Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

Posts posted by Tarwood3

  1. 20 hours ago, Westiesheepie said:

    Can someone review Xuan’s Mekong Delta tour please. We have 2 days in HCMC on Seabourn Ovation in February. I believe we dock right in town. Thanks.

    Hi there! We have toured with Xuan and he is excellent!! We cruised on Silversea Silver Muse Nov 2018.  We also had 2 days in Saigon and so I did some research to find a good guide and Xuan’s name kept popping up...both on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor.  Some folks said he was the best guide they had ever had.  Anyway, I booked him about 6 mos out since I knew he was pretty popular based on the reviews on CC. He was quick to respond , recommended a couple different itineraries and then we altered a couple things to tailor it more to what we were interested in.  Once we were all booked  with him, we got his whatsapp number and made it very easy to communicate prior to our cruise.  Xuan is from the Mekong Delta originally, so his all day tour there was fascinating with a local’s perspective.  Vietnam is such an amazing country and every minute of your trip will keep you engaged since it’s so unique.   As you may know, many Vietnamese can be somewhat difficult to understand, their accent can be quite strong when speaking English but Xuan is very easy to understand and very well spoken. I think that’s really important with a tour guide ...they must have an excellent command of the language and he does indeed.  Xuan loves to take pics and so no worrries, he will get lots of pics of you to remember your trip by.  Our 2nd day we did Saigon and he took us to neighborhoods that few locals go to.  Markets that few local go to.  On that day, we told him taht really wanted to see “daily life” of Vietnamese .....  we told him we wanted to do a trishaw through the streets of SAigon and what a ride we had! It was about a half hour and utterly fascinating. He even road ahead on a motorcycle and would stop at intersections and stand in the street to get pics of us being chauffeured around ...love the action shots! He really is one of the best guides we have ever had...so personable, so kind ,....since our trip, we have recommended him to friends and colleagues that have traveled both for business and pleasure to Vietnam and they all have raved about him as well.  Let me know if you have anymore questions.  Happy to answer.  We are looking at an Asian cruise again in 2022 and if we choose one that stops in Veitnam, we will definitely hire Xuan again.  











  2. 7 hours ago, Beagle5 said:


    We did a Baltic cruise on the Marina this past July 2019. It was our second Oceania cruise and we have a B2B booked on the Riviera in the med this coming July 2020.

    On our first Oceania cruise we made good friends with a couple of guys from Florida - we just started talking to them while in the line at Waves Grill. On our second cruise (the Baltic one) there were quite a few LGBT but we only spoke to one guy who approached us. He was traveling with his Dad and going slightly crazy. LOL.

    There are no organised FoD events. If we meet other gays that's great, but if we don't that's fine too.

    Oceania is usually pretty quite after about 10pm - however they did have an ABBA night as we pulled out of Stockholm which kicked on and the dance floor in Horizons was packed.

    Oceania is the highest price point cruise line we have been with. Compared to Cunard, RCL and Princess, we love the food, the included specialty restaurants, and the general ambiance. 

    Try to lock in a night at La Reserve if you can - we met some fun people there.

    Great insight !! Thanks so much!!

  3. 7 minutes ago, AtA said:

    Crystal has all of those things too including bridge instructors on every cruise with them I've been on. They have trivia on all sea days but not port days. And there are a minimum of 4-5 fitness classes a day. Additionally you mentioned movies. Crystal has its own movie theater with popcorn and a different movie daily .

    Yes, that was my point in the post...the others have the same thing as Crystal when it came to all that .... yes, the movie theatre is a very nice perk! Although we had seen every movie they showed  while on board...but they were pretty recent movies which is great !

  4. 19 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:

    An observation on the bar situation on SB/SS/Regent compared with Crystal.  On those ships (or at least the ones of my experience), they don't open an interior bar until the late afternoon or early evening.  Thus, the "pool bar" is the only spot to have an alcoholic beverage.  On Crystal, the Cove opens during the day along with the Silk bar.

    This is from the Silversea SilverWind...as you can see , there are bars open besides the pool bar during the day...I couldnt remember myself to be honest, so I asked someone who is currently on a ship....


