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5 Crystal South Pacific Cruise Reviews

We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ... Read More
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ship. Now that Crystal has chopped up its cruises into mini 5-day segments, and "relaxed" its dress code, it has become a down-scale cruise line. We have always avoided those 7-day cruise lines because we didn't want the 7-day cruise clientele. Now, that is who pretty much populates Crystal. There was frequent loud, vulgar cursing around and in the pool by clients who have obviously had too much to drink even at 11:00 AM. Baseball hats, flip-flops, athletic shoes, and t-shirts are common in the main dining room. Just read the reviews here on CruiseCritic from Crystal clients lauding the fact they will not even bring a sport coat onto their next Crystal cruise. There was a man in the cabin below us who smoked cigarettes on his balcony, despite it being explicitly prohibited by Crystal. We couldn't use our balcony or open our outside door without having to inhale his second-hand smoke. We complained to the Concierge multiple times, but Crystal was impotent in having him stop. So, WE (not him) had to change our room. Terrible. On the good side, Crystal does have great service. The staff is outstanding. With the elimination of set dining times, the food appears to have gotten even better. We have cancelled all future cruises we had already booked with Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and ... Read More
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and sometimes very disappointing. Shore excursions had too many people participating in it. On Nuku Hiva there were twenty 4 wheel drive vehicles in a caravan. The original cabin had a problem with the air conditioner that could not be fixed and had to move to another cabin. The second cabin had multiple problems. The hot water was not hot and needed to be fixed few times. The toilet didn’t flush many times. The alarm of the refrigerator was beeping. The old refrigerator needed to be replaced with a new one. In multiple occasions the public toilets didn’t flush. My cabin was on the 7th floor. I heard from other guests who had similar problems. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a ... Read More
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a nightmare, as explained toward the end of this review. Let me start with the really great part: Crystal employees are devoted and loyal and give first-class service. This part of the trip did meet expectations. It could not exceed them, because they were so high I would have felt harassed if they had tried to do more. Also, we met lots of great people, though that's generally the case however and wherever we travel. And, having wifi available most of the time at no extra charge was great. However, once aboard we discovered not all was as described. Contrary to Crystal's hype, the ship has not been entirely refurbished. The public areas of the ship have been refurbished and reconfigured. Suites may have been upgraded and electronics redone in all staterooms. But aside from electronics and a spotlessly clean bathroom, the condition of our small stateroom was less than we'd expect on an aging, economy-priced ship. The sheer curtains were filthy and so creased they did not meet in the middle and our window overlooked the Promenade deck. Wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Decorative tile in the shower has been scrubbed for so many years half the design has worn off. The carpet was beginning to show ground in grime and wear. That was just the beginning. Three different times we were freezing to death with the thermostat set on high and had to call to have the ventilation adjusted. At least one day the entire ship was uncomfortably cold due to HVAC problems. The plumber was in the room at least once a week. The first time a clogged pipe soaked the carpet, requiring two days of heat and fans to dry out. What a nuisance! A faucet leaked from the top, causing water to puddle on the counter and later the floor. White bubbly slime oozed from the floor drain a few times, and once water emerged, soaking the bathmat. The bathroom smelled like sewer gas half the time. I will give them credit. The plumber always arrived promptly, and when I mentioned the state of the room to the hotel manager, we immediately received new sheers. They would have replaced the wallpaper, but we didn't want the disruption, and we already knew the room was a mess. We just expect better than this from a cruise line that doesn't discount cabins even when the ship is half full because, according to one travel agent I met aboard, "They don't want just anyone on this ship!" Food was a disappointment. Many did rave about it, but I'm not one of them. If only for this reason, I would not sail on Crystal again. Waterside, the main dining room, had a monotonous dinner menu in that it always featured French-inspired or other innovative cuisine and each dish seemed an effort to out-sauce and out-do the others. Veggies were generally used as garnish for modest portions of meat, not nutritional elements. Room service dinners I ordered while ill were awful. A steak I'd ordered medium rare was huge, totally gray, cold, and tough. A pasta dish the next next night was as salty as sea water. Specialty restaurant alternatives to the Waterside were a disappointment. Two of the three main dishes I ordered in Prego, the Italian one, were tasteless and not well prepared. They should have been sent back, but I didn't want to hold up my fellow diners. The third was edible but not memorable. My previous experience with Tuscan food has been great. This was not what I think of as Tuscan. We are not fans of Asian food and the other two specialty restaurants were Chinese and Japanese, so that didn't leave us many options. The buffet varied a few items each day within each category (breads, pastries, soups, casseroles, meats, etc.), but within that variation everything remained the same. One sandwich may have been offered each day, but constructing one to our own taste involved running up and down the line a few times and was not easy to do. I missed the panini station I enjoy on Celebrity ships. I also missed PIZZA. The Trident grill offered something called pizza ─ a wafer thin crust with a smear of sauce and hint of cheese. The one day I ordered it, it was charred on the