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6 Venice Crystal Esprit Cruise Reviews

We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. ... Read More
We love cruises and had been looking for one to Croatia. Our previous cruises had been with the big middle market lines - Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc. We picked this 1-week Venice to Croatia cruise for three reasons. First, most of the big ships stop in only one or two ports in Croatia, but Esprit stops in six different ports on a one-week cruise. The small size (they refer to it as a yacht) enables them to go to the smaller places that are less crowded and often more enjoyable. Second, we went with a group hosted by a family that owns a winery in Napa that we love and are club members of. So there were a number of special dinners, receptions and wine tours that were offered as part of this particular cruise, and we even got to visit their sister winery in Croatia. Almost half the 61 passengers aboard were part of our winery group, but we met and made friends with every guest on the boat. Lastly, we wanted to try a smaller boat. Last year, we went on a brand new Royal Caribbean ship that had 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. Though it had lots of high tech entertainment, it was overcrowded and overwhelming. With a max of 62 passengers and 90+ crew, we thought Esprit would be a very different experience. And it was. Embarkation in Venice was a cinch. We embarked from the San Basilio port, easily reached by public water taxi from our hotel in Santa Croce. Check-in was relaxed - no crowds at all, and we could embark anytime during the afternoon. All suites are the same size except for one larger owner's suite. We opted for S3 222 which was close to reception, the 24-hr. self-serve food and beverage pantry, one of stairways, and the gangway. This made it easy to get on/off, or to use the stairways to dining and other activities. I saw one review here that claimed this cabin had a lot of ship noise and another that said it was pretty soundproof. We agree with the latter. Dinners were top notch. Open seating, great service, nice selection of wonderful dishes - just like eating in a five star restaurant every night. The quality of the food and service was so good that we always opted to eat dinner on the boat rather than on shore. As we celebrated my wife's birthday while on board, we asked the chef the day before to make a special dish we wanted, and it was no problem. The included wine was pretty good and always served in Reidel glasses. The wine selections varied each day (we also had complimentary wine available from our group's winery host on several nights). There is also a premium wine list with some excellent choices that cost extra. We didn't see anyone opt for those given the decent quality of the complimentary wine. We enjoyed the informal buffet breakfasts and lunches too. There was a large selection of foods given such a small number of guests, and the food quality and service was, of course, excellent. We discovered about 5 days into the cruise that in addition to the buffet, there is actually a breakfast menu where you can order Japanese breakfasts or poached eggs (e.g., eggs benedict). The pantry was stocked with fancy sandwiches, snacks, desserts, fruit, cookies, beverages, etc. There was also an outdoor grill that had pizza (not great IMHO), hamburgers, and especially good salmon burgers. And room service. The entertainment was rather limited, but that's not what we chose this cruise for. There was a singer/piano player that would perform songs on his own or by your request pre- and after dinner. As with other high-end lines, all drinks were complimentary, all the time. One night, there was an excellent local Croatian music group that entertained us before dinner. In terms of water activities, we only tried the jet skis which were fun (and complimentary). There is a two-seater submersible which we thought was a bit pricey for a 20 minute dive. But it's amazing that they even have one. Guests we spoke with who tried it were a bit disappointed in what they could see in the Adriatic. I suspect this will be great when the yacht repositions to the Caribbean. There were at least two complimentary shore excursions in every port, plus others that involved special activities (bicycling, kayaking, zip lines, or private tours) for an added fee. We always opted for the complimentary excursions and enjoyed all but one of them (as we didn't think that local guide was very good). There is always a host from the ship along with the local guide, making sure no one gets separated especially in crowded ports like Split. Each group seemed limited to about a max of 10 people - Crystal just adds more groups to the popular excursions. Transportation was always in new luxury vans. On one of the islands, our local guide was a professor who teaches Croatian history and culture at universities throughout Croatia. Needless to say, he was incredible. There were a couple of things that really impressed my wife and me. As you embark, they take your photo for your ID card. Within an hour, every staff member we passed on the ship greeted us by name on sight. Wow. I've read that Crystal employees have to go to a very extensive service training program before working on the boat. Many of the staff, including the ever present reception hostesses, Jackie and Kiki, had worked for Crystal on other ships for 12-14 years. It shows. The second thing might seem small, but when you are traveling for 3 weeks, it's not. Each cabin deck has a self-serve washer and dryer. That enabled us to pack fewer clothes for our trip, and change 2-3 times a day (important given the heat during our shore excursions). If you were off at dinner, you could simply ask your butler (available 24x7) to pick up your laundry for you, or to even press your clothes. No charge for any of this. Even though Crystal is more expensive than any other cruise line we've taken (and I think Esprit is more expensive than Crystal Symphony, Serenity, etc.), we are seriously thinking about booking another trip, or at least staying within the Crystal family. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I was very interested in visiting Croatia and I choose the Crystal Esprit because of its high ratings and the itinerary of the ship. We were not disappointed. The service on this ship was very personalized. We had two room cabin attendants ... Read More
