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rafinmd

2018 Crystal World Cruise as seen by a 4-Star Mariner

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When I was on the Grand Asia I floated the idea of a report here on my Crystal World Cruise and the reaction was positive so here goes...

 

I hope the title is not misleading. If it gives the impression that I’m an old time HAL cruiser that got fed up and wanted to move upscale, that’s just not true. My first HAL cruise was on the SS Rotterdam in 1997 and even then Crystal was my absolute favorite. I sailed Crystal pretty much exclusively while working and hardly ever gave other cruise lines a second thought.

 

I’ve been doing fine in retirement but my appetite for cruising has grown beyond what my income could support sailing exclusively on Crystal (although I continue to sail with them far beyond what I could ever fit into my schedule when working). I had to either cruise less or branch out to other cruise lines where I could afford to cruise as much as I want.

 

HAL is not unique; most other cruise lines are more affordable than Crystal so why HAL? Well, besides Crystal I have 3 other regular “go-to” cruise lines. I love Royal Caribbean for their variety of cruises out of Baltimore and Cunard primarily for their transatlantic but my number 1 alternative to Crystal is HAL.

 

I love Crystal and it is hands down my favorite cruise line but nothing is perfect. My other go-to cruise lines all give me something I don’t get on Crystal. I struggled to put my finger on what it was about HAL. There are many extras I love, including crew shows, chilled soups, stateroom direct etc. but none of those things was a reasonable explanation of why I keep returning to HAL. I think all the little things got in the way of identifying the big things, 2 positives and a negative. I sail HAL again and again for a selection of great itineraries, affordability, and the absence of serious shortcomings. HAL became my runner up go to cruise line soon after I first set foot on the Prinsendam.

 

As I do while sailing HAL, I will maintain a “live” thread on the Crystal forum.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2578289

 

and a blog with more photos and documents:

 

https://morethangetaways.wordpress.com/

 

I will not generally duplicate that here although I will at times like the first couple of days where I will be watching the Amsterdam and Westerdam sail from Ft. Lauderdale. I’ll be posting pictures of a number of meetings with HAL ships, likely including:

Amsterdam, January 4, Ft. Lauderdale

Westerdam, January 5, Ft. Lauderdale

Westerdam,, January 9, Cartagena

Zuiderdam, April 18, Panama Canal and Colon

Nieuw Amsterdam, April 18, passing on Panama Canal

Eurodam, Cartagena, April 21

 

I’ll probably include some other copies of full Crystal posts on ports that the Amsterdam also visits and Valparaiso, where most cruise lines have recently abandoned the port and moved to San Antonio. I’m going to concentrate on things that I expect will be of interest to HAL cruisers, so I welcome your questions or feedback on things that don’t interest you. The adventure begins soon.

 

Roy

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Looking forward to reading your comparisons. Do you get free internet on Crystal?

 

When I was last on board it was 1 hour per day but it's now unlimited for a maximum of 2 devices.

 

Very nice.

 

Roy

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Ohh this is going to be good Roy,

 

Thank you :D

 

Interested in your tips and info on Crystal and hearing about your entire voyage.

 

Have fun :)

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Thank you for inviting us to join you on your journey!

 

Smooth Sailing!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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When I was last on board it was 1 hour per day but it's now unlimited for a maximum of 2 devices.

 

Very nice.

 

Roy

 

That is great - unlimited and two devices!

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Eagerly awaiting your reports on the various sites.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I always enjoy reading your reports, and even open the links to your pics. (love your dinner photo every day).

Thank you for taking us along. It will make the long, cold, winter a little brighter.

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Thank you for doing the blog, we will be following along with you. Happy New Year.

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Looking forward to following along, enjoy reading your posts. Bon Voyage, fair winds & smooth seas. Hope to be there for your sail away. My first HAL cruise was also on the Rotterdam, fall 1980.

Allan

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A matter of money

 

Thank you Kathi, Denise, Jacqui, Krazy Kruizers, doone, ger_77, superoma, RuthC, we’re sailing away, bennybear, kftw, margoeef.boards, and Allan.

 

One likely question is “Do I need to win the lottery to book a Crystal World Cruise? (Hint: I haven’t) Clearly, Crystal is more expensive, but it’s all a matter of circumstances and priorities.

 

I can’t compare directly with the HAL 2018 World Cruise since it’s been sold out for a long time. My coming cruise is 116 days of which 97 are actual world cruise with a regular Panama Canal cruise pre-pended. HAL’s 2019 World Cruise is 113 days, a little bit shorter than mine but all world cruise so I’m considering them fairly equivalent.

 

When I was on the Oosterdam the future cruise consultant talked about “location, location, location”, and I kind of turned the concept topsy-turvy.

 

Location 1: The right itinerary–Usually home port Baltimore for RCI, transatlantic for Cunard and more complicated for Crystal and HAL

Location 2: The right ship

Location 3 (a distant third), the cabin on the ship. Much as in real estate a modest house in a good neighborhood can be more valuable than a mansion somewhere else, that’s how I feel about cruise ships and cabins.

