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8 Crystal Symphony Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Caribbean - All

Had an enjoyable cruise but it was not 6 star. Cabin was as small as, or even smaller than I have had on 4 star ships No bottle of ‘bubbles’ in the cabin on arrival. I have come to expect this on even 4 star lines. Light over ... Read More
Had an enjoyable cruise but it was not 6 star. Cabin was as small as, or even smaller than I have had on 4 star ships No bottle of ‘bubbles’ in the cabin on arrival. I have come to expect this on even 4 star lines. Light over the bed was unusable and was very uncomfortable as I could not find a way of moving it away. I kept hitting my head on it, and I am short. I don’t know how tall men cope. Most of the tours were sold out before the ship sailed and you could not book a tour less than one week out. Why? Tours were not really well matched to the ratings. I did a snorkeling and stingray encounter on Grand Turk. You did not have to snorkel if you didn’t want to. The stingray encounter was just in a couple of feet of water - no need to swim. Yet it was rated ‘strenuous’ and I did hear at least one elderly couple say they decided to cancel because they were worried it might be too difficult for then. Perhaps you need someone with an excellent knowledge of each tour to be available to talk people through what they will need to be able to do. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this cruise for the trip destination and the Crystal reputation. We have been on other Crystal trips and this is the first time we did 3 back to back trips, total 45 days! Embarkation was a piece of cake. Bags we shipped were ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the trip destination and the Crystal reputation. We have been on other Crystal trips and this is the first time we did 3 back to back trips, total 45 days! Embarkation was a piece of cake. Bags we shipped were in our room when we arrived and the bags we brought arrived shortly thereafter. We are hoping the same for disembarkation. The Captains Larsen and Willheim are the best, with rough seas when we had them. They are cautious on all conditions. The rest of the crew are equally praised in every area of the ship. The wait staff are amazing from the Maitr’d down to waiters. It is amazing how they remember names and faces. They anticipate your every need. We are fortunate to have a Penthouse on deck 10. The butler and housekeeping staff all work well together. Because the seas are rough today, our housekeeper wanted to go out and do windows on the veranda. We told her to take that off her list today due to sea conditions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This is our third cruise on Crystal and Symphony. Our first was 22 years ago from Istanbul. Our second was February 2017 Singapore to Hong Kong. Both were amazing. We chose an easier quick trip out of New Orleans with our daughter and ... Read More
This is our third cruise on Crystal and Symphony. Our first was 22 years ago from Istanbul. Our second was February 2017 Singapore to Hong Kong. Both were amazing. We chose an easier quick trip out of New Orleans with our daughter and her spouse. We both had suites, we decided on the new Seabreeze suites which were just redone in 2017. They were very nice woth a large shower with excellent water pressure... Anyway the ship was superb, from the staff, the AMAZING speciality restaurants and the fabulous entertainment. I even had time for the casino. Keep in mind everything is inclusive, all liquior, wine, WiFi, grautuities. This time there were children on the ship and the staff seem to handle well. We are in 9051 and as I said it was very nice. We have taken over 45 ocean cruises and three River Cruises and Crystal and Silverseas remains at the top of our list. You cannot go wrong with this cruise line. Good luck and keep cruising. We loved it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We picked this cruise because we’d never taken an ‘all-inclusive’ type cruise and this one was a short 7N from New Orleans which is close to us. I’d seen the various pricing sheets showing how close in cost a cruise on a Line such ... Read More
