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26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Comparisons are important, and a good way to paint a valid description. Crystal is considered one of the best 6 star line if you will. We've cruised with them previously which we enjoyed and can serve as an easy comparison. The ... Read More
Comparisons are important, and a good way to paint a valid description. Crystal is considered one of the best 6 star line if you will. We've cruised with them previously which we enjoyed and can serve as an easy comparison. The boarding experience in Lisbon was up a shabby ramshackle tented gangway. Not even a "Hello and welcome aboard" and certainly no welcome drink nor semblance of service . Following a pleasant check in clerk we were directed to the elevators dragging luggage. What 5 star hotel or cruiser have to been on where nobody accompanied you to the room/cabin ? That should have been the warning signal of what to expect. Don't swallow the ploy that Crystal sell the 'first night in port' as a plus for arriving pax. Not so, its another cost saver for the company calculated you lose whilst the company gains. $500 per person or more a night buys the best luxury accommodation in 5 star hotels with a wide choice of dining possiblities in any major cities departure port, instead of wasting time and money in a tiny uncomfortable cabin on board. However this cruising standard we considered; in common with many of co cruisers, was lower than the benchmarks Seaborne or Silver Sea. The Symphony is well down the scale. Claims as to being 6 star and the # 1 exclusive cruise line are wild exaggerations of the truth. Without doubt Crystal is on a major cost cutting exercise under the new management. If you are looking for luxury cruising and value for money you are advised to look elsewhere. The Symphony is tired, and badly in need of a refit. Old cheap prints do nothing to enhance the outdated furnishings in very small cabins.The overall impression is clearly of overwhelmingly sloppy management. On day 2 we attempted to speak with the Hotel Director and was told we have to make an appointment by email instead of simply calling him on his mobile or pager. Herein undoubtedly lies the root of the management problem. This is an incapability or planned device to avoid responding in a timely manner. 6 hours later and only after contacting the head office in California, did the Director respond. The only positive is the ship is immaculately clean.. Waiting crew on open decks (breakfast or lunch) mainly Philippinos have an uncontrolled tendency to be over friendly and in ones face. Failing to clear dirty dishes from table in a timely fashion because theres never a manager in sight, doesn't make their presence more appealing. 48 hours following my complaint, the matter was recitified to normal anticipated standards, proving the management had dropped standards as a norm. Sloppy as accused. Dining room waiters are very good and we have no complaints. However, again the restaurant manager is noted by his absence during service. Food is above average, but the kitchen does not excel merely good Bistro standard to be found in any major European City. . Housekeeping likewise is not paying attention to their managing, or the beds would be properly dressed instead of simply being thrown together. They do not turn beds down at night. No flowers, chocolates nor fruit nor champagne in the pokey tiny cabins. Two normal sized people cannot pass each other between the wall and the foot of the bed. Bar staff are acceptable, but here as all of the ship, in every single aspect lacks professionalism. There's not one part of the ship nor its operation I would commend as being excellent or at best equal to 4 star. Unfortunate, for it is precisely that Holy Grail which ships of this calibre strive for. Entertainment was very poor. A Transatlantic cruise needs distracting quality shows. A scheduled stop at the Azores was cancelled by the Captain, claiming a risk of Hurricane force weather conditions. This was either a figment of his imagination or more likely an economic decision driven by cost cutting. I was a professional racing yacht skipper, well able to read meteorological charts and forecast weather with the best and I saw no valid reason for this decision. In fact I was 100% correct , there was no bad weather for the day we should have docked. The CEO and her Board need to travel more, taking note of their competition. Sampling it would have them disembarking with their eyes cast down and worried for the future expectations of their shareholders. Improvement will not occur rapidly, requiring a major change from CEO and management. This particular cruise remained an unfortunate place to be, for 13 days failing our high but justifiably balanced expectations in every field. The experience will likely leave an unpleasant memory as a waste of money. This fairly ordinary form of transatlantic transport could be had at half the price and probably more enjoyable for expectations wouldn't be high. it was a relief to disembark in Miami. Detailed letters of justifiable complaint to the CEO remain unanswered 2 months later, as yet another indictment of poor management . When the CEO has not to common commercial decency to respond, nor make a offer of retribution is an indication of where the root problem lies. She couldn't care less - shareholders take note ! Watch this website for further in detail description. Finally. Take our valid advice as regular cruisers for more than 20 years, always in 5 star or better ships. You would not be doing yourself any favour by cruising Crystal. David. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We waited a bit to write this review of our Crystal Symphony transatlantic in October in order to gain perspective and not overreact. After reading the previous post on the same cruise, we felt we also needed to provide feedback on what ... Read More
