113 Los Angeles Luxury Cruise Reviews

In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try ... Read More
In a nutshell: Consistently best food we’ve had on a cruise ship. Special events were well above most other cruise lines. Service was good, but lacked the “sparkle” of other high end (and more expensive) cruise lines that try harder to exceed your expectations. We took this cruise because it was my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday and Tahiti has been on her bucket list since she was a child. We’ve been looking for a good itinerary to visit Tahiti and this cruise through Hawaii fit the bill. ----- Ship Review ----- Embarkation. Standard and quick. The only delay was waiting for a wheelchair for my mother-in-law to board the ship. We waited over 20 minutes and another couple tried to walk in after waiting 30 minutes. It really took much longer than it should have and was not a good first impression of ship services. As we were boarding the ship about 1230 the announcement was made that the cabins were available, so that allowed us to drop luggage in our cabin and go to lunch. There was a table at the entrance to the buffet to buy multi-night packages and make reservations at Prime C or Aqualina. Service. Not quite as impressive as our last cruise on Azamara 12 years ago, it was a bit of a mixed bag this time. Some waiters seemed particularly eager to serve. Others were less enthusiastic. We were surprised by the lack of a “can do” attitude from room service and also surprised (as in woken up from a deep sleep) when they showed up 30 minutes early for breakfast (EVERY TIME). All room service waiters just dropped the trays on our table and ran. No attempt was ever made to set the table or inventory the food. Perhaps they were just extremely busy, but it was a shocking lack of service compared with the apparent standard for this ship. Our room steward was adequate, but not impressive. (As we were packing at the end of the cruise and checking to make sure we didn’t leave anything, we found an old pair of somebody else’s underwear behind the nightstand.) Clientele. 80% have cruised Azamara before. 200 of the almost 686 passengers were continuing on the next leg (apparently a record). Over 90 Cruise Critic members aboard. Azamara prides itself on listening to customer feedback and that breeds high loyalty. The length of this cruise was not well suited for those still working, so the crowd was quite senior. I think we only saw two children onboard. Captain. It is clear that Azamara is hiring captains for their personalities and technical expertise. Most have been with Azamara for years. He went out of his way to be involved with guests and anything important happening on the ship. The two most outstanding captains we’ve ever experienced were both masters of the Azamara Journey. Cruise Director. We started with Eric and he was fantastic—in a league of his own. His show was spectacular and filled the theater to maximum capacity. He’s a hard act to follow, but he left mid-cruise for vacation. Danny took over and while he did a fine job, the cruise just wasn’t quite the same after that. Hotel Director. Heike was very involved, especially with serving during special events. I enjoyed her presentation during a sea day. While I believe she is doing a good job, her enthusiasm isn’t filtering down like it should. The service doesn’t quite have the sparkle I thought it would. Entertainment. The show lounge is quite small, so that limits the entertainment options. However, it was very good for small ship entertainment fare—guest singers, comedians, small production cast, etc. The tango show was outstanding. Food. This is the category where Azamara really excelled this cruise. They said their food budget was higher than anything else in the RCCL fleet and it shows. We were very impressed with the overall food quality. The main dining room has local and chef specials every night that adds variety to the otherwise standard rotation of menu items. We have critiqued many ships for not having local specialties. Azamara is the only line we’ve sailed that has been responsive to that customer request. Our four experiences at the specialty restaurants were excellent, but we had friends who were less impressed with their steaks in Prime C. I have mixed feelings about charging a premium to eat in the restaurants and then providing a bill with a place to add a tip at the end of the meal. Seems like a mixed message to the guests. Here’s a tip I learned the hard way. They will give you a wine list with bottles you can buy for an extra cost, but all the house wines are also available for free if you ask. I still love the panini and smoothie bars at the buffet! The Windows evening buffet changes themes every night which provides a lot of variety. They frequently have specialty buffets with crew officers serving and they were outstanding. The Polynesian dinner buffet and German lunch buffet were especially well done. They also had a late night chocolate buffet in the midship lounge area that was quite impressive and very well attended! Dress code. Every night was “country club casual.” Wear what you would wear to a nice restaurant and you’ll be fine. My wife actually saw the dress code being enforced on a few occasions, which makes it nicer for everybody. You might want to dress up slightly for the specialty restaurants—many people do. Internet. Like most ship-based internet, it was slow and expensive. I usually burned up more than 10 minutes every time I wanted to sync just two email accounts. Unlimited package pricing was outrageous. I had some free minutes because of our status and used cell phone connectivity while at the ports in Hawaii. Here’s another tip. The price of the unlimited package is per day, so wait until the last possible day to sign up. Expend all your free minutes first. With 50% off (due to our status), I got the unlimited package for only $69 for the last 9 days of the cruise. Photographic services. Available, but not in your face—except at the premium restaurants, where they really want to “capture that special moment” for you. I bought a USB with the destination photos and a video of the AzAmazing evening. The photos were not that professional and they never had a chance to produce the White Night video. Ship Décor. We love the classic R-class styling. We’ve been on many R-class ships by now, so this feels like home. It could really use some updating and time in dry dock that it will get this fall. Fitness Center. Pretty good for a small ship. Gift Shop selection. Why does everybody think a ship is the place to buy jewelry? I don’t get it. I’d rather have a much better selection of branded merchandise that can only be purchased aboard to remember my cruise. Special Events. This review would not be complete if I didn’t take time to mention some of the special events that set Azamara above their competition. We saw something like an AzAmazing Evening with Regent, but the 40’s themed night at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum was much better executed than anything we’ve seen before. Azamara’s signature deck party “white nights” was in Bora Bora. Unfortunately, we missed all but the show because we had reservations in Prime C. The Polynesian cultural show was fantastic and it was a wonderful event until the skies opened up and soaked almost everybody. Crossing the equator celebration was fun and well done. All inclusive? I need to spend a few lines to discuss this issue because it is a source of great confusion among guests. “No tipping?” What were people doing tipping their waiters at dinner last night? Sometimes drinks are included, but the beer at the German buffet was an extra charge. How much? Don’t know. Didn’t see a price posted or on the ticket I signed. There are two levels of wine packages and two levels of spirits packages, but some of both are included, particularly at some events. There is a priced menu of drinks at the shows. Two thirds through the cruise I was told by a friend that there is a back page of the menu that has all the complementary drinks listed. It’s a fairly comprehensive list—I just wish I had known about it sooner. Thank goodness all sodas and sparkling water are included. Well, to be more precise, Costco brand and Mexican sparkling water were included. Perrier and Pellegrino are both extra. While we enjoy wine with dinner, we are not big drinkers. When I heard Azamara made a change to their “all-inclusive” policy to include tips and wine with dinner, I liked the concept. It appeared to match our needs to have wine included with dinner (even if it is a limited selection), while charging for other alcohol, but the implementation seems very schizophrenic. How do you keep track of what is or is not included? Critiques. We got an early cruise feedback form for us to identify any issues we saw so they could be fixed immediately, instead of waiting for the end-of-cruise feedback. About midway through the cruise we filled out the form to identify service issues in the observation lounge. We got a phone call and personal visit about the issues we observed and they were fixed the very next day. Azamara is trying to be resource conscious, so they send a link to an online critique rating form instead of giving you the traditional paper survey. Head’s up. That link expires in one week! When we finally got time to sit down and do the survey after we got home, the link had already expired by a few days. That’s unfortunate because we really wanted to recognize a couple of waiters that were going above and beyond. I completely understand what they are trying to do by keeping everything electronic. Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity to provide our feedback. In summary, we enjoyed this cruise. We always enjoy the ambiance of R-Class ships. Based on our previous experience with Azamara, we had very high expectations. I think the cruise leadership was doing everything they could to meet those expectations and were very responsive to guest input. However, not everyone on the crew was as enthusiastic about their job so we were not as AzAmazed as we expected we would be. ----- Port Calls ----- Azamara prides itself on being port intensive, but that wasn’t exactly true for this cruise because it was more about repositioning toward Australia. We spent 11 of our 18 days at sea crossing the Pacific. I’m not going to try to review the individual ports or offerings. I’ll try to keep my comments more generic. Azamara has two critical things I look for from high end cruise lines during port calls--shuttle busses to downtown areas of interest and local experts onboard in port who provide maps and ideas about what to see if you want to explore on your own. Sometimes you don’t want to spend a fortune on shore excursions to see a port. I like having the low cost option and flexibility to come and go as you please. I also like to see water, juice, and cold towel stations on the dock (tender or port). We may have missed them, but those services were available at some, but not all, port calls. Some of the shore excursions were expensive and others were just outrageous! Arrangements for private vehicles at over a thousand dollars for a few hours just seems absurd to me. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out ... Read More
