11 Reasons To Set Sail On Crystal Symphony
An icon of the ultra-luxury category in cruising, the Crystal Symphony is a 51,044-ton vessel with 848 berths, reduced from 922 during a redesign in 2017. The re-imagining resulted in more space per passenger: a 64.7 space ratio (the enclosed space per passenger measured in cubic feet) which is one of the highest in the industry and oh, so spacious! This spaciousness and a guest-to-crew ratio of 1.49 make you think “you have arrived” in more ways than one from the moment you board (and yes, you have!). Her refurbishment in the fall of 2017 also added new features including open seating dining and new culinary offerings as well as technological advances like interactive cabin televisions with free movies and documentaries, plus enrichment lectures live and on demand.
Here are 11 reasons why the Crystal Symphony is music to my ears:
1) The ambiance of the ship is contemporary and chic, elegant and refined but not stuffy. Light and cool color palettes with lots of blues, creams and whites make for pleasant, airy interiors like in the two-deck central Atrium decorated in earth tones with a sculpture of graceful ballet dancers and a water feature. The Atrium and areas like the lovely Palm Court, where themed afternoon teas are held, are spaces that invite guests to come in and stay.
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2) The all-inclusive nature is a special treat – to be able to walk up to one of the bars and lounges and order a beverage without having to be signing checks is liberating.
3) The formal and casual restaurants are a foodie’s delight. They include Waterside, the main dining room serving modern and traditional international cuisine (two menus are featured each evening and they change daily – one with modern dishes like venison medallions with wild mushroom spring rolls, and another one with classics such as steaks and chops) and an extensive wine list. Waterside has an abundance of tables for two and offers open seating between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The Marketplace is a casual buffet style restaurant, featuring an open kitchen concept and indoor/outdoor dining. The Marketplace becomes a Churrascaria in the evenings with a fun Brazilian steakhouse concept featuring grilled seafood and meats served by “gauchos” – the “feijoada” (black bean and sausage soup was delicious). The Trident Bar & Grill serves hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches including a delectable grilled salmon sandwich, wraps, fries and fruit throughout the afternoon. Scoops, adjacent to the Trident Bar & Grill, offers ice creams, frozen yogurt and a variety of yummy toppings. And Silk Kitchen & Bar, near the Trident Bar & Grill, serves Chinese food family-style.
4) The alternative dining venues are perfect for special occasions. Umi Uma exclusively features menu selections created by Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Umi Uma (the restaurant’s name means seahorse in Japanese – the seahorse figures prominently in Crystal’s logo) has a stand-alone sushi bar and serves such delights as Nobu lobster and grilled wagyu beef rib eye steak. And Prego serves classic Italian cuisine in an intimate Venetian atmosphere, great for a special celebration or for planning the next day’s adventures, perhaps over antipasti, mushroom soup in a bread bowl, veal scaloppini and Piedmontese flan (chocolate-almond flavor).
5) Her varied itineraries roam the world and hit not just the big highlights but also offer opportunities for discoveries in off-the-beaten path destinations. During a recent Colonial Charms cruise from New York to Fort Lauderdale, the ship called at the de rigueur stops of Charleston and San Juan, but also at such highlights as Oranjestad, Aruba, with its Dutch influences and attractions including a butterfly farm dedicated to this lovely insect; less-visited Bimini, Bahamas, where the Resorts World Bimini Hilton with access via complimentary shuttle to miles of turquoise beaches was steps away from the tender pier; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where Dunn’s River Falls beckoned.
6) The stability of the Crystal Symphony is superb – when you look out of your restaurant’s windows and there are swells and white caps in the sea, the wine and water in your glasses are, however, perfectly still. She was built at Kvaerner Masa-Yards Turku, Finland in 1995 and her design and stabilizers do an impressive job for a comfortable ride.
7) The Spa with Technogym equipment and cardiovascular exercise equipment is good for guests like me who like to keep up their regimens during vacation. There is a weight room with free weights, weight machines and state-of-the-art Kinesis™ resistance training equipment and an exercise studio for high and low impact classes, yoga, Pilates, and other classes. An outdoor fitness garden with exercise machines on deck 8 is especially appreciated – even if you don’t use the machines, visibility is a reminder to exercise. And there is a 360-degree promenade on deck 7, and the Seahorse Pool is a lap pool.
8) And speaking of a comfortable ride: the accommodations are outstanding with lots of thoughtful touches: Egyptian cotton sheets, refrigerators with complimentary bottled water and soft drinks, 24-hour complimentary room service; flat-screen television; bathroom amenities including two hairdryers, slippers, ETRO bath products, and ETRO bathrobe and lightweight cotton kimono for each person; large closets with shoe rack, umbrella, personal security safe and beach tote. There is complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi throughout. Penthouses and above categories also have butler service, including packing and unpacking services; walk-in closet; complimentary beer and wine, welcome champagne and complimentary in-room bar upon embarkation. Bathroom amenities in top accommodations include a full Jacuzzi bathtub with separate shower; free pressing upon request, and free shoe shine; Afternoon canapés and tea service, nightly hors d’oeuvre service, and evening room service from specialty restaurants.
9) The entertainment and enrichment programs are second to none. Broadway-style productions and headliner shows are presented twice each evening – a rarity on ships featuring open seating dinner. Enrichment includes the Crystal Visions Enrichment Program with lecturers on every voyage and The Creative Learning Institute, a hands-on seminar program. Other pastimes include karaoke; recent-release films in the Hollywood Theatre; the cocktail hour at the Crystal Cove with piano and string performances; the Avenue Saloon with a piano entertainer performing jazz and favorite tunes; themed teas, including the delicious Mozart Tea, with staff in period dress; complimentary dance classes; Crystal Ensemble of singers and dancers; Ambassador Hosts for dancing partners; and one of my favorite offerings: Los Angeles’ Magic Castle at Sea magicians.
10) The free self-service launderette is a convenient feature particularly on long itineraries for passengers like me who like to pack light and not incur laundry charges.
11) The Volunteerism opportunities: the ship roams the globe and she offers one complimentary goodwill tour as part of Crystal’s You Care, We Care program during each voyage so guests who wish to give back can volunteer to help various charitable organizations. Crystal makes all the arrangements including free transportation. During our recent cruise, passengers were able to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in Charleston.