on cruises, and would have preferred other talks, but I understand some people enjoy this sort of thing (discussions of politics are banned on Cruise Critic for a reason). These talks could also be heard on TV in your room, recorded. SPA, GYM and CASINO — I did not sample these other than just walking by PORTS AND EXCURSIONS Astoria, Seattle, and Victoria, B.C. are all beautiful, colorful and worthwhile ports with many activity options. On the two excursions I took with Crystal, the buses were comfortable and the guides were fine, no problems (see the thread for some details). Excursion prices were reasonable and were well-organized. COMPARED WITH OTHER LUXURY LINES, there are pros and cons: SIZE: With about 1000 passengers, though not huge, the ship is bigger, less personal (at least for someone who is not a frequent guest). On the smaller English-language luxury ships, crew usually knew who I was (there they are trained to memorize 300-500 names and faces) and addressed me in a friendly manner by name, which did not happen here at all other than with my efficient and friendly stewardess. More importantly, my anonymity at times seemed to lead to service problems more often than it should have on a luxury line, especially when alone in dining venues (e.g., getting drinks and table service requests fulfilled and attention was sometimes challenging, and not infrequently, there was confusion for unclear reasons, not a luxury experience). Not uncommonly I felt like I was a burden on some of the non-smiling, busy or just chatting servers who ignored me. However, if I were a more frequent cruiser, or in a more expensive cabin, or on a VIP list, or more assertive in personality (or perhaps if I were with my husband), this issue would likely resolve itself. DINING AND SERVICE : The larger size of this ship allows a greater number of dining venues to be open at varying times, which I welcomed, as I tend to be a “grazer” who is often interested in food in small amounts at unusual times rather than fixed time breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can start with 5:30 AM early risers coffee and danish or cereal, move on to a big American style breakfast buffet in the Lido until 10, or eat in the MDR, or have late risers food in Tastes or The Bistro, lunch in the Lido or MDR from 12-2:30, grill food at the Trident most of the day (though it is line-up cafeteria serving), and afternoon tea snacks at 4 (great cakes). The MDR has 2 seatings, 6 and 8:30, at assigned tables, then later on you can also get some snacks at the bars that are carried around (basic items). Assigned seating with fixed dining times is something I understand deters many luxury cruisers from Crystal and is the main reason my husband and I had not tried this line to date (that and the cabin size, see below). It could be a problem on a long cruise if you do not like your tablemates (mine were fortunately great, 7 other interesting and pleasant people, plus the cruise was short and I also went to other venues). It could also be unfortunate if you are a couple but still want to be randomly assigned to sit with others, to meet more people, when you choose to go dine. There is also a “dining by reservation” option now, but I don’t know how well that works as I did not use it or know what kind of tables you land up at there, or with how many others. On SS, Regent and SB, one thing I liked was being able to choose short-notice to either dine alone with my husband, or join group tables, depending on mood, and being able to walk into the main restaurant whenever we wanted during open hours, not an option here for the MDR. Specialty restaurants required reservation (some hard to get, even weeks in advance on this short cruise), and the Lido buffet was not open at dinner. SHOWS — generally, there are more options for bigger and better shows on a ship this size than on smaller ships. Instead of just 6-8 people on stage, like on Silver Sea, there were as many as 18 contributing to a show here (some details are in the thread). However, as I prefer classical music , and the performances were not classical, the size of the performing group, or its famousness in popular music, is not the only consideration in evaluating show quality. On the 516 passenger Europa 2, there were world-class classical musicians, and on our last Silver Spirit cruise in 2015 there was a fantastic classical pianist, though the overall number of hired entertainers was small . Varying tastes in music may make Crystal more, or less, appealing to people, depending on what music is offered on other cruises, and if they care at all about entertainment. CABIN SIZE AND PRICE — I had a small but efficient cabin far forward in the bow, 226 square feet, plus a 43 square foot balcony with two comfortable chairs with cushions and a little table. To compare, the base cabin on Silver Spirit with veranda is 376 square feet. As a solo, my Crystal cabin was just fine (I kept some of my stuff on the other half of the bed just to have easy access, and also had closet and drawer space to spare ). But if I were traveling with my husband or a friend, it would feel a bit cramped on a longer cruise so we would likely want to get the next level up in size on Crystal, which is a penthouse suite, actually bigger than we need (and would have to pay for it). Looking at the price points on a two-week cruise we were considering in 2018, for example, (assuming no unexpected discounts or upgrades) that would be thousands of dollars more than for a happy-compromise sized mid-ship