Cruise line: Crystal Cruises,
Having taken a number of cruises on Celebrity and Holland America I spoke to a fellow cruiser who had recently been on a Crystal cruise, he was ecstatic, so I decided to book a ten night cruise on Crystal Symphony sailing from Caldera Costa Rica to Miami, all cabins are outside so I plumped for the outside with restricted view.
The restriction was in fact a partial view blocking by a lifeboat this proved to be no problem.
Embarkation was quick and fairly painless, our luggage having been collected from outside our Marriott hotel rooms for direct transfer to ship.
We were on the ship at about 12:30 local time and ushered into the dining room as our rooms were not available until about 2:30 pm. Champagne was brought to the table, the luxury experience started, one is immediately struck by the very efficient and friendly service, the waiters could be serving food in one of our very best restaurants.
The room was tastefully decorated, very comfortable bed with top class egyptian cotton sheets , fridge stocked with complimentary soft drinks, the bathroom had a small bath with shower and two modern glass bowl sinks, towels were changed twice a day and were the nicest large towels I have used.
What is the real difference in quality that Crystal provides and is it worth the extra you may ask. Exquisite service provided is the difference from most other lines, from about the second day many of the staff in the pool area and buffet dining area know your name and what you like to drink, it pleases them a great deal to provide you with anything you could wish for. In the buffet you collect your food the tray is taken from you and a table found and dining place laid for you.
The pool area is not too crowded and the pool staff lay two towels on the bed and move the bed if you wish to a preferred position.
Crystal have a wonderful program of lectures which change on each cruise, lecturers are interesting and available to discuss their subject at your leisure, computer, language, bridge, yamaha organ, and other classes are available free of charge. Shows are first class.
There are two evening dining sittings are early and late also two alternative dining venues with wonderful Italian and Asian food.
The Crystal ships are relatively small, Symphony takes 960 passengers, many passengers are repeaters and I met many interesting fellow passengers, most were American or Canadian , there were only five Brits on board on this particular cruise.
Summing up Crystal is a luxury line, they provide an intimate cruising experience, food is first class, they are happy to provide caviar and lobster or most other items off menu if pre ordered with the section head waiter, spoil yourself and make a booking you will not be disappointed.