Posted November 28th, 2005, 07:40 PM
The vast majority of our cruises over the last fifteen years have been with NCL--SS Norway, Westward, Dreamward, Crown, Sky. We've enjoyed the line, been treated well, and are sailing NCL with friends and family for our 25th anniversary in March.
DH and I have always wanted to try Crystal, and had the opportunity for a 2-day "taste" in May. We returned home and cancelled booked cruises on NCL and Royal Caribbean, then booked two cruises with Crystal. Mind you, this was after just two days in an obstructed view stateroom, while we usually sail Penthouse and Owner's Suites with NCL. Honestly, I'd sail in a janitor's closet to keep sailing with Crystal.
We just returned from the final voyage of the Harmony, another sailing we booked after the intitial two. There truly is no comparison. As I posted when I returned from my 2-day taste, Crystal has special touches I couldn't even have dreamed of.
Having just returned from a 7-day sailing, I'm just that much more impressed with Crystal. NCLs food has generally been good, and excellent on occasion (especially in Le Bistro). Crystal's food is on a whole different level. I realized I wasn't eating as much on this cruise, and figured out the quality of the food was so high, that I didn't need quantity to feel satisfied. Although, never fear, quantity is not lacking.
DH and I enjoy dressing up, and will be in tux and gown when we dine in Le Bistro on the Dawn the night of our anniversary. We'll also enjoy the opportunity to be a bit more casual other evenings. Part of the reason we selected the Dawn for this sailing is that family and friends traveling with us aren't frequent cruisers and simply don't have a need for gowns and tuxes. It's important to us that they feel comfortable.
If you really don't enjoy getting dressed up, you can still have an excellent time on a Crystal cruise. As previously mentioned, room service is an option. We had a room service breakfast on this last sailing, and were very impressed. What was supposed to be hot was HOT, and what was supposed to be cold was COLD. And little details like Frette linens. Oh, my.
There is an extensive room service menu, plus you can order anything that's on the dining room menu. With room service, you could enjoy clothing and scheduling flexibility.
There are also excellent alternative restaurants on Crystal--you could make reservations in each of those for the formal nights. One evening they had dinner under the stars on the Lido deck, which offers a more casual environment.
I'd recommend you seriously consider trying Crystal. The six-star service extends to EVERYTHING. No open-air jittneys to questionable shore excursions. Instead, brand new air conditioned motorcoaches, with sane drivers, and escorts from the ship. For those flying out late on disembarkation day, the transfer from the ship to the airport included a stop at a nice hotel for lunch and cocktails before continuing on to the airport!
Day wear on the ship is as casual as you'll find on NCL, with the same rules such as no bathing suits in the dining room. Not a problem, with the option of the Lido buffet, the Trident Grill (burgers, hot dogs, tuna melts, steak sandwiches, wraps, etc.), and again, room service.
Comfortable beds, fine linens, bathtubs in every stateroom, DVD players in all the staterooms, free-flowing champagne at sailaway and other occasions.
Oh, that reminds me, free non-alcoholic beverages. No nickle-and-diming you for soda, lattes, bottled water and the like. It makes us feel much more like "guests." This is everywhere on ship, as well as your stocked refrigerator. When you go ashore in port with Crystal you're handed bottled water, whereas with NCL you have to buy it.
Cocktail prices are comparable to NCL, but photos on Crystal are much less expensive than NCL.
Because the Crystal ships are smaller, and carry fewer people, you really feel like you are valued. Everything is handled with such class and preparation that there are no lines, except for the Grand Gala lunch buffet (sail Crystal and you'll see why). And on Crystal, the buffet food TASTES as good as it looks.
I can't comment on Crystal's suite treatment (big sigh), but have no doubt it would be heavenly. I do know that in the suites you also get to select liquor, and have your refrigerator stocked with beer and wine.
For our upcoming Symphony sailing, we paid in full six months in advance. That resulted in a 3.5% savings, but, better yet, the ability to pre-book dinner reservations and classes. We've signed up for a Berlitz language class, and several computer classes. On Crystal, these are complimentary.
Give Crystal some serious thought, and if you think you can work with (one dark suit with a variety of shirts and ties, one formal dress that doesn't have to be over-the-top and one less formal dress) and around (room service, alternative restaurants) the formality, treat yourself to an extraordinary experience.
Happy Sailing, Carla
Crystal 2005, 2005, 2005, 2006, 2016;Cunard 2008; NCL 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015; Celebrity 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010; Royal Caribbean 1998, 2001; 2011; Princess 2001, 2009, 2012, 2012; Disney 2000; HAL 2000, 2003