Crystal - meh, not what it once was: Crystal Symphony Cruise Review by jamesm
Overall Member Rating
Crystal - meh, not what it once was
Destination: Baltic Sea
Crystal excels in top-notch service and this cruise was no different in many respects. Our stateroom attendant was terrific and never failed to bring fresh ice each afternoon at 5 pm as we had requested. Typically we enjoy having a cocktail on our verandah as we sail away from each port but, because of the weather, we ended up visiting one of the many bars instead.
The Crystal Dining Room is darn near perfect. The menus have been refreshed while still offering a number of traditional selections. Our waiter, Miroslav (Miki), was absolutely amazing and the sommelier, Lorena, was probably the best we have ever had aboard a ship. We chose the flexible dining option and it worked perfectly More every night. Kudos to the Maitre d' and Asst Maitre d' for having such a uniformly excellent staff. Even at luncheon which was open seating we always had terrific service.
Prego, in our opinion, is a waste of time. The staff there have a cavalier, if not aloof, attitude. The menu is either extremely dated or, in many instances, offers food which barely passes for Italian of any region.
Symphony is 20 years old now and beginning to look, and perform, like a dowager in comparison to newer luxury vessels. The bathroom of our verandah suite was small and cramped and the vanity, with two plastic washbasins, was the smallest we've seen in years. The sofa in our cabin is really a chair and a half. And it's a hassle to dress with closets having sliding doors close to the bed.
Our biggest disappointment in this cruise, however, was the itinerary. Before we sailed, one change had already been made to the originally published ports of call. The "maiden" call at Djupivogur, Iceland was an enormous waste of time. The few who went ashore, as we did, came back shaking their hands in amazement at why we had even stopped. The stop at the Isle of Skye was on a Sunday - almost nothing open in port and the shore excursions sold out quickly. Belfast and Dublin were fantastic, weather notwithstanding, but the call to Waterford was cancelled due to rough seas which the tenders could not cope with and we stopped in Cork (Ringaskiddy) instead. The last port of call, Fowey (Cornwall), was abandoned for the same reasons and we steamed on to Portsmouth instead, arriving there at 2.00 pm. Shore excursions were not arranged but a complimentary shuttle took folks to a local shopping mall (American style) with the same brands we have back home.
I will close with the same comments I made after our Crystal Serenity cruise in December 2016. The efforts to expand the Crystal brand in recent years with river cruises, luxury air, luxury yacht, and so on seem to have resulted in the line losing sight of its core product. We have a cruise later this year scheduled on Silversea and a cruise next May reserved for the newest Seaboard ship. We heard similar comments from a number of other passengers. At this point we don't envision returning to Crystal in the near future. Less