Jump to content

Crystal Cruises vs. Seabourn Cruises


vslyko
 Share

Recommended Posts

Just to set expectations, historically, roll calls are not that active for Seabourn and are used mostly and occasionally for the few passengers interested in arranging private group excursions at a particular port.  So don't be surprised in case your roll call threads do not get much traction.

 

On Seabourn (and other smaller, all-inclusive luxury ships, I suppose), passengers organically meet one another on board and do not tend to pre-arrange meetings via roll calls, unlike mega mass market liners.  (Nothing wrong about that, just pointing out the reality and historical context.)

 

Also, another point to note:  most SB passengers would not have even heard of cruise critic, so this board is not at all representative of the passengers on board, in general.  This is especially true as of late:  most of the old-timers and heavy contributors have been MIA for months.  (As we all know, there would always be a few vocal posters who tend to contribute to - or at times dominate on - any board.)

 

Since earlier this year, when cancellations started happening, normal threads were replaced with angry and urgent ones complaining bitterly about SB's tardiness in processing refunds (and advocating premature credit card chargebacks).  Now that most refunds have been done, those folks & threads have dropped off, and we seem to have a few newer contributors (as well as a nice & happier atmosphere).  This board is now much less active, naturally, and I haven't been seeing old-timers actively posting on here for a while now.  Hope everyone is OK.  (Some are apparently posting on SB-related groups on Facebook, but they are also lacking in content and have resorted to posting old photos of previous cruises and struggling to find something to talk and reminisce about.)

Edited by sfvoyage
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All good points!  I’m aware that the Seabourn forum is a quiet forum, both pre-, during, and probably post-Covid.  I also know what you mean about rolls calls and rarely join them.  In this case, however, I hope it will be a good way for me and the other poster sailing on the same segment to share information and communicate.  With all the negativity and doom and gloom on the Cruise Critic forums, it’s also a vote for optimism about the future.  Planning and anticipating a cruise is one of the best parts!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah cruising...those were the days. Our only experiences have been European cruises on Seabourn, Crystal and Hapag Lloyd (the ultimate...if you are happy being the odd ones out!). We were going to try out Viking this year (and another Europa 2 cruise with Hapag Lloyd) but, hopefully like all of you, are just happy to be here and make ourselves content by toasting our cruise credit vouchers with a G&T. We hope to dust the cobwebs off them next year to make bookings as far into the future as possible. 

 

OK, so Seabourn -v- Crystal. Our experience with Crystal (on the Serenity) was that it ticked very many positive boxes in principle, but the full experience didn’t compare to Seabourn (Odyssey and Ovation), which for us had more of a personalised ‘family’ feeling and better hospitality in the true sense of the word. 

 

Crystal’s theatre productions were glitzier, it’s lecturers on a par, its port lectures better. We never went on a Crystal excursion as we normally like independence on shore so can’t comment on those. As an aside, Hapag Lloyd excursions are great and usually members of the hospitality team accompany you to make sure they are running smoothly!

 

You’re able to get a butler in upscale cabins on Crystal (only the second time we have had one) and it does make a difference compared to Seabourn, but not a huge one. Though I think without the amazing personalised service of our Serenity butler, Crystal would have seemed a very different experience indeed. The captain and crew on the ship were invisible and the hospitality staff were patchy, but with some standout efforts. Seabourn seems to have got the training right - there is a high level of service and passenger engagement throughout and a very visible and friendly crew. 

 

It was nice having a promenade deck but the Serenity didn’t flow in the way the Seabourn ships do. The decor for most public areas on Serenity was tired and how we imagine Las Vegas hotels looked in the early 1990s. The Ovation is modern yet classic and luxurious in a far more civilised way. Last time we were on Odyssey it looked a bit tired by comparison with Ovation, but it had at least aged gracefully. The pool area seems much better thought out and utilised on Seabourn.  

 

We didn’t check out the standard Crystal cabin as we had a penthouse suite with them, but the standard Seabourn suite was great for us. 

 

Food standards on Seabourn are slightly better, though Crystal has more choice and the Nobu food is standout. But the decor!!! Frankly we love eating outside and always enjoy Thomas Keller nights at the Colonnade on Seabourn. Sometimes lack of choice is relaxing and you can always get a seat outside on balmy evenings: no-one else seems to appreciate them. Earth Wind and Fire (as we like to call it) by the pool is a nice change too. 

