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12 Crystal Symphony South Pacific Cruise Reviews

I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ... Read More
I have now taken 4 voyages on Crystal Symphony, and 11 total on Crystal (including one river cruise) and on this cruise had the best combination of sea days and (to me) new interesting ports to visit. I felt the service was better than ever. The staff were happy and did seem more relaxed and content, which helps me feel more relaxed during my vacation. Ambassador hosts were charming and good for company at shared tables even getting me on the dance floor a couple of times. The headwaiter was fabulous and also the wines were fantastic. I did several spa services which were quality and worth the cost. Trivia was again a highlight on sea days and all in all the cruise was filled with movies, lectures, shore tours, and great food, company and beverages. I guess we also hit the jackpot as we did have calm enough seas to get onto Easter Island for the day tours, which is a novel experience. I indulged in some great modern dishes in the dining room and was very well taken care of regarding my dietary restrictions. Also it was great to see that bartenders no longer automatically add straws in every drink. Now I can stop saying "no straw please" with my orders. Oh also I got to play table tennis doubles one afternoon! Kept in shape taking the stairs onboard, walking the promenade deck and snorkelling in Moorea! I highly recommend this itinerary, it was a real getaway and super for getting away from the winter. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ... Read More
We have been sailing Crystal since 2001, on the Harmony, Symphony, and Serenity. Usually we do back-to-back cruises (our last was 35 days from Valparaiso to Auckland on the Symphony in a PH cabin). It will be our last on any Crystal ship. Now that Crystal has chopped up its cruises into mini 5-day segments, and "relaxed" its dress code, it has become a down-scale cruise line. We have always avoided those 7-day cruise lines because we didn't want the 7-day cruise clientele. Now, that is who pretty much populates Crystal. There was frequent loud, vulgar cursing around and in the pool by clients who have obviously had too much to drink even at 11:00 AM. Baseball hats, flip-flops, athletic shoes, and t-shirts are common in the main dining room. Just read the reviews here on CruiseCritic from Crystal clients lauding the fact they will not even bring a sport coat onto their next Crystal cruise. There was a man in the cabin below us who smoked cigarettes on his balcony, despite it being explicitly prohibited by Crystal. We couldn't use our balcony or open our outside door without having to inhale his second-hand smoke. We complained to the Concierge multiple times, but Crystal was impotent in having him stop. So, WE (not him) had to change our room. Terrible. On the good side, Crystal does have great service. The staff is outstanding. With the elimination of set dining times, the food appears to have gotten even better. We have cancelled all future cruises we had already booked with Crystal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where ... Read More
We chose Crystal for their excellent service onboard and quality and variety of food. Embarkation was very fast. We really enjoyed the attention that the peronnal onboard treated us. Very respectfull and helpful. Evening shows where very good. All restaurants serves high quality food. The numerous activities onboard where well appreciated. Lecturers where excellent and all other activities where varied. We embarked at Papeete and did some south pacific atols, Pitcairn island. People from the island came onboard to sell their arts and crafts product. Very interesting. Easter Island was the highlight of this 19 days cruise. We then visited Robinson Crusoe Island and finished our journey at Valparaiso. This leg of the the world tour was amazing. We will certainly sail again on Crystal. We sailed on other cruise line and Crystal deliver the quality and service expected from a 6 stars cruiseline. We are looking to sail again on Crystal in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and ... Read More
The service, the entertainment, the lectures and the activities were excellent. The service was exceptional! The best I have seen. The food was good. Above average. It was not consistent. Sometimes the food was very good and sometimes very disappointing. Shore excursions had too many people participating in it. On Nuku Hiva there were twenty 4 wheel drive vehicles in a caravan. The original cabin had a problem with the air conditioner that could not be fixed and had to move to another cabin. The second cabin had multiple problems. The hot water was not hot and needed to be fixed few times. The toilet didn’t flush many times. The alarm of the refrigerator was beeping. The old refrigerator needed to be replaced with a new one. In multiple occasions the public toilets didn’t flush. My cabin was on the 7th floor. I heard from other guests who had similar problems. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a ... Read More
