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14 Crystal Symphony Cruise Reviews for Luxury Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and ... Read More
This is my 4th Crystal cruise, my 3rd on the Symphony, and it was wonderful in so many ways. I love the Symphony, because it is luxurious but casual (I feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to read), and carries a nice amount of passengers (about 750-ish) - not too few that I see the same people everywhere, but not too many that I feel crowded or anonymous. I was traveling solo on this cruise, but knew a few people on board from previous cruises and met several more mutual friends while on board. As I said in the title, there's been a little slippage in the food and service on the ship since its drydock, but in other ways there's been a lot of improvements since the drydock. There are 2 additional dinner restaurants on board, both of which outshine the main dining room ("Waterside") in service and food quality. Both of the new restaurants do not count towards your allotted number of included visits to specialty restaurants -- those (Umi Uma and Prego) still remain the premiere dinner spots on the ship, in my opinion. Crystal put a limit on the number of included visits to those spots several years ago (generally 2 per week) in an effort to keep people from monopolizing them, but now that there are more dining options, I wonder if they will continue to do so (extra visits beyond your allotted amount are $30 each, which is still an incredible bargain for that quality and ambience). Of the new restaurants, I particularly recommend Churrascarria, which is Lido deck aft, in the same location where the breakfast and lunch buffets are......you get views of the sunset, and excellent food. Salads, veggies, and side dishes are available as a buffet, and 6 varieties of grilled meat are brought to your table on skewers (chicken, shrimp, pork, lamb, beef). Be sure and stay for some grilled pineapple for dessert. My friends on board very much enjoyed the evening shows, but I never attended (I don't, on any cruise), but I did enjoy the musicians who played in the lounges throughout the ship. Afternoon tea is served every afternoon (even port days), and it was a good time and place for our friends to meet up to chat before dinner. Going through the Panama Canal was interesting, but I don't feel the need to do it again. As this was an August cruise, in general the ports were all hot and humid, and I stayed on board for most of them. A warning should you take a Crystal cruise that stops in Bimini: The tender to port is at least 30 minutes, so you should take that into consideration before deciding if you want to go ashore. I did not, as there wasn't much on shore I was interested in seeing, especially if it meant an hour (round trip) in a crowded tender. Service is known to be wonderful on Crystal, but this trip I found it to be lacking in several places. Some was still wonderful (restaurants other than Waterside, cabin attendant, library and computer room), but some had slipped from terrific to merely good (Lido deck) or from terrific to pretty bad (Waterside). I submitted my concerns to Crystal in their post-voyage survey, so I hope these are just growing pains that will be worked out now that there have been some significant changes since the dry dock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in ... Read More
We chose Crystal Cruises because of the Panama Canal itinerary (so we can tick it off the bucket list) and the Luxury Cruise Experience. Crystal was recommended to us by a friend (who is a travel agent) we met on a non-luxury cruise in 2012 and she said Crystal is one of the best. So we checked off a few ticks on the bucket list. The ship Symphony was beautiful. The accommodations were very well layed out with a lot of storage. No need to use the suitcases for extra storage as we had empty drawers and the clothes in the wardrobe were spaced out not squashed up. Of everything there was only one this that irritated me that I have never come across on other ships we have cruise is the cigar room. Horrible horrible horrible. To get to The Avenue, Umi Uma restaurant and Prego restaurant you had to walk past it and the door was always open, therefore the smoke flooded into the hallway. The door should always be shut and there should be sufficient ventilation in the smoking room so if the door is left open the smoke doesn't affect other passengers. That is my only issue and I am hoping that when we are on Serenity in 2021 Crystal will have rectified this problem by having either an automatic door or a gas closing door. The rest of Crystal Symphony was fantastic. For a ship smaller than we are used to (3000-3500) this ship has a lot of quiet places to sit and relax. There are never any crowds, no children running rampant and what children were on the ship were extremely well behaved. We dined at every location and the food was divine. My favourites were Waterside (the main dining room), Prego, Silk, Palm Court