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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ... Read More
HI don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to visit ME. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready? DAY ONE: GUERNSEY We take a walking tour of Guernsey led by Mary Poppins. The nicest, sweetest lady you’d ever meet who is stunningly handsome at about 75. One of the members of he group is late, let’s call her Helen Gurley Brown. However, two members of the group a husband and wife… let’s call them Donald Trump and Ivana… are not happy. ''"We are on time, why do we have to wait?” The woman whose expression has not changed since she arrived on the ship pipes in, ''"I’m not waiting.” And she takes off. OH. The expression…it’s like she’s constantly smelling poo. I get through the day. Tomorrow is a day at sea. I wonder what it will hold. That night on the ship they play THE IMPOSSIBLE, the story of a family that goes on vacation and is hit by a Tsunami. THIS is the movie they play on the first night out… I go down to the lobby and a violin trio is playing… I SWEAR TO YOU… ''"Closer to God are Thee” the tune they played as the Titanic went down. As a comic I see the comedy in the situation as a passenger I want to run to my room and leave my life vest on…forever. DAY TWO: AT SEA. I’ve always wanted to see whales. I just didn’t think I’d see them in bathing suits. There should be a law… if the flap of skin on your back folds over and touches your hip, you cannot wear a thong. The men are no better. I saw one guy walking down the hallway. He was so wide he was knocking paintings off the walls on both sides as he made his way to his cabin. Oh and day two is the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The last time I was in Temple Eisenhower was in office but I thought it would be fun to be in France and celebrate the New Year in another country. The service is at five p.m…. I go down there at five. We have crossed a time line and clocks were set a hour ahead one hour. It was actually six p.m. and I missed the service. DAY THREE: BORDEAUX, FRANCE So next morning I’m up at six a.m. and I’m ready to go to services. I walk into the room and one lady is sitting with a shawl. On the pulpit is a priest with vestments, behind him is a huge cross with Jesus. She says, ''"Come in… join us.” I say, ''"I haven’t been in Temple in about 40 years but I don’t think this is a Rosh Hashanah service.” The woman laughs so loud the priest stops spraying the incense. Ok, so I come back in half an hour and there are the Jews… all ten of them. I have found them in this sea of WASP wonderland-ness. We get to talking and suddenly I realize I have found the rarest of rare… REPUBLICAN JEWS… a living oxymoron. It’s like it’s when I found out fish eat their young… I was horrified. The service lasts exactly 12 minutes. Why? The Rabbi has to take a tour of the Bordeaux countryside. This is the Jewish Holiday I have wished for my entire life. So we board our bus to the wine country. We have a French guide… a woman with a voice just short of grinding silverware down the garbage disposal. She spoke in such a thick accent no one could understand her and when we asked her to repeat whatever she said she got furious. ''"Vat is Wong wit you peoples” I thought I was going to have to stay after the tour in detention. Six of us started a support group for survivors of the tour which we are now calling the Death March on Bataan. That night we went to the theater for the entertainment. Sit down… you’re gonna love this. REBECCA AND DONNOVAN. Picture Arnold Schwartnegger singing like Mario Lanza while his wife hung from silk ropes. That’s what this act was. I actually sat through twenty minutes of it until my ears began to bleed and I fled from the theater like The Von Trapp Family. DAY FOUR: AT SEA They have provided us with many interesting things to do on this ship. Interesting if you live in assisted living and have a motorized wheelchair. One of my favorites activities is SCARF TYING. I kid you not… learn how to tie a scarf…followed by NAPKIN FOLDING. (Readers: this is not a joke.) These are actual classes. They also have courses you could use like how to shoot video on an ipad, how to play the piano, how to play bridge… each one of THOSE classes was anemically empty. But SCARF TYING was a slam-dunk. Standing room only! Then there was the lecture series… who do they have as a guest speaker…some show biz celebrity… some sports hero… a political figure? NO! Clint Van Zant… an FBI Serial Murderer Profiler. STANDING ROOM ONLY? They were seated on the floor. These Republicans like a good mass murder. I went to the lecture in which I learned one of the killers liked to shove stones up the vaginal cavity of his victims. (beat) FOR THIS I PAID FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS INCLUDING AIR FARE???? I was once on a Princess Cruise and their entertainment was a ''"Hairiest man on the ship” contest… a Persian woman won. Ok so tonight is formal night on the ship or as I call it, The Geriatric Prom. Tonight I will see things no man is supposed to see… moo moos and tuxedos… walkers and sequins… ladies wearing things only teenagers should wear… and all to stand in a buffet line and eat things pushed through a pastry tube. I truly do love this experience… it’s a comedy writer’s dream come true. One cruise on the Atlantic and I will be writing about it for the next six years. DAY FIVE: Lisbon, Portugal I’ve figured out what taking a cruise is all about… it’s a series of meals interrupted by Europe. My God, I have never eaten so much in my life. They are feeding us like we’re Foie Gras Geese. They just keep shoving food down our throats… my liver is the size of Connecticut. Any moment I expect the chef to cut it out and force-feed it back to me. Lisbon, Portugal. Well, I can die happy now. I’ve seen the tomb of Vasco D’Gama. This is the highlight of Lisbon, that and protecting your wallets from pickpockets. I have never seen anything like it in my life, you’re standing alone waiting for the shuttle… suddenly, out of no where, 500 Gypsies surround you trying to sell you shawls. So the entire trip your holding your wallet, your camera, your keys, your passport, your gold incisor… anything you’re afraid they could get their hands on. OH! It appears Lisbon is the thimble capital of the world. Everywhere you go they are hocking thimbles… and coasters. Thimbles and coasters…coasters and thimbles… big ones, black ones, cork ones, blue ones, coasters with Lisbon on them, thimbles with Vasco D’ Gama on them… granite thimbles.( I guess they were from the stone age) It appears the Europeans think that all we Americans do is sew and cook. There is one funny note in Lisbon. There appears to be a large contingent of Lesbians on the ship, packs of them dressed in tool belts and wearing Berkinstocks.. It would give me great joy to say over and over… We’re in Lisbon with the Lesbians…. Lisbon with the Lesbians… Lisbon with the Lesbians. Has a nice ring, no? I must say I was disappointed in Lisbon. It’s dirty. It’s crowded. It’s covered in graffiti. It’s New York City with thimbles. I was picturing this quaint little village like it says in the brochure… lovely multi colored homes like a Disney movie. Instead I got the parking lot of an architectural salvage yard. The whole city is a big BEFORE photo. It’s a D.I.Y. project waiting to happen. One interesting side note about tour guides. How do you get them to shut up? They get you on that bus and don’t stop talking until the ship is pulling away from the dock. They tell you dates and names and countries and kings and queens and all you want to know is, ''"Where is the toilet?” About twenty minutes into the tour her voice begins to sound like nails on a blackboard. Everything she says you take exception to. ''"Oh really… Portugal has wonderful weather… really?” You can’t wait to get off the bus and flee for your life but she’s behind you with a bull horn.” DON’T FORGET TO STOP IN THE TRINKET SHOP BEFORE YOU LEAVE.” DAY SIX: SEVILLE, SPAIN-WATCH YOUR VALUABLES!!!! By this day you have gotten to know your traveling companions and they seem to fall into three categories: a. People you want be friends with. b. People you want to be friends with but just can’t. c. People you want to kill with the bottle opener provided in your room. Under ''"a” comes people your own age, people with the same political views and anyone with all their original body parts. Under ''"b” comes anyone with equipment. This includes oxygen bottles, canes, walkers, electric wheel chairs and a leg made out from composite materials. Under ''"c” comes Republicans. There are also sub categories. People with language barriers like Russians and people who stick to themselves, like Asians. These are all nice people but when ''"Isn’t Lisbon a dumpy city. ” takes 20 minutes, flash cards and a signal flare, a lasting friendship is out of the question. On today’s trip I found two things. 1. Seville is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in and 2. There are other Democrats on board. Today at lunch I sat with a lovely couple from Connecticut. Out of the blue she turns to me and says ''"Did you ever see a bigger bunch of in your life. Republicans…all of them” I heard angels sing. From that moment on the trip took on a new air. She told us of other Democrats on board. I suddenly knew what the French underground felt like during World War II. We had secret handshakes and secret meeting places. ''"We’re under the stairs in the main ball room” IT’S A WHOLE NEW TRIP!!!! DAY SEVEN: AT SEA Last night we were supposed to see The Rock of Gibraltar… we passed it at midnight so that’s one thing that won’t be crossed off my bucket list. DAY EIGHT: BARCEL…. Ohhhhhhhh who cares! I have seen more churches than the Pope. I am so touristed out I can’t begin to tell you. I’ve seen parks. I’ve seen monuments. I’ve seen the birthplace of people I never knew existed. This isn’t a vacation it’s credits for my Masters. The good news is I have finally found the fun people. All four of them. They are under 70, they are Democrats, they laugh… I’ve got four new friends. Worth the whole trip. DAY NINE; TO THE AIRPORT. My pick up is at ten… at ten thirty he still is not there. I have prepaid for this ride and suddenly the cruise ship who did everything but has thrown me to the wind. ''"Oh, you didn’t buy OUR transportation… pity.” So I grab a taxi to the airport with tip and with the money I have already paid to the other limo company this trip has cost me 16 thousand dollars. I could have flown around the world twice for what this cab ride has cost me. And here’s the bottom line. I DON’T CARE. I have had one of the best times I have ever had in my life. I came home with nothing. No key chains, no iPhones covers from Spain. No, snowballs with cathedrals in them. All I have is my memories… 486 photos and four new friends. Hey! Could have been a lot worse… and I didn’t even tell you about the Israeli on the plane home who kept pushing my seat forward because I was ''"Invading his space.” I wanted to club him with my thimble collection. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
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
As a lover of luxury cruises I was really hoping to add another cruise line like Crystal to my list of favourites. However, the reality is that,as hard as this line tries to market itself to the all inclusive cruiser, it does not match ... Read More