My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a nightmare, as explained toward the end of this review. Let me start with the really great part: Crystal employees are devoted and loyal and give first-class service. This part of the trip did meet expectations. It could not exceed them, because they were so high I would have felt harassed if they had tried to do more. Also, we met lots of great people, though that's generally the case however and wherever we travel. And, having wifi available most of the time at no extra charge was great. However, once aboard we discovered not all was as described. Contrary to Crystal's hype, the ship has not been entirely refurbished. The public areas of the ship have been refurbished and reconfigured. Suites may have been upgraded and electronics redone in all staterooms. But aside from electronics and a spotlessly clean bathroom, the condition of our small stateroom was less than we'd expect on an aging, economy-priced ship. The sheer curtains were filthy and so creased they did not meet in the middle and our window overlooked the Promenade deck. Wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Decorative tile in the shower has been scrubbed for so many years half the design has worn off. The carpet was beginning to show ground in grime and wear. That was just the beginning. Three different times we were freezing to death with the thermostat set on high and had to call to have the ventilation adjusted. At least one day the entire ship was uncomfortably cold due to HVAC problems. The plumber was in the room at least once a week. The first time a clogged pipe soaked the carpet, requiring two days of heat and fans to dry out. What a nuisance! A faucet leaked from the top, causing water to puddle on the counter and later the floor. White bubbly slime oozed from the floor drain a few times, and once water emerged, soaking the bathmat. The bathroom smelled like sewer gas half the time. I will give them credit. The plumber always arrived promptly, and when I mentioned the state of the room to the hotel manager, we immediately received new sheers. They would have replaced the wallpaper, but we didn't want the disruption, and we already knew the room was a mess. We just expect better than this from a cruise line that doesn't discount cabins even when the ship is half full because, according to one travel agent I met aboard, "They don't want just anyone on this ship!" Food was a disappointment. Many did rave about it, but I'm not one of them. If only for this reason, I would not sail on Crystal again. Waterside, the main dining room, had a monotonous dinner menu in that it always featured French-inspired or other innovative cuisine and each dish seemed an effort to out-sauce and out-do the others. Veggies were generally used as garnish for modest portions of meat, not nutritional elements. Room service dinners I ordered while ill were awful. A steak I'd ordered medium rare was huge, totally gray, cold, and tough. A pasta dish the next next night was as salty as sea water. Specialty restaurant alternatives to the Waterside were a disappointment. Two of the three main dishes I ordered in Prego, the Italian one, were tasteless and not well prepared. They should have been sent back, but I didn't want to hold up my fellow diners. The third was edible but not memorable. My previous experience with Tuscan food has been great. This was not what I think of as Tuscan. We are not fans of Asian food and the other two specialty restaurants were Chinese and Japanese, so that didn't leave us many options. The buffet varied a few items each day within each category (breads, pastries, soups, casseroles, meats, etc.), but within that variation everything remained the same. One sandwich may have been offered each day, but constructing one to our own taste involved running up and down the line a few times and was not easy to do. I missed the panini station I enjoy on Celebrity ships. I also missed PIZZA. The Trident grill offered something called pizza ─ a wafer thin crust with a smear of sauce and hint of cheese. The one day I ordered it, it was charred on the bottom. The buffet morphed into Churrascaria in the evening. This semi-buffet venue offers a variety of side dishes and Brazilian barbecue. Like the French food in Waterside, ostensibly is a key concept. French and Brazilian cuisine offer inspiration as a starting point for innovation, some more successful than others. Desserts were, I'm told, awesome. I'm not a dessert eater myself, but they did look delicious. Appetizers offered in cocktail venues at Happy Hour were tedious and generally tasteless. Each evening two would be offered from a lineup of prosciutto-wrapped melon