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Crystal Cruises: Crystal Symphony

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Crystal Symphony Review

Crystal Symphony’s schedule includes worldwide itineraries that range from seven-day cruises to Grand Voyages of several weeks in length. Many itineraries from point to point can be booked consecutively for a longer trip with unique ports of call on each.

Although large, Crystal Symphony is noteworthy in the luxury market for creating intimate spaces in understated, yet sophisticated, surroundings. Generous per-passenger space ratios have become a Crystal trademark, along with forward-facing observation decks, a Palm Court lounge, and a wide teak promenade encircling the ship. An extensive refurbishment in 2009 transformed the Crystal Penthouses, Lido Café, and Prego Italian restaurant. The most dramatic change was the removal of the indoor swimming pool and hot tub to expand seating for the Trident Grill. The remaining hot tub was expanded and includes a water feature.

Accented by a lovely waterfall, the focal point of the central two-deck atrium is a sculpture of two ballet dancers created especially for the space. Crystal Cove, the lobby lounge, is the spot to meet for cocktails as you make your way to the nearby dining room. Throughout the ship, public rooms shine with low-key contemporary style and flow easily from one to the next.

Winner of accolades and too many hospitality industry awards to count, Crystal Cruises offers a taste of the grandeur of the past along with all the modern touches discerning passengers demand today. Founded in 1990 and owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) in Japan, Crystal ships, unlike other luxury vessels, are large, carrying upward of 900 passengers. What makes them distinctive are superior service, a variety of dining options, spacious accommodations, and some of the highest ratios of space per passenger of any cruise ship.

Beginning with ship designs based on the principles of feng shui, the Eastern art of arranging your surroundings to attract positive energy, no detail is overlooked to provide passengers with the best imaginable experience. Just mention a preference for a certain food or beverage and your waiter will have it available whenever you request it.

Afternoon tea in the Palm Court is a delightful daily ritual. You're greeted by staff members in 18th-century Viennese brocade and velvet costumes for Mozart Tea; traditional scones and clotted cream are served during English Colonial Tea; and American Tea is a summertime classic created by Crystal culinary artists.

The line's Ambassador Host Program brings cultured gentlemen on each cruise to dine, socialize, and dance with unaccompanied ladies who wish to participate.

What You Should Know


  • The professionalism of the ships staff sets them apart
  • The large theater has ample seating and free popcorn
  • Casual dining areas have more than enough seating indoors and outside


  • Few staterooms can accommodate families
  • While large, the solitary pool and hot tub can feel crowded at times
  • Lower-category staterooms can feel cramped for a luxury ship
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 545
  • Entered Service 1995
  • Gross Tons 51,044
  • Length 781 feet
  • Number of Cabins 470
  • Passenger Capacity 922 (1,010 max)
  • Width 99 feet
  • New

May 9, 2017

By Rose_CR

  • New

Mar 27, 2013

Reefs and Rainforest

Very disappointed about the all inclusive program. It sounds cheap and it is really 'cheap'. I was with Crystal Harmony a couple of times before and was impressed with the 6 stars' service and food. This time, maybe it is 'all inclusive', the service is awful! They do not have to work hard to please anybody. The food in the main dining room is awful and boring. Not to mention we requested for early seating when we booked 3 months' ago and when

we showed up the first night, they said there is no table booked under our name. They have to wait for the Manager who appears he was so generous and nice to allow us a table of two. When I asked 'what is our table no. tomorrow?' as we prefer to dine at the same time, he said 'we'll see'. Thereafter after night we showed up as aliens and he has to find us a table. However, every night we found a few empty tables. Due to changing of table, the waiters are different. Some are more attentive than the others and some shows as if you are creating extra work for them! The specialities restaurants are fully booked the second night! If we did not book it before our cruise (which we were only allowed to book once in each specialities restaurants), we will not have a chance to try. However, after numerous time of asking if there is any cancellation, we finally can tried two more times, yet, when we were there, there were lots of empty tables around us. Either their system is not right or something is wrong. Thank God, the housekeeper is nice. The show is actually better than before and the best of all is they offer daily Catholic mass. The Specialities Restaurant, Silk Road and Prego are good. The main dining is boring and awful. Even the Gala Buffet is awful. Lobsters are tasteless, dessert are boring. The Bistro offers good coffee. Fruits are boring and the choice is limited. Not too bad cabin, a good size with double sink. Very clean! There is not much entertainment we liked. However the seminars are interesting. Excursions are over prized for sure but the handling of Embarking and disembarking was nice and smooth. I do not think we will go with Crystal Symphony any more.

