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15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Yes this is cruise critic and yes I am a harsh critic. This was a first Crystal Cruise and we hoped to make it a habit. We are regulars on Oceania and Silversea and did not find Crystal any better -- in fact in some cases below the ... Read More
Yes this is cruise critic and yes I am a harsh critic. This was a first Crystal Cruise and we hoped to make it a habit. We are regulars on Oceania and Silversea and did not find Crystal any better -- in fact in some cases below the standards of O and Silversea. The cruise was a rather simple one – pretty much a western Caribbean with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and Key West. I will not spend much time talking about the ports. Both my DW and me had bronchitis as it seemed to being going around the ship so our off ship activity was limited. Embarkation: First impressions were not good. We departed from Terminal B (same as Norwegian uses). The line was long. The hold time was unacceptable. This is at 1:30pm. Took almost 45 minutes from the entrance to the Terminal until we had our room card. The ship was built in 2005 and recently refurbished. It did look new – sharp style and not a blemish anywhere. Very well maintained. The Room: Were Crystal really fails is their staterooms in Veranda class. Since most guests travel this way – I will do the comparison here. Size is 246 sq feet which includes the veranda. What makes this feel smaller is the fact that the bathroom is large, including a tub and a double sink. This makes the room extra small. Closet space was good. TV was actually good with more choices including the NFL Playoffs and the NCCA Finals. Bed for me was comfortable. One BIG negative was the stateroom service. Just plain bad. We returned to the cabin generally around 8pm and room was still unmade. Unacceptable -- room attendant was told we generally come back quickly from dinner. The food: The best part of Crystal is its food. Some very unique menus are offered, plus also a classic menu. The classic menu also has a steak entrée nightly (whether Filet, Rib Eye or Sirloin strip). I suppose you can ask for any of the three, nightly -- just ask as they were very accommodating to our table mates, who did a special order on some nights. MDR has main and late seating – you can also op for dining by reservation. Service was prompt and well executed but generally was at least a 90 minute seating. Specialties – Prego is an Italian restaurant and food quality was excellent -- Osso Buco was good. Silk Road had a fusion Japanese menu plus excellent Sushi/Sashimi. In fact the Sashimi was so good ,I could make a meal out that alone – but I had the pepper Lobster which was excellent. Specialties are included. But additional bookings are $30 pp – done in order to make sure everyone has a chance to book a least once. They do not have an evening buffet like many ships. Their light meal is by reservation but we saw many on the last night come without a reservation. Place is called Tastes – but they should rename it Tasteless. The style is a Tapas menu where you can order many small items, Maybe the chef had a bad night – but the fish, chicken and lamb we had were all dry and overdone. The Ahi Tuna was done properly – raw. Trident Grill – is similar to Waves and serves the same fare. Exception is no lobster. Burgers were better than O, but the Fries on O are much better. They also have a ice cream bar next to the Grill. Bistro – a coffee bar. Good coffee plus food (fruits, cookies, cakes, cold cuts) throughout the day (late breakfast through late lunch. The Drink: Beer, house wines, and drinks (top shelf) are included. House wines were OK nothing special, no worse/better than O or Silversea. Drinks were strong and smooth – no water in these and they were large. No mini Martini’s like on Oceania. Service: Outstanding. Even the officers are always visible and friendly Enrichment: Love the term and their lectures were really good. Bob Ray was one which gave talks on Motown and also the Beach Boys with little heard recording takes and items that belong on trivia. Some negatives: The new Crystal web site is bad. Difficult to navigate and to book restaurant and shore excursions. So bad is it the after trip survey crashed. Shipboard Wi-Fi was slow and not free. They give you 60 minutes free. Inclusive certainly does not apply to the wifi with Crystal. As noted above -- the embarkation was really disorganized. Crystal does all of the work on board the ship so there were multiple queues at security, in the port hall where they checked the passenger heath and passport exam, then in the holding pen (Norwegian style), at the gangway, and then on the ship at the registration tables. So was I Crystalized?? Maybe, with the right itinerary yes. But they really need to up their game with some new builds with bigger staterooms which have become common with new builds from Seaborne, Silversea, Oceania and Regent. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Beautiful ship. The rooms were just fine. Great entertainment. The song and dance troupe did a fabulous job. Terrific enrichment and seminar programs. Food was quite good, as well. The passengers were more lively than I had expected. I ... Read More
