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23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction ... Read More
When I embarked on Crystal Serenity in Barcelona on Sunday October 7, I recalled that my last cruise on this ship was well over almost 4 years, yet I was pleasantly amazed (but not surprised) that many restaurant staff, under the direction of Leo, to me the master of all cruiseship Maitre D’s, could still greet me in name. Such is the hospitality level of Crystal cruises that many Crystal Society members return to the ship. The embarkation took no time, even the ship was practically full. Embarkation began at noon though in theory rooms are available from 3pm, but in a PH cabin mine was ready. There was a special luggage storage that takes care of hand luggages so that any guest can enjoy a leisurely lunch. Such is the hospitality with full attention to detail that makes what Crystal is, particular with direct comparison to the two cruises that I just had disembarked (I took 3 consecutive cruises in 30 days). This cruise, trade named Iberian Sojourn, a standard 7-day trip ending in Lisbon, has an ideal itinerary in that travel distance is short so that it is all port days and passengers have ample time in each port. The Spanish ports are, to me, more interesting than the Mediterranean ports in Italy that practically every cruiser has visited. In each port Crystal of course provides free shuttle so that one enjoys free and easy visits. Because of all-port, there was no formal night and the well-loved Mozart tea was not served. I have had many Crystal Cruises (my first was on Crystal Harmony, before Serenity was built), and as an old timers I can see good changes under new ownership of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was renovated only about 4 years ago, and on embarkation I learned that after this trip the ship will undergo dry docking for a whole month for another important renovation, probably the most important because the ship will re-emerge in November offering open sitting dining (Crystal Symphony had completed that process). Hitherto if Crystal was to be faulted as a luxury ship it was the two sitting system that requires one to eat either too early or too late. No more, and then my only regret is that, if I had this knowledge, I would have chosen to cruise after the renovation. A luxury cruise differs from a standard one mainly in space per passenger and crew to passenger ratio, and of course in service and food. Crystal offers best service second only to SeaDream (but the latter carries only 100 passengers with similar number of staff). Crew members here do not change ships, though there can be re-deployment as since the Genting takeover, Crystal has added two yachts and five river boats (not to mention even a luxury air operation). Great that virtually same staff members serve so that the important ‘recognition scenes’ are in place. But it is the delicate improvement of food standard that makes the ship remarkable, at a time when cutback is seen in the whole trade (including Silversea which serves packaged orange juice unless you ask for the fresh). I agree with the latest Berlitz guide as it now rates Crystal above competitors Silversea, Seabourn and Regent. The Crystal food is truly enjoyable, now that the restaurant offers two menus, one modern and one traditional, therefore many choices. On this visit I tend to conclude that the ‘modern’ menu has improved much, with artful presentation and good taste (it had been a bit ‘funny’ in the beginning as I tasted it on Symphony two years ago). There are three alternative dining choices in addition to the main restaurant, all offering good quality of food (rather than quantity in the number of available restaurants). All guests can dine twice in an alternative restaurant free (otherwise it is a mere cover charge of $35). Dining on Crystal Serenity is a real pleasure even for gourmets, and among the best at sea. Entertainment is never a strong area for Crystal. Ship size and mature passengers not really keen on shows do not justify lavish productions such as on sister company Dream Cruises, but the quality is good, and even more than on a big ship, there are always also alternative local shows in port in addition to the production show. Of these I watched one of the best acrobatic show at sea (or indeed on land) in the Balskat Duo which had performed with Circuit de Soleil. But I see the very same production shows that are old fashioned. The singers try to make more noises to lure the young, but I see few youngish passengers. The cruise director, Gary Hunter is a master of his trade, however. It is the most port intensive cruise that calls on a port very day, and all ports are interesting except for me, Gibraltar, which is however a convenient stop on route. The last night we stayed overnight in Lisbon. Valencia was the first port of call and the free shuttle takes passengers directly to the old town. It was a great visit, walking old streets and seeing various historic landmarks. Next port is Alicante and we arrived on