As a lover of luxury cruises I was really hoping to add another cruise line like Crystal to my list of favourites. However, the reality is that,as hard as this line tries to market itself to the all inclusive cruiser, it does not match this marketing with its delivery. Embarkation in Rome was easy and quick, but it was certainly the first time I have not been greeted with a welcome or a glass of champagne. The atrium of the Serenity was very tasteful and the public areas to begin with appeared in good order. We were shown straight to our veranda stateroom, which was again not furnished with any kind of welcome drinks etc. the room was also very small, and we had to take in in turns to get dressed in the evening as there was so little space. The bathroom was fairly well appointed, although we had to call housekeeping on several occasions to ask for amenities to be replenished, even after asking the stewardess. Upon putting our cases under the bed I found someone else's dirty slippers there,which led to further in depth scrutiny of our small cabin, which was by no means cleaned to the levels we have been used to on Seabourn or Silversea. I called at reception and met with the head of housekeeping who inspected the room and found it to be unsatisfactory on a number of levels, from dusty side units to a dirty carpet. This should not have been left to us to deal with!!! Our broken fridge never got repaired and we gave up reporting it! The pool area was pleasant but there were far too many sunbeds around and people were crammed in like sardines,there were a few attendants who we had to chase around on several occasions in order to get a drink, not good. The lido buffet was ok, but after seeing the same old salad after thre or four days, things go repetitive and very boring. On the whole lido was pretty uninspiring and there was never anyone around to get drinks orders in breakfast or lunch. The main dining room, was pretty awful in general, and on the two occasions we ate there they didnt seem to know how not to cremate any meat or fish they cooked, so we didn't bother. The silk road and Prego were the only decent dining venues on board, food here was outstanding and served with finesse. Service wise, not what we are used to and no one seemed happy to serve, things were all too much for the majority of crystals staff, I came to the conclusion that the all inclusive set up had put many noses out of joint and they were all sulking at the lack of tips they were no longer getting. Drinks service was pretty non existent, and I have never overheard so many saying this was a self service ship. Other service or staff encountered,especially officers, who we are used to speaking to on Seabourn, would not speak and could only ethier be found at the ice cream parlour or in large groups drinking cocktails in the bars, not mixing with clientelle I add. This happened on sooo many occasions, we felt it was wholly inappropriate considering recent cruising disasters. Officers would also take up three of four tables in speciality restaurants, which was unfair as fellow cruisers couldn't get into these venues! Other staff we're unnecessarilly rude to passengers and we witnessed several really bad episodes with fellow passengers. O ne particular day, a passenger beside me in the lift could not get it to go to the lido level, so got out the lift and asked politely if the lift could be fixed, as it had been not working properly for a few days. Member of staff replied, well why don't you just walk there!! A typical crystal reply,far from 6 star!! Afternoon tea, especially the Mozart tea, was revered by Crystal, so we were looking forward to attending, at 3.30. We arrived, at 3.27 and I asked the staff member if I could have some tea and a scone, there was no one else in the room and he said no, we are not open until 3.30! Everything was laid out and he was stood waiting to serve, it was just inappropriate use of language every step of the way,with a lot of the crew. Just so pedantic, no need for it. Oh,and the scones were appalling, I love afternoon tea and didn't bother even going again,it was so poor. And finally, the smoking, oh dear, the nice bars were unusable in the evenings,as the smoke was so overpowering, I know this is changing, but it is at far too overdue. As you can probably tell, we were really disappointed with Crystal and we cannot understand why it receives all of the accolades it does. Fellow well travelled cruisers rated most lines including, Seabourn,Silversea and Oceania above crystal, and we all felt very let down by the line. Those who really liked it seemed to have tried nothing else or had come from Carnival, so it would obviously be an improvement! I am glad we tried Crystal, because we can now comment on it, but I really think they are going to struggle to keep up with the Genuine six star lines, as service and personality are lacking in bucket loads. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
The cabin was as advertised and as expected. The bedding was luxurious. The bathroom was spacious by ship standards. The food was good, not great, which was disappointing, since we expected great. The cheese selection was outstanding. The ... Read More
The cabin was as advertised and as expected. The bedding was luxurious. The bathroom was spacious by ship standards. The food was good, not great, which was disappointing, since we expected great. The cheese selection was outstanding. The "included" red wines were not good; the included white wines were acceptable, but no better; there were a couple of sparkling wines that were very good, and one very good champagne---but they ran out of the latter before the cruise ended and didn't replenish, although we were in France at the time. (And the sommeliers didn't want you to order it anyway. They were, on the whole, not helpful. They pushed the wines which cost extra, and those wines were expensive.) If you were lucky and got a good maitre d', he steered you towards the better-prepared food choices. The specialty restaurants were good if you knew what to order (one night the Italian restaurant had linguini made with fresh clams from that day's port, and it was outstanding.)Room service was good.The shore excursions were outrageously overpriced. A $635 Grand Prix ticket (plus a mediocre boxed lunch, ear phones, a thin seat cushion and a guide per 20 people to walk you from the ship to the grandstand) cost $829. I agree that a mark-up is appropriate, but 30% is too much. We booked the cruise at the last minute, so had no choice but to purchase from Crystal. We were told that other shore excursions also had astronomical mark-ups.Crystal's representatives told us that wi-fi was free; it was not, which was very disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
This was our fifth Crystal Cruise and possibly our last. In my eyes, it was the classes and fabulous, educational lectures during sea days during our prior Crystal Cruises which distinguished Crystal from other luxery & non-luxury ... Read More
This was our fifth Crystal Cruise and possibly our last. In my eyes, it was the classes and fabulous, educational lectures during sea days during our prior Crystal Cruises which distinguished Crystal from other luxery & non-luxury lines. With port days each day of our cruise, there were no lectures. We found the attention of the crew much worse than it had been in the past. There were no beautifully presented luncheon buffets or the final buffet extravaganza that was too beautiful to touch. Our housekeeper didn't refill our refrigerator with items that had been used. She left empty, used glasses and plates so that we had to call Housekeeping to remove them. We needed to flag down waiters to refill our drinks during breakfast. This isn't acceptable on a luxury cruise. Also, they bill the cruise as providing top shelf liquor however, the wines were only mediocre. We keep kosher and as always, we found the food extraordinary. We even asked our head waiter to bring out enough of our baby lamb chops to share with the other diners at our table and they devoured them and rated them an A+! However, my intent when I go on a cruise is to experience the cruise experience which can only be done shipboard. As there is nothing happening on ship when in port, that defeats my purpose. Will I go on Number 6? I don't know. So far I haven't found any itineraries that satisfy my requirement for sufficient sea days. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We so much liked the Fall 2012 T/A on Serenity that we didn't need much convincing to book this voyage as well. In both cases the chief attraction for Nancy was the ballroom dancing theme, with the opportunity to take private dance ... Read More
We so much liked the Fall 2012 T/A on Serenity that we didn't need much convincing to book this voyage as well. In both cases the chief attraction for Nancy was the ballroom dancing theme, with the opportunity to take private dance lessons from the on board professionals. As for me, I just like to be at sea. This voyage was more heavily booked than the previous one by about 15%. Wile the differences were perhaps not striking, this did show up in the quality of the service. While we could not recall a single complaint in the Fall, this time around there were three or four occasions on which we we failed to be noticed when we wanted to place an order in the bars and I had to go in search of a server. I understand this was a function of overcrowding of the facility for one reason or another and not a reflection on the extraordinary willingness of the staff to please, but it should be mentioned that, even on Crystal, at peak occupancy, there are glitches. Nancy was slightly disappointed, particularly as we had persuaded her mother and another lady to join us on the cruise, that this time the ladies were not escorted into the dining room at dinner by a member of the staff, certainly a courtly touch, but again, the passenger to crew ratio did not allow this. To make up for this however, the willingness of the Maitre d'Hotel to find us a good table at the early sitting each evening although, by the time we booked, this was theoretically sold out, went well beyond the call of duty. I like to eat well, and I certainly was not disappointed in this expectation. The quality of the food as well as the preparation in both the main dining room and in the Lido was absolutely first rate, I truly can't think of a single course in all of our meals there about which I could voice a complaint. I wish I could be equally enthusiastic about the specialty restaurants but, alas, this is not the case. Silk Road, while the food was uniformly superb, was distinguished by service of veritably glacial slowness, so that Nancy's Mom absolutely refused to return there and we cancelled our reservation for a second dinner in that venue. Prego, while once more producing flawless first and last courses, once again fell flat on its face with the main course. Having disliked their Osso Bucco in the Fall, I went for the saddle of lamb this time. One would think this would be all but impossible to ruin, but the chef at Prego managed the feat, the lamb was all but drowned in garlic. Garlic is a very good thing but, please, in measure! I realize that the Crystal Can Do No Wrong set will jump all over me for daring to make this criticism, but I will make it anyway. Also, although I'm not a great fan of after dinner entertainment, Nancy is and we thought it a pity that the shows were identical with the ones we had seen in the Fall. So much for quibbles. On a much more positive note Nancy was absolutely delighted with the quality of the dance instruction and with the expertise and grace of Rudy, Natalie and Beverly. The evident dedication and solicitousness with which the staff at the Lido cared for Nancy's mom, who had a tendency to get lost, was absolutely touching. Embarkation, in spite of warnings that the Miami Port Authority would throw up roadblocks, proceeded flawlessly, and when we informed the desk that we had a relatively early flight from Lisbon to Madrid, we were gotten off the ship in record time. If it wasn't the perfect cruise, it surely came close, and that's all that a reasonable man can ask. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Although still very good, this cruise disappointed us from the perspective of service that is Crystal's trademark. The new all-inclusive program has resulted in a profound lack of enthusiasm among the staff. Now that everyone receives ... Read More
Although still very good, this cruise disappointed us from the perspective of service that is Crystal's trademark. The new all-inclusive program has resulted in a profound lack of enthusiasm among the staff. Now that everyone receives the same gratuity regardless of service rendered, the extra attention and care that spoiled passengers in the past has fallen away. For example, our cabin stewardess was adequate but there was no automatic replenishment of bath supplies when they got low. We had to ask for more shampoo, soap and for the mini fridge to be refilled. Also, no more Aveda products except for the body lotion :( The girls were very polite and reserved, but nothing one would not encounter on another ship. DINING: The food is still fabulous. Everything on board was delicious! I sent only one thing back and it was not their fault. Mario the Maitre d' helped us after the first night when we requested to have our table moved. Our waitress was slow yet thorough,but again,nothing exceptional. Every night I requested a glass of ice for my wine. On past Crystal cruises, I only had to ask once and after that, it was brought to me automatically. Thanks to Christian,the sommelier,who on the final two nights,remembered and brought it to me. To us, the all inclusive alcohol is not attractive since we don't drink that much, however, many found it so. Also, I noticed a lot of wasted drinks around as people might try something for the first time, not like it and put it down. In my humble opinion, mixing alcohol and a passenger roster that's mostly senior is risky.ENTERTAINMENT:The Crystal singers and dancers were good,and the costumes were beautiful. The Galaxy Theater is small enough to be intimate. They did the usual salutes to Hollywood & Broadway. The very best was THE ROCKET MAN show with Jonathan Kane. He was unbelievably good and received a standing ovation. The Casino kept busy after the show and the roulette wheel was good to me!LOL A TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT:I'm going to keep this short,but an unforeseen fiasco arose when we innocently tried to exchange a CRYSTAL SERENITY shirt purchased on last year's transatlantic cruise.Rather than give it away,I recommended that we bring it back because Crystal is SO service oriented. I was positive they would gladly accomodate us. BIG MISTAKE!!!Enter the senior retail manager who places her rulebook before customer satisfaction. SHE: "NO EXCHANGE! Shirt was purchased over a years ago(by 5 days). NO EXCHANGE! Shirt is covered with food. NO EXCHANGE!You definately wore this more than once in spite of what you tell me.NO COMPROMISES!I do not have that decisionmaking ability." We saw a pattern, so we backed off. In spite of her best efforts,she did not spoil our good time, I was totally caught off guard though because I firmly believed that Crystal prided itself in customer satisfaction at any price. Had I known that we would meet with such resistance, I would not have even bothered packing the stupid shirt :( MAMA LEE:Crystal Serenity's best asset and overall goodwill ambassador. She's a wonderful little lady and semi-celebrity on the ship. Everyone who meets her, loves her. I did, too. Crystal had better treat her right because if Mama's not happy, NOBODY's happy. Also, Crystal's Japanese customer rep, Urara, is absolutely adorable and very, very helpful. I HATE to criticize Crystal because past cruises have made up some of the best memories in my life. I still have a soft spot in my heart for them but I cannot in good conscious, recommend them unconditionally like I once did. Other cruiselines are chasing Crystal by training their staffs better and they are catching up. In many instances, we received the same level of service on other ships that we did this time on Crystal. Unfortunately, the price is no longer a direct reflection of the value. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Let me preface my post by saying we had a WONDERFUL time on this cruise! Great friends, new friends, excellent food, service, and entertainment! I am still going through Crystal withdrawals 5 days later. Embarkation: The ship was ... Read More
Let me preface my post by saying we had a WONDERFUL time on this cruise! Great friends, new friends, excellent food, service, and entertainment! I am still going through Crystal withdrawals 5 days later. Embarkation: The ship was full, but the only time we felt that was on embarkation day. We boarded at about 1:30. There was about a 10 minute wait in the terminal until our number was called, and then we waited on line outside the casino for about 15 minutes until we were rapidly checked in by a casino employee (that knew us from Symphony). Since we missed lunch in the MDR, we went up to Lido Deck, grabbed a table and called our friends already on board. DH volunteered to get us some lunch from the Trident, and waited on line over 30 minutes to be served. There was a very long line, and only so many Trident employees. Our friends joined me at the table and waited until DH arrived with our lunch. Our cabin was ready before 3 pm, and we went down to unpack. Our cabin: We used our 10th cruise upgrade that we had banked for several years and paid for a C and were upgraded to an A, 9080. It was a great midship location. The cabin is a bit larger than those on Symphony, with larger drawers for storage. Great new reading light! Everything else appeared to be about the same, and the layout was essentially the same. The veranda may be slightly larger than on Symphony. Our stewardess, Sonia, was pleasant and extremely efficient. She did an excellent job! Our only complaint about the cabin, and our only major complaint about the ship, is the bed. It is like sleeping on a bag of cement, and we like a firm mattress. I know that Crystal replaces the mattresses frequently, but it may be time to switch mattress manufacturers. Please, someone from Crystal should sail Oceania and try their wonderful beds. Even Holland America has more comfortable beds than the ones on Crystal. IMO, the beds are the only thing that is not 6 star on Crystal! Service: We received excellent service in every venue! Because this was our first time on Serenity, there was not the immediate familiarity with crew we knew from Symphony, but within two days, they knew our names and we felt at home. Special mention goes to Liezl, the Librarian and Urara, the wonderful Activity Hostess, who are the quintessential representatives for Crystal! Our waitstaff Zoltan and Ana were great, as was our sommelier, Jiri and our Headwaiter, Peter. Thank you to Ziggy and Albert in Silk Road who took wonderful care of us and Antonio and Mario in Prego. Benjamin from Lido is a star, and thanks to Darko and Walson from Tastes. There was no decrease in service from the switch to All Inclusive, it was as superb as it always is on a Crystal ship! Food: Better than ever!! We tried every dining venue except room service and felt the food and service was exemplary in each. I am still longing for the yellowtail tartare in Silk Road! I think it is my favorite dish on the ship. I think the variety and amount of food in the Bistro was more than I have seen before. It is such a popular meeting place, thank you Crystal! We were at the Ship Doctor's table in the MDR and had a very congenial tablemates. There were a red and a white wine offered nightly with dinner, but additional options were also available on request. We were satisfied with the spirits available in the lounges, at no time did we feel we were getting "second best," in terms of our personal requests. Entertainment: Rave reviews for the shows Rocketman and Across the Pond! It is difficult to believe that the performers on Broadway could be anymore talented than the singers and dancers on Crystal. The costumes deserve special mention! Our lecturers: Dr. Anthony Aveni, who was the destination lecturer, was very entertaining, as was Joan Salge Blake, who spoke on nutrition with humor and energy. Prof. Louis Rene Beres was our other lecturer, who spoke on the Middle East and threat of nuclear war, was obviously very bright and well-informed, but his topics were so grim, perhaps too grim for a vacation. Thomas Daniels, the Cove Pianist and Marcie Castro, the Avenue Saloon Pianists were both terrific! Unfortunately, the smoking in The Cove made it difficult to sit and enjoy Thomas for very long. Thank you, Crystal, for making the Avenue smoke-free! It made such a difference! Marcie had a full house every night and really got everyone rocking! Special mention to Rick Spath, the Cruise Director, who is so upbeat, friendly, personable and accessible! It was such fun to visit with our dear friend from Symphony, Scott Mitchell, who is the Asst. Cruise Director on Serenity. We had a great Trivia team and came in 2nd twice and won the last game after 3 tie breaker questions. Ports: Swimming with the dolphins in Tortola was amazing! Although we have done it before in Cabo, it is still such an incredible feeling to be up close and personal with those bright creatures. We had a great assortment of islands on this cruise and beautiful weather! About Serenity: All of our cruises on Crystal have been on Harmony (I still miss her) and Symphony. So this was our first time on Serenity except for visiting friends last year for the day in Miami. It is like Symphony, except different! By that I mean, in addition to being larger, many things look similar, but are in different spots on the ship, so I would find myself leaving Bistro and expecting to cross the Deck 6 to the library, only to remember that it is on 7, etc. It is larger over-all, and each ship has some specific stars among its public rooms. The ship is sparkling clean and well maintained. The norovirus which had been present on the previous cruise was contained and almost non-existent on our cruise due to the vigilance of Crystal staff and crew. We also noticed an outside contractor sanitation crew on board, too. Crystal did an outstanding job insuring the presence of the virus did not linger on the ship. Again, the only sign of a full ship was on embarkation day on the Lido deck. Even on sea days, plenty of seating was available around the pool. Disembarkation was smooth, we simply walked off the ship at our assigned time and found our luggage and a porter. We had a great time, ate too much, stayed up too late with friends, laughed and talked and got to know so many new people and enjoyed the special old friends on board and new friends. It was wonderful! Thank you, Crystal, from the staff in Los Angeles to the crew, staff and officers on board, we always leave wanting to stay longer. You make our vacations so memorable and enjoyable! We can't wait to come home again! p.s. We appreciate the ship's carpenter who did a super job replacing the handle on one suitcase that came off during delivery. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
For Christmas 2012, I decided to return to Crystal after a 4-year break to try other lines. I had always said that nothing else at sea compares to Crystal. But this cruise was a disappointment. Too much smoking, no one to greet us on ... Read More
For Christmas 2012, I decided to return to Crystal after a 4-year break to try other lines. I had always said that nothing else at sea compares to Crystal. But this cruise was a disappointment. Too much smoking, no one to greet us on embarkation day, unmotivated staff. It really seems as if the once-great Crystal has fallen a few notches. This wasn't a bad cruise. The food was fabulous and we had a great time enjoying the sea day activities. But for the premium fares we paid, and based on prior experience with the line, we expected more. I had read that the 10-year old Serenity had been updated. Yes, our Deck 9 Verandah Room was lovely. But everything else on the ship still seemed dated and boring, with enough wicker to fill grandma's summer home. We did love the storage space in our room and the double sinks in the bathroom. And the verandah was a good size to accommodate us, two chairs and a table. Our room stewardess was just so-so. Everything we ate on the ship was amazing. There wasn't one misstep in the 14 days we were onboard. Even the desserts, usually blah on most cruises, were fabulous. Food was always available whether through the main dining venues, the Bistro, or servers bringing around trays of hors d'oeuvres late at night. We really enjoyed both Prego and Silk Road for alternative dining and also enjoyed the big Christmas day buffet. Service was where Crystal really messed up this time. Once we embarked, there were no stewards to greet us or welcome us onboard. Even on Celebrity, which is roughly half the price, employees are swarming you on embarkation day offering mimosas and directions. When we sailed on Crystal before, the dining room servers would always remember our names, drink preferences, etc. This time, they asked us every night what we wanted to drink, eventhough we ordered the same thing everyday. Dining room service was slow. And most of the crew didn't seem particularly happy to be there. It was hard to get attention from servers in the Lido, as they were busy cuddling up to all of the guests who cruise several times a year. Those of us who cruise occasionally, were left waiting for someone to come take an order for a soda. And on the first day of the cruise, as we were taking a tour of the ship, the Maitre'D blocked us from entering Prego to have a look, saying that we didn't have an appointment to speak with someone. We explained that we didn't need to speak with anyone has we had pre-booked a dining time - we just wanted to see what the room looked like. It was the most awkward cruise we had ever been on. Also, Crystal really needs to step into the current trends, and eliminate smoking from their ships. Most of the Deck 6, the casino and the Crystal Cove were filled with smoke and we stayed away from those locations. The whole ship feels musty with old smoke. Daily entertainment was fine, filled with the usual Bingo, trivia and enrichment programs. Dr. Ruth Westheimer was the guest speaker, and I heard great things about her 2 lectures. The shows in the Galaxy Theater were fine. We had seen a few of them before - especially the "Million Dollar Musicals" production that they refuse to retire (we first saw it in 1996). There was one show which completely stood out - "Rocket Man" was an Elton John tribute show with amazing singing and a great Elton John impersonator. It's not as cheesy as it sounds. It was one of the best shows I have seen on any cruise ship ever. We sailed roundtrip out Miami to the Eastern Caribbean. The ports weren't anything remarkable, but it was nice to have a relaxing warm weather cruise. Our cruise had a maiden port call at Ponce, Puerto Rico. There was nothing there. The cruise even only offered one excursion to a museum. Based on feedback from other guests, I doubt Crystal will stop there again. I would not completely write Crystal off after this. But it would be hard to win back my loyalty unless they offer a fabulous itinerary when I need to cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. ... Read More
