Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. I suspect lots of folks who have been waiting to cruise (or have happily cruised since cruises resumed) have booked for summer 2022 believing / hoping that the pandemic will be . . . gone / under control. There isn't any penalty for awhile, so why not book, put down a deposit, and see what happens? Agree with calling the TA. Also worth checking back as you get closer to the date -- depending on what happens in the world, cabins could free up (or not).
  2. I agree with Keith on not deciding in advance on tipping. There have been times either with "no tipping required" lines when we tip nothing or, for "mandatory tipping" lines, nothing extra. Service was fine; tip was already paid or included and we consider that adequate. Other times, service goes beyond our expectations and we choose to reward that. Note that on some lines (I believe Celebrity is one), butlers are not part of the "mandatory tipping" program. It's also important to list strong performers on the survey. We were told that it really makes a difference. So, if a crew member goes the extra mile (especially someone like a pool attendant or grill cook who normally wouldn't be tipped), write down their names, complete the survey (!) and find a way to mention how those people made your cruise extra special.
  3. We cruised in a PS on Serenity in early Sep. No chocolates. No stationery. 😞 Our butler was great. It IS nice to have someone track down miscellaneous things (for example, I messed up an on-line booking and he sorted it out). That said, I personally wouldn't book a suite just for the butler unless you have a lot of needs, such as throwing a party in your cabin. Some people do; we don't. We enjoy the following in suites: more room inside and out (#1 by far), jacuzzi tub, lounge chairs on the deck, eating at a specialty restaurant more than once for no charge, canapés, and butler keeping our favorite drinks stocked in the mini-fridge. Once you leave your cabin, everyone gets the same high quality of food, service, etc. Thus, I think a suite is more beneficial if you plan to spend a decent amount of time in your cabin. On a port-intensive cruise (assuming you plan to go ashore), you may not realize as much benefit. As everyone says, tipping is very personal. We tip $50 / week for average service or if we don't ask the butler to do much. For example, we don't eat any meals in our cabin, don't ask the butler to make / change reservations. Smaller tips if the butler only appears a couple of times during the cruise or has to be asked repeatedly to restock the fridge (both happened on X, not Crystal). If service is truly exceptional (the converse of everything above), we have tipped as high as $150 / week. We tried to be generous on our recent cruise because there are a lot fewer passengers and still a lot of crew, meaning income from tips is lower.
  4. We have cruised Crystal several times and really enjoyed it. We are considering SIlversea or Crystal for a transatlantic. SS would be on a new ship - Silver Dawn. Crystal would be the Symphony. If anyone has cruised both lines, would appreciate insights as to differences. We would be in a PHS on Crystal and in a Silver suite on SS. Price is actually cheaper on SS.
  5. You won't find as many venues on Crystal as on X. There is not the same type of central atrium or lawn deck you find on RCCL or X or other large ships.. No glass blowing. No rock climbing or mini-golf. Not much in the way of shopping on board, but I don't think much of X's shops either. Can't say I've noticed the artwork on any ship other than the QE2 years ago (and it was fantastic!!). Someone who wants a mega-ship with lots and lots of venues may find Crystal "cramped" -- not because it's crowded but because <900 passengers don't need as much space or stuff to do as >3000. That said, Crystal never feels crowded, even at full capacity. I don't think I've ever stood in line, including at guest relations on the night before disembarkation. Here's the thing . . . you notice the difference the minute you board a Crystal ship. No one is trying to sell you anything. No "stations" hawking spa treatments, drink package, specialty dining package, internet package, etc. If you want lunch, there's not the huge crowd at the buffet, where you wander around trying to balance your tray and carry-on bag searching in vain for an open table with loud announcements asking people to leave so others can sit down. On Crystal, you go to a quiet, civilized dining room, where you sit down and someone serves you. One other thing . . . on Crystal, with minimal exceptions, everyone is treated the same. There isn't special seating for suite passengers at the pool or at shows. Everyone can eat in the specialty restaurants for free. Everyone can have as much or as little as they want to drink. Everyone can get ice cream or specialty coffee for free. It's the same very high level of service, and the same cruise experience, regardless of the cabin you book. Don't get me wrong . . . X is a very good product and, for the most part, we've enjoyed it. But we personally prefer Crystal.
