Esprit, Crystal Cruises' first-ever yacht vessel, debuted in 2015. The 62-passenger ship, beautifully refurbished, resembles a contemporary, comfortable boutique hotel.
Esprit presents such Crystal hallmarks as fine food and wine and attentive service, and the atmosphere onboard does complement the experience on Crystal's much-loved Symphony and Serenity -- from a miniature perspective. There's a beautiful sun deck with small splash pool, a one-room spa for massages and facials and the lovely Cove Bar, which essentially serves as the vessel's living room and is where passengers gather each night. Staterooms on the all-suite ship are mostly identical, save for one Owner's Suite, and are equipped with all the modern conveniences -- from power ports for personal devices to super-comfortable beds and spacious bathrooms.
At the same time, Esprit offers a very different experience from the line's 1,000-passenger cruise ships, mainly because the focus of the cruise is primarily on activities onshore. Our Seychelles voyage had no "sea days"; the ship traveled short distances between islands generally at night or early in the morning. Activities revolved primarily around recreational opportunities -- snorkeling, swimming, hiking, cycling, kayaking and paddle boarding among them. When in port, the ship is mostly at anchor (rather than tied up at a pier), which means tricky transfers on and off Zodiacs and other transfer boats. Occasionally there are wet landings, in which boats pull up onto the beach and passengers hop into the shallow sea and walk ashore.
Crystal Esprit attracts an international crowd. Travelers from the United States, Canada and the U.K. make up the greatest percentage, but the yacht also appeals to visitors from Germany, South Africa, Australia and Asia. Passengers of all ages, from 20-somethings traveling with their parents to retirees, have these characteristics in common: They're well-traveled, curious and recreationally active.
The dress code on Esprit is somewhat more casual than onboard Crystal's luxury cruise ships. Passengers were very low-key during the day, wearing bathing suit cover-ups or safari-style travel gear, depending on the itinerary and day's activities. Though there is no stated dress code at night, everyone dresses up a bit with tropically elegant attire, with men wearing collared shirts and women in sundresses and flowing pants outfits.
Esprit is also more inclusive than its sister cruise ships. At least one tour in every port is complimentary, and wine and other beverages (even premium selections) are included in cruise fares. Gratuities are also included.
The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.
Standard tips (for wait staff, cabin stewards, etc.) are included in the cruise fares. Passengers can award additional gratuities at their discretion, but extra tipping is neither expected nor required.
A gratuity of 18 percent is automatically added to bills for all spa treatments.
Cruise fares include all beverages, including premium brand spirits and wines chosen daily.
"Our second fabulous experience on the Crystal Esprit"