jsh52

jsh52
Third Mate

Joined: 08/06/2015
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jsh52's Past Cruises

Crystal Serenity

July 2016 - Crystal Serenity to Alaska

The Grand Dame has a little catching up to do

Overall, this was a typical Crystal experience-  mostly first rate.  But we noticed some things slipping:  the staterooms were getting a little tired- decor frayed around the edges- leaking shower, etc.  Needs some sprucing up.

   The wi-fi on the ship is awful.  They give you "one free hour per day" and charge an outrageous fee beyond that- and then, the wi-fi is so slow, your single hour is spent in frustration trying to connect to anything at all.  They are WAY behind the times with wi-fi, and for what you pay for a Crystal cruise, wi-fi should be free. 

   The Italian dining room "Prego" was by far the best dining experience of the cruise.  Excellent.   However, Silk Road, the Japanese place, needs work.  Soggy and smelly sushi.  Unacceptable.

     In five cruise, all in penthouses, we've admittedly gotten spoiled by the butler bringing the afternoon snacks each day.  Crab claws, shrimp, caviar, cheese, fruit etc etc.  This time, the offerings had sunk pretty far.  We would rather have skipped the snacks altogether.  Pretty bad.

    They have added private laundry rooms on each deck, with several washer and dryers.  EXCELLENT idea.  Very useful and convenient. 

    Now that Crystal allow flexible dining reservations, not just the usual "early and late seating", it makes it much better when planning shore excursions etc.  We very much appreciate the flexible options.

    We booked our own shore excursions throughout the trip, rather than pay the (sometimes ridiculous) prices they charge- for the exact same excursion.  We paid $99 per person for a snorkling-with-the-seals adventure in Nanaimo - Crystal charged nearly $500 per person.  No excuse for this.

     Of the five Crystal cruises we've done, this was the only one that I would give four (not five) stars.   Nothing that can't be improved upon, and we would likely go on another Crystal ship (or more likely, a yacht or river cruise).  And, we are in no way chronic complainers.  Crystal still is miles above most other large-ship cruise lines we've experienced. 

  

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Celebrity Equinox

July 2015 - Celebrity Equinox to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?

We began at the pier not knowing that the town of Civitavecchia had suffered a massive power failure, thus rendering the computers for check-in inoperable.  Thus, the boarding process was a chaotic mess, certainly not Celebrity's fault- except, NO ONE from Celebrity made any effort to communicate to more than a thousand sweating angry passengers massed together in a hot warehouse just WHY there was such problems.  The result was pretty ugly, with passengers pushing and shoving through non-working security terminals, angry people cutting in front of others to reach the check-in desks, etc.  Not a good beginning.  To make matters even more stressful, the woman who checked us in gave us serious grief because our 15-year old daughter's last name doesn't match ours.  (I'm her step-father).  Her passport was clearly in order, all of us having passed through Customs without a hitch.  Celebrity had no issues when we made our reservations months before, giving us no hint of any "added requirements".  Suddenly, my wife is being threatened, in a menacing way, that our daughter can't be allowed to board.  ("But, this time, we'll look the other way".)  This was ridiculous, and inexcusable.

    After the life boat drill, as we returned to our room, one of the crewmen exclaimed in a loud voice, "Let's Get This party started!".  Harmless enough, except the message seemed to be that the goal of the ship was a "drink til you drop" Carnival cruise.  (I'm familiar with those).  Not everyone on this ship was there to party.  Though from the music that blared incessantly throughout the ship, whether in the lounges, on deck by the pool, or through the PA system in even the most specialized restaurant, it was not possible to find what some of us were seeking: a little peace and quiet.  Even on the verandah of our suite, the awful music from poolside engulfed us.  I promise the folks at Celebrity that of the roughly 2800 passengers, a sizable percentage were not interested in hearing poorly done 1980s cover tunes.

