1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Symphony Review
  5. Crystal Symphony Cruise Reviews

24 Crystal Symphony Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Baltic Sea

We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen ... Read More
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen and Thomson. Fellow cruisers had suggested that Crystal ships were the best but we did not want to risk the expense of a long haul flight only to find that the larger ships in the Crystal fleet did not suit us. As it happens we were very glad of our decision and the cruise was only saved by glorious weather and delightful ports. Crystal Symphony takes around 800 guests and is therefore not much larger than the Silversea and Seabourn ships we use regularly. It was very American in its style and ambience. Fellow passengers were mainly American (around 80% despite the cruise originating in the UK) with a wide range of other countries each represented by just a handful of people. The first major issue we had was the size of the cabins and bathroom. The bathroom was so small that it was difficult to avoid knocking one's head against the fancy glass washbasin if the ship rolled while rising from the sitting position. Bath products were supplied in non-branded and cheap looking plastic tubes. Performance of the products was mediocre at best. The cabin was very small indeed. If one wanted to eat in the room (the only option if one did not want to use one of the 2 set dinner times), then it would be a question of taking it in turns to move. The cabin on Crystal Symphony was 206 sq ft whereas on Seabourn Odyssey an ocean view cabin is 295 sq ft and on Silver Sea Spirit it is 312 sq ft. The second issue was the dining arrangements. We had booked dining by reservation in order to avoid the 6.15 or 8.30 dinner sittings. However, on trying to book we were told that the only tables available were at either of the set dinner sitting times - not exactly what we expected. Tables are mainly fixed at the size of the party in the booking so that mixing with other cruisers is not easy. Service was performed at the run with the next plate of food hovering at one's elbow before the knife and fork hit the plate for the final mouthful. Perhaps Americans like this style of service but we found it unpleasant. The food in general was at best moderate. On the formal dinner evening, caviar was offered. This turned out to be less than half a teaspoon of caviar on a huge plate with 3 blobs of sour cream and two blinis - not exactly the Seabourn standard of a beautiful set of dishes nestled in a crisp folded napkin containing a bowl of several ounces of caviar, bowls of chopped egg white and egg yolk, sour cream and a dozen crisp pieces of fine toasts. Desserts were poor at dinner but beautiful at the dessert buffet at lunch time. Coffee at dinner arrived with dessert - again perhaps due to American nature of the ship. Buffet lunch was better with a good range of hot and cold dishes but the buffet was only available for dinner on one night of the cruise. The deck grill (in a sort of conservatory with retractable roof where there used to be an indoor pool) was poor. At this standard I expect a toasted sandwich order to arrive with a little garnish to make the plate look attractive. it arrived on a blank plate looking forlorn. Ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) was available but served in waxed paper tubs with plastic spoons. Sauce is added by the guest from a huge plastic bottle - just not really what we expect from a top line cruise ship. The reason for the tiny cabins is clear once one explores the public rooms. There is a show lounge, cinema, ballroom, 3 bars with live entertainment, night club, paddle tennis court, golf driving nets as well as huge fitness and spa facility. The covered deck area is large and there are hundreds of sun loungers around the outdoor pool arranged in neatly packed rows. However, it was almost impossible to meet other cruisers. When we went to bars, there was hardly a soul there. If a dozen or so people were in the same place, then the music was so loud and the chairs so far apart that conversation was impossible except at impolite levels of raised voices. There was hard core of about 6 people who used the ballroom using the services of the gentleman hosts again making this large facility seem over sized. In conclusion, this cruise line would suit those with a wish to rush from lunch to entertainment, to dinner (in a hurry) and on the more entertainment. Use of the cabin should be restricted to sleeping only. One should not want to socialize with other guests too much. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended ... Read More
This was our 3rd Crystal cruise and whilst all have been excellent, this was probably the best. We booked fairly late due to life getting in the way of a previously booked cruise in July so did not have the best choice of cabin, and ended up right at the front of the ship. It was absolutely fine most of the time, but we did have one rather rocky night in the Bay of Biscay! Embarkation was remarkable. We were very lucky to be within driving distance of Dover, where our cruise started. From leaving the car, we were in the Crystal Dining Room within 15 minutes – having stopped off to check out our room on the way! We have stayed in this room category on Symphony previously (PS), so it was just as expected and very comfortable. As I have said in previous reviews, I do think a little updating is required and hopefully this will happen in the upcoming dry dock. In particular, the TVs are very small and somewhat dated and some of the furnishings are looking a little tired. However, it is a well-planned and thought out space with plenty of storage, and a good-sized and equipped bathroom. The bed was very comfortable with quality linens and pillows. We forgot to bring a phone charger, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an integral charger in the clock. We sampled many of the facilities on the ship – the gym, spa, cinema (rather weird choices of films sometimes!), Vintage Room, lectures, casino, shops etc. We also enjoyed several specialty restaurant reservations. Service throughout the cruise was outstanding. Where we did have an issue, it was resolved quickly, efficiently and with good grace. The crew, across the board, were unfailingly friendly and helpful – I know they are trained to be so and ‘have’ to be, but it makes for a great ambience nevertheless. We found the food to be excellent, as previously. We did eat several times in the specialties and never tired of either. The CDR was also good, but I felt service was a little below par at times and that they were over-stretched with so many people to take care of especially on the BTO evenings. This resulted in either long waits before ordering and between courses, or conversely one plate being whipped away and the next course being served almost simultaneously. We found the included wines to be very drinkable and of course there was always the option to purchase wines when we felt like splurging. I wish they had a better included champagne though! We are reluctant to buy a bottle of champagne because we would never get anywhere near finishing it, but I cannot drink the included stuff. We had signed up for the Ultimate Vintage Room, but perhaps there wasn’t enough interest because it was not offered. Instead we did the regular Vintage Room dinner and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Great food, wine and company.. a really good evening. We thought all the ports were well worth visiting, but perhaps didn’t make the best choices with a couple of our excursions which were a bit long/boring/expensive. We didn’t get to all the shows but enjoyed those that we saw, with the exception of the new light show which wasn’t to our taste, but I’m sure many would disagree. We also found the lectures interesting, informative and entertaining. All in all, we had a wonderful time and look forward to our next Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service ... Read More
Meet two couples on Cruise Critic before going and spent some time with them Worked out sharing a day trip and ride into Paris very well. We loved the ship. Food was outstanding except for one meal which was just very good. Service was nice and cabin worked out well for us with enough space for storage etc. The entertainment was good, but would have preferred the "Last Show with Dancers etc" to be the night before the last. We did not take any of the shore excursions, but did touring on our own. We found the tours to be very expensive and a few people we meet were disappointed in them not having enough time at sights. This was my first cruise with Crystal and I would certainly consider going again. Would have liked one more sea day. As we get older it is harder to TOUR everyday. Also, would have liked more information about sights at each port. Found some very interesting things by accident. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to ... Read More
After sailing Crystal for the first time in November, we knew we wanted to do it again. This cruise was too good to pass up as it included being in Edinburgh for the Tattoo. While we normally shy away from summer travel, we decided to take a chance. We are glad we did as while some of the cities on the itinerary were more crowded than during the shoulder season, they were not too bad. Crystal really does excel at so many things that it is hard to pinpoint just a few. The service is always impeccable and it is the only cruise line we have traveled with where the staff seemed genuinely pleased to be there. We were glad to see a good number of staff who provided such outstanding service in November also on this cruise. In November, we thought the food on the ship was good, but this time we found a number of our meals to be memorable. While we expect that in the specialty dining venues, we didn't expect to have some many stellar experiences in the main dining room. We like the fact that the ship really does provide an all inclusive experience and again we found it a challenge to use our on-board credit. What Crystal does allow is using your on-board to recognize staff members. I only wish more cruise lines did this because it is always a waste having to find ways to spend your on-board credit on things you don't really need. Crystal did an excellent job of getting guests from the port to the heart of the city. On so many other lines, you end up waiting and waiting for shuttles to take you from the ship to the city. The entertainment on the ship was mixed, with some great evenings provided by guest performers. We love the fact that they also have a magician on board who does several performances in an intimate setting of close up magic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of ... Read More
