1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Crystal Cruises
  4. Crystal Esprit Review
  5. Crystal Esprit Cruise Reviews
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We departed from Dubrovnik on September 23, 2018 setting sail for Venice. Our intended flight schedule was intended to take us from San Antonio, Texas to Dallas to an overnight in Madrid and then on to Dubrovnik on the day of sailing. All ... Read More
We departed from Dubrovnik on September 23, 2018 setting sail for Venice. Our intended flight schedule was intended to take us from San Antonio, Texas to Dallas to an overnight in Madrid and then on to Dubrovnik on the day of sailing. All of our luggage took different routes including stops in London, Vienna, Zurich, Frankfurt, Zagreb and finally to Zadar, Croatia. We were exhausted from trying to reunite with our luggage upon boarding the Esprit. The staff on board insisted on turning the task at hand over to them and to their network of Port Agents. They worked tirelessly to find our luggage and finally on Wednesday evening, after leaving Dubrovnik on Sunday, we were reunited with our luggage. We wore the same clothes for five days with the staff refreshing our clothes every day. The vessel was full and all of our fellow passengers recognized us by our apparent non-changing wardrobe. On the next evening we were in proper attire and were noticed and recognized with abundant cheers from our fellow guests. The Crystal Esprit is a mere 82 meters in length. One must remember that at one time it was an individual's personal yacht. Before it entered the Crystal fleet it was totally gutted and converted to a luxury yacht for about sixty-one discerning guests. I need not say how absolutely wonderful the cruise was and how we were treated by the staff. From Johann the Hotel Director, Grace and Jaypee at the Reception Desk, Lauren, Joel and Milly who served us at the bars and in the dining venues and Gee and Kath who kept our suite in perfect order, everything was over the top. We went on a couple of shore excursions which were excellent. On some ports we chose to walk around on our own where we did a bit of shopping and had a "local" lunch. The shopping was fun and interesting but we spent three days in the wonderful city of Venice which is a shopping mecca at the end of the cruise. Although we have several favorite restaurants in Venice, the dining aboard the Esprit outshined a couple of them. The dining experience ranks with some of the finist restaurants around the world. The presentation was unmatched. Adam, the Executive Chef, was incredibly creative. One day, he went ashore to round up some black and white truffles. We had homemade pasta with truffles as well as truffle omelettes for breakfast. Of course, we were lucky that it was truffle season in Europe. All included wines were great but we supplemented them with optional Caymus Cabernet. Cocktails were all hand crafted with premium liquors. The evening entertainment was lovely with relaxing music offered by Craig at the piano and, at times, with the Captain on his guitar. Water activities included jet-ski rides and two-person excursions on Crystal's own submarine on board (extra charge for that experience) The water was a bit too cold for me. We are well-traveled and my wife and I agree that the Crystal Esprit ranks at the top of our travel experiences. We are sailing on the Crystal Serenity out of LA in December and then it's back with our Esprit family in February in the Caribbean. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This new vessel for Crystal was completely refitted in 2015 and christened in December 2015 after it’s previous life as a private yacht for the Chairman of the parent company of Crystal. This is a big departure from the two older ... Read More
This new vessel for Crystal was completely refitted in 2015 and christened in December 2015 after it’s previous life as a private yacht for the Chairman of the parent company of Crystal. This is a big departure from the two older Ocean ships the Serenity and the Symphony that I have sailed five times and loved. This beautiful yacht has 31 cabins (including one Owners Suite which is 515 square feet). Most of the suites (S1,2 and 3) are 280 SF which is huge for a yacht (and larger than the non-suite cabins on the Crystal ocean ships and much larger then the 195 SF cabins on the competitor Sea Dream Yacht Club. They are all ocean view (this is a yacht after all). The cabins are decorated in muted greys and taupe with a relaxed feel. They all have King beds with great bedding and all the modern touches travelers today demand with plenty of outlets, USB ports and a great iPad by the bed to set alarms, wake up calls, see the daily schedule and more! There is so much storage we couldn’t fill it all and we are not light packers. There is a full length closet with the famous 2 sets of Crystal robes (the heavy terry I don’t like and the lovely kimono style). There is a another closet with short hanging and more drawers. The bathroom is amazing with a huge shower, tons