balls, cream cheese stuffed green olives, some green paste they called guacamole, and small burger sliders or tiny pigs-in-blankets. Once or twice they had tiny quiches. These were passed by circulating waiters and after the first week they were boring. Which brings us to beverages. The list of included alcoholic beverages was extensive, and servings liberal. While it's a kick to order a drink, and then another and perhaps yet a third, without signing a thing or reaching for a tip, this temptation may not be in everyone's best interests. Coffee was first rate. Some of the shows, like the ventriloquist and similar acts, were great. Music performances were always way too loud for me and I generally skipped them, as I do on other cruise lines. Small venue performers were good, especially the violinist and Crystal Cove pianist, but these people come and go. Also, on the second leg, at least two evening performances were repeated. What's with that?! Visiting speakers were generally first rate. We enjoyed most. Presumably we could watch lectures later on screen in our stateroom if we missed one, but I never figured out how. Now for the nightmare that occurred early on. I became ill a couple of days after we left Auckland and was ultimately ordered off the ship to be hospitalized in Fiji. Thank God, unlike the ship's doctor, the hospital doctor is not obliged to practice defensive medicine on behalf of the cruise line, and I was not admitted to the hospital in this third world country. My husband left the ship with me, and we were able to catch up with the ship in Tonga a couple of days later. To our horror, the ship decreed that since we'd both left the ship ALL OUR BELONGINGS had to be packed for shipping home. Our cabin had to be emptied. The cabin we'd paid to use. That meant when I got back on, instead of falling into bed to relax, I had to spend several hours sorting things in the suitcases left on the bed and figuring out once again where to put things, and arranging to have the rumpled clothes packed by strangers pressed. To their credit, after two long, tense meetings, Crystal did a lot to calm us down. I do understand and respect why the doctor made the decision she did, though perhaps my options could have been made more clear. This part may have been the same on any cruise line. I have no idea whether other cruise lines require belongings to be packed if all occupants of a stateroom leave. Be aware this could happen and don't hesitate to push back should the occasion arise. Finally, shore excursions. We generally make our own arrangements for these and our limited experience with official Crystal excursions validates the wisdom of this. Neither of the two we took lived up to expectations. The second, on Easter Island, was unacceptable. A large group was divided onto two small busses with a single guide. We had no narrative as we drove through the countryside and had to spend valuable minutes during short stops at each site listening to cursory explanations. We all felt rushed. Furthermore, the windows on the busses were smeared with a muddy film, so no pictures from most seats on the bus were possible and the general view was obscured. This excursion cost more than twice what others paid for a private tour the same length of the same sites, and they were in small groups in vans with constant narrative from their guides. When they left the vans, they were ready to start walking and clicking shutters. We had similar experiences with pick-up tours at other ports. Something is VERY wrong with this picture! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This cruise was our Honeymoon, the itinerary was fantastic, the duration just right and my wife used to work on the Crystal Symphony 20 years ago so perfect to see it from the other side, expectations were high. We spent the night in ... Read More
This cruise was our Honeymoon, the itinerary was fantastic, the duration just right and my wife used to work on the Crystal Symphony 20 years ago so perfect to see it from the other side, expectations were high. We spent the night in Sydney before departure and travelled to White Bay Cruise Terminal to board the Symphony, whilst not Crystals issue, this is the worst place to get to for a cruise, there is no public transport, however we had researched this so $30 Taxi just part of the holiday experience. Sydney should really look at this port as there were 3 big ships in on the 9th Feb. Embarkation fantastic, had our bags whisked away as soon as we got out of the Taxi and quickly onto the ship via security for pictures and card etc., Had 3 hours to wait until room ready but no great shakes lots to explore. Straight to the Trident for a Burger, fries and bubbles fantastic. Then off to the cabin to unpack. We had a verandah all in all cabin tidy, cozy, but worn. Side note, the shower is amazing fantastic pressure. The ship is well maintained for its age and spotless however is