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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we ... Read More
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we hear. Again the cabin was comfortable with two sinks and shower and bath. Very luxurious furniture and decorations. The room attendant was fabulous and we left her extra tips although this is an all inclusive cruise. There were approximately 900 passengers and lots (600)of crew members to look after the guests The dining experience was absolutely perfect and commended 6 stars. The lectures were of prime quality and up to two or three a day The movies were well chosen according the area where we were at the time of the movie. The waiters and bar tenders were so attentive to and new our preferences after a day or two.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the ... Read More
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the windows and never came back,he had a heart attack and died,we were stranded in the middle of the island without communications.The shore excursions were great.Thank goodness not thousands of people not a disgusting floating hotel.The entertainment was fantastic and world class.The talks on the cruise were fantasticThe best cruise we have ever had,and we have cruised on the majority of the large cruise liners,Australia,Carribean,Meditteranian,Mauritious,The far east. The Crystal Serenity was by far the best of all cruises we have been,and certainly recommend the Crystal cruise lines.The Casino was well organised and very professional The prices for the photos were expensive,and we received full DVDs on our whole cruise,which always bring back happy memories and the interesting people we met from all over the world Read Less
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 ... 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We decided on this itinerary since no other cruise line seems to be doing it. Flew into Manaus Brazil on AA #1265 non stop from Miami. Leaving the airport our cab was stopped at a military checkpoint, papers please. We stayed at the ... Read More
We decided on this itinerary since no other cruise line seems to be doing it. Flew into Manaus Brazil on AA #1265 non stop from Miami. Leaving the airport our cab was stopped at a military checkpoint, papers please. We stayed at the Wyndham Garden Hotel overlooking the Amazon. Beautiful location and hotel was OK for the one night. Took a cab to the port the next day and boarded the ship around noon. No line at registration and were in our cabin in about 10 minutes. We had booked a Manaus city tour through Crystal prior to the cruise and it was done very well. Tour included the city zoo, opera house and a native museum. There were a number of tours to choose from but this gave us a good overview of the city. Our first stop was Boca da Valeria, a small native village along the Amazon. More kids than adults here. The kids all had their exotic pets that they were holding and wanted you to take pictures in exchange of dollars. Next stop was the River city of Santarem. Went on a ship's tour that featured piranha fishing and a trip through amazon tributaries. Well worth it, great native guide. After leaving the Amazon we came to the Sanctuary Islands. There were 3 islands in close proximity of each other the most famous being Devil's Island. This was where a French Penal colony once stood and the movie Papillion was based on. The islands buildings still stand but most are in ruin. I found this to be a fascinating place to visit. Next stop Granada where we did a tour of a spice factory, rum distillery, and beach time at the Radisson Hotel which was very nice. The ship docked in Bridgetown Barbados where we disembarked for our flight home. Having sailed with Crystal before we knew what to expect with regard to dining and service. Everything was excellent although we prefer the Serenity over the Symphony only because she is a little bigger. The onboard lectures and guest speakers we great. A word of caution, if you plan on doing this itinerary you will need to get a Visa from Brazil. Even though Crystal recommended a passport service it was expensive. Also yellow fever vaccination is required and hard to find a local health facility who would provide it and again quite costly. Taking Malaria pills was also highly recommended and we did manage to get this medication. Even though these issues were problematic it was well worth the effort once we were in the Amazon and on our cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was our second Crystal Cruise and was part of the World Cruise. Once again Crystal did not disappoint! We boarded in Valapariso, Chile, Traveled the Fijords of Chile , spent 2 days crossing Drake passage arriving for 2 days cruising ... Read More
