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We just completed our first Crystal Cruise, the 7-day Maritime Explorer out of Quebec City, with planned stops at Sept Iles, the Magdalene Islands and Saint Pierre and Miquelon returning to Quebec City. My wife and I are experienced cruises, having Elite status on Celebrity Cruises and have also cruised a number of times on Holland America as well as Princess and Cunard. If there is a theme for this review it’s to try and answer the question “for us, was the extra cost of Crystal worth it?” To come to a conclusion, here are our thoughts on various aspects of the cruise. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION The smoothest and fastest we’ve ever experienced. In fact, we were off the ship and into a cab almost a half hour before our scheduled time of disembarkation (living in Canada, we came by car so were not subject to airline or bus timetables). One factor that may have contributed to the rapid disembarkation was that despite our six hours in French Saint Pierre, we didn’t have to clear customs upon leaving the ship. STATEROOM We had a B2 cabin on deck 8 with a partly obstructed view (the onboard gangway was stowed directly below our veranda, preventing us from looking directly down onto the promenade deck or seeing anything in the water that might be close to the ship). Not an annoyance for most passengers. The cabin itself was no different in size or furnishings than any veranda cabin on any mass market cruise ship however with upscale touches as as leather upholstery on the loveseat rather than fabric. The sheets were upscale, the mattress definitely was not! Holland America, with its Euro-top mattresses, wins this one hands down! The bathroom does feature two sinks and tub with shower. At prime showering times (mornings and before dinner) the water was lukewarm no matter how high you turned the knob. Nice toiletries and towels, though. We had the impression that our cabin attendant spent her day trying to keep up with the work load. On at least half of the days, the cabin wasn’t made up until mid-afternoon, which made catching an after lunch nap problematic at best. However, when the job was done it was done well. We appreciated the free self-serve laundry on our deck and the environmental concern in not providing fresh towels when not needed or desired. FOOD Dinner in the main dining room was certainly a few notches above the mass market lines, but there were glitches. The steak we ordered one night was on the tough side, but everything was beautifully presented and arrived hot. The soups were especially good, as were the desserts. And you had the luxury of ordering off the menu for the following day if you so desired. Prego, the Italian restaurant was superb – as good or better than any Italian restaurants I’ve enjoyed in Canada or the US. We didn’t try Silk Roads, the Oriental/Sushi restaurant. Tastes, a sort of informal global tapas restaurant, was excellent in the evening incarnation The Lido buffet was ordinary – no different than the buffet on any mainstream line. On our cruise there were two “theme” lunches; the oriental which was quite nice and the American which was ho-hum. A high price for southern fried chicken kept warm under a heat lamp! There were enough staff to keep your coffee cup filled and to carry your plate to your table if you so desired. At breakfast, other than the fresh-squeezed orange jucie, your could have been eating breakfast in the buffet on any mass market cruise ship. The included wine selections for meals were excellent and we never felt the need to try the extra cost wine list. EXCURSIONS We only took one (the Magdalene islands stop was cancelled due to rough seas which made tendering impossible) but the one we took in Sept Iles was well organized and competitively priced. We had to cancel a second excursion and our charge was refunded with no questions asked, even if it was slightly after the deadline printed on the ticket. ENTERTAINMENT We’re not big on the production shows, but the one we attended was excellent as were the bands, string quartet and piano bar type entertainment. We didn’t attend any of the cultural lectures but we heard from others that they were very well done and informative. I did take a computer course on a day at sea and the instructors were excellent as was the instructor for the one workshop attended by my wife. The ship also has an excellent well-stocked library which includes, in addition to books, a huge selection o f CDs and DVDs (Now if only I had been able to figure out how to work the DVD player in the cabin – absolutely no instructions were provided). I gave up after a half hour. SUMMING IT UP It’s wonderful to be able to have a second (or even third) single malt without worrying about the bill at the end of the cruise. Also the lack of nickel and diming for every soft drink, cappuccino, etc. The food options are great. And there was no subtle “I’d appreciate a nice tip for the service I’m providing” from any of the staff. All of the crew were warm friendly and made an effort to remember your name. But is the cost/benefit there? I’m still not sure, but I think I’d do Crystal again if the itinerary and timing are right – and our budget permits.  

A first Crystal cruise - was it worth it?

Crystal Serenity Cruise Review by lambcom

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We just completed our first Crystal Cruise, the 7-day Maritime Explorer out of Quebec City, with planned stops at Sept Iles, the Magdalene Islands and Saint Pierre and Miquelon returning to Quebec City. My wife and I are experienced cruises, having Elite status on Celebrity Cruises and have also cruised a number of times on Holland America as well as Princess and Cunard.
If there is a theme for this review it’s to try and answer the question “for us, was the extra cost of Crystal worth it?” To come to a conclusion, here are our thoughts on various aspects of the cruise.
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION
The smoothest and fastest we’ve ever experienced. In fact, we were off the ship and into a cab almost a half hour before our scheduled time of disembarkation (living in Canada, we came by car so were not subject to airline or bus timetables). One factor that may have contributed to the rapid disembarkation was that despite our six hours in French Saint Pierre, we didn’t have to clear customs upon leaving the ship.
STATEROOM
We had a B2 cabin on deck 8 with a partly obstructed view (the onboard gangway was stowed directly below our veranda, preventing us from looking directly down onto the promenade deck or seeing anything in the water that might be close to the ship). Not an annoyance for most passengers. The cabin itself was no different in size or furnishings than any veranda cabin on any mass market cruise ship however with upscale touches as as leather upholstery on the loveseat rather than fabric. The sheets were upscale, the mattress definitely was not! Holland America, with its Euro-top mattresses, wins this one hands down! The bathroom does feature two sinks and tub with shower. At prime showering times (mornings and before dinner) the water was lukewarm no matter how high you turned the knob. Nice toiletries and towels, though.
We had the impression that our cabin attendant spent her day trying to keep up with the work load. On at least half of the days, the cabin wasn’t made up until mid-afternoon, which made catching an after lunch nap problematic at best. However, when the job was done it was done well.
We appreciated the free self-serve laundry on our deck and the environmental concern in not providing fresh towels when not needed or desired.
FOOD
Dinner in the main dining room was certainly a few notches above the mass market lines, but there were glitches. The steak we ordered one night was on the tough side, but everything was beautifully presented and arrived hot. The soups were especially good, as were the desserts. And you had the luxury of ordering off the menu for the following day if you so desired.
Prego, the Italian restaurant was superb – as good or better than any Italian restaurants I’ve enjoyed in Canada or the US. We didn’t try Silk Roads, the Oriental/Sushi restaurant. Tastes, a sort of informal global tapas restaurant, was excellent in the evening incarnation The Lido buffet was ordinary – no different than the buffet on any mainstream line. On our cruise there were two “theme” lunches; the oriental which was quite nice and the American which was ho-hum. A high price for southern fried chicken kept warm under a heat lamp! There were enough staff to keep your coffee cup filled and to carry your plate to your table if you so desired. At breakfast, other than the fresh-squeezed orange jucie, your could have been eating breakfast in the buffet on any mass market cruise ship.
The included wine selections for meals were excellent and we never felt the need to try the extra cost wine list.
EXCURSIONS
We only took one (the Magdalene islands stop was cancelled due to rough seas which made tendering impossible) but the one we took in Sept Iles was well organized and competitively priced. We had to cancel a second excursion and our charge was refunded with no questions asked, even if it was slightly after the deadline printed on the ticket.
ENTERTAINMENT
We’re not big on the production shows, but the one we attended was excellent as were the bands, string quartet and piano bar type entertainment. We didn’t attend any of the cultural lectures but we heard from others that they were very well done and informative. I did take a computer course on a day at sea and the instructors were excellent as was the instructor for the one workshop attended by my wife.
The ship also has an excellent well-stocked library which includes, in addition to books, a huge selection o f CDs and DVDs (Now if only I had been able to figure out how to work the DVD player in the cabin – absolutely no instructions were provided). I gave up after a half hour.
SUMMING IT UP
It’s wonderful to be able to have a second (or even third) single malt without worrying about the bill at the end of the cruise. Also the lack of nickel and diming for every soft drink, cappuccino, etc. The food options are great. And there was no subtle “I’d appreciate a nice tip for the service I’m providing” from any of the staff. All of the crew were warm friendly and made an effort to remember your name. But is the cost/benefit there? I’m still not sure, but I think I’d do Crystal again if the itinerary and timing are right – and our budget permits.
 
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Cabin Review

Cabin 8064
We had a B2 cabin on deck 8 with a partly obstructed view (the onboard gangway was stowed directly below our veranda, preventing us from looking directly down onto the promenade deck or seeing anything in the water that might be close to the ship). Not an annoyance for most passengers. The cabin itself was no different in size or furnishings than any veranda cabin on any mass market cruise ship however with upscale touches as as leather upholstery on the loveseat rather than fabric. The sheets were upscale, the mattress definitely was not! Holland America, with its Euro-top mattresses, wins this one hands down! The bathroom does feature two sinks and tub with shower. At prime showering times (mornings and before dinner) the water was lukewarm no matter how high you turned the knob. Nice toiletries and towels, though.We had the impression that our cabin attendant spent her day trying to keep up with the work load. On at least half of the days, the cabin wasn’t made up until mid-afternoon, which made catching an after lunch nap problematic at best. However, when the job was done it was done well.
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