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of our Crystal cruises. This one was chosen for one specific stop: Edinburgh to attend the Military Tattoo. The rest of the ports all turned out to be nice bonuses. We arrived a day in advance to Antwerp, Belgium, our port of embarkation. A five-hour flight delay caused us to change our sightseeing plans for our arrival-into-Europe day, but it worked out fine. We stayed one night at the Hilton right near the Cathedral in Antwerp and we loved the location. If we had not visited Antwerp on a previous cruise (river cruise), we would not have had time to see everything we considered important. The Antwerp Hilton also happens to be staffed by excellent personnel, and the property is lovely, so we recommend it highly. Crystal keeps to a schedule better than any other cruise line. Everything starts on time! That includes embarkation; the time stated on your documents is the time the first folks will be invited onto the ship. The only limiting factor, then, is how many people arrive at the port before you do. In this case, we dawdled a bit too long, and many others didn’t; so we were in the third or fourth embarkation group. Once you get started, it goes great; but in this case, I was sorry we didn’t arrive at 11:30 instead of at 12:15, because we had planned to have a fairly quick lunch and then finish the sightseeing we’d saved from the day before. We actually could’ve satisfied our hunger for a snack at the hospitality lounge Crystal provided in the waiting area at the makeshift cruise terminal, if I’d realized it soon enough. Instead, after our little trek through the various security and passport control stops and the usual quick Crystal check-in onboard, we went to the Trident Grill for a burger and a wrap and then hustled off the ship to walk the mile to the Red Star Line Museum, which we had been anticipating for over a year. It did not disappoint! We arrived back to the Symphony just in time for the muster drill, and then it was time to unpack. Wait! First it was time to figure out why it was so warm in the stateroom. It was because, for some unknown reason, the stewardess had put the heat up to the absolute highest setting. Ok, that was solved easily enough. Now to unpack, and when Mr. Husband announces that there’s so much drawer space, even in our entry-level cabin, I decide to count the drawers: he has seven and I have ten. Throw in a few shelves and we really do have space to unpack every single thing we’ve brought with us. Next comes the husband announcing how wonderful the shower is, and how much he loves the double sinks. Besides the stewardess leaving the room heat at the highest, leaving the hottest setting for the water in the tub, and her not having cleared out the previous guest’s leftover food in the fridge, everything after that was pretty much spot on perfect. We check the Reflections (daily schedule) and realize that we would like to go to the show but it conflicts with our dining reservation, so a quick stop at the Crystal Dining Room (their MDR) gets our reservation changed. Right now Crystal has two “set” dining times, 6 pm and 8:30, plus Dine by Reservation. We used the Dine by Res., and it works very well for us. We like to eat alone and there are plenty of two-tops. We ended up having five different senior waiters and all were totally fine. Crystal has one maître-d’, who oversees the entire dining room, plus quite a few head waiters who keep things running extremely smoothly throughout the dinner hours (and breakfast and lunch, too). As has been our experience in the past, service was stellar, and we happen to love Crystal’s food. My favorites included several various salads and appetizers with beets, and even a beef broth soup with beets for lunch one day. Fish dishes were great, lobster was great, kosher chicken is always offered once per cruise and was actually the best ever. The dinner that was least “perfect” was the duck entrée. It lacked great taste and was perhaps a tad overcooked. We have two favorite wines in the included reds, and I have the Pedroncelli zinfandel almost every night, unless the sommelier thinks I’ll be happy with whatever’s being poured that night – and she was right, whenever she said it. Husband prefers the Paso Robles cabernet, and is also usually happy with whatever’s being poured that night, sometimes a white. We generally have breakfast at the Lido, where we experienced great service from the Lido guys, as we have in the past. This cruise’s standouts were Ferdie and Allan, both from the Philippines. The guys who cook the eggs, even the one who does the toast, all are expert at what they do. For lunch we like the Lido or the Trident, where, again, the “cooks” there do a great job. The Lido has a huge variety, and so does the Trident (the burgers and wraps and great fries). Then if we want an ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is open until 6 pm, and the Bistro has all kinds of breakfast things until 11:30 (cereals and bagels and baked goods), then lunch/snack things. I often stop by the Bistro for one little piece of watermelon, one of honeydew, and a couple of small pieces of cheese, or even brie on a cracker. As somebody said the first day, to her travel companions, if you like (cold) turkey, this is the place to eat it. I can’t disagree. We always have dessert with our dinner meal, but if we didn’t, we could always go to the Bistro for dessert. So far, on four cruises, I’ve never succumbed to the temptation to have MORE than one dessert! I only went to afternoon tea once; it’s a great thing to do on an at-sea day. Our meals at Silk Road and Prego were delicious as usual. Actually, Prego was better than ever, after being a tad disappointing, previously. One of the things I absolutely love on Crystal is the enrichment, always on an at-sea day and sometimes one lecture at sailaway time from a port stop. On this cruise (only two at-sea days), we had destination lecturer Bob Aalberts, current events lecturer Tom Faranda, and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. They all did a great job. I didn’t know what to expect with the addition of “Broadway at Sea”, but we both liked it a lot. We had an added bonus of a husband and wife singing/acting pair who told us about their careers and were the featured entertainers one evening. I attended one computer class (iPad Tips and Techniques) and most of the evening entertainment. We missed going to the new show, Speakeasy, which got rave reviews from everybody who attended. There are all kinds of things we don’t attend, but we did very much enjoy the music (a singer and keyboard player) in Palm Court from 6:15 to 7:15. This worked well for our typical 7 pm dinner and is an improvement from previous cruises. I’m guessing there will be music at pretty much any time after the switchover to open seating dining, after Symphony comes out of drydock in October. Disembarkation was absolutely as easy as it could possibly be. We booked a private transfer from Honfleur into Paris with two other couples, which worked great, and then we stayed three nights at the Hilton near the Opera House. That worked perfectly for us to take the metro to our 2-1/2 days of sightseeing and various dinners, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The hotel, again, is lovely, but our entry level room, while quite classy, was also quite small, and a bit of a rude awakening after our stateroom on the Symphony. It was a good buy, for Paris, though, and I’d stay there again. We could have taken a Crystal Paris two-day post cruise tour to Paris, but we generally prefer doing our own sightseeing, so we decided to do everything on our own. Doing plenty of advance planning, both for our ports and for Paris, allowed us to have all kinds of wonderful sightseeing experiences. All in all, what a great vacation this was! Looking forward to two more Crystal cruises we have booked. We’ve had very high expectations, all four times, and we have not been disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go ... Read More
This review is only highlighting two major problems that Crystal has had with its policies for the ships. 1. Children are only looked after by kids club care while a parent is onboard. - If both parents (Authorized person) leave to go on a shore trip they MUST take the kids with them - Noting that a number of the shore trips are not for children - 2. The only compromise is to have a staff member - not trained in child care are not having any basic emergency medical training baby sit them in your room. That's not to the same standards as kids club as they staff member could be any volunteer - 3. The Internet on board continually dropped out for a lot of the day, while my 4G/3G Modem to Norway telco was providing 50 - 100 Mb/s from the room - for all the trip other than a 8 hour ocean trip from Norway to Scotland. When I pointed out this to the IT staff they said that Satellite was the only way they could provide the service. In addition that noted that Internet complaints where the largest item of complaint. 4. Children leaving the vessel can be marked for checking that they have a parent with them. However, every time we left the ship our child ran ahead and was never stopped.. There identification system rang a bell and they then turned it off at no stage stopping the child I pointed out the kids club issue during the trip to the Director of Services and they advised that its company policy and there is no flexibility I showed the engineering and IT staff the speed I had with 3g/4G while at sea and was advised that they have 32 Mb/s to the satellite and that it ...When they loose the Satellite they have a backup but on trip to far northern latitudes they will continually have a problem. this was not a good family experience. I have rated below ignoring tese issues Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was ... Read More
The Crystal Symphony Baltic Sea cruise on 2017 was fantastic. We loved every aspect and element. We were invited to go with the Hillsdale College group which booked about a third of the ship and that overlay of programs and people was really wonderful. We knew the Symphony was going in for major remodeling a few weeks after our cruise, but the ship was still in great shape, and the staff and service were incredible. Our only complaint was the limited wifi, but this will be rectified in the rejuvenation of the ship which will greatly boost the wifi and turn the ship into a 24/7 free wifi inclusion. We would highly recommend Crystal and this ship. The ports on the Baltic were fabulous and we loved every Crystal excursion. Cannot adequately rave about this trip. it was our first cruise and we feel like we started at the top. Tip, we dined lavishly at every opportunity, but took the stairs everywhere and walked a lot on the shore excursions, and used the workout room, and we both actually lost weight on a cruise. Oh, which reminds me, my wife and son has some food allergies and needed gluten-free meals and almond milk and such, and Crystal was very accommodating and provided the tastiest meals and treats imaginable. And their sugar-free desserts were out of this world as well. Incredible! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I chose this line for the first time because of its prior reputation. I have traveled several times on Silversea and Seabourn and wanted to try Crystal. The Symphony is a lovely ship although considerably larger than I expected. It is due ... Read More
I chose this line for the first time because of its prior reputation. I have traveled several times on Silversea and Seabourn and wanted to try Crystal. The Symphony is a lovely ship although considerably larger than I expected. It is due to go to dry dock in September for major changes. We had a Balcony cabin but it was only 245 square feet including the balcony. I could go on any large ship line for that size Balcony cabin. The bathroom was tiny. It did have 2 sinks, but 2 people would be hard pressed to be in it at the same time. We could not pass each other at the end of the bed to go from one side of the cabin to the other. For this price, it was very disappointing! The dining room decor was lovely and the waiters for the most part just great. Food was a bit spotty. Sometimes really good and others only mediocre. I was shocked that Crystal still has first and second seating. No other 6-star line does that! Again, I might as well have gone on a large-ship line. We were assigned a table in the back of the dining room in the midst of a large group of people with lots of children. They are children so they do make noise, but this many kids magnified the noise. We did not expect this on a 6-star cruise line. We did ask to be reassigned and were given a table at the other end of the dining room. Again, if we wanted to be with a lot of children, we would have taken Disney or Royal Caribbean. Internet was available at no charge for an hour for every day of the cruise. We didn't use that much, but we do understand that full time comp internet is coming soon. The computer classes offered were good, but most geared to Apple. Of course, we have Androids. We did think the evening shows were just superb. They couldn't have been better. The ship's dancers were very talented and the alternate entertainers were amazing. We did enjoy the itinerary and the majority of the cruise, but there will have to be some really big changes to return to Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Loved the pampering and special attention of the wonderful staff. Although they have to, most of them were very genuine. Our head waiter worked with us each night to ensure our dietary needs were met at dinner. Did not have a bad meal. ... Read More
