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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital ... Read More
I did not know whether to title this review “The Last Cruise” or “The $22,000 Colds.” As much as we like Crystal, in 2018 I had booked a cruise on Pro-Iceland for a 7-day cruise of just Iceland. But in April I was in hospital with heart problems and we cancelled the cruise and got all of our money refunded from our travel agent David Butterfield of All Cruise Travel in California. By late summer of 2018 I was feeling much better and we booked the Iceland-northern Norway cruise on the Crystal Serenity for 2019. Unfortunately by February I had more heart problems and was back in the hospital for 45 days and three operations. But, damn it; we were not canceling the 2019 vacation. It turned out I should have stayed at home, The cruise was Reykjavik to Copenhagen over 17 days. We had two prior cruises on the Crystal Symphony that were great. Getting There: We love Icelandair! It is the only airline we can afford to fly first class on (they call it Saga Class), but getting a flight from St. Louis to a city served by Icelandair can be a problem. You have to get your baggage after your domestic connecting flight and recheck it. We went through Chicago this year, which was a bit of a mistake. The International Terminal is nowhere close to any another terminal, requiring a bus ride across the airport complex. We were delayed two hours for a 45-minute flight because they had to replace a seat (apparently there was a human discharge.) Once in Chicago things were a little smoother, with one exception. I left an “Andy Carpenter” mystery novel by David Rosenfeld that I was in the middle of on a luggage cart stand. The flight to Reykjavik was great and in fact one of the flight attendants was on our Iceland Air flight in 2006. She did not appear to have changed a bit in 13 years. There was a free large bus from the airport to the dock. This is where I frist discovered I would be having problems. The long walk to the bus showed my heart was still having issues. I had to stop about every 100 feet to catch my breath caused by my heart beating too fast. I had left instructions that if I die on this vacation to give my body to a medical school in Reykjavik or Oslo and save the shipping costs back to the U.S. THE SHIP AND THE CRUISE: The unusual: There was a long line to get onto the ship. It was outside and there was a cold wind blowing with drizzle. This was unusual for us as past Crystal Cruise there were no lines. The Usual: Since Crystal is “an all inclusive” line I have referred to it as the “Cruise Line for Alcoholics.” Passengers were met at check-in by staffers holding trays of glasses of Champagne. Once on board check-in was very fast and efficient. The Stateroom: We got what we paid for even if it was about $7,500 a person for 17 days. The stateroom was small. The only chair in the room was a desk chair. The sofa was narrow and low to the ground with a vinyl covering. You had a tendency to slide off of it. Unlike the beds on the Symphony which had firm mattresses, the bed had a soft uncomfortable mattress and the cruise was for 17-days. If you are in colder climates dry hair is a must and there were two hairdryers, one in the bathroom and the other by the desk. Since our last Crystal cruise they added large screen TVs. There was no disk player in the TVs to play DVDs or music on CDs. However the new large screen TVs came with a selection of downloads that included 84 movies, TV shows and several hundred music selections. The bathroom was nice with a couple exceptions. There was not a walk-in shower but a high wall bath tub/shower combination. The tub was short. Since most people on Crystal are going to be older, this creates two problems. It is difficult for people with knee and hip problems stepping over the high wall of the bathtub. It also seems that the tub was so small it would be difficult to get in and out of it unless you are 5-foot-1 or smaller. A walk-in shower would still need a higher lip, since the drain is slow during peak hours of use, but it would better than the tub. The other areas of concern was that they could use another “grab bar” in the shower and one next to the toilet seat, which like all other seats on the ship is low. THE FOOD: As usual the Crystal food was better than I have had on any other cruise line. There was one exception. One night in the main dining room T-Bone steak was on the menu. My steak was so tough that you could not cut it with steak knife. This was not an isolated bad piece of meat. Diners at other table had the same problem. If you could cut off a piece you ran the risk of choking on it. WHAT? They did have Beef Stroganoff on the menu. I didn’t look closely to the menu since everyone knows Beef Stroganoff is served on noodles. Everyone knows that except the chef and cooks on the Serenity where it is served on rice. The Main Dining Room: It is named the Waterside. As usual there were no lines or long waits to be seated. Service was very efficient but not rushed. My wife had a favorite waiter and we sat in his section on most nights. This was good as I did not have to feel guilty about not leaving a dozen waiters a tip, I could simply leave one large tip at the end of the cruise on our ship’s account for one waiter. Beyond the call: All the desserts were good depending what you like. My wife asked a question if they ever had Strawberry/Rhubarb pie. They don’t, however a maitre told her to come back the next night as he would have one especially baked for her. They did and she said it was very good (I’m not eating rhubarb on a bet.). The same thing happened at the Palm Court bar on the 12th level. I was easy as I always wanted a Coke or a Dr. Pepper. But my wife enjoys mixed drinks. One night she ordered a “Bee’s Knees” cocktail. The staff was unfamiliar with the drink. But the bartender looked it up on the internet and the next afternoon she was served a Bee’s Knees. The specialty restaurants: These were all good, plus they had a few items on the menu that were not part of the specialty dishes for spouses who hated the normal specialty items. At the Silk, a Chinese restaurant I was disappointed they did not have my favorite “Lo Mein” on the menu, but I was well aware that “Lo Mein” is not really Chinese, but something sold at American Chinese restaurants. Bistro: We would often skip the traditional breakfast and go to the Bistro on Deck 6 for fresh fruit and muffins. At night we would often skip dessert in a dining room and go to the Bistro where they had a number of desserts for you to pick from including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate truffles (I started with 3-truffles a night and by the end of the cruise was downing six.) plus desserts in cups such as Crème Boule. ENTERTAINMENT: Dan Davies in the Piano Bar, The American Saloon, isn’t American but is an Australian. He also was the best entertainment on the ship. He was funny and showed signs of being a very good jazz pianist. He won’t be selling any CDs of his vocals, but still he was worth several trips to his venue. The majority of the passengers got sick with colds and sore throats Dan was not an exception, but his piano work was so good on the nights he could not sing it was still very entertaining. The passengers’ requests were a problem. People should realize the piano bar guys hate playing the Piano Man and My Way. It didn’t stop the passengers from requesting them and Dan reluctantly playing them. There were two comics on this cruise, both British entertainers. One was very good and the other was barely “OK.” On July 4, a British female singer with a number of performances in shows in London’s West End was the featured entertainer. On the program it stated there would be patriotic 4th of July songs for the Americans. I thought it was odd that a Brit would be singing songs reference a war that King George III lost. My worries disappeared when the only song she sang was “When the Saints go Marching In” which has nothing to do with American Independence and is most associated with New Orleans which belonged to the French until 1804, The Crystal Quartet was a group of musicians from the Philippines. They performed music from the American Songbook and pop tunes through the 1980s. They usually played in the Palm Court on the 12th floor. This is also where the ships male dancers, the Ambassadors, who danced with single women or wives whose husbands could not dance, were found on most nights. You could detect a slight accent of the female singer, with one exception. When she would sing songs made famous in the 1950s by the “Singing Rage Patty Page” she sounded just like her. TORTURING OLD PEOPLE: Just like in the cabins, in the bars and lounges all the chairs were extremely low to the floor. In the Palm Court there were four high back chairs that were actually off the floor and they were always occupied. Older people getting up from all the other furniture sounded like a Rice Krispies commercial, “Snap, Crackle and Pop” coming from people’s knees. THE CON: One lecture on the ship was “The History of the Swiss Watch.” The lecture was not by a nice person from Switzerland but by a Brazilian, who happened the run the ship’s “Watch Shop.” He handed out raffle tickets to people attending, but the winner was not announced at the end of his talk in the movie theater. You had to follow him to the Watch Store where he would draw the winning ticket for a small gift certificate. I did not follow him to the store. I felt I was being scammed and walked in the opposite direction. THE DIRT COVE: On thing that really amazed me was that for a ship that was in dry dock for an allegedly complete interior overhaul, was how filthy the white chairs in the Crystal Cove. These were covered in dirt and it is hard to believe that staff was not aware of their condition. This is one of the higher priced cruise ships in the world. You would expect the furniture to be clean. HIGH MARKS: Chief Concierge Marco Juen from Germany went out in the rain and got us a taxi to standby when we simply asked if there were any cabs available while the ship was docked in Tromso, Norway. Juen told us to have a seat. We thought he was going to make a call. Instead he went off the ship and retuned in 10-minutes, wet and telling us there was a cab waiting for us. MOST POPULAR GUY: That would be the guy manning the Scoops Ice Cream bar from noon to 6pm on the 12th level next to the Trident Grill. This guy was serving up Ben and Jerry’s and soft serve for six hours