for amazing afternoon tea and views. However, I still enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Umi Uma, Churriscaria, Trident Grill and the Marketplace only for an early breakfast. The staff go above and beyond and are always very polite and friendly. They always have smiles on their faces and no request is too hard. They take the time to get to know their customers. The shows were good not spectacular like on the bigger ships which is understandable since on the bigger ships the ceiling over the stage is 3 decks high making it very open and airy and great for doing acrobatic shows. The dance moves seem to be similar in every show so I put that down to the Choreographer. The special guests were fabulous especially loved John Joseph who had us in stitches. We didn't like some of the ports and thought there could have been better places to stop but we made the most of those. Some we could have had more time in. Overall we loved the cruise. We don't normally like a lot of sea days but on Crystal Symphony we really loved the sea days. We enjoyed the shore excursions that we booked. Crystal's luxury has ruined for us cruising anything less than luxury. We enjoyed it so much we have booked another Crystal cruise in 2021 South Pacific Wanderlust Los Angeles/San Pedro, US to Brisbane, AU on Serenity. So looking forward to 20 days on Serenity. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we needed some rest, relaxation, and pampering. We not only achieved the above but where overwhelmed with the Theater/Movie/show activities and presentations. This was out 23rd Crystal Cruise. It is hard to imagine that the food in the dining room was better than the last cruise, but it was. Our waiters were exceptional, as was the wine steward. The room stewardess was so attentive and thorough. The only complaint I can think of was the poor, and often unavailable WiFi connections. Hopefully with the drydock in September, this will be rectified. Unlike cruise 7208 reports, our Lido/Trident staff was as wonderful as ever. especially Jonathan. Kiko. Allan and Dio. You are truly a member of the Crystal Family when you return and that cannot be overlooked. We look forward to the "New ships" as they come out of drydock and hope not too many of our familiar services and programs will disappear. We too were given a $250 per person onboard credit for our embarcation in San DIego, and we actually enjoyed the 2 hour scenic motorcoach ride. Debarcation in New York City was so quick, we never even got to sit in the Starlite lounge. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Have taken many cruises with different lines. Crystal is superior in so many areas. Staff is very attentive all your needs. Enrichment lectures are ususal very good. food is outstanding. If you have special menu request it would be no ... Read More
Have taken many cruises with different lines. Crystal is superior in so many areas. Staff is very attentive all your needs. Enrichment lectures are ususal very good. food is outstanding. If you have special menu request it would be no problem . Entertainment is very good. Movie theather shows many new releases. Excursion were first rate They usually have free shuttle buses to the center of town . The main reason to take a crystal cruise is the staff. within the first day they know your name, your favorite drink. Cabin stewarts are always ready to take care of your every need. My favorite cruises is when the ship repostions. Ocean cruises are very relaxing. you get to meet many interesting people and leave the cruise feeling refreshed.I have booked 2 more cruises this upcoming season. Can't wait till i cruise with the best cruise line . You will not be disappointed if you cruise with crystal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC ... Read More
Well folks........it's time to say "good-bye". We've had a few glorious years, lots of good memories, made new cruising friends, but after our last 26 days aboard the Crystal Symphony, back to back from Lax to NYC through the Panama Canal, it has become "Crystal Clear" that Crystal is not the enviable cruise experience it once was. We have cancelled all of our future bookings and will be looking to other premier lines for our cruising experiences. I feared that this would happen; it usually does when a cruise line gets a new CEO (Oct 2013) and then the sale to another owner (completed May 2015). First, let me tell you a little about us. We are "older folks", both of us in our 70's, who don't require any special attention. This is not our first cruise; we've sailed some 35+ cruises with Celebrity, RC and Azamara, who just got tired of the herding, the over-crowding, the signing for every little amenity, and the average food on the larger vessels. We found Crystal in the spring of 2012 and this was our 12th cruise in 3 years. We are not "destination" cruisers rather "journey" travelers......we love the ship for its elegant, relaxing atmosphere and great dining experiences. We're not driven to cruise to the far corners of the