You may remember my post last year about the incredibly luxurious Crystal Cruises and their upcoming transformations. They were renovating both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity (coming October 2018). Thanks to the help of Ken Heit from Luxury Cruise and Travel, I was able to book my own trip aboard the Crystal Symphony in December. This new mid-size ship holds only 848 passengers which I think is the perfect size. Spending the holiday season on-board this new ship was everything I imagined and more.
I embarked in the evening and sailed from the heavenly waters of Mauritius to the action-packed Big Five safaris in South Africa. This two-week journey was the perfect chance to experience all that Crystal Cruises is already known for, in addition to those delightful upgrades they promised.
My home on the seas was the Deluxe Stateroom with Verandah. As I mentioned before, they upgraded more of their rooms to suites and penthouses, limiting staterooms and increasing their service to space ratio. This ship now has far more suites and penthouses, which are amazing, but another great option if you’re looking for more affordable luxury is this deluxe stateroom. A nice touch was having the private verandah with a small table and two chairs to lounge on and enjoy the view. The plush queen size bed was also extremely comfortable and perfect for a full night’s sleep.
My bathroom had a full bathtub/shower combination with a double vanity. There were also plenty of shelves to store your toiletries, which I appreciate because oftentimes space is very limited on a cruise. We were treated to luxurious ESPA products that I love so much. This included shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, which was so nice because you didn’t need to bring your own!
The bedroom had a spacious wall closet, for even more storage, and a desk to complete any work you may have. The refrigerator was fully loaded with drinks, and they even gave me a menu to choose complimentary beer, wine, and spirits upon request- all free of charge! Another bonus was that each deck had a laundry facility, which was definitely useful when we needed it during the two weeks on board. The room is 246 sq. ft. (23.7 sq. m.), not including the verandah, and felt extremely spacious and elegant when compared to many other staterooms I have experienced.
If you desire more space, you can certainly upgrade to the Penthouse Suite which comes with its own butler service!
Dining and Drinks
The restaurant improvements that were promised during the renovation process certainly had me excited to do some taste testing.
The ship has 4 specialty restaurants: Prego (an Italian eatery that added family style eating options), Silk (a new specialty Asian restaurant), Umi Uma (sushi) and Churrascaría (the new Brazilian steakhouse). We had dinner at Prego, Umi Uma and Silk during our cruise. Guests of Crystal are allowed 2 visits to Prego, Umi Uma or the Sushi Bar without being charged, which was very nice bonus.
The main formal dining restaurant was Waterside, and we enjoyed eating here most nights. After soaking up the sun all day, we often went to the delightful Trident Grill for lunch. They served pizzas, hamburgers, grilled cheese, salads, and our favorite- the Scoops Ice Cream Bar! This was located adjacent to Waterside and served up delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Marketplace is another stop where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner in a buffet style setting. We had breakfast here a few days and it was a great atmosphere. Other days when we had early morning tours, we would order room service, which is another great option if your activities take you away from your luxurious accommodations.
In the afternoons, you can venture into the Palm Court for a delicious cocktail or afternoon tea experience.
The Connoisseur Club is the ideal place for after-dinner drinks and a good cigar. They have an impressive selection of cigars ranging from Monte Cristo to Davidoff.
Speaking of activities, there are surely many things to keep you busy both on and off the ship. If you’re looking to stay active on board, the doubles or singles tennis game will help you work up a sweat while enjoying some amazing views.
One of my favorite things to do on the ship on sea days was to lounge by the pool. The servers were always very accommodating and made sure we were kept hydrated with cold drinks and piña coladas. They even came around in the afternoon with cold washcloths which I found to be very thoughtful and refreshing after being out in the sun a few hours.
Many of the guest also seemed to enjoy the golf lessons that are offered on-board.
If you want to work on your fitness, but in a less aggressive way, they have options for that too! In the fitness center, you will find classes for yoga, Pilates or other chi-balancing choices. You can even do a Chi Walk on the deck as the first light of day breaks on the horizon – how peaceful does that sound?
Or if you want to lounge around with a good book to read, they have plenty of choices in the ships Library.
However, if you’re like me and relaxation is more the name of the game, the award-winning Crystal Spa should have everything you need. I enjoyed treatments here most days and would highly recommend. Their facials were great for rejuvenating my skin and any massage here is worth your time. I always left feeling so relaxed and refreshed.
For some evening entertainment, an added feature that came from the renovations was the addition of an industry-first showing of premiere and Oscar-nominated movies at the Hollywood Theatre. To be in the action yourself, you can join in on the piano sing-a-longs at the Avenue Saloon or indulge in some cabaret dancing at the Starlite Starbrite lounge. One of most memorable shows and a personal favorite of mine was the Illuminations Show. It was a light display where the performers perform in the dark, and the lights on their costumes tell a story. It was fabulous and so unique!
The casino on board is also a great place to test your luck. We enjoyed playing blackjack and roulette a few times during the cruise.
However, the most exciting evening involved a fashion show! My friend and I were selected as models for a Hubert Jewelry Fashion Show on one of the sea days. I had the immense pleasure and honor of wearing beautiful and rare, one-of-a-kind pieces by leading designer Hubert Gesser. My necklace and rings were stunning. It was a fabulous experience that I will remember for a long time!
Whatever your preference for accommodation, dining and entertainment may be, you will find it all on the new and improved Crystal Symphony! I hope you take my word for it and experience all that Crystal Cruises has to offer for yourself.