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Opinion of current state of Crystal Cruise


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Hello everyone--I was just reading through the current posts and first off I want to express my sorrow to those of you who are having such difficulty getting your deposits/payments back from Crystal.  It must be a nightmare to say the least.  Luckily I am not one of those persons but prior to 2014 I had taken 33 cruises on Crystal ships and it was the time of my life.  What a shame to see what in my opinion was the best cruise line in the world go "down the toilet."  Genting who was counting on the gaming crowd took a gamble when they bought out NYK (parent company Mitsubishi) and I say they lost big time--along with those folks who have had difficulty getting their funds returned to them.  From what I have heard after Genting bought out NYK the service was still very good and the food as great as always but the service had slipped a bit which is what made Crystal stand out from the rest of the cruise industry.  If and when Crystal dissolves it will be interesting to see who purchases the new Expedition ship.  Hopefully it will be Viking Cruises and the reason I say that is it appears by their boards that passengers who had funds deposited for any future cruises with them have had practically no difficulty in getting their refunds.  I know they had that incident on one of their ships about a year or so ago but from what I have read and heard the staff did an excellent job during the crisis just as Crystal staff would have done if the same thing had occurred on a Crystal ship during the time I was cruising with them.  Without question I want to cruise again but unfortunately after this I would not choose Crystal.  In my opinion Crystal's reputation as a leading cruise line is gone.  In the future it looks like I will cruise with Viking Cruises who seems to be doing a much better job lately than Crystal--at least in the money and refund departments.  Maybe they have deeper pockets and if this is the case (and it surely seems to be) I will choose them any time over Crystal.  Thanks for hearing out my opinion on all this!

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After my Viking experience on the river boats, I will not consider sailing Viking.

Service and food were dismal. The director lied to me multiple times about a major service issue to me directly.

The experience was more like Royal Caribbean than Crystal.

 

We all have choices, but Viking will not be mine.  I'd rather stay home if that's the only option.

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Strangely I find things like service, quality and safety more important than speed of refunds

 

It appears you are relying on what you've been told by others as opposed to personal experience on Crystal Cruises since 2014 - you might be surprised at some of the enhancements on Crystal over the last 6 years

 

Glad you've found your perfect cruise line in Viking - enjoy - but do make sure they've checked the oil levels before you sail on them next...

 

 

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2 hours ago, vslyko said:

Hello everyone--I was just reading through the current posts and first off I want to express my sorrow to those of you who are having such difficulty getting your deposits/payments back from Crystal.  It must be a nightmare to say the least.  Luckily I am not one of those persons but prior to 2014 I had taken 33 cruises on Crystal ships and it was the time of my life.  What a shame to see what in my opinion was the best cruise line in the world go "down the toilet."  Genting who was counting on the gaming crowd took a gamble when they bought out NYK (parent company Mitsubishi) and I say they lost big time--along with those folks who have had difficulty getting their funds returned to them.  From what I have heard after Genting bought out NYK the service was still very good and the food as great as always but the service had slipped a bit which is what made Crystal stand out from the rest of the cruise industry.  If and when Crystal dissolves it will be interesting to see who purchases the new Expedition ship.  Hopefully it will be Viking Cruises and the reason I say that is it appears by their boards that passengers who had funds deposited for any future cruises with them have had practically no difficulty in getting their refunds.  I know they had that incident on one of their ships about a year or so ago but from what I have read and heard the staff did an excellent job during the crisis just as Crystal staff would have done if the same thing had occurred on a Crystal ship during the time I was cruising with them.  Without question I want to cruise again but unfortunately after this I would not choose Crystal.  In my opinion Crystal's reputation as a leading cruise line is gone.  In the future it looks like I will cruise with Viking Cruises who seems to be doing a much better job lately than Crystal--at least in the money and refund departments.  Maybe they have deeper pockets and if this is the case (and it surely seems to be) I will choose them any time over Crystal.  Thanks for hearing out my opinion on all this!

I don't see how Crystal has gone down the toilet.

 

This is a challenging time for the entire travel industry; Airlines, Hotels, Cruise Lines, Travel Specialists, Major Parks such as Disney, Restaurants, etc.  Does this mean they are down the toilet?  No.  

 

We have found plenty of enhancement since Genting purchased Crystal.  

This includes the changes made to Symphony and Serenity with respect to the enhancements made to both ships in dry dock and the changes including open dining.  The river cruise vessels are amazing and we loved the opportunity to sail one of them.  Haven't sailed the Yacht but heard almost all good things about it and was looking forward to Endeavor.