veranda cabin on Silver Sea. Thus, Crystal in a PH would be more expensive overall than cruising on Silver Sea or Seabourn, and I am not sure I could justify paying the price for things we do not value that much (like a Crystal butler, bigger suite hallways and sitting areas, and a bigger balcony). SUMMARY I give the cruise a 4 out of 5 stars overall on the available scale, though I would prefer to give a 3.8 because of some service issues (3 would be too harsh), and it is so difficult to judge a line based just on a five-day solo newbie experience. I would consider cruising on the Crystal Serenity again (or on its future ships or river boats), on the right itinerary and for the right price, to get more experience. Right now I have three more cruises lined up, in 2016 and early 2017, with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, lines to which I gave 5/5 stars, though they have their own set of disadvantages. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a getaway cruise that we combined with a four night stay on land in San Francisco. It worked perfectly for our schedule. While this was our shortest cruise ever we had an absolutely wonderful time on board Crystal Serenity and at each of the ports we visited. The enrichment and entertainment that was offered on the ship was amazing with so much to see and do during the daytime and evening hours. This included several land based entertainers brought on board for this cruise and also a couple of productions by the Crystal Serenity dancers and singers. During the day there was so much enrichment offered from lecture on destinations and politics and classes ranging from bridge to fitness to iMovie Classes. The service was outstanding and the food continues to amaze. With only five days we still made it to each of the dining venues for dinner including the Main Dining Room on two nights and each of the three Specialty Restaurants. This included a visit to Prego which is the Italian Specialty Restaurant, Silk Road which serves Japanese Cuisine based on the land based Nobu Restaurants and Tastes which serves Tapas representing countries from around the world. We had one sea day and then visits to three ports of call two of which we had never sailed to. This included Victoria, Canada which we have been to before but also Astoria, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. There were many first time Crystal Cruisers on board as this gave them an opportunity to try out Crystal. The overall Cruise far exceeds our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cruise 6302 was a three-week Pacific crossing (San Francisco to Sydney), with stops after Honolulu at seven islands along the road less traveled. My wife and I have taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the ... Read More
Cruise 6302 was a three-week Pacific crossing (San Francisco to Sydney), with stops after Honolulu at seven islands along the road less traveled. My wife and I have taken the Crystal Serenity (1,000 passengers) over a dozen times in the past several years. It’s a comfortable choice that lacks all the herding, hustling, and hollering for which cruises are stereotyped. For us, the strengths of Cruise 6302 were found in these factors: (1) onboard entertainment; (2) support for our independent exploring; (3) daily chats with the world’s most interesting people. Based on these strengths, I rate this cruise as an overall “5” (on a scale of 5). These strengths overshadowed deficiencies in other areas. Some of our favorite memories for this cruise were the unexpected ones. Like the send-off from a spraying fireboat in San Francisco (thought that had vanished with the dockside confetti). Like the nighttime view of Sydney Harbor when anchored (instead of docking with the market dominators). Like the surprise cameo appearance by one of my favorite travel writers (actually, a full series of lectures). ENTERTAINMENT -- MUSIC: Serenity is the ship for serious music lovers. Musically, this was the most memorable cruise that I’ve taken (yes, including those Crystal jazz and big band cruises). Crystal assembled a great troupe of jazz, classical, and dance performers. Guest artists joined them between the major port stops. Numerous jam sessions with genuine fun and passion. (The classical organist even went ashore and did an impromptu session in a Noumea cathedral.) In fact, when coupled with guest artists, the house jazz band is as enjoyable as those big bands that Crystal books for its ballroom theme cruises. It may be time for Crystal to substitute the talent and spirit of its in-house band for the mechanical tributes of those big-name contract groups. The cruise was like traveling with the circus. You eat with the performers, walk the islands together, and visit after the shows. Those one-on-one chats with the performers mean more to us than any autograph or photo op. The assistant cruise director (our favorite piano player) told us about his childhood at Cincinnati’s music conservatory. Two dancers gave us a backstage tour of how the performers adapt their work to the confines of a ship. And the cruise director did his morning TV shows with a bit of backstory about the challenges of staging the previous day’s entertainment. Sometimes he interviewed a performer with his ever-bubbly co-host (she’s the ship’s court jester, and as close as you’ll come to the “Julie” on that old Love Boat series). ENTERTAINMENT -- SUPER BOWL: While the presidential campaign debates can wait, die-hard football fans won’t leave home without assurance