straight, often getting unusual requests to mix the flavors in half or quarter scoops. Regardless how busy he was and how stupid the request was, he always had a smile on his face. FREE: This was the first time on a cruise ship where the computer/internet service was completely free. The ship had a computer room with at least 12 computers available for passengers. Several other computers had leading newspapers’ online editions at no charge. SYMPHONY VS SERENITY: While we found almost everything on the Serenity to be very nice, we preferred the Symphony. Everyone we spoke to who had been on both ships said the same thing. TOURS: My wife and I often differ on places to see. I like to see where people live and styles of houses. She likes to go to where the tour busses are going to famous locations. To handle this dilemma we try to find a taxi that will give us an hourly rate. On this cruise we found that the taxi was often cheaper than the ship’s tour bus trips. The only problem was in some smaller towns there were no taxis to hire. The last full day of the trip was in Copenhagen. The ship offered a free shuttle bus into downtown Copenhagen. It was about a 30-minute ride one-way. It was a rainy day and they rain increased when we got downtown. We just stayed on the shuttle bus and went back to the ship. We got a free 1-hour tour of Copenhagen, a city we had been to before and spent lots of time on a sunny day seeing the tourist sites. WEATHER: Iceland was relatively warm with temps around 54f. In the Norway towns north of the Arctic Circle there were July days where the temperature was near freezing with a combination of drizzle and snow. THE COUGH AND SNEEZE: By the end of this cruise at least half the passengers were coughing and sneezing. Both my wife and I went to the Ships Medical Center. We knew better than to rack up a big bill by seeing the doctor. Instead nurses gave us cold medicines that were very reasonably priced. My wife was in bed for three days on the ship and a week after our return. I was carrying a wash cloth to cough into while on the ship. Counting the cost of the cruise, airfare and other transportation, plus the dog sitter back home our total cost was around $22,000 and perhaps in years to come the biggest memory with be the cough and cold. DEPARTURE: My wife had signed up for the shuttle bus from the dock to the airport. On our last full day on the ship we learned that a taxi to the airport was the same price as the bus or cheaper. Marco Juen at the Concierge Desk had no problem cancelling the bus. We were then able to reserve a taxi with someone from Copenhagen’s Tourist Bureau who was on the ship. It turned out the taxi fare was cheaper than the bus. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The ... Read More
We chose this itinerary to try out Crystal and because we are keen F1 fans and being at the Monaco Grand Prix was wonderful. Food and beverages were really good. Speciality restaurants at no additional charge were both fabulous. The staff were friendly and efficient. Serenity has an all day coffee shop for snacks and pastries which was very popular. We were on the promenade deck so had a large window. I think that this was the least expensive level and I would want a balcony cabin should we sail this ship again. The cabin was compact, the bed comfortable and there was plenty of storage. Entertainment was good. We particularly enjoyed post dinner drinks in the Avenue Bar where we listened to a very talented pano player until late in the evening. The cruise itinerary was good and although tendering in Monte Carlo was extremely scary. We enjoyed the cruise very much and would sail with Crystal again. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, ... Read More
We’ve sailed with Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd before and were interested to try Crystal for a short six day cruise to see how life would be on a bigger ship. In some respects Serenity was excellent. The food in the MDR, Waterside, was varied and to a very high standard. Service was quicker than Seabourn and Barbara was a wonderful waitress. Service and dining in the speciality restaurants, Prego and Umi Uma, was absolutely first class. The decor is very old fashioned though. In the Italian Prego, that is almost forgivable as there is at least some soul to it. In Umi Uma the decor is dark, soulless and like a department store restaurant in the 1980s...it really could have done with something in the recent refit. Absolutely no problems with the wonderful cuisine and good quality included wines and spirits. We had a Penthouse Suite which, although only lightly refreshed on the recent refit, was very well appointed, with lots of space and well thought out. Our butler Richard was an absolute marvel...he deserves six stars for his positive can-do attitude and for serving meals in the cabin so well. Our stewardesses were completely wonderful and the cabin was kept pristine all through. The bathroom is good but old fashioned and the Etro toiletries are poor. Topped-up chocolates were unbelievably good. Enrichment was good. Entertainment was superb...better than Seabourn, with higher production values and a great theatre. The things that were missing were hard to put a finger on. Overall it was probably the ‘holiday’ feeling and warmth that you instantly get on Seabourn and Hapag Lloyd, the overall ship design and the ability to settle into that ship easily. Many of the staff and crew were excellent on Serenity, but many were also less than engaged and tired. The crew was invisible...however the entertainment director was fantastic. The ship doesn’t flow. It’s hard to find your way around. It feels old fashioned and it shows that the recent dry dock only refreshed certain areas. The fountain in the main atrium is a tacky shopping centre disgrace. The outside areas are poorly used: the back of the buffet area is too small and unshaded; there is no pool bar and no outside evening parties. Maybe it was just the time of year? Passengers from all over the world. Mainly US, China and Japan and many in groups. Ports were good, tendering OK but not as good as on Seabourn or Hapag Lloyd. Overall, maybe we are just used to a smaller ship? We’d still come back at the right price and itinerary though! Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid ... Read More
We selected the short May 4-11 cruise from Athens to Rome to have the opportunity of trying the Crystal experience. We have cruised in Silversea and Seabourn exclusively, and are happy with both lines. We found Serenity to be a solid vessel...good bones, as is often said. We opted for a Penthouse with Verandah and were very pleased with its layout and features. I especially liked the back-to-back desk, one prepared to serve as a vanity. The lighting was very good in the suite and especially in the vanity area. The bathroom included two basins and a very comfortable shower enclosure. There was a jetted tub, which we did not use. I was pleased to see the many drawers, shelves and nooks to organize our belongings. However, the best feature of the suite was Rao, our wonderful butler, and the two housekeeping attendants. We are have had butler in Silversea (which provides butlers for any suite level) and they have been very good, but Rao was so pleasantly effective! The best of the lot. We were pleased with all dining venues, especially Waterside and Prego, except for The Marketplace. This venue acts as the breakfast and lunch buffet style cafeteria. The offerings were good, but not as good as in Colonnade and Trerraza (SB and SS respectively). We did not like it mainly for its layout. The table/chairs are set in a very narrow space, galley like, and most times the waiters' stations were almost besides us. We very much preferred Waterside. We had unusually cold weather and could not use the pool. However, we found the pool to be small, narrow and with less depth that those in SS and SB. Also, there is no food/bar service at the pool. Overall level of service was very good...except for one incident, reported and corrected. I rate the gym the best. I especially enjoyed the cardio-disco classes offered; they were a lot of fun and quite challenging. We never had any problems accessing the treadmills for our daily routines. Entertainment and daily activities offerings were so much better than in SS and SB!! The dance classes led by Beverly and Curtis were very popular, and all the participants enjoyed them very much. The shows were varied and included a comedian, as well as a magician from the well known Magic Castle in Los Angeles. In summary, we plan on booking Crystal in the future, especially longer trips, in order to enjoy all the daily offerings on sea days. However...if weather is very good, other pools may beckon us. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have recently disembarked from the Crystal Serenity where we enjoyed 14 nights going around the UK and also stopping in Amsterdam and in Zebbrugge before returning to our point of embarkation which also served as the port of ... Read More