showing its age, worn carpets, holes in the sheers on cabin window. Dining: Main dining room was fantastic, had a table of 6 and met some fantastic people. The food was excellent with choices, quality wine and drinks offered too. Had dinner here most nights, lunch once and breakfast once, couldn't fault it. Lido Buffet, often had breakfast and lunch here, the staff here were very different, was like walking into a mafia run establishment quite threatening, had table cleared whilst going for dessert, this despite drinks still being on table. Was refused porridge as "this side is closed" even though it was sitting staring at me just without a spoon to serve it. Food quality exceptional unless you want a poached egg as "you only get them in the main dining room" was interesting to see the slide in jams etc., for the first couple of days small jars of jam, marmalade and honey, by the end of the trip just jam in jars, the Honey was only available from a pot on the counter, not what you expect from 6 star+ Trident Bar and Grill: Provided the best service, the grill was great, the staff attentive, professional and friendly, the Ice Cream and frozen yoghurts were to die for. Speciality dining: Prego good Italian Fare, our booking had been deleted, but they managed to find us a table. Silk Road the Japanese Restaurant was exceptional, highly recommend the "Nobu Box". Entertainment and Activities: Never short of something to do, they supplied speakers giving lectures, we took dance lessons, the trivia at 12:05 was entertaining, the pool was quiet and usable to help stave off the extra kilos. Deck 7 provided a wrap around deck for walking. Everywhere you walk after 5pm you will be greeted with music, pianos, violins, flutes, and bands, all good quality artists. Evening shows were varied and scheduled to fit around dinner. Ports and Excursions: We signed up for a few activities on this cruise, snorkelling Great Barrier Reef, Climbing Volcano, Mud Baths and Hot Springs all good, not especially value for money not just our point of view as the guests we spoke to all said the same. Service: Unfortunately this is where it starts to go down hill. Most of the service staff are professional, friendly and attentive (see notes above re Lido and Trident), however when it come to front office,concierges, and shore excursions staff (who we believed should be brand ambassadors) we had a different experience. Firstly security gave our camera to a guest whilst returning to the ship (my passage through security was delayed as I was wearing belt!). Without going into full details we were left bewildered (we knew who had the camera) and stressed for an hour whilst they "investigated" it. During this time NO communication OR follow up, was offered, then "stories" came into play and complete lack of respect and responsibility towards us. We did eventually get it back, however the process and management of the whole situation was completely unacceptable.! Secondly we had a change of itinerary around New Caledonia, this came with a new list of excursions which we found out about whilst talking to table friends, Crystal had neglected to deliver the options to our corridor, by the time we found out they were all booked out. We complained and they added a snorkelling one for the afternoon, this was cancelled at time of departure due to weather! (Nothing to due with the morning one being late back and chances of getting back in time for departure were very slim). Conclusion: This cruise was fantastic, the itinerary delivered everything it promised (apart from as mentioned), the food was fantastic, the entertainment and activities were great. The ship is old, the cabin is old and tatty in places, the service from waiting and serving staff predominantly good front office less than acceptable. We did suggest it would have been a good idea for Crystal to supply or have available snorkelling equipment (as it is bulky and difficult to transport in luggage) as on the North West Passage they supplied binoculars and Parkas, we were told that was a "special" cruise. We thought this one was? To call this 6 star+ is stretching the imagination mainly due to quality of accomodation and little things like having to ask for honey, berries "One Request" The lack of responsibility and falsehoods when things go wrong. Suggest it is a good 4 star, with a 6star plus price tag (who regulates these ratings?). I know I can get as good as this for less money, will be looking for future cruise to see if I can get better for the same. Came away not feeling influenced by the Crystal attitude, which they have in the past prided themselves on. Would we go again? Not at the price we paid! If it was more realistic with a suitable itinerary then we would consider it but would not be our first choice. Did not book on board for future cruise as we did on Cunard! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our fifth Crystal cruise, all have been on the Symphony. Our first, in 2010, was the best. Since then, the quality of Crystal's offerings have declined slightly, but noticeably, with each succeeding cruise. There seems ... Read More