One aspect of cruising we enjoy is the casino.  In this case, we were greeted by a casino employee, microphone in hand, who sung our first names out to anyone who would listen, with an absurdly enthusiastic "Jeff and Stephanie!  How wonderful to see you!"  As anyone who has been to Las Vegas can attest, that kind of indiscretion would have cost that woman her job in Vegas.  We do not gamble to make friends or become part of some kind of rumba line.  It's a personal experience that clearly, Celebrity does not respect.

Here's a piece of advice   for Celebrity:  Don't schedule Florence Italy as a stop on a Sunday.  With only a half day's time to enjoy one of the world's most spectacular cities, you put us there when the cathedrals and churches were closed to visitors until the afternoon, and for those who enjoy upscale shopping, many of the stores aren't open at all. 

You offer a "teen spa service".  Very nice- we scheduled our 15-year old daughter for a facial.  But, upon arrival, we were told that she isn't allowed to partake unless one of her parents sits with her the whole time.  That is NOT a teenager's idea of a spa experience.

There are a great many more nit-pick complaints, including the wine steward who didn't understand how to re-cork a bottle of very expensive Bordeaux we had intended to enjoy over two nights.  But in most cases, the staff was exceptional.   "Michael's Club", exclusively for suite passengers, was an excellent concept- the manager Bartosz, was wonderfully attentive to our needs, and helped to solve various issues.  Our suite's butler, Cesar, was wonderful.     The specialized dining rooms offered meals far above the cruise-ship norm.  (If only you could eliminate the rock music blaring above our heads).  In every case, the wait-staff and maitre'd were most friendly and helpful.   For breakfast, the one oasis of calm seemed to be the restaurant "Blu", but it was only open from 7:30 to 9:00.  (The typical "all you can gorge" buffet was packed, with a scramble to find a decent place to sit.)

 

I participated in a Texas hold-em tournament just outside the casino, where we were buffeted by what seemed to be a K-Mart blue-light special grab fest for cheap purses and jewelry.  A hundred or more passengers with shopping baskets, swarming over piles of what appeared to be cheap junk.  ("Purses, $10.  Buy 4, get one free!")  Really?  Tacky in the extreme.  An onboard flea market.

 The past four times we have cruised have been on Crystal Cruise Lines.  I now understand why they get the prices they do.  You get what you pay for.  In the future, we would opt again for the more expensive and considerably more sophisticated cruise.  Celebrity seems to try to have it both ways- offer a hint of elegance, with a constant theme that lets everyone know that if you miss the "party days" with Carnival, you can still find them here.  

 

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jsh52's Tips

Skagway, Alaska - What's with the awful jewelry stores (owned by the cruise lines), that sell junky jewelry that has nothing at all to do with the local culture?
Hoonah, Alaska - The town is true native Alaska- that might not be to some tastes- but this is authentic, not the tourist trap crap you find in Skagway.
Crystal Serenity Crystal Serenity - Dine at Prego- the Italian option. By far the best meal we had. Avoid Silk Road.
Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France - We took the train to Cannes. Saw a cruise ship docked THERE. Why not Celebrity? There isn't much in Villefranche. Or Monte Carlo? Saw a number of passengers taking the train in THAT direction.
Celebrity Equinox Celebrity Equinox - There was no outside adult pool- despite the depth differences of the two pools, kids were packed into both. Not everyone is on the ship to entertain their toddlers. We watched one fellow trying to work with his i-pad get repeatedly drenched, until he had to simply give up.

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received a helpful vote on their Crystal Serenity cruise review - The Grand Dame has a little catching up to do

received a helpful vote on their Crystal Serenity cruise review - The Grand Dame has a little catching up to do

shared a quick tip for Crystal Serenity"Dine at Prego- the Italian option. By far the best meal we had. Avoid Silk Road."

added Jul 27, 2016 cruise on Crystal Serenity to their profile.

reviewed their Alaska cruise on Crystal Serenity and gave it 4 stars!

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Equinox cruise review - Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Equinox cruise review - Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Equinox cruise review - Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Equinox cruise review - Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?

received a helpful vote on their Celebrity Equinox cruise review - Customer service issues, and whatever happened to quiet?