Company Overview | Cruise Line Reviews:
With home offices based in Los Angeles, Crystal has long been a
favorite of the well-heeled West Coast crowd (though actually a
subsidiary of Tokyo-based NYK or Nippon Yusen Kaisha). Crystal Cruises
is the luxury cruise line
of choice for voyagers deep-pocketed enough to afford a luxury cruise,
but gregarious and lively enough to crave a larger ship (by luxury
standards) and lots of fellow passengers and a broad range of
activities and facilities.
The company's 68,000-ton newest state-of-the-art luxury ship,
Crystal Serenity, carries a mere 1080 passengers, boasting one of the
highest space-to-passenger ratios in the cruise world. Intent on being
even more popular than its predecessors Symphony and Harmony ( Harmony
is no longer in service, leaving the fleet in November, 2005 to sail
for parent company NYK as the Asuka II), Serenity is a 14-deck ship has
three alternative restaurants among seven dining venues, two paddle
tennis courts, a completely new learning center, and an enlarged
computer center. Its boardroom has its own wine cellar and a special
lounge for repeat passengers.
The Crystal Experience:
Crystal definitely has a feel of its own among the luxury vessels, and
some people find it intoxicatingly addictive. The service is
impeccable, and if anything it can tend to be almost too personalized
for private types, but if you love being doted upon then Crystal has
the highest guest-to-staff ratios at sea. There's a general atmosphere
of what might be called California-ness aboard; everyone tends to be
friendly, socially aware, politically correct and committed to personal
Crystal focuses on image conscious, worldly passengers interested in
self-knowledge and self-improvement. Even on the balmiest afternoon,
far fewer of your fellow passengers are likely to be sunning themselves
by the pool than inside listening attentively to a guest expert lecture
about climate change, personal finance or jewelry.
Crystal is unique among luxury ships as it appeals to the same crowd
that will be found on Regent or Silversea cruises, but they have
slightly different policies when it comes to what's included in the
cruise fare. You will have to pay extra for wine and spirits, unlike
the previously mentioned lines, but that is not a big consideration for
many people to whom money is no object.
The service on Crystal is hard to beat with an all European staff,
even for room stewards and waiters, they offer the crewmembers an
impressive benefits package too assure a low turnover rate. The crew to
guest ratio better than one to two, which is very impressive when you
The line innovated the first computer training program at sea as far
back as 1999 (copied by many other cruise lines eventually). They
called it Computer University@Sea and despite the fact the name made
it appear web oriented, Internet access was actually a small component
of what Crystal was doing with the program. This has now evolved into
the Creative Learning Institute which features a dazzling array of
onboard activities to stimulate your mind. Onboard lessons in playing
piano, speaking foreign languages,acting, fashion design and a host of
other possible topics await you onboard.
That said, bingo and the casino are still both popular. A former affilaition with Caesar's Casino in Las vegas
to provide the onboard gamingf has been replaced with inhouse
management, but you will find a much more lavish casino on Crystal than
you will on most cruise luxury
cruise ships. Yes, it's smaller than Carnival, but what it lacks in
quantity it makes up for in quality. You can charge up to $300/day to
your shipboard account for gaming. If you want a higher credit limit
you can apply by downloading the form online.
Crystal's floor shows are always rated as tops in the luxury sector.
That isn't saying much since the luxury lines generally do not focus on
production shows, but Crystals are the exception. They can't compete
with Carnival's huge stage, effects and assemblage of talent, but the
shows are clever.
Because Crystal's passengers generally prefer to stay aboard and
attend lectures and computer classes, Crystal seems to call in
relatively fewer ports per cruise than many other cruise lines. For
example, the 10-day May 31, 2007 Mediterranean cruise on Symphony, only
stops at four ports (one for 2 days), while a comparable luxury line
known for port-intensity on a 10-day, May 27, 2007
But when Crystal does make a stop, they make a splash. The line is
now known for some of the most outrageous shore excursions available
anywhere. Take a brand new factory Porsche for a test drive at the
assembly plant in Liepzig, Germany.
