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Crystal v. Seabourn


Amalek

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Perhaps someone can explain why the label of "luxury" matters to anyone? It seems to me that either we're (individually) happy with the product and the value or we're not - so what difference does it make if it's "premium" or "luxury"? Not to mention that, as has already been shown, we all have different definitions of what "luxury" means anyway.

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I merely requested that the bottle of sanatizer that was on the Matire D's desk be brought to the table for the guests there, and then returned. I realise this is not an ordinary request but what I meant was, with a luxury line.

 

I would be appalled if I was sitting at a table and a guest requested a bottle of sanatizer.

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I shouldn't have mentioned the sanitizer for people seem to have concentrated on that instead of my point.

 

Let me explain, and this was not an isolated incident, I simply used it as a way to portray how slightly out of the ordinary requests were not met.

 

I merely requested that the bottle of sanatizer that was on the Matire D's desk be brought to the table for the guests there, and then returned. I realise this is not an ordinary request but what I meant was, with a luxury line. I hope that weather a luxury line is willing to give you the incentive to request things slightly out of the ordinary, to have a top brass of service, is important.

 

With all due respect seems like an odd request to me. If one wants to use sanitizer at the table I would recommend you do as we do and we bring hour own small bottle with you. Otherwise just use it as you enter the dining room. If they bring it over to you then it means that it is not available for use by others when they enter the dining room. I guess if it was me and I didn't use it and didn't bring my own I would have either gotten up and walked over there to use it after ordering or I would have excused myself and washed my hands in the rest room. After all this item is for the benefit of everyone entering or exiting the dining room.

 

Keith

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I think some of these responses are really missing the point. He is right that no reasonable request should get a "no" answer on a ship that prides itself on service. And if the answer is no, it should be a very nice no with a good explanation. That was always my experience on Crystal until the last cruise where I received several "no" answers to special requests made in the main dining room.

 

It is understandable that a special request may not be able to be honored without advance notice. But the proper response is "I'll check, but if it is not available tonight would you like me to request it for tomorrow?" Instead, the I answer I would get is a knee-jerk response of "No, you have to request that in advance." When in one instance, I pushed back and said that on our last cruise we were able to order New York steak at any time, the order was accepted.

 

As I previously noted, I am hoping my experience was an isolated one because I did not experience any service lapses on other area of the ship. But some of these posts do worry me.

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I think some of these responses are really missing the point. He is right that no reasonable request should get a "no" answer on a ship that prides itself on service. And if the answer is no, it should be a very nice no with a good explanation. That was always my experience on Crystal until the last cruise where I received several "no" answers to special requests made in the main dining room.

 

It is understandable that a special request may not be able to be honored without advance notice. But the proper response is "I'll check, but if it is not available tonight would you like me to request it for tomorrow?" Instead, the I answer I would get is a knee-jerk response of "No, you have to request that in advance." When in one instance, I pushed back and said that on our last cruise we were able to order New York steak at any time, the order was accepted.

 

As I previously noted, I am hoping my experience was an isolated one because I did not experience any service lapses on other area of the ship. But some of these posts do worry me.

 

I agree no reasonable request should receive a no. We were not there so we cannot comment on this. Personally I am not worried because for all reasonable requests that we have ever made starting with our first Crystal Cruise in 2002 and on our most recent cruise which ended just a couple of months ago I can say that the word no has never been a part of the Crystal Cruises Dictionary for any reasonable request. In fact I have seen first hand guest asking for things that I would consider to be not so reasonable and the responses were either can do or handled professionally.

 

Again we were not there so no we cannot comment on that. But I would not jump to conclusions nor worry about it based on a couple of posts.

 

One related comment. While I think highly of Crystal Cruises just like us they are not perfect. So if someone should encounter something that they think has not been handled properly I would recommend that they address it while on the ship with the appropriate personnel. I know we have whether on a ship or on land. While in the perfect world everything wil be perfect all the time that is just not always the case all the time. With that said my experience is that Crystal does strive to provide outstanding service so if someone thinks that is not the case then the best advice I could give is to address it to the appropriate person on the ship so it can be addressed and not spoil your cruise.

