My husband and I were traveling as a couple to celebrate our 20th anniversary. I booked with Crystal cruises because in my travel magazines, it has been rated a top cruise line. We were expecting a luxurious staterooms and a ship that looked like it had undergone a major restoration, like I had read. We expected the ship to be modernized and opulant. I can't relate how disappointed we are that we picked this cruise line. My husband and I are in our mid 40's. We have cruised Disney, Royal Caribbean's newest ships, and a couple celebrity cruises. Crystal Symphony was the biggest let down ever...
Our itinerary was from Copenhagen to Stockholm. We spent a couple of days in Copenhagen, at the beautiful Hotel D'Angleterre --- great review from me on trip advisor. Copenhagen is a wonderful city. We had expectations that going from a 5 star hotel in Copenhagen to a modernized and restored Crystal ship would be an effortless transition. Unfortunately, not. The common areas of the ship were nice, but I was expecting so much more from Crystal cruises.
The embarkation was very smooth, and it was probably the most organized and expedited embarkation ever!
The ship's common areas didn't wow me at all. The common areas were nice, but still looked worn to me. I like the size of the ship, it felt cozy, and you weren't bumping into people.
We booked a deluxe room with verandah. The room was a bit smaller than on other ship's we had been on in that category, but I was told to expect that. The room size did not bother me. The bathroom was a good size with double sinks, and tub/shower. Crystal should be ashamed of themselves for charging $12,000 for two people, for a dated and awfully decorated stateroom. The wood and cabinetry are original from 20 years ago. The hardware is worn. The bathroom decor was awful. They couldn't get our beds to fit together properly. After the third attempt, we decided to stop asking. The mattresses were ok, and you get a nice pillow menu. Crystal made out like bandits, taking our $12K. We paid for a dated and awful looking stateroom, with the exception of a leather couch and a fancy mirror. Still angry and stammering obscenities under my breath on that one!
The dining experience was very nice. We had the dining by reservation. They had to switch us around a couple of times, so our waiters were switched up. We had a bit better service with our original wait staff, but still a good experience.
The buffet in the morning is very good, but after about the 7th day, it all looked the same. The food was very good. We ate everywhere on the ship. It is a bit more elevated than a Disney or Royal Caribbean. Dining, buffet, grill... All excellent service and we couldn't be happier. Wait staff was very accommodating! Unfortunately, the service fell short with our stateroom attendant. We found her to be very lazy: our drinking glasses were not changed out daily, the linens were stained, bathroom cabinets were not wiped down from the previous occupant, nor were they during our stay. By about the 6th day, we had to make a list for our attendant to tend to.
I went to the spa almost every day. The facilities are very nice, and a good spa menu. I tried acupuncture for the first time. Dr. Kara is excellent -- I bought a package of 5. (The spa usually carries Elemis products, and they have added another generic brand that I didn't like, and returned. Stick with the Elemis.)
When we booked this cruise, I was aware of the itinerary, and did check out some of the places on line. They are really reaching with a couple of the ports: Karlskrona, Klaipeda, and Mariehamn. These places were not interesting at all, and had nothing to offer cruisers. We felt it was a wasted day for us, and were very disappointed that the ship docked in these places.
St. Petersburg --- we were in port for 3 days. My agent at the time told me that a visa was not necessary. Well, it is. Get one. It gives you more freedom to get off the ship and explore on your own, or explore with a Crystal excursion.
Our St. Petersburg tour was excellent! The guide was excellent and very knowledgable. The lunch was extremely disappointing: The excursion included lunch. Apparently it was catered out by another company. A dining hall was rented out and lunch was served in the area. This was not a restaurant and you could not order off a menu. Instead, you were served powdered potatoes, and some sort of mystery meat in a gravy sauce. It was like dog food, and I never touched my plate. I asked for another option, and was given rice with some vegetables that I was allergic to. We did make guest relations aware of this experience, but were met with a smiling face and an empty apology.
Stockholm was an overnight. That was one of our best days. It was nice to be able to move on and off the ship freely. Stockholm is an interesting city and easy to get around.
We couldn't wait to get off the ship at this point. We are used to staying at 5-star properties, and our bar is high. We had a trip booked with Crystal for 2017, that we booked before we left for this cruise, which we are cancelling. My husband and I are young, active and independent. We have realized it is best that we explore larger European cities on our own, and do not do well being contained on a ship with a regimented itinerary.
Cruising is subjective. A lot of people swear by Crystal cruise line and love it. We unfortunately had a negative experience, and it didn't work for us. We feel like the price for traveling on a ship with dated stateroom cabins needs to be urgently reevaluated. Definitely a poor value for what you are getting, even though there were some positive highlights to the cruise line.