bottom. The buffet morphed into Churrascaria in the evening. This semi-buffet venue offers a variety of side dishes and Brazilian barbecue. Like the French food in Waterside, ostensibly is a key concept. French and Brazilian cuisine offer inspiration as a starting point for innovation, some more successful than others. Desserts were, I'm told, awesome. I'm not a dessert eater myself, but they did look delicious. Appetizers offered in cocktail venues at Happy Hour were tedious and generally tasteless. Each evening two would be offered from a lineup of prosciutto-wrapped melon balls, cream cheese stuffed green olives, some green paste they called guacamole, and small burger sliders or tiny pigs-in-blankets. Once or twice they had tiny quiches. These were passed by circulating waiters and after the first week they were boring. Which brings us to beverages. The list of included alcoholic beverages was extensive, and servings liberal. While it's a kick to order a drink, and then another and perhaps yet a third, without signing a thing or reaching for a tip, this temptation may not be in everyone's best interests. Coffee was first rate. Some of the shows, like the ventriloquist and similar acts, were great. Music performances were always way too loud for me and I generally skipped them, as I do on other cruise lines. Small venue performers were good, especially the violinist and Crystal Cove pianist, but these people come and go. Also, on the second leg, at least two evening performances were repeated. What's with that?! Visiting speakers were generally first rate. We enjoyed most. Presumably we could watch lectures later on screen in our stateroom if we missed one, but I never figured out how. Now for the nightmare that occurred early on. I became ill a couple of days after we left Auckland and was ultimately ordered off the ship to be hospitalized in Fiji. Thank God, unlike the ship's doctor, the hospital doctor is not obliged to practice defensive medicine on behalf of the cruise line, and I was not admitted to the hospital in this third world country. My husband left the ship with me, and we were able to catch up with the ship in Tonga a couple of days later. To our horror, the ship decreed that since we'd both left the ship ALL OUR BELONGINGS had to be packed for shipping home. Our cabin had to be emptied. The cabin we'd paid to use. That meant when I got back on, instead of falling into bed to relax, I had to spend several hours sorting things in the suitcases left on the bed and figuring out once again where to put things, and arranging to have the rumpled clothes packed by strangers pressed. To their credit, after two long, tense meetings, Crystal did a lot to calm us down. I do understand and respect why the doctor made the decision she did, though perhaps my options could have been made more clear. This part may have been the same on any cruise line. I have no idea whether other cruise lines require belongings to be packed if all occupants of a stateroom leave. Be aware this could happen and don't hesitate to push back should the occasion arise. Finally, shore excursions. We generally make our own arrangements for these and our limited experience with official Crystal excursions validates the wisdom of this. Neither of the two we took lived up to expectations. The second, on Easter Island, was unacceptable. A large group was divided onto two small busses with a single guide. We had no narrative as we drove through the countryside and had to spend valuable minutes during short stops at each site listening to cursory explanations. We all felt rushed. Furthermore, the windows on the busses were smeared with a muddy film, so no pictures from most seats on the bus were possible and the general view was obscured. This excursion cost more than twice what others paid for a private tour the same length of the same sites, and they were in small groups in vans with constant narrative from their guides. When they left the vans, they were ready to start walking and clicking shutters. We had similar experiences with pick-up tours at other ports. Something is VERY wrong with this picture! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous ... Read More
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous cruise, so we were prepared for the down time Embarkation was smooth and professional. Using the website to book our shore excursions and to complete all data requirements saved a great deal of time and travail. All in all, we only spent about twenty-minutes from the announcement of boarding to sitting down for lunch. Baggage was delivered without incident and we were in our stateroom (as insistently named by Crystal) by 3:10 PM. The cabin (10097) was quite small; we could not both pass by the foot of the bed concurrently. The closet was adequate, but below the standard set by other lines. The carpet was faded and a bit worn, while the drapes were consistently off-track. The balcony worked quite well. No on-line library of current movies exists on the Serenity, so when the satellite TV reception was spotty (as it often was), reading or drinking seemed to be the only alternative. Dining was a hit and miss affair. The specialty restaurants lacked flair and the food was inconsistent. The buffet (the Lido) provided fresh, well-prepared food in very limited variety. Both breakfast and lunch were okay; no casual dinner service is offered on the Serenity -- a genuine mistake. Dinner at the Crystal Dining Room displayed excellent service, mediocre wines and average cuisine. The usual lobster and lamb entrees appeared as well as lots of fish. The soups were universally excellent. A note about the "Modern" items isolated to one side of the menu: they should be isolated to the moon. No mass feeder can bring off the delicate foams and molecular gastronomy promised by these items. The wines in the all-inclusive program were mid-level supermarket brands, available at my grocer for about $10 - $12 a bottle (the in-house "C" pinot noir was excellent, however). Enrichment activities ranged from world-class to galaxy-class. The sea-day lectures were meticulously researched, eloquently presented and rich with content. Most were quite well-attended. The lecturers succeeded in bringing an immediacy to topics ranging from an historical series on populating the islands through a set of eco-lectures on topics including the California Condor and the Easter Monarch butterfly. All in all, the