Overall our second experience on Crystal's Symphony somehow seem to lack the magic of our first experience. Whether due to having been one the ship before or something else we could not quite determine. We also experienced the strong odor of waste in the rear section of the 8th deck on two days and this was really disgusting. All members of our party also developed Upper Respiratory Infections either while aboard (1 person) and within 1-3 days of disembarking. This could have come from the flight over or from the ship. I believe its that latter and hope that somehow additional efforts can be made to reduce exposure. The ship offers some cabins with PURE air filtering and if we rebook on Crystal I will ask for a PURE cabin.
5 out of 5
We joined the cruise on the actual departure day. Why Crystal has a pre-night or post-night on their itineraries is not clear to me. We elected to spend our arrival night in London to enjoy "Royal Day Out" at Buckingham Palace and then used the train to Dover on the actual departure day from Dover and that worked like a charm. Boarding the ship on the second day was also a breeze going from terminal check in counter to ship in all of about ten minutes.
3 out of 5
The ships primary entertainment troupe was excellent. Of the contracted special appearance acts some were very good, good or terrible. Two were in the latter category and uinfortunately, one of the two, was on stage twice.
Cabin / Stateroom
2 out of 5
This review will be a moot point as it pertains to the specific number and all cabins on 9th Deck,. Crystal Symphony is now in a dry dock and the 9th deck is being converted to Penthouses and Junior Suites as are on deck 10. This review, based on what I understand it's being renovated from the ship newsletter, will apply to cabins on decks 7 and below post dry dock, The bottom line is that the sleeping compartment furniture, fixtures & equipment is severely dated and needs to be replaced NOW not at some future dry dock. Crystal to Viking Ocean Cruise the "Best Luxury Cruise Ship" designation last year from one of the most preeminent rankings. While the dry dock Reno will get them back to a better competitive place with Viking (and other luxury lines) those passenger, like us, who don't elect the "Penthouse" level suites, junio suites or cabins will continue to be disappointed.
After remodel there will be new dining venues on Symphony that likely will replace "Casual Dinner Dining in Lido Cafe", but for sister ship this will likely continue until the 2018 dry dock for Serenity. If you cruise on Serenity prior to its 2018 dry dock do enjoy a Casual Dining Night at Lido Cafe. (It is first come and first seated so arrive early as it did sell out both evenings we enjoyed this option.)
We did this "port" which is really Dover on our own in the listed city of London. If you were on the ship you would have had to travel back to London either on your own via train or via planned excursions or offered bus from the ship. London is great, but not doing it from Dover with the loss of 2-3 hours for travel. We requested an 'embarkation deviation' and spent the first ship night in London (at our exepense) and joined the ship on day 2 before actual departure from Dover. Allowing us a day and 1/2 to see London.
We arranged a private driver for our party of four and visited Point du Hoc; a Geman Military Cemetary (very interesting, but lacking the 'light' of the American Cemerary, as all crosses are brown granite vs. white in the American Cemetary. Also visited Omaha Beach. What can one say other than you are proud to be free; be an American and an allied country citizen after seeing the sacrifice our troops made to end the Nazi attempt to bring their National Socialism to the world.
Guernsey, Channel Islands
5 out of 5
We also visited Guernsey on our first Crystal Cruise and on that cruise went to the feudal island (no cars) or Sark for the day. Sark is beautiful but a full day is a bit much. This time we focused on the German Occupation and visited said museum (very good), the gun towers.turretss and took the very inexpensive public bus around the full loop of the island enjoying its beauty. It was a bank holiday, so all retail was closed. Wondered why Crystal did not determine this and go to Guernsey first vs,. Honfleur as we had gone to Guernsey first on prior cruise. We would then have been able to enjoy the shops which were not impacted by the 'bank holiday' the day prior and Honfleur had no holidays over that period.
We also did St Malo and Dinan on our own. Out visit was on a Thursday and one of the special things to do is to go either to or from the old city of Dinan from St Malo by boat. The boat line doesn't operate on Thursdays and perhaps one other day of the week. So if you are looking at a cruse with St Malo/Dinan try and go on a day that you can enjoy the boat ride to Dinan.
Joined a ViaTour here with our traveling partners and while the price was right that overall experience was two stars. For two reasons: The van was crammed with one additional passenger than it could possibly hold; which was curious as we started with a tasting in Bordeaux and then divided up and one of the vans had at least two seats open, In the afternoon we visited "Chateau" wineries and it was clear the money we saved got us "B" vs. "A" grade itineraries. I would opt for this self arranged personalized tour provided the Chateaus in the tour are listed at booking so you could research the sites you will be seeing before making the booking.
Wonderful City. Did not find the Guggenheim amazing. I have appreciation for the Masters vs. modern and if I did this trip over again would have gone to the museum with paintings by the Masters. Also the cruise ship was docked too far from town requiring a 40 min drive which I wish they made public in the destination information when selecting the cruise.
The people of Lisbon and Portugal are so so proud of their country and city. They hospitality and desire to please their visitors was without match on this itinerary. We stayed at Doubletree Lisbon for our last night. It is a very modern hotel and not really my design choice, BUT the staff is exceptional and fully fluent in English making planning your visit a breeze. The location near old town and the exception service should make this a hotel of choice for those not bilingual ... on and Portuguese would be a very unique language to has mastery of any way ... it is a variation of Latin with Spanish thrown in !
5 out of 5
Excellent .. you just walk off if not using transportation from the ship and your bags awaited within 50 years of the port exit!
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