Getting home from our Crystal Cruise, reminds you how much you learn to appreciate Crystal. We went on Kings and Caviar cruise 0214, to the Baltics. Highlights of the boat:
Positives: 1. Room Service - First boat we've been on with a pretty extensive room service menu, available 24/7 and don't worry about using the breakfast menu on the door, they always delivered on time. 2. Lido Cafe - The food was always hot and service was always great. Already missing the thousand island dressing. 3. Cigar Lounge - The Connoisseur Club was just great. They had a decent selection,and a great staff with TV to watch world cup or news. Also had little snacks floating around at night. 4. Dining Room - Very good, could have used French service though. Food was excellent every night, never had a problem. 5. Internet Cafe - The internet was the most reasonable I have seen on any cruise. For $300 I basically had internet whenever I wanted it the entire cruise. Was kind of slow, especially before dinner and on sea days, but generally in port it was great. 6. The Little Touches - After an 18 hour trip from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and touring all day on a Crystal tour, they left food in the room with sandwiches and chips at 1am so we had something to snack on before going to sleep. Really a nice touch especially since I was literally running to order room service. 7. The Staff - they really will do anything to try and make you a happy guest. I wanted Mango Sorbet, they found Mango Sorbet ashore the next day. 8. Specialty Restaurants - Prego was pretty good, but I was not crazy about it. Silk Road was definitely a highlight, one complaint is that they did not have authentic Japanese Wagyu Beef, only fake American stuff. Yes you can tell the difference, and it is quite noticeable in fact. Most people have not had the real Wagyu beef. The service was great in both however. 9. Airport Transfers, and Crystal Air - It's free, and it's smooth, quick and easy. They load your luggage right on the bus for you. You just take it off when you get to the airport could not be easier. Highly recommended. 10. Movie Theater- Great, seats could have been a little more comfortable, but the popcorn was fresh and very good. Overall a pleasurable experience. 11. Age Policies - Expect exceptions if with parents, and very lenient. The most accommodating and flexible age policies I have seen on a boat. Not being 21 (20 yrs old), they still served me my favorite Kamikaze shots, and never saw anyone else having a problem on the boat, if under 18 a parental escort was needed into more adult places like the cigar lounge or night club at night, but in general most young adults under 18 really didn't have a problem anywhere but those two places. Obviously the casino was off limits until 21, probably a good thing for me since my wallet doesn't agree with casinos.
A Positive and a Negative: 1. Entertainment - They brought on to the ship before we left St. Petersburg, Native St. Petersburg performers to put on a show. It was excellent. Also they brought on a famous London West End performer who was out of this world, as good as broadway. Emerging artists was amazing, with three kids, one doing opera, one doing broadway, and one playing the piano, all of which were truly great. However, the Comedian was just ok, and the magician was subpar at best. The Crystal Singers and Performers had one very good male lead vocalist, and one very bad (so bad we had to leave) female lead vocalist.
Long walk to other parts of the boat. Has a little bit of vibration in the morning. Otherwise fine.
Oslo was truly beautiful. We docked right next to the Opera house and went on a tour of the resistance museum and Akershus Castle for a total of $60 per person. It was very good, and our tour guide was a historian. It was a very good tour, would recommend it. The ship docks with a short 15 minute walk into town where they have shopping.
We went to the Ice Bar and Rosenberg Castle. It was a pretty nice tour, but the ice bar was over rated, and in general I was not a fan of Copenhagen and their politics. However Copenhagen is a very nice city, and it had some very nice sights.
Visby is simply beautiful. We took the West Coast Highlights tour, where we saw a Church, and old fishing town, and a panoramic view of the bay. Also the city of Visby was simply beautiful, with cobblestone streets and nice shops in the old city. Kind of had a downtown feel to it. Unfortunately we were there when everything was closed for Midsummer holiday, but it was still beautiful to see. I did shatter my Iphone on the Cobblestones there though, but can't really blame that on the destination.
Russia has it's pluses and minuses. First of all you can't get off the boat without a tour or a visa. My reason for giving it a 5 not a 5+. We took a Hermitage and St. Petersburg highlights tour the first day. This was a very good tour and our tour guide was a Art History major, so that was helpful going through the Hermitage museum. Overall however, St. Petersburg is a very depressing place, which reeks of depressed people. It is definitely something to see, but I simply cannot define it as beautiful, because most of it isn't. Also keep in mind the bridges go up from 1:30am to 4:30am making it very difficult to get back to where the boat is docked. We also took a Moscow and the Mysterious Kremlin tour where we took a flight to Moscow and back. It was overall a good flight, and we had a great time. Moscow was simply amazing, and we took a tour of the Kremlin castles, which were visually stunning, with Gold and Marble nearly everywhere. This tour was apparently really hard to get and very few people get to see it. We ate dinner at the Writer's Club which is definitely a highlight, you can still smoke inside however most cruise guests are very closed-minded so don't expect to be socially accepted doing it. They do have a smoking room where Ronald Reagan once sat. The food and service was extremely good there. We barely made it back before the bridges opened and we would be stuck. The last day we did a Constantine palace tour, which included a wine tasting. It was a beautiful tour, that left you in awe of the Russian architecture. Also our sommelier at the wine tasting was the same sommelier that served George Bush and Putin in the same place where we had our wine tasting. Amazing simply amazing.
Personally I wasn't a fan of Helsinki, quite frankly it was kind of boring. It was just generally very boring, and we took a bus tour, which showed us the sites. The architecture was boring, everything was just kind of boring.
We took a bus and boat tour in Stockholm, and were content with it. We went exploring through Stockholm ourselves, and had a wonderful time. The buses from the boat drop you off right downtown and it is up to you to explore on your own. It is a very nice and clean city, and I would recommend exploring it, as you will likely enjoy it.