We have recently disembarked from the Crystal Serenity where we enjoyed 14 nights going around the UK and also stopping in Amsterdam and in Zebbrugge before returning to our point of embarkation which also served as the port of disembarkation, namely Dover on the Irish Soliloquy cruise. We thought it would be helpful to post this review. We recognize in so doing that some of our comments will be of more value than others, with the ship heading to dry dock shortly. Embarkation was a breeze. It started punctually at noon for us and we were onboard and seated in the MDR for lunch by 12:45. All necessary formalities were handled in the lobby adjacent to the Crystal Cove. Our room was ready for us as soon as we checked in and thanks to our travel agent, our various special requests were dealt with and our room properly stocked and augmented with extra items we usually like to have before we even set foot inside. We were warmly greeted by all of the folks we came in contact with from the ship—some who we had seen in October and others who we had not seen in a few years. Called by name and warmly received and acknowledged, we were welcomed “home” and very much felt that way. We settled for our customary embarkation lunch which for me was THE COBB SALAD and a half order of the spaghetti Bolognese. One thing which was immediately noticeable was that the portion size of the Cobb was small—about the same size as it had been when we were last on in October 2017. It was not puny but the portion size was such that a person with a reasonably sized appetite would likely want more and as we all know, requesting additional portions or special orders was not a problem. Throughout the cruise we found the food portions to be appropriate portion sizes at least according to our personal registered dietician. The menu usually presented sufficient options to select from and only the final night's dinner was disappointing with food lacking in seasoning, overcooked, and poorly presented. The dessert options were, perhaps as a side benefit to our efforts to control our waistlines, reasonable in variety and portion size. And of course we availed ourselves on a couple of occasions to request special items which we enjoy like the wiener schnitzel and the sole meuniere. We found our luggage was in the room within a very short time after we finished lunch and well before 3. The condition of the room slowed wear and tear and while cleaned nicely, the ship is showing its age. A couple of items worthy of particular note: The shower controls have been replaced since we were last onboard and the new mixing apparatus does not get hot to the touch as the old one did which is a nice change. Also turning the shower on and off and adjusting the temperature is easier with the new handles and apparatus. It also appears, but I cannot be sure, that there is a prefilter on the apparatus or actually directly below it, so the water did not seem as harsh over long periods of use. The option of a Aramis (?) products as an option (since we are not fans of the musk scented skin care products) was lovely and helpful. The clock in out stateroom no longer sported a socket for an iPod which was no loss. The new clock had a nice easy to read face and easy adjusting instructions. Very helpful. The cushions on the veranda which had been a powder blue color are now a slate grey color which shows less dirt and may wear better. There is a new computer sign in regimen which was again revised about three days into our cruise with another interface which, like its immediate predecessor allowed us to sign up and login from our stateroom. Connectivity was sketchy in our stateroom and we were located fairly close to midship on the 10th floor, but connectivity from locations in the common area were excellent. Speed and bandwidth continue to be a problem which the company has stated that it intends to address during drydock. In the meanwhile my wife and I were each allowed to register two devices to be used at a time on the internet. But as Crystal is quick to point out and as we long ago understood and appreciate, download times are still much slower at sea than on land. There were several choices for entertainment nightly, many shows in the Galaxy being performed twice each evening for early and late seating passengers. Local shows were also brought on in Dublin and in Scotland and a delight as always. And some new acts were also well received as was the new production show Crystal In Motion. Post late seating dinner and late shows in the Galaxy, there were a few choices—dancing in Palm Court but attendance there in the later hours was sparse, a duo in the Crystal Cove on some evenings which again was sparsely attended and the wonderful piano playing of Scot Mitchel who is grossly under appreciated for his talents on the ship, and then there was the busiest spot —the Avenue Saloon where Perry Grant kept the room packed nightly and the nonstop laughs and music going most nights until after midnight (without taking a break from the start of his set at 9:45 until he ended his cabaret performance). Some evenings seating was problematic as that venue just cannot contain all who wish to see him. We continue to wish that Perry might be moved to the Stardust and that room set up in the evening as a sort of nightclub with tables and chairs on the dance floor and Perry at the piano on the stage. The Stardust was used 3-4 times during the trip for other shows and Perry played one night there to a SRO audience, but it is under utilized. The push and pull of competing expectations of the Avenue Saloon does contribute to some ill will among some passengers. During the late set which Perry does, which both Crystal and he typify rightfully as a cabaret, some of the more inebriated passengers at the bar disrupt the enjoyment of those who come to the cabaret to experience Perry Grant. The professional that he is, Perry soldiers on, but for guests it results in some harsh words and irritation which makes the evening less pleasant. The bar personnel continue to have difficulty cutting off people who have had too much to drink. When we were onboard in October we saw a gentleman fall not once but twice from a bar stool and it was only after he fell the second time that he was escorted out—but not before his conduct disrupted the performance. We opted to take only one shore excursion during the cruise as we had been to most of the ports before. Some like Dundee, only really offered golf enthusiast excursions which did not interest us. Others like Guernsey offered more variety but the nature of the port is such that options are limited and expensive. We showed private guides who we hired on our own the little pamphlets about each port made available the night before and on the day of various ports of call and at least one noted to us that the data was inaccurate and appreciably so. Those guides need to be updated for accuracy. The population count for Belfast alone was off by several hundred thousand people. We also heard from tablemates that in Bruges that leaflet gave incorrect information about the point of drop off and pick up for the shuttle. We enjoyed a sort of last hurrah at our late seating table of eight which was curated by Mario Gallo. We enjoyed sharing dinner every night with the same other fellow travelers, and while we did not discuss politics or religion we were still never at a loss for topics of conversation each night and often were among the last folks to leave the MDR. One subject which was discussed at length at our table, was the fact that the new post dry dock dining arrangement appeared to put the final nail in the coffin of being able to have a table for 8 of people put together by the maitre d’ to which one can return nightly to the same wait personnel and same dinner companions and we think that it be a grave miscalculation on Crystal’s part. In the past two cruises, we found that the folks who ask to be assigned to a table of 8 were very upset to hear of the elimination of that option. I discussed this item with both Mario Gallo and Leo Assmair. Neither seemed able to do other than toe the party line that we could put together a table of people and come to the maitre d each night with them in tow and see what he could do to arrange a table. The issue, as we tried to explain, is that the “matchmaking” was something we would need days to try to accomplish rather than the maitre d’ knowing the personalities of those of us who have cruised before, doing so. When I posited the notion of dedicating a small portion of the dining room at a given time, say 8:30 for people who wanted to eat at a travelers table every night to do so, it was summarily dismissed. Instead Crystal is determined that after the dry dock is done, there will be enough tables and seats in the dining room so that all 980 guests could all be seated in that room if they wished on the same date and at the same time...which will NEVER EVER happen. With multiple restaurants to choose from and the addition of the Brazilian dinner venue and the replacement of Tastes with Silk, coupled with the rebranding of the Nobu outlet as Umi Uma, the powers that be still want to load up the MDR with rows of tables upon rows of tables for 2 or 4. One look at the seating from the Symphony tells the story. Think school cafeteria seating, rows after rows of 2 and 4 tops, separated by about a foot from one another. Like a dining hall. Very sad. It is difficult to understand what Crystal has been up to of late. They are slicing 14 day cruises into two 7 day pieces to attract those who can’t afford a 14 day cruise, they are going to “as you wish” dining to attract the younger crowd of cruisers (the same ones who can’t afford more than a 6 or 7 day cruise or can’t be away from their obligations at work or at home for more than a week, while turning their corporate back on those of us with longevity of loyalty to the line ignoring requests to maintain some semblance of travelers table options (more than once a week or once a cruise), they had Perry Grant set for November and December and many folks signed up for that cruise because he was going to be onboard and has quite a following. They then cancel his engagement and several customers cancel their cruises. How is this helping the bottom line? We have spoken with employees onboard who have confided that they may not be returning preferring instead to move to the river boats closer to home, and others who say that what they have heard from passengers who have been on Symphony about the new dining arrangements is disturbing. We know of families who have opted to not sign up for more Crystal cruises until the dining room situation is made more palatable. As for us, we have opted to book two cruises with another line to explore our options. We acknowledge that these are first world problems and we need to recognize the need for change and give it a try and try it we will. We will be onboard in December and approach these things with an open mind. So time will tell and we will, ultimately allow the the power of the purse to show our determination about these changes. Indeed there are other options and while we would much prefer to stay with Crystal, we will need to see if the new way of doing things results in an equally pleasurable experience for us. That would be ideal but only time will tell. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
I choose this because it featured a seminar I wanted to participate in and because of its ports of call (especially Gibraltar). When we started planning our excursions about 3 months prior to departure, the expansive Gibraltar tour was ... Read More
