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Crystal v. Seabourn


Amalek

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Seabourn v. Crystal

 

I have had three cruises on Crystal and decided to try Seabourn for a recent cruise in Greece. Here are my observations on the differences between these lines. Both are rated 6 stars, both target the similar demographics. Both are excellent. I will, however, be returning to Crystal.

 

The ship. I have sailed all three of Crystal’s ships (including the former Harmony). My Seabourn cruise was aboard the Odyssey. The Odyssey carries about half the passengers of Crystal, but is surprising large. The major entertainment venues and bars are comparable. The main dining rooms are similar, all the venues on Odyssey are smaller but fit the number of passengers. One feature that Odyssey had was the Seabourn Square, a combination, library, coffee venue and administrative center that works better than anything at Crystal. I usually have to work a few afternoons on a cruise and Odyssey has great working space. I have often found myself working in the disco on Crystal with two or three like souls looking for a quiet place. A dead heat.

 

Staterooms. Odyssey is two years old. The staterooms are considerably larger and more modern than Crystal. The bathroom and walk-in closets are great on Odyssey. Crystal has my favorite Aveda products, while Seabourn used Molton Brown. Service was identical between the lines. Room service was comparable, although Seabourn’s menu is more limited. Seabourn is far ahead.

 

Entertainment. Odyssey had a quartet and a couple of dancers, where Crystal has a house entourage and notable guest performers. Crystal’s enrichment program of lectures, classes etc. were non-existent on Odyssey. I really missed the lectures – there were a few recorded from earlier voyages on TV, but none on our voyage. Too bad, since the passenger list included Newt and Calista Gingrich, Twiggy and several noted professors

Odyssey had a much better in-room entertainment system, with hundreds of on-demand movies. The TV is a flat screen, although it is mounted in a legacy TV compartment much like Crystal. I really missed the movie theater on Crystal, however. Crystal by a nautical mile.

 

Food. Both lines serve outstanding food. Seabourn’s menu was like many trendy restaurants in major cities and I found it a bit too rich for night after night. Crystal is very high quality, but a not quite as overdone. Crystal really shines with the specialty restaurants especially Silk Road which is one of the best Japanese restaurants anywhere. Seabourn has Restaurant 2, a high end micro portions specialty restaurant. Crystal in a close race.

 

Casino. Crystal has a sizeable casino with a big staff, and several table games including both roulette and craps. Odyssey’s casino has only a couple of tables, and a roulette wheel. Only one blackjack table was ever open. Crystal with the nuts.

 

Tours. No difference between the lines.

 

Staff. This was the biggest difference in my view. The Odyssey crew certainly looks good – just like the kids at the country club, and that is how they behaved. They were fairly responsive when asked, but more than a few times I had to ask twice, or three times. On Crystal, I am amazed at how many people call me by name. When I got off Seabourn Odyssey, I thought to myself that the only person to have called me by name was my suite stewardess. The Filipino staff on Crystal are absolutely amazing – they simply are dedicated to a career in this field, where I felt many of the European/American crew on Seabourn were just touring the world for a year or two. Crystal is way ahead.

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Amalek, thank you so very much for taking the time to share your very thorough and very balanced review with all of us. Excellent summary and format.

 

In the end, I think what's most important is each persons preference(s) when it comes to cruise ship and cruise line.

 

I'm am glad there are enough differences between the luxury lines that each person can find those line(s) that are most appealing and work best for them.

 

Keith

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Amalek--Thank you for your balanced post. After we found Crystal in 1995, on Harmony, we were so happy that we never looked back. However, I understand that Seabourn is a close rival to Crystal. For us it's Crystal.

