Just a ship visit this one and not a proper holiday but it was nice to have a look around for the day.
A rather chilly, misty Sunday morning finds me in Dover to take advantage of a tour of Crystal Symphony. She is berthed alongside the old terminal at Dover and I have to say that I much prefer this terminal. Its very elegant and gives that sense of occasion that must have been around in the bygone days of cruise travel, rather than the hustle and bustle of the mass market modern cruise terminals.
At 10.45 we are invited to board the ship via the tunnel walkway so no gangways to climb this morning.
We stepped onboard at deck 6, Tiffany Deck on the upper level of the Atrium. Straight away I can see that this is a very elegant ship, with a light and airy atrium with stairs flowing to the deck below.
First I have to get past the shops. How refreshing to see something other than the usual onboard chain of shops. Already I have spotted a diamante studded evening bag in Apropos the fashion apparel shop. Naturally, it doesn’t have a price tag on, so it’s a good job they are closed as I know that rule about if it doesn’t have a price tag etc! Facets Jewellery next door has some pieces to die for. Inside I can see white leather chairs at the counter so I would guess it’s the type of place that you don’t just go into for a browse. There is also Crystal Collection which offers some fab designer bags and cosmetics etc.
We are directed to the Hollywood Theatre cinema, which is small and very bland but serves its purpose. Each cruise offers a selection or recent release or classic films, a short presentation followed and then our tour commences.
We head down the stairs in the Atrium, past a delightful spiral waterfall and into the Crystal Dining Room. The dining room offers traditional early and late meal sitting and offers seating for 500 guests. The tables we laid to perfection with crystal glasses and lovely china server dishes. Windows ran down either side of the restaurant offering all tables goods views.
Back outside in the lower level of the Atrium was a nice sitting area if you just wanted to sit and chill and watch the world go by.
A large reception desk with immaculate elegantly dressed Purser staff who all seemed extremely obliging.
The Crystal Cove Piano bar is tucked to one side of the lower atrium with a quartet playing softly throughout our visit. I think that would be my sort of pre dinner drink bar. Just the right place to sit and do a little people watching as first sitting leave dinner.
Back up to Tiffany Deck 6 and into Luxe. Oh this is lush! What a trendy little nightclub this is!! It was small and intimate and Im told it never gets over busy so it would be a bit like going into a private members club. White leather sofas with the occasional bright pink or black chair. Polished aluminium barstools designed by Phillipe Stark and glass Bisazza mosaics. Such a trendy little bar that would be just perfect for a Cosmo’ or two! Even the lighting has a hint of pink in it. Oh yes I can see someone being the star of karaoke in here with their five minutes of fame on the plasma screens. A back door leads straight out into the casino.
The Crystal Casina os rather large as you would expect for an American ship, but its not as loud and glitzy as I would have expected. Apparently drinks are complimentary in hear, whether you are gambling or observing. Mmm….. I might be temped into watching a few fellow passengers loose a few dollars!
Through into the 500 seat Galaxy show lounge at the front of the ship. Nice lounge type seating rather than the uniform theatre style rows of seats. No pillars to block your view and a lovely big oval stage coming out into the room to offer good views all around. Full waiter service for drinks operate throughout the shows so there would be no excuse for me not to attend!
Back out and along to the Atruim to the Bistro.
The Bistro has sea views to one side and atrium views to the other. It’s a European style café offering self serve snacks and speciality coffees, speciality teas and pastries or fine wine and pastries – all sound good to me!
The Starlite Club is another one of the rooms that has had a major facelift following the refurb. This is the main entertainment lounge offering dancing and caberet performances. I loved the round bar with beautiful Crystal light above and I could see myself sitting up there watching the show and the dancing. Oh dear I seem to have a fascination with bars and I see a pattern developing!
Tucked away past the Starlite was the Vintage Room. A unique concept. For $200 you can hire the room for private dinner parties. They offer culinary creations paired with special selections from the Crystal Cruises Reserve Wine list to offer the ultimate dining experience. Seating can be for 2 to 12 guests and I would imagine it to be a wonderful dining experience with someone on hand to select the wine and make the choices for you etc.