This was our second Crystal Cruise and was part of the World Cruise. Once again Crystal did not disappoint! We boarded in Valapariso, Chile, Traveled the Fijords of Chile , spent 2 days crossing Drake passage arriving for 2 days cruising Antarctica ....what a once in a life time experience and Crystal did it right, bringing on board 16 scientists from the USA Palmer station on Antarctica to give us a briefing on what these scientists do while stationed there. They also had enrichment speakers who spoke to the great explorers who went to the South Pole ,he was a real story teller supported by history. The Captain took the ship into the areas of Georges Island which was not scheduled due to the great weather we enjoyed. The service on the ship was excellent as usual staff is like family after 23 days at sea. ,they truly are the best. Food was fantastic, we couldn't think of anything we wanted that we weren't already served or offered. The chefs had two major lunch gala's ,they filled the atrium....all great food ,almost too much! The entertainment was also very good, even though one Billy Joel show we had seen on our last trip two years ago. It was mixed from singers, dancers, comedians, ventriloquists, opera, etc. A Madri Gras and Valentines day celebration were held with Roses to the lady at dinner. The enrichment programs were great two to three per day and included Former Ambasodors, Michael Hayden former director of CIA,NSA, etc ..as well as destinations speakers. The trip was worth the money and would recommend Crystal to anyone. In fact we are already planning our next Crystal trip. S.Mullen Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
We are experienced cruisers, a mature couple, with a preference for Crystal. Two years ago, we sailed from Valparaiso to Bali on the Symphony, and we found the journey marvelous. This time we took a shorter cruise from Valparaiso to ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, a mature couple, with a preference for Crystal. Two years ago, we sailed from Valparaiso to Bali on the Symphony, and we found the journey marvelous. This time we took a shorter cruise from Valparaiso to Miami, some twenty days. The experience was as grand and as elegant as before. The Crystal Symphony remains an excellent ship: the food, the bars, the service, the accommodations, the public areas (especially its palm court), all are first class. The stateroom and the bathroom were a marvel of grace and efficiency, if in a compact space. My wife has mobility problems – using a wheelchair, however, was comparatively easy throughout the ship. And the staff were always helpful. One note: the Symphony has an excellent and unobtrusive group of photographers, a minor plus on a cruise ship since once upon a time this breed were real pests. Another virtue: 60 minutes of internet per person per day free. Mostly we ate in the main dining room where you were always assured of something delicious – I was especially impressed with the quality of the beef and the seafood. I was not so taken by the so-called “Modern Cuisine,” a separate section of the menu of often weird dishes, mixing exotic ingredients, which look better than they taste. Sometimes it seemed the chef was playing a joke on us – vegetarian jambalaya for instance, eggplant everywhere, bland tasting scallops. But the main menu always had excellent classics for traditional diners, including a good Caesar salad and a marvelous array of cheeses. The complimentary wine list boasted a pleasing and diverse selection, including some excellent Chilean reds. The Prego, one of the specialty restaurants, remained superb – try the lamb or the seafood pasta, both stellar. The Silk Road, the other specialty restaurant, has slipped a bit I fear, or perhaps it was just off that night – less zest, less taste than before. Two complimentary visits each were included but we decided not to visit the Silk Road again, favoring instead the dining room. There was one spectacular Gala lunch, a buffet outside the main dining room, full of savory dishes, beef, seafood, chicken, cheeses, salads and fruits, breads, desserts, and just a general abundance. The grill and the Lido were more busy, so we didn't use these much, but both provided excellent food. We did frequent the small Bistro, however: good coffee and tea, all kinds of treats – smoked salmon, ham and cheeses, many kinds of sweets, fresh fruit as well. If you enjoy food in all its splendid variety, Crystal Symphony is the place to relish that variety. The itinerary included ports and places we have visited before. There were pricey excursions to Machu Picchu (my wife had gone there) and the Galapagos (that we'd cruised years ago). Still the three ports in Peru were all interesting, and especially Salaverry, since that allowed excursions to some fascinating pre-Inca sites, notably El Brujo. The excursion organized by the Symphony to that site and to the city of Trujillo was well worth the cost – a real pleasure. The other highlights were visits to Serena and especially Arica in Chile – the latter also full of pre-Inca artifacts, including some famed mummies – and later Cartagena in Columbia, a colorful and diverse city, also full of museums. The passage through the canal, complete with a good commentary, was as always interesting. We skipped the visit to Ocho Rios, preferring peace and life on the Symphony, but enjoyed the sights and attractions of the always