Hawaii has been on a bucket list for years and having sailed on Azamara Journey before and liked the small friendly ship, this looked like a great trip. It was a lot of sea days, 11 out of the 18 on board. It was rough weather coming out of LA, high winds and high seas, but on the whole Journey handled it well, even if sleeping was somewhat like dozing off on a roller coaster. The staff are really friendly, officers stop and chat, waiters go the extra mile and stewards keep the cabins ship shape. Staterooms are on the small size compared to other ships we have been on, especially the shower/WC. Bedding is excellent. There is no theatre so evening entertainment is in the cabaret lounge and therefore very much “up close”. Band was great, singers and dancers - excellent, cruise director and assistant, both of whom performed solo evenings were first class. (Eric left is in Hawaii leaving Danny and Emily to run the show). The guest speaker, Dr. Jay was fantastic, so interesting and making his subjects so accessible. The weather in Hawaii was not kind to us, a lot of rain. A number of sea days were also wet so one had to make the most of the interior spaces which despite this never seemed very crowded. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Let me begin by stating that this was our 10th cruise with Oceania. My comments are our opinion and based on personal experience on the December 21, 2019 Sunny Holidays Cruise on Oceania Sirena. Oceania is not what it used to be. We ... Read More
Let me begin by stating that this was our 10th cruise with Oceania. My comments are our opinion and based on personal experience on the December 21, 2019 Sunny Holidays Cruise on Oceania Sirena. Oceania is not what it used to be. We observed and experienced a large discrepancy in the food from previous sailings. Chilean Sea Bass, Caviar, Almond Croissants and high levels of meat were a given previously. They were lacking on this cruise. In fact, several people complained vigorously regarding the steak. Oceania has been highly rated for its food. That did not appear to be the case on this cruise. New year's Celebration were around the pool. Now divided in different areas. The descriptions of the shore excursions did not match the material given to the guides. We had a excellent guide and yet his description as written of the day did not match what we paid for. Yet, when we complained to the destinations desk, we were told that everyone loved the guide. We did too. However, we did not get what we paid for. The main dining room and the Terrace grill appeared to be short of waiters. It wold take two or more hours to dine in the dining room. The Canyon Ranch Spa was previously always a wonderful experience. That is no longer there, being replaced by a spa where, there are basically all recent graduates of schooling (as stated by a technician) . We were not notified in advance of this change. Regarding the decoration of the ship. The redecoration of the ship is beautiful, and our cabin stewards were excellent. The showers are very small, yet the sofa was comfortable. Regarding the entertainment, we understand that it can not be compared to the larger ships, however, three nights of movies for entertainment is not acceptable. The stand up comics and Stuart were excellent, however enrichment activities were minimal. Tender workers were excellent. Cruisers who experienced this for the first time would not have noticed the difference. Lastly, research the ports. When it says Belize, it does not mean that you will actually be in Belize where you can readily tour, instead we were taken to a water park, away from everything in Belize. With that said, there were constant concerns on the cruise from past cruisers, even those who had 17 sailings regarding the downgrade from previous cruises. We were very disappointed with this cruise. The previous comments reflect our opinion. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose to go on the Sirena after hearing all the positives about Oceania. We had just sailed on the Royal Princess and walked across the parking lot to board the Sirena. Our expectations were that the food and service would be much ... Read More
We chose to go on the Sirena after hearing all the positives about Oceania. We had just sailed on the Royal Princess and walked across the parking lot to board the Sirena. Our expectations were that the food and service would be much better on the Sirena. Unfortunately, the Royal Princess was the far superior ship. The Sirena is a beautiful ship, but that’s all. We dined in the Tuscan steakhouse the first night. My steak was was way overcooked and so heavily seasoned I couldn’t taste the meat. Our water glasses were empty until we asked a waiter. Turns out that was the only night my medium rare steak or lamp chops were not served raw. Every dining venue served me raw meat except Red Ginger. It got to be a joke among our group of four. My wife’s lobster was always ice cold. Water refills, everywhere, were by request only. The only dining room without problems was Red Ginger. We were only to make a reservation there once, despite being on a waiting list for most of the cruise. I guess the biggest issue with this poor service was that no one seemed to be in charge. We complained to several staff members who we thought were head waiters, but all they did was apologize and then disappear for the rest of the meal. The most visible dining room member was the Sommelier who always came by to ask us to buy some wine, and left very disappointed when we told him we didn’t drink. On the plus side, the cabin attendants were great. The our balcony cabin was very impressive except for the tiniest bathroom at sea. We have been sailing for 28 years and after 47 cruises with 6 different cruise lines we have never been more disappointed. Paid a lot more for superior service and great food that never happened. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We actually didn't choose this cruise or itinerary but voluntarily accept a bump off our original cruise in exchange for numerous upgrades and rebates. We flew coach to LAX with me squeezed in the middle seat and I was unable to get ... Read More
We actually didn't choose this cruise or itinerary but voluntarily accept a bump off our original cruise in exchange for numerous upgrades and rebates. We flew coach to LAX with me squeezed in the middle seat and I was unable to get upgraded with my AA miles. The return flight arrangement took us 30 hours from the time we disembarked in Papeete at 8:45 AM until we touched down at JFK at 8:30 PM Christmas Eve. There were excursions (6 in total because we missed a valuable port in the Hawaiian Island due to technical problems which were never explained or reimbursed)that were too commercial including stops at the tour operators' relatives' establishments. We were not advised to spray ourselves with Deet, nor was it provided, in French Polynesia where the mosquitos attacked us and boarded the tour bus at a scenic view stop. The ship is still wonderful, the nightly piano player, Jeff Spence, was incredible, some of the shows and entertainment marvelous, the Internet was spotty, the Library did away with its free passenger book exchange, Trivia was great, the service impeccable and the Cruise Director Jamie and his wife, the assistant cruise director, perfect and the food was fabulous. Will I cruise with Regent again, absolutely. Would I choose this Itinerary, absolutely not? Because of our age, travel insurance was exceptionally expensive. The boutiques are only suitable for those who don't have great shopping near them and have shipboard credits to spend. The enrichment lectures were generally not my cup of tea. The program leans heavily toward early morning activities with not much to do until 4:00 pm, by which time very little time is left of the afternoon to freshen oneself for the evening "elegant casual" or optional "formal" dress requirements after 6:00 pm in all public indoor spaces. Once you disembark and are thrown off the bus at a deserted airport with no sense of where to wait and nowhere to sit, the bloom fades from the rose. I must say, that once we boarded Regent's charter Atlas 767 airplane, we were treated perfectly. The employees of Atlas were wonderful and all seats equally fine business class accommodations. I personally will never return to French Polynesia because their International airport is a disaster and caused us great stress as well as physical pain after standing without information for almost two hours. The French equivalent of inspection is antiquated and elderly people had to remove shoes, belts, watches, suspenders, etc. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Regent, “an unrivaled experience” is one I have no intention of replicating. Here is a rundown: 1. Arrival at airport was disorganized. After waiting about 15 minutes in airport we waited about another 45 minutes at the curb. ... Read More
Regent, “an unrivaled experience” is one I have no intention of replicating. Here is a rundown: 1. Arrival at airport was disorganized. After waiting about 15 minutes in airport we waited about another 45 minutes at the curb. 2. Next morning at hotel, breakfast ended at nine am with checkout at noon then a wait of a further hour+ before bus to port. On the way to port the bus driver kept drifting in and out of lane on the 710 to Long Beach and at one point came within a few feet of rear ending a stopped truck at about 50 mph because he fell asleep at the wheel, if the collision avoiding alert had not alerted we would have hit. 3. When boarding the ship there was not one staff member available to assist in directing to cabin, so we wandered around and eventually found the cabin. 4. First day on pool deck attempting to get a bite to eat after a fifteen minute wait for service finally found someone to assist. 5. Cabin was clean but very worn, sloppy caulking, dining table well stained and etched, rust around veranda (picture sent separately). 6. Initially wait staff not responsive but did improve significantly over a couple of days. 7. My comments on the initial survey would have demanded management contact me but the butler was sent to inquire, that was poor form, management should have called me. 8. Late getting to Hawaii, helicopter ride was cancelled and a bus tour substituted (poor substitute), ten minutes from ship engine blew up on the bus, my wife and another couple took a taxi back to ship rather than wait as it turned out 90 minutes for another bus to show up. 9. An island was eliminated from the agenda because of slow transit time even though activities were organized and we stopped at an atoll with no activities planned (just a gas station, store and arts store) when I asked why pick that schedule I was told it was pretty and anyway at the missed island the guides didn’t speak English anyway. 10. We told we had to slow down and miss some activities because of sea conditions, others were told the ship had mechanical issues. The latter seems more believable as sea conditions were just fine. Someone who claimed to know about these things calculated the ship would have had to travel at maximum rated speed to meet the published schedule 11. The activities did not meet the description, seemed to be somewhat ad hoc. 12. All in all quite a number of people seem to have similar feelings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal. After looking at lots of options (and no longer paying college tuition for our youngest!) we decided to take a splurge trip and booked the Regent Mariner. We are 61 and 66 years ... Read More