Overall 9/10 The entire ship is clinically clean. Service is attentive pleasant and sharp. Facilities are first class. A happy and rewarding experience we would recommend highly to anyone. Cabins are tiny, and need getting used to. Its not however 6* plus as Crystal and other probably paid reports state. Commonly high end market regular cruisers quote Seabourns product to set the standard for comparison. Seabourn's small ships are superior in food quality, choice, service and presentation. Also cabins are larger. Food in dining rooms is excellent, adequately varied and very good quality. Nobu is excellent in both food quality & presentation, although late dining is a rushed experience always reminiscent of an early closing restaurant in a major city, where waiters want to rush off home. An ill placed experience on a cruise ship. Prego Italian is sadly well below the general standard of the ship. The menu, presentation and taste can be found in most average mid market city restaurants, and certainly could be bettered by thousands of them. The decor is massively superior to the food offering. Menu is boring, poorly constructed. Ingredient quality is low. Specifically :- steak is tough and tasteless, Pasta is passable. Gnocchi a pitiable excuse. The Rissotto is the worst Ive ever tasted, made from the wrong type of rice, undercooked and tasteless. The Osso Buco was veal lacking in both taste and flavor. Tagliatale was good, as was the simple but notably farmed sea bass. 8 diners ate there twice and sent most food back uneaten. The management don't care, for other pax informed us its unchanged for at least a year. The service however is fantastic. Room service is appallingly slow, being badly managed for Crystal uniquely don't have dedicated staff, instead they use the already occupied room stewards who have to drop their prime cleaning task to obtain it from the galley and serve. Ridiculously unworkable. Entertainment is good, pianists, quartet all except the main show which is severely lacking in polish resembling a high school effort. The waiters although very efficient, rather obviously seem to operate on the previous tip culture, so much so that everyone around were discussing how much to pay them towards the end of the cruise, which sadly created a tense finale. The burning question is " Would we choose Crystal again?" The answer is "Most certainly yes and we look forward to cruising with them again soon". Theres so much excellent food and entertainment, lectures, and assorted lessons available all over the ship, its simply a matter of ignoring the Prego & main show embarrassments. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the ... Read More
Since I began cruising in the late 90's I have heard and read things about Crystal Cruises which made me doubt it would ever be a cruise line I would like. The usual gist of the comments were "why pay more when it is nearly the same as what you get on [fill in the blank]?" And too, there was always some allusion to the ratio of older passengers. In order to keep my comments brief, I will say only that none of this is true. What IS true in my mind is that Crystal Cruises is tailor made for the discerning traveler. I will leave the specific comparisons of food, entertainment and quality of service for others to comment on. They are all good to great, but they are not what sets Crystal apart in my mind. Let me explain: Cruising is about leaving cares and troubles behind for a time and enjoying life. This begins with embarkation. If you have to enter a terminal, figure out WHAT LINE YOU BELONG IN, or figure out which line is moving the fastest, then you are NOT on Crystal. My first Crystal experience taught me that one merely needs to walk onto the ship and pick up the room key. VOILA! If you are reminded everyday what benefits you get based on how many times you have cruised, you are not on Crystal. As first time cruisers we were given $100 shipboard credit each and an additional $200 each as part of our booking. Everyone I talked to received credit just for booking which one that gets to decide on how to use, e.g., internet, spa, stores, excursions, private dance instruction. This gets to the heart of what impressed me the most about Crystal. At no point did I detect or recognize the difference in passengers. Officers did not parade into the dining room with privileged guests, suite passengers received no special dining room or specialty restaurant booking privileges, there was no mention anywhere that if you are such and such you get such and such. No private parties for "special" groups. We did have a cruise critic party, but anyone could attend. If the cruise line does this sort of thing, it is discreet and that is really my point. They make it their business to treat everyone on board as a first class passenger. No difference is the difference! This is a brilliant business strategy in my way of thinking. The other key business strategy that puts Crystal at the very top is the public space to passenger ratio. Read: no crowds anywhere!!! No buffet lines, no chair hogs because there are so many wonderful choices, lots of dance floor. A WIDE WRAP AROUND PROMENADE for those who love to walk or run. Space, space, space. Another small example that speaks volumes: I learned Crystal has guest laundry services. HURRAY! I followed a sign, found it, and discovered, wow, no charge to use the machines. But alas, no machine for laundry soap. I thought, ah ha, this is where they will get you, they will charge $10 for soap! So I checked the stores and then asked at the desk with a rather wry look on my face. She looked at me quizzically and said, "madam, you simply push the button when you need soap". You mean bing, bang, boom, it is free? She laughed at me. Then, to top it off, I learned there is not one guest laundry, no, there is one ON EVERY FLOOR! A big example of how Crystal is out-thinking other cruise lines is their strategy of transatlantic big band dance cruises. If you are a dance lover, there is no better ship venue. The professional instructors (4) gave multiple group lessons every sea day, private instruction and they performed at various times with each other, crew and passengers. I count myself as a dance instruction snob and they outclassed the competition on land and sea by a mile. Seven dance ambassadors were onboard and were tireless in dancing with the ladies on-board. This has to be the best kept secret in the cruising industry but I think it is just starting to take off so if you are interested, act fast and book! Finally, let me say a word about the passengers. The first week I kept asking myself, "is it the passengers aboard who make this a more enjoyable experience, or is it the way Crystal does business that makes every happier and therefore the experience more enjoyable?" I have concluded that it must be both.On Crystal, you will see smiling octogenarians showing the middle aged folks how to have fun. Common etiquette is evident everywhere. If you are on a ship with whiners, complainers, "me too" or "me first" needy type folks, you are not on Crystal! Before I conclude, I will point out two areas that are good but could be better. The spa. It is disconnected in culture from the rest of the ship. To be brief, they should be more inviting and offer more amenities in the locker room, especially at those prices. Second, the regular production stage performers (not the professional ballroom instructors onboard) are good, not great. I might point to Azamara as a cruise line that excels in maximizing the potential of a small dance/vocal performer group. Crystal cruises are a class act all the way. The discerning cruiser will see it at every turn and it will be experienced as a warmth that melts ones cares away. The ships are large enough to provide a smooth ocean experience, but small enough to make friends and find your way around. It is, after all, the perfect all around luxury cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
I recently returned from a cruise on the Crystal Serenity. I have previously done 7 cruises, 5 Royal Caribbean, 1 Holland America and 1 Azamara. I couldn't believe I was actually going on a Crystal cruise and was so looking forward ... Read More
I recently returned from a cruise on the Crystal Serenity. I have previously done 7 cruises, 5 Royal Caribbean, 1 Holland America and 1 Azamara. I couldn't believe I was actually going on a Crystal cruise and was so looking forward to it. Every time you read about Crystal, reviews are generally excellent and the line themselves often quote how many awards they have won -- would the cruise live up to my high expectations? BOARDING -- I didn't realise it but I was joining a cruise in progress. I had booked 8 nights but the original cruise had started in Lisbon and was for 11 nights. I had previously read where you are offered Champagne on arrival and what a wonderful experience it is. I can say that the welcome onboard was lukewarm and a little half-hearted. No Champagne offered and felt like I was just being processed. A nice man led me to my stateroom and shortly afterwards the maid appeared and went through a few things. I had a veranda and was very happy with it. FOOD - I then went for lunch and that is when I started to see the Crystal difference. The Lido buffet was superb which such a choice. I casually asked if honey mustard dressing was available and it wasn't, but to my surprise they immediately made some for me, very impressed. I went to the Lido on several occasions and only once was it packed and that was on a sea day. The other times there was no problem getting a table. One strange thing is the opening hours for lunch, 12.00 -- 13.30. Such a short time and I thought lunch would have been served until 14.30. The food was excellent and I did enjoy the Crystal dining room, everything cooked to perfection. On one occasion the food wasn't hot but they rectified that. The menu was varied including on different nights, venison, pheasant, filet mignon etc, caviar was also available. I am not a dessert person but it all looked very good and beautifully presented. Branislav, Carmelo, Cristian and the sommelier always looked after us. I also ate in Tastes for a late breakfast and that was good as was the Trident Grill for a burger or hot dog etc. The bistro is highly recommended for sandwiches and cakes. I tried Silk Road and had the fortune to go with a Chinese American couple who talked me through the menu. There had been lots of hype about this restaurant and the problem is that rarely can places live up to the hype. It was very good but not what I was expecting i.e. meal of my life! I enjoyed the rock shrimp and the lobster spring roll but was a little disappointed in the Wagyu Beef -- maybe that is just my taste. Nothing was "to die for" as so many seem to say. Please don't misunderstand as I am not criticising, I really enjoyed it but it wasn't as good as I had been led to believe. I also went to Prego. The food here was superb and beautifully presented. I wished I had gone back there again. The service in Prego was perhaps the best I have ever received with a special mention to the Maitre and head waiter, both from Portugal and Jerrit -- a wonderful waiter. ENTERTAINMENT -- Personally I do not go on a cruise for the entertainment but I did go along to a couple of shows. On the first night the band did a Glenn Miller set which was superb and packed with people dancing and having a great time, Not sure why they didn't do it again. The dance classes were great and well attended, very entertaining teachers. There was dancing each evening and there were 4 male hosts to dance with unaccompanied ladies, brilliant. There were 2 sessions of bingo which were good fun and other activities to keep one occupied, all very well arranged. This is where people may disagree with me. I do not think having a dance troupe is warranted on a line like Crystal. The stage is too small and although I am sure they are well trained, at times it looked like they were a group of friends having a laugh putting on a show! I think a few solo singers and some jazz would be better, however that is just my opinion. I would not want to offend anyone and I thought Rick, the cruise director was wonderful, very approachable and friendly as was his assistant Shane. OTHER PASSENGERS -- I had been a little nervous as I thought everyone would be stuffy but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Everyone was so approachable and friendly and I met some wonderful people. This will sound snobbish but most passengers were of a certain class and you didn't have to worry about people turning up in track suits or football shirts. There was a woman on board from Glasgow who was the only one who stood out. I think she booked the wrong cruise! DRESS CODE -- Everyone was smartly dressed but not OTT. It was lovely to have a formal night and dress in a tux, other nights were mainly smart casual. ALL INCLUSIVE DRINKS -- This is