 

In addition I think one of the points mentioned earlier about arriving on embarkation day on one of those shorter duratupion cruises where items such as welcome aboard champagne was not readily available was an excellent item to note on the Quality Assurance survey and I am sure will get addressed.

 

Keith

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I don't doubt that the vast majority of reasonable requests are honored. That has always been my experience with Crystal. It was very unfortunate to have a bad experience with the senior waiter in the main dining room because that is a peson who stays with you for the entire cruise.

 

I did not raise a complaint on the ship and it makes for an uncomfortable situation to complain of your nightly waiter in the middle of the cruise. In retrospect, I don't know that being switched to a different waiter would have made the cruise more enjoyable. I did note the problems on the Quality Assurance survey.

 

What I realized on my most recent cruise is that no matter how many good experiences you have, it only takes one negative experience to leave a bad taste in your mouth. While actual perfection is of course not possible, the lack of perfection for Crystal is much more costly than it is for other cruise line because you are paying a premium for the service.

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tryber, this is always a personal decision but if it was me I would have mentioned something to either the Head Waiter or to the Maitre d'. All I can say that in years past I had two occasions where very early in the cruise things were not the way they should be. I just waited for the Maitre d' to come by and he asked us if all was well and I quietly mentioned the item what was not. It happened to us in 2007 and in 2008 early on and the problem was corrected immediately. In both cases we kept the same waiter for around two and eight consecutive voyages respectively.

 

We provided the feedback in a low key, thoughtful manner, the Maitre d' took care of it in a professional manner and we enjoyed our senior waiter and waiter team immensely.

 

My view is that if the item is big enough where it is impacting my enjoyment of the cruising experience to me it's better just to address it so that it does not impact our enjoyment of the cruise.

 

Thankfully, for us this has been an exception. But, I know in my business days I always appreciated constructive and thoughtful feedback from our customers or others outside our organization and I truly believe the same approach applies on the ship.

 

I also agree wit you that as a guest you want the experience to be the best it can be. Because I know that is also the way the senior team on board the ship wants it to be as well, I just think providing feedback is the way to go. On a related note, I think when things are great providing positive feedback for all that you enjoy is also the way to go. In both cases it reenforces those things that you are pleased with and along with any item you are not.

 

Keith

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With all due respect seems like an odd request to me. If one wants to use sanitizer at the table I would recommend you do as we do and we bring hour own small bottle with you. Otherwise just use it as you enter the dining room. If they bring it over to you then it means that it is not available for use by others when they enter the dining room. I guess if it was me and I didn't use it and didn't bring my own I would have either gotten up and walked over there to use it after ordering or I would have excused myself and washed my hands in the rest room. After all this item is for the benefit of everyone entering or exiting the dining room.

 

Keith

 

Keith, you've completely missed my point. I think everyone has, perhaps it is me who has failed to explain it properly.

 

The vast majority of special requests on my voyage were answered, as they were to tryber, with a no. The unfortunate fact was I did not feel Crystal were up to scratch with the reputation they had built, and having other people from my same voyage come with a similar 'bad taste' in their mouth does seem to forward the idea that this voyage was a little bit out of character for Crystal.

 

I did address these issued to Crystal after returning home, and I also did stress that I had a very enjoyable time, and the voyage did tick a lot of good boxes.

 

What I am trying to say here is that I felt, during my voyage, that things did seem slightly out of place. As tyber also states, and I wholeheartedly concur, while nobody can achieve perfection, with Crystal you except a lot more to be 'right', and a lot of things you would happily turn a blind eye to on other ships you are unwilling to do here as you have paid a premium for a line that not only has one of the, if not the best reputations in the travel industry, but also for a ship which prides itself on service.

 

I hope to write a proper, long review of my cruise soon which hopefully will much better illustrate both the many wonderful things I experienced, and the few things that went wrong, which to be honest, shouldn't have.