 

If you go back to the live reports for the past few years you would read lots of positive things that people have expressed along with some items that people didn't care for.  Having been on these boards from inception I would tell you that the positive views have been as positive as I have read since that time.  There are always some who don't care for the cruise line or didn't have a good experience but by and large the vast majority have been positive.  Crystal has been making changes since its inception and some have been applauded by many people and some have not.  From the moment we sailed Crystal in 2002 some complained about cut backs.  I've seen this mentioned on every cruise line board and on every line we've sailed.  I am reminded that some people don't like change which is a contributing factor.

 

The future was very bright for Crystal.  I believe booking for 2020 and 2021 were very strong just simply looking at cruise availability before COVID-19 hit.  

 

COVID-19 put a damper on all of this.  It has some similarities to the Great Recession of 2018 where without a bailout banks, the largest insurer, major companies (in the USA GE, Verizon, etc.), would have gone under without the government taking many steps to safe them.  It was a matter of days before the banking and financial institutions were to collapse and companies such as GE and Verizon had insufficient cash on hand to even meet their payroll.

 

Yes, the refund process has been very difficult.   Many thought that COVID-19 would impact itineraries for a few months and by end of Summer cruises would sail again.  Remember, when some in the USA said it would be gone soon and very few people would be impacted.  This turned out to be wrong and with so many cruises being cancelled it has resulted in massive refunds.

 

I am reminded that if everyone went to the bank today to withdraw all of their money we would have a crisis.  

 

Time will tell how this all plays out.  I am hopeful Crystal will make it through this troubling time.   

 

To me the overall product before COVID-19 was as good as ever with some things being better than ever before, some about the same and a few that we miss. Service levels IMHO have been the best we've ever experienced and overall we have enjoyed the continued changes to other areas including all the choices in entertainment and all of the options for dining.


Viking is interesting.  There was an article about Viking I read in May of 2019 (ether in Forbes or Fortune 500 - can't remember) about the owner and Viking.  It had several positive things to say but also covered their financial challenges and how the owner was on the verge of bankruptcy and also questioned if he was doing things so the company could be sold.  Whether right or wrong I've learned as an outsider and even an insider when I worked that some companies might have financial issues which are not readily picked up by most people.  Time will tell on them as well.

 

The unknown to all of this is COVID-19, what happens over the coming months, whether or not there will be a successful vaccine, whether or not the virus will continue to mutate, whether or not antibodies will prevent reinfection in most people, how long it will take for those who want a vaccine to get it when countries will open up to USA travelers and for that matter to travelers outside their own country and the list goes on and on. All of this will impact the travel industry and so many other industries.


Time will tell.

 

My opinion though is if things get resolved and Crystal gets back to cruising it won't be long before most people forget about waiting for refunds.  I truly believe that most people would rather be cruising on Crystal rather than having their cruise cancelled or having cancelled it themselves and waiting for a refund.  This is not the first bumpy road for Crystal or the travel industry.  Yes it has been the bumpiest of all roads.

 

Keith

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Every once in a blue moon I hear people say that Crystal went downhill after the Genting purchase, and I know we all have different preferences and a bad sailing can always happen to any line at any point (I had a really bad one under NYK’s run), but unless you have a fetish specifically for Aveda brand toiletries I’m at a complete loss to identify one change that Genting has made since they took over that didn’t improve my cruise experience.  
 

I’ve been sailing Crystal on and off for over 28 years, and while NYK spared no expense on the launch of Crystal, it was never more than a vanity side project for them, and Crystal fought for investment repeatedly before NYK finally said publicly that more investment was needed in Crystal to make it viable than they were willing to give it, and put it up for sale.  Genting’s plans to make Crystal their luxury brand across their different markets (including on some existing services) wasn’t new to Crystal — NYK used Crystal’s brand on their Tokyo yacht club property — but it ushered in the massive investment in the brand and the ships that Crystal had sought for decades.

 

As to Crystal’s financial condition, I can’t speak to their financial health relative to Viking because what I know their financial “story” but no actual numbers, but I have a hard time seeing Crystal in any worse shape than most of their peers.  The process GHK is going through with it’s creditors right now is almost exactly the same process Regent and Oceania’s parent went through in late April and early May, and Silversea and Seabourn’s parents are selling and scrapping ships to raise cash and reduce overhead.  So if anything, the parents of Crystal’s peers reached some of these negative financial milestones a lot earlier than GHK did.
 