lectures and lecturers were the finest in our memory. Entertainment, on the other hand, was cruise ship standard...which is to say very mediocre indeed. Everyone we met on the crew and staff were personable, quite articulate and often anticipated our requests. They were also stressed and tired. The thin veneer of effortless service cracked regularly. However, our stateroom was regularly re-stocked with goodies and housekeeping was excellent. Should we cruise with Crystal in the future, we will not avail ourselves of the proffered excursions. While of reasonable value, the variety lacked range. Port choice was limited by our destination and the size of the Serenity. Hilo was our favorite. Reading other reviews of the Serenity and its cruises, it seems to us that what we found is typical of the experience. While our expectations remained unmet, the cruise still lingers in a rosy glow in our memory. We cruise primarily by destination, not cruise line, so we may sail on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first cruise with Crystal. We have cruised more than 30 times before with several cruise lines including Azamara, Oceania, Silversea and Celebrity. Our experience on board the Crystal Symphony was Ok but not really from an ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Crystal. We have cruised more than 30 times before with several cruise lines including Azamara, Oceania, Silversea and Celebrity. Our experience on board the Crystal Symphony was Ok but not really from an exceptional quality, as many loyals to Crystal emphasize. First impression Our first impression was very good. Embarcation was smooth and cabins were ready. Our cabin was an outside cabin, rather small in size but with a good bathroom Our first meals were also very nice and we kind of had the feeling that this was indeed a very fine ship. The included wines were OK. As a matter of fact during the first days of our cruise, we were ready to book a world voyage of more than a 100 days for 2016. However this very positive impression did not lasted for the remaining of our cruise. Subsequent impressions A) Ship is very old and it is not well maintained in all areas. It shows rust in several places including our cabin. Since we were staying for 24 days, it disturbed us to see the rust in our window and we requested to be fixed it. In order to allow for that we were moved for one night in an "emergency room". Other areas of the room needed also maintenance, for example the carpet or the wardrobe, which was permanent clapping. We did not request for maintenance in those areas because, we did not want to move again to another room nor to have workers in the room. We were on vacation and it did not appeal to us to have workers around. There was also a sewerage smell in some areas on the ship, for example in the vecinity of the jogging track. Our opinion is that the Symphony was probably a lovely ship 20 years ago, but it needs to be replaced by a more modern ship. A newer ship would contribute a lot to improve the overall impression even in terms of seccurity (better, newer life boats). It will also allow for larger TV sets, since at the moment, those on the ship are quite small. It was great to have the possibility to watch DVDs on the TVs though. B) Too many repetitions and lack of options. Food was repetitive in all restaurants and there were no alternatives to the main restaurant after 18.00. There were the, not anymore free, specialty restaurants (they are free only once per cruise) but even they, had a fixed menue and did not change. Entertainment was also repetitive. Only the local shows were different. Repetitive food and entertainment gave us second toughts on how would it be to spend more than a 100 days in such a ship. We decided to postpone the booking of such a cruise with Crystal until we have made another experience with the company. C) There were lectures offered. We think that there is plenty of room for improvement in these area. For example the subjects of the lecturers made us wondering, to which target group are the lectures really directed. For example, a previous senior army person talking about how to improve leadership skills for an audience (most of them retired seniors including us) which is very unlikely to make use of the "acquired knowledge". In addition, visualization of the lectures could be improved because the pictures shown, many times were more private photos from lecturers but did not really contribute to follow the lectures. Since Crystal cruises does not only have native english speaking guests but also Japanese, French, Germans, Spanish speakers, or many of the guests are hard of hearing, it appears important to ask lecturers to visualize their contributions in such a way that those are selbs explanatory. No doubt the lecturers could talk. A lot, fast and long, but how about having a good visualization to accompany their speeches?. D) Most of the crew members were friendly and attentive. Specially the younger waiters were always smiling and were very helpful. There were however a few members, which did not look very happy with themselves and appeared rather tired and manchmal gave us the impression of acting in terms of "I am longer here than the guest and after doing this job such a long time, I know better". Well.... We found the several assistant Maitre D', sommeliers, our waiter and assistant waiter, guest relations personnel and pool attendants particularly friendly and attentive. E) The library and the internet facilities were very good. We have specially enjoyed the library and the advise of the friendly librarian. It was excellent to have reference books for the ports of call in the library. F) For those passengers booking a cabin on the main lobby level, be aware that in case of rough seas, your window will be covered for protection and you will end up in a dark room. G) Disembarkation in Auckland was absolutely smooth. In summary we had a nice cruise. We have enjoyed specially the wonderful itinerary. Cruising with the Crystal Symphony was not the "wow" experience we had imagine somehow influenced by the reviews in cruisecritic, but it was fine. We would probably sail again with Crystal, probably with the Serenity in order to be able to have a better opinion of the services offered. It would be great if the company acquires newer ships.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
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