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5 Crystal South Pacific Cruise Reviews

I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ... Read More
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ever. The staff were happy and did seem more relaxed and content, which helps me feel more relaxed during my vacation. Ambassador hosts were charming and good for company at shared tables even getting me on the dance floor a couple of times. The headwaiter was fabulous and also the wines were fantastic. I did several spa services which were quality and worth the cost. Trivia was again a highlight on sea days and all in all the cruise was filled with movies, lectures, shore tours, and great food, company and beverages. I guess we also hit the jackpot as we did have calm enough seas to get onto Easter Island for the day tours, which is a novel experience. I indulged in some great modern dishes in the dining room and was very well taken care of regarding my dietary restrictions. Also it was great to see that bartenders no longer automatically add straws in every drink. Now I can stop saying "no straw please" with my orders. Oh also I got to play table tennis doubles one afternoon! Kept in shape taking the stairs onboard, walking the promenade deck and snorkelling in Moorea! I highly recommend this itinerary, it was a real getaway and super for getting away from the winter. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where ... Read More
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where very good. All restaurants serves high quality food. The numerous activities onboard where well appreciated. Lecturers where excellent and all other activities where varied. We embarked at Papeete and did some south pacific atols, Pitcairn island. People from the island came onboard to sell their arts and crafts product. Very interesting. Easter Island was the highlight of this 19 days cruise. We then visited Robinson Crusoe Island and finished our journey at Valparaiso. This leg of the the world tour was amazing. We will certainly sail again on Crystal. We sailed on other cruise line and Crystal deliver the quality and service expected from a 6 stars cruiseline. We are looking to sail again on Crystal in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was our first Crystal cruise (we're Regent regulars) which we chose primarily for the itinerary but also because we wanted to see if Crystal lived up to the hype we sometimes read from its substantial fan base at Cruise Critic ... Read More
This was our first Crystal cruise (we're Regent regulars) which we chose primarily for the itinerary but also because we wanted to see if Crystal lived up to the hype we sometimes read from its substantial fan base at Cruise Critic and elsewhere. We made our own flight arrangements from Melbourne to Auckland (Emirates) to Papeete (Air Tahiti Nui) and neither were particularly good in terms of service or comfort but OK as a necessary means to an end. We stayed at the Intercontinental resort Papeete for 2 nights - International Date Line, long story - which was comfortable and convenient to the airport and the ship. The hotel is set in a stunning location with lovely views of Moorea. We came across a couple of Crystal reps in the hotel lobby who were friendly and helpful until they discovered we weren't part of the large Crystal group also staying there and we were more or less given the brush off. We decided to book our own taxi to the ship and were glad we did thereby escaping the chaotic scenes of people + bags milling around waiting for transport on embarkation day and were almost first on board an almost deserted Symphony as a result. This will not be a day by day travelogue, so here are some more general (useful?) points in no particular order. The Ship : Beautiful and well laid out. The public areas are spacious and plentiful so there is always a peaceful spot to read, have a drink, relax. It lacks a central atrium but the Lobby/Crystal Cove is a very pleasant central meeting point. The forward facing Palm Court is very elegant for afternoon tea, quiet cocktails and useful for "watching the horizon" if things get rough (which they did! ). The Starlight Lounge is the centre of many daytime and evening activities but the extremely heavy and awkward to manoeuvre swivel armchairs caused problems. I know they are necessary on a moving ship but they weigh a TON. The Galaxy Theatre is comfortable and well laid out with plenty of room between the rows of seats and a large stage. The Hollywood movie theatre is great. The Casino is big - too big? - with dozens of lonely slot machines. We saw it busy but even then it wasn't even half full. It seemed like a waste of precious space. And speaking of a waste of space, the Luxe nightclub was mostly totally deserted every night except for karaoke night. The Saloon is a lively and very popular piano bar, especially after dinner. The smokers lounge/bar with very similar decor next door seemed to have a regular set of patrons but as non smokers we didn't go in there. The Bridge Room is clean and bright. The main Crystal Dining Room, Lido Cafe, Bistro and speciality dining venues are pretty much what you'd expect. The library is well stocked, the computer room very comfortable and the shops offer a wide range of "cruise stuff". The pool/hot tub is a generous size and the Lido "Garden" is a lovely spot but in hot weather it gets extremely hot even with the glass roof retracted. The Staff : Quite simply, the best service we have ever experienced. Friendly, professional and a pleasure to sail with. Waiters, bar staff, housekeeping, officers, front desk, everyone was wonderful and went above and beyond. The only slightly sour note was the rather grumpy Maître D who was very intimidating to approach and even a simple request was treated like a major imposition. It was very unnecessary and left a bad impression I'm afraid. The Entertainment : Superb, there's no other word. The quality of the professional and versatile "in house" musicians, dancers and entertainers as well as the guest artistes was exceptional. Bravo! With one exception (I won't name and shame) the Guest Speakers were interesting, informative and entertaining. The Staterooms : Not generous in size but perfectly adequate for the purpose. Very comfortable bed with quality linens and beautifully soft, fluffy pillows. Ample storage space. The bathroom is "snug" to say the least and they really couldn't be any smaller especially with those rather cumbersome "salad bowl" basins. The mini bath isn't much use to man nor beast but the shower over it has good water pressure and the clever handle on the shower screen is extremely useful during a bumpy ride. Again, plenty of storage and the Aveda toiletries are a nice touch. Excursions : This is a tricky one. Our ports of call were small Pacific islands with sometimes very basic facilities and infrastructure so naturally the excursions on offer were somewhat limited but didn't represent value for money. If you enjoy snorkelling on coral reefs there was plenty to choose from. If you prefer visiting land based places of "interest" then your options become fewer. One tour bus in particular in Tonga was barely roadworthy - lack of aircon and competent guide is one thing; lack of tread on the tyres, a burned out clutch, iffy brakes and rusty holes in the floor is another. In future we will do more research and arrange our own tours. The ship handles rough weather very well - and we had some very rough weather for a couple of days so few, if any, green faces around the ship as we rocked and rolled from Fiji to New Zealand. The last overnight stop in beautiful Auckland in perfect weather was a great finale although the boisterous Cloud 9 nightclub right next to the ship kept a lot of people awake until the small hours. In a nutshell, we had a terrific cruise and apart from a few very minor quibbles Crystal most certainly did live up to the hype and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend. Our next Crystal cruise is already booked.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther ... Read More
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther experience like it with which to compare. The outstanding feature of the cruise was without doubt the staff on board. Friendly, service orientated and a credit to their employer. We were struck by how much they appeared, and were, happy to be working for Crystal. That flowed through to their service to us. We ate in all the venues and not only did we not find fault, to the contrary every meal was wonderful. I have never tasted better soups and my wife was continuously spoiled with the dessert plate by our wonderful waiter Franklin and his pairing Juan. Ciselo San Juan added those extra special touches that come with his over 20 years experience with the ship and by the end we counted them as friends rather than service staff. The Food and Wine theme was well received by us and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and watch the demonstrations by the guest Chefs. The Cabin on Deck 7 was well cared for by our stewardess Andrea and nothing was too much trouble for her, not that you need to spend much time in the cabin anyway. Entertainment wise, there was more than enough to fill your time on board or ashore. Early on my wife said that she was feeling overwhelmed by the full program she had each day and then promptly filled her next day with twice as much as myself. Unpack once, do as much or as little each day as you wish, meet a wide range of interesting people from all over the world while having great food and wine....it doesn't get much better than that. Are we hooked and can't wait for our next Crystal experience....you bet! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
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