Established in 1988, Crystal Cruise Lines, more commonly referred to as just Crystal Cruises, is one of the foremost luxury cruise lines in the world, receiving accolades from a variety of cruise and travel publications, including Conde Nast Traveler.
Until 2015, Crystal employed two mid-size cruise ships, the original Crystal Symphony followed by the Crystal Serenity.
Both Crystal Cruises ships make ongoing travels around the world, with notable travel locales including the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Baltic Sea, and even the Arctic Circle, among others.
In 2015, Crystal Cruises announced an expansion of their travel options by introducing Crystal Yachts, River Cruises, and Crystal Air travel.
Crystal continue to be my preferred cruise line but there are plenty others nearly as good - and better - in some areas. The big gripe with Crystal has always been the size of their staterooms. I see they are finally addressing that in a limited way by increasing the number of penthouses and penthouse suites but, for many, its too little too late. Personally I don't mind the trade off of smaller staterooms for so many large and well thought out public spaces. This cruise was pretty well sold out (we were lucky enough to get an upgrade of several categories from a picture window room to one with a veranda on deck 9) yet the ship never seemed crowded, we never had to queue for anything, the feeling of gracious spaciousness sets this ship apart in my view. Embarkation was a breeze, the greeting was warm and our room was ready pretty well after lunch. We ate at all the eating venues and the quality was consistently good - and sometimes outstanding. The matching wines at dinner were sometimes ordinary but its easy enough to request something different. One thing I noticed in particular (this was my 12th cruise with Crystal) was the quality of the evening entertainment. It has improved markedly from what used to look like amateur high school productions, the Billy Joel tribute show was again outstanding, I'm still not sure about the Illuminate light show, impressive enough in the first 5 minutes and then you are stuck in the dark for another 25 minutes for much of the same thing. I just don't think it matches the type of passenger which Crystal attracts. The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, I was remembered by several of them which I think is always a nice touch. We did a Crystal excursion in each port, they were all overpriced for what they were but pleasant enough. This is an area they could do better in although I like the fact they never completely fill the buses so there's room to spare always. This cruise was originally intended to stop at Monterey, they quietly cancelled that without advising anyone and added another day onto San Francisco - so we ended up being there two nights - great city but a bit lazy on their part. The call to Astoria was a waste of time, we went to a cooking demonstration which was interesting enough but there was clearly very little to do there. So overall a pretty good experience, I am booked again next February on Symphony which will be after their dry dock, looking forward to seeing the improvements. On a separate subject, no surprise to see their recent announcement that the "air cruise" initiative has been cancelled before it even got off the ground. Blind Freddie could see this was never going to fly. "Redeploying" it to charter work is just about saving face. As many others have mentioned, their crazy expansion plans under the new CEO will only lead to tears. They need to stick to their core business, in my humble opinion.
I chose this line for the first time because of its prior reputation. I have traveled several times on Silversea and Seabourn and wanted to try Crystal. The Symphony is a lovely ship although considerably larger than I expected. It is due to go to dry dock in September for major changes. We had a Balcony cabin but it was only 245 square feet including the balcony. I could go on any large ship line for that size Balcony cabin. The bathroom was tiny. It did have 2 sinks, but 2 people would be hard pressed to be in it at the same time. We could not pass each other at the end of the bed to go from one side of the cabin to the other. For this price, it was very disappointing! The dining room decor was lovely and the waiters for the most part just great. Food was a bit spotty. Sometimes really good and others only mediocre. I was shocked that Crystal still has first and second seating. No other 6-star line does that! Again, I might as well have gone on a large-ship line. We were assigned a table in the back of the dining room in the midst of a large group of people with lots of children. They are children so they do make noise, but this many kids magnified the noise. We did not expect this on a 6-star cruise line. We did ask to be reassigned and were given a table at the other end of the dining room. Again, if we wanted to be with a lot of children, we would have taken Disney or Royal Caribbean. Internet was available at no charge for an hour for every day of the cruise. We didn't use that much, but we do understand that full time comp internet is coming soon. The computer classes offered were good, but most geared to Apple. Of course, we have Androids. We did think the evening shows were just superb. They couldn't have been better. The ship's dancers were very talented and the alternate entertainers were amazing. We did enjoy the itinerary and the majority of the cruise, but there will have to be some really big changes to return to Crystal.
