We boarded Esprit last Sunday in Athens and since there has not been much of anything posted of late about Esprit, I thought I would add a few thoughts.
Things did not start out well when our airport/ship transfer in Athens failed to appear. After waiting for an hour we grabbed a limo and got ourselves to the pier. We arrived two hours late, but since we were not leaving until 9:00 PM, no harm done. And Crystal took care of the limo expense no questions asked.
We booked this cruise two years ago and I must admit we had a few concerns about sailing such a small ship. I mean, it's a converted yacht, right? I am happy to say our concerns were 100% unfounded. This ship is best described as a "big small ship". While she can easily get lost in a busy harbour, the interior spaces are well laid out, and surprisingly roomy. We expected the Dining Room to be cramped with a lot of tables very close together, but that is not the case. Actually I think there are closer together tables on the two ocean ships, The room can get a bit noisy, especially as it is an "open kitchen", but not so much that normal voiced conversation is not possible. The Patio Cafe for breakfast and lunch is a large step up from the Lido on the ocean ships, with both inside and outside seating and a cook-to-order station front and centre. On the subject of dining, the food in all venues is top-notch, and I dare say, the Dining Room fare has been much better than the ocean ships. The fresh lobster on the second night was airfreighted from Maine live, and each person receives the entire butterflied lobster, in the shell, with the claw arms removed, shelled and served alongside!! The one caveat to the food comment is it is possible to do a lot more, like the lobster, when you only have to serve 62 guests, so these comments are not a slight to the ocean ships.
Of the two bar spaces, The Cove on Deck Four serves more of the function of The Avenue as this is where the piano is. The room is a little small, but is furnished with very comfortable couches, as well as small tables/chairs down each side. Deck 5 is where you find the Sunset Bar at the stern, The Grill, the small (very small!) gym, and the pool, which is more of an oversized hot tub, only not heated, and no water jets! There are lots of comfy lounges, tub chairs and benches in the pool area. The bar seating is generous, with lots of high and low-backed chairs and two long, low couches, plus the bar and bar stools. It can get a little (or a LOT) windy, but it's a great place on a sea day, and for sail outs.
Service? It's Crystal!!! Lots of familiar faces among the staff, including Superman Clark, who is now a Butler, Luigi from Serenity's Tastes, Adrian and Joel from Serenity and a few others. The "new-to-Crystal" staff are uniformly outstanding as well and the entire staff obviously works great together.
If anyone has any questions please do ask. Internet if free and unlimited, though a bit slow, and we will be onboard another week to Venice.