I choose this because it featured a seminar I wanted to participate in and because of its ports of call (especially Gibraltar). When we started planning our excursions about 3 months prior to departure, the expansive Gibraltar tour was waitlisted and never re-opened. I find that to be unforgiveable and unforgettable. But we booked a private tour through Viator and it was the best tour of our trip, and less than half the cost of a lesser quality ship excursion. While many will like the food and dinner requirements (specific time reservations, more formal dressing and very formal on all sea days), we take cruises to experience the ports of call, not to have formal dining experience. So, for us, this is not a positive. Further, we thought the "Tastes" specialty restaurant was way over-rated: marginal food and served in a pool cabana setting which was not a very good atmosphere. Getting on and off were very good experiences. Same for access to excursions; and the free water bottles on the tour buses was very welcome and not standard with our cruises. So pick carefully....if you want to focus on dining, go for it; if you want to focus on ports of call, I would choose another, less expensive alternative. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Love Crystal but see traditional items going by the wayside, eg: no more guest list. Very thankful for the complimentary laundromats onboard. B1 cabin is just the right size for the two of us. Plenty of closet space (I bring our own ... Read More
Love Crystal but see traditional items going by the wayside, eg: no more guest list. Very thankful for the complimentary laundromats onboard. B1 cabin is just the right size for the two of us. Plenty of closet space (I bring our own wire hangers to get more space here) and have never lacked for drawer space. MDR staff is outstanding. Varied shore excursions with endurance level, in depth or not so much, Front desk is not as sharp as they used to be. We asked when the Cruise Critic gathering was to be and front desk person looked 3 places and said there was not one on our cruise. Got back to the cabin and there was an invitation to the Cruise Critic gathering which we very much enjoyed. Very much enjoy Tastes, Prego, and Silk Road as alternatives to the MDR. Crew keeps us coming back to Crystal. They are great. I hope Home Office get the new system up and PURRING soon. It has been a struggle for anyone trying to use the PCPC. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
If you enjoy First Class Service and Going to the Club to be pampered, this is the cruise for you. We are younger and had our 16 yr old daughter with us, so we did not fit the normal clientele, but that was just fine. ... Read More
If you enjoy First Class Service and Going to the Club to be pampered, this is the cruise for you. We are younger and had our 16 yr old daughter with us, so we did not fit the normal clientele, but that was just fine. Embarkation/Disembarkation where so smooth, we got on and off according to posted schedule with no delays. We stayed in room 9018 which is a smaller room, but the beds where comfortable, including the pull-out couch. First Class room amenities and if you need anything additional, just ask and it was provided. Stocked fridge was nice, Shower was great, balcony was large enough for the 3 of us. Specialty dining was Five Star, we did all 3 Specialty venues (Silk Rose, Prego and Tastes) and went back to the Sushi bar for an additional night. (I recommend getting there before they open because Sushi bar is first come first serve) Our experience in the main dining room for 3 nights was just OK, the food was Excellent, but the service was lacking, we are not wine drinkers, so they showed little interest in even taking a drink order, one night, we got our appetizer before getting a drink...seemed like they catered to the larger "Clubby" tables and did not think much about the little family. The excursions went as planned, but nothing first class about these island excursions, but the price was great and we got what we expected. We spent most of our time on the pool deck at a shaded table playing games or shaded couch/chair relaxing. Pool deck Staff is the best, always eager to satisfy your drink and comfort needs. Tastes, Trident Grill, Ice Cream Stand and the Buffet are all just steps away from the pool for easy dining throughout the morning and daytime. We went to the shows every night, Billy Joel and the Ventriloquist were our favorites. Don't expect Broadway or Disney quality, but they were fun. Casino was nice, and i was surprised to see the $5 Craps, Blackjack, Roulette and other table games. (I was expecting $25 minimums) The Lobby Bar is elegant and has a great drink menu, afternoon and evening. Even thou the crowd was older, it was so easy to just sit down anywhere and meet someone, everyone was so nice. *****Five Stars***** Pool Deck Staff Cabin Stewardess (Linda) Specialty Dining Venues Ice Cream Man Pizza Man Serenity Staff for great Communications throughout the Cruise Had internet and phone service most of 24 hours a day Clean Ship with Great Venues I know they say tips are included, but they go above and beyond.....PLEASE DON'T BE CHEAP and TIP ACCORDINGLY. (They have a "Crew Fund" you can tip to, just go to guest services) Thanks to our Crystal Travel Agent Marian for some on-board credits and great service. My wife and I will cruise Crystal in the future when our daughter is gone to college. Thanks again Crystal Serenity Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
WE love Crystal. However, when it takes 45 minutes to get served in no man's land for their dining by reservation anytime dining program, it makes me wonder what is going on with this company. Is profit driving a wedge into what was ... Read More
WE love Crystal. However, when it takes 45 minutes to get served in no man's land for their dining by reservation anytime dining program, it makes me wonder what is going on with this company. Is profit driving a wedge into what was excellent service, fantastic food and beverage service at your fingertips? Heaven help you if you make a reservation for 7:45 for the main dining room. You are in between seatings and depending on where you are seated, service is dismal. We felt that not only was service lacking, but their servers didn't seem dialed in, more interested in just getting you something, the attentiveness wasn't there and many crew seemed new. There also seems to be less crew/servers, the servers to guest ratio seems less and service suffers. Getting a drink at the pool after 5:15pm or so is almost impossible and so I walked back to the Tastes bar to get my own in my bathing suit and cover up, but still dripping wet. I'm sure they didn't like seeing me there but I don't like not being served and to make it easier on the crew, since there seemed to be so few of them, I though I'd just go get a drink myself. Gone are the fresh berries. You have to know "who" ask for them at breakfast, and even then, they dole them out with a mere 5 berries at a time. No truffle honey, probably have to ask for that too. In general, the food just didn't seem to be what we fondly thought of as the Crystal difference. I think if you want the old Crystal experience you can still get it, you just have to ask and know "who" to ask when it comes to food and beverage service. . Having said all of this, yes of course we will still cruise Crystal, but there are changes and new guests may or may not notice. The lectures and guest speakers remain out of this world and I can't help but think I get to go back to college when I am onboard. Kudos to Crystal for having the best of the best in the world for cruise speakers. Both our embarkation and debarkation had issues and thank God we weren't in a hurry, otherwise we'd have missed our plane. Ft Lauderdale terminal was a nightmare for many for a variety of reasons. It was very inexcusable in many passengers opinions. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
First time Crystal Cruise...”Amazon Escape” Oct. 27 - Nov. 20, 2017 (24 Days) The Embarkation Process was disorganized & confusing...it took nearly 3 hours...Wasn’t a good start...apparently, the Crystal Cruises Headquarters ... Read More
First time Crystal Cruise...”Amazon Escape” Oct. 27 - Nov. 20, 2017 (24 Days) The Embarkation Process was disorganized & confusing...it took nearly 3 hours...Wasn’t a good start...apparently, the Crystal Cruises Headquarters decided to drastically reduce prices to fill the ship...this cruise required a Brazilian Visa and a Yellow Fever Inoculation...Which meant, several hundreds of guests, unable to meet the aforementioned requirements slowed the process for those who booked and paid a much higher price to have to wait...this could have been handled more efficiently and professionally... Once onboard, our Penthouse w/ verandah (PS Cat.) was very well appointed...we had fabulous room attendants (Anna-Marie and Raylene)...superior service was provided all around the entire ship... The Entertainment was just as billed...”Broadway” quality...so many talented individuals! From Irina, Richard, Boytan & Charlie James to the flown in Entertainment of Billie Joel Musician James Fox...the female vocalist, Helen, (supposedly operatic trained...???destroyed Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music” lyrics...the Crystal Dance & Music Troupe were Awesome!! Shore Excursions were a “hit or miss”...could have done without the “Boca de Valeria” port of call...?? Indigenous People with satellites and pandering chained animals from the rainforest for money...poor taste for such a high-end ship... Found this cruise to have a high minimum age; 70’s...one English fellow described the cruise as “The recently resurrected...” Thought some of the Excursions were a little dangerous; as many were having trouble walking. Most guests were cheerful & friendly; some need to take classes in Courteousness...very rude to others and crew members. The ship is still outdated in some areas...however, the Amazing, enthusiastic crew made upfor any of the other failings... Leo, Igor, Charlton & Dining Room Team are all a Class Act! The food! The Cuisine was Incredible...I did not have one bad meal the entire river adventure... Edwin in the Tastes & Trident Grill area always, always had a beautiful smile and extremely polite! Erica & Okan (hope I am not butchering his name) & Kaustius Awesome Service! Truly, for just over 3 weeks, we found the Captain’s Mid-day History lessons very enlightening; as well as all the Keynote Speakers; Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Jay Wulff, and others extremely knowledgeable in their respective fields of interest... Our stateroom was on the Penthouse House Deck 11...walk in closet finished in gorgeous walnut stain...the modern decor refreshing color palette of creams, grays & plum... Our State Room Butler Engin was superlative! So elegant and professional... We really enjoyed Tilmar (Head Sommelier) in the Vintage Room...very passionate & a delight Needs some tweaking in the Emarkation & Disembarkation for a more organized and smooth transition...this is after all a leader in the luxury industry... So, over all; we enjoyed our river adventure so much, I am booking the upcoming “World Cruise 2018” from LA to Rome... Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a ... Read More