Not fast enough for you? How about flying a Russian MIG fighter jet? In
addition, they offer private adventures for people who want something
special all to themselves. These are customized tour experiences which
you dream up yourself. You just give Crystal the details and they make
the arrangements for you.
Obviously, being aboard a Crystal ship is being in the lap of
luxury, and it is for people who appreciate that more than the world
travel. The company has introduced a whole raft of passenger-pleasing
new policies in recent years, none more popular than its Reserve Wine
List of 20 rare and much-sought-after vintages. Special dinners were
conceived around particular wines and champagnes. Crystal may have
introduced alternative, boutique restaurants, but assigned dining at
one of two seatings remains the rule in the main restaurant.
Mostly widely-traveled, well-heeled sixty-somethings from
California who almost invariably look great for their age whatever
that age may be. The line also attracts a fair number of relatively
younger (40s-50s) singles attracted by the line's single supplement
program, usually more women than men single travelers, so the line
often has gentlemen hosts aboard.
Crystal's attractively priced and well-organized shore excursions can
be reserved in advance; just download the form from
www.crystalcruises.com and fax or mail it in. Onboard, a Land Program
Specialist can work up a personalized itinerary for those who prefer to
set off on their own. Some of the excursions are extraordinary such as
a hot air balloon ride over Ireland. In keeping with the California
media-based clientele, there is a tour of Rome showcasing the key
symbols and landmarks in Dan Brown's best-selling book Angels &
Taking The Kids:
As far as youngsters are concerned, Crystal is the most welcoming of
the high-end lines. Each ship has a dedicated playroom, and a Junior
Activities counselor is present on any cruise with ten or more children
There are Junior Activities counselors aboard any Crystal cruise
where 10 or more children are booked. Children's play rooms are well
equipped and the Surf Runner, children's newsletter details scheduled
Past Passenger Program:
Crystal's passengers are the most loyal in the industry, and the line
makes its appreciation apparent. Crystal Society members receive
special discounts on select cruises, including reservations made during
a cruise, and enjoy special onboard parties and photo sessions with the
Captain. They're sent the Society's newsletter, and granted priority
check-in. Once aboard, they enjoy in-cabin wine and flowers. The line
also offers a Milestone-level rewards and recognition program.
Theme Cruises and Special Programs:
Crystal specializes in integrating destinations and shore excursions
into theme-based adventures. About half of Crystal's sailings are
themed, including 16 Wine & Food Festival cruises. There are also
occasional music-theme cruises with big bands and jazz singers, and
such cruises usually involves going to special events on shore in
keeping with the theme of the cruise. On other cruises, you can learn
to play the stock market more shrewdly, study a language, or gain an
increased appreciation for various sorts of art. More themed cruises
include mind and body cruises, Jazz cruises, film amd theater festivals
and arts and antiques cruises.
Smoking will no longer be allowed in Starlite Club (aboard Crystal
Symphony) and on verandahs of all staterooms and Suites aboard both
Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Please be advised that select
public areas, especially bars and lounges, will still permit smoking in
Past Passenger Programs:
Society offers $100 shipboard credit for each new-to-Crystal guest you
bring with you (maximum $400 per year), while they will receive $100
shipboard credit for themselves. Benefits go up as you accumulate more
cruises, including higher shipboard credits and free upgrades with
every 10 additional cruises. Take 100 cruises and you will get a free
cruise in the Crystal Penthouse. of course, by them you will have spent
about $1,000,000 with the cruise line, so you deserve it!
Unlike most luxury cruise
lines, Crystal also does not include Gratuities in its cruise fare.
Suggested guidelines for stateroom and dining service gratuities are as
follows: stewardess, $5 per guest, per day (single travelers, $6 per
day); senior waiter, $5 per guest, per day; waiter, $3 per guest, per
day; butler (Penthouse Decks), $4 per guest, per day.
The servers in specialty restaurants Prego, Jade Garden, Silk Road and The Sushi Bar all expect $7.00 per person per dinner.
All bar drinks and wines automatically get a 15 percent gratuity
added. A similar gratuity is recommended for Salon and Spa services.
Tip the maitre d', headwaiter, assistant stewardess and night Room
Service at your discretion.