We picked this cruise because we’d never taken an ‘all-inclusive’ type cruise and this one was a short 7N from New Orleans which is close to us. I’d seen the various pricing sheets showing how close in cost a cruise on a Line such as Crystal was to a ‘standard’ Line such as Celebrity, which we’ve cruised 20+ times and wanted to see if they were true - it’s true! At least for the shorter 7N cruises. We loved this ship and the entire Crystal experience. I will be giving my opinion about this cruise by comparing it to our Celebrity experiences. I won’t cover the ports - it was a Western Caribbean and been to all of them. Spent most of the time on the ship. So here goes. Embarkation: With barely 800 passengers, it’s not nearly as crowded as our previous cruises. The larger ships handled the 2000+ well, but this was better than nice: as we walked into the terminal, they asked us if we were suites or standard SR, and gave us a number. When called (waited about 10min), we walked onboard and checked in there. Given our keycard, gave them our paperwork and charge card and that was that. 5min max. Handed a drink as we walked further in and off to a lunch in the main dining room, not a buffet. And was introduced to ‘Crystal’ Dining - wow. Will talk on that shortly. Ship: very elegant but low key. Lower ceilings than other larger ships which gave all the common areas a more intimate feel. Many bar and seating areas. The Avenue Bar is like a pub with wood paneling and lovely pub bar. Pianos and live music in most of the bars. The ship has a nice and inviting game/card room. We played lots of bridge and had classes. Was never crowded in any of the common areas. the Palm Court on the top deck forward was unbelievable. Elegant-great bar-seating for groups and couples. Windows with all around views. The place to be at sea. Ship has a true Promenade Deck. Wood and fully wraparound. Great walking and jogging or standing and just viewing the sea. Loved it. Shopping: All was very high end, so for us, not needed. Beautifully laid out, but only a small section for ‘oops, I forgot something’ type items. Didn’t use any of the stores, but nicely laid out. Standard Lines such as Celebrity have more day-to-day items and clothing and lots of sales and ‘buy 2 and get 3’ type sales. Crystal didn’t have any big sales pitches and everyone going through piles of clothes and stuff. Dining: Here is the major plus. the Marketplace ‘buffet’ is only called that because of it’s layout but it was outstanding in choice and quality. I love the Celebrity buffets but this blew me away. The main dining in the Waterside was fantastic. No set time and no reservations. You walk up, ask for a table for 2 or 4 or whatever and you are seated. Great quality and options. I love lamb and it was so tender, I almost didn’t need a knife. Great fish and steaks. All high quality. the entrees and appetizers were relatively small so I could try multiple dishes. The Grill was well beyond a hamburger/hotdog grill. It had many salads and sandwiches, including a Ruben I’d die for. Each bar had snacks and the Bistro was a great place for pastries and light snacks and coffees and expresso-styles. Loved all of it. Specialty Restaurants: You get a least 2 dinings at these restaurants. Each we tried was unique. We loved Prego - Italian and outstanding steaks and fish. Umi Uma was Japanese and our favorite. Great choices. Silk was Chinese. It was nice, but I thought the Marketplace choices were better. Entertainment: I was mainly concerned that a small ship would have mediocre main entertainment. I was wrong. It was excellent. Not as fine as the larger Lines, but the theater is smaller and you are very close to the singers and dancers. Fun. Excellent quality. They had a magician from the Magic Castle in LA that killed it with up-close slight of hand. But one of the weak areas was activities during in port times. It was almost nonexistent. Not a big issues since we can entertain ourselves, but if you are not going to spend all day ashore, it’s very quiet. Nice, but quiet. Service. A+. Excellent ratio and well trained personnel. They were always working to meet your needs and wishes. Never went ‘dry’ with servers coming up to check. Not obtrusive, but always available. Room steward was a charmer. Very attentive and went the extra mile. We had a very bad night and day returning to New Orleans with 50+kt winds and huge waves. She came in to check us and would have got us meds if needed. The entire staff was fantastic. My experience was Celebrity also had great service, but Crystal just had more staff per passengers so more overall attention. Drinks: I wasn’t sure if the all-inclusive drinks would be that handy (I enjoy a few drinks but don’t get the packages on other ships), but it was just great. It was so nice having a glass of wine and a server walking up and asking if I needed a refill. Good quality cocktails. Smoking: I’m a non-smoker and was concerned because the Crystal website shows more than a bit of smoking areas. But it was fine. the outside smoking areas were mainly on the very stern of a few decks and didn’t interfere with me and gave the smokers a nice place. One inside smoking bar for cigars was available. Again, I was concerned because on a Princess ship, whenever you walked even semi-close to the bar, there was smoke all over the place. But this had a double-door