Crystal Cruises

Crystal Symphony - Cruise Ship Review - Passenger Reviews

Built for Crystal Cruises in the mid 1990s and well looked after with frequent multi-million dollar facelifts, the 922-passenger Crystal Symphony is still a great ship after nearly two decades of service sailing around the world. Her public rooms and outdoor deck space are among the most expansive out there.

The atrium and main lobby is the Crystal Symphony’s main hub, with elegant boutiques and the buzzing Bistro cafe open to the atrium’s upper tiers.

Some of the most appealing spaces include the cozy, mahogany-paneled Avenue Saloon with its leather upholstery and romantic lighting. A popular meeting point is the Starlite Club with its eye-catching round bar and walls of sparkling Swarovski crystals. The Casino is appropriately covered in black and silver, while the Luxe nightclub is a cool spot with its polished aluminum Philippe Starck bar stools and glass Bisazza mosaics.

Crystal Symphony Prego restaurantBegin the evening at one of the two alternative, open-seating specialty restaurants; one serving fine Italian cuisine and the other high-end Asian fare, including sushi, under the guidance of famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa.

There’s also a formal main dining room with dark wood paneling and abundant tables for two as well as several other casual venues. During dining hours, guests can also order from the full main dining room menu for in-stateroom delivery.

A recent redesign added a huge whirlpool to the main deck, plus beautiful deck furniture and more alfresco dining space and seating.

Guests can exercise on a large paddle-tennis court, play ping pong or hit some golf balls. There’s a roomy gym, a beauty salon and an impressive spa with a full menu of the latest treatments. One of the best spots anywhere on board is a chaise longue along the lovely tiered aft decks facing the ship’s wake.

Crystal Symphony Connoisseur Club Starting at 202 square feet (not including balconies), cabins are not as large as upscale lines like Silversea, Regent and Seabourn, but they’re well put together with features like Murano glass bedside lamps, Rubelli fabrics, and leather headboards.

Standard amenities include a 20-inch LCD flatscreen TV, VCR, LED reading lights, stocked minibar and super comfy bedding, though closet space and bathrooms are a bit on the tight side. The ship’s top penthouses boast full-fledged oceanview Jacuzzis in their living rooms, Oriental rugs and entertainment centers and newly added perks like Philippe Starck bathtubs.

Crystal Cruises recently spent $23.5 million upgrading the Crystal Symphony. Company officials are thrilled with the improvements, which transformed the ship. “It’s opened up the ship a lot more to the guest,” says Crystal Cruises’ President Gregg Michel. At a cost equal to nearly $2 million per day, the 12-day project began at sea and was completed during a 10-day drydock in Newport News.

In addition to 545 crew, 750 workers were contracted to complete the renovation. The dole out was the largest in Crystal’s history for a ship upgrade. Since 2004, the company has invested more than $35 million in Symphony.

Crystal Symphony Palm CourtPublic Area Upgrades
The biggest transformation, perhaps, was on Tiffany Deck. Deck 6 was completely transformed from stem to stern with new color schemes, new construction and new contemporary lighting that creates different moods as day moves into night. Among the major structural changes:

* Starlite Club — Centrally located in the middle of Tiffany Deck, existing walls were removed and a dramatic round bar takes center stage in this open environment offering panoramic sea views. It was the hub of social activity.

* Crystal Casino — Dramatic black flooring anchors a sophisticated black and silver color palette in the completely redesigned Crystal Casino. New offerings include The Ultimate Texas Hold-em and state-of-the-art slots.

* Luxe Nightclub — From its polished aluminum Phillipe Stark bar stools to the glass Bizzaza mosaics, Crystal Symphony’s new nightclub Luxe proved to be a sophisticated spot for drinks and dancing.

* Boutiques and Shops — The boutiques and shops aboard Crystal Symphony were completely transformed with white marble, black accents, clean stone finishes and chandeliers. Facets features a new private space for guests to consider high-end jewelry purchases, and Apropos offers the line’s popular logo items and resort wear.

* Bistro Café — A comfortable European atmosphere was recreated in this popular venue, enhanced with decorative tiles, wall finishings and fresh upholstery all done in a warm palette of russets and earth tones. I found the Bistro Café to be a good place to pick up specialty coffees, breakfast and light snacks during the day.