interesting Key West – in particular an old-fashioned but well-maintained and intriguing aquarium. The Symphony maintains the practice of offering a complimentary shuttle, where the local authorities allow, which makes it possible for people to get to the center of town easily and conveniently. My only complaint was with the lectures and the entertainment. There are plenty of lectures. The only ones I found worthwhile were a series on the Panama canal. Otherwise the Crystal Symphony seems wedded to offering speakers on politics and international affairs (why? – cruising is supposed to be an escape, isn't it?) and Dr. Jay Wolff, an accomplished speaker on matters historical but I tired of his pet theories two years ago and didn't bother going to his performances this time round. (To be fair clearly many passengers relished his talks.) Personally I would have hoped for some expert in archeology who could have explored the extraordinary variety of civilizations, notably the Moche, which once flourished in the apparently harsh environs of Peru. Or some historian able to discuss broadly the Spanish empire and postcolonial societies of South America. Or a treatment of South American art and literature (not the Broadway musicals which were on offer). The invited comedians and singers did not impress, with the singular exception of the dancers, including the Crystal ensemble, who were very good, full of energy and verve, better than two years before. But if you really like evening entertainment, go to Princess – the food and service may be problematic there but the shows are superb. Crystal cannot match these. Still you can always find compensations, relaxation, movies, bar life, Casino, dancing, if you need alternatives. In all travelling on the Crystal Symphony is a most enjoyable experience, one of life's finer pleasures. Here at least the marketing speak does have some substance. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We had not sailed with Crystal since the Fall of 2013, and were a little leery about the sale of Crystal to a Chinese company. Since our first cruise on the Symphony in 2004, we loved both the Symphony and the Serenity - for service, ... Read More
We had not sailed with Crystal since the Fall of 2013, and were a little leery about the sale of Crystal to a Chinese company. Since our first cruise on the Symphony in 2004, we loved both the Symphony and the Serenity - for service, food, and for the way we were always made to feel taken care of and "special". We tried two other lines, Oceania and Silverseas, because we wanted to be CERTAIN Crystal was "our" cruise line. Well, thankfully, we had worried about the ownership change needlessly. Within 24 hours of embarking on our 18-day Buenos-Aires-Valparaiso cruise (with Antarctica as the highlight), both my husband and I and the couple we travel with all agreed - Crystal is absolutely the BEST, and we have no desire to travel with any other company. In no way did Oceania or Silverseas meet the very high standard set by Crystal - especially regarding the food and service, and wonderful concern they have for their passengers' every need and for their safety and well being. The first night, we were delighted to return to the concept of assigned seating and a set dinner hour FOR THOSE WHO CHOSE - in the main dining room. (For those who find this all too formal, open seating is available in another part of the dining room). We were all smiles as the marvelous maitre d' Mario and the usual cadre of elegantly-clad waitstaff greeted and then escorted us to our window table for two - our dining "home" for 18 days. The room, as always, was festive and elegant, with tables set with the usual gleaming silver and crystal, and beautiful porcelain dinnerware. We were thrilled when we were introduced to the lovely men who would be our senior and assistant waiters for the entire trip, Juan and Ferenc. What's wrong with having waitstaff who understand your culinary preferences and eccentricities, who are knowledgeable about the fare of the day, and are there to make sure every meal, every course, is prepared and served to your liking? The food itself was marvelous, from the first meal to the last. And because we also prefer being served for breakfast and lunch instead of eating buffet-style, we returned for almost every meal every day. Head waiter Vlada did his customary great job with special requests - including classic Caesar salad prepared tableside (when was the last time YOU experienced that treat!?!), Kosher chicken, cherries Jubilee, Schnitzel Holstein, etc. etc. NEVER AGAIN Oceania, where we were told "there are no tables for two or you will have to wait a while for one or sit at a larger table with others" - OR Silverseas, where we were never sure which part of the room we would be in or who our waitstaff would be. Everywhere we went, the "Crystal culture" of service above and beyond was the norm. Our cabin stewardess was a lovely young Chinese woman, Yunger, who seemed to anticipate our every need and kept our stateroom immaculately. Because there were quite a few days of rocky seas, we chose to