earth to fulfill any "bucket list". If I want something "up close and personal" , I turn on the National Geographic Channel on my TV. We sailed with Crystal for their exemplary service, their elegant atmosphere, the ease of small ship inclusive cruising and for the OUTSTANDING, GREAT FOOD they once offered. Having said that, Crystal was a real disappointment this time: FOOD: Seems that there is a real disconnect between the recipes and the chefs who prepare them. The best I could figure out, is that the recipes come from the corporate office and the chefs were asked to change or "re-invent" some of their tried and true offerings they once prepared. I never knew that there were so many ways to prepare mousse! Mousse with appetizers, mousse with entrees, mousse for dessert! And, what's this "foam" stuff sprayed on my food? The fish were dry, salty and fishy tasting (with the exception of the Dover Sole). The shrimp were rubbery and undercooked. The quality of the meats were sometimes down-right poor, both in the Lido and MDR. There was absolutely no difference between the coating on the pre-prepared Wienerschnitzel and Veal Parmasan. Alaskan King crab legs on the last formal night....what happened to the Lobster? I could go on, but you get the point. Silk Road was still excellent, but Prego's menu was undergoing changes too....mushroom soup didn't quite taste the same. The Lido salads and fresh breakfast fruits were still excellent. The German potato salad in the Lido was awesome! ATMOSPHERE: Of the 26 nights aboard, 23 were Resort Casual. The cruise itinerary originally had a few Elegant Casual nights scheduled, but after boarding, those dress codes were changed. There were not many men wearing sports jackets in the MDR, in spite of the fact that the Crystal Cove and other public areas, had an average temperature of about 55 degrees.......always, VERY COLD!! There were more children on board this cruise than I've ever seen before, but then that's probably due to the new(?) policy of FREE sailings for kids on "select cruises". It took me awhile to figure out that the dress code of "European Trousers for men", was nothing more than denim pants that weren't manufactured in the USA (Levis, Wrangler). Most were appropriate attire for the MDR.......absolutely not problem with a nice pair of Armani jeans with a sports coat and Hermes belt, but before long, other passengers will start showing up in their Levis! That brings me to another disconnect between the emphasis on "Casual" by Crystal and the Retail shops selling Designer clothing and accessories like Gucci, Prada and Burberry when so many passengers are content to wander around all day in their Logo and gym gear. And what's with this ENDLESS stream of parading travel agents wined and dined by Crystal in EVERY port? I would love to know how much of my cruise fare is spent on that. SERVICE: This was the only "WOW" factor left aboard Crystal. Our standing Room Service of juice and coffee every morning always arrived on time and our Stateroom Attendant was awesome. The bar staff always remembered our drink orders and our waiters always tried to remedy the disappointments that came out of the MDR Kitchen. Just a special group of fine young people that worked so hard! I have gotten to know many of them over the years and will miss them very much! Enough said, but I wanted to give our assessment of the "New" Crystal from 2 journey cruisers that still remember the "refined Crystal experience". We will be looking to other premier luxury lines in the future until Crystal regains it's past reputation. I'll be checking on Cruise Critic for future assessments! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early ... Read More
I have just read a previous review about Crystal Symphony and the expression "not a good fit" fits perfectly for my husband and I and our two travel companions also. Yes most passengers were in their 70s/80s (we are in our early 60s) and were there to experience a floating hotel. We on the other hand love the experience of being at sea, which is close to our hearts as our whole working and social life revolves around the sea. Our cabin was typical of a ship of this size. Very welled equipped. A sliding door rather than an opening one was appreciated as it allows much more room on the balcony. The men found the bathroom a little squashy, two basins was probably an overkill as only one person could be in there at a time. Our main disappointment was not being able to eat casually at night in the Lido restaurant where views to the ocean are unrestricted. We were therefore confined to eating before 6pm at the outdoor pool bar or in the very noisy main dining room where we could not see out and missed some magnificent sunsets. Also there was no area outside to have sunset drinks which is probably our most treasured time of day when at sea. Yes we had a balcony but that meant we could not socialise with others. The few shops had some very old and tattered clothing left and were closed during our cruise as they were to be reopened by someone else. The shore excursions were as expected buy I must say extremely well executed. The hotel staff were all very friendly and professional and agreed that it was unfortunate that we were all sent inside at 6pm like children on a school night. I would not sail with Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We have traveled on Crystal for at least 15-16 voyages. We love their staff and service. They have an excellent cruise director, Paul, who always adds to our enjoyment. The lectures & entertainment are wonderful. We are not ... Read More
