I just returned from an amazing cruise
on the newly renovated, gorgeous Symphony by Crystal Cruises
. Unfortunately, we only stayed one week of a two-week cruise and were sad to leave. Crystal has always been top-notch, but there is now something to do for everybody. I always think of Crystal as a ship where “everybody knows your name,” which hasn’t changed. It makes you feel at home from the minute you get on board… the only thing missing is Norm.
Crystal Cruises has created more fun for more people. There’s the typical evening entertainment, dance hosts and dance lessons, a spa, and a workout facility. You can find bingo and bridge as well. But, there is also paddle tennis, golf lessons with golf pros, many bars, and places to go so you can be in a small intimate environment like the cigar bar, or a saloon with a piano player, or tea in Palm Court (which is a large beautiful room with oversized comfortable chairs and couches).
They had two black tie optional evenings during the week, and people really did dress up, which I liked because many ships are getting away from that. The casino is also now large with a variety of table games as well as slot machines, craps, roulette, and even a high roller separate room. There is, additionally, a children’s program on board with two rooms for them, although there were very few children there. Computer classes, photography classes, a library that has lots of books and games you can check out, and a movie theatre with different movies each day — complete with popcorn! – are also available. It’s a fun time across many different interests.
The dining options on the Crystal Symphony were plentiful and great. I think we ate in each dining facility during our stay. The Waterside is the main dining room, where you walk in and are seated when you are ready to eat. (It’s more of an open seating concept but in a beautiful dining room with good service.) Umi Uma is the Japanese restaurant that has a sushi bar and is run by Nobu. Silk is the Chinese restaurant; we loved its atmosphere, so we went there daily for a late breakfast, lunch, dinner, or some combination of the three.
There is also Churrascaria, which is a typical Brazilian steakhouse at night but doubles as marketplace during the day. We enjoyed this as you can go up and choose your salad courses, and then they come around with different cuts of meat on skewers. Prego, the Italian restaurant, is delicious… I highly recommend the mushroom soup served in a bread bowl and the lamb chops. In the middle of the ship is the Bistro, where you can go to order a specialty coffee or have a snack when the regular restaurants are not open.
Bars are all around the ship, and there’s the beautiful Vintage Room where you can reserve a private wine dinner. To ensure everybody has the opportunity, guests can dine once at each specialty restaurant. There is a surcharge for dining additional times in a specialty venue. Of course, alternatively there is always the wonderful Waterside main dining room available every evening.
Crystal is noted for its entertainment. They brought in Rachel York from New York City to entertain one night; she is a Broadway star and was fantastic… a step above and beyond typical cruise ship entertainment. I also saw the late-night comedian who was amazing too. We really loved the new Cruise Director, Russ, who was very personable, visible, and engaged with everybody on board.
The spa staff and facilities are fantastic. I had three different spa treatments… they had a special if you would book three. Luciano, the assistant spa manager, did my massage and body wrap and was very professional. I liked the fact that they did not sell you products during your treatment like I have seen on other cruise lines. I could just relax and enjoy.
The ship has been modernized, the colors are soft, the carpets are beautiful, and the newly renovated penthouses are state of the art. We stayed in a penthouse with a butler. The room was comfortable but not huge. We had a balcony and a sitting area, and we loved having a butler to bring morning coffee and to tie the bowtie on my husband’s tux. The bathroom had more counter space than some of the older suites I have seen, and there were two sinks. The amenities in the bathroom were from Italy, and they give you full-sized bottles so you feel like you are at home. We were in the middle of the ship, and we utilized the stairs a lot. It was truly a wonderful location for us to discover all Crystal Cruises
had to offer.