* Computer University@Sea — Expanded just two years ago to accommodate the increased demand for its growing portfolio of courses, Crystal’s revolutionary Computer University@Sea was outfitted with all new equipment. According to Thomas Mazloum, senior vice president, hotel operations, 42 percent of passengers participate in at least one class.

Crystal Symphony is an anomaly in the luxury cruise sector. Carrying 940 guests, it is a larger ship than the smaller luxury ships that dominate this segment, and perhaps because it is a larger ship, you won’t find free booze in the public areas, as you will on many of the smaller luxury ships. Nor are gratuities included.

The 12-year-old Crystal Symphony’s deluxe staterooms also are on the smallish side when compared to similar accommodations on other luxury ships. That said, the larger ship platform allows for a wider breadth of facilities, such a spacious award-winning spa, the ever-popular Computer University@Sea, a wonderful round-the-ship promenade and more.

As Crystal Cruises continues to invest in Symphony, the ship keeps pace with the times, rivaling newer ships. But perhaps what most distinguishes the Symphony is not the hardware component itself but the software, the 545 staff and crew who serve 940 guests. Crystal’s crew is the real reason that the company has for the past 12 years been named “World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler magazines — the only cruise line, resort or hotel to have achieved such distinction.

Crystal Symphony Deluxe VerandahShip Information
Crystal Cruises have the largest cruise ships in the luxury cruise ship segment. Crystal is the only luxury cruise line to feature two seatings in the dining room, but has added "Open Dining by Reservation", which will let you make nightly reservations in the main dining room, just like at a shoreside restaurant. Reservations can be made with the Maitre D' onboard the ship. Other dining options include the world-class Silk Road by Nobu Matsuhisa and Prego by Piero Selvaggio.

Crystal Symphony Ship Facts
Year Built 1995 ♦ Year Refurbished 2006 ♦ Country of Registry Bahamas ♦ Tonnage 51,000 ♦ Length 781 ft - 234 m ♦ Cruising Speed 21 knots ♦ Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 922 ♦ Passenger Decks 8 ♦ Officers and Crew 545 ♦ Officer's Nationality International ♦ Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality European ♦ Passengers to Staff Ratio 1.69 to 1

Cabins
Total 461 ♦ Suites with Balcony 65 ♦ Oceanview with Balcony 214 ♦ Oceanview without Balcony 180 ♦ Inside 0 (none) ♦ Accessible Cabins (all categories) 4 ♦ Crystal Cruises' elegant cabins include amenities such as a full bathtub with shower, luxury bedding, comfortable kimonos, personal slippers, luxury bath amenities, refrigerator, satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.

Crystal Symphony - Crystal RestaurantCabin Amenities
TV with music channels ♦ In-Cabin Movies ♦ In-Cabin Internet Access ♦ Private Safe ♦ Minibar ♦ Hair Dryer

Dining
Traditional 1st and 2nd Sitting Assigned Table Seating ♦ Optional Open Seating - "Open Dining by Reservation" lets you choose the time that suits you ♦ Formal Nights ♦ Specialty Restaurants: Prego, Silk Road, Sushi Bar ♦ Specialty Coffee Bar ♦ 24 Hour Room Service Available

Public Rooms
Bars and Lounges ♦ Library ♦ Internet Center

Entertainment
Showlounge ♦ Casino ♦ Disco/Nightclub ♦ Card Room/Game Room ♦ Video Games Arcade

Trident Bar and Grill on Crystal SymphonySports and Activities
Pool Areas ♦ Sports Court ♦ Fitness Center ♦ Jogging Track ♦ Golf Driving Range ♦ Putting Green ♦ Promenade Deck wraps around the ship

Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦ MedSpa Services ♦ Sauna or Steam Room ♦ Beauty Salon ♦ Yoga ♦ Pilates ♦ Fitness Assessment ♦ Health and Nutrition Evaluation

Children and Teens
Family Cabins ♦ Organized Age Specific Activities ♦ Youth Staff ♦ Dedicated Teen Center ♦ Teen Programs ♦ Teen Staff ♦ Group Babysitting Services

Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shops and Boutiques ♦ Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦ Business Center Services ♦ Medical Center