of uninterrupted, real-time coverage of the Super Bowl. And Crystal gave it to them with unbuffered perfection, including the full treatment from pre-game to post-game. (The ship anchored by a little-known Fijian island for the day and apparently locked on to a stable satellite signal for dear life.) You could watch the game from lounge chairs in the Stardust bar (with its great Super Bowl decor), or from the plush cigar room. You could watch the big screen in the theater, or the little screen in your stateroom. And the Bronco fans could even watch a recording if they really had to see it again. ENTERTAINMENT -- SENIOR ACTIVITIES: Many of us on a Crystal crossing are frankly in that “extra generation” of seniors, whose extended lifespans allow the enjoyment of extended retirements. Many (including my wife and me) live in a retirement community that provides traditional “senior center” activities -- which are, not surprisingly, quite popular with the Crystal crowd. The Serenity thus offered well-attended regimens of bingo, bridge, trivia, puzzles, slots, zumba, line dancing, senior comedy, and “World Cruise Games” (events like shuffleboard, cribbage, rummy, and miniature golf). And lots of the entertainment assumes that we seniors need a heavy dose from the old “hit parade” and Andrew Lloyd Weber to reminisce about our “happy days.” It’s all there for us seniors, but travel agents should use candor in booking anyone under 50 on a Crystal crossing like this. They’ll be in a definite minority, and this little ship simply isn’t the land of water slides, climbing walls, and endless Internet. And, whether its PC or kind, the young in body may be impatient with the sensitive, unspoken realities of “God’s waiting room.” Such as a physical pace around the ship that is driven by canes, scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, and oxygen bottles. On the other hand, a crossing on this ship is a very good fit if an adult child wants to take an aging parent on a cruise. When it comes to respectful assistance to those with mobility limitations, I’ve never seen a kinder bunch than the waiters who staff the Lido Deck and the entertainment venues. (One of the best of these waiters has a parent disabled by polio.) However, travel agents should still take care to alert Crystal if a customer will be unable to make an untrampled descent on the stairs in an emergency. A crew member can then be assigned to assist during the first day’s lifeboat drill. DAYS ASHORE: The Serenity offered a full spectrum of eight Pacific port stops. They ranged from downtown Honolulu to island specks with just a beach and a bazaar. Crystal dropped you off for the day but, for four of the stops, there were no commercial tours due to the lack of tourism facilities. There were no stops at true “desert islands,” though lore says some “Gilligan’s Island” footage was filmed at Tabuaeran (pop. 1,900). The captain himself cautioned about sunburn there, since it was our stop closest to the equator. Our tiniest stop of all was the island of Inyeug, which has less than a square mile of land. Crystal’s port pamphlet calls it “one of the world’s last remaining deserted islands.” And legend says the place is haunted after dark. This mystique faded, though, as we saw the cell tower, airport terminal, rental huts, and monument to Queen Elizabeth’s 1974 picnic. In fact, over 60,000 cruisers a year get their day on this “deserted” island. Nevertheless, Serenity’s daily drop-offs had to be paradise for those who just wanted an endless summer of snorkeling or relaxing among the palms on a tropical beach. The fantasy of choice may be a day of quietly doing nothing at all, with that final tender back to the boat as the only interruption. But the Serenity also provided some great support for those of us who wanted to explore a bit. For instance, the Serenity offered the onboard resource of three scientists and seven travel writers (with seven different approaches, of course). Some gave lectures, and some just chatted with us as the cruise unfolded. All were at your service to plan, and interpret, your time ashore. I wanted to do some hours of serious study at a little-known French museum in Noumea. (See www.noumea.nc/musee-de-la-seconde-guerre-mondiale ) An officer from the Serenity showed me how to find it, served as my translator, and helped me negotiate the purchase of some research publications you won’t find on Amazon. At one of the remotest islands (Yasawa), I wanted some high-quality photos of the landmarks for further study. These were located beyond the “beach and bazaar” crowd, and the Serenity’s photographer hiked a half-mile with me to make it happen. And, at the tiniest speck of all (Inyeug), my wife and I walked the full perimeter and ended at a beach bar that the Serenity had set up to assure we didn’t die of thirst. When one of our favorite Lido waiters walked up to us with a cold drink, it never tasted so good. One high point of this cruise was a rare “cameo appearance” by Karyn Planett, who has for 25 years written the daily travel story on the cover of Crystal’s onboard newsletter. She’s done 700+ of these articles, with a cheery style that’s a cross between Rick Steves and Garrison Keillor. (Yes, there really is a Karyn Planett, and, yes, Planett is her real name.) Karyn and hubby Geoff Thompson shared three lectures of tips from their 40 years of photographing and writing about a life of travel. And, for those who like to remember each cruise with a personal photo book (like Shutterfly), the couple has pulled