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I have found the head waiters to be extremely accommodating. In fact in the MDR we usually have them bring by the next night's menu at the end of the meal and if there is nothing that really appeals, we will make a special order. We have ordered everything from lobster to Dover Sole to kosher roasted chicken and, with a little notice, they are always very happy to accommodate us. If I had a problem with a senior waiter, I would definitely say something to my headwater, or to the maitre d.

When we ran into terrible service on an abbreviated cruise in the MDR on the Seabourn Odyssey and complained to the young maitre d, he was obviously in over his head and befuddled, and not even apologetic or gracious.

 

Bad service, of course can occur on any line, but I have never run into it while dining on Crystal and I am sorry to hear of the bad experiences that some of you endured.

The only people on the ship who I encountered on occasion that I considered a little prickly and not easy to approach were a couple of front desk employees,, and I complained about them following our cruise.

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Keith, you are probably right about saying something then, but we did not feel comfortable asking to switch waiters. We ended up eating in the main dining room only about half the time in any event.

 

I did mention many of positive things on the Quality Assurance survey, though the way the survey is written makes it very difficult to provide positive feedback. You are only given the opportunity to provide comments when you say that something was below your expectations. And when you have been on previous cruises that were perfect, the honest answer is to at best say that your cruise met expectations even when exceptional. Unfortunately, on this cruise there was nothing that really stood out as better than previous cruises, but there were a few things that stood out as being noticeably worse.

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Hi!

 

This was the first cruise (out of 15) where I disembarked without beeing sad.

 

Last year we cruised with the Azamara Quest in July and it was out of space. We booked a club continent suite that was 50% langer than the serenity stateroom and 40% less expensive. There was a privat butler. The food esp. in the speciality restaurants and the service was out of space. There was no "not possible" - everything was possible. I brought a few DVDs from home. Unfortunatly it wasn´t possible to play the DVDs on the suites dvd-player. They brought me a new DVD-player (which they bought in the city only for me) AND a new flatsreen. This was the best cruise besides the seabourn cruises.

 

If there is no special deal for past crystal guests, I will not go back on a crystal ship again.

 

Best wishes

 

Stefan

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Well, since I'm a guy, that probably wouldn't work. When I managed to get my jaw off the floor, I just looked down at my plate, shuffled my feet, and remarked, "If you really must know, um, I don't _have_ any money."

 

And that was that.

 

IMHO, saying you're an exotic dancer is almost funnier being a guy. :) Your answer was the same as I would have given though -- in my case it's true.

 

I did not raise a complaint on the ship and it makes for an uncomfortable situation to complain of your nightly waiter in the middle of the cruise. In retrospect, I don't know that being switched to a different waiter would have made the cruise more enjoyable. I did note the problems on the Quality Assurance survey.

 

I was wondering if I would have said anything in the same situation, and I think I would have... I pay too much and sail too infrequently on Crystal to let anything degrade the experience to that degree. Back when Josef Widmar was aboard the ships, I had known him for years and felt more comfortable giving feedback like that with less dramatic examples because he had context for my comments. For the most part I eat all three meals in the dining room, so a good relationship with the servers can really make or break a cruise for me, and if it just wasn't happening for some reason I would probably try going the instant feedback route. The dining room management team are professionals, they know how to coach and supervise without making it uncomfortable for anyone.

 

Keith, you've completely missed my point. I think everyone has, perhaps it is me who has failed to explain it properly.

 

The vast majority of special requests on my voyage were answered, as they were to tryber, with a no. The unfortunate fact was I did not feel Crystal were up to scratch with the reputation they had built, and having other people from my same voyage come with a similar 'bad taste' in their mouth does seem to forward the idea that this voyage was a little bit out of character for Crystal.

 

I did address these issued to Crystal after returning home, and I also did stress that I had a very enjoyable time, and the voyage did tick a lot of good boxes.

 

What I am trying to say here is that I felt, during my voyage, that things did seem slightly out of place. As tyber also states, and I wholeheartedly concur, while nobody can achieve perfection, with Crystal you except a lot more to be 'right', and a lot of things you would happily turn a blind eye to on other ships you are unwilling to do here as you have paid a premium for a line that not only has one of the, if not the best reputations in the travel industry, but also for a ship which prides itself on service.