Just my two cents...

 

Vince

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6 hours ago, ChatKat in Ca. said:

After my Viking experience on the river boats, I will not consider sailing Viking.

Service and food were dismal. The director lied to me multiple times about a major service issue to me directly.

The experience was more like Royal Caribbean than Crystal.

 

We all have choices, but Viking will not be mine.  I'd rather stay home if that's the only option.

 

I am not discounting your negative experience, but my understanding (from my parent's experience) is that Viking Ocean is a MUCH better product than Viking River.

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9 minutes ago, Nachosdelux said:


 

10 minutes ago, Nachosdelux said:

 

I am not discounting your negative experience, but my understanding (from my parent's experience) is that Viking Ocean is a MUCH better product than Viking Riv

 

 

All of our Crystal experiences were Ritz beyond five star while our Viking experience was more Hilton.

Nice ships but large suites do not make up for the level of service and food and general high class atmosphere. Missed the amazing butlers, fresh flowers and very interesting lectures.
Love you CRYSTAL.

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1 hour ago, orchestrapal said:


 

 

 

All of our Crystal experiences were Ritz beyond five star while our Viking experience was more Hilton.

Nice ships but large suites do not make up for the level of service and food and general high class atmosphere. Missed the amazing butlers, fresh flowers and very interesting lectures.
Love you CRYSTAL.

 

 

I wasn't saying Crystal was comparable to Viking Ocean.  I was saying that Viking Ocean is better than Viking River.

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1 minute ago, Nachosdelux said:

 

 

I wasn't saying Crystal was comparable to Viking Ocean.  I was saying that Viking Ocean is better than Viking River.

Maybe but you don't get a 2nd chance to make a first good impression.  You can't get the time back and the value is not worth it.

I thought it was a River Cruise issue and I took another one on Tauck.  It was as good as it gets. Compares to the Crystal Product.   I have sailed on many cruiselines from Royal Car to Crystal and each has it's place.  All must have good service for their level of perceived quality.

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Some of the cruiselines, airlines, hotels, etc... circled down the toilet a few months back.  Crystal is next.  

 

Btw, they still have 1 of my deposit, and Chase won't do anything because it's past certain time. 

 

I certainly would not go on Viking River because the value is not there.  

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For those moving up from mainstream lines, I think Viking Ocean would certainly be worth a try - and a step up.  However, for someone with experience with luxury lines, I'm not quite so sure.

 

After many, many years of mainstream cruising - primarily on HAL - we 'graduated' to Regent - which we have enjoyed very much.  Then, because of a new itinerary for us, a couple of years ago we took our first (and probably last) VO cruise.  Make no mistake, it is a nice experience with very good service and decent food.  However, there were other things that put us off.  The 'included' excursions are primarily 2--3 hour bus tours with limited stops.  If you enjoy privacy at a table for two in the MDR, you will be disappointed.  Almost all of their 2 tops are placed so close to one another that you may as well be sitting with the other couples.  Finally, we had a disappointing onboard issue with being able to easily hear the adjoining stateroom's television.  The walls between the staterooms seem to be paper thin.  Be aware all of their Ocean cruise ships are essentially designed the same.
 

For the OP, I'd say sure, give VO a try.  Just go into it with your eyes wide open that it is not a luxury experience.

 

We have our first Crystal cruise set about a year from now.  Fingers crossed everything works out!

Edited by RJ2002
typo, additional thoughts
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No one “knows” how the cruising experience will be in the future!  Every company involved in the travel industry will have to change and evolve to survive.  Anyone that has traveled much during the past few months has seen services and quality diminish from past levels.

 

I hope Crystal will survive and we can return to enjoying everything about the Crystal experience we loved.  I suspect that we will all have to accept “less than before” for a period of time.  Every cruise line is going to have to find its new level of service that works for them.  Personally I would rather experience Crystal’s new level of service than any other cruise line.  I chose Crystal before the pandemic and I believe they have a better chance to bounce back than other cruise lines.  I say this because the Crystal employees are absolutely the best at what they do.  
 

 

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We won't go elsewhere unless we are forced to.

 

BTW - agree with my friend ChatKat about Tauck River Cruises.  Comparable to the Crystal experience in every way.  We have one booked for May.  Fingers crossed.

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25 minutes ago, bitob said:

BTW - agree with my friend ChatKat about Tauck River Cruises.  Comparable to the Crystal experience in every way.  We have one booked for May.  Fingers crossed.