NOT your typical all inclusive where people are queuing up to get their money's worth. All drinks were available including Hendricks Gin, Belvedere and Grey Goose Vodka etc. Champagne also freely available, not the best but we can't have everything! BARS -- My favourites were the Crystal Cove pre dinner and sometimes after dinner for a quiet drink. Mark, Jess and company always made you feel welcome. The Avenue Bar where people could have a drink and chat, and dance if they wished, with great service provided by Ana and Nicole and the others. Pulse disco was great and I must mention Paolo who was just perfect, an excellent barman who knew exactly how to run things, ably assisted by Daniela. CASINO -- Usual slots and games. The female cashier could be very brusque and I always felt as if she was telling me off! SHOPS -- A small selection with very pleasant staff always willing to help. Do not expect duty free spirits and tobacco but upmarket clothes shops and some perfumes. There was also a convenience type place which was handy to have for forgotten essentials. GYM -- Very modern and up to date and friendly staff. LIBRARY -- Very well stocked and all in order, the best I have seen at sea. INTERNET -- Same as all other lines but we were all given 20 minutes free use on the last day to print off boarding cards. I thought this was a nice gesture. LAUNDRY -- There are several self service laundrettes on the Serenity. Washers, dryers, ironing board etc. Very good and more ships should have them. SMOKING -- No problem at all. Apparently one can smoke in the cabins but you would never know it as there was no smell of smoke. Limited area in some bars which was fine. DISEMBARKING -- Could not have been easier. Walked off the ship, and no queues at all. Not much of a farewell but business is business. SERVICE -- EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!! Staff was there whenever you needed them and most were very professional. Hotel officers could be seen walking around the ship and would always say hello. CRITISISMS -- Not much to criticise but if Crystal are going to add on "b" cruises they must make more of an effort. There were no welcome parties, single gatherings etc. The only party I went to was the Farewell party which strangely was held on the 5th night of the cruise. It didn't make much difference to me as it was so easy to meet people anyway but may be something to think about. Would I cruise with Crystal again -- YES! It may be expensive but you get what you pay for and I would rather have 1 cruise with Crystal than 2 with a different line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
I just returned from my first Crystal Cruise and am in what I'm calling the 'Crystal haze' --a surreal place where one is treated like royalty, wined and dined and pampered beyond belief. I booked my Crystal cruise expecting ... Read More
I just returned from my first Crystal Cruise and am in what I'm calling the 'Crystal haze' --a surreal place where one is treated like royalty, wined and dined and pampered beyond belief. I booked my Crystal cruise expecting to receive the level of excellence they tout, but had no idea that they would meet and exceed me expectations in all categories. We sailed the Serenity on the Roman Empire Exploration from Istanbul to Barcelona. Ours was a port-intensive voyage, calling in many wonderful ports. And with three days at-sea, there was time to relax and enjoy the ship's offerings as well. My stateroom (PH) lacked nothing. With a walk-in closet complete with plenty of drawers, jacuzzi tub and glass shower, vanity, writing desk, sofa/table, ample balcony and VERY comfy queen bed, I enjoyed the time spent there. My friendly, professional and most anxious -to -please butler provided pressing/shoe shine services and brought canapes and champagne nightly at my request. Breakfast on my balcony was delivered in minutes after requesting...and always with a smile and kind word or two. It is obvious that Crystal selects their crew because of their love of people. And it is the crew and their stellar service that separates Crystal from all other cruise lines. Our stewardesses, waiters, servers, spa employees, concierge and front desk staff and even the librarian could not do enough for us --they greeted us with smiles and warm welcomes at every meeting. The artistically presented five star cuisine also differentiates Crystal as well. I can honestly say that nearly every morsel I ate in our 12 days aboard was excellent. From fresh squeezed juices every morning at breakfast to the bananas foster our head waiter Augusto made for us table side by request after dinner, the meals were memorable. I particularly appreciated the use of fresh ingredients, prime meats, not overly salty sauces, the most perfectly prepared risotto I've had anywhere, amazing soups, fresh made pastas and desserts that were as beautiful as they were delicious. Sommeliers in all dining venues were knowledgeable, upbeat and added greatly to the overall dining experiences. Specialty restaurants Prego and Nobu's Silk Road served up meals among the best I've eaten anywhere in my life. I could write an entire review about the Prego cuisine, presentation, ambiance and service!! We attended both optional formal nights in the Crystal dining room and found them to be a delightful change of pace. Another thing Crystal excels at is offering choices. From the pillow menu from which one chooses their preferred pillows, to the multiple dining options at each meal my every desire was met...and then some! The lime and ginger salt rub I experienced in the spa was one of the singular happiest hours of my life. It was so amazing in fact that I booked the same treatment later that day for a friend with whom I was traveling, and he agreed it was one of the very best experiences of his life as well. For those contemplating cruising.....I would very highly suggest Crystal. Contrary to most things I've experienced in life, with Crystal Cruises, you really can 'believe the hype.' I cannot wait to return to sea with them. Though this was my first Crystal voyage, most all passengers I met were on their 2nd, 10th or 15th Crystal Cruise. Now I 'get it.' Someone asked me last week if I could change one thing about our voyage or Crystal Cruises what would it be.......I'm still thinking. The only thing that comes to mind is that one or two of the chocolate desserts was too sweet for my taste. If that's the worst thing I can say about 12 days in heaven, that's pretty darn good. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We embarked in Istanbul and then went to four ports in Greece (Mykonos, Athens, Navplion and Corfu), then to Kotor, Montenegro and Zadar, Croatia with debarkation in Venice. We also had ... Read More
We selected this cruise because of the itinerary. We embarked in Istanbul and then went to four ports in Greece (Mykonos, Athens, Navplion and Corfu), then to Kotor, Montenegro and Zadar, Croatia with debarkation in Venice. We also had three days as sea filled with a variety of events and activities to participate in or to do nothing at all. This cruise also had overnight stays in our ports of embarkation and debarkation. While this may not be for everyone, we really liked to have the extra time in both ports! Our experience the second time on Crystal Serenity was as wonderful as the first. Embarkation -- This was a breeze and took less than 5 minutes. As we arrived on the ship we were greeted by several crew members. One quickly took our carry on bags and escorted us to the Crystal Plaza where reception was set up for registration. This was fast and efficient (less than 5 minutes). We were then escorted to our cabin and within 5 minutes our suitcases arrived. It truly could not have been easier! The Ship -- We were on Serenity shortly after the 2011 dry dock so had seen all the wonderful changes. It is still shining and we felt right at home immediately. The public areas and how much space there is for guests to enjoy is what stands out. You can be in the middle of the action if you want or can find a quiet place to read and relax. We spent very little time in our cabin other than some time enjoying our veranda late afternoon or early evening before getting ready for dinner. The Crew -- We can't say enough about the crew. It was nice to see many familiar faces from our cruise last year and to meet many new ones. They are friendly, efficient and will do anything for you. The Lido deck crew works so hard to make the experience wonderful. I get tired thinking about all the work the entire crew and staff do to help make our vacation the best! Dining -- We chose the Dining by Reservation option (as we did last year) and it works out perfectly for us. We made our reservations on PCPC and normally selected 7:15 as our dinner time. For us this time works out better than the set early or late seating. This time was also good to make the 8:45 shows. We dined in the MDR all but one night and the food was excellent. There is a good variety to choose from each night, portion sizes are very nice so you can have an appetizer and a soup or salad and try one of the night entrees. The dining room staff was also fantastic. With Open Dining you do not have the same waiters each night, however, you are seated in one general area so were able to have a pair of 2 or 3 waiters over the 12 nights. We enjoyed some breakfasts in the MDR an, some in the Lido; we also had lunch in either the MDR or Tastes on the Lido Deck. With breakfast and lunch it just depended on what we had planned for that day or arrival back on the ship after a tour. I cannot think of anything to truly complain about. Our Stateroom -- We selected a veranda cabin on Deck 8 this year (last year we had a similar cabin on Deck 9). The location was between mid and aft elevators and we liked the location. While the cabin is small, it is well appointed with plenty of storage between the large closet and drawers. The bathroom is also well appointed. We like to have the veranda to sit out late afternoon or early evening prior to dinner. The weather during this trip was wonderful so we were able to enjoy it pretty much every day. Also, our stewardess was very efficient and ensured we had our beverages of choice in the refrigerator. Debarkation -- This was also fairly painless. The information provided is excellent. It explains exactly what you need to do, where to be and at what time. It could not have been clearer. The only complaint we had was that when we arrived at the Venice airport we were unable to check in with our airline for another hour, so we needed to find a place to sit with our luggage. This minor issue was mentioned in our survey response to Crystal. Not a big deal, but the Venice airport is small and crowded. It would have been nice to have quickly checked our luggage with the airline and been able sit more comfortably in the airline lounge. I did notice this was the case for a couple of other passengers. We were just at the airport way too early. To close out I did want to share one story. One day we were having lunch @ Tastes after a tour and some shopping. After lunch, my husband wanted to go out to the Aft deck and take some pictures. While I was on the Aft Deck with him I realized I'd left a small bag under the table. I quickly ran back and there was no bag at the table and someone was just getting ready to sit down. A couple of tables nearby told me that one of the waiters was taking it to lost and found. I went down to Reception and told them I'd left a bag under the table in the Tastes ... they opened the drawer and gave me my bag which had a gift for my Mom inside. The time from when we left the table, me realizing I forgot it and getting down to Reception could not have been much more than 5 minutes! It was such a good feeling to have the gift safely returned. My only regret is I don't know what crew member was so quick to get the bag to L&F so that I could personally thank them. It's a silly story and not a big expensive gift but it was the efficiency and genuine concern that touched me. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
We anticipated our Crystal Serenity cruise for many months if not years before finally having the time and affordability of a Mediterranean Cruise. My husband and I and a single friend began our journey in the States and flew to Rome via ... Read More