of storage, double sinks, large mirror and a TV embedded in the mirror. There are large size luxury Italian Etro amenities. A stocked mini-bar is included and there is a Nespresso machine. Because we arrived on Easter Sunday, we had a table full of beautiful Easter chocolates and our darling (two) stewards greeted us with bunny ears! There are also great features like the lighting system with a switch for floor lighting for night bathroom visits and a choice of lighting from bright to relaxing! The owners suite also has a Japanese toilet with heated seat and more and a beautiful bathtub. The yacht holds only 62 passengers (or up to 65 max if there are 3 third berth passengers. On our sailing we had only 43 (with one very well behaved 12 year old girl). Our crew was 89 and pampering and extra special service is an understatement. I’ve sailed many luxury lines and stayed in luxury properties but the service level on the Crystal Esprit was exceptional. Part of that was the staff to guest ratio and part was the hand picked crew who seemed to truly love being part of the Esprit experience and went above and beyond. There are multiple dining spots onboard from the Yacht Club restaurant with award winning chef Adam Jenskins to 24 hour room service which we never tried. (actually that is not true as the night they were having caviar in the Cove before dinner we knew we wouldn’t make it in time, and expressed our “dismay” to our butler in the all – he brought us our own caviar set up and popped our champagne for us). The Patio Café for lunch and breakfast is lovely (and delicious) and the Grill on deck 5 for outdoor dining is great with a small but fun selection from Kobe burgers to Frito Misto that we had several times. The Pantry on Deck 2 is a great self-service bistro with light snacks, bakery goods and little jars that change daily with fun salads, hummus and more (plus an easy 24 hour specialty coffee machine). This is truly an all-inclusive experience with all gourmet meals, beverages (a great wine list included), butler service and choice of several excursions in each port from easy to strenuous. Also included are the water sports like kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis and the fun speed boat. We weren’t sure what the demographics might be on this yacht as it is a departure from the Crystal ocean ships and more luxury than the competitor SeaDream Yacht Club. We really had a great group of guests ranging from the late 30s to the 70s and all well-traveled, interesting and friendly. We sailed in the West Indies round trip Marigot. St. Martin was very badly hit by the 2017 hurricane so the port and the island has really suffered. But all of our port stops were great (Moskito Island, Saba, St. Barts, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis. There are several choices of complimentary excursions in most port from relaxing to strenuous hikes. My husband wasn’t able to do any of the strenuous ones but I heard great things about them. The first port is an beach BBQ on Moskito island (one of Richard Branson’s private islands) and a great way to start the cruise. Was it as fun as my time on SeaDream Yacht Club with a girlfriend? Maybe not. Was it more luxurious ….for sure! Were there lots of special touches that made it so special. YES! As me about them. Would I do it again or recommend to clients – absolutely! Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
I just returned from Crystal Cruises' 7-day Esprit Yacht experience in the British Virgin Islands- and cannot stop raving about it! It was a beautiful, relaxed, elegant, sporty, top-notch and unique vacation that I'd recommend to just ... Read More
I just returned from Crystal Cruises' 7-day Esprit Yacht experience in the British Virgin Islands- and cannot stop raving about it! It was a beautiful, relaxed, elegant, sporty, top-notch and unique vacation that I'd recommend to just about anyone! From the 5-star restaurant food (OMG!!) to the gorgeous island destinations (Ahh!) to the top-notch administrative organizing and hospitality, I want to give each dept. their propers! But let me start with the BEAUTY. The Esprit is a gorgeous ship, and with a maximum of 62 guests allowed, it was big enough to host fab amenities and yet never felt crowded or lacking. The white, turquoise and crystal aesthetic gave the Esprit a 60s modern look that felt nautical, fresh and hip-retro, simultaneously! Next, HOSPITALITY: I'm kind of a neat-freak in public places and this ship was spotless! I never noticed dirt, dust or things that made me blanche. The hospitality team and butler on each floor were so attentive, tidy and helpful (not to mention funny and friendly!), that the rooms and halls looked immacualte, always. Next, FOOD: Someone said our chef was Michelen-rated. I would not be surprised if that was true. The food alone is worth the cost of this trip! Each dinner was varied, nutritious, sculptural, and totally delicious!!! It was fine dining at its finest- three times a day! Not to mention, a grill on the deck and round-the-clock room