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37 Crystal Senior Cruise Reviews

What better way to celebrate an upcoming 93rd birthday than with a trip! For the past few years Mother and I have gone to New York for some theater time for her birthday trips, but this year decided to try a Fall leaf viewing cruise. We ... Read More
What better way to celebrate an upcoming 93rd birthday than with a trip! For the past few years Mother and I have gone to New York for some theater time for her birthday trips, but this year decided to try a Fall leaf viewing cruise. We had a rough start to the planning when Mother broke both arms in May so cancelled the Crystal Cruise we had booked for October. However, by Labor Day we decided to re-book it, since we still had plane and theater tickets. Two weeks out we have no cabin assignment or dining time, but we do have Mother's hair appointment scheduled for half way though, so the important item is booked :-). I don't have much cruising experience, but Katie and I did learn a few things on our Holland America Zaandam Cruise "Around the Horn" which has helped me prepare a bit for this one. Do some research on Cruise Critic about the ports we will visit. Book a few ship excursions - more expensive but easier logistically. Avoid the early morning excursions, because Mother won't make them, at least not with a smile on her face. Pair food tours with sight seeing - discovered I love these. Pack lighter. Hope for at leisure dining to avoid sitting with the same people the whole trip. Forget the iPhone SIM, as it is too complicated to find a phone store near the port. I'll pay the exorbitant ship WiFi charge for Canada and hope ATT has some New England coverage. Try not to eat like a pig. My friends Margie and Don are in Nova Scotia this week so are giving us a great preview. 10/6/14 Left Athens at 5 AM via very prompt Bulldog Limo, but was shocked at the amount of traffic on 316 at that time. It was literally bumper to bumper to the airport all the way from Athens. Had a near bad experience in security. Someone took my basket while I was putting on my shoes. It simply disappeared. We looked everywhere and asked the TSA to help. Of course it contained my handbag with passports, money, cards, etc. After five minutes, back came the basket. Someone who was being searched in a private room said my basket was hers so the TSA whisked it away with her. Mother and I had aisle seats across from each other on the flight to JFK, and, of course, the biggest man you have ever seen was in the middle seat next to her. She did not have the armrest down, so he took his seat and half of hers. I insisted she swap with me, since I'm pushy enough to claim my space, which I did. He stood up to get something and down went the armrest. He squeezed back in, but just barely. As we began flying low for our final approach to the QC airport, we were treated to a spectacular palette of color all over the countryside. I believe we have hit the leaves perfectly for Quebec, for sure. Had a lovely welcome to Quebec at customs when the officer pronounced Galland in the French manner and asked is I had French Canadian relatives. Who knew Quebec had Gallands? Settled into our room which has a beautiful view of Hotel Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. I added another to the count right away. Met our Crystal Cruise Critic “sponsors” in the bar for a get acquainted drink. This is a fun program where someone who sees you are a first time Crystal Cruiser can ask to be your pre-trip guide. The benefit, other than some great ship tips, was $100 ship credit for each of us. We did not have a set dinner planned due to our stand by status, so we were added to six at the early seating. Very interesting couples with mostly experienced cruisers. In fact we met a couple on their 39th Crystal Cruise. Yow! Show featured songs from A Chorus Line, one of Mother’s and my favorites. 10/7/ Quebec City Had room service breakfast after a pretty good night’s sleep. Rainy weather today, unfortunately, since QC is a beautiful city, filled with “firsts” such as first permanent settlement, only walled city north of Mexico in NA, first hospital in NA, first boys’ school, first girls’ school, and many others. Relived my 5th grade social studies class with Samuel D. Champlain and Jacque Cartier. I will definitely return to QC with Bob in the future. Beautiful narrow streets, old churches, walkable walls, and more restaurants than any city in Canada. Got to peek in the Hotel Fondelac to see what $2000 a night gets you. Part of QC town history wall mural Lower Old Quebec And the rain begins! Had a lazy afternoon exploring the ship, eating a two hour lunch, and watching ladies dance with the paid gentlemen dancers on board. What a hoot. Mother will be dancing before the week is out, I’m betting. Fancy high tea then happy hour at the top front of the ship watching the beautiful Quebec countryside go by. We had dinner at Tastes, a little boutique restaurant with small portions based on international street food. We ate Peruvian tuna (raw) with lots of wonderful spices, California tacos like no taco I’ve ever eaten, some sort of steak on a skewer and tempura shrimp. The chocolate dessert was to die for, so I hope never to see it again. I could not resist. Ended the day with a fabulous selection of singing and dancing for 10 different Broadway shows. We met the parents of one of the dancers who is from Wales, and loved sharing the fun with them. Steve, the dancing and singing son, joined the cast two years ago right out of college and is just fabulous, as are all the entertainers. His parents are on their third cruise on our ship to get to see him perform. Of course, Steve has aspirations for Broadway or West End, but life working for Crystal is evidently very good. Some performers stay for 20 years! 10/8 Sept Iles Sailed all night on smooth river water but was surprised to discover this morning that I could see neither shore. We must be getting into the St. Lawrence delta area which is quite wide and merges into the Atlanta with a series of island all around. Left Mother sleeping while I frantically took care of work business, using lots of my very expensive satellite Internet. Glad I did not both searching for a Canadian SIM in QC because we are far from any sort of cell tower. Mother enjoyed room service while I had a working breakfast to catch up with things from last night. The wonderful thing about my job is I can travel more due to the salary and can work from anywhere in the world. The ship satellite Internet is hideously expensive but worth every penny when I means I can sit with my laptop in a beautiful restaurant enjoying the St. Lawrence Seaway and a fabulous breakfast. Our morning is at sea so lots of activities have been schedule. I opted for a Canadian history lecture, followed by pedicures for Mother and me in the ship’s spa. Returned to Tastes for another foodie lunch. Lounged around the ship all afternoon, moving from one beautiful space to another with our books and my laptop. Managed to complete several big work tasks with great Internet since there were no trees to get in our way. Mother debated dancing during the afternoon tea dance with the hired male dancers but decided her arms were not up to dancing with a partner. After watching a few minutes, I had to reluctantly agree. Mother and I were among the smart ones on the ship who elected not to go into Sept Isles. The rain came down in buckets, umbrellas flipped inside out, and one of the school bus tour buses got stuck in the sand on a beach and had to be towed out. We had a late dinner reservation tonight, the result of our standy-by last minute booking, so went to the evening performance before dinner. This was a classical pianist who promptly put most of the audience to sleep. Dinner was again delicious! 