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TheRampantSnail

Sociability on Crystal?

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My wife and I are experienced cruisers with a number of cruises on each of Azamara, Regent and Silversea. We have not sailed on Crystal but are now booked on Symphony for March 2021.  One of the, many, pleasures of cruising for us is the sociability. We enjoy meeting other people through joining a trivia team and particularly by joining a shared table at dinner. We are happy dining as a two from time to time but mainly like to ask to join a table for four or six. We have done this on all our previous cruises, met some very interesting people and made many friends.

We would hope that this would be the case on our Crystal cruise next year.  I have, however, been scanning the Crystal board on this site since we booked and I am beginning to get the impression that most people either prefer to sit as a couple or share a table with people they already know. I have also had a couple of indirect reports of couples asking to share a table and then finding that no one joins them and they then spent the meal sitting as a couple on a large table like Billy No-Mates.  We are beginning to wonder if Crystal is a good choice for us.

Can I ask what your experiences are? Do you ask to  join a shared table? Have you noticed this happening?

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IMO, Crystal passenger are just as sociable as any other premium or lux cruisers. We started Crystal just a few years ago, after decades of cruising, mostly Regent. The Pax seem to be about the same. Crystal has a lot of social activities like dance classes, bridge, computer, piano etc. So there are lots of opportunities to interact with people. 

 

Remember that people who sit at shared tables do so because they want to meet new people. 

 J

 

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I am reluctant to post my honest opinion, and would appreciate respecting our experience by others.

 

We cruise at least two to three times a year on the brands that you mentioned. This past 12 months we were on the Paul Gauguin, Seabourn Quest, and the Crystal Serenity. Of those three trips we made great friends on the first two, shared many dinners and laughs. On the Seabourn cruise we made many friends and one couple has booked another one this fall with us. We are social and enjoy other people’s company.

 

Our experience on the Serenity (which we booked a year in advance..I might add we had been on the Symphony 9 years ago, and had a very pleasant time) was not positive and for the amount of money paid, will go down in history as the only cruise we ever got off mid-trip. You can read my review which I posted a few weeks ago.

 

To answer your question about dining, we found ourselves eating alone every night with the exception of one evening  and we did clearly say we would love to join or have others join us. No one did. Even a person who I have chatted with prior to the cruise never made an attempt to contact us to join them for dinner or even a drink.
 

We cancelled a Serenity cruise that was already under deposit for 2021 as we didn’t feel this was the cruise line for us. 
 

Again this is our opinion. I hope that helps. 

 

 

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Five cruises under our belts, we have found the passengers on Crystal to be extremely sociable. Join the roll call for your cruise and you can arrange independent shore excursions with other passengers. Or do the Crystal excursions and everyone will be a fellow passenger. We did both types of excursions and found this a great way to get to know people. Many times we ended up arranging dinners (or sea day activities) with those people. 

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If you want to meet people you will certainly do so when sailing Crystal Cruises.  Ever since our first Crystal sailing and continuing to the one we are currently on we have met many people over the years some who have become dear friends and what brought us together was sailing with Crystal Cruises.   While we do often dine by ourselves we also do things and dine with other people.  We try to mix it up.  This includes dining with some traveling solo and with another couple.  

 

Yesterday was an example of this.  We did a tour  with another couple who we got to know last year, had drinks with them the other evening, and will be dining with them in the Waterside restaurant in a few days.

 

We have easily met people in a variety of places over the years from the shuttle bus, to tours, to a cocktail reception, to the laundry room (some good friends we first met in the laundry room), to waiting for luggage outside our room to taking a fitness class, a knitting class (my wife) to Yoga to Cruise Critic get togethers.

 

At the end of each cruise we return home with name cards (business like cards) as well as have given out cards to those who we want to keep in touch with.  

 

It you want to meet people I think you easily can on board any of the Crystal Vessels (including the river cruise vessels).

 

Keith

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Dining and the sociability of passengers are really unrelated......in my opinion, the open dining system does not practically allow passengers to join a table with others, but that's more because of their system than the sociability of the passengers.  If you join a table with others, in my experience there's no time coordination so that you'll arrive while they're in the middle of their entree, for instance, and then other people will join after you've already ordered, etc.  It's more like sharing a table at a cafeteria than actually dining together.