We have always wanted to cruise through the Panama Canal. After looking at lots of options (and no longer paying college tuition for our youngest!) we decided to take a splurge trip and booked the Regent Mariner. We are 61 and 66 years old and have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Princess. This was our first luxury cruise line. We were told to be prepared to be spoiled. Perhaps we heard that too often and set our sights a bit too high. It was a very nice cruise, but I would not say we were spoiled. (For reference, our last cruise was with Princess, in a Club Class mini-suite. That suite was a bit larger, and we felt the Club Class dining service was equal to, and in some cases, better than our experience on Regent. However, the food on Regent was superior!) I will say we were very spoiled by only 615 guests on the ship! The 2nd day we were wandering around on decks 5 & 6 and saw no one! This was middle of the afternoon! We were in a concierge cabin, so the night before the cruise we were in the Regent hotel- the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills! The hotel was amazing. We enjoyed the breakfast buffet and met some folks that morning that we regularly saw throughout the cruise. It was a great start to the cruise! Buses were very timely- our gathering time was listed as 11:30, the folks giving us the slip said come between 11 and 11:15 - she was right - the bus was leaving the hotel at 11:30! Once we arrived at the port there were quite a few people ahead of us - we waited around 30-45 minutes for our group to be called to check in. There was a nice waiting area with comfortable chairs. (Would have been nice to have coffee / water service.) There is an Illy coffee maker in each room- only problem, we could not figure out how to turn it on! The on/off switch is in back, next to the cord - very difficult to find, a neighbor told us where it was! Our refrigerator was stocked with various sodas and 2 types of beer. There was also a bottle of champagne, on ice, waiting for us when we arrived. A small bowl was kept filled with various fruit. We popped the champagne on "Block Party" night and then another bottle showed up! I had the stewardess remove it as I knew we were not going to drink it. We had 15 minutes of ship to shore time included with our room. I had to ask as to how to use it. (dial 50, wait for the dial tone, then 1, and for US calls the area code and number) I checked our account on the tv the next day and saw that we were billed for the time (I think it is at $7 or so per minutes - and we had gone just over the 15 minutes- so it was a lot!) I asked at Reception, and they had it removed. Since this was an included perk, I felt that it should have been taken care of without me having to ask to have it fixed. Be prepared for hot and VERY humid if you decide to take this itinerary. We had heavy rain in one port, and rain a few other times, mainly at night. The lightening shows at night were fantastic! There were beginner Bridge lessons offered. We have zero experience and went to the classes. We definitely learned a lot and enjoyed the folks we met through the classes. There were just 4 of us for most of the classes! We went to only a couple of the shows. I would highly recommend the Krew Kapers - ours was at 5:30 the 2nd to last night. There was also a magician / comedian that did 2 shows, we enjoyed both! Ports were Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Acajutla (El Salvador), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), Cartagena (Columbia) and then disembark in Miami. We took all Regent excursions, booking 2 extra charge excursions. In Ensenada we took the "Taste of Mexico" excursion. We boarded a bus drove out of the port and around the nearby area, with the guide pointing out different buildings (including the new aquarium that has been under construction for 4 years - she said hopefully it will be open the next time you visit!), we also stopped at the large square where she pointed out different statues and told us a bit about the country's history. We then stopped at an Opal store. The owner talked a bit about Mexican Opals- 10% of Opals are from Mexico. We went through the store and into what is probably normally a bar. Tables were set up with 8 people per table. A chef was there to lead the class. He talked about a number of different chilis, their hotness and what they were used for. Also passed them around for everyone to smell. We then "made" our own guacamole, green chicken enchilada, and beef tostada. All of the ingredients were prepared for us, a little chopping for the guacamole, stirring and assembling was all that was needed. Margaritas were for sale - $4 each (large glass) or unlimited for $20. Sodas were included. After we were finished there, we boarded the bus and they took us to a shopping area where we had 20 minutes to shop. I would recommend this excursion - just a little amount of walking, some history, and tasty food. We were able to list our email addresses, and they sent us the recipes from the day. Next stop was Cabo San Lucas. We took the "Salsa and Salsa" excursion. The location was very close- but the bused us up the hill (very nice in the heat!). We made 6 different salsas, all the while free margaritas were being poured. Also made 1 margarita at our tables. Then had a short Salsa dance lesson. The salsa making went a little long - but the entire excursion was fun, and tasty! In Acapulco we did the "Nature encounter hike and swiim" - first stop was to see the cliff divers - very impressive. Then off to board a glass bottom boat to go over to a nearby island to hike to the top. Nothing to be seen under the boat- we spotted 2 fish. They offer hiking sticks when you get off the boat (our boat was called the Titanic!). The hike is a good one- well deserving of the "3 people" Regent gives it! Pretty steep in parts, a bit slick on some moss and leaves. We were sweating and out of breath in parts. The view from the top of Acapulco Bay is very nice. Break up top, then back down to our boat and then to a hotel for lunch and a swim in their pool. The water was VERY refreshing! El Salvador was the next port. Acajutla was extremely welcoming to us. They are just starting to see cruise ships, and this was Regent's first time in this port. The bus we were put on for our "Buggies and Thermal Waters" excursion (extra charge) was small. Two seats on one side, one seat on the other and a fold down jump seat. The drive was quite long. We went first to the thermal waters- saw them bubbling out of the ground, and then a few more minutes to the location for lunch and a swim. The "pools" were nothing like the pictures Regent was showing on the cabin tvs. These were actual swimming pools right next to where we ate lunch. The water was milky looking. Only a few people went in the water - one pool was very hot, the others were various temperatures. This "resort" I guess you would call it is nothing like any of us expected. They are just starting to build the area up for tourists. It started sprinkling and then raining, then REALLY raining. At that point my husband and I decided that we were going to skip the buggies- we knew that they were on dirt roads, and with that much rain, it was going to be a mess and dangerous. About this time, the guide announced that the buggies were being cancelled for safety reasons. The other bus had gone to the buggies first - they came back drenched. We were glad to get into our small bus and start the 1 1/2 hour ride back to the ship. I would not do this tour again, nor go to this port again. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua had to be cancelled due to high winds and a large swell. This was a tender port and not safe for us to do so. Puntarenas, Costa Rica was our favorite port. We did the "Aerial tram and river cruise" excursion (extra charge). Great excursion! Our guide was very good, giving us lots of information about her country. We went on the river cruise first, seeing lots of crocodiles, many species of birds, and iguanas. Then we were off to the denser rain forest for our tram ride. We were split into groups of 8 plus a guide for the approximately 1 hour tram ride. We did not see much wildlife - but enjoyed the scenic rain forest and all our guide had to say. Lunch was next and then back to the ship. I would definitely recommend this excursion! Finally made it to the Panama Canal! WOW! We wandered all over the ship, front, back, down to deck 5 to watch through the windows as he ship rose up in the canal. Definitely the highlight of the trip! Cartagena, Columbia was the final stop. We did not get off the ship as I had a terrible sore throat. Pretty sure the difference between outside high heat and humidity and the inside a/c had something to do with it. We had brought cough / cold medications with us, they were put to use. At breakfast that morning, I asked the waiter if they might have any lemon / ginger tea - he said they might, but, he would make me some fresh lemon and ginger tea. This was one point where I felt spoiled by Regent! I was very grateful to this gentleman! Dinners - we had reservations in Chartreuse the first night and Prime 7 the second night. We were able to get one more reservation in Chartreuse later in the cruise, at a 4 top, sharing with a couple we had not met. Other dinners were spent in Compass Rose, Pool Grill and Setti Mari. I had scallops a number of times - all cooked perfectly; my favorite was in Chartreuse! The often talked about Carmel corn Sundae in Prime 7 is definitely an interesting looking dessert; I preferred the carmel corn and left most of the ice cream! (I asked the waiter if just the carmel corn could be ordered- he said sure!) Lunch - lots of options - pool grill and La Veranda were our regulars; we ate lunch once in Compass Rose. Breakfast - our go to was Compass Rose. We highly recommend the "Frozen Blueberry and Banana Bowl" - a scoop of frozen pureed blueberries sitting on top of small cubes of various fruit (including bananas) and sliced almonds on top. Also of note, we ordered eggs Benedict twice, even though they were not on the menu. We had room service twice for breakfast on early excursion mornings. There are 1/2 hour delivery windows- they delivered quite close to the start of the window. Another quick option in in the Coffee Connection - cereals, toaster with various breads, fruit, yogurts; easy way to grab something quick. All in all, this cruise was a bit long for our taste - we feel that a port or 2 could have been skipped, decrease the length of the cruise by 2 days (and decrease the price!). It was expensive, about $1,000 per day for both of us. We met some very nice people on this cruise. We also came upon some snobby people that wanted to make sure everyone knew they had 200+ nights on Regent. Overall the crew was a bit too formal for us (always being called "madam" was a bit too much for me). We did have some nice conversations with some of the crew. For some reason, we were invited to dine with ships' officers two different times; once with the General Manager and again with the Head Concierge! Will we travel on Regent again in the future, maybe. Will depend on the itinerary and if we feel it would be best with a smaller ship / less passengers. We definitely liked that part of this cruise a lot! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have cruised for a number of years with different cruise lines but promised ourselves that one day we would try one of the supposed most luxurious cruise ships. After much research and saving we decided to try Regent Seven Seas Explorer ... Read More