 

Crystal’s cigar bar is absolutely amazing if you like to partake like me, but probably alienating if you don’t (as, not being a gambler, I found the Serenity Casino). Caviar is a big treat on Seabourn and lifts the spirits after a hard day out, but then the Crystal canapés and cucumber sandwiches are first class. 

 

Passengers we found to be more of a mix of nationalities on Crystal, with lots of Chinese on our cruise, I guess reflecting Genting ownership. Seabourn mainly US, Aus/NZ and UK and seemed to have more repeat cruisers. 

 

In the end, it’s horses for courses. We’d go back on Crystal if the itinerary and price were right, but our preference in a straight head-to-head on the same trip would be Seabourn. Let’s face it, though, to be on either at the moment would be a blessing and our thoughts go out to the poor souls who were stranded on those ships for many months at sea. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for your review Ovener.  You would have just hated Crystal's standard balcony rooms as they are very small and cramped for two people.  For a single passenger like myself they are fine.  I saw Europa 2 in a port when I was on Crystal.  What a ship that was!!  They even had touring bicycles outside at the port for passengers to use--free of charge naturally!  I have considered them too but since they really do not cater to Americans I have been hesitant to cruise with them.  They are the highest rated ship in the world and since you have cruised on them you know why.  In the future I will considering them also.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Ovener said:

Ah cruising...those were the days...

Thanks for a great comparison post Ovener. I was so interested in your comments on Europa 2 that I found your "Europa 2 -v- Seabourn Odyssey" live thread from 2918. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2553210-europa-2-v-seabourn-odyssey/

Very informative, thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is of great interest to me and I have enjoyed reading the responses.  We have spent many, many days on Seabourn and it is our favorite line.  We've sailed Crystal twice and had one very very bad experience, so we many never return.

 

First to some of vslyko's questions:  We often like to dine alone in any of the restaurant venues and usually have no problem doing that on Seabourn, especially in the Main Restaurant.  Lots of 2-top tables, lots of room.  We found service to be excellent on both lines, but more personal on Seabourn due to the smaller size of the ships.  Staff get to know the passengers quickly, remember their preferences, and often address them by name.  Seabourn staff go out of their way to find requested food products on board or to make special-request dishes, if at all possible.

 

Now to my big issue with Crystal:  We found our fellow passengers to be extraordinarily unfriendly.  We felt absolutely shunned.  When greeting fellow passengers in the corridors (a simple "good morning") they frequently just did not respond or even smile.  Smiling and looking friendly in the bars and dining rooms got us nowhere, just ignored.  On a 21-day Crystal cruise, we made no friends with the passengers, only with the staff.  This is a complete contrast to Seabourn where we find the passenger mix to be especially friendly and outgoing.  Cocktail hour in the Observation Bar is always great fun.  Seabourn is not a good line for an introvert who wants to be alone.

 

Never say never, but I doubt if we would return to Crystal, even though I think they have a good product.  The passenger mix was just too toxic.  We will indeed return to Seabourn once it is safe, considering the pandemic.  In fact we submitted a pre-interest in the 2022 World Cruise, but sadly decided against making the big deposit since it just does not seem practical at this time, considering Covid.

 

Happy sailing, eventually, and hope to see you on board a Seabourn ship.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank You so much tv24 a.k.a. Tom for your post.  I found it be very informative and now I look forward to (hopefully) cruising on Seabourn next October even more.  Be thankful you did not put any deposits down with Crystal as many passengers are having extreme difficulty getting their deposits/payments back from them on any cancelled cruises.  You should read the threads about it on their Cruise Critic site.  They appear to be near bankruptcy from what I can gather and appear to have been very deceptive to passengers that had deposits/payments on cancelled cruises and wanted their monies returned to them--Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/12/2020 at 4:43 PM, vslyko said:

Hi rkacruiser--It was a bartender behind the bar that asked me to move

 

Thank you for answering my question.

 

Based upon the posts I am reading on this thread, when and if cruising begins again, Crystal will not be in the running for my consideration.  I appreciate the information!