10/9 Iles de la Madeleine Woke up with the room service steward knocked on the door at 9. Guess the rock and rolling of the ship all night put us both into a deep slumber. At noon we left the ship for our Magdalen Islands shore excursion, “Flavors of Magdalen Islands.” We were met at the dock by a school bus, but inside was a fabulous Swiss guides who had moved here permanently after an 18 year career with Cirque du Soleil. She started a circus training school in the islands which now has 500 students ages 2 - 55. Her pride is having one currently performing with Cirque du Soleil. Our prize was having a wonderful guide who spoke perfect English. The ten Madgelen Islands are in the middle of the St. Lawrence River delta about 100 km West of Newfoundland and the same distance from Nova Scotia and mainland Quebec. The only way on or off is via a five hour ferry ride or a flight from Quebec City or Montreal. Eight of the islands are French speaking and two are English speaking. This is the heart of Acadia where the French were forced out by the English in the 18th century. Many went to Louisiana and the Caribbean while others went to Sept Isles. The ones left in the Madgalen Island either returned or never left. We first visited a cheese factory. About 90 years ago, an agronomist from Toronto persuaded a beef farmer to change to daily cows to produce a cheese similar to the type made in Normanday and Brittany. They sold their beef cows and imported 62 daily cows from the mainland and never looked back. The three cheeses we tasted here were all divine. Next stop the only remainly fish smoke house on the islands. There were once 72 of these, but then the herring population disappeared in the 70’s due to overfishing, all of the others were closed. In the early 90’s the herring reappeared only to be decimated due to climate warming, overfishing again, and the abundance of seals. This was the most interesting part for me. I remember seeing the films of the adorable baby grey seals being clubbed to death and responding with outrage. Unfortunately, this meant Europe, the US and most of the world prohibited seal skin and meat import, resulting in the 1 million seal population turning into 7 million today. These seals have no enemies and eat all the fish in the area. No more herring for the smoke houses today. Their natural enemies were polar bears, which lived farther north but are also disappearing and orcas while only live further to the west. Now China has prohibited seal product import, so the seal population will continue to expand. It certainly made me rethink the whole baby seal slaughter videos we saw 30 years ago. Maybe if they would shoot seals instead of clubbing the babies, we’d feel better about this. The only animals on these 10 islands are foxes, coyotes, and rabbits. The island homes are all painted bright colors. This tradition began so fishermen could find their homes by color to head to the right destination coming home. The tradition has continued. There is so much wind that there are very few trees on the islands, so lumber is now imported for new homes. About 13,000 people liver here full time with the population rising to over 30,000 during the summer due to the large number of relatively private beach areas. The many lighthouses are no longer in use but one can purchase a lighthouse for $1 if they agree to keep them painted, etc. for the tourists. At the herring smokehouse we sampled smoked herring (tasted like a Slim Jim) and marinated herring - aka Kippers in the US. I thought they were delicious. Mother did not even taste :-). Visited several beautiful beaches and lighthouses and ended our tour at the island’s micro brewery where everyone wolfed down potato chips and lots of beer. Most of us had not eaten lunch thinking we would eat a lot on this tour - not. Mother and I were happy to missing an additional 10,000 calories but did really enjoy our dinner at Tastes again. Evening entertainment was a Native American magician - odd but pretty funny. Later found a great small piano bar with a wonderful piano player and singer. Lots of fun then off to bed to be rocked to sleep again. Am loving that rock and roll. 10/10 - Friday Cruising the Cabot Strait Slept in for our day at sea, but my internal alarm is on Eastern time, not Atlantic time as we are now, so woke up too early. I must be the worst person in the world for time zone changing, because I cannot even make a one hour change work. When we go back to Eastern time in two days, I’ll probably be settled in on Atlantic. As Katie and I discovered on our South America cruise, sea days are packed with activities on the ship, so many that it is frustrating not to be able to do everything. Of course the weather was bright and sunny, but cold, making us wish we were in a port to enjoy walking outside. Outside on the ship was cold and blustery. My minimum outside boating temperature is 80 and we were at about 55 all day. Started the morning with breakfast in the Lido, because we were too late for the dining room. Next Mother decided to relax with her book in our stateroom so I ran from a lecture about the history of Nova Scotia and Maine, to a talk about iPad tips and tricks, to a lecture about militant Islamists, to a class on Photoshop Elements 12, quite different from version 3 I last owned. After learning how to remove wrinkles from faces on photos, I decided to go home and buy this one :-). Lunch in our favorite restaurant, Tastes. Beauty parlor time for Mother at 2 for a hair transformation. Mozart themed high tea followed with all wait staff dressed in period costumes and the string quartet playing all Mozart selections. Dinner at 6 with two delightful couples, production show about the British music invasion of the 60’s which was again amazingly fabulous, then a nightcap in the piano bar. I say today was mostly about eating and drinking. The all inclusive nature of this ship seems to encourage lots of both. 10/11 Halifax Woke up this morning to the sound of bagpipes as we pulling into the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was our most risky day of the cruise, as we had booked a private taxi tour we found on Trip Advisor with Lucinda at www.halifaxcruiseshiptaxitours.com. I shared the information on Cruise Critic in our cruise area and another couple from San Francisco, Laurel and Steve, and a single from Sydney, AU decided to join us. We needed five to make the price reasonable, and it ended up being about $50 a person, far less than the ship excursions. Our guide Terry met us right outside of the ship so little walking was required of Mother. We hopped into his van and began a wonderful day in Nova Scotia. Our day begin with a walk through the large Halifax city park and a tour of beautiful historic neighborhoods in the city. Our stop at the citadel on the hill gave Terry time to tell us about the huge explosion of 1917, the largest explosion ever recorded prior to the Atomic Bomb. Next toured the Fairview Cemetery, home to the graves of 121 victims of the Titanic. Since most of us know quite a bit about the Titanic from the movie, Broadway play and recent discovery and underwater exploration, this was especially interesting. One of the executives of the White Star line was on the ship and evidently bribed his way onto a lifeboat being guarded at gunpoint to keep only women and children onboard. He promised to take care of the seaman’s family in exchange for a seat, and did. He also gave the seaman a nice headstone. Of course, he lived a miserable life afterwards trying to explain why he had gotten on a lifeboat reserved for women and children. James