We have cruised for a number of years with different cruise lines but promised ourselves that one day we would try one of the supposed most luxurious cruise ships. After much research and saving we decided to try Regent Seven Seas Explorer and booked the Mexican Riviera to Panama Canal cruise.We flew to Los Angeles and were transferred to a 1st class hotel for the first night bit of a shock in the bar 2 beers $48.00. We were informed to be downstairs by 11am for coach transfer to ship but then waited 1 1/2 hours for collection which I considered very poor. On arrival at the port we had another wait of over 1 hour before we could book in, this was the worst book in of any cruise we have ever been on and was starting to wonder whether we had made the right decision to cruise with Regent, later on board we were told this was due to a customs inspection of the ship if we had been told the reason for delay a number of passengers would not have been so angry. We eventually got on board and went to our cabin 1409 which was a D grade Concierge. The cabin was presented immaculately with a wealth of cupboards and hanging space for clothing, the bathroom had a bath and large walk in shower. The balcony was large with very comfortable reclining chairs.Our cabin stewards were excellent even going to the trouble of decorating our cabin on my Birthday with balloons and happy birthday banner, a large cake and champagne was also supplied. We ate in all the restaurants while on board and the standard of food and waiting service was excellent as was the menu and the best of any ship we have ever sailed on. Due to the low number of passengers only 750 only one show at 9.30pm was performed but at no time was it necessary to get into theater early to get a seat, we walked in a 9.25 and could always find a good seat. The production shows were 1st class as was the guest entertainers. Most of the many and varied excursions ashore are included and of a good and interesting nature, a point to note that a few trips have a supplement to pay but check once on board and a very similar trip may have been added which is included but was not shown when booking. The bar staff again were excellent and no matter what drink or cocktail you wanted it was available.It would be nice if a day room at a hotel was included on disembarkation as you have to leave ship at 9am and in our case our flight was not till the evening a hop on hop off trip of Miami was included but was poor and once completed at 1pm waited a further hour for luggage which was stored by the bus company. One day I will hopefully cruise with Regent again as we will always compare other ships to this which will be a very hard act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Two years ago, my wife and I with three other couples enjoyed a GREAT cruise on this ship. Accordingly, another couple and ourselves chose to repeat our positive previous experience with this 16 day cruise. Spoiler Alert- Big big ... Read More
Two years ago, my wife and I with three other couples enjoyed a GREAT cruise on this ship. Accordingly, another couple and ourselves chose to repeat our positive previous experience with this 16 day cruise. Spoiler Alert- Big big MISTAKE! Very little worked on this so called "Luxury Experience" . It is quite obvious that the "bean counters" at Regent have decided to squeeze every single dollar out of every single cruise and then let the customer "suffer" their decisions. The problems began with the so called "Free" Airfare. This is nothing more then a marketing ploy as the cruise fare is increased by $ 300 per couple if you decide to take their "Free" airfare. Regent's response, when questioned, it that if you do not take the "Free" Airfare they will credit $ 150 pp. So much for the "Free" Airfare!. We decided to upgrade our flight to LAX via First Class @ an upcharge of $ 699 pp. When we finally received our flight information we found that Regent had booked 4 Senior Citizens to fly out of Miami on a 6:30AM flight to Chicago! Yes... fly to Chicago in mid-winter! We would have to get up at 3 AM in the morning to try and catch that flight. Really! When we objected, our travel agent finally had Regent offer us a 9:30 flight from Miami to Orlando and then to LAX. Somewhat better but that "new" flight was @ a $350 per couple upcharge! We declined and made our own First Class flight to LAX. Regent included a one night stay at the" Beverly Wilshire" Hotel which was fine. After checking in we were told that Regent had a "Hospitality Suite" available for all information about the next days travel to the ship. The so called "Hospitality Suite" offered NOTHING in the way of either Food or drink! Not even a bottle of water! The Regent "representative" could answer none of our questions except to say that our luggage should be ready to be picked up at 7:30 AM and we should meet in a Hotel Ballroom @ 11:15 AM. The "free" included breakfast was not offered in the Hotel's restaurant but instead was a buffet-style "Holiday-Inn Express" type of breakfast. Shame on "Regent" for that! The buses to the ship did not even arrive until 1:30 in the afternoon! Regent"representative offered little information except to wait. Arriving at the pier involved another l o n g wait. Once on the ship we again had to wait even though our quarters were supposed to be ready at 1:30 PM. No apologies were offered for the delay! We heard through the grapevine that the ship was inspected by the Coast Guard that day and experienced some "difficulties". In addition, many of the crew's contracts had expired and they were leaving and a new crew had come onboard. Many of the "new" crew were in-experienced and it showed. They just did not know what to do. Breakfast in "Compass Rose" took close to a hour and 45 minutes. Two years ago at breakfast, you were immediately served juice and coffee/tea and a server came right offer and offered Muffins/Pastries. Now, we waited and waited and waited. Finally, we were served Coffee/Tea and then waited some more to juice. The server offering pastries/muffins made only a single pass at the table and did not return. Each morning we had to ask our server what the Breakfast "special" was. They either did not know or were instructed not to offer that information. Orders are transcribed via Tablets and mistakes (missing orders) were common. Coffee refills had to be requested. An order of Smoked Salmon and a Bagel resulted in being presented with a single small scoop of cream cheese. You had to request more cream cheese or ask for a triple serving of it when ordering. Head Waiters tried very very hard but were totally overcome3 by problems/issues with the kitchen and the inexperienced staff! Breakfast service at "Compass Rose" was overall a failure! Our quarters were excellent as was our Butler and Steward! Kudo's to them! Dinner at "Compass Rose" matched that of Breakfast except the food quality overall was fair at best. We dined 5 nights at the "Pacific Rim" Restaurant and overall both the food and service was excellent. The steakhouse. "Prime" featured quality food and excellent service also. As to the French "Chartruese"... forgetabout it! Poor food and even worse execution. Service was even worse as demonstrated by our request for Onion Soup. Both "Chartruese" and "Prime" share a kitchen with two separate lines working. Onion Soup is offered at "Prime". Two of use requested Onion soup at "Chartruese" and were told NO!!!. No exceptions..!! Way to go Regent! We never went back to "Chartruese" with their poor food. As to the cutbacks- portion sizes have been cut back... obvious to us was the fact that previously when ice cream was ordered as a desert, you received 3 scoops plus a cigar shaped cookie (a "Pirouette"". Now, only 2 scoops and no cookie! Cost savings are now the norm and not the exception as to both the quality and quantity of the food. An example of the cost cutting is the fact that on one night dinner was ONLY served on the pool deck as a buffet. ALL other Restaurants were closed so either eat at the buffet or order room service. There is little question that this "move" by Regent saves them money overall. At dinner, I like to be served and help myself to a buffet. Overall, the crew is very very nice and helpful. However, here again, Regent drops the ball. One night a notice was placed on our bed that "Painting and Varnishing" of our deck were take place the next day. We returned to our room and noted one crewman was entering our cabin with a paint bucket/varnish materials. We followed him in and noted another crewman working on our deck and they finished shortly afterwards. However, they had left the doors leading to the deck open, so our quarters were both hot and humid as well as smelling from the paint/varnish. I called to complain and was told it would not happen again. Two days later, in the late afternoon, my wife was napping, and I was shaving. Our curtains were open and I then noted a crewman on our deck, varnishing. I chased him away and again complained that our privacy had been compromised. I received an apology again but clearly this is no way to treat a passenger. I do not expect perfection in an imperfect world. However, if I am paying top dollar for a cruise experience, ( over $ 30,000 in this case) , I do expect more then we received from "Regent" on this cruise. In speaking to other repeat "Regent" passengers on this cruise, I found my experiences not to be that unusual. The conclusion reached appeared to that "Regent" has changed... sadly, not for the better... Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had not been on the Crystal for a few years and as it was a round trip return from and to Los Angeles it seemed to be very convenient. For years we have been trying to convince our friends to try the Crystal and were finally able to get them to come with us only to find it was not as good as it used to be. The lunch buffet was so bad that we just gave up after a couple of days. We tried the dining room which turned out to be even worse The specialty restaurants were fabulous. The food, staff and atmosphere were exemplary. The ship did not appear to be as clean as it used to be. Our suite which had been refurbished seemed smaller due to the new configuration but the shower was incredibly worth the extra money.The toiletries were horrible, with artificial scent which I am highly allergic to. Entertainment was excellent. However, the casino rules were disgusting and no wonder it was always empty. Lastly - to have 6 ports on a 7 day cruise on the West Coast was a total loss. Aside from San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas (which was not on the itinerary) are the only 2 safe and exciting places to stop at. Most passengers complained they did not enjoy the quiet ocean experience when the ship is at sea. Crystal needs to recognize that plus the savings on Port Charges could benefit the pricing for passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, ... Read More