it all together in their new how-to-do-it guide, “Words & Pictures.” (See www.planett-traveler.com ) Despite the popularity of online photo books, such a reference for making them seems to have been missing from the market up to now. Unfortunately, Karyn and Geoff don’t do the little maps that Crystal hands out for each port stop. For the more obscure stops, cruisers should supplement these with the aerial photos at Google Maps (yup, such photos were online for even the most remote of our island stops). ARRIVAL AT SYDNEY: Be careful about advance ticket purchases for any shore shows that end within a few hours of sailing. One continuing passenger missed the Sydney opera when the Serenity rescheduled its departure to leave three hours earlier. Ouch! Or Crystal may decide to tender rather than dock, which can affect the workable time frame for independent activities. (Not to mention your comfort in taking a tender instead of a cab while donning formal opera garb.) For this cruise, Crystal’s ticket showed us as “docking” in Sydney. But instead we anchored and tendered. On the plus side, waking up to the Serenity’s anchored view of Sydney Harbor was priceless. As was our stateroom view of the lighted harbor at night. Docked cruisers didn’t get these. (A similar issue arose when Crystal’s itinerary ambiguously showed Honolulu as an “overnight” stop. This implied that passengers had two days ashore. The reality was that the Serenity arrived at noon and left late that night at 1 am. To avoid problems with private shore activities and re-boarding, be sure to clarify such details when Crystal gets cryptic.) SYDNEY SHORE EXCURSION: Travel agents vary in their efforts to root out distinctive shore excursions (ours just said to see the Sydney zoo and ride around the harbor). “Do-it-your-selfers” should carefully compare the cost and scope of Crystal offerings to what the locals will provide directly. For instance, Crystal offered its $269 “Aussie Wildlife & the Blue Mountains” shore excursion (# SYD-LW). This 9-hour busing included (1) mountain overlooks, (2) animals in a confined setting, (3) the Grand Canyon, and (4) the popular Scenic World tourist attraction (including buffet lunch). The fine print notes that “[g]uests should be aware that this excursion involves approximately three hours of travel by motor coach . . .” We instead made our own arrangements for a day in the Blue Mountains. We took the train through the Blue Mountains ($11 round trip) and were met at Katoomba by owner-guide Peter Clifford -- one of those entertaining “certified local characters” that we really treasure. For $146 per person, his 8-hour Blue Mountains Mystery Tour showed us the following in a comfortable van: (1) mountain overlooks; (2) animals in the wild; (3) Grand Canyon; (4) personal tour of Scenic World; (5) backroads drive through the Megalong Valley; (6) lunch menu at an old tea room in the forest; (7) dinner menu at a Blackheath pub; (8) tour of an 1830’s colonial courthouse at the Hartley historic site; (9) local legends and ghost stories that he’d researched over the years. Our guide really knew his plants, animals, and locals -- since he’d lived his life in the Blue Mountains. And my wife and I were lucky enough to be the only ones on his tour for that day. (See www.bluemountainsmysterytours.com.au; www.megalongtearooms.com.au; www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Hartley-Historic-Site ) Including our $11 train ride through the Blue Mountains, we had a personalized 12-hour day for $157 (US) per person. Crystal’s alternative was the traditional 9-hour busing for $269 (US) per person. DINING: There’s not much to say about this cruise’s dining. We take about three cruises a year on the Serenity, and the quality of service in the formal dining room varies greatly from cruise to cruise. It depends upon the who, when, and where of your table. After a week of service problems, we gave up and ate most of our meals in the snack bar (which consistently offers tasty selections and the most attentive service anywhere). Travel agents should use caution in booking customers who expect their formal dining to be perfect and predictable (or the core of their cruising). If some detail of dining is a real “deal breaker” (table, time, friends, diet, waiter, headwaiter), the travel agent should negotiate it before the expiration of Crystal’s refund period. Crystal touts long waiting lists to take its cruises, and major dining adjustments can be difficult once the customer is onboard. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Review Of Voyage 1219 - August 13 Alaska Sailing Overall Summary ============== We had a wonderful time on this voyage. This cruise exceeded our expectations. Embarkation ========== We arrived early ... Read More
