Recent Cruise Review of the 51.044-ton 960-guest Crystal Symphony

S24381KThis review by Hall Coons of a voyage in the Crystal Symphony first appeared on Liners List on June 12, 2014:

My three sons and I are just back from a trip to New England and Nova Scotia. We used the Crystal Symphony as transport from New York up to Halifax.  We were aboard Crystal Symphony for five days – she was on a longer voyage from New York to Iceland, but we only booked the segment to Halifax.  It is nice that Crystal offers these short segments on their longer cruises, as they can be used to travel between ports that do not usually offer any passenger ship services.   Our short voyage from New York also stopped at Newport, Boston, and Bar Harbor.

I am sure that most listers will not have a particularly high opinion of Crystal Symphony.  She is one of the first of the All Outside Cabin cruise  ships  and in many ways resembles the very first AOC ship, Royal Princess (i). First of all the bad news, don’t sail Crystal Symphonyif you are sailing for bold and exciting interior décor.  It is all (well mostly) very bland modern big Hotel style. Lots of beiges , glass , and neutral colors.  The only public rooms that had any notable style were the small Movie Theatre (bright white seats along with a light purple lighting) and the small wood-panelled library.  Also cabins, while very modern, are on the small size for a luxury ship.

But Oh the service!  Honestly, this ship has the best crew and best service that I have encountered in 40 years. The ship has an international crew, but they are predominately from Europe and South America. Our female dining room steward was from Brazil and her male assistant was from Spain. They both offered top notch service.  Every crew member that I encountered seemed to really be enjoying their job and all were friendly, outgoing, and interested in meeting the passengers requests.  And much to my surprise, this ship has deck stewards who really do deck steward work !  Not just selling you drinks (all are included in your ticket on Crystal) but they worked to find you a deck chair or seat, bring you some food from the Quick Service Lunch Counter (aka Trident Grill) or bring you a chilled towel.

The other outstanding feature of the Crystal Symphony is the food.  Really excellent, gourmet quality food served in a professional style.  The menus offer a wide selection of items and everything I had was excellent. Special requests were quickly handled and welcomed.  Food at the lido was also top notch, and the Trident Grill offered the usual hamburgers and hot dogs along with a lot of other choices like salads, pizzas, steak sandwiches, grilled chicken, fresh fruit, etc…. Also the free ice cream bar offered a broad array of choices along with milk shakes and ice cream floats.  Afternoon tea was an event and really a meal within itself.  Warm bouillon was served on the tenders on cool days !  I can’t say enough good things about the quality of the food, the selection, freshness…I mean really it could not have been better in my opinion.

So if you like a cruise for top notch s ervice and great food, I strongly recommend Crystal.

Other features of the ship were a really nice and big swimming pool.  A large hot tub.  A wrap around promenade deck (but not deck chairs here). Tons of open deck space.  A large deck tennis court.  Small putting green.  Secluded tanning space at the front of the ship.

Another notable feature of this voyage was that you never had to wait more than about two minutes for anything !  Even tender boarding only took a two-minute wait.  All meals quickly served, room service right on time, shows on time, boarding the ship was a breeze, and leaving the last day was quick and easy.

So as you can tell I loved the Crystal Symphony.  I hope to sail on her, or her sister, again in the next few years.  She is a bit more expensive than most ships, but you definitely get what you pay for.

For further details on Crystal Cruises please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk or in North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

The New All-Inclusive Crystal (Crystal Serenity Part 2) – Viking Plans Six-Ship Ocean Fleet – Viking River Orders Ten More Longships

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 10th December 2012

Crystal SerenityThis week, The Cruise Examiner, having just disembarked from the Crystal Serenity in Barcelona yesterday, brings us Part 2 of his report on the new all-inclusive Crystal Cruises. Elsewhere, Viking attracted all the attention last week with an agreement from Viking Ocean Cruises to build two more 944-berth ocean cruise ships at Fincantieri, with an option for a further two. This could bring its new fleet of ocean cruisers to six ships by 2020. Sister line Viking River Cruises meanwhile surprised all with an order for a further ten new Viking Longship class river cruisers. These will be built by river cruise shipbuilder Neptun Werft, a 162-year-old Rostock shipyard that has built over 1,500 ships in its time, including a few U-Boats.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