Having sailed on Crystal before, I was looking forward to this Coastal cruise. While I was hesitant because the weather in January is iffy, I decided to book it anyway. This was the first mistake as out of 12 cruises I've sailed on, the weather was the worst on this voyage. Crystal was not at fault for the lousy weather. Luckily, the service and food on board were excellent as were all the personnel on board. Everyone had a "can do" attitude and could seem to do enough to please. So why the poor review? My wife and I caught the NOROVIRUS! Although I had it worse than my wife. How could two healthy individuals board a SHIP and become violently ill just 3 days in. We specifically chose Crystal due to its service that we have experienced firsthand (what I thought was 5 star all the way) and for the smaller passenger count (only 900 passengers). After feeling better on the last 2 days, I spoke to at least 20 different people who were sick or knew of others who got sick on this 7 day voyage. Couple this with a full Medical waiting room and nurses buzzing about patients who were in quarantine and it was not hard to see that we were on our way to an epidemic onboard. A quick search on the internet and we got to the CDC website (I had plenty of time in my stateroom as I was quarantined for 1 day and chose to stay in for feeling too ill to move about the day prior). We typed in norovirus on cruise ships and there was the history. I was shocked at how many cruises were listed in increasing numbers since 2000. I was also shocked to see that Crystal Cruises joined the ranks a few years ago. Sadly, most cruise lines are on this list, BUT THERE ARE A FEW THAT ARE NOT. It should be noted that so far, this cruise did not make the CDC list as a certain percentage must report being ill before the cruise line has to report it to the CDC. Nevertheless, at least 25 - 30 people (maybe more) had it and that was just who I was able to confirm! When we shared our dismay of this cruise with Crystal (most likely due to lax standards this ship had on cleaning surfaces, public restrooms, not to mention elevators and buffets), Crystal only offered us a $1000 voucher for a future cruise we would have to take in the next year. I don't know that I will ever sail again let alone in the next year! We asked them to not give us an expiration date on this voucher and they declined. We can see how seriously they are taking this growing problem. We did appreciate the fine dining and service but this event left such a sour taste in our mouth (literally) that unless there is a preventative medicine for norovirus, I doubt I will ever step foot on a cruise again, on any cruise line. It is hard to comment on the entertainment and activities or many of the ports as I only went to one show and one event the entire cruise. I didn't leave the ship in Ensenada, San Diego or Catalina. (Not by choice). Beyond my sickness issues, The Crystal Serenity was a disappointment, as was the recent renovation of the ship. The ship has no special rooms on board, they all look and feel the same. Low ceilings and no sense of grandeur. The renovation was like putting lipstick on a pig. They need to retire these vessels and design something entirely new and special. As for me going on a 13th cruise, I will wait until there is preventative medicine for getting any sort of stomach virus on board a cruise ship. Until then, land based vacations. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. ... Read More
First time on Crystal and not impressed. Lots of little things disappointed us and we did not feel it was worth the money or lived up to the hype. Food was average and we have had lots of better meals in our hometown restaurants. Excursions were overpriced and terrible! Staff was nice but struggled serving a full ship. We often had to flag down our wine steward for refills. Long time Crystal cruisers commented that things have gone down hill with the new ownership. They needed a dedicated children’s section in the main dining room so other diners were not impacted by children crying, whining, etc. Lots of little things disappointed us given we are long time cruisers. They ran out of food items like tea bags to make decent ice tea. Hallway carpets are worn out and need repalcing. They say the cabins have 110 and 200 outlets but there was only one 110 outlet and it was by the vanity. If you wanted to plug in something by the bed nightstands you need to bring plug adapters. Save your money and go on other high-end cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This ship is in need of overall remodeling, there are so many maintenance problems, toilet not working, ceiling drip water,smells in the walkways, toilet backflow,,, And the food quality is poor, I think they use leftovers for buffet ... Read More
This ship is in need of overall remodeling, there are so many maintenance problems, toilet not working, ceiling drip water,smells in the walkways, toilet backflow,,, And the food quality is poor, I think they use leftovers for buffet dishes, the meat dishes are all very dry, the fishes are ok except after on buffet line for too long they are sometimes salty. They put raw fish at room temperature instead of covering them and keep them cooling, is somewhat strange to me. The services also terrible, most of the staff have bad manner. And DON'T choose "ANYTIME DINNING " we never could get a table for 2 before 9:00pm, they force us to share table, which we hate. I told customer service manager this he referred me to restaurant manager, but the restaurant manager told me there is nothing he could do. This kind of customer service is a shame for princess cruise lines. How could they rate themself 4.5 stars is beyond me, I would rate them 1 star Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This is cruise 18 with Oceania on all ships but Serena. I am not sure if i have been unlucky but the service level was less than “normal”. For example at the Sunday brunch my wife and i finished before any staff member asked us if we ... Read More
This is cruise 18 with Oceania on all ships but Serena. I am not sure if i have been unlucky but the service level was less than “normal”. For example at the Sunday brunch my wife and i finished before any staff member asked us if we wanted water, juice or anything else except cocktails. At dinner in the dining room the opposite, cant find a drink waiter and have to ask. It seems there is a staff shortage. The other annoying thing is the berths, there was a German ship “AIDA’ shadowing us and in every common port it had the in town berth when one was available and we got the container terminal. This happened even when the advertised Oceania berth was in town. Is all this Norwegian cost cutting a little at a time? I also note that the level benefits are being downgraded next year. In a way that is good news for me because the loyalty program did have me captive to an extent so I now feel less trapped. About to try Viking for the first time and maybe not the last. Have already tried Ponant and although it is a very different product being “expedition” yachts of 200 pax it has overcome finding new places to cruise given i have exhausted the Oceania network. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Having tried Seabourn's Odyssey last December in the Caribbean, we were blown away by how fabulous it was. We like sea days, and decided to try the Sojourn's 18 day LA-Hawaii-Tahiti cruise. We had some trepidation, because we ... Read More
Having tried Seabourn's Odyssey last December in the Caribbean, we were blown away by how fabulous it was. We like sea days, and decided to try the Sojourn's 18 day LA-Hawaii-Tahiti cruise. We had some trepidation, because we thought our wonderful experience the first time around might have been a one-off. No worries. This was even better. This talented crew knocks themselves out for you. They want nothing more than to please you. Food, service, attention to detail, you name it. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give them a 22. It's difficult to believe a trip could be this good. Officers and cruise staff that remember your name from the very first day; interesting lectures (retired chief engineer of the space shuttle, as an example); Food and Beverage officers and staff that can't do enough for you; and the list goes on. You can't walk 10 feet without someone offering you champagne or a drink. Truly delicious food, the best we've ever had at sea, and with only 450 passengers we thought it rivaled fine restaurants ashore. We can't imagine ever taking another cruise line, and we're already booked on the Odyssey's Caribbean/transatlantic in March/April 2019. Kudos and high fives all around to Seabourn and the staff onboard the Sojourn Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The service on the cruise was outstanding. My waiter Ciprian or chip was amazing always made sure we had everything we needed. Everyone on the cruise was very welcoming handbags helpfu. Getting on and off the ship went very smoothly. There ... Read More