This was our fifth Crystal cruise, all have been on the Symphony. Our first, in 2010, was the best. Since then, the quality of Crystal's offerings have declined slightly, but noticeably, with each succeeding cruise. There seems generally to be less attention to detail. For example, there were stains on our stateroom carpet, there was a broken table in the stern lounge area that was never repaired, there never (not once) were both red and white wine glasses for each place setting at our dinner table in the main dining room, and there were windows that needed washing, especially in Palm Court. This was especially irritating on Feb. 8, 2014 as we viewed New Zealand's majestic fjords through dirty windows. Why were they not washed in Dunedin (the previous port). Finally, the wines offered in the all inclusive service were generally rather mediocre and so was the coffee in the restaurants. These offerings need to be upgraded. Crystal seems no longer to be competitive with Seabourne and, perhaps, not with Regent either. People at our dinner table compared Crystal unfavorably with Oceania and we believe that the Symphony could even be in danger of becoming an all inclusive version of Holland America or Celebrity. We suspect much of this has to do with a cost driven attempt to increase staff productivity. Many of the public contact personnel seem to be seriously overworked. Perhaps the new CEO will make the restoration of Crystal's image of very high quality and attention to detail one of her priorities. Here are some of the things Crystal continues to do well: Louis Armstrong at sail away is a lovely tradition. The spa is excellent and the health club is also first rate. Our cabin attendants have always been excellent and the butler on our 2012 cruise (Greg) was absolutely outstanding. The talent of the on-board performers is remarkable. Where do they get these people? We understand free internet access is being added to the all inclusive package this fall. Bravo!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our first cruise with Crystal. We have cruised more than 30 times before with several cruise lines including Azamara, Oceania, Silversea and Celebrity. Our experience on board the Crystal Symphony was Ok but not really from an ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Crystal. We have cruised more than 30 times before with several cruise lines including Azamara, Oceania, Silversea and Celebrity. Our experience on board the Crystal Symphony was Ok but not really from an exceptional quality, as many loyals to Crystal emphasize. First impression Our first impression was very good. Embarcation was smooth and cabins were ready. Our cabin was an outside cabin, rather small in size but with a good bathroom Our first meals were also very nice and we kind of had the feeling that this was indeed a very fine ship. The included wines were OK. As a matter of fact during the first days of our cruise, we were ready to book a world voyage of more than a 100 days for 2016. However this very positive impression did not lasted for the remaining of our cruise. Subsequent impressions A) Ship is very old and it is not well maintained in all areas. It shows rust in several places including our cabin. Since we were staying for 24 days, it disturbed us to see the rust in our window and we requested to be fixed it. In order to allow for that we were moved for one night in an "emergency room". Other areas of the room needed also maintenance, for example the carpet or the wardrobe, which was permanent clapping. We did not request for maintenance in those areas because, we did not want to move again to another room nor to have workers in the room. We were on vacation and it did not appeal to us to have workers around. There was also a sewerage smell in some areas on the ship, for example in the vecinity of the jogging track. Our opinion is that the Symphony was probably a lovely ship 20 years ago, but it needs to be replaced by a more modern ship. A newer ship would contribute a lot to improve the overall impression even in terms of seccurity (better, newer life boats). It will also allow for larger TV sets, since at the moment, those on the ship are quite small. It was great to have the possibility to watch DVDs on the TVs though. B) Too many repetitions and lack of options. Food was repetitive in all restaurants and there were no alternatives to the main restaurant after 18.00. There were the, not anymore free, specialty restaurants (they are free only once per cruise) but even they, had a fixed menue and did not change. Entertainment was also repetitive. Only the local shows were different. Repetitive food and entertainment gave us second toughts on how would it be to spend more than a 100 days