I was very interested in visiting Croatia and I choose the Crystal Esprit because of its high ratings and the itinerary of the ship. We were not disappointed. The service on this ship was very personalized. We had two room cabin attendants and a butler. When we would go to breakfast our room was always cleaned by the time we got back from breakfast. The cabin was very comfortable, once we figured out how to get the cabin to a comfortable temperature. The ship was immaculate, no matter where you went, not a dish or plate left anywhere. The food was amazing. It was like eating in a five star Michelin restaurant every night. the chef checked every plate before it left the kitchen. They gave us the option of eating outside where there was only six tables so it was very intimate. Also they went out of their way to make rum raisin ice cream because one of the passengers asked for it. Also one night we had a wonderful Phillipine meal with two other couples because a couple we met asked them for this meal. They would cook anything as long as you gave them a days notice. The only disappointment was that we ordered French toast one morning for breakfast and it was soggy and not cooked completely. Although there was no scheduled entertainment they did bring on local talent that was very good. They also had music every night on the deck. The tours were amazing. Every port we were taken to two different towns, one by the port and one inland. They had small group tours only 10 to 12 per tour. The tour buses were very clean and new. The towns we visited were absolutely beautiful and interesting. Many of the towns were walled cities which were so beautiful. We even got the opportunity to jet shi on the Adriatic. It is a shame that this ship will transfer to the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, Croatia was one of our best trips ever. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
we chose this cruise because the ports of call were the ones we were looking for. also since the ship was smaller that most cruise ships, We were able to pull into Ports with very shallow Harbors. Therefore the ports of call were very ... Read More
we chose this cruise because the ports of call were the ones we were looking for. also since the ship was smaller that most cruise ships, We were able to pull into Ports with very shallow Harbors. Therefore the ports of call were very unique. Rarely did we pull into a port where You were competing with one of those mega-ships anchored outside a harbor. the service was exceptional. i think the crew to passenger ratio was at least 2 to 1. the crew seemed very stress free and it was reflected in the their service. on many cruises we've taken the crew would seemed to be to busy to help us out. most excursions on this cruise were included in the cruise fare. Getting the opportunity to dive in a bathyscape was a once in a lifetime experience. the paid excursion to a small olive oil factory in Parga Greece was 798$ for 2. we enjoyed several courses of freshly cooked courses, but it was still overpriced. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The Esprit was a wonderful a cruise as we could imagine. We have been loyal to Seabourn for several years, but the Esprit was on a par with any Seabourn cruise we've taken. The best thing about the Esprit is that it takes only 62 ... Read More
The Esprit was a wonderful a cruise as we could imagine. We have been loyal to Seabourn for several years, but the Esprit was on a par with any Seabourn cruise we've taken. The best thing about the Esprit is that it takes only 62 passengers. The ship is a beautiful reconstruction of an older ship. Its 285 sq. ft. staterooms have a clean line and comfortable beds. All staterooms have spacious walk-in showers. Above all that the service by a friendly personal crew is first rate. Every mean was superb: a 5-star dining experience of wonderful tastes and experienced dining room service. Most of the excursions are included in the price, as are all gratuities and beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There is nothing we could complain about. It is the wonderful Seabourn experience with a fraction of the guests, leading to close comradeship among us all. Seemingly no detail was left out, and no service request denied. Pants pressed in an hour? Free and no problem. We would return to the Esprit in a heartbeat when we are next interested in a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We just came back from our cruise on the Crystal Esprit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a very new and interesting concept and they are still working out exactly what it is, I think. We thought it was terrific and would like to do it ... Read More
We just came back from our cruise on the Crystal Esprit and enjoyed it very much. It’s a very new and interesting concept and they are still working out exactly what it is, I think. We thought it was terrific and would like to do it again, but we’re also curious how it is going to evolve. Every person on board said they’d do it again but at the same time, everyone had certain “tweaks” they would like to see. I think it’s an interesting territory they are trying to inhabit, in between a “cruise” and the experience of being on a private yacht. Now it’s more the former but I think they will go more in the yacht direction over time. There are max 62 guests on board and we found it to be a more international crowd than usual for Crystal – roughly equal numbers of Americans and Australians, followed by Brits, with Canadians, Mexicans, Spanish and Italian guests also represented. Everyone spoke excellent English. Mostly couples, of ages varying from about 40 to about 80, though all with good mobility (no elevators on this ship). Some interesting groups, for example there were two young girls (10 and 13 respectively) each traveling with their grandparents (not traveling together, though I think they were happy to meet each other on board!); also 2 large multigenerational family groups (adults) celebrating special occasions. The itinerary was TERRIFIC – from the time we left Venice until we pulled into Dubrovnik we didn’t see another cruise ship, and it was great to be going into these tiny harbours and charming towns with all the sailboats. The weather was