We have traveled on Crystal for at least 15-16 voyages. We love their staff and service. They have an excellent cruise director, Paul, who always adds to our enjoyment. The lectures & entertainment are wonderful. We are not "foodies" and we find their food to be just fine. This past May, after a missed year of cruising, we embarked on the Symphony from Los Angeles to New York. My first impression was that things have changed. We still encountered the wonderful staff and service, but just a little something about the ship had changed. Perhaps it was that the ship was filled to capacity and could not function as well. The Bistro seemed very crowded and understaffed. We noted repairs necessary in our stateroom as well as in public areas. There was rust on the exterior railings and other areas crying for paint. Some of the hard surfaces are scratched and gauged. In the past, we saw maintenance constantly taking place on the ship. This time hardly at all. Our friends, who were on the 9th floor mid ship, encountered the annoying vibration from the engines. On past sailings, I had learned this the hard way and now always book a stateroom more forward. There the vibration is minimal. We have grown accustomed to the tiny staterooms but we would love to see Crystal switch to stall showers instead of the bath tub shower combination. We will continue cruising with Crystal because of the staff and service. Although it is due for some work in dry dock, I am afraid the Symphony is tired and needs more help than a short dry dock can provide! But, while while we wait for them to launch a new ship, we will probably return for another cruise on the Symphony. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
The public rooms are impressive with a large atria, attractive furnishings and the areas well laid out, The Avenue Saloon with nightly piano music was especially delightful. As for dining, we enjoyed the late seating with a delightful ... Read More
The public rooms are impressive with a large atria, attractive furnishings and the areas well laid out, The Avenue Saloon with nightly piano music was especially delightful. As for dining, we enjoyed the late seating with a delightful table and superb service. The cuisine was well prepared and presented and is definitely a cut above that on Regent Seven Seas. The shows aere good and well presented and the other entertainers as well. The theme was Movies with a special tribute to Doris Day and we found all of the speakers and topics truly delightful and entertaining. The staff was helpful, friendly and alert to all requests. The excursions were wothwhile wi the best being the lovely luncheon in San Jose,Costa Rica, the Panama Canal crossing and the totally delightful surrey tour through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
It is a competitive marketplace in the "Luxury" or "Premium" cruise category and Crystal stands at the top of this narrow pyramid. Crystal matches the upper competitors by offering a luxury cruise ship with well ... Read More
It is a competitive marketplace in the "Luxury" or "Premium" cruise category and Crystal stands at the top of this narrow pyramid. Crystal matches the upper competitors by offering a luxury cruise ship with well appointed cabins and elegant spacious public spaces. The place settings sparkle and the linens are crisp. But what really stands out on Crystal Symphony, from the first day to the last day, is the high level of very personalized, attentive and consistent service. In this age of computer algorithms and complex customer databases, it is the real human touch and care which stands Crystal truly apart. More persuasive than any fancy cruise brochure or well spoken sales agent, Remi Szutkiewicz, the Maitre d', is the most public face on Crystal Symphony and, in effect, the "Brand Ambassador" presiding over a most impressive Dain Dining Room team. Cruise lines and hotel brochures go to great lengths to advertise their focus on service and personalized attention. However, I was consistently and considerably struck by Crystal's ability to really deliver on this overused expression. I must confess my favorite part of cruising is eating and, as such, I must admit to spending a lot of time in the Dining Room. I was fortunate to sit close to the front which gave me a great vantage point to watch the Dining Room staff, particularly the senior staff, in action. Without fail, their focus was like a laser beam on making sure each guest felt