Loved the pampering and special attention of the wonderful staff. Although they have to, most of them were very genuine. Our head waiter worked with us each night to ensure our dietary needs were met at dinner. Did not have a bad meal. All special requests were taken care of. Wines in the main dining room were a good choice and the price of the higher end wines was very reasonable - almost retail. The room was well designed and lovely. We unpacked 3 full suitcases and still had an empty drawer! The balcony though not large was suitable(dlx. stateroom), unfortunately the weather did not permit much usage.And our room steward was very helpful with info and genuinely pleasant. Loved taking a couple of tub baths, but it was a bit tight. We only did shore excursions in St. Petersburg and they went smoothly.All ports except one had shuttle buses and that worked well. The only reason I did not give 5 stars is I think the cruise should have started a day later. Departure port Stockholm was having a national holiday so most everything was closed for 2 days, the only day we could have done Moscow on our own was thursday and the Kremlin is closed that day and Warnemunde was a sunday when stores had limited opening. I loved the Crystal experience...although a full cruise at no time did anywhere fell crowded. One tip for this itinerary==wear sneakers or laced shoes...the cobblestones are a work out!
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.
My 4th cruise but first on Crystal Cruise. It will be very hard to cruise on any other line. Pros: Exceptional service. Our PURE room was kept in amazing shape as the attendant must have gone in multiple times throughout the day. So pleasant and welcoming she was. Food is plentiful and clearly labeled. Ask for anything and they seem to have it and will bring it to you without question. Selection, taste and freshness of the food is better than Princess, Carnival and Royal Caribbean in my opinion. No up selling unless it is a very high end booze. I know you pay a premium for a Crystal Cruise but it seems worth it not to be nickle and dimed aboard when you are trying to relax. This includes the gratuities throughout the ship. Smaller ships (1000 people approx) You get to know so many people and very little if no wait times for anything. Entertainment is wonderful. I stopped going to most of the shows on the other lines as it was the same so-so talent teams but on Crystal the regular talent was amazing as was the headliners that they brought in at various stops. Cons:Very hard to find something to complain about but if I had to it would be that the service in the main dining room was very inconsistent depending on the crowd size. The first night was only half full so they set the bar high and it went up and down from there. Food in the dining room is wonderful as it is in the specialty restaurants with the Japanese restaurant being the best of the best Only went to one High tea as the "Mozart Tea" really interested me. While the food and tea were great the only thing that was special was the period costumes the staff wore. The pianist and violinist,played everything from New York New York to Fiddler on the Roof however no Mozart. Will be doing another Crystal cruise as soon as I can..
We are 70 and 71 years old and have cruised 33 times prior to this one, on eleven different cruise lines, in the past 20+ years. We’ve always enjoyed Celebrity, and now in the past two years, we also have thoroughly enjoyed all four of our Crystal cruises. This one was chosen for one specific stop: Edinburgh to attend the Military Tattoo. The rest of the ports all turned out to be nice bonuses. We arrived a day in advance to Antwerp, Belgium, our port of embarkation. A five-hour flight delay caused us to change our sightseeing plans for our arrival-into-Europe day, but it worked out fine. We stayed one night at the Hilton right near the Cathedral in Antwerp and we loved the location. If we had not visited Antwerp on a previous cruise (river cruise), we would not have had time to see everything we considered important. The Antwerp Hilton also happens to be staffed by excellent personnel, and the property is lovely, so we recommend it highly. Crystal keeps to a schedule better than any other cruise line. Everything starts on time! That includes embarkation; the time stated on your documents is the time the first folks will be invited onto the ship. The only limiting factor, then, is how many people arrive at the port before you do. In this case, we dawdled a bit too long, and many others didn’t; so we were in the third or fourth embarkation group. Once you get started, it goes great; but in this case, I was sorry we didn’t arrive at 11:30 instead of at 12:15, because we had planned to have a fairly quick lunch and then finish the sightseeing we’d saved from the day before. We actually could’ve satisfied our hunger for a snack at the hospitality lounge Crystal provided in the waiting area at the makeshift cruise terminal, if I’d realized it soon enough. Instead, after our little trek through the various security and passport control stops and the usual quick Crystal check-in onboard, we went to the Trident Grill for a burger and a wrap and then hustled off the ship to walk the mile to the Red Star Line Museum, which we had been anticipating for over a year. It did not disappoint! We arrived back to the Symphony just in time for the muster drill, and then it was time to unpack. Wait! First it was time to figure out why it was so warm in the stateroom. It was because, for some unknown reason, the stewardess had put the heat up to the absolute highest setting. Ok, that was solved easily enough. Now to unpack, and when Mr. Husband announces that there’s so much drawer space, even in our entry-level cabin, I decide to count the drawers: he has seven and I have ten. Throw in a few shelves and we really do have space to unpack every single thing we’ve brought with us. Next comes the husband announcing how wonderful the shower is, and how much he loves the double sinks. Besides the stewardess leaving the room heat at the highest, leaving the hottest setting for the water in the tub, and her not having cleared out the previous guest’s leftover food in the fridge, everything after that was pretty much spot on perfect. We check the Reflections (daily schedule) and realize that we would like to go to the show but it conflicts with our dining reservation, so a quick stop at the Crystal Dining Room (their MDR) gets our reservation changed. Right now Crystal has two “set” dining