Loved the pampering and special attention of the wonderful staff. Although they have to, most of them were very genuine. Our head waiter worked with us each night to ensure our dietary needs were met at dinner. Did not have a bad meal. All special requests were taken care of. Wines in the main dining room were a good choice and the price of the higher end wines was very reasonable - almost retail. The room was well designed and lovely. We unpacked 3 full suitcases and still had an empty drawer! The balcony though not large was suitable(dlx. stateroom), unfortunately the weather did not permit much usage.And our room steward was very helpful with info and genuinely pleasant. Loved taking a couple of tub baths, but it was a bit tight. We only did shore excursions in St. Petersburg and they went smoothly.All ports except one had shuttle buses and that worked well. The only reason I did not give 5 stars is I think the cruise should have started a day later. Departure port Stockholm was having a national holiday so most everything was closed for 2 days, the only day we could have done Moscow on our own was thursday and the Kremlin is closed that day and Warnemunde was a sunday when stores had limited opening. I loved the Crystal experience...although a full cruise at no time did anywhere fell crowded. One tip for this itinerary==wear sneakers or laced shoes...the cobblestones are a work out! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This was our 45th cruise and our 3rd cruise on Crystal. We were intrigued by the itinerary - from Reykjavik to Portsmouth. The weather, admittedly, was dicey for the entire time (cold, windy and frequent showers) but we always try to not ... Read More
This was our 45th cruise and our 3rd cruise on Crystal. We were intrigued by the itinerary - from Reykjavik to Portsmouth. The weather, admittedly, was dicey for the entire time (cold, windy and frequent showers) but we always try to not let that impact the overall experience. Crystal excels in top-notch service and this cruise was no different in many respects. Our stateroom attendant was terrific and never failed to bring fresh ice each afternoon at 5 pm as we had requested. Typically we enjoy having a cocktail on our verandah as we sail away from each port but, because of the weather, we ended up visiting one of the many bars instead. The Crystal Dining Room is darn near perfect. The menus have been refreshed while still offering a number of traditional selections. Our waiter, Miroslav (Miki), was absolutely amazing and the sommelier, Lorena, was probably the best we have ever had aboard a ship. We chose the flexible dining option and it worked perfectly every night. Kudos to the Maitre d' and Asst Maitre d' for having such a uniformly excellent staff. Even at luncheon which was open seating we always had terrific service. Prego, in our opinion, is a waste of time. The staff there have a cavalier, if not aloof, attitude. The menu is either extremely dated or, in many instances, offers food which barely passes for Italian of any region. Symphony is 20 years old now and beginning to look, and perform, like a dowager in comparison to newer luxury vessels. The bathroom of our verandah suite was small and cramped and the vanity, with two plastic washbasins, was the smallest we've seen in years. The sofa in our cabin is really a chair and a half. And it's a hassle to dress with closets having sliding doors close to the bed. Our biggest disappointment in this cruise, however, was the itinerary. Before we sailed, one change had already been made to the originally published ports of call. The "maiden" call at Djupivogur, Iceland was an enormous waste of time. The few who went ashore, as we did, came back shaking their hands in amazement at why we had even stopped. The stop at the Isle of Skye was on a Sunday - almost nothing open in port and the shore excursions sold out quickly. Belfast and Dublin were fantastic, weather notwithstanding, but the call to Waterford was cancelled due to rough seas which the tenders could not cope with and we stopped in Cork (Ringaskiddy) instead. The last port of call, Fowey (Cornwall), was abandoned for the same reasons and we steamed on to Portsmouth instead, arriving there at 2.00 pm. Shore excursions were not arranged but a complimentary shuttle took folks to a local shopping mall (American style) with the same brands we have back home. I will close with the same comments I made after our Crystal Serenity cruise in December 2016. The efforts to expand the Crystal brand in recent years with river cruises, luxury air, luxury yacht, and so on seem to have resulted in the line losing sight of its core product. We have a cruise later this year scheduled on Silversea and a cruise next May reserved for the newest Seaboard ship. We heard similar comments from a number of other passengers. At this point we don't envision returning to Crystal in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Friends raved about Crystal and we loved the itinerary from Reykjavik to England. This cruise had no sea days and was packed with interesting ports. It was a perfect way to celebrate a 30 year wedding anniversary. We arrived late ... Read More
Friends raved about Crystal and we loved the itinerary from Reykjavik to England. This cruise had no sea days and was packed with interesting ports. It was a perfect way to celebrate a 30 year wedding anniversary. We arrived late afternoon to meet Symphony in Reykjavik harbor. Our exploration of Iceland in a rental car convinced us that driving requires more time than expected, so we opted to miss the first evening's dinner and drove off to the Fontana spa for a wonderful adventure. Every other evening was spent on the ship and we loved it. Food and entertainment exceeded our very high expectations each night. Symphony is a wonderful ship. It is well arranged and spacious enough that a full load of passengers won't ever feel very crowded. Service is great and the ship is kept "crystal" clean. We were impressed with how well the ship performed in very rough seas. A quick comment about the food is in order. The dining room and two specialty restaurants are wold class. They rival the best restaurants in major cities. The food options elsewhere on the ship were somewhat mixed. There were many choices at the Lido buffet, but the offerings were too often lukewarm or cold. We also had a couple of mediocre breakfasts in the dining room. A second cup of coffee was sometimes easy but sometimes difficult. By contracts, the Bistro Cafe was always terrific. There were usually wonderful espresso drinks, service, and snack selections at that location. Also, Symphony will be greatly improved by tech and decor updates this October. I would definitely cruise on her again after the next dry dock refurbishment. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
I love Crystal, for its outstanding service, friendly crew, beautiful ships, delicious food, and lectures/ other activities. Everything during my 3-1/2 weeks onboard was amazing, from the shore excursions to the cabin stewardess. ... Read More
I love Crystal, for its outstanding service, friendly crew, beautiful ships, delicious food, and lectures/ other activities. Everything during my 3-1/2 weeks onboard was amazing, from the shore excursions to the cabin stewardess. Embarkation and disembarkation were painless, with no waiting at any point. One never feels "herded" on Crystal. I particularly appreciate the approach to the Solo traveler---Crystal welcomes us, charging somewhat less than double the fare for a cabin, depending on the cruise. They also host "Table for Eight" dinners in the specialty restaurants, so that one need not dine alone, unless preferred. There were many Solo travelers on my cruise. This ship and its sister, the Serenity, are scheduled for major upgrades later this year, and, while I'm sure the results will be lovely, I will miss the Symphony just as it is. The Bistro is one of my favorite spots for a cappuccino with ocean views. Also, there is a fine selection of sweet and savory snacks, though one could easily make a meal of them. My cabin was my retreat when I needed downtime--- I kept it very neat and tidy, and therefore it was plenty roomy. The suitcase fits nicely under the bed. I didn't even use half of the storage drawers. Lectures are a particular favorite of mine, and we had several, on subjects as varied as Donald Trump, Atlantic Ocean geology, and the Ancient Romans. We also had several excellent concerts, as well as fine ballet dancers performances. All in all, though I just got home last night, I would go again in a heartbeat, and, in fact, am already booked on Crystal for 2018 and 2019. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Relaxing, luxurious, fun, friendly, warm are just a few of the words to describe the great time we had onboard this ship. The ports were great (even though the weather didn't cooperate as much as we would have liked), but the most ... Read More
Relaxing, luxurious, fun, friendly, warm are just a few of the words to describe the great time we had onboard this ship. The ports were great (even though the weather didn't cooperate as much as we would have liked), but the most memorable part of our cruise was the time we had onboard the ship. From the time we embarked in Stockholm, to the time we left Berlin (we did the 3 day post excursion), the staff couldn't have been friendlier of more accommodating. I don't know how they remember everyone's name but it seems like they do. My wife and I made a connection with the cruise staff starting with our room attendant, and continuing to the different eating rooms staff, spa staff, front desk staff, and even the casino staff were a delight (hard to say this when you lose money and still say you had a great time). We have been on several cruises (more than a dozen) on different lines and typically have a very good time, but Crystal is clearly a cut above the others in the way they treat you, the food they serve, entertainment (we listened to a lecture by a White House correspondent for the US News and World Report that was extremely interesting. Also, the tour we took in Berlin really opened my eyes to the history of that city. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the ... Read More
