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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
If you are looking to be pampered, the Crystal yacht Esprit should fill the bill. With 62 passengers and 85 crew, never went wanting or never stood in any lines. Because of the perception of damage from Hurricane Irma, we only had 32 ... Read More
If you are looking to be pampered, the Crystal yacht Esprit should fill the bill. With 62 passengers and 85 crew, never went wanting or never stood in any lines. Because of the perception of damage from Hurricane Irma, we only had 32 passengers which made it even nicer. Only island that we observed any damage was St Marten but with big cruise ships visiting, this is not why we chose this cruise anyway. We landed in St Marten where the airport was severely impacted but did not deter the efficiency of clearing immigration. Crystal reps were there to assist you to the head of the line, gather the bags, and promptly move to the nice van to go to Marigot Bay and the ship. Embarkation was quick with no waiting whatsoever and first class service and escort to your cabin. The ship was immaculate and though not brand new, nothing was missing. Crew constantly cleans and keeps the vessel in tip top shape. Food was amazing with gourmet servings and amazing presentations. Despite this, you never left hungry and waiters were more than happy to substitute, add, make appetizer size portions, just about anything. I found the Dover Sole the best I had ever had anywhere and my request for a repeat on another night was eagerly complied with. Though we were not assigned a table and could eat anytime between 7 and 9PM in the evening, we always sought out Patricia from Portugal who was incredibly cheery, helpful, and made excellent recommendations each night. Breakfasts were in the cafe and one could order just about anything with omelets, fruits, bacon, sausage, pastries, and everything always available. Lunches were in the same place but we often ate outside at the grill where they offered calamari, cheeseburgers, regular and sweet potato fries, and tasty salmon sandwiches. Each evening before dinner, Kate whipped up the best cocktails and everyone knows your name and drink preference and the waiters and waitresses were wonderful Unfortunately I can't remember the name of one exceptional bar waiter but he looked just like Rory McElroy so thats what I called him. :-) He always made sure I had whatever I wished whether on the outside deck or in the bar. Louisa and Karen ran the excursions and most were wonderful. One feature that I found exceptional was the fact that one of them accompanied the tour making sure it went as advertised and handling any glitches that might arise. With the exception of St Marten, we did not see any big cruise ships which made it WONDERFUL. We enjoyed Zip lining on St Kitts which, due to the harness, was easy to use and required almost no physical strength or braking skills. The botanical tour and estate tour in Nevis was interesting and enjoyable. Snorkeling at Pinney's beach was only so-so but using a special section of the Four Season's Resort beach including 2 free drinks was nice. The Lagoon and Mangrove mini boat trip was just okay. I think this was a first for Crystal and I suppose they might make changes. A long boat ride on a small outboard powered boat (drive it yourself) to the mangrove forest was less than amazing and the snorkeling also very disappointing. On the way to the boats, our guide was very nice but her French accent was very difficult to understand. One of the best excursions was the visit to Montserrat and the volcano and the former capital city of Plymouth which was buried and destroyed by the 1997 lava flow. We were able to go into the exclusion zone and walk among the ruins. Falmouth Harbor in Antigua was very enjoyable with a short hike to Nelson's Dockyard and the fort which guarded it. Saw some beautiful yachts and toured it again aboard the Crystal 32 foot $300,000 speedboat. New Years Eve and Day were spent in Gustavia, St Barts. If you like seeing the super yachts of the rich and famous, this port is for you. The Russian oligarch owned Eclipse was in port and you too could have one for a reported $1.5 billion. Went to Shell Beach and enjoyed some snorkeling though the coral was sparse and not too much sea life either. We were warned to watch for Tiger Sharks but saw nothing. If you like expensive shops and a wild time, try this port, especially over New Years Eve. The ship went above and beyond with a lovely buffet, champagne, and a DJ for dancing while enjoying the harbor fireworks. It was fun at midnight when the yachts in port seemed to have a contest as to who had the loudest fog horn. Last stop was among the best where the ship visited Moskito Island, owned by Richard Branson. We had a private beach, spectacular barbecue, open bar, beautiful beaches and water sports, and a super relaxing time. Final stop was back to Marigot Bay for debarkation and because our plane was a 5:30 PM departure, they offered an ATV ride through the city where we were able to see first hand the damage to this beautiful city by Irma. They are making progress in returning to normal but they have a long way to go. We had hoped to hit beaches and mountain paths on the ATV but ended up caravanning through traffic which became a bit tedious and not really relaxing with all of the traffic. Bags were handled so we did not have to worry about them and delivered to the airport. Departure was less than optimum because the terminal is still closed so temporary tents, lavatories, check in counters, and food facilities are severely limited. Not a cruise for children though there was a delightful family from Mexico aboard with teenagers and they certainly seemed like they had a fun time too. Not recommended for anyone that has mobility issues. No elevators on this ship and all excursions leave the ship by Zodiac and embarking and disembarking can be challenging. Make sure you let the young men driving them assist you which is almost always necessary. This is also not the smoothest vessel because of its size. Most of the travel is done at night when the swaying of the ship rocks you to sleep. Only one passenger that I observed got a little seasick but that was just for one day. Entertainment is pretty much a piano player who is quite good but this is not one of those cruises with grandiose shows. In summary, if you want to go on a cruise where they make you feel like it is your private yacht, then this is the one for you. Loved it and will return again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos ... Read More
