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Paulchili

Question to ChatKat (and others) - Oceania vs Crystal

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As we are thinking of trying Crystal, I would like to hear from others who have cruised on both - especially recently.

The pros & cons for each cruise line as well as how they are similar and how they are different, please.

TIA

PS My search did not reveal much on this subject on these boards.

Edited by Paulchili

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I have been on about 30 +/- cruises and like most of you started with mass market. In 2001, I booked the Radisson Mariner Inaugural Season and was hooked on the Suite Stateroom, exceptional food and stellar service.

 

For 10 years or so, they were my line of choice. You can see by my signature. When PCH took over, the culture on the ships changed. I was all for included beverages but felt a decline in food and service. I because disgruntled with the sales tactics but more the upcharges and included excursions.

 

We were booked on the Navigator in 2008 from Sydney to Auckland and got a bump offer. All our fare back and a credit for 1/2 of that fare. But the following year we were dismayed we could not rebook the itinerary - fare was up over $5000 per person and moved to the Voyager. $10,000 more and the timing was different so we ended up doing Australia on a luxury land tour.

 

I love the Regent cabins and my last cruise was on Mariner from Barcelona to Venice. I love the layout of that ship. The Upgrade Fairy visited and we were in a Corner Aft Suite on Deck 7. The room was amazing. Food and Service stellar. We used our credit so it cost us a very small fare and paid for the upgrade. Our butler treated us like royalty.

 

This is important - and yet, we felt that the "magic" was missing. Spa prices over the top - $250 for a massage?. Many little things were missing in the way of service and amenities. Ship had lost it's luster. Our excursions were basic bus trips with sales stops and commissioned tour guides. We paid for a Food and Wine Trails Excursion $299 per person EXTRA for a bus tour to a winery with a mediocre lunch and full bus and a tour at another place (Perfunery) where we were held hostage to spending money. We felt very taken.

 

In 2007, we won in a Charity Drawing (we are Rotarians) a cruise from Istanbul to Athens on Oceania. We paid to upgrade to PH to make it comparable to our Regent Cabin. We booked some private tours and we had little time to arrange for all ports and booked a package as well of tours for a flat fee - one in every port. We skipped a few but we found that Oceania was comparable to Regent and began to look at Oceania for our cruises.

 

I dubbed Oceania as Regent Light and really feel that the product is now the same. One with and one without tours/drinks. No matter the name on the hull the management is the same, the food is comparable, onboard activites identical. The spa management is the same. The extras are a profit center and markup high. On board activity is very close. Even better on Oceania with things to do.

 

The food on both lines is very good. We've been on 4 of the O ships and All R ships. We tried a Concierge Cabin on our last Marina Cruise last year on the East Coast and found the size workable for us. That smaller cabin gave me the idea that maybe we'd be ok in the bigger Crystal Ship. We have many friends who kept telling us to try it.

 

We were also on a cruise on Marina that was during Noro season and food was way off (no rare meat and much more!) and the service impacted by the cleaning routine. The smell of the disinfectant so strong and almost a wave of concern every where to dampen the mood. It could not be avoided but when you are paying for your vacation, you still want the mood to be festive and it just was not.

 

We avoided Crystal at all costs because we viewed it as expensive with small cabins, fixed seating, and too formal to our liking.

 

We've completely sailed on almost all itineraries (in segments) from Istanbul, around Europe to the North to the Baltics and From Montreal to Alaska in North America. We found a cruise on Crystal that cruised in some East Coast Ports we'd missed. The dress code relaxed. We figured we'd compromise with fixed seating. Friends of ours who sailed Crystal and did not like the cabin size or Dining by reservations let us know their opinion so we did Fixed Seating. We found the Per Diem fair. The excursions all $100 average price range per person. Some as little as $50 pp. Really well set up to meet up in a lounge and go to the bus. None full.

 

The cabin for us was small but so well appointed. Little touches very nice like light weight robes and heavy robes. Internet was included. Multiple people in the library, the computer room, the coffee bar, The Crystal Ships are bigger like the Riviera and Marina.

 

The entertainment and daily activities were so fabulous. On Oceania and Regent, many times, there was nothing to do but lay by the pool, walk the treadmill, or read a book. On Crystal, you could wake up and have things of quality to do from early morning to late night. There were enough activities that you were not settling on what to do - the quandary was that you had to choose what to do! The Casino had action and convivial players - where on Oceania I was the only one at the table. The bars and lounges had continual entertainment. In the lobby bar, called the Cove, there was piano and for 45 minutes between dinner seatings, you could meet other passengers with different seating to converse.

 

The quality of O and R Entertainment lacks. Some of the entertainers we so enjoyed on Regent left. On one Regent cruise the entertainment was so bad that the singer turned his back on the audience and people actually left slowly every time he turned. On Oceania, many of the shows not worth going to at all.

 

We are selective about wine (Yes, we are wine snobs - thank you to Regent for the Tasting Classes we took on some of our first cruises with them) and a downfall currently of Regent is what is drinkable to us and Oceania the regular stock in the bars and small pour with high price for non drinkable stuff in our opinion. On Crystal, the wines were so good, we never once felt we had to upscale our drink with optional wine list wine. We even came home and ordered a case of one of the wines. Our wine steward went our of her way nightly to pair the offerings to our taste and not just fill our glass. The Maitre D' came over nightly to check on our choices. The waiter and assistant got to know us and our preferences. Just a wow experience. The specialty restaurants over the top with menus by Nobu and Valentino (local restaurants with exceptional food at home for us too)

 

We also found the passengers well educated, friendly and social. Regent passengers not as social unless we were with friends.

 

I can actually tell you stories of classless passengers on Regent that would blow your mind but I will spare you that.

 

So that's why we are Crystallized. We have 35 more days booked on Crystal this coming year. We did book next year on Nautica in a Concierge cabin. The bathrooms are sadly lacking on that ship but the itinerary is unusual. I am sure we will have a nice time. It just won't be Crystal. I will hope that the service and small details will be good.

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Just some added comments Chat Kat.

 

I like the "Regent Light" term for O

 

Some Crystal pluses -

 

  • Service -- always good. O has been hit and miss
  • Excursions -- much lower in price. You can book them in advance. You don't pay now therefore your OBC can be used.
  • Grats included always 1 cruise or 100 cruises.
  • Superior Specialties
  • Enrichment lectures that actually have subject matter experts and are interesting. I still remember that lecture attended on O in Grecian history from a professor who's expertise is Alaska Natives. He did his thing the entire cruise.
  • Quality of MDR food -- O is B+ (too many repeats on long cruises) and Crystal is an A-
  • No nickel and diming (drinks included)

 

Negatives:

 

  • If you thinks O web site has issues -- try Crystals
  • One 1 advance booking per specialty. Additional seating's are up charged at $30pp
  • Small cabins - but similar in size feeling as the R veranda's
  • No insides --if you like this
  • Fixed seating dining. Yes they have by reservation but it is still by reservation.
  • O terrace buffet for breakfast and lunch is better than Crystal IMHO and seems less crowded
  • Formal nights, but they have cut back, our next cruise has zero formal nights.
  • No real super casual restaurant for dinner (if that is important). It is to us.

We pick our cruise line for its itinerary. Doing next three on O, SS and Crystal. Our next Crystal will like be a NW passage cruise.

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Thank you Chat Kat and Paul for your helpful insights.

 

After 13 cruises on Oceania we have just booked a trial run on Crystal for two weeks.

Have also booked a four weeks on Oceania for fall 2017 so we should have a good comparison. Although the PHS on Crystal is still smaller than the OS on Oceania we hope the layout will compensate somewhat. Looking forward to both cruises.

Edited by orchestrapal

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Kathy & Paul,

Thank you both for your insightful comments. As I always suggest to Oceania newbies - one must try it for yourself to see how it fits your needs and desires and I will follow my own advice.

Others' opinions are very helpful but the proof of the pudding is in trying it for yourself.

So we shall do.

Edited by Paulchili

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Chatkat: your post makes us wAnt to try Crystal. Some great onboard activities and good entertainment appeals. We are o regulars but interspersing Seabourn now and we also cruise Celebrity in top suites (a bargain). Thanks for your inspiring post. They should give you commission

 

 

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As we are thinking of trying Crystal, I would like to hear from others who have cruised on both - especially recently.

The pros & cons for each cruise line as well as how they are similar and how they are different, please.

TIA

PS My search did not reveal much on this subject on these boards.

 

Paul,

My last Oceania cruise was in 2014 on the Marina. My last Crystal cruise was in 2015 on the Symphony. My last Regent cruise was in 2016 on the Mariner. On all three cruises we booked Penthouses.....I like space and the service that comes with having a butler.

 

My take on all three.....Crystal has the best enrichment program and included computer classes compared to the other two lines. There is so much more to do on a sea day on Crystal. We had former Senator Alan Simpson and former Secretary of Transportation (under Bush) /former Secretary of Commerce (under Clinton) Norman Mineta do numerous lectures and a round table on our cruise. No other line has this caliber of enrichment speakers and we have done over 30 cruises on many cruise lines.

 

Crystal's specialty restaurants are excellent. I know they charge for a second visit but it is easy to get into the specialty restaurants compared to Oceania unless staying in an Oceania Suite (2013) where we could eat in the specialty restaurants every night if we chose to.....On Regent....we could not eat in the specialty restaurants more than once.

 

Even though the Crystal Symphony is an older ship....it is being kept up. The bathroom in the Penthouse was like brand new with double sinks, jacuzzi bath tub and a separate shower. I thought the decor in the suite was very nice.

 

The "O" ships are beautiful ships but the service doesn't quite equal Crystal's. The lido buffet on the Symphony out does Oceania's Terrace buffet in selection and service. Plus the Bistro was a nice plus on Crystal.....a nice selection of food and a great coffee Bar. Crystal also has a movie theater plus the show room.

 

My husband and I do not care for the "R" ships on Oceania.

With regards to Regent....we found the Penthouses dated and the bathroom small and not to our liking. Not much different than Oceania except more stuff is included such as tips, alcohol, and excursions on Regent.

 

The only way to know if you will like Crystal is to try it. My only suggestion is if you are used to staying in a Penthouse on the "O" ships....stay in a Penthouse on Crystal. I did look at the veranda staterooms on the Symphony.....our friends were in one....they are small but well appointed and the bathroom was small but well appointed also. I would not be a happy camper as to the size. But if you are used to staying in a veranda cabin on the "R" or "O" ships....I don't see much of a difference.

 

In regards to assign seating at dinner on Crystal....we did not have an issue at all. We got to know our servers and saw it as a plus not a minus. We usually eat at 8:30PM.

 

On Crystal....the excursions were a lot less compared to Oceania. In Asia we took many excursions on Crystal and they were well run. We did not feel comfortable going on our own.

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Just want to agree with all previous posts --pros and cons exactly right for both ships. Cruised Symphony this past August and next August on Marina. Have been on Regatta and Serenity.

Itinerary comes first --loved Crystal and expect a different but great experience next year.

Arleen

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You will love it! Love sea days on Crystal! We did the first segment of the World Cruise that had sixteen sea days---wonderful time! Can't imagine doing a port every day.

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Thank you all for the great comparisons. We have mostly cruised with Oceania but did one Crystal cruise and enjoyed it. We only get a veranda suite so the Crystal cabin didn't seem small to us and the bathroom with the double sinks was bigger than our pre cruise hotel. I agree with all the goods and bads noted except for the size of the cabin but the the thing that turned us off was the smoking. It was allowed in the cabins and in some of the back to back and around the world cruise cabins, you could actually smell the smoke coming out of the cabin. One of the nicest lounges with a string quartet which was right by the reception area was also an open smoking lounge. We tried to get a drink there and it stunk so badly we left quickly. But we did have to go by this lounge to get to the reception area and we could smell the smoke. Has the smoking policy changed?

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That has been changed. No indoor smoking except in Connoisseur Club. There are a couple of designated smoking areas outside. Thankfully, it is not allowed in cabins or verandas.

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I just got copies of the Crystal dailies (Reflections). Wow. Activities and entertainment look fabulous. Oceania could take a page......

 

 

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That has been changed. No indoor smoking except in Connoisseur Club. There are a couple of designated smoking areas outside. Thankfully, it is not allowed in cabins or verandas.

 

Great, thanks. We are looking at their new river cruises.

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We do Crystal more than 1/2 of the time. The size of the cabins does bother me and my husband as he is very tall and likes room. However, all being said, the entertainment is so great and the food in the MDR is always excellent that this overcomes everything.

 

We do dining by reservation, but usually have the same table every night. We like that.

 

I believe if you can get past cabin size, Crystal has it all.

 

Have a wonderful cruise.

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Thanks to all for their input and advice.

We have a Crystal cruise booked tentatively for 2018 and I am getting a little less apprehensive about it.

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I will give you a little different view based on a very disappointing Crystal cruise in May. It was our first, and last, cruise with them. You might feel it is unfair to dismiss an entire cruiseline from consideration based on one sailing, but I am a firm believer in the old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Having spent the last 7 years of my career as a Customer Relations Manager for a luxury brand, I am a tough judge.

 

Instead of weighing down this thread with details, I suggest that, if interested, you look at my Crystal Serenity review here on Cruise Critic. We sail again with Oceania in a few weeks and are really looking forward to it.

Edited by Mike2131

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Crystal just seems sooooo stuffy, old fashioned, proper and almost cultish in a way. I just don't feel that I would fit in. I prefer Oceania's laid back atmosphere. I don't need so much attention constantly. If I need anything I'm happy to ask and I'm ok with that.

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I will give you a little different view based on a very disappointing Crystal cruise in May. It was our first, and last, cruise with them. You might feel it is unfair to dismiss an entire cruiseline from consideration based on one sailing, but I am a firm believer in the old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Having spent the last 7 years of my career as a Customer Relations Manager for a luxury brand, I am a tough judge.

 

Instead of weighing down this thread with details, I suggest that, if interested, you look at my Crystal Serenity review here on Cruise Critic. We sail again with Oceania in a few weeks and are really looking forward to it.

 

 

And there are those who take one cruise on Oceania and say "never again." We prefer to try it for ourselves despite negative reviews. If we relied on cc reviews we'd likely stay home.

 

E.g.

I think Azamara is the worst. Never again. Plenty of cruisers love that line including many I know personally and whose opinions I respect. I also know their standards. So who is "right."

 

I think suites on celebrity are fabulous. The whole experience is divine. Others would rather stay home than sail a mass market line

 

I read your review. Nothing there to deter me

One person's experience on a single cruise. Period

 

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Edited by bitob

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I will add

 

It is a known fact that people tend to post reviews more when they dislike something. They want to warn others or get back at a company. Not saying that wAs your purpose in posting; only pointing out that the ratio of positive to negative reviews is always a consideration.

 

This true for cc as much as it is for Amazon or yelp or trip advisor.

 

 

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Edited by bitob

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I will give you a little different view based on a very disappointing Crystal cruise in May. It was our first, and last, cruise with them. You might feel it is unfair to dismiss an entire cruiseline from consideration based on one sailing, but I am a firm believer in the old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Having spent the last 7 years of my career as a Customer Relations Manager for a luxury brand, I am a tough judge.

 

Instead of weighing down this thread with details, I suggest that, if interested, you look at my Crystal Serenity review here on Cruise Critic. We sail again with Oceania in a few weeks and are really looking forward to it.

 

Mike,

I read your review and I am certainly not dismissing it (and it wasn't the only negative review either).

That said, I read some glowing reviews as well - like the one from MightyQuinn whom I only know and "like" from the boards here.

The reality is that I don't know if I am more like you or more like MQ, if you know what I mean.

The bottom line is that I will only know if Crystal is for us or not by trying them :)

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I have sailed both. I think Crystal is better in shows and activities, the ship feels less crowded and is all inclusive. Oceania is better in cabin size, I have only been on the large ships, in the open sitting dinning, the Terrace Cafe. I prefer Ocesnia's dress code. I think the pool deck with the retractable dome beats Oceania. I think both provide a nice trip.

 

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And there are those who take one cruise on Oceania and say "never again." We prefer to try it for ourselves despite negative reviews. If we relied on cc reviews we'd likely stay home.

 

E.g.

I think Azamara is the worst. Never again. Plenty of cruisers love that line including many I know personally and whose opinions I respect. I also know their standards. So who is "right."

 

I think suites on celebrity are fabulous. The whole experience is divine. Others would rather stay home than sail a mass market line

 

I read your review. Nothing there to deter me

One person's experience on a single cruise. Period

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Everyone has to express their own opinion of the cruise experience. Every time we (or anyone sails), what we encounter is a unique experience defined by the service, food, cabin, etc. we encounter. It also depends tremendously on how that unique experience balances against expectations. If expectations (and they have to be reasonable) are consistently met (and, hopefully, occasionally exceeded) then that experience will usually be excellent. If they are consistently not met, and there seems to be a confused, lackluster, or even negative effort, then the experience will probably be subpar. You always hope for the best, but sometimes that subpar experience comes your way. Perhaps it was just our turn to experience it, but we can make 100% sure it does not happen again with Crystal.

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I will add

 

It is a known fact that people tend to post reviews more when they dislike something. They want to warn others or get back at a company. Not saying that wAs your purpose in posting; only pointing out that the ratio of positive to negative reviews is always a consideration.

 

This true for cc as much as it is for Amazon or yelp or trip advisor.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Some people take great pleasure on taking to the review when they are upset or disappointed. Often you see that in a first post. From my own perspective, I believe on reviewing every cruise we take. If interested, I would invite you to take a look. I try to be even-handed and positive (often extremely so) when a cruise is enjoyable and less so when it is not. Some are pretty bad and I will say so and never sail the line again. I am neither a pom-pom waving cheerleader nor a lurking troll with an agenda. I state my honest opinion from what I experience. Whether others enjoy, dislike, or even care about what I write is not something I can control.

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