New Cruise Destination: The Coast of West Africa – Other Cruise News: Costa Takes Delivery of Costa Fascinosa and Names New CEO

          THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com

          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 7th May 2012

The Ocean Princess departed Cape Town today for West Africa © Ian Shiffman

Today’s departure of Princess Cruises’ 688-berth Ocean Princess from Cape Town on a 28-night West African Adventure cruise brings attention to a new cruise destination that is slowly attracting more attention from international cruise lines. West Africa now attracts calls by Crystal Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, G Adventures, Noble Caledonia, Phoenix Reisen, Princess Cruises, Saga, Silversea Cruises, Travel Dynamics International and Variety Cruises, to name just some of the more obvious. Among these, Fred. Olsen is a newcomer, and will be making regular calls next winter with its 930-berth Braemar, while Saga will have three of its ships on the coast over the next year and Travel Dynamics International is bringing in a larger vessel with the 100-berth Corinthian. Meanwhile, as Costa Cruises takes delivery of its newest ship, the 3,016-berth Costa Fascinosa, it announces some changes to its safety regime as well as the appointment of Michael Thamm as new ceo of the Costa Cruises Group.


THIS WEEK’S STORY
                                          (See previous columns)

Crystal Cruises ‘Ticks All The Right Boxes’ For Multi-Generational Families

Crystal Cruises’ ultra-luxurious Five-Star Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will go all-inclusive in 2012.


Crystal Cruises is developing a reputation as the multi-generational family cruise line of choice for well-heeled travellers, a trend observed by Kevin Griffin, Managing Director of The Cruise People – the London based agent specializing in ultra-luxury brands – who has had some interesting large international family group bookings over the last 12-months. And, with the recent introduction of Crystal’s ‘Family Memories’ program, they are offering tremendous value too with benefits such as prepaid gratuities and ship board credits for groups of six or more and a free berth if a group of ten travel together.

“These multi-generational groups can be anywhere between six and 16 family members travelling together, spanning up to three generations from 20s to 60s, and travelling from as far as Israel and Singapore,” says Kevin Griffin. “The casinos onboard the Crystal ships are certainly a draw for the Oriental and Middle East families, as is the specialist cuisine such as kosher-style dining, which is very popular with our Jewish families.”

Crystal Cruises ‘ticks all the boxes’ for these extended families with their exceptional quality and choice of entertainment, spa and fitness facilities, activities and enrichment opportunities offered aboard their two luxury vessels. Crystal Symphony (51,044 ton) and Crystal Serenity (68,700 ton) carry 922 and 1070 passengers respectively, more passengers than Crystal Cruises’ competitor small-ship luxury lines, yet their size is a huge positive in terms of scope for onboard activities.

From elegant afternoon teas and traditional paddle tennis, to discovering a flair for languages at the innovative Creative Learning Institute, joining the exclusive Walk-On-Water WOW? programme or indulging in exotic spa therapies, Crystal Cruises offer their guests a huge range of choices to fill both days and nights. Hence the attraction for the large family groups, spreading across three generations in some cases and with ages ranging from 25 to 65 (and more), as there’s plenty onboard to keep the whole family happy.

Further features of the ships’ size are the guest-to-space and guest-to-staff ratio, among the highest in the industry. The service onboard is flawless and the choice of international cuisine is superb. Kosher-style dining is offered onboard both vessels, “traditional cuisine was a particular highlight for our Jewish family, whilst the sushi from world-class chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a great reason for our Oriental families to book this product,” says Kevin Griffin.

Crystal was the first luxury line to make a significant commitment to attracting families by upgrading children’s onboard facilities and activities. They cater for younger families with a fully supervised program for kids between the ages of 3 and 17, although The Cruise People’s family groups are mostly jet-setting adults.