welcomed, comfortable and really special. While Remi, with his worldly charm and grace, set a high tone, I also had the opportunity to watch Head Waiter Roland and really the entire team of Head Waiters carrying this approach with complete focus and dedication. For dinner, my Senior Waiter was Muzo whom I had requested from a previous cruise. Without fail, he welcomed me to the Dining Room each evening like an old friend and proceeded to deliver course after course with very friendly professionalism and precision. For breakfast and lunch I was fortunate to be served by Mustafa who, while a little quieter, was very attentive, professional and made for very enjoyable meals. Assisting Muzo and Mustafa was Elio who was very conscientious and capable in his table service. It's not just the Dining Room staff that makes a personal difference. I noticed in the bars and lounges a regular flow of guests interacting very personally, warmly and with a long history with a number of the bartenders and bar staff. For myself, I had the good fortune to be served by Paula, Elisa and Camila each evening before dinner in the Starlite Club. My cabin was cleaned very nicely by Leslie who was always attentive and eager to please. In fact, this was my first cruise "downstairs" in a category other than the Penthouse. I had a Category D cabin which is Symphony's basic "Deluxe Stateroom with Large Picture Window". Even at just 202 sq. ft., it felt surprisingly spacious and had a good amount of storage and a well-designed bathroom. So two thumbs up and a thank you to Crystal. I am eager to be back aboard soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Due to cruise New York to Los Angeles via Panama Canal last November. Chose Crystal because they said there was open dining option. Tried to book dining times 3 weeks in advance online to find there was no option left but 6-15 or 8-30, ... Read More
Due to cruise New York to Los Angeles via Panama Canal last November. Chose Crystal because they said there was open dining option. Tried to book dining times 3 weeks in advance online to find there was no option left but 6-15 or 8-30, all other slots had gone. This isn't a real dining option for people who want to dine at 7-30. Cruise due to leave New York 2 November, we were due to fly 30 October. Hurricane approaching, due to hit New York Monday 29 October. We and our travel agent tried to contact Crystal all that weekend to discuss alternative embarkation and only got a recorded message that their offices were closed until Monday opening 9 a.m. California time - after the time we would have had to leave London. No flights into new York that week. No communication from Crystal at all, no email, no message to our agents, we were desperate with worry. Emails were unanswered, no reassurance given. This made us sick with worry and uncertainty and forced us to cancel. Very expensive cruise - how could Crystal close their offices in this emergency time over the weekend prior to the Hurricane and just ignore their customers?We would never ever consider Crystal again. they might have won World's Favorite Cruise line, but that can only have been when things didn't go wrong. Their statement that open dining is an option should be qualified by "if you go online and book early enough". Crystal are quick enough to send emails to customers promoting salon treatments etc. Why didn't they send a reassuring email saying that embarkation would be from an alternative port to be notified and not to worry. I gather that the cruise did take off from Charleston several days late - if we had known this, we wouldn't have been so worried. Terribly disappointed with the service from Crystal Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This moderate duration cruise was our first on Crystal and the first on the Symphony. Our overall impression was very positive. The size of the ship (900 passengers is small these days) was better than we had hoped. During the cruise we ... Read More
This moderate duration cruise was our first on Crystal and the first on the Symphony. Our overall impression was very positive. The size of the ship (900 passengers is small these days) was better than we had hoped. During the cruise we had the opportunity to meet and recognize a wide variety of other passengers. We were able to establish friendships with two of the artists who performed on the cruise, something we had not done on larger ships. Embarkation went efficiently, disembarkation went a little slow but this appeared to be a delay caused by USA officials. Once the officials authorized disembarkation the Crystal staff handled things efficiently. Leaving and returning to the ship at the ports went smoothly. Our cabin was well appointed and gave us plenty of room for the two week cruise. One bag was just a little too tall to slide under the bed but the staff stored it until the last night of the cruise. Cabin service was very good with just one minor issue - one day the stewardess for got to leave clean wash cloths. When we contacted the staff we received