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I read Amalek's cruise report mentioning Gingrich and (current) spouse being on board. Then I turn to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and she's taking a jab at Newt with a picture of Odyssey and a comment about how Newt,now that he's put the big Tiffany bill behind him,now has to explain the "luxury cruise".:eek:

 

Makes me feel good to know our choice of cruise lines are considered "scandalous". :D

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  • 1 month later...
I read Amalek's cruise report mentioning Gingrich and (current) spouse being on board. Then I turn to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and she's taking a jab at Newt with a picture of Odyssey and a comment about how Newt,now that he's put the big Tiffany bill behind him,now has to explain the "luxury cruise".:eek:

 

Makes me feel good to know our choice of cruise lines are considered "scandalous". :D

The media did find out their info on Newt's cruise from Cruise Critic and Amalek's post. Lots of the media reports mentioned Cruise Critic.
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i did great cruises on the seabourn pride and the legend

my most terrible cruise in the 5 starred level was on the seabourn odyssey last year october

the hotel team was simply not OK and friendliness was very poor and food was very soso

so far all my cruises on crystal were great !

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comparision really helped,,Seabourn Sojourn was last ship,,and really LOVED it,so will be hard to top,,but the Montreal itinerary sounds great,,and always ready for new experience..

 

Have a few questions,,got the brochure,,but didnt see answers,,

 

What is the formal dress?,,or do they have one,,hope its "optional"..hubby hates that..

 

Are the lines long for tours,restaurants,,etc..since Symphony has 1000 passengers and SB only 400...?

 

See the cabins are somewhat smaller,,,is it more narrow,,or not as long,,are there walk in closets??

 

Will miss SB Square,,they have great barristas,,not just coffee machine..

 

Thanks for any input,,,:)

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What is the formal dress?,,or do they have one,,hope its "optional"..hubby hates that..

Yes, there is at least one formal night. It is not optional. It would mean that he would either wear a tux or a dark suit to the Captain's party and dinner. Most men do not change clothing but some do.

 

Are the lines long for tours,restaurants,,etc..since Symphony has 1000 passengers and SB only 400...?

No lines!! Symphony doesn't carry 1000. With singles it is closer to 800-900 for most cruises.

 

See the cabins are somewhat smaller,,,is it more narrow,,or not as long,,are there walk in closets??

I've never been on Seaborn so I cannot compare the staterooms. No walk in closets. Plenty of space for two people's belongings.

 

Will miss SB Square,,they have great barristas,,not just coffee machine..

The Bistro is marvelous. If is a nice sized room -- not with machines -- but with waiters who bring you specialty coffees, teas, juices, etc. There is a buffet at 9a.m. with pastries, lox, cheese, fruit, etc. Around lunch time it changes to some deli and desserts. It closes at 6 p.m.

/QUOTE]

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Alexandra Cruiser,

 

We've been on the Crystal Symphony (twice) on the Seabourn Odyssey (once).

 

I'd like to give you our perspective on one ship versus the other.

 

Cabins - comparing the equivalent type of cabin, Odyssey cabins are larger (longer really, not necessarily wider). They have a larger bathroom with separate tub and shower and a walk-in closet. For these reasons we like the Odyssey cabins better but having said that, in our view there is nothing wrong with the Symphony cabins and so it is not a deciding factor for us. For example, there is plenty of storage space and we spend very little time in the cabin. If the cabin and bathroom size and layout are very important to you, then I would suggest that this would tilt the balance in favour of Seabourn.

 

Public areas - all public areas on the Symphony are larger (and there are more of them). I also loved the Seabourn Square on the Odyssey and there is no comparable venue on the Symphony but as Judith points out, the Bistro has a great selection of coffee and food items (larger selection than on SB Square), there are several other public areas on the Symphony that more than make up for it. For example, the Promenade Deck; we truly enjoy this deck for jogging, walking, watching the world go by. There are also small deck areas with lounge chairs aft on decks 8, 9 and 10, which are all interconnected by spiral stairs, meaning they are all easily accessible. These provide lots of opportunities for quiet, peaceful times.

 

I also loved spending time on the new Lido deck on Symphony where many a good book/nap/drink, etc. were enjoyed. The pool on the Symphony is nicer and larger than on the Odyssey.

 

Food - this is a personal and subjective matter but we give the edge to Crystal.