 

I won’t give dollar amounts but will do some general comparisons and will include a few disclaimers. What you get and pay on any cruise is always a function of one’s individual circumstances. As a solo, I benefit from modest solo supplements on Crystal. Crystal is all inclusive and since I don’t drink that makes it somewhat less of a value to me. I did make a few adjustments to the HAL price to bring things somewhat more into line. I do like a daily Diet Coke, and have added $125 to the HAL fare for 5 soda cards. I’ve also added $925 for my normal half hour a day of internet. I have not given any tips on Crystal since they went all inclusive, and have added $1,525 for the auto gratuity (1695 for suites). What I have done on Crystal in lieu of tips is make a donation to the Crew Welfare Fund which roughly offsets the additional tips for my cabin stewards and waiters on HAL.

 

Fares have traditionally been easy to calculate from the posted fares on Crystal but this was a much different animal. They did post fares for the 2-ship option but the cabin categories do not exactly match up between the ships and I change category when I change ships in Sydney. Add to that the fact that I am adding the Panama Canal cruise at the beginning and taking the option to board a cruise that technically starts in Charleston on day 3 in Ft. Lauderdale and the process is far from simple.

 

On each ship I am on the second lowest cabin category which is a mildly restricted ocean view cabin. Here’s my view from my Serenity cabin,

 

3s7061view.jpg

 

Here’s a view from the cabin next to my Symphony cabin but mine will be very similar:

 

p7052view.jpg

 

I have 2 Crystal reference prices, “My Price”, and “The Price I Paid”. They should be the same but are not. Many cruise lines have had computer glitches lately and Crystal is right in the thick of that herd. When the early payment discount date came I was extended a bit because they could not figure out my price. A few days later a couple of large credits appeared on my credit card. I didn’t want any last minute surprises and my TA followed up. The answer was “It’s a mistake, but we’re not going to fix it. He’s paid in full.” “The price I paid” is about 20% less than “My Price”.

 

On HAL I frequently sail in inside cabins. I’m often fine with that but on the Zaandam for32 days this spring I found that I didn’t want to go that long without a bath tub. An inside cabin on the HAL world cruise would be about 1/6 less than “What I Paid”. I could get and be happy with the lowest HAL cabin with a tub(F), that would be about 85 percent of “What I Paid” and 70% of “My price”. A HAL full ocean view © cabin is significantly more expensive than the (F), a little more than “What I Paid” but a sixth less than “My Price”. Moving to a HAL balcony is a big step up, 60% more than “What I Paid” and about 1/3 more than the full “My Price” A Neptune Suite would really drive up the price, almost 2 ½ times the full “My Price”

 

Comparing with Cunard is somewhat but not completely. As Scrapnana has noted, on Cunard the differential between oceanview and balcony is a lot smaller (more like the case on the Vistas). I could sail an ocean view cabin on Cunard’s world cruise for less than “I paid” and a balcony would be about “What I paid” but significantly less than my price. I noted in Scrapnana’s blog that she didn’t think she could afford a HAL world cruise until she decided she didn’t need a balcony. I noted though that to get a bath tub on Cunard I would need to book at least Princess Grill, at a cost almost double “My Full Price”

 

Comparing Crystal and HAL, it comes down to “Do you want to be on Crystal or do you want a balcony?” Each person needs to look at their individual wants and needs and I didn’t do that calculation before hand but if I did the decision would have been “I want to be on Crystal”

 

Roy

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Lol! I am thoroughly confused about “price”. All that matters is you are happy with it! But glad you are embarking on a new adventure! Will be so glad to hear about Crystal as I have heard lots of good things! Enjoy!

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Have a wonderful adventure, Roy! I'll hold down for fort here in Maryland; hopefully it'll be much warmer when you get back. And then I'll be off on my next cruise! Happy sailing....

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Interesting comparison of pricing, Roy. Does Crystal have an average solo supplement percentage (like HAL's is usually around 165% and Cunard's is usually 175% for an oceanview)?

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You lost me somewhere in the middle of the price comparison but I’m sure you’ll have a great time on your cruise. Enjoy.

Bon Voyage!

Terri

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Interesting comparison of pricing, Roy. Does Crystal have an average solo supplement percentage (like HAL's is usually around 165% and Cunard's is usually 175% for an oceanview)?

 

Have a wonderful adventure, Roy! I'll hold down for fort here in Maryland; hopefully it'll be much warmer when you get back. And then I'll be off on my next cruise! Happy sailing....

 

Thanks, bennybear, Terri, and Nancy. Kathi, Crystal at least starts with some relatively mild solo supplements, although the tendency to apply capacity controls has been increasing. They tend to start out at around 135-140 percent for oceanview, 140-150 for balconies, and 200 percent for suites (what Crystal calls Penthouses). It sometimes but rarely goes lower on a cruise not selling well, and can rise quite quickly. I booked the Northwest Passage the day it came out at 130 percent and was up to 200 percent within 2 days.

 

joekerstef, enjoy the Maasdam. Unfortunately my return through the Panama canal will be about 10 days before yours; I would have loved another first hand look at the Maasdam.

 

Roy

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Roy, Hope you have a great cruise. I also hope you will still be able to check in for some of the sailaways while you are on the cruise, as I enjoy your comments. Bon Voyage.

 

Neil

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