a Spanish holiday that most shops are closed, but the town is beautiful and even with some initial rain it still makes a day of pleasant stroll. The weather was cool and pleasant. Malaga is next, and alas there was no sunshine on the Costa del Sol on our arrival. Some rains in the morning and I wonder if those who took excursion to Seville fared better. Malaga itself is interesting and it is gateway to many interesting points. As a frequent visitor to this region, I did not rush to any places, having seen them many times, and to me the ship is the destination Particularly the ship is Crystal, no matter rain or shine. Pouring rain in Gibraltar in the morning but it cleared up in the afternoon. I always think it is funny to see UK chain stores in town and here one dispenses the British pound. But Cadiz is interesting, as we had the full day I went out on my own in the afternoon my way while I have time to take an excursion in the morning. As if by bad luck it falls on another Spanish holiday, though many shops open for tourists. The morning excursion was good in that I visited sights slightly out of town that I had not seen out of my two previous visits. There was ample time to return to Cadiz proper for a stroll in its old streets in the afternoon. The trip ends in Lisbon and we stayed overnight here. It was good as there is much to see in Lisbon but a very strong wind arrived at dinner time so that the terminal was closed for the night. This is strange; though I am sure no one will opt to go ashore in such windy condition anyway. I took Crystal’s transfer to the airport early in the morning and the trip was perfectly organized, with many helpers that virtually take your luggage from ship to your check-in counter. This ends my very pleasant trip and I look forward to returning to Crystal Serenity when it operates the Open Sitting Dining. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
My first cruise 7 years ago was on Marco Polo a small cruise ship in the Cruise and Maritme fleet. With nothing to compare it to but other holidays in European resorts I thought it compared very favourably. Since then I have cruised ... Read More
My first cruise 7 years ago was on Marco Polo a small cruise ship in the Cruise and Maritme fleet. With nothing to compare it to but other holidays in European resorts I thought it compared very favourably. Since then I have cruised with P&O three times , NCL , and Royal Caribbean, and again with Cruise and Maritime. However the cruise I am on at the moment with Crystal on the liner Symphony beats them all hands down . The reason I have titled my review as ‘Don’t cruise on this ship’, is because it has well and truly spoiled me , and I don’t think I would be able to cruise on another liner without feeling that that they had fallen short compared to Crystal. Unfortunately I might be a while saving up for my next Crystal cruise as it works out at about double the price of the ones I have named above, but goodness is it worth it! From the moment I boarded I was treated like a treasured guest. I think the main reason is that the ship never appeared crowded , the staff had time to be attentive to the guests. In order to make my point a little more clearly I will try to give examples. On previous cruise liners - long queues for the bar during the day on the all inclusive deals,wine waiters in the restaurant only coming to the table once during the meal as they all appeared rushed off their feet. Crystal- no queues anywhere, waiter service round the pool, public areas and in the dining rooms ,constantly replenishing glasses, stopping to chat with guests. On previous cruise liners - sea days when the weather is good , don’t bother trying to get a sun bed or seat of any kind after 10 am as they are either reserved with book, towels or bodies! On sea days when the weather is bad , everywhere noisy and crowded with public areas looking like my mum’s nursing home , or Butlins , depending on which cruise line you are on. Crystal - nowhere is crowded , on the sunniest days barely half the sun beds are occupied with anything, and inside is the same , no loud piped music , no queues for anything. I don’t mean it to sound like a graveyard , it is just quiet and understated and not intrusive. On previous cruises- tips , and drinks are extra. Even on the all inclusive cruises speciality coffee and certain drinks , ice cream ,plus the mini bar in the room and certain room service menus are all extra . Crystal - All included , no staff being extra nice at the end of the holiday in the hope you will leave them an extra tip , on Crystal the staff are attentive , happy and welcoming the whole time.All speciality coffees included, with waiters on hand in public areas to dispense drinks of all sorts, and don’t get me started on the ice cream , with about 20 different flavours ( no cheap imitations) they were brilliant , and of course all included. On previous cruises- Being tendered into port whilst other ships have the cruise terminal position, queuing up for an hour before breakfast to get tender tickets so that we