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  • New

Oct 8, 2012


Liked: inclusive drinks and gratuities, waiting staff and room stewards excellent Dislikes: most of the other staff, especially reception and entertainment staff; rooms tiny; ship showing its age; shore excursions overpriced Food good Stateroom tiny Entertainement poor Excursions overpriced Crystal is a bit better than the average cruise line, but in no way is it '6 star cruising' and certainly not worth the extra cost.

I don't believe it represents good value for money, and personally wouldn't cruise with them again. Cabins are really small. We'd booked one for two adults, a three year old in a bed and a baby (6 months) in a cot. The three year old was OK in a chair which folded out into a bed (but I wouldn't want to put a child who was much older than that in there). But when the bed was folded out the table in the room had to go under the dressing table, the chair from the dressing table had to be removed from the room completely and the baby had to sleep in our bed as there was absolutely no room for a cot. This wasn't great, but given the fact we had to pay for the baby when he had nowhere to sleep and no food provided it wasn't acceptable. We were told the lowest category of cabin with a fold out bed available was Cat C. We would have much preferred adjacent cabins with an adjoining door in Cat E but we were told this wasn't available. Very frustrating then that someone we were travelling with was allocated just such a cabin and it definitely did have a fold out bed. The size of the cabin meant there wasn't enough room for all our clothes – I think we would have struggled with just two people in the cabin – but with two children quite a lot of our clothes had to remain in the suitcase under the bed, which we could only get out when the fold out bed was folded up. Liked the mini-bath in the bathroom, great for bathing the kids. The twin sink looks great, but as you can't get more than one person in the bathroom at a time it would actually been better to have one bigger sink. Loved the Aveda toiletries. The waiting staff and the room stewards were generally excellent but the reception staff ranged from dismissive to downright unhelpful. Personally I found the entertainment poor. The program didn't vary day to day – bingo at 10, quiz at 11, dance lessons at 2.30, etc – the only thing that seemed to change was the guest lecturers. There are obviously a certain portion of people this appeals to but it completely lacked imagination and innovation, nothing that hasn't been done for years. The brochure advertises that there are dedicated rooms for kids but that is quite literally all they are, just a room – no entertainment at all is provided and there were no toys whatsoever available in the room (which was quite often closed as it was being used by the golf program or the photographers). I understand that there are no dedicated staff available outside of selected cruises but that is absolutely no excuse for not having toys available in the kids room. If nothing else that would mean the children would have somewhere to play away from passengers who didn't want children on-board. There was a kids menu in the dining room but this didn't vary at all, and unsurprisingly my son was getting bored of eating the same things after two weeks on-board. There was very little that was suitable for children otherwise, and absolutely no baby food was available. The food in general was good, and portion sizes in the main restaurant were ideal. The lunch buffet was quite repetitive though, and only a few hot dishes varied day to day, with other counters not changing at all during the two weeks. I found the opening times of both the restaurant and the lunch buffet too limited (trying to fit in getting the children fed and naps meant that quite often I missed the buffet and had to eat at the lido). Other people who ate breakfast quite late or were on the late sitting for dinner might also have found the lunch closing at 1.30 to early also. After 6.30 the only options were the restaurant or the food being served in the restaurant as room service. With the kids asleep in the room, room service was not an option so it would have been nice to have somewhere else to go. Crystal might argue that there isn't the demand for it but the long wait for a table on the two nights there was casual dining in the evening in the buffet room would suggest otherwise. We really struggled to get bookings at the speciality restaurant at suitable times, in the end we only got a booking at all by e-mailing Crystal. We were therefore really annoyed when we did get in to find that we were the only fare paying passengers there save for one other table. All the other tables were taken up by staff, some of them with their guests. I understand that staff might want to take their guests in, but this should not be to the detriment of fare paying passengers, who should get preference. Many of the staff seemed to treat the passenger areas as their own, often taking up tables in the bistro and the lido area, leaving no seats available for the paying passengers. This also meant that the waiting staff were having to serve them drinks, etc increasing the length of time passengers were having to wait. I really didn't think this was acceptable. The boat itself has recently been refurbished but it really is beginning to show its age. We experienced rough weather but I've been on rougher seas in other boats and they were able to cope much better than this ship did. We were scheduled to call at 4 ports – Dublin, Akureyri, Reykjavik and Halifax. Two of these stops were cancelled due to bad weather (which although the boat made hard work of it wasn't that bad). We were also delayed for over 5 hours getting out of Reykjavik, this was put down to the sea being too rough but the Brilliance of the Seas was out at sea waiting for our berth to become available and didn't seem to be experiencing any problems. As 'compensation' for missing two of the four stops we were given 100$ per person. Unfortunately this was only given to the full fare paying passengers, so no compensation at all for the baby, not even a pro-rata rebate. This works out in the region of 1% of the total cost of the holiday, and given that we missed 50% of the stops we though this was somewhat insulting. One formal night was cancelled, as it was a bit choppy, and never reinstated on another night. And no effort was made to change the entertainment program to alleviate the boredom of spending endless unplanned days at sea. I found that the tours were excessively expensive. For example we did a tour to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It seemed expensive but we though this might be because the entry to the Blue Lagoon was expensive, but this wasn't the case. We were also under the impression that the tours were free for the under 4s. In fact they charged us 50% of the full fare for our 3 year old. This was despite the fact that it was completely free for him to get into the Blue Lagoon. So effectively we had to pay $60 for a bus trip which was less than half an hour each way. Needless to say we didn't take any more trips, and would have struggled to do so as the stops were cancelled anyway! The debarkation was the worst I have experienced. Crystal have a no passenger announcements policy, which generally is OK but when their organisation goes so spectacularly awry they are really needed. Debarkation was scheduled to commence from around 8am, with passengers being told to wait in the Starlight lounge at specific times and passengers would be directed from there. However 9am came and went with no sign of anyone getting off. The two staff present were hopelessly inundated and had no idea what was happening. By 10am it felt like the entire ship was trying to fit into the lounge and when they did begin letting people off the first ones off where the last ones to arrive as those who should have been let off were trapped in the lounge by those who had arrived for a later departure. Utter chaos, and I'd be surprised if people didn't miss their flights because of it. Especially frustrating as we could see passengers on the Carnival ship, which arrived after us, getting of before us. But this event summed up the entire cruise "lack of customer care", staff largely absent and uninterested and no better (and quite often worse) than any other cruise line.