Cameron used names in the movie Titanic based on the real names on tombstones. Most interesting to me was a tombstone of an unknown two year old. Rescuers who recovered the bodied felt so bad for this one they chipped in to pay for a larger tombstone. A few years ago DNA testing revealed the child’s actual name. Our group decided to ship lunch to give us more touring time so we detoured through beautiful waterfront areas on our way to Peggy’s Cove. Nova Scotia has over 1000 km of shoreline and the areas that had not previously been developed as villages are now being developed as multi-million dollar neighborhoods. These homes actually reminded me of the Lake Burton mac-mansions. Peggy’s Cove, a very famous photo stop south of Halifax, was a surprise. I’d expected a big tourist village with lots of people. We saw a total of about 20. There were about a dozen shops, lots of fishing boats and lobster traps, and many granite rocks scraped clean by glaciers thousands of years ago. The famous lighthouse was about half the height of our SSI one, which seems to be the norm for Nova Scotia and most of Eastern Canada. It was quite lovely and proved not to be a problem for Mother walking. We did not bother with the walker, and used me instead. Back to the port, ship, just in time for a quick tea time with sandwiches. We acted like we were starving, but I’m sure we were not as my dinner the night before was enough to last forever. I zipped off to an iPhoto class where I learned many new tricks for me. Well worth the 45 minutes. The ship has two Mac labs with 30 inch monitors on 25 computers each - quite impressive! Had dinner tonight in the specialty Italian restaurant on the ship, Prego. Crystal does not charge extra for the special restaurants on board but does limit you to two evenings at their top two, Prego and Silk Road, their Asian restaurant. Service and food were both delicious, and we agreed with our travel agent that the mushroom soup was a must have. 10/12 Bar Harbor Early start this morning with breakfast in the dining room then immigration back to the USA. This was, by far, the easiest entry into the US I’ve ever had. One immigration officer looked at our passports and that was it. He, of course, mentioned he had been at FLETC many years ago. I suggested he must either be very senior or very good to get cruise ship duty. Lucky guy! Boarded our tender for a spectacular early morning arrival into the best Fall colors of the trip in Bar Harbor. I have visited Bar Harbor and the National Park here twice before but have never taken a tour so really enjoyed our National Park Service school bus tour of Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor. Our guide, Heather, was one of those worth writing home about for sure. She had just the right amount of humor and exuberance without getting in the way of her extensive knowledge. She has been giving these tours for the park service concessionaire for over 20 years. A few interesting tidbits: Though there were three ships in the port today and the town was a bit crowded, Bar Harbor never lets tourism outweigh their charm. Only 6000 cruise ship passengers total are every allowed off the ships, and ships can only visit during September and October after the summer residents have left. Bar Harbor seems to be where most of the Jekyll Island Club group spent their summers after wintering on Jekyll. Beautiful homes line the harbor representing many of the rich and famous such as Martha Stewart, John Trivolta, and, of ocurse, the Rockefellers. The Rocks first came to Bar Harbor when Mrs. Rockefeller was pregnant with Nelson, former VP with Gerald Ford. She has two previous children and wanted the same doctor to deliver Nelson. He told her she would have to spend the summer in Bar Harbor if she wanted him to deliver the baby, so she did and the decendents have returned every summer from that point forward. John D. Jr. donated much of the land which is now Acadia National park. The viewpoint of the park if the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern seaboard. Leaf color was at its peek, and the air was crisp and cold providing beautiful clear views. A major fire in 1947 burned much of the park's cedar forests, making was for Norwegian maples, Red maples, birch, oak and many other colorful hardwoods. We could not leave Bar Harbor without a lobster roll which Mother had never previously experienced. Instead of one of regular restaurant on Main Street, we headed to the gorgeous Bar Harbor Inn for our lunch hanging out over the harbor in a beautiful glass dining room. The lobster roll was a few dollars more expensive but the view was well worth it. Lobster season is year around in Maine but most fishermen stop during the coldest months. In fact, most stores in the town close and the owners become snowbirds, flocking to Florida, Arizona, and the Golden Isles. Maine has over 3000 offshore islands, the most of any Atlantic Coast state, and Bar Harbor is certainly one of the most lovely. We reluctantly returned to the ship at 3. Mother took a quick nap while I listened to the last history lecture of the trip about Boston. 5 PM was tea dance time, but Mother was still a watcher concerned about lifting her arms to participate. Very weird production company show tonight with all characters dressed in lights. It required lots of effort in both costuming and performing, and we decided it was not worth it. Half the audience was asleep, as the show was done in total darkness except for the lighted costumes. 10/13 Boston Fantastic morning in Boston today on a ship shore excursion to Boston and Cambridge with our local guide David. David is about my age and is decended from Beacon Hill Bostonians. His grandparents created and donated the Constitution Museum by Old Ironsides, and he graduated from Harvard. I did not have the nerve to ask why he was leading tours so just enjoyed his wonderful personality and vast knowledge. Our stop at Old Ironsides showed us the ship covered in flags and bunting ready for the Secretary of the Navy to arrive later this week for the ships final sail before going into two years of dry dock. I'm always proud this ship was made from SSI live oaks, and, of course, had to share that. Then the guide told me he was writing a novel set in Georgia in Enota (sp) and Jekyll Island. Can't wait to read this one. Bob and I visited Boston two years ago and toured thoroughly except for Cambridge which we just road through. This trip took us on a 45 minute walk around the Harvard campus, a real treat since our guide had been a student there. Harvard Yard was not at all what I expected - much smaller than the North Campus yard of UGA and not as pretty. Our guide was a bit opinionated and got into an argument with a German guide about which group would get to enter the church first, her three German tour buses or our small group. Both guides pitched hissy fits but the German won because our Crystal rep told David to back off. We had an outdoor visit with an excellent telling of the start of the American Revolution, lanterns in the church tower, battle details, etc. Found out two liquor merchants funded the brick Freedom Trail to celebrate the bi-centenial in 1976. Their only stipulation was that the trail pass both of their stores, even though they were a bit out of the way. The National Park Service agreed and both merchants have gotten their investments back many times over with all the passing tourists. Other fascinating detail on this tour was no restroom stop on a four hour tour. Some got desperate and used the bus bathroom, only to get stuck in there because the door handle didn't work properly. We crossed our legs and ran into the restroom as soon as we boarded the ship. Spent afternoon catching up on work and resting though Quincy Market was tempting. Another lovely Italian dinner at Prego tonight. Am getting addicted to the lobster on this ship, I’m afraid. Skipped the piano concert and opted for a movie, Le Chef, which someone had mentioned was sort of like the 100 Foot Journey. It was in French with subtitles, but was still wonderful. Mother went right to sleep and had a lovely nap along with most of the people in the theater. The subtitles were a bit much for most, as there was lots of dialogue. 