in such a ship. We decided to postpone the booking of such a cruise with Crystal until we have made another experience with the company. C) There were lectures offered. We think that there is plenty of room for improvement in these area. For example the subjects of the lecturers made us wondering, to which target group are the lectures really directed. For example, a previous senior army person talking about how to improve leadership skills for an audience (most of them retired seniors including us) which is very unlikely to make use of the "acquired knowledge". In addition, visualization of the lectures could be improved because the pictures shown, many times were more private photos from lecturers but did not really contribute to follow the lectures. Since Crystal cruises does not only have native english speaking guests but also Japanese, French, Germans, Spanish speakers, or many of the guests are hard of hearing, it appears important to ask lecturers to visualize their contributions in such a way that those are selbs explanatory. No doubt the lecturers could talk. A lot, fast and long, but how about having a good visualization to accompany their speeches?. D) Most of the crew members were friendly and attentive. Specially the younger waiters were always smiling and were very helpful. There were however a few members, which did not look very happy with themselves and appeared rather tired and manchmal gave us the impression of acting in terms of "I am longer here than the guest and after doing this job such a long time, I know better". Well.... We found the several assistant Maitre D', sommeliers, our waiter and assistant waiter, guest relations personnel and pool attendants particularly friendly and attentive. E) The library and the internet facilities were very good. We have specially enjoyed the library and the advise of the friendly librarian. It was excellent to have reference books for the ports of call in the library. F) For those passengers booking a cabin on the main lobby level, be aware that in case of rough seas, your window will be covered for protection and you will end up in a dark room. G) Disembarkation in Auckland was absolutely smooth. In summary we had a nice cruise. We have enjoyed specially the wonderful itinerary. Cruising with the Crystal Symphony was not the "wow" experience we had imagine somehow influenced by the reviews in cruisecritic, but it was fine. We would probably sail again with Crystal, probably with the Serenity in order to be able to have a better opinion of the services offered. It would be great if the company acquires newer ships.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was our first Crystal cruise (we're Regent regulars) which we chose primarily for the itinerary but also because we wanted to see if Crystal lived up to the hype we sometimes read from its substantial fan base at Cruise Critic ... Read More
This was our first Crystal cruise (we're Regent regulars) which we chose primarily for the itinerary but also because we wanted to see if Crystal lived up to the hype we sometimes read from its substantial fan base at Cruise Critic and elsewhere. We made our own flight arrangements from Melbourne to Auckland (Emirates) to Papeete (Air Tahiti Nui) and neither were particularly good in terms of service or comfort but OK as a necessary means to an end. We stayed at the Intercontinental resort Papeete for 2 nights - International Date Line, long story - which was comfortable and convenient to the airport and the ship. The hotel is set in a stunning location with lovely views of Moorea. We came across a couple of Crystal reps in the hotel lobby who were friendly and helpful until they discovered we weren't part of the large Crystal group also staying there and we were more or less given the brush off. We decided to book our own taxi to the ship and were glad we did thereby escaping the chaotic scenes of people + bags milling around waiting for transport on embarkation day and were almost first on board an almost deserted Symphony as a result. This will not be a day by day travelogue, so here are some more general (useful?) points in no particular order. The Ship : Beautiful and well laid out. The public areas are spacious and plentiful so there is always a peaceful spot to read, have a drink, relax. It lacks a central atrium but the Lobby/Crystal Cove is a very pleasant central meeting point. The forward facing Palm Court is very elegant for afternoon tea, quiet cocktails and useful for "watching the horizon" if things get rough (which they did! ). The Starlight Lounge is the centre of many daytime and evening activities but the extremely heavy and awkward to manoeuvre swivel armchairs caused problems. I know they are necessary on a moving ship but they weigh a TON. The Galaxy Theatre is comfortable and well laid out with plenty of room between the rows of seats and a large stage. The Hollywood movie theatre is great. The