I have cruised often as a solo traveller but this is the first cruise line, in my experience, that completely ignores the needs of those travelling alone. A welcome cocktail party, afternoon tea party or coffee morning to bring solos together would be so simple to organise but there was nothing. The new open-seating concept in the main dining room works against solo travellers. Finding dining companions is a lottery every night. And crew are impatient. On my first night on board I wanted to dine at 8pm and, upon arrival, asked to be seated at a large table with other solos. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I should have eaten at 6.30pm as a table of singles had been available then. Refusing to be intimidated into eating alone, I told the Maitre d’ I would sit to one side and await the arrival of others and, sure enough, there were soon enough solos to fill a table but we shouldn’t have to battle 'solos discrimination' for that to happen. The speciality restaurants on board offered three evenings when solos could sit on a table together - one at 6.00pm, one at 6.30pm and one at 8.30pm. When I tried to book these a few days into the cruise, the Maitre d’ there told me I could not be fitted in and should have booked immediately upon boarding. So, 190 solo travellers on board (this number told to me by Crystal themselves) for 17 days and the solo speciality dining provision was just 3 tables for eight spread over the whole period. In fairness, I did eventually manage to eat in the speciality restaurants but why does everything have to be a battle? Is Crystal trying to tell us solos something? Another evening a fellow solo braved the Brazilian restaurant on her own and left almost in tears. She was, quite simply, ignored throughout the meal while surrounding tables were well served. She said she had never been made to feel invisible in her life before. Some of the staff and crew are a delight but there is a problem with those who fail to respect single female travellers. We have paid over the top 'single person supplements' yet we receive inferior service that occasionally verges on the offensive. ILLNESS ON BOARD I knew I was going to be ill the first time I walked the promenade deck on Christmas Eve. The air extract for the whole ship is sited on that deck (as told to me by the Front Desk) and, as I passed the outlet vents that first day, I was astounded by the sour stench being emitted. Comparing notes with other walkers later, they also smelled the foul air and told me they'd held their breath at that point on each circuit! Sure enough I picked up something evil confining me to bed with aches, pains and flu like symptoms. Nearly two weeks later I was still feeling drained with a hacking cough and chest and back pain. I tried to report my suspicions of the source of my illness and was told Crystal check the 'air conditioning' daily. Whether that includes the emissions direct to a passenger deck I was not told. I asked to see the results for the days I walked that deck but my request was denied. I was told data is not released. My request for contact details for the shore-based person who is responsible was also denied. One of the staff on the front desk felt obliged to shout over me during a long conversation when she repeated herself endlessly and continually quoted ‘Crystal Policy' as the reason she would give me no means to escalate my complaint. She wanted to keep my complaint ship-based and offered me customer services. Is that Crystal policy so that onboard problems and issues remain 'contained' and shore-based management don't get to see there's been a problem? Is there a duty log? Was my complaint even logged? If I were CEO Tom Wolber I'd put in place a method by which complaints CAN be escalated. How else will he know what is going on if he only ever receives a sanitised/edited version of events? And why is he trying to hide from the day to day reality of passengers' experiences? Incidentally, later in the cruise that foul stench had gone convincing me even more that there had been an emission problem. FOOD SAFETY A minor point but it could bring someone down with food poisoning. I refer to refilling from the front! I noticed that crew were refilling foodstuffs as they were taken so fresh produce was used to fill gaps made by passengers at the front of displays. Products to the rear were left to fester and come up to room temperature (to be taken away and chilled again?). This is poor food hygiene practice and makes one wonder what goes on behind the scenes. CHAMPAGNE This is supposed to be 6-star, all-inclusive cruising but this ship ran out of champagne almost a week before the end of the cruise! And even though we were in port for three consecutive days during that period, none was taken on board. The reason given for them running out? 'New Year's Eve!' Yes, it must have come as a total shock to Crystal that New Year's Eve has occurred during this cruise!!! Occasionally, if I spoke to the right person, a glass of champagne could be found for me but I'd have to try all the bars AND the theatre and it really was a case of pot luck. One day, miraculously, a bottle was found and offered to me to have in my cabin. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, what use is that to a sociable solo who wants to meet others over a glass of champagne at the bar? Am I to carry my own bottle around with me? 6-star? I don't think so! OK, I've got all that off my chest now and I'd hate anyone reading this to assume all was bad. It wasn't. My bed and the quality of pillows and bed linen, the food in general, the entertainment and the majority of warm and wonderful crew are all pluses. Crystal are getting a lot right but where they’re getting it wrong impacts so negatively on the whole experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we ... Read More
Staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Food is amazing in variety, quantity and quality with a variety of venues and styles.The main dining room always accommodated our table preference with no/minimal wait no matter what time we arrived. Ship is modern, comfortable, with plenty of on-board activities and "hide-outs" for spending free time. Evening entertainment was magnificent - especially the "Rocket-Man Elton John Tribute" performance - and even the Cruise Director had a great sense of humor which he shared following each performance. Special comment about "Bluenea" jazz duo whose musical artistry at some of the the lounges was amazing. Variety of South African stops and excursions provided a broad array of experiences from very modern to very rustic. Daily briefings and tour guide yielded great insight into unique cultural perspectives for each stop. Only negatives were multiple required immigration interviews and last-day lengthy debarkation delay due to fog which caused much chaos in rearranging flights. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
The service in the MDR was very slow - often waiting 25 minutes even to get a drink. Some waiters do not know it is impolite to interrupt a guest when talking. One waiter told me I could not change the "almond potato" because it ... Read More
The service in the MDR was very slow - often waiting 25 minutes even to get a drink. Some waiters do not know it is impolite to interrupt a guest when talking. One waiter told me I could not change the "almond potato" because it was with the dish - eventually I persuaded him, but it still arrived wrong. Personally I'd like a choice of eating in the Lido in an evening. There was much less entertainment than in the past - what happened to variety of activities, and the Liars Club? Most passengers did not get off the ship for the day in Charleston, due to freezing temperatures - still nothing to do on the ship (not to mention the terrible custom check) - only a 20 minute show in the evening - how many hours does it take us to pack our bags? Most of the entertainment was good, but the volume could certainly be 20% lower (in Switzerland, they try to avoid ear damage by giving all free ear plugs!) - am not a fan of The Tourist, and quite a few didn't want to see it a 2nd time. Very attentive up on the pool deck, but I agree.. music was rather loud to relax. Check in and out was great as usual. Crystal also excellent in assisting with the change of flight arrangements. The front desk service is excellent, but I don't understand why a ship credit cannot be forwarded to a future cruise? My cabin girl was good, and the ship generally kept very clean and nice. Children were well behaved. Hope Perry Grant will return to Serenity. Will sail with them again, albeit not what it used to be! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) ... Read More
We had some luck with our second Crystal experience. A combination of special offers/incentives and some fortunate timing resulted in bonuses including return business class travel to Mauritius and returning from Cape Town (from Canada) for $999 -- and a surprising last minute upgrade to the Penthouse level, with butler service and an extra-large stateroom. Then Crystal topped things off by advancing us three trips in the Crystal Society program, resulting in a milestone bonus (credited at Penthouse level) of $200 each -- meaning virtually all of our modest shipboard/excursion costs were covered. The Penthouse gave us the opportunity to experience the butler service and constantly refilled wine (we could have had spirits if we preferred) in the stateroom, plus room service from Prego when we wished it. But even if didn't have these extras (which we certainly enjoyed), the services overall aboard the ship certainly met the standards of our first experience when we travelled in an ordinary verandah stateroom. There were extra sea days because of the cancelled Madagascar stop (because of the plague there), but the shipboard enrichment/programs were truly satisfactory. We also enjoyed Hanukah services with a guest rabbi and about 30 other Jewish people, some of whom ordered the kosher food service available with preplanning. The only flaw: An unpleasant smell in the room a few days; staff certainly worked to try to resolve it. I'm not sure what caused the problem but it corrected itself by the time the voyage ended. Overall, the experience proved satisfying enough that we are planning our next journey in 2019. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We have been repeat Crystal passengers. This last Carribean 14 days sailing was not up to par to past Crystal standards. let me share pros and cons: PROS: Our Butler , Costas was the best part of this sailing. An outstanding ... Read More
We have been repeat Crystal passengers. This last Carribean 14 days sailing was not up to par to past Crystal standards. let me share pros and cons: PROS: Our Butler , Costas was the best part of this sailing. An outstanding employee and a delight to see every day. Similarly, the stewardesses who cleaned our suite were most diligent and keeping our rooms in immaculate condition each day and night! Kudos to those spectacular staff members! Reception and Concierge desks were efficient and most welcoming! Production shows as well as individual artists were most entertaining and enjoyable . Similarly, most of the guest speakers were most informative and had good presentations, CONS: The service in the Crystal Dining Room was consistently slow, no matter what time we made our reservations and regardless where we sat. Some of the wait persons were quite lovely and attentive, while other appeared to be 'burned out' and ready to end