Beautiful ship. The rooms were just fine. Great entertainment. The song and dance troupe did a fabulous job. Terrific enrichment and seminar programs. Food was quite good, as well. The passengers were more lively than I had expected. I thought it would be a bit of a stuffy atmosphere. I was wrong. The itinerary was more than forgettable: Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize, Key West and two days at sea. Costa Maya, sans excursion, must have had 75 tee shirt shops. The included one hour daily of wifi was welcomed, as well as the online PressReader which offered a free selection of magazines (how about the NYT and Wall St. Journal). However, the service just seemed to fall flat too often for a cruise line of this stature. Thus a loss of one rating level. Just my opinion. I'm far from a demanding individual, but did notice that the service level was better on another cruise line (Oceania). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise for a much needed break after a busy holiday season. We flew to Miami on the 2nd and stayed at the Trump Doral. They provided a very nice cruise package which included transportation to the pier. Beautiful hotel ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a much needed break after a busy holiday season. We flew to Miami on the 2nd and stayed at the Trump Doral. They provided a very nice cruise package which included transportation to the pier. Beautiful hotel with great service! We had a bit of a wait when we arrived at the Port of Miami, which irritated a lot of people. Once onboard, everything was fine. Champagne and lunch in the dining room--Cobb salad. The first of many excellent meals on the ship! Maybe our favorite was dinner in Silk Road--such amazing food and service. We had decided this would be a "lazy cruise." The ports were not so exciting to us, except for Key West (we had not been there before). The ship was the most important destination this time. We didn't book excursions, just did the ports on our own. There were all the usual activities to do on sea days. We enjoyed two of the three speakers --Dr. Jay Wolfe (destination) and Bob Ray (special interest --Motown and Beach Boys). The world affairs speaker had two interesting topics, but such poor delivery. The entertainment was very good. Really enjoyed the comedians and the magic show! This cruise was full, but really didn't feel crowded. I felt the embarkation was super smooth. The food and service keep up coming back! We love being spoiled. I realize this review is not chock full of information, but just wanted to comment on our very relaxing getaway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Lots of puzzle pieces to put this voyage in motion! The adventure all began because my brother-in-law wanted to embark from New Orleans, add that to the fact my husband and I wanted to sail over our anniversary (December 17) and on ... Read More
Lots of puzzle pieces to put this voyage in motion! The adventure all began because my brother-in-law wanted to embark from New Orleans, add that to the fact my husband and I wanted to sail over our anniversary (December 17) and on Crystal! Not to mention friends who wanted to join in on the fun, could not sail over Christmas. What was the likelihood?!?! A year and a half later, all I can say our time together on and off the Crystal Serenity during those two weeks was the best of best times! From one who is totally into Christmas and has sailed on various cruise lines enjoying many holiday cruises, this ship was decked out in absolutely the most gorgeous decor that I had ever seen while on the seas. We were even able to have our butler set up an artificial Christmas Tree in our suite. Trimmed by the staff, it was beautifully decorated, lights and all! Throughout the various ports, my husband and I would purchase a hand made Christmas ornament relective of the islands we explored. Talk about being spoiled...the food, the entertainment, the daytime enrichment classes, ... everything excelled. We loved reviewing our French from a Berlitz instructor who gave both morning and afternoon classes. The practice was fun and we were able to speak French on two Caribbean islands. Learning how to create I Movies was also a plus as both my husband and I have continued making short videos. Having taught school for thirty years, all instructors deserved an A+. That is what Crystal is all about. The finest in everything. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The ... Read More
