My husband and I decided to join a friend on a five-week cruise on Crystal's Symphony. She gave it glowing reviews and we were excited about the trip from Auckland across the Pacific to Valparaiso. That dream soon turned to a nightmare, as explained toward the end of this review.
Let me start with the really great part: Crystal employees are devoted and loyal and give first-class service. This part of the trip did meet expectations. It could not exceed them, because they were so high I would have felt harassed if they had tried to do more.
Also, we met lots of great people, though that's generally the case however and wherever we travel. And, having wifi available most of the time at no extra charge was great.
Our cabin was comfortable enough, and the room attendant paid meticulous attention to detail. Storage was abundant and adequate, though it did help that I'd taken piles of wire hangars with me. The bathroom was comfortable and well-lit. Having a tub/shower was a luxury, though two sinks seem unnecessary in such a small space. The built-in hair dryer was wimpy. A better one was in the closet, but couldn't be plugged in in the bathroom.
Aside from electronics and a spotlessly clean bathroom, the condition of our small stateroom was less than we'd expect on an aging, economy-priced ship. The sheer curtains were filthy and so creased they did not meet in the middle and our window overlooked the Promenade deck. Wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Decorative tile in the shower has been scrubbed for so many years half the design has worn off. The carpet was beginning to show ground in grime and wear.
That was just the beginning. Three different times we were freezing to death with the thermostat set on high and had to call to have the ventilation adjusted. At least one day toward the end of the cruise, the entire ship was uncomfortably cold due to HVAC problems. The plumber was in the room at least once a week. The first time a clogged pipe soaked the carpet, requiring two days of heat and fans to dry out. What a nuisance! A faucet leaked from the top, causing water to puddle on the counter and later the floor. White bubbly slime oozed from the floor drain a few times, and once water emerged, soaking the bathmat. The bathroom smelled like sewer gas half the time.
I will give them credit. The plumber always arrived promptly, and when I mentioned the state of the room to the hotel manager, we immediately received new sheers. They would have replaced the wallpaper, but we didn't want the disruption, and we already knew the room was a mess. We just expect better than this from a cruise line that doesn't discount cabins even when the ship is half full because, according to one travel agent I met aboard, "They don't want just anyone on this ship!"
We made our own arrangements to travel from Sydney to Auckland. We've visited Auckland before, so did not spend extra time there. Embarkation process was surprisingly smooth and fast.