perfect, the sea was warm, and Croatia is just gorgeous. They have all kinds of watersport facilities on board that were underutilized because the Croatian government is still being very sticky about giving them permits to run the jet skis, submarine, etc. It’s clear this is something they’re working on, it the experience will be better when that is an option every day rather than just once or twice during the sailing. I understand that this part of the experience was much more dominant and "amazing" in the Seychelles, where they are much less restricted. All the shore excursions are “free” (ie included) and they were excellent, but again they were kind of conventional ships tours and that is also something they are working on. Most of them were full day tours with lunch included and most of the guests on board said they would prefer half-day tours that would allow them to relax on the ship, explore on their own or enjoy the watersports for the rest of the day. I suspect that will definitely be a tweak they will make in time. We went zip lining and white water rafting (all included). All the guides were excellent, the experiences were well-chosen and fabulous, and there was attention to our comfort (for example, the most popular excursion saw 30 of the 62 guests all going to Krka national park. Crystal COULD have put us all on one bus, but instead they sent us in 3 comfy mini-buses, each with our own guide. Classy call). Food was 100% up to Crystal standards and thus FABULOUS. The executive chef on board touches every plate. He runs a very tidy kitchen too! All the drinks are included, and we were impressed by the quality and selection of the “free” wines on the list too. All the stressors of cruising like embarkation, disembarkation and “rules” are basically gone. You walk on, they give you some champagne, someone shows you your room. At the end, they arrange “free” transport to the airport or your onward hotel and you leave at your convenience. None of this “red group in the show lounge by 7:15 to await embarkation instructions”. We didn’t even need to pack until the morning we left. "Entertainment" consisted of one piano player/singer; he seemed good but really no one much was looking to be entertained until we had bad weather on the last day. Most guests enjoyed gathering on deck for a drink and great conversation with other travelers. There were no real "enrichment" activities, and although I didn't really miss it, I do think having local lecturers come on board to tell us more about the history of Croatia would have been a bonus. There was also a great watersports team who as mentioned was underutilized; getting those watersports permits sorted out is clearly a priority for the captain. All in all, we enjoyed this very much (even more than our Crystal "big ship" experiences, and that is saying a LOT). I am very excited to see where else they may take this ship. The downside for me right now is that it seems to be going back to Croatia again next summer (good for you if you haven't done this fantastic itinerary yet; not so great for me as we are not big on repeating ports we've already visited). Hopefully they will seek out other smaller yachting areas to explore in the future. Oh - and contrary to a prior Seychelles review - we had virtually NO motion on board. Twice the captain warned us it might be a bit rocky; the first time it was very mild and the second we felt nothing. So, at least in these relatively sheltered waters, the Esprit is very stable and comfortable (even in a big thunderstorm which we did experience!). Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
First scheduled cruise for the newest addition to the Crystal family and can not say enough nice things about the experience. With room for something like 86 pax, an intimate experience is assured and it was!!! Great crew, no, very ... Read More
First scheduled cruise for the newest addition to the Crystal family and can not say enough nice things about the experience. With room for something like 86 pax, an intimate experience is assured and it was!!! Great crew, no, very great crew! Large cabins with great Wi-Fi and no interior cabins. Only three floors with no elevator, so if you are stair challenged, this may not be your choice. Saying that, everyone I saw aboard did not mind the little exercise this offered and kept most of the passengers away from the gym, so I could have it to myself!! Dining experience and the food - out of this world. First time I ever decided to return to ship while on a cruise when I had plenty of time ashore. Why, I just could not wait to see how they prepared lunch when each and every dinner was superb. Breakfast buffet was a visual treat to begin with and the staff noted the special dishes for each morning along with the beautiful spread on the buffet. Each cocktail hour had a marvelous piano player, freshly made apps and an array of adult beverages to start your evening. Wine list were the best I have seen and most of the servers were knowledgeable enough to offer suggestions to pair your meal with an appropriate libation. Shore excursions were all 1st class. For the first trip of the year, it was amazing they were able to pull everything off without a hitch. Every day the offer a free activity; all of which were very pleasing. On hitch, which I am sure they have rectified by now, was embarkation in Venice was not well noted on the documents. I guess they thought everyone would take their offer of transport directly to the yacht, which, I had not. The ports were beautiful. Who could not like the Croatia coast and the lovely small towns that grace the beautiful waters of the Adriatic Sea. Many opportunities to visit a guided tour of local wineries and sample not only their wine, but several even offered local apps or lunch. As a practicing income taxman experiencing his annual post-tax season "get away from it all" this was just about perfect - so much so, my next opportunity to come aboard the Esprit will be with my lovely wife!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Crystal Esprit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 5.0 4.8
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.2
Family 2.0 4.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.9
Service 5.0 5.0
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

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