Casino is big - too big? - with dozens of lonely slot machines. We saw it busy but even then it wasn't even half full. It seemed like a waste of precious space. And speaking of a waste of space, the Luxe nightclub was mostly totally deserted every night except for karaoke night. The Saloon is a lively and very popular piano bar, especially after dinner. The smokers lounge/bar with very similar decor next door seemed to have a regular set of patrons but as non smokers we didn't go in there. The Bridge Room is clean and bright. The main Crystal Dining Room, Lido Cafe, Bistro and speciality dining venues are pretty much what you'd expect. The library is well stocked, the computer room very comfortable and the shops offer a wide range of "cruise stuff". The pool/hot tub is a generous size and the Lido "Garden" is a lovely spot but in hot weather it gets extremely hot even with the glass roof retracted. The Staff : Quite simply, the best service we have ever experienced. Friendly, professional and a pleasure to sail with. Waiters, bar staff, housekeeping, officers, front desk, everyone was wonderful and went above and beyond. The only slightly sour note was the rather grumpy Maître D who was very intimidating to approach and even a simple request was treated like a major imposition. It was very unnecessary and left a bad impression I'm afraid. The Entertainment : Superb, there's no other word. The quality of the professional and versatile "in house" musicians, dancers and entertainers as well as the guest artistes was exceptional. Bravo! With one exception (I won't name and shame) the Guest Speakers were interesting, informative and entertaining. The Staterooms : Not generous in size but perfectly adequate for the purpose. Very comfortable bed with quality linens and beautifully soft, fluffy pillows. Ample storage space. The bathroom is "snug" to say the least and they really couldn't be any smaller especially with those rather cumbersome "salad bowl" basins. The mini bath isn't much use to man nor beast but the shower over it has good water pressure and the clever handle on the shower screen is extremely useful during a bumpy ride. Again, plenty of storage and the Aveda toiletries are a nice touch. Excursions : This is a tricky one. Our ports of call were small Pacific islands with sometimes very basic facilities and infrastructure so naturally the excursions on offer were somewhat limited but didn't represent value for money. If you enjoy snorkelling on coral reefs there was plenty to choose from. If you prefer visiting land based places of "interest" then your options become fewer. One tour bus in particular in Tonga was barely roadworthy - lack of aircon and competent guide is one thing; lack of tread on the tyres, a burned out clutch, iffy brakes and rusty holes in the floor is another. In future we will do more research and arrange our own tours. The ship handles rough weather very well - and we had some very rough weather for a couple of days so few, if any, green faces around the ship as we rocked and rolled from Fiji to New Zealand. The last overnight stop in beautiful Auckland in perfect weather was a great finale although the boisterous Cloud 9 nightclub right next to the ship kept a lot of people awake until the small hours. In a nutshell, we had a terrific cruise and apart from a few very minor quibbles Crystal most certainly did live up to the hype and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend. Our next Crystal cruise is already booked.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We have cruised oceans and seas with Radisson, Regent and Oceania, the Med with Star Flyer, the Baltic with Renaisance, the Danube with Amadeus and Rhine with Viking. Those are our credentials for some comparisons below. The Crystal cruise ... Read More
We have cruised oceans and seas with Radisson, Regent and Oceania, the Med with Star Flyer, the Baltic with Renaisance, the Danube with Amadeus and Rhine with Viking. Those are our credentials for some comparisons below. The Crystal cruise we took went from Valparaiso to Sydney. It was considered three cruises: Valpariso to Tahiti, Tahiti to Auckland, Auckland to Sydney. I am writing from Sydney. In general I found that those passengers who had not experienced very many other lines thought Crystal was just great. Also, Crystal, as with most other lines, makes might efforts to sign you up for more cruises and, this may be unique, encourages you to link up with what is essentially a "handler." That person assists you in getting used to the Crystal Way. I did not get used to it. Dining One of the pleasures of cruising is the chance to meet new and interesting people often followed by an extended conversation over dinner…at an hour that you mutually choose. Not on Crystal. You are assigned the table, the time and the companions you will sit with. Whatever flexibility is offered is done as if your request to sit with people of your choosing is somehow "unusual." The food itself is very good and the waitstaff hardworking, smiling and delightful. Managers can be officious. Speakers It is good to feed both mind and body on a cruise. On the Serenity there was a full speaking program that had a lot of fluff (how to lose that tummy, the glories of chocolate) but the more serious speakers were an ex-general and a former Likud party advisor, both of whom conveyed a Fox News view of the world. Also speaking was a remarkably accomplished storyteller who, when pressed, advocated a vigorous continuation of the American Empire, but was otherwise well practiced and entertaining. On a cruise from Anchorage to Hong Kong on Regent a few years ago, they did it this way. A general lecture was followed by a continued discussion of the issues raised in a smaller venue. This lead to real discussions and exchanges of ideas instead of the Fox News view presented with “news conference” type questions, that is, wth no follow up and no exchange. The Crystal way is neither intellectually engaging nor satisfying. But, during the 38 days we were aboard, for pure intellectual depth, Dr. Bulent Atalay’s lectures on Leonardo were extraordinary and his manner that of a cultured Levantine gentleman. I also enjoyed some of the less intellectual stuff such as two sessions on Steve Irwin. Internet It was expensive and slow. Not only that, but the concessionaires are deceptive. First, we were told that it was not possible for my wife and I to share a plan. Not true. We just could not use it at the same time. Second, as a result of the initial misinformation we bought two maximum time plans. That covered most, but not all, of the three segments. We asked to extend the fifty hours we had purchased at the same rate…but no. They wanted to DOUBLE our rate for another five hours. DOUBLE! And, if you would like a little salt with your wound, they have an advertisement for their services that takes over your computer screen, no matter what you are doing, every five minutes that your computer is on, requiring you to manually delete it. And here’s some acid to add to your salted wound. In the advertisement is a line to click that allows you to email the new President of Crystal with any concerns…but it didn’t work. I took it to the computer center and was told that it was “still under improvement.” The Library Four comfortable chairs and doors that are not closed “for safety reasons.” Four chairs for a thousand passengers!? Are there other weather protected chairs? Yes, but none of them in a quiet Library environment. There were lots of movies to borrow for in-room watching on dated TVs and a barely adequate collection of books. The Gym Oh please…very little floor space to stretch, Brand X machines, and for those who like to ride the stationary bike…welcome to the wall. No ocean views for riders. As I said, it was our first and last Crystal experience.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther ... Read More
When we told fellow passengers that it was our first cruise many said that we were starting at the top and it was all downhill from there! I say this by way of giving perspective to our comments to follow........we really had no ther experience like it with which to compare. The outstanding feature of the cruise was without doubt the staff on board. Friendly, service orientated and a credit to their employer. We were struck by how much they appeared, and were, happy to be working for Crystal. That flowed through to their service to us. We ate in all the venues and not only did we not find fault, to the contrary every meal was wonderful. I have never tasted better soups and my wife was continuously spoiled with the dessert plate by our wonderful waiter Franklin and his pairing Juan. Ciselo San Juan added those extra special touches that come with his over 20 years experience with the ship and by the end we counted them as friends rather than service staff. The Food and Wine theme was well received by us and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and watch the demonstrations by the guest Chefs. The Cabin on Deck 7 was well cared for by our stewardess Andrea and nothing was too much trouble for her, not that you need to spend much time in the cabin anyway. Entertainment wise, there was more than enough to fill your time on board or ashore. Early on my wife said that she was feeling overwhelmed by the full program she had each day and then promptly filled her next day with twice as much as myself. Unpack once, do as much or as little each day as you wish, meet a wide range of interesting people from all over the world while having great food and wine....it doesn't get much better than that. Are we hooked and can't wait for our next Crystal experience....you bet! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
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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