 

I hope to write a proper, long review of my cruise soon which hopefully will much better illustrate both the many wonderful things I experienced, and the few things that went wrong, which to be honest, shouldn't have.

 

A lot of us are very glad you're sharing your experiences -- I hope none of you from that sailing are feeling "attacked". In my 10 or so cruises Crystal has never been bested out of a single request I've made, so obviously some of our experiences are different than yours, but clearly you have a very good point that several other people agree with as well. It's only by communicating that dissapointment to Crystal's management as you have and discussing it openly as you're doing that these kind of issues get managed. I appreciate everyone sharing and discussing them.

 

Also, on the point of the sanitizer, historically Crystal's crew have been really good with problem solving... I can understand why they can't bring the bottle at the desk over, but typically a crew member would alert someone who may have a free moment (like a head waiter or an assistant waiter at a lightly loaded station) to run down to the store room to get a new bottle to open. In itself it's an isolated case, but I agree when it's the theme of your cruise then you're left with a solid impression. "Get up and do it yourself" has certainly never been Crystal's slogan, though there can be cases where it's an appropriate answer.

 

Vince

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I find some of these comments disconcerting. The service levels described are not the service levels we have come to expect over the years. As I stated very early, I found some of the OP's observations a bit puzzling, but to have two others come in and say essentially the same things is a concern. Rather than suggesting their experiences are an anomaly, maybe it is time for a hard look at what is happening onboard.

 

There were those who expressed a concern that going AI would result in a deterioration of service with tips removed from the equation. Now we are starting to get reports liike these that suggest it might be happening. Rather than making like the ostrich with its head in the sand, those of us on the next few cruises should be taking an objective look at the service to see if the standards have slipped, and if so, to make that known via the QAP. If the "emperor truly has no clothes" or if those clothes are starting to slip, management should be made aware that just maybe they have a problem. There are enough of us sailing in the next month or so. That kind of proactive QAP reponse makes far more sense than "shooting the messenger" here on the board. IMHO anyay.

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Those of you that are well known to the Crystal staff will need to look really hard at the service provided to others because it may be very different than the service that you receive.

That said, I hope that you just really enjoy your cruise and don't worry too much about all of this.

 

We are all very lucky to be able to dissect things to such a degree. I am going to enjoy my Crystal Cruise no matter what happens. I never expect it all to go perfectly.

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Hi!

 

I wrote a very long email on monday with all the issues to crystal. Up to now, I havn´t got any info. I think this is the 6*-support!

 

Best wishes

 

Stefan

 

Stefan, I am sorry that you didn't care for your Crystal Cruise. However, I don't think it is reasonable to expect a response so fast unless you are just looking for a Dear Stefan response which has absolutely no meat to it and just makes you feel good.

 

I know for a fact that if someone sends a letter to the folks in Los Angeles that each item in the letter is carefully reviewed. As such, if you commented about certain aspects of the cruise that you didn't care for that took place on board the ship, this takes some time to investigate and it would take time even if everyone was in the same space but the reality is there are vast time differences just between Los Angeles and where the ship is sailing right now.

 

Again, if you are just looking for a letter than says thank you for your letter, we are sorry for your disappointment and it won't happen again, I am sure that letter could be back to you very quickly. However, if your point of the letter was to voice concern(s) and to be sure that they were followed up on and responded to in a professional manner then you really should show some patience.