can get off the boat at a reasonable time . Paying extra for shuttle buses out of the port , and again having to queue up for ages in order to get a ticket that insures we get a shuttle at a reasonable time. Crystal - certainly on this cruise whenever there was a dock/cruise terminal , we got it. On the couple of occasions we were tendered in , there were no queues , no waiting , and shuttles when needed were waiting with plenty of room , and ran frequently. Food- on previous cruises tables for two have been few and far between especially on P&O. The food has been OK , but things like steak have often been tough and sometimes inedible. Self service has been good , but often the food would only be warm. On one liner our dinner companions (no table for two available) had paid a substantial amount for the drinks package and eventually having managed to get the attention of the wine waiter they were poured a glass of wine each , they didn’t see the wine waiter for the rest of the meal. On Crystal the food has been excellent , no expense spared and steaks have been so tender and cooked to perfection , as has all their food. We did try the speciality restaurants which were very good , but the main restaurant was so good that we didn’t feel the need to try anything else , also your wine glass is replenished before it ever becomes empty. The cabin we had on Crystal was a comparable size to that of other liners , but the fittings were superior . Our cabin attendant was efficient and friendly and tailored our cabin cleaning/turn down service around our movements which wasn’t the case on some of the other cruises we have been on. Of course it is very much horses for courses and if you like loud music, sing alongs , karaoke , bingo and announcements from your cruise director throughout the day , or water shoots and bumper cars , then this cruise line might be a bit quiet for you. The larger proportion of passengers are American , the rest are English , Asian and European. I think there is quite a bit to do on board with lectures , a cinema , and Dvd’s That are played through your TV . We only had 3 sea days so we were able to find plenty of quiet spots to sit and read ,so to be fair we didn’t really try out their activities, although we did play table tennis - this had its own part of the deck with a large heavy net covering the area where you played , thus preventing the ball escaping under sun loungers etc. Afternoon tea served in one of the lounges was a sight to behold and was of the same standard as the Ritz or Fortnum and Mason! We didn’t tend to watch the entertainment in the evening , as we are not really into shows , but we did catch one of the comedians one evening (John Joseph) who was hilarious. I feel that throughout the whole cruise nothing was too much trouble , the passenger and their comfort was the important aspect, not how much money could be generated from them. I think it is well worth the extra money and have started saving my pennies already! Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos ... Read More
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos together would be so simple to organise but there was nothing. The new open-seating concept in the main dining room works against solo travellers. Finding dining companions is a lottery every night. And crew are impatient. On my first night on board I wanted to dine at 8pm and, upon arrival, asked to be seated at a large table with other solos. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I should have eaten at 6.30pm as a table of singles had been available then. Refusing to be intimidated into eating alone, I told the Maitre d’ I would sit to one side and await the arrival of others and, sure enough, there were soon enough solos to fill a table but we shouldn’t have to battle 'solos discrimination' for that to happen. The speciality restaurants on board offered three evenings when solos could sit on a table together - one at 6.00pm, one at 6.30pm and one at 8.30pm. When I tried to book these a few days into the cruise, the Maitre d’ there told me I could not be fitted in and should have booked immediately upon boarding. So, 190 solo travellers on board (this number told to me by Crystal themselves) for 17 days and the solo speciality dining provision was just 3 tables for eight spread over the whole period. In fairness, I did eventually manage to eat in the speciality restaurants but why does everything have to be a battle? Is Crystal trying to tell us solos something? Another evening a fellow solo braved the Brazilian restaurant on her own and left almost in tears. She was, quite simply, ignored throughout the meal while surrounding tables were well served. She said she had never been made to feel invisible in her life before. Some of the staff and crew are a delight but there is a problem with those who fail to respect single female travellers. We have paid over the top 'single person supplements' yet we receive inferior service that occasionally verges on the offensive. ILLNESS ON BOARD I knew I was going to be ill the first time I