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About Yankeeclipper1

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Athens, Greece
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Oceania

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  1. Thank you. Yes my point is about food. As I said everything else was great - all our other Crystal Cruises great. But for us the food is a major component - ports are not (we have been to 100 countries and lived in 10). As I have pointed out - at this level food consistency should be across the board - short cruise/long cruise - all menu items should be the best representation with the best quality ingredients and preparation (even if I hate it ). As someone pointed out - whether you go to a Ritz Carlton/Four Seasons one night or ten nights the experience should be the same. If short cruises are causing a "dip" in quality maybe they should reassess or maybe I should reassess short cruises. In going back over the menus - i believe I could make an equation that the menus on the short cruise, on a dollar basis based upon their components/ingredients seemed to be - well - cheaper to make or commensurate to the cruise cost as opposed a 2 weeker. I am standing by with a flak-jacket for the incoming.
  2. First - thanks all for the interesting conversations. As I said - in our case food is a major part of the experience. My wife and I agree that the executive chef and overloading could have a lot to do with it but also we do not remember having to scan a menu to "find" something to eat vs. having them bring everything because we wanted to taste everything. There also seems to be a slight slant towards Symphony - which again may reflect executive chef and backside of the house. What I am surprised at is no one mentioned the not-so-ripe fruit. That is kitchen management besides procurement or a combination of. Maybe I am just too used to Mediterranean markets but many of you come from sunshine states so should be used to good ripe fruit. Since I am the OP I'll take the liberty of responding to a couple of comments. Well, that may be a problem also - Crystal turned that 10 dayer into two 5 day Cruises.☹️ But the good news is there seems to be a slight consensus to the Symphony kitchens. There is not much farther up to go except to rent your own yacht - so I believe at this level they should not be doing it - if it impacts on the experience or they can't handle it. I agree that the numbers of moving 900 people through all those tables over 6 nights is a hard task - but maybe a task that they should not attempt. They have pillow menus - so hypo allergenic and scent free can also be offered to those who want that - we are talking the top of the industry - a little variety could be in order - BTW as you know Seabourn offers you a selection of soaps and toiletries. I respectfully disagree - my point is you should not have to wade through knowing what to order figuring out what they do well - at this level everything should be an excellent representation of whatever it is they are offering on a menu. I may not like the taste of something because I do not like the ingredient but it should be the best representation of what it is - even if I hate it. 😊 So did we. Was not like that before in our experience - but to be fair we probably scanned the Waterside menu 3 times over 6 nights because of reservations at specialty restaurants. On 12 -14 night cruises that ratio was different so our menu exposure was greater. Agree - TK on Seabourn was over hyped - not bad but not something that I would remember for ever. Oops DW just interjected - she actually liked it a lot. Encouraging - back to maybe catering management and procurement management etc. is an issue more on one ship as opposed to the other. I hope so - but see my comment above - our 10 dayer was cut into two 5 days itineraries.