We waited a bit to write this review of our Crystal Symphony transatlantic in October in order to gain perspective and not overreact. After reading the previous post on the same cruise, we felt we also needed to provide feedback on what was, overall, a disappointing cruise. This was our 5th Crystal cruise and second transatlantic. We loved the first transatlantic and have always loved the lectures, dancing, Silk Road, Prego and the Big Band theme. We booked this cruise for relaxation, dancing, food and our experience with past Crystal cruises. Boarding in Lisbon was unorganized with no welcoming signs or agents. We found our way to registration and, after we were on the ship, found our own way to our cabin. The cabin was just as expected in size and amenities. However, there was no welcoming bottle of champagne. There was, as we had requested in the past, a fan and a top sheet on the bed. We had brought our usual duct tape to tape down the lights in the closet, which turn on every time a door is opened. We were appalled to open the refrigerator and find a moldy, half eaten canister of caviar. There were no water bottles in the cabin. We opened a dresser drawer and found a plastic bag full of a white powder. It was obvious the cabin stewardess had not been vigilant in her preparation of the cabin. This, unfortunately, continued throughout the cruise. We consistently had to ask for water, four times for Kleenex, for wine glasses, new shampoo and towels. We finally called the head of housekeeping just to get basic amenities. We asked for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for the cabin. We received Pinot Noir. The stewardess said they did not have Sauvignon Blanc. When we told the sommelier, he sent two bottles to the cabin. We did not ask her again. After the third day, the air conditioning in the room did not work properly. We went to the desk and put in a maintenance request. When we returned to the cabin there was a note that they had “adjusted” the vents. It made no difference. The cabin remained very warm and we were so grateful that we at least had a fan to move air. We asked two more times for repair of the a/c and no one came. We finally went to the desk again and demanded to see the hotel director. They would not let us but said they would be certain to get the a/c fixed. No one came. Finally, the second last night of the cruise, we were woken at 11 pm by someone who offered to change our cabin due to poor air conditioning. We were shocked at being called so late and declined to move cabins at that late date. This lack of maintenance is totally unacceptable and not what we have experienced in the past. We were given a table for 2 next to the waiters’ station in the dining room. We considered asking to move but really liked our waiters Nuno and Fabio who did a fantastic job in serving us. They were just exceptional. We also appreciated Roland’s extra efforts and genuine care. Julius did a nice job as sommelier and found us some lovely complementary white wines such as Sancerre and Chablis which frankly, were as good as the four bottles of wine we purchased off the proprietors list. We also loved the staff at the Trident and Lido, especially Rikki and Norman who went above and beyond in service. Food in the main dining room was for the most part very good. It was prepared as ordered and hot when it arrived. Trident Grill sandwiches were delicious. We highly anticipated our dinner at Silk Road and even made a second, fee-required, reservation because we had enjoyed it so much in the past. We do not know what happened, but our dinner there was a disaster. We were seated at a table and ignored for at least 15 minutes. We finally got menus and water. We then waited another 15 minutes to order. When the shrimp tempura arrived, it was all batter and almost no shrimp. Another guest that I spoke with later also told us they were very disappointed in the lack of shrimp in their dish. My husband’s sushi was mushy and my cod entrée was “off”, did not smell right. I could not eat it. That evening, my husband was sick with food poisoning from the sushi he had eaten at Silk Road. Luckily we had medication for food poisoning and he felt better the next day, but he was off his feet and did not eat for a day. We reported this but no one contacted us. We cancelled our second reservation at Silk Road. Prego was better, especially on our first visit. The service was good and our food, especially my lamb chops, and the beef carpaccio, were excellent. The second time, on a fee required basis, the service was slow and impersonal and the veal was overcooked and tasteless. The carpaccio and mushroom soup were as good as usual. I do not know what happened to the specialty restaurants. But they are not really “special” anymore. The staff seemed to go about the motions, but there is no enthusiasm and the menu offerings are getting old. The ship itself was very clean and the Palm Court especially looked nice. We enjoyed time in the Avenue bar, especially when Name That Tune was on. Our team won twice out of three times. I wish I could say the same for Trivia. There was a large crowd attending Trivia each day and we had a convivial team who won a few times. However, the dancers who put on Trivia gave the impression they would have preferred to be anywhere else. They had no enthusiasm and in fact, a number of the answers were totally incorrect. This resulted in a small altercation with one member of another team and the staff. And, the worst incident was the final sea day when a passenger was allowed to ask his made up questions for Trivia. It was insulting to the rest of the passengers who love Trivia to have this man flaunting “his” knowledge. The highest score was 3 correct, as he showed off his esoteric “knowledge,” and trick questions. But I guess it gave the staff responsible for Trivia time off. BAD IDEA! And one of the worst changes to Trivia and other games were the “prizes.” We do not play Trivia for the rewards, but now Crystal is giving certificates for 15% off items in the shops and the spa. The problem was the spa coupon was only good for port days – we skipped the Azores due to weather and had all sea days, and no item I wanted in the shop qualified for the coupon. Crystal should not force passengers to buy something (or give worthless certificates) in order to have a prize for Trivia. Bring back the t-shirts or don’t give anything at all. The theme of the cruise was Big Band, and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra was the main event. We have sailed with them before and they gave good performances. There was an emphasis on ballroom dancing and it is the reason many passengers book this crossing. However, this time there was a real issue with the dance instructors, Ambassador Hosts and the dancers. It is wonderful that Crystal accommodates the single lady passengers who wish to dance by having Ambassador Hosts with which to partner. In the past, they have done a marvelous job. However this time, at dance lessons morning and afternoon and in the evenings with the bands, the regular passengers were literally shoved to the side and off the dance floor. We were forced to dance in the aisles and side of the room while the Ambassadors and their alternating partners took over the floor. After about 6 nights of being pushed, shoved, and banged into, we simply gave up and went to listen to the piano player in the Crystal Cove. This also applied to the dance lessons. The morning teachers were good and took time to explain steps and practice. Then we got with our partners and practiced. However as time went on, the Ambassadors and single ladies took over the floor, edging others out. We practiced in the aisles. In the afternoon, the instructors went so fast and added so many steps that no one knew what was going on except those who were experienced dancers. And, when we asked questions of the instructors, they said they were too busy to answer. We are not new to dancing, but we truly hoped to be able to refine our steps. This did not happen. Perhaps Crystal needs to separate classes into experienced and less experienced. It would give more room on the dance floor for practice as well. The worst incident with an Ambassador Host occurred in the Lido one day when we were having lunch. One of the Hosts was eating with the Golf Instructor at the table next to us. Both of them were loudly making fun of and criticizing guests for their appearance and inabilities. It was embarrassing to hear and they should be ashamed of their attitude toward paying guests. We skipped the Azores due to “bad weather” although the seas remained calm. We therefore had 9 straight sea days to St. Thomas. The usual lineup of speakers were onboard and the speaker on the oceans and sea life was exceptional. Also the speaker on Broadway and the theater who provided singing commentary was great. However, the general’s presentation, in our opinion, contained bigoted comments with incorrect information on his slides. For example, they were not the “Mongrels”, they are the Moghuls. We can’t quite put our finger on what went wrong with this cruise. Some of the service was exceptional. Others were rote and unfeeling. The ship, although clean, seemed tired and in need of refurbishment. Basics such as maintenance of air conditioning were lacking. Front desk staff, while pleasant, did not act on requests. Officers were non-apparent. Overall it just lacked that special “Crystal feeling.” It was the first cruise we completed where we were glad to be off the ship. We reported all the problems on our survey. We have heard absolutely nothing from Crystal. Due to our issues, we cancelled the Serenity Antarctica cruise we had scheduled for February and booked with another cruise line. It is too important a cruise to take another chance on Crystal at this time. Read Less
39 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We looked forward to a Crystal Big Band Transatlantic cruise with great anticipation. Never have we been so disappointed.. The standards have slipped so far and so fast , we were bitterly disappointed by the entire experience. The ... Read More
We looked forward to a Crystal Big Band Transatlantic cruise with great anticipation. Never have we been so disappointed.. The standards have slipped so far and so fast , we were bitterly disappointed by the entire experience. The cutbacks and cost snipping are getting a little too obvious under new ownership. The " Best cruise line in the world" is suffering from a severe case of self delusion. We have enjoyed several Big Band cruises with Crystal, finding them a special way of crossing the ocean. this was a pre Christmas cruise, so the ship was decorated throughout... With the same decorations we have seen several times, all beginning to look a little tired This was hardly a Big Band, merely a dull group who could not, and did not , give guests a Big Band experience. The house band offered a better quality of music. Entertainment was equally lack lustre, often seen, dull , dreary shows, despite the enthusiasm of the talented young singers and dancers. The daily dance tuition was equally tired , dull and delivered by the same old foursome we have seen too often. Crystal were introducing new dance talent from Australia and Ukraine, but cut backs are showing here too. Guest entertainers were similarly not of the quality we had expected, and previously