Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
deadlock

First-Timer Post-Cruise Thoughts

Recommended Posts

I disembarked Serenity last Saturday and the end of a 7-night cruise around the Adriatic. For context, we were part of a party of 12 (including a young child), my wife and I are in our mid-30s, and this is our first cruise (on any cruise line).

 

What follows is just a random collection of thoughts/anecdotes, all of which are strictly my personal experience and opinion. Hope it's of some use to first-timers and vets alike.

 

1) The quality of the food was - all things considered - excellent. Reading these forums before embarking, I was worried on the trend of posts which seem to indicate that food quality had taken a downturn, but I was perfectly satisfied with the majority of the dishes/meals we ordered while on board (which were a LOT). Note that food is our group's greatest pleasure, so this was a big deal for us. We're also one of those groups who shamelessly wanted to try nearly everything on the menu, and believe me, we did!

 

Our first two serves of the black cod at UU were a little overdone, but a quick complaint meant that our subsequent 5 serves that evening were just perfect. The lobster bisque at W on the second night was a standout dish for us, and I have to say that in spite of hearing complaints from ethnic Chinese posters on here about the food quality at Silk, all 11 of us (ethnic Chinese) were perfectly content with the majority of the dishes that we were served there. Does it complete with the best Hong Kong or Shanghai has to offer? Of course not, but quality was WAY above what other posters led me to expect.

 

Sure, the burgers at Trident are under-seasoned, the mixing of the more complex cocktails was inconsistent, the coffee is subpar everywhere on the ship and some simple requests could not be entertained (e.g. fresh apple juice), but by and large we were more than satisfied with the culinary experience on board, which by definition, meant that we were satisfied in general with the cruise as a whole. Every meal featured at least two standout dishes that could hold their own on any stage on land, and that was enough for us to anchor our satisfied tummys on.

 

2) Being a self-professed slob, I was a little worried about the dress code - I needn't have been. Our cruise didn't have a BTO night, which was a good thing for yours truly, but by and large there was a wide range of standards of dressing all over the ship. I got by just fine with a t-shirt, shorts and slippers everywhere during the day, and a long-sleeve t-shirt or polo with chinos and loafers during the evenings. I didn't feel out of place nor did I feel any judging eyes - those were probably reserved for the guy in top-to-toe poolside wear in the Galaxy Lounge one evening, sipping champagne unaccosted by any staff and perfectly comfortable in his own skin. To each their own. The only thing we were quietly corrected on was when we got a little bit rowdy watching funny YouTube videos over lunch at W, which was perfectly reasonable, and which we apologised for and subsequently complied with, but not a word was mentioned about attire during the entire cruise.

 

3) While service levels were generally good and smiles were common, I would not go as far as to say they were excellent across the board. This is the fourth Crystal cruise for the seniors in our group, and they say that service has taken a steady and tangible turn for the worse during their time with the company. And in spite of being advertised as "all-inclusive", we consistently found that as a group, certain strategic gift-giving handshakes placed with certain staff made special requests happen a lot more smoothly than they did for staff which we did not appreciate in the same way. Of course correlation does not equal causation, and perhaps circumstances are different given the size of our group (going "above-and-beyond" for us entails far more work than it would for a couple), but the above is worth noting nonetheless. Humans will be humans!

 

4) For some reason, I was invited to the captain's quarters for drinks and canapes one afternoon. This was my first cruise and we were staying on the poverty deck, so I'm not sure why this privilege was extended to us. Being curious, we went along, but I found myself terribly under-dressed and under-conversed in the sophisticated company, and made a polite but hasty exit (directly to a game of NBA on the PS4 in Waves!!!). Totally not my scene, and probably not something I would do again, but was interesting nonetheless.

 

5) At the bar at Crystal Cove one evening, the slightly grumpy bartender insisted on viewing our room cards before serving us our drinks. Not sure why this might be, but given our ages are not printed on the card, I speculate that perhaps he thought we were staff in disguise trying to steal a few rounds? Not sure.

 

6) One afternoon, we returned to our cabin after some time ashore to find it flooded. The stopper on the toilet cistern had failed and water just kept flowing and completely flooded the bathroom (right to the level of the lip on the entrance) and spilled over into the room and the corridor outside. The carpets were literally as wet as they would have been if you had dunked them in the swimming pool. My wife was horrified, but I was a little amused (anything for a good story!). The person who initially heard our complaint on the phone didn't seem to understand the severity of the situation, but after one person laid eyes on our bathroom, within minutes there were an army of people in the room and corridor outside trying to fix things. We were bumped to a verandah room with a thousand apologies, but the whole process (reporting, admin, packing, moving, unpacking) burned a good 2-3 hours of our precious daylight hours, so all-in-all we felt the benefit of the balcony was nowhere near worth the lost time. The porter who helped us carry our stuff said this is the first time this has happened on the ship - not sure how true this is! One of our party had the room next to ours, and she was denied access to the room while they were ripping out the carpets and replacing them with new ones. She was eventually moved to another room (another cheapie on deck 7), and given $100 OBC as compensation. She also felt this was a little cheap, but we didn't push the matter.