This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The reason is that she is meticuluosly cared for on an ongoing basis. If you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can see how hard the staff works to address any wear in the ship, and before the guests would notice a problem. The crew and staff of the Crystal Symphony are the ship's greatest asset. They are more than just responsive when a passenger asks for something -- they anticipate the needs of the passengers and do so in a friendly way. Many go out of their way to learn the names of the passengers and then assume responsiblity for that traveler from then on. The food is the best of the best - intersting and tasty selections each day, and beuatifully presented. No expense spared. The Nobu specialty restaurant is in a class of its own. We went twice and I am not even a huge shushi fan! The basic category room is small but workable (246 SF with balcony). The added space of a penthouse would have been appreciated, but perhaps not worth the added cost. Let's face it: if small rooms are problematic then maybe cruising is not for you in the first place. Regardless, there is plenty of space devoted to the common areas so other than in the stateroom no one should feel claustrophobic. The target market for this cruise line is decidably the older crowd -- age 70+. At times there were enough seniors piloting their motorized scooters to warrant a traffic cop or perhaps valet parking. Make no mistake that the age of the crowd sets a tone, and that is one that is placid. If you are looking for high energy activities on board, you will be disappointed. Needle point classes and nodding off by the pool are more the order of the day. The entertainment was just plain bad. There was a featured flutist who played with the ship band one night and a low quality Elton John impersonator (although his back up singers were quite good) who played another night. Sereiously, when I think of cool entertainment, the flute just does not come to mind. There is also the ship's band who played by the pool/sunning area for about an hour daily. This was Muzak elevator music with an Asian influence. The rendition of a KC & the Sunshine Band song is still in my head, and that is not a good thing. That music certainly did not risk waking any napping seniors. There were also a couple of speakers who gave canned presentations on dull subjects, but like the other entertainment options were worth missing. The ship did stream some football games via satelite, but it seems they could have done more of this. Ditto better and more frequent movie selections. Not a huge issue, but shopping aboard the Symphony is odd. This is a Neiman Marcus level cruising experience with last year's Macy's basement shopping. Shopping can be a real money maker and the Symphony is missing a real opportunity here. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We have taken a few cruises on Crystal and for the most part we have been quite satisfied. Service is generally very good but Crystal needs to rethink their tipping policy and advertise accordingly. Is it included or not? The staff has yet ... Read More
We have taken a few cruises on Crystal and for the most part we have been quite satisfied. Service is generally very good but Crystal needs to rethink their tipping policy and advertise accordingly. Is it included or not? The staff has yet to be informed. Crystal's brochures claim tipping has been included in the cost of the cruise. Yet if you research "inclusive" cruise line tipping policies, Crystal states "tipping is not expected but will be appreciated" whereas Regent and Seabourn state "tipping is not expected" period. The Crystal staff clearly expects to be tipped, especially the staff in the dining rooms. They all but had their hand out the next to last night of the cruise and their behavior made for an uncomfortable evening. Crystal has also taken to cutting corners. Initially their "all inclusive" included meals in their alternate dining venues. Crystal has instituted a policy where only one evening is included now and Crystal imposes a $30 per person charge if you eat in the alternate dining venue more than one time. We chose to do so and noticed the dining rooms were half empty - apparently other cruisers are not reacting well to the up-charge. Also, their wine choices are limited and Crystal now has their own "label" of lower end wine that they encourage the staff to pour. Really - on a luxury line! Unlike other luxury cruise lines Crystal does not truly provide for open seating at dinner as other luxury lines do. Crystal makes a half hearted attempt to allow "open diners" to eat in a segregated area buried in the back of the dining room. They clearly discourage open dining - big mistake. Service at second seating can be rushed - often thought waiter was in a hurry to get off duty. These flaws aside, Crystal delivers in most other areas. Cabin was spotless and well maintained. Room service was prompt. Public areas were large and meticulous and there is always a quite place to curl up with a book.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