have cocktails in the Crystal Cove (midship) almost every evening. The atmosphere in that venue illustrated why the Crystal ships are designed to make passengers feel as if they are at a party every night - the people watching there is fabulous, the wine and cocktails constantly flowing, and on many evenings - live music is provided by either the Crystal Cove pianist or by members of the terrific Galaxy Orchestra. The Bistro provided snacks and tidbits of the highest order when we sought that "little something" midday, and we actually enjoyed breakfast up top in the Lido on mornings when we had very early excursions. We loved going to the Trident Grill for lunch on days that were warm and sunny. In all venues, the food was excellent and fresh, and the staff was top rate, led by marvelous Philippine crew members, many of whom have been there for ten or more years. Of course, Nobu satisfied out desire for superb Japanese/fusion cuisine (Wow! the sushi!!!), and we enjoyed Prego, too, though I felt the atmosphere on Serenity's Prego is cozier and more inviting. The ship, though not "young", is maintained perfectly and is as clean as a whistle. Crew members are constantly polishing and cleaning on every deck and in every rest room. We do not partake of the enrichment activities or the entertainment - but SPECIAL KUDOS to the musicians on board. They are all so special. Every night, I turned to my husband and said, "How rare is it - and what a treat! - to hear REAL LIVE music like this!". In general, shore excursions were excellent. But I say this with a caveat - standards in most South American ports and towns are not like those to which are accustomed, even in Europe. Roads were often substandard and dusty, and rest room facilities were sketchy. But another Crystal PLUS - We do love having an "escort" from the ship in addition to the tour guide, on EVERY excursion. This is something you do NOT find on either Oceania or Silverseas. This additional person ensures that the tour guide is not distracted by the need to count heads or chase down a stray passenger. We were on deck 8, Horizon, and yes, the staterooms are small. However, they are extremely well designed so that everything you bring on board has its special place. We especially like the layout of the bathroom, with double vessel sinks, and a tub/shower that we find very comfortable, with plenty of room. Security on Crystal is stellar and reaassuring. On both Oceania and Silverseas, there were one or two gentlemen checking cards as we deboarded or boarded. And one or two men helping us on or off the tenders. Not so with Crystal. Three or four security personnel, and three or four crew helping with the tenders is the standard. Embarkation in Buenos was atypically poor for Crystal. REALLY atypical. Generally we are onboard and settled for lunch in the bat of an eye - 10 minutes tops. But there were several bottlenecks this go-round, and it took us almost an hour. I understand from the front office that 450 passengers showed up unexpectedly at noon, when usually, there is a slow trickle of about 50-100 guests per hour. Bottom line: We will probably never sail with another cruise line, and are already looking forward to back-to-back New England-Canada cruises on Serenity in September. We also have deposits on two river cruises - in 2018! One from Paris to Normandy, and the other, round-trip Vienna over the holidays. Can't wait to discover this brand new world of Crystal! I bet the other river cruise lines are quaking in their boots! Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Given that crystal push the " voted worlds best cruise line" tag. We fell for it and were expecting a fantastic time. The highlight of which was billed as NYE in Rio de Janiero for the fireworks. All advertising showed ... Read More
Given that crystal push the " voted worlds best cruise line" tag. We fell for it and were expecting a fantastic time. The highlight of which was billed as NYE in Rio de Janiero for the fireworks. All advertising showed fireworks above the ship. In reality there were 12 ships anchored in Rios bay that night and Crystal was at the very back in the centre. All the other ships were closer to the barges that let off the fireworks. I thought this had something to do with the fact the ship left the previous port 5 hours late. So instead of arriving in Rio at 5.p.m we arrived at 9 p.m. I had a chance to ask the captain about our position a a meet and greet. He assured me that their position was given 3 weeks ago. Which actually makes it worse to know that. Either crystal isn't bringing or paying enough to ge the best positions for its guests. We were at least 2 kilometres away. It was a most underwhelming NYE in a place far away which I probably will never return to. Unforgivable crystal really poor. FOOD: crazy cutting corners and ridiculous that they CLOSE the main buffet an start pulling dishes at 1.20 p.m ! Yes. Several times we were on ships tours that were late getting back or not due back till two p.m. We were sent away for the main dining room and the buffet had closed. So bus loads of passengers had