  5. 4 hours ago, ak1004 said:


    Thank you for sharing your observations.


    I have no idea why your experience regarding staff calling you by names and remembering your preferences was different from ours. Maybe because it was your second cruise, and you sailed 21 nights and our was only 10 nights? I really don't know. Frankly, this aspect is not really important to us - I only mentioned it because so many mention it as one of the highlights of Crystal. Would it be nice if staff called us by names? Yes, but for us it's more important that they provide friendly, efficient and quick service. Which they did. Would it be nice if after 10 days they remembered that I asked for ice and lemon with my water, and my wife asked for hot water, day after day? Yes. It would be nice if after 3-4 days they just bring it the way we liked it. But they didn't, so we asked for it. Day after day, till the last day. Not a big deal at all.


    I still consider the service on Crystal outstanding, despite some imperfections. But so was the service on O. Honestly, I did not see big difference.


    As for food - well, 2 out of 3 specialty restaurants are Asian, so yes, it's pretty safe to say that food overall has strong Asian influence. As many mentioned food is very subjective. I still found the food very good, but OVERALL, we liked the food on O better. I could not point out what exactly I was missing - till I read this post by @PaulchiliAs he mentioned, this is MY opinion. I'm very specific with my food preferences, and food on O was just a better fit for ME. Doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the food on Crystal.


    As many people mentioned, different people like different things. Some might say they are missing the music by the pool, others would argue that they come to the pool to relax and don't need the music there. it's really matter of personal preferences. We had a wonderful cruise, and we are booked three more on Crystal, but it doesn't mean it's perfect. No line is. 

    Thanks for saying that...I agree....just because we point out a difference or a preference, certainly doesn’t mean we are bashing one line or the other...simple a preference and observation...Tha’ts why cruise critic is all about....sharing experiences...both good, bad and indifferent. 

  6. 9 minutes ago, suzeluvscruz said:


    Odd that you couldn't get a latte, my DH always gets a cappuccino and I mean always, like every night. 

    Guess I didn’t type that very well.  I was talking about the baileys coffee.....he said no so I just ordered a latte...the cursor was jumping around a bit when I had replied to that earlier comment...got a latte fine...no problem.  Just chalk it up to a cruise critic glitch with my reply...sorry for confusion 

  7. 1 hour ago, Stickman1990 said:

    That’s the disconnect FlyerTalker - like you I know the booze is there and available on request but it seems his request was rejected - which just doesn’t make sense knowing what should have happened with such a request on Crystal 

    Maybe I was just unlucky with the barista I had that day....he wasn’t particularly friendly or smiling.....  I suppose we all have those days. But I guess my point is that there’s not anything on the menu for these kind of drinks....I think there should be...I’m really not a lush folks...not a big drinker...but it sure sounds good some afternoons! Lol

  8. 1 hour ago, FlyerTalker said:

    An observation on the bar situation on SB/SS/Regent compared with Crystal.  On those ships (or at least the ones of my experience), they don't open an interior bar until the late afternoon or early evening.  Thus, the "pool bar" is the only spot to have an alcoholic beverage.  On Crystal, the Cove opens during the day along with the Silk bar.

    I dont remember what time the interior bars open on SB/SS etc ...but you’re probably right...sometime in the mid to late afternoon sounds about right.  Of course at lunch time, all the restaurants serve them...and at any enrichment activities, there are always waiters who will get whatever you want ..and the hub of activity is around the pool area.......  If Crystal didnt have Crystal Cove open during the day , there wouldn’t be anywhere to get a. Cocktail...so I guess they have no choice since there’s no pool bar.  

  9. 1 hour ago, FlyerTalker said:

    There most assuredly are alcoholic "enhancements" available in the Bistro.  Definitely Bailey's, brandy, creme de menthe and kahlua/creme de cacao.   They aren't on the menu, but you sometimes spot it on the counter - usually kept in a cabinet below.  And if you would want to regularly partake of a particular alcohol in your beverage, I am sure that the F&B department can stock a bottle at the bistro for you after an initial request.  It should just take a day or two to requisition it from stores.