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, whogo said:

Thanks for a great comparison post Ovener. I was so interested in your comments on Europa 2 that I found your "Europa 2 -v- Seabourn Odyssey" live thread from 2918. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2553210-europa-2-v-seabourn-odyssey/

Very informative, thank you.

Pleasure. I know it’s off topic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hapag Lloyd pedals back on ‘international’ marketing to non-Germanic speakers post-Covid. Our Greek Islands cruise in early September was cancelled, but surprisingly Europa 2 was repositioned to Hamburg in August and began a series of cruises around the Baltic, available only to (I believe) German, Swiss and Austrian passengers. It’s currently skirting the beautiful Swedish island of Gotland. It would be fascinating to know how those cruises are going - they are at reduced capacity. Here’s to news of Seabourn returning!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/16/2020 at 10:35 AM, tv24 said:

 Seabourn is not a good line for an introvert who wants to be alone.

 

 

Disagree......it's a totally fine line for a person that wants to be alone.   Not everyone aboard is interested in meeting/talking with other passengers.    Posting on here does not make for expert opinion.   Oh, and our dinner tables on pool deck were often next to one another during 2014 WC.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, saminina said:

 

Disagree......it's a totally fine line for a person that wants to be alone.   Not everyone aboard is interested in meeting/talking with other passengers.    Posting on here does not make for expert opinion.   Oh, and our dinner tables on pool deck were often next to one another during 2014 WC.  

Saminina:  This little sentence was meant to be a silly joke.  Of course one can choose to be alone on Seabourn.  I guess jokes are not allowed on CC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have done 18 Seabourn cruises and 2 on Crystal: one on their River ship which was a great experience, the second on the Symphony this past January which was a mixed bag.

 

Crystal experience:

 

Embarkation was not smooth, instead of getting in a queue when you arrive at the terminal you are assigned a "Group" and have have to wait until that group is called.  Which mean that people who came later than you and are in the same group potentially are served ahead of you - not a big deal, but I did not care for that system.  

 

Boarding the ship there are photographers wanting to take your picture to subsequently sell it to you, I was quite disappointed in that and all the other attempts for a photographer to get you to buy a picture.  I expect that from a mass market line not a luxury one. 

 

After getting on the ship there were a bunch of crew standing around but not  a single one welcomed us on-board, which is a big contrast to getting on  a Seabourn ship where typically the Cruise Director or assistant greets you along with one or more officers.  On the Symphony you feel as if you stepping into a shopping mall when you first arrive as opposed to a cruise ship.

 

One area Crystal does much better than Seabourn is the embarkation day lunch when their MDR, Waterside, is open for a nice relaxed sit-down lunch.

 

As others have mentioned the size of a standard veranda suite on Crystal is just too small, between a closet with limited space, a very narrow bathroom - and a tub, and little room to maneuver in the suite if more than one person is in the room.  I would only do another Crystal ocean if I wanted to pay a 50% premium for a Penthouse suite, which is still not that large.  (We have never taken a Penthouse on Seabourn as we have always found the standard veranda suite to be spacious enough).  

 

For the most part the food in Waterside, Prego and Nobu was very good, although the timing of courses was inconsistent.  Sometimes we'd have to wait 20 minutes, other times we would still be finishing apps when the next course arrived.  We never ate at Silk and the buffet was not overly appealing.  One aspect where Seabourn has Crystal beaten by a mile is the pizza served at lunch.  I also don't like that one has to pay a fee to go to the specialty restaurants more than once, sure insure everyone has a chance to go one time but then make it a first come, first served list that you can signup for once on the ship. 

 

Complimentary wines are on a par with Seabourn, as were the choice of spirits except for a lack of Mescal.

 

One area that Crystal did excel in was prompt service, especially from bar and pool wait staff.  There were times when we arrived at a bar for a pre-dinner drink and a server would follow us to where we sat and take our order.  One day at the pool 2 waiters decided my beer needed to be refreshed and both brought me one even though I had not asked for one.  This is an area that has been sometimes not so great on Seabourn, as some of their servers tend to be able to only focus on one table at a time, and on more than one occasion we have sat there trying to get someone's attention at the Observation bar. 

