I was on the Crystal Symphony which is about a 20 year old ship but you would never guess it with the meticulous attention they give this ship. It recently went thru a multi million dollar renovation and the staff keep such good care of it that you would never know its age by looking at the staterooms and common areas. This ship holds just under 1000 people so it's on the smaller side to many of the ships out there today but based on the market Crystal tries to attract (it caters to an older, higher end clientele) it definitely suits it well.
Check in Process/Prior to sailing:
The check in process was smooth and easy and very quick. I got on the ship at about 1pm which was an hour after we were allowed on. I was in my cabin by about 1:30 and my suitcase was already waiting for me. Everyone gets their onboard ID card with information on the port you got on the ship and the port you will be getting off the ship, as well as the lifeboat number you are to report to in case of emergency. The muster drill was quick and simple and unlike many of the larger ships that tell you to go to a theater or meeting area for the muster drill, Crystal actually has you report to the area of your lifeboat and conducts a full role call and explanation of the process.
Many mentioned the cabins were on the small side, which they are, but they were very nicely appointed. I had a Deluxe Room with Verandah which had a queen sized bed, small couch with table, desk with vanity mirror, double sided closet, and mini bar and safe. The bathroom had double sinks which in the beginning I thought was a very nice feature but soon learned that 2 people would never really fit in the bathroom and all the double sink did was take away from counter space. Everything was very nicely updated though and I found the rooms to be comfortable. It also had a bath tub, which many ship cabins do not have on cruise lines.
SO GOOD! The ship has a main dining room as well as two restaurants for dinner. The two specialty restaurants are Prego (Italian) and Silk (Asian). Every guest gets two reservations at each complimentary and then after that it is $30 per person for additional reservations. The menu in the main dining room changes every 2 days so there is always a variety. For lunch you have the option of the grill by the pool which has the basic pizza,hamburgers, sandwiches, etc . Your other option is the buffet or the main dining room. For breakfast you can choose a sit down meal in the main dining room or more casual at the buffet. Room service is always included and complimentary and you can order from the room service menu or the main dining room menu. Just ask your cabin attendant to leave you the main dining room menu for that night. I ordered room service one night and waited no more than 20 minutes for it to be delivered. I love the Asian restaurant. It was really good with a nice mix of options and full sushi bar. I also liked the smaller atmosphere to the specialty restaurants so you didn't feel like you were eating in a large dining room. I didn't have a single bad meal and they definitely feed you well.
The service is top notch and you definitely get what you pay for. Being that this is a premium ship in terms of it's offerings and pricing, I expected a higher level of service which I received right away. The staff was very friendly and after a few days they all remember your name. Any questions I had were always answered and any help I needed was offered right away. I really cant say enough about the service. You will definitely not have to worry about paying that price tag and not being satisfied with the service
To be honest, there isn't much to do on this ship but it does cater to an older clientele. The gym was nice and had everything from free weights to cardio machines as well as some stretching and yoga classes offered throughout the day when the ship is at sea. There is a casino and movie theater on board as well as a library with lots of DVDs to rent. Every room has a DVD player. I really liked this feature since I was so jetlagged (I took a cruise thru Asia) I would rent a movie before I went to sleep and then watch it at 4am when I was wide awake. The ship also has a pool with lots of lounge chairs and two driving range nets on the top deck by the pool, along with a paddle tennis court. Other than that, there aren't many other things to do besides the spa. Most days had an afternoon bingo game and lectures in the main theater. The performers do a nightly show which gives you some additional entertainment at night.
At night, there is a piano bar that I went to most nights after dinner. They have guest performers come on and the week I was there they had a pianist from Chicago performing who was a ton of fun. He made the night fun with some sing-a-long's and taking requests and involving the audience. We had a good time. They also have a night time lounge which we didn't really go to since the piano bar was so much fun.
Crystal cruises are geared more for an older clientele. While it is a great option for everyone with their itineraries, it's definitely a quieter ship with less things to do once on board. If you are looking for some nonstop fun and excitement while at sea, this wouldn't be the cruise for you. If you are ok with enjoying the cruise more for the destinations it visits and using the "at sea" time for rest and relaxation with good food and service mixed in, then this could be a good fit. I found it to be a lot of fun and relaxing but I, of course, went into the ship knowing the type of experience I was going to have so I was looking forward to it. If I was expecting a million options of things to do while at sea, I would have been disappointed.