service. All this great grub + bottomless drinks embedded in the trip cost, with no-tipping policy ever was a HUGE bonus. DRINKS: Dinner always included two new bottles of wine paired with what was on the menu that day. I don't drink, so I didn't indulge in the endless bottles of champagne, wine, cocktails and beers that were available around the clock, but my friends sure did!! What a treat! Ok, ADMIN: The reception dept. and evening notes at our door made each day a complete stress-free travel situation. We always knew where we were going, what land and boat opportunities we'd have and what we needed to do for each event. Getting bags on and off the boat, checking on different post-trip travel arrangements.. I was very impressed with the Admin/Reception Dept and how gracefully and efficiently they took care of things. Always with a smile, too! Next: ISLANDS! Dropping anchor daily a new island was incredible! I loved stopping at unspoiled Saba, swinging in a hammock on Mosquito Island, and taking a speedboat ride from the locals-feel of Antigua. Swimming/sun-bathing off the St. Kitt's Four Season's beach was exquisite. In St. Bart's only briefly, I was duly wowed by the line-up up gorgeous yachts in its harbor. Virgin Gordo and Nevis also were a feast for the eyes. ACTIVITIES: Swimming off the stern of the boat at sunset was something I'll never forget; we were able to do that twice! I totally recommend this! The jet skis and motorboat are a must for thrill-seekers, and for a totally unusual experience, schedule a ride in the Esprit's *submarine!* Two of my friends did it and it sounded amazing. Snorkeling, kayaks and stand-up paddling must be on your list, too! The waters are warm and the views are sublime. There are hikes and tours and excursions on many of the island destinations. The pool is tiny on the Esprit, but great for cooling off on a hot afternoon. Cosy and big lounge chairs and outdoor deck furniture beg you to nestle in and read a book, have a cocktail or swap stories with friends. Or, just stare dreamily off to the azure horizon or a lush nearby island- pure heaven! There is a small workout room with a great treadmill, an elliptical and a recumbent bicycle. Free weights, yoga mats, towels and waters are in there, too. In the evenings, having drinks on the boat in the "Cove" while a spritely singer and pianist entertains is an option; going to a bar on shore is bound to stir up much spicier adventures. Nice to have options, depending on your age/mood/lifestyle! :) Oh, before I forget! Back to the food, because, well, it was everything! One of our friends eats a purely plant-based diet, and only informed the chef of this once he got on the yacht. On the fly and with the artistry of Rodin, the chef designed and printed up a unique-for-this-guest many-course meal at dinner- every day! Each dish was vegan, delicious, artful and very social media-post-worthy! I was very impressed with the chef conjuring up a purely plant-based menu that matched the already outstanding taste and presentation of his daily menu- all on the fly! From the chocolate-dipped fruits they placed in our room each night with the turn-down service to the fun, energized, top notch service of the marina dept., wait staff, boat crew... it was just awesome, from start to finish. CAVEAT: There are some people for whom this trip and boat would not be a fit. First of all, there is no elevator. So the guests on this boat need to be ambulatory, and ok with going up and down carpeted stairs indoors, and ascending and descending the metal, winding stairs connecting the outdoor decks. Also, to get into the rubber zodiac boats that ferry us to and from shore, you must be able to climb down a few rungs of a wooden ladder/stepcase. The marina crew helps with this, but given that the process involves stepping down backwards and using your arms to pull yourself up, going to shore means having pretty good means of moving around on your own. Also, if you are into very loud partying and need to be entertained non-stop, this may not be the trip for you. Things get quiet at 10 pm and most of the guests are healthy, spry, interested in the world and friendly with those around them. It's a trip like no other! May your trip be as delightful and memorable as the one my friends and I had. Thank you, Crystal Cruises!!! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
DH and I had returned to the NorthEast cold weather in January after spending two weeks in Caribbean on Crystal's Serenity. Our 15th anniversary was coming up in February as was Valentine's Day so we wondered whether we could travel back ... Read More