The service on the cruise was outstanding. My waiter Ciprian or chip was amazing always made sure we had everything we needed. Everyone on the cruise was very welcoming handbags helpfu. Getting on and off the ship went very smoothly. There was 8 of us that cruises on the splendor, they always made sure to give us all the space we needed. The cruise gave us options once you got off the ship such as excursions and restaurants to go eat at or see. Entertainment on the ship was amazing. The shows on the ship they would do we’re so much fun and you could even talk to the cast afterwards. They were so sweet and fun to be around. The comedy shows we’re hilarious and they had family shows too so everyone can watch them. Certain nights they would hold deck parties and play music and just dance all night. On other nights they would hold movies out on the deck where everyone could lay out and watch them it was awesome. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was our fourth cruise on Oceania, and second on the Insignia. Check-in in Los Angeles was a breeze, and I had no trouble bringing on board 6 bottles of good quality wine, for which I payed the high corkage fee of $25 per bottle; yet ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on Oceania, and second on the Insignia. Check-in in Los Angeles was a breeze, and I had no trouble bringing on board 6 bottles of good quality wine, for which I payed the high corkage fee of $25 per bottle; yet I would do this again considering the very high prices they charge for wine. Food in all the restaurants and buffet was outstanding, and service was excellent, except for my cabin attendant who had to be reminded to do things. I really like the size of the old 'R ships', but the cabins, although in good repair, are way too small. While the ship had no dance or zumba lessons, the five piece band was outstanding, and there were usually five or six couples dancing each evening. Another high point was the wonderful bridge lessons taught by Harold; a very gifted teacher, and there was almost bridge play at several levels each afternoon. The internet was far-faster than any other ship we were on. There were never any lines for the restaurants or the tendering. There were some negatives besides the tiny concierge cabin. This was the last stage of the around the world cruise; avoid booking any segment of an around-the world- cruise; you'll be a second class citizen. Some of the staff seemed 'burned out' and exhausted. While the Panama Canal is excellent, the other ports are quite bad. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I have taken 2 other Regent cruises they were perfect Regent has to take a serious look at their WiFi offered for free. Most times it was either so slow or not available definitely not a good experience The crew excellent the food ... Read More
I have taken 2 other Regent cruises they were perfect Regent has to take a serious look at their WiFi offered for free. Most times it was either so slow or not available definitely not a good experience The crew excellent the food especially the new Compass Rose menu was perfect The complimentary laundry was another disappointment why not extend the hours? The big negative was our disembarking in New York The process was smooth until you left the terminal # 88 not a Regent representative in sight Carnival reps directed us to our bus area Then the fun began I was group grey 3 The buses for grey 1 & 2 were there (for 40 minuets) finally our bus to JFK arrived loaded and left my flight was departing at 1: 00 pm the driver enters the airport at 11:35 am dros off some at Delta then drives out of the airport and come back in. He stopped the bus at a traffic signal leaves to get directions! 4 of us got out opened the luggage compartment retrieved our 8 bags and walked to our terminal we got there at 12:16 I think Regent should look at Academy Bus Co and maybe don’t use a low bidder shameful for my wife and I to unload our bags and run to the terminal I did write a note to Regent with no response I guess now that Norwegian owns them it will go down hill from here! The 4 of us will look at Crystal or Seaborne next trip Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how ... Read More
We returned to Crystal Symphony to see all of the changes that have been made as part of its dry dock in late 2017. REVIEW FROM OUR MAY 18, 2018 SAILING =================================== After many cruises on Crystal Cruises how can cruising on-board a ship that is 23 years old exceed one’s expectations? Well, it happened to us on board Crystal Symphony for the 16-day cruise starting May 18, 2018. This was due to a several factors. It involved the evolution of Crystal Symphony including new dining venues, open dining, enhanced public areas, and the new Seabreeze Suites. Other reasons included enhanced entertainment, a wonderful itinerary, a terrific private Crystal Cruises exclusive tour, and the amazing team on board Crystal Symphony. Good weather just added to all of this. This review covers our recent sixteen-day Crystal Symphony. The vast majority of our cruises have been on Crystal Serenity. Our last Crystal Symphony cruise was in August 2011. Some people prefer one ship to the other. We added this cruise after deciding the timing of an August Symphony sailing originally booked would not work for us. After reading reports from fellow Cruise Critic members we wanted to see the changes made to Symphony. We purposely booked one of the new Seabreeze suites to experience the suite first hand. Things we enjoyed the most included: THE CREW: They are amazing. We met some crew for the first time and quickly felt as though we had sailed with them many times. We remembered several from prior sailings on Symphony. At the same time there were several officers, senior staff and other crew members who we know either because they used to be assigned to Serenity and are now assigned to Symphony or they swing between the ships on alternate contracts or they will work consecutive contracts on one ship and swing to the other to work multiple contracts. There are lots of positives to those who swing as they can bring best practices from one ship to the other and also help to provide one consistent product across multiple ships. Some crew came over to Symphony not only from Serenity but also from Esprit and/or the River Cruises while some have gone from Ocean Vessels over to these vessels. The crew clearly worked as one cohesive team and was positive, guest focused, and provided a very high level of professionalism at all levels. Unlike some lines we have sailed where the service is good but can be very stiff and almost robot like, the crew on Symphony is warm and attentive making one feel like they are part of the Crystal Family. We felt so welcomed on the ship and I can’t say enough about the crew at all levels. They are truly amazing. THE SHIP: If you didn’t know the age of Crystal Symphony, you might think it is much younger in age than it is. The public rooms are beautiful. We like the changes that were made in the most recent dry dock and do not believe that the photos show the beauty of some of these changes. Because it is somewhat smaller (one less deck) we find it easier to get from place to place on the Symphony. There are also some rooms in particular that we like and that includes Avenue Saloon, Crystal Cove and Plaza, Starlite and Palm Court. CUISINE AND NEW DINING VENUES: We loved the change to open dining and believe the transformation has been a huge success. We appreciate five dining venue choices for evening dinner. Waterside reflects the change in terms of the taste of the cuisine and the service and is less noisy than in the past. We found the food to be moist and to arrive to the table hot. For those wanting to sit with others there more large tables will be arriving soon but in the meantime they are being creative to accommodate requests for larger tables. Those little touches are still there even though the Crystal Dining Room has transitioned to Waterside. This includes being escorted to the table, being seated by someone and the senior waiter serving you rolls/bread from a bread basket. The one change is that Head Waiters no longer prepare desserts or other items as they had to remove their stations to create more space for tables. This transition began a couple of years ago so that Head Waiters devoted more time to assisting guests and I have to say another benefit is not having smells from the cooking of desserts at tables near the former Head Waiter stations. One can still order special meals and they will be prepared in the galley. Market-Place - With each passing year we see improved service at this venue formally named Lido Café for lunch (breakfast would be the same). In our early years sailing Crystal the Lido Deck Stewards would do so much at what was the Lido Café along with those from the Specialty Restaurants. Wait staff from the dining room would mostly be standing around. Since changes were made and Lido Deck Stewards no longer cover the buffet area at lunchtime those from the dining room (now Waterside) provide wonderful service at lunch and at breakfast. They assist with beverages. They clear tables. They offer to carry your plate. They even assist getting other items. In short, they are very visible and provide great service. As in the past, many of the hot entrée items change each day and include some themed buffets. Prego – We enjoyed our visit to Prego. Menu has remained constant and we enjoyed cuisine, service and the ambience of this dining venue. Umi Uma – While the name has changed the cuisine has not and is as delicious as ever. There are some additions to the menu replacing some items. We tried some new additions such as lobster tacos and one of the new salads. All in all this venue continues to be an excellent experience. Head Waiter Jed really is on top of things from seating guests, to visiting and assisting waiters clearing tables. Silk – From what we have read, this venue is achieving mixed reviews but that has been our experience with most new restaurants at sea. We rarely eat this type of cuisine on land although years ago we did. We found the food to be tasty and we appreciated the selection. I realize that others do not care for the food but I am just sharing our opinion. I believe this might be a work in progress. Feedback from the guests was that the original menu was too limited and they wanted more choice. This was addressed with many new items added to the menu. Whether longer terms this stays as an Asian restaurant or changes is anyone’s guess. We found two areas of the venue that can be enhanced which is noted later on in this review under the section opportunities for improvement. Churrascaria - This is one of the two new dining venues offering a buffet in the evening for some items with table side service for other items. There is a cold buffet featuring various antipastas/tapas/salads, a warm buffet of sides and a final buffet of dessert/fruit. Guests go up to the buffet to select their items. Sides are served at the buffet by members of the dining team. Some of these sides are also served at the table. Waiters come to the tables to serve various entrees and the selection includes Steak, Beef Short Ribs, Chicken, Lamb Chops, Pork, Shrimp and sliced Pineapple. We enjoyed the experience and found the food tasty. For those who want a light meal one could eat mainly the salad and vegetables and limit their consumption of the entrée like items. The service was wonderful and the look of this venue in the evening has a different feel than having