I was very very disappointed with Crystal. I took the advice of the travel agent but now realize that she might have recommended it because she gets a bigger kickback from them. I have been on many cruise ships of all sizes from the largest RCL to Norwegian and Seabourne. She told me that Crystal was the best by far. I decided to bite the bullet and take a cruise with them. Wow this ship has seen better days. Apart from the tiny room with the furniture that looked so cheap and dated. The whole ship decor was not only dated but looked worn out. ditto with the carpet and the lighting. And the main dining room was like a three star hotel dining room . From the boarding to the reception the staff I can only say was NOT top notch. Many looked like they did not want to be there. The lady who took us to our room (worked at the spa) barely spoke to us and I noticed wasnt greeting guests she walked past as I was accustomed to . I was also taken aback by the end of day boarding after an excursion. On all the ships I have been on their is staff welcomed you back on the ship with a smile and refreshements (*water or juice on the larger lines, champagne on Seabourne) On Crystal not even a plastic glass with water. No one was there except for the surly ship crew mates. The food was fine but I would say the quality was just as good on the bigger ships in the extra fee venues. The servers although nice were harried, again not what you expect from a 5 star experience. Did I mention the rooms were ridiculously tiny? For the same amount of money you can get a suite on the Haven (Norwegian) with a butler and the private pool. similar price for a much larger balcony suite on Seabourne, or if you like a larger ship the loft suites on RCL. Service on these other ships was just as good. Again I am not sure about where all the raves come for Crystal. My 1 star review is mainly because of the quality price ratio. At a cheaper price I might not have had as high expectations. Kind of like going out to a fine dining michelin starred restaurant but instead getting a quality chain restaurant food and service. And the WI-Fi prices Usurious. I paid $200 For 10 Hours I think, It almost never worked and the staff in the computer was very surly. when I asked if I could get a refund for the 6 hours I didnt /couldnt use (due to the poor connection) they said "no" . Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I was assuming that the high price somehow assured the level of quality that you can find on Seabourn...trust me it does not. This ship is dated and dirty throughout. The decor is a worn holiday inn, circa 1980. On the day we checked ... Read More
I was assuming that the high price somehow assured the level of quality that you can find on Seabourn...trust me it does not. This ship is dated and dirty throughout. The decor is a worn holiday inn, circa 1980. On the day we checked in our TINY room (a suite with a balcony) had been painted that same day and the workers left their mess behind...can you imagine this? The smell of paint in our claustrophobic room? If we could have gotten A refund of 50%, we would have gotten off the boat immediately. Our room was also on the 8th floor, far from the nearest room to the engine room, but it was still like sleeping through an earthquake every night. We had to ask for thicker mattresses and I assume it was a common request, since we saw a truck unloading new mattresses at the next stop. We had a tiny, ancient TV, placed on top of the mini fridge in the far off corner. The only positive is the bathroom, which was a nice size, with good water pressure. The ground tours were incredibly expensive and half of them were very Meh. The food...mmm...it was so bad on the first day...but it got better as the ship sailed on...the cheese cart was the highlight. Silk Road...the maitre D, makes you feel bad for wanting to eat there, it was always empty, but they told you they were all reserved. The one day we hung out at the pool, they had a dreadful Philippine band belting out the worst songs at ear splitting volume. No-one was clapping...I think we all just wanted to go back to napping or reading our books. Service was either really good (some waiters are amazing!)...but others are terrible...like the captain from Pondicherry who played a trick on an elderly man...why? For his own amusement, because no one else found it funny...it was just mean. Also, on other cruises I have been welcomed to the boat by a towel and water and even champagne...not on crystal...it's more like airport security...intimidating men with an X-ray machine. The entertainment was actually really good...they have a neon dancing show which is excellent, as is the dance number on the day at sea. I would not recommend this trip to my worst enemy. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our ... Read More
I read the negative reviews before we left the usa and started to get nervous. Having done the full cruise now -- they are ridiculous. This was an incredible experience from top to bottom. We are a young couple (34 and 30) and this was our first cruise. I mostly want to address the negative stuff that has been written or that I noticed. First of all, the rooms are fairly small - it's a boat folks. Whatever you have you have to float on the ocean and sail. Our room was def cozy but 2 people lived there and felt luxurious from day 1 on. The shower blasts high pressure water, there are his and her sinks. Oh and btw you can order whatever you want whenever you want. We would get a wake up call at 7:30a and then at 7:40a there would be the steward with out piping hot coffee and english muffins. The rooms is just not going to be the same size as a suite at the Holiday Inn in Mobile, AL. Anyone who complains about the food on this ship needs their head examined, it is all-you-can-eat fine dining, full stop. I was incredibly skpetical of the all you can eat concept; I've been to plenty of crappy all inclusives in my day. This is 1 Michelin star quality every night and that's just the dining room. The service is incredible from top to bottom, my wife couldn't carry a plate to her table at lunch without having 3 guys swoop in and take it from her. The clientelle is older but so what? If your goal is to party hard don't got on a cruise. Go to Mykonos, Ibiza, etc. We had tons of fun meeting new people. Guess what folks? Senior citizens are more interesting than 18 year olds. If you're like me and you were worried that you had overpayed for this stop worrying and get ready for the trip of a lifetyime. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Just back from our fourth cruise on Crystal (three on the Symphony, one on the old Harmony). This time it was to the Baltics. Quick review: WEAR AND TEAR: Concerns about wear-and-tear are beyond overblown. Sure, the railings could use a ... Read More
Just back from our fourth cruise on Crystal (three on the Symphony, one on the old Harmony). This time it was to the Baltics. Quick review: WEAR AND TEAR: Concerns about wear-and-tear are beyond overblown. Sure, the railings could use a fresh coat of lacquer but that’s an issue with EVERY ship. (Ah, the salt air!) And, frankly, we were in the stateroom and on the veranda so infrequently that it didn’t matter. And even if we were it wouldn’t matter. The Symphony is just a great ship. Maintenance is ongoing. We’re early risers and you have to see what goes on overnight to fully appreciate the maintenance. CREW: Key to us is the quality and engagement of the crew, whether it’s Ricki, Derek or Lester on the Lido deck, always looking to help us start our day off with a “good morning” by name, or Prego head waiter Piotr, who in his day job co-running the Lido does a remarkably impressive job keeping the staff motivated in the mornings with respect, encouragement and a pat on the back. (I’m a sucker for well-run businesses and any services-oriented company looking for insight into how things should be run should pay Piotr a visit. He really just works there, but takes pride in what he does.) FOOD: The food in the main dining room, of course, was excellent and our head water, Vlada, went out of his way to make sure that my low-sodium diet could be adhered to. (Ask for the roasted vegetable soup: It’s not on the menu, it’s really good and it has no salt.) Prego was exceptional, of course, as was the Silk Road. TOURS: Crystal’s secret weapon is its exclusive-access excursions. We experienced this in Beijing, on a prior cruise, where Crystal does what most cruise lines and private tours can’t or don’t: It gets you into the Great Hall of the People for a private dinner and show. We thought THAT was one of those great once-in-a-lifetimers until we did the Moscow excursion by train from St. Petersburg. This isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every cent and definitely worth stealing a day from St. Petersburg. Here’s why: They get you into the Grand Kremlin Palace. No other cruise does this, and the only other way to do it is with a private tour -- and then access can be iffy, expensive and very limited. This is one of those “words can’t express” experiences. There are palaces, and then there are PALACES. This is the later, and in a league of its own. This tour, with an extraordinary senior-level guide, involves hours of walking and is topped with a really good meal in one of Moscow’s great restaurants. The four-hour train ride each way results in a long day that starts at 5:30 and gets you back to the ship at about midnight. (Nice touch by Crystal to have two plates of sandwiches waiting for us in our room with a “Welcome back from Moscow” note.) Unlike St. Petersburg, which was overwhelmed with crowds that even our private “early access” tours couldn’t help avoid, our Moscow group was 53 people; normally it’s about twice that amount. Our tours of the palace were split into two groups. We were the ONLY groups in the palace at the time. Why does Crystal get this access? They have to pay up front for the tour AND renting private coaches on the train. This means taking the risk that fewer guests than expected will book, which means they could wind up eating the cost of any unsold seats on the train. Could you see any cruise lines owned by quarterly-earnings conscious public companies doing that? I don’t think so! STATEROOMS: Sure, they’re small but they’re so well designed. We actually think we cram in more with ease in Crystal’s staterooms than we did on a cruise several years ago on the Regent Voyager, which has considerably larger standard rooms that include a walk-in closet. The extra floor space on Regent was nice, but we would take a smaller room on Crystal over a larger room on Regent. My one quibble with Crystal is mattress quality: Too hard for my taste; less so for my wife; but we have them wrapped with extra quilts and/or egg crates to blunt the blow. (Hat-tip to Keith for recommending bringing a power strip. This is the first time we did and it made sense. There is only one outlet in the room. Remember, these ships were designed pre-the days we all carried multiple devices.) INTERNET SERVICE: No surprise to anybody, it was horrible though Crystal warned in big bold letters upon sign on and in the computer lounge it would be throughout the Baltic. All in all, another great Crystal experience. Originally, we had booked too late to get a veranda room on this cruise, so opted for a somewhat similar itinerary on the Seabourn Quest. When a veranda room opened on Crystal we cancelled Seabourn, without hesitation, for the Symphony for four reasons: After veering once to Regent, we didn’t want to take another chance on another line (it is, after all, expensive); we wanted a sea day (Seabourn didn’t offer one in its Baltic itinerary); Crystal went to Berlin (well worth the day, especially the drive back in a German bus, with an American flag in the front window and the USA vs. Germany soccer match playing on the bus radio in German -- surreal!); and Crystal’s inclusion of the Grand Kremlin Palace -- something Seabourn did not offer. Expectations exceeded on all fronts.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
The cruise: We sailed from Stockhom to London with stops in St Petersburg(3 days),Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Berlin. The theme was food and wine. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very efficiently done. On board check in was a ... Read More