10/14 Newport Mother slept in while I worked this morning which was a great decision for both of us. We decided last night to see if the ship excursion to Newport at noon had any seats available, and a great decision it was. We tendered into beautiful Newport and joined our 90 minute trolley tour. Weather was perfect, and our guide was outstanding. According to him, he is the only resident of the city who is a direct descendant of Rhode Island’s founder, Roger Williams. A few tidbits to remember: Newport was one of the five largest cities in the US at the time of the American Revolution - others were Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia and New York. Newport has more pre-revolutionary homes than any other city in the country, thanks to the preservation efforts of Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress. Nice to see something good came from smoking. People came to Rhode Island for freedom of religion so the city had a more diverse population than other colonial cities. First Episcopal church, first Jewish synagog, and lots of other firsts. The rich started coming to Newport when a planter from Savannah visited and decided it would be the perfect summer retreat. His friends followed but all abandoned the city when the Civil War broke out and none returned. After the war Northern millionaires of the Gilded Age began summering in Newport and building huge mansions along the coast. The age ended with income tax legislation but huge mansions remain as do many wealthy people. Most elite were the group of 400. Mrs. Astor started this and had two requirements. 1. Must have at least 4 million dollars and must have 2 million set aside for each of your children. 2. Must not have earned your money by working for at least three generations. There is still a beach club in Newport set aside for the group of 400. Donald Trump tried to join this a few years ago but was rejected due to rule #2. Did not realize Anderson Cooper of CNN fame was the daughter of Gloria Vanderbilt, part of the wealthy Vanderbilt clan. We saw the “cottage” where he vacations in the summer. I decided I’ll never give another cent to my alma mater, because the Vanderbilts can afford to keep it running without me. Newport has more yachts than any harbor in the world. Most were spectacular! Had a great show back on the ship with the production company then a lovely dinner with six people we had not previously met. One had dined with one of the four ladies who live on the ship and discovered she had been on 355 Crystal Cruises so far over a 30 year period. 10/15 New York The captain announced during his one PA announcement of the day yesterday (ship only has this one announcement - no dinner bells, no activity alerts, etc) that we'd be arrived in NYC about 6:30 AM. I wanted to see this so kept waking up all night looking out the doors for lights. Did finally see them about 6:30 as we were sailing past Brooklyn. The early morning light scene was so spectacular that I insisted Mother get up and join me on the balcony. Took some nice photos of the new World Trade Center and the Empire State building. What a surprise to be docked right next door to the Intrepid Museum. Our New York City day was celebrated with perfect center section aisle tickets to the Carole King biographical play, Beautiful. I had read about this when it opened so ordered tickets six months ago. In June the lead won the Tony for best actress, and wow was that deserved. She was a better Carole King than Carole King herself! 10/16 New York Uneventful trip home expect for a little delay taking off from LaGuardia due to fog. All wheeled chairs were ready and waiting as was our old faithful Bulldog Limo. A few comments about Crystal Cruise line. The ship was very quiet. No announcements, not bells, tiptoeing staff Though the ship was full, everything seems somewhat empty. Please of space to move around with Mother's walker, which was a god send. Really enjoyed not having to pay, sign, tip, etc. Crystal is all inclusive - just ask and it is yours. Did not realize how much effort it was to decide who was paying for the wine at dinner or how much to tip at the end.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
My wife and I had never been on a cruise before as it just didn't seem like our kind of thing. Nevertheless, we signed up for this cruise, Crystal Cruise 3309, which went from Venice to Rome with 5 stops in between. Since it's ... Read More
My wife and I had never been on a cruise before as it just didn't seem like our kind of thing. Nevertheless, we signed up for this cruise, Crystal Cruise 3309, which went from Venice to Rome with 5 stops in between. Since it's a long way from California to Italy, we added time before and after in Italy to justify the long airline flight. We started off with 3 nights in Venice before boarding the ship. The embarkation process went very smoothly and we quickly lost first time cruiser angst. We had a cabin with veranda on deck 10. The room was very nice and more than adequate for our needs. The veranda is very comfortable and was larger than I expected. The bathroom was laid out very well and did not feel at all cramped, but rather seemed like an efficient use of the space. The beds were extremely comfortable, perhaps a bit hard for some but perfect for our tastes. Everything in the room worked well. The flat screen TV was well positioned for easy viewing from the sofa or bed. The first night, the ship stayed berthed in Venice and some tours were offered the next day. Since we had been three days in Venice, we elected to stay on board and checked out all the ships facilities. Our room was close to the forward stairwell/elevators, so we could get anywhere on the ship quite quickly. The ship seemed in immaculate condition. Scoped out the steam room and sauna on the top deck. It turns out, these are accessible 24 hours and became one of our favorite spots. Both the steam room and sauna were under utilized so I often had them to myself. The sauna in particular has a window to the outside so sitting there, sweating, watching the world go by was a enlightening experience. The first night, we booked in one of the specialty restaurants, Prego. It was very nice and we were a bit regretting that we could only pre-book one night. After that we ate in the main dining room (MDR) every night and were not at all disappointed. The menu was varied and always very good, some evenings downright delicious. Our desire to try to rebook at Prego waned as the MDR was terrific. Our waiters, Zoran and Angela were very attentive. Crystal does not seem to scrimp on staff. Our 2 waiters had only two (8 person) tables to tend to and got help from busboys and others. We had breakfast each morning in the LIDO buffet. There was never a wait except if one wanted a cooked to order omelet. The selection was very good for either American or European tastes... Bacon, Sausage, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, cheeses, breads, fruit, and fresh squeezed OJ. Our diner waiter, Zoran, recognized us and after the second morning knew our preference for cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso and had it for us without asking. Overall, the food quality and food service was much better than I had imagined possible. BTW, this cruise was all inclusive, so there was no extra charge for wine or cocktails or an after dinner port. The wife developed a taste for lemoncello. One could order special drinks that did cost, but we never found the wines and drinks offered to be at all wanting. We didn't go to any stage shows but did take in a couple of movies. The theater is small (may 100-150 seats) but more than adequate and was never more than 1/2 full. We did take in a special up close magic act. It was pretty lame, and seemed more like a promotion for the Magic Castle in LA. The ports of call were all pretty interesting. We did book one tour through the ship, Pompeii, during our call to Sorrento and it was wonderful with a very animated and informative guide. For all the other destinations, we just took the cruise line supplied shuttle to town and walked around the towns. Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, and Taormina each are charming and interesting. It was easy to burn 4 or 5 hours just walking around, looking in windows, drinking the local beer, and finding a free WIFI to catch up on the world. So what the bottom line..... The cruise was terrific. Crystal did a great job. Everyone was friendly and helpful. The concierge was very helpful the few times we needed something. The tour desk was also really informative. Our waiter was a jewel.... he even had some suggestions about what to see in the various ports. The condition of the ship was more or less perfect. There were no lines. The food was great. The all inclusive package is the way to go. The only minor quibble is I would prefer more non-smoking areas, though once we identified the areas that allowed smoking they were pretty easy to avoid. I can only hope this doesn't spoil me. We're looking into a Princess cruise and some of the reviews of the Grand Princess are getting me a bit nervous. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Allow me to qualify the following by stating unequivocally that Crystal provides the best service, food and cruising experience one will ever have. After a personally challenging 2011, I was so ready for this cruise, I was packed a week in ... Read More
Allow me to qualify the following by stating unequivocally that Crystal provides the best service, food and cruising experience one will ever have. After a personally challenging 2011, I was so ready for this cruise, I was packed a week in advance. We left a few days early to explore Lisbon which was worthwhile, but finally Thursday afternoon arrived and we readied for the cruise. Embarkation was as easy as it gets. As we walked up the gangway, we were greeted with flutes of champagne & smiling faces. Our C-category cabin was perfect since we spend minimal time there. I was amazed at the the amount of storage, drawers and shelves, especially in the bathroom. The plan was very well thought out. The daily REFLECTIONS offered so many events, we were busy from 7:00 am and onward, starting at the gym, breakfast and then a continuum of talks, trivia, lessons and movies. OR you could just relax and watch the beautiful Crystal passengers sachay by. I must comment that the women dressed beautifully. St. John knits, Chico's and other designers were commonplace. Formal nights featured beautiful gowns and all the men looked so handsome in their tuxedos!!! The food was consistently very good to excellent. The waiters, asst. waiters and wine steward were very attentive & always behaved in a professional manner. I was very disappointed in PREGO. They tried too hard and the Italian food was nothing like I know. Lasagne made with bechamel sauce??? I ordered osso buco & it was so full of carrots & vegetables, I sent it back. Also, our waiter seemed rather rushed. I also heard same from our table companions. People were underwhelmed. The guest speakers were marvelous and very well versed in their individual subjects. Bill Miller spoke on the history of cruising. His presentations were excellent and to the point. I learned a lot. Bill Boggs dovetailed off his career as a talk show host and spoke about the celebrities he interviewed over the years. He concentrated on Frank Sinatra because Sinatra was his favorite. But my personal favorite was former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt. His talks attracted so many people, it was SRO. He was unbelievably interesting,approachable and his wife, Diane, was very sweet. I did not attend any of Dr. Ruth Westheimer's lectures although I heard from others they were also very good. Our cabin steward, Reema, was average to good. She tended to be a bit forgetful but she seemed overwhelmed. I found I had to ask her for things which automatically would've been provided by a more experienced steward. She was very polite and agreeable to any request. Comparing her to the woman we had on the Harmony, Reema needs more training in the small details perhaps. The nightly entertainment was good but not exceptional. A featured dancing/singing troupe entertained us with Broadway hits one night, Rodgers & Hammerstein the next and other dance numbers. An Irish flutist and a professional guitar player filled in. I realize that Crystal is not for everyone, but I can state that this is one of the few cruises in the world where you get what you pay for. From the moment you walk on board, it's all about YOU. I would rather go on one Crystal cruise than five of any other cruises. Crystal clients are refined, employees are always trying to please, the food is delicious and they even provided a rainbow for us to sail under one morning (see picture). Crystal thinks of everything!!! ADDITIONAL NOTE: CASABLANCA is a port not mentioned but one visited. We took a terrible tour led by a terrible little old man who did not let us enter any of the buildings or mosques he took us to nor did he offer explanations. The worst part was when he guided us aimlessly through the dangerous alleyways and sewage ridden streets of old Casablanca. I wouldn't risk anyone going through these paths filled with feral cats and ominous looking people. We felt like sacrificial lambs. As usual, after people lodged complaints, Crystal refunded half our money (so classy!). I have since written a letter to HQ recommending to remove Casablanca from their itinerary. I do not blame Crystal in this instance. I believe they were lied to and these excursions were a complete sham. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Before boarding the "Symphony" October 25 for a 12 night to Bermuda and the Caribbean, a three night New York pre stay was delightful, anchored by a fine hotel "The Setai", newly built from the ground up, staring at the ... Read More