  6. ^^^ What do you like about the larger ships? More venues? More restaurants? More people? Just curious so I might be able to address.
  7. We are also X cruisers and did the suite thing on every cruise. Right before COVID, we given a lot of OBC due to a mess-up on their part and still don't want to go back. Below is why we like Crystal better -- but that doesn't mean you will. The overall level of service is higher and more refined. It's hard to explain but the crew seems focused on long-term passenger satisfaction rather than working hard for a tip from this cruise. A subtle distinction, but one we've noticed. Fewer kids. We had some VERY negative experiences on X when kids would ring our doorbell at all hours of the day and night. Complaints (including a request simply to turn off the ringer) were met with a shrug and "We can't really do anything about it." Kids being obnoxious during meals or at the pool. [Please don't flame me on this one -- it's my opinion based on our experiences.] There generally are fewer kids on Crystal, even during peak kid season (e.g., holidays). Smaller ship. We find the smaller ships more to our liking. No crowds and no lines. And smaller ships can go to some ports and / or dock at some ports that aren't accessible to the mega ships. Lack of announcements. I don't need constantly to be reminded about the art auction, bingo, spa discounts, evening entertainment or anything else. I can read the daily bugle. All-inclusive. On X, most pax are on a drink package. Many of those feel they have to drink enough to get their money's worth. You end up with a bunch of drunks. On Crystal, because the alcohol is part of the overall price (or maybe just the demographics), you don't see that. Not trying to separate you from your money from the minute you board to the minute you disembark (see comment re announcements). No hawking drink packages, spa packages, gold by the inch, ad nauseam. Enrichment programs and computer stuff. Do I love every topic? No. But it's a lot better than X where the only topics I recall are acupuncture, art auction, port lectures that only try to send you to the shops where they get kickbacks or other money-making activities. Maybe there were others topics on X, but I don't recall any. Pool -- we NEVER had a crowd. Never had trouble finding a lounger. There aren't any belly flop contests, the music is at a normal volume, they bring drinks promptly. and there aren't a dozen drunks and kids in the jacuzzi (often there is no one). What's not to love? What did I like better on X? Cabin size. Our cabins have been HUGE and very well laid out/comfortable. If you're used to suites larger than Sky on X, you'll find Crystal cramped by comparison. MDR food. Waterside is very good. The suite restaurant (forget the name) on X is, IMHO, better in terms of food quality and choices. Service about the same. I think the specialty restaurants on Crystal are better than on X, though it's a close call. If you're someone who likes refined, understated service, activities geared more to the mind than the body, peace and quiet with a smaller group of older (more 60s than 40s) passengers, you'll like Crystal. If you want a lot of fast-paced activities, a younger crowd (literally and figuratively), late night activities, and a more kid-friendly environment, X is a better choice.
  8. If you are boarding in Miami, you can get an antigen test for the Bahamas Health Visa. You do not need PCR. When you fill out the health visa application, you select "COVID vaccine," and fill in your info and that will then allow you to upload PCR or antigen test results. Antigen has a quicker turnaround, so gives you more flexibility. I will admit that the Bahamas website and Crystal info is confusing, but -- unless something has changed in the last 3 weeks -- antigen is definitely accepted. As stated above, there is testing by Crystal at embarkation but nothing else, including debarkation. Keep in mind that, in this time of COVID, requirements can change with minimal notice.
  9. Use (or lack thereof) of butlers depends a lot on the passengers -- and the butler. We've been fortunate to have cabins with butlers on both Crystal and Celebrity. [I'll note in passing that I've stayed in every single cabin size on various ships -- inside upper / lower, inside double, outside porthole, outside verandah, jr. suite . . . you get the drift . . . so know what it's like with and without.] We're happy when the butler asks our drink preferences and ensures our fridge is always suitably stocked. Brings breakfast or dinner in the cabin if requested. Brings afternoon canapés. Makes / changes dining, shore excursions and / or spa reservations. Checks that we're happy with cabin steward service, answers miscellaneous questions, etc. Essentially serves as our conduit for any issues or requests. I know that some folks ask butlers to do more complex things, such as arrange in-room parties. That's just not us. I would book a PH or PS for other reasons, primarily more room, unlimited dining at specialty restaurants, huge shower or (for PH) jacuzzi tub. IOW, having a butler is nice but, for us, not determinative of whether to book the cabin category. One other thing . . . IMHO, the more you cruise with a butler, the more likely you are to use him / her (yes, there are female butlers). Our first time, our butler fell over herself in a good way trying to encourage us to use her and we really didn't. Now, many cruises later, we tend to ask more. I know some people go nuts, as on the most recent cruise, our butler's phone was constantly ringing, which was amazing given the small number of passengers. Just saying . . .