My first time on Crystal. A few notes for those considering one of the four Crystal Penthouse Suites. 1. For guests in CP category, Crystal do embarkation and disembarkation better than anyone. Car dispatched to hotel, driver calls 10 ... Read More
My first time on Crystal. A few notes for those considering one of the four Crystal Penthouse Suites. 1. For guests in CP category, Crystal do embarkation and disembarkation better than anyone. Car dispatched to hotel, driver calls 10 minutes out, guest greeted curbside, luggage whisked away, and guest given a personal escort throughout entire (painless process) and handed over to butler at end of gangway. Departing, no waiting with a group, same personal process in reverse. Note to all other luxury lines -- this is exactly what your top suite passengers want. 2. The four recently redone CP suites are thoughtfully laid out, well furnished, and extremely comfortable. Decoration a touch flashy for my taste, but I got used to it. Bathrooms with heated floors and one-touch temperature controlled showers most pleasing. Only possible criticism is that verandas are too small. 3. My butler, Danjiel, skilled, friendly, accommodating, non-intrusive -- altogether perfect. 4. Food. A complex subject. In 11 days I went only once to the main dining room. Once was enough -- It was overcrowded and chaotic. Maitre-d' was surly. Waiters perfunctory and not genuinely friendly. Sommelier seemed to be play acting. In contrast, the specialty restaurant, Silk Road (Nobu) and its Sushi Bar were superb . From the maitre-d' to the sommelier to the brilliant sushi chefs -- all were friendly, enthusiastic, professional and produced the best food at sea. I mean it, as good as Nobu in Manhattan -- really miraculous for a ship at sea. I went almost every night, and was not bothered one bit by the $30 extra charge assessed following two meals in the specialty restaurants. The other specialty restaurant, Prego, was a bit disappointing. Certainly better than the main dining room, but all concerned seemed bored at producing the same menu over and over. Some dishes were superb, some flat. Service was professional but uninspired. Simple informal lunch in "Tastes"was also very well done -- almost impossibly swift and efficient service, and then well-mixed mojitos, really delicious hamburgers and the like. Finally, room service was very well done -- the food arrived hot and fresh and beautifully presented. Not sure if it was my butler or the kitchen - but never had a complaint with a meal served in the suite. 5. Service around the pool was uneven, new protocols and training are required to bring it into line with other luxury lines. Some days staff seemed alert and attentive, some days I was never asked if I wanted anything and could not get their attention. No water, no cold towels, no sun lotion, and by the end of the afternoon the whole area was looking pretty messy. Two of the lounge chairs I sat in were broken. 6. Crystal very helpfully organized private touring in most but not all ports. Single group excursion I took (in Roatan) was deeply sub-par. The only thing I asked the Concierges to do (call ahead to a specific vendor and reserve a scooter rental in Key West) they refused to do citing liability concerns, which is nonsense. 7. Fitness facilities adequate but dated - need a redo. Fitness scheduled limited. Spa very nice, both physically and with terrific staff In summary, what others say is true: the ship is spacious and (except in the dining room) does not feel crowded; the crew in large part are extraordinarily friendly and anxious to please. But a boat with almost 1000 passengers is never going to feel truly luxurious, unless of course you hole-up in the terrific Crystal Penthouse and dash down to the Sushi Bar for intimate superb meals, which is what I did and, as a result, was a happy camper.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Crystal did not disappoint! Our experience left us eager to return to Crystal again and again. We easily found parking close to the designated terminal and our wait time once in the terminal was less than 20 minutes. The embarkation ... Read More
