This was the first time I have sailed with Crystal. I had certain expectations engendered by what I had been told by friends who have made a life cruising around the world, and which were not all negative. I arrived back home wishing I could have stayed longer and as a frequent land-traveler I do not often say that. There is elegance in simplicity and, though the ship is not as technically modern as other ships, the Crystal Symphony certainly is elegant.
Friends advised me to start with a smaller cabin and not a large one because, in their opinion, if I did I would be spoiled forever. I can only agree. I booked a smaller cabin and though I wasn’t in it for anything other than sleeping it was very pleasant. I had space left over after unpacking and, though I hate to admit it, I packed much more than I needed. I did get the opportunity to see one of the penthouse suites and I am thankful to my friends for their advice – had I booked one of those I would not have wanted to leave the ship and that would have been a shame. I suffer from motion sickness and expected to become ill but the location of the cabin, mid-ship and between two decks with other cabins in them, prevented me from it, even on one particular night when I could feel the faint swaying of the ship.
The feature I liked most about the Symphony was its staff and crew. From first setting foot on board to disembarking I was lavished with friendly attention and service. From the staff taking care of me out by the pool to the staff serving at Prego they were all so pleasant. I loved Prego as much for the gentlemen who had me laughing as for its food. The food was wonderful and living in a city known for its world-class cuisine that is saying something. I am sure, though, that had it not been so I would have enjoyed dining just because of the staff. One of the little things that have made me love Crystal is the staff at Prego moving my table so that I could watch the sunset. I was advised not to miss it and had it not been for them I would have. An unnecessary aside: they looked very smart in their white jackets.
The entertainers were very talented, from the orchestra members to the pianists at the evening venues. Not only were they technically skilled but also warm and friendly when not performing, which is not always the case. One of the piano players had me laughing non-stop on more than one night after they finished their set. The venues were varied, from classical pianists to a performance from the Broadway musical Chicago. The range can appeal to people with varied interests and is at the very least technically good.
The ports we visited were fascinating, and another little thing I would like to mention refers to what occurred at Santorini. The shore excursions looked to be cancelled due to the high winds which prevented the passengers from disembarking on the tenders and using the cable car. I expected the ship to depart early but instead the Symphony used the engines to stay in position until we could get on land. As you cannot anchor in Santorini I liked the fact that the captain stayed using up fuel until we could get on shore. The site of Akrotiri on Santorini is impressive and our guide was very knowledgeable. I can say the same about Delos on Mykonos. I can say it for every excursion I was able to join.
I have very few criticisms and I have to label them as that because there is no other word milder than it. One was waiting for the transfer to the ship from the hotel in Athens. The time given for departure turned out to be 1.5 hours later than what was originally given, time I could have used to visit in Athens instead of waiting at the hotel for the shuttle. On the ship itself I was annoyed by the fact that I could not hear announcements when in the stateroom. I am sure I missed some though they must not have been important as the trip went well nevertheless. I also would wish to have the films played in the Hollywood Theater more often than they were, but seeing as the ports of call were too wonderful to miss visiting this is negligible.
The itinerary was very interesting, and getting to visit ports not often on itineraries was fabulous. The staff is wonderful and the entertainment and dining were great. All in all it was a lovely experience and I am looking forward to traveling with Crystal once again.
The site is fascinating and our tour guide was very knowledgeable.
The tour guide was very knowledgeable and the history of the island is fascinating.
Oia is picture-perfect. The cable car ride can be nerve-wracking.