set up and it wasn’t an issue for me. Ports: Not going to discuss ports. Standard ones on a Western Caribbean and only did one tour and wandered a few ports on own. One issue: it appeared Crystal had lower priority for the docking and anchoring locations compared to all the other Lines. In all cases, the docking and anchoring locations were further from the main port facilities. One port we anchored and the other three ships docked. Disembarkation: Returned to New Orleans about 5 hrs late: big winds and waves (10 on the Beaufort scale! With 50+it’s winds). Stayed in SR all day and night. Docked at an alternative pier in NO and they had shuttles to the main terminal. All-Inclusive: I’m not going through what the actual costs were, I just say, I paid for one photo (yup, did the come aboard shot) and one tour. That was it. This was truly all-inclusive: Quality drinks, wine, soft drinks; two specialty dining venues; Gratuities; Laundry room with iron; Specialty coffees and snacks; Room service; unlimited Wi-Fi on multiple units. What cost: tours; Laundry/dry cleaning; ‘upscale liquor’, but what I drink wasn’t. Yes, I know nothing is ‘free’ and paid for in the overall costs. But I ran the numbers comparing this cruise to a standard large cruise line costs by adding the additional charges for gratuities, drink packages, unlimited WiFi, 2 specialty dining. The difference would be about $450 for two people. But since I’m Elite Plus on Celebrity, and I wouldn’t get the drink package and pay a smaller amount for unlimited Wi-Fi, the different approach $950. Was it worth it? You Bet! Don’t know if this is similar for longer and more ‘exotic’ cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Over the past 20 years Crystal has been our favorite cruise line and we still feel the same today. The updates are lovely. We really enjoyed the open seating and the addition of Silk which was wonderful. The Brazilian restaurant was not ... Read More
Over the past 20 years Crystal has been our favorite cruise line and we still feel the same today. The updates are lovely. We really enjoyed the open seating and the addition of Silk which was wonderful. The Brazilian restaurant was not our favorite but was good. Umi Uma and Prego are just as good as always. The service in all departments is exceptional and we rate just as highly as we always have. We did notice some younger entertainment onboard which was very much appreciated. Carl Wishneuski in the Avenue Saloon is an awesome pianist and entertainer. We enjoyed some great evenings in his company. Neil Lockwood (ex. E.L.O.) was fabulous and had everyone on their feet - his was the best show of the cruise IMHO. He also did a good Elton John Tribute but his own show was better. We always feel so relaxed and looked after onboard Crystal and can’t wait to return. We have no desire to try other cruise lines as we have in the past. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was our first luxury cruise and our travel agent highly recommended this line. We have sailed many times and the most recent had been with NCL Haven. While we loved the Haven, we hated the crowds, overwhelming smoke and mediocre food ... Read More
This was our first luxury cruise and our travel agent highly recommended this line. We have sailed many times and the most recent had been with NCL Haven. While we loved the Haven, we hated the crowds, overwhelming smoke and mediocre food and service on the rest of the ship. We couldn’t wait to disembark. That was when our agent recommended we move up to Crystal. We will never go back. From the first minute, we noticed the huge difference from other cruise lines. We were greeted by name immediately and by evey crew member. Honestly, before we sailed, we were greeted by our names by every crew member each time. I don’t know how the do it. By the first day at sea, everyone knew our preferences. From Clarry at the pool to Jonathan at the Marketplace and Viktor at the Bistro. I could ask Clarry to leave a message for my husband and he would keep an eye out for him and relay the message. Anyone who has ever lost their husband on a cruise ship knows how impressive and helpful this is! We enjoy good food and entertainment and Crystal impressed us more than we thought possible on both. The entertainment was spectacular thanks to the regular ensemble, great costumes and programs. On top of that, it was a Jazz themed cruise with the most amazing visiting artists. Perry Smith jazz guitar was exceptional and Crystal should continue the relationship with this amazing artist!! Another huge shout out to Carl Wishnewski, best piano man since Billy Joel. Umi Uma, by Chef Nobu is not to be missed. The miso cod is “last meal” worthy and the mushroom soup is sublime. We ate there twice and could easily have gone