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a limited way by increasing the number of penthouses and penthouse suites but, for many, its too little too late. Personally I don't mind the trade off of smaller staterooms for so many large and well thought out public spaces. This cruise was pretty well sold out (we were lucky enough to get an upgrade of several categories from a picture window room to one with a veranda on deck 9) yet the ship never seemed crowded, we never had to queue for anything, the feeling of gracious spaciousness sets this ship apart in my view. Embarkation was a breeze, the greeting was warm and our room was ready pretty well after lunch. We ate at all the eating venues and the quality was consistently good - and sometimes outstanding. The matching wines at dinner were sometimes ordinary but its easy enough to request something different. One thing I noticed in particular (this was my 12th cruise with Crystal) was the quality of the evening entertainment. It has improved markedly from what used to look like amateur high school productions, the Billy Joel tribute show was again outstanding, I'm still not sure about the Illuminate light show, impressive enough in the first 5 minutes and then you are stuck in the dark for another 25 minutes for much of the same thing. I just don't think it matches the type of passenger which Crystal attracts. The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, I was remembered by several of them which I think is always a nice touch. We did a Crystal excursion in each port, they were all overpriced for what they were but pleasant enough. This is an area they could do better in although I like the fact they never completely fill the buses so there's room to spare always. This cruise was originally intended to stop at Monterey, they quietly cancelled that without advising anyone and added another day onto San Francisco - so we ended up being there two nights - great city but a bit lazy on their part. The call to Astoria was a waste of time, we went to a cooking demonstration which was interesting enough but there was clearly very little to do there. So overall a pretty good experience, I am booked again next February on Symphony which will be after their dry dock, looking forward to seeing the improvements. On a separate subject, no surprise to see their recent announcement that the "air cruise" initiative has been cancelled before it even got off the ground. Blind Freddie could see this was never going to fly. "Redeploying" it to charter work is just about saving face. As many others have mentioned, their crazy expansion plans under the new CEO will only lead to tears. They need to stick to their core business, in my humble opinion. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was out third Crystal cruise and probably our last for a while . While the service and food were top notch , the average age of our fellow cruisers had to be well in the 80's . I'm not young by any stretch , 59 . But ... Read More
This was out third Crystal cruise and probably our last for a while . While the service and food were top notch , the average age of our fellow cruisers had to be well in the 80's . I'm not young by any stretch , 59 . But anywhere we went walkers , canes , rascals, wheelchairs . I'm sorry but I want to be with someone closer to my demographic. Perhaps Crystal can have themed cruises catering to younger people , eg: classic rocker or jazz performers. Maybe a yoga theme . They are going to need to attract younger people , because soon their client base wont be able to travel or just wont be here any longer . Sorry if this seems cruel and I realize and hope that one day I will be this old man that everyone complains about . Its hard to give up all the great things crystal has to offer , but until I get older I just may have to . Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Serenity and I would rate it very highly again, with a couple of areas for improvement. The food is consistently wonderful. Last October we thought that Prego was good, but not better than the dining room. This cruise we felt that the food was improved, with more selections that were different than what was served in the Main Dining Room. Silk Road was delicious again. The Main Dining Room and the Buffet were both impressive, as was room service. The second-to-last evening's Dover Sole meal was truly spectacular. Wait service was impeccable as always, with the exception of the second evening's dinner in MDR. Then, it was slow almost to the point of being ridiculous. I attribute this mainly to the fact that almost every seat was filled for the special lobster/chateaubriand dinner. They really do need to try to stagger people more on that evening. Our cabin attendant, Natasa, was very attentive. The room was always serviced at a convenient time, and extra items supplied quickly when requested. I loved our cabin, a veranda stateroom. Even though it is pretty small, it is well-designed and cozy. If only it were about six inches wider, it would be easier to get around the bed, and my hubby wouldn't keep banging into the waste can in the middle of the night. There is plenty of storage for a one-week cruise and huge amounts of space that we left unused in the bathroom. The one thing that disappoints sometimes on Crystal is the entertainment. We are 50-somethings, quite a bit younger than the average age on this ship. We loved the Billy Joel show. However some of the other entertainment seemed to be aimed squarely at the 80+ crowd. One night it was such a tired cliche presentation, almost like Lawrence Welk, that I walked out. The music that I enjoyed most from the last cruise, the Astoria Strings, were gone. Just the violinist remained, and she played in the Crystal Cove with the pianist Richard Pucci most nights. In fact Richard seemed to be the one remaining of my favorite acts from the last cruise. He is very talented and I could listen to him all night. The excellent lounge pianist in Avenue Saloon from our last cruise was also gone, replaced with another tired, hokey guy who talked constantly and played little of interest. If Crystal wants to bring in the 40 and 50-somethings they are going to have to revamp all this. The movies shown on board in the Hollywood Theater are also bizarre: titles I had largely never heard of. Yet they played new releases on the TV's in the stateroom. Why not in the Theater? Overall I enjoyed the cruise, a 7-day through California which was competitively priced. However I will be watching to see if there is more cost-cutting in the entertainment before I Take a longer cruise on this ship. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so ... Read More
A concise review here, we chose this cruise as just a nice one week getaway. I am a California native and my dear wife is just about, having lived here for the past 40 or so years. We have been to all of the port cities several times, so for us, not too much to explore. We were basically taking this cruise to unwind, have some great food and drink and be treated in luxury. Crystal satisfied that need for us. In fact we have done this (or a very similar itinerary) on Crystal twice before. So we did no shore excursions, but did wander a bit at the port cities. We were upgraded from an Ocean View to a nice 9th floor Veranda. The stateroom was excellent as was our stateroom attendant (waitress). Food and Service were impeccable throughout. Prego was especially good this time and my wife was very impressed with the Mushroom Soup in a bread bowl. At Silk Road (Nobu's Joint), we ordered a ton of appetizers, the popular Black Cod and the Steak. Mushroom soup here as well was a treat. Overall very tasty, but apparently the same meal at Nobu's NYC restaurant would set us back $400. It was not $400 worth of food, but it was quite nice! The surprise here was TASTES! What a great concept and delivery. We ate there every other night other than the two aforementioned specialty restaurants. We also loved to snack at the Bistro. Good stuff in there. My wife loved the Casino! She actually won. I was neutral. Bingo was a bit lame and we did not care for the Afternoon Tea sandwiches. Those need improvement. The Mozart Tea was a bit more impressive though. Entertainment was good, but I do miss the String Quartet! The Piano players and the violinist were good, but a Quartet would have been quite nice. The show that played in the dark with flashing lights was quite an experience. Do see it! The price was right and the week was great. No complaints! Well done Crystal. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary - visiting places I had not visited before in the Caribbean. This was my first time sailing on Crystal Serenity and the ship was as elegant and well appointed as I expected. I did not feel as ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of the itinerary - visiting places I had not visited before in the Caribbean. This was my first time sailing on Crystal Serenity and the ship was as elegant and well appointed as I expected. I did not feel as comfortable with its size, however, though this is no fault of the ship. I prefer the size and guest number of Crystal Symphony. The embarkation was not as quick and trouble-free as my previous two. This sailing did not have a pre-cruise hotel program and so the air/sea program flew me in on the morning of embarkation, which made for a long day. Upon arrival at the cruise terminal we had to wait an hour to be allowed to board, and we were not given any information as to why we could not upon arrival. Upon embarkation things settled down, with the service from the crew being lovely as I have experienced before. My cabin was well appointed and even though I do get motion-sickness the majority of the cruise caused me no discomfort, it being between two decks with staterooms and near the middle of the ship. The exception was one particular night when the waves were very high and the wind was fierce, which made it necessary for me to take medication for motion sickness. One thing I did not expect was the the wind making it very uncomfortable going out on the balcony. The few times I was able to utilize it I had to hold down the items