new wash cloths within 15 minutes. Our butler was superb we could not imagine better service delviered by anyone! We tried open dining and were very pleased with it. Each night we started around 30 minutes after the first seating which allowed us more time to complete daily activiities before dressing for dinner. The dining room staff was marvelous and went above and beyond to cater to my wife's low sodium diet restrictions. The choices of excursions were a little limited. However two of them - one in Cartagena and one to an archaeological site in Huatalco were excellent. We went out on our own in Georgetown, Grand Cayman and in Puerta Vallarta and enjoyed ourselves each time. The highlight of the cruse was the full transit of the canal. We had two very knowledgable speakers on the canal with great pre-transit talks and great commentary during the transit. The other speakers during the cruise were also great and with the length of the cruise and the small number of passengers we got the opportunity to establish a friendship with two of them. The entertainment was good with variety of individual artists interspersed with the regular musical variety. Overall we had a wonderful time and will very seriously consider Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We went on this cruise with another couple, who have travelled with Crystal Harmony 4 times before. We flied to N.Y. the night before, spent an evening in N.Y., then boarded the ship just before noon. We stayed in Ink48, which is 10 ... Read More
We went on this cruise with another couple, who have travelled with Crystal Harmony 4 times before. We flied to N.Y. the night before, spent an evening in N.Y., then boarded the ship just before noon. We stayed in Ink48, which is 10 minutes cab ride to the pier. We really liked the hotel, clean, modern, and quiet, with very comfortable bed. This is not a 5 star hotel, good enough for a short stay but a bit far from theatre district. Boarding took about an hour, when we got on the ship, our room was not ready. We checked our hand luggage, which took another half hour, then went to the Dining Room for lunch. Around 2:30pm, we were in our room. Our luggage was delivered to our room, including our hand luggage. So bring extra lock for your hand luggage. The room was clean, but small. The sitting area looked bigger in picture. With the coffee table pushed closer to the couch so that we could access the drawers, there was not enough leg room for two persons to sit on the couch, only one person at a time. I am only going to talk about the few things that I have always wanted to know but never found the answers here. With the 2 for 1 pricing, was the food as good as they said? Maybe it normally is, but not on this sailing. Compared to the 5 star restaurants found in any big city, the food served on this cruise would only get a 3.5 rating. Someone told me the regular chef was on vacation. More than 1/3 of the time our food arrived luke warm. A few times, we waited 40 minutes for our dinner. Soup was watery. Most of the time, chicken consomme was served and it tasted like Campbell soup. On the Galley tour, one lady asked the Executive Chef Manfred Schaller why the soup choice was getting more and more limited. His reply was that "There is just not a lot of demand". Well, if the soup did not taste good time after time, people would not order them. Steak was tough and always came overcooked. Order a medium rare if you want a medium well. Seafood was a lot better and most patrons did order fish. This may be the reason why they did this very well. Souffle was one of the few dishes that was met our expectation. Lobster was also very good but for a 19 days cruise, they only served it once. If you want another lobster dinner, place the order the night before. Is the cruise on Crystal worth the money? Base on our experience, with the 2 for 1 pricing, and a $2,200 shipboard credit, I would say yes. But if you are young and active, wants to do a lot and see a lot on board and on land, then the answer is no. This ship caters to clients over 70 years old, who are rich and shameless. Their money works for them and not the other way around. I met a lot of nice people, who have sailed with Crystal numerous times (easily over 15 times). One thing I found is that they are "crystalized", and have not travelled with any other cruise line since they sailed with Crystal. With no other experience to compared with lately, they simply don't know what they are missing. Service was excellent. We haven't met one single rude employee. Bathroom is small but has enough storage space. Shower has great water pressure. They still have receptionists making the wake-up calls personally; therefore there may be 5 - 6 minutes delay on a port day. I have very sensitive skin, and reacts to strong commercial detergent used by the Princess Cruise ships. I was hoping that Crystal might be different. On the 4th day, my skin started to break out in rash. My cabin steward replaced the linen promptly with what I brought from home. The