walked the promenade deck on Christmas Eve. The air extract for the whole ship is sited on that deck (as told to me by the Front Desk) and, as I passed the outlet vents that first day, I was astounded by the sour stench being emitted. Comparing notes with other walkers later, they also smelled the foul air and told me they'd held their breath at that point on each circuit! Sure enough I picked up something evil confining me to bed with aches, pains and flu like symptoms. Nearly two weeks later I was still feeling drained with a hacking cough and chest and back pain. I tried to report my suspicions of the source of my illness and was told Crystal check the 'air conditioning' daily. Whether that includes the emissions direct to a passenger deck I was not told. I asked to see the results for the days I walked that deck but my request was denied. I was told data is not released. My request for contact details for the shore-based person who is responsible was also denied. One of the staff on the front desk felt obliged to shout over me during a long conversation when she repeated herself endlessly and continually quoted ‘Crystal Policy' as the reason she would give me no means to escalate my complaint. She wanted to keep my complaint ship-based and offered me customer services. Is that Crystal policy so that onboard problems and issues remain 'contained' and shore-based management don't get to see there's been a problem? Is there a duty log? Was my complaint even logged? If I were CEO Tom Wolber I'd put in place a method by which complaints CAN be escalated. How else will he know what is going on if he only ever receives a sanitised/edited version of events? And why is he trying to hide from the day to day reality of passengers' experiences? Incidentally, later in the cruise that foul stench had gone convincing me even more that there had been an emission problem. FOOD SAFETY A minor point but it could bring someone down with food poisoning. I refer to refilling from the front! I noticed that crew were refilling foodstuffs as they were taken so fresh produce was used to fill gaps made by passengers at the front of displays. Products to the rear were left to fester and come up to room temperature (to be taken away and chilled again?). This is poor food hygiene practice and makes one wonder what goes on behind the scenes. CHAMPAGNE This is supposed to be 6-star, all-inclusive cruising but this ship ran out of champagne almost a week before the end of the cruise! And even though we were in port for three consecutive days during that period, none was taken on board. The reason given for them running out? 'New Year's Eve!' Yes, it must have come as a total shock to Crystal that New Year's Eve has occurred during this cruise!!! Occasionally, if I spoke to the right person, a glass of champagne could be found for me but I'd have to try all the bars AND the theatre and it really was a case of pot luck. One day, miraculously, a bottle was found and offered to me to have in my cabin. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, what use is that to a sociable solo who wants to meet others over a glass of champagne at the bar? Am I to carry my own bottle around with me? 6-star? I don't think so! OK, I've got all that off my chest now and I'd hate anyone reading this to assume all was bad. It wasn't. My bed and the quality of pillows and bed linen, the food in general, the entertainment and the majority of warm and wonderful crew are all pluses. Crystal are getting a lot right but where they’re getting it wrong impacts so negatively on the whole experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Crystal Symphony cruise departing on January 5, 2017 I chose the cruise for two reasons. One was the ports of call and the area that the cruise was visiting. The other was the fact that it was a bridge cruise and I wanted to but ... Read More
Crystal Symphony cruise departing on January 5, 2017 I chose the cruise for two reasons. One was the ports of call and the area that the cruise was visiting. The other was the fact that it was a bridge cruise and I wanted to but participate in playing bridge and learning bridge I loved the luxury of the cruise. The service was excellent especially the young lady who took after me in my room when I was sick for a few days. The food actually was not up to my measure I guess because I really don't like complicated foods and very often I would order something that did not meet my expectations All in all I would cruise with Crystal again. It is nice to be taken care of and envjoy and such luxury The two is provided by the crews were excellent and certainly meant by expectations, they were well organized and well thought out . My only criticism and it is a serious one is that when I had my hair washed and blown out I was offered a little special conditioner and a teeny tiny tube. I was told that they wash and blow out what's going to cost me $43. When they showed me the bill they had added an extra $76 for this exceedingly tiny little tube of something. I should have complained but it was the last day of the cruise and I didn't have the opportunity. However I I will send a letter to the cruise company because I thought this was an out rages rip off Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2016