brought by room service. In addition, I noticed some wear and tear on the balcony bulkheads, which surprised me, as Crystal Symphony was immaculately kept from what I could see on my sailings aboard that vessel. The dining was, as always, wonderful. The service and cuisine in the main dining room were such that I almost did not want to dine in the specialty restaurants, though I did. The dining at Silk Road was superb - the lobster and shrimp tempura were wonderful. The mushroom soup served at Prego was delicious. I did have lunch at Tastes one afternoon, and was very impressed with the stir-fried dish I ordered. On one occasion at breakfast at the Lido Cafe a large flock of pelicans flew by the ship - it was splendid to see the birds in flight, not to mention surprising. The shore excursions were very well staffed and fascinating. I visited three different archaeological sites and an incredibly beautiful cenote. The guides were well informed, as I expected, and very humorous. The only complaint I can make regarding two of the excursions was that they were too rushed. We visited multiple sites on each excursion and, because of the distances traveled, did not get enough time at each site due to having to return to the ship for departure to the next port. I chose the volunteer excursion on this itinerary and was very satisfied with the amount of hands-on work we were able to do while at the site, a soup kitchen for the elderly. We did everything from washing dishes to calling out a bingo game for the residents to singing with them. On this itinerary I did not attend many activities on board, as I preferred to take advantage of the sun and beautiful weather, coming from a city that was experiencing temperatures a few degrees above zero at the time of the cruise. I did attend one of the Broadway shows and it was very enjoyable, though I did feel that though the performers were professionals, they did not appear to me to be as engaged as those who work on Crystal Symphony. Regardless, they were great performers and very entertaining. Disembarkation was very straight forward with no hiccups. Just a few points: I did not attend any movies in the Hollywood Theater as the viewings were very scarce and not very interesting, at least to me. As I mentioned the wait at the cruise terminal, after my horribly early flight to get to Miami, was very taxing. Not knowing what the delay in embarkation was about made it seem longer. I feel it would have helped to make it less tiring if we had been informed why we were waiting to be allowed to board. Needless to say, I look forward to my next cruise with Crystal next year. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
We have cruised with Seabourn many times, but have sometimes been disappointed at the limited opportunities to ballroom dance. Crystal has much more dancing so we decided to try a short cruise. In general, we found the level of service ... Read More
We have cruised with Seabourn many times, but have sometimes been disappointed at the limited opportunities to ballroom dance. Crystal has much more dancing so we decided to try a short cruise. In general, we found the level of service from servers and cabin crew to be comparable to Seabourn's. Facilities were also comparable. However,the increased size of the ship (Seabourn has less than 500 passengers and Crystal has over 1000) may have been partly responsible for a major difference which was the interaction between upper level personnel and guests. On Seabourn, every staff member seems to have the mission of providing every guest he encounters with an additional reason to be enjoying the cruise. Whether it's just a warm hello or an intervention to solve a problem, on Seabourn, every staff member, from the cabin stewardess to the captain, is "dialed into" the guest's pleasure. Not so on Crystal. The officers and administrative staff appear are likely to pass a passenger without even giving eye contact. It was obvious to both my husband and me that staff regularly turned away, rather than acknowledge either of us. Another difference was the issue of gratuities. Although we do give gratuities on Seabourn, most passengers do not and staff do not expect it. On Crystal, gratuities are very much expected and food servers, in particular, go out of their way to form a relationship with you which tightens as the cruise is ending. The gratuity was almost expected. Without question, a Crystal cruise is far better than most of the other cruise lines offer. But Seabourn is even better. In our opinion, anyone who has cruised Seabourn would find Crystal lacking. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
First you fly into Montreal and get to your hotel about 5 after being on the road since 5 am. The meet and greet is a bevy of repetitive tables in the lobby of the baggage area after YOIU put your luggage in a bin for transport at the ... Read More
First you fly into Montreal and get to your hotel about 5 after being on the road since 5 am. The meet and greet is a bevy of repetitive tables in the lobby of the baggage area after YOIU put your luggage in a bin for transport at the baggage handlers discretion. Crystal Serenity is a nice ship but shows are terrible for what I am paying them to cruise. WiFi is outlandishly high again for what I paid for the cruise. Remember STARBUCKS gives you free WiFi and you don't have to buy anything. Two of the 5 ports were terrible. School buses were used to transport people to shore excursion places from ship. Did I pay for school buses at the price I paid? And the two towns stopped at in Canada had maybe 45000 people combined. Each had 1 main street with many shops, more souvenir stores than anything, one traffic light and NO visible gas stations on Main Street. One town had a "Dollar Store" which was famous for being only one in the area. One town had a Catholic Basilica that had only two masses all year for Catholic residents b/c Archdiocese sub-divided the town area into 5 parishes and left out the Basilica. Now you can rent it for weddings, funerals and concerts. One town lost over 2000 people who migrated to big towns to be with children who had gone off to college. Bar Harbor was a nice quaint old rich town with 60 room/26 bathroom cottages for the Rockerfellers and Gettys. More souvenir shops than anything else. One major thing was that the cruise line DID NOT NOTIFY PASSENGERS OF CRUISE CRITIC MEET AND GREET. I found out second hand and told another who didn't get the message- 8 people showed up. Speciality restaurants were excellent as was the regular dining room food. They accommodated us when we asked to have something that wasn't on the menu but was available according to a Matre D. Also a great positive for "Single" travelers was a table of 8 JUST FOR SINGLES (that was one reason I took the cruise company again. The staff were not real friendly. No one I met offered to say "hello" or "Good Morning, afternoon or evening as the walked past you rapidly and bold you over if you were in their way. Very Rude. The major productions were terrible- lip-synched, costumes that didn't fit, dancers not in step w/one another. The "singer" in the piano bar was hideous. He screamed into the mike, never sang a song but talked it through every once in a while trying to carry a tune. There were maybe 10 people tops any night. On a previous cruise this same piano bar was overflowing with folks who "Sang along with the guy" and the crowd was much more into singing which is what a piano bar is all about. I am booked again in January with the same ship and I certainly hope I can give a better review then. I hope my critique to Crystal isn read and doesn't get thrown in File 19. If Cruise Critic is paying for these Meet and Greets or is sponsoring them through the cruise lines they need to look into the lack of cooperation from the cruise lines to accommodate their clients. On the big companies, RCL, Carnival, Norwegian etc they handle business for Meet and Greets very well. I Travel alone, had a great cabin and cabin steward, probably the best part of the trip outside of the food prep and presentation (I lost 2 pounds on the trip but ate well and left full after each meal). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
My mother, who is in her 80s, asked me to join her on this cruise. The itinerary and level of service created outstanding memories, as we might not have this opportunity again. I had been on the Crystal Symphony before, but never the ... Read More
My mother, who is in her 80s, asked me to join her on this cruise. The itinerary and level of service created outstanding memories, as we might not have this opportunity again. I had been on the Crystal Symphony before, but never the Crystal Serenity. The Crystal Serenity is a beautiful ship, and is extremely well maintained. We left out of New York, which is a mixed blessing. While the sail out is inspiring, getting to the pier, even on a Saturday (as offered by this itinerary, is daunting. It took me over an hour from Newark airport and took my mother over 1.5 hours from LGA to reach the cruise port. Still, the scheduled late departure (11 pm) allowed me to fly in from the west coast on the day of the cruise, rather than the day before. That schedule also eased the stress, as there was never a doubt that I could reach the ship before the scheduled boarding time. Crystal made embarkation very easy. There was a small line at the x-ray machine, but no other lines whatsoever. It was nice to check in on the ship itself. Staff was welcoming, and the cabin attendant did a great job of explaining the features of the cabin. As I had the cabin to myself, there was plenty of storage in my oceanview cabin. It might have been a bit tight for two people. Upon boarding, it became very apparent that there was a large group on board. I have always believed that cruise lines should warn the other passengers about large groups on their cruise, as such groups inevitably take over the ship, making areas inaccessible and making advertised features of the ship not available. It turned out there were actually two bridge groups books, totaling some 350 of the 900 passengers. The first evidence of the large group was that the groups had taken absolutely every main (early) dining opportunity, including the specialty restaurants. I have some health issues that require me to retire relatively early each evening, so late dining is not an option. My mother an I were waitlisted for main dining (despite booking 15 months ahead) and although we had informed Crystal of my health issue, the maître