again. Don’t be worried if you don’t like sushi. There is plenty of variety for anyone. I love sushi but my husband doesn’t. His Kobe steak was one of the best he has ever had. The main dining room was always available, we never waited. The food was excellent with a few exceptions. Shout out to Roger and our fav, Viktor as waiters!! The pool was where we noticed the amazing crew that took care of is with outstanding service. Clarry, Kiko, Rikkii and Ronnie are fabulous! From cold drinks to cold towels and little treats throughout the day. Most surprising, from other cruises, deck chairs around the pool and elsewhere always available! I never had to fight for a deck chair at anytime of the day, even on sea days!! Crystal passengers on our sailing were around 40 -80. Some younger some older. There was one baby that everyone on the ship saw once. He was our great white whale in baby form. Everyone talked about the one sighting. The passengers were a nice mix of US and internationals. Out of 860 passengers, we encountered 2, only 2, somewhat grouchy people. Everyone was just so friendly and enjoyable. Again, a first in our cruising experience. The most important part of our cruise was our cabin and attendants. It’s literally your home for 2 weeks. While I am convinced there is not a bad cabin on this ship, we always want a balcony and this time we wanted to try the suite. We selected the Seabreeze Penthouse with veranda and we are so glad we did. Our butler, Ay, the best on the ship! I’m serious. When we immediately booked another cruise, a first for us, we requested Ay. We never used our butler on the NCL Haven. He was never around. But Ay was omnipresent in the most unobtrusive way. He helped us switch reservations around as we met new friends and served a full dinner from the main menu to my husband on the first night as I had a raging migraine. He didn’t want my husband to miss out just because he was taking care of me. And for me, he brought the best consume I have ever had and a huge bucket of ice for my ice bag. Mayori and Alexandra were our attendants who cleaned our rooms throughout the day with the loveliest smiles and service. Our final shout out to Sergio the head concierge who was willing and able to do anything to make our first Crystal experience even better. And the Captain who was generous enough to invite us and a small group to his private quarters for cocktails. It was a unexpected surprise. Thank you. We are Crystalized! We aren’t going back to the other lines. I am counting the days until our next sailing in December and trying to figure out how to squeeze another in between. Choose Crystal. You will love it! You will never want to leave. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is ... Read More
We love Crystal...especially the Symphony. The staff knows your name and provides wonderful, personalized service without being excessive. The ship is perfectly maintained. The cabins are not as large as some on newer ships but that is probably why the two Crystal ships (the Serenity and Symphony) are such a good value. In spite of the cabin size, there is plenty of storage. There is so much to do onboard (good speakers, computer, foreign language and bridge classes on every cruise) that there is no reason to spend much time in your cabin. Admitedly, the entertainment is geared to the 'conservative' 50+ passenger. You aren't going to find costume contests and 'wild' pool entertainment. The fitness center has the most modern equipment (plenty of it) and many free classes...Stretch, Pilates, etc. The food is very good and the 'inclusive' wines and spirits are quite satisfactory with a large selection of both. In fact, most of the spirits are premium quality (e.g., Makers Mark). The Silk Road (Nobu's Japanese restaurant) is wonderful as is Prego, the Italian restaurant. With the new management, I have noticed a couple 'cut-backs'. There are few free shuttles into town. You either need to take a tour or arrange your own transportation if the city is not within walking distance. In the dining room, caviar is on the menu several nights, but you can no longer order it at any meal as you once could. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Having sailed with Crystal a few times before one is always wondering if like other cruise lines cutbacks and nickel and diming features have crept in which are so common on other mainstream cruising companies. Crystal promotes itself as a ... Read More