Crystal did not disappoint! Our experience left us eager to return to Crystal again and again. We easily found parking close to the designated terminal and our wait time once in the terminal was less than 20 minutes. The embarkation process was simple and well executed. The Main Dining Room was open for lunch, and the choices were varied. DH and I both chose the Cobb Salad and a glass of champagne. Just a word about the All Inclusive nature of Crystal--all gratuities are included and there is no charge for any alcoholic beverages, soft drinks or specialty coffee drinks. At no time did we feel that the wine pours were poor offerings, nor did we feel that the sommelier's were less attentive. If we did not prefer the selections of the evening, the sommelier graciously provided alternative. Or Penthouse stateroom was beautifully appointed with lots of storage, a walk-in closet, a full sized couch and a large bathroom with separate tub and shower. We were continually spoiled by our excellent butler, Krunch. Crystal is known for its service, enrichment and food. We are happy to report that Crystal delivered in all of those areas. Service in the Main Dining Room, Specialty restaurants (Silk Road is our favorite!) and the Lido Deck is intuitive and gracious, with a very friendly staff and crew who quickly called us by name. The only area where service was less than friendly was in the Bistro. Crystal's Main Dining Room menu offers both Modern and Classic cuisine. At times it was difficult to make a choice since everything was so appealing. I often asked for a half portion of two different items, so that I could sample both. Tastes, Crystal's casual dining experience, is perfect for al fresco dining. With the trees and lighting, one forgets that you are on a ship, it feels more like a charming European restaurant. The food at Tastes is a variety of small plates, perfect for sharing. The food is inventive and delicious. We enjoyed both Prego, the elegant Italian restaurant and Silk Road, Nobu's Asian restaurant. The quality of the sashimi and sushi is excellent, and the dishes are prepared by Nobu trained chefs, using Nobu's recipes and suppliers. The end result is a terrific experience! There are multiple options for lunch: the Main Dining Room, the Lido Cafe, Tastes for Lunch, the Bistro and the Trident Grill. The Lido Deck waiters are so personable and so hardworking. They are Crystal's "Secret Weapons!" Everyone commented on their amazing service. Of course there are other calorie challenges: The Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Bar and a lovely afternoon tea in the Palm Court. Sea days were favorites with knowledgeable speakers on a variety of topics, Art at Sea classes, computer classes, bingo, needlepoint, knitting, etc., plus a well-stocked library and a very helpful librarian. The pool area is very comfortable with no shortage of chairs and lounges. Additionally, there are lots of quiet areas inside to read or watch the sea. The Fitness Center is open 24 hours a day, and there is a Promenade Deck that encircles the ship. The evening entertainment was on a high level with energetic, talented performers. Mark Ferris, the pianist in the Avenue Saloon had the room packed until 1 am! He's a gifted performer who learns everyone's name and shows real warmth in his performance. The audience adored him, as did we! Disembarkation was smooth and quick. We found our luggage easily, and were in the car and out of the terminal area very rapidly. We look forward to our next Crystal Cruise with great anticipation! It was a wonderful experience that combined the comfort of a small ship, but the activities and options of a larger vessel. Hooray for the best staff and crew in the cruise industry!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
Background:Crystal is absolutely my favorite cruise line but I booked this cruise with some doubts. I had a lingering suspicion that using Crystal for what is essentially a routine Caribbean cruise is a bit like using a Ferrari to drive to ... Read More
Background:Crystal is absolutely my favorite cruise line but I booked this cruise with some doubts. I had a lingering suspicion that using Crystal for what is essentially a routine Caribbean cruise is a bit like using a Ferrari to drive to the corner drug store. I booked the cruise only for a unique circumstance. I had 2 bucket list cruises, New York to Miami on the Symphony and the Prinsendam to the Amazon 10 days later from Ft. Lauderdale. I wanted to do something in those 10 days I wouldn't do normally, and my initial reaction was Epic, Allure, or Oasis. I eventually decided that while I wouldn't normally book those I was free to do so anytime and a convenient (for me) Crystal Caribbean cruise was a very rare event. Ship info: The Crystal Symphony was built in 1995, and has been updated regularly since then, most recently in 2012. It is moderately large, and extremely spacious for the passenger capacity. My