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  • New

Mar 31, 2012

Western Carribean

This was my husband's and my first time on a cruise and we're glad that we travelled with Crystal. It was a wonderful experience. The meals were so delicious. We were fortunate enough to sit with a table of 8 great people as well. Each night we took turns buying bottles of wine to share with our meals. We were also able to special order our meals for the next night, ex. lobster and items not on the menu. The ship was so pretty. For years I avoided

going on cruises because I thought that a cruise would be boring. Not at all. We had cooking demos with Govind Armstrong, who is a celebrity chef. We especially enjoyed the wine tasting, and we saw fun shows every night. We made so many friends and after a year later we are still in contact. The excursions were o.k. Very touristy in nature however it's best to go to places with people from your ship. I would advise though NOT buying jewelry from one of the islands on excursion. It seems like a good idea as all the stores are offering deals and they talk about deals a lot on the ship. But I bought a bracelet and a stone came out as soon as we left that port. I had a hard time getting my money back from the store as I had to wait to return home to send it back. The store did not want to reimburse even after getting the bracelet back. Thank God for American Express who helped me with the matter. Other then that the trip was great! I love Crystal Cruise! Fresh, innovative, beautiful presentations Clean, after fresh. The bathroom was gorgeous. I didn't feel like I was on a ship. Good. I loved the cooking demo by Govind Armstrong. I loved the host from Food and Travel. Don't buy jewelry on an excursion. If something is wrong with it it's hard to get your money back. Loved it!!! The best!!

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  • New

Apr 19, 2011

San Francisco-Vancouver

The food was excellent. Most everything else was awful. Ship very small. Tiny elevators. No activities. Trip to Vancouver. Too early in season. No water in pool. No deck chairs. Absolutely nothing outside. No jacuzzi. Expected some speakers. There was one mediocre one. CASINO closed most the entire trip, One BINGO game. Was constantly misinformed by staff at front desk. One example, we were told we could use our $1,00 credit in stores

up til the last day. The stores all closed 3 days before that so we had to donate oour credit to Crystal. Excellent Large window was a small window. Bed small and not comfortable There were none at all. Very disappointing. Not suitable for handicapped people. Elevatrors too small. Difficulty getting off and on ship

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