  10. On our cruise, crewmembers stated that capacity would be less than 200 through October and then start increasing through end of year. However, numbers obviously can change.
  11. I KNOW Crystal would like more passengers. I have some memory on our cruise that they did offer a singles table or some sort of opportunity for singles to eat together for dinner on at least one night. But understand that's not the same as having a larger crowd throughout. I noticed several solo cruisers on our cruise. By the end of the cruise, at least a couple seemed to have "paired up" with other passengers, so they ate or attended shows as a threesome. But, as someone who has cruised solo in the past, I realize it can be a challenge. On the other hand, people want to be sensitive to the fact that some solo cruisers aren't looking to make new friends, so to speak. So hard to know whether to approach solo cruisers. In the end, the OP makes a fair point -- if having the ability to socialize with fellow passengers is really important, this may not be the right time to cruise -- on any ship. We observed two RCL ships when in Nassau that hold 3000 - 5000 passengers. There appeared to be no one aboard. Hopefully, there will be an uptick in passengers to make things better for all.
  12. Keep in mind that when you spend OBC on "stuff" (spa, shore excursions, gift shop, etc.), Crystal (or any other line) is only "out" a portion of that money because they obviously mark up the things they sell. For example, if you spend $200 on a gift shop purchase of a handbag, I guarantee Crystal actually paid <50% of that amount. So, they're out less than $100. If they give you cash, they're out the entire $200. So, you can see why any line wouldn't want to give you the cash. Also, you don't really know what the TA actually paid the cruise line -- does the line match some or all of it? If you want cash from your TA, just ask your TA to send you a check that you can use for whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. If they choose to give OBC, you have to be prepared to use it onboard or forfeit it.
  13. There was no issue with crowded elevators on our cruise. If you were concerned about another person, you could wait literally one minute and there would be another elevator. People already on the elevator obviously can’t control who might want to get on from another floor. But, with only 200 passengers and at least 9 elevators, there was never a crowd, even after a show. I think we had 2 other people on an elevator one time in 7 days. 95% of the time we were alone - on those occasions we chose not the to use the stairs.
  14. Semper Gumby is a term some folks use for flexibility. In this environment, the situation and related requirements can change daily -- we had to wear masks; people boarding 5 days later didn't b/c the requirement was lifted. It was lifted because the situation on Serenity improved. I guarantee you that, if a bunch of crew and / or passengers tested positive this week, the policy would change again. I've traveled on planes, stayed in hotels and now done a cruise -- nearly a dozen times in the last 12 months. No two trips have been alike in terms of COVID protocols. If you want certainty during COVID, you really need to stay in your house. Sorry, but it's true. As for canceling for no reason . . . larger lines may be able to absorb the financial impact of such a policy. Crystal is quite small compared to X (which is part of the RCCL group) and Princess and thus Crystal likely believes it can't absorb the cost. If the situation became really bad on a particular ship, CDC would likely step in. If you want the guarantees of X and Princess, cruise those lines. But be aware that they could change their flexible policies at a moment's notice.
  15. I must admit that mask wearing wasn't as onerous as I'd expected. You don't wear them in your cabin of course. You don't wear them while dining (once you are seated). Lot of folks removed masks while watching shows and no one said anything. No one wore them while dancing. They aren't needed for outside areas. Not needed for working out in the gym. You don't wear them while having spa treatments. Essentially, we had to wear them while transiting on the ship or when attending a lecture (sans food / drink). It was for us a small "price" to pay for the joy of cruising again. I personally would not cancel a cruise for this reason, but that's obviously an individual choice. Keep in mind that you will still have to wear masks on tenders and ashore in the Bahamas until the Bahamas changes its rules. Crystal doesn't control that.
  • Create New...