rash subsided. She ordered special sheets for me, catered to people with sensitive skin. It did not work. After the 3rd day, my skin broke out in rash again. So if you have sensitive skin like mine and had similar experience, bring your own sheet. I did not seem to have any problem with the Celebrity cruise line. Spa was very nice and cozy. Fitness centre was usually only half full. If you are booking this cruise to transit the Panama Canal, the best view is on open deck, not in the Palm Court. You just would not get a great picture there due to the window frame. Order room service early in the morning, then head straight to the open deck, if you are fit and nimble. I asked my friends how this cruise compared to their previous cruises with Crystal, they said that this one does not even come close to what they experienced before. We had a full ship on this sailing. On the afternoon of the so called Mozart tea, everyone showed up. So instead of having the pastry brought to us, we had to take our plate and lined up for them. Tea was served in tea bag instead of loose tea leaves. I would not call that a High Tea at all. I had better experience in a side walk cafe. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Embarkation - We booked our own flights to San Jose, Costa Rica and purchased cruise line transfers to Caldera, a two hour drive. We got off to a shaky start as our connection on US Air was delayed due to fog in the Charlotte Airport. We ... Read More
Embarkation - We booked our own flights to San Jose, Costa Rica and purchased cruise line transfers to Caldera, a two hour drive. We got off to a shaky start as our connection on US Air was delayed due to fog in the Charlotte Airport. We arrived at the gate for our international flight 15 minutes before departure, too close for comfort! We would have missed the first 4 days of the cruise if we had not made this flight! Next time we go a day ahead like we normally do, or a least have a few backup flights. All was well when we were greeted in the San Jose Airport by a Crystal representative. After a 2 hour bus ride, embarkation was a breeze and we were in our Cabin in short order. Ship - The Crystal Symphony is compact and very passenger friendly compared to the newer mega-ships. It has a crew of 545 and a passenger capacity of 922. There are basically three decks where all of the activities are held: Deck 5 - Dining, Deck 6 - Nightlife and Deck 11 - Pool and Buffet. Of special note is the Bistro, a better than Starbucks coffee shop on Deck 6. Specialty coffees and teas are included, so a quick stop for a Cappuccino was a regular event. We also liked the Avenue Saloon for cocktails before dinner. One evening an enjoyable Dixieland jazz concert was held in the lobby on Deck 5. There is a true Promenade deck where walking exercisers meet daily and others just take a stroll. Deck 12 has a spa, salon and fitness center. We did not take advantage of these facilities on this cruise. Each floor with cabins has a complimentary guest laundry tat sees a lot of use. We were in a Category A verandah cabin on Deck 9. It included all of the standard amenities even though it was a little smaller than similar cabins on newer ships. The bathroom was well appointed and even included a small tub/shower and a double sink. Storage was plentiful as all of our suitcases fit under the bed. The bed was very comfortable and this was enhanced by a pillow menu! We spent a lot of time on our verandah which had a nice sized table and two chairs. Room service is available 24 hours a day and we ordered light meals on several occasions and ate watching the beautiful scenery. Sodas and water were complimentary. TV channels were varied and the quality was good. We particularly liked a daily comedy special hosted by Paul the Cruise Director. The crew made you feel very comfortable. Simple requests were met with a courteous "My pleasure". The buffet servers would remember you from previous visits and ask if you wanted your regular. Officers were visible and readily available. A special "Meet and Greet" was held for Cruise Critic members and attended by several key staff members. Hor deurves and cocktails were served. Food - This is where Crystal excels. Of our numerous cruises the food is far superior to anything else we have had on other lines. We requested a late seating table for two in the main dining room and our request was promptly granted by Remi, the Maitre'd. Special requests such as caviar and foie gras were no problem for our wait staff. Crystal has not deviated from fixed seating in the main Dining Room which is no problem with us. There are two specialty restaurants, Silk Road (Japanese) and Prego (Italian), that add a little more intimate atmosphere to the dining experience. We ate in Silk Road two nights and Prego one night. An additional charge is recommended for tipping the wait staff and it is well worth it. Silk Road serves Waygu beef which is a real treat along with all of the Nobu Matsuhisa inspired specialties. Prego's mushroom soup is legendary