  3. Just finished a short Crystal- Rome – Barcelona cruise. Our last Crystal Cruises were in 2015. In the between years we have done 3 Seabourn’s, so we were excited to be back on the larger Crystal ship (Serenity). Let me preface with – the following is about the food and service – which for us is the most important part of our cruise – ports are secondary. The service was impeccable, the ship’s condition outstanding, staff incredible, enrichment great, shows and entertainment great, housekeeping great. Now the food. Well, we were just, Un-Crystalized by the culinary offerings. Was it the shorter cruise? We had already anticipated a different vibe and demographics with a short cruise – so that wasn’t our problem. We believe that in service and food 6 days 16 or 36 should be the same in this category of cruise, and it was except for the culinary side of things. The service was still great. No issues there. I liked (wife did not) the cocktails and cocktail selection better than Seabourn’s. Seems to have been an improvement there – or maybe I just never read the whole menu before – nevertheless I thought the bartenders were good. Inclusive wines were OK to good – after going through the whole list (we always conduct our own wine taskings the first two days and settle into what we like – polar opposite to each other of course) – we zeroed in and settled on our favorites. IMO Crystal’s inclusive are better than Seabourn’s – my wife’s opinion – opposite. When I compare to our 2015 cruises - the menus on THIS cruise were dull and very uninteresting – we actually pulled up all our pictures of food (we send our kids every meal) from the past and there seem to be a difference and not much picture sending this time, when compared to our recent Seabourn pics and past Crystals. In our opinions, Seabourn’s main dining room offerings were far superior to the current Crystal offerings. There was not one memorable meal – except for Umi Uma, which seems to have remained the same. Across most dining venues, the menus, entrees, seasoning and preparations seemed dull. There seem to be a lack of higher end ingredients/components and there seemed to be a lot of “dress up” to less complex offerings. Don’t get me wrong all food was good – just not great. Also small minor preparation issues that I find irritating at this supposed level - for example, I love their Brioche French Toast – but they did not serve real maple syrup in the MarketPlace – but yet they have a fresh squeeze orange juice machine. They served some thick imitation maple junk. They had to make a big deal to go to the Waterside to retrieve some real maple syrup (little jars) which took 25 minutes. I just pocketed some myself the next day for use in MarketPlace. Speaking of French Toast, in Water Side they could not get it right nor even understand that you need to soak the bread so the “custard” seeps in and cooks through the bread on the grill – or else you wind up with just hot dry bread. The MarketPlace did it right – I suspect by pure accident because they are probably sitting in pans soaking waiting en-masse to go to the grill. All fruit was completely under ripe - consistently. No excuse in the European market – all types of ready to eat fruit are available – and it’s a matter of timing ripening fruits (the ones that continue to ripen on the shelf) – they just served many of them too soon. Some of the lunch dishes in MarketPlace were tasty, good quality but not exceptional. I have to say buffets on our previous Crystal were better offerings and definitely better on Seabourn. WaterSide’s makeover/updating was pleasant and I think an improvement but was almost too boring - they even changed the beautiful colorful Villeroy & Boch show plates to boring white – the room just lacked a little color. Wife asked where were the beautiful show plates - she wanted a set – Maître’d thinks they moved them off to the river boats. We had to search the menu to find something enticing each night – rather than having so much enticing where we could not decide so we would order several half orders to taste everything – for this trip WaterSide was just OK. Lunch was on the lower side of OK. Had 3 French cousins come onboard – thought I would impress them with lunch – lunch was anything but impressive. Service was impressive, ship was impressive, but food was again overcooked and the menu was a little short on creativity. We were eating at a Hilton restaurant instead of Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton (but service was Four Seasons). Prego was one of the worst meals we had on any luxury ship (in the context of luxury ships). Again, the menu was uninspiring and it seemed like – in both the main dining room and Prego- that the menus were dumbed down which includes dumbing down high-end ingredients/components – one or two upmarket entrees interspersed with a greater number of mediocre mainstream entrees/starters/sides. My wife gnocchi were a solid potato mess, the sauce was terrible – jar worthy - rather than nonna ‘s pot in the kitchen. My Veal Marsala was way overcooked and the sauce was a sweet mess – seemed like the reduction was rushed. Again, the menu seemed more like a good Italian restaurant menu - OK but not “upscaled”. No way did we feel like we were eating at the top Italian restaurants in New York or LA – not even close. I would have taken good Italian neighborhood simple menu if they could have executed well. Overall there seemed to be a dearth of real high-quality seafood and meats – you had to search the menu or wait for a special menu offering of a particular item – there was a higher percentage of mainstream ingredients/offerings rather than an abundance of high-end offerings. I don’t know, but we felt like we were eating on another ship – it seems like we were eating a step above mediocrity – nothing memorable – nothing really bad -we just were not wowed – at all. The Asian Silk Kitchen for dinner was OK for me – not for wife. I did not mind it but again there was nothing memorable about it - tasty and OK. The Churrascaria was again – another OK venue – the tastiest meat was the Picanha – most of the others too dry or not marinated enough. Sides and self-serve - tasty. On a second visit we just had them just drop the whole Picanha into our plates. Some shore restaurants do a much better version of Churrascaria. In all cases – service was always impeccable. Burger at grill was great – fantastic actually. Coffee and snacks at Bistro great. Don’t mind Ben and Jerry’s would prefer Haagen Dazs. Tea very nice. DW adds “that besides dumbing down the food the toiletries were down graded – the brand ETRO was OK but the lack of scented products from ETRO was boring. We stayed at a Barcelona hotel (H1898) that had the same brand ETRO but wonderful examples”. She suspects that these were “house” brands created for Crystal but she swears are lessor quality even though the containers are larger. It seems like someone at Corporate screwed a little with the formula. Reminds me of what happened to Morton’s Steakhouse. If you did not know the old Morton’s you would never know the difference but when it was bought by Landry’s many subtle changes were made. So, for us - our jury is out on this. Someone else may find the food superb but have issues with room size or service etc. We definitely have different “food impressions” on this trip from our 3 previous 2015 Crystal cruises. We have another Crystal opportunity coming up on Symphony in December (from Costa Rica – to LA) – so we shall see if we have truly been UnCrystalized.
