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We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen and Thomson. Fellow cruisers had suggested that Crystal ships were the best but we did not want to risk the expense of a long haul flight only to find that the larger ships in the Crystal fleet did not suit us. As it happens we were very glad of our decision and the cruise was only saved by glorious weather and delightful ports. Crystal Symphony takes around 800 guests and is therefore not much larger than the Silversea and Seabourn ships we use regularly. It was very American in its style and ambience. Fellow passengers were mainly American (around 80% despite the cruise originating in the UK) with a wide range of other countries each represented by just a handful of people. The first major issue we had was the size of the cabins and bathroom. The bathroom was so small that it was difficult to avoid knocking one's head against the fancy glass washbasin if the ship rolled while rising from the sitting position. Bath products were supplied in non-branded and cheap looking plastic tubes. Performance of the products was mediocre at best. The cabin was very small indeed. If one wanted to eat in the room (the only option if one did not want to use one of the 2 set dinner times), then it would be a question of taking it in turns to move. The cabin on Crystal Symphony was 206 sq ft whereas on Seabourn Odyssey an ocean view cabin is 295 sq ft and on Silver Sea Spirit it is 312 sq ft. The second issue was the dining arrangements. We had booked dining by reservation in order to avoid the 6.15 or 8.30 dinner sittings. However, on trying to book we were told that the only tables available were at either of the set dinner sitting times - not exactly what we expected. Tables are mainly fixed at the size of the party in the booking so that mixing with other cruisers is not easy. Service was performed at the run with the next plate of food hovering at one's elbow before the knife and fork hit the plate for the final mouthful. Perhaps Americans like this style of service but we found it unpleasant. The food in general was at best moderate. On the formal dinner evening, caviar was offered. This turned out to be less than half a teaspoon of caviar on a huge plate with 3 blobs of sour cream and two blinis - not exactly the Seabourn standard of a beautiful set of dishes nestled in a crisp folded napkin containing a bowl of several ounces of caviar, bowls of chopped egg white and egg yolk, sour cream and a dozen crisp pieces of fine toasts. Desserts were poor at dinner but beautiful at the dessert buffet at lunch time. Coffee at dinner arrived with dessert - again perhaps due to American nature of the ship. Buffet lunch was better with a good range of hot and cold dishes but the buffet was only available for dinner on one night of the cruise. The deck grill (in a sort of conservatory with retractable roof where there used to be an indoor pool) was poor. At this standard I expect a toasted sandwich order to arrive with a little garnish to make the plate look attractive. it arrived on a blank plate looking forlorn. Ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) was available but served in waxed paper tubs with plastic spoons. Sauce is added by the guest from a huge plastic bottle - just not really what we expect from a top line cruise ship. The reason for the tiny cabins is clear once one explores the public rooms. There is a show lounge, cinema, ballroom, 3 bars with live entertainment, night club, paddle tennis court, golf driving nets as well as huge fitness and spa facility. The covered deck area is large and there are hundreds of sun loungers around the outdoor pool arranged in neatly packed rows. However, it was almost impossible to meet other cruisers. When we went to bars, there was hardly a soul there. If a dozen or so people were in the same place, then the music was so loud and the chairs so far apart that conversation was impossible except at impolite levels of raised voices. There was hard core of about 6 people who used the ballroom using the services of the gentleman hosts again making this large facility seem over sized. In conclusion, this cruise line would suit those with a wish to rush from lunch to entertainment, to dinner (in a hurry) and on the more entertainment. Use of the cabin should be restricted to sleeping only. One should not want to socialize with other guests too much.

Crystal Symphony was not quite a full orchestra for us

Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by sbsb13

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2017
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Large Picture Window
We chose to take a short "taster" cruise from Dover for 6 days in order to try out Crystal cruises. We have sailed regularly on Seabourn and Silversea ships as well as trying other brands such as Celebrity, Cunard, Fred Olsen and Thomson. Fellow cruisers had suggested that Crystal ships were the best but we did not want to risk the expense of a long haul flight only to find that the larger ships in the Crystal fleet did not suit us. As it happens we were very glad of our decision and the cruise was only saved by glorious weather and delightful ports.