 

Keith

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I have to "chime" in on all of this. My companion and I were just on back to back cruises from July 8th to August 3rd on Symphony. Given the fact that between the two of us we have now sailed on Crystal 37 times I feel the service from the great Crystal staff has not suffered from going AI. I feel that the level of service is as good--or maybe even better than ever. That being said, I wonder if the service is different for first time cruisers now that Crystal has gone AI? Unfortunately I can not answer that question. I must note however that I asked several "long term" crew if they planned on coming back once their current contracts were up. The answer I received from most of them was "We're thinking about it." However their facial expressions lead me to believe that several will not be renewing thier contracts once the current one is up. I surely hope this is not the case but their is no doubt in my mind that tipping and their income has to play a role in their decision. I am sure that most first time cruisers on Crystal do not realize that the Maitre D' and Headwaiters are not included as part of the AI tipping package. And I do not know if their salaries were adjusted like the bar staff and deck staff. But I do know that on our cruises thier was no mention at all about tipping and unless you went to the front desk to get a gratuity form or paid them directly in cash they were not getting any gratuities from the passengers. As we always give supplemental tips I noticed that the day the receipts were clipped outside our stateroom door we were the only ones on our deck that had them. Before AI every stateroom had them outside their stateroom. In our opinion it's still to early to tell if AI will have an affect on the level of service. Hopefully it will not and if the "long time" crew start to leave I am sure Crystal will address this issue but it will be sad to see them leave. Hopefully Crystal will take a proactive approach to this and listen to their staff rather than a reactive approach which could mean that they loose many great "long term" crew. At least up to this point it has not happened but a mass exit could be coming soon--only time will tell.

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to us since our TA paid gratuities. The drink checks didn't inconvenience us as we are accustomed to eating in restaurants and we always need to sign a check. We will be back on Crystal for the holidays and we intend to continue our old tipping policy. Even though we had tips included, we always tipped everyone and will still do it. We traveled on Regent in the near past and also Oceania and I DEFINITELY felt that all of the crew were completely demotivated. There was no reason to give special service. I realize that I am in the minority about this tipping. I will be sad if the service is not up to par. So very many things in our society are going downhill. Sad.

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I must note however that I asked several "long term" crew if they planned on coming back once their current contracts were up. The answer I received from most of them was "We're thinking about it." However their facial expressions lead me to believe that several will not be renewing thier contracts once the current one is up. I surely hope this is not the case but their is no doubt in my mind that tipping and their income has to play a role in their decision.

 

The other possibility may be that the AI change has brought about a change in passenger type/style, which may not be to the liking of some crew. I'm sure that was a part of Crystal's decision (to broader their base of potential passengers), but it might be having an effect they hadn't anticipated.

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The other possibility may be that the AI change has brought about a change in passenger type/style, which may not be to the liking of some crew. I'm sure that was a part of Crystal's decision (to broader their base of potential passengers), but it might be having an effect they hadn't anticipated.

These thoughts mirror mine exactly. Many of the long time crew members know the repeat guests and are excellent at anticipating needs and wants. For a first time Crystal Cruiser, these long standing relationships do not exist. I would never have thought of having a standing order for caviar nightly, or rose petals in my bath as being requirements of luxury. A bar keeper knowing my penchant for a certain single malt scotch is more my style, and being welcomed back on board by name certainly makes me feel at home. There has always been a feeling of family on both Crystal ships, which I hope does not evaporate in an effort to attract new guests.

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"The other possibility may be that the AI change has brought about a change in passenger type/style, which may not be to the liking of some crew."

 

I didn't know customers have to be liked by the business employess :confused:

If so, Crystal should put on their site what they expect from passengers and establish rules for being accepted as one.

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"The other possibility may be that the AI change has brought about a change in passenger type/style, which may not be to the liking of some crew."

 

I didn't know customers have to be liked by the business employess :confused:

If so, Crystal should put on their site what they expect from passengers and establish rules for being accepted as one.

 

Mario - I understand that you are new to Crystal and are used to sailing with Cunard. One of the many things that make the Crystal experience outstanding and different is that passengers are treated as guests and family, not mere customers. Also, the crew treat their guests with respect, but demostrate a friendly attitude that you have to experience for yourself. A feeling of family prevails onboard that is in marked difference from what I have experienced on any other line. There are no 'rules' for being accepted, only being friendly and polite company!

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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]

 

Bistro no longer closes at 6 with the advent of all inclusive - stays open as a wine/dessert bar for the evening. Gives you a chance to walk off your dinner before coffee, after dinner drink, chocolate waterfall, etc.

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