Having sailed with Crystal a few times before one is always wondering if like other cruise lines cutbacks and nickel and diming features have crept in which are so common on other mainstream cruising companies. Crystal promotes itself as a luxury cruise line and has an outstanding record of winning top awards in this class over the years. The November 2015 cruise was a 14 day Caribbean cruise from and returning to Miami. I do not propose to write about any of the ports I will just concentrate on the ship and on-board facilities and activities. The website has a very comprehensive and easy to navigate pre cruise section for those booked allowing tours and spa treatments to be viewed and booked, pre payment is not required, I believe that changes can be made on-board if desired. Speciality restaurant bookings can be made, on a 14 day cruise two visits to each restaurant are complimentary, it is possible to tie up speciality dining with other guests whom you know to be on-board via this pre-cruise website. Each voyage has a dedicated website section showing full details of Principal Officers, entertainers and speakers. Crystal often attach themes to their cruises and appropriate details are viewable online. I had booked a guarantee stateroom, ten days before cruising I was able to find out which room had been allocated via the pre booking website, I had expected either my agent or Crystal to email me with a room number but this did not happen, I think it is a courtesy to inform a guest their room allocation if decided before embarkation day. Embarkation in Miami went smoothly and on-time, the Miami onshore staff were rather dictatorial in telling guests where to sit in order to determine boarding time, those arriving early boarded first, perhaps it would have been better to have handed out cards with numbers so that waiting guests could sit where and with whom they wanted. Once boarded we were directed to the Starlite Lounge where keycards were handed out by on-board by Crystal crew members and passports were kept. At this stage the cruise started with a lovely leisurely champagne lunch in the main dining room, for those wanting a less formally served lunch burgers and pizza were available at Tastes on the Lido deck. How does a luxury cruise differ from a mass market ship some will ask apart from the obvious price difference? Better guest space ratio, service from staff who quickly get to know you and anticipate your every wish within reason, food which is better in taste, variety and quality and freely available quality drinks and wines. An interesting enrichment program is expected on a luxury cruise. Did Crystal Symphony tick these boxes? The ship takes around 950 guests when full, there were rarely any lines, the lido buffet was occasionally busy at breakfast when guests had tours booked, once the ship was docked and cleared, tables were always available and there were rarely waits to order omelettes or other cooked to order dishes, often the omelette chef would deliver the food himself to my table, now that is service! Sunbeds were readily available on sea days, surprisingly there was a small element of the towels on beds reserving syndrome. Lido servers are very evident in seeing whether sunbathing guests want drinks and are happy to bring whatever you want be it water or alcoholic cocktails. They also brought around cool towels. There are often comments that the Crystal Symphony rooms are small, compared with rooms on newer ships like the newer “S” class Celebrity ships with which I am familiar, the fact is that yes the rooms are smaller however there seems to be more drawer space and an equal amount of wardrobe space, the bathrooms are probably bigger with a double sink and small bath tub with shower. I found the room very adequate, new mattresses have been supplied which are very comfortable, the TV in my room was one of the older type, I understand that they are gradually replacing them with modern flat screen models. The servicing of the room by my stewardess was first class, she got to know my routine and did the room when I was out and about the ship. I told her the type of drinks that I wanted my refrigerator stocked with and she made sure that they were replenished without asking. The bathroom had a small plumbing problem and she ensured that it was fixed when I mentioned it, I was surprised that she had not noticed it without being pointed out by me when it got particularly evident one evening. Evening dining is one of the highlights of the day. The maitre di placed me as requested on a table for eight, he worked his magic and gathered together a wonderful group of table mates. We were lucky to have a marvellous Portuguese waitress who took care of our dining requirements in exemplary style. The training given to dining and bar staff on Crystal must surely equate to standards found in the best establishments in the world. The sommelier ensured that wine flowed freely and she was pleased to explain and recommend the complimentary wines available if she was busy our waitress made sure that the glasses were replenished herself. Food quality and variety is most