 

7) Grabbing a few drinks from the bar at Silk and lounging in the heated jacuzzi during a cool and clear night with nobody around is the BEST thing ever. Thank me later.

 

I doubt this is my last cruise, or my last Crystal cruise at that. More thoughts and anecdotes may follow, but I hope the above will suffice for now.

Edited by deadlock

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts with us — it’s always very interesting to read.  I just had a couple of thoughts I wanted to respond with.

 

If your’re underage, your key/ID cards ARE marked accordingly (or at least mine were in the past.). I have a couple such ID’s in my collection from past cruises with Crystal and others.  Not that it’s why the bartender gave you a hassle, but that is one valid reason for checking them.

 

YMM definitely V’s on the value of compensation and lost time on an inconvenience...  2-3 Hours is a pretty quick turn on relocating guests and belongings in my experience (which sometimes involves checking or resetting another stateroom), but I personally would be VERY happy with an upgrade generally valued at a minimum of $1600-$2000 per couple for 2-3 hours of lost time.  Crystal is generally very good about defunding the cost of things where they fail to deliver value, but I’ve never found them to be overly generous in terms of service recovery though, I’d agree with the theme overall. 

 

Appreciate you sharing your experiences with us!

 

Vince

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing the review.

 

Very nice that your first cruise was on a luxury line as nice as Crystal and glad to hear you expect to do more cruises.

 

Your comments on the food is in line with my view which is the only opinion that matters is your own.  Personally I find the food to be as good if not better than ever but no one should take my word for it.  They need to experience it for themselves as you did.   I also believe that you have to try all the restaurants to decide ones self.  

 

Not knowing the ages of all those in your group as well as whether or not one or more look less than their age I suspect the bartender was verifying that everyone was at the proper age.  Better they error on the conservative side than serving someone underage.  As Vince notes the cards are marked at least that was our experience with not only our children when one was below the age to drink but also most recently for the grandchildren.

 

Glad that they were able to get you moved in short order as well as another one in the group.

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deadlock, kudos on your entertaining summary of your cruise! We were on the same cruise on Serenity (also first-timers), and we loved it. I've been reading this board and CruiseCritic reviews for quite a while, and I was pleased to find that many of the critical remarks about Crystal are unfounded. The decor, food, service and entertainment were excellent, and I hope to cruise with Crystal again soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deadlock and cruisemonty, welcome to the fun activity of posting on a Cruise Critic boards!

 

Glad to hear how much you both enjoyed yourselves. Thank you for telling us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both for taking the time to post after your cruise and it’s wonderful to hear you both enjoyed your sailing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing

Our 1st Crystal cruise is  in Dec

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/24/2019 at 1:14 PM, deadlock said:

5) At the bar at Crystal Cove one evening, the slightly grumpy bartender insisted on viewing our room cards before serving us our drinks. Not sure why this might be, but given our ages are not printed on the card, I speculate that perhaps he thought we were staff in disguise trying to steal a few rounds? Not sure.

How odd.......perhaps cards of those underage have a particular stamp or colour or something?  Less obvious than age numbers, but still recognizable to the staff.  Consider it a compliment to your youthful good looks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the review - I loved your writing style and it is exactly what I needed to read as we are considering switching from our recent favorite (Viking) to Crystal for the Caribbean.

 

Tina

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your review! I was 38 the first time DH and I cruised Crystal; I'm sure you noticed that you were WELL under the average age.  That bartender probably was looking for the "underage" marking - when you look at 80 all day, 35 begins to look like 18.  During our cruise one elderly Crystal regular kept taking DH for one of the waiters - she was a dearie and we thought it was hilarious, so he just went to the bar and brought her her drinks (all-inclusive of course - I don't think she ever tried to tip him 🙂).  I have always enjoyed the clientele and I'v learned a lot from older folks I've met on Crystal.  

 

In 9 cruises with them we've never had a mechanical problem in the cabin so I think your flood would have been very unusual.  Getting you moved in 3 hours and upgrading you is about the best response they could possibly have made - occasionally stuff does happen despite the best maintenance - I've learned that as a home-owner over the years.  We have always found Crystal to respond really well to unexpected inconveniences, including the North Atlantic storm that hit us and kept us out at sea for 3 days with waves swamping deck 7, which was our very first Crystal cruise - and we keep going back.  I hope you will too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deadlock- i loved your review.  My husband and I are looking at a cruise for March 2021 to the Seychelles.  We've been cruising for about 20 years but we are casual people.  Just don't want to be around stuffy people.  Thanks for your review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We leave for our first Crystal cruise next week. I'm looking forward to writing up our own first timers' review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/31/2019 at 12:46 PM, JTor said:

Thanks for your review! I was 38 the first time DH and I cruised Crystal; I'm sure you noticed that you were WELL under the average age.  That bartender probably was looking for the "underage" marking - when you look at 80 all day, 35 begins to look like 18.  During our cruise one elderly Crystal regular kept taking DH for one of the waiters - she was a dearie and we thought it was hilarious, so he just went to the bar and brought her her drinks (all-inclusive of course - I don't think she ever tried to tip him 🙂).  I have always enjoyed the clientele and I'v learned a lot from older folks I've met on Crystal.  

