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  1. Yes, it's entirely possible that I am interpreting any extra accommodation we received as being in response to tipping, when in reality we may have well been accommodated anyway. But one case in point was seating all of us in UU at one table - when enquired pre-cruise, we were told to speak to the MD on board. We did as soon as we could on day one, and the answer was a clear "no" - the best they could do was try to sit us in adjacent tables, but even that might be tricky due to layout. We were happy with this; didn't kick up a fuss or anything. But I understand one other member of our party politely tried their luck again just before the start of our service, but this time with some light ammunition - it worked. Would it have worked sans ammunition? Possibly, but who's to know? To us it was cause and effect and it did the job. I'm not for a second suggesting that good service must be bought on board - on the contrary, the basic level of service was exemplary. I'm just making a case that in my experience (which may of course differ from yours), it did make some difference - not enough to define the cruise, but a difference nonetheless. YMMV, caveat emptor and all that. 🙂 I do not wish to make this point bigger than it is, it was really just a trivial passing comment that was a raindrop in the ocean of the Crystal experience.
  2. It's worth noting though that I was in a large group, and accommodating our requests sometimes really did mean having to go above and beyond (or so I felt anyway). For example, seating all 12 of us at a single round table in Umi Uma, which is usually meant to accommodate a maximum of 8. Or getting multiple portions of the Chilean Sea Bass at Silk for lunch (which is usually only on the menu at dinner). Service was generally very good (within the "usual parameters"), but we did find that whenever we wanted cherries on top of the cake (and we're a little difficult like that), some encouragement went a long way. When my wife and I cruise again as just a couple, my expectation is that we will be accommodated without needing to smooth things over.
  3. I disembarked Serenity last Saturday and the end of a 7-night cruise around the Adriatic. For context, we were part of a party of 12 (including a young child), my wife and I are in our mid-30s, and this is our first cruise (on any cruise line). What follows is just a random collection of thoughts/anecdotes, all of which are strictly my personal experience and opinion. Hope it's of some use to first-timers and vets alike. 1) The quality of the food was - all things considered - excellent. Reading these forums before embarking, I was worried on the trend of posts which seem to indicate that food quality had taken a downturn, but I was perfectly satisfied with the majority of the dishes/meals we ordered while on board (which were a LOT). Note that food is our group's greatest pleasure, so this was a big deal for us. We're also one of those groups who shamelessly wanted to try nearly everything on the menu, and believe me, we did! Our first two serves of the black cod at UU were a little overdone, but a quick complaint meant that our subsequent 5 serves that evening were just perfect. The lobster bisque at W on the second night was a standout dish for us, and I have to say that in spite of hearing complaints from ethnic Chinese posters on here about the food quality at Silk, all 11 of us (ethnic Chinese) were perfectly content with the majority of the dishes that we were served there. Does it complete with the best Hong Kong or Shanghai has to offer? Of course not, but quality was WAY above what other posters led me to expect. Sure, the burgers at Trident are under-seasoned, the mixing of the more complex cocktails was inconsistent, the coffee is subpar everywhere on the ship and some simple requests could not be entertained (e.g. fresh apple juice), but by and large we were more than satisfied with the culinary experience on board, which by definition, meant that we were satisfied in general with the cruise as a whole. Every meal featured at least two standout dishes that could hold their own on any stage on land, and that was enough for us to anchor our satisfied tummys on. 2) Being a self-professed slob, I was a little worried about the dress code - I needn't have been. Our cruise didn't have a BTO night, which was a good thing for yours truly, but by and large there was a wide range of standards of dressing all over the ship. I got by just fine with a t-shirt, shorts and slippers everywhere during the day, and a long-sleeve t-shirt or polo with chinos and loafers during the evenings. I didn't feel out of place nor did I feel any judging eyes - those were probably reserved for the guy in top-to-toe poolside wear in the Galaxy Lounge one evening, sipping champagne unaccosted by any staff and perfectly comfortable in his own skin. To each their own. The only thing we were quietly corrected on was when we got a little bit rowdy watching funny YouTube videos over lunch at W, which was perfectly reasonable, and which we apologised for and subsequently complied with, but not a word was mentioned about attire during the entire cruise. 3) While service levels were generally good and smiles were common, I would not go as far as to say they were excellent across the board. This is the fourth Crystal cruise for the seniors in our group, and they say that service has taken a steady and tangible turn for the worse during their time with the company. And in spite of being advertised as "all-inclusive", we consistently found that as a group, certain strategic gift-giving handshakes placed with certain staff made special requests happen a lot more smoothly than they did for staff which we did not appreciate in the same way. Of course correlation does not equal causation, and perhaps circumstances are different given the size of our group (going "above-and-beyond" for us entails far more work than it would for a couple), but the above is worth noting nonetheless. Humans will be humans! 