Review Of Voyage 1219 - August 13 Alaska Sailing Overall Summary ============== We had a wonderful time on this voyage. This cruise exceeded our expectations. Embarkation ========== We arrived early and terminal security allowed us to sit inside the waiting area of the Pier 35 passenger cruise ship terminal. This was our third embarkation since the roll out of the Priority Check-in & Planning Center(PCPC) and the check-in process was better and faster than ever. In a matter of a minute or two, we were given our shipboard cards with our picture and we were headed to the gangway to board the ship. We stopped so the photographers could take our embarkation photo. Once on board the ship, we enjoyed a nice lunch in the Crystal Dining Room. We did have our traditional Cobb Salad and enjoyed a complimentary flute of Champagne so that we could toast the start of the cruise. After lunch, we took care of a few items including signing up for the Internet, and when we stopped by our room it was ready for our occupancy. Our luggage arrived shortly after that. We were all unpacked and settled before the lifeboat drill and the sail away from San Francisco. Service ====== I have the benefit of also having sailed on some other luxury cruise lines including a 200-passenger ship. While there are certainly differences in the physical nature of a ship carrying 200 versus 900 passenger's, Crystal has perfected the ability to provide a level of service as good if not better than even the very small cruise ships that we have sailed on. We do not travel on the Symphony anywhere's near the number of times we travel on the Serenity a matter of a day or two we were greeted by our names throughout the ship and our preferences known in many venues around the ship. Overall, service was outstanding throughout the ship and this is one of several core strengths of Crystal Cruises. What always impresses us is not just the high level of service provided by each member of the Crystal staff individually, but how they work together as one unit/team to deliver an outstanding level of service to each guest. On top of the wonderful service found around the ship, we were very pleased with our stewardess, stewardess in training, our butler, who we have had previously, and by the Crystal Dining Room staff including our waiter, senior waiter, sommelier, and by Headwaiter and the Crystal Dining Room Maitre. The Ship ======= This is our second voyage on the Symphony since its major dry dock from the fall of 2009. The ship is as beautiful as ever and some of our favorite areas include the Lido Cafe and Lido Deck with the beautiful couches, the ambiance of Silk Road and Prego, the color scheme throughout the ship and our room. The ship is very well maintained and the public rooms are very spacious. While the ship was sold out, and we estimate that there were around 50 or so children on board, it never felt crowded and there are many quiet areas on board the ship. Enrichment ========= This was a food and wine themed cruise, which we really enjoyed and we were very impressed with the number of lecturers on board this voyage and the range of topics they covered. There are well over fifty activities offered on each sea day during the morning and afternoon hours. For example, on the sea day while we cruised the Inside Passage there were three lectures plus a cooking demonstration by the guest chef, and an afternoon program by the mixologist along with an array of other activities. Entertainment ============ There was a nice choice of entertainment on the cruise. On some nights in addition to the production shows there was also additional entertainment such as on the night where the Production Show Route 66 was not only performed twice, but later that evening a Cabaret Show was performed featuring the comedy and music of Jimmy Travis. There was more entertainment on this voyage than I expected, particularly as it related to entertainers brought onto the ship for this voyage. Cuisine ====== We found the cuisine to be even better than ever and that says a lot since we always enjoy the cuisine on board Crystal Cruises. We did not have a meal that we regretted or would have changed. The quality of the food and its overall presentation was very consistent and in our opinion six star. While in Prego and in Silk Road the kitchen is turning out meals for a much smaller number of guests, the reality is that the Crystal Dining Room is turning out meals for around 400 or more guests in each seating. Yet, when each item comes out it has the taste and the presentation of a kitchen that is turning out meals for far fewer guests. Often we order fresh seafood and we did this for the majority of our evening meals in the Crystal Dining Room. We very much enjoyed the fresh fish from Alaska. We also found the salads and the fresh fruit to be very tasty and choices were plentiful throughout the cruise. Accommodations ============== We stayed on the Penthouse Deck and occupied the same room as we did last November. The layout of the room is just perfect for us. Shore Excursions ============== There was a very nice choice of shore excursions to consider. Since we have been to these ports of call from anywhere from three to four times previously, we only chose shore excursions for two of the ports of call. We really enjoyed the volunteer shore excursion. We thank Crystal for making one of these available per voyage. Itinerary ======= The itinerary was perfect. We enjoy sailing out of San Francisco and appreciate that the cruise began and ended there and we enjoyed the six ports of call and cruising Glacier Bay a great deal. This voyage had a nice mix of sea days and days in port. In spite of rainy weather, we felt the sunshine throughout the ship. Disembarkation. ============= The disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation. We waited in our room until around 8:15 AM as our disembarkation group was scheduled for 8:45 AM and we disembarked right around that time. There were plenty of personnel at the pier and we easily found our luggage. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
After sailing out of San Francisco during a glorious afternoon, we did not see the sun again until we were in Vancouver 9 days later. We still had a great cruise, and the grayness added an other-worldliness to some of the greatest scenery ... Read More