    As for the illustrated drinks, you can get all of them with the possible exception of long black and flat white (which IIRC are primarily Aussie terms).


    There are also wines stocked in the Bistro as well.


    One "rule" to remember on Crystal. Even if you don't see it on a shelf or on a menu, try asking.  Odds are overwhelming it can be done, if not immediately then within a day's time.

    I actually had mentioned in an earlier post that I did ask and was told that I have to get an Irish Coffee from a bar... so I wasnt going to argue with the barista.  I just said ok, I’l have a latte...He said no and didn’t offer any alternative.  I try not to be a difficult guest, so I didnt want to bring it up to anyone as it’s not going to make or break my cruise. Hope that makes sense.  

  10. 3 hours ago, SusieQft said:


    Thank you, Tarwood, for sharing your impressions.  I am curious about how you feel about enrichment activities and lectures (and evening entertainment), areas that I did not see you mention.  I have not sailed on SS or SB, but my impression from reading reviews is that they both offer much less enrichment activities than Crystal.  I have not sailed Regent either, but I have a booking in 2020.  My expectation is that Regent has some, perhaps not quite as consistently as Crystal, but maybe more than SS & SB.


    I would be very interested in hearing from you, since you have sailed all four lines, as to whether you think my presumptions are correct.  Also, since you did not mention this area and it is one of Crystal's strong points, it makes me think that perhaps the enrichment activities and lectures are not important to you.  Is that a valid assumption?  Even if so, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this topic, as well as any input from others who may wish to comment.



    Hey Karen...Thanks for your question. Let’s see ...well, I have also heard that Crystal has better/more enrichment activities particularly on sea days than the other lines.  I’ve never kept a tally from one cruise line to another but I did look through the Reflections in particular to compare from things that I remember on the other lines.  There were things like golf lessons, paddleball etc that were offered on our Crystal cruise and SS doesnt have this as they dont have paddle ball , tennis courts, golf putting.driving area that the Crystal ship does.  I noticed Crystal had knitting and needlepoint that I dont recall seeing on the other 3. But the other lines always have different lecturers as well. The others have mahjong, bridge, trivia and of course all the different activities offered by the fitness dept.  So there are a few things Crystal has the other do not, but let’s just say that it didnt seem like Crystal was far and above the others in this dept.  Crystal had a few more but nothing that wow’d me.  I dont do trivia, I dont like golf or paddle ball.  I do lectures and enjoy those.  I dont knit, needlepoint , do bridge etc...I mean, I’m a 52 yr old guy...so these things dont really interest me.  I dont do trivia either.  We are very physically fit, so we do fitness activities , some lectures, Relax, read, watch movies,...   So I suppose I didnt mention anything because I dont really participate in those things on any line ...but I did at least take notice since I had seen it brought up in other threads before.  

  11. 1 hour ago, LHT28 said:

    menu from Bistro on Serenity




    The Crystal Cove  had a  selection of boozy coffees 

    A  funny story

    Our 1st night onboard the lady  we dined with ask for an Irish coffee

    waiter had no idea  what it was

    he got another waiter ..no idea either

    the sommelier came  & said he would have to go to the other side of the ship to get one ..OK

    the lady then asked if maybe they could just bring some Kahlua for her to put in her coffee

    after much hemming & hawing  they brought her a glass of Kahlua

     After dinner we went to the Cove  & discovered the Irish coffee on the menu 

    what is it  100 feet from Waterside 😲  but it was too much trouble to get her an Irish coffee

    Yep that’s the same menu on Symphony. It’s not very extensive. And no fun coffees. Oh well. We survived. No big deal 

  12. 2 hours ago, Stickman1990 said:

    Agreed - this line about no Specialty Coffees being available in the Bistro just isn’t correct. I can’t recall if they’re listed on the menu but they’re certainly available - just as trying out the range of All Inclusive wines is a nice leisurely option in the Bistro 

    Well I was told no when i asked ... i was told to go to one of the bars. But if it’s the middle of the afternoon and I want a snack and a specialty coffee in the Bistro , it should be available. I think my original post has been taken out of context somewhere along the line 