their contracts and go home. The quality of the food in Dining room far less satisfactory than the alternative restaurants. Both the food and service was far better in alternative dining venues! Photographers not as well trained as they were in past. Phone operators usually most slow to respond Music played at pool whether it be recorded or live, far too loud. At times, not enough poolside attendants, requiring a long time to request a drink order. Towels left on lounges by guests who have clearly left the pool area, tend to be left there and not collected and new lounge covers replaced! Has Crystal cut back on staff? ALL excursions that we took were most poor.. One just showed flamingos, more flamingos and cacti FOR OVER TWO HOURS~! For us, the service in Crystal Dining Room was the most negative experience on this sailing as were the excursions. We are sadly questioning if we shall return to Crystal in view of the above. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
Love Crystal but see traditional items going by the wayside, eg: no more guest list. Very thankful for the complimentary laundromats onboard. B1 cabin is just the right size for the two of us. Plenty of closet space (I bring our own ... Read More
Love Crystal but see traditional items going by the wayside, eg: no more guest list. Very thankful for the complimentary laundromats onboard. B1 cabin is just the right size for the two of us. Plenty of closet space (I bring our own wire hangers to get more space here) and have never lacked for drawer space. MDR staff is outstanding. Varied shore excursions with endurance level, in depth or not so much, Front desk is not as sharp as they used to be. We asked when the Cruise Critic gathering was to be and front desk person looked 3 places and said there was not one on our cruise. Got back to the cabin and there was an invitation to the Cruise Critic gathering which we very much enjoyed. Very much enjoy Tastes, Prego, and Silk Road as alternatives to the MDR. Crew keeps us coming back to Crystal. They are great. I hope Home Office get the new system up and PURRING soon. It has been a struggle for anyone trying to use the PCPC. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Crystal offers us an experience that we have come to expect: dedicated service, better food than most cruise lines, an ambiance of only slightly faded gentility--the last being rectified by planned major drydock changes in the near future. ... Read More
Crystal offers us an experience that we have come to expect: dedicated service, better food than most cruise lines, an ambiance of only slightly faded gentility--the last being rectified by planned major drydock changes in the near future. Service is the signal distinction, as exemplified by the bar tenders, who are remarkable both for their skills and their welcoming personalities. Try and order a Hemingway daiquiri elsewhere and you get either puzzlement or a dreadful concoction. The bar tenders on Serenity know what they are about, and are quick to remember your favorite libation. The crew smiles, some will recall your name, and in general there is a sense of dedicated courtesy--an effort to please. Luxury has many definitions, but Crystal's seems to satisfy us most of all. Is it perfect? Of course not. The shore excursions share the same high mark us and lack of inspiration common to other cruise lines. Boarding can hit a snag--presumably because of computer failure--and thus take longer than it should. And the food is often under seasoned--West Indian curry might have come from Gerber. A soup can be too salty to consume.But every cruise line kitchen has the occasional fluff (or worse) and Crystal, though not exempt, seems to have fewer than most. (Though under seasoning of food which should be well spiced does frustrate me.) One question is whether Crystal can find and train replacement crew for the future who share the line's dedication to service. You--and I--will be the judge of that, Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we ... Read More
6 stars is good for me. We already booked another cruise and after trying almost all cruise companies we feel that Serenity is the ship for us. The ship was in beautiful shape and yet it is going for a major makeover in November 2018 we hear. Again the cabin was comfortable with two sinks and shower and bath. Very luxurious furniture and decorations. The room attendant was fabulous and we left her extra tips although this is an all inclusive cruise. There were approximately 900 passengers and lots (600)of crew members to look after the guests The dining experience was absolutely perfect and commended 6 stars. The lectures were of prime quality and up to two or three a day The movies were well chosen according the area where we were at the time of the movie. The waiters and bar tenders were so attentive to and new our preferences after a day or two.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the ... Read More
Entertainment,food,accomadation,service fantastic.Could not have better.Cruise at night disembark during the day,great citys visited.One bad experience in the Falklands,on the way to Goose Green our driver stopped the bus,to clean the windows and never came back,he had a heart attack and died,we were stranded in the middle of the island without communications.The shore excursions were great.Thank goodness not thousands of people not a disgusting floating hotel.The entertainment was fantastic and world class.The talks on the cruise were fantasticThe best cruise we have ever had,and we have cruised on the majority of the large cruise liners,Australia,Carribean,Meditteranian,Mauritious,The far east. The Crystal Serenity was by far the best of all cruises we have been,and certainly recommend the Crystal cruise lines.The Casino was well organised and very professional The prices for the photos were expensive,and we received full DVDs on our whole cruise,which always bring back happy memories and the interesting people we met from all over the world Read Less
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