DH and I had returned to the NorthEast cold weather in January after spending two weeks in Caribbean on Crystal's Serenity. Our 15th anniversary was coming up in February as was Valentine's Day so we wondered whether we could travel back to one of the islands we had stopped at during our holiday cruise for a one-week trip. After a long and exhaustive search, nothing quite fit with availability so late. (It was mid-January) DH suggested a cruise in Caribbean and since we've been on the larger Crystal Ships, we booked the Esprit which departs every Sunday from Sint Marteen. We flew down on Saturday and found a hotel on beach to stay one night before and after the cruise. Below is a summary of our experience on Crystal Esprit. Embarkation was a breeze as we were the only ones at check-in. (There was one other couple already boarded but we didn't see them until later in the day.) Our cabin was ready for us when we arrived. Every cabin has a Butler assigned as well as housekeeper. The cabin has enough storage for hanging clothes but I always bring an "over-the-door" shoe holder as there isn't enough space on closet floor. The cabin is equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled Samsung Soundbar which came in handy to play my music. The only drawback for us on this cruise is the cabins have no veranda just picture windows. The ship caters to a maximum 62 passengers and we had 45 onboard for our itinerary. Although not a new ship, the Crystal Esprit has been refurbished in 2015 I believe a job well-done. We used the gym daily and although small, was functional with excellent equipment. There's a dry sauna onboard but it is accessible from pool deck and we never tried it out. There is a piano player onboard to entertain in The Cove pre and post dinner times who sometimes takes on role of DJ for "disco" nights at the Sunset Bar. (There were two disco nights on our itinerary which I believe the passengers requested). Of course, there is a pool deck with comfortable lounge furniture to relax on in shade or sun and a small sea water pool to sit and cool oneself off. The shore excursions included at least one complimentary at each port as well as excursions at additional fee. In addition, at some of the ports we could use the onboard kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel equipment, jet skis and the submersible bubble. The dress code is more casual than the larger Crystal ships yet still stylish. This ship has no elevator so everyone onboard must be able to climb stairs easily. Also, it should be noted for those susceptible to motion sickness, that as this is a small ship, we can feel ship's movement as it traveled from port to port (mostly at night). The following were the real standouts in our experience....SERVICE and DINING At every turn, there was someone ready to assist us with everything! It was wonderful. The care and attention to every detail. Birthdays and anniversarys are highlighted at Reception area via a rolling video. The fact that I take my tequila with extra fresh lime juice didn't have to be repeated. Chef Adam Jenkins was in charge of our food experience which surpassed our every expectation. I followed a "whole plant food" diet onboard which was executed every night with perfection as I would expect in a Michelin-Star restaurant. In the mornings, a fresh greens/fruit smoothie was prepared for me. The regular menu which DH enjoyed immensely was exceptional again. We said we'd go back just for the food and so we have booked the Esprit for later in the year when it returns to Sint Maarten with only two ports of call repeated from our February cruise. Can hardly wait! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We love small ships. We thought this would be the best yet. In reality, for us it was a serious disappointment. The service was pretty good. The food was incredible on the first night, and never got back to that level. There is ... Read More
We love small ships. We thought this would be the best yet. In reality, for us it was a serious disappointment. The service was pretty good. The food was incredible on the first night, and never got back to that level. There is only one dinner restaurant option, which gets boring. The music is weak, and at the top side bar it's non stop techno? The itinerary was horrendous. The cruise line seems more committed to pushing customers into Hurricane Ravaged Islands to help the local economies than a great experience for their guests. Cystal should have dramatically changed the itinerary to parts of the Caribbean which were not damaged. On the last 3 cruises on this itinerary they had 8/18/36 passengers out of a full load of 60. We should have cancelled. The very shallow draft (10') means you will rock most of the time. Even in the Caribbean, we rocked aggressively half the nights. We cruise a lot, and we're probably one and done with this line. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We have thoroughly enjoyed other luxury cruises(Seabourn) but were interested in this yachting experience and it was beyond all expectations. Essentially, it is a mobile luxury hotel affording you the opportunity to visit fabulous ... Read More