  13. 2 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:


    Could you please give me an example of non-alcohol coffee drinks Crystal doesn't offer? Maybe I'm just boring, but I've never asked anything that they don't offer. 🤓😳😎



    When I brought it up , i was talking about not being able to get boozy coffee drinks in the Bistro like other cruise lines. Not that the drink couldn’t be had somewhere else in ship 

  14. 1 hour ago, Noggins said:

    Impossible to think you wouldn't enjoy it, Keith! (not with your attitude to life)


    However, you might not LOVE it - and you might just find that there were sufficient other pax who live life differently and who might be difficult to keep a sufficient distance from..... That would be be my slight worry about Esprit. (and I like to think I get on with most people!) But what fun to charter the whole ship....🤪


    By the way - wonderful to see that you have a new trip starting. Enjoy! 

    Well, I was worried about being trapped with people I didnt care for too...but it was fine.. never felt that way.  I’m a bit of an introvert and often times , just want some peace and quiet out on deck without always having to chat to randoms...but it was a non issue...


    although ..it is interesting way you phrased it “.. pax who live life differently  and who might be difficult to keep a distance from...” ....hmm...perhaps I’m that kind of person you are looking to keep a distance from....!...lol 

  15. 4 hours ago, ak1004 said:


    I appreciate your review very much - it's always good to have a different perspective, especially from someone who was on the same cruise. No line will ever be perfect, we just need to find something that works for us and is as close to perfect as possible for us.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!!

  16. 1 hour ago, BWIVince said:


    Tarwood, I appreciate your sharing your thoughts, and it was very nice to read. 


    The most interesting thing to me was that a lot of the points you prefer were things that Crystal did once upon a time...  Like the buffets by the pool, pool bar, more music by the pool and canned music.  A lot of these things evolved, some of them out of direct customer feedback and others to help accommodate other passenger-requested initiatives, but either way you're right they create a difference in the products now that's worth people understanding.


    It's interesting that the Bistro can't do boozy coffee drinks -- admittedly I haven't tried to order one there before, but I agree that's not an unrealistic expectation.  The funny thing is that the service in the Bistro had been assigned once upon a time to the sommelier department (instead of the dining staff) because of the wine and alcohol component, though it's never had a full bar.  It's weird you can get more booze on your ice cream than in your coffee at those respective facilities though.



    Now that you mention it, someone did say something about things being removed after the re fit...interesting..  Anyway, yes I noticed one of our fav sommeliers being the barista on a couple afternoons.   Hopefully it will change and the Bistro will expand their offerings....even if they dont get boozy drinks, they need a better variety of coffee drinks.  

  17. 4 hours ago, ctjon said:

    There was a "lot" more outdoor dining drinks, etc on the ships before the last refit to add to number of "real" dining areas to take burden off MDR with open seating.  I would think that many people (me included) would complain if there was always music playing in the pool area - I don't go there to be entertained but to sit relax,swim and have conversations.

    But as many have said each has there own wishes and desires from a cruise or any other type of vacation.

    The music on SB and SS is softly playing and it’s pleasant ...it’s not a Carnival cruise after all...and the average age is about the same as Crystal and everyone seems to enjoy it...anyway, to each his/her own.....not a debate, just an observation I had..

  18. 2 minutes ago, ak1004 said:


    Understood. But for someone like me who doesn't care about cabin size, Crystal entry level cabins are much cheaper than SS or SB. I understand it's not exactly apples to apples, but still.. This is why as @Keith1010mentioned there are choices - things that are important to you might not be important to me and vice versa.


    And we are planning 1-2 years out as well. We are not loyal to any specific line and like to try new ships. I tried to look at SS and SB and find anything that comes even close to Crystal entry level cabins pricing, on any ship. Nothing.


    As for the ship age - in my opinion, once you are on the Symphony, you cannot really tell its age.



    Yes, it was down few times, but when it was working, it was decent. And I don't think it's relevant. I have seen many complaints on Seabourn board about internet, and they charge for it. Azamara also charges for Internet, and it was terrible on our cruise on the Pursuit. Princess internet was the best we have experienced on sea, and they charge much less than Celebrity. So there is not always a direct relationship between the cost and the quality in this case.