Before boarding the "Symphony" October 25 for a 12 night to Bermuda and the Caribbean, a three night New York pre stay was delightful, anchored by a fine hotel "The Setai", newly built from the ground up, staring at the Empire State Building. My wife and I, treating ourselves to a belated 47 year anniversary, watched a top Broadway Show "Going Away" and the the next evening,a Cuban band while dining. We visited The Whitney and New York City museums, Ground Zero Memorial and the protest encampments. We strolled the High Line Park, ingeniously landscaped on top of an abandoned railway trestle. Also we took Greenwich and East Village walking tour in which residents spend millions for historic quarters with tiny AC boxes in the windows. I boarded the "Symphony" with an incipient cold which manifested itself fully mid cruise. However, the seas were smooth. I managed to attend most ship events and go ashore in which I found the Caribbean Islands less interesting and exotic than Far East Ports and environs, which have more variety than the proliferation of endless tax and duty free stores which envelope the Caribbean ports. However, a satisfying out of town alternative is the fine beaches and water sports. We discovered two gorgeous beaches as the swimming was calm, buttressed by sugary and rock free sand. In contrast, Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach was disturbed by a recent storm.(The beauty of travel is that that one's perceptions can change for better or worse, no matter how many travel books, cruise folders,or weather reports one reads. Nicely, Crystal Cruise Lines was a good cocoon). The Caribbean island taxi rides seemed exorbitant, as in Bermuda, but there I liked the shop keepers best as their manners seemed more refined and street touts were rare. Antigua was lively and rollicking, with clothes, behavior and cars mimicking inner city youth culture in America, a country and president they admire. The street scene was a relief from the social rigidity and constant activities aboard the "Sympathy". Dining,lectures,card games,table tennis, fitness instruction,dance lessons, just never ending.. The ship, not unlike a wondrous summer camp for retirees, like myself, had luscious dinning and endless activities, but the cramped window only cabins forces couples to escape early elsewhere on the ship. Never mind, Crystal has some event or activity to entertain you to relieve any boredom. My advice is to book a balcony, if affordable, as the wonderful promenade deck has few chairs to escape the pool crowd and really be left alone, not trading stares. The bathroom was compact but the shower water forceful and always hot. The cabin AC was quiet. One could sleep, but the bed was too firm so a crew member brought foam immediately. I felt as if I was cruising in a ocean retirement estate with nice wealthy passengers, dressed expensively, but if you can mask your true social station, such as mine, and update your clothes, you will be fine. The ship and passengers seemed tolerant as there were gays and handicaps sprinkled about who had good taste, apparently enjoying the space and tolerance. I found all passengers cordial and admired the determination of those in wheel chairs. However, at the disembarkation breakfast, I went to shake hand and say farewell to a senior dining staff member, who, excluded from ship tip recommendations,(which I innocently followed),was surprisingly rebuking and told me "I did not appreciate his service". Indeed I had tipped the stewardess beyond the recommendation as she was very helpful dealing with my cold. Bitter and feeling ostracized, I felt everything had been a fraud and I was duped.I contacted the line who gave the profuse but standard apology with a small future credit, with conditions. I did not accept this they as they only had one other ship remaining, "The Serenity", and frankly, I need more ship credit to dare splurge again, as middle class financially, I shouldn't extinguish my savings with endless cruises no matter how much I enjoy pampering. Actually, my top demand was for a direct apology from the ship member who offended me. As of yet, this has not been forthcoming. To deal with the tipping agony, the line is transitioning to " all inclusive". This will prevent such incidents as mine, reducing any temptation for dinning room staff pandering. Nevertheless, I still recommend Crystal, if you can afford a balcony. Overall I remember all the good mornings, the endless pepper offerings, the tea servings by deferential servants in long tails. But my fantasy evaporated at the end. Was everything a fraud, including myself? Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Embarcation/Transfer: We arrived into JFK at 17:30 on embarcation day. Used Crystal's transfer service, which is offered at the reasonable fare of $60.00 per person. We were to only passengers transferred on that flight ...so ... Read More
Embarcation/Transfer: We arrived into JFK at 17:30 on embarcation day. Used Crystal's transfer service, which is offered at the reasonable fare of $60.00 per person. We were to only passengers transferred on that flight ...so we had a stretch limo to ourselves from the airport to the ship. Nice way to begin the trip. In retrospect we should have planning to arrive into NYC the day before so we could have had a few extra hours on the ship. Embarcation was no more than a few short minutes as we'd pre-registered on-line. We were processed and escorted to our stateroom. Accomodations: We had sailed on Serenity in 2006, and we were not disappointed in Symphony's verandah stateroom. We were about mid -ship .. port side. Out TA had originally booked a B catagory verandah stateroom on deck 8, but on the starboard side. We requested a port side room and Crystal assigned us a portside stateroom on deck nine at no extra charge. The room is certainly adequate space-wise...beautiful creamy leather two-seat sofa and comfortable upholstered chair at vanity. Bathroom was lovely with the dual bowl sinks, marble, shower/bath fixtures, storage, etc. Bath products supplied are very nice. Our Stewardess was outstanding....room kept spotlessly clean...room service was delectable and served beautifully....my partner is a breakfast-on-the-verandah affecianado...and wasn't disappointed. A plus was being near the self-service (and free) laundry room. Also helpful were the two 'block-plug' outlets we took along as there is only one outlet at the vsnity and one outlet in the bathroom.....not enoufht to accomodate our phone, IPad, and camera charging stations. A Note On charges: The 1000.00 cabiin credit sufficed as. our 'all inclusive' feature ... covered our wine and cocktails and spa treatments and tours.....a real plus.....along with the Crystal Society savings we were pleased with the fare. It's worth it for the service and treatment offered. We even did the portrait photo...great photographer at a reasonable charge (50.00). On Board Guests If you pre-arrange with Crystal you are more than welcome to invite friends on board ... which we did in both New York and Boston. Note that there is no charge to feed your guests to a lovely meal at the Trident Grille at no charge...you only pay the bar bill ... (MDR and Lido Buffet also available at $23.50 per guest.) Dining Incomparable, Six-Star service and cuisine. Can't be improved upon. Senior waiter, waiter, and Maitre d' .... all anxious to make your dining experience memorable. If there is some item you particularly enjoyed on the menu they will make sure that is available to you even if not on the menu. (I enjoyed Caviar every night!) Prego and Silk Road are equally impressive, and all you pay is $7.00 per person for gratuity...a deal! Special Touches Captain's Party and Crystal Society cocktails and dancing in the Starlight Club, and hosted cocktails by Cruise Critic (join the website to be included in their 'meet and mingle' event. Don't miss daily Tea .... especially the costumed Mozart Tea. All held in the lovely Palm Court with String Quartet playing. Best activity is seeing all the lovely ladies dressed up in their formals. Excursions We did the Peggy's Cove tour in Halifax. Very well organized. All the port tours offered were varied and interesting.... Entertainment / Programs The Production Shows were very well done ... enthusiastic, young, and beautiful casts! this is not your 'Cirque de Soliel' extravaganzas --- just well-done variety song and dance production numbers....even some vocal over dubbing and such, but very entertaining and well-programmed for the Crystal passenger. Overall Impression and brief thoughts there was only one child on board ... a charming daughter of a European couple ... the MDR staff treated her like a little Princess!! Crystal has delightful venues onboard for children, but I'd guess Disney might be more of a choice if you had active kids along. General passenger profile was straight, senior, married couples...each and every passenger we struck up conversations and friendships with were charming. I will add that as an older gay male couple we were made to feel extremely welcome...we openly danced together and socialized ...thank you Crystal for being so embracing. Disembarcation Smooth and well organized. We were on our bus ( transfer from ship to airport in Montreal) with luggage in about fifteen minutes. In Summary We feel that the professional attitude, welcoming and personalized service, cuisine, and ship amenities and accomodations make Crystal our favored choice in cruise lines. We have surely been CRYSTALIZED!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have just returned from our 15th Crystal cruise- this time to Norway. We started in Copenhagen and sailed all the way to the Arctic circle and then ended in Dover. To appreciate this itinerary, you must love Nature and days at sea. The ... Read More