The Jade Garden Asian Restaurant is one of the two alternative dining options onboard Symphony. The one onboard Serenity is supposed to be even nicer as it is a Nobu signature restaurant. The Asian restaurant onboard here certainly looks very inviting with its very modern setting. The dishes are insprired by the exotic array of ingredients from the orient, with a selection of entrees created by Wolfgang Puck.
Prego is the second of the two alternative dining options. Lovely Venetian décor and a menu created by the Best Young Chefs of Italy under the direction of famed restaurateur Piero Sevaggio of Valentino Restaurant in Los Angeles and Vegas.
There is a rather large bridge and card room for all the enthusiasts offering regulation bridge tables and comfy chairs.
The studio is a innovative learning and demonstration center where they offer special learning classes throughout the cruise. Next door is the computer university @sea. There are 25 computers with email and internet access and complimentary classes and lectures.
Back to the bars – much more my specialist subject! And now we are in the Avenue Saloon. A very nice, warm and inviting piano bar just right for a quiet relaxing drink before or after dinner.
The Connoisseur Club next door is a smoking room fitted out like a Gentlemen Club lounge. They offer a fine selection of international cigars, port wines, cognacs and single malt whiskeys as well as all other suitable tipples.
The other main passenger deck is Lido deck on deck 11.
The Lido Café is the alternative self service restaurant, however reach the end of the counter and a white gloved waiter will take your tray from you and assist you to a table either inside or outside on the aft deck.
Neptune Pool has a glass roof which can be in use for inclement weather or open for nicer days. I lovely pool with bench type seating surrounding the waters edge for just sitting and cooling off. The Trident Bar and Grill is here offering waiter service for drinks, and the poolside grill offers classic favourites and quick snacks. I did also notice a bowl of fresh strawberries which just had to be sampled and even more temping was the big tray of freshly baked cookies. Oh how dangerous would they be to the wasteline 24/7! The Ice cream bar also offered a wide variety of ice cream treats with all sorts of temping toppings. So all in all the Neptune Pool was a bit of a danger zone for me, as the combination of cocktails, cookies, burgers and sunshine all sounds far too tempting!
The Seahorse Pool midship is a full length lap pool with lots of open space on the surrounding deck for sunbathing. The loungers were well spaced out, and you didn’t give the feeling of being penned in. Deck assistants are always on hand to make you comfortable and lay a fresh towel on the lounger before you sit down. On less warm cruises they will come along and provide you with a nice cosy blanket to make sure you are warm enough while you sit there just chilling out.
Waves Video Arcade is the hang out place for the teens onboard.
Fantasia is a small playroom but well equipped with a TV area, play area and craft space for the younger children. Neither are the biggest of childrens areas at sea but they are adequate and I dont think Crystal attracts vast numbers of families with children.
Right at the front of deck 11 is the Palm Court. A relaxing retreat with panoramic views of the sea. A great place to just sit and watch the world go by. Afternoon tea is served in here daily. In the evening there is music for dancing, classical concerts and other entertainment.
One deck up, on deck 12 Sun Deck is the Crystal Spa and Salon which offers all the usual treatments. Lovely panoramic views again. Very well equipped gym, with state of the art equipment. Sauna and steam rooms are within a glass relaxation area.
Sun deck also has paddle tennis courts, a golf putting green and golf driving nets.
Our tour of the staterooms started with a Cat E Deluxe outside stateroom with a limited view. Well, tell me what bit was limited because I didnt notice anything being obstructed by the view at all. Im later informed it was because the lifeboats were hanging above and if you stood at your window and looked up you could just see the bottom of the lifeboat infringing on your view! Well as I didn’t notice it at the time it obviously wasnt a problem. This cat E was on Promenade deck so there was the wrap around deck outside you window which might have been a problem to some.
None of the staterooms really blow you away with amazing features but it is when you look around and see what is included as standard that you see the difference.