 

 

We took our first cruise on Crystal in 1995 on Harmony. As we boarded we thought OH NO we're cruising with our parents!!!!!! We were 50 and 55....we met some of the most interesting (older) people, so well traveled and so nice to us...the funny thing is, they thought WE were interesting!! And we'd never been anywhere! Now we are 75 and 80...and 50 cruises in, will anyone find us interesting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, fyree39 said:

We leave for our first Crystal cruise next week. I'm looking forward to writing up our own first timers' review.

 

Lisbon to Ft L??? by any chance?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/31/2019 at 1:23 PM, 10july86 said:

Deadlock- i loved your review.  My husband and I are looking at a cruise for March 2021 to the Seychelles.  We've been cruising for about 20 years but we are casual people.  Just don't want to be around stuffy people.  Thanks for your review.

 

In 50 cruises we've met maybe 2 or 4 stuffy people. 😍

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our first ocean Crystal cruise is not until next year but can my boyfriend wear nice jeans and a polo top to dinner?

He is the typical Silicon Valley engineer who wears jeans to work every day.  They are nice jeans (not ripped or faded or anything) and that's what he feels most comfortable in.  Will that be frowned upon?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, cma2008 said:

Our first ocean Crystal cruise is not until next year but can my boyfriend wear nice jeans and a polo top to dinner?

He is the typical Silicon Valley engineer who wears jeans to work every day.  They are nice jeans (not ripped or faded or anything) and that's what he feels most comfortable in.  Will that be frowned upon?

As Kathy notes some people wear Jeans and ones as you described.  I don't see a lot of them either and more on the first and last nights.  The code is pretty flexible so consider that he also bring docker like pants to not be in blue jeans every night.  

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/24/2019 at 10:14 AM, deadlock said:

And in spite of being advertised as "all-inclusive", we consistently found that as a group, certain strategic gift-giving handshakes placed with certain staff made special requests happen a lot more smoothly than they did for staff which we did not appreciate in the same way.

 

This is a disappointing anecdote made a bit more disturbing by the fact that there's been no comment or concern expressed about it here. Is this now "consistently" a customary, usual and expected practice aboard Crystal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Robisan said:

Is this now "consistently" a customary, usual and expected practice aboard Crystal?

I saw it happen quite frequently from some passengers, but not from most passengers.  And when I did see it, I didn't see them treated in any substantially better way than other passengers who didn't do it.  They no doubt got more smiles and personal greetings, but I didn't see much else happen that wasn't also had by another pleasant passenger without extra money.  (Of course, there could have been extra service at their cabin that I didn't see, but when I saw extra tipping at a restaurant or lounge, I didn't see they got better service for it.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's worth noting though that I was in a large group, and accommodating our requests sometimes really did mean having to go above and beyond (or so I felt anyway). For example, seating all 12 of us at a single round table in Umi Uma, which is usually meant to accommodate a maximum of 8. Or getting multiple portions of the Chilean Sea Bass at Silk for lunch (which is usually only on the menu at dinner). 

 

Service was generally very good (within the "usual parameters"), but we did find that whenever we wanted cherries on top of the cake (and we're a little difficult like that), some encouragement went a long way.

 

When my wife and I cruise again as just a couple, my expectation is that we will be accommodated without needing to smooth things over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, deadlock said:

It's worth noting though that I was in a large group, and accommodating our requests sometimes really did mean having to go above and beyond (or so I felt anyway). For example, seating all 12 of us at a single round table in Umi Uma, which is usually meant to accommodate a maximum of 8. Or getting multiple portions of the Chilean Sea Bass at Silk for lunch (which is usually only on the menu at dinner). 

 

Service was generally very good (within the "usual parameters"), but we did find that whenever we wanted cherries on top of the cake (and we're a little difficult like that), some encouragement went a long way.

 

When my wife and I cruise again as just a couple, my expectation is that we will be accommodated without needing to smooth things over.

 

I suspect that with a little bit of advance notice on the part of your group, they all would have been accomplished without the need of encouragement. And I speak from experience having been on Crystal with a family group of fourteen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our experience when cruising on Crystal just does not line up with this idea of "smoothing things over, " whatever the size of your party.   No one in service has their hand out, ever.  Crystal is not Las Vegas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...