To date, The Cruise People’s large adult family bookings have typically come from cultures where strong families are traditional. “However there’s no reason that this principal should not be applied to other international families,” says Kevin Griffin, “where clients who live in different countries could use a cruise to get together for family events and celebrations.”

Crystal Family Memories Program

For family or friends travelling together or celebrating an important occasion such as a silver wedding anniversary or big birthday, ‘Crystal Family Memories’ offer even more reason to celebrate. For every six guests who book and pay in full on any 2011 cruise, Crystal Cruises will provide pre-paid gratuities, shipboard credits of US$100 per person and more. And, if the group consists of ten full-fare guests, they will also receive one free berth!

For further details call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk

A Day in the Life of Crystal Serenity, 1st October 2010

Crystal Serenity

A Day in the Life of the Crystal Serenity

0730 Stewardess wake-up call followed by an in-room breakfast of miso soup and grilled salmon with vegetables and Japanese condiments as the Crystal Serenity anchors off Portovenere at 0800

0830 Board tenders for a quick walk around Portovenere prior to boarding our coach at 0900 for a full-day excursion to the Cinque Terre, starting with a quick tour of the west side of the Gulf of La Spezia en route to the Cinque Terre.

1000 Arrive at the second village of Manarola and walk down into the town. These five towns, which are mostly located at the bottom of cliffs and high rocky hills, had no highway access until 1960, so other than for certain government and special delivery vehicles, one walks down into the town from hilltop parking lots. And although each town also has a railway station these were not opened until about 1925.

1045 We walk the cliffside promenade, called Via del Amore to the first village of Riomaggiore, where we arrive at 1100 for an independent tour of the town, its little harbour and castle. In the meantime, our guide, Fulvia, manages to perform magic when she gets permission from her bosses to change the whole itinerary of our tour from what might have been a somewhat boring return trip by rail to La Spezia for a coach transfer back to Portvenere. Instead, we will all return by boat along the Cinque Terre coast. This is the kind of guide that Crystal hires (complete with her little miniature pincher dog). Her father had been a naval officer and she lives on the other side of the Gulf of La Spezia.

1212 We catch the train from Riomaggiore for a 25-minute ride to the northernmost Cinque Terre town of Monterosso and then walk south from the railway station toward old Monterosso (there is a newer town to the north that has sprung up since the railway arrived from Genoa and Rapallo to the north in 1879..

1300 Lunch at Monterosso’s Enoteca Internazionale consists of tomato, arugala and Parmesan bruschetta with a couple of glasses of Cinque Terre’s renowned white wine, produced from grapes that are grown on 4,000 miles of terraces arranged along the cliffs and hillsides of this six-mile coast. We decide to acquire a couple of bottles to take back to the ship. For those who wish, lunch is followed by a brief guided tour of the old town of Monterosso.

1500 Thanks to Fulvia’s persuasiveness, we catch the coastal ferry back to Portovenere, passing en route all the Cinque Terre towns of Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, none of which we call at today because the seas are slightly rough (in fact we had originally booked to tour the Cinque Terre by boat but the tour had been cancelled because of sea conditions)

1600 After an hour’s boat trip along the sunny coast we arrive back at Portovenere for the 1605 tender back to the ship. Back on board for 1615, by 1630 we are enjoying an ice cream on the lido deck of Crystal Serenity.

1700 Back at our deluxe stateroom with verandah for half an hour checking emails and bank balances on my notebook, connected to Crystal’s satellite internet service. Through Crystal’s University at Sea one can connect in the privacy of one’s stateroom as well as from the internet centre. After this, we enjoy a glass of Cinque Terre white wine on our private verandah.

1945 Captain’s cocktail party in the Palm Court. But having made 8 pm reservations at one of the ship’s alternate restaurants that evening (Prego for Continental fare and Silk Road for Asian), we make our excuses and leave the cocktail party early for dinner.

