Crystal Endeavor Entertainment
Shore excursions on Crystal Endeavor are designed to offer a mix of fun and enrichment, curated to best reflect the destination being visited. That means they vary greatly depending on the region of the world in which the ship is sailing.
The heart and soul of the shore excursions is the expedition team, a group of 18 or so dedicated experts who will become your best friends onboard. Crystal Endeavor expedition guides run the gamut, but generally, you'll find naturalists, ornithologists, biologists, marine biologists, photographers, geologists and kayaking guides. This group will formally lead lectures onboard and take questions from passengers, but it's really the one-on-one experience that guests will value. Guides serve as Zodiac drivers, taking passengers from the ship to shore and back, and also join in ports to point out the wildlife and landscape features they speak about. Crystal has hired guides with pretty impressive resumes, and they purposely bring in people who know a specific region well. (So, for example, if the ship is sailing in Antarctica, you can expect an ornithologist with extensive knowledge of penguins and cold-weather birds, as well as a geologist who has a background in glaciology.)
All shore excursions start in the mudrooms on Crystal Endeavor, where passengers put on the required equipment, be it simply a personal floatation device for the Bahamas or boots and parkas for the Poles. (To leave and re-enter the ship from certain regions -- including Antarctica -- passengers must walk their boots through disinfectant so as not to cross-contaminate the delicate ecosystems.) The two mudrooms are virtually identical, and they're designed to get wet and dirty, but still look darn stylish. They have lockers and boot racks, so passengers can store gear there as opposed to in their suites. And there's plenty of bench seating for pulling on boots.
From the mudroom, guests board Zodiacs, which take them ashore or on Zodiac tours that get up close to wildlife and interesting geographic features. If you're heading ashore, you likely will make a "wet-landing", meaning you'll walk the final couple feet to shore through water.
Excursions in the Bahamas or Caribbean might include beach breaks, sea kayaking, informal hikes, snorkeling or Zodiac tours. In Antarctica, they'll be more formal, with options that put guests among the penguins and seals ashore, or have them kayaking among icebergs. Additional excursions might be offered in conjunction with local guides or outfitters in some destinations. These often come with an additional fee.
Of course, you can't talk about Crystal Endeavor without mentioning the ship's two helicopters or its submersible. These high-end "toys" take the expedition experience to the next level, literally, giving guests a bird's-eye (or fish-eye) view of destinations. Excursions on these aren't included in your cruise fare.
Note: While the submersible is onboard Endeavor and expected to be used for its 2021-22 Antarctica season, the helicopters are not and won't arrive till after the season.
Observation spaces clearly were part of Crystal Endeavor from the very beginning of the design stage, as this ship offers the best viewing we've seen on a luxury expedition ship. You won't miss a single whale breach or calving glacier while onboard.
Starting at the top, on Deck 10, you'll find a forward and aft observation deck, along with a 360-degree promenade (which also serves as the ship's jogging/walking track). The observation deck includes lounge chairs and even a walk-through shower, for hot climates.
Deck 9, too, includes a forward observation terrace (in front of the Palm Court lounge) along with open decks along both the port and starboard sides. (This is especially convenient, as they are adjacent to both the ship's library and its expedition lounge, where guests can chat with guides casually, book shore excursions or simply explore maps and read myriad provided guidebooks.)
You'll find the helipad on Deck 8, along with a helicopter lounge, where passengers will be briefed on what to expect onboard. It's worth noting: The helicopter hangar also is on Deck 8, but it doesn't seem to obstruct any views, nor doesn't take away from otherwise usable space in a noticeable way.