After sailing out of San Francisco during a glorious afternoon, we did not see the sun again until we were in Vancouver 9 days later. We still had a great cruise, and the grayness added an other-worldliness to some of the greatest scenery in the United States. Embarkation: We live in the SF Bay area so we required just a 30 minute trip to the ship. With the exception of a minor computer glitch, it was very smooth. The Crystal pre-cruise check in system is great. They had all our information, so all that was needed was a picture, and then onto the ship. Stateroom: There were three of us, so we had two E category cabins. While not the largest space on earth, they were well laid out and comfortable. Our Stewardess was fantastic, and we never spent much time in the room anyway. Public Areas: Even with a full ship, there was plenty of room to get lost on the ship. The new Trident Grill area is great, especially when the weather was no cooperating with us. The furniture was comfortable, and it became a great spot to hang out, admire the scenery, have a cocktail and just enjoy Alaska. We did not get much use out of the pool, gray and gloomy weather is not condusive to swimming. Activities/Entertainment: I never lacked for anything to do. The speakers were all first rate. Nick Haley was chilling as he spoke about radical Islam. The production shows were great. I give kudos to Crystal for their Emerging Artists Program. We had 4 young jazz musicians giving concerts around the ship and they were great. There was great variety at night, from production shows, to jazz to classical music to a magician. Fitness Program: Small, but well equipped gym. At times there was a short wait for the aerobic equipment. My wife enjoyed the classes. Children's Activities: My son, now a teenager, has always enjoyed the Junior Activities Program. The teen program was no exception. Their activities started at 2 PM and ran through midnight. They did everything from making Sushi to dodgeball tournaments to dances. He was always in motion. Dining: Some good news, and one disappointment. The Crystal Main Dining Room is a good as ever, even though we did have one disappointing dish, and there was no foie gras! And you can get half portions of almost everything, something that allowed us to taste more dishes. Prego and Silk Road was fantastic. Sushi was ok, but then we were on ship and just enjoyed it. The Miso Marinated Black Cod was outstanding. Vintage Room was great, with great wines and fantastic food. The renovated Lido Cafe was gorgeous, and that presented the biggest disappointment of the trip, the Deck Buffets. With the redesign of the Trident, these buffets are now held in the Lido, and the loose their wow factor, and they become just another lunch, but with different food. I loved the old buffets and will miss these. Shore Excursions: We went on two. Their first, An Alaskan Chef's Table in Ketchikan was a great exploration of local Alaskan seafood. Some of their dishes did not work, but it was enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone. In Sitka we did Bike and Hike. The weather was dreadful, raining in buckets. However, this tour was ready for us with serious rain suits. We suited up, and off we went. It was a great adventure. We biked several miles to a trail head, and then hiked up into the wilderness. Again, I recommend it to everyone. Disembarkation: Getting off the ship was as easy as getting on. Very smooth. Summary: Crystal had their hands full on this trip. With the exception of Vancouver and the morning in Victoria, it rained the whole voyage. Crystal's service is impeccable and friendly. It is unbelievable when one of the Lido Deck Stewards comes up to me on the first day and says "Welcome back Mr. Slavin." That is stunning. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
My friend Linda came to sail with me on a trip to Alaska on the Crystal Symphony. This was her first time on Crystal and my second. The cruise was just fantastic The food was really a cut above all other cruise lines. The entertainment was ... Read More
My friend Linda came to sail with me on a trip to Alaska on the Crystal Symphony. This was her first time on Crystal and my second. The cruise was just fantastic The food was really a cut above all other cruise lines. The entertainment was fabulous. Our cruise had "emerging artists" sailing and entering us. They were extremely talented and we all enjoyed the shows. The lectures were interesting and entertaining. Beginning Bridge classes were given and I liked them. The gym was just wonderful and I worked out most days. Excellent, attentive staff. The spa was very good, and I had two massages. I think the prices are over the top, however. All in all it was a great trip. Linda and I especially enjoyed meeting & hanging out with Bradely & Stuart, who were passengers from the U.K. The Ron Owens group was a lot of fun and Joanne from Fugazi Travel took good care of us... Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I am somewhat 'Crystallised' at 47 years of age, and this was my 5th trip, in as many years. I brought my partner along for the first time to show what all the fuss was about. Crystal get a lot right, the food is fantastic ... Read More