 

Speaking of Tauck ... they have been excellent in their response to covid.  When they cancelled our fully-paid land tour for the Obergammergau Passion Play, we opted for a refund.  It was processed immediately and back to our AMEX in literally 2 days. They also offered to pay air cancellation fees but we had fully refundable tickets with no charges. 

I'm also confident booking with them going forward, as they hold guest deposits in separate accounts from their operating funds.  From a recent email from the Tauck CEO:

Tauck’s conservative financial philosophy over decades enabled us to persevere through these times as we had zero debt and a war chest for rainy “days” or a year, like this one. It hasn’t been easy on anyone, but I cannot imagine a company more prepared. Our family would also like to share with you that 100% of all guest deposits are completely safe, and kept in separate accounts from funds used to operate our business. “Tauck Trust” is something you have always been able to count on and it remains so today. We want you to feel absolutely confident making reservations for travel in 2021 or 2022.

That said, I do think Crystal river has a slightly superior product to Tauck river and they'll remain our choice.  But we wouldn't hesitate to book Tauck on rivers where Crystal doesn't sail.
 

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11 minutes ago, MightyQuinn said:

 

Speaking of Tauck ... they have been excellent in their response to covid.  When they cancelled our fully-paid land tour for the Obergammergau Passion Play, we opted for a refund.  It was processed immediately and back to our AMEX in literally 2 days. They also offered to pay air cancellation fees but we had fully refundable tickets with no charges. 

I'm also confident booking with them going forward, as they hold guest deposits in separate accounts from their operating funds.  From a recent email from the Tauck CEO:

Tauck’s conservative financial philosophy over decades enabled us to persevere through these times as we had zero debt and a war chest for rainy “days” or a year, like this one. It hasn’t been easy on anyone, but I cannot imagine a company more prepared. Our family would also like to share with you that 100% of all guest deposits are completely safe, and kept in separate accounts from funds used to operate our business. “Tauck Trust” is something you have always been able to count on and it remains so today. We want you to feel absolutely confident making reservations for travel in 2021 or 2022.

That said, I do think Crystal river has a slightly superior product to Tauck river and they'll remain our choice.  But we wouldn't hesitate to book Tauck on rivers where Crystal doesn't sail.
 

 

There is a reason Tauck has been around for 100 years! They are a very professional organization to deal with from my perspective as a TA. I was not aware they held deposits in segregated accounts, but it does not surprise me. Interesting fact, they hold Tour Operator Licence #001 in the United States.

 

I agree with your assessment of the river cruises. Having done two of each I would give a very small nod toward Crystal, but would happily sail either one anywhere. I think that small difference comes from the fact Crystal owns their ships and the staff work for Crystal. Tauck leases from Scylla, who build to Tauck's specifications, but whose staff actually operate the ships. The only Tauck "people" onboard a river cruise are the Tour Manager and the Tour Directors.

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23 hours ago, Roland4 said:

 

 agree with your assessment of the river cruises. Having done two of each I would give a very small nod toward Crystal, but would happily sail either one anywhere. I think that small difference comes from the fact Crystal owns their ships and the staff work for Crystal. Tauck leases from Scylla, who build to Tauck's specifications, but whose staff actually operate the ships. The only Tauck "people" onboard a river cruise are the Tour Manager and the Tour Directors.

I was on a Danube Tauck  that ended during Hurricane Sandy.  Most of the passengers were from the East Coast.  Tauck arranged for the Tour Directors to stay and see that each guest had a plan to get home. It was extraordinary. They rebooked flights, arranged hotel stays and more. 

 

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On 8/31/2020 at 12:26 PM, Roland4 said:

 

There is a reason Tauck has been around for 100 years! They are a very professional organization to deal with from my perspective as a TA. I was not aware they held deposits in segregated accounts, but it does not surprise me. Interesting fact, they hold Tour Operator Licence #001 in the United States.

 

I agree with your assessment of the river cruises. Having done two of each I would give a very small nod toward Crystal, but would happily sail either one anywhere. I think that small difference comes from the fact Crystal owns their ships and the staff work for Crystal. Tauck leases from Scylla, who build to Tauck's specifications, but whose staff actually operate the ships. The only Tauck "people" onboard a river cruise are the Tour Manager and the Tour Directors.

I was almost to the point of looking at Tauck until your last statement. I sailed Amawaterways early on (on a ship they did not own) and the only Ama employees were the Cruise Director/Tour person and the Chef. The Chef was horrible. The crew were not that great. I will wait and see what happens as I really would like to stick with Crystal.