  4. Thanks for confirming what I was afraid of - a not so intuitive website. I also think the very short cruise compounds the lack of availability at this late date. Such are the uncertainties of last minute bookings and short cruises - but there is no excuse for the web-designers not fixing that issue - especially since they already addressed it the first go around.
  5. TA or Crystal website is the way. No OBC ? You did all the work (sold yourself) and she gets the commission and what ever else marketing help Crystal passes along - and your future Crystal business. I always ask or its already part of the deal and I am just picking. Hopefully meet you on board.
  6. We have cruised Oceania Seabourn and Crystal. We love Oceania but do find Crystal and Seabourn to be a cut above. We are Crystal/Seabourn bargain hunters. We have travelled the world for 30 years (work) so for us the cruise ship is primary and ports are secondary to the cruise experience. I realize for others, ports and itineraries are key. There are many bargains on Crystal (and the other line). For example, we are taking a 10 nighter from Caldera to San Diego in December. That cruise starts at $2,150 - that’s $215 a night/pp – a bargain. That same cruise is broken up into two 5 nights so we added the kids on a five night portion in a D category at $1290 starting. If you use the amazing (I just discovered it here) ***** Fare Compare you find/see instantly where the bargains are for almost every cruise and almost every cabin category. Takes some playing around but its brilliant. And of course, the Crystal website allows you to sort by price (but ***** has a lot more info already computed)– many other websites do not have that sort/price feature which totally annoys me having to scroll through every cruise to find a bargain. Find a good TA who is flexible and gives OBC. I also use *****. You will not get a discount from Crystal except what is advertise but you can do better in other ways through a good TA. Even taking out the fact that you don’t drink alcohol the total experience is different. You should try Crystal at least once, maybe on a bargain itinerary where you are focusing on the cruise experience – then you will have your answer on value to you.
  7. Have been away from Crystal for a while (been trying out Seabourn) We are going to do two Crystal cruises this year. One is a spur of the moment decision to get away from Athens (yeah go figure we live in Greece and need to get away) May 17 Rome/Barcelona. Since we purchased yesterday the PCPC has very few available options for dining times. I took what I could but way too late for us. My questions are - Does the PCPC represent all of the availability or is it a percentage and they have more availability once you get on board? Also, once you make a reservation does the system allow you to still look to see what is available? Its seem that once you make a reservation you are locked out of seeing anything else for that restaurant unless you cancel what you made – which does not make sense? You lose what you have to see if something else has become available. Is there a way in advance/online to relay the fact that we would gladly share a table if it were earlier? Thanks, Ray
  8. FYI - in case it was not mentioned - you CAN adjust Seabourn Flights flights to arrive the day before the cruise departure. We did it for our daughter flying out of Charlotte to Barbados for our next cruise. We didn't want her worrying about how (or having to actually make arrangements) to catch up with us if something went amiss with her flights. It was not that much more than flying in on day of cruise departure. They did not include the arrival transfer (since it is not a "Seabourn Hotel") - but did include us all in the departure transfer back to the airport.
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