We have thoroughly enjoyed other luxury cruises(Seabourn) but were interested in this yachting experience and it was beyond all expectations. Essentially, it is a mobile luxury hotel affording you the opportunity to visit fabulous locations hassle free. With the size of the ship and the limited number of passengers, you have the opportunity to function entirely independently. Group excursions were small and actually fostered great camaraderie. Excellent and engaging local guides Embarkation/disembarkation: seamless, both initially and at each port, like walking out of a hotel room Ship: lovely, understated decor, with all areas easily accessible Cabin: though smaller than some of our previous trips, it never felt small with well designed storage, also the bath was very large with a generous glass enclosed shower and two sinks and again lots of storage. Other reviews have been critical of the ac, but we experienced no problems Dining: exceptionally good at all meals. Dinner was really a dining experience, like a fine restaurant,certainly not a move the crowd mentality. Additionally the accessibility of the yacht in general, allowed us to explore dining options in ports and easily return prior to departure. Entertainment: Oliver was great in the piano bar, but honestly, not much partying after dinner with this crowd that had been active all day and was admittedly older. We might have enjoyed some group activities or enrichment lectures in the afternoons. Service: impeccable and very personal We would LOVE to take this trip again and would really like to go on the Esprit to a destination where we could take greater advantage of the paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis, etc Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise line to celebrate our 49th anniversary and were very disappointed. We did not sleep well any of the 7 nights as the temperature in our room was either boiling or freezing. Every day I went to the front desk and they ... Read More
We chose this cruise line to celebrate our 49th anniversary and were very disappointed. We did not sleep well any of the 7 nights as the temperature in our room was either boiling or freezing. Every day I went to the front desk and they immediately sent someone, but all they did was adjust it up or down, but never fixed it. You have no control over the fan and the temperature is either in the red section or the blue. You cannot set a temperature for your room or set the fan to low, high or off. We ended up settling for cold and slept in a robe they provided. It was not pleasant at all. It is a shame they did not fix the temperature as there were many good things about Crystal…good food, pleasant staff, small number of people on excursions and a very clean ship. I would be very hesitant to book another cruise with Crystal or to recommend it to friends or our travel agent. At this price point, I expect a room with a comfortable temperature. This should have been fixed before they booked the room. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. ... Read More
We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. First, most of the big ships stop in only one or two ports in Croatia, but Esprit stops in six different ports on a one-week cruise. The small size (they refer to it as a yacht) enables them to go to the smaller places that are less crowded and often more enjoyable. Second, we went with a group hosted by a family that owns a winery in Napa that we love and are club members of. So there were a number of special dinners, receptions and wine tours that were offered as part of this particular cruise, and we even got to visit their sister winery in Croatia. Almost half the 61 passengers aboard were part of our winery group, but we met and made friends with every guest on the boat. Lastly, we wanted to try a smaller boat. Last year, we went on a brand new Royal Caribbean ship that had 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. Though it had lots of high tech entertainment, it was overcrowded and overwhelming. With a max of 62 passengers and 90+ crew, we thought Esprit would be a very different experience. And it was. Embarkation in Venice was a cinch. We embarked from the San Basilio port, easily reached by public water taxi from our hotel in Santa Croce. Check-in was relaxed - no crowds at all, and we could embark anytime during the afternoon. All suites are the same size except for one larger owner's suite. We opted for S3 222 which was close to reception, the 24-hr. self-serve food and beverage pantry, one of stairways, and the gangway. This made it easy to get on/off, or to use the stairways to dining and other activities. I saw one review here that claimed this cabin had a lot of ship noise and another that said it was pretty soundproof. We agree with the latter. Dinners were top notch. Open seating, great service, nice selection of wonderful dishes - just like eating in a five star restaurant every night. The quality of the food and service was so good that we always opted to eat dinner on the boat rather than on shore. As we celebrated my wife's birthday while on board, we asked the chef the day before to make a special dish we wanted, and it was no problem. The included wine was pretty good and always served in Reidel glasses. The wine selections varied each day (we also had complimentary wine available from our group's winery host on