The cruise: We sailed from Stockhom to London with stops in St Petersburg(3 days),Helsinki, Copenhagen, and Berlin. The theme was food and wine. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very efficiently done. On board check in was a breeze and took only a few minutes.The staff appeared genuinely happy to see us and many greated us by name from previous cruises aboard the Symphony.Food and drinks were immediately available and our stateroom was ready and luggage delivered by about 3pm. Disembarkation in London was equally efficient. Having the customs people come on board speeds up the process considerably. The ship: Beatifully appointed, always well maintained, easy to navigate, and a very manageable size.Although it can accomodate about 900 passengers, typically there are about 750 on board If you like mega resorts or mega liners or lots of activities for kids, this is not for you. Stateroom: We stayed in one of the penthouse suites which had the added advantages of more space and butler service. Both are quite nice but staying in a regular stateroom with a veranda is hardly roughing it and costs almost 50% less. The stateroom was nicely furnished, had a walk in closet, and a bathroom with a double sink,separate shower and bathtub,and nice ammenities. Everything is always clean and in good working order. Noise from the outsice or from next door is virtually nonexistant. Food: The main dining room provides an excellent selection of well prepared, tasty food with healthy choices for those with or without dietary restrictions. If you don't see what you want, just ask for it! Specialty restaurants, Prego(Italian)and Silk Road(Asian) are comparable to fine restaurants in SF or NYC. Complimentary wine selections are quite good and the wine steward is very accomodating if you don't find what you'd like. Breakfast and lunch is also available in a more casual atmosphere. The choises tend to be similar from day to day, particularly at breakfast, However, we had several theme lunches celebrating the cuisine of places we visited which were interesting and tasty. Additionally, there were several dinners high lighting local favorites, some prepared by the celebrity chefs on board. Activities: Plenty to do including attending some excellent lectures by food and wine experts, celebrity chefs, and destination lecturers. We had only 3 sea days, so it was difficult to take advantage of everything. Evening entertainment ranges from piano lounge type to more elaborate performences by the fine Crystal Ensemble and excellent guest performers including musicians and comedians. Service: This is where Crystal truly shines and rises above the other lines we have sailed. Everyone, including cabin staff, dining staff,bistro and lounge staff and pool attendants,go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome at all times. Changing to an all inclusive program(gratuities included) has not resulted in any decline in Crystal's outstanding service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Crystal Symphony -- Baltic Dreams, June 16 to June 27, 2012 Hamburg, Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Stockholm Better than we anticipated! We'd never sailed on the Crystal Symphony, prior to this trip. ... Read More
Crystal Symphony -- Baltic Dreams, June 16 to June 27, 2012 Hamburg, Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn & Stockholm Better than we anticipated! We'd never sailed on the Crystal Symphony, prior to this trip. We'd been on the Radisson / Regent "Seven Seas" prior to this cruise and were anxious to see how they stack up against one another, although it has been several years since those sailings. We learned several weeks before our departure that the Symphony would be in dry-dock for renovations immediately preceding our cruise date of June 16, In a way, that added a bit of intrigue to the trip in not knowing just what was going to be updated. Personally, when we booked passage nearly 6 months earlier I'll confess that there were a lot of questions about the cost of a cruise on a ship that was 17 years old and how would it stack up to the hype, even if it's launching godmother was Angela Lansbury! But not to worry; if there were any signs that this ship was showing its age, they were invisible to us. It was as sparkling and pristine as any luxury cruise ship we'd been on, and thankfully, with none of "bling" and garishness that passes for decor on the mega-ships of the NCL, Royal Caribbean and the like. I'll have to leave it to others who've sailed on the Symphony prior the June 16 re-launch to make the comparisons and whether the current iteration is better than the previous. We thought it was as nice as you'd care to have it. Our group of 6 were able to get cabin assignments in close proximity to each other, on the Promenade Deck about midship. My wife and I were in cabin #7071 and right near the elevator lobby and the exit door to the deck. This was really perfect for us as my wife has some difficulty in walking, this put us just a deck or two above the Crystal Dining Room and the Lobby Bar. Our cabins were not involved in the recent renovation but were in great shape and showed no wear. As mentioned by "Steph27" in an earlier reviews, it was very comfortable and seemed to have an amazing amount of drawers and shelving for storage and a very ample closet. The bed was very comfortable, there were as many pillows as you could want and, of course, the right height from the floor to get the suitcases out of the way. We were late booking so we weren't able to select a cabin with a veranda, so we ended up with an "E" category described as having a "large picture window with a view that is limited or extremely limited". I can't speak for the other "E" category cabins, except for those of our group; none of us had a problem with the view at all. As for having a veranda, I'm afraid it may have been a bit too cool and/or windy to fully enjoy that amenity. One other point about being on the Promenade Deck and a concern about people "promenading" in front of the cabin window. Yes, the outside deck was a bit below the cabin window, but during the day it was impossible to see in from the outside due to the silver mirror-like tinting on the windows. While at night, with the drapes closed, there wasn't a problem. Our cabin proved to be very inviting and comfortable. If there is a criticism it would be with the on-line requirements for information after paying for the ticket. There was too much repetitive information required and the inability to answer questions about both my wife and I at the same time gave me a lot of frustration. Hopefully, that will be corrected in the future. Also, there were too many problems with trying to make dinner reservations for a party of eight (later changed to a party of six). We also couldn't find much out about the menus, relating to dietary and health restrictions. That being said, we needn't have worried. Contrary to what some have written, we NEVER had difficulty getting a table for our group and likewise never had difficulty either changing our assigned dinner times, coming later than anticipated nor staying as long as we chose. Our seating time in the Crystal Dining room was "around" 6:45 and often were leaving dinner at 8:30 or closer to 9:00. The service in the Dining Room was impeccable and the food was extraordinary. Not that it mattered to us, but by the second day our wait staff had our names down pat. Nothing, and mean nothing was too much to ask. Prego was wonderful and Silk Road was a good experience. (Asian food isn't high on my list of preferred cuisines, so I'll leave it to others with more cosmopolitan palates to pass judgment on the Silk Road.) As a matter of fact, right after having dinner at Prego we booked another reservation for later in the week (not difficult), but cancelled when we all were satisfied with our experience in the Crystal Dining Room. Our most recent cruise, prior to the Symphony, was on the NCL Pearl, where dining in the main dining room was akin to being downgraded from 1st class to economy on a plane. If you chose not to frequent the 4 or 5 "up charge" restaurants, then back to the galley! On that ship, two huge main dining rooms, each serving exactly the same menus and of questionable quality. Dining in the Crystal Dining Room was a pleasure! As for breakfast in the Lido Cafe absolutely no complaints. Generally, my wife and I would be there around 815 or a bit earlier if we had a tour start by 9 am. It was extremely rare that we couldn't we find a table and we never had to search one out on our own, always being assisted in that task by one of the waiters, who also knew our names, I might add. Breakfast was also available in the main dining room, as well. Normally breakfast buffets, nor any other buffets, are not on our radar. But to call the Lido Cafe a "buffet" is way off the mark! First off, there are no trays and consequently no long line of rails to push your tray along. The Lido is arranged with many "islands" of selected foods, such as the chef-attended omellette and waffle section, there's cold cereal, with fruits, another area for meat & cheeses, another section for Asian Kimchee and soups, etc. As you choose your selection, no tray? No problem! As out of nowhere a server appears to carry your plate back to the table, if you choose. Actually, quite nice. Late risers probably were a bit out of luck and would have to settle for breakfast in the mid-ship Trident Bar and Grill, where the selections were somewhat limited but certainly not frugal. I might respond to some of the other writer's comments about the wine selections. As everything is life, wine is a relative thing! And again, those who consistently cruise on the "all inclusives" might be able to jump in and make some comparisons of the wine lists of the various ships. We on the other hand were more than happy with the selections, whether red, white or champagne. We were happy not because we were forced to drink inferior wines; not at all! Several times we disliked a selection at dinner, only to have the Sommelier rush out to select something else. It was the effort that counted as much as the wine. In the Crystal Cove Bar on Deck #5 were our crowd generally would meet and have a few cocktails before dinner. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio was always available. Where I'm from a bottle of that goes for about $18.00 a bottle. I know you can spend more, but we all thought that was a pretty nice, "pedestrian" type of wine. Besides, the ladies also like the "Sake Berry" martinis they made in the Cove Bar. The itinerary of Symphony's Baltic Dreams was the reason we chose this particular cruise. A couple of people in our group had been to one or another of the cities, but you know how that is when it's work -- you never get to see anything. For my wife and I it was all new and fun to visit. The weather was mostly cooperative, but we got rained out of Tallinn and had a bit of rain in Stockholm. St. Petersburg was amazingly interesting and the lunches we had were exceptional, possibly helped by my Eastern European roots. As for tours, we chose to plan and book our St. Petersburg tours before we ever left home. While expensive, it included group visas, lunches, all transportation and admission fees. We were able to select where we wished to go and what we wanted to see. We even got the V.I.P. treatment by always being "1st in line and shown to special entrances where we would always be assured of being shown to head of the line. We took our private tours on Friday and Sunday, and on Saturday were part of a free courtesy tour sponsored by American Express. That was a fun way to meet other cruisers at a pre-tour mixer and during the tour itself. In most of the other cities we availed ourselves of the "Hop-on-Hop-off" bus system, which was always combined with a canal boat tour. Much less expensive and with a little research before hand, you could quite easily do your own thing, stopping at interesting sites along the way and then wait for the next bus to continue on, taking as much or as little time as the schedule allowed. There are probably a few "nits" that I could pick, but they all fade into insignificance when compared to the total experience. We are extremely glad that we took this cruise with Crystal and will be looking for the next time we can again say "All Aboard" with one of their ships. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I ... Read More
