We chose this cruise based on homeport, itinerary and time of year. To add some context it was our 4th cruise this year, princess - 19 days, Holland America- 15 days and Celebrity - 12 days. Given the per diem rate and our previous experiences on Crystal we had high expectations some of which were met and some not.
Crystal exceeded our expectations in the areas of enrichment, learning and specialty restaurants. Plenty to do and see. The food and service at the sushi bar,Umi Uma, Prego was first rate as was the food. Charrascuria is a novelty, service was very good but some of the meat was tough. Silk and trident grill were great for lunch. The soloists in crystal cove and avenue saloon were very professional and enjoyable. The production shows and guest entertainers were same as any other line - we’d seen a lot of them elsewhere. Service in crystal cove, silk bar and avenue saloon was exceptional. Good job! There is self serve laundry and free wifi. All inclusive and the pours were almost too generous.
Disappointments were more than we expected for a 5 or is it 6 star line. The market place buffet (only open to 1:30 daily) was just plain minimalistic, minimal choice, poorly prepared and self serve (ick) regurgitated leftovers. Better choices on all three other ships.
The Waterside dining room was just awful. In the centre of the room with a low ceiling there was lest than 6 inches between tables whether it be 2 or 4. No engagement with the waitstaff, no one ever came and asked if your food was good. If you wanted a different wine other than what the sommelier had in his had it was a big ask. No flowers on the tables, no decorations at all even though it was a Christmas and New Years cruise. A little sprig of holly would have perked it up. The only cheese available for omelets were cheddar or Swiss and the only berry jam was strawberry. They used to have the best cherry jam ever. The food was inconsistent- poultry was tough and stringy, lots of veal dishes, interesting sides - not cohesive at all. Expected more elegance and finis. Suspect they are still trying to sort out open sitting but in the mean time it’s worst dining experience in a very long time.
The bistro was basically ritz or water crackers and aforementioned cheese and desserts including a chocolate waterfall (self serve with lots of kids on board). There was no lido (buffet) after 1:30 pm , no dinner or afternoon snacks.
Smoking was permitted in the pool area port side, on aft of decks 7,8,9,10 and in the connoisseur club on deck 6. Maybe time to rethink - couldn’t get to avenue saloon without cutting through the smoke. Depending on the wind the pool area was stinky. It could just be rethought to accommodate both the smokers and nons.
In the casino, obviously a different ownership, you need3d to sign up for a card, long line, then they gave a questionnaire wanting additional personal info - trashed that. The casino was well run but drinks were scarce. Deck chair hogs - need I say more - and shade was at a premium.
Our previous experiences with crystal always lead us to say it was the ultimate experience - after this trip we don’t think we will return. The value for money just wasn’t there. Not even an uptick in the quality of champagne on New Years .
Plenty of storage, well appointed, good water pressure. We are used to either suites or at least a balcony, we could justify the $ for upgrade.