breakfast or lunch there in the daytime. It truly has the feel of a restaurant. The Head Waiter was terrific not only in greeting each guest and having a waiter escort them to their table but also in making rounds to each table to check up on each guest. Vintage Room – The Vintage Room can be reserved to attend with others who sign up for the experience or as we did as an Exclusive Vintage Room where there is flat fee regardless of the number of people attending up to the maximum capacity of the dining table. We hosted on exclusive Vintage Room. The overall cuisine was the best compared to our other visits to this room on either Symphony or Serenity. The cuisine was tasty and arrived hot to the table with each item arriving with a creative presentation. We enjoyed some memorable wines. Congratulations to the Food & Beverage team on-board Symphony and on land. A special call-out to Restaurant Manager Slavko has truly been one of the people instrumental in the orderly rollout of open dining. We thought that the overall food quality was outstanding on this cruise. Due to the length of this cruise and the number of sea days one day a Grand Gala Lunch Buffet was offered. The use of hand held devices to take orders seems to be going very well. Waiters are adept at using them even when guests request changes to the meal. Like all technology some will be more adept than others using these devices. BAR STAFF: We have always enjoyed the bar staff. When Crystal went inclusive a few years ago some wondered would they be happy? How would they know your name? The staff does look happy and includes new and seasoned people and the majority learn your name as they have done in the past. ENRICHMENT: Sailing Crystal Cruises with lots of sea days such as this voyage shows off one of the Crystal differences, which is their ability to offer 50+ activities during the day and afternoon hours. The biggest challenge is what do to each day. This cruise offered some activities that you might not see on port intensive cruises as well as those you do. There is one area that I believe needs some adjustment that I will discuss later. FITNESS: Kudos to the Fitness Instructors as these two on board were terrific. They both seemed very knowledgeable and had a great rapport with the guests. The Fitness Center is well maintained and makes good use of the space they have to work with. For those who like Yoga this cruise featured a dedicated Yoga instructor. While Symphony has one Paddle Tennis court compared to the two that Serenity has I had a wonderful time playing and on this cruise there was very little down time of not playing. ENTERTAINMENT: This is another area that has evolved the past few years under the direction of Keith Cox, VP of Crystal Entertainment/Enrichment. Keith has been with Crystal Cruises for two years. The entertainment reflects diversity and the number of options has been increased and adjustments have been made to coincide with open dining. There were new performers including a couple of performers new to Crystal Cruises along with seasoned entertainers. Most nights had two different main performances with each one shown two times. The team of Crystal dancers/singers and the band were wonderful as is Cruise Director Paul McFarland. We also loved the new production show that was rolled out on this cruise. Adding a new show is no easy task. Aside from all of the work that goes into its development, the on-board team must learn it in addition to practicing and performing the regular shows. There are other choices including listening to live music at night in different lounges and a nice choice of movies shown in the cinema. Another continued change is having different performers in the Crystal Cove in addition to a pianist. INTERNET/NEW TELEVISIONS: We were fortunate to have a good Internet experience but we do know that performance can vary cruise by cruise. On the most part the internet was up and the speeds were good to excellent. We had a couple of days when speeds were low such as at one or two ports in Hawaii. Fortunately I could use my AT&T service and utilize on my computer using the connection to it from my iPhone. The new televisions are great. The quality is terrific and the remote controls are easy to use. It is nice that 60 movies are offered on-demand. There are some items on the TV not available yet. I made more use of Press Reader on this cruise than in the past such as looking at the restaurant menus and posting them on the blog. We made good use of the internet to complete Wi-Fi calls to one another on the ship and to be able to communicate back home. Press Reader worked well to pull up daily menus and reflections. The ability to see our ship board account was not available. Hopefully, this will be available in the future but in the meantime we went by the reception desk to get a copy of our shipboard account from time-to-time. NEW SEABREEZE SUITES; We tried out the new Penthouse Suite (PS) and loved it. On the first day it seemed boxy and there appeared to be limited storage space. Within a couple of days we figured out how to optimize the storage and even discovered areas such as the front closet. Loved the more solid divider between bedroom and living area as we could have all lights on in the living area and you would not see light in the bedroom. Loved the bathroom with the separate toilet area and a small sink and the rain shower is wonderful. It has three options for the rain shower and also a separate hand-held device. The shower drain is much improved and water goes down the drain quickly and does not sit in one area if there is a lot of ship movement. Having a washer/dryer combination was amazing and other guests had the same opinion. In addition to the benefit to the guests in these rooms, it takes away some demand from the guest laundry on Deck 9. It was so nice to be able to do the wash at various times of the day and not have to worry that if we were not around when the wash ended that someone would remove it from the washer. This is a unique feature and I hope it continues to be added to future ships and in future dry docks. The lighting in the room is very good. It took a couple of days to get used to all of it and which buttons to push but once we did we were very pleased with it. The pullout draws in the bathroom were also nice as was the additional shelving above the washer/dryer combo. The front closet provided additional space and a good area to hang jackets. Another very nice feature is the pullout refrigerator. One does not have to squat to remove items, and it holds many more items and has some nice features for open bottles of wine. The configuration of the room is nice should someone have a third person in the room. Also wanted to give a shout-out to the wonderful team that took good care of us including the stewardess and her assistant and the butler. All fabulous. SHORE EXCURSIONS AND LAND PROGRAMS: We booked a private excursion with Los Angeles and it was amazing. It was one of the best tours we have taken. RECEPTION/CONCIERGE/CRUISE SALES CONSULTANT/CRYSTAL SOCIETY HOSTESS: We found each person very helpful. We didn't know the reception and concierge personnel prior to the cruise and within a few days most already learned my name and we found them to be knowledgeable and helpful. The Cruise Sales Consultant turned around our on board booking requests in less than 24 hours. By the end of the day we had the cruises confirmed and our rooms assigned. In two of the three cases I just filled out the form myself and turned it into the front desk. This was the first time I had done it this way and on the morning of the last day of the cruise I turned in an on board booking request and that was also a first. Crystal Society Hostess was helpful and very pleasant. MEET & MINGLE PARTY: I realize that some wondered why the Meet & Mingle Party was not held earlier in the cruise. The reason for this is that with some people registered for the party but not boarding until Hawaii the Bar Manager waited until after the boarded to hold the party and I think that was a nice approach by the Bar Manager. While we didn’t make it to the first portion of the party we did get there around the mid-point and we were happy that several people were still there when we arrived. SOME AREAS TO ENHANCE: In any business there are areas to improve and that is no different here. The good news is this represents a few areas. THE LECTURERS: A great group of lecturers were on-board. The topics were diverse. This voyage had a combination of lectures whom we have sailed with before and lecturers we saw for the first time. For those lecturers who lecture frequently for Crystal Cruises, I think it is important that they create new lectures and not give the same ones year after year. I have seen some lecturers over the years that figured this out. They create new areas to talk about and even if they repeat a topic, they update it to make it more current. I have been on some cruises where with changing news that someone speaking about world events creates a new lecture on board the ship. On this cruise a few of the lecturers presented the same material that they have presented for years. They are good at what they do but I do think they need to change this up. I noted this in the quality assurance survey. NEW SILK RESTAURANT: If it is possible to optimize the spacing between the two person tables closest to the windows, I believe that would enhance the overall dining experience. I believe the potential is there for this. I would also give diners a choice as to whether they want to be at or near the windows where many were seated or would they prefer a quieter location even if it is not near a window. Most tables near the window were filled as the dinner progressed with almost no one sitting in the middle. Had we known this we would have taken a middle or more remote table. ON –DEMAND MOVIES: We appreciate the on-demand movies and the ease of watching them. While a choice of sixty movies is nice, I could see over long cruises such as a World Cruise or back-to-back cruises that some guests would be appreciative of additional choice. If it is possible to expand the number of movies available and also change them from time to time, I believe this would add to the enjoyment of the movies by fellow guests. FINAL THOUGHTS: The Crystal product has evolved since our first sailing in 2002. Like other cruise lines there have been some changes “cutbacks” and some changes that did not please some. At the same time we have seen many product changes we view as enhancements that were implemented to match what other luxury cruise lines were offering and/or to exceed and differentiate from what others offer. I remember the day when you paid for bottled water and sodas, which I believe changed on our second Crystal Cruises voyage. Over the course of the past few years we have witnessed several additional changes which we appreciate including: Inclusive wine and spirits, which I believe, makes the ship more social with lounges busier in