As a newbie to Crystal I was excited to experience my first luxury cruise. I had been looking at Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. I ultimately decided on Crystal due to the sail date, wonderful itinerary and the very reasonable cruise fare. I booked in September for the May 21 voyage on the Symphony called European Discoveries. This would also be the annual President's Cruise so the expectation of special events and programs was also an enticement. Highlights: -Great itinerary and the ports were all terrific. -All inclusive fare with alcohol and gratuities included. -Free Shuttle buses to town -No need to sign slips for a large variety of table wines wines and spirits. -Excellent customer service, the best we have had onboard any ship. -Treated same by the crew if you were in an ocean view room or a penthouse. -No speical treatment like priority tendering for those with elite status. -Pre booking shorex in advance but not charged until you are on the ship. -Bistro extra hours and quality of cheeses, cured meats, fruits and desserts. -Fellow passengers were interesting and great cruising companions. -Free laundry Lowlights: -Inconsistent food in the Crystal dining room. -High price for Crystal shore excursions (although the ones we took were excellent). -Crowding. As our cruise was sold out it was often hard to find a seat in the Lido for breakfast. -Enrichment program was weak. Too many lectures on the Middle East when presentations on WWII and the D-Day invasion would have been much more appropriate and interesting. -Terrible quality of the coffee in the Lido. -Mozart Tea was just ok. Tea was weak. Why can't Crystal serve loose leaf tea? We boarded the Symphony in Southampton on a Monday afternoon. Embarkation through security at the City Terminal was tedious. We had to keep showing our passports. Once onboard the ship the check in was completed which only took a few minutes. I don't think it was any faster to do it this way than in the cruise terminal. I am guessing that Crystal can save money by not paying as much for the port staff and would prefer to process people onboard the ship. Of course I could be wrong about that too. We had a category C Deluxe stateroom with large window. On my past 12 cruises I have always had a veranda and booked a window this time in order to save $1000 on the per person cruise fare. Our stateroom 7117 was located in the aft area of the ship. The window was quite large and during the day provided a great view across the Promenade Deck to the sea. You cannot see out of the window at night due to high intensity flood lights on the deck. With this being the only drawback we did not miss having a balcony at all. Our itinerary was very port intensive interspersed with 3 sea days. For a cruise with many more sea days the balcony might be nice so you can sit out during the day and also see out at night. Our category C (which is he same size as category D and E) stateroom was elegant and spacious. The Murano glass night table lamps and crystal mirror sconces were beautiful. Deck 7 where the Category C rooms are located has a lavender, cream and gold theme. I love lavender and was delighted! It was just a short walk out the door on Deck 7 to the outdoor area at the back of the ship and also just a short walk and elevator ride up to the Lido on Deck 11. The beds were very comfortable and had a top sheet and fluffy white duvets. I requested special pillows from among the 4 options on the pillow menu and was quite happy. Our room had plenty of storage, 15 drawers and a very nice closet with a motion activated light. The bathroom was a nice size with glass sinks. There was limited counter space. The shower was very steamy and was great for some of my wrinkled dresses. The only downside to the steam was that the room became very wet. The walls were absolutely drenched. A glass door instead of a curtain would be a welcome addition for the tub/shower. I would describe the look and feel of the Symphony as more understated elegance than beautiful. There was no "wow" factor to Symphony that can be found on several new builds. The Symphony entered service in 1995. There have been several refurbs since then including the one immediately following our voyage. Our favorite area of the ship was the layout of Decks 5 and 6. They were joined by a central sweeping staircase and provided a high class feel. The Bistro on deck 6 was another highlight with an excellent selection of specialty cheeses, cured meats, fruits and pastries. We made regular visits to the bistro during our cruise. The two specialty restaurants, Silk Road and Prego are available at no additional charge. We tried both and although Asian food is my favorite, we were not impressed with Silk Road and preferred Prego for its excellent Italian dishes. The carpaccio in Prego was fantastic. We both had pasta which was flavorful and well presented. Prior to the cruise immediately after final payment you can login in to Crystal's PCPC and book all you dining times in advance. I loved this and booked all our meals for either 7:15 pm or 7:30 pm. We met some guests who did not book in advance and were eating at times they found inconvenient. The food in the Crystal Dining room was hit and miss. Perhaps we made the wrong choices but we only had a few meals that we liked. The rest were as Simon Cowell would say, "forgettable". If I did not take photos I would have no memory of what we ate there. The lobster was excellent and I had several yummy desserts. However, a shrimp Cobb salad without any lettuce and a few unappealing fish dishes that were dried out left me disappointed. We had much better food off the ship than during our 11 night cruise. There were also a few buffets on the sea days. The Asia buffet seemed very Filipino and the Med buffet was horrific. I love Mediterranean food so this was a surprise. I ended up with a Reuben from the Trident Grill. At times our meals in the Crystal Dining Room felt very rushed. They served the food quickly and had us out the door on most nights between 8:15 pm to 8:30 pm. Our ports for the cruise were Southampton; La Coruna, Spain; Bilbao, Spain; St. Jean de Luz, France; St. Malo, France; Honfleur, France and Hamburg, Germany. It was a fantastic itinerary and we were fortunate to have excellent weather up until our arrival in Hamburg where it was drizzling. The seas were so smooth and I didn't have to wear my pressure wristbands at all. It was my first cruise where I was sad to disembark the ship. We booked our next Crystal Cruise while onboard for the beginning of 2014. We are eager to see the improvements made to Symphony in Hamburg following the recent refurb. The photos, especially of the new Palm Court (which previously looked like a retirement home) make 2014 seem a long way off. Overall we were very impressed with Crystal and look forward to future voyages. Ports: There is no option on the CC menu for many of our ports. In Bilbao, Spain we took the bus independently to San Sebastian. We had a long but fabulous day. Loved San Sebastian. The town is beautiful and we had the most amazing pinxtos lunch that we will remember for along time. We also visited La Perla Thalassotherapy spa and spent about 2 hours there doing the circuit and enjoying the hot pools. Rating would be a 4. For Saint Jean de Luz we were ultimately able to tender after a few tense moments with delays. We visited both St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz on a Crystal excursion which was fabulous. Both places had great shopping and restaurants. The history was fascinating. Would love to go back. Rating would be a 5. In St. Malo, France we tendered again but it was much easier. We took another Crystal excursion, this time to Dinan and Dinard. Had a great guide and really enjoyed it. I would rate it a 5. After our excursion we walked around the ramparts in St. Malo and had a delicious lunch at Brasserie du Sillon facing the beach. I rate this port a 5. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with ... Read More
Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat: Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with a pretty extensive room service menu, available 24/7 and don't worry about using the breakfast menu on the door, they always delivered on time. 2. Lido Cafe - The food was always hot and service was always great. Already missing the thousand island dressing. 3. Cigar Lounge - The Connoisseur Club was just great. They had a decent selection,and a great staff with TV to watch world cup or news. Also had little snacks floating around at night. 4. Dining Room - Very good, could have used French service though. Food was excellent every night, never had a problem. 5. Internet Cafe - The internet was the most reasonable I have seen on any cruise. For $300 I basically had internet whenever I wanted it the entire cruise. Was kind of slow, especially before dinner and on sea days, but generally in port it was great. 6. The Little Touches - After an 18 hour trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and touring all day on a Crystal tour, they left food in the room with sandwiches and chips at 1am so we had something to snack on before going to sleep. Really a nice touch especially since I was literally running to order room service. 7. The Staff - they really will do anything to try and make you a happy guest. I wanted Mango Sorbet, they found Mango Sorbet ashore the next day. 8. Specialty Restaurants - Prego was pretty good, but I was not crazy about it. Silk Road was definitely a highlight, one complaint is that they did not have authentic Japanese Wagyu Beef, only fake American stuff. Yes you can tell the difference, and it is quite noticeable in fact. Most people have not had the real Wagyu beef. The service was great in both however. 9. Airport Transfers, and Crystal Air - It's free, and it's smooth, quick and easy. They load your luggage right on the bus for you. You just take it off when you get to the airport could not be easier. Highly recommended. 10. Movie Theater- Great, seats could have been a little more comfortable, but the popcorn was fresh and very good. Overall a pleasurable experience. 11. Age Policies - Expect exceptions if with parents, and very lenient. The most accommodating and flexible age policies I have seen on a boat. Not being 21 (20 yrs old), they still served me my favorite Kamikaze shots, and never saw anyone else having a problem on the boat, if under 18 a parental escort was needed into more adult places like the cigar lounge or night club at night, but in general most young adults under 18 really didn't have a problem anywhere but those two places. Obviously the casino was off limits until 21, probably a good thing for me since my wallet doesn't agree with casinos. A Positive and a Negative: 1. Entertainment - They brought on to the ship before we left St. Petersburg, Native St. Petersburg performers to put on a show. It was excellent. Also they brought on a famous London West End performer who was out of this world, as good as broadway. Emerging artists was amazing, with three kids, one doing opera, one doing broadway, and one playing the piano, all of which were truly great. However, the Comedian was just ok, and the magician was subpar at best. The Crystal Singers and Performers had one very good male lead vocalist, and one very bad (so bad we had to leave) female lead vocalist. Negatives: 1. Our room steward was just alright, she got sick halfway through, and therefore we didn't see her for like 3 days. 2. Louie Armstrong sail away song really got annoying after the 3rd or 4th day. Maybe you should just play it on the first day. 3. Not enough places to smoke cigars or pipes on open decks. Let smokers have a place where they can order food and smoke. Like on the back of Deck 11. 4. Allow cigar smoking in the state rooms or on the balconies, nobody likes someone to discriminate against them. 5. Crystal shops had very limited selection. Don't go onboard expecting to shop. 6. LUXE Nightclub was awful. They played current music once, and most of the time no one was there except for karaoke. The Luxe nightclub looks like it is setup for bottle service and dancing, but realistically no one ever goes there because of the music selection. Even with a younger crowd due to a summer cruise, it was still empty. I do not want to hear 70s music in the nightclub guys. Don't go on this boat expecting a good nightclub. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Picked up Crystal 0214 from Dover late June 2010.Embarkation procedures smooth but from there everything just got even better and better.Waited on sun deck and had lunch while rooms were being readied. This was cruise that about which ... Read More