d' was unable to clear the waitlist upon boarding. He recommended that we come to the dining room at main seating and he would try to squeeze us in somewhere. He was in fact quite gracious when we arrive at main seating the first night and did give us a table. The second night he seated us at a table for 8 where two of the passengers were dining elsewhere. We had calculated that we could reserve space elsewhere, but we did not clear the waitlist anywhere. As Crystal does not open the buffet in the evening (families should be warned of this), the only options were to be squeezed in to a different table each night or to order from the extremely limited room service menu. Had this issue remained where it was on night 2, you would be reading a one or two star review. However, and kudos the Crystal for this, on the wifi logon site (and kudos to Crystal for providing an hour per day of free wifi), there is a feedback button, and I used it to express my concerns. Ten minutes after I sent my concern in, a waitlist cleared at Silk Road and we were seated there at 6 pm. The next night, a waitlist cleared at Prego for 7 pm. We were then seated at Captain's table the following night and, voila, the waitlist cleared at Tastes on the following night. I have never seen a cruise line work so hard to address a concern. Having a system to report a concern to the corporate office while still onboard is commendable. Responding immediately and so thoroughly is incredible! The group of passengers onboard was older (averaged mid to late 70s), and composed mainly of retired professionals and executives. There were just two children on board, both infants. Many of the passengers apparently do not understand the meaning of "casual" as the dressed in suits and ties and even formal wear on some nights. I guess that they were disappointed that there were no formal nights on the cruise, but I received many condescending looks when dressed appropriately (Tommy Bahama button down shirt, dark Dockers and loafers). If cruise lines can refuse to seat shorts after 6 pm, they should also refuse to seat ties and gowns. The food in the main dining room was very good, and the service was excellent. While the service was excellent in Silk Road and Prego, the food was disappointing. It was not as good as the main dining room, and I never like to get sushi that is not cold. At Tastes, the food was very good but the service was not up to the standard set on the rest of the ship. The entertainment was likewise variable. The singers and dancers were talented, and the Broadway tribute was a great show. The comedian was pretty good, but the other production show and the first and last night shows were just average. The house band was exceptional. I had concerns about the cabin that was assigned on a guarantee. It was an Oceanview cabin that was guaranteed to be mid ship. Technically it was (last room before the forward elevators), and I had been concerned that it might be noisy, as the doors to the promenade deck were adjacent to my room. It was not noisy at all, and in fact the only noise issue on the entire trip was on the final night with porters loading baggage. I would book this room again, as it was close to everything. The voyage was definitely rocky in parts, but I had very little movement in this cabin. Crystal always handles its shore excursions well, providing escorts and water to enhance the excursion. Our excursion in Bar Harbor was very good, even though the fog blocked many of the usually outstanding views. Still, the guide was great. The Baie-Comeau walking excursion was not as good, as the stuck us on a non-air conditioned, very tightly spaced school bus at the end to go back to the ship, and sat us there for 25 minutes. apparently, that bus also served as the shuttle from town to the ship, and as it was to be the last one, it waited for returning passengers. The advertised excursion described itself as including transportation to and from the start of the walking tour. If the plan was to rely on shuttles, it should have stated that. While the ship was completely booked, it never felt crowded. Unlike other lines, there was no need to arrive early for shows, although this may be due to the presence of large groups. With regard to those groups, other than the main dining issue, I did not feel the lack of facilities during their presence. Crystal handled the groups well. I had signed up for a number of computer classes, but almost none were given due to a lack of sea days. The lecturers were, as always, outstanding. My mother is an avid dancer and says that the four dance hosts on this cruise were the best she has ever experienced. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We had a wonderful 10 days despite the weather on our Crystal cruise to Alaska. We would prefer open seating rather than assigned 6 pm every night at the same table. It would be great to mingle with more people and dining with new ... Read More
We had a wonderful 10 days despite the weather on our Crystal cruise to Alaska. We would prefer open seating rather than assigned 6 pm every night at the same table. It would be great to mingle with more people and dining with new people on a regular basis would make that happen. The Breakfast and lunch buffets on deck 12 were very good. But dinner was a disappointment. I was so surprised that I was unable to dine on a good piece of salmon cooked to perfection on an Alaskan cruise. The shore excursions that we participated in were excellent. The guides were well informed, enthusiastic and enjoyable to be with. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, a couple of shore excursions were cancelled. I wish that we had additional lectures, as they were wonderful. Since the weather made it impossible for some excursions to go out, it would have been helpful to have additional lectures (repeats of those that were at inconvenient times (ie too close to early dinner)). Computer classes were helpful and enjoyable. Under the circumstances (weather), we could have had a few more classes as well! Entertainment mixed reviews. The dancers were wonderful as were some of the singers! Some of the other entertainers were not quite as good. Need some additional exciting entertainment. The Room Divisions Manager, Director of Activities, Captain, as well as other high level staff were always friendly. They went out of their way to make sure that we were enjoying the cruise. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Having taken many cruises on Silversea and Seabourn, this was my first Crystal experience, and although being mindful that while it is unfair to compare directly the Crystal product to the other two (due to Crystal's larger ship ... Read More
Having taken many cruises on Silversea and Seabourn, this was my first Crystal experience, and although being mindful that while it is unfair to compare directly the Crystal product to the other two (due to Crystal's larger ship capacity), given price, marketing and general feedback I read, I had high expectations. Overall the experience was very good, and I must say, that in terms of dining, Crystal were as good, or due to specialist dining venues, a touch better compared to Seabourn (my preference to date) - impressive given the increased capacity of the ship. With the exception of the main dining room, which I found noisy and frenetic at times, just OK food, with very inconsistent service, the specialist dining options of Prego and Silk Road were exceptional, as was the relaxed Tastes. One disappointment was afternoon tea. Tried it once and then to forget. Nothing compared with those on Seabourn and Silversea which really are lavish and exceptional daily events. Crystal's waiter service offering a small selection of boring sandwiches and cakes that you could find in the Bistro was extremely lack lustre. Customer service was overall very good, although it lacked some of the very personal touches on Seabourn that come with a smaller passenger number. Overall though I found the staff helpful and professional. One thing that I did note however (although this had no personal impact) was that our Cruise Director was the most low key, ineffective I have ever experienced, and seemed purely there to drift around the ship, open and close the entertainment, and record a daily briefing video. I'm sure he was doing a lot more, but we never saw it. We opted for the Penthouse Verandah. Lovely cabin, with plenty of space and storage, and our butler did a great job. Well worth the extra spend. Two things really left me disappointed. Overall, after the last refit, the ship is lovely, with a nice mix of traditional, modern and contemporary decor, all well maintained. I found the standard and style though was let down by an inconsistency in some of the public areas, for example the main dining room, casino most of all Palm Court. I was speechless at the decor in the Palm Court - potentially the most stunning space on the ship, on top deck with views forward. To me it seemed that during the last refurbishment, when they got there, Crystal ran out of money. The wicker furniture, fixed seating, and tired planting looked completely out of place with other public areas. The half empty pebble planters with plastic plants at the entrances were just dreadful. Did they put all this furniture together from other sources? It looked like something from the 80's. It did not even fill the space well. It looked tired and uninviting. Such a shame. My biggest issue and one that left me absolutely furious was disembarkation in Seward. Our pre-cruise documentation stated specifically that no flights could be booked from Anchorage International before 1400, due to docking time at 0800 and the long surface transfer from the ship. I was not at all happy given the implications for myself and my cruise companion, but duly complied. He was returning to Newport Beach California, and I was returning to Portugal via London. This restriction meant that I was unable to catch a flight form Anchorage to connect with any non-stop flights out of the US western seaboard that day to London, for a connection to Portugal. I therefore decided to travel back to Los Angeles with my friend, stay overnight and leave the next day. Given a schedule change by Delta, the only way for us to do that was at 1507 with Delta to Seattle, and with a change to Alaska Airlines, arriving LA at 0030 the following day! When we received our disembarkation details on the ship, 2 days before arrival, I was stunned to see that the ship was not arriving at 0800 but earlier. Indeed, our coach departure time was given as 0705!!!!!!!! I immediately queried this with the concierge, and to my further amazement, when challenged, he confirmed that some passengers had flights at 1215. I was absolutely furious. No explanation was given, only a suggestion to change my flights. When I explained that due to flight fare rules and change penalties, not least availability, that was not an option. I just got a blank expression. The result was that we arrived at the airport at 1030. We sat in the departure lounge and heard the boarding of a direct Alaska flight to LA, and even worse, a direct flight to Orange County (serving Newport Beach). So....we got up at 0600, had an exhausting day, arriving at LA at 0030, in to our hotel by 0200...wasting time, a day vacation for me,and money...and for no reason at all, had Crystal been accurate in their pre-cruise information. Strange that I have not been invited by Crystal to give feedback on this cruise (as today you cannot by a case of Coke without an online satisfaction survey), but I will be complaining about this. It was a horrible end to what had overall been a good experience. Would I go Crystal again? If the itinerary was good, and the fare competitive, possibly, but I have to say that I will probably be holding on with great excitement for the new launches of Silversea's Silver Muse, and Seaboard's Encore and Ovation. All three look stunning, and with products and service that I have always enjoyed tremendously. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We had a great time, but as quite a few other reviews suggest, Crystal is slipping. The service in the main dining room was atrocious. The server was so confused by the orders that my wife something with lobster, which she is very ... Read More
We had a great time, but as quite a few other reviews suggest, Crystal is slipping. The service in the main dining room was atrocious. The server was so confused by the orders that my wife something with lobster, which she is very allergic to, and so Heidi was sick all night. I would have expected at least a token from the ship. The rest of the time, service was just garden-variety mediocre, with no one coming by etc. I've had much better service on Disney and even NCL. To a lesser extent, it was clear throughout the ship that "tips included" means "we don't have to try that hard." Of course people did things they were supposed to, but it was perfunctory. The Bistro and Lido Deck were prime examples of lackluster service. Some cost-cutting is apparent, too. They used to have lavish lunch buffets with ice sculptures. None now. The ship is also looking dated, especially the common rooms and the atrium. Celebrity Solstice Class has a better hard product. Pluses: both speciality restaurants, Vintage Room (though it's overpriced given that food and wine are already included), logistics (embarkation, etc.). The shows are still great. The piano player in Avenue Saloon (Perry) was fantastic. The speakers and classes are still a cut above. Needless to say, it was still a great cruise, but the slipping standards are disappointing. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Having cruised on Seabourn, Regent, Oceania and other lines that I won't mention, I finally decided to give Crystal a try after hearing from a friend how good the service was on Crystal. I had refrained from going on this ship ... Read More
Having cruised on Seabourn, Regent, Oceania and other lines that I won't mention, I finally decided to give Crystal a try after hearing from a friend how good the service was on Crystal. I had refrained from going on this ship because I thought the patronage might be a bit old for me. But, we booked it with some younger friends and so I felt that I had my safety net. Hands down this was the best wait staff I have encountered on a cruise ship. The moment we were on board, Ricky was waiting on us, friendly, and helpful. He immediately new our names, and throughout the cruise greeted us with our names and gave us our drinks. He was exceptional, but the rest of our waiters were great. So my friend was correct about the service. I never saw one person scowl or look grumpy, they were all extremely pleasant. The not so great. Veranda rooms are tiny compared to Seabourn and Regent. We should have booked a suite, so please do that, or not. The cruise itself I knew would not be exciting, but my main reason for going on the cruise was to visit Quebec. Great city, got off the ship early in the morning and wandered through the old part of the city. Beautiful. Went up to take a city tour which was great. Walked back down and noticed that now there were many large cruise ships in port, so about 6,000 people milling about, but not smartly, ha. Nothing to do with Crystal, just the nature of cruising now. To get to the improvement part. Dining is set, 6:00 or 8:30. I much prefer open dining but apparently Crystal cannot accommodate this. I was assigned late dining and begged to be changed to no avail. I ended up paying for specialty restaurants to eat at a more reasonable hour, which was fine, just please, please don't make me wait till 8:30. So really, between the small room and the dining hour, things were ok. The piano player was great, and if you are a night owl the karaoke was fun. Trivia was a disaster!!! They ask a question and offer multiple choice answers. The questions were so hard, even guessing there were teams that got less than 25% correct. There was no interaction between the staff member and the teams. No joking around, no comraderie amongst the teams. In other words, no fun. But I know this only impacts a few. By the way, saw the cruise director once and he was a nice guy, but interaction between passengers and entertainment needs to improve. You really cannot complain about cruising, after all, you are waited on and pampered. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our third cruise and first on Crystal Serenity so we are fairly new to cruising. We embarked in Rome and the process was effortless. Disembarkation in Istanbul was terrible. We left the ship about 9:30 am and stood in line for ... Read More
This was our third cruise and first on Crystal Serenity so we are fairly new to cruising. We embarked in Rome and the process was effortless. Disembarkation in Istanbul was terrible. We left the ship about 9:30 am and stood in line for about two hours to go through passport control. We had prearranged transportation to our hotel in Istanbul and that was perfect although a bit chaotic. I was disappointment in both restaurants. The food at Prego was ordinary at best as was the service. I really enjoyed Tastes. We chose the open seating because we preferred to be free to dine when we wish. Our friends were disappointed that with open dining, we would be seated as a twosome or foursome when we ate together. In hindsight, they would have enjoyed sitting at a table for 8 so they could to meet new people. We would enjoy either. The ship was simply perfect for us. The weather this time of year couldn't have been better. I arranged most of our excursions independently of the ship and they were perfect. The Port of Sorrento was lovely. I have been to Pompeii and Capri before, so my husband and I chose to wonder on our own. Capri was crazy crowded and with several ships in port, it was a nightmare of chaos. Sorrento was lovely the next day as I think most people take the other excursions and miss how lovely Sorrento is. Entertainment was good, although we preferred to go to our room and relax after a busy, busy day. Overall a wonderful cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room ... Read More
This was our 13 cruise on crystal all have been on symphony, this was our first on Serenity. This was our third crossing that lectures were over the top the shows were also good. I thought the food service in the main dinning room was ok not great. The presentations of the plates had no garnish at all. We were in Penthouse with a regular suite not worth the money. Flowers were dead most of the time. Service was nothing to write home about. The seas were very calm the Captain was delightful. The ship was very clean as clean as you can get with all the people on board. But I would sail symphony any time. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We have taken a few cruises on Crystal and for the most part we have been quite satisfied. Service is generally very good but Crystal needs to rethink their tipping policy and advertise accordingly. Is it included or not? The staff has yet ... Read More
We have taken a few cruises on Crystal and for the most part we have been quite satisfied. Service is generally very good but Crystal needs to rethink their tipping policy and advertise accordingly. Is it included or not? The staff has yet to be informed. Crystal's brochures claim tipping has been included in the cost of the cruise. Yet if you research "inclusive" cruise line tipping policies, Crystal states "tipping is not expected but will be appreciated" whereas Regent and Seabourn state "tipping is not expected" period. The Crystal staff clearly expects to be tipped, especially the staff in the dining rooms. They all but had their hand out the next to last night of the cruise and their behavior made for an uncomfortable evening. Crystal has also taken to cutting corners. Initially their "all inclusive" included meals in their alternate dining venues. Crystal has instituted a policy where only one evening is included now and Crystal imposes a $30 per person charge if you eat in the alternate dining venue more than one time. We chose to do so and noticed the dining rooms were half empty - apparently other cruisers are not reacting well to the up-charge. Also, their wine choices are limited and Crystal now has their own "label" of lower end wine that they encourage the staff to pour. Really - on a luxury line! Unlike other luxury cruise lines Crystal does not truly provide for open seating at dinner as other luxury lines do. Crystal makes a half hearted attempt to allow "open diners" to eat in a segregated area buried in the back of the dining room. They clearly discourage open dining - big mistake. Service at second seating can be rushed - often thought waiter was in a hurry to get off duty. These flaws aside, Crystal delivers in most other areas. Cabin was spotless and well maintained. Room service was prompt. Public areas were large and meticulous and there is always a quite place to curl up with a book.   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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