Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by Aapreciate
- Sail Date: July 2016
- Destination: British Isles & Western Europe
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah
The good: Overall food quality was very good in all venues. We loved Prego and Silk Road, liked the MDR, liked Lido, and liked Trident. We got room service breakfast several times and that was also good. And we had WONDERFUL service in the MDR and in Prego, very fun, warm, and caring servers (Nikola and Stanko in the MDR). We also loved the Avenue Bar and their bartenders. We liked the overall itinerary as well, circling the UK.
The bad: I am in the camp of those who feel the veranda staterooms are cramped and very worn. The "couch" was stained, the carpet coming up by the veranda door, the chair ripped, the throw pillows disgusting, and the design of the lights in the headboard absurd when the beds are twinned. The veranda was dirty and sticky (they cleaned it our last day). The cabins were also not wonderfully cleaned, with extraneous hair and an old shampoo bottle greeting us at the start. Not fun.
Crystal's website is also horribly designed and primitive, with very unreliable functionality on mobile. Hello, 20th century UI! 1995 called and they want their systems back.
The ugly: Five things really made me dislike this cruise. First, the ports used by Crystal for London, Dublin, and Edinburgh really made any kind of immersive experience in those cities impossible to achieve, given the horrible shuttles employed. I sat on the Edinburgh shuttle for over an hour and a half one day, and only part of that was due to traffic. Even more fun, I sat on a bus for the final day's shore excursion (and there were only FOUR choices on that day) for more than FIVE HOURS due to traffic from the stupid location Crystal used. Even Dublin was disappointing as no shuttles ran after 8 PM so it was difficult to stay late in the city. The combination of horrible docking locations and abysmal shuttle services really cut into my enjoyment of the cruise.
Second, I made spa appointments very early on for all of us, but the experience I had in the spa is the worst I've ever had in a spa due to cleanliness. There's only one bathroom in the changing room. When I entered, it was full of diarrhea and blood, completely disgusting and very smelly. Bloody toilet paper was in the trash can. All the other trash cans were overflowing as well, and cast-off robes and slippers were on the bench. I brought this to the attention of my provider and they were going to clean it up, but when I finished my service (also really disappointing because the massage table was ancient and could not be adjusted for the proper angle for my neck) things had been only slightly cleaned (the smell still lingered). I took a shower and there were HUGE clumps of hair in the one shower where the tap worked. UGH. If you're going to have a spa with prices like this and a tiny changing room, you MUST keep it FLAWLESSLY clean. Otherwise, yuck, yuck, yuck.
Third, I am mid-fifties and I like technology. The internet connection available on this cruise was AWFUL. The wifi did not work more than it did work, and even the wireless data was not available for entire days at a time. I have to occasionally look in at work when away and there were days when I could not. I am not cruising again until this problem is fixed.
Fourth, I think $50 for the jpeg of pictures purchased is outrageous given the cost of the printed pictures themselves. Those flash drives cost 50 cents, so this is a markup of what, 10000%? The photographers were good but the price overall, even on prints, is beyond gouging.
Finally, the lack of any evaluation of shore excursions made it difficult to choose good ones. While we had great fun with, for example, the Belfast Food Tour, other excursions ranged from disappointing to excruciating. Other cruise companies provide an opportunity to rate the shore excursions publicly to help guide one's choices (and I would assume to help the cruise company offer the best of them). The shore excursion staff was not even interested in my verbal feedback. One got the impression that some of the staff (shore ex and front desk) felt they were babysitting spoiled kindergartners, that they had heard this all before and were listening only because they had to (indeed, one person said, "I have heard this complaint many times before." Excuse me? If you have heard it many times before why did Crystal not change things?).
Overall, while the dining staff was very good, I am left with a huge feeling of fundamental disrespect for passengers (particularly A and B category passengers). Crystal is expanding like mad, but I recommend they look again at their core competencies. Good food and great wait staff is only going to get the line so far. I do not plan to cruise Crystal again (I had a much better experience last year on both Silversea and Seabourn).
PS Ironically, when I tried to do Crystal's followup survey on my iPhone it failed and crashed. So Crystal, here is your feedback.
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