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to try Crystal. It was everything I hoped it would be. Service was impeccable. Food was delicious. On sea days, there was plenty to do, and I really enjoyed the cultural/historical emphasis on shipboard activities. Great lectures, art classes, Bridge classes, etc. No hairy chest contests or "art" auctions here! Also no hawking of gift shop wares, no pressure at all. Crew and fellow passengers were gracious. I traveled Solo, and couldn't have been happier----the dining room made the effort to seat 8 of us together, which was SO nice. I made friends right away. I took the Crystal shore excursions at each port, and found them to be exactly as described and well-run. I liked the security of being in a group, and a Crystal crew member accompanied the tours. It was nice to know that the Crystal staff was there, in case of any problems that might arise. This was in addition to the Tour Guide. I was actually on TWO cruises; it was a "back-to-back" experience. Miami to Monte Carlo (16 days) and then Monte Carlo to Venice (8 days). I enjoyed Crystal so much that I have already booked 3 more cruises with them! Two for 2017 and one for 2018. Crystal is the best! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
I have cruised Crystal for the last few years and had many friend joining me every year from all over the world , this was our meeting place once or twice a year I have a very stressful job going on vacation to relax is a must for me ... Read More
I have cruised Crystal for the last few years and had many friend joining me every year from all over the world , this was our meeting place once or twice a year I have a very stressful job going on vacation to relax is a must for me for the last 2 year I can see the deterration of the quality of service , food , entertainment and over all maintenance of the 2 ships( the worst front desk customer service ever ) the cruise line deleted many expensive meals lowered number of staff , bad house keeping , Some guest found dirty laundry in their cabin when they checked in ... really 6 starts cruise ship. Really .... The Staff is miserable ,over worked and under paid , they also noticed the change from a luxury cruise line to average since the sale of this cruise line 2 years ago. I get a call early morning from the Captain looking for a missing male guest asking me if I know the where about of this guy I found out that he called all the female guest that day asking the same questions this is not how I wish to wake up on my vacation .... the guy was drunk and did not return to his cabin I tried to reach out to cruise line headquarters in Los angles as will as Eddie ( CEO)via emails and phone calls "All I got was sorry, we try to do our best , we are 6 stars cruise line" ....really I would save my money and find a better cruise line , I will never cruise with this cruise line as are many others to cruise with where I would have a great time in a clean environment ,great food ,pleasant atmosphere and stress free bon voyage Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
This was my first Crystal Cruise and I may never go back to any other cruise line. Their single supplement is the most generous by far and enables me to cruise alone or even have my own stateroom when cruising with friends. The ... Read More
This was my first Crystal Cruise and I may never go back to any other cruise line. Their single supplement is the most generous by far and enables me to cruise alone or even have my own stateroom when cruising with friends. The entertainment was wonderful every night, even the ventriloquist that I was reluctant to go see. He was hilarious. I loved the stateroom, more luxurious than most of the ships I have been on. It was by far my most pleasant cruise experience. We never had to wait. No lines to get on, just walked onboard and up to the check-in desk (again, no line). It took two minutes and then we were taken into the dining room for lunch. It was such a pleasure not to be continually harassed to buy a wine or soda package or get the bottled water before going on shore. There were no gold chains by the yard or tee shirts for sale in the lobby each evening and no announcements in the stateroom. I didn't try any of the specialty dining rooms on this cruise but I will on the next as I hear they are wonderful. The food was excellent but no quite up to Regent's Alaska cruise where they had fresh shrimp, crab and seafood aplenty. Still, the food was great and there was a place to eat open during all waking hours. I can't say too much about the ports as I didn't go for the ports but for the cruise itself. It was cold and rainy and I didn't even get off the ship in several places. Quebec City was beautiful and easy to get around. Thank you Crystal, I will be back. Read Less
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