 

However, I've found the passengers on Crystal to be very nice and sociable in other places and at other times -- in lounges, on excursions, playing trivia or taking classes.  That's where you might meet people and make plans to dine together, but actually choosing to just join unnamed others in the dining room (or have others join you) doesn't work well.  I find that really unfortunate, because I used to enjoy fixed dining times in the main dining room when dining solo because I had interesting people at my table (and if they weren't, I switched to another table).  Now if I'm dining solo, I avoid Waterside (the MDR) because of their bizarre timing issue and don't like eating there solo -- I choose to eat solo at other venues on the ship where I'm more comfortable alone, like the sushi bar, or the more casual Churascarria.   I wish it wasn't so, but my experience in joining a table in the dining room has been horrible.

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In my Crystal experience...if you are sociable, then fellow passengers are sociable.  I've had other passengers start a conversation and invite me to dine with them.   I note some people (especially some couples) like to keep to themselves, and other passengers respect that. 

 

I would say that longer cruises foster more sociability.

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1 hour ago, History&Wine said:

In my Crystal experience...if you are sociable, then fellow passengers are sociable.  I've had other passengers start a conversation and invite me to dine with them.   I note some people (especially some couples) like to keep to themselves, and other passengers respect that. 

 

I would say that longer cruises foster more sociability.

I agree with you. We found easier to meet people on the World Cruise with Serenity than on the 14 days Symphony.

Ivi

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We have a number of friends on Crystal with whom we still correspond, visit each other and cruise again together.  We met several via the CC Meet and Mingle, joining a couple at one of the receptions, on excursions and at the cove, avenue saloon or Palm Court.  And as Keith mentioned, we have met a number through adventures in the laundry room.  

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Thank you all for the answers but, probably because of the thread title I used or because I worded the question badly, most answers have missed the point. Inviting people to join you for dinner is not what I was asking.

On the lines we have cruised with, we typically say at the entrance to the restaurant that we are happy to share a table. We are then taken to a table where others have asked to share and we all wait and chat until the full complement of the table has been reached and then we all order our selections.

I would like to know if this happens on Crystal. Two people have specifically answered this point and I must say I am not very encouraged.

 

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38 minutes ago, TheRampantSnail said:

Thank you all for the answers but, probably because of the thread title I used or because I worded the question badly, most answers have missed the point. Inviting people to join you for dinner is not what I was asking.

On the lines we have cruised with, we typically say at the entrance to the restaurant that we are happy to share a table. We are then taken to a table where others have asked to share and we all wait and chat until the full complement of the table has been reached and then we all order our selections.

I would like to know if this happens on Crystal. Two people have specifically answered this point and I must say I am not very encouraged.

 

Our experience was  the 1 st night the couple ahead of us in line agreed to share a table

we were ask if we wanted to share & were seated  at the same table ..2 seats left but no others were seated with us

Another night  we were asked if we wanted to share  we agreed  ..we were taken to a table where the couple there had already finished  their appy  so we just asked to be seated at a 2 top

Next time  we were at a table for 4  said we would share  if they found another couple in the next 15 mins  ..Paolo came over & said no one wanted sharing tables...  so we ordered

 

Good luck

 

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44 minutes ago, TheRampantSnail said:

Thank you all for the answers but, probably because of the thread title I used or because I worded the question badly, most answers have missed the point. Inviting people to join you for dinner is not what I was asking.

On the lines we have cruised with, we typically say at the entrance to the restaurant that we are happy to share a table. We are then taken to a table where others have asked to share and we all wait and chat until the full complement of the table has been reached and then we all order our selections.

I would like to know if this happens on Crystal. Two people have specifically answered this point and I must say I am not very encouraged.

 

Yeah you are right, the title is misleading. Actually you want to know if people would be willing to share tables at the restaurants once they get there for dinner. IMHO opinion this is similar at Crystal than in other cruiselines. You might at the particular evening find people willing to share a table without knowing each other, but this is probably not the best way to socialize with people on the ship. In our experience, we have met people before dinner in all possible ways, and more or less agreed to go together for dinner. 

Ivi

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    ------travelberlin said  "but this is probably not the best way to socialize with people on the ship."