 

Service - also personal and subjective, we give the edge to Crystal but this is based on only one cruise on Seabourn. The service on Crystal was equally marvellous, consistent and genuine on both our cruises on Crystal.

 

Hope this helps.

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  • 11 months later...

hello!

 

I was three times on the Seabourn Legend and the Spirit (the smaler ships). The cruises were excellent in every way. Last week we booked a cruise in the med with the Serenity. After the cruise I will write a short review!

 

Best wishes

 

Stefan

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This is a follow up to my earlier post on this subject. This past April we went on a Mediterranean cruise on the Seabourn Spirit. The itinerary was great. In our view every single other aspect of this cruise paled in comparison to any of our Crystal cruises.

 

As a general observation, having been on the Oddysey in its first year, the smaller Seabourn ships just can't cut it. The Spirit is old and tired and it shows. I doubt much money is spent on the maintenance of the small sisters since they are obviously not the future of Seabourn. As an example, the cushion on our sofa was so old that I had to take my scissors out and cut the dozens of threads sticking out - looked like a cat had used it as a scratching post! That is unacceptable and I have never seen anything like it on Crystal.

 

We had a geat cruise nonetheless, I'm not complaining as there were many good things about it, but the first thing we did when we got back - and by that I mean the very first day - was to book a Crystal cruise.

 

In our view, Crystal's consistency and attention to detail, from service to food to entertainment and particularly the way in which the ships themselves are maintained and constantly updated are what make Crystal a true six star cruise line. I do hope that the cabins on the new ship (whenever that may be) will be more like Seabourn's, especially with respect to size and walking closet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

On seabourn we have sailed 200 + days During that time we only sail crystal 7 times. Both are good in there own way. But now there is a big BUT. Now that Holland America runs the show, it's all down hill. There home office is the worse of any cruise line I have been on. How can a non balcony and a balcony be the same. This was last year. How do the little ships in some cases be the same as the newer ones or more money. The rumor is that the three little ones are up for sail. Also they allow smoking in the cabins all ships. What else you tell me.

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I agree that the home office for Seabourn is not the same since they moved to Seattle and HAL took over. But this in no way reflects the service on the ships. I do not believe that has gone down hill any more than any of the other luxury lines, all of which have made accommodations and cuts due to the economy. They only offer balconies at the same rate as non balcony suites on very few itineraries, typically those that have not sold so well. They are obviously trying to fill the ships. Prices are determined by itinerary so even the triplets can cost more per diem in more desirable areas. And yes, they are for sale. Personally, I hope it takes a long long time to sell them. Having said all that isn't great to be able to choose between Crystal and Seabourn? You can't go wring either way.

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I agree that the home office for Seabourn is not the same since they moved to Seattle and HAL took over. But this in no way reflects the service on the ships. I do not believe that has gone down hill any more than any of the other luxury lines, all of which have made accommodations and cuts due to the economy.

 

I can't comment about the onboard Seabourn experience, but some of the top Seabourn customer service agents have found a new home at Oceania and at least one of them (who is terrific) has told me that Oceania treats them very well and they are very happy, except that they are currently occupying lower positions than they had at Seabourn.

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I agree that the home office for Seabourn is not the same since they moved to Seattle and HAL took over. But this in no way reflects the service on the ships. I do not believe that has gone down hill any more than any of the other luxury lines, all of which have made accommodations and cuts due to the economy. They only offer balconies at the same rate as non balcony suites on very few itineraries, typically those that have not sold so well. They are obviously trying to fill the ships. Prices are determined by itinerary so even the triplets can cost more per diem in more desirable areas. And yes, they are for sale. Personally, I hope it takes a long long time to sell them. Having said all that isn't great to be able to choose between Crystal and Seabourn? You can't go wring either way.

 

I agree completely! Crystal and Seabourn IMO are the 2 finest lines afloat. Neither are perfect but as good as you will get with a cruise line. I have always been impressed with the very personal service on the the smaller Seabourn ships. On my first larger Seabourn ship cruise I was intially disappointed with the service especially in the main dining room. However, with the rapid expansion of the Seabourn fleet, the newer staff were not up to the "Seabourn" standard. Over time, thing will settle down just as will be the case with Crystal and the new AI.