to line up at their terrible grease joint selling hamburgers and fries in the hot atrium with the glass roof and no aircon to get some food. This is just totally unacceptable. I met many people upset with this. Firstly I don't eat crappy hot dogs ever. I don't buy them and I don't feed them to my family. So why should that be MY ONLY CHOICE When I have paid a premium price for what should be top quality food and service? Crystal really should reimburse us some money for this. SERVICE: was good to excellent at most venues. CABINS: tiny, worn out old furniture and decor. Really to of spent 25 days looking at the cheap 1980 s print opposite my bed was a joke. It was the sort of art work one would find in a 3 star chain motel. The cabins are SO small and balconys as well I'd actually say they are claustrophobic, we were never so happy to disembark a ship as were were this one. TOURS: one one tour I cut my foot with broken glass on the boat that crystal used. Apparently Doc the captain said that the crew had been drinking rum and had broken some bottles but they handnt cleaned it up properly. It could of been bad and ruined my whole trip had I needed stitches or had I gotten an infection I may of not been able to of walked ect luckily it was minor. But crystal didn't handle it very well. I had to poach them and I had to ask for the refund. Which I got. A second tour was worse for another passenger. This poor woman actually had her hand BROKEN. She had gone down the ladder at the side of this vessel and the ladder has caused her and and fingers against the side of the boat. This was a very serious medical emergency and it was Not handled by crystal in the way it should of been handled. This woman was left there with an ice pack on her hand and bandages for the reset of the tour. Why our vessel didn't immediately turn around and return us all the the Symphony is crazy. Myself and another passenger asked and were told that a speedboat with medical personal was on its way. They never arrived, I asked one of the non crystal staff why she was not picked up. I was told there was no boa available to get her. If that was the case then our vessel should of cancelled the " blue lagoon snorkelling tour " and just talked her back pronto. It was a most distressing event. You are on your own no protocols seem to be in place for when things go wrong. I do feel crystal should of sent a letter to each person on that tour explaining their course of action or lack of. SHOWS: poor to very bad except when they brought in dancers from Uruguay and Argentina to do tango, which was great. The Xmas show was me of the worst love productions I have ever seen in my life. I actually left as a cultural protest as did another woman we were laughing in the lift at how immature and silly it was. They had a really dull band that were off key and repetitive . They had a fabulous orchestra that they really didn't use to full advantage, as another cost cutting measure. Once each cruise they got the band to go the the main lobby bar and they played jazz, it was so great finally some life. Everyone for excited and was singing. It lasted 45 minutes only then back to nothing. Crystal needs more live music like this The had Marica at the avenue she was good but they need MORE live music There should of been live music for two hours at the main bar every night for two hours while people have pre dinner drinks. I don't count that dull as anything piano player. CAFE: didn't open until 9 a.m so if you wanted a quick bite before an early tour without the crowds forget it. This is another totally idiotic cost cutting unacceptable crystal method. That has made us say never again once is enough. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS PREGO, only went once as it was very average. All the sauces were SO salty everyone we spoke to that ate there agreed. We could not taste the food. Just the salt. They are not offering or using top quality Parmesan cheese. Cost cutting again. We spent 6 weeks in Italy last year, I know good Italian cheese. NOBU: absolutely superb! Loved it. We went 6 times. I'd say. Each time could of been a $250 meal if we were at the actual Nobu and had to pay. This restaurant made the trip. Could not fault it. Consistently brilliant each time. BUFFET: this was terrible for vegetarians of those that are not big meat eaters. They never had a single interesting salad. Not once in 25 days. Is this because Americans are simple eaters? Please a bowl of lettuce, a bowl of shredded carrot, a bowl of cucumbers ect you get my drift. The food was old fashioned and daggy. Not nuts not interesting grain salads and worst of all only ever one type of fish at lunch All meat meat meat. Horrible it was so repetitive the pool area is dead it needs a bar and there were only every two people walking. Around. I had to lift my own chair and arrange my own towels ect. Hard to get a drink and just NO atmosphere. Summary Crystal is a rip off. I really expected more for the money we spent. A huge disappointment. I don't think they care they lost us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013