 

I think some of responding posters IGNORED the "op" stating they are EXPERIENCED cruisers, therefore they don't need lessons in social etiquette

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4 minutes ago, docmark said:

    ------travelberlin said  "but this is probably not the best way to socialize with people on the ship."

 

I think some of responding posters IGNORED the "op" stating they are EXPERIENCED cruisers, therefore they don't need lessons in social etiquette

Excuse me... no one is giving lessons on social etiquette. I have noticed you do not seem to like my posts. Please just ignore them.

Ivi

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28 minutes ago, LHT28 said:

Our experience was  the 1 st night the couple ahead of us in line agreed to share a table

we were ask if we wanted to share & were seated  at the same table ..2 seats left but no others were seated with us

Another night  we were asked if we wanted to share  we agreed  ..we were taken to a table where the couple there had already finished  their appy  so we just asked to be seated at a 2 top

Next time  we were at a table for 4  said we would share  if they found another couple in the next 15 mins  ..Paolo came over & said no one wanted sharing tables...  so we ordered

 

Good luck

 

Once it happened to us at the Oceania Sirena. We wanted to share also a table but on that evening no other couple was willing to share. After waiting about 15 minutes the maitre asked if we wanted to start our meal and that most probably we would be alone. No problem, we just ordered our meal and dined alone.

Ivi

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I think the traditional dining arrangement with assigned tables with set dining times, though we are not necessarily a fan of it, does help create more opportunities for some of us to meet people on the ship.  It's almost like a blind date, except you get to try ourselves out multiple times.  I think it is a great way for those who are not that comfortable just chatting with strangers to get to know a manageable number of people in a more controlled environment.  However, I don't think the current dining arrangement (no set times, no set table) is indicative of how sociable Crystal passengers are.  However, for some people having a set table/time is a perfectly good tool for them to meet others onboard.

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I really can't say whether waiting for a table of eight to fill up on a night-by-night basis would be a successful venture for you, but I do know that it is very easy to meet people during the course of a day.  For us, it usually occurs either in one of the lounges as we get a before-dinner drink (the Cove is the best for socializing, IMO), or often on an excursion.  As Keith and others have mentioned, venues as varied as the laundry room or the computer room are ripe for making friends who will have dinner with you.  In fact, I have made a number of friends whom I still stay in contact with from around the world on Crystal cruises.

If it is essential that you dine at a table for eight with strangers (which is what it seems you desire), then I'm not sure how easy that would be.  If you're looking for a group of (mostly) friendly, gregarious passengers, then you will be very pleased on a Crystal cruise.

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My husband and I enjoy our table for 2 on Crystal. We are very glad to no longer be traveling on cruise ships that have assigned seating at tables of up to 10, with very little opportunity for a table for 2. On Crystal we have had many interesting conversations with people at adjacent tables in Waterside and in Prego. And have gone to dinner with folks we have met in Crystal Cove while having cocktails before dinner. Lots of opportunities to meet people and to socialize. 

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As a solo traveler who has not sailed on Crystal since the fall of 2015, I don't think  like this change on Crystal at all. I found it a good easy way for me to meet others, and since I tend to go on crossings, there is enough  time to  get to know  tablemates, and  I enjoy hearing about their day. I have also made friends by playing team trivia.. 

Having said that, I have been on a Celebrity, 2 HAL and a recent NCL cruise, and they all have as you wish dining. A couple times I felt uncomfortable ,when escorted to an empty table  or joining a table where the other guests had already ordered. I did speak to the maitre'd at one point and asked to change tables because the other  2 women at the table did not speak English. It showed me that I have to be proactive in finding a suitable table as the hosts(?)I found do not  consider the needs of solos at all when seating you at a table Another time I was sat at a table for two not far from the entrance and it annoyed me as they did not even ask if I wanted to seat with others. I think they should ask or assume that solos want to sit with others unless told otherwise when we arrive for dinner

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I guess the difference between the OP and us (for example) is we try arrange diners with people we met rather than have the MD marry us up.  Then, we can continue to discover the other couple (s) having some basic knowledge of them.  I would rathe order from the menu than have potluck.

