My first time on Crystal. A few notes for those considering one of the four Crystal Penthouse Suites.
1. For guests in CP category, Crystal do embarkation and disembarkation better than anyone. Car dispatched to hotel, driver calls 10 minutes out, guest greeted curbside, luggage whisked away, and guest given a personal escort throughout entire (painless process) and handed over to butler at end of gangway. Departing, no waiting with a group, same personal process in reverse. Note to all other luxury lines -- this is exactly what your top suite passengers want.
2. The four recently redone CP suites are thoughtfully laid out, well furnished, and extremely comfortable. Decoration a touch flashy for my taste, but I got used to it. Bathrooms with heated floors and one-touch temperature controlled showers most pleasing. Only possible criticism is that verandas are too small.
3. My butler, Danjiel, skilled, friendly, accommodating, non-intrusive -- altogether perfect.
4. Food. A complex subject. In 11 days I went only once to the main dining room. Once was enough -- It was overcrowded and chaotic. Maitre-d' was surly. Waiters perfunctory and not genuinely friendly. Sommelier seemed to be play acting. In contrast, the specialty restaurant, Silk Road (Nobu) and its Sushi Bar were superb . From the maitre-d' to the sommelier to the brilliant sushi chefs -- all were friendly, enthusiastic, professional and produced the best food at sea. I mean it, as good as Nobu in Manhattan -- really miraculous for a ship at sea. I went almost every night, and was not bothered one bit by the $30 extra charge assessed following two meals in the specialty restaurants. The other specialty restaurant, Prego, was a bit disappointing. Certainly better than the main dining room, but all concerned seemed bored at producing the same menu over and over. Some dishes were superb, some flat. Service was professional but uninspired. Simple informal lunch in "Tastes"was also very well done -- almost impossibly swift and efficient service, and then well-mixed mojitos, really delicious hamburgers and the like. Finally, room service was very well done -- the food arrived hot and fresh and beautifully presented. Not sure if it was my butler or the kitchen - but never had a complaint with a meal served in the suite.
5. Service around the pool was uneven, new protocols and training are required to bring it into line with other luxury lines. Some days staff seemed alert and attentive, some days I was never asked if I wanted anything and could not get their attention. No water, no cold towels, no sun lotion, and by the end of the afternoon the whole area was looking pretty messy. Two of the lounge chairs I sat in were broken.
6. Crystal very helpfully organized private touring in most but not all ports. Single group excursion I took (in Roatan) was deeply sub-par. The only thing I asked the Concierges to do (call ahead to a specific vendor and reserve a scooter rental in Key West) they refused to do citing liability concerns, which is nonsense.
7. Fitness facilities adequate but dated - need a redo. Fitness scheduled limited. Spa very nice, both physically and with terrific staff
In summary, what others say is true: the ship is spacious and (except in the dining room) does not feel crowded; the crew in large part are extraordinarily friendly and anxious to please. But a boat with almost 1000 passengers is never going to feel truly luxurious, unless of course you hole-up in the terrific Crystal Penthouse and dash down to the Sushi Bar for intimate superb meals, which is what I did and, as a result, was a happy camper.
As noted above, the redone category CP suites are superb. Mid-ships location means little motion, and proximity to mid-ship stairs. Completely quiet. Verandahs completely private. Lovely Bose sound system for your I-pod/music. Small dining room. Small but comfortable bed room, really brilliant bathroom.