4) For some reason, I was invited to the captain's quarters for drinks and canapes one afternoon. This was my first cruise and we were staying on the poverty deck, so I'm not sure why this privilege was extended to us. Being curious, we went along, but I found myself terribly under-dressed and under-conversed in the sophisticated company, and made a polite but hasty exit (directly to a game of NBA on the PS4 in Waves!!!). Totally not my scene, and probably not something I would do again, but was interesting nonetheless. 5) At the bar at Crystal Cove one evening, the slightly grumpy bartender insisted on viewing our room cards before serving us our drinks. Not sure why this might be, but given our ages are not printed on the card, I speculate that perhaps he thought we were staff in disguise trying to steal a few rounds? Not sure. 6) One afternoon, we returned to our cabin after some time ashore to find it flooded. The stopper on the toilet cistern had failed and water just kept flowing and completely flooded the bathroom (right to the level of the lip on the entrance) and spilled over into the room and the corridor outside. The carpets were literally as wet as they would have been if you had dunked them in the swimming pool. My wife was horrified, but I was a little amused (anything for a good story!). The person who initially heard our complaint on the phone didn't seem to understand the severity of the situation, but after one person laid eyes on our bathroom, within minutes there were an army of people in the room and corridor outside trying to fix things. We were bumped to a verandah room with a thousand apologies, but the whole process (reporting, admin, packing, moving, unpacking) burned a good 2-3 hours of our precious daylight hours, so all-in-all we felt the benefit of the balcony was nowhere near worth the lost time. The porter who helped us carry our stuff said this is the first time this has happened on the ship - not sure how true this is! One of our party had the room next to ours, and she was denied access to the room while they were ripping out the carpets and replacing them with new ones. She was eventually moved to another room (another cheapie on deck 7), and given $100 OBC as compensation. She also felt this was a little cheap, but we didn't push the matter. 7) Grabbing a few drinks from the bar at Silk and lounging in the heated jacuzzi during a cool and clear night with nobody around is the BEST thing ever. Thank me later. I doubt this is my last cruise, or my last Crystal cruise at that. More thoughts and anecdotes may follow, but I hope the above will suffice for now.
  4. Thanks for the detailed responses from the resident Crystal experts, clear as day!
  5. Hi everyone, This is my first post on these boards! Curious on cruising, I'm going on my first ever cruise this summer aboard Serenity for a week in the Adriatic (along with my wife and 10 other friends). There's still some time to go, but knowledge is power, and I have a number of questions that I hope you can help with: ATTIRE There are no BTO nights on my 6-night cruise, so it's "Crystal Casual" all the way. I've read all the guidelines on what this means, but just want to be clear on a couple of things. I'm in my mid-30s and my preferred attire is extremely casual: shorts, slippers and a tank top 24/7. I'm assuming this will not be acceptable on board, so want some idea of what I can "get away with". I'm one of those who prefer to judge people by their speech/actions and not by the way they dress, but I also understand it's important to conform to social conventions and to try and not offend etc. However at the same time I am not going to bend over backwards to make everyone happy (life is too short for that!), but I do want to find that vague balance between what is acceptable and isn't, even if it means I walk on the very precipice of unacceptability without actually falling off the edge! So with that disclaimer in mind: a) Are khaki-style shorts, a round-neck t-shirt and slippers acceptable everywhere on board during the day? b) Having been in the pool, are there dining options where I can just rock up out of the pool after putting a towel and a t-shirt on? b) Are non-torn jeans, a round-neck t-shirt and loafers acceptable everywhere on board during the evening? If not, would upgrading this to a collared polo t-shirt do the trick? DINING We are a group of 12, and we're all fully paid up. I've made reservations on PCPC for dining at Umi Uma and Prego, but they only allow bookings of up to 8 at a time. So I have made two separate bookings of 8+4 for the time slots we want. If I want all of us to be seated together, should I approach the Maître D' on the day to try and arrange this? I understand if the venues are too small and they cannot accommodate a table of 12, but perhaps they may be able to seat us near each other, or split us to 6+6 side-by-side. Are Umi Uma and Prego both dinner-only venues? Specifically thinking about whether I can try the sushi bar in Umi Uma during lunch time. ACCOMODATION Looking at the deck plans, our cabin on Deck 7 is right above the main forward theatre. Do you think this will lead to any problems with noise, and if so, does that allow me any recourse to complain? I'm not generally a complainer, and if some noise is part of the deal then so be it, but if this is something they'd be willing to put right, then it might be worth doing. PRE-TRIP CONSIDERATIONS a) Will Crystal advise me of the specific pier where I will board the ship in Venice beforehand, or will I have to get there and eyeball the docks looking for the ship? If so, how will they tell me? b) When the luggage tags arrive (about a month before the cruise?), are they just pieces of paper or do they actually have sleeves? I only ask because I see people selling cruise luggage tag holders online, and am wondering if these will be useful. That's it for now - I'm sure there will be other questions I have, but thanks a bunch for those who can help with these. Can't wait to join the club!
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