among seasoned cruise foodies. The menu is based on Piero Selvaggio's revered Valentino's. One thing that we like is the mid-day luncheon Gala Buffet. No more staying up until Midnight to take food pictures. For another special event, period costumes are worn by the staff and an ensemble plays chamber music for the elegant Mozart Tea. In the space of 11 days, we had 3 formal nights, 2 informal nights and 6 casual nights. Oh! Did I mention that the Trident Grill and Lido Buffet are also excellent? Entertainment - We do not normally attend a lot of shows but managed to go to more than normal as the entertainment was really good. What we did do was attend several enrichment lectures held on sea days. One presenter we particularly enjoyed was Dr Robert Freedman, who was an expert on the Middle East and Russia. Additional lectures were held on memory improvement, destinations and current trends. Ports - The highlight of the cruise was the Panama Canal passage. It was very well narrated and having a verandah cabin made it a pleasure. It was not our first time through the canal and I don't know when it will lose its fascination. We also ported in Aruba, St Lucia, Antiqua and Tortola. One plus is that we did not have to tender in any of the ports. Disembarkation - Everything went fine although exiting the ship was the usual madhouse. I suppose people aren't in the best of humor when they are faced with returning from "Certainly, it will be my pleasure!" to "Do you want fries with that?". Even though the ship was not cleared until 9:30 AM we managed to make an 11:05 AM flight from MIA by using a limo. In retrospect I don't know why we were in a rush to get home! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This was our third cruise on the Symphony and each cruise gets better. We haven't sailed on the other luxury lines like SilverSeas and Regent but with the service and quality we receive from Crystal I don't know why I would ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Symphony and each cruise gets better. We haven't sailed on the other luxury lines like SilverSeas and Regent but with the service and quality we receive from Crystal I don't know why I would venture out of the cocoon for a luxury cruise. I'll leave the ports of call out although I can say that the excursions by Crystal are always good and with the clients it attracts, Crystal has the upscale non eventful excursions. We did have one subpar excursion in Acapulco where the guides English was poor. From our last cruise with Crystal 2 years ago the waiter staff has become better. They were much friendlier and interacted with the passengers much more. Service has always been good but a little more intimate on this voyage. In talking to the Maitre D' I was told that Crystal was concentrating on hiring wait staff that wanted to be waiters rather than moving on to be doctors, lawyers etc. Maybe that is the difference. The ship has been refurbished and the rooms now have LCD/DVD TV's. Bathrooms have been redone with dual glass sinks. Beds and pillows still great and were made to our specs. The entertainment was extraordinary. The in house Crystal dancers and singers were every bit as good as some I've seen in Las Vegas. In fact better. They were high energy, innovative, and the lead singers were super. Considering they did a new show every other night you have to marvel at how they can remember 20 different sets a show. Enrichment lectures were excellent as always with Hugh Downs a guest speaker and Sam Choi the celebrity chef. Besides food Sam is a great stand up comedian. The Starlight Club has been refurbished and the Band that entertains there really had their act together. Kudos to the new female singer from the Philippines who not only had a great voice but individually visited with the guests during band breaks. Food is always good and you can expect to gain weight. 10 pounds if you can control yourself. Otherwise bring some elastic pants for the end of the cruise. Our table of 8 made several non menu requests. Kind of stump the kitchen by the group. They always delivered. Some required delivery the next night but often we were accommodated that meal. Alternative restaurants( Prego and Silk Road) are not to be missed. The main dining room never disappointed however. The Lido cafe and Trident Grill are always available as alternatives and are equally excellent. You'll find that the staff quickly knows you and knows exactly what you want so you can save some words and just say thank you. Of course if you haven't had enough to eat go to the Palm Court for High Tea. The staff even dresses up in period for the Mozart Tea. Of course the string quartet plays Mozart as you have a panoramic view of the Canal as you sail on. A six star cruise with no scrimping because of the economy as some other lines have done from what I gather from talking to friends that have sailed on other lines. Read Less
Sail Date February 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

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