important on any cruise ship, Crystal ticks all the boxes there, lido lunches are often themed, sometimes to echo the ship’s location, the dining room is also open most days for lunch for those who like a relaxed served meal. The coffee bar Bistro is open most of the day with comprehensive self service food items, breads, cakes, meats and cheeses. These are constantly refreshed so do not become tired. The available food items here are very welcome if you arrive back from tour in the afternoon after the buffet has closed and want a snack other than the burgers, pizza and ice cream available from Tastes on the Lido deck. Afternoon tea is professionally served in the deck 11 Palm Court lounge. The evening dining menu has choices of modern cuisine on one side of the menu or more traditional items on the other side, there is no problem mixing between the two menus, small portions can be ordered if desired to make an extra course or for those who do not want to be outfaced with a standard sized portion. By arrangement with the section maitre di special requests can be served if ordered the night before. I believe that Crystal stand alone in the luxury cruise market in still having two evening meal sittings, for those who prefer more flexibility there is an option of Dining by Reservation which affords you ultimate freedom, inviting you to dine at a different time, at a different table, just for two or with other guests with whom you choose to dine. This option can be selected at the time of booking. Once your cruise is fully paid, you may then reserve your personal dining times on the pre cruise website section. Times and table size can also be arranged on-board with the maitre di. The two speciality restaurants are pre-bookable via the website once full payment has been made as well as when you are on-board, Silk Road has Nobu trained chefs specialising in oriental fusion food and sushi. Prego is the Italian inspired restaurant my favourite dish being mushroom soup served in a bowl made of bread. Both of these restaurants are well regarded by regular Crystal cruisers it is indeed a treat to dine in either, service food and ambiance is excellent. The enrichment program changes on each voyage, Crystal bring on-board an amazing galaxy of quality speakers and expert teachers who take classes. Some of the classes available on sea days included Berlitz languages, computing, dancing, bridge, knitting and sewing, art, iPad for movies classes and exercise classes including yoga, stretch and Pilates, all complimentary. Its up to you whether you take it easy or rush around the ship doing as much as possible in the day. Entertainment generally consists of evening shows repeated twice, one for early and one for late sitting, like most cruise lines some of the shows have been running for a number of years, changes have been made, I believe that some of the scenery props have been replaced by back projection. The Crystal ensemble of singers and dancers were very talented and I thought that the shows were well produced and performed to a high standard, I especially enjoyed the Elton John show, apparently the principal performer is flown to the ship for each voyage, he may perform the show at the end of one cruise and the beginning of the next one. Crystal seem to have a number of show time performers who appear regularly on their ships so if you are a repeat cruiser it is highly likely that you will have seen the act before. Close up magic shows are presented on sea days, tickets are available in the library on a first come basis, they may put on three performances on each sea day with tickets limited to around 15 guests each show. Crystal Cruises seem to have the ability to retain staff, on any voyage there can be a good number of staff who you have previously met, they invariably remember previous guests and some even remember your preferences, this relationship is unusual in todays cruise industry and it does make Crystal special. The staff greet you with a genuine welcome home when they recognise a past cruiser, this is special. I started this review by mentioning cutbacks on other cruise lines, what has changed on Crystal Symphony over the years, I can only bring to mind three things, there are no more pillow chocolates, I am quite happy to live without this, some years ago caviar was available on request, it is still available but is chargeable, thirdly not a cut back, trivia held on sea days has been changed to a game of multiple choice using an electronic handheld keypad, Crystal please bring back the old game with no multiple choice but using genuine brainpower and memory and no electronics. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
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

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