times, 6 pm and 8:30, plus Dine by Reservation. We used the Dine by Res., and it works very well for us. We like to eat alone and there are plenty of two-tops. We ended up having five different senior waiters and all were totally fine. Crystal has one maître-d’, who oversees the entire dining room, plus quite a few head waiters who keep things running extremely smoothly throughout the dinner hours (and breakfast and lunch, too). As has been our experience in the past, service was stellar, and we happen to love Crystal’s food. My favorites included several various salads and appetizers with beets, and even a beef broth soup with beets for lunch one day. Fish dishes were great, lobster was great, kosher chicken is always offered once per cruise and was actually the best ever. The dinner that was least “perfect” was the duck entrée. It lacked great taste and was perhaps a tad overcooked. We have two favorite wines in the included reds, and I have the Pedroncelli zinfandel almost every night, unless the sommelier thinks I’ll be happy with whatever’s being poured that night – and she was right, whenever she said it. Husband prefers the Paso Robles cabernet, and is also usually happy with whatever’s being poured that night, sometimes a white. We generally have breakfast at the Lido, where we experienced great service from the Lido guys, as we have in the past. This cruise’s standouts were Ferdie and Allan, both from the Philippines. The guys who cook the eggs, even the one who does the toast, all are expert at what they do. For lunch we like the Lido or the Trident, where, again, the “cooks” there do a great job. The Lido has a huge variety, and so does the Trident (the burgers and wraps and great fries). Then if we want an ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is open until 6 pm, and the Bistro has all kinds of breakfast things until 11:30 (cereals and bagels and baked goods), then lunch/snack things. I often stop by the Bistro for one little piece of watermelon, one of honeydew, and a couple of small pieces of cheese, or even brie on a cracker. As somebody said the first day, to her travel companions, if you like (cold) turkey, this is the place to eat it. I can’t disagree. We always have dessert with our dinner meal, but if we didn’t, we could always go to the Bistro for dessert. So far, on four cruises, I’ve never succumbed to the temptation to have MORE than one dessert! I only went to afternoon tea once; it’s a great thing to do on an at-sea day. Our meals at Silk Road and Prego were delicious as usual. Actually, Prego was better than ever, after being a tad disappointing, previously. One of the things I absolutely love on Crystal is the enrichment, always on an at-sea day and sometimes one lecture at sailaway time from a port stop. On this cruise (only two at-sea days), we had destination lecturer Bob Aalberts, current events lecturer Tom Faranda, and Broadway producer Kevin McCollum. They all did a great job. I didn’t know what to expect with the addition of “Broadway at Sea”, but we both liked it a lot. We had an added bonus of a husband and wife singing/acting pair who told us about their careers and were the featured entertainers one evening. I attended one computer class (iPad Tips and Techniques) and most of the evening entertainment. We missed going to the new show, Speakeasy, which got rave reviews from everybody who attended. There are all kinds of things we don’t attend, but we did very much enjoy the music (a singer and keyboard player) in Palm Court from 6:15 to 7:15. This worked well for our typical 7 pm dinner and is an improvement from previous cruises. I’m guessing there will be music at pretty much any time after the switchover to open seating dining, after Symphony comes out of drydock in October. Disembarkation was absolutely as easy as it could possibly be. We booked a private transfer from Honfleur into Paris with two other couples, which worked great, and then we stayed three nights at the Hilton near the Opera House. That worked perfectly for us to take the metro to our 2-1/2 days of sightseeing and various dinners, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed. The hotel, again, is lovely, but our entry level room, while quite classy, was also quite small, and a bit of a rude awakening after our stateroom on the Symphony. It was a good buy, for Paris, though, and I’d stay there again. We could have taken a Crystal Paris two-day post cruise tour to Paris, but we generally prefer doing our own sightseeing, so we decided to do everything on our own. Doing plenty of advance planning, both for our ports and for Paris, allowed us to have all kinds of wonderful sightseeing experiences. All in all, what a great vacation this was! Looking forward to two more Crystal cruises we have booked. We’ve had very high expectations, all four times, and we have not been disappointed.
We chose this itinerary so we could see the Hubbard Glacier and not all ships go there. Also, we took a Princess cruise in 2005 and after that experience I couldn't have cared less if we ever cruised again. Then comes our 20th wedding anniversary and I started the research. Crystal seemed to meet all of our criteria - outstanding dining, great wines, less passengers, and their staterooms. We booked a Penthouse with Verandah and it was worth every penny! Our cabin was HUGE, walk in closet, large bathroom with full size tub, good sized shower, double sinks. I loved the dressing area and make up mirror. The Nespresso coffee machine was a great feature and we used it every day. Our butler Neil was beyond delightful. The service provided on the entire ship (except for the Prego restaurant we visited one night- meh) was nothing but top notch. The hidden gem on this ship is the Tastes restaurant on the Lido desk. Dinner there was fantastic, as was Silk Road. I was never disappointed with the MDR. Their food was outstanding. Service exceptional. I read reviews about the ship needing some care and, yes, there are some things that show a little wear but it wasn't anything horrific as indicated in many reviews. I will say that it's an older crowd and the entertainment is geared towards them as well. The music in the Crystal Cover Bar got a little old but I realize they are appealing to a very affluent and well-traveled clientelle. We didn't care about the entertainment to be quite frank. We enjoyed being together, being on our balcony, dining well and just relaxing. NEVER EVER take an Alaska cruise without visiting the Hubbard Glacier. It's UNREAL! I would do this all over again!
