Crystal Cruises is a small luxury cruise line well-suited to travelers interested in an upscale cruise vacation without the pomp of ultra-luxury lines.
The Crystal Cruises Fleet
Established in 1990, Crystal Cruises only operates three mid-size vessels. Though the line is based in Los Angeles, it offers a wide range of itineraries to keep repeat passengers from being bored with similar destinations.
Crystal Cruises ships easily accommodate between 940 and 1080 passengers. The largest vessel, Crystal Serenity is more than thirty percent larger than its sister ships, Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony, yet it only accommodates fifteen percent more guests, making it the roomiest of the line's vessels.
This line offers departure ports from both the east and west coast of the United States, with the majority of voyages beginning in one of four cities: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; New York, New York; San Francisco, California; or Los Angeles, California. Some voyages also depart from Caldera, Costa Rica on one-way itineraries visiting the Panama Canal.
Crystal Cruises ships are breezy and bright, with pale woods, brass, pastel colors, marble, and glass making up the majority of the onboard décor. Wide decks complement the spacious public areas of each ship, and flowers, potted plants, and palm trees emphasize the exotic nature of a tropical cruise. Standard cabins may feel a bit cramped, though the exclusive penthouse suites are spectacularly appointed with silk upholstery and flat screen televisions.
Because the line caters to a more upscale crowd, Crystal Cruises are typically 7-15 nights in duration. Itineraries include Alaskan Cruises, New England scenic voyages, eastern, southern, and western Caribbean options, Mexico Cruises, and Panama Canal cruises. To learn which ships are currently engaged in which itineraries, prospective passengers should consult a travel agent for current schedules.
Cruise Activities aboard Crystal Cruises are more active than other luxury lines, with many passengers preferring to mingle with their fellow travelers rather than pursue sedentary activities. A wide range of enrichment programs are offered, including computer classes, glass-etching, piano lessons, fashion shows, swing and rumba dance lessons, and guest lecturers well-versed in diplomacy, history, or film. This cruise line also arranges dozens of theme cruises each year, with topics ranging from food and wine to jazz and language. Formal nights are well-received on each voyage.
The diverse dining options make meals a treat on Crystal Cruises. Asian, Italian, vegetarian, kosher, low-carb, and light selections are all available, and each ship offers alternative reservations-only restaurants for a minimal charge. Themed luncheon buffets provide delicious diversions for more casual meals, while the gala buffet is a regal as well as decadent event. All non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary, including cappuccinos, soda, and bottled water.
A variety of shows are available aboard Crystal's ships, from the Vegas-style revue shows familiar aboard mainstream lines to classical concertos, comedy acts, and first-run movies. Ballroom dancing is a popular evening event, with gentlemen hosts on hand to partner unaccompanied women who wish to dance the night away.
Spas and Fitness
For more active activities, many passengers turn to the shuffleboard courts, ping-pong tables, jogging tracks, and putting greens for a workout. For more formalized exercise, free aerobics, pilates, and yoga classes are available, and the ships' gyms overlook the ocean for inspiring views while working up a sweat. The cruise line acknowledges, however, that relaxation is just as much a part of fitness as a higher heart rate, and the onboard spas host many Feng Shui features such as calming incense, crystals, gurgling fountains, and mirrors to foster inner peace and tranquility.
The onboard casinos are roomy yet understated, letting passengers indulge in games of chance without feeling overwhelmed by noisy and garish stimuli. Supervised directly by Caesar's Palace at Sea, the casinos aboard all Crystal ships are top-of-the-line.
Games and Contests
Unlike most luxury lines, Crystal Cruises offers a variety of free-spirited games and contests. Most passenger contests are organized like popular television game shows, and trivia and bridge contests are also favorite pastimes.
A dedicated playroom offers a range of children's activities, with a greater variety during summer and holiday sailings when more children are on board. Video arcades, scavenger hunts, crafts, and games are sure to keep younger passengers entertained, and private babysitting is available for an additional fee.
The nicest amenity about this luxury cruise line is that all the staterooms are wired for convenient Internet access, an excellent arrangement for business travelers who want to get away without being isolated. Passengers can rent laptops for the duration of the cruise if they did not bring their own.
Cons About Crystal Cruises
Compared to other luxury lines that may include some shore excursions, gratuities, and a limited selection of wine or champagne as complimentary amenities for passengers, Crystal Cruises is the least inclusive. Only non-alcoholic beverages are included in the cruise fare. Furthermore, the cabins are among the smallest of the luxury lines, though they are adequately equipped for the different voyages.
Crystal Cruises is a moderate luxury cruise line well suited to passengers who want to try out different luxury features without moving up the more elite markets of Cunard or Seabourn. With a wide variety of activities and the subtle ambience of exclusivity, this luxury cruise line is a delightful blend of modern mega-ship features and intimate luxury experiences.