Picked up Crystal 0214 from Dover late June 2010.Embarkation procedures smooth but from there everything just got even better and better.Waited on sun deck and had lunch while rooms were being readied. This was cruise that about which there simply was NOT a single deficiency. a.food - flawless,simple,clean,eye catching and always prepared exactly to individual likings.Special requests not a problem.After the first night,the Senior waiter took the trouble to ask as what we wanted that night so it could be prepared eg special meats or poultry. Table settings ie early sitting no problem. Every meal be it breakfast,lunch,afternoon tea`s (wow!) always a pleasure.Top quality foods always available at sedveral other places on board,long after formal times had finished b.cabins and accomodation.Highest standard and the staff knew thier jobs down to every detail.Nothing ever too much to try and help with.Everything works,supplies more than adequate,fresh fruit and beverages always in topped up. Bed reasonably comfortable,frankly,I found the sheets a bit too shiny. Reviewers often speak of cramped cabins but really they are more than what one needs. c.everything else,from daily news,announcements,programs,special events,embarkation and disembarkation procedures,itineraries for tours performed with ease,applomb and absolute precision. Already made another booking for next cruise.No wonder they get the top marks!Is there anyone else? Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Background Information We are a couple in our mid-fifties. We have been on 15 cruises, but only the last three have been without the kids. This was our first luxury cruise. Travel To Port of Embarkation We flew SAS business ... Read More
Background Information We are a couple in our mid-fifties. We have been on 15 cruises, but only the last three have been without the kids. This was our first luxury cruise. Travel To Port of Embarkation We flew SAS business class to Stockholm. Crystal had a good deal on an upgrade and it was well worth the extra money to fly business class. The flight and taxi ride to the hotel went very smoothly. In Stockholm, make sure you take a taxi that says Taxi Stockholm and has a large green leaf painted on the side. There are many other taxis with similar names and they will overcharge you. Hotel and Embarkation We got to Stockholm a day before we could board the Symphony and stayed at the Sheraton. We arrived at the Sheraton at 9:30am and were very pleased that they had a room ready for us. The Sheraton is in an excellent location, walking distance from many interesting places. We had a wonderful day sightseeing and sampling great foods and pastries and managed to stay up until 10:00 pm. The next day, we checked out of the hotel around noon and took a cab to the Crystal Symphony, since I had read on Cruise Critic that you could usually check in at noon and have a champagne lunch. Check-in and boarding were quick and efficient. We checked our hand luggage and had a lovely champagne lunch. The many staff were efficient and gracious. Several people welcomed us back, which was odd, since this was our first Crystal cruise. Maybe they thought since we knew you could board early, we had cruised Crystal before. Stateroom Our cabin was small, but adequate. There was very good storage space and the bed was comfortable. Dining The food in the main dining room was very good. The appetizers were excellent. We really enjoyed Silk Road and Prego. We had no trouble getting all the reservations we wanted in either restaurant and the food and service were superb. We enjoyed the breakfasts in the Lido. There was a nice selection and everything was fresh and well prepared, and this was definitely the best buffet breakfast we've had on a ship. The Bistro was one of my favorite places on the ship. They have excellent coffees, teas, beer and wine. There is a good selection of snacks, both savory and sweet. The service was excellent and the snacks were constantly replenished. I wished that The Bistro had longer hours. We enjoyed The Mozart tea. The waiters were dressed up in costume and there were musicians playing Mozart as well as other classical pieces. They served small sandwiches and pastries, which were quite good. Activities There were only two sea days, so we didn't have enough time to attend many of the activities on board. We really enjoyed the enrichment lectures by Marc Ginsburg and the wonderful historical storyteller, Dr. Jay Wolff. Service The service in the Lido for breakfast was outstanding. There were many staff to help carry our trays and refill our coffee. They went out of their way to remember our names and what we liked to eat. The waiters even ordered my husband's waffle for him and brought it to the table when ready. The service at Silk Road and Prego was also outstanding. However, our regular waiter and assistant waiter were good, but did nothing to make them stand out from good waiters on other cruises. Our room stewardess also did a good job, but nothing special. We had to ask to get our robes since by the second day, there were only empty robe hangers in the closet. We certainly got anything we asked for promptly, and it was nice that crystal didn't keep trying to sell us things. In fact, the stores on the ship closed for good before we had a chance to buy everything we wanted. They didn't open after the 10:00 pm sailaway from Rostock. The next morning we were docked in Copenhagen for an overnight stay before we had to disembark the following morning. Entertainment The ship's singers, dancers and band were excellent. There were a lot of songs from musicals, which I enjoyed very much. My husband didn't enjoy them as much but that was because of the type of music, not the caliber of the performers. The dance couple on board, Beverly Durrant and Chris Curtis, were excellent and really fun to watch. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to take any of their dance lessons. There was a British singer, Robert Meadmore, who sang songs from musicals and had an excellent voice. Comedian/Singer Kenny Smiles was very funny. There was a pianist, Naki Ataman, who performed this hour-long piece that included music from 19 different countries around the world, and used "Around the World in 80 Days" as a transition piece. He was accompanied by the bass player and drummer from the band. A London musical show singer Jacqueline Scott was good. She could play piano as well as sing. She sang show tunes, the Minute Waltz, a medley of Beatles songs. The Liars' Club was fun. The panel included the ship's rabbi, monsignor, Dr. Jay Wolff, and comedian, Kenny Smiles. The audience formed teams. Each panelist gave a different definition for each of 4 words. Each panelist also elaborated with stories and jokes. It was funny and entertaining. Port & Shore Excursions The cruise had a wonderful itinerary. It began with an overnight stay in Stockholm, followed by a day at sea, then a two-night stay in St. Petersburg, a day in Helsinki, a day at sea, a day in Gdansk, a day in Rostock and an overnight stay in Copenhagen. Free shuttle buses: Crystal provided free shuttle buses from the ship to Stockholm, Helsinki, Gydnia, and Copenhagen. In Germany, Crystal provided free shuttle buses to both Warnemunde and Rostock, since our ship docked in Rostock, rather than the more commonly used port, Warnemunde. We enjoyed seeing Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen on our own. We had good guidebooks and maps and it was nice to see what we wanted to see at our own pace. The highlight of the cruise was St. Petersburg. We had booked a private tour with Anastasia Tours for just my husband and me. (FYI, When we boarded the ship for the last time before sailaway to St. Petersburg, Crystal took our passports. They returned them the next day with one copy of the main page.) We were scheduled to meet our guide from Anastasia Tours at 9:30. We left the ship around 9:00 and had no trouble with passport control. There was a short line. They needed our passport, a copy of the main page of the passport, and our ticket from Anastasia Tours. They gave us a small, red laminated card that we had to turn back in before we got on the ship at the end of the day. I had made copies of our passport pictures for all three days, but they only asked for them on the first day. They did look at our passports and our Anastasia tickets all three days. The next two days, we got off the ship about 8:30 am, and there was no line and there were no problems. I don't know if the ships tours had already left, but there were no issues. Our guide, Natalya and driver Dimitri were excellent. Natalya spoke excellent English. She had an advanced degree in English from St.Petersburg University and taught there, as well as being a tour guide. She also loved St.Petersburg and knew the history in great detail. Her grandmother, who was still living in St. Petersburg, had been there during the siege and Natalya had many interesting stories to tell. Since it was just the three of us, we never had to wait in line. Natalya always moved us to the front of the line and we got in right away. Anastasia told me that this is perfectly acceptable procedure for groups of five and under. We even had priority embarkation to get on the hydrofoil and we were the only three passengers on our canal cruise. We got to see a lot in three days, and had two wonderful Russian meals and (at my request) a trip to a supermarket. It was like a very nice Walmart, huge with everything you could think of. There was a lot of fresh fish and more Vodka than I had ever seen in one place. I highly recommend Anastasia Tours. The price was very reasonable for such a great, three-day private tour. We took a ship's tour in Gdansk that basically provided bus transportation to Gdansk with a guide explaining things as we drove. We had two hours on our own in Gdansk. We asked the tour guide if we could be dropped off in Gdynia, spent about an hour in Gdynia and took the Crystal Shuttle bus back to the ship. We had done a lot of sightseeing by this point and wanted an easy day. Our ship docked in Rostock, not Warnemunde. I knew this ahead of time and it is much more difficult to take the train from the Port of Rostock than from Warnemunde. None of the ship's tours sounded that good go me. We had decided not to go to Berlin. We've never been there and we didn't want to spend 3 hours each way getting to Berlin and back to spend only 6 or 7 hours in such a great city. I was very happy when I discovered Friends of Dave Tours on Cruise Critic. Dave is American who has