voyage was completely sold out, but never crowded. The open decks are especially spacious, and there is a wide, wrap-around Promenade Deck. Staterooms: With the exception of the penthouses on deck 10, the rooms are essentially the same. There are only 8 categories, 3 for penthouse, regular and deluxe verandas, depending on the deck, and 3 categories of penthouse cabins. The rooms are well equipped, especially the baths, with a full tub in even the lowest category rooms. There is ample storage space. Dining: Until recently, dinner in the main dining room has always been served in 2 seatings, usually 6 or 6:30 and 8:30, but Crystal now offers an option of a flexible dining time . In addition to the Crystal Dining Room, there are 2 specialty restaurants, Silk Road with Japanese cuisine and Prego with Italian cuisine. These restaurants require reservations but have no surcharge other than a suggested gratuity. The Lido Cafe does not typically open for dinner but will once or twice most cruises (but not this one). The Lido Cafe serves breakfast and lunch, starting with coffee and pastries around 5AM. There are special theme buffets in the lido, typically about every 3 days. While nominally a buffet, the lido is staffed by several incredible stewards who greeted me by name by day 3, learned my preferences, and generally provide very personal service. A grill midships on the lido serves a late breakfast plus burgers and sandwiches with a few extras. The selection of side dishes is limited, but it is just steps from the Lido Cafe, so these extras are readily available. The Crystal Dining serves a traditional breakfast and lunch with open seating, with one grand gala luncheon buffet sometime during the cruise. The Bistro a deck above the dining room serves pastries and other snacks. Dining as such pretty well closes after dinner, but each room has a refrigerator and is stocked with beverages and fruit, routinely restocked by the Stewardess on her regular visits. Light snacks are served in the lounges in the evening, and there is excellent 24-hour room service.. Activities and entertainment: Activities are geared to a mature demographic and a wide variety are offered. Many cruises have a theme. The Crystal Visions Enhancement is very strong, even on a cruise like this, always providing opportunities for ample feedback from the audience. The spa and fitness staff is very strong, including 2 innovative programs for walkers. The walkvest program uses vests with removable weights (up to about 16 pounds) to improve the strength benefits of walking. A new program uses trekking poles to get more muscles involved in the walking process. There is a log sheet on the Promenade deck where passengers can record their progress and receive shirts and certificates at the end of their cruise celebrating their progress. One slight disadvantage of the ship's design is that the Promenade doors are frequently subject to wind turbulence and often closed, but the aft doors are almost always available. Other regular enhancement activities include computer and other classes and excellent dance instructors. There are daily activities including bingo, team trivia, concerts, and movies in the Hollywood Theater. There are 4 significant routine venues for activities, the Palm Court (Deck 11), and the Galaxy Lounge, Hollywood Theater, and Starlite Club on deck 6). It is routine to see simultaneous activities in 3 of these venues, and not unusual to have them in all 4. In the evening there are several venues featuring several varieties of musical entertainment, and a daily presentation in the Galaxy Theater. The excellent Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers presents about 5 or 6 shows per voyage, with other headline entertainers brought on board for the remaining nights of the cruise. Children: There is a children's program with 2 facilities set aside for programs, one for younger children and another for teenagers, but most of the cruises I have been on do not attract a large number of children. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was smooth and easy. Summary: Crystal provides a stunningly superior product in every respect. While I can say it was my best Caribbean cruise ever, I didn't feel like the Crystal difference came through as much as it does on a typical itinerary. Just one example: On mass market cruises shore excursions typically join the mass exodus from the ship and line up to assemble at a dock. With Crystal we wait in a lounge and the tour goes out in a group with an escort and directly boards the bus. Here the process started in typical Crystal fashion, but once on the dock we still lined up and waited for the guides to come. Not quite mass market but not quite Crystal either.   Read Less
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