This was my first cruise in decades, and the first ever for my husband. He was particularly worried about the "people" factor. Suffice it to say, we are converted and cannot wait for our next crystal experience! Accommodations Our room was very nice and roomy enough. We had a balcony which I think is a must. We were traveling with my parents who had the cabin next to use and we were able to open the door between our balconies which allowed us some common space without giving up our privacy. We loved this. I was especially impressed with the bathroom - a double sink and roomy shower. The closet was a good size, room under the beds for luggage, and a stocked refrigerator. Dining We were extremely impressed with the food options and felt that every dinner in the dining room was like a fine dining experience. The dishes were elegant, delicious and well presented. The wine options were really nice as well and people really went out of the way to make sure everyone had their favorite drink. We also really enjoyed the specialty restaurant Prego - the carpaccio was amazing! Silk Road was good but I expected better. I think I would probably opt for the sushi bar next time around. Most mornings were had breakfast at the buffet and the options were comprehensive and of high quality - we especially appreciated all the healthy options. Lunches in the dining room were good but not as stellar as the dinners - although the coconut nut shrimp I had one had was one of my favorite dishes on the trip! We also enjoyed the fancy tea one afternoon and the spread for that was incredible. The bistro always had something available, if you just wanted a bite, and it was a nice area to enjoy an afternoon coffee or tea. Service One word describes the service: exceptional. Our waiters in the main dining room - Nicola and Emir were wonderful - very personable and great at making us feel welcome. Our wine steward Mila knew all our favorites after our second night and had my husband's drink almost as soon as he sat down. We felt like special guests everywhere we went. It was a great feeling. Our cabin attendant Jasmina was wonderful and always friendly and interested in making us as comfortable as possible. The ship The spaces on the ship were comfortable and attractive and spacious enough that everyone could find their spot without being on top of each other. There were lots of areas that looked lovely that I never got to spend time in because I was so busy. I especially loved the Saloon bar. Entertainment There are a lot of options hoping to appeal to a wide range of interests I never got to see a movie but thought the variety was great. The main stage shows were okay - I'm not a fan of singing to pre-recorded music so when that was used I wasn't a fan. The billy Joel show was good -a great lead and well produced. We also loved Perry Grant (who performed nightly in the Saloon) and his extremely unique style. There was a community that formed just from people who enjoyed Perry every night. We also thought the magician Derek Hughes was excellent and were super excited to see Crystal has a relationship with the Magic Castle. It means the quality of magic going forward will be high. My husband thought that much of the evening entertainment, while well-produced, lacked any edge. He would have preferred a nightly band (rock, jazz, blues) in one of the bars that strayed from the smooth lounge music that was ubiquitous on the ship. Activities I'm sorry that I did not have more hours in the day to take advantage of everything offered. I really wanted to take a dance class but never had the time. My dad loved the bridge classes and raved about the teacher on board. Excursions and sites We enjoyed all of our excursions. My husband was especially fond of the the fishing trip in Juneau and felt it was the experience of a lifetime. We also felt the trip to see the Davidson glacier up close was very special. Seeing the glaciers in glacier bay and then the Hubbard glacier were the highlights of the trip. They were spectacular!! The captain steered the ship to make sure everyone had a fantastic view. I would have liked to have at least an idea ahead of time what we would be seeing. I ended up canceling a massage appointment I had been looking forward to because it turned out to be right when we were passing the glaciers in Glacier Bay. I understand that likely the times are tentative due to weather, but I felt there wasn't even an idea given beforehand about what to expect. Perhaps that is my one complaint, it would be helpful to have more information earlier, instead of agendas delivered to cabins in the evening, so we can plan better. For example, if bridge classes are almost always beginners in the morning and intermediate in the afternoons, why not tell us that? or if dance classes almost always happen right after lunch - let people know that. Or that every evening a movie will be shown twice, and then again the next afternoon. For those of us new, it took us days to get the pattern and it would have been helpful to have a sense of this earlier. Overall, our experience was excellent. We can't wait to return. It was wonderful to cruise with family as everyone could do their own thing and meet up for dinner each night to share experiences. Crystal really impressed us at every turn. It's well worth the cost.