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We love cruising on Crystal and this time was no exception. All in all, we had a marvelous time. We met Jackie and her husband Frank. Have to love anyone who likes sitting in the very back of the Galaxy Lounge like we do. Jackie, please chime in with your review of the cruise.
About 90% of our cruise was really great, but I would be less than truthful if I left out the other 10%. We loved our stateroom and stewardess, our Spanish Creative Learning class (Larry was a natural), our dance lessons (Larry was not a natural at the rumba), Larry's golf games in port, my excursions in Mexico and our joint one in San Diego to the Oceanographic Center (GREAT), the food, the sommelier (Georgina) and the wine tasting in the Dining Room, our tablemates (four marvelous people we had a lot of fun with on the cruise expecially on the Lido Deck at the Sangria Sail Away party from Cobos San Lucas), the buffets and afternoon teas, the excellent job done by the photographers, the Captain (he wore a red sock and a green sock to tell port from starboard!!), and our waiter.
Now for the 10%. First, Larry runs five miles on the Promenade Deck every evening before dinner. On all of our other cruises, it has always been daylight. On this one it got dark around six. When he got to the aft portion of the deck, there were no lights. He said it really was dangerous because it was pitch black, and he reported it four times. No one ever responded to his reports. That bothered us. Near the end of the cruise, we spoke to the Assistant Chief Engineer. He checked into it and found out that it was bothersome to the navigation to have those lights on. I surely hope no one ever falls.
I never realized how much a great head waiter does to make our dinners exceptional -- until we didn't have one. I don't think I saw enough of him to identify him in a lineup. I never learned his name. He never asked if we would like a special pasta, dessert, salad, anything. One night he was making bananas foster for another table and our waiter asked if we would like some. We never got it. We didn't get our last night menus. Larry went to see the maitre d' on disembarkation day and got packets for me and another of our tablemates. We saw lots of other people with them. Our waiter was excellent but it was our assistant waiter's first cruise. Things got forgotten a few times or the wrong thing brought. By the end of the cruise, he had improved to "very good" status. A good head waiter would have helped there also.
The lecturers and variety entertainers were not up to the par we expect from Crystal. I felt that the bookings for this cruise fell in the crack between the Holiday Cruise and the World Cruise.
But like I said, that was only 10%. We had a super vacation and can't wait for the next two in 2005. We booked one already for 2006. The schedule looks great. Nikki Andrew, the sales representative was busy every moment with people booking. Our cruise had about 750-800 people with about 400 being Crystal Society members. The formal night cocktail parties and the informal night Crystal Society party were wonderful: we danced and the Captain was in rare form with his jokes. It was his last cruise on Serenity; he joins Symphony after a vacation.
Judith, your point is very well taken concerning the importance of the wait staff, including the head waiter, in making a cruise more enjoyable.
What makes Crystal so special is the staff and if there is a break in the chain, so to speak, the entire cruise experience can suffer.
That being said, just like any 5 star land resort, any one particular cruise experience may not be as memorable as others.
On a positive note, even a subpar Crystal experience is still better than the vast majority of all other cruises.
Regarding Head Waiters: When we get the usual excellent service and the head waiter is no where to be found we find it much more enjoyable. They offer Cherries Jubilee, a special pasta, or a salad...big deal. To me, most of them do as little as possible trying to extract extra $$ from your wallet (not always but more often then not). They can't make what we want...lobster thermador or baked stuffed lobster.
I always tell our waiter, please keep the Manilla Trio away from us also. They see my wife is Filipino/ Hawaiian and they won't leave us alone. I tip these guys because they're trying not because we want them around. Too many Hawaiian songs.
Judith, When was your embarkation? Again, WELCOME BACK!!
Welcome back Judith. Couple of points. It was interesting that they turned the lights off aft of the promenade because it interfered with navigation. I alwys like to walk the promenade late at night and have never seen it dark. I wonder if this is something new or whether it is up to the Captain or whether it was peculiar to the area you were sailing in. I guess I will find out -- we will be on the Harmony on the Panama Canal cruise out of Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 26. Will let you know -- hope the lights are on.
Agree with you on headwaiters. I remember the last cruise when I asked for mushroom soup from Pregos in the Crystal Dining Room. The waiter brought over the headwaiter who said it couldn't be done. I asked for Remi - and well you know what happened. Done. Never a problem again.
We were on the Harmony in November and were served Prego's mushroom soup with no complaints from the head waiter. The year before on the same ship we requested and were served veal chops with no mention of "hardship".