the evening hours and more people coming out for the evening entertainment. Inclusive gratuities for waiters, senior waiters, stewardesses and butlers. Additional dining venues providing lots of choice and the implementation of open dining to Symphony and to Serenity in the upcoming dry-dock. Enhanced waiter service at Waterside (Lido Café on Serenity) which I discussed in the review. Lots more choices for evening entertainment including on several evenings two performances each of two different shows. Some new production shows and some reflecting solo artists and also shortening the length of shows. Enhancements to each Vessel. Symphony has undergone that greatest transformation to the public space. Complimentary internet , interactive TV, on line menus/reflections, etc. Reduced guest count capacity. While a major goal was to accommodate the rollout of open dining, this enhances space to guest ratio and crew to guest ratio on sold out voyages. At the same time Crystal has maintained its core values/strengths, which differentiate itself from some or all of its competitors depending on the item. Areas that come to mind include: Quantity and diversity of enrichment and entertainment. The retention of personnel. A high level of luxury service by the crew while making guests feel welcome and part of the Crystal Family. I believe that applies to new members of the crew who are welcomed by other crewmembers and who quickly learn the importance of making the guests feel like individuals and not just a number. In the end no two cruises are the same and no two experiences are precisely the same. For us this has been an amazing cruise and we look forward to our next one. We had such a wonderful time that we added some cruises while on board with the Cruise Sales Consultant. As I say often the only opinion that matters is our very own and this one reflects the opinion of myself and my wife. I also believe in the end each person should figure out which cruise line(s) work best for them. Keith Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very ... Read More
This is our 10th Crystal cruise so we obviously like the line. Service is very good, but little things have been taken away, from chocolates on the pillow at night to overcrowded tenders. The food is good but boring--it used to be very good and creative, Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant, and Umi Uma, the Japanese specialty restaurant, are excellent. The bar/bartenders are excellent, One night at Waterside, the main dining room, we spent almost an hour waiting for our food--and they were not busy, Waterside used to offer a steak option every night, now offerred less often and tasteless,The new Brazilian steakhouse provides mostly pork and the beef offerings are tasteless. The Marketplace, the buffet during the day, is open till 1:30 for lunch, but excursions often last longer and there is not a g option those days. The buffet is good, but changes little. Cabins are old and only have one USB port and one electric outlet although there are ones hidden behind the bed. For most of the day the hot water supply is insufficient, Luxury should not include a cold shower, The entertainment has improved but the lectures are now just OK, used to be great. Also there were nights with hardly any entertainment. Crystal now has a magician on board, ours was excellent. Crystal installed new technology to support free wifi for everyone. BUT the old system worked far better, we often could not connect to the internet and we could not make phone calls in airplane mode--prior trip with prior technology it all worked fine. The shore excursions remain VERY expensive and sub-par. The exercise room is average but no one wipes down the equipment if the guest fails to do so. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Alumni group, canal transit, fairly good destinations. However, we purposefully left behind our personal computers and electrical outlet adaptors because the ADVERTISEMENT said 120 outlets and a personal computer would be provided, along ... Read More
Alumni group, canal transit, fairly good destinations. However, we purposefully left behind our personal computers and electrical outlet adaptors because the ADVERTISEMENT said 120 outlets and a personal computer would be provided, along with FREE internet. The actuality of the situation was that this boat was built in ITALY, and half the outlets were the standard Italian recessed oval double plug outlets!! The "free" internet service was the ABSOLUTE WORST I've ever had on a cruise, but, of course, there was an 'upgrade' provided for a cost, of course, of course, of course!! The 'provided' laptop was an old one with the speed of a 2088 operating system, and even the internet guy on board said he never advises anyone to use the provided computers!!! Although the suite was very nice, It was small compared to others I've had at the same level of service and price. Most of the staff were friendly, but some were very rude, especially those at the Waves grill taking orders!!! An occasional guest was rude, and when I reported one or two, I got nowhere with the staff. Most of the staff spoke good English, but there was the occasional staff who could basically understand nothing I asked. Overall, an OK cruise, but overstated or frankly false claims about the quality of service provided!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Ports of call were good - not excellent! Why stop at locations that have nothing to offer? An example woud be Hilo, Hawaii. The destination personnel were not well trained. Priority guests were not treated like priorities! In most ... Read More
Ports of call were good - not excellent! Why stop at locations that have nothing to offer? An example woud be Hilo, Hawaii. The destination personnel were not well trained. Priority guests were not treated like priorities! In most situations - waitlist was an imaginary item. Basically I would say the ship personnel were very friendly and dedicated employees. Upper management needs to wake-up! Many people felt that this cruise was not up to par for RSSC. We suggested in our cruise comments that the 9:30 timing for entertainment shows was too late. Most passengers taking cruises over 30 days tend to be older because we are mostly retired and can spend that amount of time and money. Jamie did add several 5:30 shows which were excellent. The entertainment was not nearly as good as previous cruises. I would also have to add that the "country club casual" has really gone down hill. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was one of many wonderful cruises on Silversea but by far the longest at 73 days. This was part of this years World Cruise. I have high praise and a 10 for everything. Getting on and off the ship was very smooth. The ship needs ... Read More
This was one of many wonderful cruises on Silversea but by far the longest at 73 days. This was part of this years World Cruise. I have high praise and a 10 for everything. Getting on and off the ship was very smooth. The ship needs new carpets and some improvements here and there but nothing major. Dining was easy. Reservations were easy to get and we were always acomodated. The poolside luncheon menu is good but for such a long stay could use some new items , perhaps a weekly special sandwich - minor point. Entertainment and activities could fill up your entire day if that is what you wanted. On board bridge teachers as well as "arts and crafts" and language classes abound. The pool deck was superb with service like no other for those that enjoy the outside on sea days. Jogging deck was always ready even after some heavy downpours. The gym is small but it is built in and I don't know how that could be improved. On board personal trainer was one of the best I have experienced in over 500 days on SS. Ports were extensive ranging from the relative tranquility of Hawaii and the Society Islands to the kaleidoscopic experiences in Indonesia and Malaysia. The beauty of the Philippine Islands took me by surprise. There was a wonderful tour there which took me snorkeling and swimming. A treat for the senses. I would do this again in a heart beat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Ship & crew were far & above expectations. Food was excellent @ beginning of cruise but average by the end, was to bland for my taste. Excursions were excellent, some countries guides were below average. The ports were good, some ... Read More
Ship & crew were far & above expectations. Food was excellent @ beginning of cruise but average by the end, was to bland for my taste. Excursions were excellent, some countries guides were below average. The ports were good, some could have been skipped & more time spent @ other ports. No sports excursions such as golf, sporting events ( would have loved to go to cricket or rugby matches. No deep sea fishing. Viking could have gotten well over 30 people for these activities. The medical staff was excellent. Our room was great. Housekeeping was excellent WiFi was always an issue. Entertainment was good, lecturers were hit and miss, seemed to be overrun by UK lectures. If I’m in the Far East would liked to have had Far East lecturers not British etc. Also UK entertainment was to much, especially comedians., with most of the passengers US Or Canadian don’t get British humor But everything put together was well above my expectations. Especially being Vikings first round the world cruise & going to many ports they have never been too Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This cruise was for 121 days and was Absolutely fantastic. Viking pulled out all the stops for this round the world. They added many extras like 24 hour room service, free laundry, and premium drink package. Everything was top notch. There ... Read More
This cruise was for 121 days and was Absolutely fantastic. Viking pulled out all the stops for this round the world. They added many extras like 24 hour room service, free laundry, and premium drink package. Everything was top notch. There was over 50 stops and each one was unique and interesting. The excursions were well planned and exceeded my expectations. Customer service was incredible. Every detail was thought about and taken care of. Although we visited many different countries all the customs procecedures were well taken of, eliminating any custom issues. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and professional and the tour buses very modern with airconditioning. The crew was superb and the Captain, cruise director, and general manager were spectactular. Even though we had over 900 passengers, the managers personally knew me and my background. The crew worked very well as a team with showed that management was very effective. The food, entertainment, and cultural presentations were first class. I cannot say enough on how good this cruise was! I would highly recommend Viking to all my friends. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018

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