Crystal Symphony takes around 800 guests and is therefore not much larger than the Silversea and Seabourn ships we use regularly. It was very American in its style and ambience. Fellow passengers were mainly American (around 80% despite the cruise originating in the UK) with a wide range of other countries each represented by just a handful of people.

The first major issue we had was the size of the cabins and bathroom. The bathroom was so small that it was difficult to avoid knocking one's head against the fancy glass washbasin if the ship rolled while rising from the sitting position. Bath products were supplied in non-branded and cheap looking plastic tubes. Performance of the products was mediocre at best. The cabin was very small indeed. If one wanted to eat in the room (the only option if one did not want to use one of the 2 set dinner times), then it would be a question of taking it in turns to move. The cabin on Crystal Symphony was 206 sq ft whereas on Seabourn Odyssey an ocean view cabin is 295 sq ft and on Silver Sea Spirit it is 312 sq ft.

The second issue was the dining arrangements. We had booked dining by reservation in order to avoid the 6.15 or 8.30 dinner sittings. However, on trying to book we were told that the only tables available were at either of the set dinner sitting times - not exactly what we expected. Tables are mainly fixed at the size of the party in the booking so that mixing with other cruisers is not easy. Service was performed at the run with the next plate of food hovering at one's elbow before the knife and fork hit the plate for the final mouthful. Perhaps Americans like this style of service but we found it unpleasant. The food in general was at best moderate. On the formal dinner evening, caviar was offered. This turned out to be less than half a teaspoon of caviar on a huge plate with 3 blobs of sour cream and two blinis - not exactly the Seabourn standard of a beautiful set of dishes nestled in a crisp folded napkin containing a bowl of several ounces of caviar, bowls of chopped egg white and egg yolk, sour cream and a dozen crisp pieces of fine toasts. Desserts were poor at dinner but beautiful at the dessert buffet at lunch time. Coffee at dinner arrived with dessert - again perhaps due to American nature of the ship. Buffet lunch was better with a good range of hot and cold dishes but the buffet was only available for dinner on one night of the cruise. The deck grill (in a sort of conservatory with retractable roof where there used to be an indoor pool) was poor. At this standard I expect a toasted sandwich order to arrive with a little garnish to make the plate look attractive. it arrived on a blank plate looking forlorn. Ice cream (Ben and Jerry's) was available but served in waxed paper tubs with plastic spoons. Sauce is added by the guest from a huge plastic bottle - just not really what we expect from a top line cruise ship.

The reason for the tiny cabins is clear once one explores the public rooms. There is a show lounge, cinema, ballroom, 3 bars with live entertainment, night club, paddle tennis court, golf driving nets as well as huge fitness and spa facility. The covered deck area is large and there are hundreds of sun loungers around the outdoor pool arranged in neatly packed rows. However, it was almost impossible to meet other cruisers. When we went to bars, there was hardly a soul there. If a dozen or so people were in the same place, then the music was so loud and the chairs so far apart that conversation was impossible except at impolite levels of raised voices. There was hard core of about 6 people who used the ballroom using the services of the gentleman hosts again making this large facility seem over sized.

In conclusion, this cruise line would suit those with a wish to rush from lunch to entertainment, to dinner (in a hurry) and on the more entertainment. Use of the cabin should be restricted to sleeping only. One should not want to socialize with other guests too much.
sbsb13’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Stateroom with Large Picture Window
Cabin D 7024
This cabin is on the promenade deck so the heads of walker pass right by your window. The cabin is tiny (as are all of the cabins until the penthouse grade) and the bathroom is minute. The safe is only large enough for cash and credit cards - not computers, cameras or tablets.
Crystal Deck Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews