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avalon1025

Onboard Crystal Symphony: Baltic 5220

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Hi everyone, we are sailing from Poland on the Crystal Syphony voyage 5220. This is our first Crystal Cruise and so far:

 

The good: The great amazing crew, very friendly and sincere. Can not do enough for you. The dining room food is consistently very good, with fine service

 

The not so good: The ship is packed, packed with kids, teens and every age group in between definately putting a strain on the staff onboard. The ship is DEAD at night, if you are between 18 and 40 or young at heart, forget about any nightlife. No Disco, no nightclub open past 12:30, absolutely boring. I feel bad for the few large families onboard, the younger generations are bored to death (though well behaved).

 

Long line...it took us 15 minuntes in the rain to reboard the ship in Oslo, the Captain appoligized, but again a product of the packed ship. Good luck getting a table in the Lido during peak hours as well.

 

Overall, if the price was right we would sail Crystal again, off season (we have talked to past passengers that swear by the cruises that have 500-600 pax onbaord, vs our 1000 (thirds and forths full!). And on their newer ship which everyone onbaord compares this one to. And yes, I had to wait and line up just to get this computer, get on a treadmill, get off the ship, get on the ship....

 

For the price of this cruise, I think it would have been a better value on Silversea or Seabourn or Radisson (i like the better cabin, all inclusiveness and open seating dinner). The cabin is lovely, though small, and looks much nicer than in the brochure.

 

Overall we are having a great time, though its been tough seeing what all the hype is about.

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We are booked on the next sailing (5221) and are counting every second. As a die-hard Crystal fan, I cannot imagine complaining about waiting for a few minutes to get back on a ship with 1,000 people. Also, we have not cruised Seabourn but have twice cruised RSSC--there certainly wasn't a roaring nightlife on Radisson!

 

My recollection of the CH was that the bars and lounges stayed open rather late. In any event, although we're pretty young (35-40), we were ready for bed by midnight after a day of touring and fantastic dining.

 

Also, if the children are "well behaved" I'm not sure what the problem is. We are bringing our own kids, though, so I'm admittedly biased.

 

I also agree that people often make up their minds to find fault before their vacations have even started. Others seem to have a good time no matter what happens (as much as I love the Bellagio/ Four Seasons/ Crystal segment of the travel industry, my family and I have just as much fun camping).

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FamCruise, I agree with you. We have always had fun no matter where we have gone -- especially if our children were with us. From the time they were toddlers we took them all over the world. I think attitude has a great deal to do with enjoyment. Yes, I am a pollyanna -- I can enjoy almost anything. Especially now that I have survived my bout with cancer, I can say that I feel we are very fortunate to go anywhere and do anything. Everyone has their own favorite cruise line. Crystal happens to be ours.

 

I hope Avalon 1025 has a better time on his cruise with his friends and family than he was anticipating. Let's hope it is not a self fullfilling prophesy. By the way, Symphony holds 960 people -- if every stateroom and penthouse is full and there are not many singles. Not that many staterooms hold three so I am surprised when he said there were 1000 on board. Yes, we have had to stand in line to board when motor coaches have deposited people after excursions and yes, we have waited in line at the poolside buffets. That is about the only difference to note when the ship is half full or completely full.

Judith

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Right on, Judith!

 

I think this itinerary will be more challenging than most for our kids. They did great in Alaska and of course do fine in the Caribbean and Bahamas.

 

But we REALLY wanted this itinerary. In some ways, young kids are easier I think because they don't know enough to demand anything, yet are easily amused by small pleasures (fountains, squirrels, ice cream stores, etc.) that can be found anywhere in the world.

 

Although we're mostly seeing what we want on this trip, we've arranged a few kid-friendly activities (painting dolls in St. Petersburg, lots of time at Tivoli Garden, staying at a Danish family resort after the cruise).

 

Although I agree with you that each person has his own ideal cruise line, I'd be hard pressed to imagine how anyone would not love Crystal!

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Interesting -- the thirteen times I have sailed Crystal - even on full ships - I can count on one hand the times I have had to wait in line any appreciable time for anything. Guess I have been lucky.

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If the ship is dead after 12:30 go to the computer room then and you will not have to wait in line. I just checked the live camara and at 5:50 am ship time there is only one computer taken.

 

Both the Starlite Club and the Avenue Saloon should have dancing and kareoke past 12:30 and the casino is open until 2 am with free drinks.

 

Right now your entering the port of St Peterburg and I assure you that after visiting the Church of the Spill Blood, St Isaacs Cathedral, The Hermitage, Catherine's Palace and Peterhoff you will be ready for bed by midnight for the next three nigths.

 

Since you do not like long lines I hope you hired a private tour. If you forgot call Katya Puzireva at 112-5279.

 

If you have problems with reservations at Prego tell Paolo that I sent you!

 

Wish you a great trip.

 

Paco

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I just got off the same ship, on a cruise with over 900 passengers and we found no appreciable lines anywhere. The line to get back on the ship never exceeded 10 minutes. Guess every cruise is different. I will say that during the first few nights, there seemed to be more music from the 1930s and 1940s (the first two shows, pirates and Cole, in addition to most of the music in the lounges). However, that changed and we found much more variety from the 4th night on.

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RJ has a knack for saying the most in the least amount of words. You get what you say on Crystal as in life. Ernie

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We had dinner last evening w. a couple who had cruised w.

Crystal upon our recommendation. The "one" thing they

disliked was "the lines". We said that we had never encountered

any. [i would have been shocked if I hadn't read this board.]

Upon further exploration, his statement mostly referred to the

Gala and on deck buffets. I think that we just find these

events so interesting that we expect others to be there

also. We haven't found the lines either long or off puttting.

But our friend had sailed on Sea Dream and other small ships and did.

 

As for after 12:30 music...I don't think you'll find it in the

Starlite Club [that band closes at 11:45 or 12:15, taking their

last 'break' at end]. By this time there is usually only a

handful of dancers anyway. The Saloon music ends at 12 or 12:30.

Only the disco carries on. It can be lively or quiet depending

on pax and ports.

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The secret to avoiding the lines at the special buffets is to start late. They NEVER run out of anything, so a 12:45 or 1:00 start will find few lines, and plenty of time for seconds!

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That's a great idea. Actually, we often 'lounge' w. Bloody Mary

in the Cove and watch all of the activity before advancing to

the buffet. That said, on the whole we do not consider four

or six people in front of us on such occasions to constitute

a [distrubing] line..whether it be for buffets or Lido. We often

become involved in admiring conversations w. others...oh,

look at those penguins!

 

June '05 on Serenity Crystal had addressed this somewhat by

placing large plates at various side tables.

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One comment I made a few months ago regarding another negative post about Crystal, is that if you expect to have a bad time on a criuse you will. So, this thread does not surprise me.

 

Obviously, when you cruise with 1,000 people there will be some lines from time to time which would be more noticeable during embarkation, disembarkation, and for a couple of the larger functions. With that said, what you will find is that the Crystal ships have some of the best space per passenger ratios of any of the cruise lines. The Symphony's space to passenger ratio is excellent, and the Serenity's is even better.

 

In terms of children, there will be children on these ships during the summer months but as they say what's a lot in the eyes of one person might be completely different in another persons eyes. When we did the British Isles Crystal Cruise a few years back there were about 25-30 children of various ages. To some people that might have been a lot. To my wife and me that was not the case. In fact, we had our two children on board with us, although at 17 and 21 at the time they might not have wanted to be called children. Anyway, they were all very well behaved as was the case on previous Crystal Cruises.

 

Anyway, if you don't want any lines, I would recommend chartering a small ship.

 

Keith

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I think for the poolside buffets and the Grand Gala buffet, you must expect lines. If is the only time normally that everyone will be eating at approximately the same time in the same area.

 

Going later is a great idea. We've always done the opposite and gotten there a few minutes early and sat down at a table and waited to start. Lines exist but are small.

 

The way Crystal has changed the patterns in the past couple of years has helped with plates and food arranged on various tables. Our first couple of cruises, all the food for the Grand Gala buffet was stretched out in one long table and there was a terrifically long line. Now, maybe there are four or five people ahead of us at most.

 

About waiting to board after an excursion, it happens. When you get three or four or more motor coaches getting back at the same time, there are going to be a lot of people waiting to climb the gangplank.

 

Avalon 1025, your post doesn't surprise me having read your pre-cruise posts, but it does sadden me that Crystal for you is not living up to its reputation for great service, food, and entertainment. You mean that something goes on at 12:30 at night? Sorry, but I'm never awake at that hour. I hope things are going well and you and your friends and family are now enjoying your cruise.

 

Now on to the good stuff -- Mike, Leslie, Fran, etc. What is going on with you all?

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Let me add one more comment. As they say you can't please all of the people all of the time.

 

I am not surprised that things quiet down by 12:30 AM. If one is looking for the party atmostphere at that hour, I don't see the luxury lines being the right cruise for them. There are others out there where the party is just beginning at that hour.

 

Finally, I don't see where people on this board try to hype Crystal. I think many of us have shared their positive experiences when sailing with Crystal.

 

Crystal is not for everyone. And, everything about Crystal is not perfect. Of course, that's true about each cruise line. There are positives and areas of improvement, many of which depend on personal opinion.

 

My only point is that if one goes into something with a negative attitude to begin with then they will likely look for all of the problems.

 

As they say is the glass half full or half empty. My tendency is to say it's half full and to focus on the positives.

 

Oh well. That's what makes the world go round.

 

Keith

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May I add that in the past, on the Harmony, the Grand Gala Buffet did have 'long' lines. In order to eliminate this problem, in May, I noticed that instead of one long table, Crystal provided several smaller tables where more people could get around and the lines were not so long. Of course, if you want to avoid the lines entirely, just ask one of the eager assistant waiters to get you a plate and bring it to you!

By now, you know we have a favorite wait staff and when I saw our assistant waiter, he said he knew what my mother liked and would get her a plate of the things she liked! Of course, part of the experience is seeing the wonderful creations of food and ice sculptures and oooing and awing at those desserts! That reminds me of the bread pudding with the vanilla sauce.......16 more days!!!

One more thing, the Starz has karaoking (sp) on sea days (formal evenings) and Cruzpro/wife and we would usually close it down at 1am with my mother dancing with Debby and Andrew (CS host) and Victor (maitre d) the last cruise! Boy, was that last song loooooong! :))

Patty

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Patty makes several excellent points and I'd also like to second Patty's comments. While there might be some lines for the Grand Gala Buffet, it provides an opportunity to once again look at the beautiful displays that Crystal's Restaurant staff puts together. While I know they provide time for us to look at the displays ahead of time, we never take it all in the first time around. And, it's not like we are starving for food. So, if we wait a little longer to get the food, it doesn't really matter.

 

Patty, excellent points about the evening activities as well.

 

You know, when we go on vacation we go to have a good time. We don't let the little things bother us. So, if there is a line, so be it. We don't let those trivial things bother us.

 

Keith

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Keith,

Funny, I have never thought about the waiting in line until someone brought it up. The lines have never been long unless I was in a hurry. I remember trying to get food for my mother for the Grand Gala Buffet and I wanted to eat upstairs for the sushi! That's when I found our assistant waiter and he solved my problem. I showed him where my mother was sitting and he got her food while I ran upstairs for sushi! BTW, my assistant waiter has now been promoted to waiter! Whatever am I going to do now?!?

I agree that if you go with an open mind anywhere, without expecting good or bad, you just might have a great time! Each time I cruise on the Harmony, I can't believe it gets better and better! I always have a new story of how they impressed me with their excellent service or what they did to make each trip so memorable. I can't wait to see what's in store for me this trip! Of course, I know I'll have a GREAT time with Judith and Cruzpro on this trip! But more importantly, my whole family will be with me on this cruise and we haven't done that since 1999! We've all cruised Crystal at different times, but not all together so I'm really looking forward to making some great memories.

 

Patty

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Speaking of long lines -- our first cruise was on a mega ship. The first night for our dinner seating, we were in line for more than one hour, having gone to the dining room on the time it said. Things never really improved. I think our shortest wait in line was about 30 minutes by the end of the cruise. On the first morning, they announced shore excursion tickets would go on sale at 7 a.m. This was before on line booking. At 11 a.m., I started really worrying what had happened to my husband. Around noon, he finally got our passes and came back to the room. Now I know four or five people ahead of me is a line, but do you really think after being on the mega ship, that is going to bother us?

 

I know that I hype Crystal, but I have always been honest in my answers and opinions and never said something was great that I didn't think really was wonderful. There have been times I have complained (e.g., there should be a dedicated room service department), but in general, I can't think of a place I would rather be on a vacation than on a Crystal ship.

 

We also have the advantage that executives (especially our favorite Senior Vice President) regularly read this board and give answers to us. The people in the various offices in Los Angeles and the crews on the ships really mean it when they say "My pleasure." When I filled in our first share the experience form, I didn't do it correctly. I was figuring six singles (because doubles would be six persons in three staterooms) rather than just the allowable three staterooms. Anyway, a man from the Technical Services Department who support the Reservations Department did a three way call with my travel agent. He patiently explained what I had done wrong and how to fix it which he did while we spoke and agreed on the changes.

 

Patty, we've already promised Ernie we would do karioke with you all and his family. Larry loves to sing -- especially old Sinatra tunes. I hope they have a Liar's Club. That's my favorite. Last cruise we won. It was the first time we had ever gotten any right at all. See you in two more weeks! Judith

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I can't really believe some people complain about waiting in line in a buffet. The things are open for 1 1/2 hours. I am not known for my patience but the buffet lines never bothered me. I just wait around until later. If you show up at 12:05 - guess what -- a line. DUH. What do they expect - a buffet just for them. What is the rush anyway.

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to be bored to death on a Crystal Cruise around the Baltic when I was part of the younger generation :p

 

Instead, I hate to wait til my 40s to enjoy the Splendor of the Tsars Cruise (#3210) on the Crystal Symphony, and we did it without our teenager who was stuck at home with school still in session (which was great timing!) We have let him be bored on a number of fabulous cruises; just kidding, he finds his own fun and highlights his daily list of activities before his dad and I are even awake some days. God bless a kid who thinks throwing pottery on an otherwise tame Panama Canal itinerary is the most fun he's had while at sea...

 

I, too, found the Symphony a bit quietier at night than other ships I had been on, and how I gloried in the silence on the return to my cabin from the casino or library each night. The later we came back the more it felt like we were the only people on the ship, and I'll take this over the blaring music of some wanna be "Relive the 80s" disco every single time.

 

I'll stand in line for buffet treats I really want (or like some others here tip an employee to get the goods for me,) and though my beloved publicly states "all the cruise lines are the same" when asked which he likes the best we have still not stopped discussing our first Crystal Cruise's ne plus ultra food, the amazing bar and wait staff who seemingly knew all our preferences at each time of day by the second afternoon, the souvenir chef's jacket Bill bought that the crew then passed around on their own time for two days and brought back to us signed by 75+ employees we had grown so fond of over 11 days, the Caesar's Palace Casino staff shirt I charmed out of the casino supervisor (who though she told me was getting me a used one actually gifted me with a brand new size XL for Bill and then woudn't accept a tip), the night we ditched our second formal night and instead had our dinner (ordered off the dining room menu) brought to us by our cabin stewardess, who seemed to enjoy that we were being rebels and refusing to dress up (he'd brought a tux and I had the gowns - we just weren't in the mood that night!), and I could go on and on.

 

There is a reason for the hype if you arrive waiting to be swept off your feet!

 

Just my $.02.

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to be bored to death on a Crystal Cruise around the Baltic when I was part of the younger generation :p

 

 

I'm with you, Ramos! Although I had a GREAT childhood, my Dad's idea of vacation was having full hookups (sewer) for the travel trailor at the KOA campground. I would have given my right arm to go on a cruise as a kid. And throw in the left arm for it to be on Crystal !!

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Now I will admit that I have closed the Avenue Saloon at 3:30AM, when we had a great group having fun. My partner does not drink so he is fast asleep by midnight. Judith you know we are late risers.

 

I will never forget a few years ago we were on the Symphony and I was not feeling to good. Lunch was the Asian buffet...which I love, but I did not feel well enough to go on deck. My partner decided to bring me a few things from the buffet. One of the Lido guy's saw him and asked where I was and he told him I was not well and he was going to bring me a plate of Sushi and a few other items. This guy would not hear of Dan taking two trays of food. A waiter from the dining room was near by and told him the situation. I could not believe it, two waiters carrying the trays to our stateroom. Now that is unexpected service

 

BTW, we have been on full Crystal cruises and have never waited very long for anything. If we wanted any faster service I guess we would have to charter a yacht for the two of us.

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I have never been on a Crystal Cruise that is anywhere near full, but that should change on our 6th one, the final Harmony Voyage. I am actually quite excited for the added energy it will bring!

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Well I am sure I will be blasted by all the die hard Crystal fans on this board. Its been a great cruise on a nice ship but the bottom line on this cruise is that it has not been worth the 2-3X the price of sailing on other premium mass market lines. We have met many first time Crystal cruisers on this ship that are also not impressed (for the price paid). its a nice ship, nice line and would be worth it for arond 50% more than a HAL cruise, but this cruise is the same fare as my upcomming Seabourn or Silversea cruises, for an all inclusive cruise in a larger cabin with open seating dinner.

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