On Deck 6, at the bow, you'll find another open space, this one with a jetted hot tub. You'll also find seating galore, along with heat lamps to keep you warm
The ship’s beautiful aft Solarium is a revelation. Spanning decks 5, 6 and 7, it's enclosed in glass, providing natural light and an unobstructed view of the world outdoors, while keeping you comfortable, warm and dry. Even the ceiling is made of glass, so theoretically, you could watch birds fly over without stepping foot outside. The ship's only pool is located here, and though only lightly used on our cruise, we could see the appeal of swimming as you're cruising through the Arctic. Guests can enjoy the outdoor space at the back of Solarium on Deck 5, even walking around to the viewing area all the way at the front of the ship
If you must be at water level, Crystal Endeavor offers a marina, which essentially folds down to create an additional viewing deck a few feet from the sea. When its open, chairs and tables are set out, and bar service is even an option. In warm weather, it might be used as a swimming platform, as there's a ladder that can be dropped into the water from the deck.
Tip: The Marina is accessible from the Solarium, and it's not so easy to find if you don't know what you're looking for. The access stairs are located on the starboard side of the Solarium, tucked behind the staircase that connects the pool level to the mezzanine above. You'll need to walk down two levels to reach the Marina, and it almost feels as if you're venturing out of bounds.
And finally, Crystal Endeavor features two gangways, which get passengers on and off the ship in ports with piers. When they're not in use, they serve as cantilevered viewing decks, one on either side of the ship.
All this observation space is meaningful, as it means you won't be jammed in with other guests fighting for the best pictures or the perfect view of the scenery.
Those guests who love the high-tech gadgetry will go gaga over the ship's Shotover gimbal camera system as well as the robotic Remote Operated Vehicle. The Shotover system is installed on the ship's mast and can zoom in for close views of wildlife, in real time. These will be streamed directly to TVs throughout the ship as well as the 65-inch screen in the Palm Court and the 86-inch screens in the Expedition Lounge. Likewise, the ROV will roam to depths of almost 2,000 feet and capture imagery for broadcast. The Crystal Cove lounge has two 145-inch screens and one 218-inch screen for additional viewing.
Crystal Endeavor provides guests a wide variety of clothing and gear, some for use while you sail and some that you can take home with you. In the polar regions, you'll be provided boots and windproof/waterproof pants for use while sailing. You'll also get a parka, a waterproof bag and water bottles, all to take with you. In warmer environments, you might get a windbreaker instead of the parka.
Tip: If you're looking to hang out outdoors, a favorite spot is Deck 10, midship. Here, you'll find shade, comfortable seating around tables on chair and couches, and heaters. Even if you think you're alone, servers will find you and offer you drinks.
Enrichment comes in many forms onboard Crystal Endeavor. Lectures are most common, with several offered a day on things like birds in the area or seals. You also can expect photographers to walk you through basics such as using your cell phone to take photos or advanced techniques like how to use the various modes on your SLR. Endeavor also has an artist-in-residence to teach travel painting and sketching.
Crystal also has a partnership with marine research and conservation programs ORCA and COA. As such, scientists from each will join select voyages to conduct research, offer lectures and join excursions.
During the day, you'll have the opportunity to partake in lectures, the occasional trivia contest or visit the casino. (The casino is surprisingly large for a ship this size and even offers a private gaming room.)
The ship doesn't have a cruise director; instead, hosts kind of run the show. At night, that might mean a pianist (we really enjoyed an excellent pianist/vocalist who took on the likes of Billy Joel) or the Crystal Duo. We also had a blast watching an entertainer cover everything from Phil Collins to Barry White, finishing with a fantastic take on "We Are the World", in which he performed admirably in all 21 voices. Shows take place in the evening, though not usually too late, as excursions start bright and early. You'll either visit Crystal Cove or Palm Court for entertainment. Both places have lots of seating and big bars. Palm Court has more natural light, while Crystal Cove features dynamic 4K screens for interactive shows.
Passengers essentially hang out at three bars/lounges onboard, but you can have drink service pretty much anywhere. We found service to be exceptional (perhaps because of the 1:1 crew-to-passenger ratio).
For the views
Your best spot for viewing is Palm Court, located all the way forward on Deck 9. This lounge has indoor and outdoor space, offering unobstructed views.