We have just returned from our 15th Crystal cruise- this time to Norway. We started in Copenhagen and sailed all the way to the Arctic circle and then ended in Dover. To appreciate this itinerary, you must love Nature and days at sea. The magnificence of the fjords really defies description. I hope our pictures will capture some of the beauty of that area. Since it was often light 24 hours a day (no sunrise or sunset) we could enjoy the sights at all hours. One night at about 10 p.m. the captain took an unscheduled "detour" into an incredibly beautiful fjord and sailed there for about 2 hours. The ship's photographers went out in a little rubber dinghy and took wonderful pictures. We don't usually buy the pictures, but we definitely had to have one from this experience even though we were hanging over the railing of our balcony and taking pictures of our own. As always, Crystal was as close to perfect as a cruise line can get. I have read reviews saying that the food on Crystal could be better and I don't understand how it could be improved. The food in the main dining room is superb, the alternative restaurants, Prego and Silk Road are exceptional and even the other dining venues- The Grill, Tastes, the Lido- are wonderful. We had many days at sea, but they were so filled with activities that the only difficult part was choosing what to do. We always get a category B cabin which has a balcony. It is identical to the category A or AA. The only difference is that Category B is on deck 8, while A is deck 9 and AA is deck 10. The difference in price to go a deck higher is definitely not worth it. Although we have seen the production shows numerous times, we went to all of them because they are so well done. We also enjoyed all the other entertainers who were on board for this cruise only. It is surprising that so few people actually go the shows. They were often almost embarrassingly empty! We are very disappointed in the new "All-Inclusive" policy that will go into effect next March. Not one person we spoke to was happy that we will lose the As You Like It credit and in exchange get liquor and wine included throughout the ship 24/7. When I spoke to the Crystal Society Hostess, Jane, about this, she acknowledged that many people were expressing the same concerns that we have; but said that the other upscale lines are all including wine and liquor and that Crystal is trying to remain competitive. She also said that some guests, particularly non-Americans did not understand the As You Wish credit! Seriously, what is there to understand? The minute you board the ship you have $1000 per person credit to spend AS YOU WISH. You can spend it all on liquor or in the spa or the shops or on shore excursions. I would suggest offering wine with dinner along with some form of on-board credit or if Crystal really intends to be "All- Inclusive" they should include internet (which is very expensive) and shore excursions. Really, if you need that Bloody Mary first thing in the morning, you should be in rehab, not on a luxury ship!! I haven't even mentioned the service yet. There simply is no more attentive, sincere service anywhere. The staff knows what you want before you even know it yourself. After ordering the same omelet twice in the Lido for breakfast, the omelet maker starting making it for me every day as soon as he saw me walk in- no need to ask! In the dining room, my husband.s decaf latte was always served to him with dessert. Just 2 examples of similar service throughout the ship. This really was a perfect vacation. We will keep going on Crystal, but I hope they will reconsider and tweak this All-Inclusive policy very soon. 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
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
We signed up for our first cruise experience with Crystal with many recommendations from friends. We were not disappointed. Crystal Symphony's crew made us feel welcome from the get go. We were part of the "Mix & Mingle" ... Read More
We signed up for our first cruise experience with Crystal with many recommendations from friends. We were not disappointed. Crystal Symphony's crew made us feel welcome from the get go. We were part of the "Mix & Mingle" reception and met a few other Cruise Critic board members plus the cruise directors and hotel manager. We shared questions and got great support. We were especially pleased to have met Jane Salk, Crystal Society's hostess for this cruise. She made us feel part of the "Crystal family". We had delightful table mates, who will be our friends forever. The waitstaff was outstanding and it seemed "no problem" for our special requests that veered from the menu set for the day. Amazing! We did get great information ahead of time from Crystal Cruises and Cruise Critic which was an enormous help for us as first time cruisers. We would highly recommend that new cruisers seek out the info we did and just ask. Most folks gave us good info. We know we will be cruising with Crystal in the near future and it's just deciding as to where do were want to go. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our 1 cruise on a Crystal ship and we had heard only good things about Crystal Cruises, but there were also some negative items we did not appreciate at all. First to the good things: nice ship, good size (below 1'000 ... Read More
This was our 1 cruise on a Crystal ship and we had heard only good things about Crystal Cruises, but there were also some negative items we did not appreciate at all. First to the good things: nice ship, good size (below 1'000 PAX), never crowded, excellent food in all restaurants, excellent service and staff. Perfectly organised boarding in Valparaiso and de-boarding in Buenos Aires. Well organised excursions (but VERY expensive but that's the same on other cruise lines). Some of the excursions did not fulfill the expectations, but most of them did. Negative things: Small cabin (everything we needed was there, but we would have appreciated a bit more space in the room as well on the veranda), considering the price paid. Lido Restaurant openings: We would expect that this (morning self service restaurant) would also be open EVERY evening for a light (self-service or service) dinner (why not a steak restaurant) or a place for a 'sightseeing dinner' (nice large windows, ideal for a dinner in places such as the inside passages on the Chilean side, the Magellan Passage, the Beagle Street or the Cape Horn as well as during the evenings in Antarctica or between Puerto Madryn and B. Aires with sunset around 10 pm or regions with warm climate (but unfortunately the Lido was only open on 