Embarkation - We booked our own flights to San Jose, Costa Rica and purchased cruise line transfers to Caldera, a two hour drive. We got off to a shaky start as our connection on US Air was delayed due to fog in the Charlotte Airport. We arrived at the gate for our international flight 15 minutes before departure, too close for comfort! We would have missed the first 4 days of the cruise if we had not made this flight! Next time we go a day ahead like we normally do, or a least have a few backup flights. All was well when we were greeted in the San Jose Airport by a Crystal representative. After a 2 hour bus ride, embarkation was a breeze and we were in our Cabin in short order.
Ship - The Crystal Symphony is compact and very passenger friendly compared to the newer mega-ships. It has a crew of 545 and a passenger capacity of 922. There are basically three decks where all of the activities are held: Deck 5 - Dining, Deck 6 - Nightlife and Deck 11 - Pool and Buffet. Of special note is the Bistro, a better than Starbucks coffee shop on Deck 6. Specialty coffees and teas are included, so a quick stop for a Cappuccino was a regular event. We also liked the Avenue Saloon for cocktails before dinner. One evening an enjoyable Dixieland jazz concert was held in the lobby on Deck 5. There is a true Promenade deck where walking exercisers meet daily and others just take a stroll. Deck 12 has a spa, salon and fitness center. We did not take advantage of these facilities on this cruise. Each floor with cabins has a complimentary guest laundry tat sees a lot of use.
We were in a Category A verandah cabin on Deck 9. It included all of the standard amenities even though it was a little smaller than similar cabins on newer ships. The bathroom was well appointed and even included a small tub/shower and a double sink. Storage was plentiful as all of our suitcases fit under the bed. The bed was very comfortable and this was enhanced by a pillow menu! We spent a lot of time on our verandah which had a nice sized table and two chairs. Room service is available 24 hours a day and we ordered light meals on several occasions and ate watching the beautiful scenery. Sodas and water were complimentary. TV channels were varied and the quality was good. We particularly liked a daily comedy special hosted by Paul the Cruise Director.