This ship was built in the early '90s and set sail in the mid '90s. Although the ship is older than other luxuryn options, the ship does not show her age. I was looking for signs of wear and really could not find any. The reason is that she is meticuluosly cared for on an ongoing basis. If you get up early enough or stay up late enough, you can see how hard the staff works to address any wear in the ship, and before the guests would notice a problem.
The crew and staff of the Crystal Symphony are the ship's greatest asset. They are more than just responsive when a passenger asks for something -- they anticipate the needs of the passengers and do so in a friendly way. Many go out of their way to learn the names of the passengers and then assume responsiblity for that traveler from then on. The food is the best of the best - intersting and tasty selections each day, and beuatifully presented. No expense spared. The Nobu specialty restaurant is in a class of its own. We went twice and I am not even a huge shushi fan!
The basic category room is small but workable (246 SF with balcony). The added space of a penthouse would have been appreciated, but perhaps not worth the added cost. Let's face it: if small rooms are problematic then maybe cruising is not for you in the first place. Regardless, there is plenty of space devoted to the common areas so other than in the stateroom no one should feel claustrophobic.
The target market for this cruise line is decidably the older crowd -- age 70+. At times there were enough seniors piloting their motorized scooters to warrant a traffic cop or perhaps valet parking. Make no mistake that the age of the crowd sets a tone, and that is one that is placid. If you are looking for high energy activities on board, you will be disappointed. Needle point classes and nodding off by the pool are more the order of the day.
The entertainment was just plain bad. There was a featured flutist who played with the ship band one night and a low quality Elton John impersonator (although his back up singers were quite good) who played another night. Sereiously, when I think of cool entertainment, the flute just does not come to mind. There is also the ship's band who played by the pool/sunning area for about an hour daily. This was Muzak elevator music with an Asian influence. The rendition of a KC & the Sunshine Band song is still in my head, and that is not a good thing. That music certainly did not risk waking any napping seniors. There were also a couple of speakers who gave canned presentations on dull subjects, but like the other entertainment options were worth missing. The ship did stream some football games via satelite, but it seems they could have done more of this. Ditto better and more frequent movie selections.
Not a huge issue, but shopping aboard the Symphony is odd. This is a Neiman Marcus level cruising experience with last year's Macy's basement shopping. Shopping can be a real money maker and the Symphony is missing a real opportunity here.