3 evenings); The other item which disturbed us a lot, was the frequent closure (or closed bar service) at the PALM COURT (the nicest place on board above the bridge with large windows to the front and the sides and a splendid view). We instantly fell in love with this place, but many times when we wanted to go for a drink before dinner (were on late seating), we were refused entry because of some Bridge club happenings or just because the Bar was not attended). Even at times when the Bar should have been open (as per the daily Reflection), the Bar was unattended). I reported this fact, got an excuse from the Hotel manager, but nothing changed. This is, for a deluxe cruise line as Crystal pretends to be, totally unacceptable, since the remaining 3 Bars (one next to the lobby and two very dark and noisy ones, were not at all our taste). What we did is get a bottle of wine and install ourselves on the terrace of the closed Lido Cafe or on our veranda (weather permitting). We were also quite unhappy, with the opening hours of the various food places (everything closed at 6pm !! except the for the dining room and the 2 restaurants). There was no place open to get some finger food after 6 pm, something we have not seen on any other cruise line. Final remark: Crystal Cruises are expensive, provide excellent food and service, have well trained staff. As 1st time cruisers we felt sometimes a bit neglected compared to the C.C. society members. We would have expected to be personally informed about the future Crystal cruise society benefits (there was plenty of time on a 19 day cruise for an information session on a sea day with all 1st timers). So yes we liked some of it, but it was not enough to convince us to book again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Our experience aboard the Crystal Serenity was marvelous. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The staff was outstanding. We were skeptical that they could be as legitimately warm, friendly and unhesitatingly helpful as ... Read More
Our experience aboard the Crystal Serenity was marvelous. Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The staff was outstanding. We were skeptical that they could be as legitimately warm, friendly and unhesitatingly helpful as previous reviewers had described, but it was true. We wanted to take some of them home. The Crystal orchestra was terrific -- and trumpeter Rafael worth taking the cruise to hear. The Broadway style productions were spectacular, some of the best we have seen anywhere. Some appealed a bit more than others to our tastes, but it would hard to fault anyone on professionalism. Special moments in some productions were quite moving. There was so much quality entertainment that it was difficult to take everything in. I thought it interesting that the two lecturers on the Panama Canal disagreed as to whether the USA should have retained control. The officers aboard were as charming as staff, and the captain was especially charming and helpful. We have frequented many top restaurants, none superior to every option aboard Serenity. This was the first ever cruise to offer "open dining by reservation," and that helped schedule times that worked well for us. Our every request was honored and seating for two (our general preference) was always available. With only 569 fellow passengers and a crew of 630, we felt anointed. In summary, this vessel is beautifully designed and maintained, it's staff well managed and lavishly helpful, and although it wasn't inexpensive it was worth every penny. Bravo. PS: We would have favored a stop other than the Cayman Islands. Huatulco, Mexico was delightful, and the dock an easy walk to everything. We would return here. We would have preferred at least one additional stop, preferably in Panama. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by ... Read More
Crystal is considered one of the best cruise lines. It is Japanese-owned, so I should not have been surprised that there were 370 (out of about 1000 passengers) Asians on the ship. The ship was full. The Serenity is a small ship by today's standards, but the size was just right for me. Crystal is a premium cruise line with premium rates. The cruise line gave me a fantastic deal on this cruise, and they also upgraded me to a deluxe verandah cabin. This was my first verandah cabin, and I didn't use it very much but it was nice to have. I liked the ship, though as one of the passengers said, it doesn't have a "WOW factor" like Royal Caribbean's beautiful ships. The dEcor is understated, conservative and a bit dated. My cabin was a nice size, but not large. It had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had granite counter tops, double sinks, and a tub/shower combination. There were plenty of towels and quality bed linens. The only negative was that the lighting in the cabin wasn't good for reading. The food was very good. The menu changed daily in the dining room and was not repeated during the cruise. Service in the dining room was slow, but there was seven of us and generally the larger the table the slower the service on any ship. The staff accommodated all special requests for food. The only negative about the dining room is that the noise level was very high. The Lido was frequently so crowded one had to search for a table, but this was likely due to the ship being at capacity. The staff did clear the tables quickly. The mushroom soup that was served in a small bread bowl with a bread cover in Prego, the specialty Italian restaurant, was memorable as was the Grand Marnier soufflE in the main dining room. Crystal is similar to Holland America but without the pesky photographers, lines at elevators, and annoying public announcements about bingo. It has better food, better service, quality entertainment, and offers a good lecture series. Many things are included for which there is a charge on other cruise lines such as soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees. There is also no additional charge for the specialty restaurants. I selected this cruise because of the itinerary and everything else was a bonus. This was an 11-night Grand Canary Classic Cruise beginning in Barcelona, Spain and ending in Lisbon, Portugal with stops at Malaga, Cadiz, Casablanca, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and Madeira. This was a great itinerary and we had good weather for mid-November. All my shore excursions were booked through the ship. The ship provides a free shuttle into town at many ports. The only problem with the itinerary was that since Crystal couldn't get me flights out the day the cruise ended I was in a forced overnight situation in Lisbon. I'd been in Lisbon before and at the end of a cruise I just want to go home, but it worked out better than expected. They put me up at the Tiara Park Atlantic Hotel which is next to The Ritz. The Tiara Park Atlantic is a very nice hotel. Crystal had everything organized at the hotel and for the airport transfer the next day. If there is one area that Crystal excels over any other cruise line it is in organization. Disembarkation and transfers to hotels and the airport were carefully planned out and handled smoothly. There were many passengers on this cruise who were well-traveled and interesting conversationalists. My dinner companions were exceptional and contributed greatly to the overall cruise experience. Many of the passengers were repeaters and several said they would never cruise on any other line. This was my 29th cruise and the first cruise with Crystal. I would cruise with them again if the itinerary was what I wanted and the price was right. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
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