several nights). There is also a premium wine list with some excellent choices that cost extra. We didn't see anyone opt for those given the decent quality of the complimentary wine. We enjoyed the informal buffet breakfasts and lunches too. There was a large selection of foods given such a small number of guests, and the food quality and service was, of course, excellent. We discovered about 5 days into the cruise that in addition to the buffet, there is actually a breakfast menu where you can order Japanese breakfasts or poached eggs (e.g., eggs benedict). The pantry was stocked with fancy sandwiches, snacks, desserts, fruit, cookies, beverages, etc. There was also an outdoor grill that had pizza (not great IMHO), hamburgers, and especially good salmon burgers. And room service. The entertainment was rather limited, but that's not what we chose this cruise for. There was a singer/piano player that would perform songs on his own or by your request pre- and after dinner. As with other high-end lines, all drinks were complimentary, all the time. One night, there was an excellent local Croatian music group that entertained us before dinner. In terms of water activities, we only tried the jet skis which were fun (and complimentary). There is a two-seater submersible which we thought was a bit pricey for a 20 minute dive. But it's amazing that they even have one. Guests we spoke with who tried it were a bit disappointed in what they could see in the Adriatic. I suspect this will be great when the yacht repositions to the Caribbean. There were at least two complimentary shore excursions in every port, plus others that involved special activities (bicycling, kayaking, zip lines, or private tours) for an added fee. We always opted for the complimentary excursions and enjoyed all but one of them (as we didn't think that local guide was very good). There is always a host from the ship along with the local guide, making sure no one gets separated especially in crowded ports like Split. Each group seemed limited to about a max of 10 people - Crystal just adds more groups to the popular excursions. Transportation was always in new luxury vans. On one of the islands, our local guide was a professor who teaches Croatian history and culture at universities throughout Croatia. Needless to say, he was incredible. There were a couple of things that really impressed my wife and me. As you embark, they take your photo for your ID card. Within an hour, every staff member we passed on the ship greeted us by name on sight. Wow. I've read that Crystal employees have to go to a very extensive service training program before working on the boat. Many of the staff, including the ever present reception hostesses, Jackie and Kiki, had worked for Crystal on other ships for 12-14 years. It shows. The second thing might seem small, but when you are traveling for 3 weeks, it's not. Each cabin deck has a self-serve washer and dryer. That enabled us to pack fewer clothes for our trip, and change 2-3 times a day (important given the heat during our shore excursions). If you were off at dinner, you could simply ask your butler (available 24x7) to pick up your laundry for you, or to even press your clothes. No charge for any of this. Even though Crystal is more expensive than any other cruise line we've taken (and I think Esprit is more expensive than Crystal Symphony, Serenity, etc.), we are seriously thinking about booking another trip, or at least staying within the Crystal family. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2017
It was a great experience however it is not recommended for anyone that has mobility issues. No elevators on this ship and all excursions leave the ship by Zodiac, therefore, embarking and disembarking can be challenging. For us, ... Read More
It was a great experience however it is not recommended for anyone that has mobility issues. No elevators on this ship and all excursions leave the ship by Zodiac, therefore, embarking and disembarking can be challenging. For us, embarkation in Venice was quick and simple. We embarked from the San Basilio port, easily reached by public water taxi from our hotel in Santa Croce. Our check-in was relaxed. There were no crowds at all, and we could embark anytime during the afternoon. Dinners were top notch. Open seating, great service, nice selection of wonderful dishes - just like eating in a five star restaurant every night. However, I felt the quality of the dishes did waver a little compared to the first night. There was a large selection of foods given such a small number of guests, and the food quality and service was fantastic. In addition to the buffet, there is actually a breakfast menu where you can order Japanese breakfasts or poached eggs (e.g., eggs benedict). Read Less
Crystal Esprit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.6
Dining 5.0 4.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.2
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.9
Service 5.0 4.9
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

Find a Crystal Esprit Cruise