The trip started with the big DFW snowstorm. Had to sleep in Admirals club in MIA after many hours of delay DFW, more delay MIA. Luggage went to NY, and I arrived in Rio day late, no bags. Met a friend right away, also with lost luggage ... Read More

The trip started with the big DFW snowstorm. Had to sleep in Admirals club in MIA after many hours of delay DFW, more delay MIA. Luggage went to NY, and I arrived in Rio day late, no bags. Met a friend right away, also with lost luggage and managed to tour RIO for several hours before boarding Symphony. Crew was great locating all the lost bags and gave great service regarding laundry and follow up. Christmas decorations were wonderful and the cabin very nice. I travel Solo, so a room alone price was reasonable. Have been on 12 cruises on various lines and Crystal is the best overall value for the quality. The excursions could use some price lowering or upping the trips, but still a great cruise line. I had a window only cabin, and was pleased. Stateroom attendant was fabulous. Meals great, piano bar fun. Shows actually good and we got the postage stamp disco going nightly. Met friends easily and sat with other Solo travelers at late seating. Perfect !! I am booked on a back to back AKL-SYD-BALI in Nov 14.

 

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Sail Date: December 2013

Our primary thought about this cruise was that we were very lucky to visit the Antarctic for a few days when the weather was ideal. We had clear and sunny skies with little wind and were fully able to view the spectacular scenery and ... Read More

Our primary thought about this cruise was that we were very lucky to visit the Antarctic for a few days when the weather was ideal. We had clear and sunny skies with little wind and were fully able to view the spectacular scenery and wild life around us. An outstanding event was the visit of about ten scientists and support staff from the US Palmer research station that came on board for presentations and to answer our questions. Crystal even had an ice pilot aboard, a former US Coast Guard icebreaker captain, so we wouldn’t have the same problem as the Russian ship stuck in the ice while we were there. It was a wonderful experience and for us the main reason we went on the cruise. Everything else was in some sense secondary.

We had very long flights Toronto-Buenos Aries and Santiago-Toronto which we found tough going. We made it both ways in spite of ice storms and low temperatures at home. The so-called reciprocity documentation required by Argentina and the somewhat lesser bureaucratic processes of Chile were somewhat of a pain. Therefore, travel to and from the cruise ship was our biggest trial but we had good experiences getting on and off the ship.

The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the holiday events were very good. This was the first time on Crystal that we saw more than a few children aboard but this was no problem since they were well entertained by the programs for them. The service was very good and many of staff did learn our names.

Dining was up to Crystal’s usual standard. Generally we enjoyed the food although there were occasional lapses. For example, there was a dish that claimed to be “coq au vin” which was just roasted chicken covered with a dubious sauce and worst of all in one case frozen peas and mechanically diced carrots that looked like they were bought at Wal-Mart. This time we took care to make all our dining room reservations on line before the cruise. This worked out with no trouble and we would strongly recommend doing this since we were told the Crystal dining room can only handle about 70 “dining by reservation” couples per cruise. Don’t believe your travel agents if they tell you that you can straighten it out when you board the ship – you can’t.

Two very good young male vocalists (Will Martin and Jonathan Ansell), an excellent guitar player (Byron Johnston), and a vocal impressionist (Karen Grainger) were the highlights of the entertainment for us. A comic ventriloquist, a mid reader, and a multi-instrument guy were just so-so and we found the production shows tired and boring. The Magic Castle magician put on a short but a very good show. The lecturers were also very good. We particularly enjoyed David Drewry (deep knowledge of Antarctic science), Ed Larson (a great storyteller) and Roberto d’Alimonte (a political expert - needs a better sense of humor) but Dan Raviv’s presentations on media events although smooth were mostly without meaningful content.

We visited some ports in Argentina and Chile which were OK but not great. However, we did find the Falkland Islands rather interesting. We were told there were 3,000 people, 500,000 sheep and 96,000 land mines in an area similar in size to Connecticut. However, we observed in various places in Argentina how passionate they feel about having the Falklands (they call them Los Malvinas) except that the people of the islands overwhelmingly want to stay British. This situation is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. The Beagle Channel, Straits of Magellan and Cape Horn also made for interesting cruising.

All in all we were very satisfied with this cruise.

 

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