Glad to hear you made it home Saturday, Judith. We walked right off at 9:00, picked up our bags and on our way at 9:15 - home by 11:15. No problem coming through La Conchita as 101 had opened up the day before - how devastating it was to see! Didn't know you did not see the head waiter - he came around where we were (table 22) quite often and did make the bananas foster. Also kept asking if there was anything special we wanted. We were at the Prego the night they served escargot so he made sure we all got it the following night along with a special dessert. As for the cruise, the only small complaint we had was getting ice delivered to our room. I also like the entertainment on the Harmony and Symphony better than what was on the Serenity. Again, we felt it was an excellent Crystal cruise and we are spoiled! We too signed up for another cruise in the fall - not sure just yet which one. As it turned out, a couple nights before disembarking we found out that our room stewartess and our head waiter are both from Poland and engaged to be married. They are leaving the world cruise April 5th to fly home from Athens to be married the end of the month! Have fun on your next cruise Judith and Larry!
Jackie & Frank
Jackie, you had a head waiter like we are used to having. Bulent -- our waiter a couple of years ago on the Symphony -- became a head waiter on Serenity. Every day at lunch, he came over and asked if there was anything he could do for us. We were at table 56 in the middle of the room. We just got a dud this time. Our waiter got us banana splits one night so we wouldn't die of dessert famine! One of our favorite head waiters on Serenity, Laszlo, left to open his own bistro. Astrid, a favorite sommelier on Serenity, also left -- to start a family. One of the waiters told us that with the devaluation of the dollar, he and the other ship employees paid in dollars are taking a beating. He also said they are noticing more people are tipping less or not at all.
Judith, it's terrible to hear that people are tipping less or not at all. The wait staff works so hard and they deserve every dollar they earn. We were so pleased with our waiter that we tipped him more than the suggested amount. I'm surprised to hear about this on the Serenity because the itineraries are not heavily discounted. I might not be surprised to hear this happening on some of the heavily discounted Harmony segments. This is only my opinion so I hope that no one will jump all over this. Nancy
Welcome home Judith. As you will see in another post, my partner and I have booked 5114, R/T to Alaska from SF. If you overheard any passengers on your trip who are booked on our trip, we need a Crystal 'sponsor' for the STEX program. We look forward to any further review that you may chose to write.
I am glad to hear about the problem with the lower dollar as to the staff - never had occurred to me. When we leave next week - I will be sure to compensate by increasing the gratuity - it's the least we can do.
Hi Judith: Welcome Home !!! Of course I knew that you & Larry would have a wonderful cruise, despite your 10% negative problems. Even though we had extraordinary service in the dining room on our November Serenity cruise, our head waiter was usually nowhere to be found, except of course on the last night ! Our cabin stewardess and waitress were both brand new to Crystal (I think their 2nd or 3rd cruise) and they were fabulous !!
Sorry about your experience---the wait staff truly make the trip for me, and its disappointing to have an inattentive one. I wonder if the lights off on the promenade deck had to do with cat. E passengers complaining about the lights that shine into the cabin windows?
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Hi April. Actually, it was just the head waiter. Our waiter, Karol, was of Crystal quality. We just missed the special touches and, since our assistant waiter was new, he could have used the additional guidance. Some of our orders got eliminated or mixed up because of his lack of knowledge.
About the lights. No, where these lights are located is the aft (front) of the ship near the crew pool. It is a problem with navigation with them on, not one of shining into staterooms. By the way, we have occasionally stayed on Promenade Deck, and the lights have never bother us on either Serenity or Symphony.
I meant where the crew swimming pool is. Is that the bow? Yes, I remember now that the aft is the back -- we have eaten there on the Lido Deck. I've just learned starboard from port. Maybe a dozen or more cruises, I learn bow from aft. My sister says when I drive with her, if I say turn right, she turns left. I'm always wrong!! No sense of direction.
For us, the dining room service is very important and makes the two seating dinners a positive rather than the negative that the Radisson cruisers make such a point about.
We feel that the terrific Crystal service and cuisine make all the difference. However, that said, it is very important for us to have very professional dining room waiters and a head waiter that can do magic with special meals and desserts. Sorry to hear that your head waiter was nowhere to be seen.
We have been fortunate on our last two Symphony cruises to have Remi and Ivo as our headwaiters and they were fab.
In fact, we enjoy the two seatings on the Crystal cause we are guaranteed to have the same wait staff at each dinner.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed the rest of the wonderful Crystal experience.
I also marvel at the fact that you did not let the two small inconveniences "annoy" you to the extent of a bad cruise. You made lemonade out of small lemons. Good for you.
Welcome Home and thanks for the review. We were on Symphony in December and our waiter was the worst weve ever had on a ship as far as service goes. I believe he must have been new. He was very sweet but not a good waiter. The rest of the cruise was wonderful but the waiter makes such a difference. However I wouldnt hesitate to leave for the Symphony again tomorrow...because I dont believe it would happen again, Zolton or no Zolton.