For the technology
The 4K video screens in Crystal Cove make for some pretty spectacular viewing in its own right. When the live video feeds from the mast or underwater cameras are running, this is a solid spot to while away the time.
For cigar lovers
Head to Connoisseur Club if you like a good cigar with a nice scotch or whiskey.
Crystal Endeavor's lone pool sits in the Solarium -- technically an indoor space but a really perfect spot for swimming and scenery-watching. You'll also find a hot tub there. People swim at off-peak hours, when diners aren't close by enjoying breakfast or lunch. The floor of the pool rises up when it's closed, creating a cover that people can walk on. It theoretically could serve as a stage for shows, something Crystal has said it is considering.
An additional hot tub is located on Deck 6. This is our favorite hidden spot onboard; on our sailing, we found we were often the only ones using the sun deck and hot tub, which is accessed by walking through nondescript doors at the end of a corridor dedicated to guest suites. In fact, you need to walk through a door that looks like it's marked as an "Emergency Exit" (it's not), go through another door marked "Lobby" and a third that looks like a fire door marked "Open Deck".
Likewise, the Marina is a bit tough to find but worth the walk. Getting there requires walking through the Solarium on Deck 5, down two flights of stairs to Deck 3. When it's open, the views are the best onboard.
Crystal Endeavor features a lovely large library, with many books available for check-out while you're aboard. Here, you'll find a self-service coffee/tea station (called The Pantry) and tables for sitting, as well as a fun faux fireplace. An expedition lounge is across the hall, offering guests access to the expedition guides. Books here highlight expeditions, and you can see reference materials on wildlife.
Wi-Fi is available and included, though it won't be as reliable in some regions, where internet satellites generally aren't available.
Two shops are located on Deck 5 and offer various items like jewelry, clothing and sunglasses. A self-service launderette is available, free of charge, on Deck 3. Passengers may also send out laundry, for a fee, depending on cabin category. Dry cleaning, also for a fee, is available.
Crystal loads up its app, Crystal Connect, with details of your voyage, so download it before you board. The app has menus for all restaurants, offers the daily schedule and gives details on your expedition team. We found it invaluable on our sailing, though we did request printouts of the daily schedule.
The ship has a medical center.
Crystal Endeavor has a spa offering a number of treatments, such as massage or facials. A men's and women's changing room each offer lockers, a shower and a sauna and steam room. There's no thermal spa, but some comfortable lounge chairs are available for relaxing when guests have some down time.
Across from the spa is a well-appointed salon, where passengers can have nail and hair treatments performed.
The ship features a nice-sized fitness center, with LifeFitness cardiovascular equipment as well as dumbbells, some weight benches, mats, foam rollers and weight balls. It's got space for doing yoga or stretching on your own. There is no fitness instructor onboard to lead private exercise sessions or fitness classes.
A walking/jogging track encircles Deck 10; 10 laps equal 0.8 miles. The ship's Marina, which is used as an additional lounge space rather than for water sports, might be used for swimming in good weather.
Tip: It's actually quite tricky to find the changing rooms if you aren't doing a spa appointment. (This makes the sauna and steam room uncrowded.) To get to the changing rooms, take the unmarked door to the left of the reception area.
Crystal Endeavor is designed for adults, though children older than 6 months are permitted to sail. That said, children under 6 years old are not allowed to use Zodiacs, which are used daily to get passengers ashore. Children under 6 must remain onboard, under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
Infants ages 6 months to 24 months may travel as a third berth in suites, with a third-berth rate, if available.
Children under 6 years old aren't permitted to sail Arctic or Antarctic cruises, nor are women more than 8 weeks pregnant.
Crystal doesn't offer children's programming, and during the pandemic, it has suspended its Junior Activities and in-suite babysitting services.
Older children who thrive in an adult environment do best onboard Crystal Endeavor.