We anticipated our Crystal Serenity cruise for many months if not years before finally having the time and affordability of a Mediterranean Cruise. My husband and I and a single friend began our journey in the States and flew to Rome via London on British Airways (fabulous airlines). We stayed for 2 days prior to cruising at the St. Regis, Rome. Our stay could not have been any better! The service and the accommodations were excellent as was the location. We boarded the Serenity at Civitavecchia. No smile greeted us as we arrived at 4:00pm and not much help with bags, etc. First of many disappointments along the journey. We entered the ship and were immediately whisked away to our accommodations; my husband and I stayed in Suite 11040; Penthouse Suite and our friend was a few doors down opting to pay the single supplement for a Penthouse Suite as well. Our room was on the small side compared to other ships we have sailed on but very well appointed. There was more than adequate space for clothing, etc. The bathroom was beautiful and the bathtub was an added bonus. The new furnishings were beautiful and the veranda chairs were very comfortable. We met our two stewardesses; two very young girls who were quite efficient at keeping our rooms well cleaned during the 7 days. Our butler never showed up to greet us until many hours later. He was running (most every time we saw him)and hurriedly told us if we needed ANYTHING he could get it for us. The first of many untruths for our experience. We asked for appetizers to be delivered and he did so without haste; so much so that the dining table along with the living room table was full to overflowing! We thought this was indicative of the manner to which we would be accustomed on our cruise. Sadly, this was not so. We had trouble getting back dry cleaned items from Sami's (our butler) closet. We ordered appetizers on several more occasions only to be told that they "were out of" that particular item. We asked for waters to be delivered one evening so we could pack them for our excursion the next morning and they never showed up. When we asked where they were Sami said they were waiting for their delivery of water and he only had 4 bottles he could give us because someone else wanted water also. Not exactly the kind of treatment we had expected on Crystal. Another area where we had trouble was with the front desk. We had trouble with my name on the entire cruise. I was known as Mary Beth (my name is Nina) the entire trip; this was my friend's name. The computer somehow made an error in my information being confused with our friend's and everything I received came in my friend's name. I could not correct this even after speaking to the front desk 3 times.Even our waiter in Prego tried to help us out. They also did not cancel a tour we had originally booked and left the amount on our final bill; another hour and a half of speaking to the front desk and proving that we had cancelled it before the cruise even began. We also had to request that the Share The Experience Credits be appropriately added to our cabin and also had to prove with an email that we had signed up for this. We were late to our formal night dinner because of the time it took to finally fix all the problems. Our meals were all stupendous; a great relief after the disappointing butler experience! The main dining room served exquisite meals meticulously presented by our servers. The wine steward was a delight to work with; he knew exactly which wines we would like with each course of our meal. We could not have been more excited about our meals. The specialty restaurants, Prego and Silk Road were the most decadent meals we have ever had. The Black Cod signature dish of Nobu is not to be missed as well as the mushroom soup in Prego and the Limoncello souffle. All meals were beyond our expectations. While eating up in the Lido deck buffet style the food was once again elevated to a level well above any other cruise line we had experienced. What was not elevated was the service once again. We could not find anyone to serve us and we were not allowed to serve ourselves in a portion of the buffet. When we finally asked a head waiter why we would have so much trouble he let loose with his complaints that the cruise line added more 7 day cruises along with the "all inclusive" nature and the crew was just too overloaded to keep up with everyone. He told us that the crew was not happy with the all inclusive decision. He was not the only one who told us this during our cruise. The excursions we took were just amazing; the tour guides were completely knowledgeable and the vehicles were clean and new. The Taormina Wine Tasting Tour was incredible; it was over 100degrees that day and they kept us comfortable in the bus as well as at the winery; tasting appetizers of bruschetta and local cheeses and sampling wines from the winery under a beautiful canopy of trees. We even bought a bottle to take home with us. Our only other tour we reserved was on Dubrovnik; we took the Olive Mill and Noble House tour. What a completely wonderful time we had. We were treated to personally grown tomatoes and cheeses and sampled olive oil made by a gentleman and his family; his family owned the land for generations. The second part of the tour took us to a house owned by a Noble family from Dubrovnik. A beautiful 2 story house made of rock overlooking the beautiful waters of the bay. We became immersed in the two diverse ends of cultures in Croatia. We came away from that tour with a full heart. We must say we made some very nice friends on board despite all of our negative experiences (did I forget to mention my luggage was not delivered until 10:00pm that night because it was held up in security - I attended dinner in my crop pants and flip flops!Quite embarrassing) including the Assistant Cruise Director whom we had dinner with one evening. When I told him how I always eat the same thing every morning; shredded wheat with yogurt and blueberries and was not able to get them on the ship; he so very kindly sent them up to my room that next morning. Our last port Venice was an exciting experience like no other. What a fantastic time we had in this port. However, once again, Crystal was not on the ball when it came to our transportation. We had to wait over an hour at the designated place for our next water shuttle to arrive. We were told that there would be shuttles every 1/2 hour but there was something wrong and we had to wait over an hour in the 103 degree weather. We were quite worried for the elderly people waiting along with us. The gals holding up the signs for Crystal were quite flustered as well. As much as we disliked embarkation our disembarkation went quite smoothly with Crystal. They took us from our meeting space on the ship without much waiting at all and delivered us to a hotel not 5 minutes from the airport. We had refreshments waiting for us and of course had lovely bathrooms to use as well. When it was time for us to head to the airport we boarded the same bus and all went smoothly. My summation for this cruise; we did not receive what Crystal promises, a care-free receive anything you request cruise because of the nature of 7 day cruises as well as the feelings of employees regarding the all inclusive decision. We will not try Crystal Cruises again even though a dear friend is the Cruise Director on the Symphony. We will stay with Holland America or possibly try Silversea or Seabourn next time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
Having been on both five and six star lines, I have a pretty good idea of how a star rating should translate into the level of food, service, and accommodations on a ship. Despite my best efforts to truly appreciate Crystal, a few aspects ... Read More
Having been on both five and six star lines, I have a pretty good idea of how a star rating should translate into the level of food, service, and accommodations on a ship. Despite my best efforts to truly appreciate Crystal, a few aspects of the above criteria were disappointing. We (my wife and I) took this twelve day cruise in the Med mostly because of the great itinerary, which included half of every city in Europe we had ever hoped to see, and because the other lines rarely offer a Venice to Barcelona itinerary. Initially we were very impressed, both by the staterooms, which are about 20% larger than what we're used to, and the friendliness of he staff, who try to get to know you rather than just saying "hello" as you pass by. In these two points, Crystal is great. The food, while very good, was actually no better than Royal Caribbean, despite the fact that Crystal costs about three times as much as Royal. Yes, Crystal is all inclusive (other than excursions, more on that in a moment,) which justifiably accounts for about a 25% bump in the cost of a cruise, but at the end of your meal, you won't put down your fork and think, "Wow, that really was worth three times more." Which brings us to shore excursions. If you've ever been appalled by the 200% mark-up on most cruise lines' excursions, but bit the bullet anyway because you wanted to make sure the cruise ship would wait for you, you haven't seen "nuthin" yet. The best I could figure, Crystal's mark up is probably in the neighborhood of 350%, and even that may be conservative. For this reason alone, if you're trying to decide between six star lines, go with Regent Seven Seas, which, for about the same price or a few dollars more, includes all excursions as well. If you're interested in the best value for your money, period, go with Royal Caribbean (or sister line Celebrity). Would I sail with Crystal again? Yes, but only if they follow Regent's lead and include excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
We are experienced cruisers, although our past experience had been limited to the major lines and the Caribbean. Although we always had a wonderful time there were always disappointments. Bad food, bad service, poor maintenance, etc. ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, although our past experience had been limited to the major lines and the Caribbean. Although we always had a wonderful time there were always disappointments. Bad food, bad service, poor maintenance, etc. Nothing ever lived up to the romanticized image of cruising I always had. Then we took our first Crystal Cruise. Embarkation, to baggage handling, food, service, everything met or exceeded our expectations and past experiences. This was how I always thought cruising should be. From the start: Embarkation - We arrived at the port and immediately boarded a bus which took us right to the ship. We handed the driver our luggage and that was the last we saw of it until we went to our room. Simple and easy. No lines at check in. 3 groups checking in, 5 people to help them. Once we were checked in we were escorted onto the ship to have our pictures taken, key cards issued, and turned loose on the ship. From the time we got to the port until we were fully processed in was less than 15 minutes. Food - From the pool side grill to the Specialty Restaurants, the food was far above average if not excellent. Highly recommend the Blue Cheese burger with Sweet Potato Fries at the pool grill. Prego and Silk Road lived up to their reputations with good food. Mushroom soup at Prego and the Rocket Shrimp at Silk Road are highly recommended. We had the late seating for dinner and the main dining room food was of the same high quality. Drinks - I had heard there was some concern about the quality and quantity of alcohol now that Crystal has gone all inclusive. I was quite happy with the selection of rums, vodkas, gins, etc. More impressive was when I ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri and instead of watching him pour a mix into the blender, I actually saw him throw in strawberries. The Myers Rum floated on top of the Pina Colada was also a nice touch. The wines offered at dinner were also quite good. Service - We arrived at about 1:30, knowing cabins would not be ready until 3PM. Had a nice lunch, explored the ship, and cheated and snuck down to our room at 2:30. Not only was the room ready, our luggage was already there. No worries about having appropriate clothes for dinner the first night as I am more accustomed. Our stewardess Gloria was fantastic. Although she did have a complaint about us... She didn't feel she was doing enough for us. Room was always cleaned promptly and spotless. Refrigerator stocked as we asked. Dinner service was what you would expect in any fine restaurant, with many touches which appeared to be in response to comments made by our dining companions, including souffles which were not on the menu when someone had mentioned how much they loved them. Pool waiters and attendants were prompt and always around. No waiting for one to show up. Ship - We loved the smaller size. Very quickly found our way around, enjoyed all the usual amenities. Other than the day at sea, the pool was never crowded. Always plenty of places to sit, in or out of the sun. Really liked the quiet area at the aft end of each deck. A few chairs and lounges, very peaceful and a great view. Watched the dolphins follow us out of Sicily. Stateroom - Our cabin was well appointed. Not any larger than the usual balcony cabin, but certainly higher quality appointments, wood work and furniture. Aveda soaps and shampoo were very nice. Bed most have been comfortable, we slept great every night. Entertainment was OK. Have seen bigger better shows on ships, but no real complaints here. Lecturers were interesting, piano bar was fun, very happy they had a cigar lounge. Debarkation - Got off the boat even more easily then we got on. Walked off, found our luggage based on the color code and we were done. All in all, a great experience. We fully expect our next cruise to be on Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Having sailed with a couple of other "luxury" cruise lines, we have found Crystal to be the most consistently enjoyable experience in cruising. This was our seventh Crystal cruise and our second TransAtlantic cruise on the ... Read More