2000 Dinner at the Nobu alternative restaurant, Silk Road. Both here and at Prego one need only pay an additional gratuity of $7 per head, as opposed to the $20/25 charges made y some of the more mainstream lines. That evening we enjoy a tasty lobster roll followed by spicy seafood soup, Oriental mushroom salad and Nobu’s very special lobster entree. xx.

2130 After dinner we adjourn to the Avenue Saloon on 6 deck aft, where drinks are accompanied by a pianist. However, we quickly move to the Crystal Cove, where an all-female string quartet from Odessa is providing the after-dinner entertainment..

2230 After a full day we adjourn to our private balcony for some more of that marvelous Cinque Terre wine and prepare for tomorrow in Livorno, the port for Florence. But that is another day.

Call Gay Scruton on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk for further details on any Crystal cruise. And remember, Crystal Cruises goes all-inclusve after the first Transatlantic crossing of the Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.

Crystal Cruises ‘Ticks All The Right Boxes’ For Multi-Generational Families

Crystal Cruises’ ultra-luxurious Five-Star Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will go all-inclusive in 2012.


Crystal Cruises is developing a reputation as the multi-generational family cruise line of choice for well-heeled travellers, a trend observed by Kevin Griffin, Managing Director of The Cruise People – the London based agent specializing in ultra-luxury brands – who has had some interesting large international family group bookings over the last 12-months. And, with the recent introduction of Crystal’s ‘Family Memories’ program, they are offering tremendous value too with benefits such as prepaid gratuities and ship board credits for groups of six or more and a free berth if a group of ten travel together.

“These multi-generational groups can be anywhere between six and 16 family members travelling together, spanning up to three generations from 20s to 60s, and travelling from as far as Israel and Singapore,” says Kevin Griffin. “The casinos onboard the Crystal ships are certainly a draw for the Oriental and Middle East families, as is the specialist cuisine such as kosher-style dining, which is very popular with our Jewish families.”

Crystal Cruises ‘ticks all the boxes’ for these extended families with their exceptional quality and choice of entertainment, spa and fitness facilities, activities and enrichment opportunities offered aboard their two luxury vessels. Crystal Symphony (51,044 ton) and Crystal Serenity (68,700 ton) carry 922 and 1070 passengers respectively, more passengers than Crystal Cruises’ competitor small-ship luxury lines, yet their size is a huge positive in terms of scope for onboard activities.

From elegant afternoon teas and traditional paddle tennis, to discovering a flair for languages at the innovative Creative Learning Institute, joining the exclusive Walk-On-Water WOW? programme or indulging in exotic spa therapies, Crystal Cruises offer their guests a huge range of choices to fill both days and nights. Hence the attraction for the large family groups, spreading across three generations in some cases and with ages ranging from 25 to 65 (and more), as there’s plenty onboard to keep the whole family happy.

Further features of the ships’ size are the guest-to-space and guest-to-staff ratio, among the highest in the industry. The service onboard is flawless and the choice of international cuisine is superb. Kosher-style dining is offered onboard both vessels, “traditional cuisine was a particular highlight for our Jewish family, whilst the sushi from world-class chef Nobu Matsuhisa is a great reason for our Oriental families to book this product,” says Kevin Griffin.

Crystal was the first luxury line to make a significant commitment to attracting families by upgrading children’s onboard facilities and activities. They cater for younger families with a fully supervised program for kids between the ages of 3 and 17, although The Cruise People’s family groups are mostly jet-setting adults.

To date, The Cruise People’s large adult family bookings have typically come from cultures where strong families are traditional. “However there’s no reason that this principal should not be applied to other international families,” says Kevin Griffin, “where clients who live in different countries could use a cruise to get together for family events and celebrations.”

Crystal Family Memories Program

For family or friends travelling together or celebrating an important occasion such as a silver wedding anniversary or big birthday, ‘Crystal Family Memories’ offer even more reason to celebrate. For every six guests who book and pay in full on any 2011 cruise, Crystal Cruises will provide pre-paid gratuities, shipboard credits of US$100 per person and more. And, if the group consists of ten full-fare guests, they will also receive one free berth!

For further details please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk