Hi everyone. My husband and I just returned from our first ever Crystal Cruise roundtrip from Vancouver to Alaska. We got home last evening and I am still full! Yikes!
We originally booked a Veranda Room (Category B1), but decided to upgrade to the Seabreeze Penthouse Suite (SP), which was beautiful, but in my humble opinion, not worth the upgrade and unlikely to do it again. It was nice having our clothes ironed, but we didn't use the butler much at all (did our own packing/unpacking, declined the afternoon canapés, etc....). The other issue, was just as others have suggested, the SP room is quite cramped. I have a hard time believing it is over 400 sq.ft. Suites on mega cruise lines - Holland America and RCCL, were much more spacious in my opinion. I did like the large rain shower!
We stayed at the Fairmont Waterfront the night before the cruise. We went to Granville Island and had lunch at The Sand Bar, which was quite good. The crab cake and Louie salad were excellent. We had a table on the water and it was fun to watch the boats go by. After lunch we walked back to the Fairmont, rested for a little while, and then enjoyed drinks at ARC in the Fairmont. We booked our room using our Chase Sapphire Card and received $100 dining credit and free breakfast, so we just the $100 for pre-dinner drinks. We made reservations at Hy's Steakhouse a short walk from the hotel and the food was excellent!
We arrived to the cruise terminal (short walk across the street) around 11:30ish and were onboard and in our suite by 12:00. The boarding process was the best I have experienced cruising. Very simple and quick.
-The staff! AMAZING folks working on this ship... If you sat down, someone was there offering drinks within 1 minute and always with a smile. Many of the staff learned our names.
-The food! I don't normally cruise for food, but after this experience on Crystal, I think I will from now on. We ate at Prego once, twice at Uma Umi, twice at Silk (one lunch and one dinner), and 3 times at Waterside. We did not have any issues being seated at Waterside and were seated by the window twice. On our anniversary they had a picture printed out of us to catch us and included a special cake and ribbons for our table. Nice personal touch. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Marketplace/Trident Grill. I loved the Rueben sandwich and the hamburgers were delicious. The salad bar was so fresh and by far the best I have seen on any cruise.
-Mark Ferris! Great piano player, fun to watch, and made everyone smile/laugh...
- Photography! Excellent job taking nice photos for a reasonable price.
- Room attendants! Did a great job of finding ways to freshen the room while we weren't there...
- The ports and excursions! I booked all of my excursions through Crystal. They were a little more expensive that way, BUT they always had a Crystal employee on the excursion with us, which was a nice tough. In Juneau we did a helicopter onto the glacier and a 3 hour hike and ice climb - AMAZING! In Skagway, we did the dog mushing and tour and thought it was "just okay," The dogs were cute, but the tour left much to be desired. In Ketchikan we did fishing and wilderness dining and it was awesome. We each caught more than 10 fish and our guide cleaned them and grilled them up at a campsite.
The less desired:
- Entertainment... Maybe it is our age (me 43, hubby 51), but needlepointing, bridge, and computer lessons are not of much interest to us. We also don't like production shows with dancers/singers. We were looking forward to the comedian, but neither of us found him funny, and although my husband enjoyed the magic show, I didn't (nothing wrong with the magician, I just find magic boring...). While we were fine doing a lot of relaxing, I don't think I would bring my family on a Crystal Cruise unless there was a port everyday as I fear we would be bored on a sea day extensive cruise...
Other than the entertainment (and I know this is a personal thing), I have nothing negative to say about the cruise. The experience was amazing and we definitely will return on another Crystal cruise. My husband is looking to retire in about 5 years. I could see us on a longer voyage with Crystal! Thanks for all on this board (especially Keith) for your pre-cruise suggestions. I appreciate it very much.