I am somewhat 'Crystallised' at 47 years of age, and this was my 5th trip, in as many years. I brought my partner along for the first time to show what all the fuss was about. Crystal get a lot right, the food is fantastic and flexible, the anticipation by staff of a very high standard and the general standard of the Symphony is high, though I do feel it is getting a wee bit long in the tooth for such a premier brand. My personal view is that the Serenity is much better and maybe that is why our ship was half full, and the last time I was on Symphony it was half full, never have I experienced this on Serenity. I think crystal customers know what they are doing and they know which of the two ships has the edge. Anyway we wanted Alaska and this was the ship that was there and it is still a mighty fine ship. For the first time ever I regularly found the men's rooms had 'gentleman's spillage' on the floor, I was very surprised by this and it was often. Maybe the cleaning schedule has been reduced or maybe we were just unlucky. The cruise director was disappointing, my former Crystal directors have become so friendly this one Scott, was totally competent, but competent was it, no sparkle, no outstanding interpersonal skills. I felt he hid in the corner from the passengers. Gosh I sound like I am moaning, but its so easy to state the good stuff, the stuff we all know about Crystal that sometimes when you notice things are not quite up to scratch you want to express it. The bistro was grand and the grand teas were even grander! Prego and Nobu remain outstanding. Being a half empty ship, I felt we were penalised. Our second seating only had around 100 people and the dining room was dead, they only used one side. But worse was that they decided to move the after dinner show to before dinner, as they said more people came. This was not for the early diners they had their own show, i don't believe more people came, it was empty.... and it ruined our evening as after dinner its great to get a drink and watch a show. Being forced to be in the theatre for 7pm or miss the show cuts short your afternoon and makes your post dinner evening quite drab and empty. Yes the brilliant pianist in the Avenue Saloon is still there but that's not a grand show, which Crystal does so well. I just wonder if they moved it for an easy life. Also not a sign of the strolling musicians to serenade you at dinner,, where have they gone? maybe as we were half empty they were cut back.... whatever the reason I and others noticed their absence. The stops were Alaska and great, it was a wonderful trip,,, but I did feel crystal was not quite as sparkling as usual. Oh well, Ill still go back,, but probably make sure I take the serenity. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
The cruise was great. Pros: Everything I had read about the food was right on. It is outstanding and you get anything you want by just asking. As our head waiter said "We can give you anything except world peace". ... Read More
The cruise was great. Pros: Everything I had read about the food was right on. It is outstanding and you get anything you want by just asking. As our head waiter said "We can give you anything except world peace". I asked for Salmon Wellington and the next night an entire fish filet was wrapped in pastry and served to our entire table. Luckily I was traveling with five others that could help with the meal. Entertainment was also very good along with the many activities available through out the day. The crew was very friendly and attentive to your needs. Cons: The smoking in the casino was unbearable at times. It is the main reason that I stayed away. Some of our group did weather the smoke but they too were disappointed that people were allowed to smoke or that the ship didn't do something to mediate the problem. We did not get to see Hubbard glacier because of bad weather and ice. Too bad as it was one thing that I would love to have seen. The transportation we got when we disembarked was less than first class. They took us to a hotel and dropped us off to wait for our flight. We then had to board a common bus that stopped at other hotels to pick up passengers. The bus then proceeded to the airport stopping at all airlines and picked up more passengers and dropped off some. It was a goat rodeo as the bus got very confusing. This is not the type of transportation I have received on other upscale cruise lines. Room was a bit small. Overall: I would again sail with Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We took our extended family on this Alaskan cruise to celebrate a 70th b-day...ages 5-89yrs...we had a blast....our last Crystal experience was 2003. Our family was blown-away with the excellent service, & the gourmet dining ... Read More
We took our extended family on this Alaskan cruise to celebrate a 70th b-day...ages 5-89yrs...we had a blast....our last Crystal experience was 2003. Our family was blown-away with the excellent service, & the gourmet dining experience, we ate in the MDR, Silk Road & our favorite Prego..wow loved the re-model..very elegant feeling...service every where on the ship was excellent...only thing we heard was "my pleasure"...and with a smile. We loved the hor'dourves in the bars before dinner, each night they were different...The attention to detail was evident with our cabin Steward as well...a light went out around the mirror..we didn't even have to request...it was done...soap was running low but didn't have to ask it was done...the ship was spotless...our cabin was smaller than we remembered or we are larger then we were in 2003! lots of drawer and closet space and shelves in the bathroom...amenities in the bathroom were larger then one usually gets, so more than enough for a 12 days cruise...the cabin was also very quiet, only