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Hello TheRampantSnail (cute name!).  I am hoping Roy, aka "rafinmd", will chime in as he is currently on Serenity and frequently sits at a shared table in Waterside that is not pre arranged.  

 

I have a question though.  I had read that right after switching to open dining a couple years ago that they were seating guests at spontaneous shared tables even after the other diners had started eating.  I was hoping that practice had stopped!  I would decline to sit down mid meal.  I thought someone had posted that now they will seat people who want to share and wait XX minutes for others to join and only start taking orders after the table fills or the preset waiting time has expired. What is the current practice?

 

Thanks,

Nancy

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1 hour ago, oakridger said:

I was hoping that practice had stopped! 

I'll admit I didn't try it on my last cruise (last month) - the earlier experiences put me off. 

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2 hours ago, oakridger said:

Hello TheRampantSnail (cute name!).  I am hoping Roy, aka "rafinmd", will chime in as he is currently on Serenity and frequently sits at a shared table in Waterside that is not pre arranged.  

 

I have a question though.  I had read that right after switching to open dining a couple years ago that they were seating guests at spontaneous shared tables even after the other diners had started eating.  I was hoping that practice had stopped!  I would decline to sit down mid meal.  I thought someone had posted that now they will seat people who want to share and wait XX minutes for others to join and only start taking orders after the table fills or the preset waiting time has expired. What is the current practice?

 

Thanks,

Nancy

I think the waiters and maitre'd have some discretion in this matter.  That seems to happen more often than not but just last night we had a guest seated after starters have been served and I've been out late for a sailaway and sent to the maitre'd to the shared table well into the meal.  The waiter who escorted me to the table assessed the situation and suggested I might be better off dining solo.  While couples are  welcome and some do come to the shared tables they probably need to be proactive in asking the maitre'd for it. 

 

Some flexibility is needed on everybody's part.  The system seems to favor having orders taken in the 6:15 to 6:30 range and one cannot expect to enter at 7 and find tablemates arriving quickly with the waiter ready to take everybody's order.  Most of the people at the table tend to go to the early show with the meal finishing in the 7:30 range or so, and people (including me) are not hesitant to skip desert and head to the show if time is getting tight.

 

The system is not perfect but for me it works better than on either Seabourn or Silversea.

 

My tips:

Arrive fairly promptly

Be up front with the staff about your expectations

You and your tablemates will need some flexibility.

 

Roy

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My husband & I were on Serenity for 16 days in December (a B2B) and, honestly, the lack of sharing tables was our biggest negative. We wanted to be able to chat with others.

The first night we were seated at a 2-top, and for 90 minutes, no one was seated anywhere near us. The 2nd night we joined the couple behind us in line for a very pleasant experience. The next night we had specialty dining reservations and we were seated at a 2-top with no one near us! The 4th night we insisted on a shared table and we did sit with 2 other couples. The 5th night was horrible - we were seated with 2 couples who were busy chatting with each other -- so much so that they didn't acknowledge us for 5 minutes!

The problem appears to be the "control point" as you enter the dining room. They do not understand the match-making they need to do to ensure shared tables are actually shared!

And, because of this we really only met 3 other couples on this cruise.

Inviting other couples to join us in advance of dinner is NOT what I am seeking. 

We do not cruise with other couples, and we have not been on 50+ Crystal cruises.

We are looking to meet and socialize with other couples, but the open seating concept is not our preference.

Currently, we have NO future cruises booked.

I hope this helps you make a decision.

In all other areas, Crystal outperforms all other cruise lines, in our opinion.

-Liz

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My one experience on Crystal since they went to open seating is that they can’t seem to get the hang of mixing people. As others have remarked, they will seat people together who are at various stages of their meal, or leave you sitting alone with no one else. I don’t know if it’s Crystal being unable to capture the flow, or an unwillingness of passengers to be seated with others. The main dining room does now seem to have an inordinate number of 2-tops.

 

I’m like you—I like to eat with groups of 4 or 6, and find it a great way to meet and get to know others. I’ve been somewhat spoiled on this front by Regent, in which sociable open seating seems to be ingrained in the culture.  Crystal has many other wonderful qualities—enough that I’m booked on a world cruise with them in 2022–but this is not one of them.

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