enjoyed aboard Crystal ships. The highlight of the cruise, to our delight, were the fine guest speakers, including musical experts, an astronaut and a British retired RAF senior officer who delighted with his insights into current world situations. Dining aboard Crystal cruises was always a delight, but we were disappointed on this cruise, not by the service levels which remain superb , delivered by the ever dedicated staff. However, the dining room , wonderful " modern menu" is now so altered that there is little difference between it, and a classic menu. Similarly, we were disappointed by the charming Tastes menu, which is now heavy, over sauced and has little resemblance to a decent tapas menu. The tried, tested , very repetitive Prego menus desperately need a makeover, as the menu is heavy for modern tastes and badly needs some seasonal changes. We have always enjoyed the enrichment experiences on cruises, but art classes consisted of total lack of creativity, limited media choices and complete lack of inspiration. Luckily, the golf tuition was excellent making up for the paucity of other classes. Crystal are steadily raising the cost of cruises, but , in our opinion, delivering poorer value, and providing far from the luxury experience we had come to enjoy. Petty little cuts , which we assume they believe will go unnoticed, grated... The own brand toiletries, which look and smell cheap, the lack of a daily news sheet, the lower number of the always delightful tiny lunchtime desserts, the substitution of thin cheap balsamic vinegar for salads are surely some examples which irritated. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I found the atmosphere on the Serenity to be intolerable by the end of the first few days. I will not go into much detail here but suffice it to say I was ignored by others when I as a solo traveler sat down and waited to play. As soon as ... Read More
I found the atmosphere on the Serenity to be intolerable by the end of the first few days. I will not go into much detail here but suffice it to say I was ignored by others when I as a solo traveler sat down and waited to play. As soon as a couple came along, the couple who had been playing addressed them and aid they would take them on. I was never acknowledged, greeted , etc nor did they consider rotating so we could all at least hit balls until someone from the fitness center came to run the morning session. Most of the time there was no one running the paddle tennis program, and that permitted more assertive guests to play as long as they wanted to and in at least one instance kept me from playing when I wanted to as there was no one for solo players to play with at times. I was harassed by someone at the Magic show, a mother in a wheelchair and her daughter, who took it upon themselves to be the seating police and said "She should move" not addressing me directly, when a couple entered the room and were making their way around the stool type seats in the second ro. The couple did not ask me to move and the women in question were not sailing with them. I would have gladly moved had the couple asked me to but this woman was way out of line to tell me to move. I was there first. Ultimately I left the show before it started. The Avenue Saloon piano player did not interact with guests and that surprised me-negatively as I am used to Mark Farris and the fun people have when he is on board. My room stewardess brought me mushy brown spotted bananas even after I told her what I wanted and had told her those were too ripe. It took a message to the home office to get the bananas to magically appear. (I had been told they were usually like that (?) and she didn't think there were any more since they had gotten them in Miami) One of the Ambassador hosts (his first time on Crystal) constantly held hands with an older guest and spent an inordinate amount of time outside the dance floor with her inappropriate behavior according to my gf on my trivia team. That wasn't so much of an issue to me personally, but his demeanor was not professional. he was so phony that it was laughable. The shore excursions were okay but we did have an incident in Lisbon which resulted in the 5 members of our Jeep receiving a full refund of the cost of the Jeep Safari. I did not like having to go through the Casino to get to the Bistro, shops or to head downstairs to the Crystal Cove. Many guests dressed like they were off to a State dinner on Crystal casual nights (what was left to wear on the formal nights, I wondered?) and more than occasionally people looked at me (and I am sure others) up and down like they were the dress code police,giving disapproving looks as if I was wearing rags! I have made my grievances known to the head office but there is nothing they can do about fellow passengers for the most part. Some of you will say I am making this up but believe me I compared notes to others on board and they experienced similar issues. I have nothing to gain by posting this and frankly am likely to be setting myself up for ridicule but I experienced all that I have written here and it was enough, frequently enough, such that you could not pay me to step foot on the Serenity again!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
Transatlantic, December 2012, marketed by Crystal as Big Band and Ballroom theme. I have no interest in Big Band but chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. Having done Transatlantics on Costa and Cunard a year ago, I can compare ... Read More