 

I have no doubt Scylla provides better staff but after one horrible experience.... Tauck does have top notch reviews so things must be pretty good.

Edited by Coral
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26 minutes ago, Coral said:

I was almost to the point of looking at Tauck until your last statement. I sailed Amawaterways early on (on a ship they did not own) and the only Ama employees were the Cruise Director/Tour person and the Chef. The Chef was horrible. The crew were not that great. I will wait and see what happens as I really would like to stick with Crystal.

 

I have no doubt Scylla provides better staff but after one horrible experience.... Tauck does have top notch reviews so things must be pretty good.

 

Please don't let that hold you back. The two trips we took with them, the Scylla staff were excellent, very friendly and professional. The food and service were right up there with Crystal's standards as well. The only measurable difference between the two lines is Tauck's equivalent sized ships carry more guests than Crystal, but the number is between 10 and 20 more (I think), so not a big deal. 

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1 hour ago, Roland4 said:

 

Please don't let that hold you back. The two trips we took with them, the Scylla staff were excellent, very friendly and professional. The food and service were right up there with Crystal's standards as well. The only measurable difference between the two lines is Tauck's equivalent sized ships carry more guests than Crystal, but the number is between 10 and 20 more (I think), so not a big deal. 

Thanks! Glad there is another option!

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On 8/31/2020 at 1:17 AM, ChatKat in Ca. said:

After my Viking experience on the river boats, I will not consider sailing Viking.

Service and food were dismal. The director lied to me multiple times about a major service issue to me directly.

The experience was more like Royal Caribbean than Crystal.

 

We all have choices, but Viking will not be mine.  I'd rather stay home if that's the only option.

We have had mixed experiences with Viking. We have only sailed on Viking river to date. Have had 1 terrific cruise in Bordeaux, and 1 less so on the Seine. We had a Viking river cruise scheduled for 2020 for the now cancelled Passion Play.We had no problem with refunds which arrived promptly on the date promised. We may give Viking Ocean a try in the future.  Crystal ocean has been our choice for several years, But due to the way they are currently treating passengers regarding refunds (including ours) we will not sail with them in the near future.

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2 hours ago, Roland4 said:

The only measurable difference between the two lines is Tauck's equivalent sized ships carry more guests than Crystal, but the number is between 10 and 20 more (I think), so not a big deal. 

 

And anecdotally, a higher food budget on Crystal, according to a member of the Bach culinary team who previously worked on Tauck river boats.

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1 hour ago, tipsygirl said:

We have had mixed experiences with Viking. We have only sailed on Viking river to date. Have had 1 terrific cruise in Bordeaux, and 1 less so on the Seine. We had a Viking river cruise scheduled for 2020 for the now cancelled Passion Play.We had no problem with refunds which arrived promptly on the date promised. We may give Viking Ocean a try in the future.  Crystal ocean has been our choice for several years, But due to the way they are currently treating passengers regarding refunds (including ours) we will not sail with them in the near future.

 

Anecdotally, from clients who have sailed Ocean, the Ocean experience is the River experience on a bigger ship. By 11:00 they have "rolled up the sidewalks" and gone to bed. If you are a nightowl, as my client is, this could be a problem.

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On 8/31/2020 at 1:10 AM, Keith1010 said:

Viking is interesting.  There was an article about Viking I read in May of 2019 (ether in Forbes or Fortune 500 - can't remember) about the owner and Viking.  It had several positive things to say but also covered their financial challenges and how the owner was on the verge of bankruptcy and also questioned if he was doing things so the company could be sold.  Whether right or wrong I've learned as an outsider and even an insider when I worked that some companies might have financial issues which are not readily picked up by most people.  Time will tell on them as well.


I found this article in Forbes that talked about Viking’s owner’s financial problems in 2008, not recently.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurendebter/2019/04/15/meet-the-man-who-started-viking-cruises-in-his-50s-after-being-fired-losing-millions-and-surviving-cancer/#742cd7ea2652

 

I have sailed Crystal many times, but not recently.  I have never sailed with Viking.  I personally would not give money to either company right now, with all the uncertainty caused by COVID 19.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Roland4 said:

 

Anecdotally, from clients who have sailed Ocean, the Ocean experience is the River experience on a bigger ship. By 11:00 they have "rolled up the sidewalks" and gone to bed. If you are a nightowl, as my client is, this could be a problem.

Yes, there is no casino either.  (none on River anyway) but this was a factor for me on Regent, Oceania too.

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