One big plus for Esprit is its fee-included tours. In the Seychelles, typically one or two tours are offered on a complimentary basis, with another, more in-depth experience available for an extra fee. On its Adriatic itineraries, there are always two free options, with up to seven or eight additional explorations for an extra charge (including reserving private cars and guides).
On our Seychelles itinerary, each included tour was superb, from a trek to seek out birds and tortoises with a terrifically knowledgeable local guide on uninhabited Cousin Island to a walk through the Valle de Mai nature reserve, a World Heritage Site in a forest known for endemic palms. (That tour continued on to Praslin's internationally renowned Anse Lazio Beach.) When docked at the Seychelles' capital, Mahe, choices included trips to botanical gardens, a culinary excursion and a gorgeous ziplining outing over the jungle canopy.
* May require additional fees
Crystal's We Care You Care Voluntourism effort, available fleetwide, is represented in the Seychelles via a re-forestation hike on Curieuse Island, where passengers help plant trees. On the ship's Adriatic-based sailings, no voluntourism tours are offered.
Supplemental, extra-charge excursions include scuba diving (in many ports) and private guides and cars for those wanting a private adventure. As an example, in Praslin, extra-fee excursions included a golfing tour at the gorgeous Lemuria Resort and deep-sea fishing.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Because the yacht has no theater, you won't find the same production show-type entertainment you'd get on larger cruise ships. We never missed that kind of show. Time onboard, particularly at night when everyone's back from the day's pretty rigorous activities, is filled with live music in the Cove and conversation. Some evenings, the ship hosts films on the sun deck's flat-screen, weather permitting (in the tropical locales, rain showers can be unpredictable).
There is a casino onboard but it's not operational (though when the ship is fully chartered it can be made available).
Crystal Esprit does not offer daytime activities onboard, assuming everyone will either be playing in the water, exploring ashore or just chilling out onboard.
Esprit's talented quartet of destination leaders give a daily informational briefing. The 20- to 30-minute sessions are superbly informative about the islands visited, but not terribly well-attended. Perhaps that's because on our cruise they were typically held at an odd, in-between times (when passengers were just returning from the day's excursions and not yet ready for pre-dinner drinks).
On Crystal Esprit, there were two bars onboard and each had a distinctive personality.
The Cove (Deck 4): The ship's "living room" lounge is a favorite spot for evening drinks. With very busy days in port, entertainment on Crystal Esprit is limited to a pianist who plays an assortment of songs, from torch tunes to Broadway hits, before and after dinner in the Cove. But what a pianist ours was! With a vibrant personality and an ability to remember which songs individual passengers preferred, the evenings were lively and fun.
Sunset Bar (Deck 5): Up on the sun deck, this quiet bar is a gathering spot for those reclining on sun loungers, sprawling on futon couches or reading a book in the cozy basket chairs. It also services the adjacent Sunset Grill.
Easily the most popular feature on Esprit is its marina, located at the back of the yacht. From here, passengers board tenders to ports of call, swim off a platform attached to the ship's hull and take advantage of recreational options that include snorkeling, water skiing, kayaks and Jet Skis (all complimentary).
Esprit's most exotic -- and frankly its most memorable -- feature is its three-person submersible. It offers a chance to descend some 300 meters (about 1,000 feet) into the sea to spot reefs and marine life. It is one of the few fee-extra activities, at $599 per 20- to 30-minute ride, but is definitely a worthwhile splurge.
The ship's reception desk -- which is a purser's desk/shore excursion center/customer service area, all in one -- is located on Seabreeze Deck (right next to the Pantry). There are no shops or boutiques onboard.
A medical center, staffed by a ship's doctor, is located on Deck 3.
Wi-Fi is offered to all on a complimentary and unlimited basis and passengers used their own devices -- phones, tablets and laptop computers -- to access the Internet. The front desk was available to print out any documents needed.
Smoking is not permitted onboard.
On Esprit, the activities off-shore (and just off the marina) are very active, whether it's snorkeling, hiking, swimming, water skiing or scuba diving. For those who still want a good workout, the gym's fitness center is small but well represented with a stationary bicycle, Nordic walking, treadmill, free weights and mats for stretching. It's also got a Kinesis Wall.
Yoga and Pilates classes, led by the ship's fitness director, take place on the sun deck or, when possible, on the beach. All classes are complimentary.
While there's no formal spa, Esprit does have a massage therapist/facialist onboard, and the additional-fee treatments, offered in a small cabin that's transitioned to a treatment room, are superb.
The expansive sun deck offers a small plunge pool, with wonderful Balinese beds, basket chairs and sun loungers all wrapped around the deck. About half of these lie under a shady canopy.
Although children are allowed to sail, there are no dedicated facilities or organized activities for kids. The minimum age for sailing is six months, but the line encourages parents to think twice before bringing children younger than 12. Curious, polite, social teens will do well if they're interested in active excursions and local culture and cuisine.