I just returned from sailing on the Crystal Symphony, from Boston to Bermuda. I love sailing with Crystal Cruises for so many reasons - their beautiful ships, impeccable butler service, Michelin-inspired cuisine and destinations both renowned and undiscovered. In 2020, they were named #1 in the "Best Medium Ship” category in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards. They also won Travel & Leisure's World's Best River Cruise Line, marking their 27th year of earning this top acclaim.
This cruise was different. Obviously, we were sailing under pandemic conditions and weren't sure what to expect. However, we couldn't have felt more safe. Every passenger and crew member was required to be vaccinated. Crew members were required to wear masks, but passengers were not. We were all tested before boarding. (Bermuda also required us to be tested four days before boarding and again on day 2 of the cruise.)
Everyone wore a wristband that would alert us if someone tested positive and we had been exposed. So far they have a perfect track record! I normally do not eat at indoor restaurants, and I planned to skip the shows, but we felt so safe with the protocols that we went ahead and enjoyed all the restaurants and entertainment. I'm so glad we did because the shows were excellent.
As I mentioned, the food on Crystal is amazing, and all specialty dining is included (except one small private dining room). This includes complimentary in-room dining, which we thoroughly enjoyed with the butler service on our balcony. Each meal was spectacular, and I quickly became accustomed to the afternoon tea with white-glove service.
Some cruise lines claim to be all-inclusive but Crystal takes that to a new level. Our cruise included all premium beverages and wines, specialty coffees, fresh squeezed orange juice, WIFI, gratuities, fitness classes, onboard golf lessons, bridge lessons, lectures, art and computer classes, and a complimentary laundromat on most decks. There were no high-pressure sales from the spa or shops. Depending on the port, Crystal also included transportation into town.
We enjoyed our fellow passengers, who were respectful, interesting and well-traveled. The staff went absolutely above and beyond, remembering our names and food/drink preferences.
Crystal ships are smaller than the mega-ships, sailing with less than 1,000 passengers. From now through March, they are sailing at a maximum 50% capacity for an even more intimate experience. In fact, we had only 167 passengers on our cruise.
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