 

For the most part the crew we interacted with were as friendly as what we are used to from Seabourn's crew.  That said, we had an absolute lack of interaction with Officers on Crystal.  And the CD Russ was totally unimpressive.  On multiple occasions were were getting coffee and he came up and spoke to long time Crystal cruisers but despite us standing only a few feet away from him he never took the trouble to even say "Hello" - the exact opposite of the Seabourn CD's.   

 

The area where you interact with Guest Services on Seabourn, the Square, is much preferable and welcoming to the one on the Symphony which feels like a hotel front desk.  We also did not find the Guest Service people on the Symphony to be: friendly (they have to stand all shift so maybe that partially explains it) nor particularly helpful.  

 

The pool area was never very crowded, but the layout of the pool seating was akin to picture you see of mass market lines, e.g., chairs on top of each other.  

 

While I never met the Captain, we passed by the Captain's reception where people were lined up to get their photograph taken with him and decided to keep moving, he did provide very informative noon briefings.  

 

Entertainment is a personal thing but other than the movie theater on Crystal, and the violinist who played every day at one of the bars, I can't say one is better than the other.  Lecturer's (and in fact one lady was someone we had seen on a Seabourn cruise years ago) were comparable as were the couple of shows we went to.  

 

But the biggest negative, was as several other posters have mentioned, the passengers.  It seemed like most knew each others from prior cruises and if not in their little clique they did not want too much to do with others.  Several people we met who were 1st timers mentioned the same to us.  Also a lot of Asian passengers, not sure it it was because that cruise was going to Hong Kong or just the clientele Crystal attracts.  We always find people who sail with Seabourn to be friendly and we've met many people over the years that we keep in regular contact with, the social aspect of Seabourn is one of the reasons we keep returning to them.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank You for your excellent review and comparisons between Crystal Cruises and Seabourn Cruises 2Sailing Nomads.  I found it to be extremely well written and really appreciate the time and effort you put into it.  I so look forward to my first cruise on Seabourn.  The crew and passengers sound like they are my type of people---friendly rather than snobby.  Now let's hope this whole Covid-19 thing is a thing of the past by 10-2021.  Or at the least procedures are put in place so that cruising can happen again and everyone on board whether it be crew or passengers are safe.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, 2SailingNomads said:

After getting on the ship there were a bunch of crew standing around but not  a single one welcomed us on-board, which is a big contrast to getting on  a Seabourn ship where typically the Cruise Director or assistant greets you along with one or more officers.  On the Symphony you feel as if you stepping into a shopping mall when you first arrive as opposed to a cruise ship.

 

When I embarked on Celebrity Eclipse, there were crew welcoming us aboard and handing us a glass of sparkling wine.  Celebrity certainly cannot be compared to Crystal or Seabourn.  

 

Thanks for posting an interesting review of your comparisons.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, 2SailingNomads said:

For the most part the crew we interacted with were as friendly as what we are used to from Seabourn's crew.  That said, we had an absolute lack of interaction with Officers on Crystal.  And the CD Russ was totally unimpressive.  On multiple occasions were were getting coffee and he came up and spoke to long time Crystal cruisers but despite us standing only a few feet away from him he never took the trouble to even say "Hello" - the exact opposite of the Seabourn CD's.  

 

I agree in part with your observation.  The CDs we've had on Crystal were a tad aloof and rather stuffy compared to the friendly and outgoing CDs we've had on Seabourn.  I think that's consistent with the onboard vibe and "culture" of the respective lines.  Seabourn tends to be more carefree and relaxed which creates a warm and comfortable environment.  On Crystal the vibe is more reserved and buttoned down.  The difference shows up in the attitude and behavior of officers, staff and crew.

But I think Russ Grieve is an exception!  He is relatively new to Crystal but IMHO is a wonderful addition to the line-up.  Our experience with him was exact opposite to yours. We encountered him as CD in his previous life on Azamara and thought he was among the best in the business.  A consummate professional who was engaging, talented, energetic, accessible and a ton of fun.  No adjectives are enough to describe this fine human being.  My only regret is Crystal cancelled our cruise on which Russ would have been our CD.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

50 minutes ago, MightyQuinn said:

[...]
But I think Russ Grieve is an exception!  He is relatively new to Crystal but IMHO is a wonderful addition to the line-up.  Our experience with him was exact opposite to yours. We encountered him as CD in his previous life on Azamara and thought he was among the best in the business.  A consummate professional who was engaging, talented, energetic, accessible and a ton of fun.  No adjectives are enough to describe this fine human being.  My only regret is Crystal cancelled our cruise on which Russ would have been our CD.