    Good morning! Yes, in your case.....this would be an advantage , having a smaller suite and price point to choose from on Crystal! I totally get it..... I see some very good deals on Seabourn for cruises within a year...definitely at the price point you are talking but again, if you are planners like us, that wouldn’t really matter...lol..but they do exist.  Anyway, glad you enjoy Crystal...we do like them...we just missed a few things ...  I wasnt trying to be mean...but just comparing to what other ships have.  There are always so many people like us that like to sample...so it can be helpful to some or completely immaterial to others which is fine.  Our internet has always been included on Celebrity (suite class) and SS... It seems every line is trying to figure out what the magic combination of things is and I dont think they will ever find it since everyone has different priorities.  We LOVE Regent but we like to do a mix of our own excursions and ships excursions..so they are too inclusive for our tastes...I dont want to pay for excursions I’m not going to use...so we rarely do them. 

  19. 6 minutes ago, Jayayeff said:

    Thanks for taking the time to write-up a review of your Symphony sailing.  I’m sorry that it fell short of your expectations but I think coming even close to your phenomenal Esprit experience just a few weeks earlier was always going to be a big ask.... Having cruised the Symphony more than any other cruise ship, a couple of things surprised me a little but others not so much.  I also wish there were more opportunities to have a drink, or dine outdoors on the Crystal ships, other than the poolside drinks service.  I have to say I am looking forward to taking advantage of the open-air opportunities to do so onboard the Esprit in a few weeks time.   It’s a shame your planned Endeavor cruise has now been cancelled due to the charter, I’m sure from your comments here and from your earlier Esprit trip that would probably have been a better fit in meeting your expectations - hopefully you will come up with a suitable alternative....



    Yep,Esprit was hard to beat and definitely set the bar high for Crystal.  It was also the best food (consistently every night) of any cruise we have ever done.  But for the comparison I did on here, it was really more about our experiences with SS, SB , Regent and even Celebrity Suite Class.  

    We WILL try Crystal again, just havent been able to find an itinerary. We might just do another Esprit in the Adriatic....funny thing though...I was VERY skeptical about the Esprit before boarding..I wasnt sure how I would feel about no veranda, being so small...no entertainment etc...but those fears were quickly put to rest ....

  20. 9 hours ago, ak1004 said:


    Thank you for sharing your observations.


    Obviously different people care for different things. We found the cruise excellent, but we haven't sailed on SS or SB, so cannot compare. 


    Would you mind to collaborate about "better prices on SS and SB"? We just booked a 11 nights cruise on Crystal from Dover to Lisbon for $3,550 USD. This was the cheapest category, but we don't really care about the cabin, and I didn't see any entry level cabins on SS or SB that come even close in price. 


    On related note, some people might say they would not cruise on a luxury line that charges extra for internet (SS) - but again, different people, different priorities.

    Oh and regarding internet....I think Crystal has to give it for free because it was so terrible.  It went down A LOT and for long periods.  So many were complaining.  I thought maybe because it was an older ship and they just cant provide the most modern technology?? I was told later by an avid Crystal cruiser that is currently on Symphony that Crystal changed providers and now it is more problematic. I also have a friend who is a crewmember and he said it’s really bad....even worse for the crew.  If they charged for it, I’m sure it would create a lot of complaints..so best to give it for free....which is why I didnt say anything about it in my review, since it was free and I was happy about that.  

  21. 4 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

    Tarwood....Appreciate your review.


    In the end only one opinion matters and it is our own.


    Thank goodness for choice and that each line is not a clone of one another.


    Wishing you Happy Holidays and Happy Cruising.



    Thanks Keith! Always appreciate your kindness and information on here! If you havent tried Esprit, you must!! Sensational!

  22. 8 hours ago, KenzSailing said:


    "This thing, about which we do not care, we found to be lacking on Crystal."

    Yes, we dont care, but part of making observations is saying what is different from another brand...some people care about these things that might be looking at trying Crystal from xyz cruise line and want to know how they compare...so there you go...

  • Create New...