Having sailed with a couple of other "luxury" cruise lines, we have found Crystal to be the most consistently enjoyable experience in cruising. This was our seventh Crystal cruise and our second TransAtlantic cruise on the Serenity. We've learned that each cruise is very different in terms of the people we meet, the crew, and the overall experience, but each Crystal cruise leaves us wanting another. Embarkation in New York was a breeze. It was only about twenty minutes from the time we stepped out of the taxi until we were through security and had our room cards in hand. Since we had an overnight on the ship in NYC, we flew in the day of embarkation. Otherwise, we always arrive in our departure city at least a day in advance. A flight delay meant we missed the lovely champagne lunch we had eagerly anticipated, and we arrived hungry in the middle of the afternoon. After leaving hand luggage in our room, we headed for the Trident Grill and the fabulous burgers served by the incredible Lido Team. We were offered champagne and happily made toasts to a great cruise. Although ice cream is always available on Lido Deck, I was in the mood for pastries and realized it was time for tea in the Palm Court. We were feeling relaxed and relieved to be onboard so we headed for the Palm Court which was almost deserted at tea time on embarkation day. We chose a table in the bow of the ship next to the large windows and gazed at the New York skyline as a parade of waiters visited our table with tea and a variety of pastries. We leaned back and enjoyed the scenery and agreed that "This is a great life." The great life on Crystal continued for sixteen days until we disembarked in Dover. Other reviewers have described the rooms. We were on Deck 8, our preferred deck. We have always found the rooms to be sufficiently large for our needs. The closet occasionally seems a bit small, but we manage. We enjoy the shower/tub combination and the ample storage in the bathroom. We've had many wonderful stewardesses on Crystal, but Indre was among the best. She was fast, efficient, friendly and happy to honor our requests. I typically ordered a pot of coffee each morning, sometimes with fruit and croissants. Indre always gave me an estimate of when it would arrive, and it was never a long wait. This was our first time for late dining. We had a window table for two and enjoyed the fine cuisine that is attractively presented and efficiently served on Crystal. We also enjoyed several meals in each of the speciality restaurants. We found that if we were flexible, we were able to make speciality restaurant reservations easily. Silk Road is simply one of the best restaurants on either land or sea, and we tried many of the sushi items and regular entrees while on this trip. The service is outstanding as well. Prego, the Italian restaurant, also has outstanding service and marvelous food. Eating there three times, we were able to enjoy our favorites like the mushroom soup and also try nightly specials like fresh fish cooked to perfection accompanied by grilled Italian vegetables. We have long been fans of the Crystal production shows. They aren't as flashy as similar shows on some cruise lines, but they are sophisticated, polished productions with excellent performers and beautiful costumes. We saw one of the first performances of the new Elton John musical and found it a lively welcome addition to the basic rotation of shows. The other entertainment was of high quality and included a vocalist and an organist. This was the first All Inclusive cruise on Serenity. As such, the bars and evening spots seemed more lively in the evening. We enjoyed several evenings listening to Colin Salter in the Avenue Saloon. He is a fine entertainer and a master at engaging the audience in song and dance. The ports included Newfoundland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands, and three Norwegian ports. All were highly enjoyable, and Geiranger Fjord was stunning. Our evening sail out of Geiranger Fjord was made even more enjoyable by viewing it from the Palm Court and then from a window table at Tastes on Lido Deck where we enjoyed a mix of the new Chinese comfort food items and steak and chicken from the regular Tastes menu. Bravo to Crystal for offering these dining options, and bravo to the Lido crew who provide some of the best service on the ship, quickly learning and remembering guests' preferences. Disembarkation went smoothly, and the Concierge recognized us at luggage pickup in the terminal and came to tell us that our driver had arrived. It was yet another Crystal personal touch that contributed to a lovely experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
We returned this week from our second cruise on the Serenity - about our 25th cruise overall. This was a 14 day itinerary from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. Boarding was effortless. A nice buffet was ready for us to help kill ... Read More
We returned this week from our second cruise on the Serenity - about our 25th cruise overall. This was a 14 day itinerary from Miami to LA through the Panama Canal. Boarding was effortless. A nice buffet was ready for us to help kill time until our cabin was ready. Food - Overall the food was excellent with one notable exception. We requested a table for 2. We were assigned one but in a very poor location that could not be corrected for a couple of days. Apparently many more oele than expected requested early seating and this created seating issues. Eventually more and more people starting opting for room service and this opened up more tables in the dining room. My wife did get I'll afterveating in the Italian restaurant - not sure exactly what the culprit was but it took her a couple of days to recover. Food at the grill was very good. Room service was quick but the food could have been hotter. I thought the lunch buffet could have had more variety - roast chicken of one type or another every day. The 2 special buffets were excellent. Cabin - we had a deluxe stateroom with balcony. Nice size, comfortable bed, very nice towels in the bathroom. Our stewardess was fantastic. Major drawback was shortage of electrical outlets. Service - the room, pool, and bar staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and very good at their jobs. Atmosphere - I am 59 years old and felt very young, definitely in the youngest 20 percent of the guests. The ship seemed very empty except just before and after the early dinner seating. I'm not a fan of formal nights but most everyone on this ship loved it. No other options other than room service. Someone even complained because some people dared to walk around the ship not appropriately dressed up. Too snobby for my tastes and almost a deal killer if I consider Crystal again. Excursions - one of Crystal's strongpoints and excellent on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
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: October 2011
As very experienced travelers, I tend to always look for the best value and usually book directly with airlines, hotels, etc. I found that the price of the cruise we booked was no cheaper booking online vs using a travel agent so we found ... Read More
As very experienced travelers, I tend to always look for the best value and usually book directly with airlines, hotels, etc. I found that the price of the cruise we booked was no cheaper booking online vs using a travel agent so we found an excellent local TA who had personally been to all of the ports we went to and had been on many cruises as well. We felt if you can get that level of expertise without additional expense it was the best way to go. Positives- The overall cruise lived up to our expectations and far exceeded them in some numerous areas. The entire ship was meticulously maintained with everything in excellent working order and virtually nothing showing any visible wear & tear including all public area seating, surfaces, flooring, windows, railings, etc. Cleanliness is apparently a top priority as well as there was no spills or dirt seen in any area including corners, nooks & crannies which commonly get overlooked. Our A-class cabin on Deck 9 was excellent with promised queen bed actually king bed width which was a pleasant surprise. Well designed storage and use of cabin space. Though the cabin is somewhat small, it was comfortable with a nicely appointed bath. Outstanding cabin service twice per day provided by very a cheerful stewardess from South Africa. Throughout the ship, crew members went out of their way to be polite and helpful. This was especially true on Deck 12 around the pool and in the casual dining areas where crew members were very attentive to customer needs, introducing themselves and checking continually to see if you needed anything. These crew members appeared to adopt passengers and greet you whenever you came into their area. The food on the ship was outstanding regardless if it was from the Lido or Bistro buffets, made-to-order pool area dining options, Crystal Dining Room or Prego. Prego & the Crystal Dining Room have an elegant design and an appealing look to them while Silk Road felt like a very stark large space with tables and little character. To me Prego is the superior restaurant on the ship while Silk Road was a disappointment. Areas that could be improved- The embarkation process in Venice was unsatisfactory. Many Crystal cruise passengers arrive at the cruise terminal via water taxi which has a scheduled arrival every 30-minutes and I expected someone to meet us along with other passengers on the dock and assist in some way like a larger less exclusive cruise ship at the same terminal who immediately took their passengers luggage on the dock. After searching for some sign of Crystal there was a young man with a sign standing up a ramp to the road who informed us that a shuttle bus would be by in 20-30 minutes or we could walk to the terminal(200-300 yards). About 20-passengers schlepped their luggage to the terminal which did not make a good 1st impression. As Open Dining by Reservation guests, It is a nice benefit to begin making dinner reservations once final payment was made however Crystal needs to advise guests which nights they are having theme dinners in the Crystal Dining Room. We had booked Prego & Silk Road on theme nights and had to reschedule once onboard but could only get acceptable times at the end of the cruise. Cocktail parties ie; Cruise Critic, Signature need to be communicated prior to the cruise. While Crystal offers the Open Dining by Reservation dinner reservation option you run the ship based on early & late dining. Announcements onboard as well as special activities in the evening refer to early & late seating. The #1 complaint I had with Crystal was the lack of information regarding confirmation of prepaid gratuities and shipboard credit. Since Crystal did not provide any of this important information prior to the cruise I ask my TA to confirm. He contacted Crystal and received confirmation from the various departments responsible for the credits and forwarded copies to me. In spite of his efforts, upon arrival Oct. 1 I found that I was missing shipboard credits that Crystal HQ had confirmed and it took 2 separate requests and 5-days to resolve the problem even though I presented them with written documentation. Crystals onboard activities are a star attraction with the Computer University equipped with the latest computers and a knowledgeable staff and special presenters who professionally help users and present classes. I expected the Taylor Made golf clinics to achieve the same high standards and the instructor lived up to those high standards however the groups were too large (30 or more people at each session) to provide any personal attention and none of the Taylor Made clubs were of current designs. In addition I expected a cruise line like Crystal to have golf simulators rather than nets with targets. We were really looking forward to the tours we had signed up for and although they all involved motor coach transportation we thought that Crystal would somehow take the group tour experience to a higher level. The tours were all very enjoyable with sights we truly enjoyed. Looking back on the tours, we had an unrealistic expectation as we realized that all cruise ship group tours use similar motor coaches, guides and visit the same places in the various ports. Our only suggestion involves grouping guests with good walking ability separately from guests who have limitations. This came to light on the Rome tour when at our 1st stop, the Coliseum the tour guide determined that the majority of the group was not able to climb the stairs to the upper levels and correctly modified the tour plans. She offered those of us with more stamina the opportunity to briefly explore the upper areas. We were accompanied by the Crystal tour helper but were unsuccessful in finding stairs that were open as none of the three of us knew where to go. When you have multiple groups for a given tour I suggest that Crystal make special provisions for those guest with limitations. A real tour frustration occurred in crowded venues like the Vatican. The tour guide continually stopped to count guests and on more than one occasion stalled the tours progress to locate guests who had separated from the group. While you dont want to lose anyone, reducing the experience of +25 other people seems inappropriate. A viable solution would be to provide an if you get separated meeting place & time plus on this tour there were two additional people assisting the tour guide so they could look for the missing guests while the tour proceeds. Friends who were part of another group said they had to wait 30-minutes at one point while missing guests were located. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2011