Well possibly the fact that he knew you from before played into that, he might have  engaged with you as opposed to ignoring us.  And there were other occasions, like when we were having drinks with a couple who have 50+ (!!) Crystal cruises and he stopped by to chat with them and had his back to us the entire time and left with out acknowledging us.  That was rude.

 

Now his daily early interviews that we saw on the TV were good, but if you are not a known entity I guess you don't count for him engaging in conversation.  Other 1st timers we spoke to had similar experiences or lack thereof so I don't think it was personal.  The only officer who actually made any effort to speak to us was the Hotel Manager, and not because we had complained and the female bar manager (I think that was her title, never saw her name tag but she was always checking up on all the bars so that is my assumption) who inquired if the service had any issues, which it did not.

 

Everyone will have a different experience with various crew, we were very close to David E. having sailed with him for over 150 days and enjoyed a different relationship with him when on the ship than most did, but I never saw David E. or Handre or Heather or... speak to someone and ignore others seated with them.  Just MHO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have read this thread right from the beginning and I find the comparisons provided by various posters between Crystal and Seabourn to be fascinating.   I have very much appreciated reading them.

 

I have never cruised with Crystal, and based on the consensus that seem to exist among the reviews posted regarding the standoffishness/rudeness of fellow passengers, I never shall.    I am a solo traveler and have cruised now with SB five times, with the sixth booked cruise canceled due to COVID.   One of the most enjoyable aspects for me as a soloist is the friendliness of my fellow cruisers.   I have found, with very few exceptions, that everyone whom I engaged with at the bar, at a meal, around the pool, or during a tour, to be cordial and friendly.   That's very important to me, and the lack of those interactions would completely spoil the cruise, no matter the quality of the food, or drink, etc.   

 

I also really like the notion of the Hosted Tables and have frequently taken advantage of them.   The only time I feel slightly uncomfortable traveling on my own is when going into dinner, and having a lovely printed invitation with my name on it to dine with a member of the entertainment staff or an officer is wonderful.   I have heard some wonderful tales from these folk and had a good many laughs with other passengers seated at these tables as well.   Of course, one does not have to accept the Hosted Table invitation - I always call and either accept or decline the invite before the deadline given on the card.   The most important thing is to have the choice!

 

I have not yet booked a future cruise with SB; just waiting to see how everything pans out before taking the plunge.   But based on my own experiences as a SB passenger, I just cannot imagine cruising with anyone else.   And I would never, ever cruise on a mass-market ship again.   Too many people, too much nickel-and-diming to death.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a few preconceived stereotypes about Crystal based on my interactions with them in pre- or post-cruise hotels or private shore excursions or during air travel.  They struck me (as a general group) to be more prone to name dropping and trying to size up the relative value of those around them.

 

I’ve very rarely run into Crystal aficionados on Seabourn but I do recall meeting one couple onboard their first Seabourn sailing after many cruises on Crystal.  They shared that they were having trouble settling in onboard because they just could not figure out “who their people were”.  Silly me... I thought they were perhaps shy and having trouble meeting others and offered up a few suggestions.  But no... it turned out to be an issue of what they thought were “wealth indicators” that they were having trouble spotting - obvious designers, insignia from private clubs, name-dropping - whatever they thought would help them identify people they thought were on a socioeconomic tier equivalent to or higher than their own.  The husband commented that people made it very difficult to tell their net worth.  That revelation was so exhausting to think about but seemed on the level with my own observations about the line’s passengers.  And who wants to be exhausted while on holiday?  Not this gal!

Edited by jenidallas
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, MaggyCan1 said:

The only time I feel slightly uncomfortable traveling on my own is when going into dinner, and having a lovely printed invitation with my name on it to dine with a member of the entertainment staff or an officer is wonderful.

 

Thanks for your observations.  As a solo cruiser, I appreciate reading them.

 

May I ask why you felt slightly uncomfortable in this situation?  (If you choose not to explain, that's OK.)  

Link to comment
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
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: PONANT Cruises & Expeditions
      • Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with American Queen Voyages
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...