downside was the one electrical outlet...will need to bring a dual plug next time....the reading light I loved but birthday boy kept hitting his head...This cruise had 90 kids on board...and many extended families..we met wonderful people...our granddaughter had a special place go to and just loved the activities including an evening program from 8-10pm...well thought out Crystal...Our past experience with Crystal was with an older group of well traveled passengers...but this cruise had a great cross section of ages...and everyone was very friendly....Great and interesting speakers on board..entertainment was top notch...the emerging artist program wow....I know we heard the next Ella Fitzgerald...Our adult children opted for an Alaskan cruise...as this was my 3rd Alaska cruise..The first one 30 years ago!!!!!We enjoyed the ports...Victoria we opted to go kayaking with Oceanandriver.com..we came touching distance of a pup harbor seal...cool...Vancouver is a great walking city...check out Granville Island and Stanley Park...the sail way from Vancover was beautiful as the Champagne flowed! Juneau we did the float trip...starting at the Mendenhall Glacier with loads of ice in the water....fun trip for the family...my daughter did the dog sledding in Skagway, had a ball...we opted for the train up and kayaking...it was way to cold to do the later but we really enjoyed the train ride an the scenery...Sitka we went to see the otters, which were cool and the bear sanctuary....we enjoyed that very much....other family members did the Raptor center and the little town and got very close to bald eagles, which are all over the place...just have to look for that puff of white...in Ketchikan we went on the canoe and nature walk...it was ok..no wild life to spot however...2 sons did the zip line and are still talking about it! Awesome!We had a great time with our family and had excellent service from beginning to end! Well done...we will be back... Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was our first Crystal cruise and it will not be our last, we loved everything about it. My husband and I were traveling with my parents. At first we were a bit concerned we would not fit in and be out of place (we are in our late ... Read More
This was our first Crystal cruise and it will not be our last, we loved everything about it. My husband and I were traveling with my parents. At first we were a bit concerned we would not fit in and be out of place (we are in our late 30's) we feared everyone would be snotty and rude, that was not the case! Everyone we met from other guests to the crew could not have been nicer.Embarkation was easy, we flew into SFO (San Francisco) and there was a Crystal Representative waiting for us right by baggage claim, she followed us with a cart and helped with our luggage. We waited maybe about 45 minutes until other guests had arrived and then were shuttled off to the dock. Boarding took literally 15 minutes from when we got off the bus to when we were in our room.The room was just fine for both of us, promenade deck with a picture window. Room was adequately supplied with fruit, sodas, water, nut mixes, great toiletries and a very pretty orchid. We met our stewardess Christy who showed us everything about the room and was super nice and great throughout the cruise, she even decorated our door and made a towel animal on my Birthday.Food was fantastic my husband was able to try food he had never eaten before and has become a lover of escargot. Our senior waiter and waiter (Renjith and Janice) were excellent. We had requested copies of all the menus on our last day and they brought them for the whole table. We did not see other people with the menus so if you want copies then just ask. The only specialty restaurant we tried was Silk Road and it was good, we didn't try Prego but apparently that is excellent. Breakfast and Lunch we usually ate on the Lido Deck and Norman was great, always knew what drinks we wanted and brought them to us promptly. We also enjoyed going down to the Crystal Cove for before dinner drinks and that bar staff was great as well ( Teo, Bradley and Crystal). We also enjoyed talking to Pandium in the lounge next to the Avenue Saloon.Excursions: We did excursions in Sitka and Skagway (kayaking and horseback riding) both excursions were very good and informative, Crystal really goes out of the way to make sure they choose really premiere excursions.Entertainment: All the shows we saw were excellent except my husband was not very fond of the ventriloquist, even our tablemates said he was usually better ( I thought he was OK). DJ Mark was great my husband participated in Karaoke twice and had fun.Margie the Librarian was so nice, if you participate in the quizzes on sea days she will give you prizes at the end of the cruise. She also has pretty good movie recommendations.Spa and Fitness Center: Fitness Center was good, I never had to wait or any machines. I had a hot stone massage and a facial and both were very relaxing.We felt very spoiled on this cruise and definitely have many fond memories to look back on. I'm not sure if we can ever go on another cruise line after experiencing Crystal. I hope we can take another cruise with them in 2012 (New England and Canada). One other note: This cruise was only half full, I'm not sure if it was because the time of the year or what but it was quite enjoyable to feel like we had the cruise ship to ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
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