The bathroom had recently been upgraded and had two trendy glass wash basins, a bath and shower above. A lovely selection of Elemis products which were not of the trial size were a lovely touch.
The stateroom had a double bed which convert to twins. There was a pillow menu waiting on the bed ready for the next guest to make the selection. Leather cruise card wallets were laid out on the dressing table along with their welcome onboard letter. The mini bar was stocked with complimentary mineral water and soft drinks. In the wardrobe were two frette bathrobes, slippers, an umbrella, shoe horn, laundry bag and safe etc Not only was there a TV with all the usual channels, but every room has a DVD player as standard.
Both C and E grade staterooms have full picture window but are listed as limited view and each stateroom is 202 sq feet.
Category A and B are classed as Deluxe stateroom with Verandah and offer the same facilities as the C and E but have a private verandah which give a total space of 246 sq feet. A and B grades are on decks 8 and 9.
Deck 10 offers a full deck of Penthouse accommodation. All penthouses offer the same amenities as the lower grades but with the addition of Jacuzzi baths, larger verandahs, a well stocked mini bar and butler service.
There are 44 PH grade Penthouses offering 376 sq ft of space. These feature a good size living and bedroom are, vanity, walk in closet and large bathroom with Jacuzzi and separate shower.
19 Penthouse Suite PS grades are slightly larger at 491 sq feet. A picture window in the bedroom looking onto the private verandah. And again the larger bathroom with Jacuzzi bath, separate shower, bidet.
Crystal Symphony has tow Crystal Penthouse suites category CP which are a massive 982 sq feet of deluxe space. A very spacious living room with cream sofas. Separate dining area. CD and DVD players, a large flat screen TV on the wall, cordless phone, internet access, guest bathroom. A lovely large bedroom with king size bed. Dressing area. And oh the bathroom! It was huge! And sitting just below a large picture window was a big round Jacuzzi bath tub. Pop the ice bucket next to the tub with some champagne on ice and you could leave me there all evening to just watch the sunset!
Our tour ended with a buffet lunch in the Palm Court. We were treated to some lovely soup and some very nice warm snacks and sandwiches. And then some of the most delisious cakes and pasty’s, oh and those scrummy chocolate chip cookies were there again so had to just have one more! Once seated we were approached by a waiter and asked what we would like to drink. Now this is where you notice a difference in service from the mainstream cruiselines. My request was simple ‘A glass of white wine please’ standard answer would have been ‘medium or dry?’ but no, the very obliging steward proceeded to reel off a list of types of white wine such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pouilly fume etc. I settled on a chardonnay which was served very quickly in a lovely fine crystal glass. Palm Court is such a lovely room, very light and airy, but I would imagine that it takes on a whole new feel in the evenings.
For me it was the little things that made Crystal so special. The service was absolutely spot on, always done with a smile, and done in such a way what you are not made to feel uncomfortable. Little things like the placing of a towel on your sun lounger, ensuring that you are settled and have mineral water etc to hand.
Little touches around the ship like the Crystal emblem pressed into the white sand in the top of the ash trays in the foyers and lift areas. Even when I went into the ladies the wash basins had lovely soap and hand creams. There were no paper towels but instead, perfectly rolled small hand towels tucked neatly into a basket for you to dry your hands on. The ship was immaculate and I loved to see the teak promenade and Lido deck around the pool,so often there areas are covered with a form of plastic coating these days which just doesn’t have the traditional look or feel of the teak boards. I think it would be the most idyllic way to cruise.
Crystal Symphony is 51 044 gross registered tonnes but she seemed much bigger. She is one of those ships which offers plenty of different areas to go, plenty of different bars to suite your mood. Plenty of dining options to suit all tastes. Plenty to see and observe and different places to go whilst onboard.
Crystal Cruises is defiantly on my ‘to do’ list and they certainly have some fantastic itineraries to offer! Her unparalleled service, luxurious space, extraordinary quality and enticing choices make the difference Crystal Clear.
51 044 GRT
Guest Capacity 940
if you have any questions about the crystal symphony feel free to contact me and if you’d like to view the rest of my photos you can see them here