Transatlantic, December 2012, marketed by Crystal as Big Band and Ballroom theme. I have no interest in Big Band but chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. Having done Transatlantics on Costa and Cunard a year ago, I can compare this trip with direct competitors. Although my dancing expertise is International style, I do travel with American groups and am not totally unfamiliar with American style. Food: Food in the MDR was usually excellent, although sometimes only good. Service was professional and efficient, although only really notable for high staff ratios. The MDR operates mostly with traditional fixed seating. I used "dining by reservation", not really open seating as reservations are required. I did not use the specialty restaurants. There is no midnight buffet, waiters bring trays of pizza and snacks to the lounges. Also no evening buffet, instead limited, fixed menu service using the patio furniture beside the pool. It operated 6:30 to 9 PM, but was closed sometimes, notably formal nights. I estimate a premium of $50/day over Costa and $20/day over Cunard is warranted. Cabins: All cabins are outside. AA, A, B and C categories are identical, except that C has a window. The cabins are attractive and well-furnished, but functionally similar to premium balconies on other ships. The bathroom is large enough for a second sink and a "full" (actually 48") tub. Closet space is average. The mattresses were unusually firm, more European-style. Ambiance: Several times, the ship was so quiet, I wondered if it would be literally possible to heart a pin drop. Dress Code: Mostly casual, tending towards "backyard scruffy" during the day. There were many tuxedos in evidence on formal evenings. GLBT: There was only one FOD meeting that I saw, and there did not seem to be many gay couples on the ship. Lecturers: Most interest lectures conflicted with other activities. The ones I was able to attend tended to be a summary of open-source material with little fresh insight- e.g. the Columbus lecture did not mention the controversies engendered by "1421" and "1434", and mentioned encomienda only briefly. Public Rooms: The Serenity has two large venues and was able to cope with having both Big Band and Ballroom themes simultaneously. Palm Court: Rectangular dance floor about 20' x 40' with four unfortunately placed pillars, about 4' in from the edge. The Big Band took about 1/3 the space, and although this was not a Christmas cruise (Hanukkah, actually) there were two trees on the dance floor taking a significant amount of space. They were not removed for several days. Stardust Lounge: Crescent shaped dance floor, usable rectangle about 18' x 36', total area about 25% larger with furniture removed. Avenue Saloon: No dance floor, but a pianist playing popular music; as many as 50 people as late as 1 AM. Crystal Cove: The lobby bar, with a pianist playing mostly "music to snooze by". Disco: Dance floor oval-shaped, about 15' x 12'. Most nights there was nobody there. Dancing: There were perhaps 50 people who seemed to be keen dancers. I do not know how many of them chose the cruise because of the Ballroom theme. The Good: Crystal hired a second dance couple, both couples were well-qualified (American style). Each couple taught one American-style beginner-level class per day. I noted that the rumba class appeared to use the Side Basic from the DVIDA syllabus. They frequently mentioned concepts such as frame, connection, LOD and floorcraft. They also experimented with advanced and International style classes, which were not very successful. There were only a few couples at this level. Although the dance floor in the Stardust lounge is an unfortunate shape, it was not bad for a cruise ship. The Palm Court is also large, but is on an upper deck. Both would be quite acceptable if properly organized. The Bad: Crystal had the professional couples perform a DWTS-type show in the theatre one night, so much time was taken by rehearsals. The house band was a Filipino quintet. They played mostly foxtrots, rumbas (American tempo) and waltzes (mostly too fast). Not bad as an ordinary lounge band, but not a dance band. They had no knowledge of dance tempos- when I asked for a waltz at 90 beats per minute, I was told "we don't know what you're talking about". I am told Filipino bands often learn to play by rote and don't really understand tempo. Crystal booked a 17-piece Big Band orchestra; I have no interest in Big Band. I noticed that the band was only popular for a couple of nights. The Stardust lounge was used as the dancing venue and attracted a steady crowd throughout the cruise. The Ugly: Students in the classes were expected to rotate partners, but did not segregate the women who were serious about learning and actually showed up wearing proper shoes (there were several), from the gawdawful creatures who just wanted to waddle around wiggling their fat butts. Hosts have to put up with that- I don't. I asked about recorded strict tempo music during band breaks, and was flat-out refused; "the Hosts have to take a break and the women will complain if they are not dancing". I was left with the impression there had been no thought of providing strict tempo music and the idea was an annoying imposition. Ambassador Hosts Six allegedly "accomplished ballroom dancers". Based on what I have seen with other groups, I was not impressed. Only one of them could even stand up straight ("frame" in American terminology). One was so bad as to be a horrible example- any woman who would tolerate him is not someone I would want to dance with. I was told that there are normally four hosts, and they usually sit around with nothing to do. Summary. Crystal provides a nice, but over-priced, product. The ambiance definitely tended towards "comatose" rather than "party". There are two lounges with decent dance floors. But if this was the best they can do on a ballroom theme cruise, I would not want to go on a regular cruise without some ironclad guarantees and big penalty clauses. Read Less
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