lived in Germany the past ten years. He is extremely knowledgeable about the area and was extremely helpful. He even went to the Port of Rostock to check it out ahead of time and contacted Crystal Cruises to find out their plan for shuttle buses. Dave arranged a wonderful tour to Wismar for us and another family. We took the Crystal shuttle bus to Rostock and Dave was waiting for us at the bus stop. We then embarked on a very interesting day in Germany. After a short walk around Rostock, we took the tram and then the train to Wismar. We were extremely glad to have Dave as our guide. It was by no means obvious what to do and where to go at the train station and Dave already had our tickets and was leading the way. After an hour's train ride to Wismar, he took us all around this wonderful city and told us all about the culture and history. He also took us to a 500 year old Brewery for an absolutely wonderful lunch. His rates are per person and are very reasonable. The price included the train tickets, lunch and drinks at an outdoor restaurant. His website is friendsofdavetours.com Disembarkation Crystal really excelled here. Our flight wasn't until 3:30 pm. We got off the ship about 9:45 am and Crystal bussed passengers with later flights to a very nice hotel with a hospitality lounge with pastries and drinks. The hotel, The Imperial, was right in the middle of downtown Copenhagen, so we could leave our luggage there and sightsee for a few hours. Depending on the time of your flight, Crystal either provided taxi vouchers for passengers to get to the airport or they provided a bus at 12:30 pm. I thought this was handled very well. Overall impressions Our first two days on the ship, several waiters welcomed us back or otherwise recognized us from previous cruises. It was pretty odd at first, since we had not been on a Crystal cruise before. We guessed that we looked a lot like another couple that had cruised with Crystal before or the staff were trained to "remember" passengers in order to make them feel special. The ship is beautiful and very clean. It was only about half full, so there was never a line and there were lots of helpful crew members. This was the best cruise we have taken although Crystal didn't meet quite meet my expectations. This may be because I have read for years about how wonderful Crystal is and perhaps my expectations were unrealistically high. We will most likely cruise with Crystal for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Our cruise began in Dover with the traditional sail-off song by Louis Armstrong, "It's a Wonderful World." Prior to sail-off we had settled in our cabin, been introduced to our cabin stewardess, been greeted by a flank of ... Read More
Our cruise began in Dover with the traditional sail-off song by Louis Armstrong, "It's a Wonderful World." Prior to sail-off we had settled in our cabin, been introduced to our cabin stewardess, been greeted by a flank of tuxedoed attendants (reminded me of the Titanic), done the requisite life-jacket drill, and toured the ship. The public areas of the ship are lovely and our cabin, while small (no verandah) had adequate storage space, a comfortable bed, flat screen television, and a shower/tub combination. We are middle-age, professors, well-travelled, and enjoy food. I have broken this review into parts to better focus on the experience of the cruise. Ship Amenities The public areas are easy to locate and navigate after very little time on board. We did not use the gambling area so cannot comment on this aspect of the ship experience. The library is large and contained files on each port. The computer center has enough computers for those that check email and must do work even on vacation. Be warned that the speed of the Internet is slow, cost to use the computers high ($50 for 2 hours), and the log-off procedures require 2 separate actions. The latter was an issue as I failed to log-off and someone else got the benefit of my 2 hours of time. Crystal should devise a better method to login to the computer that is consistent with how most people use a public computer. The bar areas had excellent service and each a different ambience. The Avenues Bar had a great pianist but the smoking in the area (very small so smoke filters all over) made it a place to avoid. We enjoyed dancing and smaller shows in the Starlite but did not venture into the disco Luxe. The bar area on level 5 by the Bistro had a great pianist and killer sunset views but again, smoking is allowed in this bar in a designated area which is next to those that do not smoke. We did not use the pool or spa but noted that the spa was in almost constant use. The Galaxy lounge performances were wonderful and professional, not the usual cheesy song and dance reviews that we were expecting. All the entertainment onboard was of high caliber with exception of the comedian (Marty Brill). The lecturers were informative and thought-provoking. Ship photographers were available to take photos (for sale later) and did a good job of capturing you at your best. Movies in the theater are close to first run and include a waiter with fresh-popped popcorn. The ship stores have an interesting selection of jewelry and clothing for purchase while sailing (closed during docking). Summary: Great entertainment, attentive bar service, and the public areas never feel crowded. Only down-note is the smoking. Food We go on a cruise for the food as well as the itinerary so the food was a major component in our decision to book a Crystal cruise. In general, all the food was significantly better than any cruise ship we have sailed. Breakfasts on the Lido deck were fresh and wonderful. The breakfast is served buffet style with fresh options available (such as eggs, omelets, waffles). Our trays were always carried by staff and our coffee refilled and plates cleared with attentive service. We ate lunch a few times at the Trident grill and found the hamburgers freshly made and the pizza very good. We did not eat lunch in the dining room. Our dining room experience was the least satisfying of our food experiences. While all the food was good, it was not exceptional. We did not ask for special preparations but will try that on our next cruise. Food was delivered promptly and wait staff was always attentive. The wine selections are fairly priced. I understand that wine can be brought onboard and a small corkage fee charged to open it and we will try this option next time. The dining room has 2 seatings and while we booked the late seating (due to lots of late-ending tours) we often ate at the early seating. It is possible to walk up to the maitre' d and ask to be seated at a different time. Our cruise was about half-full so there were many tables available for this request. The noise level in the dining room is loud and many families brought everyone (including crying babies) to the table. We tried Prego twice and while some items were great (try the mushroom soup) most of the food could have been better prepared. An example was the mashed potatoes with Kalamata olives—eating a purplish mash-up was just not appetizing. I ordered lamb medium rare and it was delivered medium well. I asked our head waiter how he thought it looked and he confirmed it was medium well. While another effort was underway the maitre d' came over and explained that the light from the window can make meat look over-cooked. (That has to be one of the funniest excuses I have ever heard). The second lamb effort was correctly cooked but tasted gamey and certainly was not a fresh piece of lamb. Waiters were attentive and the sommelier was willing to prepare us a special wine flight for our courses. We also ate at Silk Road and felt that this is the best restaurant and a top dining experience. We attempted to get reservations for the Vintage Room but were not successful (missed by 1 couple). The lunch buffet was great with a large variety of food using fresh ingredients. The grand buffet was not as great with large amounts of food with no particular flavor but it was a great photo opportunity. We did not try room service. The Bistro is great for a late breakfast or tea. I loved the magazine selection that included the Wine Spectator and Food and Wine. We did not do a formal tea as we were out touring. Summary: Way above average food and the specialty restaurants are worth a try. Cabin: Our cabin was small but functional. Two people do have to time their dressing activities or risk getting entangled. Our tub faucets stopped working on one of the formal nights and it took several calls to fix the problem. The bedspread looks a bit tired but the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Loved the old movies on the television but they should show movies themed to the area we were visiting (i.e., Dr. Zhivago for Russia). CNN was difficult to catch with satellite loss but Fox news came in great—we wondered if there was a political message there. Our cabin stewardess did a great job although a couple times my side of the bed was short-sheeted. When we arrived there were half full water bottles left in the cabin and refrigerator but they were promptly taken away and replaced. It was a relief not to have towel animals every night. We did hear noise from adjoining cabins the last night as folks were opening and closing drawers to pack. Summary: small cabin unless you pay for an expensive upgrade but adequate for sleeping. Tours: We used the ship tours for almost all of our touring. We were off the boat for 10 hours every day. By the end we were tired of buses. The ship tours are a great way to see a country in a general way. One tour ended early as the driver got lost and one stop had an unexpected water problem. We did bring this to the excursion director's attention but no compensation was made. All tours were exactly as described (except for the lost tour). Be aware that even though you see everything described, you will have no time to linger. Conversely, one tour included an excessive 2 hours at a glass shop designed for shopping. Our tour buses had expert guides, water, a bathroom, and were only partially full. The food at each stop while described as unique local restaurants was very poor. Our best tour was arranged with the excursion desk for the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. It was incredible the difference between a ship tour and with a private guide and driver. While expensive ( a full-day is $800+) it was memorable. I had not been to any of the countries we visited and enjoyed every stop. Summary: arrange your own tours using the excursion desk or on your own if you want to see a lot in small amount of time. Over-all Yes, we'd take the cruise again with Crystal. The forums refer to this as being "crystallized" and we are as we have booked another cruise (6 weeks later) and for one in the fall. While the cruise line and experience were not perfect, it is so much better than other lines we have experienced (Cunard, Seabourn, Sitmar). The line offers a good compromise between the small experience of the yachts and the large experience of the big ships. Fellow cruisers will be middle-age and well-traveled. There were kids onboard our summer cruise and for the most part were well-behaved (some screaming babies at dinner). Staff are attentive and everyone works hard to make sure your experience is great and of course, they want to be remembered with a gratuity. This cruise line works hard to deliver an exceptional experience and if you are interested in an upscale experience, this cruise line is for you. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Crystal Symphony Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 4.5 4.3
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.8
Enrichment 5.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

Find a Crystal Symphony Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click