DH and I had returned to the NorthEast cold weather in January after spending two weeks in Caribbean on Crystal's Serenity. Our 15th anniversary was coming up in February as was Valentine's Day so we wondered whether we could travel back to one of the islands we had stopped at during our holiday cruise for a one-week trip. After a long and exhaustive search, nothing quite fit with availability so late. (It was mid-January)
DH suggested a cruise in Caribbean and since we've been on the larger Crystal Ships, we booked the Esprit which departs every Sunday from Sint Marteen.
We flew down on Saturday and found a hotel on beach to stay one night before and after the cruise. Below is a summary of our experience on Crystal Esprit.
Embarkation was a breeze as we were the only ones at check-in. (There was one other couple already boarded but we didn't see them until later in the day.)
Our cabin was ready for us when we arrived. Every cabin has a Butler assigned as well as housekeeper. The cabin has enough storage for hanging clothes but I always bring an "over-the-door" shoe holder as there isn't enough space on closet floor. The cabin is equipped with a Bluetooth-enabled Samsung Soundbar which came in handy to play my music. The only drawback for us on this cruise is the cabins have no veranda just picture windows.
The ship caters to a maximum 62 passengers and we had 45 onboard for our itinerary. Although not a new ship, the Crystal Esprit has been refurbished in 2015 I believe a job well-done. We used the gym daily and although small, was functional with excellent equipment. There's a dry sauna onboard but it is accessible from pool deck and we never tried it out. There is a piano player onboard to entertain in The Cove pre and post dinner times who sometimes takes on role of DJ for "disco" nights at the Sunset Bar. (There were two disco nights on our itinerary which I believe the passengers requested). Of course, there is a pool deck with comfortable lounge furniture to relax on in shade or sun and a small sea water pool to sit and cool oneself off.
The shore excursions included at least one complimentary at each port as well as excursions at additional fee. In addition, at some of the ports we could use the onboard kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel equipment, jet skis and the submersible bubble.
The dress code is more casual than the larger Crystal ships yet still stylish.
This ship has no elevator so everyone onboard must be able to climb stairs easily. Also, it should be noted for those susceptible to motion sickness, that as this is a small ship, we can feel ship's movement as it traveled from port to port (mostly at night).
The following were the real standouts in our experience....SERVICE and DINING
At every turn, there was someone ready to assist us with everything! It was wonderful. The care and attention to every detail. Birthdays and anniversarys are highlighted at Reception area via a rolling video. The fact that I take my tequila with extra fresh lime juice didn't have to be repeated. Chef Adam Jenkins was in charge of our food experience which surpassed our every expectation. I followed a "whole plant food" diet onboard which was executed every night with perfection as I would expect in a Michelin-Star restaurant. In the mornings, a fresh greens/fruit smoothie was prepared for me. The regular menu which DH enjoyed immensely was exceptional again.
We said we'd go back just for the food and so we have booked the Esprit for later in the year when it returns to Sint Maarten with only two ports of call repeated from our February cruise. Can hardly wait!