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for service and food quality. Their smaller suites are too small, like 200 plus sq ft. They don't have the huge luxury suites, but they have huge luxury service and food. Go for it! Itinerary matters, right?

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  • 3 weeks later...

hello!

 

I am on the serenity and disembarking tomorrow in rome. In my opinion the serenity is a good premium product but not a luxury ship as seabourn. I few cons:

- no friendly welcome at check-in

- no welcome chamagne or other drinks at check-in

- no welcome chamagne or cannapes in the room at check-in

- no flowers in the rooms

- no premium products like Molton Brown

- no poolbar

- small staterooms

- you have to ask for every drink. No one is coming offering you a cocktail, sorbet, without asking for a special drink

- etc

 

It is a very good ship (you can compare it with azamara) but not a luxury ship like seabourn.

 

best wishes

 

stefan

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hello!

 

I am on the serenity and disembarking tomorrow in rome. In my opinion the serenity is a good premium product but not a luxury ship as seabourn. I few cons:

- no friendly welcome at check-in

- no welcome chamagne or other drinks at check-in

- no welcome chamagne or cannapes in the room at check-in

- no flowers in the rooms

- no premium products like Molton Brown

- no poolbar

- small staterooms

- you have to ask for every drink. No one is coming offering you a cocktail, sorbet, without asking for a special drink

- etc

 

It is a very good ship (you can compare it with azamara) but not a luxury ship like seabourn.

 

best wishes

 

stefan

 

I too wish Crystal would use Molton Brown, but the Aveda products are ok.

 

Ironically Crystal's first ship had a swim-up pool bar when it was launched, but it was later removed when the feature proved long on novelty and short on functionality.

 

On some points Crystal is similar, or close... Like Crystal's champagne (or sparkling wine, depending) on deck and in the dining room instead of at check-in... Or Crystal's flower instead of flowers in the standard staterooms.

 

I'm a bit confused about having to ask for drinks though? How would they know what you want if they don't ask you?

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences though!

 

Vince

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We have been on Seabourn and Crystal many times. Yes there is much more emphasis on Seabourn in providing alcoholic drinks without asking for them. On Seabourn's pooldecks they start coming around with bloody marys or screwdrivers at 10 AM or so. In the afternoon there are champage cocktails and then strawberry daquiris, Many guests tend to congregate around Seabourn's poolbars from morning to night. This makes for a more rowdy and loud pooldeck scene. Since drinks of all sorts are now available for the asking on Crystal, we hope they do not follow the Seabourn model.

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Hello!

 

I can follow with the cons:

- there was no deck bbq (this is the highlight on every seabourn cruise - and is really amazing)

- I havn't seen mineral water bootles for the passengers that are going off the ship (maybe i had to ask for)

- There was no questionaire after a few days if everthing is ok

- there was no dock for the iphone

- I wasn't asked from our cabin stewardess if everything is ok

- I checked in on the 1st of august and found a confirmation for a lecture on the 28th of july. How should I do that?

- There was no suprise on the bed after diner - like roses in the bathroom or a picture of me and my wife at check-in in a ship made of paper

- etc

 

maybe chrystal is the wrong product for me.

 

best wishes

 

stefan

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Since we're going into cons, here are some of our Seabourn cons:

Plastic flowers in the dining room

Waiting for hours for dinner to be served because everyone comes to the dining room at around 7:30PM..

A pool the size of a bathtub on the Sisters.

Miniature tenders on the Sisters,

No Prego

No Silk Road

No Vintage Rooms.

No Enrichment Lecturers.

No ballroom dancing before dinner.

Poor entertainment.

Poor library.

Short cruise itineraries.

 

Both Seabourn and Crystal a excellent cruiselines, and respect everyone's opinion on the pros and cons of each.

Gloria and Steve

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