We were totally delighted with the service of ALL the staff and crew on board. To be truthful the stateroom was a bit smaller than we expected based on what is show on Crystal's web page...More narrow space between bed and ... Read More
We were totally delighted with the service of ALL the staff and crew on board. To be truthful the stateroom was a bit smaller than we expected based on what is show on Crystal's web page...More narrow space between bed and walkththrough towards bathroom. Silversea equivalent cabins are bigger. The prodcuction shows were the best! The food was quite above average but again not what I expected..either in the main dining room or the specialty restaurants...I expected a ***** experience and it was a as ***+ experience...the service in all the dining venues was indeed ***** They need to get their 'open seating ' program better organized...one tended to miss several show room numbers [only one several evening] if one booked a 7:30 reservation! Shops are delightful and well stocked..The photography on board is way too expensive..mark up from their costs probably is 500%. But again, purchase of photos is voluntary. Bottles of water were not consistently available on shore excurcusions. Personally we were disappointed with all the tours that Crystal provided. The guides, while knowledgeable, were boring and appeare tired at what they were doing. We felt rushed through at several of the sites. The private tours that we had arranged prior to the cruise were far better! The description of the shore excursions in their brochure can be misleading! In spite of the above, we thoroughly enjoyed our voyage, priamrily due to the staff on board.....A bit costly $20,000.00 for this vacation [incl. business class upgrade] was it worth it......YES... Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
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: August 2010
I have taken a couple of weeks to reflect on my first experience on Crystal cruises. I think, all told, I am glad for the experience, but it did not live up to the very high standards I had set based on other reviews and the boards. The ... Read More
I have taken a couple of weeks to reflect on my first experience on Crystal cruises. I think, all told, I am glad for the experience, but it did not live up to the very high standards I had set based on other reviews and the boards. The good (and very good): -Our agent had secured early boarding for us, so that was great. We arrived at about 12:15. There was no one else in line, and we were escorted to lunch and then had a little time to explore before we were able to access our cabin. When we did get to our cabin, our luggage was already waiting, and we were unpacked and enjoying the ship by 3pm. -Our head waiter and senior waiter were an absolute treat. Our head waiter especially went way out of his way to ensure we had a wonderful dining experience every night. -Our stewardess was lovely. She tried really hard to accommodate our every need, although the ship did not have certain things which surprised me (like green apples and pretzels--??). -Having Marvin Hamlisch on board for a performance was a delight. -We also enjoyed the special NFL greats speaker series. -The main pool is very nice; and there were always chairs available to sit and enjoy the day -The food in the main dining room was very good; better than many mainland restaurants, actually. We thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the cruise...especially the "special" desserts that the head waiter prepared each night. -The European itinerary was perfect; exactly what we were looking for! -The cruise director on board was simply phenomenal...a real joy to meet! -We really enjoyed the daily Reflections...especially the introductions to each of the ports. -The excursions were well thought out and put together, albeit a little pricey. The one time there was a problem with one, they did refund part of the price, which was appreciated. -We thoroughly enjoyed most of the other guests we met...a treat since we were not sure what to expect (we are in our late 30's/early 40's) The not very good: (ps: I have names of the individuals below, if someone from Crystal is reading this and is interested) CABINS: -The couches in the cabins uncomfortable, and they are itchy when you sit on them with shorts...I know they are supposed to be getting leather ones very soon, which will be a LOT more comfortable. -The beds are actually pretty uncomfortable. It took a couple of nights before I realized I could ask for another featherbed to make it softer. That helped a lot. -The scent of the Aveda products in the bathroom was overwhelming, and I was very surprised that there were no other options. I ended up buying something on the shore. I think Crystal might investigate "scentless" options for passengers with sensitive skin/allergies, or at least one of Aveda's milder scents for passengers who prefer them. -The cabin doors are unbelievably thin...even conversation at a normal volume in the hallway can be heard in the rooms...as can the kids who kept running up and down the hallways. DINING: -The couple of nights with "open seating" in the main dining room were the worst nights for us, since the service was so spotty. There were also some service challenges on the Lido deck in terms of getting food in a timely fashion for both lunch and dinner. -There were some incredibly rude waiters in Prego--the specialty restaurant. Both nights I was there they were actually making fun of other passengers. I could not believe it, and actually reported it to the guest hostess on board since it made me so uncomfortable. She told me the dining manager would get in touch with me, but he never did. BOOKING AGAIN: -I wanted to take advantage of the on-board booking discount, and I got the feeling that the woman who was working at that desk did not care if I booked again or not. It was a stark contrast to how she had been talking to the older couple right before me...and quite disappointing. PUBLIC AREAS/LAUNDRY: -The ship does not have any comfortable places to sit to just read a book in the evening, except the bar in the main lobby, but the smoke often chased me away. In fact, ALL of the bars have smoking, which for me is an obstacle to enjoying the space. I wonder if Crystal might consider creating a non-smoking bar??? -A lot of the public areas seem a little dated; I am hoping this is rectified soon! -The laundry room ran out of dryer sheets quickly and were not replaced. Also, Crystal should place signs in the laundry rooms reminding guests to be aware of the timing of their washers and dryers. Especially when one machine is out of order (which it was for the entire cruise), the ability for quick "turn-over" is only respectful, although some passengers had no qualms about leaving their laundry for hours at a time and returning whenever it suited them (and then they had the nerve to complain about people removing their items!). NOT CRYSTAL'S FAULT, BUT STILL AFFECTED OUR TRIP: On this voyage, there were over 100 children, ranging in age from a couple of months to teenagers. The older kids were actually pretty good (except for running up and down the halls at night), but the parents really let their little kids run rampant around the ship and pool area. They were throwing toys in the pool, almost hitting other guests, and they were running around playing tag, and yelling, etc. Since they were with their parents, there was nothing Guest Services could do (or so they told me). But this is NOT a playground at home!! Again, a simple reminder in the daily cruise reflections might have made a positive difference. I made this suggestion, too, but it was ignored. So, all in all, I am glad for the experience. I did like it better than Regent, with whom we have sailed twice (Tahiti and Alaska trips). But, I am not looking to rush back either...I do have my $100 deposit down, so perhaps 2012...we'll see. At least now I have a more realistic expectation for my experience that should help next time... Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
This was my first cruise aboard the Serenity, my third cruise with Crystal Lines, and perhaps my 12th plus cruise experience. From beginning to end, my expectations were almost always exceeded. The arrival experience at the Venice Airport ... Read More
This was my first cruise aboard the Serenity, my third cruise with Crystal Lines, and perhaps my 12th plus cruise experience. From beginning to end, my expectations were almost always exceeded. The arrival experience at the Venice Airport culminated in a hassle-free entry to the Monaco and Grand Canal Hotel via bus and water taxi. Despite the 10:00 AM arrival, our room was ready, and St. Mark's Plaza was about 2 blocks away. Local restaurant recommendations by the Crystal representative did not prove helpful, and a mediocre margarita pizza and overly icy gelato at a sidewalk cafe were quickly forgotten in the endless parade of interesting travelers. Boarding, the next morning, was efficient and our cabin was central to the library, the Silk Road and we scarcely missed the absence of a balcony. My wife has limited endurance for the more vigorous activities, so we participated in the panoramic excursions. In Venice, she loved Cooking with the Contessa, and I substituted the panoramic cruise for the cancelled visit to the Lamborghini factory. We did not get off the ship in Kantakolon or Nafplion, and an untimely sever upper respiratory infection kept me cabin-bound in Nessebur, Bulgaria. Room service provided the soup and nutrition, and the movie selections, DVD's, MSNBC, BBC all passed the cabin time with little wanting. My wife and I are sushi and sashimi fanatics, and the quality and availability, as well as the service, are simply the finest around....anywhere! We ate at the Silk Road 5 times out of 11 opportunities, in all, and found the experience to fulfill our highest expectations. Service, everywhere, from Lido Breakfasts, to sandwiches for lunch in the dining room, to our rotating table for eight, for dinner, all were enjoyable. The Black Sea ports were particularly interesting to someone with an interest in military history. Our tour guide recited the Charge of the Light Brigade from memory and took us down to the British redoubt for a view of what they would have seen before their date with destiny. The waterfront at Yalta mixed Lenin with McDonalds' and the tiny beaches were filled with the bikini clad vacationers dotting nearly every square inch of the gravel. Odessa, with its celebrated steps, seen from below and above, and a trip inside the Opera House, sweltering though it was, and followed by Ukrainian folk dancers and a satisfying lunch, was hosted by Virtuoso, and they, too, did not disappoint. There was not enough time in Istanbul, our departure city, and the shopping experience proved to be too energy consuming for my wife, but my experience in the streets was fascinating, and all too brief. The departure from Istanbul was marred by airport restrooms that were worse than untidy, and with uncaring attendants! (Lady's Restroom....bring your own paper!) Crystal arranged our air transport with Delta, Los Angeles to Atlanta to Venice (less than mediocre) and Lufthansa, Istanbul to Munich to Los Angeles, superb, even in tourist! The speakers aboard were excellent led by Howard Fineman, on Presidents he has known, the Media, and Barack Obama, in particular, and Jay Wolff, who makes history seem like cabaret entertainment. We looked forward to the days at sea. Read Less
Crystal Serenity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.4
Entertainment 5.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.5 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 5.0 4.1

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